(2 Phases, 6 Steps and a Partridge in a Pear Tree)
Many business owners hire copywriters and content strategists (shameless plug: we do this) to create conversion copy for their landing pages, but they also hire us to provide articles, blog posts and other pieces. However, other business owners really want to write their own blog posts – and we applaud that. It’s a good idea if you have the time to invest.
-And, if you do have the time to invest, you want to make sure it’s not wasted. While you can’t really shove all the training an experienced copywriter has into a single article, or gather all the goods on content strategies, you can learn the basics quickly.
Well, sort of quickly. It’ll take a few words…
Content Development vs. Copywriting
Strong content development and copywriting strategies help define your company and brand as the company/brand to trust. Every strategy should have an underlying goal of developing trust in your products/services and brand.
Now, copywriting and content development aren’t interchangeable. They’re part of the whole content package, but used at different levels:
Content development deals with the strategy of a set of documents (blog, newsletter or article series).
Copywriting deals with the tone and strategy of a single document (one post, newsletter or article).
This is an important distinction, and one we’re going use to separate the steps of getting your content out like a professional.
Developing Strategic Content Like a Pro: Phase One
Obviously, you have to have your strategy in place before you start creating the content. Otherwise, you’re just spewing content into the Internet’s highways and byways. That’s never pretty, and it seldom turns out well. Let’s look at the steps:
Step #1: Learn about your business and consumer.
You are your client. You may think you have a pretty darn good idea of what it is you want to accomplish with your site and content, but it never hurts to make sure, right? Right (see how we conveniently answered this for you? You can thank us later)! You have to understand your business, which may take a lot more work than you think.
Now, we very seldom share our full business processes with anyone but clients, but we’ll make an exception this once. Do yourself a favor and download our 11-page search marketing discovery. Fill it out from start to finish. The idea is to “discover” your needs by putting them in a clear, concise format. At the very least, answer these questions:
- What has your company done to be considered an authority in the business?
- What do you offer consumers?
- What image do you want to portray? What do you want your brand to stand for?
You also have to understand your consumer, whether you deal with B2B or B2C. Again, you may find out a lot about your audience:
- Their long-term goals
- Their reasons for buying from you
- The problems buying from you will solve
- Their pains, which your business can address
Step #2: Define your goals.
What are you doing this for? Supposedly, you aren’t just writing to be writing. Therefore, step two is to define your goals so you’re not just throwing content at the walls to see what’ll stick. You’re a busy individual; you really can’t afford to waste time on unplanned, useless content.
The average goals of content include:
- To gain authority
- To gain publicity
- To gain traffic
- To build fans
- To build trust
Once you know what the purpose is, it becomes easier to form a strategy and apply it.
Step #3: Form your plan.
Forming a plan is easier said than done. It’s not just saying, “I’m going to write some blogs and post them on my site.” You didn’t start your business this way (probably); you shouldn’t start projects that build your business this way, either.
Your plan outline should include:
- Where your content will be posted. For example:
- Your blog
- Industry sites
- Niche blogs
- As guest blogs
- How often your content will be going out. For example:
- 2 or 3 times a week (recommended)
- Once a week
- Once a month
- What main topic you’re going to cover. If you have several topics like we do (see the category navigation links at the top of this blog), you’ll need to define a strategy for each of them.
- What sub topics you’re going to cover.
- How many articles, blog posts, etc, you’ll use to cover this topic and sub-topics.
- How you’ll link the series together.
- How many sites you’ll use to publish the series.
- How you’ll publicize the series. For example:
Copywriting Like A Pro: Phase Two
Now you know your business. You know your consumer, and your consumer should also be your readership. Remember, readers don’t buy; consumers buy, and you’re writing to consumers. Therefore, every piece of copy you write should address the questions you answered in step one of this process.
For example, the consumer’s long-term goal is to live a more comfortable life. In order to do this, they want to find a way to clean the air so they don’t cough so much. If you sold cleaning products or dealt with anything “home maintenance” or “home care”, writing a blog entitled “Top 10 Ways That WORK! To Purify the Air in Your House” may be exactly what they want to read.
Step #4: Define your copywriting strategy.
Now that you have your content development strategy in place, it’s time to move on to the details and out of the big picture. You have the main topic, the sub topic, and your audience. What next? Define your copywriting strategy.
Your copywriting strategy will answer questions like:
- What posts will I write for this sub topic?
- What titles will I use to attract readers?
- What tone will I use for these posts?
- How will I lay the information out (i.e. with subheadings, bullets, etc)?
Step #5: Develop your writing outline.
At this point, you have enough information (or should have) to create at least a one-month writing outline. To do this, you simply go back through the steps and fill in the sections below:
I) Main Topic
a) Post Title
ii) Section 1
(1) Bullet points?
iii) Section 2
(1) Bullet points?
iv) Section 3
(1) Bullet points?
b) Post Title
c) Post Title
Step #6: Prepare your content.
You’re finally there. You have all the information necessary to start implementing your content development strategy. The key here is follow-through. Follow the outline you created in the last step. Once the content is written, read it aloud. Preferably, have someone who is willing to read it first and offer constructive criticism.
Fill In the Blanks
This is just a quick overview of the process we go through to develop strong content, and strong content strategies. However, we’ve written a lot of articles through the years about content development. We’ve even had a few guest posters who were courteous enough to do the same. While you can find all the posts under our Content Development category, we’ve collected a few of the more pertinent, in depth articles below:
Get Your Own Content Development Process With This 4 Step Action Plan (posted on Search Engine People)
4 Common Copywriting Mistakes Everyone Makes (posted on Search Engine People)
We hope these articles help you provide a stronger content offering for your readership. May your business, and your content, be successful!