Tag Archives: publishing content

Does your business need a regular dose of content writing and content marketing?

Should you regularly write and publish content on your website just for the sake of content marketing? Joost de Valk mulls over this question in his recent blog post.

Being a content writer who makes a living off encouraging people to publish as much content as possible I would say yes. Otherwise, I would say, it depends.

I repeatedly write on my website as well as on my blog that don’t write content merely for generating traffic, unless you earn revenue from advertisements (even then relevancy is very important). But I slightly disagree with Joost, and his friend whose post he has referred to. These guys get good traffic on their websites, and they have done their share of content marketing before they can coolly say, “Oh I hate terms like content marketing and content publishing!”

This is precisely the reason I tell my clients not to take rampant advise on the Internet too seriously, and literally. If you need traffic, you need content, and you keep on writing and publishing content until you have traffic, and then, if you think you have had enough content (on your own website as well as other websites) to get web traffic for a couple of years, may be you too one day can say, “Please spare me your ‘content’.”

Fundamentally I’m not disagreeing with the central theme these two gentlemen are talking about. Useless content is, well, useless. Write something meaningful, and if you are really involved in your work, when you really confront problems and work on solutions, you have something or the other to write about.

So does your business need regular content writing to keep the engine of your content marketing running, or at least humming? In order to understand this you have to understand why you need regular content writing for your website in the first place?

  • You need search engine traffic that actually converts
  • You need to establish your expertise
  • You need to engage with your audience
  • You want people to link to your content

There can be umpteen reasons why you may require regular content writing (just as some people and business may not require this much regularity). The unavoidable truth is, if your business doesn’t enjoy a strong presence on the web (search engine and social media) you need to publish regularly. You need to write content for recognition, in order to cover all your keywords, in order to generate longtail traffic and if nothing else, then just to keep your visitors engaged with fresh, thought-provoking content. If you say your business doesn’t require content, so be it. There are some businesses that don’t require the Internet and websites.

The difference between content marketing and content strategy

Difference between content marketing and content strategy

Suppose you want to reach a destination “A”. In order to reach “A” you start walking and let us call that walking content marketing. Content strategy is the path that you take to ensure a safe and speedy arrival at “A”. If content marketing is an action, then content strategy is the brain behind that action.

Strategy, as we all know, is a series of actions that we take in order to arrive at a desired result. There is no use performing tasks without having an idea of what you need to do, at what time, for whom, and how.

Does content marketing precede content strategy or is it the other way around? Ideally, it is the other way around and in fact they both need to go parallel. But if I work for you, I would start with the latter.

Content strategy

As mentioned above, our actions must be well thought of if we want to achieve something. Here is what content strategy involves:

  • Knowing why you want to publish and distribute content
  • Figuring out whom you are going to target, and why
  • Devising data collection and analysis methodologies
  • Creating a content writing and publishing roadmap to figure out what themes and subjects you will be focusing on
  • Shortlisting channels (search engines, PPC marketing, social media or promotional campaigns) you will be using to disseminate your content
  • Drawing up an audience engagement policy
  • Deciding what content formats you will be putting your energies into

First of all you need to know what is the purpose of publishing and distributing content and exactly why you need content marketing? How it can serve your business and help you promote your cause?

In order to be a successful communicator, you must know whom you’re going to communicate to. You should know your audience, you should know what they want, what they’re looking for, what are their concerns.

Data insight is a great power. When you set in motion your content marketing strategy, you will need to constantly analyze your data so that you can make timely changes.

A content writing and publishing roadmap is needed so that you remain focused and you always know what you’re going to published in order to cater to your core audience.

Merely publishing content doesn’t help you much these days. This is where content marketing comes in. You need to promote and broadcast your content so that it reaches the maximum number of people. For that you need to shortlist channels that you’re going to use to distribute your content, for example search engines, social networking websites like Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter.

You also need to constantly engage your audience. Unlike conventional marketing, content marketing involves two-way communication between you and your audience (your customers and clients). Without meaningful and regular engagement it’s difficult to establish a rapport and make yourself more relatable and identifiable.

Content can be of multiple formats and if you have limited budget, you cannot target all the existing formats. For example, you can have written content (content writing, etc.), videos, presentation slides on SlideShare, images on your own blog, Facebook and Pinterest, sketches, infographics and basically, everything that you can use to communicate data and ideas. You may like to do something like content writing or images in the beginning and later on start focusing on other formats of content too.

This basically sums up your content strategy.

Content marketing

This involves folding your sleeves and actually getting down to the work. According to the parameters drawn during the strategy part, you start writing, publishing and distributing your content. Content marketing is the operational part. You have to ensure regular publishing of blog posts, articles and all the necessary business pages that you think can help your customers and clients understand your point of view better.

After publishing your content you need to make sure that it reaches your target audience. You have to distribute your content using the pre-decided channels. Content marketing is more repetitive and might also be the most difficult because it is your persistence that pays off finally. No matter what great content strategy you have devised for yourself, unless you can implement it over a long period of time, it is not going to work.

What should a small business focus on, content marketing or content strategy?

Actually, strategy is always there, whether you consciously implement it or not. I know many bloggers and entrepreneurs who built their business on the strength of their content and there was always an underlying content strategy in the way they published and promoted their content. They had a clear idea of what they wanted to publish and for whom. Of course all of them confess that they wasted lots of time and effort figuring out what worked and what didn’t. This is where a pre-defined strategy can help you. It can help you optimize your effort, reduce content marketing time cycle and give you structured results instead of haphazardly doing things, getting random results and then taking the next steps accordingly.

What makes your content click

Content writing is not as challenging as it seems sometimes. With little bit of dedication you can create 3-4 blog posts or webpages for your business, and you can also get an unending stream of topics and ideas by visiting other blogs and subscribing to their RSS feeds (you can also search Twitter and Facebook and stumble upon some really good stuff).

The real challenge is to make your content click. What does that mean? Your content publishing and content strategy has an objective or an agenda, right? Why are you spending so much time on creating and publishing content for your website? Fine, the quick answer would be to increase your search engine rankings. But are you really achieving that?

Very few people actually sit down and think about what they are doing when it comes to writing content and implementing a solid content strategy. Your content clicks when it has the desired effect. When you are publishing content you are trying to achieve the following (you may have different priorities though):

  • You want to increase your search engine rankings
  • You want to provide great and valuable content to your visitors so that they keep coming to your website
  • You want to maintain a lively buzz around your online presence
  • You want to educate and inform your prospective customers and clients so they are not in double mind when it comes to doing business with you
  • You want to establish yourself as an authority so that people trust your judgement, respect your knowledge and believe in you when you ask them to do something

These are but a few things you want to achieve through content publishing.

Here I am not talking about the base content on your website: your home page and other business pages. I’m talking about all the extra content that you continuously publish because eventually it is that content that increases your search engine visibility and keeps people hooked on to your website.

So how do you achieve the objectives mentioned above (and many more that you may have in mind)? Here are a few things you can do:

Have a consistent theme

Your visitors must know what they are in for when they visit your website or blog. Then they already have receptive by the time they start reading your content (or watching/viewing in the case of images or video). For instance, if you have a content writing and content strategy business, and if you want to publish a business blog then most of your blog posts must be centered around content writing and content strategy. This way people who are interested in your topic can relate to your blog or website.

Having a consistent theme also shows that you have a lot to say about your business and your expertise. In fact, you have got so much knowledge, that you can constantly share it with your visitors for a long time. Always remember that having a niche is always better than writing for a highly broad audience.

But having a theme doesn’t mean you cannot write on something else. For instance, some of my blog posts talk about SEO, social media and social networking, blogging and even web design and web structuring. I write these posts because I believe that they can help my business as well as my clients.

Provide solution-oriented content

Does your content solve a problem and makes life easier for your visitors? Does it give them what they are looking for? For instance, what do people look for when they come to my website or when they read my blog? They are either looking for a content writer or trying to figure out how they can write content on their own in a better and effective manner. They might also be interested in reading about content strategy – how to formulate it, how to establish it, and then how to implement it.

Provide content people can share

Eventually everything boils down to how much of your content is shared. You might be getting lots of traffic directly from search engines and that is really great, but if you don’t want to solely depend on search engines, then you have to focus a big part of your energies on to encouraging people to share your content through their social media and social networking profiles like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube. But they are not going to share your content simply because you have published it. It should be of great value whether it informs or entertains. People share content mostly for the following reasons:

  • They want to pass some relevant piece of information onto their followers and friends
  • They are curating quality content for later use
  • They want to entertain or make their followers and friends laugh by sharing something funny and amusing
  • They want to trigger a debate or discussion while using your content as a platform and as a central point
  • They want to associate themselves with the standards represented by your content
  • They want to show you that they agree with what you’re saying or disagree with what you’re saying
  • They want to highlight their online presence through the niche you represent and write about
  • They are your parents, siblings or friends who would share anything you post just because they love you and cannot resist that

So if you provide any of the above mentioned reasons people are definitely going to share and promote your content (although the last point may not have much business value but it doesn’t mean it is not important) and be affected by that.

How to fire up your web content strategy

Content StrategyWeb content strategy basically constitutes of publishing what your target audience is looking for, and then making it easily findable.

Are you publishing content on your website or blog for a particular reason? There are two ways of publishing it on your website and leveraging its potential:

  1. Publishing regularly hoping that it will generate enough buzz that will eventually turn into business
  2. Regularly publishing and streamlining it according to your business needs, continuously analyzing the performance of your content and taking follow-up steps

The second way of publishing is what you basically call “web content strategy”. You publish content with a certain intention and continuously try to make sure your web content strategy achieves what it is intended to achieve. Here are a few things you can do to fire up your web content strategy.

What do you want your web content strategy to achieve?

This is a very important question. Don’t simply publish content on your website just because your competitors are doing that. For an effective web content strategy you must need to know what you’re achieving and what are your long-term and short-term goals vis-à-vis publishing content on your website. Do you want to

  • Improve your search engine rankings by publishing keyword-rich content?
  • Make your prospective customers and clients more aware of your products and services?
  • Make your prospective and current customers and clients more aware of the overwhelming benefits of your products and services?
  • Want to keep your visitors engaged?
  • Strengthen your brand presence?
  • Rake up socially relevant issues?
  • Educate and inform your visitors so that they can make better decisions regarding what they should be buying and investing their money in?

Frankly, there can be 1000s of questions you can ask yourself before publishing content but the basic idea is, you should know precisely why you are publishing. The more clear you are, the better direction you will have.

What sort of audience you want to cater to through your web content strategy?

Last year I partnered with a client who wanted to address an audience who remains at the forefront of technology: people who would buy the first iPhone or the iPad or who would start using a pioneering service without waiting for someone else. For instance, people who started using Facebook and Twitter in their early years. The direction of the content was totally different.

So before going ahead with your web content strategy you must know who you’re talking to on a daily basis and then produce content accordingly.

What format of content your audience prefers?

I am a content writer but this doesn’t mean I always recommend text as the most preferred format of producing and publishing content. Different types of content formats can play a crucial role in your overall web content strategy such as video, audio-visual, audio, graphics, images, presentations, slideshows, and of course, text. The format of your content depends on your audience preference and the devices they use. If your audience prefers reading, by all means provide text. If they are more visual types then provide them images and graphics. If their devices can handle streaming video and they prefer that, then provide it.

Make sure that you stay away from the “me too” approach. Just because an XYZ website uses video doesn’t mean that you should use it too. Maybe it works for them, maybe it will, or maybe it won’t for you, or maybe it doesn’t even work for them but they still use it. It’s important to understand what format actually clicks for you and then produce plenty of it.

What channels you use to spread your content?

No matter how outstanding content you’re producing unless people know about it they are neither going to consume it nor promote it. You need to spread your content using proper channels. It can be your website/blog that enjoys lots of traffic. It can be your social media profiles such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. It can be Youtube if video is your primary content format. Nurture different channels and then use them to engage your audience and distribute your content.

How do you track the performance of your web content strategy?

Without tracking performance you are simply throwing darts in the darkness. You need to know whether your web content strategy is delivering or not. Although you won’t have enough data to analyze within a couple of weeks, and you need some ground for scientific analysis, once that initial hurdle is crossed, you need to constantly evaluate how your content performs with different parameters.

You can analyze individual webpages/blog posts in terms of

  • How much traffic they were able to generate
  • What important keywords and key phrases they were able to attract traffic for
  • How many people retweeted and shared them
  • How many people left comments
  • How many people explored further pages of your website after entering through those particular pages/blog posts
  • How many back links were they able to generate, etc.

Please note that these webpages and blog posts may also have indirect effects such as getting you more Twitter followers and Facebook likes and there are surely tools to measure even these indirect effects.

In the end, web content strategy is not your backyard activity. It requires lots of effort, understanding of your own market and figuring out a slew of different matrices.