There are a whole lot of marketers who come up with a content idea, and then they immediately sit down to create it without spending a single second in the planning stage. And there are also a whole lot of marketers whose content isn’t very effective at all.
It’s not a coincidence that there’s a lot of overlap between these two groups. As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, then you’re planning to fail. And that’s why here in this article I’d like to offer you the proven steps and tips you need to plan out a really effective content.
Plan Your Objective
Before you even think about writing a single word for an article or a video script, you need to decide what your objective is for that piece or content. In other words, what do you want people to do after they finish viewing the content? And what key takeaways would you like to instill?
It’s important you determine this upfront, as you’ll design your content around your objective. Be sure to just choose one primary objective and focus on achieving that singular objective. If you have too many goals in mind, you’re going to dilute your efforts and up with a low conversion rate.
Choose Your Format
The next thing to do is determine the best format for your piece of content. There are actually two decisions you need to make:
1) Should this be one long piece of content, or should you break it up into multiple smaller pieces of content?
This is going to depend, in part, on your objectives. For example, you might have multiple objectives, in which case you might create multiple pieces of content, with each piece serving a singular objective.
In other cases, you may decide on creating multiple pieces of content that all have the same objective. In these cases, the multiple pieces help boost the conversion rate. For example, you might create a series of articles to presell an offer.
You also need to consider your secondary goals. For example, if the primary goal is to presell an offer and the secondary goal is to generate traffic with your content through SEO, then you’ll probably create a longer piece of content as that’s what Google tends to prefer.
2) Which format will best help deliver your message?
Secondly, you need to decide on the overall format. For example, are you going to do a video or an article? And within these formats, what style content will you use? Examples include a product review, a tutorial, a buyer’s guide, a list of tips and so on.’
Again, look to your primary objective in order to determine which style of content will best help you meet that objective.
List Topics of Interest
Now you need to do some thinking about the three to five topics of interest you’d like to include in your content. If you’re writing content that’s designed to presell an offer, then your content should include information about the product’s features, the product’s benefits, and the potential objections buyers have to this offer which your content will seek to overcome.
Brainstorm Additional Content
If you know a lot about a topic, you may do the brainstorming first, and then fill it in after completing your research (which is the next step mentioned below). If the topic is somewhat new to you, then you may do your initial research first and then do this brainstorming.
What you want to do now is look at the key points and takeaways you’ve included, and look for ways to add value to your content. For example, you can flesh out your ideas by including:
- Mistakes to avoid.
- Dos and don’ts.
- Mind maps.
And similar. Remember, you’re brainstorming here, so don’t censor yourself as you come up with ideas. Instead, write them all down without judgement (and later you can finalize these points).
Do Some Research of What’s an Effective Content Piece
Now you need to do some research in order to prepare to create the outline and begin the writing stage. Check out these tips:
- Use different search terms in the search engines. For example, “housetraining a puppy” and “potty training a dog” will bring up slightly different results, so you’ll get more info if you search on multiple related terms.
- Check out sales letters and tables of contents. These items will help you uncover any main points or benefits you want to include in your content.
- Focus on reputable sources only. This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. For example, if you’re looking for research and data, then go to Google Scholar to find academic journals.
- Collect research for your ghostwriter (where applicable). Be sure to include notes about what it is about the content that you like and which points you want to include.
As always, use your research to help you decide which talking points to include, but do not in any way copy anyone else’s work. Don’t even try to “rewrite” it. Instead, close your sources and write out the information in your own words once you get to the writing phase.
Ask Yourself This Question
As you’re planning your content, ask yourself what someone with more experience might want to know about this topic. This will help you move past the basics and offer tips, steps and ideas that will engage more advanced members of your audience.
Complete Keyword Research
If you’d like to get your content ranked in the search engines, then be sure to do your keyword research at this point. You should only include your keywords in the content if you can do so naturally. In other words, write for your human readers first.
The difference between those who create mediocre content and those who create high-performing content often comes down to planning. This may not be the sexiest part of the writing process, but it is one of the most important steps, so don’t skip it! For more information, be sure to check out this free Article Traffic Checklist, which lays out the steps you need to take to plan, create, polish and distribute highly effective content.