Often, when one goes to start a blog for any purpose, they just… start writing. There’s no blog content strategy. Categories and tags are thought up on the fly. There’s more focus on things likeand blog post length than anything else.
I’ve done a lot ofwith clients where we’re talking about their blog content strategy. Often, they come to me with plans such as “creating 6 pillar posts” or “make all my blog posts at least 1500 words in length”. They have obviously read all kinds of blogs about blogging and they have a little laundry list of mechanical tactics they believe will satisfy Google. But…
There’s more to it.
What they lack is an overall blog content strategy.
They’re too focused on tactics and they haven’t really addressed the strategy first.
In this post, I want to show you how to plan out your blog’s “big picture”. And I’ll give you an idea of how to structure it.
Blogging should not be reactionary. It should not be a content hamster wheel where you sit down to write something, but need to rack your brain about exactly what that will be.
Let’s making blogging intentional. Let’s be proactive. Let’s give it a purpose.
Table of Contents
In This Post…
Strategy Versus Tactics
There’s a difference between strategy and tactics.
Tactics are the smaller things you do. The little things done in order to execute part of a broader strategy.
A strategy is the broad plan one devises in order to tackle an area and expand.
In order to have a strategy, you need to understand what your goal is. What are you trying to accomplish? What do you want it to look like?
With the goal in mind, one devises their strategy to accomplish it. That strategy is pretty “big picture” and is the overall plan of attack.
That strategy breaks down into smaller tactics. Tactics are individual steps or smaller guidelines that go into executing the larger strategy.
So, we have a definite hierarchy of action here. We want all of our little daily actions to be in alignment toward a larger strategy – and hence in alignment toward accomplishing a particular goal.
Now, let’s apply this to our blog…
What Is Our Blog Content Strategy?
Have you ever thought about what the goal of your blog actually is?
The goal of your blog is to make an impact in the marketplace (specific to your niche, of course), gain adequate traffic, then being able to convert that traffic into something meaningful.
That’s the purpose of the blog. Attract humans who are looking for your solutions, help them, then convert them (into leads and sales).
Our blog content strategy is, then, a broad, cohesive plan that will guide the overall approach to making that happen. Our strategy must include:
- Attracting humans in our target market
- Helping them
- Converting them into leads and/or customers
A content strategy guides the overall body of content that is your blog. It is a long-term plan. Something that guides what you are intentionally working on when you choose your topics, your category structure… and even the details of each post you create.
When you are building your content strategy, you are envisioning the overall body of work that your blog can and will become. Instead of your blog just morphing into something over time in a reactionary way, we’re envisioning the ideal scene of what we want that blog to look like.
- What topics are most important for the blog to cover?
- What are the guiding principles and beliefs you want your blog to convey to your readers?
- How do you intend to help them?
- What content formats will best serve them?
- What “next steps” will you convert your readers into?
These are all aspects of your blog content strategy.
This is “big picture” stuff. This is you sitting back like the war general on the hill top looking over the entire battlefield and envisioning a winning strategy for the war.
How Do You Begin To Create A Blog Content Strategy?
First of all, everything starts with our target market and our niche.
Who do you want to attract to your blog and, ultimately, your business? What kind of person is it? What are they looking to accomplish?
For the sake of this post, I’m not going to dive into things likeand market research. I’ve covered that in other areas before. At this point, I will assume that you know who you’re serving, what your niche is, and you know your subject well enough to be discussing it on a blog.
I want to also remind you of the fundamental building block of monetizing a blog and, indeed, any business under the face of the sun: product/market fit. I cover this much more extensively in my guide on.
Product and market are two equal sides of this equation and they must be a match with one another. The market is the people you want to attract to your blog. The product is what you want to sell them.
Your product needs to be built to serve the needs and wants of your market. It doesn’t matter whether it is an online course, a book, a physical product, consulting, coaching, a service, software, etc… it needs to be designed to serve the needs and wants of your market.
Your blog sits there between your market and your product. It is supposed to attract them, help them, then funnel them into the business.
So, the two major components of your content strategy are:
- Who you wish to attract and serve (aka, your market).
- How you intend to serve them (aka, your product)
Now, when you start looking at the people you wish to attract and what it is you can do for them, you’re very likely going to find that it isn’t just one thing. Your zone of expertise can break down into several areas.
So, you start your content strategy by breaking that down into sections. We’re going to begin to give our blog a structure.
Top Level: Content Silos
Instead of thinking about “pillar posts” or what your blog categories should be right off the bat, let’s think in terms of content silos.
A silo is one of those big, tall, cylinder tanks used to store things. But, in terms of content, we can think of a silo as a major topic. A sort of category or container under which you will file a series of future blog posts, guides and lead magnets.
Your blog strategy starts with your silos. And you should determine those silos based on the top interests of your particular market.
I have 6 content silos in my own strategy that I am reorienting this blog around as part of a content audit. They are:
Your’s will be different, of course. In my case, though, these are all major areas that I know my target market is interested in and searches for. Not only that, these are major areas that I know that I can help people in. This is what I do, after all.
You need to look at who you serve and create a short list of the major zones of interest. For instance, I have clients who are chiropractors. So, some silos might be things like back pain, joint pain, tight muscles, etc.
You want to select your silos based on what your target market is most interested in. Align it around the problems they wish to solve. With more specific markets, your silos could be specific. In spaces with a lot of potential interests (like mine), your silos may be broader categories. But…
It is important your silos are in alignment with that YOUR market needs and wants.
Also, I don’t recommend you create any more than 5 or 6 silos. Any more than that and I think you’re risking being far too broad with your niche. You may even have just 2 or 3 main silos and that’s OK.
Keep in mind, too, that each of your silos could have sub-categories beneath it that you can use for organizational purposes. It is up to you.
Building Out Your Strategy From There
And here’s what you’re going to do with those content silos:
- You will create a landing page on your site for each of these content silos.
- You will create a major flagship post or reference guide to go on top of that silo. Potentially more than one.
- You will cover more specific topics of each silo as future blog posts and videos. Essentially, use it as a category. Plan future content around adding more value to each silo.
- Create a lead magnet (or more than one) to go with each silo.
- Create an offer for each silo, or take your primary offer and re-position the marketing “hook” for each silo. This way any content within that silo will serve as to get people into your sales machine, but specific to their area of concern/interest.
You see how this works?
You see how a blog and a sales machine (and the business as a whole) kinda “click” together?
Content Silo Landing Pages
I think it is most effective to create a landing page for each of your content silos. These silos will become a major navigational guide for your blog.
In essence, they will serve as category landing pages.
These are pages that you will actually create for this purpose. I don’t recommend you simply use the category archive template of your theme that simply lists the latest posts in the category. That’s not good enough.
Create an optimized landing page. The components will include:
- Some text that provides some global guidance or viewpoints on the topic of the silo.
- Highlight of the top pillar posts within that silo. Might be just one flagship post for the silo, or could be a handful of them. Each of these highlighted pillar posts will deeply cover some aspect of the topic of the silo.
- Other posts listed in for that silo. This is a list of other articles that cover that topic that were not pillar posts.
- A relevant call to action. Could be an opt-in for a targeted lead magnet centered around the topic, or a hook into your offer. Or both.
Essentially, this is a category landing page, but one that you are building to be optimized and funnel people’s attention into the things most likely to help them.
PRO TIP: Build these pages as actual pages. Then, match these silos up to blog categories. Then, use your SEO plugin to redirect category archive URLs to your optimized silo page instead. Then, whenever your categories show up in breadcrumbs or anywhere else, people will go to your silo page rather than the un-optimized category archive.
Content Silos As A Guide For Post Topics
With these silo topics as top-level categories, what you want to do is sit down and outline all of the in’s and out’s of that topic that your readers may be looking for solutions with.
First, start with the really big concerns as top-level pillar posts. Then, you can work that down into a more granular list of topics.
I would recommend you use an outlining tool or a mind map to do this. Personally, I’m a big fan ofbut you can use whatever you want.
Your list of ideas and topics will come from your own knowledge of the market and your expertise, but also perhaps some time browsing search results and potentially even some SEO tools to find out what people are searching for. Don’t make this overly complicated as you can always change it or improve upon it later.
The idea is simply to outline a list of blog post ideas for each of your content silos.
Again, envision the body of work you are creating. In an ideal world, how would your blog present itself? What would it cover? What pain points of your market will it address?
You’re not constraining yourself here by what your blog may look like right now. It is quite possible that you’ve had a blog for a while and weren’t doing it according to a solid strategy. I know the feeling, trust me. 😉 So, don’t constraint yourself by looking at your existing blog. Instead, envision what you feel your blog should be.
This is where you get into the very essence of how your blog content strategy will translate into your plan on what to on your blog moving forward. This is how strategy turns into tactics.
How Content Translates Into Making Offers
Creating this blog content strategy doesn’t mean a lot of it doesn’t convert people into leads and sales.
We want each silo, each pillar post and indeed each blog post to serve as “top of funnel” content. The purpose is to help the reader and then convert them.
So, we need to make offers. These offers must be aligned around the material they just consumed (and thereby indicated they have an interest in).
The offers can be free or paid. They can be as simple as an opt-in for a relevant… or an invitation to learn more about a product or service.
Here’s a few suggestions here:
- Part of your content strategy should include the creation of lead magnets specific to each of your content silos. Each lead magnet is designed to cater to that specific area. The opt-in for that lead magnet will be your default lead magnet for any post within that category tree.
- You should have offers for each of your content silos. In other words, something to sell them. It could be a product or service specific to that concern, or perhaps just a different marketing hook for one global offer.
- I would make it a checklist item that you never publish a blog post without at least one call to action.
Now, a word on “hooks” here. If you have 5 or 6 content silos on your blog, this doesn’t mean you need 5 or 6 different products or services. Many businesses offer just one primary service. However, you can re-position and present a different hook for the same offer within each of those silos so that it is a more appropriate fit.
As an example, let’s take one of my services:. Basically, these are coaching calls. It is a rather general offer because we use those calls to do any number of things. This means the same offer could be positioned in different ways. Let’s see some basic examples of this for each of my own content silos:
- Membership sites – “Let’s get on the phone together and hash out the details of your membership site.”
- Business & Entrepreneurship – “In 60 minutes, let’s go over your business expansion strategy and fine tune your plan for the next 12 months“
- Promotion & traffic – “Together, let’s deep dive into your content strategy and find the opportunities to increase your traffic“
- Marketing automation – “Let me help you work out the plumbing for your 24/7 sales machine that works automatically“
- Planning & Launch – “In 60 minutes, get some clarity on your plan of action for your brand new business.“
- Platform building. – “Let’s talk shop and find the exact combination of tools best suited to your business.“
As you can see… same exact offer, just positioned in different ways with different hooks. You can do this with lead magnets, too, although it is probably usually best to create different ones for each silo.
Making and positioning offers in the right context within your content is a core component of your blog content strategy.
The Key Takeaways
Let me briefly summarize some of the key points I would like for you to take from this article and apply to your own blog.
- A blog content strategy provides a structure to things rather than feeling like you’re just on some hamster wheel pumping out crap because the calendar told you to. It is about having a strategic plan for the structure of your blog, but for your plan of posts to create for the foreseeable future.
- Your content strategy should be centered around a handful of core topics or concerns of your target market. These will be turned into content silos.
- Each silo will be engineered to really help people with that core zone of interest or concern, through a handful of major pillar posts as well as a growing list of helpful posts over time.
- Each silo should have it’s own default lead magnet (for opt-in) and be matched to an offer (either unique, or positioned with a suitable hook)
- It is important to brainstorm and create this blog content strategy as a separate, executive action than actually creating content. In other words, you are creating this plan without necessarily constraining yourself by what your blog is now.
Your Next Steps
You’ve got two choices here, as I see it.
You could blog by the seat of your pants and basically wing it the whole time. The result is likely to be a blog that contains a lot of useless, outdated content as time goes on. You may have a category and tag list that is ridiculously long because it was always reactive to whatever came to mind at the time. And you may have a bunch of content that really doesn’t fuel your business or earn email subscribers at all.
You could take the time to create a real blog content strategy that is suitable for your purposes. And by following that strategy, you build a blog that actually fuels your business. Where ever post serves as an asset for your business over the long-term. And where your blog has actually become a body of work that you are proud of… not only because it is effective in helping meet your business goals, but it is actually a helpful resource for people looking for real answers.
In my view, it is best to start working on this strategy as early in your blog’s life as possible. But, all is not lost if that’s not the case. I absolutely speak from experience in this regard.
As of this writing, I am in the middle of a huge content audit on this very site. The strategy has been formulated, but now I am going back into a blog which has existed for quite awhile and I am re-engineering it to fit my strategy.
It is worth doing.