It can be a challenge to write high-quality, compelling content for an audience.
But the more planning and preparation you do for these projects ahead of time, the better your finished product will be.
This is true for most scenarios in life.
Writing interesting, insightful, and educational content for readers is certainly no different.
Use the six steps below for the best way to plan a blog post from start to finish, and publish content that is interesting and educational for a specific audience (i.e. potential customers).
Readers won’t just respect this content and the brand behind it, but will actually seek out this content and hold the brand in high regard.
This is the natural way to build authority for readers as well as search engines like Google.
1. Know the Brand You’re Representing
There can never be enough emphasis on this.
Too many times when writing on behalf of a brand or business, writers forget (or never consider) said brand’s overall voice and tone.
This is a critical component for success when it comes to consistency, styling, and messaging.
You want to ensure all of this is in line with general brand guidelines and its overall brand image.
Larger, well-established brands typically will have brand guidelines that should include brand voice and tone.
But even if official brand guidelines aren’t available, there are still many ways you can get a greater understanding of a brand, its voice and tone, and its general messaging with goals in mind.
Read Old Blogs by the Brand
A good starting point would be to look back and read older blog content published by the brand.
Depending on how long the brand has been creating well-developed, quality content, you could get a deep understanding of the general style and brand voice used.
Work to recreate that with your own insightful spin.
Run a Content Audit (or a Shorter, Modified Version of One)
When in a position to run the overarching content strategy or just consistently write content for the same brand, it would likely be worth a writer or content strategist’s time to run a micro content audit.
This will help you get the best idea of, not just the overall style and voice of the content, but also the goals of the brand and to identify what works well in terms of traffic, engagement, and performance (and what does not).
This will also help when developing ideas for blog topics and to identify content gaps.
Look at Competitors
Another way to get a good understanding of the brand a writer represents, and what not to be, is to look at some of the brand’s main competitors.
Competitors will likely publish their own quality content, but the content produced on behalf of a competing brand like the one you represent should be unique to that brand.
That is one of the main ways brands can — and are supposed to — stand out. Use it to your advantage.
This is also a no-brainer when moving into a content role within a business or industry one may not be too familiar with.
You want to understand the brand you represent and its messaging, obviously.
But it will also help to understand the brand’s main competitors, how they work to separate themselves from their competition, and ways you can surpass them in terms of educating and enlightening potential customers.
2. Understand Your Audience
Understanding the audience you’re writing for goes hand-in-hand with knowing the brand you represent.
You can’t understand your audience without also knowing the brand you’re writing for.
You can’t publish quality content without fully understanding both of those critical variables.
Using the above-mentioned means to better understand both is always going to help a brand’s overall content strategy and execution.
Remember to use topics that interest your audience and verbiage that makes sense to your audience.
3. Finding Topics to Write About
This may be one of the most difficult steps of the planning process for many. But it shouldn’t be.
As a writer that represents a brand — a brand that is an authority on certain topics and/or industries — there is always going to be valuable insight to offer current and potential customers.
Think about frequently asked questions on many websites; they are built from topics/questions commonly asked repeatedly over time by those interested in the brand and/or its business, and those answers are sought out through search engines thousands of times per day.
Offering people (the right) answers to their questions is always going to build trust behind a brand and the writers representing it.
Aside from the frequently-asked-questions exercise to explore content ideas, writers should also lean on competitive analysis to come up with more good topics to write about.
Some brands will do a decent job of covering a lot of different topics within their industry, while other brands will do a better job covering only specific areas within that industry they may specialize in or have more experience in.
Use all this research to build out quality blog topics based on the abundance or lack of quality content on certain topics.
Identify the content gaps of competitors as areas to focus on and start to gain market share from competition, and stand out in the areas that other brands are lacking in.
An analysis of your own brand in a similar way will help you identify where your brand is lacking as well.
Conducting keyword research around topics and ideas helps writers develop keyword targets, but also helps shape blog posts in terms of:
- Topics covered.
- Questions to be answered.
- The important elements of more in-depth issues with a variety of layers and subtopics.
Over the last 10 to 15 years, a bunch of keyword-research tools has hit the market to help aid content strategists with topic discovery.
In addition to classic tools like Google Keyword Planner (formerly known as the Keyword Tool), Ubersuggest, Google Analytics, and traditional Google Autocomplete, new-and-improved platforms like SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, Moz’s Keyword Explorer, and MarketMuse, just to name a few, have also made quite the impact on the world of content.
Other proprietary tools that are higher in terms of cost but are ever-so-powerful, like Conductor and BrightEdge, offer even more content ideas and high-value keyword targets to help shape strategy, among other content marketing tools.
Make Sure It’s Interesting
Most of all — and it may sound simple, but it is all too often ignored — make sure the content you’re planning is interesting to the audience that it is being written for.
If you’re well-versed in a brand and/or industry and don’t personally find a blog topic to be interesting, helpful, or educational, chances are the audience won’t think it is, either.
Write about interesting topics while offering expert opinion, feedback, and insight.
The audience will reward it by trusting the brand, its content, and its messaging.
4. Do Your Research
Thorough research from credible sources is a main pillar of quality content.
Obviously, readers will look for expert opinions and analysis based on research done.
That’s what allows writers and brands to stand out — real-life experience and a deeper explanation of sometimes complex situations.
But that research is paramount to building authoritative content that will have a long-standing impact.
As with all published content, be sure to check and double-check all facts and properly source proprietary knowledge to its original publisher.
This can be done using outbound links, in line with SEO best practices.
5. Create a Strong, Enticing Headline
Headline writing is an art, even more so in the age of the internet.
Now, more than ever before in our lifetime, humans are consuming vast amounts of information from all over the place.
Headlines must be great to stand out.
Otherwise, the content will likely never be seen.
There are a variety of different approaches to take when developing a crafty and attractive headline that will grab readers’ attention.
All headlines must:
- Relate directly back to the content they represent.
- Be well-written.
- Not be too long.
6. Consider Visual Content
Rich media will always help a blog post in terms of click-through rate and the general likelihood that someone would be more enticed to click on and it and learn more.
This also helps if headline writing isn’t your craft; a good visual typically attracts readers, and it’s easier for the eyes to understand and retain visuals than it is written word.
Know what works best for your content and your audience.
Next Steps After the Blog Post Is Prepared
- Write it!
- Optimize it all.
- Copyedit it, then copyedit it again.
- Then have someone else copyedit it for you.
More Content Marketing Resources:
- Content With Purpose: How to Set Goals for Every Content Piece You Create
- 5 Places You Should Be Looking for Content
- Create Great Content from the Start by Following These 3 Steps