Content Criminal Minds: Fast & easy ways to streamline your content strategy

A solid content strategy will organize & track contentEditor’s note: This is the third in the Content Criminal Minds series by Angie Nikoleychuk. You may want to check out her first post, Why Your Content Needs a BAU, and her second, 11 Essential Goals of a Solid Content Strategy, as they are every bit as creative and resource-rich as this third! – LJC

If you are familiar with the show Criminal Minds, then you know that Aaron Hotchner, the exalted leader of the Criminal Minds BAU Team, makes sure everyone meets their goals – but that’s not his only job. He also needs to organize and track everything they do. You need to do the same thing with your content strategy.

Sounds easy enough. But, if you publish frequently, or work with more than one site, you can spend just as much time tracking everything as you do creating the content. Don’t worry. There is a solution…

What Your Content Strategy Needs

No matter what type of content you create or what industry you work in, a quality content strategy will have the same traits and goals.

It should:

  • Contain a good mix of content styles each week — Having list posts, longer pieces, short tidbits, funny images, controversial discussions, etc. ensures there’s something for everyone.
  • Have a nice mix of content types including images and video.
  • Include clearly defined and easy-to-use themes (categories and/or series) — Can readers get from one part of a series to the next?
  • Take advantage of current hot topics. — If the big topic of the week is women in tech, publish an interview with a leading lady, an opinion piece, or news items that you could tie into the topic.
  • Get readers emotionally involved. — It’s harder for readers to forget about you when you make an impression on them. Do your best to make them feel something. Bonus points if you can get them to act or react.
  • Include notable resources visitors will return to over and over again.
  • Address the needs of each of your target audiences at each phase of the life cycle.

 

This is just a short list, of course. Your content strategy could have any number of additional needs depending on your assets and where you are in your journey to success.

The real issue for many of us is figuring out how to actually track and do all of this!

How to Make Managing Your Content Strategy Faster and Easier

The answer? Work smarter.

Create a routine that works with your personality/strengths and take advantage of automation. No, I’m not talking about buying cheap articles and spinning them thousands of times. Or, auto-posting and “curating” tons of content published elsewhere. I’m suggesting you automate the mindless stuff, and optimize your time, so you can focus on the things that need your attention: creating content and running your business.

Here are a few ways to make content management faster and easier:

Content Ideas & Generation

  • Make use of programs such as Yahoo! Pipes, Huginn, DERI Pipes, or even an RSS reader with a decent tag system to collect and track the latest happenings in your industry and those related to you.
  • Need some inspiration? Try the Content Idea Generator V2 Google Spreadsheet tool from Daniel Butler or the Ultimate Link Building Query Generator (Google Doc) from Gaz Copeland.
  • Short on content? Break longer pieces up into a set of smaller ones and add internal links. You may even want to manage it with plugins like Organize Series.
  • Ideas come at any time. Do yourself a favour and write them down along with links to related images, videos, media, and the source of your inspiration. Then, you can return any time to create the content and finish it up.
  • Don’t sweat the big stuff. Not everything you write has to be a massive undertaking. Usually, I find a quick rant I knock out in 30 minutes will often do better than the pieces I spend hours putting together.

 

Content Management and Tracking

  • You might be tempted to blog every day, but don’t overdo it. Decide what you can comfortably commit to and stick to it. Remember that all marketing costs time or money. It’s up to you how much of each you’ll “pay”.
  • Plan your content ahead of time. If your brain doesn’t work that way and you can only create when you’re inspired, plan out the basics like a category or content type. Then, create as you get inspired and schedule it in. If you find there are certain goals or topics you can’t seem to cover, find someone else who can or an alternative way of meeting the demand. It might sound silly, but I often find this leads to new and creative ideas I wouldn’t have come up with otherwise.
  • Track everything in a spreadsheet. Include details like the goal of the content, the audience it’s intended for, and how it performed. Getting into the habit can be a bit tough, but you’ll find it gets faster and easier when you train yourself to do it as you go. It will also prevent you from having to keep looking it up.
  • Bring existing and former customers into the conversation. You and your readers will be able to learn a lot from their experiences. Besides, you never know what will happen when customers start interacting with each other.
  • Use an editorial calendar to track your ideas, what’s waiting to go live, and what has gone live. Tools like Trello work great for this, too. In reality, there are tons of other methods and tools. The important thing is to find something that works the way you do.

 

And don’t forget to track the results of all your hard work:

  • Content shares are important. Who shared? Where? This will help you identify patterns and improve future content.
  • Did you get any backlinks for it? If so, where? What kinds of sites?
  • Who commented? Which audience do they fit in? Can you make use of this connection later?

 

One Tool to Rule Them All

I know this is a TON of information to remember and track. Want to know how I do it? With a content management spreadsheet. (I’ve made templates available in .xlt and .xltx format.) Enjoy!

 

About the Author ~ Angie Nikoleychuk

A seven-year veteran in the war against boring, crap content, copywriter Angie Nikoleychuk loves writing, but she loves content strategy even more. She’s always up for a challenge and enjoys showing others how much fun (and effective) content can be. When she’s not running Angie’s Copywriting or on Twitter, she can be found doing other weird and wonderful things like geocaching, crafting, or performing as a professional oboist.

 

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