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How to Write an Effective Content Plan

Understand the difference between a content plan and a content strategy and follow our guide for creating a content marketing plan for your business.

You understand the power of content marketing. You’ve seen how it can generate leads and content engagement, getting your brand seen and found online. Now you’re ready to get organised and create content methodically to see leaps and bounds in its effectiveness, but how do you go about it?

You need a content plan.

Read on or if you'd rather listen to the article you can hit play below.

What is a content plan?

A content plan is a practical plan of all the content you intend to create and release in a defined time frame. The plan includes the research you do before you publish the content, and the tracking you do after. It outlines what topics you intend to share, when, as well as which team member(s) will create it.

What’s the difference between a content strategy and a content plan?

If you’ve already put together your content strategy, you may be wondering if you need to spend more time planning. The answer is yes, and here’s why:

Your content strategy is the groundwork behind your content plan - it defines the goals and objectives of your content. Your content strategy is the why behind everything your content plan does. It includes your research on what your ideal customer wants to know and what your competitors are doing.

Your content plan is the action plan for all that knowledge.

In other words, your content strategy is like all the decisions that need to be made before a house is built, and a content plan is the blueprint to follow to bring it to life.

How to Write an Effective Content Plan

1. Revisit Your Content Strategy

Have your content strategy to hand (or a summary of its main aims and needs) so you can use it as your north star as you create your content plan. Without it in mind, it can be easy to get swept up in creating content on a single topic or in competing with your competitors on the content they’re creating.

While neither will necessarily be disastrous, you likely won’t notice that you’ve deviated from your content strategy and will have less genuine data to analyse. You should aim to have measurable results from your content plan that align with your content strategy’s goals.

If you’ve yet to define goals and KPIs for your content strategy and/or plan, do so now.

2. Create a Content Plan Document

Next, create a Google Sheet (or similar, depending on your company’s preferred tools) that will track and define:

  • Who - who will create a piece of content
  • What - what type and format of content it will be
  • Topic - the main idea behind the content
  • Goal - the content’s purpose
  • Keywords - main keywords found in research for the content
  • Outline - a link to an outline or script for the content, if necessary
  • Where - where the content will be published
  • When - when do you plan to publish the content
  • Promote - where you will promote the content, plus how and when
  • Published - a link to the published piece of content when complete

You can include your tracking stats in this document too if you aren’t doing so elsewhere, such as the number of views, comments, backlinks, and so on. We recommend creating this document in a spreadsheet or another format that allows you to reorder your content, so you can rearrange it if you need to.

3. Audit Your Content

Spend a little time auditing the content you’ve already produced. If there’s a lot, search through it using keywords that will be central to your content plan. Look for any old pieces of content you could update and/or repurpose to save yourself a little time. Not only is this a great way to save time rehashing old topics, but it also helps you get more eyes on the content you created when your audience was smaller.

4. Decide on Content Type and Channels

If you’ve been creating content for a while, you may already have an upload schedule your audience expects. However, whether you’ve got a defined publishing schedule or not, make sure you keep your goals and aims front and centre as you decide this. Make sure you consider where your content will best resonate, not just how you can meet scheduled uploads.

5. Content Research

If you haven’t already, now is the time to research the topics you want to cover (or more accurately, what your audience wants to hear about), keywords you want to hit, and competitor posts you want to outcompete. This should give you a long list of ideas to use in our next step.

6. Plan Your Content

Finally, all you need to do now is turn all those ideas and information into a coherent content plan. Don’t fill in your content plan with ideas randomly - think about how content can build upon each other to take your audience on a journey and uplevel their knowledge.

This is a great way to demonstrate your authority and keep visitors coming back again and again. Provided you’ve created a document as suggested in step 2, you’ll be able to move things around as the plan develops.

With your content plan complete, all you need to do is create the content and track your results. Make sure you review if you’ve reached your goals (and why, whether you did or didn’t hit them) before you repeat this process.

A content plan ensures you aren’t plucking topics out of the air or getting swept up in a trend that has no longevity or is only of interest to a small minority of your audience.

As you create your content plan, we recommend you dig into these posts to ensure you don’t make unnecessary mistakes:

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