The Way We Work
April 23, 2012 by Jenna Weiner

You have been diligently posting content to your blog, making sure to publish frequently on topics that are fresh, trending and relevant. You have been promoting your blog posts on social media channels, and responding to comments quickly and authentically. But despite all your best efforts, your blog is not getting the traffic you had hoped for. What more can you do to attract relevant visitors?

It may be time to go back to basics and refresh your content strategy. Here are three steps to make the process as seamless and effective as possible.

1. Start with a creative brief

You would never start building a house without a blueprint, so how can you rebuild your editorial strategy without a plan? A creative brief allows you to think through all the aspects of your project in a structured, focused way, and aligns everyone involved. You can check out some sample creative briefs for inspiration, but the main elements you will need to include are:

  • Name of project lead
  • Names of key stakeholders
  • Timeline and key milestones
  • Scope
    Is this just a new focus for the post topics? Or will it be more extensive, involving a redesign or even new contributors?
  • Primary and secondary goals
    Will you be focusing on thought leadership? Acquiring new customers? Engaging existing customers? Building a community?
  • Target audience
    What are their demographics? What do they value? How do they behave? The more you can paint a picture of your target audience, the more you can tailor your content accordingly. 
  • Requirements
    This section can include things like the desired tone, voice, categories, tags, frequency of posts, and distribution of topics. It may be helpful to put together a sample editorial calendar that outlines the frequency and topic ratios. 
  • Relevant metrics to assess performance
    Pick no more than three metrics to monitor, so you can stay focused on the ones that matter most. Choose from measures such as subscribers, unique visitors, comments, mentions by designated influencers, etc. These should align with your primary and secondary goals.
  • Example content
    This can be as minimal as sample headlines or as extensive as actual posts; the goal here is to flesh out what the ideal topics, tone and voice should be. This section, if well-executed, breathes life into the rest of the brief.
  • References
    In this section, provide some examples of other blogs that you admire, ideally ones that have similar goals to yours. Along with a link to these blogs, include a brief summary of why each is a good model. 
Don’t underestimate the impact of identifying your target audience and goals, and aligning your blog content accordingly. For example, Stella Fayman of FeeFighters told Mashable that she originally focused her company blog on social media topics, even though this wasn’t really related to her business, because she saw it working for other corporate blogs.
“After a while, I realized that in order to establish our brand as a small business finance resource, we needed to blog about what no one else talking about and what was more related to our business: small business operations and finance,” she told Mashable. “Our traffic increased significantly after we made this switch.”

2. Circulate the brief among key stakeholders

If you are a one-person business, this step is easy!

If there are other team members involved in your marketing efforts, or those who may serve as important blog contributors later on, make sure to review the new brief with them so they can provide feedback before the implementation phase. Do not forget to share other related documents as well, such as the sample editorial calendar.

3. Plan a pipeline, and flip the switch

Before you switch over to your new content strategy, brainstorm some topic ideas that will be in line with the new editorial goals. Once you have a good number of posts lined up, you can focus on the execution of these ideas, instead of scrambling to publish content that aligns with your new strategy. If you are pressed for time and need to keep up with a certain frequency of posting, you will be more likely to revert back to what is familiar.

After you start publishing new content (and promoting it on your social media channels!) make sure to keep an eye on the metrics you designated. That will allow you to take the pulse of your new editorial strategy, and tweak it when necessary.

Have you ever refreshed your blog’s content strategy? Do you have any tips to pass on? Please share them in the comments section below!

Jenna Weiner

Content Marketer

Jenna Weiner is the former content marketing manager at oDesk and was the editor-in-chief of the oDesk blog. With a background in business and technology writing, she specializes in content marketing and strategy, public relations, and branding. Before joining oDesk, Jenna was a writer and editor for Monitor Group’s marketing department (now Monitor Deloitte) and was the Business & Technology Section Editor for Brafton Inc.… read more