The Way We Work
May 17, 2012 by Julia Camenisch

This is the final post in a series of three on creating and executing content strategies.
You can see the previous posts here and here.

“Once we commit to action, the worst thing we can do is to stop.”
— Steven Pressfield, author


You know your content strategy is foundational for your blogging efforts: Jenna’s recent post, Revitalize Your Blog With a New Content Strategy, discussed how thinking through your editorial goals is crucial to improving your blog’s performance.

But writing a content strategy for your business is no easy task, so once you have the final copy in hand, it is easy to let yourself relax. After all, the hard work is done, right?

Not quite. You have the roadmap, but you have only taken a step towards reaching your goals. Keep up the momentum by following this hands-on advice.

Getting Started

You will need two things to move your blog from ideas to action: Your content strategy, and your blog.

1. Create a mission statement.

Do you know, without referring to your content strategy, exactly what your blog’s goal is? You need a concise summary of what your blog is all about; your blog’s mission statement is key to keeping your content focused, serving double duty as both a filter and a promise:

  • This mission statement is a filter for content ideas, so you can separate the fluff posts from the rockstar, knock-their-socks-off posts.
  • It also acts as a promise to your audience that you will consistently produce articles and information focused on what they want to read.

 2. Create your categories.

The next step in safeguarding your blog’s focus is to create categories — in this case, the content label you assign to individual posts so they can be sorted by subject.

Your content strategy will help you identify your categories: Who are your main audience groups? What are the primary services you offer? These categories should reflect the specifics of what you will be blogging about.

Ideally, you should have at least five categories, but no more than 10. There are two benefits that you will derive from a smaller number of labels:

  • Your readers will have an easier time finding past articles.
  • Focused categories will save you time when brainstorming: by using them as a guide, you can quickly narrow post possibilities to a manageable range.

3. Create your editorial calendar.

calendarNow that you have invested so much time in your blog’s strategy and focus, the last thing you want to do is wander off topic. As Jenna noted, you need to plan a content pipeline; if you feel pressed for time, your most likely response will be to revert back to what is comfortable for you — putting your newfound focus at risk.

Purposeful blogging is time-intensive , so stay on track by creating a monthly editorial calendar. With just a few hours of brainstorming every month or two, you can map out the topics you want to cover and then schedule when to blog about them. (If you use WordPress, Edit Flow is one plugin that can help plan your editorial calendar and keep track of your ideas.)

4. Create a sponsor-friendly atmosphere.

If one of your goals is to attract advertising to your blog, staying on topic is essential. Advertisers often turn to publications in a particular niche because they know those readers are part of their potential customer base. Just like a print magazine, your blog can attract certain advertisers based on your readership; by keeping your blog’s content within a certain niche, you will provide a place advertisers can count on to connect with a relevant audience.

Maintaining the Momentum

"It's all a bit of a blur". Photo used under Creative Commons license from Nic McPhee on TwitterTrack what works for your readers – and what does not – by watching your blog analytics. For monitoring your blog, make sure to keep an eye on the metrics you identified in your content strategy. But in addition, two numbers in particular will provide solid information:

  • How many repeat visitors do you have?
  • How long are readers staying on your site?

If those numbers are low, but you are confident that the quality of the writing is good, revisit your content strategy. Are you still on focus? While there are a number of factors that can impact these statistics, make sure you give people a reason to read what you have to say.

On a regular basis, analyze what other people are doing.

How do your favorite publications keep you coming back for more?  They have earned your trust and your time — how can you do the same for your readers?

Also keep an eye on what your competitors are doing: Unless you are really lucky, you likely have at least a few. Monitor what they publish, and regularly evaluate their work. What types of content do their readers respond to? What does your business do that differentiates it from the competition — and does that come through in your blog posts? Analyze your competitors to learn from their strengths – and mistakes – to improve your own work.

By consistently producing focused, quality content, you will be well on your way to accomplishing that goal. For further reading, check out What Do You Stand For? Defining Your Personal Brand.

What are your favorite business blogs and why? Share examples of focused, strategic blogging in the comments section below.

Julia Camenisch

Contributing Author

Julia Camenisch is a freelance technology and business journalist. She also works as an editor and copywriter for a wide range of clients, including national magazines, small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Julia brings to Upwork a passion for empowering small businesses through the innovative use of technology.