Creating content on an ongoing basis can be a daunting task. It doesn’t go well if completed on a whim or only when inspiration comes. A solid content plan, allowing you to pre-plan content and pre-empt content marketing opportunities, is essential.
Content marketers know great planning can make the difference. It can be the difference between having a haphazard, unmaintained blog or a popular SEO-optimized website with many readers. This difference is in the details.
So how can you create a content plan that works without all the headache of an unnecessarily complicated process?
How To Plan Content
Every good content plan answers to the following questions:
Who are we creating content for?
Relevancy is at the core of content planning. Having a very clear understanding of who you are creating for is vital.
First define your target market, or the person that would benefit most from your content, up front. Then validates assumptions about them through research to create a better outline of what that group needs to know and what topics to develop.
How can we deliver it best?
There are a vast number of traditional and digital media distribution channels available. This means that making decisions on how and where to deliver content will tie back to your target audience.
Also to be considered is the length and complexity of the content. You can think about whether a piece can be repurposed to fit email, articles, video, podcasts, social media images, white papers or another format.
An explanation of software might well be presented in an explainer video or white paper. On the other hand, tips for better eating could be delivered in a numbered article and repurposed as a short slideshow. Either could then be shared with an appropriate social media image and direct response copy. The aim being to drive interest and traffic to the full content piece.
When is the best time for us to deliver it?
Make considerations of daily, weekly, monthly, or annual themes, seasons and holiday observances, or optimal consumption times. These considerations can help define when best to put out certain pieces of content.
A Thanksgiving tablescape article is best to be put out in October. While in February an article on date night planning might be more appropriate.
How To Use Mind Mapping For Content Planning
Mind mapping using MindMeister can help your content planning process significantly. By visually exploring keywords and topics, content types and calendars, ideas will flow and can later be solidified in an editorial calendar.
Mind mapping has been found to boost creativity so it’s the ideal tool to use for this content planning and ideation process.
Start by mapping content by month, using a central content bubble with topics for the main kinds of topics you wish to discuss. These should be based on your brand and audience.
For a fitness brand, it could be recipes, exercises, exercise attire, wearable tech, and emotional wellness. Under each topic, branch into seasonal considerations. These might be summer veggie dishes if planning for July, or how to do winter indoor exercises if planning for December.
Then start to explore how to deliver each content piece and what medium could be used for distribution.
How To Create An Editorial Calendar
After brainstorming content types and topics, documenting ideas in an editorial calendar can help narrow things down into an easier to read format.
Start by creating columns for month, theme and topics. Using your mind map/s as a reference, complete the rows in your editorial calendar for the month, quarter or year. This will depend on how advanced or extensive your content planning needs to be.
Your internal editorial calendar may also include the format of the piece. This is especially the case if developing an ongoing column or video series, for example. Additionally, if you have an extremely granular content plan, try creating an editorial calendar for each of the various content types.
The key to creating a great content plan is thinking ahead. However, this requires putting aside time to work out what is best for your audience and when.
Although this process can get deeply analytical, a great birds-eye content plan is straightforward to create. With a solid content plan, you can schedule content in a more strategic and detailed way on an ongoing basis.
Answer key questions, using mind maps to discover content and delivery ideas. Then by documenting a plan into an editorial calendar, an executable content marketing plan can be painless.
Try setting up your content planning mind map with MindMeister. Make sure to let us know how you get on in the comments below!
If you enjoyed this article, read our guide on how to create an editorial calendar using MeisterTask.