A really good content project will drive more traffic to your website, increase your engagement with your audience, and increase the quality of leads you get online. But good content doesn’t just happen out of no where – you need to think it through, and be prepared.
You’ll need a content policy and strategy, and regularly updated plans, to make sure you get the most out of your content every time you publish.
Your content policy should outline the rules and structures which surround your content project. You’ll need to consider the following questions:
- Who writes your content, and who approves it?
- What tone and style of writing should be used?
- How often should content be written?
- How long should articles and headlines be?
- When can exceptions be made to the rules?
- What are your ‘worst case scenarios’ and how will they be handled?
Your policy creates a structure within which your content can thrive. Even if it’s just you writing content for your own freelance business, that doesn’t mean you don’t need one. Feel free not to call it a policy if it sounds to officious! Just think through your answers to the questions, write them down, save them, and remember to keep checking back on them whenever you need to.
Some aspects of your strategy are closely linked to your policy, however, they are different documents with different purposes. Your strategy explains what you want to achieve with your content, and gives you a framework in which you can measure it. You should include things like:
- A statement of purpose explaining how the content helps your organisation
- Short, medium and long term targets for the project
- KPIs you will measure how your content is performing in relation to these targets
- Development goals for your content.
Again, it doesn’t have to be a lengthy, complex document. Think about why you’re creating content in the first place. Figure out what you want to achieve, and how you’ll know if you’ve achieved it. Think about how your content will change and expand over time, and what direction you want to take it in. Write all these things down, save them, and remember to keep checking back on them whenever you need to.
Your policy is likely to be a pretty static document, which provides consistency. Your strategy is a guiding document that provides goals and motivation, updated whenever you’ve reached your goals, or changed them. Your content plan should be fluid and frequently updated. You might write a new one each quarter, with monthly and weekly breakdowns. Exactly how often you update your plan depends on how quickly things will change in your organisation, and how often you intend to produce content.
The plan is the practical, hands-on description of how you will actually get your content done. You should include things like:
- titles and short descriptions of each content item
- a calendar of when content will be published
- complex items like videos and campaigns broken into steps
- who will work on each item or step
- a code, table or other method to show related content items
- deadlines for each step in each content item.
Make sure you spend enough time putting together your plan that it will be useful to those using it – and gather feedback from content creators, and the people who’ll approve each item, to make sure the timescales and assignments are realistic. Remember also that it should be a flexible document, so don’t stress too much about making it perfect – you’ll only have to change it three days later anyway! You’ll also need to make sure that everyone can access the ‘live’ version of it whenever they need to – so consider what kind of tool you might use to create it. Write down your plans, save them, and remember to keep checking back on them whenever you need to.
Have you written a content policy, strategy or plan recently? Or do you muddle through without? What benefits do you see in using, or not using, these documents to support content creation in your organisation?