One of the toughest challenges for a client to get to grips with, when they have a new website, is the demands of content creation for it. I know, I have the same problems – I’ve not always been good at writing regularly. I have not made it a priority and it gets left undone.
A key part of the problem is that for clients, the website going live is the date in the calendar that they look forward to. It is perceived as being the end of the project, the time at which their problems have been addressed, and the time when they can start showing people their Shiny New Thing.
That’s fine – but when the website goes live, that is really the start of the project. For you, the website owner, the work begins here.
when the website goes live, that is the start of the project for the website owner
In an ideal world, planning for post-launch begins during the development phase. It’s time to start thinking not just about the content requirements for launch, but your content creation requirements on an ongoing basis.
How to plan your content
Your web design agency will have discussed with you content for the site – and how that is to be organised, you can use that structure as a basis for planning your content going forward.
Let’s say you have an eCommerce website – and your products are separated into four or five categories. Those categories can help inform your content needs. What content could you produce that would support your efforts in those categories?
Maybe you run a service business and your company provides services for health care professionals. Plan out your ongoing content based on the services you offer that sector. You might develop a six-month plan for content and need to make sure each of your main markets is addressed in that plan. What concerns do they have, what issue do they deal with that your service / widget addresses?
When speaking with clients about the ongoing challenges of content creation, I suggest creating a twelve-month calendar and mapping out the prominent events for your customers on that calendar.
For instance, if your business is consumer-facing, you might consider mapping your content out around seasons or public holidays. Perhaps you can plan content specific to Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, etc. If you’re in Business To Business, then what tradeshows are relevant to your audience – what events throughout the year pop up and become ‘top of mind’ for your audience? Plan your content around those. Maybe you can run show previews, and / or post-event recaps. Maybe your customers have a seasonal business – use that to guide what you write about and when.
If you can commit to writing, say, 1200 words per month across 2 blog posts, you don’t need to have many industry events, holiday themes, or whatever in order to flesh out your own content calendar.
Your goal is to be posting content regularly, making it relevant, and delivering value to your audience.
Understand what content is available
During the development of your website, it should become clear to you what content you have in your organisation. If you don’t already have one, it would be a good idea to start building up a content library – a central place where you can store everything your company has produced that could be used for marketing materials.
In practice, this is usually a combination of online and offline materials. Whatever works for you & your organisation. But start collecting copies of brochures, business cards, newsletters. Keep a copy of the content from your old website – you never know what hidden gems are in there. Build up an image library – of your products & services, but also your staff (maybe you can publish an ‘employee profile of the month’ as part of your content calendar).
Having a good grasp on what materials are available in your organisation is a good way of beginning the process of planning your content (don’t plan for content that is going to be too time-consuming to produce – or, make sure you have the resources allocated to produce it).
Establish a workflow
Once you’ve got a grip on what is going to be published on your website, you should establish a workflow to make sure nothing gets missed and that you are covering all of your channels.
- Who needs to approve the content? Do you need your CEO, your marketing person, your legal team, whoever, to approve the content?
- How often do you want to be posting your content on each channel?
- How can you break your content up for different channels? Let’s say you have written a 600-word blog post, start thinking about the different ways that can be re-purposed …
a. Could you take out 4 quotes from that post and schedule those as tweets?
b. How could you optimise the content to be shared on LinkedIn or Facebook?
c. What images best support that post – and can they be shared, with text overlaid, on Instagram?
d. What questions come up from the blog post? Can you answer them in a subsequent piece of content? There is more than one way to get mileage out of that blog post.
… and so it goes. Figure out the best workflow for you. The idea is that you take your piece of content and you give it the most mileage possible through the various channels you have access to.
Okay, that got a bit rambly in the end … I wanted to really just share my experience of working with clients who struggle to maintain content for their new website! With that in mind, these would be my best tips:
- Make a plan for your content. What are you going to write about each month? Which audience will it be addressing, and which product / service of yours will you talk about? How can you link your products with your customer needs, and with what is going on in your customer’s life?
- What content can you draw from? Be aware of the resources you have internally, and if there is currently no central location for your content (images / brochures / text / etc.) create one.
- Establish your workflow (and document it). The best way to ensure this happens regularly is to have in place a solid workflow that you can repeat regularly. Understand who needs to see what, understand how you can ‘skin’ a piece of content in different ways for different channels, and understand that doing it once is not enough.
That should do it!