August marks our 10th anniversary. Before we started Wood Street, we were all working in the web design and development industry at other companies. Through these years, one thing has remained constant…

In the information age, those who provide useful information trump those who shill.

Before blogs were commonplace, we relied heavily on our email newsletters to get our message out. In fact, our very first article was titled, “Turning Your Site into a Resource”.

The transition from an email-only newsletter into a full content marketing campaign took some time. With the email newsletter, it was simple; we built up a solid list and knew, through statistical tracking, what types of newsletters were the most effective.

Before we developed our blog, we decided to take some time and plan things out a bit…

  • We had a good idea of who our target audience was, but it was important to really map out the specifics.
  • We then needed to determine what we were going to talk about and how to promote those posts.
  • And finally we had to determine what the end game looked like — what were our goals?

Let’s take a look at these.

Target Audience

What are your buyer personas? Determine who your target client is and write to solve that person’s problems.

This is not a time to brag; this is a time to educate. This is a time to know the problems that your clients face every day and offer them the solutions they are looking for.

If you haven’t read the book “Optimize” by Lee Odden, I highly recommend it. In it he talks about identifying your buyer personas as well as the importance of a keyword glossary – a list of keywords and phrases that your target audience will use to find the services you provide.

If you don’t know who you’re writing for, then how can you know if what you are writing will be effective? There is no way to measure that.

What to Say and How to Amplify

You’ve identified your buyer personas, great. And in doing so you’ve outlined a list of their needs. This is the starting point for your editorial calendar.

Using a spreadsheet, you can map out your topics based on a 3-or 6-month content marketing calendar. You can adjust based on your specific needs in terms of resources, staff, etc. But, taking a page from the Lee Odden playbook, you want to make sure you cover the following…

  1. Date the post will go live
  2. Who will write it
  3. Title
  4. Category
  5. Keywords associated with that post
  6. How it will be promoted

Date – If you map out a bunch of posts in advance, you can go back through your list and look for posts that might correspond with some specific event or seasonal topicality. This way you are proactively planning, instead of being reactionary with your posts.

Author – Mapping these out in advance will also allow you to assign these to the authors as they are available and give them deadlines so they know the expectations you have. Even if it’s just you or one person, it is still a good idea to assign a deadline to each post.

Title – These will most likely be working titles, as you will probably adjust them as you write your posts. But start with something; it will help you to flesh out the feel of the post if it begins with a title that feels real. Keep in mind that the title is what will grab attention so it’s important to put some serious time into this.

Category – If you are just starting out OR if you are revamping your blogging efforts, it is a good idea to establish some categories up front. These should relate to your keyword list and be terms that your target audience understands.

Keywords – Creating a keyword glossary takes time and serious research. There are tons of resources out there including Top RankSEOMozSearch Engine Land, etc that will help you get started. For your editorial calendar you will want to choose two to three (no more) keywords that are associated with each post and use each of these in the post itself.

Promotion – Sorry to be cliché, but this is not Iowa. If you write it they will not come, at least not right away. It’s important to promote these posts. Think about the subject and where your audience might be looking for this information – email newsletter, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Identify this ahead of time so that you can plan on the most effective ways to integrate these posts into your marketing efforts.

What’s the End Game?

Seriously, what is the point of producing blog content? Are you blogging because you think you’re supposed to? If so, rethink that approach.

These efforts need to be tied to goals beyond simply staying top of mind. What does success look like? Don’t be afraid to sell with these posts. They should provide useful information but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t offer your services as well.

How do you measure success on your website? Is it a lead through a contact form or maybe a phone call? Well, why not lead the blog reader down that same path?

Either way, you should blog with specific goals in mind. You want results that you can track and measure through site statistics, sales, etc. These metrics will be the indicators as to whether or not your blog is successful.

What do you think about blogging as a tool for your company? Let me know in the comments area below…

This article originally appeared on The Agency Post, an online publication featuring advertising and marketing thought leaders who share practical insights and knowledge relating to the industry.

Jon-Mikel Bailey - Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.