How to Create a Content Plan in 6 Steps

Are you tired of pouring your heart and soul into content that gets crickets for views? Frustrated by websites buried deep in search engine results? It's time to ditch the content-guessing game and get strategic. 

In this article, you'll learn exactly how to craft a killer content plan that will help you:

  • Stop wasting time and resources on content that nobody cares about.
  • Attract a loyal audience who's interested in what you have to offer.
  • Improve your website traffic and search engine ranking.
  • Achieve your business goals, whether it's boosting brand awareness, generating leads, or increasing sales.

You will also get an editorial calendar template to copy and use in your work. 

What’s a content plan?

Imagine you're going on a road trip. You wouldn't just get in the car and start driving, hoping you'll stumble upon all the cool sights along the way, right? The same is true for content.

A content plan is like your roadmap for creating and sharing content. It helps you figure out what kind of content to create, when to publish it, and where to share it. 

With a content plan, you can avoid wasting time and energy on content nobody cares about. Instead, you’ll focus on creating stuff that will resonate with your audience and help you achieve your business goals.

How to create a content plan

In short, here's how to create a content plan

Now, let's break each step down, as some things are more challenging than they may sound. 

1. Develop a clear content strategy

Creating a content plan without a clear strategy is impossible. You should take into account a lot of things: starting with who you write for and ending with how often.

Learn everything you can about your audience

Understanding who you're writing for is crucial. That's why you need to craft buyer personas – detailed profiles of your ideal customers – to gain a clear picture of their needs, interests, and pain points. This way, you can put yourself in your customers' shoes and pick up the best topics.

Here is a little cheat sheet to help you develop your buyer personas:

When you tailor your content for a specific target audience (TA), you choose the correct style and tone of voice and deliver content when and where it's convenient for your audience. Ultimately, it will help connect with your audience on all possible levels.

For example, if you sell organic pet food, a buyer persona might be a health-conscious millennial pet owner who prioritizes natural ingredients and convenience. In this case, you will focus on covering such areas as organic food benefits, recipe ideas, convenience solutions, and customer stories.

Tip: You can get some audience insights from Google Analytics. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) provides several features to help you understand more about your website's visitors. One of these features is geographic location tracking. This information can be valuable for analyzing your website's reach and identifying areas where you might need to improve your marketing efforts.

In addition to location data, GA4 can also provide anonymous insights into your visitors' age, gender, and interests. Of course, this information is only accessible if users have given their consent.

Set SMART goals

Writing content for the sake of writing content usually boils down to a waste of time and resources. Therefore, each copy of yours should have some purpose. 

Define what success looks like for you. Do you want to boost website traffic, generate leads, or increase brand awareness? Your content goals should align with your business goals. 

Set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound (SMART) goals to track your progress. An example of a SMART goal could be "Increase organic traffic by 15% within 3 months, focusing on keywords related to 'homemade dog food recipes."

All these will allow you to measure your content effectiveness. Later, you can track progress and optimize your content based on data.

Define content categories and formats

Determine the types of content you'll create and the categories they fall into. This includes identifying the format of the content, such as blog posts, videos, podcasts, or social media posts, as well as the topics and themes that your content will cover.

There are a few factors to consider when it comes to choosing the proper formats for your content. First, think about your target audience and where they are most likely to consume content. For example, if your audience is primarily active on social media, you may want to focus on creating short-form content that is easily shareable on those platforms. 

Second, consider the type of message you are trying to convey. Some topics may be better suited for long-form content, such as blog posts or white papers, while others may be more effectively communicated through visual media, like infographics or videos. 

Finally, you'll want to take into account your available resources and budget. Creating high-quality video content, for example, can be more time-consuming and expensive than writing a blog post. 

9 Blog Post Templates for Content Marketing Learn more

Think of your content distribution channels

When it comes to promoting your business, it's essential to choose the right channels for your content. 

Each channel serves a distinct purpose, and it's up to you to determine which ones are most appropriate for your business. 

For instance, LinkedIn is a professional platform that caters to businesses and career-minded individuals. Therefore, it wouldn't make sense to publish a recipe blog on LinkedIn. 

Similarly, TikTok is a social media platform popular among younger audiences, and it's not ideal for financial organizations, for instance.

Set up a schedule for creating and publishing content

And speaking of scheduling, you’ll need to determine how often you'll publish new content and stick to a consistent schedule. 

Whether it's daily, weekly, or monthly, sticking to a regular cadence will help keep your audience engaged. Plus, you’ll build anticipation for upcoming content.

Consider factors like your team's bandwidth, content production capabilities, and audience preferences when setting your content frequency.

Find the best keywords
with the free Keyword Research tool

Plan for seasonal and timely content

Incorporate seasonal themes, holidays, or industry events into your content calendar to stay relevant and capitalize on trending topics. Create a content calendar that spans the entire year, marking key dates and milestones for planning purposes.

For example, if you run a food blog, you might add a series of holiday recipes for Thanksgiving and Christmas to your marketing calendar. This way, you won’t forget about upcoming holidays and events. 

Be flexible enough to adjust your schedule based on real-time events or emerging trends to maintain relevance and maximize engagement.

Allocate resources and budget

Figure out what resources and money you need to make your content plan work. 

That means you have to think about how much time you'll need for creating, designing, editing, and promoting your content. 

If you're hiring other people like freelance writers, graphic designers, or advertising experts, count them in too. For example, if you want to launch a bunch of video tutorials, make sure you have enough resources for video production tools and editing software. 

Keep an eye on your spending and resource allocation, so you can get the most out of it and improve your content strategy over time.

2. Create a suitable template

To start planning your content, you need a content calendar template that works for you. If you're a small business with a low budget, a simple content calendar template in Google Sheets might be a good fit.

You can download this content plan template if needed. 

However, if you have a bigger team and need more advanced features, you could try investing in a dedicated content management tool like Notion or Trello. 

Choose a template that allows you to visualize your content schedule easily and collaborate with your team without any hassle.

Bonus tip: If you choose to use Notion for content planning, they offer a range of content calendar templates, which you should definitely check out. And if you choose Trello, for example, you can also find a couple of great templates there as well.

3. Gather all possible content ideas

Gather a wide range of content ideas that resonate with your audience. Here are some brainstorming techniques to get you started:

Use keyword research tools

SEO PowerSuite's Rank Tracker can help you identify relevant keywords worth targeting. 

How-to: Go to the Keyword Research module and test all 20+ research techniques. 

Download Rank Tracker

I recommend paying close attention to:

  • Related searches to collect the search suggestions related to your seed terms that appear on the SERPs, among other results.
  • People also ask to collect additional suggestions from Google for your topic queries by exploring what terms related to the original query people often search for.
  • Keyword gap to see what keywords your competitors proactively target and you still don't.

Tip: It’s also worth exploring the competitors’ top pages to see what content brings them the most traffic. You can quickly check this out by moving to the Domain Analysis module, entering your competitor’s URL, and finding the Top Pages widget.

Download Rank Tracker

Study industry trends

It's always a good idea to stay updated with the latest industry trends and happenings. This can help you understand what topics are currently in demand among your target audience. 

You can use tools like Google Trends or industry-specific forums and social media channels for this purpose. They can provide you with some valuable insights that can help you stay ahead of the competition.

If you don’t know which topic will be more successful and popular, you can add the second topic (and the third one) to compare and then analyze the comparative graph:

Listen to your users

And finally, engage with your audience through surveys, social media channels, and feedback forms to understand their pain points, preferences, and interests. Their input can provide valuable inspiration for your content strategy.

For instance, on our SEO PowerSuite blog, we've recently added a very small but very useful feedback widget that helps us see what you like to read and what you don’t like.

Thus, we saw that “Podcast SEO” isn’t what our audience is interested in much, while “Google Gemini and Keyword Research” is. 

4. Prioritize topics according to your business goals

It's important to remember that not all of your ideas may be brilliant. Some may lack relevance or feasibility. That's why it's crucial to evaluate every idea carefully. Weigh its potential benefits against its potential drawbacks before deciding whether or not to pursue it further. This approach can help increase your chances of generating innovative and impactful ideas. 

So, analyze your brainstorming product and prioritize topics that align best with your current business goals. Consider factors like:

Keyword relevance and difficulty analysis

Make sure you do proper keyword research and find the right search terms. You need to use keywords that people actually search for and that are relevant to your thing. 

There are tools out there, like Rank Tracker, that can help you see how popular certain keywords are and how hard it is to rank for them. 

How-to: When doing your keyword research in Rank Tracker, you’ll see the most vital keyword metrics along each keyword: Keyword Difficulty, # of Searches, Competition, and KEI. Analyze them to prioritize the best topic for your biz.

Download Rank Tracker

Try to find a balance between the really popular keywords that will get you more people and the long-tail keywords that your audience is more likely to use.

For example, suppose you run an e-commerce store selling outdoor gear. If your goal is to increase organic traffic and sales, you might prioritize topics related to "hiking backpack reviews" or "best camping tents." These topics have high search volume and moderate keyword difficulty, making them ideal targets for SEO.

Buyer journey alignment

Consider which buyer's journey stage you want to target when prioritizing topics. 

Is it the awareness, consideration, or decision stage? Tailor your content to address your TA’a search intent and pain points at each stage of the journey. 

For example, awareness-stage content may focus on educating your audience about their problem or need, while decision-stage content can highlight the benefits of your product or service.

Here is another cheat sheet with content types for each funnel stage:

Let’s consider a digital marketing agency aiming to generate leads and nurture prospects through the sales funnel. 

For the awareness stage, topics like "beginner's guide to SEO" or "social media marketing trends for 2024" would be suitable. 

As prospects move to the consideration stage, content focusing on "comparing PPC vs. SEO" or "choosing the right marketing automation platform" becomes more relevant. 

Finally, decision-stage content such as "case studies of successful marketing campaigns" or "pricing and packages comparison" can help prospects make informed purchasing decisions.

Tip: In Rank Tracker you can group all your keywords by buyer journey stages and then conveniently check which stage you covered better or more than others.

Download Rank Tracker

Content evergreens and seasonality

Evaluate the evergreen nature of potential topics versus seasonal or trending content. 

Evergreen content remains relevant and valuable to your audience over time, driving consistent traffic and engagement. On the other hand, seasonal or trending topics may provide short-term spikes in traffic but require regular updates or may become obsolete quickly. 

Balance your content calendar with a mix of evergreen and timely content to get a steady flow of traffic.

Imagine you manage a lifestyle blog targeting fitness enthusiasts. While seasonal topics like "holiday fitness tips" or "summer workout routines" may attract temporary spikes in traffic, evergreen topics like "how to build muscle mass" or "healthy meal prep ideas" will continue to drive consistent traffic year-round. 

Content repurposing opportunities

Check out each content topic and see how it can be boosted for more views. 

Think about whether the topic is good for sharing on social media, working with influencers, or sending out emails to promote it. 

11 Free Methods to Promote Your Content Learn more

Pick topics that can be shared in many ways to reach more people and make a bigger impact with your content.

Let's suppose you own a small business consultancy aiming to expand its reach and attract clients. Topics such as "10 growth strategies for small businesses" or "how to create a winning business plan" lend themselves well to social media promotion, guest blogging on industry publications, or hosting webinars for your target audience. 

5. Assign tasks if needed

This is where your content plan goes from idea to reality. If you're a one-person team, you can wear all the hats and handle everything yourself. For larger businesses, content creation involves multiple steps and different skill sets.

  1. Identify tasks. Break down each content piece into smaller, actionable tasks. This could include writing, editing, graphic design, video production, promotion, etc.
  2. Assign tasks. Match each task with the right team member based on their skills and experience. Consider freelancers or outsourcing for specialized tasks if needed.
  3. Set deadlines. Establish clear deadlines for each task to ensure your content goes live on schedule.

It may seem obvious, but remember, communication is key. Use project management tools or communication channels to keep everyone on the same page and ensure a smooth workflow.

Tip: With Content Editor, you can generate and download PDFs with detailed copywriting/rewriting guidelines (with word count, keywords, questions to cover, etc.).

Download WebSite Auditor

Surely, you can write and edit your content right in WebSite Auditor and even see its optimization score.

6. Review and iterate regularly

It's important to remember that a content calendar is not set in stone. It's a flexible tool that should be adjusted and adapted as needed. 

It's a good idea to schedule regular reviews of your content calendar to assess performance, identify areas for improvement, and tweak your strategy accordingly. 

Take into account important factors like KPIs, audience feedback, and market trends to refine your content approach and keep it aligned with your ever-evolving business goals. 

Incorporating learnings from past campaigns into future planning is a smart way to continuously optimize your content calendar for success. 

For instance, if you notice that certain types of content are doing exceptionally well, consider producing more of that content to capitalize on its success.

Conclusion: content planning empowers your businesses

In today's digital world, attention is currency. And content is the magnet that attracts that attention. 

Without a plan, your content creation can be a real mess, making it difficult to build a loyal audience. 

A content plan helps you focus your efforts on creating high-quality content that consistently educates, entertains, or inspires your target audience. 

This not only builds brand awareness and loyalty but can also help you drive sales and conversions. Think of it as a win-win for you and your audience. They get valuable content, and you get a chance to connect with potential customers.

Don’t forget to download a content calendar template to use whenever needed. And, of course, share your content planning hacks in our Facebook group. 

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