Discover How a Simple Content Plan Can Get You Results

Updated February 21, 2023

If you’re making the effort to write content, you want people to read it. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of competition for readers’ eyes. How can you stand out? A content plan will help.

If you’re not sure what you want to gain from your content, the whole thing becomes an exercise in grammar and punctuation–and not much else.

So, let’s start with that content plan.

Start with a content plan. (Photo: Daniel Gonzalez, Unsplash.com)

Answer Six Questions in This Simple Content Plan 

Before you put fingers to keyboard, take a few minutes to think through your goals, your audience, and your angle. Clarity now will save you time, get better results, and make writing much more rewarding.

Question 1: What Are Your Goals?

Do you want to:

  • Acquire sales leads?
  • Attract people to your website?
  • Build a following?
  • Demonstrate your expertise? 
  • Expand your network?
  • Explain a new idea?

Be specific. There’s no wrong answer, and you may have more than one goal. Best to sort that out now; it will help clarify your writing later.

Pro Tip: One goal is plenty. Two are OK. But more than three goals will pull you in too many directions. Keep it simple for the best content plan.

Question 2: Who Do You Want to Reach?

Determine exactly who your audience is. Be as specific as possible because you’ll do a better job when you write for a single person. 

If you work in a large marketing department, someone may have created personas, detailed descriptions of a typical person your content is intended for. 

For the rest of us, it’s probably easier to pick a favorite customer: someone you like and who you would like to work with again.

Either way, you’ll want to write for this person like you know them well. That’s how to connect with your audience.

Pro Tip:: the answer does not begin with “anyone who.” You’re writing for one person. 

Question 3: Where Will You Find Your Audience?

When, where, and how your audience is going to be looking at your content?  You’re going to want to create a different header, call to action, and content depending on the platform it will be viewed on. A long-form blog meant for a leisurely weekend read on a tablet is an entirely different animal than a series of scroll-through-quick social media posts your readers will view on a commute.

  • Short form: will your content be posted on social media? You’ll want something easily digestible, short, and tight with a great image. (Depending on the platform you’re using, of course. Twitter is very different than LinkedIn, for example.)
  • Medium length: are you writing content for a brochure, data sheet, short blog, or case study? Medium length content is perhaps a few hundred words, two to four pages, accompanied by a lot of visuals. Punchy headlines and strong calls to action are key. 
  • Long form: are you going to write an article or a longer blog?  Long form content can run as much as several thousand words. You’ll want to consider how to break up this river of text with subheadings, lists, and several images to make it visually appealing and easier to digest.

Question 4: What Problem(s) Can You Solve for This Person?

Your content should pique the reader’s curiosity and answer their questions. What would your favorite/target customer want to know? This is not the same question as, “what can you write about?” For example, I write about a lot of things, but my writing solves problems like these for my clients:

  • A start-up in the autonomous vehicle space wants a white paper that explains their vision to investors in a simple, non-technical way.
  • A digital marketing agency needs blog content that showcases their recent work in industries they want to penetrate more deeply.
  • A consultant lacks case studies that highlight her expertise for potential clients. 
  • A financial advisor needs to explain complex topics in videos for clients who are educated but are new to investing.
Pro Tip: if I get stuck on this question, I think about what I wish I’d known when I started learning about the topic. That often points me to problems I can solve.

Question 5: What’s Your Angle?

Your angle is your take on the topic. It’s your position or viewpoint, based on expertise and a deep understanding of your ideal customer’s problems. Your angle helps you stand out from the army of other writers covering the same subject.

But I Don’t Have Anything New to Say

Maybe not. 

But it’s equally true that your customers rely on you, not other experts. They want to know what you think, what you believe, how you feel. In short, they depend on your expertise.

If you’re having trouble coming up with an angle, answer these fundamental questions to solidify your point of view.

  • How do you feel about the topic? 
  • Why is this worth writing about?
  • What do you think your reader should know?
  • What’s in it for them, from your perspective?
  • Do you agree or disagree with an expert (or a competitor) on this topic?

Question 6: What Do You Want Your Readers To Do?

When readers are finished reading your content, should they:

  • Contact you?
  • Friend or follow you?
  • Download a checklist, white paper, or case study?
  • Set up an appointment?
  • Visit your website?
  • Buy something?
  • Do something else?

Pro Tip: it’s OK not to have a specific action in mind as you work on your content plan. But if you do, you’ll need this information when you work on a call to action.

Tools You Can Use

I’ve created a content planning template that I’d love to share with you. 

Tips For Success

  • You don’t have to have a separate content plan for each piece of content you write. it can help, but you can do your planning at the campaign or another, higher level. 
  • Writing regularly can seem overwhelming. You do have other things to do. Schedule blocks of time and work on several related pieces then. It’s more efficient, and you will be able to catch inconsistencies more easily.
  • To save your sanity, create a content calendar dedicated to the activities needed to publish your content. Establish how often you want to publish and put that in the calendar. Add milestones to account for the different stages of work, and for any tasks that others need to complete in support.
  • Sometimes the hardest part is getting started. Keep an idea bank. Jot down anything that comes to mind, no matter how crazy. A list of ideas will is another resource for when you need inspiration.

Next Up

Getting found by search engines may not be important to you. Or maybe it is. I talk about why you might not need to care–and when you should in How to Improve Search Engine Ranking and Catch More Eyes with Your Content.

Need Help with Writing?

Stuck? Want to brainstorm? Don’t know what to do next? Schedule some time to talk with me. I may be able to help you get unstuck and give you ideas on how to make progress.for