Here’s the first lesson in building profitable blogs with SEO: Creating A Blog Content Strategy
What you shouldn’t do is blindly throw up articles in random topics that come to your head.
What you should do is come up with a proper content strategy.
Content is the backbone of your business. You need to understand that and keep it in mind with everything you do while growing your business.
So many people are here who are focusing on the traffic or the monetization, and not enough about the content.
You’ve probably heard the term, content marketing a lot over the past few years.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 60% of organizations with a content strategy are effective, compared to only 32% of those with a purely verbal content strategy is effective.
Here’s the definition of content marketing that you need to understand before you continue:
Content marketing is the art of producing consistent value to your audience in the form of blog content.
Each piece of content you produce should deliver value to your readers, help them solve a problem, or answer questions they may have.
As you consistently deliver value and help your readers, it establishes trust, builds your brand, and grows your audience – all of which lead to the long-term goal of driving sales.
That pretty much sums up what we’re trying to achieve here.
So how do we go about doing this?
Six Resources to Craft a Blog Content Strategy
#1. Your content quality is everything
However, it’s not something people pay much attention to. From my experience, most people are focused too much on the length and too little on actual quality.
Just because an article has a high word count, doesn’t mean that it’s high quality. It’s about knowing HOW to present the material, like a good teacher.
Think of it this way: Each piece of content you produce is a touchpoint with your current and potential customers.
This being the case, you need to really consider the quality of what you publish.
- Are you just pumping out thin articles to target as many long-tail keywords as possible?
- Is your content the best in your industry?
- Can you call yourself a leading expert in your field based on the content you’ve published?
Creating quality content is very hard OR very expensive.
It’s the biggest barrier to entry.
So you might be wondering…
What’s the content strategy then? Is it just: Publish high-quality content?
In this next part, we’re going to get a little more specific. We’re going to address things like how often you should be publishing, where to find writers, the goals you should set with your content, and how long your articles should be.
#2. How often should you be publishing?
It’s important to understand how publishing frequencies affect your overall search traffic AND the amount of traction you will build over the first year.
Your publishing schedule affects your traffic
There’s a debate amongst SEO’s that publishing frequency doesn’t really matter. But frequency matters, a lot, especially for the new website.
For a new site, the more often you publish, the higher your chances of building your traffic in the second year.
In the beginning, your site has zero content. There’s nothing to crawl, no long-tail keywords to rank your content for, and no reason for Google to crawl your site very often.
If you publish an article per month, that’s 12 articles for Google to crawl and index in a year.
If you publish once a week, that’s 52 articles for Google to crawl in a year.
If you publish 3 times a week, that’s 156 articles!
156 or 12…
That’s a big difference.
But that doesn’t mean you should be writing low-quality content. You should only publish as often as you can WHILE keeping your quality levels very high.
So what’s the magic number?
There isn’t one. But the number that I would recommend starting out with, and the one I’ll be starting out with myself is 2-3 times per week.
That’s about 100-150 articles of content within the first year.
That’s certainly doable. If you decide to write them yourself, it’ll take a lot of time and effort, but it’s doable.
If you decide to hire writers, 100 articles aren’t crazy high to drive your budget out of control.
#3. Content length
Let’s talk about content length.
How long should your articles be?
To understand what the ideal content length is, let me first tell you about the two different approaches you can take.
When you’re creating a site, you can take one of two approaches:
Approach #1. You should create your content 10x better than your competitors.
Approach #2. Hit a wide range of keywords/topics and create a large quantity of 3x content.
By 10X or 3X I mean 10x or 3x better than what’s been created by your competitors.
Note that 10x better doesn’t necessarily mean 10x longer. Content can be better designed, have more sources, have a better presentation, etc.
At first glance, it might make more sense to lean toward Approach #1.
You’re targeting the biggest keywords, and once you rank for them, you’ve pretty much built up a giant site already pulling in tons of traffic each month.
So doesn’t it make sense that everyone should take this approach instead?
Not really, and let me tell you why.
First of all, it’s difficult to build your brand, especially in competitive niches.
It’s like building a brand new site in the finance industry, and your main strategy is basically to rank for finance tips, best credit cards, and debt consolidation.
It’s just not something that the majority of marketers can replicate. It can be done, but there are a lot of other factors you need to get perfect.
The second reason I don’t lean toward Approach #1 is that it’s not guaranteed what pieces of content you publish will be hits or misses.
If you’re doing content marketing long enough, you’ll realize that some pieces of content just do a lot better than others… EVEN THOUGH your research told you otherwise.
That means, that in most niches, you can’t just see what was popular in the past, create something 10x better, and just expect it to get a lot of traction given the proper networking.
Most of the time, it won’t work out as well as you thought. And a lot of the time, it’s the random pieces of content that suddenly pick up a lot of traction.
I’ve seen this happen many times, and because content behaves this way, I prefer (and recommend) Approach #2. It’s much more consistent and replicable.
You can grow just as large a business as using Approach #1. But you’re going to be doing so by going quantity over quality.
That doesn’t mean you’re ignoring quality. It just means that you’re spending less time, resources, AND DEPENDENCE/EXPECTATIONS on just one article and distributing them over multiple articles instead.
So how long should your articles be?
10x content might be something massive like a pro blogger.
For 3x content, the sweet spot is around 2000 words (in most niches). Don’t confuse that with low quality. Yes, compared to a 10,000-word guide, 2000 seems tiny.
But 2000 words is a LOT of content. It’s a meaty, high-quality article. It’s long enough for you to go in-depth into the topic and completely solve somebody’s pain points or questions.
AND it’s long enough to beat most of the thin 500-word pieces of content that most other publishers are producing.
We’re not just making assumptions here.
Around 2000 to 2500 words have been proven by data to be the average length for pages that ranked on the first page of Google.
I think it’s safe to say: Long-form content wins, and 2000 words is an ideal length to be targeting.
#4. Content creation
You may be wondering, how can I write 100 articles at 2000 words each in a year by myself?
That’s like 200,000 words!
That’s a lot of work for just one person.
But it’s doable. You CAN create that much content in a year, and it’s been done before by many others who’ve built successful content businesses.
The real challenge is creating content that’s actually good.
You need to check your content to have:
- Proper grammar by using Grammarly tools, you can easily find grammar mistakes
- Use an active voice rather than passive voice
- Create a pillar for your article then write content with good structure.
You also need good sources to make your content credible. They need to be well-researched with sources to back up what you say.
Can you do that?
If you can, and are willing to put in your own hours, then great.
If not, you’ll want to hire writers like I’ll be doing. BUT ONLY if you’re willing to invest the money necessary.
#5. Quality content is EXPENSIVE
A lot of people shoot themselves in the foot by getting too cheap with their content outsourcing.
Ask yourself this:
Will your content be good enough to get repeat visitors? Are people going to read your content and be happy to return to your site for related content?
Is your content just good enough to get ranked on page 1 of Google? Is it just decent, or is it awesome?
Remember what we just learned: Content is the backbone of your business.
You can’t be thinking of buying $5 articles off of Fiverr. You can’t be planning on hiring the cheapest writers off of Upwork.
You can’t be thinking of getting 3-4 star articles off of places like Textbroker or iWriter.
In fact, you shouldn’t be using services like Textbroker or iWriter at all because you don’t get the chance to actually work with a writer. You need your content to have a consistent style, voice, and presentation.
So you have 3 options:
1. Go on Problogger and hire the best: This will cost you the most money. You’ll find the highest quality writers, but be prepared to pay them a high price per article (especially if you want to continue working with them).
Treat writers as valued and respectful.
2. Go on Upwork and look for talented writers at fairer prices: This will require a lot of vetting. However, you can usually find some really talented writers for a much lower price than Problogger.
There are skilled writers who are new to this site and just want to build their profile and reputation. So they’ll charge a lower price for their work.
Once you get to experience working with them, and really like them, you can increase their pay to keep them on board.
3. Hire someone you know: Do you know someone who has real-life experience in the industry you’re targeting? Talk to them and ask if they would like to write for your site.
The costs will vary, and you’ll have to negotiate with them, but keep in mind that the reason you would go this route is to save money, not spend more.
You may even find out that working out a partnership agreement is more suitable for your situation.
What’s an ideal price per article?
If you’re thinking of going high quality, you should expect to pay about $100 to $150 per 2000 word article. For shorter 1000 word articles, you can reduce this to $50 to $75.
If you’re publishing twice a week, your costs for the year on content should be about $10,000 to $15,000.
You could get by with $50 articles but just remember, again, that content is the backbone of your content business.
And if it were me, and I only had the funds to produce low-quality outsourced articles, I would just write them myself, or publish less frequently.
$10,000 – $15,000 might seem like a huge amount of money to be throwing at a website that hasn’t even made a dollar yet, but remember that this is an investment.
And it’s the only big investment that you’ll need to make at this stage.
You can be thrifty in other areas like design, and you can do the marketing yourself. But for content, there’s no getting around it.
Either put in the time or spend the money to hire the best.
If you want to find cheaper writers…
Your best bet will be Upwork and other freelancing websites.
Remember that hiring is all about who you find, and negotiating costs. I listed $100 to $150 because it’s the market price for a high-quality article.
It’s what you need to hire talented, established writers because that’s what they’re used to making. But it’s not a set cost for everyone, and you can find ways around it.
If you look at freelancing websites, you can find good writers and if you’re lucky, you can hire them for much cheaper.
And as a last resort:
If you would like to hire writers, however solely have a little budget, then publish less often.
Publishing less often may be a higher compromise than publication a bunch of skinny content.
For example, if you have $300 to spend on writers per month, don’t pay for 15 articles at $20 each.
Instead, get 3 articles at $100 each. You’ll only publish 3 times per month, but at least whatever you publish will stay inline with your content marketing goals.
#6. Content ideas
What do we write about?
We already know this. We covered this in Lesson 1.
We already have a “bucket” of content ideas in the content bucket we created during our keyword research phase.
That is enough to last you for at least a year.
Other sources for content ideas
BuzzSumo is my favourite tool for getting content ideas.
Just input a keyword and it’ll show you the most popular content on the web.
For example, I searched for “money-saving tips” and got back these results.
BuzzSumo will show you how many shares it got, who shared it, and who linked to it.
You can even search by the domain name.
So you can input your competitors’ sites into the tool, and it’ll show you their most popular posts.
We’ll come back to BuzzSumo in the traffic part of this guide, but for content creation, what we’re really interested in is just looking at the post titles, and analyzing the content.
We want to know WHY their content is the most popular, and how we can create something that is 3x better than it.
I read Quora for pleasure and even downloaded their app on my phone. It gives you the best answers to questions people have.
The coolest part is that most questions are answered by the most qualified and experienced people.
For example, if you ask about what it’s like to be in prison, you’ll find an ex-inmate who tells you about their exact experience.
Or if you ask about what it’s like to own a dog, you’ll find a bunch of answers from people who actually have a dog.
You won’t find a bunch of spammers giving one-sentence answers, just trying to link to their websites (although it does happen) like a lot of the other Q&A websites.
Quora is heavily moderated. As a result, the site is extremely popular, and it’s a haven for content ideas.
Just do a search for any topic.
And look at all these interesting questions.
There are thousands of questions for any topic, and most are extremely interesting – great for articles.
Reddit is a fantastic source of content ideas. They have subreddits (sub-communities) for just about any topic.
I won’t go too deeply into Reddit because most of you already know what it is, and how to use it.
All you need to do is search for your topic/niche, and you’ll likely find a huge subreddit with thousands of members participating in discussions every day.
The great thing is that because there is so much engagement on this site, every day you return, the first few pages will all have brand new content for you to scour.
And lastly, YouTube.
Most people use it for JUST video, but I love getting content ideas from YouTube.
But all you need to do is search for your keyword, and you’ll get a ton of new and interesting ideas.
The cool thing is you can look at things like upvotes and view count to see what’s been popular.
Who cares if your keyword tool shows that it gets low searches a month.
If the video got millions of views and has a ton of upvotes, it’s likely a pretty popular piece of content!
Breaking it down: What is the overall goal with this content strategy?
So, what we’re focusing on instead is Publishing quality + providing value with every post.
You’ll also want to have strong on-page SEO to maximize your efforts.
With 2000-word articles consistently published in a wide variety of relevant topics in our niche, our niche site is going to mass up a ton of long-tail traffic over the years.
That wraps up our content strategy lesson.
Have any questions about content strategy for your blog? Feel free to speak up in the comments section below.
Also, make sure you’re following me on Twitter because I share tons of awesome resources there.