Most people think using a blog on a website is a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants, let-the-writing-be-your-guide endeavor that once one has thrown up enough content, the money pours in like a hacked ATM machine. It would explain why most blogs in the world have probably less than 20 articles and sit gathering cobwebs from search engine spiders, but jackshit else. And while one can get serviceable traffic with several review blogs articles and news-style posts-a-day for a few months, writing something popular on TV or in news cycles in an attempt to game Google’s tendency to give favorable rankings to the “first to break the story”, and while I’m not saying we haven’t done that in the past and won’t use such techniques going forward, the truth is that such an approach doesn’t stabilize website traffic for anyone who doesn’t have the resources to be a full-blown media outlet.
The best kind of traffic comes visitors findings needing specific information that your website(s) provide. This means good, productive time has to go into:
- Researching the kind of customer you want and need – and realizing the “wants” and “needs” are two inherently different, yet needed groups
- Determing what type(s) of information you want to provide them
- Curating information that can eventually cultivate mutually beneficial relationships
- Researching and testing how to do it better than the competition
- Streamling the process to get content created and published in a timely manner, balancing urgency and quality
- How to keep the cranking content without affecting other aspects of your business in too detrimental of a fashion
- Measuring and estimating an expected timetable to achieve such results
We’re gonna need a bigger content schedule calendar
The work will be daunting and it’ll feel at times like we’re throwing shit up against the wall to see what sticks, but in the end the only way I’m going to be able to achieve favorable results with the projects as well as my personal website is with these three simple, easy-to-follow steps:
- Sketch out everything we need to cover in great detail
- Build a content schedule, write a few posts to get used to it, then revise the schedule in accordance to the effort it took to get the first few done
- Sacrifice pleasure and entertainment until a consistent baseline is established
Like I said, simple, easy-to-use, and the closest thing digital marketing has that can be compared to training for a marathon.
Focusing on three layers of content blogging
I don’t know if they’re “the” three layers of blogging, but they’re the ones I’m going to use
for these upcoming content projects.
1 – The immediate layer
This is the layer most trend blogs, “news” blogs and “tech” blogs like to focus on. This is the “breaking news” where people try to rush to get their content up as fast as possible to be the first to break a story. Cheap traffic and social shares, mixed in with social-focused commenting systems that’ll help promote the story. Anything to sell advertising and t-shirts.
This is also done for the latest and the short-run product reviews, movie reviews, reviews…reviews….
The trick: scour social media using keyword streams in Hootsuite, follow email newsletters of newsmakers as well as their RSS feeds for their News / Press, follow news sites social media and set up Google Alerts to be notified when something in your niche gets published. Then, take the red pill while cranking as much blue-pill content as possible, as quickly and grammatically correct as possible, so long as the competition is beaten to market.
I mean, shit, there’s always an edit button.
What about viral content?
If you happen to be close to the source of something viral and can leach off traffic (yes. It’s leeching. Ride the wave. Scoop up what you can. Try not to pinch the skin so you aren’t noticed.), then, sure, viral content works here as well.
But if you’re going to attempt to create a viral / guerrilla campaign, then unless you can whittle content like Twain and pull shit out of your ass like Don Draper faster than Neo can navigate the Matrix, then you’re probably doing what most people are doing: take time to write, plan, re-write, practice, draft, edit, get peer-reviews / focus groups, go through the process a couple more times, then launch it when something of a complimenting trend or news story is possible and pray it’s as high-quality and funny as it tested.
- Cross your fingers.
- Bend over.
- Kiss your ass and hope you get to see it again when you come to work the next morning.
2 – The short-term layer
This is the layer where I’ll start to incorporate Google Spreadsheets for my content schedule topics and subpoints, Asana for the scheduling, and Google Calendars for the reminders and recurring events.
For example, One of my inspirations, Otis Redding, would be celebrating his 74th birthday on the 9th of September. This means, if my content schedule was complete, I’d already have the content done to release on the 9th in honor of his birthday. Google Calendar is already reminding me about it, the year, where he was born…and next year, it’ll do it again because I set it to remind me once a year – with reminders leading up to the date(s).
I’ll also do this for upcoming events, releases, and special anniversaries.
I also try to do the reviews in this layer. I try to stick to the ones that will help me long-term. For example, I have one for the new Wacom Tablet I’ve been using as a mouse-substitute, but I need to really, really use it before I decide if I love it.
3 – The long-term layer
This is where I’ll pick my core, long-term themes and focus on them. I’ll make sure to try and hit these themes on every blogging layer I use, all the while pumping out thoughtful, helpful, and valuable content to be not only a (warning: shitty, trendy, buzzword approaching) thought leader but, more importantly for readers, clients, customers, and people who need the information, to be a go-to resource for them. That’s what will keep them coming back year after year.
I’ll find those themes within the core themes of the upcoming industries, Google Trends, Google Analytics (to see what pages are being searched, how often, and keywords – if they came through Bing), news stories, competitor buzz words
The productivity tools I’ll use to store, track, and keep up with all of the content schedule’s story topics and themes
I’ll use the following productivity tools for these reasons:
- they work together
- they have mobile apps
Google Spreadsheets contained within Google Drive
I couldn’t tell you how long I’ve been using Google Apps / Google Drive. I remember when it was just called Google Docs. It’s been long enough that I didn’t even install Microsoft Office when the old hard drive died on this machine. I didn’t even do it when I did the Windows 10 update.
Google Spreadsheets doesn’t have as many default features as Excel, but they have a Helluva community of apps and scripts and shit to more than make up the difference. I use the tabs, freeze rows, rows and columns to streamline the basic facts I want to make sure I cover from the people I write about as well as map out the basic topics I want to cover regarding the content, tools, and events I cover.
And: Free Tools.
Asana is a project management tool that Katie got me to try once we moved out to San Francisco’s East Bay Area. I use the Free model – mostly because I seldom have more than the freemium fifteen members on a project. It’s well layered, syncs to Google Calendar, and has a good app.
Katie and I use it for home, work, travel trips…remember to give the dogs flea and tick (by the way, Bella, before we head home in the morning…). Save lists. Recurring tasks. It’s really a Godsend. And, also works with a Google login.
Like I said in the previous subsection, Google Calendar syncs with Asana so Katie and I can see all our work and personal to-dos in one space. Month views, agenda views, email and popup updates, and it’s even embeddable if we want to use it.
It’s shocking how many people still don’t use this free tool. Want to know if your business, employee, yourself, friends, or anything has anything written about them on a site that Google indexes? Want to learn when it happens? Google.com/alerts. It comes with a Google account. And, yes, Virginia, it’s all free.
Google Alerts, like Hootsuite (mentioned below) are also great for monitoring what folks are writing about you, friends, family, co-workers… Welcome to ad-hock Online Reputation Management 101.
I’ve been using Hootsuite since it first came out in 2008. I even started paying when they did their pied-piper freemium switch to a paid service. The cool thing is that I’ve been grandfathered in on the price for years now. It’s got scheduling calendars for top social media sites so you can syndicate – or write original content – for Facebook accounts and / or pages, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn account and / or pages and / or groups, Google Plus (WTF is that? jk!) pages, Instagram (sort of. On desktop it’s awesome, but on mobile it only helps you send stuff over on mobile, but you have to publish directly on the Instagram app), FourSquare…and other cool shit. It also has link shorteners, custom-templated Google Analytics campaign URL builder installed, multiple accounts…pretty incredible. I still wish
- Google Trends: It shows popularity of keywords over the years. For example, it was the tool I used when I gave in and realized Digital Marketing was the more “official” term for what we do instead of “Internet Marketing”
- Google Finance: Which commodity or publicly traded company is doing better?
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner: Good keyword data here. See what get’s more searches, and what’s more expensive. The more expensive, the steeper the competition. Can go for the high words, or look for low-hanging fruit
Next up on this path: How I’ll structure the content on this site (and how I’m doing it very, very wrong so far)
What other tools do you use to maintain a productivity schedule?
Whiteboard? Moleskine? Another app?
Let us know. We’d love to hear it.
”Wait, wait, wait. That’s it? What the shit? You didn’t explain HOW to use these tools.”
You’re right. Each app has instructions on their website but, yes, I will talk about how I use each one in greater detail. I just wasn’t writing a 42,000 word article to cover every aspect of every app.
Don’t worry. I have it all in my Content Schedule.