Ecommerce businesses are on the hook for everything — from basic marketing to day-to-day operations.
On top of fulfilling orders and managing staff, crafting compelling content, like blog posts, top-notch web copy, and quippy social media posts, is both essential and unsustainable.
Here’s our quick-and-dirty content strategy for helping harried business owners own the content game.
1. First Things First — Get Organized
You might prefer an editorial calendar, a project management program, or even an old-school notebook… but the point is, you need a spot to store your thoughts. (And deadlines. And blog-post schedule. And social-media schedule. And so on.)
A system of napkins, sticky notes, and assorted doodle-adorned one-line reminders will do nothing but turn you into an unorganized nightmare.
Try these online apps for keeping track of your tasks:
2. Beware of the “Tool” Time Suck
We live in an era where every website that has anything to do with “content” has its own tool attached. Some tools promise to make you a better writer or help you with scheduling or generating headlines, and so on and so on.
But, sometimes we become so enamored of the concept of these tools that we get distracted.
So what’s a content marketer to do? Pick and choose.
Only you know which parts of your content strategy can benefit from technology and which tools you can skip.
Hot tip: Audit the tools you currently use. Are they necessary? If you’re unsure, cut them out. And be judicious with any new tools you implement.
3. Poach Blog Post Topics
Let’s be clear, in no way are we suggesting that you rip off someone else’s blog post/article/ad copy. If that’s your MO, just stop.
More so, we mean, gather inspiration from what people are talking about.
- Check out Reddit and Quora for inspiration.
- Spend 10 minutes a day researching topics tied into your industry and learn what people want to know.
- Even easier, read your competitors’ blogs and FAQs — and search for inspiration. Are they writing about Amazon re-pricers? How-to guides for Instagram’s shopping feature? Write your own version, only make it better.
Doing these kinds of exercises help you get a good pulse on your industry. It will also allow you to fill in where there’s a need for quality information by sharing your opinions and expertise.
Do this exercise a few minutes each day and jot down some ideas. Soon your brain — and content strategy as a whole — will be bursting at the seam with ideas.
4. Mine the News
Trending topics are a smart way to get in on a lot of traffic.
And they can be a quick-and-dirty source of topics for your blog posts and social-media accounts. But you’ve got to be able to tie them to your business in some way if they’re going to work.
Here are a few examples of blog posts that tie into trending topics:
- Creating Your Own “Wasco Clown” With Guerrilla Marketing
- How to Rebrand Your Business Without “Pulling a Miley”
- Cutthroat Leadership Lessons From Game of Thrones
Want to try this tactic for yourself?
You just need to know where to look.
- Hit up Twitter for top tweets, trending topics, and most-mentioned celebs.
- Check industry publications to keep up with what’s happening in your sector.
- Your content presence works best if you can keep a pulse on what’s going on both in your space, as well as how it fits in a global, cultural context. Human interest, meets niche relevance.
Now that you’ve got some sweet tips for coming up with little blog post nuggets, it’s on to the next one.
5. Set Your Intention
Turn your phone on airplane mode and try to stay organized. Organization in and of itself can feel like a full time job (that’s why people hire assistants, after all), but it’s really an investment in the success of your content.
For each post or article, sit down and make an outline — with a question and solution.
Keep the following in mind:
- Make It Clear: Content, in the context of a small business, aims to engage the community and ultimately drive sales. It’s not the time or place to unleash your inner poet or isolate consumers by using big, complicated words.
- Back Arguments With Facts: Don’t spread fake news. Back claims with links from reputable sources (journals, studies, and top-notch publications). Heck, a few good stats can serve as the backbone for a piece.
- Be Yourself: Don’t talk like a politician if you sell bespoke cat toys on the web. On the flip side, don’t be overly brash or casual if you’re pandering to a more conservative audience or something that requires a serious or subdued tone.
- Liven Up the Dull Stuff: Be relatable and offer real-world advice. Saving money on energy bills, for example doesn’t necessarily make for viral click bait. But, well-written evergreen content can help people learn something new — and cement your identity as a trusted expert.
- CTAs: Don’t forget your call to action. Whether it’s signing up for your monthly newsletter or finally making that sale — let people know what you want from them.
6. Batch It Out
Sometimes it’s easier to divide content creation into easily checked-off tasks.
Here are a few pointers to follow in your content strategy:
- Right off the bat, think quantity over quality.
- Hash out some ideas, make a few outlines, and then flesh them out.
- Consider a two-pronged approach to crafting content: structured brainstorming, then fine-tuning.
- Don’t edit for quality, quippiness, or hot takes.
- Put the pen to paper and keep it there until you’ve hit your targeted word count.
- Rinse, repeat.
This practice is not without its flaws, but the idea is that you’ll get some working drafts in the pipeline you can revisit as needed.
The second part to this is the polishing. This can be done any time you’ve got a couple hours to spare.
Spend time brainstorming headlines, finding just the right sign-off, and fiddling with the language.
The benefit to this approach is two-fold. On one hand, you can create a unified tone across all functions. On the other, it’s easy to take advantage of various stages in productivity. Paint with a broad brush, then fill in the details.
So… Get to It, Then
In the end, we’ve all got little tricks that make our job easier. Try a tool — maybe you’ll find that Slack, Asana, or Google docs perfectly complement your business and help you write faster everyday.
Or… maybe none of them do it for you.
If you want to get faster at writing quality content, the only real shortcut is doing it on a regular basis.
Carve out a few hours a week or brainstorm at lunch. Hell, try to have fun with it.
Your content strategy shouldn’t feel like pulling teeth. Instead, think of it as a platform where you get to talk about the things that you’re good at (and are most passionate about).
Sounds pretty sweet, right?