Part 2: Content creation for small businesses
How to fill your content calendar for months in advance in just one day
Welcome back to part 2 of this series!
In part 1 we covered a step-by-step keyword research process that helped you discover new content ideas for your business.
In this post, I’ll walk you through a simple process of content creation: organizing your keyword data into bigger themes, deciding which keywords would be good to create content for based on their search volume, relevancy to your business, and search intent.
Then I’ll give you a bunch of ideas around types of content you can create, how to package your content, and finally, I’ll give you a cool content calendar template where you can organize your content month by month.
You betcha! Let’s dive right in!
Laura agreed to let us use her as an illustration of the process. Thanks, Laura!
Laura has a small business that sells handmade gifts and she wants to educate people around the benefits of choosing handmade products as gifts and position her brand as the go-to source for handmade gifts and information around how to choose and make handmade gifts.
She doesn’t exactly know what types of online searches her audience is performing.
She’s thinking that it would definitely help to know what they’re interested in, their wishes, their needs, and their challenges, as they relate to her products and industry.
But, where to start?
She already educated herself about how to market her business online and even read a blog post about how to do keyword research for a small business like hers.
That post not only gave her the courage to try keyword research, but by following the process described in the blog post, she managed to find a lot of keyword ideas and questions that her target market is actively asking.
And it wasn’t as hard as she thought it would be!
She realizes that marketing makes the most sense to her when she approaches it systematically—with patience.
So she went through all the steps mentioned in the blog post:
- saved her keywords into the Google Sheet the post provided
- added the monthly search volume and the search intent for each keyword
- and then went to the Questions tab of the Google Sheet and added all the questions that she could find along with their search intent.
Now, her spreadsheet looks like this:
Do you see the “Search Difficulty” column in the keyword research sheet?
This is a score given to each keyword based on the estimated competition in organic search for that particular keyword.
The higher the number, the more competitive the keyword is, the harder it is to rank or appear in Google search results for that term.
You can take this metric from whatever keyword tool you decide to use whether it be Ubersuggest, Keywords Everywhere, KWFinder, or something else—they’ll all be fairly similar.
Don’t get stuck overanalyzing difficulty scores, though.
This metric is just an overall indicator of the competition for certain keywords and should serve as a guideline when you’re deciding which keywords to use in your content or on your website pages.
What you need to remember is the lower the competition score for a keyword, the easier it will be for you to stand out and for your content or pages to appear in search results.
Usually keywords with a competition score under 20 are considered not very competitive. It does, however, depend on the industry, so take this with a grain of salt.
What Laura needs to do now that she has her list of keywords and questions is to group them into themes.
Let’s see how Laura decided to group her keywords into overarching themes.
By going through her list of keywords and questions she noticed that they could be grouped into 4 distinct themes or categories:
- Handmade gifts—a more general category which includes her top search volume keywords
- Handmade gift types/materials
- Handmade gift personas
- Handmade gift occasions
She labeled each of the 4 categories with a different color: orange for the general handmade gifts category, yellow for the types/materials category, blue for the personas category and red for the occasions category.
Then she started putting each keyword and question under the category of best fit and gave them the appropriate color.
You can see her full list of keywords and categories here.
The Google Sheet is not editable, but you can make it your own by going to File -> Make a copy, and save it to your Google Drive.
Grouping her keywords into common themes helps her content creation process in multiple ways:
- People search in various ways, using different word combinations and synonyms. So, grouping certain keywords under a common theme helps Laura notice general concepts and ideas that people search for, e.g. "how to make birthday gift with paper", "handmade gifts with paper", "how to make handmade gifts with paper", which were grouped under the “Handmade gift types/materials” theme.
- Her content pieces won’t be scattered across multiple topics that basically answer the same question or cover the same subject, e.g. "handmade gifts for men", "handmade gifts for boyfriend", "how to make handmade gifts for husband".
- It’ll help her immensely when deciding what to write about next, knowing what keywords and questions in the same topic category complement each other and make sense together.
- Her site’s SEO will improve as search engines are analyzing the contents of a website based on themes and concepts that match user queries.
Keep in mind:
- Always choose keywords that are a combination of: low-medium difficulty/competition, high relevancy for your business, moderate search volume. Sometimes it’s worth even going after the keywords with low volume (1-100 searches per month), as they tend to have higher conversion.
- As mentioned in the previous post, long tails are the best, e.g. handmade father's day gifts, handmade gift ideas, handmade gifts for boyfriend.
- When choosing keywords, always make a mental note about the user’s intent. What was their intent? To find out more information? To learn how to do something? To compare solutions? To buy?
- When you write content, be mindful of SEO and try to target a primary keyword for each piece of content that you create and mix that with keyword variations that are part of the same topic, e.g. handmade gifts for women (primary) + women handmade gift, woman handmade gifts, do it yourself gifts for women (secondary variations).
Going back to our example…
Based on Laura’s keywords and questions that are now organized by theme there are many content pieces she can create:
- Blogpost linked to product: Seeing that people are searching for “handmade gifts mothers day” and “handmade father's day gifts” she could write 2 blog posts—“Handmade gift ideas for Mother’s Day” and “Handmade gift ideas for Father’s Day”—and add a link in each blog post to the respective product page where people can buy handmade gifts for that occasion. Also, because she hasn’t sold handmade gifts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day before, she could consider adding that category to her online shop, as people have shown interest in them.
- Downloadable guide: She could then do a comprehensive guide titled “Handmade gift ideas”, with a unique landing page where the guide can be downloaded, and promote that guide in exchange for email addresses.
- Blogpost series: She could also do a series of blogposts on the topic of handmade gifts made out of different materials with a blogpost dedicated to each material.
- She could structure her online shop or website based on the most searched categories, e.g. handmade gifts for men, friends. By analyzing the keywords, she sees that the keyword “handmade gifts for men” has more searches than “handmade gifts for him” and both have the same difficulty score. As such, she may choose to name her website category “handmade gifts for men” instead of “handmade gifts for him.”
- Promotions and discounts: She could also do several promotions and discounts throughout the year based on seasons and holidays: "handmade gifts valentine", "handmade gifts", "handmade graduation gifts".
- How-to videos: She could do a series of videos showing how to make handmade gifts out of materials commonly found in homes—for people that are interested in arts and crafts, e.g. "how to make birthday gift with paper", "handmade gifts with waste material", "handmade gifts with ice cream sticks".
- Online course: She could also tap into a market that she hasn’t targeted before—people who want to learn how to make handmade products. She could do a series of how to’s for them, and eventually maybe later she could create an online course to sell to people who have that passion.
- Social media posts: Based on these keywords and themes she could also create a series of social media posts with compelling pictures that show different types of handmade products people can find in her online shop.
The possibilities are endless!
- When coming up with content ideas, picture your ideal customer and think about which topics would interest, help, or excite them. What do they need that you can provide for them? Where are they right now in the buyer’s journey as it relates to what you offer? What content will help them right now?
- Create content for all stages of the marketing funnel, to ensure that you meet them at every step with your product/service and move them down the funnel until they’re ready to buy.
Now that was for Laura.
Depending on your audience or the purpose, where it is being shared, how it is being promoted, a different type of content might be more valuable to you:
- “How-to” blogposts or tutorials—teach them how to do something
- “Guide to” posts – a long form article that takes a deep dive in a particular subject
- Listicles – a must-see, must-do, a list of your favorite tools/software/articles/books /resources on a particular subject
- Round-up of resources—make a list of all the resources that you found valuable on the internet on a particular subject
- eBooks & guides
- Data sheets
- Customer success stories
- Product/service comparisons
Any given piece of content can be spun in different ways...
- Lessons learned through your experience
- Share your own take on a piece of content/book/show/video that inspired you
- Create a step-by-step guide that teaches your audience how to do something
- Make a before and after type of post by showing the experience of your clients before they decided to use your service or product compared to how they feel now
- Do a behind-the-scenes of something very specific that your audience is interested in
- Do a post of mistakes to avoid as it relates to your field/industry
- Write a “Everything you need to know” type of blogpost about a topic that is of interest to your target audience
- Do a Q&A post where you answer the most common questions people are asking in your industry
- Choose a topic that resonated with your audience in the past and expand on it, put a new spin on it, or at least update it with new information
- Backstage video of a day in your life—how you run your business
Now that you have an idea of what content you could create in your business, I’ve prepared a user-friendly content calendar template that will help you (and Laura) easily organize your content ideas each month.
You’ll see the most results if you:
- Are consistent and commit to a publishing schedule
- Choose a frequency that is sustainable for you (the more the better)
- Consider batching your content (creating multiple content pieces at once to fill up your calendar for weeks ahead versus writing a different piece of content each week)
- Invest time and effort in the content you produce and make it the best thing your audience will read all month if you don’t have the bandwidth to produce content weekly.
- Scan Google Search results and analyze what type of content is ranking for your keywords before producing a piece of content. Think of ways you can produce an even better piece of content than the ones already ranking.
- Pay attention to the category of content when analyzing the content that is showing up in Google Search results for your keywords. Are the results blog posts? Product reviews? Product/Services pages from websites? If all you see on the first page are blog posts, guides, different resources, you won’t stand any chance to rank your website product/services page with that keyword. On the contrary, if the results showing up are just product/services or homepages of your competitors, you also have the possibility of ranking with your product/service or home page, with proper optimization, of course.
In my next post I’ll talk about the buyer’s journey and what type of content you need to produce to make sure you meet your potential customers at each step of their journey towards making a purchase.
There are different content types that go with each stage of the buyer’s journey, so don’t miss next week’s post!