It’s getting to be that time of year again, when many bloggers start content planning for the new year.
I’m always a little surprised by people I talk to who don’t do any type of planning, and just ‘wing it’ when it comes to putting content on their blogs. And that’s fine if you’re writing a hobby blog that you just add content to when you feel like it. But when you make your living through your blog, you need to be a little more organized than that.
The way many bloggers plan is they decide what topics to write about, then set about writing posts. They don’t always think about how to monetize those posts until after they’re done, if they think about it at all. And I’ll admit, I used to plan my content this way too.
Successful bloggers plan their content well in advance, but they don’t stop with just their blogs. Product creation, lead generation, email sequences, and social media posts all become part of the overall content plan. Blog posts are just one piece of the puzzle.
Think of your content plan as one big path that leads your readers on a journey from getting to know you to signing up for your newsletter to buying your products and services. In other words, you want to create a funnel that shows them exactly what steps to take next. To do this, you have to, in essence, flip your content plan on its head and start planning from the back end forward.
I’ll explain what I mean in a minute. But first, let’s talk about what a funnel should look like.
What is a Funnel?
To start with, you need to know what you want your funnel to look like. The simplest for, and the one I’ll show you how to plan for in this post is the opt-in funnel. There are three main parts to this type of funnel:
- The Opt-in or Lead Magnet
- The Low-Cost or “Tripwire” Product
- The Email Sequence
You can add a second, higher priced product, or a membership offer after the Tripwire product, and you should, but for our purposes here we’ll stick to the basics.
So your funnel will look something like this:
- Visitor fills out an opt-in form. It could be for a newsletter, a content upgrade, a webinar, or any type of free offer.
- Subscriber gets added to your autoresponder and this triggers the email to deliver the free product.
- While waiting for the free product to be delivered, new subscriber is presented with an offer for the tripwire product.
- New subscriber buys the offer and becomes a customer
- Customer gets added to the customer autoresponder which triggers the email sequence for that product.
Now that you know how the funnel works, let’s talk about how to plan the content for it.
Content Planning Funnel-Style
Step 1 – Plan your tripwire product first
Planning your product first gives you the widest view of what it is you’re offering. I’m going to assume that you’ve already done your market research and you know this is a product that people in your target market want and need.
The content you need for this step is:
- The product
- The sales copy
- The after-sale email sequence (see Step 2)
Step 2 – Plan the email sequence that will go with the product
Each product you create should have an after-sale email sequence that goes with it. This will be between 5 and 7 email messages that explain the product and how to get the best results from using it. Use these emails to inform and educate your new customer so they don’t feel overwhelmed or frustrated about not knowing how best to use what they’ve just purchased.
Content required for this step:
- 5-7 email messages
Step 3 – Plan the lead magnet
Once you have your product figured out, planning the lead magnet is easy. You simply extract a piece of the product and turn it into a separate piece of content. Some ideas for this include:
- Cheat sheets
- 2-3 page summaries on one aspect of the product
- Short videos
You can find more ideas for opt-in offers in this post on creating content upgrades.
Step 4 – Plan your blog posts that will host the opt-in offer for the lead magnet
So now, you have a product for sale, and a shorter product to give away. It’s time to create some content for your blog that will make reads want to opt-in to get the upgrade.
Writing in a series comes in handy here. If you can come up with five to ten topics for your blog posts that touch on the problem your opt-in offer and tripwire product solve, you have five to ten chances to get the opt-in.
By identifying the issues your audience is looking for solutions to, you’ve demonstrated your expertise, and started building the relationship that’s so important between blogger and audience member.
Step 5 – Plan the social media posts that will drive traffic to your blog post
Of course, no one is going to read your post if they don’t know it exists. Create snippets of content from your blog posts and post it on social media to drive traffic back to your blog.
If you can, make images to post on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. You can also do short videos, and use places like Medium and LinkedIn Plus to post versions of your article.
Getting traffic is a whole other subject, but creating content in order to get that traffic should be part of your content strategy. A good rule of thumb is to create three to five pieces of content per blog post that you can share on social media platforms.
By creating your content from the product backwards, you present a comprehensive and cohesive path for your audience to follow. Along the way you build relationships, and develop the know, like and trust factor that is essential to a successful online business.
Content planning doesn’t have to be hard. If you know your audience and what problems they need solved, you can create content funnels that provide information for them and make money for you at the same time.