Up-to-date, high-quality content is the lifeblood of any SEO or content marketing strategy.
Without it, boosting your online visibility and building a loyal following becomes next to impossible.
Top-tier content is especially important to remain competitive in the new ‘generative’ search landscape powered by AI, which is why you need a rock-solid content plan.
A content plan deals with the what (which content types you’ll produce), how (who will produce it, the methods they’ll use, etc.), and when (how often you’ll publish content) of your content strategy.
Developing a content plan will ensure that A) you remain consistent with your release schedule and B) you’re releasing the highest quality, most relevant content that you possibly can.
People’s tastes in online content constantly change, and your content plan is how you keep up with the trends.
For this reason, it’s crucial to periodically audit and update your content plan, especially if you haven’t revisited it in a year or two.
This ensures you’ll always know that you’re serving up what your audience wants to consume, which will keep them addicted to your brand (in a good way).
Stick around to learn how to put together a detailed content plan that’ll streamline your overall strategy and keep our team on the right track.
What’s the Difference Between a Content Plan and a Content Strategy?
The modern online content space is fiercely competitive amongst all industries, and the introduction of things like Google SGE is only making it more challenging to gain online visibility.
How do you stand out from the crowd?
In all seriousness, you may have heard the terms content strategy and content plan used interchangeably, but they’re two distinct and equally important processes.
Your content strategy serves as the foundation for your content plan. It deals with the why (what your goals are for your content) and the who (which audience you’re catering to).
Therefore, your content strategy needs to come first. Only after you’ve defined your goals and researched your target audience (primarily by creating detailed buyer personas/customer avatars) can you begin planning out your content.
As stated in the intro, your content plan deals with the what, how, and when in relation to your content efforts.
Understanding how content plans work
As an example, let’s say that you’ve just put the finishing touches on your content strategy.
Your goal is to increase your online revenue by 20% in 12 months, and you’ve selected a list of topics most relevant to your buyer personas.
Now, you’re ready to put your content plan together.
First, you need to decide what type of content you’re going to produce. This will take more target audience research, as you’ll want to stick with the channels that your prospects use the most.
If your products and services are targeting Gen Z’ers, then you’ll want to publish lots of short-form video content on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.
Once you know your content types, you must determine how to produce them.
Will you use AI to help write scripts and blogs? Will you shoot video content in-house, or will you outsource it to a production company? Do you have an in-house team capable of producing original infographics and other types of visuals?
These are the (at times) tough questions you’ll need to ask when planning your content.
Nobody has an infinite budget (if you do, we envy you), so you’ll need to know which pieces of content are most important for achieving your strategy’s goals.
Why a Content Plan is Worth the Time and Effort
If you’ve already spent time and money developing a content strategy, you may be tempted to skip the planning process and just push pieces live on your website whenever they’re ready.
While it’s certainly tempting to skip creating a content plan, it’s not a wise move and will likely cause you to lose focus and consistency.
Not only that, but you’ll miss out on the myriad of benefits that proper content planning brings, which would be a shame.
Here’s a look at the major perks you’ll enjoy from developing a content plan.
Be the Energizer Bunny: Streamline your content marketing efforts
A content plan ensures that you keep churning out content consistently, which is crucial for SEO.
Content planning involves putting together an editorial calendar that preplans each piece, release date, and production method (which includes assigning a team member to knock out the content).
That’ll work wonders for your efficiency, as you’ll always know what needs to get done and when.
Without a content plan, it’s remarkably easy to lose track of your schedule.
Before you know it, you’ll fall behind with your content releases, which won’t help you get any closer to achieving your marketing goals.
Instead, your rankings will start to drop, and your brand-building will come to a screeching halt since you aren’t releasing new blogs and videos.
If you take the time and effort necessary to construct a content plan, your content efforts will mimic the Energizer Bunny (they’ll keep going and going).
With this type of consistency, your target audience will know they can always count on you to educate them on the latest developments in your field, which is what you want.
Rock around the clock: Enjoy better time management
Without a content plan, managing your employee’s time when producing content pieces will be difficult.
This will make it nearly impossible to know if you’re underworking or overworking your team (not to mention if you’re hitting your content goals or not).
For example, if you don’t have a content calendar or project management software keeping track of your team’s progress, you may wind up overworking a particular employee.
That will cause the quality of your content to fall since they won’t have enough time to dedicate to each piece.
Whenever you create a content plan, you’ll A) designate team members for content production (i.e., writers to focus on blogs, graphic designers for infographics, etc.) and B) assign a set number of tasks to them.
As such, you’ll always know who’s working on what and for how long.
Setting deadlines will also ensure that each phase of the content production process gets completed on time, such as writing a first draft, editing, and publishing the blog in your CMS.
With this system in place, your team will make the most of their time, and they won’t experience burnout due to being overloaded with assignments.
See what works: Uncover areas for improvement
Content planning gives you the chance to take a second look at the content topics you chose, which will help you identify areas for improvement.
The planning phase also involves viewing your analytics to determine what’s working and what isn’t.
For example, you may uncover a certain content type that isn’t performing as well as others, which may convince you to drop it.
If you find that your videos aren’t getting many views or comments, it may be worth scrapping your videos so you can redirect the budget to your top-performing content types.
Or it may be that your videos need some tweaking to find more success, which includes experimenting with different platforms and channels (like choosing TikTok over YouTube).
Uncovering these areas for improvement is how you continuously tweak and improve your content strategy, leading to better and better results.
That’s why creating a content plan is so worth it – because it helps you get the most out of your content marketing efforts.
So, if you put together a content strategy and call it a day, you aren’t getting the most value for your money without a robust content plan to go along with it.
How to Put Together a Content Plan in 2024 and Beyond
Since you know that content planning is a necessity, it’s time to learn how to make one of your very own.
The good news is that developing a content plan doesn’t have to be complicated, as it only involves a few key steps – so let’s take a look at each one.
Step #1: Ensure you have a content strategy that rocks
First, you should take one final look at your content strategy to ensure that it’s picture-perfect.
Did you do thorough keyword research? Are your goals clearly defined and backed up by your business analytics? Does your target audience actively search for the topics you chose? Have any trends changed since you put together your strategy?
That last question is arguably the most important in today’s age, especially if you developed your content strategy more than a year ago.
If you haven’t already, you’ll definitely want to consider things like optimizing for voice search (with virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa) and AI-powered search features like Google SGE and Bing’s Copilot.
Beyond that, ensure that your goals are in line with what your business hopes to achieve from your content marketing strategy.
Once you’re happy with the way your strategy looks, you can move on to content formats.
Step #2: Decide which types of content you’ll produce
This step deals with the what, which is a huge component of your overall content plan.
In particular, you need to determine which content formats you’ll publish online, such as blogs, videos, podcasts, and infographics.
How do you know which content types will work the best?
You’ll need to consider your budget and your audience’s preferred channels.
As an example, let’s say you’re trying to appeal to B2B professionals in the construction industry, and you have a modest budget.
In that scenario, your best bet is to produce lots of long-form blog content (for every stage of your sales funnel) on LinkedIn.
Why is that?
There are several reasons.
First, blogs are relatively inexpensive to produce, which aligns with your modest budget. Not only that, but blog content is popular amongst B2B decision-makers, which is a plus.
Lastly, LinkedIn is a favorite amongst B2B professionals, so it’ll definitely be your preferred channel besides publishing blogs directly to your website (which you should include a backlink to in your LinkedIn posts).
Step #3: Determine your production methods
Next, you need to figure out how you’ll produce your content, which is its own can of worms.
If you don’t have an in-house team of content creators, you can outsource and use freelancers.
Also, there’s now the option to use AI-powered content creation tools to generate content from scratch and enhance your current team’s capabilities (like using AI to brainstorm ideas when they get writer’s block).
There’s also the option to do some of the work yourself, assuming that you have the time and capacity to do so.
If you’re a decent writer, why not knock out a few blog posts by yourself to save some cash?
Or, if you have a decent camera and some editing skills, you could knock out some simple videos for TikTok and YouTube Shorts.
Whatever you decide, the most important part of this phase is to work out the logistics.
You need to know who’s going to do what and for what cost.
That means you’ll have to assign team members to each content type that you chose in step #2.
Step #4: Create an editorial content calendar
Now that you’ve worked out the nitty-gritty details of your content production, the final step is to put everything together into a calendar.
Your content calendar is the lifeblood of your content plan, so it’s crucial to develop it with lots of care and consideration.
Releasing blogs at least twice a week is a good rule of thumb, with videos, podcasts, and infographics dropping less frequently (but still often).
Don’t forget to include an assignee and a deadline for each content piece to ensure its completion on time.
Project management software like Asana is a huge help here, as you can upload your content calendar to monitor your team’s progress in real-time.
Planning Out Killer Content for Your Digital Marketing Strategy
That’s what it takes to forge a content plan that’ll keep you efficient and consistent with your production efforts.
The search landscape is going through big changes this year, which is why putting together a fresh content strategy and plan is a must.
If you need help remaining competitive with your SEO in 2024, don’t wait to sign up for HOTH X, our managed SEO service that yields outstanding results.