I’ve been thinking about you and your profile as we head full steam into 2016. This is the time of year when people are pumped and still planning out the year ahead. Some entrepreneurs will have done it at the end of last year and some will only be getting back into it now. It’s never too late! It doesn’t matter when you do it but every business needs a content strategy. And there’s no denying it – Content is here to stay. Marketing your business differently through your content is extremely important – how else will you stand out from the crowd, generate leads and boost your business? DID YOU KNOW: In 2016, 60 percent of companies will have an executive in their organisation who is directly responsible for an overall content marketing strategy. That’s the word from Curata. It’s vital to the growth and success of your business. But you knew that already, right?! Content is fun – particularly content writing – because there are just so many things you can do and it’s not difficult to work these into a simple plan. Start with a three-month plan that takes in your blog and social media. You can expand on it with video, podcasting, guest posts, ebooks, checklists and so on as you go. Here’s an example: #1. Start with your blog FAST FACT: 81 percent of online users trust what bloggers say (Blogher) and more than 60 percent have made a purchase online based on a recommendation from a blog. The best content doesn’t happen by chance – there’s a strategy behind it. You must have a content plan. I know some people clam up when they hear the word “strategy” but it really can be as simple as writing down what you can manage in a spreadsheet. But first of all, decide how often you are going to publish a blog … weekly, fortnightly or monthly. I would suggest weekly as it will keep your readers interested but also help bump up your organic search ranking (the search engines eat up fresh and regular content). Next, come up with a list of topics. To make this easier on your time and energy, I suggest designing a formula. Week 1: Answer client question/solve client problem Week 2: Your expert opinion on an industry happening Week 3: 10 hot tips to <insert topic here> Week 4: Mistakes people make in your industry Try this formula for three months and see how your people respond to it. Measure your results. If they like it, you’re on to a winner. If you don’t get much back from them, think about how you can change it up. PS – this is a guide. Your content is like your wardrobe, you can restyle, change it and introduce new pieces as often as you like. HOT TIP: Measure everything you’re doing to see what is working and what is not – and obviously, do more of what works! #2. Get a social media plan together The same goes for your social media. If you’ve only got one social media platform at the moment – that’s OK you can work with that. But it’s important to have a plan and work it. Finding your formula, depending on the platform, may take some time but once you know it, it makes managing social media easier. Here’s a sample plan you may like to follow: Monday: Inspo quote pic (get these made up by someone on Fiverr or Upwork or DIY and buy a subscription to DollarPhotos and use PicMonkey or Canva). Tuesday: Share a top tip. Wednesday: How to – show your audience how to do something they’d be interested in. You might like to try a video here. Thursday: Share your blog (always promote your content and point people back to it on your website). Friday: Funny content pic or video. Weekend: Weekend fun about what you are up to. People love to know what others are doing. Why do you think gossip mags sell so well! Keep it light. HOT TIP: Schedule, schedule, schedule. Then be on hand to reply to messages and comments. Work a month in advance with your content, for example, spend a day a month writing your blogs and social media content and then schedule them. #3. Look at your website First thing’s first, if you don’t have a website, start small and build from it. Start with five pages: Home, About, Products/Services, Blog and Contact Us. If you have a website, go back and look at the pages you have…do an audit on it. What’s no longer relevant? What do you need to add? Work this into a weekly schedule, even it is updating one page a week, it’s better than having an old and outdated website, don’t you think? Now, what are some other forms of content you can produce this year? How can these fit into your sales funnel? You don’t want to create content that’s not going to reap you any rewards. Do you have a lead capture (or several) on your website? If not think about a checklist or an ebook download that people will find helpful. Do you have something “free” to give visitors to your site? For example, tips list, how to, 7 mistakes booklet or expert interviews. Does your site need a design upgrade? Do you have content, an image and words on every page? Is it easy to navigate? What else could you put on your site to entice people to stay a while longer and get to know you? Content is a simple, effective and relatively inexpensive way to gain the trust of your customers so they fall in love with what you have to offer – and buy from you. And it’s not going anywhere. It will continue to change and evolve. I hope this helps get you on the right track so you can position yourself as an expert online in 2016. Remember to start small, but just start. The world of online can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you have a simple plan for your website, blog and social content. 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