Although it may seem fairly straightforward,I've often found that the best content marketing campaigns usually follow a relatively simple formula when it comes to content creation. The less fuss there is the easier it will be to get content out the door and working in favor of your SEO.

Start Gathering Topics

One of the biggest complaints I hear from my SEO clients is that they don't know what to write about. Unless your industry is constantly evolving chances are there isn't brand new, earth-shattering knowledge to share with your audience every day. But keep in mind that just because you've been up to your elbows in your niche for months or year that doesn't mean you target audience knows all the nitty-gritty details. What may seem like basic information to you could actually be ground-breaking to someone just getting involved.

In order to come up with topics keep your ear the ground and read top industry blogs to see what those sites are reporting on; check in with your competitors and track what topics they write about frequently. Keep track of the blogs you leave comments on as part of your link building and use nuggets of information as a source of inspiration for future content. Ask your customer service and sales teams what questions they get asked for leads and prospects; all of those can become great how-to content down the road. Keep Post-It notes, a notebook, signup for an Evernote account"whatever you have to do to keep a running list of content topics going so you're never at a loss for what to write about. Topics abound, you just have to keep track of them.

Develop An Editorial Calendar

One of the most important things to remember about content marketing is that consistency is key. What kind of commitment can you really make (and stick with) when it comes to content marketing? If its only one blog post a week that's fine but make sure you're always pushing out one new blog post each week. An editorial calendar can not only help you block out time to write (so you're not scheduling meetings or phone calls during your content creation time) but it can also be used to map out when you're going to be writing about what topics.

A lot of content is evergreen, but do you have a time sensitive content that needs to go out at certain times? For instance, a bookkeeping company doesn't get much value from writing content about small business tax filing in June; that content needs to go live in the months leading up to Tax Day. Are there any upcoming industry events or conferences that you can work into your editorial calendar? For instance, live blogging a conference only works if you actually publish that content during the conference (which means your turnaround time is tight!) and a recap post has to go live shortly after the event is over and people are still looking for that information. An editorial calendar can help keep your content creation efforts on track and pushes you to stick with it!

Schedule, Publish, Promote

If you build it they will come only works in baseball movies. As Ann Handley said in my interview with her, Good content is only noticed if sharing is a key part of any content marketing effort. You cant expect Google to do all the work for you " you've got to actively share and engage on social media channels as well. Even after you've got the content creation process down, you still have to get it out the door and into the hands of your target audience. Once a post is live on you blog the first step is sharing it across all of your social networks"Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, niche social communities, social bookmarking sites and so forth. Even the greatest piece of content every written is going to need some help getting found! Starting the promotion process yourself also alerts the search engines that there is fresh content on your site they need to crawl and index. For my own blog, I noticed that posts I submitted to social bookmarking sites were usually indexed 2 or 3 days sooner than the posts that I just let sit.

You also want to make it easy for people to share your content when they do find it. Add social share buttons to your blog and individual blog posts so people can promote your content directly from the source. If you cite someone in your content add their Twitter handle into your tweet so they know about it; perhaps they'll retweet it to their followers as well. One thing I've seen HubSpot do and really like is they add Tweet This buttons after interesting statistics in their blog posts so readers can share specific nuggets of information and not just the post at large. Submit your blog posts to various LinkedIn Groups and ask a question that prompts a discussion; you might even get responses that is fodder for future content. Give your readers a reason to share your content!

Monitor Response To Your Content

Once a blog post goes live you typically see a surge in activity (links, social shares, visitors, etc) in the immediate days following. But don't forget to look at the long term effect of your content as well. Is that piece of content still driving traffic three months after it went live? Something in there really struck a chord with your audience and is probably a topic worth revisiting. Which blog posts seem to get the most social love? Does timing have any impact on how well a piece of content does? You might be in the office from 9-5 but the after dinner crowd are your best readers. Where is your content getting shared and linked to? Are other bloggers finally quoting you? The more you know about how well (or not) your content is being received the better you can get at coming up with the right kind of topics that get peoples attention, thus starting the content creation cycle all over!

The best piece of advice I can give site owners when it comes to content creation is to not get overwhelmed by it. It can be intimidating to sit down to a spreadsheet that calls for 12 blog posts, 4 articles and a new white paper each month but you can get through it all! Just remember that you are the expert and people are interested in what you have to say. Your job is simply to get what you know in your head down on a piece of paper and out to your audience.

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