DIY Content Marketing: Steal This Simple Strategy to Boost Your Brand and Attract Customers
Content marketing—it’s important, right? But who has time for that?
That’s the thought process that many business owners struggle through. They know that content marketing works, but they don’t believe that they have the time or resources to devote to it.
Well, we’re here to show you how to plan and execute your own content strategy just by setting aside a few hours every month.
Content marketing provides you with a way to increase your brand recognition, boost your search ranking, and drive traffic to your site, and our DIY strategy allows you to get all the benefits without spending all your time writing. With the right knowledge and the right set of tools, your bespoke content strategy will become an essential component of your overall inbound marketing plan.
The first thing that your strategy needs is a schedule. It’s not enough to just write and publish a blog post whenever you feel like it. You need to plan ahead to not only capitalize on key dates and trends in your industry but also give yourself a structure and set deadlines. (While writers absolutely loathe deadlines, we need them. Trust me—If you don’t hold yourself accountable for staying on schedule, things will never get done.)
To fill out your content schedule, take a look at your calendar and take note of any major events, including:
- Key Industry Dates/Events: What are people in your industry going to be talking about in the coming months? Are they gearing up to give a speech at a big conference? Or perhaps they’re starting to plan for a budget season. Whatever it is, you can create content that responds to that need.
- Company Events: Product launches, conferences, etc. are all perfect fodder for content that you can use to promote your business.
- Seasons/Holidays: Whether it’s Christmas or National Donut Day, framing your content around holidays will help you to generate ideas and improve your SEO around those dates.
Plan your topics around these significant dates. For example, if you have a large industry conference at the end of next month, plan to write a piece with tips on how to make the most of your time at the conference. You can also use platforms like Nuzzel and BuzzSumo to find topics that are hot amongst your friends and followers or within your industry and plan accordingly.
Bake in Batches
Now for the actual writing part. This is where most people get intimidated or start making mistakes that cost valuable time. However, I’m going to give you a plan to tackle content creation quickly and (mostly) painlessly.
Once you have a topic, start breaking that down into subheadings. For example, if you’re writing about social media marketing, start by talking about just one platform, then cover it from multiple angles. We’ve tried this trick before—writing a few thousand words on, for example, Facebook, including demographics, tips for new users, ad targeting tips, and so on. Write about a range of topics, and just follow you train of thought wherever it wants to go.
Plan to write about 2,000 to 2,800 words. That may seem like a lot, but hold on a minute. Write it out, and let it sit for a few hours or even a few days. Once you come back, it’ll be time to break it down and revise.
You’re looking to break what you’ve written up into little manageable chunks of about 500-700 words. Those will be your individual blog posts. If you plan on releasing 1 new blog per week, that’s 2,000 to 2,800 words per month—an amount that you can easily knock out in a couple laidback afternoons of free-writing. Using this trick is key to knocking out content quickly and efficiently because it allows you to focus on one topic rather than continually switching topics with each blog entry. It’s like mixing up one batch of chocolate chip cookies rather than alternating between making one peanut butter cookie, one chocolate chip, one snickerdoodle, and so on.
Once you’ve hit your word count, you want to reread to find where you can naturally break your writing into individual pieces. Then, you’ll just want to add a short introduction and conclusion (if you don’t have one already) and revise to fix any grammatical, stylistic, or structural weirdness left over from your first draft.
And voila! Now, you have your long form written content done in advance for the next month. Keep in mind, however, that content creation is just half of the equation.
Design Your Social Content
To get people to actually read and engage with your content, you need to promote it, and the best way to do this is through social media.
However, it’s not enough to just say, “Hey guys, check out my latest blog post!” You need to adapt your message to the platform on which it’s posted and design these pieces of “micro-content” to generate interest all on their own.
One easy way to do this is by creating “quote cards,” which are images overlaid with text from your blog. Basically, you choose a good quote from your writing—something that piques people’s interest but doesn’t necessarily need to rely on its context to make sense—and then you paste it over a cool image.
You can then add links to your blog post in the description (or in your bio if you’re using Instagram) to drive traffic. Remember, the imagery and the brief text itself should be enticing enough on its own to make people want to stop scrolling and learn more. No one really cares what you have to say. (Sorry, but it’s true.) So, you have to find a way to make them care by giving them something useful, thought-provoking, or intriguing.
Luckily, with the software now available, creating social media content is beyond simple. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create an Insta-worthy image or even a stunning video.
Below are two lists of both free and paid services that you can use to create impressive, gorgeous social posts. Use the first list to gather stock images and videos related to your topic. Then, use the second list to add text, combine images, insert your logo, and so on.
- Unsplash: Over a million free-to-use images submitted by photographers, both hobbyist and professional
- Pexels: Hundreds of thousands free stock photos and videos hand-picked from photos uploaded by users or sourced from free image websites
- Nappy: Free Creative Commons Zero licensed images that encourage increased representation of black and brown people in the media
- Death to the Stock Photo: Paid service that delivers fresh, high-quality content directly to your inbox and features new content every month
- GIPHY: the world’s largest collection of GIFs
- Canva: A design platform that allows you to find images, add design elements, and customize layout for different social platforms
- Stencil: Another platform that can be used to both gather and transform images into exciting social content
- Piktochart: Easy-to-use editor and templates that allow anyone (regardless of design skill) to create unlimited inforgraphics, social media visuals, presentations, and more
- AdobeSpark: Customizable templates that allow users to easily create stunning images and video for social media
- Animoto: Drag-and-drop tools that allow non-professions to make professional-quality videos
- TypeForm: Create stylish, user-friendly forms and quizzes
Fill Out Your Schedule with Curated Content
Assuming that you are posting one or two blog posts a week and that you’re posting a handful of social posts to promote them, you’re still going to need some content to fill out your schedule. (After all, no one likes those people who only ever talk about themselves.)
So, when you see something interesting, save it in a spreadsheet or into your content scheduling platform (more on this later). You can also use any social media platform’s search function to find quality content related to your niche or join a community that posts content in your niche. (Facebook Fan Pages, for example, are a great resource.)
While all this may seem like a lot, it only takes a few minutes to find enough content to fill up your calendar for the week. That’s why we recommend doing all or most of your social media marketing in one sitting. Like our content writing strategy, it helps you to stay focused and prevents you from wasting time creating, curating, and posting sporadically throughout the day.
Automate Your Social Posts
Social media automation is going to be integral to this strategy. This is going to be your key to planning ahead and allowing yourself to (mostly) “set it and forget it.”
You save a huge chunk of time by automating different aspects of the social media marketing process, including content scheduling, which will be the most important function you need to create a consistent content flow.
Unfortunately, to get the best of what these tools have to offer, there’s really no such thing as an all-in-one solution. It’s more about finding a good mix of tools that cover all the most common processes that eat up valuable time in executing your social media strategy. Some sites are awesome for social content scheduling and posting. Others are better for helping you manage your exchanges with customers and fans over social.
That’s why we’re going to give you a short list of tools that cover (nearly) all your bases when it comes to social media automation—all the way from content generation to reporting:
- Natter: Monitors, publishes, and reports on social content
- Missinglettr: Automatically generates extended social media campaigns from your blog posts using AI and machine learning to detect key quotes and images
- Nuvi: Social media reporting using stunning and easy-to-understand visualizations
- Tweetdeck: Owned by Twitter, a comprehensive dashboard to monitor and respond to trends and mentions (see our comprehensive guide on how to optimize your Tweetdeck experience)
- Respond: Turns direct messages, mentions, and searches into “tickets” that live in a centralized inbox, allowing you to easily consolidate and keep tabs on customer service efforts
- Keyhole: Monitors hashtag performance and suggests alternatives to drive better discovery and engagement
While automation tools aren’t always a good substitute for genuine human interaction, they can save you a great deal of time—especially when it comes to creating your content schedule.
Pulling It All Together
It’s true—creating and executing your own content marketing plan takes time. However, hopefully we’ve provided you with a streamlined process that you can employ just by investing a few hours every month into creating and curating quality content.
Keep in mind that where many businesses fail is in consistency. They fail to regularly produce content, or they put varying amounts of effort into promoting that content. That’s why it’s absolutely vital that you plan ahead and schedule a chunk of time every week or month to devote to content. Don’t just decide that you’re get to it “whenever.” Make it a priority.
Or, if you’d rather have an expert team handle all aspects of the content strategy and execution process for you, then you know how to reach us.