Using A Template For Better Content Planning

Article Writing Template

One of the best habits to develop, for writers, is a template plan system. A template can be useful if you are writing something where you are not an expert or are unfamiliar. It can also be used to pass on to an external writer as a guide.

This article template plan will help you remember to research everything necessary to complete your project, whether it’s a guide, a general information article, or a product sales page. In general, you would need to check:

  • Boundaries  
  • SEO
  • Angles
  • Buying cycle
  • Customer persona

Boundaries

Your article will most probably be part of an article cluster, where all will share a common theme, however, it must be planned so that you don’t cover the exact same subjects in two (or more) articles so do make a note of what to cover and what NOT to cover.

SEO

SEO will certainly play a part in writing a guide, and an info piece, but not necessarily for a product sales presentation, so topic research for info writing should take into account how well established the site is. An authority site will be able to rank for difficult keywords easily, whereas a newer blog would struggle with high competition keywords. Here are a few keywords I considered for this article, with their search volume figures

the content planner260
website content planner140
digital content planner70
the content planner pdf20
planning a blog post10
blog content planner template0
blogger planner 20210
social media content planner 20210
Keywords ( from Keywords Everywhere ) and Search Volume / month

A company selling widgets over a long period would benefit from an increase in organic visits to their website, over visits coming via Ads, which incurs high costs. Good long-form content can do exactly that, generate new leads and customers perhaps for many years to come. So developing a specific template plan to help write that content is a brilliant aid.

Angles

Try to use an interesting angle to view the problem and solution and match the customer to the product in the right way for the stage of the buying cycle that they are in.  Think in terms of an Advert. You can see many different angles.

  • Saving time doing the task
  • Doing a more thorough job
  • Cheaper
  • Saves space – smaller unit
  • Available everywhere
  • Portable – no wires
  • Instant no preparation
  • Waterproof, works underwater, works upside down
  • Longer lasting

Content Mapping

Your First consideration is who you are aiming the content at?

Next, where are your prospective customers in the buying cycle?

This template should help you match the two considerations

The Reader/buyer/customer – Who is He or She?

Research by Single Grain shows that using Personas, companies can make a 2X to 5X difference in the efficacy of websites, the CTR of email campaigns, and overall conversion rates.

Make sure you know who the post is aimed at, getting the wrong demographic, age or job level, is a sure way to kill any interest.

Try to work out what a typical day is for your persona, what is the problem your product or information will solve. What are their values? Where does your persona like to shop for goods and services? Where do they go for their information? 

The buyer’s persona should be somewhere between an accurate representation and good speculation, considering behavior patterns, motivations, and end goals. Of course, the accuracy will depend on what data you already have or can gather. How long will this campaign be?

Do you have already, or plan to do, some market research on your customer persona?

Where is your customer in the buying cycle?

Here’s an example buying cycle about buying a cycle J

Your article should say something about each stage:

The Awareness Stage: Have they only just become aware of the problem – say our prospect commutes into town to work, parking is too expensive, the trains are too unreliable, the distance from home to work is relatively short.

The Consideration Stage: They consider Cycling into work. But what sort of bike to buy?

The  Decision Stage: they are weighing up our product against the competition and ready to buy?

Each stage requires a different approach.

How Can You Help Your Readers?

What are the persona’s problems? Always try to get unique data, tabulate and collate it, think about how to present it in a new fresh way. For instance, there are many reviews of caravans and RV -campervans, but has anyone got a table of kerb(curb) weights for them?  It’s a piece of data every potential caravanner would want to know, to be legal and to ensure his vehicle will not be overloaded.

It is always a good idea to have something readers can take away and use, a pdf, for example, is very easy to produce with one of my favorite tools designrr.  Also, it’s very easy to include links to more of your own content within the pdf.

At the right point in the article ask for feedback and assistance. Engagement, comments are an easy way to get readers involved.  Don’t forget you can start it off yourself, by simply adding a comment with a question, as soon as the post is published.

Think which creatives – images, videos, infographic, bar chart, etc., you will use, if the post is syndicated, what type of creative will stand out in each environment?

Although not strictly creatives, LISTS either bullet lists or numbered lists should be used often. They break up your text blocks and draw the eye, especially if the reader is scanning your article.

Developing a Content Planning Template

How to develop a template that helps to write content that will succeed in ranking for your blog. If you know the subject well, it could be as simple as a checklist, to ensure coverage of the major points and the nuances.

But If the subject is slightly more advanced, or wider than your own knowledge:

  • Find where your audience hangs out – If they are on LinkedIn but not on FB or Reddit are those areas you can exploit?
  • The influencers and thought leaders found there – what is currently working for them?
  • Evaluating the competition and their methods, are they succeeding?
  • Check existing posts, which are doing well
  • You should always have Google analytics data of course, but maybe tools like Heat maps from Crazy Egg might point out where the audience is most engaged

If it’s a new area then metrics may not be available, so try to compile some. Otherwise, try to find gaps in the subjects covered on competitors’ blogs

The Competition: What do you have to Beat?

As you plan your posts, you’ll need to know what the competition has written, that is currently ranking, so you can make yours a better all-around article. One of the best tools I have seen for this purpose is Keyword Chef, which can cut the enormous amount of research time down to reasonable levels. Its ‘engine’ will compare and rate the SERPs from Google for different keywords and rank your chances of being able to beat them, putting you in the top 10. This is a necessary step for authors of blogs, as writing articles that are never going to rank, is such a huge waste of time.

Affiliate Products – When to consider them?

Bear in mind with your article,  if there is a product that can be promoted, that fits nicely with the content, the promotion of that product, how can it be done, within your copy?

Ideally, the article will ‘suggest’ a tool or method, or product. If you’re talking about building a garden shed, a personalized story about a particular tool or material that helped you, with a simple text link to the product, would be better than a product review. In general product reviews do seem to be less successful today than they were a few years ago. If the product needs a full review with features explained, then a separate page would do the job perfectly.

Repurposing an Article

Always try to have ideas that can be good for both humans and Google and don’t forget content can be repurposed. Videos can be recycled into blog posts or social media posts and vice versa.

Don’t be totally focused on the product or tech. Inject some personality in there. Brands with a figurehead do significantly better than those without.

Designing your Creatives

Design as many creatives:- Images, infographics, graphs, tables as you need, well in advance of writing, composing these often throws up new ideas or new ways of presentation. There are many free tools that are incredible for this, like Canva, Draw.io, and GIMP . I list my favorite free tools here.

 If you are using other people’s work, be sure it has the rights for sharing or reuse without permission or attribution. It is often a good idea and polite to give attribution anyway.

A General Purpose Minimum Template:

Once you are established in building your project, you will have things to add to the template below which are more specific to your own areas of interest

  1. Intro – define the article – what is the search intent? – what is the answer? Explain later**
  2. List the main points and expand later ( or use a ‘Contents’ widget )
  3. Explain who the article is for
  4. Main Body of Content
  5. List and link to any sources of information and creatives used

** Note rather than leave a conclusion to the end, give the answer in the first paragraph! Contrary to what is commonly thought, articles that do this, tend to do a lot better than those leaving the answer to the end of the article. They tend to lower the bounce rate of readers.

Read more articles in the “building a business” theme