Content Strategy: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need to Create an Incredible Impact Online

A solid content strategy, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful ways to generate traffic, authority and attention to your site – and … to create incredible impact online.

The usual approach to creating content is to “just get something out there”. After hearing the amazing responses from those that commented about giving content enough time to mature, I want to further entertain the idea of this idea that your ‘content is your product’.

Why a Content Strategy Matters

Value of a post is the direct result of how relevant it is to the person reading it; further stacking this value through synchronous content is a subtle but powerful way to create wildly popular content that people will share.

A post series, for example, is a synchronous set of content that relates to one another; no matter where a visitor begins in the series they will be able to fully understand the scope of the topic. On the flip side, content that bounces from subject to subject may only be as valuable as what a visitor wants to learn that day; this may be evident on your own site when a post receives dozens of comments and the newest barely makes a flutter.

Steve Scott is one of those bloggers that makes the effort to always craft a content strategy. If you look past the post and, instead, at how one another link together you will notice that there are entire weeks that are completely planned out in advanced. Once a reader reaches the end of the line for the strategy they are given monumental posts which pull from previous content and links to relevant internal posts as resources.

Corbett Barr uses this and you may not even notice. Since declaring the creed to ‘write epic shit’, he has made the effort to change the mindset of his readers away from the usual one-and-done posts into a long-term strategy that continues to multiply its value because content syncs with the last (and upcoming).

In fact, there are many amazing marketing strategies being unfolded right in front of your eyes that you may not be aware of.

If you were on the list, receiving Ramit Sethi’s emails about the 1K class you will see the amount of value that was given leading up the launch of the course. After the course was created, Ramit immediately began promoting a smaller course for those that weren’t able to join. Do you think this was on a whim? Certainly not. It was strategy.

The Four Fundamentals of a Content Strategy

So now that you see that a content strategy can be the difference between a visitor digging through your content and one which becomes engrained within your story, we’re going to build our own – does that sound good to you?

Remember, developing a content strategy brings you the following benefits:

Properly schedule what needs to be done vs. playing it by ear.

  • Sets the stage for a marketing campaign (whether subtle or not).
  • Stacks value to keep a visitor engaged.
  • Increases the likelihood that someone may subscribe.
  • Opens the possibility to craft a product (more on this later)

The following will be completely dependent on you and your community but these are the fundamentals to creating a content strategy that have worked for me (and others that I’ve observed):

  • Discover your Most Valuable Action. Your most valuable action will be the one that gets you closest to your goal. When you’re developing a content strategy you must think of where you want to take your visitors. Blindly leading them through post after post, jumping subject to subject is like a car without a steering wheel: it goes but not in any particular direction. Think deeply about what you want your visitors to do once you’ve completed the scope of your content; think of this as the climax to your movie.
  • Balancing your Work Load. You may never realize this but your work load plays a very important aspect of developing a content strategy. Without proper timing and time management you will be forced into falling back to writing content which does not sync with one another simply because you must ‘fill the void’. Quite literally: you need to set aside time in your schedule to not only experience what you plan to cover but enough time to craft your content.
  • Think in Tiered Production. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, you’ll need to think in tiered production. One post must play into the next while synchronously drawing upon the last. For example, I am writing this post in relation to the ‘blog maturity’ post because of the underlying factor that content takes time to develop and reach its fulcrum. Don’t just think of your post as content either; think of it as a milestone in what you want to cover which eventually leads a person to a valuable action in the end that benefits both parties.
  • Broaden your Media Scope. Don’t think of your content strategy in just terms of just one media platform either. Consider how powerful video can be to add additional value to what you’re covering. Use interviews to reinforce your authority on the matter and build your expertise by sharing social media proof with images directly from your experience with the topic. Always remember that people learn through different mediums; some prefer video, others audio and many just want text. Don’t limit yourself to a single source of media because all of the tools required to explore each are freely available online.

In all, look at your content strategy like a map as if you were launching a product. From the beginning, you’ll think of what you’d like to offer and to whom. Afterwards, you’d think of how to best approach your ventures while simultaneously explore additional options of adding values to both parties. Finally, you’ll find the best vehicle to share your venture which is completely dependent on your own drive and what the community wants.

If this doesn’t make sense or is too heavy as far as wording goes, think of it like this:

Find the topic > Explore your Options > Create the Content > Set the Platform > Create Action

To further explain this…

An Example of My Personal Content Strategy

I take two approaches to my content strategy:

  • A list of immediate, most valuable action items
  • A content roadmap for relevancy for my posts

As you may know, I’ve created a business called PLRArticlesNow.com which aims to change the game in the world of PLR content. This is a side business venture of mine but I’m drawing upon the experience I’m receiving from tackling this venture as content here on Murlu. Additionally, I’ve mapped how I would like to direct the content on Murlu based on what’s happening with the business and the influence from the community on Murlu toward the venture.

Here is a picture of my some of the items I’m working on that go hand-in-hand with Murlu, PLRArticlesNow and the overall content strategy.

Content Strategy

To explain what’s going on:

  • I have a set of actions which will take me closer to my goal for PLRArticlesNow.com
  • I have a roadmap of how to take my experience with the PLR site and turn them into Murlu posts
  • I have spin-off content strategies which further extend the value of posts
  • I have optional goals of product creation

Breaking this down:

The products I am creating for PLRArticlesNow will influence the content I plan to create on Murlu as I’d like to cover the experiences I’ve had with the process. I would like to cover how I package these products, distribute them to paying customers and how to replicate this result through a tutorial post.

I then look at how each Murlu post can tie into what I’m doing with my business to inspire and push me toward the next stage of my business venture. Current business journal entries not only share proof of my work but they also add pressure from the community to continue (in a very good way).

Finally, I look at the possibilities of creating a product related to what I’m learning and teaching. Depending on the feedback from the community this may be launched, maybe not. Other factors such as my ethics about free content also play an important role (I’m a firm believer that I should give away as much content as possible).

This may all seem like a marketing campaign on the under belly and I’m not going to sugar coat it; there are certain elements in the overall content strategy but it’s predominantly to leave those options open even if they aren’t pursued. Most successful website owners take this approach whether you know it or not.

Applying a Content Strategy to your Work

You may have some of the same characteristics and quirks as me: I often put myself into situations (good or bad) to have an experience rather than simply researching it. In many ways, it’s Gonzo blogging (mad shout out to Hunter S. Thompson – I miss you!).

I’m not telling you to put yourself in the direct line of fire to get the scoop on a story but in many ways I am. Think of your story as where you’re taking people with your content strategy. Live it and you will gain more credibility, authority and expertise than you can ever gain through research alone.

Do you think Pat Flynn is an expert a niche website creation? You do now because of his series.

Overall, look at what you’re currently doing with your content. If it’s a jumble mess of content that doesn’t truly relate to another than you lack a content strategy (unless you’re just completely going nuts and have a controlled chaos of a plan – who knows).

Make the maximum amount of impact: Align your personal ventures with your content.

Use your website content as a platform to push your personal ventures forward. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

So, right now, begin sketching out where you want your content to move your community. Develop your content strategy and use it as a platform for your personal ventures. Consider sharing it in the comment section below; think of it as lighting the fire under your ass – believe me: the Murlu community can do that to you.

Interesting side note: My future business venture, Okkopus, will be offering this content strategy development cycle. When thinking about it – I can use this post as reference when dealing with clients. If that isn’t future proofing yourself, I don’t know what is.

27 Responses to “Content Strategy: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need to Create an Incredible Impact Online”

  1. March 14, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    Well this one is just loaded. I don’t even know where to start. This is seriously one of the better posts I’ve read in a looooong time (and your content strategy worksheet is pretty impressive).

    I think the biggest take away I got from this is the most valuable action piece. I tend to go back and forth with planning and not planning content. For instance I have a post series in the works, but then I sporadically post random content just because it is on my mind.

    But never did I account for herding (for lack of a better word) readers into a certain direction within the posts themselves.

    I think that goes true for a lot of people who have blogs and niche sites. They have pop-up windows, and sign-up forms in the sidebar, with the intention of the reader signing up for the list as the end game. But not too much goes on within the actual content to lead a reader in a certain action.

    Eben Pagan is a master of this with his newsletters (always selling within the content of the newsletter). I guess somewhere in the back of my head I knew this is what I should be don doing. But this post just made something click for some reason. Thanks!

    • Murray Lunn
      March 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed it Eugene :)

      I know exactly what you mean by going off target while working on a post series. A content strategy can let you see where you could touch on other areas while running one but for the most part we do tend to jump into random topics sometimes.

      I’ve been thinking of my blog, lately, much like ecommerce. If my post is my product than I want people to mentally invest into going through it. I want them to take action such as apply the information, share it, subscribe or do additional research to further improve the reader’s understanding on the topic.

      Lately, I’ve been trying to look 3 – 6 months into the future as far as content goes. It really does show you where you can take your blog. It’s a lot like a “season” on a show; you want to do a single story arch but you could still do a few one-off’s in between.

      At the end of the “season”, you could lead into new ventures or lead up to a product based around the series. You’ll have people already engaged over the weeks/months and will likely result in a higher response because they’ve been following the story.

      Thanks for adding in and hope you can apply this well on your own blog!

  2. March 15, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    One question Murray: How the hell do you get anything done making that spreadsheet, that would take me forever LOL!

    • Murray Lunn
      March 15, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

      The joys of youth haha. Despite working the 9-5, I thoroughly enjoy writing so it really does become my form of entertainment. Additionally, I love music over other forms of media so I still get to enjoy myself while working.

      I can’t say that I have the best focus but the one thing I’ve realize, with a content strategy, is that you can really get into the flow of things because you know where you’d like to go. If you align it to what you want to write about and have a passion for explaining it than it really feels like less work, overall :)

  3. March 15, 2011 at 12:46 am #

    I had to read this article 3 times to take it all in… When I saw that screenshot of your PLRArticlesNow and Murlu content strat it made my eyes glow. You are indeed a hard working man, and I just know you will get all that’s listed in that screenshot done. Haha.

    You have quite an amazing strategy man, thanks for sharing.

  4. March 15, 2011 at 2:57 am #

    Murray, having a content strategy is necessary to do well in the blog world. In fact, I love that you have shown us what your blogging schedule looks like.

    I’m working on mine ;)

    • Murray Lunn
      March 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

      I think it becomes doubly essential when we have other projects going on, as well, which I’m sure you can agree upon, Moon.

      Working on niche sites and ventures can be a job in themselves – combining a regular blog schedule and direction can be hellish at times if you just try to try sporadically.

      Additionally, you can then see how you could align your blog and projects at the same time. You’d see where you need to take your projects and turn that experience into a great set of posts and then use your posts as inspiration to move to the next step in your projects :)

  5. Steve@Internet Lifestyle
    March 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    First of all, thanks for the shout out, of course!

    You make some great points on content strategy. I do think it is very important to go into things with a long-term plan. sometimes things will come up and it is best to talk about what interests you, “today” as it may be interesting to other people.

    one problem is that, as I know you’ve noted before, is that topics move in bunches. A couple months ago you couldn’t turnaround not being hit by an article saying basically, “content is king”. Then it moved onto “this” subject than “that” subject and on and on.

    When you map out a real plan you don’t become whites much of a weathervane for what everybody else is talking about. Of course it still will happen just naturally you mentioned something and everybody will seem hit on the same topic on the same day, but think it happens less frequently.

    Even more significantly, like you pointed out this article, when you a firm plan in mind, you already know how you may repurpose the article. each article that you plan for then becomes a small piece in the overall puzzle, hopefully building something bigger.

    Anyhow, another excellent article. Keep kicking ass!

    • Murray Lunn
      March 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

      You’ve become a master of this Steve, I’ve certainly notice :P

      You stack content like craziness which really does add to the overall value of the posts because they are extremely relevant to what you’re talking about in the latest subject.

      It’s true that if you stick to only your content strategy than there could be times when you hit on similar points or miss out on talking about a great subject but I think it’s good in its own way that you completely cut out what’s the “hot thing” and focus on bigger sets of information; you’re not playing the game that everyone else is – you’re creating your own.

      I’ve noticed I’ve gained all kinds of focus since mapping out my content. I see where I need to align myself with my ventures and blog so they support one another. My blog pushes me forward with my plans while my ventures help reinforce content on the blog.

      It really is a puzzle.

  6. March 15, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    Murray,

    I absolutely love your spreadsheet! My plan involves headings such as Building Brand, Guest Posting, Add to Inventory, Education, etc. and while I decide what I’m going to do for the week and month, I don’t nail it down quite so precisely as you do. So thanks for sharing.

    “sketch out where you want your content to move your community” Many bloggers/marketers don’t realize they have this power.

    Peggy

    • Murray Lunn
      March 15, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

      Dang Peggy, thanks for adding on to the ideas for my spreadsheet. That makes a helluva lot more sense because it organizes it a bit more than what I have now. I’ve been meaning to do a lot more guest posting and brand building; I think having multiple sheets could handle that such as “Content Creation”, “Branding + Networking” and maybe a “Misc.” for my niche website stuff :)

      Ooh, take this a step further and integrate it into Google Docs and you never have to worry about not having it around.

      I also use a few whiteboards to sketch a few things out but those are mostly notes and ultimately become what’s placed into the spreadsheet.

      Thanks for adding to the post :)

      • Peggy Baron
        March 15, 2011 at 11:48 pm #

        Ooooh, putting it into Google Docs! [slaps forehead]

        Thanks for that!

        Peggy

        • Murray Lunn
          March 16, 2011 at 2:09 am #

          The little things you pick up each day hehe.

  7. March 16, 2011 at 2:02 am #

    Where do I start? You really know how to break it down and deliver, Murray. This will take a second and third read.

    Oh, and thanks for making us all self-conscious about the flow of our recent articles. Ha, seriously though what you’re talking about here makes a huge impact in practice. Aside from series posts, we ought to invest more time strategically publishing our work so that we’re holding our readers by the hand and leading them down a path. Like a virtual tour guide of sorts.

    Thanks for the wake up call. I know I could use work in this area and there aren’t any good excuses for not lifting my head up from a current task to see (and plan for) the road ahead.

    Jon

    • Murray Lunn
      March 17, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

      Thanks Jon,

      I’ve had a few recent chats lately that have really expanded upon the idea of creating robust content strategies for a website; in short: they let you go WAAAAY beyond just writing on occasion for your site – you also get to figure out where you could create spin-off sites, products, who you can network with in the near future and how to align yourself to the type of market you want to contact within that period of time.

      Additionally, it really cuts back on your overall development time for content because you don’t end up writing those posts that won’t fit in – you see what needs to be done, you do it and now you have time off vs. writing for the sake of writing (which is still good but we’re talking about creating a purpose, ya know?).

      Glad you could take this in and see how to apply it to your own content strategy – lemme know if it helps you out down the line as you get it up and running :)

  8. Robert Dempsey
    March 16, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    Great stuff Murray as always.

    My content strategy is effectively this – learn by doing a huge amount of stuff at once, talk about everything I’m learning and show people how to do a lot of it, create additional opt-in only content around what I’ve learned and have experience with, create paid-only content on top of that, and scale up while tweaking the strategy.

    The most valuable action is something many people leave out. I’m glad that’s #1 on your list.

    • Murray Lunn
      March 17, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

      Gah, wish I could summarize everything we discussed in our chat last night for everyone here but it’ll have to wait ;)

      I’m preaching to the choir here haha. With the strategies we’ve talked about – we’re going to do some REALLY BIG THINGS!

  9. March 16, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    Hey Murray,

    I came up with a strategy a while back and have been amazed at how much more efficient it has made me. Plus, my traffic has almost doubled and I am generally happier. I am not kidding.

    Forcing myself to be more organized and to have a reason for each piece of content I posted has really helped me.

    Of course, I did stray a bit with my strategy as I wanted to test a few things. But, I agree that it can make your life much better.

    Thanks for the ideas!

    • Murray Lunn
      March 17, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

      It’s all about that focus which I personally believe that a lot of bloggers lack because they are too rushed into the idea of just creating post after post – it’s all about that long term strategy.

      With a strategy, you can see who you want to talk to, where you’re going with your blog, where you could take advantage of additional opportunities and even force yourself into situations which ultimately become amazing pieces of content and experience in life!

      Hell, one of the sole reasons why I started the PLR site was to push myself into a new area of online business where I would need to be more interactive with my customers – what I’ve been learning has been phenomenally important to my overall goals, strategy and the content I plan to create here on Murlu :)

  10. Matthew Needham
    March 18, 2011 at 12:29 am #

    hi Murray, you don’t need me to tell you this is a great article.

    I tell people all the time, you need a plan and you need a strategy.

    Until this year I used to write random posts. Not random in content, just random in terms of writing about stuff that I wanted to write about. In the last few months, I’ve spent time thinking about content and forming central themes or pillar content with content linked to the pillars. Corbett Barr’s post on writing Epic Shit really struck a chord with me. Although when you think about it, it’s quite obvious thing to do!

    • Murray Lunn
      March 18, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

      That’s what we all need to do at least once or twice on our blogs: write a post series :D

      Whenever I write, I try to cover a topic to the point where I never have to dig into it again because I want to use it in future posts as reference – I can continue to build upon the centralized subject while sharing very valuable interlinks to other content on my blog.

      It’s great to hear that you’ve taken this turn. I know how it can feel akward at first because the random posts can be perfect for traffic generation but sticking to the “plan” opens up a ton of opportunities that bouncing around doesn’t. Keep at it man; we’ll get in touch soon :)

  11. March 19, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    Hi Muray:

    Came to your site after a long time. I do not see you any where, you are so busy working so hard.

    Your content strategy is awesome. Actually I believe in that too, content creations and technical skill once you have it, you have made it as an Internet marketer.

    Spread sheet is the best way to keep statistics of anything you want to. I never used it, but I did study it and used it then. Looking at your spread sheet just reminded me it can be done very methodically, and easy to read and follow and make changes accordingly.

    Well Murray make it great for yourself and your success will motivate you. Enjoy the week end.

    Fran A

    • Murray Lunn
      March 20, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

      Thanks Fran!

      I suggest you try to make something like this as well; maybe spend about 5 minutes just mapping out where you’d like to go with your content and discover other posts that you can dig into that you may not have noticed right away.

      I redid the one I showed recently to include time since I’ve stepped away from my job; I’m also combining it into a mind map so I can see the overview of where I’m going with the content. It has done wonders for making sure that I’m staying focused with my time and that I’m able to accurately cover something to the fullest.

      Definitely try it out sometime :)

  12. March 23, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    I think a content strategy is a good strategy to put our brands on the net. Back then, I am considered as Atahualpa expert because of my post series about how to customize the Atahualpa WordPress Theme.

    • Murray Lunn
      March 24, 2011 at 4:29 am #

      That’s a perfect example of what a strategy can do for you Dana :D

      A gigantic series and integration of your ventures (to show social proof) will quickly build your authority well beyond just writing an occasional post that jumps from subject to subject.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Getting in the Groove: GTD in 1 Hour a Day - Four Sides | Four Sides - March 15, 2011

    [...] I admit that my system is mainly all in my head and is rather fluid. This is not ideal by any means. I would really like to migrate to a better system outlined by Stuart (What I’ve Learned About Blogging Over the Past Week), or eventually reach a level where I can implement Murray‘s Content Strategy system (Content Strategy: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need to Create an Incredible Impact Online). [...]

  2. How To Streamline your Website Building Process - March 12, 2012

    [...] terms of planning, I find it very important to have a content strategy so you can see where your blog will be growing after each successful [...]

Leave a Comment