Written by: Zach McDonald
You’re an expert at what you do, but how do you let the world know that?
The key is content. Blogs, newsletters, tweets, emails—the list goes on. These different content channels work together to form your brand’s cohesive voice and bolster your firm’s message.
Studies have shown that companies that publish blogs several times a month have a 16% higher rate of reaching their marketing goals than companies that publish less than once a month. However, there is a lot of friction in the content production process, and as a result a lot of advisors don’t publish very often (or at all, for that matter).
So how can we make it easier?
Repeatable processes make everything work better. By having a clearly defined process, you can consistently create quality content for your clients (and avoid the dreaded “writer’s block”). Here at Three Crowns, we have developed a streamlined process for creating top-notch and timely articles for our clients.
Today, we’re sharing our eight-step process to help you create content that engages the audience you want.
1. Plan your editorial calendar
If you’re going to spend the time and money required to create content, then you want to have a plan in place to ensure you’re optimizing your final product.
This is a key first step a lot of advisors miss, but the importance of building out a runway for the next four to six (or more) blogs cannot be overstated. Each blog you publish should be connected in some way to your firm’s overarching goal and message, and always with your buyer personas in mind.
That’s not to say you can’t have some flexibility in your content creation—sometimes changes are necessary and unavoidable. But if you want to make the most of your blog, newsletters, and other content, an editorial calendar is a must-have.
While you’re at it, make sure your calendar includes these three important factors.
2. Pick your next topic
So you’ve got your editorial calendar ready to go—now what?
When it comes to content creation, we’re fans of topic clusters. In this approach, all your content stems from a core topic, creating a network of your blog posts that provides a wealth of knowledge for your readers.
3. Get the input of a subject matter expert
It’s also important to pause here and spend time thinking about what you and your team want to add to the conversation. What’s your firm’s unique perspective on this topic?
If you’re an advisor writing the content yourself, then you can probably just jump right in. But if you work at a firm where content creation is shared among non-advisors, then you’ll want to consult with your internal subject matter experts (i.e., advisors).
If you have someone on your team write an article about “Social Security optimization” (or if you’re the person writing that article) that doesn’t know the ins and outs, your final piece will likely be vague and lacking any real, practical tips.
Scheduling a time to sit down with a subject matter expert (SME) can be difficult and headache-inducing. When we’re writing content for our clients, we like to use a tool called VideoAsk that allows you to send a link so the SME can record a five-minute video/audio clip with their thoughts on the subject. No scheduling and rescheduling of interviews required.
4. Create an article outline
Now that you have your editorial calendar planned out and know what your first blog topic is, you can get started on an outline.
The outline should show how the article will be arranged and what it will cover, including all specific talking points you’d like to address. It should answer key questions such as:
What’s the key takeaway action?
What’s my point of view on this? (What stand am I taking?)
What’s the problem?
What’s the solution?
We recommend writing at least three headline options to choose from once the article is finished. You may be tempted to skip this step, but don’t. The headline is the front door of your article. If you can’t get them in the door, then nothing else matters. Any headlines that you don’t use can then serve as social posts to promote the published article.
Your outline should be organized and easy to read, with the article about 50% complete at this point. Now is your chance to go over all your ideas again before you flesh it out into a full-length article.
The more thorough the outline, the easier the writing process will be.
5. Write & revise
After your outline is ready to go, it’s time to work your magic and create a real-life article. In this step, your brand voice and unique message should come together to form a complete piece of content.
It’s important to get a fresh set of eyes on this first draft. When you’ve been staring at the same article for a while, it can be easy to miss mistakes. Ask a colleague to look over your work and suggest revisions and leave comments on what they like or dislike about it. If you’re thin-skinned about your writing, this might be a little painful, but it’s worth it if you want to create a great final product.
Once again, you need to keep your personas in mind here. What will your target reader think about this article?
6. Optimize for SEO
At this point, it’s time for search engine optimization (SEO). This includes adding a headline, meta description, SEO title, and also doing another keyword pass to make sure you’re hitting on what you want.
We recommend downloading the free Yoast SEO plugin if you don’t already have it on your website. You can pay for a premium subscription if you want more out of it, but the free plan has a lot to it.
Even though SEO makes sure your article is successfully crawled and indexed by search engines, you still need to put your audience first. There are several ways you can optimize your content while still focusing on the reader experience, including adding compelling visuals and catchy calls-to-action (CTAs).
These seemingly small details make a big difference; they're the key to making sure your content is seen by the right readers at the right time. With your article properly optimized, you’ll bring more traffic to your website and increase your audience size—without sacrificing readability.
It’s finally here—the last draft. This is the part where you do a final review to ensure the piece is on-brand and your message is loud and clear (and free of typos!).
The final draft is proof that you went through all of the steps of research, revisions and optimization. Error-free and perfectly pristine, your content is ready to rock and roll.
Your final article is ready, now it’s time to tell the world.
Whether you’re publishing on your blog, social media, or email, there are many strategies for distributing your content across the web and delivering it to your target audience.
By sharing your article on multiple platforms, your content will work overtime to drive traffic to your site and raise brand awareness. And with your mapped-out content cluster strategy in place, readers are encouraged to explore more of what your blog has to offer.
So there you have it—the eight-step process to create compelling and cohesive content for your firm.
It’s important to remember that producing content isn’t a finish line to cross—it’s a continuous process that evolves along with your business. Every article you publish contributes to your unique message.
You’re an expert at what you do, but how do you show that to the world? Get in touch with us to see how we can help you amplify your message and take control of your content planning.