When it comes to content creation, small businesses often either outsource it or mix it altogether. With small teams, there’s only so much that can be done, and content often takes a backseat to the other tasks involved with running a business.
But it shouldn’t.
In fact, small businesses with blogs generate 126% more leads than small businesses without blogs.
Content is scalable and cost-efficient, making it a marketing strategy that small businesses should not only implement but prioritize. And with a tried-and-true process, even the smallest of teams will be able to churn out a strategy they can see results from.
But with so much on their plates, small business owners don’t really have the time to figure out a process, and it’s this step that’s often the final nail in the coffin. That’s why we put together this guide, which will walk you through all the steps you can take to create high-quality content for your small business.
Before You Get Started…
Establish an SEO Strategy
SEO is no longer a “nice to have” strategy. With so many consumers looking online for solutions, it’s extremely important for small businesses to enter the ring and make SEO a part of their content creation process.
SEO and content marketing go hand-in-hand. By having an SEO strategy established first and foremost, you’ll be able to create content around key terms and phrases so that your brand’s content will appear when your consumers are searching for solutions online.
SEO companies not only put your brand in front of online consumers, but are also great at driving traffic back to your site, where you have more opportunities to engage with these consumers and convert them to leads.
Here’s how to put together an SEO strategy:
- Create a list of key terms you want to rank for. These should align with terms your target audience uses in their search queries.
- Create or designate pillar pages for those key terms. You should have a few pillar pages that are in-depth and align with your most important key terms. These pages can be on your blog or live under a “resources” navigation on your homepage.
- Create a linking plan, so you consistently link back to those pillar pages in your blog posts and guest-contributed content, using the key terms as anchor text.
- Make sure you check on your progress with these efforts over time. Using a tool like SEMRush will help, just add your key terms to the keyword manager and check your progress for ranking for those terms.
Brainstorm Topic Ideas
Once your SEO strategy is in place, you should have at least some broad areas to dive into for content topic ideas. Take those key terms and start thinking of areas that fall within them that you could explore further with content.
Here are some other content topic brainstorm ideas you should explore:
- Talk to your sales team and ask them what kinds of content your leads are needing. Also, ask your sales team what kinds of content could help them sell better.
- Consult with your customer and account support team to see what kinds of questions your users/customers are having.
- Check out your competitors’ blogs to see what they’re discussing. You don’t have to copy them, but it can help you determine if there’s an angle you should explore.
- Subscribe to industry newsletters and publications so you can stay abreast of trends and what’s happening within your space.
Your Small Business Content Creation Process
Now it’s time to get to work actually writing the content you’ve been researching and brainstorming.
1. Write Content
There are two ways to go about writing your content, and which you choose has more to do with your team’s capacity and strengths.
Writing Content In-House
If you have someone on your marketing team that is a strong writer, then you can create your content in-house. Here’s a simple process for creating content in-house:
- Establish capacity and output amount: How much content do you want to create versus how much you can realistically create?
- Create a monthly editorial calendar: This will keep your efforts consistent and establish deadlines to meet, so nothing falls off your radar.
- Create a brief outline for each topic: This helps ensure you stay on-topic and that the content you create is succinct and aligned with a goal.
- Start writing.
Teams with limitations may not have a writer in-house, which means outsourcing your content creation process is the route to go.
Outsourcing Content Creation
- Establish your budget and output amount: Make sure you have enough in your marketing budget to support the amount of content you need.
- Create a monthly editorial calendar: Even if you’re outsourcing your content, you’ll still want an editorial calendar to schedule and keep track of everything.
- Create a brief description or outline for each topic: Set your freelancers up for success by giving them enough information and direction to write a high-quality piece. Also, provide a list of links or resources for the freelancer to use.
- Send to freelancer. You could hire independent freelancers or place an order at a reliable content marketplace that has quality-vetted freelancers on their platform.
- You could also outsource content to a content writing service like Godot Media that delivers quality content at very affordable rates and fast.
The editing process is one that you will not want to overlook. Editing your content does a lot for your message; it helps elevate it and ensures it’s high-quality so you can establish and maintain credibility.
Editing is more than just reviewing your content for errors. You’ll want to make sure that, yes, it’s grammatically correct, but that it flows well and the tone matches your brand.
Make sure you also use this step to check the document against your SEO strategy. Make sure keywords and search phrases are being used in your headings and subheadings. Add links to high-quality content that is both on your site and on other sites. When you link to high authority sites, you’re able to absorb some of their SEO juice which can improve your rankings.
If it’s a blog post or guest piece being placed on another site, now might be a good time to decide who should byline the article. Maybe it’s you, or maybe it’s someone from your leadership team. Either way, get approval from the by-liner on the content before you push it live.
Once all these steps are done, schedule the article to go live and update its status on your editorial calendar.
3. Publish and Distribute
Once the content is published, it’s time to distribute it. There are various ways you can distribute your content to make sure it gets as much use and exposure as possible.
- Share it with the sales team so they can start using it in the sales process.
- Add it to your drip campaigns so it can help move leads through your inbound funnel.
- Add it to your RSS feed and email newsletter.
- If it helps explain your service or product, add it to your knowledge base so customers can easily find it.
- Share it with your customer support team so they can reference it when needed or share it with a customer they’re helping.
- Share it with HR if it’s an article that may help new hires or potential new hires learn about your industry and company. You can also store it in your HR management software as a sort of backlog.
4. Revamp and Refresh Existing Content
While you should always be creating new content, make sure you don’t make it your sole focus. It’s just as beneficial to review existing content and update it for more success.
There are a few ways you can do this. There are tools, like SEMRush, that will tell you when you have stale content that could use a refresh. But it’s also a smart idea to look through the content you’ve published and determine which needs to be updated.
Another recommendation is to review your sales and marketing materials to see if you’re using stale content in those resources. Look through your email drip campaigns, sales decks, and presentation templates to see if any content needs to be swapped out for newer content. Do this every few months or so, as that will ensure you aren’t using outdated resources for too long.
5. Measure Results Over Time
Check in with your content and see how it’s performing every quarter or so. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it getting clicked on in your email marketing?
- When you share it on social media, are people resharing, clicking, and responding?
- Is your external content generating site traffic?
- Is it generating leads?
- Is it helping your sales team to close deals?
We also recommend using the keyword features in SEMRush. By marking certain priority keywords, you can see how your content ranks over time for those terms and determine what needs to be updated or what content is climbing the ranks successfully.
Creating content is a lengthy and involved process in general. But if you’re a small business with limited resources, it can seem like an even harder task to take on. However, that shouldn’t be the reason for neglecting a content strategy, especially when there are so many benefits to having one. I hope this guide helps your team prioritize creating content, and you’re able to see some great things come of it for your small business.
Natalie Slyman is the Content Marketing Manager for Benchmark Email, BenchmarkONE, and Contacts+. She focuses on strategizing, writing, and editing content that addresses audience pain points and provides them with valuable resources.