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Content Writing Checklist

7 steps to successfully launch your story

Content Marketing is a form of online marketing focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content to a targeted audience.

This strategy is used to: Attract and engage a community of users, increase brand awareness and credibility, generate leads and sales, and expand the customer base.
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1. Define it
Why are you writing this piece of content, to begin with?

The answer to this question will set your tone of voice and keep you on message in case you've got the attention span of a 2-year-old.

There are generally three big-picture business goals for every piece of content published online:

  • Educational – Opinions don't matter. What does is your expertise as a thought leader using:
    • How-Tos and guides
    • Ebooks and free content
    • Worksheets and questionnaires
  • Emotional – Don't be robotic. Make your brand human and drive traffic your way using:
    • Curated content on industry trends
    • Relevant infographics
    • Blogs about company culture news
  • Promotional – So what if you have a great product or service? Be clear about the solution and benefits you're providing using:
    • Social media content
    • Case studies
    • Whitepapers
Be sure to have a good mix of all three kinds of content so that you're neither overbearing nor underselling yourself. Everything in moderation!


2. Research it
Research is everything. It's about quality and not quantity. Be sure to fact-check for accuracy.

Look back at what you've published already and gathered more data by—EGADS—talking to people. How else will you find topics helpful to your audience?

Tools for starting conversations and gathering data:
- Typeform (free but limited)
- Google forms (free)
- Actually, talk to other humans

Tips and free tools to find hot and trendy topics:
- Panda
- Medium
- Google Trends
- Reddit

Tips and tools for keyword planning:
- Google Keyword Planner (free)
- Ubersuggest (free)
- Keyword.io (free)
- Keywords Studios (paid)

Free and open sites for fact-checking:
- The Washing Post: Fact Checker
- Snopes
- FactCheck.org
- Who Tweeted It First

Then plan your Content Calendar out as far as possible.

3. Create it
Embrace the creative and collaborative process. Always remember that emotions (not to be confused with hormones) influence our behaviors as consumers.

It's advisable to step away from your first draft for a couple of days if need be, and take a fresh look afterward.

  • Educational – Don't lose your brand's personality with this opportunity to make learning fun. If you don't have a funny bone in your body, then find someone on your team who does.
  • Emotional – Make your titles and meta descriptions enticing enough to trigger people to "click" in the first place. Be real. People will sniff out fakeness.
  • Promotional – Use upbeat and energetic language. State clearly—right in the title—what problem you're solving. Now's not the time to be shy.

Create authentic assets (visuals) using design toolkits:
- Sketch (Mac)
- Lunacy (Windows)

Tools and handy templates:
- Tiny PNG for file compression (free)
- Piktochart for infographics (free)
- Venngage for infographics (free but limited)

But if you can't make your own, then try:
- Unsplash (free)
- GIPHY for gifs (free)
- Shutterstock (paid)

Make use of rich media to make your content interactive and engaging!
4. Mobilize it
Is there a clear call to action (CTA) inside your story? If your content isn't actionable then you're losing a major opportunity.

Educational – CTA = Soft. Your reader may be considering whether or not to take the next step with you based solely on your expertise. You may ask them for some basic information for future communication.

Emotional
– CTA = None. You're basically courting your readers and building authentic relationships. A link back to your site's homepage will suffice.

Promotional
– CTA = Compelling. This is the decision-making point in the whole process. You can link your readers straight to your pricing page or provide them an option to start a free trial.
5. Optimize it
Make SEO and readability your priorities.

You can publish all the content you want, but if nobody finds it then you're a failure! Just kidding, but not really.

Make sure you show up in organic search results and make sure your on-page SEO and readability are on-point. Find opportunities to backlink to your content (i.e. blog exchanges, online forums) where you think you can add real value and relevancy.

Story Chief's SEO Tool is here for you, providing tips as you write, including but not limited to:
  • Choose one focus keyword.
  • Utilize a variety of longtail keywords.
  • Use your focus keyword in your H1 Title and at least once in an H2 or H3 subheading.
  • Place a few hyperlinks in your text.
  • Keep your meta descriptions and SEO URLs just the right length.

Free Tools to help you nail the perfect title:
- BlogAbout by IMPACT
- PORTENT

Places where you can build relationships while generating backlinks:
- Web directories and user review sites
- Quora (remember, be helpful and add value in topics you have expertise in)
- Product Hunt Ask (see advice above)

And don't forget to proofread so you don't end up spelling it "profread!"
6. Publish it
Content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants.

Use trial and error for a period of at least six months (less time than it takes to grow a baby) to figure out which distribution channels work best for you.

  • Owned: Your own websites, social media platforms, and newsletters
  • Earned: Your ambassadors and back-linking opportunities
  • Paid: Advertising and PPC
You can publish to each channel manually, or use Story Chief to schedule when you go multichannel in one click.

Our friends at Sprout Social have come up with the best times to post (specifically) on social media, keeping in the mind that the best days overall to publish your content are: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays in the morning!
7. Measure it
This is where quantity matters because the quality's been met.

Content creation doesn't end when the piece is published. Pat yourself on the back and then get back to work!

You need to follow up to see if your content is working or not before you take steps towards your next piece of content. You need to consider the return on investment (ROI) your content provides.

There are vanity stats and then there are tools that help you go deeper:

- Google Analytics
- Cyfe
- Matomo (formerly Piwik)

If you want to know all about your content's views and clicks, and impressions, and reads and leads too, then Story Chief is here for you.
Other tools we highly recommend
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Fin
Good Luck!