How to do Content
We’ve discussed why I do content and why you should do content. If your reaction to those blog posts was “I should do content” your next question is probably “how do I do content?” A lot of digital ink has been spilt explaining this topic—but I’ve yet to see it done in a way that’s informative AND concise. So here’s my entry to the canon.
Note, each of the steps here could be its own individual blog post. This is my best attempt to make content strategy digestable for those who just want a starting point.
- Define your goal. Most companies pump out blog posts, videos, and tweets without any idea why they’re doing it (other than some vague notion of “brand building”). Don’t do that. Sit down with people in the organization whose opinions matter and determine why you’re going to make a long-term investment in content creation. Legitimate reasons: increase traffic to your website, nurture leads, generate net new leads, educate the market, or (most likely) some combo of all four. Your goal informs everything that comes next, so make sure it’s S.M.A.R.T.
- Identify your audience. The first thing I did when I joined AngelList was define our content goals. Next, I interviewed 30+ customers on everything from why they use AngelList to what podcasts they enjoy. From this data collection I formed a buyer persona—the archetype of who my target consumer is and what they like / need. Every piece of content I’ve created thereafter has been done with this buyer persona in mind. You can’t create content that hits your goals without understanding who you’re creating content for.
- Audit existing content. The third thing I did when I joined AngelList was figure out if anything they’d published in the past was already working for them. If applicable, this can take a lot of guesswork out of a new content strategy.
- Identify your content advantage. A content advantage is proprietary information or access your brand has that allows you to make differentiated content (think, unique data or connections to thought leaders). My unique advantage at AngelList is access to proprietary data on early-stage investing trends. Nobody else can share the data-driven stories we share, because nobody else has our data. In a world of copycat content, being able to systematically create differentiated content consistently is a recipe for success.
- Assemble your content toolbox. A few tools I recommend: Webflow or WordPress for content management, Ahrefs or SEMRush for SEO, Google Analytics, Search Console, and Tag Manager for metrics tracking, Figma for images / illustrations, Canva for infographics, Notion or Asana for a content calendar, Hootsuite for social media management, and Customer.io for email. There are many others, but these are the ones I’m most familiar with and feel comfortable recommending.
- Brainstorm content. Your content advantage, combined with your stated goals, buyer personas, and audit, should be the four criteria that factor into your content brainstorm (fully aware that this is an iterative process that will require some trial and error). The brainstorm should consider content formats (blog, video, e-book, case study, etc.) and focus (educational / SEO, thought leadership, sales enablement). A brand concerned with generating top of funnel traffic may invest in SEO content. A brand looking for new sales leads may create a robust e-book that requires the user to share contact information. A brand seeing a dropoff at the bottom of the funnel may prioritize case studies and product demos.
- Publish and manage content. I’m not going to give anyone a lesson on content writing, SEO, or video production. You can find those blog posts here, here, and here. I’ll just say one piece of quality content with strong distribution beats 5 pieces of hastily made content every time. If you’re outsourcing production, remember what you save by hiring cheap content creators you lose in time spent fixing their mistakes. As for management, consider each piece of content to be a living, breathing thing. Have a plan to update content periodically with new information—especially if it’s already performing well. Then re-promote.
- Distribute the content. For content to be successful, you need to spend just as much time promoting it as you do developing it. Every piece of content should have a built-in “go-to-market” plan, that details who you’re targeting, where your going to reach them (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, etc.), and what your success metrics are. It’s a whole job unto itself, but no content strategy succeeds without a plan on how to get that content in front of your buyer persona.
- Measure content. Tying content to outcomes isn’t easy. Consumption metrics like pageviews and bounce rate only tell you if a user found your content engaging. Social media metrics do the same. To truly understand if your content is having an impact on revenue requires a granular understand of key actions, such as the value of certain link clicks or new email addresses. Understanding the key actions that move the needle for your business, and observing how content impacts them, is the key to good measurement.
- Iterate and improve. The performance and feedback on every piece of content should inform the next piece of content. Again, your content strategy is a living, breathing thing. It’s unlikely any one single strategy will last, especially with a constant stream of new distribution platforms, search algorithm updates, and shifting market sentiment. A good content person doesn’t get stuck in one direction, and embraces opportunities to experiment.