As a marketing professional for a small brand, you have plenty on your plate, from writing social media posts and drafting emails to filming videos and updating your website. It can be hard to find a time to keep up with trends in yet another rapidly evolving channel: content marketing. Content marketing is now an essential part of any marketing strategy, and it’s vital to know where the channel is headed.
It’s not helpful to chase down every single trend that emerges. That can lead to unfocused content and a haphazard process. But it is important to ensure your content will resonate with how audiences are engaging with content right now. Here are four principles that will help you stay up to date with content marketing trends — without spending an excessive amount of time every week trying to keep up.
1. Set aside 30 minutes per week to research content marketing trends.
The world of content marketing moves so fast, you could spend hours every week researching trends. It can be stressful to try to stay up to date that way. But that’s just not efficient, especially when you’re working for a small business.
Enter: the classic time management adage of dividing your week into blocks of time. Take charge by setting aside 30 minutes each week to research content marketing trends.
You could set your research time as Monday morning to set the tone for the week. Or, you could catch up on Fridays to prepare for the week ahead. No matter what block of time you choose, the important thing is that you mark it in your calendar and stick to it.
What sites do you focus your time on? I have a couple recommendations.
My two favorite content marketing sites are Copyblogger and HubSpot. They offer everything from quick articles on SEO-writing tips to long-form articles on how to get started with content marketing. These sites are where I spend most of my time researching content marketing.
If you have extra time to really dive in, Copyblogger and HubSpot both offer excellent content marketing online certifications. Copyblogger’s course is available through Coursera and HubSpot’s course is offered on their HubSpot Academy learning platform. These two courses helped me accelerate my content marketing knowledge and are foundational to how I do my work now. I highly recommend them to take your content marketing knowledge to the next level.
2. Create a content calendar to organize all of your content marketing efforts.
When I first started as a marketing professional at a small business in Naperville, Illinois, several years ago, I was pretty stressed out by all of the content I had to keep track of.
I was creating over two dozen pieces of content per week, from Instagram posts and emails to website copy and YouTube videos. And I was struggling to keep it all organized.
After getting frustrated day after day, I decided to create a content calendar. It helped me successfully keep track of all of the content I was creating, and it made me feel more relaxed about the content creation process overall.
So how do you create a content calendar? Here are the essential steps from Copyblogger:
- First, choose where your calendar is going to live. This could be an Excel spreadsheet or a Word document — somewhere you can keep all of your information organized and easily accessible. I recommend using an Excel spreadsheet for easy tracking.
- Name each piece of content you’re going to publish. Choose a name for the content piece you’re creating, like “Step-by-step guide to choosing the right coffee beans.” You don’t need a fully fleshed out headline yet — that important step comes during the actual content creation process. But you will want to choose a name that you’ll remember when you look at the calendar later.
- Select the type of content. You’ll want to track the type of each piece of content, whether it’s a blog post, how-to guide, or long-form article on your website.
- Note who will create the content and the deadline for creation and publishing. This will help you stay on target with your content publishing goals.
During your block of time researching trends every week, compare those trends with what is happening on the content calendar. Do the trends match what you see on the calendar? It’s not necessary for every piece of content to incorporate a trend — that could lead to inconsistent content that never becomes evergreen. But you do want to make sure your content matches some trends so that you stay cutting edge.
3. Remember the foundations are most important, no matter what the currents trends are.
It’s vital to know where content marketing is heading. But, the groundwork for all your efforts is sticking to the foundational best practices. No matter what the current trends are, it’s most important to remember these key elements of content marketing:
- Empathize with the prospective customer. This is the foundation beneath it all. You have to understand your prospective customer’s perspective in order to effectively communicate to them. Empathizing with your prospect helps you write content that is more likely to resonate with them.
- Craft engaging writing. Your writing has to be interesting to keep your prospect’s attention. This will draw in your prospective customer and ultimately lead them to take an action, like joining your email list, following your brand on social media, or making a purchase.
- Write with authority. The best content marketing pieces reflect the topics you’re an expert on. Choose topics that you want prospective customers to view you as an authority on, and show that authority when you write. Consider featuring current employees’ expertise in your pieces for an added boost of credibility.
- Reflect your brand voice. Whatever the size of your business, it’s vital to have a strong brand voice. When your business has a strong voice, your customers recognize you immediately and are more likely to see you as a trusted authority.
4. Hire a freelance content marketer who can make it all happen.
Sometimes your business simply needs more help with content marketing. This is where a freelance content marketer can help your business excel.
A freelance content marketer specializes in keeping up with trends and helping your businesses stay up-to-date at an optimal level. Their job is to write compelling articles that will engage audiences with your business, establish your brand as an authority, and ultimately lead the customer to action.
Content marketing specialists are experts at setting aside time to keep up with trends, creating content calendars, and most importantly, following the foundational best practices of content marketing. When you’re overwhelmed by limited resources, a freelance content marketer can be a game-changing resource for growing your prospective customer base and increasing sales.
As a freelance content marketer, I can lift the stress of developing your content marketing efforts. I specialize in creating content marketing strategies and writing content marketing pieces, including blog posts, long-form articles, and SEO content. I am experienced at researching content marketing trends, creating content calendars, and sticking to the foundational best practices of content marketing.
Interested in learning more? I would love to connect with you! Schedule a free consultation, and we can discuss your brand’s needs and see how I could potentially serve your business.