As content marketers, we’re known for producing well-written coherent thoughts, right?.
Only, that’s what the end result looks like.
In most cases, before you get to that point, you have endless drafts, endless tabs and an endless supply of “brilliant ideas”.
If you’re like most content creators, starting a blog post usually involves an internet browser with multiple open tabs like this.
The good news is you’re not alone.
In this post, we’re going to share the process and tools we use at our agency to stop the overload tab syndrome and get your thoughts in order once and for all.
And once you do? Your target audience will thank you.
*Disclaimer: We’ve partnered with Frase to produce this post. We are a real Frase customer and all thoughts are our own*
Picking the topic
Before you even begin writing, it’s helpful to know what you actually plan to write about.
Now, if your content marketing strategy is predefined, you’ll know what topics you need to cover based on what your potential customers want to read about most.
You’ll also have to think about where this piece of content sits within your buyer’s journey – one of the most important aspects of your content strategy.
Are you hoping to create top of the funnel content to drive traffic?
Or perhaps you’re looking to create bottom of the funnel content to win leads.
Understanding the type of content you’re creating will help you know what topic you should be researching.
In order to put together our content brief, we use Frase’s “content brief” function.
You can see in the image above, we’ve chosen to look at the topic: “how to write a blog post”.
If you plan to use Frase (and you should) you can input any query here. The more specific, the better as the results will be better tailored towards you.
Thinking about word count
They say if you want to rank on the first page of Google for any specific term, you need to look at what currently ranks for the same keyword or phrase.
This way, you’ll get an idea of how people format their content as well as the topics they write about.
In most cases, the way to do that is through ‘overload tab syndrome’ where you open endless tabs and read through all the content.
While this can be effective, it can very quickly get messy.
Using Frase, we’re able to see the average word count of the posts that rank for “how to write a blog post” is 3602 words.
This tells us that for our target audience, a 500-word post on the same topic just won’t cut it.
Immediately we have a clearer idea of how our content should be (at least in terms of length).
Choosing the most lucrative Title
The title is something many content marketers struggle with. It makes sense, though. Get your title wrong and no one will click-through.
Looking at the title tags of the blog posts on page one also gives you an indication as to the user intent.
Do all the posts offer “how-to-guides”? Or perhaps they all focus on an opinion piece.
The Frase title tool allows you to see trends within titles to enable you to craft your own.
It’s clear for our blog post, we need to mention the words “write” and “blog post” considering all the others do.
Picking your H2 tags
When it comes to SEO, alongside having a good title, think about using H2 tags too.
Although recent Google updates suggest there is less weight attached to your H2 tags, they’re still effective. They enable you to structure your content and provide insights as to the topicality of what’s on the page.
When we put together content briefs for our writers we analyze what the top ranking sites use as their H2 tags.
In most cases, you’ll notice trends and patterns. This usually signifies the importance of including these keywords.
In the examples above, you’ll see each of the sources has a specific H-tag about “choosing the right topic”.
That goes without saying.
If you’re wanting to write a blog post about how to write a blog post (meta), you should probably have some thought as to choosing a topic.
This part of the tool is particularly effective for identifying ideas you perhaps hadn’t yet considered.
If you notice every source mentions something specific thing within their H2’s, there’s a high chance your potential audience wants to read about.
Including these ideas in your content briefs will help you when you assess your own content marketing during the revision stages.
You’ll be able to see how closely the writer’s work matches up with the pre-decided topic choices.
You now know the topic you want to write about, the type of title you should create, as well as an idea for the potential H2 tags you could use.
But what about the body content? The actual meat of the content that compels someone to take action?
Again, putting together research content briefs is all about seeing what already exists on your topic and making something better.
But in order to make something better, you need to know how the current leaders handle the topic.
We use the ‘Topic’ function in Frase to help us understand how often keywords are mentioned across different sources.
You’ll see in the screenshot above that on average, across 15 sources, the phrase “blog post” was used 14 times and is clearly important to the publications as well as the readers.
Learning from sources
Just knowing the topics only takes you so far. In our most recent example, it seems obvious that a blog post about blogging would use the word “blog post”. Often, though, other words and phrases are used consistently across all sources.
You can see above that “social media” was mentioned 5 times on average across 7 sources.
Knowing this is important, but understanding the context to which it was used is invaluable.
If we click “social media” we’re able to see the snapshot of all the sources that used this phrase and the context too.
Instead of scanning each blog post individually to find mentions of social media, you have a snapshot view of all those instances.
You can see where they mention it, what context they mention it within as well as their opinion of it.
Not only do data-driven blog posts get more shares, but they’re effective in establishing yourself as an authority.
Only, you’ll know the feeling of putting together a piece of content and searching high and low for a statistic that supports your ideas.
You end up going through all of the sources, reading through every statistic in the hope of finding one that aligns with your thoughts.
With Frase’s system, the AI tool extracts the top statistics from each of the sources so you don’t have to do the mindnumbing research yourself.
What we’re missing from Frase
Although we’re posting this on Frase’s blog, it’s not supposed to be a testimonial. We’re here to show you our process for using their tool.
So it goes without saying there are things we include in our creative briefs that Frase is unable to provide.
We work with a range of different clients who all have a range of different topical needs.
Because of this, they have different writing styles and require different creative briefs.
Although there are generic things we send with every brief, some clients require extra details.
When we send out our own content marketing briefs, we try to include as many details as to the specific style guide they should follow.
It would be difficult for Frase to provide a style guide as the tool doesn’t know who the content is for, their specific styles or even their target audience.
It would be interesting in future variations to see whether Frase could implement ‘Saved Templates’ you could create for each client that includes their style guides.
At the moment, however, because of the easy-to-use export feature, adding style guide details at a later date isn’t too much of an issue.
Purpose & business goals
As always, with every tool, there are bound to be limitations. Areas where you need the tool to do one thing but it only offers another.
And it makes sense. It’s difficult for a tool to be everything to everyone.
That said, with the Frase content brief feature – it’s missing the ability to understand the content strategy behind the top content.
Although the tool is good for helping you put together great content marketing briefs, it ignores the overall content marketing strategy.
But this isn’t necessarily a fault with Frase itself, more the limitations its bound by.
After all, how would the tool know whether the piece in question is aimed for the top or the bottom of the funnel?
When it comes to content marketing, you need a number of things to work well together in tandem.
Not only do you need a well-thought-out content marketing strategy, but you also need to make sure each of your individual pieces aligns with that strategy too.
The best way to do that is to put together content marketing briefs that speak directly to your chosen buyer persona.
The more detailed the brief, the more likely it is you’ll attract your target audience.
We’ve broken down the steps we take to put together a content brief in order to help you understand the systems available to you.
So whether you’re outsourcing your content creation to a great content writer or using your own in-house staff, put your team in the best possible starting position with a detailed brief.
However, one point we’d like to reiterate is that by using Frase, we’ve been able to streamline this entire process.
An essential part of the content strategy process is a task that before could’ve taken anywhere up to two hours and now is effectively automated.
The time we save researching, planning, and scoping, can be put to better use working on our craft – writing.