Of Benjamin Franklin’s many words of wisdom, one of my favorites is: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
So much of our success depends on planning and foresight — whether you’re a concert pianist putting in hours of practice or a novelist laboring over research before putting words to the page.
So how does this apply to developing great content? Here are four tools to help you plan and execute your content strategy that I recommend you keep easily accessible.
1. Your Style Guide
Does your institution have its own style guide? If so, you should keep a copy of it on your desk or bookmarked on your computer for easy reference.
If not, talk to your coworkers about developing one. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; start with an existing guide, like Chicago or AP, and make necessary tweaks or additions from there. For more information on developing your own style guide, consult this eBook from HubSpot.
2. A Grammar Guide
There are many helpful books out there, but the one I recommend is The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need. Grammar is often a barrier for aspiring writers, but in reality, good grammar is only as far away as a Google search or a hardcopy book.
I’m a big believer in having a (recent) print guide, but wherever you look, make sure you cross-reference your selected style guide. A good rule of thumb: When in doubt, look it up.
3. Your Content Brainstorming Worksheet
Maybe it’s a Google spreadsheet or maybe it’s a notepad, but keep a tab open or your legal pad close for when inspiration strikes. Sometimes I find myself scribbling an idea on the back of a business card or in a draft email to myself when I have an idea for a post — which, historically, has not always been to my benefit when I’m trying to remember where I wrote something down.
But not only will it help you in recording, it will also help you when you sit down to write a blog post. Keeping all your ideas in one place will make it easy to begin, as well as connect the dots between related subjects or rework the structure of a blog post I’m working on. Your ideas are your Play-doh; you need them all in one place if you’re going to use them effectively.
4. Your Content Calendar
What’s getting published when? If you like writing things down by hand, like me, you might have a physical calendar tracking your publication schedule. Or maybe you prefer simply to use your Outlook calendar.
Whatever the case, this will help you plan your blog for the coming weeks. As an enrollment marketer, it’s especially important that you also note when you have info sessions, open houses or other events coming up — those are perfect opportunities for a blog post, infographic, or other content promotion.
Whatever system you use to stay organized, the biggest criterion for its success is whether you like it — not how efficient it is, whether it’s digital, or whether it’s what your coworker uses. If you like it, you’ll stick with it. If you don’t, you won’t.
What else to you keep on your desk? Let us know in the comments!
Need more help with blogging? Download our guide.