2020 and 2021 have been two years of unexpected devastation, disrupted plans and emotional turmoil. However, they’ve also been the years that have put life — and work — into perspective for many of us.

Whether you’ve already started a business or you recently decided to, due to the current economic and financial uncertainty, there’s no better time to become an entrepreneur.

That said, it’s not enough to create a product or service for your business. You also need to have an online content strategy in place to market your product or service. Otherwise, you may never get your new business off the ground.

Offering your audience value and expertise for free on your blog and social media channels is a surefire way of getting them to trust you. And when your audience trusts you, they’re more likely to stick around for the long-term, interact with your brand and take action.

Not sure how to build an effective online content strategy for the year ahead as a startup? Not to worry — I’ve got you covered. Just follow these simple steps.

How to Build a Strong Online Content Strategy

1. Assess What Has Worked Previously

First things first, if you’ve already been trading and/or producing content this year, it’s a good idea to look back at how things have been going so far.

To do this, you can check out your:

  • Google Analytics, to see which blog posts have the most views and engagement and the best click-through rate from Google
  • Instagram Analytics, to see which Story and feed posts are getting the most impressions, likes and comments
  • Pinterest Analytics, to see which pins are getting the most impressions and clicks
  • Twitter Analytics, to see which tweets are receiving the most impressions and engagement
  • Facebook Insights, to see which posts have the best reach, reactions, comments and shares
  • YouTube Analytics, to see which videos are getting the most reach and engagement
  • Email campaign results, to see which emails got the most opens and clicks

Essentially, if there’s a pattern with the types of posts that are getting the most traction, you can produce more of them in 2021 to try and replicate this success. Capeesh?

2. Define Your Target Audience

Truth bomb: You won’t be able to create an effective online content strategy and speak to your audience if you don’t know who you’re talking to.

You need to understand your audience inside out to be able to produce content that they can appreciate and want to continue engaging with. 

How do you do that? Well, ask yourself:

  • Who are they?
  • Are they a specific gender?
  • How old are they?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • What do they do for fun?
  • How much disposable income do they have?
  • What problems do they have?

You can then start to create content that helps to solve their problems, thus winning their trust and building a stronger relationship between you both.

The idea is that this strong relationship may lead to them purchasing your product or service in the future and becoming loyal to your brand.

3. Identify Your Hero Platforms

Newsflash: in a busy online world that is made up of multiple platforms — and provides endless opportunities for your brand to engage with your audience — you can’t be everywhere.

Even though it’s tempting to create content for every social media and blogging platform possible, it’s just not realistic. If you try and do this, you’ll find that you’re going to burn out. Fast.

Instead, identify your hero platforms. These should consist of one or two platforms that get you the most results, whether this is your blog and Instagram or your email newsletter and Twitter.

Then prioritise creating content for your hero platforms. Only create content for your other platforms as and when you have the time.

Fundamentally, it’s important to get a balance between the platforms that you enjoy creating content for, and the platforms where your audience is hanging out.

Pinterest Analytics

4. Define Your Goals

Once you have your hero platforms in place, you can identify your goals for your online content strategy.

Goal-setting is important because it gives you something to work towards. It keeps the content creation process intentional. And it helps you to stay motivated when times get tough.

To put it simply, every piece of content you create should align with your goals.

For instance, one of your business goals might be to showcase a new product on your blog (one of your hero platforms). In this case, you could create a post on a topic that ties in with this product.

Either way, always keep your goals in the back of your mind when developing an online content strategy so you have a higher chance of achieving them.

5. Brainstorm Ideas for Your Content Pillars

There’s nothing better than a good old brain dump when you’re building an online content strategy.

However, keep in mind that your content ideas must be relevant and always serve your audience.

That’s why it’s a great idea to create content pillars.

What the heck are they, I hear you ask? Well, content pillars are the recurring topics you cover per hero platform. To keep things simple, there should be about four.

For example, for this blog aimed at small online businesses, my content pillars are “content,” “freelancing,” “mindset” and “business.” Usually, every piece of content I produce falls under one of these pillars because these pillars provide the most useful topics for my audience.

In terms of planning your ideas, you could do this by:

  • Jotting them down in a notebook
  • Writing them in your phone’s notes section
  • Typing then into a calendar or app
  • Creating a spreadsheet list
  • Using a bullet journal

Either way, you can never have too many ideas. Whenever the inspiration comes, you should make a note of an idea because you will most likely forget it at a later date. It’s just human nature.

6. Plan a Content Schedule

Once you have some content ideas that you know your audience will love (and you’ll also love writing about), you can plan out when and where you want to post them.

Personally, I have a spreadsheet that I use to plan out my blog content ideas week by week and month by month.

You could also use scheduling apps such as Trello, Asana or CoSchedule.

When it comes to my Instagram account, I use Planoly to plan out my feed and schedule posts. And when it comes to my Twitter account, I use Hootsuite to plan out and schedule tweets.

That said, it’s all about finding what works for you to help you stay organised.


7. Be Willing to Be Flexible

Lastly, it’s all well and good having a content plan. But if there’s one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s this: things change quite quickly in the online world.

You have to be prepared to adapt your online content strategy and be flexible with what you post and when.

Above all, listen to the needs of your audience. Their wants, problems and interests are evolving all the time. Therefore, you need to be willing to adjust your online content strategy accordingly so you can keep serving them.

The trick is not to plan too far ahead so you can be reactive and topical and ultimately offer more value to your audience.

Crushing Your Online Content Strategy

There’s no right or wrong way to build an online content strategy for 2021.

That said, if you assess which types of content are already working for you, push similar content through your hero platforms and don’t be afraid to adapt when you need to, there’s no reason why your audience won’t grow.

And if you consistently show up and keep serving your audience, you just might find that they become loyal to you, your brand and its offering.

Here’s to killing it in 2021!