Back in the last millennium, I found myself expecting my first child.
It was an exciting and confusing time. In the process of growing a baby, your body does all these strange things! Foods you once loved suddenly disgust you. Smells you enjoyed begin to make you queasy. And you crave weird things you’ve never craved before.
I was living far away from my mother and any female relatives, so I had no one to confide in. In the midst of the week-by-week upheaval, I found consolation in a book called What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
It was chock-full of (almost) too much detail about every month of pregnancy. It gave context to the changes I was experiencing as my child grew and developed — it helped me realize they were all normal. Knowing that these strange changes were something every mother lived through helped me take the changes of pregnancy in stride. It was all part of my new reality and completely normal.
In this book, we’re going to take a What to Expect… approach to content strategy. The more I thought about how to teach this topic, the more I realized that there’s no single approach to content strategy that will work for every type of business.
This is how the content marketing lifecycle approach was born.
Instead, it’s most useful to think about content strategy as something that evolves over time, during the lifecycle of your website as it grows and develops. I’m going to approach this topic from what you — as a content creator — can expect as you manage your website through its stages of growth.
What Is the Lifecycle Approach to Content Strategy?
The need to adapt a content strategy based on the age of the website you’re creating content for was driven home for me when I moved from creating content for my growing website, BIG Brand System, to managing the massive and mature content marketing resource that is Copyblogger.
Back in 2015, I was put in charge of the editorial department of the Copyblogger blog. And I quickly realized that the content strategy needed for a mature site with nearly ten years’ worth of material was completely different from the content strategy needed on a younger site like mine, which was just five years old.
You’re about to learn how to adapt a content strategy to the age of your site. As a website and a business matures, its needs change — and its content strategy should adapt to the stages of the content marketing lifecycle.
The Three Lifecycle Stages: A Brief Overview
Your approach to raising your profile using content marketing is going to morph through the years. Master Content Strategy will help you anticipate and plan the work you’ll do in each stage of your website’s growth. You’ll have a clear idea of what to aim for so you can build toward the right goals with every piece of content you create.
Let’s go over the three content marketing lifecycle stages here. In the upcoming chapters, we’ll cover them in detail.
Your New Website: Birth through Year 1
On a brand-new website, you’ll focus on populating your pages with helpful content that establishes your expertise.
Clear, consistent categories, so people arriving on your website understand who it’s for and what it offers.
Polished content that makes a great impression. Aim to hone your voice and to get better with every piece you publish.
Your Growing Website: Years 2 through 5
Your website is still new at this stage, and now you will have some flesh-and-blood audience members. You can do things like ask them to leave a response in your comments section or on social media. You can create content to help with their real-life challenges.
A new piece at least every other week, so you can continue to serve up useful, engaging information your audience can count on.
Deep-dive content that delivers in-depth information on specific topics that help your audience and your business.
Multimedia content that expands your message to other platforms. If you haven’t explored repurposing your content, this will be the time to start.
Your Mature Site: Year 6 and Beyond
At this stage, you may have 300+ pieces of content on your site. It’s time to put on a new hat and start to approach your content like a resource librarian!
You may continue to publish every other week — but there’s more you must do. Going forward, focus on directing visitors around your site so they can easily find what they need.
Get a clear view of what content is most popular so you can link back to it from newer content and link forward from it to newer content. (This simple tip will allow older content to help newer content.)
Master multimedia content and an expanded presence on outside platforms. Make it a habit to repurpose every piece of new content you create, so it’s findable in other places and helps people discover your website.
It sounds like a lot of work, but remember that in the content marketing lifecycle, you’re in only one growth stage at a time. Keep this book at hand to help you navigate smoothly through the stage you’re in and anticipate what lies ahead.
Let’s dive into what defines Very Important Content (VIC). This is what I want you to aim for as your site evolves! After that, we’ll talk about what to expect as your website comes to life, begins to grow, and matures.