Starting from Scratch: 6 Steps to Your First Content Marketing Plan

content marketing

Content marketing is amazing for attracting your target audience and building a relationship with it.

There is just one problem, though…

How do you do it?

I share a lot of content marketing tips in my posts, but those posts usually assume you’re already doing content marketing, at least to some degree.

But if you haven’t started yet, or are very new to it, you won’t get as much out of those posts as those with some experience.

So, if you’ve felt that my past posts about content marketing have been too advanced for you, this one will help.

I’m going to give you a step-by-step process to follow to create a successful content marketing plan.

I’m talking about a plan that is simple to understand and execute but that can be used to drive thousands of qualified visitors to your website every month (in less than a year). 

Why content marketing?

There are several dozen types of marketing.

They can all produce good results when applied in the right situation.

But I think we’re in a special time for content marketing.

Businesses and marketers are recognizing how effective it is in the modern consumer climate.

People have always liked to buy from businesses and people with whom they have relationships and whom they trust.

Until the Internet, it was hard for businesses to build those relationships.

But now, it’s easier than ever to deliver content to an audience.

This is important whether you’re selling straight to the consumer or to a business. A recent survey found that 67% of B2B buyers base their buying decisions on content.

And they don’t become just buyers—a large percentage of them also frequently share that content (most often in the form of a blog post – 40%).

Most marketers have just started recognizing all this.

Currently, 80% of B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy.

However, 48% (overall) do not have a written plan. In 99% of cases, this means that they really have no clue what they’re doing.

That’s good news for you. Why? Because just by putting in some effort to go through this post and writing a few things down, you’ll be ahead of over 50% of online marketers.

I’ll let you in on a secret:

Most businesses suck at content marketing.

Seriously, look at the blogs for most businesses—they’re a joke.

But still, 30% of marketers find content marketing “effective”, and another 44% get some results from it.


Don’t be in those bottom three groups…

There’s no reason why you can’t find content marketing very effective for generating traffic and, most importantly, qualified leads for your business.

Follow the six steps I cover in the rest of this post, and write down your notes as you go.

In the end, you’ll have a short, clear, and effective content marketing plan to base your future work on.

Step 1: Why are you doing this?

Before you can start producing content of any kind, it pays to do a bit of planning.

If you just produce content for a general audience, chances are you won’t get much in the way of results.

To really see great results, you need to:

  1. Identify your target audience
  2. Create content that resonates with those specific readers

When you create general content, it will never resonate with anyone, which is why it isn’t effective.

But it’s not enough to just target a specific audience. You need to understand their beliefs, problems, and desires so that your content matches them.

Part #1 – Who are they? Create a section in a blank document for Step 1. At the top of this section, you need to define who your target audience is.

For example, if you sell running gear, your audience may be “runners.”

But do you see the problem with that?

While “runners” is technically an audience, it’s not a well defined one.

There are many different kinds of runners:

  • professional marathoners
  • professional sprinters
  • recreational joggers (do it for fun)
  • runners trying to lose weight
  • runners trying to strengthen their legs…

…and so on.

Do you think you could create content that would speak to both a professional marathoner and a random guy that’s just trying to lose his beer gut?

Not a chance.

Get as specific as you can. You want to identify an audience who would agree with your label.

A professional marathoner would say:

I’m not just a runner; I’m a professional marathoner who trains year round and races six times a year.

I’m not a running expert, so six times might be too many, but you get the point…

Once you have the name of your audience, write it down.

Now you can start to build a reader persona.


Give your average audience member a fictional name before moving on to part #2. This allows you to write to one person, which is an old copywriting trick for writing in a more conversational tone that is more likely to resonate with your readers.

Part #2 – What are they struggling with? Here’s where serious research comes into play.

You need to start profiling your reader.

In this part, you’ll identify as many problems your target audience faces as possible. If you can, classify them by severity.

Let’s continue with the running example.

How do you find out what problems marathoners have?

The best way to gather that information is to simply talk to them. I know it’s not the most comfortable thing in the world to do for some people, but if you can, chat with a few for 10-20 minutes.

Ask them about their biggest problems and obstacles.

If that fails, head to online forums and community sites specifically set up for your target audience. You want to find a place where they talk to each other about their problems.

If you have no clue where to start, start with Reddit.

You can find a subreddit (basically a categorized community) for just about any topic.

In this case, a simple search on Google reveals a couple of “marathon” subreddits:


Spend at least 20-30 minutes looking through the threads you find.

Record any problems you see people talk about as well as how often they come up and how serious they seem to be.

On the first few results, I already see two problems:

  • beginner marathoners who are not sure about etiquette during a race
  • runners having joint pain during a taper (when they reduce their mileage leading up to a race)


Ideally, get a list of over 100 problems.

It sounds like a lot, but it’s doable, and you’ll be set for content ideas for a while.

Alternatively, do a search for forums on Google.


In this case, these results are probably better.

They are geared towards experienced marathoners, whereas that first subreddit was focused on beginners (although it will have some experienced runners too).

You do the exact same thing here—look for problems.


Again, I see a few problems right off the bat:

  • How do you set your pace for a marathon?
  • What do you do if you start getting pain leading up to the marathon?

Write down your list of problems (in your document or in a separate spreadsheet) before moving on.

Part #3 – Where do they look for solutions? In order to provide your audience with solutions to their problems, you need to find a way to get those solutions in front of them.

Most of these places are online, so that’s what you should focus on.

You need to compile a list of websites they visit.

That starts with the forums and communities you just found in part 2.

Other than those, you’ll just have to search around.

I would recommend starting with:

  • top (niche) sites
  • top (niche) blogs


You should be able to compile at least 20-30 “popular” sites they visit.

If it looks like a site only has a few dozen readers, don’t bother recording it.

Record these sites as we’ll be coming back to them later.

Part #4 – How will you solve their problems better than anyone else? No matter what your topic is, there are already at least a few popular sites that cover it.

Readers need very good reasons to either add your site to the ones they already follow or replace one of them with yours.

And the way you convince them to do that is by giving more value.

If your content is clearly better than that of your competitors’, you will draw readers away from them.

Start by going to the most popular sites in your niche.

Look through their content, and note any weaknesses in it.

For example, I picked the first popular marathon site I found, which was a blog on a major running site.

The content is written by a true expert, but it’s quite basic, and it’s very anecdotal.


I would note under weaknesses:

  • Not enough images, lists, etc.
  • Could use more data supporting points
  • Very short, doesn’t dive into the topic thoroughly

Then, I would move on to the next blog.

After 5-10, you’ll start to see the same things pop up every time. These are your opportunities.

Go back to your document. Your goal here is to create a concise description of how your content will be more valuable to your target audience.

For example:

Our content will include a lot of relevant visual content as well as data-driven answers. We will go deep into subjects to try to satisfy our target audience.

Having that description to guide you in the future will ensure that you focus on the right things.

Step 2: Here’s how you figure out the best type of content to produce

The “content” in content marketing can mean a lot of different things.

Pretty much anything that can possibly contain a message is considered content. That includes:

  • blog posts
  • infographics
  • pictures (drawings, comics, photographs, paintings)
  • podcasts
  • videos
  • e-books
  • slideshows

and much more.

If you produce certain types of content for your audience, you’ll get better results than you would with other types.

To figure out what the best type is, you have to consider two factors.

What are your audience’s preferences? Some audiences prefer certain types of content over others.

For example, home decorators are mainly looking for visual content. Pictures and videos are the primary form of content in the home decorating niche.

On the other hand, a niche like nutrition mainly will have your standard text content with pictures mixed in.

The tough part is figuring out what is best for your niche.

To do this, we’re going to look at a few different indicators.

Start by heading to Buzzsumo. Create a free account if you don’t have one yet, and then search for your niche (you can choose a broader niche here).


What you’ll likely see is that one of the main social networks is much more popular than the others.

If Pinterest or Facebook are the most popular, image-based content is going to be crucial. Pinterest is a purely image-based network, while images are by far the most shared type of content on Facebook.

But that’s not a perfect overview of the whole situation.

What about things like podcasts?

That’s where you need to search individually. The two other forms of content you need to check for are podcasts and videos.

With podcasts, you can use two methods.

First, you can look at Stitcher’s top 100 podcasts in a relevant category.

In our example, I picked “sports” since that’s what running would fall under.

I looked through the top 100 and couldn’t find a single podcast about running. That tells me there isn’t a lot of interest:


Ideally, you’d like to see at least a few different podcasts about your niche as an indicator of some interest.

If you see 3-4 in the top 10, that tells you that audio content is huge in your niche and you should definitely incorporate it into your content strategy if you can.

Anther way you can check for podcasts is to simply Google “top (niche) podcasts”.

I found a few, run by some popular websites. Then, I looked them up on Stitcher and found that they had barely any reviews. This means they aren’t very popular.


In this case, audio content is out.

Finally, what about video content?

Well, that’s pretty easy to check for. Go to YouTube, and search for your niche. You can also try a few suggestions from the search bar.


This actually surprised me. There were many marathon-running videos with several thousand views.

I didn’t expect this, which is exactly why you need to check.

Look at the number of views on each video. You’ll have to decide what you’d consider a significant number, but I’d be looking for at least 10 videos to have at least 20,000 views to indicate serious interest.

If there’s only one video with a ton of views, it’s likely a one-off viral fluke and should be discounted.

What are your strengths and/or budget? The second main factor depends on your skillset. If you’re not a good writer, you probably want to lean towards a different type of content.

Often, you’ll find that multiple forms of content are equally popular in your niche. That gives you a lot of flexibility. You can use any combination of them.

But what if only one type of content is popular? Well, then you have no choice.

If you aren’t comfortable creating that content, you have a decision to make:

  • learn how to create it
  • hire someone to do it for you

If you have a healthy budget for content marketing, hiring is always a good option.

If not, you’ll need to develop those skills on your own.

Now, combine the two: Now you’re looking for the intersection of these two areas:

the type of content desired by your target audience and the type of content you can actually produce.

The type(s) of content that falls into both areas is the one(s) you should produce for your target audience.


Step 3: The key step to content marketing success

Let’s slow down for a second.

You now know your audience.

You also know the type of content you’ll produce.

So, now we can start looking at actually creating and publishing content.

But there’s one thing, one key concept, that you need to understand if you want to be successful:

Your success depends on one thing – consistency.

Content marketing will not produce results overnight.

It takes months of creating quality content for it to start getting any real traction.

Many businesses start off on the right track, but when they don’t see huge results in the first few months, which is expected, they get discouraged. 

Then, when they face their first big obstacle, they end up ditching content marketing. Maybe their budget is tight, or they have a lot of other work to do. Content marketing gets cut first.

If you’re going to do this, commit a certain amount of time that you know you can commit to content marketing for at least a year.

How often should you publish? There’s no magic number on the frequency of content publishing.

But as a general rule, the more content you publish, the faster you will get results (and bigger results).

This assumes that the quality of the content stays the same regardless of frequency.

One survey found that 91% of top bloggers blog once a week or more.

But that’s more of a correlation than causation.

There are plenty of outliers, e.g., Brian Dean at Backlinko who publishes once or twice a month at the most. He’s done incredibly well for himself in a short amount of time with this strategy.

What it comes down to is not quantity, but quality.

Always try to produce the highest quality content you can even if that means cutting back on how much you publish.

So the answer to how often you should publish is:

Publish as often as you can while maintaining the highest quality possible.

However, remember that you need to be consistent.

Don’t pick a frequency that you can’t sustain over a long period of time.

I can do three long posts a week on Quick Sprout without much of an issue because I’ve practiced over the years. If you don’t have the skills or resources to do that yet, be less ambitious to start.

How long will it take to produce content? Another question that is highly related to the last one is: how long do you expect it will take you to produce the content?

Depending on the type of content you’re creating, a single piece of it could take anywhere from 2-20 hours to create.

Obviously, you can’t post more than once or twice a month if it takes you 20 hours to create something.

You also have to factor in promotional time (which I’ll cover in Step 6). You should spend at least as much time promoting content as you do creating it.

This means that if you have 20 hours of time available for content marketing a week and a post takes 5 hours to create, you can only post twice a week maximum.

You might even want to stay on the safe side for now and choose one piece of content a week.

Step 4: How will you manage your content?

You’re committed to being consistent, right?

I hope you’re nodding your head right now.

In order to be consistent, you need to plan.

If you don’t plan ahead, it’s too easy to forget to write, publish, or promote your content when you get busy.

The key to planning ahead is having a schedule, typically called a “content calendar.”

How will you create a content calendar? Although the term might sound fancy to some, it’s really simple. All you need is some sort of a calendar that allows you to assign post ideas to specific days.

There are many tools that will help you do this, but I’ll go over three solid options.

The first one is Trelloa project management tool.

You can create lists for each week in a month (or the whole month) and then add “cards” for each piece of content you want to schedule:


One of the great things about Trello is that you can give each piece of content a due date.

You can customize your settings to get reminders about a piece of content that’s due in the next couple of days or that’s overdue.

The second option is to use this WordPress editorial calendar plugin.

It adds a calendar tab to your site’s dashboard, and you can see what you have scheduled in a typical calendar format at any time:


The plugin ties into your posts, so you can do things like change their scheduled time and date as well as edit post titles from the calendar itself.

And the final option you should be aware of is just a simple spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets.

All you need is a spreadsheet with a column for publishing dates and a column for post titles:


The biggest benefit of this option, aside from how simple it is, is that you can customize it easily.

You can add columns for due dates (to ensure you finish the post ahead of time), categories, or metrics like traffic and social shares.

It doesn’t matter which option you pick. Just choose something that’s simple for you and will help you keep your content creation schedule straight.

Step 5: Where will you distribute your content?

Another huge mistake that many beginner content marketers make is starting to blog with no audience.

If no one is seeing your content, it doesn’t matter how good it is—your blog won’t grow.

There are basically two different ways you can address this problem in the beginning:

  1. Publish your content on other sites, leaving a link back to your blog.
  2. Promote your content.

You should be doing both of these things.

As you grow your audience, you can publish solely on your own site if you wish.

I’ve covered how to promote your content several times in the past. Here are a few resources to get you started:

The most important part to understand at this point is the first one.

Remember those sites you identified before? The ones where your target audience gets their solutions?

Now, you’ll identify how you can get traffic from those sites to yours.

Important: Don’t just send visitors to your blog. Send them to a landing page on your site. Offer them a lead magnet for their email addresses. This way, you can drive these readers to your future posts.

Category #1 – Blogs: These will be the blogs on your list.

In order to get your solutions in front of a blog’s audience, you need to guest-post on a relevant blog.

Obviously, not all blogs allow guest posts.

To check, just Google: “(site name) guest post”, and see if anything comes up. Ideally, you’ll find some guest-posting guidelines or previously published guest posts.


If a blog doesn’t accept guest posts, take it off your list.

If it does, follow the steps I’ve laid out in my guide on guest posting to maximize your chances of success.

Category #2 – Search engines: Did you know that search engines can drive traffic to your site? They should call it SEO or something—just kidding…

SEO is a great way to get your content in front of your target audience.

However, it’ll likely take at least 4-6 months of solid work before you start getting any real traffic.

Focus on getting traffic from other sources first and SEO last.

Here are some of my best resources on SEO although there’s obviously a ton to cover:

Category #3 – Social media: Another great source of traffic is social media. Almost every audience is active on one social media platform or another.

In addition, most social networks offer an easy way to funnel visitors to your website.

Remember that Buzzsumo search we did earlier? That tells you where you should be posting your content:


Typically, you’ll only be posting excerpts of your content, but you can do that to grow your following and drive traffic to your content.

You should combine this content posting strategy with a social media promotional strategy.

Category #4 – Forums/communities: Finally, you can post your content on forums and other online communities.

You can create content on your own website, but then reformat it for a forum. Leave a link somewhere before or after the content back to your own site (a landing page, hopefully):


Publish your content anywhere a significant portion of your target audience can see it.

While you will need a detailed strategy for this (using the resources I’ve linked to throughout this section), for now, write down the main places you want to publish your content on in your content marketing plan.

Step 6: The other side of the coin

Finally, no good content marketing plan is complete without content promotion, which is the other side of the coin of your content marketing.

Publishing content on other sites is one option, but there are other promotional tactics you can use.

Here are two main options you’ll want to consider.

Choose one or both, and record it on your document as your method(s) of content promotion.

Option #1 – Email outreach: Email remains the most effective way to build relationships with people online.

In particular, you want to use email outreach to get your content in front of influencers in your niche and related niches.

After you publish a piece of content, you’ll want to create a list of at least 100 bloggers, writers, and other type of influencers who care about that specific topic.

Then, you’ll email them to let them know about the content.

Your end goal is to get links or social shares from them, which will drive traffic and contribute to your overall SEO efforts.

Here are some great posts on email outreach:

Option #2 – Advertising: This second option takes a lot less time than manual email outreach, but, of course, it costs more.

It’s traditional advertising: you pay to get people to visit your content.

There are three main areas where you can advertise:

  1. Social media – Facebook ads are a good investment for most marketers
  2. Search engines – You can set up PPC (pay per click) ads on Adwords or Bing
  3. Native ads – You can also pay to have sites link to your content inside their content (it doesn’t appear like a typical ad)

You don’t need to use paid advertising to be successful. However, it can accelerate your growth, which makes it a good option if you have leftover funds in your budget.


Being a successful content marketer isn’t complex, but it takes a lot of knowledge and effort.

You’ll need to learn more about the areas I touched on briefly here.

In addition, you’ll need to practice. As you start producing content, you will learn a lot through trial and error.

That being said, if you follow the six steps in this post, you should have a clear content marketing plan that you can use to shape your content marketing in the months to come.

As always, if you have any questions, just leave them in a comment below.


  1. Content marketing has been changed. It’s a long process. In order to get the success, you need to be serious.
    All the steps you’ve mentioned will surely help newbie and intermediate bloggers.
    Producing a great content but not promoting it is the worst thing a webmaster can do. In order to stand among competitors, you need to distribute you article. 🙂
    Thanks for such good article Neil bro!

    • Deepak, I completely agree.

      There is a step by step process that must be followed to gain maximum results from your content marketing efforts. If you want to propel your game to the next level you really have to do everything you can to make sure your articles are reaching the right audience.

  2. Hi Neil,

    I Agree with the part that says videos are important part of content marketing. I have seen how you have provided a lot of value to your readers via values in the pro section.

    Excellent post neil.
    As I asked in the interview, any chance you are going to do podcasts ?

    • Rachit, it’s important that you provide as much value as possible. I am just going to stick with webinars for now — but who knows, maybe podcasts are in the cards?

  3. I think that in 2016 most of the marketers will start a sprint in content marketing because they think about it as a sprint run. But no, this is a marathon that most of us started a few years ago.
    When I think about content marketers I have 2 types in my mind: the smart one and the stupid one.
    The stupid will always create a lot of content and share it everywhere. Without any other strategy or target.
    But the smart one will create less of content but looking very deep in the quality of it vs the needs of the audience.
    Here we will see the difference.

    • If you’re smart, you’ll do both of the above. 🙂

      • Robert and Chris, you both have great points.

        I think there has to be a balancing act of quality and quantity — if you master the quality aspect the next step should be to get your voice heard as loudly and as often as possible. That’s the true challenge. Best of luck!

  4. Loved your psyche here and the way you have presented real time example for starting content marketing from scratch.


    • Sumit, glad you found it helpful. If you need any specific help along the way please let me know. Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  5. I love this: “Ideally, get a list of over 100 problems.”

    And I’m still watching your 100,000 posts.

    In the meantime, I’ve been exploring some of the principles at a new site, just to see how it differs from my main work at the poetry site (which is a whole different game that does respond to many of your principles but I think is simply harder from the get-go). Using your principles, among other things, that site has doubled its traffic in a year.

    But. I think it is held back by the particular industry. Which I really think must come under consideration when looking at all the potential ways to grow a business.

    Okay, so. I’m content marketing for fun (and not worrying about the profit yet) at (I even linked to Nutrition Secrets and am looking for more opportunities to do that in the future. If you have a post on tea, that would be my next link.)

    • Also, as an aside… I am a total analytics fan and use it avidly to help understand patterns, opportunities, and challenges. But I have not installed analytics on the site yet because I simply don’t want to know. It’s too tempting to be checking it all the time. And, in the end, the real proof of the pudding isn’t traffic but qualified leads.

      That’s just another fun “exploration” I’m engaging in. (I will eventually install analytics, and I do realize the tradeoffs in not doing so from the beginning. For fun, I’d love to hear you argue it both ways: to install or not to install.)

      • L.L. thanks for the valuable, insightful and in-depth reply.

        I definitely think you are on the right track. Sounds like you are following the challenge to a T. Don’t worry about the profit — as you mentioned — just master the skill.

  6. Ah, great timing Neil! I’m just putting a content strategy together for my new blog and want to make sure I not only produce great content but promote it efficiently. Hopefully with your advice people will soon be coming to my blog as the best place to learn about the storage auction business!

    • JJ, glad I could help. You are at the right spot to make some big changes. Make sure you do everything right to begin with so you don’t have to backtrack. As always I am here to help if you need anything 🙂

  7. Nice step by step method. I am revamping my company website. I’ll pin this up. Have you had any experience with stumbleupon ads??

  8. Hi Neil,

    A very thoughtful work flow! We make Step 1 and using it super easy to capture, organize, and share. Content marketing strategy is dynamic and continuous. We need everyone to be able to see the strategy and execute their roles in deliver stories. So we built a platform to make this as easy as possible. Rather than use general apps like Google and Excel. We invented a template Story Sheet. Maybe take a look at our website. After all we need all the help we can get:)


    • David, sounds interesting. I would definitely like to know more about what you are doing. What’s the website and where can I learn more? Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  9. Thanks Neil for another great article covering step-by-step plan for content marketing.
    The two challenging tasks are identifying target audience and then writing resonating content on that niche. Content calendar is also useful stuff.

    • Rishi, glad to help. Once you find a strategy that appeals to your audience just iterate and test from there. Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  10. Another BANGIN’ post Neil!

    Will be using this guideline for an upcoming blog I am starting.

    I really believe that step 1 and 2 are the most crucial: to know who you are targeting and how you are helping them is CRUCIAL for any marketing campaign.


  11. Jithin Chandrababu :

    Half read..will read the next with some spreadsheets. Great one Neil..

  12. Neil,

    I really like this post, as it really hits on the things that I’m trying to figure out right now.

    I just had a few questions that I’ve struggled to get any real answers to.

    My questions are about promoting a blog as “The DIY Golfer” rather than revealing my full name. (I do use my first name in email, but that’s about it)

    On my blog, I don’t show my face or reveal my full name (I actually can’t due to rules from an organization I’m part of), and I’ve struggled to get traffic because I don’t really know how to promote a screen name like so.

    How would you alter a content marketing strategy given that I’m using this screen name rather than my full name?

    Also, in my niche (golf improvement), there are not that many bloggers that cover my topics, but several YouTube videos that do. I do integrate some videos on my site, but I do a lot more linking to other videos than I do creating them. How could I get shares from YouTube accounts like this?

    Thanks so much for all the help! Your posts are always so amazing!

    • Zach, glad you liked the post.

      Answers to your questions:

      1. I would focus more on the products and make it less about you, yourself.
      2. Just comment a lot and provide links to your content so that people can learn more. That’s my suggestion.

      Glad to help!

  13. I don’t understand one thing. If you write to a specific profile, what happen to the other people who aren’t like this profile? You are loosing readers, no?

  14. I am an accomplished runner but a beginner content marketer. I try to convert, but with all this stuff to learn on your posts I have less time to practice producing 🙂

  15. Hello!! Neil,

    Once Again, A Great content marketing plan has been explained by you. I really follow your every blog post and try to execute them to really great extent.

    Here is my thought and suggestion to a newbie and intermediate bloggers…Tell me how’s that?

    If we hit the publish key on our latest blog post, our aim is to craft & deliver the best article ever written to earn some attention.


    Building great content is the foundation of your online success — but no one will come unless you put an extra (often huge!) effort into giving your content exposure.

    The adage of “build it and they will come” does not work on the web where you are competing with hundreds of millions of websites and over 2 billion internet users who still don’t know you exist.

    “Build it and they will come” cliché again and again. Yes, it is great advice … except that it doesn’t work.

    Your Blog Post – It’s your baby.

    Creating HQ (High Quality) content is like giving birth to a baby but promoting it is …..Like nurturing it and making it grow without worrying about its output.
    Nothing happens. The visitors don’t show.

    Submitting your blog to High PR Directories & Websites will help in better indexing and crawling of your blog/website. Especially when you create a new blog, it takes time for search engine bots to find your blog and crawl it, by submitting your site to these Websites which is listed below will help in faster indexing.

    Here is an Ultimate List >>

    I hope submitting your blog on above listed High PR Directories & Websites will surely make a difference.
    Thanks, Neil…for everything.

    • Prakash, the point is to provide value and educate your audience on topics that will help them drive results and more traffic.

      The power of directories has diminished — so I would stay away. Thanks for sharing your thoughts though.

  16. Danielle Brown :

    Hi Neil

    Awesome post! Just finish taking notes on Step 1. This is so helpful because I always wonder on what content my audience wants and not really thinking in depth of who my audience is. Thank you 🙂

  17. These 6 steps are really helpful for making new stratagies…. thanks for this nice article 🙂

  18. Soon, I will begin content marketing on our new site. Some things I’ve learned from both Neil and Brian on content marketing / link building.

    1. Have a detailed strategy (SEO, keyword research, long tail keywords, backlinks, Infographics etc).
    2. Promote your material.
    3. Don’t be afraid to spend.
    4. Include influencers and reach out.
    5. Plan, don’t pray.

    Once again ~ awesome post Neil!

    • Luke, those are all great points — thanks for summarizing.

      I definitely agree with each and every one of the points you provided. Let me know if you need help along the way.

  19. Well I must say Neil, you are doing a tremendous job here. I follow most of your blog post and this one truly nails it. I was actually looking for a content creation+promotion guide and I stumbled upon this.

    Learning a lot of stuff from you man, keep it up up & up !


    • Sohaib, glad to help. Let me know if you have any specific questions along the way — looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  20. Very nice post. I liked the part about aspiring to create great content and focusing more on that area, which attracts most attention. Thanks Neil… you have share great post.

    • Tarun, glad to help. It’s all about providing value. People will visit your site when you provide value and do it with ease.

  21. As always a well written post Neil 🙂 Very nice points about – finding your target audience, focusing on the problem areas of most of the target audience, writing effective blog posts and promoting them.Just wanted to know about certain niche categories which doesn’t have much target audience online, so how to do promotion for them. Other than content marketing, are there any other ways to increase the website traffic and conversions on monthly basis by doing any on-page or off-page changes. Thanks again Neil!!!

    • Yuga, you can start a social media campaign that focuses on ads and shout for shouts — that may push the needle.

      However, I always suggest people focus on content marketing — it’s the surest way to results 🙂

  22. Hello Neil,

    I have absolutely nothing useful to say other than to offer you a hearty thank you.


  23. Alex Saunders :

    Hi Neil,
    I currently have a website that has gained quite a lot of attention lately (via product hunt and the like), however as time goes on it is gradually losing its google search ranking – how can I find topics for the blog that people want to know about, and that haven’t been written before or have been written terribly?

    • Alex, I always use buzzsumo for ideas — you can look at what types of questions people are asking in the comments section — that’s what I source a lot of topics.

  24. Hello Neil

    First of all I would like to thank you for these amazing steps which helps a lot for the nob like me.I am just wondering that if i create a first text posts with some pictures on it for my e-commerce site, is it good to post in my blog and then market it with my email subscribers and social media or should i guest post it with a link back to my landing page?

    I hope you will get back to me.

  25. Barry Desautels :

    Thank you Neil.
    Another valuable, well researched piece.
    Good flow, easy to follow.
    Grateful for all your help.

  26. David Metcalf :

    We often miss the basic requirement and move forward with other strategies. Indeed knowing your customer’s behaviour and doing market analysis, would be the first step. I would say indeed the very first, before implementing any on page seo things like metas, content etc.
    Keeping this approach would definitely help.
    Quite detailed and clear that..!!

    • David, glad to help. It’s always smart to figure out your customer personas before you start any campaign. Let me know if you need anything else.

  27. Madhuri Thakur :

    Hi Neil,

    I am constantly amazed by the content that you write. I also write finance content, can you suggest any plagerisma site to check duplicate content?

    • Madhuri, I usually grab groups of text and run a google search — there are also a lot of tools you can just google.

      If you are writing original content you wont have this problem though.

  28. Awesome articles as always Neil, I’ve been reading your works for a while now. I just stepped into content marketing world and I find this article has all I’m looking for to get a head start.
    One thing, though. I’m currently writing articles for a company on explainer video niche. I find most websites that work on explainer video are NOT specifically writing articles on explainer video itself, but niches that revolve around it like SEO, link building etc.

    Do you think I should go with the flow?

    • Jeff, definitely go with the flow. See what’s popular in your niche then go from there. If you need any help along the way I am alway here to help.

  29. Rachid Madani :

    Thank you Neil for all the great content you are providing here. I introduced to Quicksprout for a year now, and I really appreciate the hard work you are implementing to help. I learned a lot and I’m still learning. I recommended your website few times in forums as a source of valuable information. I really appreciate your help and tons of information you share here.

    • Rachid, glad I could provide value. Thanks for sharing with others and as always if you need help with anything please let me know.

  30. Content Marketing is a very important asset to turn business into brand.
    Great content Neil, I learned much from this post.

  31. Hello Neil Patel sir, this the Best content marketing plan i read till now. Thank’s for sharing.

  32. Thanks for this Neil, good to get a reminder of the fundamentals.

    I’ve been working on my site, part time, for about two years now but not really getting the results I had been hoping for. In truth, most of my content needed / needs a serious overhaul as I realized it wasn’t up to scratch. I’m in the process of doing that, making the content as good as I possibly can. I guess that’s the first port of call, it will take a fair bit of time to go back over it all.

    From reading the first few steps listed here I know I’ve never really sat down and confirmed my audience and my current target is definitely too broad. There’s work to be done! Hopefully it will turn the corner at some point. Thanks again.

    • Colm, glad I could help. If you need help with anything along the way I’d be glad to provide help.

      I think what you should do to narrow down your audience is to figure out who they are using surveying. That way you can figure out your ideal buyer persona.

      • Thanks Neil, much appreciated.

        That’s interesting re: using surveying to get an ideal buyer persona, I would never have considered that. Do you mean like a short survey popping up when people come to the site? Not sure what to ask them off the top of my head but I could see how that would certainly help narrow things down. Thanks again.

  33. Hi Neil, I typically love your posts and most of them are brilliant, but it seems like you’re struggling on this one just the same way you are trying to help people not to struggle with :-). Your audience for this article seems all over the place rather than focused.
    And the target audience, avatar client, ideal client thing has been written about extensively, but just having all the demographics doesn’t do much good at all to most entrepreneurs (perhaps better for corporations!). I have always felt like that definition is too academic, and misses what entrepreneurs really need to know about their client. Nobody has time for all the Sally info, and quite frankly there are more important things to know anyway. Don’t get me wrong, for I agree that you should have a laser sharp focus of who your target client is and what challenges they as a group are dealing with. Just some thoughts, but overall, of course, I am grateful, since your content is the best available online.

    • Cengiz, appreciate the helpful feedback. I have to ask you to go one step further though — how would you suggest I frame this content? I like providing value and I think I did a pretty good job of bring in disparate groups into a cohesive guide.

  34. Thank you Neil for laying it out so nicely. Especially the very first and all important step.

  35. Another informative article Neil, I find Quora is another good place to look for blog post ideas.

  36. This guide is must for every beginner. Great work Neil.

  37. Thank you so much. This is superb and it gives me courage to struggle hard so as to attain my traffic goals. I have the contents but the traffic is low. I have to keep trying while following your guides.

  38. Thank you so much Mr. Neil Patel. I always come with an informative posts. Thats why I subscribed And I always wait for new mail from your site and spend whole day for studying your lessons. God bless you sir.

  39. Neil,
    This post is a great-to-have for me. I found this very useful to get started.

    There is one question that lingers around me as a starter is: Can you comment on how much importance does the domain name of a website plays a role in retaining audience?
    Does the domain name really matter?


    • GS, it definitely matters.

      What’s in a name?

      Think of a famous person, store or movie title. Chances are the first impression comes from the name. It creates an emotional response and you want it to be good.

  40. Good article : we’ve scoured the Internet for content marketing strategy templates, tried a few, and put together an approach to building your own content marketing plan step-by-step. A blog cannot survive for long without quality content. If you post quality content on your blog, you’ll see quality backlinks generation on autopilot. Other than that, guest posting is also very important to get backlinks and readers. I enjoyed reading this post. Well written. 🙂

    • Ashley, it’s vital to find the right strategy for your target audience. This is why I always encourage people to focus on running surveys and figuring out buyer personas. Once you get that angle down — you can deliver quality content to the right segments of your niche.

  41. I’m just embarking on my first solo business and just figuring out my customer persona. It was good to read that I’ve started the right way. Content marketing is one of my key tools to market this business. I’ve printed this off and will read several times to make sure I’ve got the process clear in my head.

  42. Hey Neil,

    This one’s specific and concise (the kind of posts I adore).

    I’m often confused when the idea of defining the audience persona comes in. My niche is self-help, so I’m by default “the guy who writes about life.”

    So it often becomes difficult to recognize the actual audience. I mean, what do I say? My audience is a group of people going through hard times, trying to improve their lives and finding some moral support, to whom I’m trying to give hope with my words.

    How would you narrow down your audience persona in this case?

    • Vishal, have you thought of doing surveying to figure out who your buyer personas are. I think that’s a great first step to seeing what type of content they like.

  43. I found this post really helpful, thank you SO MUCH!!! 🙂

  44. mino monsters 2 hack :

    What’s up, after reading this amazing post i am also
    glad to share my familiarity here with mates.

  45. Hi Neil,

    I am struggling with your 6 Steps to Your First Content Marketing Plan, when using it to establish and build business to business relationships.

    For example businesses I am targeting tend not to join forums etc to find answers to their problems, they hire business to do this for them.

    Do you have any advice for someone trying to design content business to business?

    Best Wishes,


  46. Hi Neil!

    People (so-called mentors) told me to look up for my audience’s problems . But when I asked “how” to know what is their problem, they were blank! And I thought may be I’m the crazy one!

    Thanks a lot for putting up this great post! Insane Priceless value!

    However, I’m facing some issues in building consumer/reader persona.

    As per the example, you need to write the gender, marital status, education, etc.

    But Neil my content and products are not gender-based or the person buying it doesn’t have to have a certain qualification or be married or single. They don’t necessarily have to have any prior job experience.

    Basically I’m an affiliate for a company that sells educational, subscription based products and to buy educational products, gender or marital status, or university degree or job qualification is not a compulsion.

    So, How can I write about these demographics when building up my readers’ persona?

    I read that linked article, but it didn’t help. Not easy to follow.

    Kindly guide me on that.

    Secondly I had to ask what is your blog posts schedule? I mean when do you publish content on quicksprout?

    Thirdly, when you reply me here, will I be getting an email notification for that or will I have to open up the respective article every time to check for reply from you 🙂 ?

    Thanks a bunch!

    *A Virtual hug*

    Anam 🙂

    • I publish almost everyday on quicksprout, but I have a team that allows me to do that.

      You should consider making testing copy directed to one gender over another, sometimes the very specific targeting can help. Imagine your perfect client and write to them, communicate to them why they should buy.

  47. Hey Neil, just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your blog and how much I have learned from you.

    I have even committed to read 1 article per day from your blog before I start my work. You have inspired me.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  48. Hi Niel. I am so grateful to you for your posts and your willingness to share online marketing truths. I wish I came across your blog when I first started I would have saved months of wasted effort listening to “Gurus” with their quick buck strategies.

    One of the reasons your work resonates with me and I think other people is that it follows principles that work! It is what I call “Sowing and Reaping” principles. What the late Stephen Covey calls the “Law of the farm” it always works but it takes time and includes no gimmicks.

    So I pray that you will continue as you began in JESUS NAME. Thanks so much and GOD bless you.

    Boomy Tokan
    By the way, I noticed a typo in the 3rd paragraph under the Stitcher’s image. it says “Anther, (Another) way you can check for podcasts is to simply Google “top (niche) podcasts”.

    • Thanks Boomy. Sometimes it’s something as simple as consistency and time that will help you get results.

      Thanks for the heads up!

  49. The amount of content in this post is just amazing, its all super helpful and actionable.

    I particularly like the facts throughout the post

    Step 4 is one of my favourites and should be not overlooked by people creating content online.


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