Your product or service is strong. Your website is solid, but still, you worry you’re not getting as many visitors as you’d like. The benefits of creating a stimulating and thought-provoking technical content blog are becoming too obvious to ignore. You are considering ramping up your blog by hiring an in-house team or getting a technical writing agency to help with the content production, but you’re not sure where to start.
When clients in a similar position as you come to us, they often have many ideas of what to write about but don’t quite know how to work with an internal or external technical writing team to make these ideas a reality.
In this article, we share the four-step process that we use to help you create a solid plan for your technical content.
Before getting started
Before you make a start on your technical content plan, we have one invaluable tip: write everything down. It almost sounds too simple to be effective. Still, there are numerous scientific studies that show just how effective planning ahead can be and Forbes magazine state that the act of vividly writing down your goals means you’re 1.4x more likely to achieve them.
The mere process of committing pen to paper (or more realistically, fingers to keyboard) clarifies the mind and allows you to refine your goals, priorities and intentions. What’s more, when your ideas are written down, it’s far easier to elicit input and feedback from the rest of your team, giving your in-house writers or technical content agency the perfect starting point.
Begin with a simple Google Doc (so that you can eventually collaborate with your team in real-time and allow editing or read-only rights accordingly) and use the following four-step process to better organize your thoughts into a plan that will all but guarantee success.
Step 1: Define success for your technical content
No doubt when you first started your business, you spent time exploring what success would look like to you (successful year one no doubt looked very different from successful year five). Beginning the process of creating your blog or working with a technical content agency can be approached in much the same way.
Consider what you’re trying to achieve with your technical blog or documentation site. Are you looking to grow your customer base? Are you hoping to establish yourself as an authority in your field? Whatever your specific goals, you’re far more likely to achieve them if you’ve defined what it is that you’re looking for. Once you’ve answered the question for yourself, letting your technical writer or content agency in on the secret is far simpler.
Armed with this knowledge, a technical writer or a technical content strategist will be able to focus your technical blog posts or web content accordingly. And, you’ll be able to assess how well they’re helping you to achieve your goals further down the line, too.
Step 2: Identify the top opportunities for your technical blog or site
How can you achieve your goals in the quickest possible way that is sustainable and also adheres to your values? It’s not the easiest question to answer, but it’s certainly worth your time.
Consider stack ranking each of the potential opportunities. The process of stack-ranking was originally created in the 80s by then CEO of General Electric Jack Welch, who used it as a way to assess the efficiency of each of his employees. The method comes from his view that 20% of employees are at the top of the productivity curve, a further 70% are doing their jobs well without excelling, and a final 10% are actively harming the business with their lack of efficiency. Consider rating each of your potential opportunities and underline the top 20%.
Imagine you could only work on one opportunity at a time, which would head the list? Document your ranking order and your reasons and then share this info with your team for feedback.
Step 3: Execute on the opportunities in order of priority
The next step is to get buy-in for these opportunities. Take your plan to the people around you who know your business best and take the time to listen if they have differing opinions to you. Then, once you’ve agreed on the order with your team, share the information with the technical writer or technical content agency who will head up creating the content. Review your goals and ensure that you’re aligned on how the process will work.
Next, establish a rhythm of delivery for your technical content. There is a range of arguments for how often you should post from once a fortnight to once every 58 seconds (we don’t really recommend the latter unless you are the Huffington Post!) The truth is high-quality content is and always will be king so there’s little to be gained by rushing out technical blog posts that have little relevance to your readership. However, regular posting can undoubtedly help with your google rankings, and it’s always good for your loyal readers to know when they can expect your next post.
Now comes the hard part: sticking to your priorities. It’s a good idea to hold regular check-ins with your technical content agency or in-house writers to ensure you’re still working toward to the top 20% of opportunities on the bell curve.
Step 4: Measure and review the success criteria for your technical content
The process of measuring and reviewing the success of your content is a task that you should commit to for as long as you’re working with a technical content agency or a technical writer. Carry out regular meeting to measure the success of published content. Is the work helping you to reach your goals? Through regular reviews, you’ll understand what kind of content drives the engagement for your audience, and what doesn’t work as well.
P.S. The beauty of working with a content agency is that they know what works and what doesn’t for companies like yours and can help you avoid many kinds of mistakes while allowing you to find the voice that’s uniquely right for your company.
Planning is a process
The importance of planning can’t be overlooked. At Wizard on Demand, we work with our clients to ensure that their technical content plan is always up to date. We plan ahead (between 1 and 6 months ahead depending on your business) and at the same time, remain flexible and proactive to ensure that we’re working on the right content for each customer. See this article that we published earlier this year for more info on how we plan.
Having a content plan, keeping it up to date and following it makes it easier for you and your writers to stay on track and generate consistently great content over a longer period of time.
A good technical content plan also allows you to more objectively evaluate any changes in your business or the industry and change your plan accordingly. You can and should make adjustments over time when you learn what works and what doesn’t work for your audience. This is why technical content planning is such an important part of how we work.
Want to know more about our process and how we can help you achieve your technical content goals? Contact us today.