We all know how valuable a good content strategy can be. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, a well-executed content plan is one of the best ways to get more traffic to your site.

The trouble is that while developing a content marketing plan is relatively easy, creating great content takes a lot of work. Indeed, you’re probably thinking I don’t have the time to sit and write all day. It’s something I can relate to.

Today I’d like to share with you my blueprint for an outsourced content strategy. It’s the system I used to grow a website to 60,000+ monthly visitors through content marketing, and is helping me create three articles a week for my current site with minimal input.

This process relies on systemising the whole content marketing strategy from idea through to publication. In this content marketing guide I’ll cover the process I use to do this from defining your marketing goals through to keyword research, promoting your published content and ensuring your content is always relevant.

1: What Are Your Content Marketing Goals?

Creating a content plan starts with defining your goals. And if you’re thinking, well that’s obvious, “my goal is to get more traffic”, hold back a minute because you want the right traffic. To help you accomplish that with your content strategy you need to answer these two crucial questions:

  1. Who is your target audience?
  2. What content do you want to provide them?

There are a lot of exercises you can do that will help you define your target audience. These range from interviews with your ideal customer through to profiling visitors using tools like Google Analytics.

While a really comprehensive understanding of your audience is essential if you’re planning to run a Pay Per Click campaign or want to develop a product or service, you don’t need that much information about your audience for a content plan. A 30 minute or less brainstorming session should give you enough insights.

The aim of this initial brainstorming session is to come away with an elevator pitch about your website you can share with your friends. This elevator pitch covers who you are targeting and the type of content you want to produce. Make sure you write your elevator pitch down somewhere, because it’s good to have a plan and stick to it.

2: Choosing the Right Keywords

When you have your elevator pitch you want to translate into some keywords and topics to write about. Some people find this part of the content strategy, keyword research, a little daunting. It doesn’t need to be.

There are plenty of articles on the Internet that go into great depth on research, like this one by Curata, for me to need to cover this in great detail. Still, it’s rude not to give you a brief overview of the topic…

Broadly speaking, the starting point for your keyword research is a mix of common sense and the Google Keyword Planner Tool. The idea is to create a list of topics for blog posts based around the niche you’re in and/ or the product or service you are offering.

I normally do this keyword brain-dump session at the start of the content marketing strategy. I then test if these articles would actually be of interest to anyone using the Google Keywords Tool. This gives me the number of people searching for the term and helps me find additional articles to write about.

At the end of this process I’ll have a list of dozens of relevant topics for articles that could be posted on the website. I create one card per article. Each card on Trello contains the keyword to target, the primary keyword and potentially a few long tail search terms, the search volume and the broad topic.

3: Setting Up a System

Once you have a list of articles a content writer could create you need to setup a system to manage everything. Practically, this means making sure that your freelancer understands the particulars of your content strategy.

In theory, this could all be done in an email dump at the start of the project. I doubt I even need to tell you why that would be a nightmare though.

What I like to do instead is set up a Trello board specifically for my content plan. At a basic level, this should include ‘to-do’ and ‘done’ columns. That way you and your freelancer can both be kept up to date with the progress of individual tasks.

I combine this with a few cards with instructions. I recommend creating cards that cover the following topics:

  • General Information: Website access information, agreed payment terms and publication dates.
  • Basic SEO: This covers general information like outbound linking strategy, inbound marketing strategy, which I’ve covered in depth here, keyword density and basic html.
  • Style Guide: This covers how to write an article. The type of headlines to create, the research process and follow up strategy after publication. I’ll also include useful tools in this section, like a shortlist of the best headline generation software for example.

When you’ve finished you should have something that looks a bit like the board below. This is the core part of your outsourced content plan.

You want to have this content plan in place from the start. This way you can hire a writer and let them manage the project on autopilot. It also means you can quickly replace a writer if any problems arise, which leads us nicely onto actually finding your writer.

4: Finding a Writer

Finding a writer can be tricky, but it doesn’t need to be. For some small businesses the temptation is to use a content farm. This is essentially a low-cost agency model. You provide a brief, and then any writer who has signed up to the agency can claim it. While this is often very cheap, I’d recommend against it.

You’re far better off establishing a relationship with a freelancer. This has a number of benefits. For example, you can be confident of a consistent voice across your digital content marketing. More importantly, an experienced writer is more likely to deliver quality content every time. That means less time wasted with revisions.

‘But where can I find this writer?’ Well, you have a couple of options here too. Of course, there’s the traditional route of word-of-mouth or posting in the classifieds. Another great way is searching for copywriters in your specific industry on LinkedIn or hitting up expat Facebook groups for places like Bali or Thailand.

There’s no need to break the bank either. There are plenty of competent, professional copywriters out there at a range of price points. It’s also possible to find writers who work for either a set hourly rate or on a per word basis. What’s best depends on the specifics of your content plan.

Personally I use a mixture of expat Facebook groups and do posting in classifieds. I’ll write up a job brief, a bit like the one below, and wait for the applications to come in (I normally get around 15-20 applications for a position).

For my outsourced content plan, I normally follow this up with a sample writing test. It’s a useful trick for assessing a writer’s professionalism. You can see if they are prompt, responsive and can produce the quality of work you want.

When you’ve got the right writer the bulk of the work of outsourcing your content strategy is done. Now we just need to look at uploading the articles and what to do after they are published.

5: Publishing & Promoting Your Content

Uploading an article is as easy as setting up an account on your CMS for your writer. If you’ve done your homework during the hiring process, there shouldn’t be any reason why they can’t sign into your WordPress and do everything there. You can decide exactly how many site permissions they need, so security isn’t an issue.

The next thing to consider is distribution. This is where social media comes into your content strategy. You’ve spent money on a freelancer to write you some brilliant content, and naturally enough you want the world to know about it.

In the age of social media, this isn’t so difficult. Depending on your niche there are four main platforms; Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Keep in mind that other platforms such as Pinterest can be useful sources of growth too if you apply the right strategy.

6: Keeping Your Content Strategy Relevant

It’s easy to feel like publishing an article and promoting the piece on social media is the last step of your content strategy. Of course there’s more to it than that. You should follow up with people you link to in the articles, find people who shared relevant content and a host of other things. You can find good articles with email template examples and who shared your content, so I won’t.

Instead I want to highlight the final stage in your content strategy; ensuring that your content is always relevant. Let’s be clear, even in the most stagnant of industries, things change pretty quickly and Google is aware of this fact.

If your content becomes irrelevant, then even if your content is ranking in Google people will stop reading it. That means your traffic will plateau or even start to drop off. As a general rule, you should be revisiting your articles at least every six months to see if they could use an update. You can see top blogs, like WP Beginner, implementing this strategy, in competitive niches.

This check-in is also a great chance to look for ways to improve your content marketing strategy.
You’ll want to incorporate this process of revising old articles in your content strategy. So the final thing you should do is get your freelance writer to add the headline, keyword, url and publication date on an XL sheet.

In six months time you can then ask your writer to review the content and make updates where appropriate. You can even head over to Google Search Engine Console to identify longtail keywords that you could be ranking for with a few strategic tweaks. There’s a great article that covers this process on the Socedo blog.


Let’s sum up. What I’ve outlined here isn’t some kind of magic formula. I wouldn’t even claim it’s a one-size-fits-all approach. Rather, it’s a blueprint that I’ve found to be really effective for outsourcing my own content strategy.

With a few common-sense tweaks, this could easily be applied to just about any organisation. By spending a little bit of time thinking about your audience and finding the right writer, anybody can get a content plan off the ground.

I’m a big fan of the maxim ‘work smarter, not harder’. There are plenty of resources out there to help us achieve this when it comes to publication, distribution and following-up.

In this case, working smarter just means a little bit of initial effort. If this is done right, I can’t think of a reason why any business wouldn’t be able to see growth in their traffic with an outsourced content marketing plan.