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What are Content Pillars & Why do You Need Them!

What is a Content Pillar?

Content pillars, also known as content buckets or content categories, are the main themes or topics that are most relevant to your target audience.


Content pillars support the overall objectives of your content marketing strategy and form the foundation for creating original content.



"On social media, content pillars create a cohesive brand image, drive engagement, and increase authority." Bullseye Strategy

For example, a personal trainer might have 4 different content pillars:

  • Exercise

  • Nutrition

  • Weight Loss

  • Preventing Injuries

For my content I have 5 content pillars

  • Networking

  • Online Resources

  • Cross Promotion

  • Collaborations

  • Social Media


To work out your content pillars, you need to understand who your audience is and what problem you are solving for them.


If you haven’t done so already, it’s a good idea to create a ‘Buyer Persona or Customer Avatar’. This helps you identify who your ideal customer is, what their main pain points are, where they hang out, etc.


You can download my free Customer Avatar Workbook’ here to help you get started.


When you understand who your target audience is, you can address their pain points through your content.


The aim of your content is to help solve their problems and lead them to purchase your product or service.


The number 1 thing when creating content is to provide value.


You’ve probably heard the 80/20 rule. 80% of your content should be informative, entertaining or educational and the other 20% promotional.



Keyword Research

If you get stuck or need some inspiration for what to create content about, keyword research can help out.


Spend some time researching what questions your audience is asking, what problems they are facing & what solutions they are looking for.


There are plenty of keyword research tools on the net, but I find typing a phrase or keyword into Google gives me a heap of ideas.


Google will give you a list of ideas when you type your keyword into the search bar which can be super helpful when you're having a moment of writer's block.



The "People also ask" section is a great resource to find new ideas & sub-topics.


For more information on keyword research & keyword research tools, check out these 2 articles:


Why You Need Content Pillars

Content pillars help you stay focused & relevant when creating content for your target audience.


Having distinct themes allows you to plan & create your content in advance. No more posting on the fly or scratching your head trying to come up with new ideas.


Having content pillars also ensures you stay on topic, so you don’t confuse your audience by creating something that is completely random and not aligned with your business.


The best content pillars provide the foundations for a brand to become one of two things: a thought leader or a problem solver. The William Agency


How to Create Content Pillars for Your Business

As mentioned above, content pillars are the main ‘top level’ topics that you create content about. Think of them as the building blocks of your business.


Let’s take a chef, for example, she may have 4 content pillars

  • Nutrition

  • Recipes

  • Simple Cooking Hacks

  • Kitchen tools


So, when she is creating blogs for her website, each one will fall into one of those categories.


How Many Content Pillars Should you Have?

You’ll see differing opinions on this, but anywhere from 3 to 10 is what works for most small businesses. If you’re just starting out, focus on the 3 main pain points of your target audience and start there.


Ultimately, it’s what works best for you & your business.


Take a few minutes now & think about your business, what are the 3 to 5 top pain points experienced by your target audience? If you’re like me and like workbooks, click here to grab a copy of my “Content Pillar Workbook” to jot down your ideas.



How to Create Content for your Pillars.

Now that you have your content pillars, you can start to come up with ideas for creating your content.


For my pillar of Networking, I can think about all the different topics I want to talk about:


1. How to follow up after a networking event.

2. Why Online networking needs to be part of your business plan.

3. The benefits of Face-to-face networking.

4. Why small business owners can’t ignore networking.

5. How often should you network?

6. Networking for introverts.

7. How to get the most out of networking.

8. What networking isn’t.


And now I can sit down and write content for each one of those ideas. I could create a blog, a social media post, a video, an infographic, or any combination of all 4.


Now if I come up with 8 ideas for each of my content pillars, I’ll have 8 weeks of content, if I post 5 days a week.


Because I have 5 pillars, I could create 1 social media post for each pillar on a certain day of the week.

E.g.

  • Monday – Networking

  • Tuesday – Online Resources

  • Wednesday – Social Media

  • Thursday – Cross-promotion

  • Friday – Collaborations


You can see how this forms the foundation of your content calendar.


So, take a few minutes now and think about some ideas for creating content on your first pillar.


My “Content Pillar Workbook” has space for you to write down your ideas, or grab a notebook or word document.


If you’re feeling stuck, go to the 10 Free Keyword Research Tools article and do some keyword research.


Do this exercise for each one of your content pillars.



Organisation is Key for Coming Up with Content Ideas


Now you need to have a way to organise your content ideas.


I have a Trello board for each of my content pillars, where I store ideas, articles, links, information, etc. So, when I am ready to sit down to write, I have everything in one place.


You might want to use Google docs, Word, sticky notes, etc. The important thing is to have a system that is simple & easy to use and one that works for you.


This is what my Trello board looks like. I use the free version of Trello, upgrades are available but I haven’t found the need to upgrade at this stage.


Picture of my trello board

You now have the start of your content calendar.


If you’re like me and have 5 pillars, you might choose to post 5 days a week, or you might post about 3 topics one week and 2 the following. Again, whatever works for you.


Consistency is key, and when you have a plan, it is so much easier to block out a few hours to sit down & write out your content for the week or month.


I only work on a week at a time because that works for me, but I know a lot of people who plan a month in advance.

Find what works for you!


Create Your Content Calendar

Now that you have your content pillars and ideas for your posts, blogs, videos, etc,

block out time to start writing.


Even if you’re creating video, it’s a good idea to have a plan of what you’re going to talk about, even if it’s just bullet points.


I block out 3 to 4 hours each week to work on my social media content & 1 to 2 hours per day to research & write my weekly blog.


Again, it’s what works for you. I do find blocking out time and scheduling it in my calendar works best. Being a morning person, I tend to write first thing in the morning. If you’re a night person, you might be more creative later in the day.


There is no, one-size-fits-all here.


It comes down to creating a system and being consistent.


I have a simple template in my “Content Pillar Workbook” that you can use to create your content calendar.


Repurposing Content

Repurposing content can be a huge time-saver in the world of content creation.

Repurposing content is when you take existing content and re-use it in another format. It could be something as simple as re-tweeting a blog post or turning a text article into an infographic.


Repurposing content allows you to get more mileage out of your existing work and gives your audience different ways to engage with it. It also means you have less work to create new content from scratch, freeing up more time for other tasks.



Benefits of Repurposing Content

1. Helps you to maximize your time and resources, as well as increase the visibility of your content. Content can be used multiple times and for different purposes providing greater reach to new audiences.


2. Helps to increase SEO rankings, as content based on the same topic can produce more opportunities to target a desired keyword. It can also provide opportunities for backlinks, which tell search engines your content is valuable & useful.


3. Helps you build a consistent brand identity. When you use the same or similar content on different platforms, it helps your audience recognise your brand in the online world. This type of consistency strengthens the bond and trust between you and your ideal buyer.


4. Helps reinforces your message. We all know people need to see your message multiple times for it to sink in. You’ve probably heard that you need multiple touch points before someone buys from you. Repurposing content helps you achieve this.



Key take-aways

  • Content pillars are the main topics relevant to your target audience.

  • To work out your content pillars, you need to understand what problem you're solving for your target audience.

  • Content pillars help you stay focused & relevant when creating content.

  • Having 3 to 5 content pillars works well when you're starting out

  • Creating a system for capturing your content ideas makes it easier for you when it comes time to start writing.

  • Having a content calendar helps you stay consistent with creating your content.

  • Repurposing content helps you save time, increases your SEO rankings and reinforces your message, allowing you to strengthen the bond between you & your ideal buyer.



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