I’m not going to be a hypocrite and say I have a detailed plan for every piece of content before writing it because I don’t.
But listening to a podcast interview with a B2B content writer talking about how they plan features and blog posts got me reflecting on my own approach.
And I realised that I don’t use the same method for every piece.
Over the years I’ve got fairly adept at planning in my head or structuring as I go.
But when I started as a features writer on a weekly B2B magazine, I would always write out a plan for each piece.
It made writing a lot easier, particularly in those early days when I was new to the subject matter (commercial property) and new to writing features.
Now I adapt my approach depending on the starting point.
Sometimes I’ll get off a call with a client and already have a pretty good idea of the key points and main angle.
Select the juicy bits
I might free write the first few pars before going back to the transcript to start pulling out the juiciest bits, shaping and ordering them.
If the conversation with the client was a brainstorm around a few thought leader ideas, and the task is to pick out the best and write it up, then I’ll hone in on what felt like the strongest or most developed idea.
Listening to how the client talks about something can be a good indicator of where they have the strongest views or ideas. This is also key for capturing the client’s tone of voice in the piece.
Once I’ve done that, I’ll comb through the transcript for relevant and supporting material and start ordering it.
I might copy and paste relevant bits in a rough order, then work on weaving them together and editing to make the piece coherent and clear.
If I’m interviewing one or more people on a pre-agree topic for a piece of B2B content, then I’ll spend some time planning the questions.
When planned carefully, the questions – and therefore the order of conversation – can help inform the piece’s structure.
A recent example was on a podcasting project for a client. The interview was recorded as a podcast, so I ordered the questions to create a natural flow to the conversation.
When it came to the write up, the structure was pretty much there.
The podcast interview was planned a lot more carefully than an article interview because of the medium. However, planning a few questions ahead of a conversation is always my starting point if I know what we’ll be talking about.
The closest I get to writing an actual plan, as I did in the early days of journalism, is typing some headings to expand on.
I tend to do this on long and complex pieces, not least because it can feel less daunting than starting with a blank page.
How much do you plan when you are writing a piece of B2B content? Do you have a go-to method?
For more about B2B content and communications check out my latest posts:
- B2B content marketing: How to think like a journalist and get more readers
- From sceptic to supporter: The case for B2B content marketing
- Summer content ideas for B2B businesses
- B2B press release lessons from the world of theatre
- From yawns to yehs: Refresh your B2B content ideas and banish the boring