It’s almost time to wave goodbye to 2017 and welcome in 2018. In my opinion, it is never too early to start planning for the future, especially when it comes to an industry as fluid as content marketing. In fact, looking at the year ahead, there are some pretty exciting trends coming up. If you’re a small business owner already exhausted with the constant treadmill of content creation, you may want to look away now…

Still with me? Great, then I’ll begin.

It’s almost the end of October, and it doesn’t matter who you are – from freelancers all the way up to the heady level of CEO (admittedly, anyone can call themselves a CEO these days…) you’re going to need to keep on your toes if you want to stay on top of the content trends. As someone who is regularly slashing about the bowels of MS Word, I get to see the subtle changes over the course of the year – and here are my predictions as to where it’s all going.

Strong, Long-Term Content Strategies Are Starting To Deliver Results

Yes, I know it can be daunting to start a whole new project and realize that you have *nothing* in the way of content to get started. It costs a lot of something (time or money… but usually both) to get a good content strategy rolling, and even more bloody-minded determination to keep the juggernaut rolling when nobody’s listening.

But according to the  Content Marketing Institute [PDF warning!], marketers who have continued this grim path are reporting that it works – in fact, just one year later, 60% are saying that it has been an enormous boost to their business. That’s 365 days of content creation, and it’s a big ask that not many of us can commit to – you can bet that the last thing I feel like after a hard day at work is to sit down and commit to my own!

The fact remains though, that if you want a successful content marketing strategy in 2018, you’re going to have to suck it up and keep going. After all, with no content, you have no strategy – and yes, I mean high-quality, engaging content that’s actually informative and interesting. Not PLR, not $2 articles written by a monkey who has never heard of Shakespeare, and certainly not copypasta!

Basically, you can sum it up with one simple image:


Double Down on Your Area of Focus – Or Get Lost In the Noise

There’s a lot of noise out there when it comes to content, and more is being added to it every day. It’s tough to be heard above all that, and even harder when your content marketing strategy consists of throwing a whole bunch of stuff up to see what sticks. Sure, I guess you could get lucky with that strategy, but the more likely outcome is that you might have one hit… and ninety-nine duds.

Believe me, that’s frustrating – and the very last thing that you want.

The answer to this is to become specialized and develop a focus. For example, as a copywriter, my focus is on writing and marketing, with a few forays out into the broader fields associated with both. If you sell fidget spinner merch (2017 fad alert), then you’re going to want to focus on all things fidget spinner. Or are you? The real trick here is to find your niche within that niche – so perhaps an exclusive focus on tricks you can do with fidget spinners should be your focus.

This isn’t always possible, of course, and writing about the same thing over and over again can be excruciating. However, there’s one more reason you should give this a whirl: that’s exactly what some of the biggest blogs are doing.

If you’re consider guest posting as a part of your content marketing strategy (and you should), then having a blog that’s already full of great content that’s pretty much laser-targeted for their audience doesn’t just massively increase your chances of success – it also makes it a lot easier to poach new followers and readers.

If you’re looking to boost your authority within your niche, then I cannot recommend increasing your focus more. Sure, you can try to be everything to everyone and hope that something sticks – but when you think about the superb marketing potential that focus gives you, this is such a no-brainer that I’m shocked you’re even considering it!

Microinfluencers are going to become an even bigger “thing”

I have to say, I am not overly fond of the word microinfluencer. It’s a clumsy neologism that makes my spellcheck burst out into a fit of angry red lines. But it is an accurate term that describes perfectly an offset of the focus trend that’s rapidly coming to the fore. Although these guys are typically confined to the social media space – they were born out of Instagram – their influence is definitely becoming more macro as the months go by.

Influencer Marketing has been around a long time, and this is a reinvention of it. Instead of having Brad Pitt advertise your product, instead, it’s literally someone with a ton of followers in your niche or market. What’s astounding is the reach that these people have: a hyper-focused, hyper-targtted audience that is incredibly responsive to everything the microinfluencer does.

In 2018, this trend is set to grow. What’s great for you is that while many of the huge ones are raking in big commissions for advertising your product to their followers, you can still swoop in to smaller microinfluencers (30k) for very reasonable rates and get great results.

Every niche has these people, and with a little searching, you can get your content out right in front of your audience. Much like guest posting, this is a great reason to double down on your focus. Make it easier to get what you want while skimming the cream from the top.  This is also a fantastic way to boost your social media following the smart way.

2018 is a year of focusing

I’ll be honest, a good content marketing strategy doesn’t stop and start when the clock hits midnight on December 31st every year. It should be a constantly evolving strategy that’s tuned in to what’s working now – and with a keen nose for what’s coming in the future. Defining a strict content focus is clearly one powerful way to really ramp up your content marketing strategy for 2018 – but that’s not all.

Oh no – 2018 is shaping up to be one of those seismic years for content marketing – but I’ll get to that in Part 2!