What Is A Content Style Guide And What Should You Include In It?

So, you are ready to hire your first content freelancer! Congratulations! That's an exciting time for any company. Freelancers can make your life so much easier, and writing freelancers are particularly remarkable. Content is king, but producing consistent content takes up a ton of time. We already know that freelance content only works if you do, so how do you make sure that you will get perfect content every time? Simple, you produce a content style guide. Today on the blog we will break down what a content style guide is, what to include in it, and how to deliver it to your freelancers! Are you ready? Let's go!

What Is A Content Style Guide And What Should You Include In It? | Is your company ready to hire a freelance content writer? Well, before you hand out your first assignment, you should consider producing a content style guide. A content style guide will help you create the content you want, and get it done right the first time. #ContentMarketing #ContentCreation #ContentWriting #FreelanceContent

What Is A Content Style Guide?

First things first, let's talk about the elephant in the room. What is a content style guide? If you have never heard of this topic before, let's delve deeper into what it is and how it can help you as a business owner.

A content style guide is merely a document you produce that gives your content team an overview of what you want from each article posted on your blog. You can create a content style guide for things like ebooks or emails as well. We are going to focus on blog content for the sake of this article, though.

There are many types of style guides that a business might produce. For example, you have probably seen a style guide for the visual elements of a website such as brand colors, fonts, and logos. A content style guide is similar; only it's geared towards the content your team produces, not the visual elements your brand has.

You can imagine that this document is pretty important. When you create this style guide, your content will begin to sing in harmony. No matter if you have an in-house team or a group of freelancers, everyone will know what to produce and how to produce it.

What Is A Content Style Guide And What Should You Include In It?

What Should You Include In Your Content Style Guide?

Now that we have talked about what a content style guide is, let's chat about what to include in yours. The following is not a comprehensive list of what to include. I am sharing some of the things that I feel are crucial, but it will depend on your brand.

Topic/Primary Keyword

One of the first things you should include in your content style guide is the topic or primary keyword you are trying to reach with this piece. What string of words do you want to appear most often in the article? What are you targeting with this piece? With this information, your content writer can do more research on this topic so they can produce a fantastic piece that will be better than whatever is currently out there on this topic.


If you have a title in mind, you may also want to include the exact title of the piece you want written. The topic/keyword likely covers a vast subject area. The title will give your writer more insight into the direction you want to take the post. Without a solid title in place, you are giving your content producer a ton of free reign, which you may or may not want to give.

Word Count

Word count is a vital piece of information for any article you want written. If you were expecting the article to be 1,000 words, but your content writer produced something that was 500 words, you would be upset. By explicitly sharing your word count, or word count range, you can cut down on a lot of frustration.


Next, let's chat about your audience. You need to get detailed about the audience you write for in your content style guide. Let your freelancer or content writer know precisely who you are speaking to. Here are a few things you may want to let your writer know about.


How old is your audience? Do they have a particular age range? Are they millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers? Let your freelancer know.


Depending on the type of content, women and men may perceive your article differently. Does your audience not conform to typical gender norms? There are so many things you may want to explain when discussing gender and your audience.


When it comes to your audience, how do they live their lives? Do you speak to single mothers? Is your page trying to attract athletes? Do you want to help at-risk teens? Help your writer connect to your audience by sharing the lifestyle traits you want them to have.


What is your audience's level of education? Are most of them still in school? Do they have a high school diploma? Maybe they have advanced degrees? Education will let your writer know what level they should be writing content for.

Brand Personality

After you have delved into your audience and their personality, chat about your brand personality. You want to use all these words and phrases you pick below to come up with a solid paragraph explaining your brand and how you see your brands personality.


What tone of voice do you use? Are you stern or silly? Romantic or dramatic? Excited or playful? Delve deep to pull out the mood you want to convey in your articles.

Adjectives To Describe Brand

One cool exercise that will help your writers out a lot is giving them 1-3 adjectives that would describe your brand. Check out this adjective list from Elise Epp Designs if you need some help picking your brand adjectives.

Language Used

You may want to consider some of the ways you speak. Do you use any:

  • Dialect of a language

  • Jargon

  • Purposefully misspelled words


Last, you also need to consider how you want spelling and grammar to be handled in your articles as well as punctuation. Also, do you have any particular citation style you want to use for outside information or extra reading?

Description Of Article

If you want to go into super detail, you may also have a paragraph giving a bit more explanation for the article you want written. This is where you can speak directly on the article, share any headers you want in the article, and give more description of what the finished result would look like.

Secondary Keywords

We know that articles can rank for more than one keyword. If you have some extra keywords that you would like used in the article, be sure to create a section for those keywords. Keep in mind that you don't want to ask for so many secondary keywords that your article becomes a cluttered mess.

Extra Notes

Next, you may want to add a section for additional notes. This is the time at the wedding where you say "speak now, or forever hold your peace." At least for this document, you can always exchange more information outside of this document.

Explain Weird Quirks In Your Brand

This is your last chance to add anything quirky about your brand that we haven't covered yet. If you have anything you can think of, add it here!

Content You Want Linked To In The Article?

Do you have any blog posts that you would like to see linked on this post? You want to add that to the extra notes section, so your writer knows to link this content as one of your internal or external links.

Content Examples

Last, but not least, you want to wrap up by providing some great content examples. Your writers should know what you would consider great content. This section holds even more weight if you can pull from your website. Share 3-5 examples, and make sure to include at least one sample from your website if you can!

What Is A Content Style Guide And What Should You Include In It?

How Should You Deliver Your Content Style Guide?

Now that you have created your content style guide, you may be wondering, how do I deliver this style guide to my freelancer? Well, you can deliver this via Google Drive or as an attachment to an email when you are assigning them work.

Freelancers want to make you happy with the content they produce for you. They won't mind reading through a style guide to make sure they are creating the piece you want. When they can do the article right the first time, this cuts down on a ton of confusion.

Content style guides are beneficial when you are just starting a freelancer relationship. After a while, you probably won't need to hand them a style guide every time, but for the first month or so, deliver the guide with your assignments.

Wouldn't A Great Freelancer Ask All These Questions Anyway?

You may be wondering: wouldn't a great freelancer ask all these questions about my brand anyway? Yes, they may ask you all these questions. So, why is a content style guide still essential? Well, it delivers the answer to common freelancer questions in one, easy to read document.

Instead of looking through a dozen emails to find the answers to these questions, your freelancer can look through a straightforward document to make sure they have everything you want. Best of all, you cut down on having to answer those same emails. Both you and your freelancer's time is valued. You don't have time to answer emails, and your freelancer doesn't have time to send emails.

Instead of waiting for your freelancer to ask the right questions, give them the answers. You will both save a ton of time that way.

What Is A Content Style Guide And What Should You Include In It?

Grab Your Content Style Guide Template

I know that this may be hard to conceptualize, which is why I created a simple to use content style guide template for you. I even filled it in with an example of how I might create a style guide for this blog post.

Do you want your content style guide template?

––>Click Here To Get Your Content Style Guide Template<––

This will take you to a Google Drive document where you will get instructions on how to add this template to your Google Drive!

Extra Resources On How To Create A Content Style Guide

Here are some additional resources for you if you are looking to create a content style guide for your brand.

How To Create A Style Guide For Your SEO Content Writers via Search Engine Land

A Complete Process For Developing A Content Style Guide via GatherContent

MailChimp's Style Guide (MailChimp has a fantastic public style guide that way more in-depth than I could ever cover in this article.)

Steal From These Style Guides. Your Content Will Thank You. via Kapost Blog (For more style guide inspiration)


Let's end this conversation with the following words: your content department needs a content style guide. You will be a lot happier with the content that comes from your in-house and freelance writers. It only takes a few minutes to fill in a style guide for the articles you want created. If you can find a writer to write the article, you can produce a quick style guide for the article.

Get out and create your content style guide!

Have you ever thought about creating a content style guide? Are you going to create one now?

What To Do When Your Content Marketing Efforts Are Not Working

Content marketing is a phenomenal way to get your website seen by more people. We have all heard that content is king, but what if your content marketing efforts are not working? Today's post will walk you through some of the common reasons that your content marketing strategy is not seeing results yet. We have evidence that content marketing can work when used correctly. I have all the faith that you can step up your content marketing game to make it more effective.

What To Do When Your Content Marketing Efforts Are Not Working | Are your content marketing efforts falling short? Many people expect content marketing to work overnight, but that's not the case. Check out these five tips to help you when your content marketing efforts aren't working. #ContenMarketing #Marketing #ContentCreation #Content #Blogging #BloggingAdvice

1. Evaluate Your Promotional Strategy

If your content marketing efforts are not working, you likely need to evaluate your promotional strategy. Are you promoting content at the moment? What does that promotion look like?

I hope that you have added your site to Google Search Console and started a Pinterest account at the very least.  So much traffic comes from a combination of Google and Pinterest, they are both traffic powerhouses!

Other ways to promote your content?

  • Start a Facebook page

  • Get active in Facebook groups

  • Join and answer questions on Quora

  • Step up your Instagram game

  • Use Twitter to your advantage

  • Tell your in-store customers to check out your website

  • Start an email list so you can showcase your new content

  • Send your content to thought leaders to see if they can share it

  • Share your content on your LinkedIn page (with hashtags)

  • Add share buttons to your site to make your content easily shareable

All of these are just the tip of the iceberg as far as a promotional strategy is concerned. It's important to experiment until you find what you are looking for. Even then, keep testing because you don't want to put all your traffic eggs into one promotional basket.

What To Do When Your Content Marketing Efforts Are Not Working

2. Take A Look At The Competition

I am not a fan of comparing yourself to competition all the time, but you can learn from other thought leaders in your industry. If your content marketing efforts are not working, you may need to take a look at what your competition is doing. How are they so successful? Are they digging into a network that you haven't tapped into before?

If your competition has a course, you may want to invest in it. Stop thinking of everyone in the same niche as you as negative competition. More than likely you are targeting a different group of people anyway.

You don't have to worry so much about what other people are doing, but if something works for them, it may work for you.

On the other hand, you have to be willing to experiment. For example, if everyone in your niche seems to focus on creating short blog posts, you may want to go out on a limb and create some longer pieces. Maybe there is a small group of readers in your niche who have always wanted to read longer articles about the industry. Given the right promotional strategy, you could offer those readers just what they wanted.

What To Do When Your Content Marketing Efforts Are Not Working

3. Examine What Your Target Audience Needs

Okay, now it's time to consider the type of content you are creating. When people get into content marketing, they are so focused on how to get everything back to them. In the process, they may create dry content that no one wants to read. If your content marketing efforts are not working, take a look at what you are providing your target audience.

You can use tools like Answer The Public, surveys, and good old-fashioned sleuthing to determine the types of posts your target audience wants to see.

Hang out with your target audience where they are. Likely, members of your target audience are in Facebook and LinkedIn groups, and they are on social media. See what they are talking about, what they are having problems with, and how you can solve those problems.

Yes, you can connect your content to your service offerings throughout the post. You have got to give your potential readers what they want though!

What To Do When Your Content Marketing Efforts Are Not Working

4. Consider Putting Some Money Behind Your Content Marketing Efforts

Okay, I know, money is not something you always want to spend, but it can be extremely beneficial if you do it correctly.

Of all the ways to put money behind your content, I would suggest a Pinterest advertisement. Pinterest users are great because they are active. If you set up your pin correctly, many users are ready to purchase, sign up to email lists, and take their relationship with you past the initial reading stage.

The best part about spending money on Pinterest ads, though, is that they will continue to benefit you even after you stop paying for Pinterest ads. Pinterest is all about rewarding activity, so if your sponsored pin was repinned a bunch, you have the opportunity to go viral with the same pin again and again.

If you still aren't convinced, I encourage you to check out the Pinterest Business page for more information about using Pinterest as an advertising tool.

What To Do When Your Content Marketing Efforts Are Not Working

5. Have Patience

Last, but not least, if your content marketing efforts are not working, wait. This won't be an overnight success story. Sure, some companies and entrepreneurs see results right away, but most people won't.

It's okay if it takes content marketing a little while to stick for your brand.

Continue to put out consistent content that wows your audience. You will eventually see the tables turn!

You have to be willing to be patient with this, though, because it won't be one of those marketing strategies that happens right away. Most marketing strategies take time to develop fully. If a marketing strategy claims take no time at all, it probably isn't the best marketing strategy to invest in.

Making true connections with readers and buyers takes time. You should be wary of any practice that claims you'll be an overnight success!

What To Do When Your Content Marketing Efforts Are Not Working

Conclusion: It's Okay If Your Content Marketing Efforts Are Not Working Yet

If you aren't an overnight thought leader, don't worry! You are not alone in that. Most people will need a while before they can claim to be a popular website or blog. Take your time!

I hope that today's blog has given you some insight into what to do when your content marketing efforts are not working. I know that you will be a successful content marketer, with time.

What are you doing to become a better content marketer?

Need some help with content marketing? Contact me to find out how I can help with your content marketing needs!

How To Plan One Year Of Content For Your Business Blog

Starting a business blog can be such an exhilarating experience. You are excited to put pen to paper and get your blog written and released to the universe. The problem with this? You could quickly run into a roadblock if you are not careful. Today's post will teach you how to plan one year of content for your business blog. I want your blog to be insightful and helpful to your audience no matter your brand. So, stick around as we delve deeper into today's topic.

How To Plan One Year Of Content For Your Business Blog | Creating a blog for your business can be quite difficult. You have other things to focus on, and you want to create content that brings readers and potential buyers to your site. Click through to learn how to plan a year's worth of content for your blog, so you never have to wonder what you need to post. #Content #ContentMarketing #BusinessBlogging

1. Understand Your Audience

The first step you should take to plan one year of content for your business blog is understanding your audience. You cannot create content for an audience if you don't know the audience well.

Here are some helpful ways to understand your audience.

If You Are New: Play To Who You Want Your Audience To Be

You may not currently have an audience, and that's okay. Think about who you want your ideal audience to be. Answer some questions about them:

  • Age

  • Location

  • Gender

  • Hobbies

  • Hangout Spots

  • Concerns/Issues

Dig as deep as you can with that. Ultimately you attract what you put out there, so if you play to this persona that you build, you will get more of those people in your audience over time, if you invest in the promotion of the content you produce.

If You Have An Audience: Get To Know Them

If you already have an audience, get to know them better:

  • Send out a survey

  • Create a Facebook group to hang out with them

  • Schedule one-on-one calls with them

If you already have many people who love your brand, it's up to you to reach out and start the process of connecting with them. You can use the information you gather from these interviews to understand your audience and begin thinking about post ideas.

2. Pick A Posting Schedule

Next, to plan one year of content, you must know how much material to create.

For most blogs, I would suggest 1-3 posts a week, BUT for a business blog, I would recommend one post a week. Why? Well, you have stuff to do and a business to run! You may want to release a bunch at the beginning to build an archive, and then from there only release one a week.

So, this means that you need to produce around 52 pieces of content each year: about 4-5 articles a month.

3. Create A Spreadsheet

Now that you know you need to plan 52 pieces of content, I would encourage you to start a spreadsheet for your planning process. This doesn't have to be an intense process.

Tabs You Need In Your Spreadsheet:

  • Brain Dump: This is where you can dump all your blog post topic ideas. Don't worry about organizing them just yet, just get them out there!

  • Calendar: The next tab should be devoted to a more calendar style look with 4-5 empty slots under each month.

  • Month Breakdowns: You should also have a tab for each month. You can use these tabs to get more involved in the planning process. You may also want to plan more than just blog content, so monthly tabs will make it easier for you to prepare other content like emails, live streams, ebooks, etc.

I love to use an excellent spreadsheet to plan content. If you want to take this to the next level, do the spreadsheet in Google Drive. If you do this in Google Drive, you can easily share your spreadsheet with other team members so they can add and edit it as they please. You can also take Google Drive documents on the go across many devices like your laptop, phone, or tablet which is very helpful if inspiration strikes outside of work hours.

How To Plan One Year Of Content For Your Business Blog | Creating a blog for your business can be quite difficult. You have other things to focus on, and you want to create content that brings readers and potential buyers to your site. Click through to learn how to plan a year's worth of content for your blog, so you never have to wonder what you need to post. #Content #ContentMarketing #BusinessBlogging

4. Plan Monthly Themes (If You Can)

A monthly theme will allow you to create content that interconnects (which is fantastic for SEO) and it will also let you delve deeper into subjects you are discussing on your blogs.

I go into more depth about creating blog post series in a post I am linking as related reading for this section. In that post, I take a deep dive into planning monthly content, and I share how you can create complex monthly themes that make your readers think about the content you are creating. If you are interested in that, I encourage you to check out the post.

Related Reading: How To Plan A Blog Post Series That’s Informative And Helpful For Your Business

Monthly themes will make you think deeper about the content you create. It will also keep your readers coming back for more if they have fallen in love with the theme you are covering that month. Themes are a great way to turn browsers into fans quickly.

5. Start With Evergreen Content

The basis of your business content should be evergreen content. Why? Well, that's the kind of content that will get you noticed year round. Evergreen content will bring visitors to your blog no matter the time of year, and it will help the most people over time.

You don't want to focus too much on gimmicky content, because those visitors are less likely to become fans of your work.

Focus on sharing quality content that will help people year round and content that is in-depth and 1000+ words per post.

Related Reading: What is Evergreen Content? A Guide to Long-Lasting Content That Boosts SEO by Wordstream

When you are thinking of evergreen content, don't think of the following:

  • Content that's time-based: News, for example, wouldn't be evergreen because the most critical news changes all the time

  • Blogs that are stats heavy: Statistics frequently change as people collect more up to date information. If you can include research to back up your posts, that's awesome and not what I'm chatting about here. I am talking about stats roundup posts like "10 Stats You Didn't Know About The Credit Card Industry," those stats will change over time, and your post will become irrelevant.

  • Content that includes products: Websites get new products and old products become obsolete. You would always have to keep these updated to make them even appear evergreen.

Evergreen content should create a steady stream of traffic for your blog. It likely won't give you large upticks of traffic like holiday content will, but it will sustain you throughout the year when holiday traffic is nowhere to be found.

6. Move On To Holidays, Special Events, & Promotions

Holiday content can bring a TON of visitors to your site, but the problem with holiday content is that it comes in waves.

So, if you want to take advantage of holiday content, you may want to lay out each month and produce a piece that will do well in that month.

For example, if you were a beauty company looking to capitalize on the present and future holiday traffic here is what your holiday calendar may look like:

  • January: 5 Tips For Dealing With Dry Winter Skin

  • February: Woo Your Significant Other With These Sultry Valentine's Day Beauty Looks

  • March: How To Spring Clean Your Makeup Bag

  • April: Rain Proof Makeup Ideas That Will Help You Look Beautiful In The Rain

  • May: How To Transition Your Makeup And Skincare Routine From Spring Into Summer

  • June: The 3 Items You Need To Add To Your Makeup Bag That Won't Sweat Off This Summer

  • July: 3 Amazing Lipsticks You Need To Celebrate National Lipstick Day

  • August: 4 Quick Beauty Looks To Master For Back To School

  • September: 5 Pieces That Will Make You Look Like The Queen Of Fall Makeup

  • October: Here Are 6 Halloween Makeup Ideas That Anyone Will Love

  • November: 7 Tips That Will Help You Look Flawless On Thanksgiving Day Without The Hassle

  • December: 8 Extravagant Beauty Looks For Your Upcoming Christmas Party

Once you have a good number of holiday pieces spread out, those pieces will continue to bring in traffic and grow your brand for years to come.

When it comes to holiday or special event traffic, try not to focus on adding years to the content. When you create content that is year specific, it dates your content and makes it hard for it to be taken seriously down the road. Instead, focus on holidays that happen year after year instead.

How To Plan One Year Of Content For Your Business Blog | Creating a blog for your business can be quite difficult. You have other things to focus on, and you want to create content that brings readers and potential buyers to your site. Click through to learn how to plan a year's worth of content for your blog, so you never have to wonder what you need to post. #Content #ContentMarketing #BusinessBlogging

7. Then Consider Frequently Asked Questions

Next, when creating your content calendar, think about the frequently asked questions you get about running your business. You will save SO much time when you can point to a blog post that answers all your audience's questions instead of typing everything out time after time.

You can answer FAQs in a variety of ways:

  • In a roundup-style article where you knock out multiple frequently asked questions.

  • In a standalone blog post where you tackle one issue at a time.

There is no right way to do it, although it'll be easier to keep up with which questions you answered if everyone is given a single blog post. On the other hand, roundup posts are often hard to accomplish if you are only getting a couple of questions at a time.

You want to create content that is helpful and answers your audience questions, though, because once you answer their questions, they will have fewer qualms with ordering from or investing in you.

8. Take A Peek At Past Competitor Content

Next, you may want to look at the type of content that your competitors have done that did wonders for their blog. To do this, use the tool BuzzSumo, it's a paid tool, but you can use the free version to get a certain number of searches per day. You cannot use all the elements of the tool on the free version, but you can see enough to take a peek at your competitor's most shared content in the last year.

Let's take my other blog The Happy Arkansan for example.

From looking at my blog, I might assume that I want to see the following topics if I were another millennial lifestyle/college blog:

  • Self-Care

  • Graduate School

  • Saving Money

  • Creativity

  • Introversion

  • Getting Involved In Class

  • Greek Life

Now, it doesn't mean I would cover those topics, but these are just thought starters for me. I would consider this information, think about what I have experience with, and then find ways to make these topics my own or decide to move forward with other topics in my editorial calendar.

9. Make Sure You Mix Up Content Types

Last, but not least, make sure you are mixing up your content. How to posts get boring if you are releasing them every single week. Throw in some Q&A posts, a case study, a listicle, or some product reviews every blue moon. Do what you can to make sure that your audience never gets bored reading your content, and you never get bored writing it.

Earlier this year, in March, I went further in depth on different content types you can use on your blog. You can read that post below.

Related Reading: Use These 16 Content Ideas To Get High-Quality Traffic To Your Site In 2018 (And Beyond)

How To Plan One Year Of Content For Your Business Blog | Creating a blog for your business can be quite difficult. You have other things to focus on, and you want to create content that brings readers and potential buyers to your site. Click through to learn how to plan a year's worth of content for your blog, so you never have to wonder what you need to post. #Content #ContentMarketing #BusinessBlogging

Conclusion: You Can Plan One Year Of Content

I know you may be scratching your head wondering how you will plan one year of content for your business blog, but it can be done. It may take a lot of upfront planning, but once you have it done, you will thank yourself later.