Marketing is quite a bit like farming – planting seeds, nurturing, and seeing results grow and bear fruit down the road. In content marketing, planning out a content strategy takes cues from gardening. Just like your yard or garden needs a mix of annual flowers and perennial plants, your content needs a mix of the new, time-sensitive (annuals) and the foundational, time-less (perennials and evergreens).
If you have a yard, garden, window box in your apartment, or spent any time watching HGTV or reading Better Homes + Gardens … you know the terms evergreen, perennial, and annual. They’re in every garden book and on all the tags at garden centers.
Mostly so your yard isn’t bare brown and empty during the winter or a monotone green with no pops of color in other seasons. Not that there’s anything wrong with green! But color and variety are more interesting and pleasing. Not to mention the variety helps birds, bees, critters and our environment.
And you don’t want your blog to be bare, to only post quote memes or National Chocolate Day posts, or have to constantly be creating content. You need a content mix that's as varied as a good garden.
While annual flowers are bright, showy, glorious colorful bloomers – they last only one season. You have to replant those Marigolds, Zinnias, Petunias or Begonias every spring/summer. Many gardeners love getting cheap flats of fun annuals and digging in every year. Or buying a pre-done hanging basket or pot with good-to-go (that’s likely me) every season.
You have “annuals” content like this too
It's entertaining, fun, eye-catching, and very time-sensitive. Not long-lasting. You ‘re-plant' it often.
Think most Instagram posts, Reels, TikTok, a lot of Facebook posts. In fact, most of social media is ‘annuals’ style content – all about grabbing fast attention. Sharing news, events, hot takes, even some opinion pieces – none of that is evergreen or timeless but it gets attention and helps our audience, Heck, it’s often showy, colorful, fun to look at just like those annual bursts of color in your yard.
You’re constantly re-doing, creating, posting this kind of content. We need these posts, but we can’t rely or build a content garden around just these types. But it’s part of the content mix. Just like a yard looks better with some pops of color.
Also beware of the lifespan of your social posts. Just like annual flowers can get wilted, brown, leggy, or die of lack of water, your social posts have relatively short lives. It’s great to use social media scheduling tools, including ones that let you re-cycle and reshare content (I like MeetEdgar, SocialBee and SmarterQueue for doing this). But you don’t repeat the exact same posts forever. Even if you have a social post leading to an evergreen blog article or product, do create completely new social posts for these types of articles or products, basing what you say on current interests and trends, rather than yesteryear’s focus.
Then you have my garden staples and favorites – perennials. Long-living, come-back- reliably, plant-once-look-good-forever, I-can’t-kill-them plants. Ok, sure some perennials are really only great for 3-5 years. But others keep going. I have some “knock-out” roses in front that are probably in year 15+ and bloom nicely every summer. Without me ever doing ANYTHING. I love my lilacs – the gorgeous purple and heavenly scent. I do nada but enjoy.
Let’s turn to ‘perennial content’ …
Do you have seasonal topics in your niche? Parenting coaches can have timely tips for back-to-school, for summer break, and school vacations. Easy to refresh and reshare at key times of year. Different biz owners could talk about organizing, clearing out digital files, even website maintenance around ‘spring cleaning’ or even New Year’s.
Think about blog posts you have that you wrote a few years ago that still bring you traffic. Posts about topics (ahem – like evergreen content) that are kind of timeless and still hold true one, two, five years later – maybe with a little pruning or refreshing. [psst – that link is to a HubSpot article on evergreen content – from 2014 and it’s still relevant! Evergreen at work]
You could create some ‘perennial’ social media posts as well – customer testimonials, behind the scenes looks at your business, tips, how-to’s or other educational content that you can rotate through the year. If there are key National Day of X topics for your niche, why not reuse the graphics when those dates come back around next year?
The shrubs and trees that look good 4 seasons of the year. Pines, spruces, cedars and more. My neighbor has a line of various small-medium evergreens as the ‘fence’ between our yards. Much nicer than an actual fence.
Or like my holly bushes, bright green under their coating of snow. They would look better if we hadn’t wound up with all female bushes and no ‘dudes’ nearby – no berries (look it up – there are male and female hollies!) But they are sturdy, give nests to birds outside my window, and balance some of the other plants and flowers.
In our content mix we have evergreen content as well –
It's like perennial content but it can last even longer. These are the foundational content pieces, sometimes known as core or content pillars, that you can build around. Key blog posts that get lots of Google love and bring traffic for years. It’s better to have quality content than lots of mediocre posts with no staying power.
You can have evergreen blog posts, videos, self-study courses, and workshops even. Your automated welcome and nurture series of emails to welcome new subscribers should have evergreen info and an evergreen offer. There are software options to turn webinars ‘evergreen’ and have them run anytime a participant signs up rather than waiting for your next live event.
Just like evergreen trees and shrubs – this long-lasting content can stay fresh with good care and pruning.
Yes, you’ll need to update your content, especially if it includes any facts or stats. Check that links still work. Add a new example.
And … when you update, note the date when you updated it – then you can republish, reshare, and re-promote that content. Get new eyes on it. And new subscribers to your email list because of course your best, evergreen content all have opt-in forms or content upgrades with them right? 😉[Hey: scheduling and setting aside time to go over content and do a content refresh is a necessary part of business and marketing. What are your top blog posts? Do you have outdated content that needs pruning? Need to fix broken links to keep perennial or evergreen content working? I do this work regularly. If you’re stumped on where to start or how to tackle a content refresh – you need my pal Kelly McCausey’s Content Refresh Challenge.]
Are you using all the content types in your business?
More importantly – are you leveraging the perennial or evergreen content? Or are you too reliant on the showy, one-and-done annual types?
And as you plan this quarter– and longer-term – think about what your gardening content mix should look like.
What are the evergreen topics in your niche and business?
For example, you’re a parenting coach for families with kids younger than teens – bedtimes, meal times, toddler tantrums, and homework battles are evergreen topics
The latest public health news or guidance is not evergreen – it’s time-sensitive, fleeting and at best an ‘annual’ type of content.
Talking about starting school or going back to school could be a ‘perennial’ topic.
What are the evergreen content types you feel most comfortable creating and sharing?
Maybe you want to create epic, deep-dive guide blog posts. Only a handful a year, but so good they will work for you for years. Or you prefer a mix of case studies and reviews as your evergreen pieces.
Sit down to look at your content strategy, next 30-90 days, think about your ‘garden’ or mix of content.
Can you create a foundational piece that will be timeless and good for months and years to come? What about some supporting pieces – a related blog post, a graphic, videos that are not time-sensitive – some perennial content. Then fill it out with the timely, eye-catching pieces of content – emails, social media posts, maybe live videos.
I did a Facebook Live video about this topic … while the video was ‘annual’ content at the time … it’s on an ‘evergreen’ topic. So I can embed the video in this post and now it lives on.
Do you look at your email opt-ins as part of your perennial or evergreen mix? Is everything thrown out there and you’re just hoping it blooms or grows?
Answer common questions from your audience – if you hear a question multiple times, there’s a good chance others have the same question too. And they are Googling it – so be one of the answers they find. Perfect for blog posts, but also emails and videos.
List posts are still popular as well as round-ups of key resources on a topic. Some bloggers have made the ‘ultimate guide’ their core content – deep dives on a common question, breaking things down step-by-step. Neil Patel is known for these deep dive posts, or see his his combo list/round-up style like 20 success lessons from top marketing blogs. At his previous sites like QuickSprout and Kissmetrics (see their guide on calculating conversion rates) the guides keep answering questions on digital marketing and bringing traffic for years.
They’re great opt-in gifts, in part because they can be evergreen. They answer questions in bite-size, easy-to-read way. Think of 5-9 items that people can easily follow, cross off, and get quick wins. Much longer than that and you lose your reader. You could use Canva to easily create a very attractive checklist that people would want to print and keep. I also love giving checklists in shared Trello boards.
If you have examples, maybe original research, or a client success story – share as a case study (or a white paper to download if that suits your audience). Results framed as a story show your expertise and the results you bring to your customers and clients
These don’t have to be deep or wordy but they are often comprehensive. A one-stop-shop place for your audience to come to – for top tools, best websites, best gadgets in your niche; define common terms your niche uses. Glossaries don’t seem sexy, but they are long-lived evergreen content. If you attract a lot of beginners in your niche, you’re doing a big favor to educate and show the way. For example, Search Engine Journal has an SEO Glossary of 200+ terms. I created an A-to-Z marketing terms glossary for library marketing professionals on my other biz site. Resource pages are good spots for affiliate or referral links to the products, books, and courses you use most and want to recommend to your people. Note – this is a page, not a blog post.
Other options for perennial or evergreen content may include: books, interviews, best practices, tutorials, your history or your story, and product reviews.
To save time and energy in content creation and marketing, think of what can be the perennial and evergreen content pieces in your business’s content garden.Do you have an existing blog posts that are older but still getting traffic? Can you refresh them and make them more perennial and visible? Get them working even harder in the garden to attract visitors.
What do you want to be known for? What do you want to use to attract the best birds, bees, and people to your spot? Consider creating a hub or easy way to see and find the best, sturdiest, most evergreen content you have so your visitors can easily find it. Plant or create a few core pieces, that if tended to, watered, pruned and refreshed, will be attractive and productive for much time to come.
I wish you much success in developing a green thumb for content planning, just like in gardening.
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