We all deserve a pat on the back for making it through 2020. It was a rollercoaster of a year and businesses everywhere scrambled to adapt to the chaos, with online content creators serving as shining examples of successful pivots.
You not only adapted, you thrived — and helped the world do so as well.
You helped us get through it all with your resources for working, learning, and teaching from home, your incredible banana bread recipes, your helpful DIY and home improvement how-tos, your remarkable creativity in coming up with new traditions for holidays, your guides for tightening our budgets and stretching our dollars… and so many other ways that meant the difference between folks struggling through the year alone and coming out stronger with the help of an online support network.
As we head into another new year, your contribution to this interlinked community known as the internet matters more than ever!
Much of 2020’s uncertainty lingers on, so we’ve rounded up 5 trends we believe will shape content for 2021 so you can cut through the murkiness and serve your readers well.
You’ll also find a free downloadable content planning calendar for reference as you’re designing your 2021 publishing and promoting schedule! It contains major holidays and trends (and when to start working on them to stay ahead of the curve), and practical tips for each month of the year to help you steadily improve your business.
5 trends that will shape the world of content for 2021
1. Cautious optimism: navigating COVID with hope
Until COVID vaccinations become widely available and adopted, people will begin 2021 with cautious optimism. The winter season may see increased restrictions and lockdowns, so holidays like New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day will likely continue to be different from years past. But as vaccination availability draws closer, people will be feeling increasingly hopeful that an end is in sight.
What you can do
- Continue to help your readers adapt their holiday traditions for the current climate and pivot their plans as restrictions come and go.
- Share positivity and joy when appropriate to help your readers stay optimistic about the future.
2. Prioritizing self-care: taking time to heal from 2020
After the events of 2020, some serious self-care will be needed in 2021. From meditation and mindfulness, to connecting with nature, indulging in at-home spa days, and a renewed focus on health and nutrition, self-care isn’t a one-size-fits-all activity. People will be exploring what it means to them, giving you the opportunity to really own self-care for your audience.
Self care searches have been popular recently, with people looking for:
- Self care ideas
- Self care gifts
- Self care tips
- Self care activities
- Self care Sundays
What you can do:
- Share tips and routines for self-care and dealing with stress.
- Help readers who want to use the new year as motivation to get happier and healthier.
- Make sure to take care of yourself first! Rest and relax when needed. It’s been a stressful year and we all need some time to recover.
3. Indulging in normalcy: enthusiasm and anticipation for a return to “normal”
As soon as it’s widely safe to do so, people are likely to be eager to throw themselves into the things they’ve had to abstain from. More parties, more trips, more hugs, more get-togethers!
It’s likely not going to happen all at once. It may be quite a while before we are able to do things like travel internationally again, but we anticipate that once restrictions lift and people feel comfortable, they will be extra enthusiastic to partake in all the joys they’ve had to live without this past year.
What you can do:
- Share ideas for what people can do once things start getting back to “normal”.
- Watch for the right time to help your readers plan their next fun trip, share fun outings they can do with their friends, and help them throw their kid’s next big birthday party.
4. Post-pandemic cleanse: will it stay or will it go?
The pandemic changed a lot of things — it shifted working and learning from mainly in-person to larger remote, accelerated tech adoption, increased online shopping, and boosted at-home cooking and DIY skills around the world.
So what changes are here to stay, what will revert back, and what will return to some sort of in-between?
Only time will tell, but we believe a lot of the changes that relate to increased convenience (like online shopping and delivery) and reduced effort (like avoiding frequent long commutes) may be here to stay.
What you can do:
- Stay at the forefront of changes that relate to your audience so you can help them adapt to the changing state of the world.
- If remote work and learning become a more permanent part of society, continue to help your readers create at-home offices, sanctuaries, and healthy routines.
- Think about how you can blend old and new habits to help people adapt to life after COVID.
5. Tech-tonic shifts: digital adoption vaults forward
There was an astronomical acceleration in digital adoption as a result of this pandemic. We were vaulted into the future (some say as many as five years ahead of our pre-COVID trajectory), and we anticipate that the increased use of technology is a relic of the pandemic that is here to stay.
From tele-medicine to smart speakers, and online shopping to remote learning platforms, technology is bringing people together in new, faster ways.
What you can do:
- Stay abreast of the latest tools being developed and released so you can share with your audience.
- Help your readers adopt this new technology.
- Look for ways to implement new platforms and technologies into your own business. The start of a new year is a great time to take stock of the technology you’re currently using, the world of possibilities out there (especially new developments), and find a few new tools to test over the course of the new year. And right now is the perfect time to squeeze in any final 2020 business expenses.
Download your free 2021 content planning calendar!
We’ve put together a 2021 content calendar for you with tons of monthly trends and events along with suggestions for when to plan, publish, and promote your content.
It’s hard to know exactly what 2021 may look like (see: ongoing pandemic), but 2020 has shown us that people are still interested in traditions, normalcy, and finding new ways to enjoy their typical seasonal/established events — so stay flexible in your execution, but the broad strokes should stay the same.
Grab the free download at the end of this post!
5 quick tips for planning out your 2021 content calendar:
1. Publish early: To help capture the most traffic, make sure you’re planning and publishing your content well in advance of major holidays and events to help increase your search rankings for the season. In general, make sure to publish content two months in advance and update as necessary leading up to the holiday.
2. Update regularly: Perform regular audits of your existing content to update outdated posts as well as identify content gaps you can fill with new content. Publishers that take the time to do this often see greater site health, increased pageviews, and better revenue.
3. Leverage your data: Study your data and performance metrics to identify ways to boost your performance. If there’s a platform you’re not as familiar or comfortable with, try picking one month and making it a goal to increase your knowledge of that one tool.
For example, check out RPM by Page in your publisher dashboard and use that to inform your marketing strategy, promoting those higher-earning posts. Our RPM by Page video walkthrough can give you all the tools you need to improve RPMs!
4. Do your research: Taking the time to do thorough keyword research upfront and analyzing your Google Console ranking data, can help you get the most out of your time and effort when creating new content. Sign up for Hashtag Jeff’s SEO Mastermind course (free for AdThrive publishers) and check out our Keyword Research module from our Creativity & Data course for tons of helpful tools and best practices.
5. Be agile: Flexibility is critical this coming year. We’re all in a state of flux, unable to predict the future, so be ready to adjust your content plan. Changes are likely to occur as a result of lockdowns and restrictions as well as vaccination releases, and whatever else 2021 has in store. Planning up front is incredibly valuable, but so is being willing to push pause on your plan and pivot so you can provide your readers with the content they need. It’s why they love you so much!