No pressure! This got me thinking though:
How do you maintain a high standard of content, and what do you do if the well runs dry?
As if by magic, I had the topic for my next post. Then all I needed was a catchy title…and a GIF or two, ’cause everyone loves those, right?
For the sake of clarity, and the purposes of this post, when I say “content” I am referring to written material published online. Primarily, I’ll be talking about blogs and articles, but it can also be applied to other formats.
When I say “good”, I mean content that serves its purpose, which might include: boosting SEO, increasing website traffic, stimulating debate, social media engagement, greater brand awareness, new subscribers, lead generation and sales.
As with most things in business, developing a methodology and process is key. There is more than one way to skin the content cat, and I’m no self-proclaimed expert. However, here’s my thinking.
1. Content Marketing Strategy
Without a strategy, you are playing the content marketing equivalent of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Sure, you might have a great idea, even write a brilliant post, but if it isn’t of interest to your audience, or doesn’t help your business reach its goals, you’re missing the point.
To decide on a strategy you need to do some research and analysis:
- Why are you creating content? What is it you want to achieve?
- Who is it for? What are their needs, desires and interests? What are their pains and problems?
- How is your content going to help?
You can really narrow down these answers to create very specific pieces of content for certain personas, or you can write more broadly and cover a topic that appeals to a range of people in your audience.
For example, some of my earlier blog posts were tailored specifically with SEO (why) in mind. I wrote about a range of topics covering my core services, and relevant to a small business owner (who). I tried to make them useful by offering tips that could be easily implemented in their business (how).
This was my content’s raison d’être (“oooh”, I hear you say). If it doesn’t have one, you’re probably wasting your time. There’s way too much competition for attention and saturation.
Content created on the cheap just for the sake of it (because content marketing works for other businesses and you said you’d post a new blog every day) is unlikely to go far.
NB – the terms content marketing strategy and content strategy are often used interchangeably, but can be considered separate. I’m not going to explain here, so will lazily point you in this direction.
2. Content Plan
From the type of content you want to produce, to the topics you want to write about, and the frequency with which you publish, having a plan is important. This naturally follows the first step, because hopefully, in researching and formulating a strategy, you’ve already had plenty of ideas.
Having a bank of ideas and topics to choose from, and perhaps even a logical progression that forms a series (think buyer/user journey), means you can plan and schedule your content.
You may not stick rigidly to your content plan, but setting realistic targets for creating it will get you subconsciously thinking well ahead of time.
I have a target to publish two blog posts a month, but with a bare minimum of one. I plan ahead, brainstorm ideas and do extra research on the topics I want to write about (keeping my strategy in mind).
You’ll also need a plan to get your content out there once you’ve created it. Apart from publishing it on your website, how will your audience find it?
- If you’re sharing it on social media, which platforms does your audience use, and at what times? Here’s some research on the time part, although I’d recommend doing your own testing.
- Perhaps via an authoritative platform such as Medium, or through the publishing function on LinkedIn. Or a newsletter, if you have a list of people that have given consent for your content.
- Through guest blogging, networking and finding other businesses with mutual interests.
Planning is what gives structure to your content marketing strategy. It helps you avoid going off on a content tangent.
3. Content Writing
This is the fun part; where the magic happens. Well, that’s what I like to think. If you’ve followed steps 1 and 2, then you should be all set.
Of course having a strategy and plan doesn’t guarantee you’ll create good content. Here are some examples of things that help:
- Be original. Chances are, your topic has been covered, but using others’ work for inspiration is very different to duplicating it (which is also bad for SEO).
- What can people take away from your post? Are they better off for reading it? Ask and answer questions. These things make people engage and take the desired action.
- Be clear and concise. No matter your style or audience, unnecessary words will always be just that.
Even following the steps above, there are times when I get stuck. Writer’s block, or whatever you want to call it. I repeat, do not force out content just for the sake of it.
Read, watch, and listen to others. Talk to people in your field on social media, in groups, or in person. Ideas can come when you least expect it.
If I come across content on a relevant topic that inspires me, I bookmark it for future reference. If inspiration comes out of the blue, I make notes and see where I can fit the new idea into my plan.
Another approach is to analyse your previous posts. What worked well, and what didn’t. Can you expand on an older piece? What made it good, and can you apply it to your next post?
There is no magic formula. It’s simply about providing the right content, to the right people, at the right time.
It’s crucial for your content to reflect the passion you have for your business. This will come across to your audience, and make them believe what you are saying.
If you can achieve this, whilst following the steps I’ve outlined, I reckon your answer to the title question will be “YES!”.
How do you keep coming up with good ideas and content for your business? Do you have a different process? Let me know in the comments.