Think fast: what’s your most valuable resource as a business owner or entrepreneur?
“Money,” you’re probably thinking, or maybe your team. But while it’s true that capital’s necessary and a great team is priceless, there’s another aspect of your business that’s important too. In fact, I would venture to say that it’s one of your most valuable resources –especially if you have a web-based business.
I’m talking about your online content.
“What makes content so valuable?” You may be wondering. Plenty!
As Neil Patel puts it, content’s value is partially due to its “Unique, long-term, compounding effects.” Content is an investment, and it’s one that can benefit your company for years to come. A relevant, evergreen piece of content can often continue to drive relevant traffic for months, and often years after it’s published. Quality content also helps to raise brand awareness, build trust, and establish you as an expert in your niche. It’ll also give you an excellent base that you can create other pieces of content from.
No wonder content marketing is considered to be one of the highest-ROI marketing practices, preceded only by email marketing and SEO.
If you’re depending on paid traffic to increase your audience, you’re facing a losing battle. It’s true that ad spend can be a great way to grow your traffic, temporarily; but it’s best used alongside organic SEO strategies. And with the rising cost of PPC ads on both Facebook and Google, having content can be a far better alternative than having to continually depend on paid traffic, especially since it’s only going to continue to get more costly.
Excellent content can attract new customers to you, and encourage prospects to take action like few other things can. But creating engaging content consistently can be tricky. How can you come up with ideas that your readers are interested in –and find topics that’ll continue to draw them in?
If you’d like to make top-notch content creation part of your marketing strategy (and you should!) here’s a look at some tips for coming up with new, exciting, and relevant content –the kind that your audience is interested in.
- Know Your Ideal ReaderOnce you know who exactly you’re writing for, creating excellent content will be much easier. Start by identifying who your ideal reader is, and pinpoint which type of content they’re interested in. If you haven’t done so already, consider creating a customer persona –or personas. This is a description of who your ideal customer is, what they do, and why they’re in need of your product or service. Then start creating content with them in mind.
- Use Name RecognitionMake name dropping work for you! Take a celebrity or well-known personality –singer, author, actor, football player, you name it, and work them into a title. Then craft an article that ties them both together. Take, for example, Greg Rollett’s clever post The Diddy Guide to Constant Creativity and Relentless Marketing. His article ended up getting Tweeted by Diddy himself to his 2.6 million Twitter followers! It works –and it’s a great way to encourage people to click on your article. Bonus points if you’re a genuine fan of the celebrity that you’re writing about.
- Check What’s Trending to See What’s HotAnother way to create catchy content is by writing a timely post; or touching on things that are trending. Google Trends can be a great tool for scoping out what’s hot, and can give you plenty of ideas for crafting winning content. Say, for example, your company sells bicycle wheels. You can punch that into Google Trends and it’ll show you related topics, as well as related queries –both of which can prove to be a great source of inspiration. Another extremely useful tool that I’d recommend is Answer the Public. With this website, you just punch in your keyword or topic, and it’ll give you other topics that are related to what you’re writing about. You could also have a look at Help a Reporter Out (HARO), a portal that connects journalists and source. It’ll give you a good idea on what writers are looking for.
- Recycle Old ContentYour content can have a very long shelf life; especially when you consider that you can reuse previous content. Once you’ve been blogging for a while, you can easily give new life to older content by sprucing it up and updating the links. In addition to simply updating your content, you can also use a blog post as a springboard for entirely new pieces of content –such as infographics, SlideShare presentations, or YouTube videos. Expound upon one section of your post, or create a how-to in PowerPoint. When you share your new content, post a link back to the original post and keep the traffic rolling in!
- Use Customer FeedbackAddressing customer concerns in your blog content can be a great way to create new, useful content. This type of content is especially good for two reasons. First of all, it’s a great way to create content that you can be certain your audience will be interested in –after all, they asked the question in the first place, so it’s safe to assume that at least a few others are having the same issues. Secondly, it allows you to address real customer concerns in an extremely efficient manner. When someone else contacts you with the same question, you can refer them to the article –or, who knows –they may even find it themselves in Google!
- Guest Posting: Let Someone Else Write ItOutsource the work –let someone else write a post for you. While you probably won’t have people beating down your door to guest post on your blog until you’ve grown in popularity, you could try teaming up with other bloggers for a blog post exchange. You could offer to do a post for them, in exchange for them doing a post for you. It makes a change from the usual work of posting on your own blog, and having guest writers help to lend a level of credibility to your blog. Plus, you will both be able to benefit from cross traffic!
- Do a RoundupTake a leaf out of Letterman’s book and create your own top-ten list. Readers love reading top-tens and other numbered lists, and there’s a good chance that there’s a number of different roundups that you could do if you think about it. For example –you could do a post on the top ten bloggers in your niche, top ten must-haves for the season, or top ten ways to improve your life in some way –featuring your product, of course. Think outside the box, and have fun with it. If you manage to link up to other bloggers, you may be able to benefit from traffic –if they keep your link as a trackback in the comments section.
- Create ListsBut don’t stop there! In addition to top-tens, you can create all sorts of list-type content. Gather content that shows the best examples of something, or create pros and cons lists. You could also curate useful content, or create helpful resource articles. Checklists for task completion are another helpful idea –you could even create a glossary of jargon in your industry, or highlight media –books, TV shows, etc., that are relevant to your niche.
- Do a Case StudyA case study is an excellent way to show the world how valuable your products are. Case studies show real-life examples of how you were able to meet customers’ needs and improve their lives in some way. They’re a great idea for content, and can prove to be especially valuable in terms of drawing in new traffic and encouraging prospects to convert. Not sure where to start? Kissmetrics spells out everything you need to know about writing an outstanding case study.
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- See What Your Competitors Are DoingYou can also check in on your competitors, to see what they’re doing. Have a look at their blogs and see what they’re writing about. Which of their pieces are performing especially well? Which posts rank as their top shared content? What did they neglect to mention in their blog post, that you could cover in yours? Try Googling your competitors yourself, or using Alexa to see which companies are receiving the top traffic in your industry.
Note: While you can get great ideas from your competitors’ sites, don’t copy their ideas directly. Instead, use your competitors to gain inspiration for your own content, and use their content as a starting point for your own ideas.
- Look at FAQsTake a look at your FAQ page, and see if there are any ways that you can expand upon the topics there. You could create a blog post, video, or even an e-book or guide. While you’re at it, take a look at your competitors’ FAQ page –see what people are asking them about their products, and use those questions for ideas to create your own content.
- Read Your CommentsOnce you start blogging, and getting comments –use those to inspire future posts as well. See what people are saying, the different perspectives that they’re offering, and the questions that they have as well. If you don’t have comments yet, try taking a look at your competitors’ blogs.
- Pay Attention to Current EventsYou could also try your hand at “newsjacking” –seeing what’s happening in the news, and finding a way to tie it into a relevant topic. When done right, this can be a great way to create interesting and engaging content, but you’ll want to exercise extreme caution and steer clear of any newsjacking that could be considered forced, awkward, or especially –offensive. For an example of newsjacking done right, look no further than KitKat –when the iPhone 6 Plus came out and were getting bent in people’s back pockets, KitKat quickly jumped onto the news with a funny Tweet –reinforcing their product by cleverly mentioning that KitKats don’t bend –they break. It was relevant and lighthearted; a good approach.
- See What’s Trending in Your IndustryYou could also try keeping up with current trends within your industry. This could be a great way to keep your audience informed, while also helping to establish you as an authority in your niche. While you could simply report the facts, you may also want to consider adding your own take to a piece of news; to give it a unique spin and make it yours.
- Look Through ForumsIf you’re stumped, try perusing the forums. General forums like Quora or Reddit can be great places to find questions that people are asking that are related to your product or service. Or, look for industry-specific forums, keeping an eye out for questions that you can turn into content.
- Tell a StoryWhenever you have a personal account that you can use to illustrate a point, go ahead and share it. We love stories, and tend to remember points better when there’s a narrative attached. First-hand accounts are an especially great way to create engaging content.
- Conduct SurveysNot sure what your customers are struggling with? Ask them! Conducting surveys can be a great way to find out which challenges your customers are facing, providing excellent inspiration for relevant articles. You could even ask them directly which topics they’d like to learn more about. Plus, once you’ve run a survey, you could then create an article publishing the results of the survey (keeping your customer’s data private, of course!). Publishing survey data could help to make you a go-to resource in your industry, you never know when a journalist will pick up the information that you publish and use it in one of their articles. If you don’t currently have an email program, MailChimp makes it easy to send out email surveys.
- Debunk ClichésWe often believe clichés to be factual, just because we’ve heard them so many times. Keep your eye out for well-known sayings or quotes that you feel are false, and share your thoughts in a blog post.
- Write a Tutorial
If you can provide something of value to your readers in the form of a how-to or tutorial, by all means, go for it! This is especially valuable if it’s directly related to something that you’re selling. So if you sell blenders, you could share recipes or professional chef tips. If you sell bicycle parts, you could create tutorials on installing the parts or doing basic bike maintenance and repairs. This is a great chance to offer relevant content, and can also give you a good chance to use long-tail keywords as well, to help draw in more relevant traffic.
- Make a PredictionHave a hunch about the future? Consider fleshing your thoughts out in the form of a blog post. This is an especially good idea for end-of-the-year content, but it could really be done at any time. Take a stab at predicting what changes will take place in your industry in the next year or two. Don’t forget to do a follow-up post!
- Conduct an InterviewLook for a few experts in your niche, and see if you can interview them. You may have better luck if you follow them on Twitter first, and engage with them a bit before pitching to them cold. Try to keep your questions short and to the point. Nothing too long or overly complicated. You could conduct the interview via phone or Skype, or even email if you’re unsure about your interview skills!
- Share Your Own Success StoriesEvery business has an amazing story. Dig deep, remember what it was that compelled you to start your company in the first place, and share that story in a way that will resonate with your audience. A good story will connect with your readers, and help your company to stand out in their mind.
- Bust Some MythsSpeaking of debunking, are there some myths that are currently circulating about your industry or products? Consider creating blog posts to bust some of those myths. Whenever possible, back up your piece with research, examples, and case studies.
- Attend a ConferencePlanning on attending an upcoming conference? You could write about a recent conference that you’ve been to –or one that you’re planning to attend.
- Share Company NewsGot big news to share? Turn it into a compelling blog post. While it can sometimes be a challenge toeing the line between news that’s noteworthy to your readers and pieces that are overtly promotional –if you can find a balance and you’ll have an excellent post.
- Create a GuideIf you’ve been in business for a while, then chances are you have some insider information that you could share. Consider creating a guide that you can offer to your readers as a free download. In exchange for the guide, you could ask your readers to provide you with their email; a great way to grow your mailing list! Just make sure you offer a checkbox that they can click to agree to be contacted by you.
- Share Amazing Facts or DataGot an amazing fact or some data about your industry? I bet you could find one if you searched for it. Sharing and expounding upon mind-blowing facts can be a great way to create engaging content.
- Post Seasonal Content
Tis the season! When a holiday rolls around, use it as an opportunity to create relevant posts. This can be a great way to get picked up in more search results as well. You could do posts for Christmas –for example, a gift-giving guide, for instance. You could also use this tactic for less major holidays –for example, on President’s Day you could compile a list of quotes from previous presidents, and apply them in some way to your business.
Finally, in order for your content strategy to be a success, you’re going to want to plan to succeed from the start. Work to make content creation a central part of your marketing strategy, and plan out an editorial calendar with topic ideas, dates, and post ideas to keep your efforts consistent. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help as well, there’s plenty of ways that you can outsource different aspects of your content creation; allowing you to reap all of the benefits of content, without having to spend every waking moment on it.
All the best with your content creation efforts! Don’t forget to hit me up if you have any questions on content marketing.
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