The best secret for stellar content creation is simple: get started.
Truthfully, one of the biggest hangups to a great content marketing program is inertia and fear of making mistakes.
The fact is, a lot of the heavy lifting for content creation happens in the content marketing strategy, goal-setting, and persona-building stages. If you’ve laid a well-thought and thorough plan through those stages, you’re off to a great start already.
Content creation becomes fairly straightforward once you’ve built a solid foundation for your content marketing. It’s a matter of choosing the topics, types, and media that will frame your content and building those elements into a content calendar (Don’t have one yet? Get our template here) that allows you to create that content at a steady cadence.
Starting Content Creation
When starting the creation phase, it’s important to remember that “content” can be a lot of things. Let’s look at a few examples:
- Blog post – Written content, typically conversational in tone & voice, that allows you or your company to provide insights on relevant topics.
- Article – Written content, typically more formal than a blog post, that may cover a topic relevant to your company’s products/services in a general, non-salesy way.
- White Paper – Thought leadership much more substantial that articles and blog posts that deep dive into topics related to your industry. A white paper should offer unique and key insights into trends, projections or market research surrounding that topic.
- eBook – This one is tricky because it can really be almost any type of content – or combination of content pieces – packaged as an online book. Lengths, tone & voice, and themes can vary widely.
- Videos – That’s right, content is more than only written word. Product videos can discuss specific product details. Topical videos educate and inform viewers on a topic or trend. Animated videos can combine education and entertainment or be tied to a specific campaign. You can even produce fairly casual videos that simply allow viewers to get to know you and/or your brand on a more personal, interactive level.
- Infographics – Infographics are visual presentations of data or other information. Infographics can be used as standalone pieces or to highlight key takeaways from another piece of content. These are ideal for sharing across social media.
- Podcasts – Audio content that users can download to their computer or a portable media player. Podcasts are often created as a series and many businesses ask users to subscribe and receive the newest podcasts delivered directly.
There are a variety of other content pieces that can be utilized as part of a content marketing campaign, but these are some of the most popular ones.
If you already have a list of topics or trends you want to cover, the next step is to consider how best to tell those stories. Some topics and themes are best done as blog posts, while others lend themselves better to visual media. Others (like Q&As or interviews) might do best as a podcast. This will require a merging of data; take into account how your personas prefer to consume content as well as what media type works best for each of your topics.
Streamlining Content Coordination
As part of your strategy, you defined who owns which responsibilities. Depending on how your company is organized, this could be a combination of internal resources and external vendors. Make sure that everyone has access to the content calendar as well as a clear understanding of what is needed to complete content creation on time.
It can be helpful to have bi-weekly content marketing meeting to make sure everyone is on the same page with content creation and also to share new ideas. Once your content marketing program becomes a well-oiled machine, this will also be the time where people can report back on results, share insights learned during the process and map out new tests to try. Effective content marketing depends upon collaboration and idea-sharing.
Keeping the Content Ideas Flowing
Once you get rolling, you may decide you want to try exploring other topics or themes with your content. Or you may just fall into a slump where generating new ideas seems impossible. Not to worry; there is a world of content ideas at your fingertips, and you may not even know it:
- Interviews/Q&As – this can include internal interviews with your company’s subject matter experts, Q&As of outside experts in your field, or interviews with your customers. Either way, collect as many insights as possible. You can then directly publish the interview or use it to spur additional content ideas.
- Check your inbox – some of the greatest blog articles & how-to guides were borne in an email thread. Scour customer service inquiries or other customer email exchanges. Is there a topic or question that comes up often? Use this as blog, FAQ, or Knowledge Base fodder.
- Commission Research – Authoritative content is backed by data. At times, it can be based on secondary data drawn from web research. Other times, it can be helpful to conduct primary research. It sheds light on prominent industry issues and positions you as an authoritative master of the topic at hand.
- Survey People – You can gather a ton of insights from your target audience through email or web-based surveys to subscribers/customers. These insights can be repurposed into blog posts, white papers, email campaigns, social media graphics and press releases.
Another thing to remember is that content can be repurposed. You may put together the fiercest ebook, but it doesn’t stop there. You can take chapters from that ebook and repurpose into individual blog posts or infographics to share on social media. A podcast Q&A can also live on your blog as a transcript with some added context to frame the conversation. And informational email exchanges between your team and a customer can even turn into a “How To” blog post or an FAQ. Get creative and think outside the box to see where existing content can be massaged into something new and interesting.
Remember that experimentation is important in content creation. As you create and promote different types of content, you’ll begin to see what works and what doesn’t. Take chances. Try new things. As you measure the success of your content marketing program, you can pivot and adjust based on what analytics are telling you.
Test, tweak, and test more. A good rule of thumb is to designate about 10% of your content for experiments. Fail fast and often, and make the necessary adjustments to your content marketing program. The beauty of content marketing is that you can make mistakes relatively inexpensively. This offers ample room to step outside of your comfort zone and stand out as an innovative leader.