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Anyone can sit down and write a ‘standard’ blog post, they could even whip up a ‘great’ piece of content if they’re lucky; but creating ‘amazing’ content, that takes time, dedication, and effort. It requires an in-depth understanding of your audience, goals, and your own personal talent. However, that’s not to say you can’t do it. Read on for six top tips on how you can create remarkable content.
A brief word of thanks: Many thanks to Matthew Barby, who recently sat down with the Koozai Content Team and shared his wisdom. Many of the tips and tricks shared below are adapted from his talk. For more information on Matthew, please don’t hesitate to visit his blog.
Before you begin, take a long hard look at what you actually want to achieve with your Content Marketing. Develop SMART goals in order to guide your content creation process, and refer to these goals throughout the project to ensure that you stay on track. We’ll look more at aligning your goals with your content later on, so without further ado, let’s begin:
You can’t create outstanding content without first understanding who’s going to be reading it.
A quick Google search will give you a wealth of tips about [cliché alert] “being where your audience are”, and whilst that’s all very well, there’s a lot more to audience research.
It’s time to stop viewing your audience as one large entity, and take a closer look at exactly who they are in relation to your brand.
Segment your audience into four separate categories:
By separating the people you are targeting into different categories, you’ll be able to target specific content types to certain groups for maximum impact.
Identifying customers is easy (simply check your own records), but if you’re unsure of how to find the other groups, you can use tools like Buzzsumo, Uprise.io and Followerwonk to analyse the people who are sharing relevant content related to your brand. Simply input topics or key phrases related to your industry and record who’s sharing the top-performing content.
It doesn’t stop there though.
It’s time to get as specific as possible with audience profiling.
Use social tools like Facebook Insights, Pinterest Analytics, and LinkedIn Groups (especially for B2B audiences) to gain valuable insights into your audience’s likes, dislikes and other interests. These are rich resources of information, so ensure you spend time exploring these channels further.
You can also use tools such as the YouGov Profiler to flesh out your profiles even further.
Knowing who it is you’ll be targeting, and what makes them tick, will allow you to better develop winning ideas that will actually click.
Once you’ve uncovered who you’ll be targeting, you can begin interacting with, and [cliché alert] ‘building relationships’ with relevant people.
It’s never too early to start outreaching to your audience. You can build interest and awareness amongst your existing fans by teasing content via email newsletters and social media. But how can improve your chances of successful outreach to those who aren’t already connected with your brand?
There are a number of ways to connect with your audience, including engaging with communities.
If you’re planning to create an amazing piece of content, you should use the following opportunities to connect with your audience, both online and off.
All these places are filled with avid fans of your industry. Engaging with these people, and establishing your presence in the community, gives you a better chance when it comes to successfully getting content picked up at a later date.
However, this can take months of planning and effort, and you’re probably wondering whether there’s something you can do immediately to help increase your chances. Well, you’re in luck.
Before you begin any work, contact those key influencers and publishers you’ve collected together and discover exactly what it is they’re looking for content-wise.
Larger publications might even have an editorial calendar that they can send to you, detailing exactly what topics they’ll be covering over the next year.
You don’t need a calendar to tell you what is and isn’t a good idea though; sometimes the best thing to do is simply ask the journalist/blogger/publisher what kind of content they’d be looking for. This works especially well later on down the line, when you’re trying to validate an idea; however it can also be applied to your early outreach activity.
Clarifying what content key influencers are interested in, will give you a strong indication of the kinds of topics, formats, and platforms you should be covering and using.
Discover more outreach techniques in this fantastic SlideShare deck from the nice folks over at BuzzStream:
Now for my favourite part, developing ideas for amazing content.
It can be hard to come up with awesome ideas without first researching what has worked before.
Carry out industry research to discover what has, and hasn’t, worked in the past:
Once you’ve found all of this inspirational content, and identified top themes and topics that you should be following, ensure you record it all.
Collect together all your findings in one handy Excel spreadsheet, so you can easily refer back to them later on and use your information to further influence future content plans.
Another great way to come up with ideas is to find a problem to solve…
You don’t suddenly have to try and solve every problem at once, simply identify small issues within your industry, and develop content that solves these dilemmas.
This doesn’t have to consist of simple ‘How To’ articles either (although those are always helpful), there are plenty of different ways to solve your users’ issues.
Let’s take a look at a quick example:
Problem: First-time homeowners need a way to calculate the mortgage costs on their new property, but many of the online calculators are too technical and off-putting.
Solution: A back-to-basics, first time homeowners’ guide, complete with a simple interactive calculator and walkthrough containing everything you need to purchase your first home.
An example of this method in practise is Simply Business’s ‘Small Business Guides’. These are a collection of interactive resources that teach SMEs everything they need to know about establishing a presence online.
Detailing how to get set up and started with everything from Facebook to Google My Business, these guides are the ideal solution to a problem many businesses face.
Simply Business clearly identified the needs of small businesses who were looking to expand their brand on the Internet, and developed these easy to follow, flow-chart guides to offer their expertise.
So, how can you identify the main issues within your industry?
Start by doing the obvious, listen to your customers.
Remember those forums, communities and Reddit threads you joined as part of your audience research? Go back through them and find out what your audience are saying about your brand, your industry, and products or services related to your business.
You can also take to social media, searching hashtags of popular topics within your sector to uncover exactly what your audience think about your brand, and identify any major issues.
Alternatively, you could use a platform like Quora, on which people pose questions for experts to answer, to discover more about what people are looking for. Search for your key influencers’ on Quora to see whether they’ve helped answer any questions related to your industry, then use their answer to inspire ideas for your content.
It’s important to remember that at the current moment in time, any idea has the potential to be a great one. Even if it’s something that’s been done already, you can always adapt and differentiate your content by tailoring it towards your specific audience, or expanding upon certain information. It’s important to focus on ideas, not formats. Formats can change – ideas are bulletproof.
If you’re still struggling to come up with ideas, this article contains a number of creative ideation techniques which should help spark your imagination, and Moz also have this fantastic post on brainstorming killer content ideas, should you need more inspiration.
This is where we weed out the bad ideas and select the cream of the crop to ensure that you’re creating relevant, shareable content.
If you can’t validate your idea then you cannot proceed – Matthew Barby
There are a number of questions you should ask yourself in order to validate your content, these include, but are in no way limited to:
Allow another work colleague, one who’s not directly connected to the account, to review your best ideas, and ask them for their honest opinion. It’s easy to get a little too attached to your own work sometimes, so having an impartial opinion will allow you to validate your ideas without bias.
If you can answer “yes” most of the questions above, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
You should have already clearly outlined SMART goals for your content before you’ve begun the ideation process, detailing what you want to achieve with your content marketing.
Compare these goals to the ideas you’ve come up with. Do they complement each other?
At the end of the day, you’re creating content to meet your goals, so ensuring they’re aligned is paramount.
Once you’ve narrowed down your ideas and selected your very best, it’s worthwhile creating an editorial calendar to help showcase how your content will develop over time. This will help you and your team stay on track throughout the project, and give you a clear idea of what you should be doing at all times.
Once your ideas have been validated and aligned to your goals, you can begin the creation process.
When it comes to creating amazing content, you’re only limited by two things: your imagination and your budget.
It’s time to take the wealth of ideas you’ve developed, and create something awesome. Don’t feel limited by your skillset; it doesn’t matter if you’re not a fantastic illustrator or videographer, you can always find freelancers who are happy to lend their expertise for a price.
Alternatively, Digital Marketing agencies such as Koozai offer comprehensive Content Marketing packages that are tailored to suit your business, and can develop all sorts of content to meet your needs.
Decide which format(s) will work best with each idea, and utilise the relevant talent. Below I’ve included a brief summary of some of the major content types, but once again, this is only a guideline. If you’ve got an idea for a piece that works well with your audience, and you’ve got the budget to carry it out, then the sky is your limit.
This type of content includes, but is not limited to:
When it comes to writing a blog post or similar content, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure it has the desired impact. Step one is making sure your headline gets noticed.
You should think of your headline as the bait on the end of your fishing rod. Whilst you need the rest of the rod to pull the fish in, it’s the bait that makes them bite.
We’ve covered how to create killer headlines numerous times here on the Koozai blog, but the key elements you need to remember are:
Neil Patel and Joseph Putnam created a fantastic in-depth instruction manual on crafting attention-grabbing headlines as part of their definitive guide to copywriting, and it’s well worth a read.
Plus you can find out more about creating catchy headlines in the following video:
Whilst it’s all well and good knowing what makes brilliant headlines, it’s also important to understand why headlines sometimes fail; and if you’re going to learn, you might as well learn from the worst.
Still, the headline is only the start. Once you cracked that, it’s time to focus on the body text.
There’re plenty of ways to craft the perfect blog post, and many of these skills can be applied to other forms of content as well.
As an overview, try to weave a story through your content, take the reader on a journey from a-z, and ensure you provide whatever you promised in your title. To improve readability, use a mix of text and images, and break the article into chunks using subheadings.
Buffer have written up a comprehensive guide to creating the perfect blog post, which is essential reading for any content creators out there.
For more information, you can also view this helpful video guide:
Visual and interactive content can include, but is in no way limited to:
I know what you’re thinking: “Infographics are so 2013!” But be that as it may, they are still a great way to portray ideas in a digestible and (most importantly) shareable fashion.
Utilising visual or interactive mediums is a fantastic way to enhance your content and improve the chances of it having a real impact. But before you steam ahead and blow your entire budget on a fancy video, remember to factor in your audience.
Are they the kind of people to want to share your visual work? Do they frequent the sites relevant to this kind of content? Is your content, in this format, easy for users to pick up and share?
If you answered yes to all of the above, you can proceed with the creation process; but first, check out this awesome SlideShare deck on why visual Content Marketing works, courtesy of Danny Blackburn from Stickyeyes.
And for even more information on why interactive content is awesome, feast your eyes on this Koozai TV video:
The above information should provide everything you need to create amazing content.
You’re close to the final hurdle now. You’ve watched your ideas grow and develop into awesome content, and you’re ready to share it with an active and interested audience. However, before you succumb to the excitement and hit publish, take a second to pause and review.
Have an external source, whether it be a trained colleague, or a paid service, proof your work; checking for any spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors. It’s well worth having an expert do this properly (instead of simply relying on your partner to quickly spot-check your content the night before the deadline), as they’ll be able to offer constructive comments on how to maximise the readability of your content, ensuring the best possible product is delivered to your audience.
With the final piece proofed and ready to be set live upon the world, it’s time to determine how the article will be published.
If you’re creating a guest feature, then you should have a guest blog lined up and ready to receive the post, having carried out the outreach before the promotion process.
Even if you haven’t secured a guest spot, there are plenty of external sites that allow users to publish content, each with their own variations on content types.
Don’t just feel limited by one site though, your content can always be repurposed and redeveloped to suit different sites. However, when publishing to external sources, ensure that the platform is not only relevant to your users, but also frequented by the people you’re targeting as well. For example, BuzzFeed may not be the best place for a Scientific Journal.
If you’re publishing on your own blog, there are several questions you should ask yourself:
Which format will you use?
This should have already been decided in the creation process, but you may want to double-down and repurpose the content into multiple formats to suit different platforms.
Will you put it live all at once, or will you drip feed it to your users?
Decide whether your content will work best as one entire piece, or whether you could increase interactions by breaking it down into smaller chunks.
When will it go live?
If you already have a publishing schedule (which you most definitely should), ensure your content is primed and ready to go on each of the corresponding dates. If not, evaluate your social media feeds using tools such as Tweriod to see when your users are most active, and use this data to influence your publication dates.
Now you know where and how you’ll be publishing your content, it’s time to unleash your creation. Promoting the content, and engaging the influencers you’ve collected will be covered properly in a later blog post, but for now, don’t forget to seed the content via social, and continue to engage with the influencers and communities you’ve connected with.
For more information on creating and publishing amazing content, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Koozai team, or hit me up on Twitter @Hr_Gardiner, where I’ll be happy to answer any of your content-related queries.