BUILD A CONTENT MARKETING FOUNDATION
Content Marketing. You’ve seen articles about its importance more times than you’ve scrolled by that video of the kitten riding the roomba in a shark costume. But sifting through it all to find the tips, the strategies, and the processes that work best for you is headache inducing at best.
Worry not, you business-running ninja. Before diving deep with the countless “choose your own adventure”s of content marketing, you must first master the basics. Gotta learn the strokes so you can evolve beyond the doggy paddle and kiss those arm floaties siyanarah, right?
To make the foundation-building process easier, I’ve rounded up the 5 commandments of quality content you need to get started. Implementing these 5 things in your writing, starting NOW, will change the way you view content AND the way your audience views you.
1. Be an authority
I place this first on the list for a very important reason: without authority (aka belief in yourself) how can you expect anyone else to trust what you have to say or believe in what you have to offer? Trust me, I understand.
The imposter syndrome is REAL. It’s been heavily documented at this point, so we know how easy it is to be affected by it. But here’s the thing - when it comes to your content, you cannot let it trip you up. Because here’s the other thing - you ARE an expert in your field.
Whether or not you’re the number-one-top-of-the-list-highest-profile-omg-listen-to-everything-I-have-to-say-because-I-am-so-legit expert in your field matters about as much as whether or not your favorite brewery down the street has won the tippiest toppest of beer awards. Does that mean their beer is less delicious? Absolutely not.
If you didn’t know a wealth of information about the business you are in, you would not be in that business. So it’s time to stop playing small and be real about what you know. Share your knowledge with confidence through your content and your audience will respond with appreciation, engagement, and loyalty.
2. Go Deep
Surface level is not welcome in your content strategy. High quality content comes from doing a deep dive with the information your audience needs. Not sure how to go deep? Try mind-mapping.
Start with your topic idea in a bubble in the center of a blank sheet of paper, then brainstorm deeper layers of content you can cover, questions you can answer, and resources you can provide that pertain to your initial bubble. Connect those peripheral topics to your center bubble and - bada bing bada boom - you have yourself a rough outline of your content piece.
Make it a point to explain each peripheral topic thoroughly and tie each peripheral point back to your main topic. Never let your audience feel you’re off on an unnecessary tangent. It’s a dirty writing habit that will kill an otherwise stellar content strategy.
Remember, not every piece of content you publish will be your next full-length feature film. Sometimes the topic requires much less. But where it applies, go deep and add value. Stop holding back for fear of people no longer needing you. Sharing what you know will not make you irrelevant.
Giving freely of your knowledge in deep, meaningful ways will only serve you well. People will start to know you as “The Happiness Guy” or “The Productivity App Girl” and being well known for what you offer will only bring you more clients, more money, and more fulfillment.
What topics have you gone deep with lately? I want to know!
3. Never, and I mean NEVER, post without editing
Wanna know the fastest way to lose credibility in your business? Typos, grammar mistakes, and improperly organized content (oh my!). If you write, don’t look twice, and then publish - you’re in for a bumpy road on the way to a loyal audience.
After you’ve written your piece, step away from it for awhile. This might be a couple of hours, but I find that giving it a full day allows you to marinate enough and come back with the fresh eyes needed to cut unnecessary bits, add epiphany-level ideas you had in the downtime, and pay closer attention to the little details when fine-tooth combing with your editing eye.
If you struggle with the idea of spending working hours editing content after you’ve written it, consider the process you went through to launch your business. Did you slap your very first ideas onto a web page hit go and call it good? I would hope not.
You refined it and solicited feedback from people you trusted. You “slept on it” a time or two and made decisions when they still felt right, looked right, and sounded right the next day. Taking this same approach with your content will up your pro game significantly.
4. Fill a Void
It’s been said that everything has been written before. Rather than be discouraged by that idea, realize this instead: if it’s been said before, then it’s all about HOW you choose to say it. The way you view your content will have the biggest impact on your business.
In the book Content, Inc. by Joe Pulizzi, he details the stories of many businesses who, by taking their content seriously and choosing to look at their niche differently, made huge waves in their business sector. Filling a void is about much more than naming your biz something clever and slapping a catchy name on your lead product offering.
Filling a void isn’t about what you’re selling at all. To fill a void with your content, you have to examine your niche and uncover the angle that no one’s taken yet. That’s your hidden goldmine. Once you’ve found that hole in the market saturation, fill it - with value.
That means giving of your knowledge freely (again - see a pattern?) and becoming the trusted source for that. By authentically crafting content to fill the void you feel passionate about (and confident in your ability to provide value in) you build an audience who, consciously or not, needs your content. Craves what you have to say on the matter. That’s where the magic happens!
If you’re struggling to find the void you should fill, try doing a braindump writing exercise. Think of all the things you’ve already seen covered in your niche. Think of companies you admire that are in your space. Write down what they are covering, so you know where your void is NOT.
Do this for no more than 30 minutes. Dragging it out won’t help inspire action. Once you’ve braindumped what’s already being done, do a 10 minute free write about the strangest, craziest ways to approach your niche you can possible think of. When your 10 minutes are up, set the pen down and walk away for awhile.
GIVE IT SOME TIME
Did you walk away? If not, go. Shoo, get out of here. This isn’t the easiest decision you’ll make in your content marketing life, but it IS one of the most pivotal. Give it some time, and get creative with it. If you walked away, know that I’m popping some confetti canons in your honor right now. Now you’re ready to sit down and think about it again - keeping a creative eye - and sift out the void you are meant to fill. Got it? Proceed to the 5th commandment.
5. ABC - Always Be Creating
Content creation isn’t an elevator that lands you off at the top floor and the rest is penthouse glory. It’s more like a revolving door that, if you let it stop spinning, your audience stops coming back. A lot of entrepreneurs and businesses hear this and think that means if they aren’t putting out new content every day, they are failing. That’s when they throw their hands in the air, get a little small-child levels of huffy, and ask “why even try?” This isn’t the answer at all.
Let’s refer back to the revolving door. If it’s spinning at 65 mph, no one will be able to get in or out. But, if it’s stuck and not moving at all, the flow of traffic is stopped for a different reason. It’s the same with your content. Too much, too often and it becomes white noise. Too little, or a serious lack of consistency, and your audience ceases to trust you. ABC is about keeping your content at the top of your mind. It’s about being inspired by all the parts of your business, your story, and the stories your team has to offer. It’s about the constant ideation that comes when you’re fired up about what you’re doing and the impact it has.
MAKE CREATION A PROCESS
Twice a month, sit down with your list of ideas, weed out what doesn’t jive with your vibe, and schedule out what does.
When you follow ABC as a principle for your business, you create space away from deadlines to create, allowing you to build up a library of content, published or not, that is ready to be shared when the time is right. Having that breathing room between publish dates and using it to still create content allows you to focus on the most important aspect of what you’re putting out there - the quality.
Do you struggle with any of these things in particular? What's your biggest content challenge right now?