A Step-by-Step Guide To Content Creation
Content Marketing, Content Creation, and You!
Do you care about content creation? Many business owners don’t, and that is not a good thing! Content is the very lifeblood of the internet. The internet exists to share different types of content. Therefore content creation is vital as all of your online efforts will revolve around it. As the name implies, content is the crucial ingredient of content marketing! If your brand wants to succeed, you better have effective content creation and content marketing strategies!
In previous posts, we provided you with a checklist for delivering a compelling marketing message. We also talked about the content marketing benefits for small brands, how you can prepare for the content marketing marathon, and how to write a compelling blog post. So you are already aware of how content creation benefits your brand and why it is so important. High-quality content leads to:
- Google Love
- Backlinks (people share it on their site or social platforms)
- Viral Opportunity – Content that goes viral can bring in massive traffic.
- Your Visitors Love It – People will come back to your site.
- Attraction – Content attracts visitors, search engines, and traffic in general.
Today we want to show you how to make content creation both easy and fun (you get to act out in personas, you know!). You can immediately implement these steps in your content creation, publishing, and promotion to get the maximum value out of your content marketing campaign.
Almost everyone sees the value of content marketing by now! But when it comes to content creation, things are not so clear. Content creation is vital to your digital or content marketing strategy. We want to give you a few basic ideas to help you start with your content creation. And trust us, once you get started this is a lot of fun!
Effective content creation strategies all follow the same necessary steps. These steps involve creating, publishing, and promoting your content. Depending on your specific industry, product, or service, you may need to tweak this a little. Still, in our experience, these steps will help you master your content creation. And while we will mainly focus on blog/text posts, content creation also includes infographics, still and animated images, graphics, audio, and video. We will talk more about those later.
Planning and Research
Planning and research are where all your content creation begins. After all, you need some sort of idea what kind of content you want to create before you get started. And equally important to your content creation strategy is what type of content is most appealing to your end-user. The more effort you put into this phase, the more effective your content creation will be.
- Define your purpose and your target audience.
- Determine what you are measuring and why. What are your metrics for success? Blog subscribers should be in your top two.
- Create a persona (or two or three) for your blog.
- Using your keyword list, decide on 2-4 main categories for your blog.
- Look back at posts that performed well and identify trends.
- Identify any current popular topics (e.g., topics trending in your industry).
- Identify your top 10 competitors and their top 10 most popular posts.
- Use the list you have created to pull out 3-4 high-level categories (e.g., PR for Startups or Content Marketing).
- Brainstorm 10-15 titles for each of those 3-4 high-level categories or blog subjects.
- Narrow it down by selecting the best 3-4 titles per category.
- Align your content creation strategy with other like-minded organizations.
- Consider the relevant influencers and who would be interested in the content.
- Start and sustain an influencer list for your blog.
Building the Framework
This step will help you to keep your content creation aligned with the expectations of your audience. Establishing a practical framework early on will simplify content creation in the future.
- The title of your post is of most importance. 8/10 people will share a post without even reading it if the title is compelling.
- Create an outline. Include compelling subheads (odd numbers work best).
- Decide what conclusion you want readers to reach after they have read your post. What will they learn/think?
- Set a deadline, assign a writer (if applicable), and select the most appropriate blog category.
- Choose keywords to target before you start writing.
- Write an introduction. Use an anecdote, ask a question, or make a bold statement. Keep it brief!
- List a few key points, studies, quotes, etc. for each subheading to give yourself or your writer some direction.
- Make a point to reference the influencers from above or source the organizations/companies from above.
- Write a conclusion that references the introduction and closes the loop in your argument.
- Choose a call to action (CTA). What do you want readers to do after they have finished reading? Comment? Click a link?
Writing is the biggie! Without copy, there would be no content creation. Yes, other types of visual content need to be part of your content creation strategy. Still, the text has by far the most significant share of all online content. So you better get used to writing or hire a professional copywriter for your content creation. Here are some critical steps:
- Build upon the outline you created above. It is better to write too much than not enough at this stage.
- Keep paragraphs and sentences short. Use simple sentence structures. Don’t let paragraphs stretch beyond 3-4 lines.
- Use numbered lists and bullet points to break up your paragraphs.
- Limit the use of links to 1-2/paragraph. Only use high-quality destinations. Google prefers quality content wherever it is.
- Only use the identified keywords if it feels natural. There is no secret density formula that Google favors.
- Go back through your post and eliminate any “fluff.” If you’ve read 2-3 sentences in a row of non-essential content, cut it.
- Go back through your post again and look for spelling and grammar mistakes.
- Share your draft with a friend/colleague for editing and grammar. Scan the content and asses if it is all that it can be!
- Perform the “scan test.” Can you get the gist of your post from scanning the title, subheadings, and lists?
- Perform the “action test.” Does the CTA make you want to act right away? Do you make it easy to act? Is the next step clear
Scheduling + Promotion Planning
Funny how many people forget to include this in their content creation strategy. Creating great content without planning to promote it is like cooking a great meal without sharing it. Do yourself and your content a favor and plan:
- Upload your post to a CMS (Content Management System). Copy and paste the text into a text editor first or paste into the “HTML” view to remove any formatting.
- Ensure the permalink is brief, memorable, and displaying correctly.
- Manually add the links (open in a new window), bold or italicized text, etc.
- Use a picture with a Creative Commons license and give proper attribution. Must be high quality and the width of the column.
- Name the picture file after your primary keyword or title.
- File your post under the proper blog category.
- Add tags to your post. The keywords you identified above, the names of influencers or organizations mentioned, etc. should be tagged.
- Complete the SEO section. Use your keywords and adjust the optimized title field. This content is what people will tweet.
- Add a featured image. Typically, this is the same as the image above.
- Add Click to Tweet links throughout the post to extend Twitter reach.
- Schedule your post to publish on optimized days (Mondays and Thursdays at 9:30 AM EST are best).
- Make a note of everyone and every company/organization mentioned in the post. Find their contact information (email and Twitter).
- Consider who your target readership is. Make a list of the websites and social bookmarking/social media sites they love and frequent.
- Consider whether your post is right for guest publishing or syndication.
Publish / Promote
OK, at this stage, you are done with the hard part of your content creation. Now it is time to have some fun and get your content noticed:
- Prime the pump by asking your friends and team to like, tweet, and share the post via social media.
- Submit the post to social bookmarking sites like Reddit, SlashDot, Fark, Mix, or Digg.
- Reddit: Select optimal subreddit. Be careful not to get hellbanned. Be tasteful and comment/like other’s links more.
- Consider sharing in other communities as well. Here is a complete list of social bookmarking sites for 2021.
- Think of any LinkedIn groups to submit your content.
- Join other forums and groups and be conversational. Add value to those communities beyond being self-promotional.
- Use Click to Tweet to generate a tweet link.
- Share these active links with friends and colleagues. Ask them to share and upvote.
- Send a separate email to anyone mentioned or quoted in the post. Let people who mention or quote you know they are a great resource.
- @Mention everyone included in the quote or mention as well. If they miss your email, they should get the tweet or Facebook notification.
- Look for opportunities to have your content syndicated (e.g., Business Insider, Huffington Post, Alltop, etc.)
- Look for opportunities to have your post published in a roundup (e.g., Startup Digest, top posts of the week, etc.)
- Look for opportunities to have your post republished on other blogs.
Following up is the final step of content creation. You worked hard to create great content; now, all you have to do is follow it:
- Great content doesn’t have an expiry date. Promote older content via social media, via email, etc. from time to time.
- Watch your metrics using Google Analytics. Quantity (volume of traffic) and quality (length of visit and bounce rate) are essential.
- Update old content with new stats and keep promoting it, especially if it is already doing well.
- If old content is doing well, look for an opportunity to create a “Part 2” to extend the momentum.
- Keep watch for discussions started as a result of your content. Comment, like, and share interests.
Getting Started with Content Creation
Now, that wasn’t so scary, was it? Most likely, you already implement at least some of these content creation, publishing, and promotion steps. If you create content or write a blog, you will most likely have no problem implementing the rest. But we understand that content creation is not for everyone. One of our clients preferred falling off a roof to content creation (he owned a roofing business)! If you feel the same way here are some alternatives for you:
- Maybe you have a content creator in your circle of friends or business associates. Ask around and see what you can find.
- Ask your professional network if they can recommend a copywriter or know someone who can.
- Most universities and colleges offer writing programs, and students need practice and internships.
- Most temp staffing agencies like Vitamin T or Creative Circle can provide temp or full-time copywriters and content strategists.
- If you need lots of content on an ongoing basis, you may want to hire a content agency to create content based on your specific needs,
How is Content Creation Working for You?
Did you start creating content for your online marketing efforts? How is that working for you? What kind of obstacles are you facing, and how will you overcome them? Do you have anything to add to our content creation tips? Please leave your comments below so our audience can benefit as well, and grab our feed, so you don’t miss our next post! And help your audience with their content creation by sharing these tips with them!
Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!