Content marketing is one of the most important tasks you can focus on to grow your business and sell more products. But for many digital business owners, creating content is hard. You may feel like you don’t have anything to say. You may worry you’ll bug your customers if you reach out too often. You don’t want to risk coming across as “spammy”.
If this describes you, then it’s time for a mindset shift. You bring value when you interact with your customers. You might be sharing a meme, writing a blog post, or creating a short report. But rest assured that your content matters. It can influence customers in powerful ways.
Don’t be afraid to communicate with your subscribers or customers—they’re eager to hear from you! So, next time you’re creating content for your community, keep a few things in mind…
Use Tools to Find Content Ideas
You don’t have to spend hours each day, trying to come up with content ideas. There are plenty of free and premium tools that can inspire you and showcase what your audience really wants from you. Here are a few you can use…
Keyword Tool.io is one of the most comprehensive keyword tools available. That’s because this unique website pulls keywords from several popular content sites including Google, YouTube, Bing, Amazon, eBay, and App Store.
With so many different search options, you’ll be able to rank well in Google and YouTube. One of the reasons it’s so effective is because this tool pulls keywords from real Google autocomplete searches.
Answer the Public
Another alternative that you may want to consider when looking for keywords is Answer the Public. You can use the site to see what questions users search for answers to. For example, you can type a topic like ‘puppy training’ into the search box.
Answer the Public will then display a list of questions that those seeking this information often ask. Seeing these questions can inspire you to create new content since you know what information is really important to your community.
Buzz Sumo is another keyword tool you can use for your research. But it has more than one feature that makes it an excellent choice for marketers and small businesses. The most exciting option is that you can enter a keyword and see which links have been ‘most shared’ in your niche.
For example, if you type ‘puppy training’, you’ll see a new story about puppies that’s been shared over 173K times on Facebook. You can use this feature to help you create content that’s more likely to go viral.
Moz Keyword Explorer
You may also want to consider Moz Keyword Explorer when you’re looking for fresh content ideas. You can use this keyword tool to look at the search engine results page (SERP) rankings of the sites that rank on page 1 of Google. This can provide you with insight into which websites will be your biggest competitors.
It’s not enough to simply know a keyword is popular. You also want to know when during the year it’s most popular. This is important because it helps you plan your content in advance so you can get the most traction possible. That’s why you want to use Google Trends when you create your content strategy.
For example, you may know wedding preparations is a popular keyword in May, right before all the June weddings. But what you may not know is it’s also a very popular keyword in late November due to couples planning their spring nuptials.
Semrush is one of the most popular keyword tools available today. That’s because the data it provides is comprehensive. You can see which keywords are popular by country, view organic search keywords, and study the CPC of paid traffic.
You can also see related keywords. This can show you which terms you’ll want to use in your content. For example, you might find that puppy training isn’t as popular a keyword as you thought. You might discover that most of your community uses the term dog training instead. This insight is valuable because it helps you discern what your community is really looking for.
Let Your Community Inspire You
Even the best content creator can sometimes feel like their creativity is blocked. It might be that you don’t know how to start your next blog post or what to write in the upcoming chapter of your eBook or you may simply wonder what you should discuss in your next podcast episode.
The good news is there are lots of ways to get your community to help you. Not only is this a great way to drive engagement, it also gives you the chance to be inspired by your fans. Here’s how to reach out…
Create a Poll
Sometimes, content creation can be slowed because you have too many choices. For example, you run a cooking blog and you’re about to launch your latest series. You’re not sure if your community would prefer a new batch of dessert recipes or brunch ideas.
You don’t have to make this decision yourself. You can create a poll and ask your followers to share their thoughts. You can use a WordPress plugin to add a poll to your website or you can use the poll feature on a social network like Twitter.
Broadcast Your Questions
Twitter isn’t the only social network you can use to gather insights from your fans. You can also use Facebook’s livestream feature to create your very own broadcast. While you live stream, Facebook goes to work, notifying your followers that you’re live.
Take advantage of this perk and ask your viewers questions while listening for their responses. But don’t make your question vague like, “What should I write about?” Instead, ask questions that encourage conversation such as, “What was the last news story that made your blood boil?” or “Who always encourages you when you’re having a difficult day?”
These questions can prompt you to come up with fresh content ideas. If you do end up creating content from these conversations, be sure to thank your watchers for their insights and ideas in the finished product.
Send Out Surveys
Sometimes, it can be difficult to get responses when you create a survey. One way to get around this problem is to offer a small, valuable prize in exchange for participation. For example, one brand gave away $5 Amazon gift cards to participants who completed their survey. One marketer offered participants a coupon code to get her latest book for free.
Encourage User-Generated Content
When you’re really stuck on what to post, consider letting your fans help you. One lipstick company encourages their buyers to post to social media using a branded hashtag. Then the content manager selected the best pictures and created a blog post titled, 15 Lipstick Tip to Make Your Lips Look Fab. Inside the post, Instagram photos from users were embedded.
Before the post went live, the content manager reached out to each participant and had them sign waivers. Then to show their gratitude, each Instagrammer received a special t-shirt in the mail. It was a simple way to thank fans for the user-generated content.
You can use a similar tactic in your own business. Invite your followers to post content to your brand hashtag. Then let their responses inspire you to create even more amazing content.
Types of Content You Can Create
When you consider various types of content, you probably think about blog posts or eBooks. It’s true that these are both two types of content. But they’re not the only content formats available to smart marketers and digital brands.
There are dozens of options you can choose from when dreaming up new content. Here are a few different formats to get you thinking…
Checklists make a great addition to any tutorial. They allow your followers to digest your instruction and easily implement it in their own lives. Some brands post how-to content to their website then invite visitors to sign up for their mailing list if they want to access a bonus checklist.
Worksheets may seem similar to checklists but they’re not the same. Worksheets help visitors dig deeper into important topics. For example, you’re publishing an eBook on the topic of branding. You might include a worksheet that prompts your readers to consider what colors, fonts, and logos best align with their brand.
Another popular type of content is autoresponder emails. Most marketers create a 5-7 email sequence that goes out to new subscribers. If you have a pet blog and you invite visitors to subscribe, you could follow up with a series of emails on the topic of puppy training. This allows you to send valuable content to your list so they stay responsive to your future emails.
Not all of your fans and followers will read text. Some people prefer to hear information because they process audio faster than they do the visual content. The good news is that you can easily create audio content for your fans.
You can do this by recording your blog posts, short reports, or eBooks. Use a program like Audacity, which is free open-source recording software. When you’re done with your recording, save it as an MP3 and upload it to your website.
Followers love seeing video content from their favorite brands and companies. Social media apps like Facebook and Instagram make it easy to broadcast content to your audience. All you have to do is go live and share what’s on your mind.
Of course, no one wants to sit through a rambling live-stream. That’s why it can be helpful to create an outline of your main points before you press the ‘record’ button. Doing this will help you stay on track during your broadcast and keep your viewers engaged with your content.
Where to Use Your Content
Creating good content is hard work and it’s important to do it. But it’s equally important that you spend time promoting your new content. If you don’t promote it, fans and followers won’t know it’s there. You have to get the word out and you can start by doing some of these things…
Tell Your List about It
If you have a mailing list, it can be an excellent source of traffic. So the next time you create a piece of content, send an email their way. As long as your content is valuable to your subscribers, they’ll be eager to hear from you.
Announce It on Social Media
As soon as you have a new blog post up or create new eBook, start telling your fans on social media about it. Keep in mind that not all of your followers will see your new posts. This means you need to promote your new link several times throughout the day.
But don’t just copy and paste the same information. This kind of behavior is viewed as spam by most social networks and they’ll penalize your band for it. Instead, try to create 10-15 updates for every piece of content you create. Doing this makes it easy to draw attention to your new content without getting banned for spamming.
Once your content has started to get traction on social media, you can ask your followers to share it with their friends. For example, you might say, “Tag a friend who love make-up tutorials as much as you do!”
Share It with Affiliates
Some affiliates will promote your free content if you have a sales funnel in place with good conversion numbers. That’s because affiliates know that free content can attract visitors who go on to make purchases from you, resulting in a juicy commission on their end.
Post It Offline
Don’t forget that you can post your content in offline publications like newsletters, regional magazines and even your local newspaper. Often, smaller publications are in need of content and will gladly include your piece in their next print edition.
Make sure the publication is read by those in your niche. For example, if you have a home painting business then promoting it in a real estate publication makes sense. But promoting it in a publication for scuba divers doesn’t.
Create a Style Guide for Your Content
The moment you get the email, you recognize it. The coloring, the logo at the top, and the design all showcase the company perfectly. More than that, you recognize the tone and style of the content. Each newsletter follows the same format. Every article includes a catchy CTA message.
You may not realize it but many companies use branding in their content marketing. They do this so you’ll easily recognize them even in a crowded marketplace. But how do some brands manage this?
The simple truth is they have a style guide. A style guide for your brand allows you to keep your branding consistent no matter what platform you’re using. From emails to tweets, your followers will remember your brand because of your consistency.
But it goes beyond that. When you have a style guide for your content, the freelancers you work with will be able to match your brand’s tone and style. All of your content will have a cohesive flow.
If you’ve never created a style guide, don’t panic. It’s easy to create one. Just follow these simple steps…
Start with the Basics
Create a document on your laptop or mobile device. First, define what colors your brand uses. Be sure to note these colors in both hexadecimal numbers and RGB numbers. This keeps your coloring consistent.
Next, write down the fonts that your brand uses. Most brands use a mix of 2-3 fonts for various headers. For example, you might use the Lato font for subheadings but prefer Grand Hotel for your other headings. So, be sure to mention where and when each font should be used.
Define Formatting Preferences
Formatting is a simple way to make sure all of your reports, eBooks, and other content looks the same. List what preferences you have when it comes to your text content. For example, do you prefer page numbers at the top or bottom of the page? Should text be aligned left or justified? Where should your brand’s logo appear in the header or the footer?
These questions might seem silly but as time goes on, you’ll be glad you’ve defined them. They’ll make it easy for you to hand off the task of formatting to a trusted virtual assistant or your business partner.
You’ll also want to cover images in your style guide. Start by defining the types of images that work well for your brand. For example, you might say, “Brand images are typically white and minimalist, representing clean lines and organization” or “Brands images should feature young millennials that are participating in sports or other athletic activities”.
You may want to specify how images should be displayed (right, left, or centered) as well as the ideal image size based on where it will be posted. For example, a featured image on your blog might be viewed best when the dimensions are 800 pixels by 500 pixels while an image on Instagram looks better at 1,080 pixels by 1,080 pixels.
Update Your Brand Guide
Don’t think of your brand guide as a task that you’ll only need to do once. Many marketers and bloggers find that as their platform expands, their brands change. This requires updating their bran guide.
At the minimum, try to review your guide once every year. If you have new information to add to it, update it then. This ensures you’ll also have a copy of your latest branding practices.
How to Outsource Content
Creating content can be exhausting. You have to come up with content for your email marketing, your blog, your podcasts, your livestreams, your social media channels, and more. You can easily spend all day creating content only to look up and realize you haven’t done any of the important business-building activities on your to-do list.
One way to avoid this problem is to outsource your content. This typically involves hiring a freelance writer to help you out, which can boost your profits since you’re now free to focus on growing your business. Here’s how to work with a writer…
Have an Outline
Don’t just hand off a project to the first writer you meet and tell them to get to work. You have to explain what your vision is and what you need. An excellent way to do this is to come prepared with an outline already.
When you have an outline, your writer will get an idea of what you want the finished project to look like. They’ll feel less stress and be able to deliver you a far better product than if they had to guess what you wanted.
If possible, share your goal for the project. For example, you might say something like, “My goal is to position myself as a speaker in this niche. With that in mind, the short report is to attractevent coordinators and highlight my past experience in this area.”
It’s natural to be excited when you’re hiring a freelancer. You’re thrilled to have someone to hand off this task to. You have dozens of ideas for lengthy projects that you can’t wait to begin working on.
But before you pay a writer to create your book, go slow. Instead, offer the writer a short project. See what their writing style is like. Get an idea of their preferred method of communication and how quickly they can complete the work.
Choose Someone You Like
You may encounter a writer you don’t like. It might be that the writer hasn’t captured your style or that the writer doesn’t fully understand your brand. Maybe their personality just clashes with yours.
Whatever the reason, you don’t have to work with someone you don’t like. Keep searching until you meet a writer that’s a great fit for your business. Remember, this is someone you’ll be working with for months or even years to come. So, you want a freelancer you genuinely like and enjoy speaking with.
Create a Content Calendar
When outsourcing content, it’s important that you coordinate with your writer. You can do this by using a calendar app like Google Calendar. All you need to do is create a new calendar titled ‘Content’ then share it with your freelancer.
On the content calendar, note important dates and events. For example, if you have an upcoming sale on one of your products, be sure to include that. If you’ll need content in advance of your sale, tell your freelancer so she or he can plan for it.
Share the Style Guide
Don’t forget to give your writer a copy of your style guide. If possible, upload the style guide to a file-sharing app like DropBox or Google Drive. This lets you and your freelancers easily access your latest branding preferences.
Keep in mind that outsourcing may not feel easy or natural at first. But the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll become.
Drive More Clicks with Your Content
When it comes to content, you want to do more than just educate your community. You want to encourage them to click your links and buy your products. Here are a few ways you can boost your click-rate easily…
Many people who browse online click on pictures. They typically do this to enlarge an image or to get more information about it.
So, when you display images on your blog posts or in your newsletter, make sure they’re linked back to your products. If you’re showing your audience your worksheet then make sure that image will lead them to the sales page.
Include a CTA
A call-to-action prompts your readers and visitors to be pro-active. Remember to keep your CTAs focused on one single goal. If possible, format your CTA like a headline. You can also use arrows to encourage clicks, like this:
= = > Download Your Workbook Now < = =
The reason you want to use arrows and other decorations is because they catch the eye. Many of your visitors or subscribers don’t read every word you write. They’re busy scanning your blog posts, emails, and other content. So, make it easy for them to clickthrough and see your product.
Don’t Forget Contextual Links
While CTAs are a great place to land a sale, they’re not your only option. Some web visitors prefer to click on contextual links which are links within your content. To make sure the link stands out bold the words.
Of course, make sure you’re linking to something relevant to the conversation. If you’re talking about drawing, link to a set of art pencils. But don’t link to a sale on cat food. This will be irrelevant and cause confusion for your community.
Study Your Conversion Rate
Use statistics programs to study your emails, blog posts, and social media updates. You can learn a lot about your audience by doing this regularly.
For example, you may notice that a certain word in the subject line makes your subscribers 50% more likely to open the message. Or you might discover that an old blog post you’d forgotten about is driving a lot of sales for your latest product.
As you learn these things, put them to work and study the results again. If you found that using buttons in your emails results in more sales, then send out two campaigns. One campaign that only uses buttons and another that only uses links. See which one gets better results by comparing the email stats.
How to Repurpose Content
Many online business owners create content and use it just once. Then they get to work creating next week’s content. While it’s certainly important to have a steady stream of new content for your visitors and subscribers, it doesn’t mean you can’t reuse some of your existing content.
In fact, reusing content can take some of the pressure off your shoulders and make content marketing more enjoyable for you. Here are a few ways you can recycle your blog posts, short reports, and more…
Turn a Report into a Podcast Episode
Creating reports can be a good way to drive opt-ins. But you can easily take these same reports and use them to create content for your podcast. You don’t have to read them word-for-word. You can simply take the ideas and use them as the main talking points.
Make a Short Course
Do you have blog posts in your archives that are earning you lots of traffic? Are you very proud of these posts? Then use them to make a short course! All you have to do is bundle up a series of articles into a PDF file. Add a quick CTA to the bottom of the original posts. Invite your visitors to sign up for the mailing list if they want to read the whole series!
Transform Your Articles
One marketer had a treasure trove of articles she’d purchased as PLR. She lightly edited the work and added references to her products. She gave these articles to her affiliates and let them use the content to promote her website. As a result, she saw an increase in her sales for the next month.
Convert Group Coaching into a Self-Study Course
If you’ve ever offered group coaching, you may have enough material to create a self-study course. All you need to do is gather the resources you gave your members like workbooks, journals, checklists, tutorials, and more.
Then create 2-5 audios where you explain how to use the resources. When you’re done, you’ll have a self-study course that you can sell again and again.
Break Down an eBook
If you have a long piece of content that you want to share like an eBook, you can easily do that through livestreaming. For each chapter, create a broadcast on Facebook Live. Share the content and ask relevant questions to start a conversation with your followers and fans.
Keep Challenging Yourself
Every week, pick a piece of content you’ve created. Challenge yourself to use that content in at least 3 different ways. This might mean using your articles as social media content, making a slideshow of your main points, and recording an audio track that can be downloaded on your website.
Focus on the Value
As you’re coming up with new content ideas for your audience, ask yourself one simple question: Where’s the value? If you can’t explain how this content will benefit your community, then it’s not ready for prime-time yet.
But if you can easily define the value your community will get from your content, go ahead and create it. Then spend your time and energy promoting it proudly on social media, on your website, and in your newsletter!