How to Successfully Get Started With Content Creation
Content creation, the basis for content marketing, is essential for any business that wants to stand out online.
With so many different guides, books, types, tips, dos, don’ts, and who-knows-what-else available to guide you when it comes to content creation, it can sometimes feel difficult to just find help getting started.
That’s what this post is meant for: to help discerning business owners and marketers get needed, necessary information about the foundation and organization of a successful content creation strategy.
Where Do I Start With Content Creation?
If you’re reading this blog post, then you’ve already gotten started. The first step is deciding that you want to enrich your company’s online presence with content creation.
After that, there are two things to do next before any creation takes place. You have to decide the kind of content you want to create and then next, seek out examples of companies that are already doing a good job creating that content. Both of these steps will help you narrow your focus as you start to create your own content.
There are tons of different types of content out there. Even if we only look at digital, there are blog posts, articles, white papers, infographics, videos, podcasts, interviews, social posts, and dozens of other options. It can be overwhelming in the beginning.
That’s why we always recommend starting by creating a solid blog platform. Blog posts (essentially short, helpful articles), are accessible, shareable, and easy to analyze. They’re the best place to start for businesses new to content creation because they allow you to test out your voice and preferred topics before devoting increased time (and budget) to more involved, long form content.
Before you start creating your own blog posts, it’s important to look at the blogs of other businesses in your space. They don’t have to be direct competitors, but it’s best to seek out companies that are close enough to have similar target audiences to your own. You’re not looking at their blogs to copy them. Instead, you’re setting yourself up for success by gathering pre-emptive data on what content types and topics are already working for your industry. This initial research will make it easier on you when you start to choose your own topics and create your own content calendar.
How Do You Select the Best Topics?
Once you know you want to be talking, the very next step is deciding what you’ll be talking about. Choosing topics can be daunting, especially if you’ve never brainstormed before, but there are plenty of best practices to help streamline the process:
- Start by looking at your target audience. If you’re lucky, you will have already done research on your target audience before creating any content; at the very least, your sales team will know a lot about them and can provide input. Always remember to think about what your customer wants to read and learn about before you think about what you want to write about. Knowing your audience starts by defining it: look at your best clients, see what they all have in common, ask them what they want.
- Look for topics that are relevant. Relevance is more important than anything else, even popularity. If you’re a manufacturing company that writes a viral blog post about cupcakes, it won’t serve your business even if it gets you thousands of clicks. Nobody is clicking because of your manufacturing services: they’re clicking because of cupcakes. Popularity needs to meet with relevance to lead to net business gain. To find topics that are relevant, look at where your audience, your niche, and your objectives intersect.
- Always be brainstorming. Don’t only write down topic ideas once per month at a designated time. Always let yourself be cataloguing things that could be relevant within your content calendar. You might not use every idea you jot down or reference every industry article you save, but keeping that door open will lead to better ideas over time.
How Do I Set Up a Content Calendar?
Never get started in content creation without a content calendar by your side. If you start off organized, you’ll stay organized as you create larger amounts of different types of content. Calendars have plenty of benefits beside the up-front organizational ones, too, like:
- Making it easier to plan content around important dates, events, and launches
- Giving you a bird’s eye view of everything you’re creating so it’s easier to find where you’re lacking and make tweaks
- Keeping projects from sneaking up on you or being rushed
You have two options when choosing a content calendar: making your own or paying for software to help. There are plenty of content calendar software platforms to choose from, a few popular ones being Smartsheet, Loomly, Airtable, and CoSchedule.
What we’ve found, however, is that unless you’re a large company with a lot of content to manage, you’ll be just fine with a well organized Google Sheet or Excel based content calendar. Here are a few guidelines we recommend companies follow when creating content calendars:
- Decide if you’ll be organizing things weekly, monthly, or yearly. Your content calendar is, first and foremost, a calendar. Before you start deciding what information you want included in the calendar, decide how you want it’s time divided up. That way you can start by creating a weekly, monthly, or yearly template that can then be used and reused over time.
- Start with the content you already have. Before you start organizing the times and places you’ll be creating new content, it’s prudent to take stock of what you already have. There may be opportunities to easily repurpose or reuse existing sales or other marketing content when drafting new blog posts.
- Never forget that a content calendar is a living, breathing document. You want your content calendar to constantly be added to, tweaked, updated, and worked in. Don’t let it be a document that gets filled in once and forgotten about.
- Focus on what information is most important to you and your business. There’s no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to how you’ll organize your content calendar. Look at what you need and go from there. If you want recommendations as to where to begin, however, we suggest striving to answer the following questions in any calendar you create:
- What’s the topic and title of the post?
- Who will be writing it?
- When will the first draft be due?
- When will the final draft be due?
- Who is editing it?
- Are there any keyword considerations?
- Are there any needed internal links?
- Is there any special CTA this post needs?
- Are there any additional notes or considerations to be made?
Content creation isn’t scary. The hardest part is just getting started. After that, all you have to do is continue to create while you use your performance data to figure out what your target audience likes best. Tweaking things as you go will lead you to a consistently successful content plan in no time!
We hope this guide will help you feel comfortable with the idea of using clever content creation to your advantage. If you still have questions, we’d love for you to get in touch with our team! We can always work together to develop a content creation and promotion strategy that strategically supports your business.