To give you a brief background, digital content creation refers to the process of using computers to create various types of text and media. In the world today, digital content creation has become the primary method for most forms of communication including the Internet and social networks. If you are looking for a career in web design or communications management, you must master this art.
I wrote this article to educate readers about basic digital content creation methods. Knowledge of these topics is important for those who want practical experience in digital content production, whether for work or entertainment.
The stages of digital content creation
The first part of digital content creation is all about planning the content that you know will resonate with your audience. There is no secret to producing digital content that you know your audience loves – you have to get to know your audience!
The first step is content planning!
Step 1 = Content planning
The planning stage of your content is so very important! It is the foundation of everything that you will be doing for digital content production.
The first step is researching topics for your content.
1: Research topics for content
This is where you should spend a fair amount of your time and early energy. Once you decide that you are going to put a load of energy into making content, it can be easy to get carried away and create a load of content!
But hold up!
Take a moment to do research on the topics and find out what your potential customers are searching for!
Define your audience
Defining your audience for your content varies in difficulty for each individual and business. If you are an established business with clients you can look at the problems that they are having and you can help with them. If you are a newer business you’ll have to make a few more assumptions about your audience. Either way, you’ll still have a chance to optimize your content after making it.
These are the questions you need to ask yourself to make sure you know your audience in full:
Who is your ideal client or audience?
- Marital Status
What do they do and like?
- Interest and hobbies
- Strongly held opinions
- How do they buy products?
What is their pain?
- Problems and concerns that keep them up at night?
- How can you help them solve any of these pains?
It’s only after answering all of these questions that you can get a true and holistic view of your audience and how you can best serve them.
Remember that serving and helping an audience is the best way that you can create content that works!
Keyword research is the key to creating content that will help you get a load of traffic to your website or eyeballs on your professional brand, and it’ll help you grow your influence!
Ubersuggest and Answer The Public
Both of these tools allow you to see what questions people are asking about the topics you can talk about in your content. Enter your expertise onto the search bar of these two sites and you’ll see loads and loads of potential content ideas for your digital content creation.
Using Ubersuggest to find content keywords.
In Ubersuggest type in the topics, one at a time into the search bar:
Then, click on Keyword ideas on the toolbar towards the left-hand side:
You’ll then be presented with a load of topics that you can use to guide your content production. I copy and paste all of the keywords into a spreadsheet. You’ll be able to get a huge number of suggestions. Remember to click through all of the other tabs (Related, Questions, Prepositions, etc.) to get a load of other ideas…
Now let’s take a look at another powerful way to find out what questions people are asking using Answer The Public.
Using Answer the public to find content keywords.
Like Ubersuggest, when you first log on to the page you will have to enter the topics into the search bar:
Once you push “Get Questions” you will be supplied with a load of questions that people are asking in search engines about that topic. They present the data in a graphical “visualization” format as default. But click on “data” and you’ll be able to get a list that you can copy and paste into your spreadsheet with all of the ideas for content keywords.
Answer The Public have a whole heap of options (Questions, Prepositions, Comparisons, Alphabetical and Related) that you can copy across to your spreadsheet. I use all of them when considering what content keywords to target,
But getting the keywords is not the end of the story!
There is no point in targeting a keyword that only gets searched 10 times a month. Now we need to go to get the google keyword Search Volumes. And these are available to us from google themselves.
A small caveat to note is that many people believe the information in google search volumes to be misleading. However, as a way to prioritize the content you are making, I think there is no better way to compare the keywords. It just shouldn’t be used to get an absolute number of times that the keyword is searched. As a comparison tool, however – I can’t think of anything better.
Google Keyword Search Volumes
This is the best way to get relative search volume information! If you don’t have a Google AdWords account use this guide to create an account without having to use a credit card: The Keyword Planner is part of the Google Adwords suite of tools. But you don’t need to spend any money to use it.
When you go to Google Keywords Planner and create an account, you’ll be presented with a page with several options on it. You need to click on the “Get search volume and forecasts” box.
Once you do that you need to copy and paste all of the keywords that you collected in a spreadsheet into this box:
Once you have entered ALL OF THEM press “GET STARTED”. You’ll be presented with the search volume data of all of the keywords that you’ve entered (minimum and maximum for each keyword). Download this data by clicking the download icon towards the top right of the results.
Save the “Plan historical metrics (.csv)” file to your computer and open it in your favorite editors – such as excel or open office equivalent!
Use this file to sort the keywords from high max search volume to low max search volume. If you are not sure how to do this click here for a video on sorting data. What this is doing is giving you the ability to see what is searched the most in Google search.
Choosing to write or film content on these topics is going to be worth your while. But there is one more thing you need to take into account before you produce content.
This is where the Keyword Golden Ratio is your friend.
Keyword Golden Ratio
The Keyword Golden Ratio is something that can impact your content strategy workflow. The ratio enables you to get an idea of the competition of a keyword.
This is very important as there is no point going after keywords where there is so much great content already out there. You’ll not be able to compete with the awesome content in the short term and a lot of effort may be wasted,
Simply, the Keyword Golden Ratio is:
Keyword Golden ratio = “allintitle:” search volume results / search volume
You want to aim for a golden keyword ratio below 0.25 and as low as possible for search terms with a search volume of 1000 times per month. The Keyword Golden Ratio that you end up going after will depend on your market and the competition in that market but aim for a ratio as low as possible and you can’t go wrong! Here is my spreadsheet for this blog and my vlog content:
Okay, almost there! The last thing you need to do is a manual check on Google to see what is being offered up.
Manual Google search check
The last step is to take your chosen keyword and type it into Google Search to see what the results look like.
This will take a bit of getting used to but here’s what you are looking for:
- No big players – you are looking for a search result that doesn’t contain big players in your market. You’ll struggle to get noticed above their content. Google now prioritizes content based on the authority and you simply will not be able to compete for the top spot.
- Forum posts – you want to see a forum result on the first page. This means that the search engine is struggling to find authoritative results and is relying on forum content. If there is Quora, Reddit or another forum on the front page this keyword is yours to have!
- Results that do not answer the query – have a look at the results on the first page. Does it look like Google is struggling to find content that answers the question or query? If you think the answers are not very good – this is a great sign that you can reach the top with content that is extremely helpful and answers the question perfectly and in detail!
- Other blog posts – check to see if there are other blog posts offered up by google. This tells you that google prioritises informational content and blogs.
If you feel like you can do a better job than the number one position then the keyword is ripe for the taking!
Step 2 = The creation process
The creation process is probably the hardest part of all of this! After you have taken a bit of time to plan and create a strategy it’s time to knuckle down and get some content created!
First, you have to decide what you want to create…
Decide what you want to make
It’s not always clear what content is best. If you are a solo entrepreneur doing this on your own. I recommend producing content that you like to produce.
The reason I say that is because content production and content marketing are a long game. If you do not enjoy the process you will not keep it up for as long as you need to see the results you want.
If you like writing – write articles (on platforms like Medium and LinkedIn) or SEO optimized blog posts for your website and cross-post to your social media streams.
If you like creating videos – create as many videos as you can without burning yourself out. Start a YouTube channel and take snippets and teasers of that content and make it suitable for each platform.
However, if you are running the marketing for a larger business or agency then you have much more freedom as you can source the content from people who specialize in its production.
Here are the benefits of each type of content I have found particularly powerful for an online audience.
Written content has been the go-to content for web-based digital content. Search engines use it to find out what your website is about and to rank you when people search for questions that your blog content can help them solve.
You can also write articles on different platforms and social media sites – such as Medium and LinkedIn. I like the idea of using these platforms for written content but the problem is that you are driving traffic towards something that you don’t control or own.
Remember that the main reason that you are writing content is to connect you to a relevant audience.
What makes an awesome blog post?
A great blog post is easy to write once you know the simple rules of making it work for your audience:
- Make your post easy to read – make it scannable, use bullet points, headers and images to make it easy to read. Also, write as you talk – conversation writing is far better than dense paragraphs and
- Put some extra multimedia in the post – such as videos, infographics, and images that support what you are saying.
- Make sure you are answering the audience’s question as best you can – have you actually answered the question as best you can?
Stick to these simple principles and you cannot go wrong – remember to write for humans, not SEO robots!
If you want to know how to write a great blog quickly – you can’t go past this video:
I love video content and it has been the number one thing that continues to bring people into my brand and website.
I used daily vlogs on LinkedIn to grow an audience and get people to connect with me and my message. It taught me so much about the power of persistence and “showing up” for your audience consistently.
This is how I film my vlogs:
Step 1: Come up with a narrative or script
The most important part of any video is in the planning stage.
You’ll need to think of content that will be valuable to your audience. When I consult with clients I’ll get them to write down common questions that their customers ask. These are perfect seed ideas that will set you down the right frame of mind to succeed.
Your video structure
Then you need to think about the structure. For your first video consider this structure:
- Hook – in the first 3-5 seconds grab the attention of someone scrolling through their feed.
- Explain what your audience will learn today by watching your video
- Describe the problem that you will help people solve in this video
- Your personal experience in solving the problem for yourself or your customers.
- Call to action and ask people to comment on your video or like it. You can also have another call to action such as “do to this link and download…”. Anything off the platform is far more challenging to get people to do. Stick to on-platform calls to action for the first videos.
Use this as a starting point but as you start getting comfortable with the format, talking to the camera, and the vlogging process as a whole you can play with the format.
What works for my audience will not work well for yours. Testing ideas and monitoring how your video’s metrics change will be the only way to discover if something is working for you
There are many ways to film and edit a podcast and you are only really limited by your imagination. I chose to do a fully edited vlog with loads of b-roll footage.
Step 2: The equipment
Don’t get swept up in thinking that the quality of your vlog is directly proportional to the value of the vlog. Sure, everyone wants a professional-looking vlog but chucking more money at equipment won’t, necessarily, result in that.
I think that all you need to start is…a smartphone.
Yep. That’s all you need to get started. In the early days of your blogging journey, you don’t need to test the waters with anything but your phone.
The reason I say to clients that you should start with your phone is that a lot of them use not having a camera as an excuse. But remember it’s the content that will make you stand out – not the resolution of your video.
No matter the camera you are using there are two things that you need to take into account. The lighting and the microphone (sound recording). Both these issues can be fixed without any extra equipment by being aware of your environment.
Step 3: The environment you’re recording in.
Two things kill any recording equipment.
- Poor lighting. It doesn’t matter if you have the worlds most expensive camera. If your lighting is poor it will ruin your video.
- Excess environmental noise including wind noise. Trying to isolate your voice from background noise is a massive pain in the arse in postproduction. A little preplanning will ensure that you won’t have to re-film your piece to camera.
This is how you can overcome these two big issues:
When recording your video make sure that you are in a well-lit area. I have found that being outside is best for lighting – but be careful that it is not windy – you’ll end up with a different problem!
Another top tip is to avoid heavily backlit areas, like in front of a window. This will leave you looking like a shadow in your video and any post-production to lighten up the video will leave artifacts in the final video.
You can purchase small lighting setups and LED lights but I’ve never felt like I’ve needed them (or the expense). Try to keep your vlogging set up as minimal as possible. Then you’ll be able to carry it around in a bag without too much hassle.
My style of vlogging was to take a camera with me to events while I was walking around during my day. Sometimes I couldn’t help but have poor lighting.
Noise and wind effects
The microphones on cheaper cameras and mobile phones are heavily affected by wind noise. Even the slightest breeze can cause a huge rumble on the recording.
I’ve seen people buy little sticky windshields and covers for the microphone holes on phones. You can buy them on Amazon for about $20 but This is what they look like:
Buy yourself one of these and you’ll be able to record outside in wind with confidence!
Step 4: Recording your video
Once you have the video narrative and you are aware of where you are filming it’s time to push the record. For many people that is a scary prospect.
The more you do it, however, the more relaxed and natural you will start to feel when the red light is on!
Vlog style framing is typically set so that the person is set in the middle of the frame or set as in the rule of thirds.
You’ll see loads of recommendations that you should follow the rule of thirds. This is all well and good if you have a forward-facing monitor that you can perfectly align each time you record. But just making sure all of your face is on the screen is all you are aiming for with a vlog.
You’ll also have to consider the aspect ratio that your video will end up in. I have chosen a square ratio for all of my LinkedIn videos. Therefore I have a limited area that I have to play with and having my face in the middle of the frame makes sense.
I found that my face was a very dominant part of the video and so I switch to fish-eye mode on my camera. This made sure that more background was present in the square video and my face wasn’t as confronting as it was in other videos.
To find your style you will have to produce a vlog regularly over a long period. Take the time to review each vlog and bote what you like or dislike about each one.
Ask a friend that you trust to give you feedback about the video and, most importantly, how it makes them feel. Change your video when they hit on something that you also have noticed. Don’t change the video just because someone says they don’t like certain aspects.
You are going to get a lot of advice from people who are not taking the courageous step to put themselves out there. You are – so take all advice with a grain of salt.
Consider filming b-roll
While recording your vlog you are going to be laser-focused on your message and not misspeaking but there’s something that audiences love that you also need to consider filming – b-roll!
Audiences love seeing where you are and what you are up to. Are you in an interesting building? Have you done something interesting during the day that you can film?
These additions to your video will help build rapport and a relationship with your audience. In my opinion, LinkedIn vlogs are too dominated by faces and talking heads. At the moment, the easy way to stand out is to BE DIFFERENT!
What can you bring to your videos that no one else can?
Step 5: Editing your video
I think we are seeing the end of raw videos posted to LinkedIn. Audiences expect some level of post-production – this can be as simple as captions for mobile viewers.
There are a few companies that offer to edit your video. The most popular services at the time of writing are splashes and lapwing.
Both have their pros and cons but if you don’t have time to edit the videos yourself check them out. The issue with all of these services is that when they become popular your videos are going to look like everyone else!
Learning to edit your videos means that you’ll be able to stand out from the pack and brand the videos as you need to. It may be a skill that you find enjoyable too!
No matter what you choose to do for editing your videos – you must include captions!
I get an .srt caption file generated from rev.com. I used to write the captions myself but for $1 per minute of video, it is well worth the money. I’d much rather have the time to do more of the fun parts of editing.
In late 2018 there was some discussion around how you should place captions in your video. Because an .srt file is uploaded manually, the thought was that LinkedIn was able to identify your captions and therefore prioritize your video.
I’m yet to see evidence of this in my view numbers and people with larger audiences normally use open captions that are embedded into the video.
I still prefer to use closed captions that are uploaded separately and see no reason to move to open captions for the time being.
As long as you are including captions I think you are ahead of a lot of videos.
Check out my full rundown of music options in another one of my blogs. I go through free and paid options.
Most people choose to not have any music in their short vlogs – and I think that is a good thing! Music can be distracting if it is not used properly.
Take a look at the style of video that you’d like to produce and make a choice on whether or not music is the right thing for your videos.
Digital content creation can seem like a daunting task if you don’t know where to start, even for those with previous experience in marketing. Many different things go into creating digital content and you must know how to use the relevant tools to maximize your effectiveness.