Starting a business is exciting. Maybe you want to be your own boss so you can set your own hours and make as much money as you want. Maybe you want to do something that will provide the lifestyle that you and your family desire. Whatever your reason, you are ready to take the first step in starting a business; read on to learn more about this next chapter in your life.
There are many ways that you can start a profitable business. If you follow these steps, you will be on the right track to starting a profitable business.
What is content creation?
Content creation is the process of identifying a new topic you want to write about, deciding which form you want the content to take, formalizing your strategy (keyword or otherwise), and then actually producing it.
In addition, most content creation processes involve thorough rounds of edits with other stakeholders before content is ready for publication.
Because content can take many forms – blog post, video, eBook, Tweet, infographic, advertisement, to name a few – the content creation process is nuanced and not always as simple as it might seem. But doing it well can truly impact your business. Recent research proves that creating quality educational content makes customers 131% more likely to buy from your business.
Creating great content starts with a well-established process. We’ll walk you through the content creation process from start to finish, and demonstrate how creating great content can help your audiences and customers find solutions and answers to their problems. So where do we start?
Content ideas can come from a variety of places, both from within your content team, from your customers, from other stakeholders in your company, from new data, or from something that inspires you. And, depending on the goal of the piece of content, deciding the correct angle you should take on a specific topic can prove challenging.
For example, if you’re tasked with creating content that highlights a new product feature, you may have a baseline idea of what you need to produce. But if your task is broader, for example, write a piece of early-stage content that will drive organic traffic to your website, then you may need to investigate other methods of coming up with content ideas. Here are a few methods we know will help get your creative juices flowing, and help you find innovative and effective approaches to potential pieces of content.
How to Generate Content Ideas
- Find opportunities through keyword research. Keyword research is a fantastic way to discover how your audience is talking about a topic. In addition, keyword research can help you discover new opportunities for content that you may not have considered on your own.
- Solicit customer feedback. Asking your customers may sound like a simple way to get an idea, but often there are unanswered questions they have about your product or your space that you can answer. Creating content around those questions will have a direct and meaningful effect on your existing customers.
- Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. As a marketer, your first responsibility is to understand your customer. So, when you’re looking for new ideas, think about what your customer might find engaging, interesting or helpful. Then explore how those ideas could work with your content strategy. You can check out sites like Quora to find out what topics people are asking about in your areas of expertise.
- Brainstorm with larger groups in your org. Your organization-wide knowledge is a powerful tool to utilize when coming up with new content ideas. For example, your customer support team has a lot of insight into the day-to-day problems your customers have. Your sales team has a wealth of knowledge about which solutions potential customers need from you or want to hear the most about. Tapping other groups in your org will help identify content ideas that speak to your customers’ (and potential customers’) needs.
- Investigate what your competition is writing about. As a content creator, you should always be aware of the topics your named and unnamed competitors are writing about in your space. Understanding how your competitors approach a topic will help you differentiate your brand’s voice, approach, and content from theirs, identify gaps in their content strategy, and help your content stand out in the sales process.
Once you’ve finished the ideation phase and know which topic you want to write about, the next step is to plan and outline what you’re going to create.
The first step in planning your piece of content is to decide what form you want it to take. Some ideas will be stronger if they are represented visually and could warrant an infographic or video. Other pieces of content may be best suited for plaintext. For those, a blog post, article, or eBook might be the best form.
You can gain a lot of insight by investigating which types of content have already been created around your topic. For example, type your topic idea (or keyword) into Google and see what kind of content comes up on page one. Are there videos? Do the URLs link back to infographics? Do images appear in the SERP? Knowing which types of content already exist around your topic should help inform your decision about what type of content to make.
In addition, during the planning stages, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing appropriate keyword research around your topic. When creating web content you’ll need to select a keyword to target so that you can integrate the keyword appropriately into your content as you write, not after the fact.
The next step is to decide on the scale of your content project. If your content idea is specific and limited, you may only need one blog post, video, or article to properly address the topic.
But if you’re approaching a large topic, especially something central to your business’s value proposition or area of expertise, you may need to create multiple pieces of content around this one idea. Successful content creators will decide exactly what their finished project will look like before they even start writing or creating.
Identify worthwhile content topics
Kick-off your creative ideation process by determining which subjects you should write about and eliminate the ones you don’t feel reflect your brand’s identity in the most meaningful and targeted way.
One way to approach this task is to identify some primary subject areas your target audience actively searches for information on. Conducting keyword research or using more sophisticated techniques like topic modeling at the start of your ideation process (if you don’t have this data on hand) can help you get a deeper understanding of the challenges your content should help readers solve. It also can help confirm you’ve found a niche where your initiatives can gain a competitive advantage. If your search uncovers relevant questions for which useful answers aren’t forthcoming, it’s probably a topic worth addressing for your audience.
Generate creative article ideas
It takes many creative ideas to fuel a content engine and keep it running smoothly on a long-term basis. Team brainstorming sessions are one great way to help your writers get their creative juices flowing and come up with a high volume of ideas. Another approach is to incorporate word games and creative improvisation techniques – like the ones Cisco Systems’ Tim Washer describes – into your creative ideation process.
Prioritize your ideas
Not every idea your team generates is a good fit for your business: Some may be fantastic on paper but require more time and attention to produce than your team can spare; others may be creatively brilliant but not useful for your target audience. Make sure you have a prioritization process – like the core content strategy matrix Meghan Casey uses – to gauge the comparative value and urgency of your content ideas and help you decide which ones to move forward with.
Transform your ideas into resonant stories
Regardless of the creative process, content creation boils down to one essential step: the physical act of writing your stories. And when it comes to successful content creation, Steve Jobs’ thought on product development certainly applies: Turning a great idea into a great content piece requires considerable craftsmanship.
But that doesn’t mean the writing process has to cause a tremendous amount of anxiety and frustration. Ann Handley points out that learning to become a better writer simply requires showing up every day and practicing your craft. Thankfully, she also provides some valuable tips to help make writing sessions more organized, eliminate unnecessary distractions, and stifle the inner critic that can derail your creative confidence and keep you from meeting your deadlines.
Enhance your writing quality
Content riddled with typos, grammatical errors, tech issues, or factual inaccuracies can cost you the trust and respect of your audience and, possibly, their patronage. To avoid being mocked for producing lazy, low-quality assets or labeled as a purveyor of fake news, carefully proof, test, and fact-check every content effort to ensure that it is clear, functional, error-free, and above reproach as possible.
Master your full creative process
Go forth and create
By following this guide, you should find yourself on the path toward more well-managed creative teams, greater strategic and creative alignment, and better brand storytelling overall. But if you find yourself getting stuck anywhere along the way – or have a content creation tip you’d like to share – let us know in the comments
Here are a few other questions we recommend asking yourself during the planning stage:
- What persona am I targeting with this piece of content?
- What stage of the buyer’s journey will this piece of content speak to?
- How much time and money can I invest into creating this piece of content?
- What additional assistance or resources will I need (a designer to create an infographic, a video producer to film a script, etc.) to execute my vision?
- Is the content I’m creating timely? Or is this piece of content evergreen?
- How does this piece of content fit into the grander scheme of my content strategy?
- Which audiences or groups of customers will this content help?
- Who in my organization will this piece of content help?
After you have your plan in place, you can start creating your content.
Once publish day finally arrives and you’ve released your content out into the wide, wide world, take a long deep breath. But don’t forget that the content creation journey, from ideation to publishing, is ongoing. A good content strategy has a solid creation process in place, as well as a promotion plan for both pre-and post-release. Your job as a content marketer is to see every piece of content along its full journey. So don’t let the creation process distract from your post-publish distribution and promotion strategy, which are equally important.
And, as always, learn from your successes and your mistakes. Each piece of content you create is an experiment. Through proper monitoring and measurement of its performance, you will be able to tell what works for you and your organization. Use that knowledge to inform your efforts when you start the creation process anew for your next piece of content.
Content Creation Examples
One type of content creation (the kind you’re consuming right now, actually) is blog posts. Blogs are meant to educate, entertain, and inspire your audience through the written word. When someone types a query in Google, the posts that pop up are usually blog posts.
Podcasts, one of my favorite types of content to consume, are like listening to the radio, except a dedicated podcast host talks about dedicated topics, has guests, etc. These are especially interesting to listen to when the audience likes the host and wants to learn something from listening.
Whether you want to post videos on social media or YouTube, creating a video is one type of content creation that becomes more popular as the years go by. Short-form and long-form videos both have their place in your content creation strategy, so it’s important to come up with ideas for this type of content.
In your blog posts or your social media posts, you might want to post original graphics. These can be infographics, animations, etc. This type of content creation usually requires a graphic designer or at least a graphic design tool to help you get the job done.
5. Content Offers
Another type of content is content offers. These are templates, whitepapers, worksheets, or ebooks that your audience can download. This is gated content — meaning your audience will need to fill out a form and provide their email to have access to it.