You must have a plan in place that helps you to regularly produce quality content for your marketing.
There is a simple, proven path that anyone can follow to create terrific content… every time. Here is your no hype, follow-it-and-it-works guide to creating excellent content.
[Girl writing image via Shutterstock]
The no hype, buzzword-free guide to creating good content for your business
First, check out this handy, at-a-glance infographic. Share it, pin it, tweet it… even save it and embed on your own blog!
Then scroll below for a text based explanation of the 9-Step guide…
1. Think about what you know
They say, “Write what you know.” Sometimes, they’re right.
What do you know about? What do you like to talk about? What do people seem to like to hear you talk about?
Now, make a list of the things you know about, the things people seem to want to hear about, the topics you’re interested in (and that matter to your business) and that you get excited about.
Hey, look, someone just put a list of interesting topics in front of you that you’d be good at writing about, and that will help your profile and business.
2. Find good sources
Who produces good content and good data about the items on your list? Find the websites, blogs, books and other material that contain the best writing and reporting about your topics.
Did you notice they’re now your topics? Yes, take ownership. You’re now invested in them, and that means you need to learn everything you can. Find the sources you need to track, and collect them together. Keep adding new sources and pruning the less valuable ones.
Now all you need to do is…
Read every day. Read the good stuff, a lot of it. Read within your topics, by the sources that matter.
You’re seeing what good content looks like, and you’re seeing what people have already talked about. You’re also staying up to date on the topics that matter.
Take some time to read the bad stuff, too. Ask yourself, “What makes it bad?” Think about how it could be better. How would you have done it? What’s missing? What makes the good stuff so good?
Now you’re not just consuming content — you’re analyzing it and understanding what makes it work, or not. This is how you get good at creating good content. It’s also how to generate ideas.
4. Save things
Remember when you read that one piece and you realized what it was missing, or it sparked a related idea that went unexplored? Did you save it, file it away in a proper place with your notes?
That’s what writers do.
They read things and save them and jot down ideas and questions.
You must set up a system. You must save the things that matter, and annotate them. Add your thoughts. Keep notes and ideas.
5. Hold an editorial meeting
Here’s what an editorial meeting looks like: People come together and bring things they read and saved and jotted down. They begin sentences with, “What if…” and “Wouldn’t it be interesting if” and “I’m interested in…”
Grab a few colleagues, tell them to bring in a few good things they read recently and one or two topics they’re interested in. Now talk about this stuff.
Talk about the things you read and what they made you think about. Make strange connections. Take someone’s idea and help make it better. Then think of a headline for what you come up with. Now go write something to back up that headline.
Repeat this weekly, and start reviewing the stuff you created and whether it worked or not, and why.
6. Give yourself deadlines
Deadlines provide focus and motivation.
To make them really work, don’t keep deadlines yourself. Make them public, on an editorial calendar. That other people have access to.
Hold yourself to your deadline. Get other people to hold you to them. Hold other people to theirs.
When someone misses a deadline, go into their office, close the door and smash something against the wall. Get a mad dog crazy look in your eyes and scream a bunch of unintelligible things punctuated by the word DEADLINE.
Okay, maybe don’t do that. People might write about it. It could be good content, but it’s not the kind we want.
Writing is a natural extension of the reading, the ideation, the discussions and refining of your ideas. Now you have everything you need to write something. Sit down, get started. Don’t censor yourself too much in the early stages.
Quote from sources, and link back to them. Credit other people for good ideas, as that doesn’t diminish yours.
Add your take, your value to what’s been gathered. Have an angle. Share an anecdote that helps illustrate your point. If you have personal experience, share it. (No boasting, though.)
Three things to keep in mind:
- Being clear and/or useful is better than trying to be funny and/or outrageous. Easier, too.
- Don’t use words you don’t understand.
- Don’t waste the words you understand by using them carelessly.
8. Get edited
Those people in the editorial meeting? One of them is going to be your editor. Tell them to help you follow the above advice. Tell them to be ruthless in the name of ensuring what you’ve written is clear and has a point. Tell them to be generous with praise. We all like that. But they also need to tell you what doesn’t work.
Argue a bit when you disagree, but always focus on what best serves the reader, rather than your ego.
Good content takes practice. Keep following the process, keep reading and saving and sharing ideas and writing them. You’ll get better.
People will compliment you on your progress. Say thank you and get back to work on your next good piece of content.
Now you know the truth about good content: it creates tremendous value for your community and can help grow your business, too!
Did you enjoy these tips? What would you add? What are your favorite sources of content. Please add your comments below. We love to hear from our readers.
About the author: Craig Silverman is Director of Content for Spundge, a platform that helps professionals and organizations discover, curate and create engaging content. He is the author of two award-winning non-fiction books, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Globe And Mail, Toronto Star, Harvard’s Nieman Reports, and Columbia Journalism Review.
[NOTE from Mari: I am a huge fan of Spundge and use it daily for my own social media and that of my clients!]