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May 24, 2022 (Updated: March 8, 2023)
In the social media age, the job title “content creator” is everywhere. Its abundance might make the process sound easy. After all, everything out on the internet is content, from news articles to the perfect GIF. But there’s a difference between being a content creator and creating content. Anybody can be a content creator by pressing the record button on their phone and uploading an unedited video to TikTok. But creating content, the kind that’s part of your marketing strategy, takes skill and effort. Today we’re discussing how to start content creation for your company or brand with topics like:
Use these steps to start content creation to increase your leads, clients, and revenue:
Start by setting up your team. Make sure you’ve got the right people on staff to create the content you want. This keeps you from scrambling to find people later in the process when you’re running on deadlines. Even if you haven’t picked what content to pair with each topic yet, you likely know early in the planning process what types you want to create over time. Shape your content marketing team around those plans. Some roles you may look to fill include:
Set content marketing goals that align with your larger company goals. Common marketing goals include actions like increasing your website traffic, generating more leads, or increasing conversions, like newsletter subscriptions. Creating these goals helps you determine the best topics and content types for your strategy. It’s important to set SMART goals, which stand for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. That means you’re creating goals that have a metric or data point attached. A basic goal may be to increase your website traffic. A SMART goal reads: increase website traffic by 5% in the third quarter.
Related: Marketing Goals: How To Set and Achieve Them
Every piece of great content starts with a great idea. You can collect ideas for your content from a variety of sources. It may be helpful to keep a spreadsheet or list of topic ideas so you can pull from it when you need a new piece. Some popular places to find content ideas include:
You may have a wealth of data sitting right on your computer’s shared drive. Whether you run social media polls, host Q&A sessions with clients, or conduct market research, your own data projects provide solid content ideas.
Talk to your sales and customer support representatives too, and use them as sources about customer needs and expectations. They interact with customers and hear about their pain points all day. Ask these representatives for their feedback. Consider looking into their email replies or recordings of client calls. You may use these as sources for a content piece or even as an unedited rough draft sometimes.
People love to air their opinions on social media. If you feel you see more negative comments and open-ended questions on those platforms than feel-good stories, you probably do. This is likely because people feel more confident saying certain things hiding behind a screen or an assumed handle. But no matter how scathing their replies, it’s actually good for your content creation. Finding out what people don’t like is actually a way to discover what they do.
Let’s say you’re on the content team for a healthcare consultation service. You read a comment online that your website is “the worst” because your interactive startup quiz doesn’t work. After you’ve checked that it works, you may see an opportunity for content. Create a tutorial video on how to complete the startup quiz.
Related: How To Do Social Listening (With Tips and Tools)
Borrowing content ideas from your competitors is not stealing. What are they talking about and how is their content performing online? Your competitors’ top-performing pieces may serve as a spark or guide for your own content creation. If their pieces perform well, these may be topics you should cover from a different perspective. How can you take it and make it your own?
There are plenty of free and paid tools to help you determine how to get ahead of the competition. One is the CopyPress content analysis tool. It generates a report that compares your content to that of your top three competitors. Then it shows you gaps in each strategy and provides a list of keywords to target. These help you provide your audience with the content they’re searching for but can’t find.
“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”
Director of SEO at Auto Revo
You can get prime keywords from your CopyPress content analysis report. But you can also do additional keyword research to grow your list of content ideas. Keywords are the words and phrases people type into the search bar to find what they’re looking for. They go hand-in-hand with search intent, the reasons people search.
Both types of intent give you hints about the other. The words people use in queries tell you what kind of information they’re trying to find. The search intent category can also tell you common keywords people may use in their queries. Conducting this kind of research helps find more specific topics, sometimes called long-tail keywords.
Knowing where each customer is within their buyer journey can help you make content choices. Each lead follows a process to take them from problem to solution. We often call this the marketing or sales funnel. There are three main stages of the buyer journey, and unique pieces of content appeal to people when they’re in different stages. They include:
In the awareness stage, new visitors learn about your brand, products, or services. They’re often looking for more information about who you are, what you do, and what you can do for them. Prime content for awareness includes blog posts, interactive content, white papers, and infographics.
Leads in the consideration phase are already aware of your business or services. They’re trying to decide which solution works best for them. They may research your offerings along with those of your competitors. The best content for this phase presents all potential solutions, such as a case study, webinar, or podcast.
People in the decision phase know what solution they want, and they’re trying to decide if it’s worth it to buy. This is where you can show people the exact value a specific product or service has for them. Use content like consultations, demos, tutorials, product guides, or free trials.
Look at your goals and the phase of the buyer journey you’re targeting. Then figure out what types of content help you reach them. It’s important here, even before you do research, to decide the tone and direction of the piece. You likely understand your brand voice, but that may come across differently depending on the buyer stage and format.
A long-form informative article can still show your humorous brand voice. But you’re not cracking joke after joke like you’re on stage at a comedy club. With a lighthearted short-form blog post, you might spend more time crafting witty one-liners. Knowing the direction helps you pick the right content piece for each job. And knowing what content types you’re picking helps determine word count, research time, and accompanying resources, like images or links. Some content types and their best uses include:
Once you’ve figured out what content types and topics to target, set a content calendar. This schedule lets you know your due dates for writing, editing, and publication. A content calendar helps keep your team productive so your group can meet deadlines. Producing content consistently keeps your brand name in front of your audience. It also lets you target new topics in your industry as soon as they become relevant.
Image via Unsplash by @maltehelmhold
Now it’s time to get into the creative part of the planning process. Do your research on the topic to craft the angle and focus. Even if you’re an industry thought leader or expert, you can still benefit from preliminary research on the topic. The angle you choose may dictate how much research you need to do. For example, if you’re writing an opinion-based blog post, you’ll likely have less research than for an in-depth, data-driven eBook.
The most important research you can do for any article is to fact-check yourself. Even on points you think you know. Find the data and sources to back up any claims you make. You can’t always trust what you read on the internet. Sometimes you can’t even trust your own memory if you work in an industry where best practices change rapidly. Make sure you give yourself enough time to find the information you need or check its validity before you write.
You may create an outline for your content as you’re researching. Every piece of content should tell a story. And just like when writing books or news articles, you can use an outline to guide exactly what story you want to tell. Use what you know about search intent to put the answers to customer questions at the beginning of each piece. This helps you deliver on any promises you make with your headline, summaries, or visuals.
This helps customer satisfaction and lowers your bounce rate. It provides exactly what somebody came for first, without making them wade through unnecessary information to get their actual answer. You can create your outline in the same program where you intend to write your content. For example, at CopyPress, our creatives use our proprietary content management system (CMS), Dante, for their outlines and content writing.
This is probably the easiest step for a content creator. You’re already good at what you do, whether it’s writing, design, or filming. Now, put that hard work into action. Remember, the best content tells a story, so let that flow. Use practical, concrete examples your readers and viewers relate to. Be sure to cite sources when necessary and follow best practices for your publication channels and SEO. Include all links, visual elements, and interactive media in your draft where possible to get an idea of how the work looks when it’s published and available to your audience.
Many people recommend creating your headline before you even start writing. That approach works for some people because it guides their entire piece. But you’ve already covered your direction and content type. You outlined. Don’t create a title first and force your writing to match. Instead, do the right research, develop the piece, and let what you find guide your headline.
Sometimes your first headline isn’t your best. Some writers develop 10 or more headlines for one piece before choosing one they like. Keep SEO in mind when creating your title. Include focus keywords within so the piece has the chance to rank for the right topic. If you need help coming up with the winning headline, tools like SumoMe’s DIY Headline Formulas generator may help.
Related: Your Definitive Guide To Writing Attention-Grabbing Headlines
After you’ve completed your draft, take a break or walk away from the content. Seriously. When you get so wrapped up in a piece, it’s difficult to proofread, edit, and think objectively about changes. Step away from your computer. Take a short walk. Fill up your water bottle. Chat for a few minutes with a friend or co-worker. Stepping away makes it easier to spot mistakes in flow, cohesion, and mechanics you may miss if you go straight from writing to editing.
Most content creators don’t work in a vacuum. They share ideas, questions, and research responsibilities with other members of the team throughout the process. After giving your piece a read- or watch-through, determine if any areas need more information or make little sense. Sometimes this is a job for a content editor or a meeting where your team brings together what they’ve worked on and provides insights into each other’s work.
Make note of areas where you’re not satisfied with the content, or where you think it could benefit from someone else’s input. Then get with your editor or team members to workshop the piece. After you’ve received feedback, edit the piece accordingly.
After making your content edits, review the piece again for smaller, grammatical errors. Check your spelling and punctuation. If your company has its own style guide or follows one of the popular ones, like AP Style, make sure you’re following those rules. Specific points to look for to comply with a style guide may include honorific or job titles, dates and times, state abbreviations, and addresses.
Related: Grammarly vs. Hemingway Editor: Which Should You Choose?
Once your content is ready for the public eye, it’s time for publication. This step may look different for every company or type of content. For example, when we publish knowledge base articles and blog posts at CopyPress, we send the written content from our CMS, Dante, to WordPress. Then we conduct an SEO audit to make sure the focus keyword and meta description are right. We also upload the feature image and optimize the alt text and title for search engines. After a preview to make sure all the links work, we publish or schedule the content.
You didn’t create this content just for fun. You created it to provide resources to your audience and establish your business as a leader in the field. How are you supposed to do that if nobody ever sees the content? You’re not finished when you hit the publish button. Far from it. Content promotion is an equally important part of the process. There are many channels you can use to share your content with the right audience, including:
Even after you share the content, you’re still not done. Now the real fun begins. Monitor each piece of content to see how it performs. Remember the goals you set back at the beginning? This is where you find out if you’re meeting them. Some common metrics to track for each piece to determine if you’re reaching your goals include:
Browse answers to these questions about content creation:
Content marketing is the top inbound marketing strategy. You create useful information your audience needs and make it available to them for free. This is a great way to show your knowledge of your industry. It also helps you set your products and services up as the solution to customer problems. Making content helps grow your business by drawing attention to everything you can do for a customer beyond just making a sale.
You can reuse old content that may not be up to your new standards. Do a content refresh and optimize old pieces to fit into your new plan. You can also repurpose content from one format and convert it to another. For example, you may take a long-form article and convert it into a tutorial video.
Search engine optimization (SEO) should be a big part of your content creation process. In fact, you do it throughout most of the steps. Keyword research, search intent discovery, content research, and writing are just a few of the ways you incorporate SEO into your content strategy. You likely have a separate SEO strategy for all aspects of your digital marketing, which pairs well with content creation. That strategy helps determine which areas benefit from what type of SEO attention and where they plug into your content creation strategy.
Related: SEO Strategy: How To Make One and How It’s Used
CopyPress can make the content creation process simple by doing it for you. We help you at all stages, from goals, strategy, and ideation. Our proprietary software, Thematical, allows us to do keyword and competition research for every campaign to find the right target topics. Our creative team understands your industry and niche and even develops native content in over 42 languages.
Every campaign goes through an alignment phase with test pieces and client reviews to ensure we’re providing what you want every time. Ready to work with a partner that understands the intricacies of content creation? Leave it to us. Schedule your initial call today.
Content helps you attract the right audience and engage with them. It’s informative and persuasive, and helps you reach your ultimate marketing goals: lead generation and revenue. But being a content creator isn’t enough. Be a content creator with a plan. By understanding how to start content creation the right way, you develop good habits to apply to every future campaign.