Content creation is the single most time-consuming responsibility for today’s content marketers. When you break down our day-to-day workflow, creating great content is our chief responsibility, and the best way for us to engage with our audience and influence revenue. Not to mention that’s how we earn our keep.
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 publishing.
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. In fact, 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.
Understanding SEO can help you in the content creation process.
For all our advice about how to approach SEO when creating content, check out our eBook: SEO 101 for the Content Marketer.
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.
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.
Ah, finally time to create your content. This part you’re already a pro at. Utilize the plans you’ve made and ideation you’ve done to produce a phenomenal finished product. If you’ve set up steps 1 and 2 effectively, you should have everything you need to create amazing content.
But, as you write, film, design, or produce, keep in mind that content creation is a living, breathing process. If you notice something is wrong with the angle you decided to take or the content format you decided on, don’t be afraid to take a step back. This process should be fluid, and may need adjustment as you gain new information about your customers and audience.
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 publish, 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.