It doesn't matter if it's a blog post, website content, email marketing, Facebook post or a simple Twitter conversation, you need content. Content is the heart of communication of all mediums.
Even though content ideas may not come so easy for you, the truth is inspiration can be found within the most simple parts of your business and life.
When people read your content or have a conversation with you it will likely inspire one of the following emotions and/or actions:
1. Inspire them to know you more.
2. They put you on the back shelf, thinking they *might* come back to learn more. However, you didn't inspire them enough to do it at “hello.”
3. You struck no emotion. You neither inspired them, nor upset them. If your content crosses their path again they may or may not remember you.
4. You turned off the person. It's highly unlikely they'll ever be back or strike up a conversation with you.
5. You rubbed them wrong, real wrong! It could be a million different things but bottom line they didn't like what they saw, read or chatted with you about. Could be a conflict of morals, beliefs. Could be you came across as too “salesy, false, a know it all, or that your content isn't backed up or trusted.
Obviously you want them to be at #1 above if at all possible. At minimum you want to avoid 4 & 5!
Know Your Audience:
The very first thing you must do when creating content is to know your audience and to set clear objectives.
- WHO are you writing for?
- WHAT are their NEEDS?
- WHAT are their PAIN points?
- HOW can YOU HELP them SOLVE their problems and minimize their PAIN points?
- WHY are you writing for them?
- WHY should they give a rip about what you have to say and share with them?
What are your Goals and Objectives?
It is important that you have clear business goals and objectives. If you don't have a plan, strategy, and prioritized tactics that support and align to your business goals then it's all for nothin'! The purpose of this post is not to educate you on content marketing overall or help you write a business and marketing plan. My blog is filled with tips on planning, setting goals, knowing your audience and integrating social media into the DNA of your business.
The purpose of this post is to help you identify sources of content inspiration that will help you better connect and provide value to your audience.
So let's get to the meat of this post! Below are 25 tips for creating content.
25 Content Marketing Inspiration Sources to Get Unstuck!
1. News: This is one of the easiest to find content sources. The trick is to add your own opinion, interpretation and thoughts on how it impacts your industry or niche. Only cover news that is relevant to your audience, niche and/or local market. I am not a big fan of saying what has already been said 100 times unless I have something unique to add.
2. Audience Needs: What is the information your audience needs? Make a simple list of the type of information they need and write about it.
3. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What are the top questions your audience has? You can write one post or often times an entire series of posts on just one of the questions. If you don't know the questions your audience has then you don't know your audience, period! If you don't know your audience, talk to them. Ask them questions. It will be the best time spent, trust me!
4. Solve Problems. What are the top problems or pain points your audience has? Provide answers and solutions to these problems!
5. Tips and How To Lists: People love to read content in easily consumable and sharable bits and bytes. This is why tips work great. There are some bloggers that complain about other bloggers who write lists. I say “who cares.” There is only one way to do social media and marketing and that is the way that works for you and your business. I write lists all the time and I'll tell ya, they are some of my most successful posts. My audience likes them, they share them, the thank me for them and they come back for more. Why would I listen to some blogger who doesn't have a clue of my objectives or the objectives of my audience. I don't listen or care what others say about what I should do on my blog and either should you!
6. Your lessons learned. Even if you have only been in business 30 days longer than some of your readers, they can learn from you. Share your best tips. What have you learned? How can you help them avoid the mistakes you made?
7. Share your journey of building your business. Share both the good and bad. If you share your real self, the fact that you are human and make mistakes, try things that sometimes don't work, people will be better able to connect with you. When you do this you also invite them in to your community in a more intimate way. They become invested in you and your brand. Then, when you start to succeed they feel as though they were part of helping you succeed. They are then happy to celebrate the wins with you and it doesn't come across as much self promotion as it would if they didn't know you and how you got there.
8. Write brand stories. Share stories of your experiences in business and life. The art of storytelling is one of the greatest skills you can learn as a blogger. If you can learn to share stories that guide people through a scenario they can picture in their head, relate to, they will often times become loyal followers and friends.
9. Expert interviews. Interview industry experts, thought leaders and influencers your audience would like to hear from. Keep it simple and ask them a few questions. Then write a blog post or record a video summarizing the interview and lessons learned.
10. Video blogging (Vlogging). If you can't stand the thought of writing then start out with videos or podcasts. You don't have to have an expensive camera. Start with a webcam and a good Mic. The days of expensive video that every word is scripted are over and done. Focus on being real and connecting with your audience in a real way.
11. Podcasts. Similar to the video blogging but only includes voice.
12. Photos. If you attend an event, upgrade your office, visit a client, have visiting partners or clients, or simply have a fun office party, take photos! Upload the photos to Pinterest, Flickr, TwitPic and talk about them on your blog. I like to filter them in over the course of a few days or weeks. Photos can be leveraged for the long term. There are many reports from Facebook that photos are still the top viewed content.
13. Inspirational nuggets. What inspires you? What inspires your clients? What inspires your readers? Quotes are an easy way to share your personal beliefs, motivation and inspiration. Quotes are also one of the top retweeted content on Twitter. Make sure you add the hashtag #quote or #quotes to the end of your tweet. Again, you'll hear some tweeters boss you around telling you not to tweet quotes. You know my answer… if it works for you and your audience, then do it. I have met some amazing people who are now business partners and clients from tweeting simple quotes.
14. People who inspire, educate and influence you. Who influences and educates you? Who inspires you to keep doing what you're doing? Why not write a blog post about them? Do a quick interview via email or phone. It is a great way to say thank you to the person who inspires you as well as be a blessing to your readers as they can now learn and benefit from your network.
15. Crowd source answers to questions. People love to hear the perspective of others. Ask your network a question and have them answer via email. Keep their answers short and focused. Give them specific criteria, word count and purpose of post. Be sure to include a specific deadline date when content is due. Once you have all of the input compiled simply combine into one blog post. Add a small profile picture for each one and include links to their blogs, Twitter profiles etc. I am working on several of these right now that will soon be launched. It's a win win for all involved.
16. Guest blogging. Invite some of your favorite bloggers or industry thought leaders to guest blog on your blog. Don't just let anyone blog so you have content. Focus on finding people who know their stuff and who your audience can relate to.
17. Product reviews. This is pretty straight forward. Identify a top list of products that are relevant to your audience. Write a simple blog post about the product. Share the key features, benefits, review of how it works, how it compares to competitive products (if you know) and what your personal opinions are. This can often also work well with video.
18. Write a series of blog posts. I am a big believer in creating an editorial calendar that is dynamic. It's impossible for me to stick 100% to a calendar. However, I do use one and I have very specific goals with my content over the course of a year. I love creating what I call “content buckets” of which I include specific topics and sub-topics into one series. People love them. I then add video, whitepaper, and soon to be a radio show and podcasts. Add an email opt-in to your newsletter and you can grow your list exponentially if you are providing good content.
19. Marketing and business tools. Do you have a favorite spreadsheet, Photoshop template or other framework your audience could leverage? Make it available when people opt-in to your email list. You can then nurture the relationships and provide valuable content over time that will hopefully inspire them to do the double click on you and your brand! We recently launched a Facebook Photoshop template for the new Timeline Cover and our results were out the roof. We got thousands of opt-ins within just a few days. I was shocked at the results. It was proof we hit the nail on the head of a need our audience had.
20. Review of stats. Are you a data junkie? If yes, these are perfect blog posts for you. Do a quick analysis of a part of your business or marketing. Summarize your findings, learnings and actions. People LOVE to see real data. It will prove you know your stuff and enable you to be humble, share good content and inspire your audience to do the same.
21. Laws and regulations. Are there specific laws and regulations in your industry or niche? Document briefly reminders of upcoming deadlines with links where they can learn more. Or simply document best practices and tips to avoid breaking the law. Invite an attorney to guest blog, do a video interview or podcast and provide even more information.
22. Start a tweet chat. I host the #GetRealChat on Tuesday nights at 9pm et. We started the community 1.5 yrs ago to get real on social media, social business and how to leverage social media in a real way to nurture relationships and grow business. I never thought it would see the momentum it has. We now get a minimum of 18-25 million impressions each weekly chat. We've guests such as IBM, Walgreens, AT&T, UPS, Webtrends, Argyle Social, and more. Many of them have contacted us and asked to be a guest on the chat. We are currently building out a model to further monetize and partner with many of these brands for mutual benefit. Some have even became our clients because of such a platform to share information.
23. Theme days. If you are one who likes structure then theme days may be perfect for you. Try Facebook Fridays, Wacky Wednesdays, or Twitter Tuesdays. For fun I started T-Shirt Tuesdays on my Facebook page a few weeks ago. It all started as part of a simple question asking what words were on people's t-shirt if they were wearing one with words. I was shocked how much people enjoyed it. They want it to keep going. We had people submit photos and videos. You never know what your community will like until you try different things that are out of the box.
24. Start a private Facebook group. Facebook groups are a great way to nurture relationships and provide people a platform to communicate, ask questions and engage in a more intimate setting. We have a private Facebook group for #GetRealChat as well as several other communities I am part of and manage. They have been very beneficial to building solid relationships built on trust and also offer much input in regard to content. Because the conversations are deeper there are ideas flowing like mad on most days!
25. Get out of the house! If all else fails get your butt out of your desk chair and enjoy some life. Working 24/7 will do nothing for your creative juices. A weekend turning off can be good for the mind, body and spirit. Embrace why you started your business or career in the first place. Your goal should be to work smarter, not harder! Focus on leveraging content to grow your business in the right way!
Best Practice Reminders:
1. You don't have to write a book!
2. Sometimes less is truly more.
3. Sometimes more is more. All depends on the audience, topic and relevancy.
4. Dig deep into your Google Analytics and other metrics. The data will speak loudly and tell you what content is working, what content is not working. Key metrics to watch are bounce rates, time on page, average number of pages viewed, time on site, referral sources, top landing pages, top exit pages.
5. Use a variety of mediums. Watch the data analytics to know what is working best.
6. Don't be afraid to try different things. What's the worst that will happen? Someone won't read it? The more you experiment the better you'll get at connecting with your audience!
7. Don't always go with the flow. Don't be afraid to write about something that has already been written about by other thought leaders in your niche. Remember, as you start to build a readership, your readers like YOU! Some of my best posts that are still receiving top traffic even after two years are topics that were covered numerous times by others. However, the key here is successful matching with your audience and their needs.
8. Integrate! The more you integrate different content topics, mediums, distribution channels, authors, the higher the return will be. Choose a topic for a series. Start by writing a blog post or recording a video as step one. For step two add a second medium such as a blog post. Then add an email to your list of subscribers interested in the topic. If you have a radio show, invite a guest on the shot to talk about it! People often think integration and strategy take longer and are more expensive. I can guarantee you if you are doing both right in the medium term and often times short term it will actually cost you less time and resource and provide exponentially higher returns!
9. #BeYou! There is only one you so be that person, period. No fake Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or other social network accounts. Be who you are and people will love you!
What tips and tricks can you share? Do you love to write or do you struggle with it? Are you motivated after reading this to try some different things? Remember, perfection is enemy of good. Sometimes good is good enough. Shoot for imperfection perfection and you'll do just fine! ;)
Blog Post: 15 Reasons Random Acts of Marketing & Social Media Don't Work (Marketing Nutz)
Blog Post: Is Your Content Worthy of a Like, Share, Pin, Retweet or Google +1? (includes definition of content marketing)
Blog Post: Inspiration Made Simple: Pick 3 Things
Report/ Blog Post: Content and the new Marketing Equation (Brian Solis)
Blog Post: The Definition of Social Business
Website: Content Marketing Institute