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A few days ago, Alina Trigub of SAMO Financial asked me a question that I can really relate to, which was: what is the best way to go about creating content, and is there a tool we can use to help make the process easier?

Alina’s business is based on educating people on how to grow their wealth through syndicated real estate investments, and content marketing is a fundamental part of her offering, so I was happy to help.

As covered in a previous article, content marketing is the sharing of solid, valuable information that your audience looks forward to receiving, to build relationships & increase sales. This information can be in many forms, from articles to blog posts to videos to infographics and so on. As long as an idea is being shared, it is content. As long as that idea is found to be valuable in such a way as to encourage a purchase, it is marketing.

 

Useful content is therefore key for a successful content marketing plan.

Now, if we are looking for the easiest way to create content, it can be automated through content creation robots.
However these are still mostly used in the factual and reporting realm as there is still something missing in terms of tone, personality and the ability to inspire (the human element if you will). Not only that but they can cost 10’s of thousands of dollars to engage.

If the Washington Post is happy to use a program to write some of its news stories, then I’d say that content creation robots are here to stay, and will only become more prevalent in the future. But for the moment, content creation is still very much a manual process.

While I admit that sometimes it would be nice to plug in a topic and some keywords and have an intelligent, well-crafted and inspiring piece get spat out, we are not there yet (and in my opinion that’s a good thing…!)

High quality content is fundamental to a successful content marketing program, and the key to high quality content is personalisation. Content must not only be personalised to suit the audience’s interests and needs, it must also reflect the personality of the author, as the whole point is to deliver value while making a real and human connection.

Not only that, but taking the time to explore topics and communicate with our audience gives us the in-depth, on-the-ground knowledge that we need to make sure our business stays relevant.

 

So to answer the first part of Alina’s question:

 

The best content creation tool is your brain and questions from your audience, as content marketing is fundamentally about having a conversation and delivering value. Click To Tweet

 

But as someone who has also embarked on sharing (what I hope! is) valuable content every week, I get it.

Any tools we can use to make the creative process easier are welcome.

So to answer the second part of Alina’s question, here are some tools to make hand-crafting unique content a little bit easier:

 

Idea Generation Tools:

Before you start writing, you need to decide what to write about. While this can feel daunting, and is often the source of writer’s block, there are actually a number of tools or methods you can use to generate ideas, as shown below.

1. Your audience and their questions

As you can probably tell, this is my favourite idea generation tool.

There is no point creating a series of in depth articles about a subject that nobody cares anything about, and that is irrelevant to your audience. By taking the time to ask your audience questions, you get to learn what is important to them and what they need help with. By crafting thoughtful responses, you deliver value.

This is the “content” part of content marketing. For the “marketing” part, value creates appreciation, and appreciation increases sales.

2. Questions asked in other blogs or forums that are relevant to your niche

What if you have just started out and don’t have a large audience, or are not getting as many questions as you’d like?

In that case, it would be useful to visit other blogs and forums about the same topic, where people freely share their issues and questions. Using the same philosophy outlined above, pay attention to the kind of questions being asked, and generate content to answer them. This content should be more complete and informative than what is already being shared online, so that you are again delivering value by giving that little bit extra.

3. AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic.com is a great site to see what are the most popular questions asked online about your particular subject. Just type in a search term relevant to your field (.e.g in Alina’s case, something like “real estate investing”) and see what comes up.

Then answer those questions as fully and completely as you can.

4. HubSpot’s Topic Generator

If all else fails, you can always enter a few topics into HubSpot’s Topic Generator, and it will come up blog title ideas for use to use as inspiration. There are other blog content generator tools out there, but I find it’s better to focus and use just one (if at all), as the temptation to navel-gaze and get stuck in the “research” phase is too great.

With these tools, the other danger is that you can find yourself drifting away from your audience as you get caught up in suggestions made by an algorithm.

I’d say you can use this every once in a while if you are caught in a real bind, but otherwise developing topics based on conversations with or between real live human beings is always best.

5. Buzzsumo

Research what topics and articles are trending and being shared across social media with BuzzSumo. Buzzsumo will help you get a sense of what people find valuable and worth sharing. Simply enter a topic in the search bar and a list of articles will come up, with the number of shares per social platform shown on the right hand side.

Use this for inspiration, competitor research and also to discover authors and blogs that you would find worth following.

Content Creation Tools:

Once you’ve got an idea of what you want to write, the next step is to actually get started and write the thing. This part can feel intimidating at first, but it doesn’t have to be – just use the tools outlined below and you will soon be on your way.

1. Map out your article

First thing’s first. You need to figure out what you’re going to say, and how you’re going to say it.

You can do this by simply typing out a list in Word, or writing it out on a piece of paper. If you’d like something a little bit more high tech, try Workflowy. This will do the same thing, with the bonus that you can access your list of ideas online.

Whatever method you choose to write it down, make sure you outline your article and all of the different sections within so that you have an overall sense of what you’d like to cover and how you’re going to do it before you get started.

To get started, map out the major sections:

  • Intro: what the article is about, and why you are writing it
  • Middle: 3-5 sections that flesh out and support the idea you outlined in the intro
  • Conclusion: A summary of the main point of the article and any takeaways for your audience

Once you’ve done that you can break each of the middle sections into smaller pieces if you need to.

2. Record yourself speaking

As one of my mentor’s Bryan Harris likes to say, “Writer’s-block is common. Speaking-block less so”.

Take your topic, place yourself in front of a camera or microphone, and start speaking. If your topic is in the form of a question, this makes your process even easier. Imagine you are explaining how or why to do something to a friend that asked you that question. You’ll find that you’ll have soon recorded a bunch of information with little to no problem.

Then take that recording and transcribe it. Then clean up the transcription so that it reads better. Presto, you’re done!

This is great for actually creating the content, but as a bonus you can use this to help get your creative juices flowing if you find yourself stuck at the “mapping out your article” stage I outlined above.

4. Analyse Your Headline

A clear, catchy and enticing headline is key for the success of your article.

In today’s continually scrolling world you typically have 5 seconds or less to capture someone’s attention and inspire them to read your article.

That is why it’s always a good idea to test various titles before pressing publish.

You can use the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyser to check if your title is emotive and engaging enough to catch someone’s interest, and the CoSchedule Headline Analyser to double check your result and ensure you have a title that will convert browsers to readers.

5. Grade and Improve Your Content

Finally, improve your content and your writing skills using Grammarly to check your text for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, and Atomic Reach for overall flow and quality. Atomic Reach will grade your work based on 23 linguistic measures such as clarity, emotional impact and so on. It will also help you track and assess your content’s performance, so that you can see which pieces performed better and why, and apply that knowledge in future articles.
Ok, so the above can look a little overwhelming. But now that you have some context, I can say that the simplest and easiest way to create good quality content is to:

  1. Ask your audience
  2. Answer their questions, by recording yourself speaking and transcribing the result.

All the rest is there to help make your writing better. But if you follow the above 2 steps, and as long as you do it consistently, you’re well on your way. 

 

What’s your greatest stumbling block in creating consistent, quality content?

Let me know in the comments below!

 

And if this all seems a bit too much and you’d like to talk about how you can get your content marketing plan in place, contact me to get started.

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