Content Creation – Stop Writing and Start with These Steps
Content creation (and writing in particular) isn’t easy. It’s a big part of marketing and yet it makes a lot of people anxious. Here are some great tips to get you started.

Amazing content creation can take you a long way. For those people who can consistently produce some of the best content on the internet, the sky’s the limit. To reach this level though, you can’t just pick up a pen (or the digital equivalent) and start writing. 

As with most things in life, the key to great marketing is in the planning, and this is where all your content creation begins. Before you even start to produce content, you need to have a detailed picture of what you want to achieve, and this starts by understanding three key elements about your content creation. 

Understand Your Brand 

Content is a powerful way to establish your brand in the minds of your target audience. People often obsess about traffic, but perhaps the greatest benefit of content creation is positioning your brand in a way that encourages people to take action. 

Before you can successfully portray your brand to your audience though, you’ve got to understand it in great detail. 

Demonstrate Your Brand Values in Your Content

When you think about the most successful brands in the world, they’re immediately identifiable by a few key values. Coca-Cola, Nike, Apple; all have a clear brand identity that’s closely linked to their values.

Let’s take a slightly less glamorous, but very relevant example – HubSpot. Its core mission is “we believe businesses can grow with a conscience, and succeed with a soul — and that they can do it with inbound,” and you can feel this with every piece of content it produces. 

Every HubSpot article, video, social media post, and everything else is designed to help people succeed in inbound marketing, and at the same time, it positions the brand as an impartial authority that wants to see people succeed. 

Establish your brand values

With a clearly defined set of values that are reflected in each piece of content, you portray a consistent message that creates a connection between your brand and its target audience. 

Utilize a Consistent Brand Voice Throughout Your Content

What do values sound like in a Facebook post or a blog article?

You may have narrowed down your brand’s values, but you’ve also got to decide how you convey them. The way you do this is through your brand voice

Your business isn’t some faceless corporation; it has real people behind it who come together to create a colorful organization. When you create content, this needs to show through. 

People want to be entertained, and they want to connect with the people behind your business, so you need to find a voice that portrays what makes your brand special. This could be through a voice that’s “confident,” “quirky,” and “playful,” but what’s important is that you keep it consistent throughout your content, allowing your readers to develop a relationship with your brand. 

Recognize Your Content Goals

You need to have a clear picture of what you’re trying to achieve with your content, both on a macro (overall content strategy) and micro (individual pieces of content) level. 

If you rush into content creation, then the chances are your work isn’t going to come together to help you achieve your ultimate goals. Instead, you need to take the time to write out exactly what you want to achieve with your content marketing. For most businesses, this is going to involve some mix of generating traffic, creating leads, and boosting sales.

Once you know exactly what you’re trying to achieve with your marketing, then it’s much easier to produce content that’s optimized to help you achieve those goals. 

Focus on Your Target Audience 

Creating content isn’t about pushing your goals. It’s about offering value to your target audience, developing a relationship with them, and then seeing your goals come to fruition as a consequence. 

Your audience is the most important ingredient in your content, so you’ve got to understand them in great detail before you begin. 

Develop Reader Profiles to Guide Your Content

When you create content, you’re not trying to appeal to everyone in the world. If you’re going to maximize engagement, then you’ve got to tailor your content to a specific audience.

This is perhaps the most important part of content creation – understanding who your reader is. 

An effective way to do this is by building out reader profiles. Create a detailed picture of specific people who will be consuming your content, and include details like:

  • Age 
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Motivations 
  • Questions they have
  • Problems they need solving
  • Types of content they consume
  • How they search for information

You might have a rough idea of who you’re writing your content for, but if you want to maximize the effectiveness of your content, then you’ve got to go a step further, and reader profiles can make a big difference. 

Know Where Your Content Fits into the Customer Journey

People don’t interact with your business in a linear way. They go on a complicated customer journey that takes in many different touchpoints. 

Listing out the customer journey

Different pieces of content are going to resonate with your target audience at different points in the customer journey. For example, this article is aimed at someone slightly further along in the customer journey than an article titled “What is Content Creation.”  

This is an important distinction because it allows you to ensure each piece of content is focused, helping to engage your audience and guide them through the customer journey. 

Understanding the customer journey allows you to reach people with the right message at the right time – a vitally important aspect of marketing. 

Ensure Consistency with Your Content Creation

Success with content is built on consistency. It takes time to see the results from high-quality content, but with every piece you create, you’re building an asset that can perform for your business for years to come.

Staying consistent with your content isn’t easy, but you can put steps in place to make it easier. 

Content Calendar

Your audience wants to hear from you on a regular basis, so you need to plan out your content creation. If you have a clear content calendar, that outlines what content you’re going to create and when, then it’s much easier to coordinate. 

Not only will this help you to connect with your audience on a regular basis, but it’s also important for getting your content found. The search engines and social media platforms want to see you consistently producing high-quality content, and that’s exactly what your content calendar allows you to do. 

Don’t over-commit with your content but challenge yourself to produce regular, high-quality pieces.

Content Guidelines

If you create clear content guidelines then you don’t have to go through the whole process before every piece of content you create. You should have a document that outlines aspects such as your brand voice, and the basic formatting of your articles. 

Modern businesses produce so much content for a huge variety of platforms, and this will often involve many different team members. It’s important that each person can quickly tap into the brand’s voice and maintain consistent messaging. When you have clear content guidelines, it’s much easier for people to jump in and create on-brand content right from the beginning. 

Content Outlines 

While your content guidelines help creators on a macro level, you also need each piece of content to be focused on specific goals. To achieve this, you should be producing a detailed content outline for every piece of content (check out my article on AI in digital marketing to see how you can make this process easier).

The more you can dig into your subject and find out what information your target audience is looking for, the more focused you can be with your content outline. Set out where this piece of content fits into your customer journey, and make it clear what actions you want readers to take next.

Conclusion

Content is an amazing tool to help your business achieve its goals, but it’s not as simple as just sitting down and writing. It takes careful planning to maximize the success of your content marketing and if you skip this step, then you’ll find it’s much harder to be consistent with what you do. 

Before you can create the high-quality content your business needs, you first need to take a look at your brand, target audience, and writing processes. Only when you’ve done some brainstorming in this area can you really unleash the power of content creation. 

It might be tempting just to get started and pump out content, but it’s a much better option to create clear guidelines and set yourself up for sustained success.