You’ve heard that content is king a million times. Or one of my favourite quotes: Excellent Content isn’t the exception, it’s the price of entry. (Corbett Barr – www.thinktraffic.net). Or you’ve heard a million variations of this – you KNOW that you have to create quality content if your blog or website is to stand out from the crowd.
But before you start creating that excellent content, there are 3 steps you need to take to ensure that your excellent content really furthers the goals of your blog or website.
IF you do these steps you’ll find that you are creating the kind of content that your audience wants, in the medium that they want AND that you are positioning that content for maximum exposure.
Let’s look at the three steps in turn.
Step 1 – Give ‘Em What They Want, How They Want, Where They Want
This foundational step is one that most of us miss when we first get started. We start a blog or a website and the default position for most of us is to start creating text based content.
When I first started my bass guitar website this was my default position. (Also that website was built using a service called SBI or Site Build It. And this was their recommended business model).
So I built out the recommended thirty pages of good content and waited for Google to bring me an audience. Only no one came. And I didn’t start building an audience until I began posting instructional/high content videos to YouTube. (Some of those videos definitely qualify as tentpole videos!)
And what’s weird is that now I have an audience I’ve been able to direct that audience to some of those original articles – and they loved them! But the problem was, until they’d discovered what I was about they weren’t prepared to read those articles.
So that’s the first lesson you need to take onboard with your content creation. Don’t create the kind of content that’s easy for you to create – give your audience the kind of content THEY want to see/read/hear.
The easiest way to find out what kind of content your audience wants is via a Target Profile Interview. That way you can actually ask the following important questions:
- (i) What content would you like to see (specifically – what topics?)?
- (ii)What format do you prefer to consume that content in? (E.g. written, video or audio?)
- (iii)Where do you normally access that kind of content in your market space? (E.g. do you go to Forums or individual blogs or websites, or iTunes or YouTube?)
When you know the answers to these questions it can help guide your content creation so you are creating valuable content for your prospective audience. And it tells you where you need to place your content so your audience can find it.
If your audience likes to watch videos, you gotta include YouTube in the mix. If your audience likes podcasts, then iTunes has to go in the mix. If your audience hangs out on Facebook…you know where to go.
Being able to position the kind of content your audience wants in the location they go to will allow you to grow your audience quickly.
Caveat: If you are creating content for places like YouTube, iTunes or Facebook you ALWAYS need to remember that you don’t own your account on those places. And you can get banned at anytime. So you must make sure you always abide by the terms of service of those sites AND your content should be designed to find people on those sites, and then funnel them back to your website.
By all means engage with your target audience on other sites, always be guiding them back to a self-hosted website that you own. I can’t overstate this one.
Step 2 – The 2 Jobs Each Piece Of Content Needs To Do
The content that you create needs to do two jobs:
- (i) Establish the ‘expertise’ factor.
- (ii)Direct people to do something
The first job is simply part of the process of getting people to ‘know, like and trust you.’ (Anyone know who first coined that phrase?)
The second job is important too. If your content is on a third party website (YouTube, iTunes, Facebook etc) then you should be subtly directing people back to your website.
For example, if you listened to last week’s Copyblogger Podcast you would have heard a very subtle pitch for getting Copyblogger’s 20 Part Internet Marketing For Smart People course. In exchange for getting that free 20 lesson course – which is really good btw – you have to give Copyblogger your email address.
So when you’re at the outline/planning stage for actually creating the type and kind of content that will satisfy your Target Profile from Stage 1 then you need to make sure that if the content is going to be hosted on a 3rd party website that there’s some kind of call to action to direct people back to you.
(If the content is on YOUR website – and see below – then you should be directing people to take a specific action. Either leave a comment. Or subscribe to your mailing list. Or go check out a product page. )
Step 3 – Design Your Content For Use In Multiple Locations
This is an important step that is overlooked by many bloggers and content creators. They post an article to their own website or blog – or post a video to their YouTube channel – and stick at that.
There are many ways of getting traffic to your site – and posting content in multiple places maximizes the effect of the efforts you took to create that content.
So for example, if you wrote an article or blog post you can syndicate that to Document Sharing sites. Or you can combine it with several articles on a similar theme into an eBook and load it to Kindle (for free or for a small fee). Or you can create a version of it for a Forum post. Or you can upload it to an article directory.
Or take a video that you’ve uploaded to YouTube. There are other video aggregators you can upload it to (like Blip.tv or Metacafe or Viddler….the list goes on). You can also post the video onto your blog by using YouTube’s Embed Code. You can post a link to your Facebook page too….the possibilities are endless.
But you should have a ‘promotional’ plan in mind before you even start creating the content – and you should know where it’s going to go. And for most content it should end up in more than one location.
To create really effective content for your blog or website, you need to follow these 3 steps BEFORE you start creating:
- (i) Find out from a Target Profile interview exactly what kind of content your target audience wants, and just as importantly, where they go to see that kind of content.
- (ii) Each piece of content should establish ‘the expertise factor’ and should also direct people back to your website – and should direct people to take a specific action too.
- (iii) Each piece of content should be designed for use in multiple locations and multiple ways.
Has anyone actually done the market research to find out what kind of content their audience prefers? Or if you’re a blogger did you just assume people wanted written content? Answers to these questions and any related thoughts are – as always – welcomed in the comments.