One question I get often is,
“Stephanie, how do I create content that gets read, shared and helps me earn more money?”
I’m going to reveal something interesting and maybe shocking. It’s not really a magic, secret formula. It’s the truth. Creating content that gets the results you want starts with knowing what you want. If you want people to read it, it needs to resonate with them. If you want them to share it they need to believe it will resonate with other people too. If you want it to encourage a purchase it needs to explain why they should open their wallet to you.
While there really isn’t any magic potion (sorry) that will help you get the results you want, there are a few tips to help you feel like you have just the right tricks up your sleeve to be successful with all of your content marketing efforts. Doing these things will ensure content marketing success but it’s not magic it is hard work.
Read an Abundance of Awesome Content
If you want to learn how to create content that gets results, read content that is getting results. Read content that has been highly shared and commented on. Take notes about what makes it work. What is the headline like? What type of images do they use? Where did they place the share buttons? Where did you find the content to click on it?
Look at how they lay out the content. What makes you want to keep reading? The more you read content that is working the more you’ll know what the right content for your needs looks like. The more you know what it looks like the better you can assess what type of content you need to create and how to create it.
Understand Your Audience
You’ve heard this before, but you really cannot move any further with your content marketing until you completely know who your audience is and know what they know. You need to know what keeps them up at night as well as what makes them work hard and strive in their lives. You should know what their values are and what makes them tick in all aspects of their life, especially the part that crosses into your niche.
You have to identify the types of words you will need to use to speak to them in a way that gets your message across. You have to speak their language. Even if you have previously studied your audience, you need to keep studying your audience. While your audience’s demographics don’t change, their values may change over time. You have to look at products and services that have been around for 20, 30 or more years and ask, “How has their communication changed over the years?” “How have they stayed relevant to their audience?”
Know Your Products or Services
Even if someone else created the products or services that you promote you need to know them inside and out. You need to know what’s on page 48 of your information product and what you said and why you said it and most importantly why your audience should care. You need to come across as the expert in the niche that you’re promoting and working in. Hint: If you’re not an expert yet, it’s okay, keep learning. Start at A and keep going.
If it’s been a while since you’ve used your products, or thought about what your services do for your customers and clients (the problems you solve) then you have some work to do. Look at your work from the eyes of your audience so that you can know that what you produce works for them. Because, in the end, it’s about them, it’s always about them.
Plan Ahead for The Content You’ll Publish (and where)
As you go through these tasks you can start developing short-term and long-term plans for all your content marketing needs. You can look at the products and or services you want to promote and determine the ways in which your audience needs to be educated. You can look at the products or services and identify the ways in which they solve your audience’s pain points. You can look at the products or services and determine all the types of content you need to create for your audience and where and how you’ll publish it.
Set up a content calendar to help you keep it all organized. You don’t have to get fancy, just use a spreadsheet or your Google Calendar. Start with identifying the products or services you are already promoting. Determine where you’re missing content that will help you inform, instruct, interact with and inspire your audience. Then, identify the new products you will launch in the future, look at least a quarter of a year ahead, if you know sooner that’s even better. Planning is an imperative when it comes to effective content marketing that gets results.
Write (or Have Written) the Right Type of Content
Once you’ve identified the different areas where you can use content for your business, and when and where you’ll need it, determine the different types and format of content that you can use for the purpose. For example, if your mission is to build your email list, you need the right lead magnet to attract people to your email list. If you want to sell a specific product you’ll need sales copy for your landing page. These are very different types of content.
Further, you’ll need to determine a mix of forms of content such as video, webinars, lead magnets, blog posts, emails, articles, white papers, information products, Kindle books and more. The different forms of content will depend on who your audience is and how they want to consume the information.
Just realize you don’t have to do everything. Do what works and do it well. If you don’t feel like you can create certain types of content find someone else who can do it for you. Test out different types and forms to see what works best. For some, a mixture of short form and long form content works well. For others, they only use webinars and a few short blog posts each week. What works for you will be individual to your products, services and audience.
Include Images Strategically
Today, we live in a very visual society and due to the advances in technology you can use awesome imagery in your online content, just like you can in your offline content. You need to know why you choose every image that you use. For example, an image that you put with a blog post needs to have a reason for being there. It needs to promote what you are trying to tell your audience and make the story more understandable or real to them.
Plus, you need to ensure that you understand the technology behind using images so that they’re picked up by the search engines. That same technology helps blind people visualize your website too. For example, you need to use the right tags and Meta data. Many people will tell you that it does not matter, but it does matter. Learn your craft well and you won’t be disappointed.
Promote & Share Your Content All the Time
Content marketing cannot work if you just publish content without the marketing component. You must promote your content in a variety of ways. One way is to put share buttons near the content you want them to share. And hint: Ask your audience to share it at the end of the article or blog post. Promote your content on social media yourself; don’t just wait for others to promote it. Promote it to your email list and pay for promotion of special content. Do what it takes.
One way to do all of this is to keep track of your content so that you can easily use it to answer questions with a link to a post you wrote, or a product you created, or a book that you’ve published that happens to be a perfect answer to their question. You can use a simple spreadsheet for this and it will help you immensely with promotion and sharing.
Be Consistent & Persistent
You have to do it over again every day. You can’t content market once a week, or once a year. You have to devote time to doing it every single work day. Remember that with content marketing there are really no overnight success stories. Content marketing works and it works long-term, but it doesn’t work over night.
The fact is, you’re not going to start content marketing this week and be on the front page tomorrow – but you might if something goes viral. You will for sure if you keep producing awesome content for your audience and promoting it as you would any product. If you know what resonates with your audience and keep on, keeping on, even when it gets hard and you feel like you’re blogging to the abyss, content marketing will get results.
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