The most intimidating thing about starting content marketing is coming up with content ideas.
You sit down at the time you’ve set aside to write your blog or social media post. You take a sip of your beverage, square your shoulders, and put your fingers on the keyboard.
Consistency, you tell yourself, is key.
The cursor blinks, mocking you. Your mind is suddenly as blank as the page.
In journalism, they call it feeding the beast – coming up with fresh, interesting ideas on a regular basis.
In my 10 years in journalism, I learned how to keep the ideas flowing and the beast fed. Bonus: it’s not that hard.
Make a content calendar
The first step in making your content life easier is to make an editorial calendar. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy – mine’s a Google Sheet. You could even write in a physical calendar or planner if that works for you.
What we’re trying to avoid is that dreaded blinking cursor. Plan at least a month’s worth of content at a time. When you sit down, you have a topic, if nothing else.
When you come across a piece of information related to a topic on your calendar, make a note of it. Then when you sit down you’ll have not only your topic, but also some research or inspiration to help you flesh it out.
Build content around relevant holidays
Consistency is a key to content marketing, but it is not really the key. Consistently posting inane platitudes will get you nowhere.
When putting together your calendar, don’t plan posts like “Happy Mother’s Day!”
Bleh. What value do your followers get from that?
You have to stop the scroll. Think of what Mother’s Day means to your audience. Is it a chance to talk about a product? Share a recipe, joke, or sweet story? Connect the dots between the day on the calendar, your audience’s interests, and your brand.
When you’re stuck for ideas, visit a site like checkiday.com and see what weird observances are taking place – from National Cookie Day to Walk Barefoot Day to the Festival of Sleep (all real holidays). Connect those back to your brand and your audience interests. I wrote an article about this for Medium that gave examples for every month of 2021.
Listen to your audience
Eavesdrop in the places your audience hangs out. (Identifying these places, real or digital, was a key part of creating your content marketing strategy, remember?)
Notice what people are talking about. What posts get a lot of engagement? Those topics are resonating. Skim through the comments looking for themes or trends.
Never assume you know what your audience wants to hear from you. The best way to know what’s on their mind is to ask them – or listen as they talk to one another.
Build content that shares what you know
People have a real fear of giving away their knowledge for free. They figure if they post about their area of expertise on their blog or social sites, people won’t need to hire them.
That fear is understandable but unfounded. If people are determined to bootstrap it, they’re going to do that anyway. There are already enough free resources on the Internet to teach you how to DIY just about anything.
The problem is a lot of those resources are crap.
When you create valuable content sharing your knowledge, you establish yourself as an authority in your niche. It actually leads to more business. People looking for someone to solve their problem start seeing you as an expert they can trust.
Even those bootstrappers, once they’ve been burned by a failed DIY, will look for an expert. And frankly, they’re probably not your ideal customers anyway. The best customers are interested in a quality solution. Those looking for a cheap shortcut will just haggle you to death.
The idea of posting good, valuable content on a consistent basis is daunting. Keep track of good ideas when you have them. Look for inspiration in the calendar and customer conversations. Plan ahead to foil the blinking cursor. You will be rewarded when the leads start coming to you.
Need a little help? Never fear. I’m here to be the Mr. Miyagi to your Daniel-san. Get in touch to start building your content strategy. Or hire me to write your content, so you can get back to running your business.