Quality, not quantity
You should only produce content at the rate that you can do so and have it be of high quality. Whether that’s one post a week or one post a month, your brand should never prioritize content creation volume over utility.
We know well the temptation to throw a blog up to get some content out there. However, your goal must be to get noticed for the right reasons — and that means your brand should become known as being an authoritative resource whose hallmark is producing quality content.
Content that’s simply the best — 10x better than all the rest
An oldie but a goodie, this Whiteboard Friday introduced the idea of 10x content, or the need to create content that’s ten times better than anything else out there if you really want to win in the SERPs (and serve your customers well.) Creating that content is no easy task — but with the guidance of this follow-up video on creating that 10x content, you’ll be well on your way.
Any content your team produces to share should go through at least one editing cycle, whereby someone other than the author peruses it for structure, typos, grammatical mistakes, and inaccuracies. Many content teams peer-edit work, which can be great. Other organizations prefer to run their work by a dedicated editor. At the very least — and only in extreme situations — self-edit from a quiet place free of distractions. (This post shares some self-editing tips borrowed from journalism.)
The outline (shown below) acts as a starting point for the entire team, but is really invaluable to the writer because it allows him or her to track the various elements as the project moves toward completion.
Additionally, the outline makes it far easier for quality content to be created more easily and consistently since the sheet can act as a veritable standards statement, highlighting what each piece of content must include.
☑ Target audience
☑ Goals of the content
☑ Target topic and keywords
☑ URL (if existing content) or recommended URL (if new)
☑ Title tag
☑ Meta description
☑ Outline of the content, including main topics and subtopics, internal links, and format recommendations
The Guide to Content Creation
Step 1: Set Your Goals
Every strategy needs to begin with a goal. Otherwise, how will you track how effective it is? Before you put finger to keyboard, you have to list the goals you’re hoping to achieve with your content. Some goals could include:
Step 2: Audience Personas
Personas encourage you to think deeply about who your audience is and what might make them motivated to use your services. When you put together your personas, you should try to answer the following questions:
Also, take into consideration demographics, region, company size, etc. By addressing all these areas, you’ll be able to create a profile of the type of person you’re looking to target your content to, which will, in turn, inform the messaging you put together and the types of content you create.
Step 3: Conduct a Content Audit
Content audit refers to taking stock of all your business’s content. The audit process involves content analysis to expose strengths, weaknesses, and how they have impacted your content and marketing strategy.
Step 4: Establish Your Internal Subject Matter Experts
You’ll want to identify your company’s designated subject matter experts. These are the people who will author your content and be the face and name tied to your brand. Most often, it’s a company’s CEO or president. But it can also include sales reps, your marketing team members, or anyone else who has valuable knowledge to share that delivers your strategy.
If you have more than one subject matter expert, make sure you identify the areas they’ll be the experts of. For example, your president or CEO could help push messages centered on the core of your business, but they could also share leadership tips and content on business growth strategies.
Step 5: Designate a Content Creation Team
Having a designated content creation team ensures that the content creation process is not interrupted by business activities or the availability of subject matter experts. Hence, the team keeps the content creation process running for the business.
- Chief Content Officer – lives and breathes the entire content creation for your business. Takes care of coming up with topic suggestions, aligning content topics with business goals, and content prioritization.
- Content Manager/Project Manager – takes care of managing and organizing all content and marketing assets. Manages the team and the process so that each piece stays on track.
- Content Strategist – brainstorms topic ideas and provide research, so topics are on-message
- Content Writer/Freelancer – Conducts research and crafts valuable content pieces that align with your brand guidelines, outlines, and ensure they speak to your business goals.
- Content Editor – reviews content for tone, accuracy, flow, and grammatical errors.
- Designer – creates any visual elements needed for developed content.
- Content Distributor – shares content out so as many people see it as possible
Step 6: Create A Process
Mapping out exactly how you’ll create your content is crucial, and you need to start from ideation to distribution. Your editorial process will keep all your team members accountable, and it ensures you’re on the same page regarding a system.
The easiest way to go about this is to designate someone from your marketing team to oversee the entire process. You’ll also want to determine what tools and roles you’ll need and if you’ll be using freelance writers. Keep in mind that your subject matter experts might not have a ton of room on their plate for writing and creating content.
Step 7: Review the Buyer’s Journey
At each stage of the buyer’s journey, there are opportunities to use content to inch prospects further along and get them closer to a sale. This is why comprehending the three stages helps you identify the type of content you can use at each. And, the more you can tailor your content to a particular stage, the more you can nurture the prospects at that stage.
Leads at this stage have established a problem that needs to be solved, and in their search for a solution, have just become aware of your brand. Since leads at this stage don’t know a ton about you, you’ll want to provide them with content that explains what you do and why you’re a solution.
Some of these pieces will be published on your site, while others should be published on other sites and publications that your audience reads. This will help deepen your lead pool and build awareness through multiple channels at once.
When a lead has made it to this point, they are considering using your company but are weighing you against competitors. Content at this stage will be primarily housed on your site and shared through various other marketing channels, including email and social media. Your content then needs to be geared toward deepening trust and proving that you’re the right solution for their particular needs.
Why do you need a content creation process?
Adopting a content creation process can:
Bottom line: It’s best not to half-ass your content creation.
If your current workflow (or even your agency’s workflow) relies on trickles of inspiration, squeezing asset creation into unexpected open blocks on the calendar, pushing links out for the world to see and hoping they go viral as you sit back and watch the analytics populate, you can do better.
Quadruple the leads! Can you imagine going into a meeting with the marketing and sales teams and reporting those numbers? We can. Shift your workflow to intentional ideation, creation, revision, and optimization.
How to scale content creation
Everything above is enough to get your content creation efforts off the ground. But there’s only so much you can do on your own. If you truly want to scale your content efforts, you’ll need to involve other people and systemize your processes.
Put someone in charge of each channel
Of course, it’s possible to put one person in charge of multiple channels, but it’s rarely efficient. If you spread people too thin, they’ll just produce lots of mediocre content for many channels instead of exceptional content for one channel.
Break the content creation process down into bite-sized tasks
SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) are documents explaining how to do specific tasks within your organization. You should create them for as many of the bite-sized tasks from the previous step as possible.
It’s nothing special, but having everything documented like this allows us to delegate each part of the content creation process more effectively. It also makes life easier when onboarding new employees, as our collection of SOPs effectively serves as a training library.
Hire knowledgeable writers
Single-handedly creating every piece of content is virtually impossible, so you’ll need to hire writers if you want to scale. But this is arguably where many people make a crucial mistake because they look for writers over subject matter experts.
Our thinking is that it’s easier to teach someone how to write better than it is to teach them how to do SEO. We also want our employees to share their own unique insights and experiences, so hiring writers just doesn’t cut it for us.
However, not everyone does things this way. Plenty of brands have success scaling their content using more of a top-down approach. This is where a content strategist plans each piece, creates an outline, and sends it to a writer to turn into a fully-fledged piece.
Use a content calendar
Repurpose content for multiple channels
Keep in mind that when we talk about repurposing content, we’re not saying to republish the same piece verbatim on other channels. If you compare our post and video on long-tail keywords, you’ll notice that they’re far from identical. That’s because what works well in one format won’t always work well in another, so you should always repurpose rather than republish.