The biggest reason we get stuck with coming up with content ideas is that we’re way too caught up in what we think we *should* be creating.
A little less than two weeks ago I made a huge life change and moved to Costa Rica (from Northern California after having spent a year in Boise…brrr). I wrote about my move to Costa Rica here (and will be sharing that journey on another site as well, but more on that later), but it finally happened.
I haven’t been online much the last two weeks as my daughter was with me for the first week, which we spent taking care of things and vacationing, and now I’m getting settled.
There’s nothing like a little distance from your day-to-day to get a new perspective.
Since I’m a huge believer in #EverythingIsContent, I don’t often struggle to come up with ideas about what to create. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have those times when it takes a while longer to get the juices flowing or get in the mood to create.
And sometimes, I’m simply not in the mood. Provided I don’t have a deadline when I’m really not in the mood I find it best to leave it alone.
This is also why it’s important to thoroughly enjoy what you do.
I’ve had a great first couple of weeks here but I did miss my business… creating, working, connecting, engaging. I was excited to create my new daily routine (which is still a work in progress) because I truly love what I do.
Here’s the thing…
Even if your business has nothing to do with content, marketing, online business, etc., you need to have that presence. So instead of looking at it like something you “have to do”… what about treating it like the fun part of the sales process?
Before we get into this in in a little more detail, one of the best places to start is with the book:
They Ask You Answer
by Marcus Sheridan
The revolutionary guide that challenged businesses around the world to stop selling to their buyers and start answering their questions to get results; revised and updated to address new technology, trends, the continuous evolution of the digital consumer, and much more.
Long story short, Marcus Sheridan not only saved his fiberglass pool company during the 2008 recession, he completely blew it up and grew something MUCH bigger… thanks to content marketing.
He couldn’t spend the same budget he was on marketing, so he started creating blog posts answering customer’s questions (novel idea, right?).
The rest as they say, is history (read the book, I’m not doing it justice here).
Content marketing is constantly changing and evolving because we use technology to create and share it. Way back in the early days you could stuff a blog post with your primary keyword and end up on page 1 of Google.
It can feel overwhelming with all of the things you’re supposed to know and include. Keywords, meta descriptions, quality headlines, good images…and of course great content. And this is all before you even start promoting.
I’m going to ask you to get out of your head for a minute and start having a little more fun with your content.
You might *think* you have to create certain types of content that pleases the search engines, but I’m going to ask you to think about your audience first.
It’s a lot easier to share thing and tell stories than it is to create content based on search intent and keywords when you’re newish to content marketing and the digital marketing space.
Let’s get to it.
I recently launched a small group coaching program on email marketing (only 10 people).
One of the things I included was a private onboarding call with each of the people who signed up. I want to make sure I understand their business and their specific needs, and we create some clear expectations and goals for what they want to achieve.
As in the case with a lot of business owners (dare I say most), it’s always easier to see what other people could/should be doing than for ourselves.
You can create a case study on a client, customer, student, or project at ANY time.
It can be an in-depth epic post or something as simple as what you personally learned from the person or project.
It doesn’t take much Googling to find strategies and tactics… so give people something else.
Give them the behind-the-scenes, what worked, what didn’t work, what you’ve learned, what you’d do differently, the successes, and the failure.
Don’t overthink this!
Think about how you would share a movie or restaurant you loved… it’s not hard to bring your excitement and enthusiasm to a personal experience (I jokingly tell people that I could have convinced anyone to see Avengers Infinity War & Endgame because I loved them so much).
After you’ve created this, you can then go back and edit, format, and optimize for SEO. But don’t start there, and don’t let any SEO tool dictate what you should create. If you feel there’s value for your audience, run with it.
Tools & Resources
I don’t care what industry you’re in, there are always tools of the trade you can share, talk about, and highlight. You don’t necessarily have to teach the “how to” with the tools and resources. You can simply share them, and explain what they do and how you use it.
In the newsletter for my personal brand, I include tools every week. Initially, I was also including recommended books but found that people weren’t clicking through the books, so I increased the tools.
People love it.
Take the same approach to this as you would with case studies.
Tell the story about using the tool or resource, how you use it in your business, how it’s saved you time, and money, etc. Share your personal experience, have an opinion, and be clear about how it can help someone else.
This is often overlooked because we think people don’t want to hear about us…
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’m not talking about doing this from an *influencer* place, I’m talking about a good ol’ fashioned human-to-human connection where you share your story (and I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping the hype around influencers is on its way out. Meaning people who provide no value and are celebretized (I know, not a word) for doing a whole lot of nothing. Kardashians anyone? But I digress…)
I have always had my story on my about page, so I assumed that I didn’t ever really need to re-share it.
I did it years later in a blog post and was blown away by the responses. Let people know who you are…
There’s no right or wrong to this, do what feels right to you.
You’d be surprised at how many people appreciate a little vulnerability and honesty.
Sneak Peek & What’s Coming
There’s a good reason the whole “launch” thing works (I’m specifically referring to online marketing with a launch, but you can apply this across the board. Think about toys at Christmas… ever go to buy your child something, and it’s gone because there were limited quantities, it was more popular than they anticipated, etc.?).
People love having the “inside scoop.”
There’s a ton of psychology behind why people buy, how they buy, etc., but it’s human nature to want to feel a part of something.
Let people know what you’re working on when it’s coming, and give little sneak peeks at what to expect. This isn’t to be smarmy or use fake scarcity, it’s a simple strategy that includes your audience in what you’re doing.
You can take this a step further by asking for specific feedback on what you’ve shared.
Ask people to take a quick survey, reply to an email, or ask a specific question on social (the more direct the question on social the more likely you are to get responses).
Then share the results and feedback with your audience as content.
Here are a few more content ideas that are tried and true and always work:
- Round-up posts
- How-to posts (make these the exception rather than the rule… otherwise, you may end up creating a list of freebie seekers)
- Product breakdown: this is very similar to a behind-the-scenes post, but go deeper into a course or product you sell, who it serves, how it helps them, and why you created it. Include some screenshots of the product itself
- Book reviews (or podcast, video reviews): Jodi wrote a post on her top 3 marketing books and it is still one of our highest performing posts
- Event reviews – even if they’re virtual (i.e, all of 2020). Some of my posts with the highest traffic were even reviews, whether it was a mastermind or big event
- Product/course reviews: If you’ve hired a mentor or purchased a course, go deep with your experience and why you would (or wouldn’t) recommend it. (Note: if you wouldn’t recommend it make sure your reasons aren’t negative, personal opinions. Try to be objective).
- Business management: think about how you run your business. Is there a process you can share? Lessons you’ve learned?
- Highlight other people: I did an entire post on this, but it’s a brilliant way to give someone else some exposure and let them know you appreciate what they’re doing
Lastly, pay attention to what type of content you like to consume.
I subscribe to a lot of writers, marketers, entrepreneurs, publications, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I see something and think, “Oh, that’s a great idea!” or.. “hmm… I would never have thought that would have been something people wanted to read/watch/listen to.”
The best way to find out what your audience wants from you is to PUBLISH it… try something new and see what happens (and, of course, make sure you share what you’ve created. You can’t say it didn’t work if no one sees it).