How to Survive Your First Time Creating Content
Do you watch the Walking Dead? It doesn't matter if you get into zombie shows or not. The title intrigues you. The story line sucks you in and you realize at some point you just can't turn away (no matter how gross). Have you ever read something and just know within the first couple of sentences it is something you want to read? There is content that amazes. There is content that is created but barely provides any value.
It isn't always the same blogger that creates great content or the same blogger that produces "barely worth the effort" content. If you create content, you know that it is hard to come up with award winning stuff every time. The reason it seems so challenging is that for every subject, it seems that someone has already tackled it. It seems impossible to come up with something new and different. How do you give something more when it seems there is no place to go?
Imagine that you are on stage, about to give a lecture on increasing sales. Yawn.
You have never presented before. How can you be successful?
The presentation can go one of two ways.
1) You will bore the audience to death with a bunch of facts and data
2) You will get a standing ovation for your mind-blowing speech and pick up a bunch of new clients.
Obviously, the second option is what you are striving for. How do you achieve that?
Here are some tips so you can survive your first time creating content.
1) Create a Headline That is Bold and Magnetic
Compare these two headlines:
- Increase Your Sales (vague and generic)
- 10 Little-Known Factors That Will Increase Your Sales 200% (powerful and detailed)
The second headline sounds better because it is powerful, detailed and draws curiosity.
You have one chance to draw people in. If you can't get them in the room, you have nothing. Is your audience Interested in what you have to say?
Your headline should include these key items:
- Keep it short and powerful (Best headline length is 50 - 70 characters)
- Make it reflect the value you will be providing to your audience
- Ensure that your content follows through on the promise in the headline
- Use the keyword in your title
- Use words that your audience would use
- Use powerful and emotional words
Hot Tip - Make sure to evaluate your headline using an analyzer tool such as this one by CoSchedule.
2) Engage Your Audience
Your audience would love to have an active role. This keeps them interested and helps them to feel connected with the content. This can be as simple as polling the audience or as complex as running a quiz or contest. You are taking your audience on a journey. You are showing them how to get from where they are today to a better place in the future. The point of the content is to get the audience to a new, happier place.
Help them along the way using these tools:
- Ask your audience questions
- Create a story with your content (so they can visualize their journey)
- Create common ground (see more on that below)
- Leave them with an action to pursue and a passion to get to the new "place"
Go ahead and test your knowledge of blogging - see quiz below
Hot Tip - Start some commotion - polarizing your audience is a great way to get a conversation started
3) Provide Answers
You don't want your audience leaving and still trying to figure out the answers. Your audience is there to learn something. They want answers fast. Make sure you are delivering what you promised in your headline.
Hot Tip - Make the answers easy to find (use bullets, bolding and whitespace)
4) Try Various Methods for Presenting your Information (Video, SlideShare, Infographics, Animation)
Even the people that are passionate about learning get tired of reading. Technology today offers so many different options for creating content. You can use the tools that most appeal to your audience, use a tool that you are most comfortable with, or use a combination of many tools to keep things fresh. You can find a tool in just about any category that you can use for free, why not check them all out and see what your audience likes best.
Hot Tip - Use a different method of delivery for each blog and then evaluate which blog performed better
5) Use Humor
Who doesn't like to laugh?
Neil Patel in his blog "How to Use Humor to Power Up Your Content Marketing" lists three reasons why humor is so effective:
- It forces people to lower their defenses
- You can use it to connect with your audience
- Humor often leads to sharing
Humor is a great marketing tool and more companies are using it to connect with their audiences.
Hot Tip - Make sure you fully understand your audience so that you will find humor that they will enjoy (and not find offensive)
6) Connect with your Target Audience (what is their problem, what do they watch, what do they listen to)?
This is really the basis of everything you do in your business. You want to connect with your audience so that you can build a relationship based on trust. Nancy Duarte, a magician at presenting information, covers this in-depth in her book "Resonate". She says,
"Though your heroes might be lumped together in a room, you shouldn't view them as a homogeneous blob. Instead of thinking about the audience as a unified clump when preparing your presentation, imagine them as a line of individuals waiting to have face-to-face conversations with you"
She recommends that you ask these questions to figure out what your audience likes and how you can incorporate that into your content:
- Lifestyle - Where do they hang out? What's special about them? Where do they live?
- Values - What is important to them?
- Knowledge - What do they know about your topic already? Where do they get their knowledge from?
- Influence - How do they make decisions? Who or what influences their behavior?
- Motivation and Desire - What is lacking in their lives? What do they need or desire?
- Respect - What can you do to make them feel respected?
Hot Tip: Find as much common ground as you can and use that to build a relationship
7) Create a Story that Elicits Emotion and Feelings
Use the information you collected above to create a story. Where a report would summarize information, stories should produce an experience. All stories follow a typical pattern (Duarte, Resonate):
- Relatable and Likable Hero
- Hero Encounters Roadblocks
- Hero Emerges Transformed
Think about your favorite movie. You can bet it will have all the traits listed above.
Hot Tip: A good story will always have some kind of conflict that you can help resolve.
8) Don't Try to Game the System (SEO)
There is a lot of information out there on how to leverage Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to bring more people to your site. Of course, ranking higher in Google will bring in more potential customers. There are many bloggers that may devote their entire existence to using this tool alone.
This may have worked in the past before search engines started getting very sophisticated with their algorithms. The algorithms are very advanced now. If you have a solid plan and are truly providing valuable and engaging content, the search engine will pick up on these valiant efforts. However, those algorithms can pick out crap faster than anything so the days of keyword stuffing are over. Think about a professor. They read tons of papers each year. They aren't tricked by fancy language, distractors, or fluff. They know what is valuable. The same goes for search engines.
Hot Tip: Write good content that your audience really cares about and earn the respect of your influencers (obtain backlinks) and you are well on your way to getting ranked highly.
Do all these tips make sense to you? If so, you are prepared to tackle your first presentation (blog). You feel confident that you can connect with your audience. You know your audience well and you can now take them on a journey to where they want to be. Now you will receive that standing ovation (high number of social shares). Take a bow and soak-up your new found fame