‘Content’ was the buzzword of 2013, and I think it’ll be sticking around to bask in it’s own success throughout 2014. It’s been touted as the linchpin of a successful social media marketing strategy and has been offered up as the key to unlocking the door to more website traffic and greater engagement on your social media channels.
Content refers to anything from website blurb to newsletters, but most people associate it with blogging, as it’s blogging that simultaneously provides the most success but also the most frustration.
Here are 7 tips that I find useful when I’ve been staring at a blank word document for so long that I actually starting wishing for The Paperclip to pop up.
1. Curation and inspiration
If your creative juices have dried into a creative OXO cube then spend some time curating your favourite blog posts; these could be written by experts within your industry or they could be about something completely unrelated. Decide what it is about this content that makes it enjoyable to read and try to emulate this in your own work, but remember that there is a big difference between emulating and, you know, ripping off someone else’s work.
As for inspiration, and forgive me for sounding like an eccentric art teacher here, but inspiration is all around you; television, movies, current events, conversations that you overhear on the train and even the minutes from your last meeting.
2. Get organised
This was probably a New Year’s resolution for at least a third of you, but getting organised really will help to remove any anxiety from blogging, therefore making your content better.
Try to plan content on a monthly basis, taking into account any holidays or events that occur during the month; at least then you know that you’ve got something to write about. Planning your content will also help you to be consistent with your posts and will save you from the panic and pressure that hits you when you realise that you haven’t blogged for 10 weeks.
Don’t let your planning squash all spontaneity though; if you’re struck by a lightning bolt of inspiration or a particularly relevant news story pops up then pop up a post.
3. Forget the title…for now
Trying to think of a witty, provoking, summarising, SEO-friendly title that can fit easily into a 140-character limit is, understandably, a source of much frustration.
If thinking of a title for your content is preventing you from actually writing the content itself then use a working title; mine often go something along the lines of “Stupid Blog Post That Is Terrible Because You Are Terrible And Can’t Write”.
As you write you may take note of a certain phrase that you work perfectly as a title. If not, just call the blog post exactly what it is, just like I did with this one.
4. Still struggling? Start with the ‘easy’ stuff
If you’re still struggling to come up with content, to the point where you’ve now hidden your laptop beneath a cushion (been there, my friend) then start with a blogging ‘ice breaker’. If everyone’s up for it then create a post that introduces your readers to the team. If no one is quite ready to make their internet début then you can find your blogging voice by writing a case study or a review of a book. Just make sure that it’s industry-relevant, and isn’t a trashy Mills & Boon-esque novel that you’ve been enjoying on your lunch break.
5. Have an outer-body experience and become your reader
You might have a great idea burning a hole in your notebook; a post that you will find easy and enjoyable to write, but if it’s not something that your target audience will be interested in then it’s not going to work.
Also, you know how you hate reading blog posts that are nothing more than a press release with it’s tense changed? Yes, well so do your readers.
6. A picture tells a thousand words…
…unless it’s a generic stock photo, then it’s mute. Of course, you probably don’t have the budget to fly your team to St Barths to shoot photos for your content, but spend time searching for an eye-catching relevant image.
Remember to use it every single time you send your content out across your social media channels; here’s why and how.
7. Proof read it. Twice.
This might seem patronising, but come on, we all skip this step from time to time and we all regret it. Ideally, if you’ve got the time then proof read your content the day after you’ve written it; this way you’re reading with a fresh pair of eyes that aren’t blind to grammatical errors hidden within a post that you can’t stand to look at any longer.
If you’re in a rush and can’t be that leisurely then buy your office buddy a coffee, or beer, and ask them to do it. Either way, it must be done, if only to avoid receiving smug tweets highlighting all of your mistakes for the next three days.
The hardest part about creating content, of any kind, is getting started. Your first few attempts might be terrible, but they never have to make it online; they just need to help you find your brand’s voice. Once you’ve started posting content regularly, you’ll be able to see which kinds of content provoke the most response from your audience, meaning that over time the whole process will become much easier.
If you think that I’ve missed something out or you’re sitting on your own top tips for content and creation and want to share them then comment below or tweet the SocialSignIn team.