These days, every writer needs to create content. It’s the ONE essential skill you need in today’s fast-paced writing world. You can sell content to your clients all day long. Unfortunately, writers get stuck when they’re creating content. They run out of ideas, and this means that their income suffers.
It’s not hyperbole to suggest that there’s a content race. Big websites produce vast amounts of content. Neil Evans reports:
Upstart Buzzfeed.com (of list and viral nostalgia fame) pumps out an average of 373 pieces of content per day. The online sports hub Bleacher Report produces about 800 articles in 24 hours.
I’ve been working with several students to brush up their content creation skills, and developed a simple process which any writer can use, even if you’re a beginning writer. It will make sure that you never, ever run out of content ideas, no matter what you’re writing about.
When you know that you’ve done a little preparation, and you have LOTS to write about, you’ll gain confidence, and you’re write quality content more quickly.
Think of Content Creation as a Funnel.
Let’s say that you have a client who wants you to write ten articles a week on the topic of… dogs. The topic can be anything you choose, of course. Here’s how the funnel works: you start developing a topic broadly, and then narrow it down. You use the old Five Ws and H: who, what, why, when, where, and how.
At this stage, you’re not creating content. You’re collecting ideas, keywords and inspirations. I like to use a mind map for this stage of developing the funnel. I want LOTS of ideas. Use who, what, why, when, where, and how as the spokes of your mind map.
Make it a BIG mind map. If you don’t have a favorite mind mapping app, try Freemind; it’s free, and gives you a big canvas to create maps.
Here’s the benefit of collecting ideas and inspirations into a funnel: your subconscious mind can go to work developing content while you’e doing something else.
Now let’s look at our two smart content solutions.
1. Go Broad, Then Deep, Then Develop Snippets.
Once you’ve collected ideas into your funnel, go broad when you’re creating content. For example, let’s say a cosmetic dentist has hired you to create content. Develop your funnel first.
Then use the old standbys of who, what, why, when, where, and how to develop content. When you “go broad” you’re creating informative content: you’re helping people who are new to the topic of cosmetic dentistry.
Once you’ve gone broad, you can go deep. In our cosmetic dentistry example, you’d could write about the cost of various processes, and what those processes entail. This works brilliantly if you’re creating Web content, because your content will fit into the website’s navigation structure.
While you’re creating this content, collect snippets of inspiration and news which can be used on social media. Use a spreadsheet for this, and add the Web page title from which you took the snippet. Once the content is online, add the appropriate URL to each snippet.
You’ll find that if you create snippets while you’re creating the content, your mind starts to scan content, and develop snippets automatically. This saves a lot of time and energy later.
2. Curate Additional Content to Add Variety and Depth.
When you create content, that content needs to be found. So, in addition to creating content, curate content too. Curation is basically collecting content, analyzing it, and presenting it. You’ve creating a lot of content, however, your aim is also to present your client as an authority in his field – dogs, or cosmetic dentistry, or whatever the field may be. Content curation helps with that.
You’re not just collecting a mass of content: you want content which relates to the content you have, to add variety and depth. Buffer has a quick outline of content curation here.
As you create content, you’ll soon find content around the Web which relates to what you have – curate it.
This is where your client’s blog comes in: you can curate content on the blog. Alternatively, consider creating a magazine or two on Flipboard. Not only will you add your client’s content to the magazine, you’ll curate additional content too. Don’t forget to link to the magazine from your client’s website.
So there you have it. Two smart content solutions. Be sure to create your content funnel first, and you;ll never run out of content ideas and inspiration again.
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