The 5 Hard Truths of Content Developmentby Chris Lister
January 14th, 2014
It’s the start of a brand new year which means new beginnings and resolutions. For some of you this is also the time you commit (once again) to making content a priority for your website and blog.
So to prevent another year of unfulfilled resolutions and empty blog posts, we present the 5 Hard Truths You Need to Know Before Committing to Content Development.
#1. It Isn’t Supposed to be Easy
If good content was easy to create, you’d already have a blog filled with great posts and probably wouldn’t need to be reading this article.
The truth is that quality content is time consuming (don’t ask how long it has taken me to write this post). Good content requires creativity, diligence and commitment. Producing consistently good content should frequently be a pain in the ass.
But if you are a marketer, isn’t that why you got into this business? Didn’t you want to be creative, and produce consistently great work while adapting to new trends and strategies?
If you are a business owner or CEO, didn’t you get to where you are now through hard work and diligence? Isn’t this why you have surrounded yourself with a team of smart and creative marketers?
Creating good content is a challenge. Creating poor content is easy. You need to decide which one you are going to commit to.
2. Your Content MUST be Original
There is no way around this. You simply must create original content. Google’s search algorithm rewards it and your readers demand it.
And when we say original we don’t mean simply rehashing something that is already out there. We are talking about original ideas that provide a value to your audience, your clients or your prospective customers.
Not everything you create will be groundbreaking, but you still have to strive to create something that has value to others. Something your target audience will find interesting and relevant.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t weigh in on a popular topic as long as you are providing your own unique perspective, or add to an ongoing conversation by introducing new ways to think about the same idea.
Your readers are investing their time when they read your blog. Give them a return on their investment. By providing them with something unique and original, you are not only giving them a reason to come back, but to also share your content with others.
3. You Need a Plan and You Need Complete Buy In.
Having worked with several clients during the launch of their new blog, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a plan in place. Not only is it important to create and stick to an editorial calendar for posts, but you need to make sure you have the buy in from everybody involved in the content development process.
Who is going to come up with the ideas for your content pieces? Where are your images going to come from? Who will be proofreading and approving the content before it goes live? Will you have one author or multiple authors? Do they have the time and resources available to create great content? Who will promote the content socially?
Go through the complete process of what it will take to go from the initial idea stage to seeing your content live on your website. This will help you understand all of the resources and components you will need before you begin.
4. Content Doesn’t Need to Be Viral to be Successful
Typical excuses for not wanting to write content: My business is boring. Nobody cares about “widgets”. How do you expect me to write about “widgets” every week? This is hard….
First off, if you are selling widgets, you don’t have to always write about widgets. Some of your content should certainly focus on your product, but you might also want to write a post that highlights your research team that develops new widgets, or a post on why you use certain materials or how your products are being utilized in a specific industry.
Ok, you might say, but who really cares?
Well, somebody does or you wouldn’t be in business, and there is a good chance that that somebody is a potential client, customer or distributor. Maybe they were not previously aware of your product, but since you wrote an in-depth article on how your widgets have been implemented in their industry and increased profits for those who have used them, you now have their undivided attention.
Content doesn’t have to be viral to be successful. What content needs to do is address the right audience to be successful.
5. Content Isn’t Just Words
When we talk about content we need to stop thinking about words. It’s 2014 and words alone can be boring. We need to think about images, maps, diagrams, illustrations, infographics, white papers, case studies, videos and all the other wonderful ways we can share our ideas, expertise and knowledge with others.
Creating good content comes from utilizing people who are good at what they do. If you have a sales person who is great at communicating, look at producing monthly videos. If your graphic arts team is top notch, have them create resources such as infographics and illustrations that can explain your ideas visually. Got some creative programmers? What about interactive maps, images and diagrams?
The point is to use the resources you have and don’t always think of content as being limited to wordy blog posts.
Hopefully these 5 hard truths will give you some perspective as you look to make this year the year you finally commit to content development.