Content Creation

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What is content creation?

Content creation is the process of generating topic ideas that appeal to your buyer persona, creating written or visual content around those ideas, and making that information accessible to your audience as a blog, video, infographic, or other format.

The Content Creation Process

We marketers are busy. We don’t have time to waste on inefficient systems. That’s why we create processes for everything we do. We devise a system, roll it out, tweak it until it works, then repeat that system over and over to generate the results we want. Think about every marketing campaign you’ve ever done — webinars, autoresponders, surveys. Each of them had a process. Content creation is no different.

Follow these steps to create content, remove the guesswork, and allow for more creative mental space.

1. SEO Research

Creating your buyer persona likely gave you some ideas about what topics to write about and what questions your audience might have, which is a great start. Now, you need to confirm if those ideas can apply on a bigger scale to a larger audience. Sure, it would be great to write a blog post directed toward a single person, but, boy, would it be a waste of energy.

SEO research — a.k.a. keyword research — will show you the search volume of a specific keyword phrase and whether it’s worth the investment of creating a piece of content around it.

A good way to go about keyword research is to write down some questions that your persona might have based on their obstacles and goals. Then, perform some keyword research around those queries to see if enough people are searching for them. A rule of thumb is to target keywords that are attainable, meaning that have a monthly search volume (MSV) and keyword difficulty that corresponds to your domain authority. Trying to target high volume (read: highly competitive) keywords when you’ve just started blogging won’t pan out too well for you.

Before we go any further, let’s detour into a quick-and-dirty SEO explanation:

One important factor that helps you to rank in search engines is domain authority. You gain domain authority by how many external sites link back to your content. In order for this to happen, you need to have a pretty large library of content that is valuable enough to cite. That means, the longer you write high quality content, the higher your domain authority and the easier it is to rank for highly competitive keywords that will put you on the first page of Google.

If you’re not quite there yet, the best thing to do is to target long-tail, low-volume keywords with minimal keyword difficulty (<50) — we’re talking 200-1000 MSV. This will give you the best chance at ranking for keywords and getting your content in front of more people.

SEO lesson concluded. Back to our scheduled programming.

There are a few ways you could perform your keyword research:

  • Use keyword research tools, like SEMRush or Moz Keyword Explorer.
  • Type your keyword into a search engine and take note of the auto-filled queries.
  • Check out the related searches section on search engine results pages (SERPs).

2. Ideation

Now that you’ve determined which keywords to target, it’s time to brainstorm some content ideas. HubSpot research shows that the best way to organize content is through topic clusters, meaning you create a long-form, comprehensive pillar page based on a keyword that then links to content you’ve created on related subtopics (think blog posts).

The topic cluster model makes brainstorming so much easier because now you have structure to follow (... told you we like processes). You can use your main keyword to create a pillar piece that covers that topic in depth, like … say a guide to content creation. Then, you can create shorter pieces of content — infographics, blog posts, templates — that help your audience dive deeper into the topic and target long-tail keywords.

If you’re stumped for ideas, you might want to consider looking for inspiration from books you’ve read, industry studies, your competitor’s sites, or related searches on SERPs.

Once you have all of your ideas down, you can develop your editorial calendar and start creating.

3. Writing

I’m going to talk about the writing process because … well, that’s what I do. Your specific content creation strength might be videos or graphics or podcasts. Whatever it is, the creation process follows some pretty similar guidelines:

  • Write to your persona. Use their voice, their euphemisms, even their humor to construct a piece that resonates.
  • Use titles, meta descriptions, and other teasers to compel your audience to read your content. Put the benefit of your content right in the title to let them know why they should read it.
  • Create something unique. Don’t simply regurgitate the information that’s already out there. Infuse a unique style or cite new research to emphasize your points.
  • Stick to one idea and use your content to reinforce it. Don’t confuse your reader by going on tangents or trying to explain multiple semi-related topics in a single piece.
  • Stay true to your voice. Don’t try to impress your audience with eloquent prose or an expansive vocabulary if they don’t speak that way.
  • Be concise and clear. You want your audience to relate to you and derive value from your content … and not have to sift through jargon or confusing metaphors.

4. Editing

The way you edit your (or others’) work is a very subjective process. You may want to edit as you go, or you might wait a few days and review the work with fresh eyes. You might care a great deal about grammar, or you might aim for a more colloquial piece.

Either way, there are a few things that should definitely look out for as you refine your content, like active voice, clear language, short sentences, and plenty of whitespace. Consider having a colleague or manager review your work, too.

Some tools that will help you cut down on your editing time are Grammarly and Hemingway Editor.

5. Uploading

Now that your content is ready, you’ll need to put it somewhere that people can access it. A content management system (CMS) is software that hosts digital content and allows you to display it on your website (or anywhere else on the web).

The benefit to a CMS is that it connects all of your content and stores it in one place. So, you can easily link to a landing page in your blog article or insert a content offer in an email. Not only that, but you can analyze the results of all the content you created for a specific campaign (which can help with content audits). A CMS saves you from having a disjointed content marketing system.

6. Publishing

Publishing content is as simple as clicking a button. So, why include a section on it? Well, because it’s not always that simple. Yes, you can publish your content immediately after uploading, or you can maximize its impact by waiting for an optimal time.

If you’re just starting out, then clicking publish right away probably won’t impact your audience too much. But if you have committed to a regular publishing schedule, like delivering a new post every Wednesday, your audience will expect to see posts published on Wednesdays.

Something else to keep in mind is to publish according to trends or time-sensitive events. For example, if you create content about national holidays or current events, then you’ll want to publish those at specific times.

A CMS will allow you schedule posts for a future date and specific time, so you can click, schedule, and forget.

Content Creation Tools

While a CMS will help you manage your content, it won’t help you create it. That’s where content creation tools come in handy. These are especially useful if you’re artistically impaired, like me, or if you don’t have the capacity to hire help. From GIFs to infographics, these content creation tools will help you look like a professional, regardless of what kind of content you’re making.

Canva will help you create beautiful designs for any platform, from social ads to Facebook cover photos to infographics. The software features aesthetically pleasing templates that you can customize with colors, images, and text ... for free.

Giphy The GIF has replaced emojis as a completely normal form of communication, and, therefore, an acceptable way to present content. Giphy allows you to search millions of pre-created GIFs in their database or even create your own.

Vidyard is a video hosting platform that was made for marketers. The software allows you to customize your video by adding overlays, text, or CTA buttons, split test, transcribe, and has SEO features.

SurveyMonkey is a leading survey creation platform. Why might you need such a thing? Because a good marketer knows that customer feedback is critical to an effective marketing campaign.

MakeMyPersona is HubSpot’s own nifty tool that will walk you through the process of creating your buyer persona. You can generate a document to reference throughout your content creation process.

Anchor is the podcasting tool for beginners. It’s free, allows you to record and store unlimited episodes, and you can easily upload to any third-party platform.

Creating a Content Plan

Content exists everywhere, but its success relies on your ability to adapt it to the medium on which it lives. One size does not fit all when it comes to posting on different mediums — or the platforms within those mediums, for that matter.

Social media content varies from blog content, which is different than website content. So, you need to know how to tailor your creation to reach your audience where they are.

Let’s dive into some guidelines for sharing content on various platforms.

Social Media Content

There is an art to creating content for social media. But it’s well worth your time since there are 2.6 billion users across social media platforms worldwide. Plus, someone who follows you on social media is like a warm lead — they already like you and are interested in what you have to say. So, you have an eager audience that’s ready to engage with your content.

Here are a few quick tips for creating content on some popular social channels.

Facebook can be used to build micro communities via Facebook Groups or to share to a mass audience on Facebook Pages. When it comes to sharing content, questions and videos reap the most engagement.

Instagram is best for sharing high-quality imagery and short videos with brief captions. Hashtags work well on this platform as long as they’re relevant to your account and business. Instagram Stories has introduced a new way to engage with your followers, from quick polls to questions to real-time videos.

YouTube has 1.3 billion users and counting. Users frequent this platform to watch content ranging from DIY videos to parodies. Some of the most successful content on this platform are how-to guides, vlogs, product reviews, and educational videos.

Twitter best practices include short messages, supporting images, relevant hashtags, and retweets. And, of course, replies go a long way to win over your audience.

Website Content

Website content should focus on three things: your persona, your target keywords, and your solution. Not unlike your blog content, the copy on your website needs to guide visitors to your solution in a cohesive and natural way. Think of web content like a map to your product.

Be careful not to turn visitors away through social media feeds and other distracting elements. Once you you’ve attracted a potential customer, you must do everything you can to keep them there, and that’s the key function of your website content.

Blog Content

The purpose of blog content is to support your business by attracting strangers and bringing in qualified leads. Blog content is a free resource that’s not often directly tied to sales, but don’t underestimate the power of a well-crafted blog to ultimately generate revenue for your business. Research shows that companies that blog more get more traffic and more leads than those that don’t.

Analyzing Your Content

The final, and arguably most important step in content creation is analyzing your content. Without data, you can’t know what’s working or how to improve it.

There are several data points you could track when analyzing your content, so use your goals as a guide to set some parameters. Whatever you want to accomplish with your content will help you choose your metrics. (Remember that initial goal we talked about?)

What you analyze is completely up to you, but here are some ideas for metrics to track:

  • Page Views: the number of users that visit your content.
  • Organic Traffic: the amount of traffic that comes from search engines.
  • Bounce Rate: the percentage of visitors who leave your site after visiting only one page.
  • Conversion Rates: the percent of visitors that engage with a CTA.
  • Engagement Rates: the number of people that interact with your content through likes, shares, comments, or in other ways.
  • Audience Growth: the new subscribers or leads that are generated from a piece of content.

Start Creating

Content creation is an iterative process that pays off tremendously with your audience. Once you have the content creation process down, you’ll be able to generate creative work that not only delights your audience but also grows your business.