Today we’re continuing the Idea Generation Course with the 6th lesson which is all about how we can generate content ideas that people will actually love.
Why is this lesson important?
It will show you some tips for how you can take the ideas you’ve sketched out in your Editorial Calendar and on your Trello Boards (you do remember those concepts, right?), and make likeable content out of them.
A friend of mine is an MBA in Boston and also a teaching assistant. He displayed a nice image on Facebook a couple of days ago with a high profile marketer who’s powerpoint said:
“Goodbye B2C and B2B. Welcome H2H”. Now, with H2H he was referring to “Human to Human”. Why’s this something to care about?
The problem is that we’ve all been so used to being concerned about our own technology, our own websites, our own marketing efforts, that we stopped thinking there for a moment about THEM. The people we’re supposed to serve. I’m not talking just about myself or just about you here. I’m talking about everyone who’s in this class. We’ve all made this mistake at some point in time.
That’s why the last course you’ve taken from Squirrly was about optimizing content for Humans.
That’s why it is very important to generate content ideas that stand a real chance of being appreciated by your readers.
Wake up with new leads from the content you publish.
You can take all that I’ve taught you until now and start seeing if it’s been made according to the PRO Tips you’ll be receiving in this here lesson.
When you generate content ideas, make them for your audience.
You write the content on your wordpress site for your audience, not for you. You should not generate content ideas for yourself (unless you keep a personal diary that you want to make really cool).
1) Ask “What is surprising about this?”
If it’s not surprising, then you’re not really telling them something they don’t already know.
How can you make it surprising?
– Use an interesting twist on the story. Find One element that most people missed. Focus on that. Develop that One idea.
– You can be against a popular opinion. (You will need to have very good arguments, otherwise it can backfire).
– You’ve used all the info in this course to generate some cool titles and sketch out some topics that you want to write about. Search forums using Boardreader.com or use Quora.com to see what people found worth mentioning about that topic. You might just find the hidden gem that will make your content surprising.
There’s no use to writing something that everyone else already thought about.
2) Ask “Are all of these words necessary”
This is always something that needs to be present in your mental arsenal: the habbit of asking yourself after writing something if all the words really need to appear there.
We’ll first start discussing this idea from the keyword perspective, and then from the normal word perspective.
Some people will tell you that it’s important to Optimize your articles for more than just one keyword. That’s plain wrong.
You need to start thinking of the keyword that you optimize your article for as a Topic. Always do that.
In any article, your one purpose is to stick to your Topic. If you write an article in which you debate two topics you will confuse your audience. If you’d go to an editor and present to him that article, he’d just shut the door in your face.
So just ask yourself if you want to build up lame SEO and confuse your audience, or really write valuable content on the web.
If you just stuff in keywords over and over, you’re writing for yourself, you don’t care about the Reader’s Experience. (and Google will have a problem with that, btw.)
It’s not only about keywords. You also must make sure that all the words you type actually have purpose and mean something within the context of your writing.
Some tips to make sure you’re succint:
– Drop the tangents and disclaimers
– Save a side point for another post (I keep saying that: one topic = one article. More Topics = More Articles)
– Having one point per blog post will cut through the attention fog better than a multi-faceted rambling.
3) Ask “How will this help them?”
Are you just venting? Or is what you’re writing something actionable and constructive that people can use to improve their life in some way?
If you manage to answer this and generate content ideas that are helpful for your audience, make sure that in each piece of content you also mention to your readers why this will help them. They might figure it out on their own, but seeing it stated will give them more confidence that they’re engaging with useful content.
4) Teach the Reader
Personally, I think that the main feature of good content is that it teaches the reader something new.
One of the reasons some people are against content marketing is that people usually just reformulate ideas over and over again, without really teaching anybody anything new.
For every One idea that you can find in articles, there are about nine simillar articles who tend to say the same thing.
The best nugget of wisdom that I can give you here is:
– Write something personal. Write from your personal experience. It’s the simplest way to generate value for your readers. Say something that you’ve made, present it from your own experience and be as transparent as possible.
Remember: a great artist is the one who gets naked in front of his audience.
5) Use Help Me Write to find out exactly what your audience wants from you
This is something interesting and new (to me) that a few fellow inbound marketers have shared with me.
It’s a way in which you can find out what you should right next time for your audience.
It’s a great way to get your readers even more engaged with your brand and writing process. For example, you can make one of your weekly posts an ‘ask the audience’ post, or you can get your readers to help you decide on the focus for a special piece of content.
If you write more occasionally, Help me Write is simply a great way to get the motivation and direction you need from your friends and networks to sit down and get writing.
Your audience will be able to vote on what they want to read next from you.
6) Offer an Exceptional Reader Experience. Always, Human Friendly
We love the web. All of us squirrlyans love the openness and innovation that can happen on the web.
That’s why it’s very important for me to teach you how to offer an amazing experience for your readers. I might be one of them. I might become one of them. Naturally, you want me (your reader, in this example) to have an amazing time reading your article because:
– you’ve put a lot of work into it
– you want to be appreciated as a writer
– you want to convert me and your other readers into Leads.
In order to do that, you have to provide all of us with an amazing reading experience. Your content needs to be Human-Friendly.
That’s why you should open up your Squirrly plugin from your wordpress and update it to the latest version. You’ll find that the New SEO Live Asssitant will help you offer an amazing experience to your readers and it will help you avoid any mistakes you might make in this regard.
7) Tweets and Seth Godin
This is an odd headline, right?
But it teaches you some very important concepts. As I kept saying here, you need to write for your audience. This last tip will help you make it all even better. This is for those of you who are more advanced.
While it seems like a very simple concept (and it is) it will be hard in the begining to get used to writing like this.
Have you ever read a book by Seth Godin?
Do you know what his secret ingredient to making you read all the book is? The fact that his phrases are about 120 chars ~ 125 chars short. No longer.
That’s one key element that makes his writing so powerful. It’s what makes you think that all he writes is magical.
If you want to generate content ideas that your audience will love, then you need to go Seth Godin-style on them. Practice makes perfect. To help you out until you manage to master it:
– the first step is to start writing tweets. Forget about phrases. Make all of your content made up from tweets (140 chars phrases).
This will help you keep your writing focused and your readers will appreciate you very much for it.
Wow. Quite the lesson. Thanks for following through with the 7 tips. Go on and generate content ideas that Humans will love. You now have the right tools in your arsenal.
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