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 likable 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 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 here to point the finger at anyone.
All of us have made this mistake at some point in time.
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It is very important to generate content ideas that stand a real chance of being appreciated by your readers.
When you generate content ideas, make them for your audience.
You write the content on your WordPress site for your audience, not for you. In general, 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 popular opinion. But you will need to have very good arguments, otherwise, it can backfire.
– You’ve used 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 a hidden gem that will make your content surprising.
There’s no use to writing something that everyone else already knows about.
2) Ask “Are all of these words necessary?”
This is always something that needs to be present in your mental arsenal: the habit of asking yourself after writing something if all the words really need to appear there.
We’ll start discussing this point from the keyword perspective, and then move on to discuss it 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 the article for as a Topic. Always do that.
In an 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. Also, it’s not good for SEO either, because Google will have a problem with that, too, since it factors in user engagement and readability.
It’s not only about keywords. You also must make sure that all the words you type actually have a purpose and mean something within the context of your writing.
Some tips to make sure you’re succinct:
– 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 reader’s attention fog better than a multi-faceted rambling.
3) Ask “How will this help them?”
Are you just venting or writing a piece just for the sake of it? Or is what you’re writing something actionable and constructive that people can use to improve their lives 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 it 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 idea that you can find in most articles, there are about nine similar 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 the “Help Me Write” Technique 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 write 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 in an ‘ask the audience’ format, or you can get your readers to help you decide on the focus of a special piece of content.
Your audience will be able to vote on what they want to read next from you.
If you only write occasionally, the “Help me Write is simply” technique is a great way to get the motivation and direction you need from your friends and networks to sit down and get writing.
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. Or 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. You’ll find that the SEO Live Assistant 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 content writers.
While it seems like a very simple concept (and it is) it will be hard, in the beginning, 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 of tweets (140 chars phrases).
Keeping your writing short will help keep your ideas nice and sharp, and your readers will appreciate you very much for it.
You’ve Made it to the End of This Lesson!
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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