Life and business are full of lessons if you look for them.
Some you learn the easy way, and some you learn the hard way.
A few years ago, I started creating content for my brand-new site. It wasn’t easy — I didn’t consider myself a writer, so cranking out blog posts on a consistent schedule was daunting at first.
But over the years I’ve become more comfortable with content creation, and I’ve even added to my writing workload. I now write a weekly newsletter, and I write guest posts regularly for some pretty big sites, some of which you may know.
I have learned a few valuable lessons along the way.
You don’t need a three-year learning curve to take advantage of what I’m about to share. Just take note of these ideas so you can benefit from the stumbles, facepalm moments, and happy accidents that came along as I built my own website.
1. Survey the horizon before you plan your content
My most productive weeks have been the ones I’ve planned in advance.
Look ahead and decide what you want to promote in the upcoming months. Break your subjects down into your weekly post topics.
Do this on a quarterly basis when possible, and you’ll have the first step for your posts mapped out ahead of time — the idea.
And yes, your topics may end up changing if your plans change. But having even some of your post topics lined up beforehand will save time and stress.
2. Batch write when you can
The secret to stress-free content production — I’m convinced — is batching.
Want to gain freedom, time and flexibility? Plan a marathon content creation session.
Crank out a month or two of posts, video, or audio. Then sit back and devote your energy to promoting those posts when you publish them.
3. Offer levels of engagement
When prospects first come across your site, they may be skeptical. Before they’ll do business with you, you have to earn their trust.
To help make their transition to customer easy and natural, offer free information that’s simple to consume. At first, don’t even ask for an email address in exchange.
As you deliver value with your free materials, prospects will be ready for the next level of commitment — an email address. Offer something valuable in exchange to motivate them to invite you into their inbox.
Once they’re ready to take the next step, have a low-priced item available to buy. Exceed their expectations with your low-priced offering, and your prospects will feel more comfortable investing in higher-priced products.
4. To get to know your reader, step down from the pulpit
Blogging is not about standing above your readers and preaching. Some of my most-successful posts have been simple ones where I ask readers a question.
I give my readers the mic and ask them to share their thoughts about a topic. The results have been posts with many more comments than average.
The key to making this work is to ask a question that’s related to your topic, or to the challenges your readers typically face. Ask them to share their experiences, frustrations, or advice.
Make yourself available to interact in the comment section. Then step back and watch the comments flow in.
5. Don’t be afraid to swim against the tide
Last year, I decided to start offering webinars. You may have heard the conventional wisdom about webinars:
- Don’t offer webinars on a regular basis — that way more people sign up to the ones you offer randomly (which should increase your conversions)
- Don’t offer a replay video — you’ll force people show up live (the better to pressure them into buying)
- Keep them on the webinar long enough that you can present your entire pitch (the better to convert them to customers)
I decided to break all of these rules with my Brown Bag Webinars.
- They’re held on the same day and at the same time every month
- I offer a replay video to anyone who signs up
- Most Brown Bag Webinars are about 30 minutes long. A few have been a little longer.
My ideal customer is a small business owner who’s juggling a lot. I wanted them to be able to fit these webinars into their lunch hour, or watch them on a break.
As a matter of fact, I encourage them to eat while they watch.
This decision — to create a webinar experience that worked for my ideal customer — has added thousands of names to my mailing list over the past year, and thousands of dollars to my profits.
6. Build a series that breaks up your list
Brown Bag Webinars are held on different topics, and to send out the login link and replay, I have to gather email addresses. I have a separate email list for each webinar I offer.
The result for me? I now have 12 mailing lists that are targeted to specific topics and themes.
This works out well, because when I have more content related to the topic they signed up for, I can send an invitation to these targeted lists.
7. Present your ideas in more than one format
It took me years to realize how much people enjoyed consuming content in different formats.
My courses and products all included text, audio, and video. But my blog posts tended to be mostly text.
And that’s a shame. Because with a little extra effort, your content can have a presence on iTunes (with a podcast) and YouTube (with video), among other important venues.
This month I’m remedying that with a ten-part video series on design basics. It’s my Design 101 lessons converted to short educational videos.
I’m repurposing something I wrote in the first weeks of my blog into a completely different format with new information.
It feels like my content has come full circle.
Over to you …
What content creation lessons have you learned over the years? Let’s make this post a place to share our best hard-earned lessons.
Share yours in the comments!