Do you need to spend a lot of money to create exceptional content?
In a word, no.
The barriers to entry for publishing on the Internet are extremely low. That’s why we see so much mediocre content everywhere we look.
But you’re here reading Copyblogger. That tells me that “mediocre content” is a phrase that’s not part of your vocabulary. You’re aiming to create content that’s remarkable. Content that attracts an audience and builds your business.
Today we’re going to cover how to produce winning content on a budget. A really small budget.
The fact is, you don’t need to outspend the competition.
You need to outthink them.
1. Gather ideas from all over
The first tip involves a mindset shift.
It’s about seeing the world around you — both your business world and your personal life — as a source for ideas. Because when you’re creating content on a regular basis, the world can inspire your writing if you let it.
Some of the most interesting content forms when you take a seemingly unrelated aspect of your life and apply it to your content marketing.
To explore this concept, read The Content Crossroads: Supernatural Success at the Intersection of Ideas.
Once you shift your mindset to one of always-on idea gathering, you’ll need a place to capture and save your ideas.
Look for something you’ll always have on hand, whether it’s a small notebook you carry around or an app on your computer or mobile phone. Make sure it’s easy and fast to use, and use one — and only one — location to store ideas so you don’t have to track them down in more than one place.
For more idea-gathering inspiration, read these posts:
- The Art of Finding Ideas
- How to Find More Content Ideas than You’ll Ever be Able to Create
- Conquer Content Shock with Illegitimate Ideas
Read the posts above, and set up a place to capture your ideas.
2. Develop a plan and work it
One reason why people churn out mediocre content is they approach the blank page like this:
“Oh no, I need a post for tomorrow! What should I write about?”
When you develop a strategy for your content and keep your goals in mind, you eliminate the “I have no idea what to write about” problem. You see the holes in your content marketing efforts and write or record information to fill those holes.
If you’ve never spent time thinking through your content strategy, we’ve got help for you — Demian Farnworth has written extensively on the topic. The posts below will get your content strategy off to a strong start:
- 13 Simple Questions to Help You Draft a Winning Content Strategy [Free Worksheet]
- Don’t Create Your Content Strategy Until You Research These 6 Things
- How to Use Customer Experience Maps to Develop a Winning Content Marketing Strategy
Read the posts above, create and record your content goals, and put them somewhere you can reference frequently.
3. Hold yourself to high standards
You can spot mediocre content from a distance because it usually has multipple speling and gramattical erors.
We’re lucky around here. The line above would never make it past Stefanie Flaxman, our eagle-eyed Editor-in-Chief.
Fortunately, Stefanie has been very generous over the years about sharing her techniques, so that those of us who can’t count on an editor to review our content can use some of her sophisticated methods for spotting and correcting the content errors that make our words seem less authoritative.
Aim for writing that’s clear, clean, and error-free.
When you’re ready to go beyond the traditional “sleep on it and look at your writing with fresh eyes the next day” advice, study these posts:
- 15 Copy Editing Tips that Can Transform Your Content into Persuasive and Shareable Works of Art
- Catch More Writing Mistakes with This Underutilized Proofreading Trick
- The Traffic Light Revision Technique for Meticulously Editing Your Own Writing
Read the posts above, and carefully edit and proofread your posts before they go live.
4. Add meaning with images
Carefully planned, beautifully written, and meticulously edited content will help you attract the attention you want.
To tap into a completely different part of your site visitors’ brains, try pairing your words with well-chosen images.
Images are processed in a different part of our brains than words. Combining words and images on your pages will light up your site visitors’ brains and (bonus!) make your content more attractive and shareable:
- Use Images (Not Just Words) to Turn Your Distracted Visitors into Engaged Readers
- The 8 Types of Images That Increase the Psychological Impact of Your Content
- How to Fully Engage Your Readers’ Brains with Images
Adding the perfect image to your words is that extra step that many content creators can’t be bothered with. And as you’ll see in the posts above, it doesn’t take a lot of money to find the right image — just effort and practice.
Read the posts above, and explore the free image resources and editing tools mentioned.
5. Create a publishing schedule and stick to it
Publishing content consistently builds trust. Your content becomes a reliable resource your readers can count on — information they look forward to reading.
But how often should you publish? Three times a week? Once a week? Once a month?
Whenever you feel like it? (Hint: don’t choose this one.)
We recommend you keep one important concept in mind when weighing your options:
Publish as often as you can create exceptional content.
That said, if you’re just entering into the content marketing arena and you’ve created your content strategy, you’ll want to publish often enough to execute that strategy and populate your pages with searchable, shareable information.
That’s why we recommend a minimum of one solid post or podcast each week. This schedule should be achievable. For more ideas on how to make it happen, see the first post in the list below:
- A Simple Plan for Writing One Powerful Piece of Online Content per Week
- The Write Way to Answer Your Most Pressing Questions
- The Single Best Way to Create Hit Content in Record Time
Read the posts above, commit to a publishing schedule, and note it on your calendar.
6. Use social media to share your work
As Beth Hayden smartly notes in the first post in the list below, “The very purpose of the Internet (every blog, website, and virtual gathering place within it) is to let people connect, communicate, and collaborate.”
Take advantage of the inherently social nature of the Internet and promote your content.
Yes, social media can be terribly distracting. And we agree that it’s not always efficient, especially if you spread your efforts too thin.
If you’re not doing much to share your content on social media, these posts have practical ideas and techniques you can try:
- A History of Social Media [Infographic]
- The 7 Essential Elements of Effective Social Media Marketing
- The Proper Way to Automate Your Social Media Activities (and 5 Other Best Practices)
Read the posts above, and experiment with a new social media technique this week.
7. Track your results
Many content marketers don’t make the time to do this step.
Which is sad, because it’s so easy to get information about how your content is performing.
Ignoring how your audience responds to your content is a missed opportunity.
To get started tracking your results, take a look at the posts here:
- A Quick-Start Guide to Measuring Your Content Marketing Efforts
- Wait, Was That a Click or a Conversion?
- Why Your Site’s Search Rank May Be Falling (And 4 Simple Ways to Fix it)
Read the posts above, and mark the days and times on your calendar when you’ll review your content marketing results.
How to outthink (not outspend) the competition
Remarkable content doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg to produce.
Use the tips here to outthink your competition. Set high standards for the content you produce. Your content marketing efforts will stand out from the crowd when you do.
Most people won’t put in the extra effort to make their content truly effective.
But you? Well, here you are at the end of this article, so you’re one of the special ones.