How to Know What To Write About: The Key to Successful Content Marketing
Are you looking for ways to achieve success with content marketing? Do you struggle to come up with ideas for things to write about? Would it be helpful to have a content marketing strategy?
For many new content creators, figuring out what to write about can be quite a challenge.
There are several reasons for this.
First, they don’t really understand their audience and what their audience is interested in.
When you don’t know your audience, or you haven’t yet chosen an audience, knowing what problems they are trying to solve can be quite a challenge.
The second reason many new content creators have trouble figuring out what to write about is because they feel that everything they create has to be completely new.
This is a myth. The reality is that there is virtually nothing new. With millions of blogs on the Internet, everything has already been covered somewhere else!
The solution to the myth is quite simple. While it may be true that everything has already been covered, the truth is that is hasn’t been covered by YOU and, more than likely, YOUR audience hasn’t yet seen it anyway.
Blogging is Personal
Blogging is a very personal method of communication. Even if you are blogging on behalf of your company, YOU are still the writer that the reader is connecting with.
People don’t connect with brands, per se. People connect with people, and, in the case of blogging, it’s your opinion, your viewpoint, and your tutorials that your readers are interested in.
So, with that said, let’s dive into the many ways that you can discover what to write about.
Study What Is Already Popular
According to Neil Patel, founder of the popular blog, KissMetrics, one of the very best ways to discover what your audience is interested in is to study the other blogs in your niche. What you are looking for are posts that have received a lot of comments and social sharing.
Whenever you find a blog post that has generated this type of engagement, you have found a topic or an idea that your audience is very interested in.
Now you know this topic is of such great interest to your audience, all you need to do is to write an article that gives your opinion on the topic as well as to add some additional value. In fact, you may even want to cite the original article in the article that you are writing. If you do, just be a sure and link back to the original article.
The easiest way to do this is to use a wonderful tool that Neil has created. Here’s how you do it:
Come up with a list of 5 of your competitors, take their URLs and plug them into the Quick Sprout analyzer tool.
What the tool will show you is all of the popular blog posts that your competitors have created from a social media aspect. You can then take the list and sort it by a specific social channel to see what post titles people like the most.
You can then generate your own version of that blog post with your own twist, so that way you aren’t copying your competition blatantly.
This will help you create more content that gets more social traffic versus writing blog posts that don’t get shared.
Uncover Gold With Keyword Research
Another very powerful way to discover what your audience is interested in is to perform some keyword research. There are many different keyword research tools to choose from. The paid ones are generally much better than the free ones. My favorite paid keyword research tool is called SECockpit.
If you would like to use a free tool, I recommend that you use Google words keyword tool.
When doing keyword research, look for words and phrases that are searched for a few thousand times per month. The way to find these keywords is to use your keyword tool and search with either exact match or phrase match, as doing so will give you a much more accurate idea of the number of times this keyword is actually searched for in a given month. I recommend that you stay away from doing broad match searches because they will give you a highly inflated number.
Switching between exact match and phrase match is as simple as choosing a check mark in the tool when performing your search.
The other thing that you will find very helpful in the keyword tool is that when you enter your original keyword, called the seed key word, the tool will provide a long list of related keywords. When you see this list of related keywords, you will undoubtedly discover all sorts of additional ideas.
What you are looking for are keywords that are searched for enough times to make writing content that addresses them worthwhile.
For example, one of the past guests on my podcast is a guy named Marcus Sheridan. Marcus is the founder of a company by the name of River Pools and Spas. Prior to the economic meltdown in 2008, Marcus company was spending about $200,000 per year on advertising. After the economic meltdown, he could no longer afford to keep spending this much.
Instead, Marcus decided to perform keyword research so that he could compile a list of all the questions that someone would ask prior to buying a fiberglass pool. He then decided to create blog posts to answer every single one of those questions.
By continually creating highly quality, relevant content that addressed the questions potential buyers were asking, Marcus’ site became increasingly popular. As more and more content was added to the blog, Google rewarded the site by pushing it higher in the search rankings.
This is what we refer to as long tail SEO, and over time, taking this approach to content creation can create a very sustainable competitive advantage for you, just as it has for River Pools and Spas.
Eavesdrop With Social Listening
Social listening is another very effective way to uncover ideas for things to write about. The way to do this is to use social networks to listen in on the conversation your target audience is already having.
There are several ways to accomplish this.
With Twitter, you can easily perform a search by going to search.twitter.com. When you are there, you will find all sorts of search criteria.
For example, suppose you had a blog that taught people how to manage their finances. If you wanted to write a post about how to save for college, you go to twitter and search for the phrase “how to save for college”. When you perform the search you will find a list of people who are talking about this topic.
Now that you have this list of people, you could save the search and pay attention to what they’re talking about on ongoing basis. Or, you can visit some of the websites owned by the people who are participating in this conversation. Or you could reach out to anyone on this list and ask them directly what they are interested in learning more about.
LinkedIn is another very popular social network for business people. On LinkedIn there are literally thousands of groups, each devoted to a very specific topic. By joining these groups and paying attention to the conversation that is happening within them, you will gain significant insight into what is of interest to the members of that group.
As with Twitter, it is very easy to reach out to the individuals in the group or simply just pay attention to the conversation and the questions that are being asked. Either way, you are bound to learn a great deal about what your target audience is interested in.
Get Instant Feedback Using Surveys
Once you start to build a mailing list, using surveys can be a very powerful way to discover what your audience is most interested in.
The way that I suggest you do this is to head over to surveymonkey.com and create a free account. Once you have your account, creating surveys is exceedingly easy to do.
When creating your first survey, I suggest you restrict the length to a number of questions that can be answered in less than a minute, as going longer will greatly decrease the number of people who will take the time to complete your survey.
With your survey ready to go, all you need to do this is send an email out to your list asking them to take the survey. When doing so, it’s generally a good idea to offer your audience some additional incentive to complete the survey for you.
In my case, I will generally offer each of the people that complete my survey a copy of the results of the survey. If you have a decent relationship with your list, this is often sufficient incentive to get them to spend a minute to complete the survey.
Teach What You Know
Regardless of which method you use to connect with and listen to your audience, the most important thing to think about when creating content is to create content that solves people’s problems. What does your audience want most? What is the number one thing that they struggle with? What have you learned lately that you can teach by way of a blog post to your audience?
In his book Authority, my friend Nathan Barry talks extensively about how to use writing to create authority for yourself. Regardless of your background, skills, and experience, the one thing that is certain is that you are learning new things every single day.
According to Nathan (and many others), the way to create authority is to teach everything you learn by writing about what you’re learning on your blog. To illustrate this point, think about the people that are well-known in your industry.
Who are they? Are they the most talented? Sometimes, but often not.
The reason they are so well-known is not because they are the most talented. Instead it is because they teach. Each time they learn something, they share it with others.
In any industry, the people that are most well-known are the people who teach. They write books, they create tutorials, they publish videos on YouTube, and they write posts on their blogs.
These people aren’t necessarily the most talented, but because they take the time to share everything they learn, their audience loves them for it – and as a result, they gain authority.
There is one last point to consider about teaching. The best way to become an expert in anything, is to write about it and teach it to others – just as I’m doing in this post.
Want to learn more about content marketing? Download a free chapter from my Digital Marketing Handbook.
What other ways can you think of to discover what to write about?