How to find stuff to write about

Sharon Tanton

Creating the kind of content that your customers are looking for is the best way of raising your profile and winning more business, but knowing exactly what to write about can feel like a hurdle.  How can your make your valuable content hit the mark?

Five ways to get your content on target

1) Listen. What kind of questions do clients ask you? This blog post was prompted like that. People are always asking us ‘but what can I write about?’ so we’re confident this post is going to find a readership of people who are thinking about their marketing, who may want help from us at some time, or who would be happy to refer us people who know useful stuff about content.

  • Keep a notebook. Jot down the questions you’re asked. Answer them with 5 bullet points. Each question will form the basis of a short blog post.

2) Research. What are the big questions in your market? A quick jaunt around the relevant LinkedIn groups, or the liveliest forum in your industry will show you the issues that are raising a stir. Look at upcoming conferences – what are the speaker topics?

  • Pick the topic that catches your eye. Draft a simple Q and A blog post that deals with the topic from the point of view of your customers. Don’t worry about being a ‘thought leader’ (you don’t have to give the lecture!) Write about the subject as if you were explaining its relevance to a favourite client. What would they want to know about it?

3) Interview. Uncover your inner journalist and interview a client, an expert from your team, or someone in your industry that you admire. Ask them the questions your clients would ask you.

  • Use the interview as a podcast on your website, or the edited transcript as the basis for a blog post. Or two.

4) Survey. 92% of people believe everything they read in surveys. Okay, so we made that up, but there’s nothing like some interesting data to grab headlines, and make an interesting read.

  • Try LinkedIn or Surveymonkey. There are plenty of web tools that will let you do this for free. Frame the questions in terms your target market cares about. Use what you find for a blog post, or as fuel for an email marketing campaign.

5) Repurpose. What content are you sitting on? Most companies, if they do a quick audit, will realise they’re sitting on valuable nuggets of content gold e.g presentations, research created for a different context, information your wrote for sales proposals – even printed guides lying around.

  • With a bit of reworking you can get these online and make them available to a wide audience.  Make the most of what you’ve already got!

Quick tips to keep ideas coming your way

  • Ask your clients and prospects – there’s nothing better than a direct, face-to-face chat.
  • Listen in to the top commentators or bloggers in your field – they have their ear to the ground.
  • Set up Google Alerts on key terms to find out what’s being talked about on the web.
  • Twitter Search tools (e.g.Twilert) are useful – see what’s trending on Twitter.
  • Which of your blog posts get the most comment? Write more on that subject.
  • What questions do you get frequently asked by clients in sales meetings? Answer them with a blog.
  • Guest blog. Ask a related expert to write on your blog, and return the favour next month.
  • Share an infographic that explains things clearly from a different angle- look at Pinterest for inspiration.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Sonja – personally I find there is always loads to say. The more difficult thing is to find a way of saying it that I am happy to “go public” with. After all, anyone might read my blog post: a past or current client, a collaborator, a supplier, a potential future client even. So I have to be careful what I say. This is what makes blogging so much more constrained than writing letters, say, or journal entries.
    I’ve found it helpful to have a private blog, accessible only by me. This is my “journal” or online notebook. Then, if the article passes my internal sub-editors as being fit for public consumption it goes public. See http://janenorthcote.wordpress.com/ for examples of public posts which have successfully gone through this route.

    Reply
  2. Sonja

    Hello Jane.

    That’s an interesting one – thanks for bringing it up. I can remember well the fear of going public with my thoughts but I guess this is something I have become less worried by over time. However, I always give each new post a quick sanity check before I decide whether or not to publish – by asking Sharon or someone else I respect whether they think it’s going to be valuable or not. So I guess that fear hasn’t totally left me!

    I think your internal sub-editors are doing a fine job Jane – the posts made public on your blog are superb.

    Many thanks for the comment.

    Sonja

    Reply

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