The internet is awash with content — everyone’s blogging, creating videos, podcasting — and most of it disappears into the ether as soon as the creator hits ‘publish’.
There’s a depressing thought for you!
But, don’t throw in the towel just yet because creating content is still one of the most effective ways to build an audience for your business, establish authority in your industry, find new leads…and, you know, help people.
So how do you make sure that your content is found, viewed, and shared by the right people? How do you make sure you’re not just wasting a ton of time and effort whenever you create a new piece of content for your business? How do you get real bang for your buck?
Well, just for you, I’ve narrowed it down to 7 content principles. Follow these and you won’t go far wrong…
Content principle 1. Make your content valuable to your customer (not the masses)
We all want to go viral, right? That’s the ultimate content goal. That’s when you know you’re killing it.
Well, not exactly.
For content to be incredible, it doesn’t need to impress the mindless millions scrolling through Facebook or Twitter, it just has to impress your customers. It has to provide value to them, no one else.
And the way you do that is to create content that’s one of two things: entertaining or informative.
Teach your customers something, solve their problems. Or make them feel good; make them laugh, make them smile, make them share. Hell, if you’re particularly good, you can do both, by creating ‘info-tainment’; make them laugh while you’re teaching them something.
Good content doesn’t mean content that’s earned thousands of views or shares; good can simply mean that it helps solve a problem your customer faces, or that it brings them further into your funnel. An article about the price of fibreglass pools is never going to go viral but that’s okay. It doesn’t need to. Because if someone is searching Google for info on fibreglass pools and your article answers their question, you’re solving their problem. And they’re far more likely to want to work with you.
Your content has done its job, it has provided value for both you and your customer, and it didn’t need to go viral in the process.
Content principle 2: Speak your customer’s language
When was the last time you Googled ‘scapulothoracic bursitis’?
No, me neither. How about ‘help with back pain’?
Okay, no we’re on more familiar ground. Because we’re not chiropractors, we’re not experts, and we don’t necessarily know the medical terms for the things that we need help with.
And your customers aren’t experts either. But too many of us are creating content as if they were. Like the chiropractor who writes an article with a long-winded title on ‘scapulothoracic bursitis’ when what their customer wants to read about is ‘back pain’.
So when you’re creating your videos, or writing articles, try to take a step back and think about what your audience will actually be searching for, what terms they’d use, and what language they’d be familiar with. And talk to them in their own language. It’s up to you to go down to their level and then provide them with the deeper, more specialist knowledge they need to solve their problems.
Content principle 3: Speak to your customers, not your peers
Similarly, when you’re creating content, remember that you’re creating it for your customers, not your peers. It’s time to park your ego at the door and forget about trying to impress everyone else in your industry.
Focus on how you can help your customers make better buying decisions, on how you can help them get to know you and your industry better. Sure, it might not get crazy engagement, might not impress your peers, and probably won’t be particularly sexy.
But as long as it helps your customers, you’re on the right track. I promise!
Content principle 4: Done is better than perfect
This is definitely one where I need to take my own advice!
All too often in the past, I’ve obsessed over creating the perfect content, having the perfect setup, the perfect mic, perfect everything. It always just leads to paralysis.
And think about it: you could spend a whole year trying to create the perfect setup, finally get in front of the camera…and find out you’re not that great. Whereas, if you just get started, working with what you have, even though it’s not ‘perfect’, by the end of the year you’ve learned a ton of skills, produced loads of content, and ended up streets ahead of all the folks that are putting it off until everything’s ‘just right’.
The best thing you can do is this:
Embrace the messy.
My first ever video was filmed on a phone, with a terrible microphone, and it was in a forest because I was so scared of what people might think I basically hid myself away. I stressed about every single element of that video and it really got in the way of me being able to create content and learn to be comfortable in front of the camera.
But I created it anyway, got better and better over time, and now my videos have been seen by millions of people all over the world. Which never would have happened if I’d waited for the perfect timing or the perfect setup.
So forget wasting your time by waiting for the perfect moment. Embrace the messy, start creating, start building those skills. If you create consistently, you’ll be amazed at where you’ll be a year from now.
Content principle 5: Remember your call-to-action
Content can’t be fluffy — you don’t have time for that. Every single piece of content should be there to drive real business results, whether that’s making people aware of who you are, getting people to consider your service, or getting them to sign up to your mailing list.
And the way to do that is to include a call-to-action.
So, whenever you’re writing a blog post, or creating a video, you need to constantly think about how to push people to the next stage of your funnel and include subscribe buttons, links to buy, or links to free downloads.
Being informative and entertaining is nice — but it’s not enough. You need that call-to-action.
Content principle 6: Make your content as long as it needs to be
‘How long should my content be?’
This is one of the questions I hear most often, whether they’re creating videos or writing blogs. How many words are ideal? How long should videos last? And it’s a tricky one to answer.
So my rule of thumb is this: make it as long as it needs to be.
And that really depends on the message you’re trying to convey. You might manage to say all you need to say, deliver incredible value, and blow your customer’s mind all in 90 seconds. Or you might need 20 minutes. When it comes to written content the advice is similar but with a caveat: if you’re concerned about Google and SEO, aim for 1600 words or more.
Essentially, as long as the content is informative, entertaining, and, of course, valuable, you’re golden.
Content principle 7: Make your content evergreen
Every time you create a piece of content, a video, an article, or a podcast, and it’s published online, it becomes a valuable business asset —because people are going to consume it, not just on the day or week that you publish it, but, ideally, for years to come. And the way to ensure they do that is to make it evergreen.
Evergreen content is content that lasts, that stays relevant no matter what’s going on in the world, in your industry, or in your business. How do you outsource? How do you deal with back pain? How do you close a sale?
People are always going to be asking these questions, always going to be searching for answers on Google. And these are the types of questions you want to be answering with your content. These are the kinds of things that’ll help you consistently build a bigger audience and be seen by more and more people. That is the kind of content that goes the distance.
From a marketing perspective, building an audience is the most important thing you can do for your business — and by writing quality blog articles, and creating great video content that provides value, you’re going to increase your followers, build a solid subscriber base, and grow the number of people listening to you. So whenever you hold a sale, launch a new product or service, or have something to shout about, you know that you’ll have people there to listen. Thanks to your incredible content.
If this has got you fired up to take your content to the next level, take a look at this blog which takes you through exactly how I publish over 25 pieces of original content each and every week.