Content Creation 101: How to Get Started with Content Creation from Scratch

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Before stumbling on this article, what were you doing before?

Browsing social media? Searching on Google? Checking your email?

Whatever that was, you’re most likely absorbing some form of content.

And that’s not unusual.

In today’s hyperconnected world, we’re bombarded with so many content everywhere we go.

But that’s the disconnect a lot of business owners and inexperienced marketers often miss. They think that content is not relevant to their organization. They think that content creation is only for those with big budgets. They think that they can succeed without content.

Guess what?

That won’t happen.

If you value content and want to know how to get stared, read on…

8 Steps to Start Content Creation in Digital Marketing

1. Don’t worry about SEO

Whenever I talk to business owners and other marketers about creating content, the topic of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) often comes up.

They get worried that they don’t know how to do SEO, should they hire SEO experts and other stuff along those lines.

I tell them to stop worrying about SEO and just get started with writing blog posts or articles. You can deal with SEO later on.

The problem with worrying about SEO is that you get stuck. There are over 200 ranking factors to consider and learn in SEO. If you try to learn all of these, you’ll never have time to actually create content.

Instead, I tell them a principle I’ve always believed in: be helpful.

Create content that is helpful for your customers, SEO will follow.

2. Start with FAQs

When I talk to people about content marketing, here’s something that’s always asked back…

“How do I do that?”

My answer has always been some variation of this, “You already have customers. They have frequently asked questions. Write 300-500 word articles on each of those questions.”

That’s it.

Publish each of these articles once a week and you’re already one step ahead of your competitors who don’t do this.

This addresses the topic on search intent. That’s also why you don’t have to worry about target keywords.

You get the topics to write about directly from your customers. This is one way to get guaranteed traffic to your website.

3. Stick to a schedule

Successful brands in digital marketing don’t follow a strict schedule. They publish content once they have it. Why? Because of their brand. They also have a following already. Regardless of what they post and when they do it, they’ll have an audience eager to read that piece of content.

But that doesn’t mean you should follow them.

If you’re starting out, having a fixed schedule is great to keep you motivated.

Start with once a week. Pick a date and time. For example, Friday at 9am.

Once you’re done with your FAQ article, schedule them for Friday 9am. Then, work on your next. Once you’re done with that second article, schedule it for next week’s Friday, also at 9am.

This allows you to get into a rhythm. It helps develop the habit of writing content. Plus, in case you get buried in work for a couple of days, you’ll have a scheduled post already going out. That alone can calm you down and start thinking about the week after.

Or another alternative is to do sprints.

I am in the middle of my current sprint. I described about my first 30-day writing sprint here.

4. Follow these general rules of thumb

Remember what I said about not worrying about SEO earlier? How there are over 200+ ranking factors that affect SEO…

Once you get the hang of writing content, you can follow these general rules of thumb to guide you when writing your content:

  1. Publishing frequency: once a week
  2. Length: 300 words or more
  3. Format: Use a LOT of white space
    • That means 2-3 sentences per paragraph
    • Use Headers
      • h1, h2, h3
    • Use itemized lists and bullets
    • Bold important text
  4. Add at least one image
    • Don’t forget to add an alt text
  5. Tone:
    • Use simple sentences.
    • Be conversational. That means writing as if you are talking to the person in front of you.
  6. Don’t be afraid to link to other articles/websites/resources
    • Yes, even your competitors

If you have any questions about these rules of thumb, or need help with content creation in general, just let me know in the comments.

And yes, you can break them.

Just make sure you know what you’re doing.

That’s why having SEO plugins like Rank Math or Yoast are great for beginners. It allows you to check your content’s performance across a certain set of rules.

5. Repurpose your content

Modern content creation isn’t limited to writing articles. It’s all about repurposing your content.

There are other types of content out there. The most prominent one are written ones like blog posts and articles.

Content repurposing is transforming your existing content (e.g. article) into other formats like video, email, podcast, checklist, etc.

This makes content creation so easy because after creating one article, you can repurpose it into other content formats, then share them on your social media accounts. Here’s how you can get started with video content.

As you already know, creating something from scratch is infinitely harder than editing/changing/transforming/repurposing an existing one.

As an example, the section on the general rules of thumb is repurposed content from an online course I’m developing for content creation.

If you want to dive deeper into it, here’s an article on how to repurpose your content.

6. Distribute the content

Now that you’ve written some content, don’t forget to distribute it.

This is an important element in your content strategy that you shouldn’t neglect.

And it’s also where most business owners and marketers fail. I’ve seen it so many times. They spend a lot of time and effort in creating great content, then you do nothing else.

They don’t share it on social media, they don’t send it to their email list, they don’t advertise it.

That’s a waste of resources.

I can only assume they bought-in the belief of “if you build it, they will come.” But that’s not going to work in 2020 and beyond. With over 1.5 billion websites as of this writing, that content will not be seen by anyone.

So, post them on social media. Multiple times. Don’t know where to start? Use these formulas:

  • Headline + link + hashtags
  • Quote + image
  • Quote + link
  • Personal opinion + link + hashtags
  • Statistics + image
  • Statistics + link

You get the point. And that’s just for one article. Now, imagine if you have 10 of them? What if you have over 100?

And if you’re writing helpful content as I’ve said in the beginning, they will still be relevant a year from now, 3 years from now.

7. Enlist help from the frontlines (other departments)

Let’s say you finished writing your FAQs. You’re stuck.

The best way to get out of that is to ask for help.

Your choices: your customers, sales department, and customer service.

These people interact with your customers every day (well, except for your customers themselves). They know what their problems are, what they complain about, what they want to happen.

Use them as ideas to write your next piece. And there are lots of ways to go about it:

  • Listicles — Top 10 Digital Marketing Trends in 2020
  • How to’s — How to Train a Puppy

And if you’re stuck again, follow the next tip…

8. Use writing formulas

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. There are a ton of writing formulas you can use.

For example, this article follows the What, Why, How Formula.

I started with what content creation is, why it’s important, then listed several steps on how to get started with content creation.

Here are some of the formulas I frequently use:

  • Minto Pyramid Principle: Situation, Complication, Resolution
  • PAS/PASO: Problem, Agitate, Solve, Outcome
  • Facts and Opinions
  • AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action

There are a ton more, but these are what I usually use.

So, What Are You Going to Do Next

Creating content and distributing it is key to succeeding in content marketing. If you want to reach a wider audience, follow these simple tips:

  • Don’t worry too much about SEO
  • Focus on solving your customers — FAQs, challenges, pain points, goals
  • Use writing formulas to speed up writing your content
  • Repurpose and distribute them. Everywhere. Multiple times.

Have you tried any of these tips? Or are you still having trouble getting started? Let me know in the comments below.

7 Essential Tools for Effective Digital Marketing

7 Essential Tools for Effective Digital Marketing

Businesses need to have an online presence if they expect to be successful in today’s fast-paced world. You hear this over and over again. But what is it what you exactly need to be effective?

You will get different answers from different people. Most of them are correct. In this post, I listed 7 essential tools that cover the basics of digital marketing. If you don’t have them, get them now!

1. Website

The website is the most basic digital asset you should have. If you do not have this, get one quickly!

Buy a domain name now to reserve your online presence. Just as an example, I bought my domain using GoDaddy. I am hosting my site (and all the files you can see here) through InMotion Hosting.

I used for the “design” of this site.

There are others you can use like Shopify, Blogger, SquareSpace, and Wix. It’s really up to your preference.

2. Blog

This cannot be stressed enough. Remember the cardinal rule in digital marketing? If you are not found online, you do not exist.

How do you get found online? Search engines.

The biggest, most popular and most-used search engine here in the Philippines is Google. If people cannot find you on Google’s Search Results Page, you don’t exist.

Why is a blog important?

The way search engines work is it “indexes” your website to see if there are new content, then rank it to other web pages depending on keywords and a lot of other technicalities. The takeaway, if you do not produce new content, your website would not be indexed regularly; therefore, it will not improve its ranking.

Still too technical? Imagine this situation.

You’re an administrative clerk who processes a lot of paperwork. You receive hundreds of documents you have to rank order of priority for your boss.

Jack and Jill give you some documents on a daily basis. You see him, smiles at you, hands you his files. On the other hand, Jill comes in only once a month to bring in 1-2 documents. Who do you think gets priority?

That’s how Google works. Google loves fresh, new content.

3. Social Media Accounts

This is also mandatory for businesses. But do not jump into all available ones out there.

A strategy has to be set in place if you want to put this to your advantage. For starters, create accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Lastly, avoid literally transferring your offline marketing activities to digital. It won’t work. People behave differently online.

4. Analytics Software

What you cannot measure, you cannot manage.

If you do not have any means of measuring your efforts, then there is no reason for you to undertake digital marketing. You are simply wasting company resources.

The most popular and free software is Google Analytics. All you need is a Google account and you install the code to your website and blog, then you are good to go.

5. Email Marketing Software

Email is still the best way to communicate if you want to engage your customers — if done right. It has a longer shelf life unlike a tweet or a status update on your social media accounts.

Email is also more personal. It does not need to be read or actioned upon now.

One rule in email marketing is if you can’t segment your list, you are not doing it right.

Start building your list now. Again, there are dozens of email marketing software out there. I’m a fan of ConvertKit so that’s something I strongly recommend you get as well.

6. Word Processor, Spreadsheet, and Presentation Tool

These tools might already have this on your computer, but your efforts as a marketer are not the end of its own.

You have to report on results and activities to your manager. You have to let other people (your teammates) know what is happening. Yes, you are busy. Everyone is busy.

Just think of it this way, if your boss does not know what she is spending for, do you think you will get that support for an additional budget increase? If she does not see the results of your efforts (note the highlight on results, not on the efforts), she will think you are crazy for asking additional funding because you have presented any results.

7. Calendar / Scheduler

Finally, a calendar is the seventh tool you need to have. Deadlines are called deadlines for a reason. Keep track of your commitments to show your professionalism. It makes you look good and lets other people know you are on top of what you are doing.

Content creation, brainstorming, iterating, presenting, designing, analyzing, proofreading, strategizing — all these should reflect in your calendar.

These are the 7 tools that are essential for effective digital marketing. Master them and incorporate them into your workflow. Eventually, you’ll want to get into more advanced tools that will help you automate the work you do.

Did I miss any of the basics? Let me know in the comments.