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How To Come Up With Content In Your Own Business

Sometimes the most difficult thing isn’t doing the thing you do - but talking about it. 

Content marketing for small business is the act of creating content - written, visual or other - that blows your trumpet, but in a tune that gets your customer up and dancing.

For so many, this is really hard. Owners can get down and dirty working in their business any day of the week, but trying to inadvertently sell it is the Mount Everest of backburner jobs. Which, as a copywriter and content marketer, I see as a real shame.

Content marketing generates three times as many leads as cold pitching does. And if that wasn’t enough of a statistical sucker punch? It also drives conversions at rates six times higher than outbound marketing, and boosts web traffic by almost 8-fold.

Plus, what’s more, it’s expected. 

According to Marketing Insider Group, your customers are expecting you to articulate yourself, your uniqueness and why they need you when they go looking for those answers. Whether it’s to inform, entertain, persuade, encourage or educate, if you haven’t spent any time on creating something content-tasty, they’ll go elsewhere. Scary.

When you’re stuck in a content rut, these simple tips should help kickstart your efforts.

Keep it simple, s…mart cookie

When you’re surrounded by great competitor content all the time, it’s tempting to think that you can, or should, replicate it. But the best way to approach your content is to keep it simple - pick the content types that suit you and stick with them.

What does that mean in reality? Well, it means selecting two, or maybe three content mediums and running with them exclusively. There are so many ways to market content effectively; your wheelhouse doesn’t end at blogging and social media. 

In fact, those are two content-heavy mediums that don’t suit a lot of folk anyway. Yet, when we think of content, they’re the first two we put on the list.

I love this inventory from CoSchedule and I use it often. It’s comprehensive, offering every content medium from e-Books to contests to live streams, and explains how you can use them. 

If your jam is using lots of animation, maybe GIFS or short clips are for you. Or if you have stats to share, err on making content through listicles to spread your message. Word from the wordsmiths? If you’re comfortable talking about what you do, do it in video and have that be the pinnacle of your content strategy. 

I love - nay, the entire connected world loves video content and I really can’t think of a single business that wouldn’t get use out of them. They are versatile, evergreen and powerful - you can repurpose clips any which way.

Stay real, homie

It’s the repeating staple of many a content marketer’s vernacular: nothing nice to say, don’t say nothin’ at all. Creating great content is easier when you feel comfortable and confident about what you have to say. So, what’s in your comfort zone? 

A good rule of thumb is not to share things that either a.) you’re not sure about or b.) don’t inherently believe serves your audience something. As a content marketer, I know the beauty in creating content regularly, but I also will never recommend a client put empty rubbish into the content universe for the sake of saying they did it. 

That’s not to say you can’t be a little wild later on once you’ve found your rhythm, and you’re getting good traction with your efforts. But to start, if you have nothing to say or contribute, wait until you do. Start jotting down ideas and seeing how they settle in your mind, or use content generation platforms like Feedly, Answer The Public and HubSpot’s own blog ideator to get a sense for what folk are liking and sharing.

Creating content should feel good and exciting and reflect all that hard yacka you threw into creating a fabulous brand. If it doesn’t, you aren’t doing it right and you should immediately stop, drop and cull. Simples *squeak*.

Think out-of-the-box

Selling yourself doesn’t have to be sales-y. 

Well, at least it doesn’t have to feel sales-y. Rethink the traditional sales strategy, where you put [Product] or [Service] in front of your customer, include a little bio on why it’s the bees knees and then ask them to buy it. The opportunity for a sale can exist in every piece of content, even if softly and indirectly.

Talking about what you do, your unique process, the behind-the-scenes fun of how you make the magic happen, they key drivers of your decision-making process, the unexpected bumps in the road on your journey, the lessons learnt, projects or products you’re proud of and want to showcase - it all plays a part in the sell. 

Plus, it’s good reading, and people feel more connected to you. Connection is the spice of your content marketing life.

I always do a litmus test of topics at networking events. I talk about potential blog posts before I’ve even written them, and gauge interest that way. I also use the follow-up questions they ask as the pieces of content I’ll cover (it shows the angles I wouldn’t have considered). 

With clients, I encourage that if they have a unique perspective on something, they share it, even if it’s controversial. Or if it’s just funny or different or unusual. Because coming up with content doesn’t have to be hard, but it does have to be done with purpose, passion and love. Otherwise, why bother?

Michelle Ives