If you know deep inside that you need to be doing more to connect regularly with your audience through a blog, an email newsletter, videos, a podcast, or social media, then this message is for you.
You know you need to share content consistently. And, truly, you want to. But something is holding you back.
Maybe you don’t have time to blog or prepare email messages.
Perhaps you feel hesitant and unsure about sharing your writing.
It could be that you have no idea what to write, cast, or speak about.
Or maybe you think, “Who cares? I’m just another voice on the internet.”
I’ve felt each of those weights at one time or another—and here I am, a full-time “writer!”
The struggles are real. We’re super busy. We want to hide. We push away the tiny, tentative voice that whispers, “Hey … maybe I really do have something good to share. Maybe the world needs my message.”
Yes. I know for a fact that the world needs your message.
Your ideal prospects and customers need your message.
They need you.
Your brilliance and creations are gifts, and now is the time to bring them forth and share them with the world.
My hope is that this article will stir your creativity and inspire you to create blog posts, social posts, email messages, and other content that get your products, services, and passions into the world.
You might want to keep a notebook or journal handy as you read because creative ideas love to take off and fly quickly after you find them.
I keep a spreadsheet called “Content Ideas,” which I open each time an idea for content sparks. On that sheet, I collect images, URLs, quotes, and anything else that inspires me and that I think will inspire or help my tribe.
Spreadsheet … journal … notebook … the format doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you’re prepared to capture the ideas that will come to you as you dig in.
I believe inside each of us lives a creative genius. Sometimes it takes but a spark to set that genius free and on fire. May this article be that spark for you.
Now, let’s dig in with the first form of content.
- Behind-the-scenes content
- Behind-the-scenes content gives your tribe a peek at what makes you tick or what it takes to bring your products, services, or talents to the world.
People buy from people and companies they know, like, and trust. Sharing glimpses of your world helps people get to know you better so they can like you more and, ultimately, trust you and buy from you.
Examples of behind-the-scenes content
As you explore each type of content, I’ll give you titles for hypothetical content that might live in the world. If you spot a title you think would work for you and your brand, feel free to use it.
Here are several examples of behind-the-scenes content:
From beta to better: How the latest improvements in our product came to be (hint—you helped).
5 books that motivate me when I’m in a content creation slump.
Shopping for metals—what it takes to bring you the jewelry creations you love.
The insider’s guide to gorgeous (and affordable!) kitchen cabinetry.
Think of challenge content in one of two ways:
Content that challenges your audience to do more, be more, and have more.
Content that deals with challenges your audience faces, whether work, life, relationship, or other.
What’ll it be? Challenged to? Or challenged by?
Examples of challenge content
10 days to “caught up!” — join me for a bookkeeping challenge.
Can’t get off the rotating staff roundabout? Here’s what to do about it.
Cutting the cost of employer healthcare: A look at telemedicine.
The solopreneur’s content creation challenge.
Cheat sheet content
Cheat sheet content recaps or summarizes instructions or information your audience needs to accomplish a task, reach a goal, eliminate a challenge, or take advantage of an opportunity.
Whether you’re blogging, vlogging, or Facebook Live-ing your cheat sheet content, consider also providing the cheat sheet in downloadable form.
Why pass up a chance to collect the reader’s contact information in exchange for the download?
Examples of cheat sheet content
The red Zinfandel cheat sheet—trivia, countries of origin, and more.
Parting ways: A cheat sheet for tactfully letting employees go while protecting your company.
The commercial leasing cheat sheet— everything you need to know to negotiate fair lease terms.
Coaching conversations cheat sheet: A must-have guide for your discovery calls.
Checklist content helps people move through a process while “checking off” items on a list.
Many checklists, in the blog or download format, use check marks as bullet points instead of the typical dots. Consider using boxes or underlined spaces that allow readers to physically check off items as they move through the process.
And if you’re vlogging, by all means share your checklist content by video, and then provide an accompanying downloadable version.
Examples of checklist content
The “Push Publish” checklist— everything you need to publish a useful, enjoyable post your readers will love.
Moving to the cloud: A checklist for successful transitions.
The checklist checklist—How to produce a checklist that moves people forward.
To create great comparison content, put yourself in the mind of your prospects. What questions do they have? What lingering problems do they struggle with? What information do they want to know?
Then, choose two or more products, services, methods, approaches, types, or other elements that get at what people are looking for, and compare the same variables for each.
If the topic lends itself to a table, frame the data that way and make it downloadable so the content is easy to consume.
Examples of comparison content
Life coaching, therapy, and counseling —what’s the difference?
Stripe versus PayPal versus Square.
A practical comparison of barcoding and RFID technologies.
Copywriter, marketing writer, or editor: What’s the difference?
Emory College versus the University of Georgia.
Controversy content is a fabulous way to rise above the din and stand out in the sea of sameness.
Do you disagree with a commonly held belief? Say so in a piece of controversy content.
Did a recent blog post by an authority in your field cause your lip to twitch and your eyebrow to raise? Tell the world your view on the matter.
The only rule is to keep it tactful and respectful.
Examples of controversy content
You’re invited: The funeral of social media as we know it.
Just because the experts say it doesn’t make it so.
Sorry to disagree, but it’s okay to use ???? in your content.
Why the Oxford comma is the right choice (for me).
The case for adding an alternative medicine practitioner to your healthcare team.
Frequently-asked-question (FAQ) content serves two purposes.
First, it gives you a better chance of showing up in search results when someone asks one of the questions your content answers.
Second, FAQ content allows people to get at the answers they’re seeking. And because the answers come from you, they smooth the path to a purchase from you.
If you’re blogging or vlogging, create one post per question, or group questions by theme or topic in a single post.
The key here is to publish content that answers questions prospects and customers often ask.
Examples of FAQ content
Why is my pool green? (The answer might surprise you.)
What is the average ROI on Facebook ads for ecommerce companies?
Why should I choose Salesforce over HubSpot?
How many hours does it take to replace an alternator?
How is reiki different than acupuncture?
Overhead view of construction workers and engineers at construction site.
Foundation content, also known as pillar or cornerstone content, focuses on topic clusters that sit at the foundation of your business. These clusters involve concepts your prospects ought to know about before doing business with you or anyone else in your industry.
It’s the kind of content you’d most often point people to when they show an interest in your business.
Foundation content also establishes you as an authority, brings search traffic your way, and gives you an opportunity to educate and gently sell.
Examples of foundation content
What they don’t tell you about becoming an executive coach.
The smart agency owner’s guide to selling to SaaS companies.
Marketing your art the right way.
The pitch playbook: How to win the wallets of investors.
How-to content helps your tribe do something they want to do, step by step.
Don’t worry about giving too much away! Many people don’t actually want to do it themselves; they just want to be sure you know what you’re doing, and that you can do it better than they can.
If you’re selling products, think of scenarios in which people will use what you’re selling, and then tell them how to do those things better, faster, and easier —all while using your products.
Examples of how-to content
How to shave a bushy budget and become a hero to your CEO.
Build a backyard treehouse in one weekend.
The step-by-step guide to writing an engaging blog post.
A video guide to getting started with breathwork.
Although image content still uses text, it relies primarily on images to communicate information or tell a story.
Take photos with your phone. Use quality images from any of the free image sources out there. Take screenshots. Then, line up the images one after another to lay out, visually, what you want to say.
Add text above and below each image to guide the reader through the content.
Or consider annotating the images to tell the story. Arrows, circles, numbers, and text boxes placed directly on images help readers quickly “get” what you want them to see on your images.
Examples of image content
See, Say, Sell: A visual guide to web content that sells.
Creating the perfect waiting room, a photo guide.
Eye candy for brides-to-be: Scenes from fairy-tale weddings.
Picture this: A visual way to track the results of your coaching journey.
light bulb in various creative watercolors. modern design idea concept vector.
Use inspiration content to open people’s hearts and minds to the success you know is possible.
Share quotes you know will motivate and inspire, and examples of others who’ve reached the levels your prospects want to reach.
The trick here is to find out what your audience aspires to be, do, and have, and then publish inspirational and motivational material that keeps the spark alive or makes it burn brighter.
Examples of inspiration content
On the other side of fear: What happens when you push through and do it anyway,
From zero to hero: A founder’s (repeatable) journey to $100M in ARR.
How doing less work led me to earn $10,000 in one hour (you can do this, too).
Listicle is just a cutesy name for a list.
The question is—what kinds of lists might help or appeal to your prospects and customers?
A list of tools, resources, DOs, DON’Ts, WHYs, WHY NOTs … the list goes on!
Examples of listicle content
10 ways to awaken your inner artist (no matter what profession you’re in).
5 tricks the pest pros use to keep ants out of your house.
The best (and proven) ways of combating GERD.
77 ideas for original blog content (you haven’t seen these ideas before).
News content is just what it sounds like—content that conveys news.
Are you launching a new product? Is there a shift happening in your market? Is there something newsworthy going on that your ideal customer will want to know about?
Convey that information through news content.
Examples of news content
Introducing the one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater.
New research reveals that squirrels hoard junk food.
A new take on rail transportation.
New location coming near you.
Announcing the release schedule for the next year.
If done with care, rant content can attract attention and position you as a leader and maverick in your field, someone who goes against the grain and challenges the status quo.
Be firm in sharing your stance and point of view but always be kind, respecting the opinions and practices of those who see things differently.
Think of rant content more as a persuasive tool and less an outlet for angst.
How can you share your rant AND sway opinions and behaviors around something relevant to you and your audience?
Examples of rant content
Please! I barely know you; the offense of asking for the sale too soon.
If another potential new hire asks me this question, I might lose it.
Depleted, dejected, dog-tired: Takeaways from three months in development hell.
How not to create crappy content (hint: have a truth-telling editor look it over).
Customer review satisfaction feedback survey concept, rating service experience on online application.
Use review content to share your advice and recommendations on subjects of interest to your audience.
Would readers appreciate a monthly book review? Or perhaps you could sample new software, a new-to-you gadget, a service that promises to be helpful, or that new planner you bought and love?
If you use or know of experts, products, services, strategies, or tactics that will help your audience thrive—or that your audience should avoid—share your thoughts in review content.
Examples of review content
Eye on the numbers: A review of small business accounting software.
Logo design on the cheap: Can you really get a professional logo on Fiverr?
A roofer’s take on Tesla’s solar roof.
Magazines for consultants: How the top publications stack up.
Roundup content provides a collection of related links, quotes, insights, or other information, giving people an overview of or different perspectives on the topic at hand.
Use the link roundup to share links to your latest, best, or most-commented-on content, or to share similar content on external sites.
To create expert roundup content, ask a set of questions to a group of experts and then share their answers with your audience.
There are also product roundups, statistic roundups, image roundups, deck roundups, customer roundups … you get the idea!
Examples of roundup content
The best tools to set your social media presence on fire.
A collection of blogs by CMOs for CMOs.
Seven up-and-coming jewelry designers share their best marketing approaches.
I evaluated 11 different planners; here’s what I found.
Sister to FAQ content, should-ask- question (SAQ) content allows you to preemptively answer questions that prospects and customers should ask but often don’t.
Use SAQ content to overcome common customer objections and concerns. Or, use it to educate people on the finer points of your product or service—points they may know nothing about.
Publishing SAQ content is a great way to develop trust.
Imagine a website that answers all of your questions and leaves you feeling 100% confident in handing over your credit card.
Yeah. That’s the power of SAQ content.
Examples of SAQ content
Think you need new content for your website? You might actually need something more.
Five questions to ask about that new SaaS product before signing on the dotted line.
What you don’t know might kill your ROI: How to be a smart buyer of enterprise technology.
Is a mastermind right for you?
Success story content shares the story of customers’ successful experiences with you.
Include what life was like before you came along, and what changed to make customers seek you out.
Explain the buying process, the learning curve, and what went into making things work.
Then paint a picture of life after your product or service came along, showing the benefits, changes, and results.
Examples of success story content
“Therapy changed my life” — A client shares her dread-to-dream journey.
How telemedicine turned a struggling rural healthcare practitioner into a community icon.
The art of it: Personalizing a new home with bespoke with content.
Video content gives people an opportunity to “meet” you in a more engaging way than through text alone.
What to say? Expound on a tactic you recommend. Share snippets of your favorite book. Give a tour of your workspace. Show and tell your way through a process or procedure.
Whatever you say, use a single video or a series of videos as the bulk of the content that communicates your message.
Examples of video content
Watch me breathe: My favorite breathing technique for when I need inner peace.
Video post: Triple your laptop screen real estate by adding two external monitors.
Vlogging on vlogging: Should your brand start a vlog?
How to dance like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever (if you’re selling something like this, let me know).
Positive young woman thinking
Portrait of young thoughtful woman with hand on [+]
What-if content captures attention and gets people thinking about possibilities. It may also encourage debate.
Raise questions to which the answer is, “That would be nice, but it’s not possible,” opening the door for you to share what is possible.
Ask questions related to the problems people or companies struggle with. Or ask questions that raise a few eyebrows and entice readers to click in just to see the replies.
Examples of what-if content
What if you could get a year’s worth of mileage from a single blog post?
What if your organization didn’t have to waste paper?
What if the next person you hire turns out to be a star—and you knew it in advance?
What if your company held its annual sales conference on a cruise ship?
Now it’s your turn: Go forth and create!
Did this article spark any new content ideas for you? If so, let me know in the comments. It’s always great to know that MY content is helping readers just like you.
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(c) Forres Media