The essential content creation guide in 2020

 

Content creation guide“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. 

But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”

A rallying cry for anyone tasked with content creation. Stolen from “Steal Like An Artist”, Austin Kleon’s superbly inspirational book.  

But for empathetic creatives – understanding that audiences are being bombarded with a perpetual onslaught of blogs and social media posts, news articles and opinion pieces, podcasts and videos – getting started can be easier said than done. 

And getting started is just one of the very many challenges that content creators must overcome. In an era of information overload, the challenge of getting content seen – no matter how groundbreaking, engaging and downright brilliant it might be – is not insignificant. I don’t want to add to the general sense of info overwhelm but here’s a quick stat for you to have a little think about: on WordPress alone, 70 million new posts are published each month. 

This is a reality that Mark Schaefer describes as Content Shock, “This intersection of finite content consumption and rising content availability… A situation where content supply is exponentially exploding while content demand is flat…”

So is there any point wasting – ahem, spending – any of your precious time generating new content?

According to Simon Swan, writing for The Drum, the answer to this question is a resounding “yes”.  

“There appears to be more of a need than ever for trusted, authoritative and relevant information – and this could herald the opportunity for brands to position themselves as reliable sources of specialist knowledge.”

But how to become that “go-to destination for information and content”?

“An empathetic approach is one of the best ways to build a long-term relationship with your customers.”

So says Daisy-ree Quaker. And the deceptively simple Venn diagram activity that she shares in her Content Marketing Institute article is a brilliant way to avoid the temptation of creating content based on what you know instead of content that’s actually useful for your audience.

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

I have to admit that I’m with G. K. Chesterton on this one. It’s super important to not let perfection get in the way of productivity. After all, John Williams – author of “Screw Work Break Free” – was on to something when he said, 

“The thing you dashed off in an hour or two sometimes gets more appreciation from your audience, users or market than the things you spent many weeks on! Share it!”

And for the record? I am the world’s absolute worst at putting any of this into practice. Because writing this blog matters to me, it’s languished on my job list for weeks. I even prioritized a deep-dive into the analytics of our social media platforms as an avoidance tactic.

But, anyhoo…

To get this article to even this stage of shareability, I’ve had to dust off – and actually put into practice – all the common-sense productivity tips that I’ve collected over the years, including:

  1. If it matters, do it first. 
  2. Set a timer and commit to writing for just one 15-minute burst*.

(*I invariably keep going, once I’ve got started. But even daily 15-minute bursts add up, over a week or so.)

Tips on content development 

Procrastination aside, it is not always possible to create fresh and high-quality content from scratch every time. And that’s where content curation comes in: selecting content from thought-leaders in your area of interest, adding your own views and sharing with your audience. Simple! 

My go-to sources for thought-provoking, work-related content include: 

Guardian 

Harvard Business Review

HubSpot 

Keeping a doc to drop in all the article links and 3rd party content sources that pique your interest can be a sensible habit to get into. And the trending articles tab on your LinkedIn company page can be a great resource, too. 

Essential tools for online publishing  

“You don’t need to wait for anyone’s permission anymore. (There’s been) a revolutionary shift of power to the individual. Yet too few of us are taking advantage of it. We’ve been handed the most powerful toolbox in history and yet many of us still use it for nothing more than retweeting other people’s ideas and LOLing around on Facebook.”

John Williams is absolutely right. 

It’s no urban myth, after all, that the smartphones in our pockets are millions of times more powerful than the Apollo 11 guidance computers. 

But how do we use the tools from this uber-powerful kit for content creation? 

Read on…

Do spelling mistakes matter? 

“I feel something akin to having a stone in my shoe when I see a mistake. It acts as an irritant.”

Not everybody has such a physical response to spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and typos but it does make sense to project as professional – and glitch-free – an impression as possible.  

And that’s where apps like grammarly come in. 

The free version of the app will check your text for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. There’s a premium service, too, that will even check things like the tone of your message. I can’t think of a business scenario where you’d plump for an egocentric or disheartening tone but, hey-ho, you know your audience better than I do!

A picture paints a thousand words… 

…but a video paints even more! 

And the great news? 

Unless you have a hefty budget, there’s no need to worry too much about production values. Think about telling an engaging story in a relatable way, a simple message that makes viewers’ lives easier. Because whether you’re choosing imagery or footage from stock sites, shooting on your smartphone or commissioning a pro photographer, videographer, illustrator or animator, content with an authentic feel is what matters most.

Stock sites – like Shutterstock, for example – offer royalty-free stock images, photos, vectors, illustrations, footage, video and even music. And many of these sites offer a free trial to help you get your project off the ground. 

But if you’ve got the budget to go pro? Get super clear about what you’re hoping to achieve. Build a good working relationship with your supplier,  bounce ideas around and storyboard a few concepts . A well-planned creative project could result in top-quality content for several campaigns to come.   

Choosing an online publishing platform 

It’s no exaggeration to say that online publishing has changed the world. Just look at the prevalence of things like newspapers, magazines and books in digital form. 

Digital flipbooks were originally created as a desktop reading solution. Being able to flick through the publications’ pages gave readers used to print a sense of familiarity. But flipbooks have evolved over time to meet the needs of the mobile-first movement. They’re now a great way for creators to deliver the content that their readers need, optimized for the devices that they’re using whether that’s mobile, tablet or laptop.

Using flipbooks’ software, static PDFs can be quickly transformed into dynamic digital publications. And it couldn’t be easier to add interactive features like:

– Audio

– Video

– Web-links

– Image galleries

– Shopping buttons

– And more 

Spreading the word 

Sharing digital publications is quick, simple and cheap. With flipbooks, for example, you can simply copy the URL and share it with your audience.

Flipbooks’ publishing platforms list the most popular social media sharing buttons, too. And social platforms are such a great way to publish the content that you’ve worked so hard to create. Pick a couple of platforms – the places where your audience is most likely to hang out – and start posting. It’s always fascinating – and often surprising – to see which content gets engagement. The rough-and-ready, Benefits of Flipbooks infographic that I cobbled together on Powerpoint is a case in point!   

“Creating content that causes an emotional reaction, such as laughter, joy, astonishment or a call to action, encourages users to share the experience with their friends.” 

That’s according to the Digital Marketing Institute but see what works for you.  

And if your content is fresh, interesting and has a potentially newsworthy angle? Registering with Help a Reporter Out (HARO) could be worth your while. The service connects journalists and bloggers with expert industry sources – that’s you! 

And I don’t think there’s anything more satisfying, as a creator, than knowing that somebody else has found meaning in the story that you’ve told. 

And finally…

I’m going to sum up as I started off, stealing words from Austin Kleon: 

“Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started. If I’d waited to know who I was or what I was about before I started “being creative,” well, I’d be sitting around trying to figure myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are. You’re ready. Start making stuff.”

Good to go?

Start your free trial of our flipbooks’ software today. 

We can’t wait to see what you make!