Writing content sucks. There, I said it.
And as someone who spends her entire day writing content, I feel your pain. Content creation isn’t always fun. In fact, it’s hard even if you are the type of person who enjoys showing off via words and sentences (holla!). But its important. It’s what breeds rankings, links, authority and the keys to that damn Google kingdom. You need content.
But you can put the dull knives away because you don’t need to hurt yourself to get it. Below are some quick and (relatively) painless ways to find new content sources for your site. A few don’t even require you write a single word. Can’t go wrong there, right?
Answer “natural questions”
When you need content for your site, start here. Writing content that answers the natural questions people have about you will be the best content writing investment you’ll make. It doesn’t matter what you sell, what industry you’re in or how well known your brand is, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you spend at least an hour of your day answering the same 10 questions: What is your return policy? Is your product eco-friendly or do you really LIKE killing the environment? Does that ugly sweater come in purple? What’s your turnaround time for shipping? Can I make that sweater come in purple if I really, really want it? Whatever questions you waste time in your day answering, write content for and put the answers up on your site. You’ll help cut out some of those phone calls and emails, whiling also giving people information you know they’re looking for. It’s win/win.
Create a blog.
Shockingly, we like blogs as a way to add fresh content to a site. It breeds authority, allows you to play nice with your community, encourages you to be useful and attracts links. We talk a lot about blogging and how to find blog topics, so I’ll just leave it at that. Blogs are delicious.
[If you’re looking for material to help you fill that blog, here are some ways to generate ideas via a post I wrote for SmallBizTrends recently.]
Write Guides for your industry
What does your company do or know better than anyone else in your industry? Where can you create your own version of the Dell Business Solutions Center to help shed light on a confusing new law or help newbies in your industry learn the ropes? These are your chances to produce evergreen and timeless content that will continue to deliver traffic, links and authority time and time again. This may include building out a full Resource Center like Dell or simply taking the time to write guides for a particular area (ala our Online Reputation Management Guide), whitepapers that examine a certain topics or even just a list of resources that people can access to get help with a particular problem. These types of content pieces will also help build your credentials as an authority in your field and help you develop links and traffic over the long term. They’re great differentiators. Look for information holes in your industry and then fill them.
Create a graphic
Not everyone likes to read. In fact, most people don’t. They like visuals. They like being able to refer to a chart to understand a concept and having something they can print out, throw on their wall and refer back to as needed. In the SEO world, I think Bruce Clay, Inc. and SEOmoz probably do the best job of this. BCI has its infamous Search Engine Relationship Chart and the best part of the SEOmoz blog are often the images Rand creates to tell a story. Truth is, sometimes “content” doesn’t mean words. It means finding the best medium you can to get your message out.
Start a podcast
If you’re more comfortable speaking than writing, than a podcast may be a great way to add some fresh content to your site. Not everyone is a fan of listening to podcasts, but those who are, are crazy about them. One of the great things about podcasts is that they let you connect with your audience in a far more personal way. Because listeners can hear your voice, they get your inflections, the pregnant and pauses. They can pick up the sarcasm. It brings them deeper into your world and helps them better connect with you. By making your podcast a regular addition to your site you also give customers a reason to keep coming back and checking in with you. If you’re going to create podcasts, you may always want to consider transcribing them to give the search engines something to chew on.
Allow user generated content
You want content but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be the one generating it. Whether it’s you allowing customers to add product reviews on your site or creating a whole UGC section on your site designed to let users show off their expertise, allowing your community to get involved and write content for you may be one way of breaking through the “z0mg how do I do this” wall. If you are going to open up the floodgates of UGC, do make sure that you’ve set a clear list of guidelines and that you’re monitoring what they’re producing. Otherwise things can get ugly fast.
There’s nothing more intimate than video. I mean, there is, but you can’t get it for free on the Internet any more. Video allows people to see you. They can stare into your eyes, hear your voice, and break through that third wall to get to know you in a new way. If you have any type of personality at all, I really encourage using video as a way to sell both yourself and your product. Put in on your About Me page, on your content creation services page (what?), create video blog posts, use it to explain important concepts, do video product reviews for Google Base. Video has become a really powerful sales tool. A good example of people who get video? Chris Brogan and Loren Feldman.
There you have a handful of my favorite quick and dirty sources of content. Share yours and let’s add to the list!