Imagine being able to create 100 content ideas FAST and the easiest method of writing each post which you could copy and repeat.
I truly hate the word “content”. It’s dry, it doesn’t have context. It’s overused and most importantly, it’s like creating a product. You can build as many widgets as you like, but if you’re not promoting and sharing them, no one is going to buy.
However, needs must and we have to utilise time to create helpful, valuable content that attracts readers, converts leads and makes sales.
Online, free content such as blog posts and videos are core to a content marketing strategy for online scaled businesses. The beauty is that you can write a handful of stellar pieces and they’ll work in the background for you.
Apply some heavy SEO and PPC to those posts and you’ve got an attraction strategy. But how do we think of the topics and subjects that our customers want to read?
If we’re writing free blog posts to give away, they should be good enough and high quality enough that current customers would want to read them.
The days of writing every day or every week, just to grow your SEO channel, are coming to a close. To get attention and KEEP your readers attention is harder than ever. Finally, all your blog content needs to capture email addresses and data, from traffic, in order to grow your list.
This content exercise is the fastest way to generate over 100 content ideas. Incidentally, these ideas can be turned into products, services, posts, videos, presentations, lead magnets…you name it.
Sidenote: This method was taught to me by my business coach Sean Mize. Sean has been a wonderful teacher to me and constantly pushes my ability to help my audience.
Brainstorm 10 broad main topics for your product
We start by thinking about the broad 10 topics, within your business, that would help customers.
Download the broad topic starter worksheet here, (no optin) to write down and brainstorm the 10 broad subjects that we’ll use later.
For example, if we’re an e-commerce website developer. Our customers might suffer from low revenue, low email subscribers and no promotion strategy. The way we help would show regular repeat sales, a growing email list and a well-received promotion strategy.
So 10 broad topics could be-
Email list growth
E-commerce store marketing
Productivity and effectiveness
We call this exercise the ten by ten, or 10×10.
We’re not going to use every idea, but it will give us the clarity and ideas needed to execute a promotion and content plan for us as freelancers, consultants and single person micro-businesses.
Brainstorm 10 sub-topics per main topic
Once we’ve got our main topics, it’s time to get specific.
Download the 2nd worksheet, for sub-topics, here, (no optin) to write down and brainstorm the 10 sub-subjects that we’ll use to create our content.
What we’re writing down and listing now, are sub-topics that could become individual pieces of content. Don’t worry about the delivery method or titles yet. We’ll get to that.
What we’re listing is the points that we can help people with. What’s going to provide value.
It’s important to know that the reason this works so well, as a planning process, is because it automatically creates funnels.
If we have sub-topic ideas for email marketing for example, we’ve got enough ideas for blog content, lead magnets, splinter products and probably a core product. Maybe a repeat/membership/subscription product too.
Start writing down the 10 sub-topics under each topic. Be as specific as you like. Think in terms of steps and stages of that problem. What we need is 10 sub-topics under each topic. Giving us 100 content ideas and something to focus on.
For example, taking the broad topic from above, email marketing-
Sending to customers
Sending to leads
Traffic driving emails
At the moment, they won’t have much shape or form, but they will be useful to your audience. For each sub-topic, ask yourself “would members of my audience need or want to know about this, if they want to look like the after list?”
If you write down an idea or sub-topic that you’ve already got content for, mark that down. No need to reinvent the wheel!
After you’ve written down all your ideas. It’s also useful to give an audit of that content. For example, if you’ve already got posts about your sub-topics, mark that down as complete.
This includes blog posts, videos, lead magnets, products, services, presentations, books, splinter products or anything else that your audience or customers could consume.
What we find is that people have a spread of sub-topics, across a 10×10, but no real connection between the pieces. There might be 5 posts on email marketing but no lead magnet. A product under all topics, but no promotion above it.
We want to see how your content grid, or landscape , looks and how it’s all connected.
After writing down our 10 sub-topics, we’re going to make the creation much easier than just writing 100 blog posts (no one wants to do that).
Finally, DON’T think you’re going to create every single one of these posts. What we need to do now, is take the initial core or flagship product and focus on that. Maybe that product stretches across a few topics. Which is fine.
Keep your objective focused and get one specific thing out rather than trying too much.
Deciding on 2 sub-topics for blog content and a 3rd for a lead magnet and publishing is 100x more effective than trying to write 10 posts at once.
The key to growth as a single person or micro-business, is connecting activities. Not just doing one activity but connecting the pathway between each action.
For 1 sub-topic, find other blog posts and do a blog post roundup
All 10 of the next exercises can be done for each sub-topic under a broad topic. Meaning that you could do it up to 10 times. Identify 1 sub-topic under you main topics and mark it down as a blog post round up.
A blog post round up is itself a blog post, that looks at 5 – 7 (or more) blog posts on other websites and writes a short summary of that post.
Let’s take the sub-topic Subject Lines for example.
I just need to Google and search for 10 or so, blog posts on writing better subject lines. How to write high open rate subject lines, how they affect sales and clicks, different types of subjects lines etc.
What we now do is write our post, with a short introduction. But our main copy comes from copying and pasting a link, image, quote or statistic and post title into our own post.
Do this at least 5 times, but up to 10 is optimal. Anymore and we risk looking like a link spam post and people won’t read them all anyway.
What we’re doing, is taking # of expert posts on how subject lines affect e-commerce businesses. We’re taking the interesting parts of each of our actions to create an easy to consume and easy to write post.
We’ve got e-commerce stores as our customers, subject lines as our useful sub-topic, expert opinions as our hook.
Maybe you’ve found posts on mistakes people make with email subject lines. Maybe you’ve found how subject lines increase open rates.
Write up a short summary per post but have a quote from the post too. Take an image from the post and insert that, use their title as a header and remember to link back to that original post.
If you find 7 useful posts, use the structure below for your title.
7 experts tell you exactly how email subject lines need to be written, to increase your open rates.
What 7 email experts tell e-commerce businesses to write as subject lines to increase sales.
Like with any content, we just want proof to back up your statement. If you can find a quote from each post, supporting what to do for e-commerce sales, then you’re golden.
For 1 sub-topic, find a few YouTube videos and do a video roundup post
Similar to the blog post round up. Choose a sub-topic and find around 10 YouTube videos that talk about your sub-topic.
It’s almost exactly the same process as the blog post roundup, we write a short summary for each video, include the video title, a quote but this time we embed the video on your post.
Video content does wonders for SEO, plus, it’s more likely readers will stay on your page if you’ve got the other content embedded on your site.
Use the same title structure for the post roundup. Include an introduction and promote.
Interestingly, if you reach out to the post or video creators, mention that they’re on your post, they’re at least likely to tweet you.
If you can introduce yourself properly, we’ve had authors send our post to their list.
For 1 sub-topic, read and review the top 3 best seller books on that subject
Similar to the post roundup, take something a bit meatier and look at books.
People love a good book review, by choosing a few books to talk about, we’re giving you some serious media to talk about.
Book reviews are easiest when you’re talking about them. Get in front of the camera and talk about them.
Choose 3 books within a sub-topic (or at least e-books) and read them. No need to go in depth if you haven’t got time. Speed read the chapters and highlight a few sections that really speak to you.
Like the blog post roundup, we want a couple of quotes, a link, the book title, and images (if there are any). You’ll find a lot of books published now have companion blog post sites. This gives you access to images, copy and paste written copy, links and profiles.
When reviewing a book, focus on 5 key areas.
Was the book easy to read?
The author’s experience and context.
Who else has read the book.
Personal opinion on the book.
Just talk through those points, no need for a heavy script. You can then top and tail the review of each book with a title, link, quote and website.
If you get the recording transcribed, that makes for a super easy second piece of content. Again, if you mention or reach out to authors, they’ll likely give you a small tweet at least in return.
For 1 sub-topic, write a how-to guide on creating or doing something
This is the most common type of written blog post out there. How-to guides are incredibly useful and easy to create. The problem comes however, from what us as businesses THINK our readers want to consume.
Often, as experts, we think people are searching for process guides or how-to guides on actions. For example, how to search optimise your blog post page for Google.
True, some of your more experienced or researched readers might be searching for specific action guides, but the title and implication for that post, does not incite traffic clicks.
If we think about our before/after list, what is the before and after that you can associate with a sub-topic?
What’s the process or steps that people need to take to get to that after status? What is one of the ways people can get to that after status?
Structure your blog post title and format around helping people get to “after”. Rather than a technical how-to guide on an action.
How e-commerce businesses know they’ve had more traffic, from Google, every month.
That’s a way more interesting post title, than how to search optimise your posts. It may be that some of the steps ARE from a how-to guide on optimising your blog posts.
But people want to read posts that help them do better, not expend time, energy and money on an action.
Make the post hyper valuable with content upgrades, worksheets, light bulb moments (also called lead magnets).
For 1 sub-topic, record a video process of you doing that subject
A step above a how-to guide, a video process is like a user guide or walk through of a solution.
You’ll need some screen capture software such as Camtasia or Screen Flow. It’ll record a capture of what’s happening on your screen, while you record a voice over with a microphone.
There are a couple of ways of doing video guides, both ultimately get you the same results. We want a video that someone can watch, follow the voice over instructions and complete a task alongside.
Most people will watch a walkthrough video once, then open it up again and follow along. The way that you can record a video guide is pretty similar.
Video guides are wonderful demonstrators of knowledge and expertise. Even tasks that you believe are super simple, can be turned into short video guides. People need help with all sorts of activities.
This is also where video guides excel. Whereas how-to guides are great introductions to process, but people usually want results or benefits focused guides. Video guides are perfect for people searching for action terms.
How-to search optimise a blog post.
How-to publish an eBook.
How-to search and research your competitors keywords.
Think of a sub-topic and something that you can do a walkthrough. Essentially, it’s a training video. What would you do if you were talking someone through this, face to face?
The two ways of recording a video guide are as follows. However, before recording anything. It’s a good idea to go through the process as a “dry run”, be conscious of the steps you’re taking.
If necessary, take notes of the steps you’re taking. You’ll need them when you’re going through the video.
Either you can set up the screen capture and microphone (you could use a webcam too), to record all at the same time. Talk through the process you’re doing in real time and explain what you’re doing.
The advantage of this method is that it’s very fast. The disadvantage is that sometimes the quality is hard to keep up. You might find you trail off and don’t explain things clearly.
The other method is to record the screen without the microphone recording. Just record the steps and keep that video. Then, record a voice over of you going through the steps.
Most professional video guides use this method. It does take longer to run through but the results often sound much better.
My advice would be to just start recording with your voice and screen at the same time. Get used to edit points, removing “um’s and ah’s” and publishing video content.
If it’s bad (and your first few will be), you can always rerecord them at a later date.
For 1 sub-topic, interview a colleague, friend or business on that subject
This is the easiest method of creating content on the planet. Take a sub-topic and find SOMEONE to talk to about it.
Interview them on the subject and record the conversation. If they’re happy to have the audio or video published, then you just got yourself a sweet video interview.
You can still transcribe the audio into a blog post.
Hint: if you can interview people regularly, you just got yourself a podcast format 😉
Use the email below to get an interview.
I’m looking to interview an expert in [topic/sub-topic] and I’d love the opportunity to ask you a few questions.
I know you’re [prevalent blogger, industry expert, local hero] and my customers could really benefit from your experience.
I know you must get loads of these requests, but it’d mean a lot if I could get 45 minutes of your time.
The 6 basic questions to ask any interviewee are
- What’s your experience with sub-topic?
- What do people need to know to get started with sub-topic?
- Why should people be thinking about this now?
- What’s the big problem you’re solving or this topic can solve?
- What’s the benefit from solving this problem?
- What’s a common misconception about this topic?
Either get them on Skype or Zoom and record the conversation. Or do it old school with a pen and paper.
Send them the questions ahead of schedule and try to keep to a 45 minute length. Even a 20 minute video interview is long enough for people to watch.
For 1 sub-topic, bust open a myth that most people believe about that subject
When it comes to very popular sub-topics, your customers might have ideas about what works already.
Every job and profession has myths and misconceptions about it. When we tell customers to take a certain action, such as stretching or pay-per-click advertising, they’ll already have objections as to why that won’t work for them.
Usually, these objections are founded on myths. Previous bad experience, friends and family telling them one thing or another.
We have an excellent opportunity to overcome objections, before our readers even convert to customers. It also gives us a wonderful post to send to people who are on the fence.
Think about the big misconception around your sub-topic. This can be cut up in a few ways (and there’s no reason you have to stick with just one).
How do people without experience try to solve this problem? What have you seen people do, when they don’t talk to you, that doesn’t work?
What’s something that everyone takes for granted? Or assumes is true? For example, being on page one of Google, for a search term, does NOT guarantee you more traffic.
What’s something that OTHER professionals in your industry say or think is true? What do they teach their customers which isn’t true?
What did people usually do, to solve the problem and is there a better way? For instance, before Uber, you’d call a cab, wait in the cold or for a phone call and then have no idea if they’re taking you the right way. Now, you can see when the Uber will arrive, how long it’ll take and pay by phone.
You could either create a list post. 5 things you thought you knew about SEO… or focus on one myth and explore why people think that. Why it isn’t true and what the truth is.
It helps if you can link to proof or other people saying the same thing. Opinions are fine, but when it comes to overcoming objections and myths, evidence is going to help even more.
For 1 sub-topic, give away a few templates or examples that people can use
We talk about lead magnets, light bulb moments and content upgrades a lot. The idea is that if we help people with some valuable resources, they’ll sign up or take an action that we want them to take.
If you want to create a SERIOUSLY useful blog post, take the sub-topic you’ve got and provide templates or examples to readers for free.
Think in the same terms as lead magnets. Worksheets and templates, resources or cheat sheets. Just give it away with no optins or sign ups.
It’s more a show of good faith than anything. Showing that all you want to do is help. If you create genuinely useful content, that gives value away to people, they’ll appreciate it.
Businesses that know what they’re doing, give away the farm. Rather than protect it and horde onto information or resources like they’re scarce, they share them with people.
It doesn’t have to be tons of stuff. In fact, research shows that too much content given away can overwhelm people.
Choose 2 or 3 specific examples that you’re happy for other people to download. No need to skip an optin or signup form completely. But free, no-optin resources go a long way to building good will
They don’t have to be worksheets or cheat sheets either. Or even be accessed via a link. You can just include the text for things like emails, training plans, questions for clients etc.
A good example of giving away templates is this post (http://www.wpelevation.com/2016/08/first-steps-email-marketing/). It gives away email templates, inside the blog post, with no optin. Or at the end you can download a Google doc with the emails via a link.
Just copy and paste the text from the blog post and you’re good to go.
For 1 sub-topic, write a explorer blog post.
Explorer posts are essentially the opening stages of a sales letter. The first half of the copy that’s designed to pique interest and grab their attention.
It’s a good habit to get into, writing sales copy. We’re not writing sleazy car adverts or infomercial scripts. A sales letter is a series of steps, designed to bypass people’s “I don’t want to spend money” brain block.
What’s even better, is that once you can write an explorer post, you can write a sales letter.
The heading are so.
What most people do.
What to do differently.
Make a bold, clear and specific promise to the reader about this post. I promise that…
For example, if you’re going to help them lose weight without going to the gym more, promise that. I promise I’m going to show you how to lose weight without going to the gym more. Obviously you can’t promise that they will lose weight, but you promise you’ll show them.
People are hesitant to make promises. They think it’s like a guarantee or that customers will get mad if they don’t deliver.
But if you’re not comfortable making a promise about your business, or content, you probably shouldn’t be in business. Don’t promise the world, but promise on what you can deliver on.
Outline the problem that this post is going to solve. Use problems and goal language, stuff that your customers want. What’s the big roadblock facing their business or themselves? What are they trying to solve?
The problem is…we need to drive more and more traffic to our websites. But Google and social don’t seem to be delivering the results we need? Our websites need more traffic and SEO and social might not be the answer.
People relate to problems. They see roadblocks and problems as where they are now. It’s easier to identify with than where they want to be.
What’s a common misconception about this problem? What do most people get wrong or assume? We covered this in 5.9, but we’re just providing a summary here. Nothing too in depth.
Most people believe that…that growing your Twitter following means buying followers or following 1000’s of other people. In fact, most people believe that growing a social following is key to their businesses growth, without thinking if that’s really true.
Explain to the reader what’s changing in your industry. They need to know what changing, because it tells them 1) what they need to be aware of and what’s dangerous out there and 2) what they can take advantage of in the future.
Focus on three areas. Technological, economic and sociological. What’s changing, for better or worse, with the technology surrounding this problem or sub-topic? What’s changing with the economy, money or spending habits with this topic? What’s changing positively or negatively with people and society, with this topic?
SEO is changing. It’s now no longer about keywords and ranking for all search terms. It’s about creating quality content that people like to read.
More and more people are spending money online, if you’re not providing easy access to your services from your website, people will go elsewhere.
Your customers expect you to be helpful earlier in the relationship now. If you can’t match their expectations, they’ll go somewhere else.
What do most people do?
Write a paragraph or who about what most people and businesses in your industry do to solve this problem. Highlight what might be making the problem worse.
What were customers doing before they used you? What do most blogs and sites say to do, but which you think isn’t the best solution?
What to do differently?
Explain to the reader what they need to do differently. What steps should they take if they really want to solve this problem.
It don’t have to be long, 3 – 7 points is plenty. You could even mix in some of the other post types with quotes, interviews or embedded videos.
Break down the steps into small, manageable pieces. Don’t overwhelm people with content, too much and they’re drop off.
What do people need to do next? In a sales letter, this would be where we’d start putting order and buy buttons. But for our post, a lead magnet should suffice.
Ask people, if they’re serious about [problem] or [result], they should sign up and download your extra content.
It’s important to always try and move people onto the next piece of content or stage. Insert your booking details or a contact form. Whatever gets people to start taking action.
For 1 sub-topic, create a lead magnet that gives away something extremely valuable on that subject
Rather than create a post for our final sub-topic. Create a lead magnet that gives away some serious value.
Remember, this is NOT just about providing tons of content. Creating a lead magnet that solve a problem fast, or with less effort, is more valuable.
Think about saving people time, money and energy. That’s what lead magnets are really about.
The sub-topic could be a mini-course, a series of worksheets or a guide. What we’re trying to do is create something valuable but protect it, so people can sign up and take advantage of it.
If you’ve have a product or content that people usually pay for, say you’re giving it away for free. Say it’s an experiment and you’re looking for feedback. Ask people to comment on what they thought of it.
Creating mountains of content is hard work. This exercise in itself can be very tiring. In my experience, businesses find they struggle at first to think of 10 subjects. But once the floodgates open, it’s hard to narrow it down to JUST 100.
The point of this exercise isn’t always to give to 100 blog posts. It’s about 100 things that your customers want to read about. The best part? You can teach your customers how to do this exact process and get them on the content train.
If you’re serious about creating content for customers, download the 10×10 workbook here or below.
Click here to download the workbook.
It’s the handbook you can use with customers to work with them creating content and ideas.
A lot of WordPress businesses have said to me, “this looks like a lot of work!” and frankly it is. I totally understand how you feel if you’re thinking this. A lot of businesses felt the same way. But what we’ve found is that 50% of the content has probably already been written. 30% of the ideas become their best content and 20% becomes new products and services that they can use.
What do you think of this exercise? How about the different types of blog posts? Are there any post types that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below.