Content Marketing 101 – Finding Topics

content marketing basics

In the first post in this series, I covered the goals or objectives that content can help you achieve – the 5 Es – and the types of content for each one. This week, we’ll discuss some more of the content marketing alphabet – the Ys. They help you when finding topics to create your content.

CONTENT CREATION GOLD

The first Y you need to know is your Y – WHY are you writing? WHY are you marketing? WHY are you DOING what you do in the first place. (Again “to sell stuff” and/or “to make money” are NOT acceptable answers here.

Answer some of these questions:

  • What do you have to offer that no one else can, or does, or offers it in the way you do?
  • What experiences, skills, knowledge and/or education can you share with others?
  • What stories can you tell?
  • How can you help others?

Your answers may not seem like much, but the real success of your blog is to be found in them. They are the gold in your content marketing.

They are the motivation to keep going when it seems as if no one is reading. When the comments stay bare and barren. When it’s like you are talking to yourself, or worse, the wall.

Your Y is what keeps you going, keeps you plugging away at creating content when you really aren’t sure it’s making any difference at all.

CONTENT CREATION PLATINUM

If your WHY is the gold, your READER’S WHY is the platinum. Again, ask yourself some questions:

  • Why would someone want to read my blog/listen to my podcast/download my ebook?
  • What problem or issue do they have that I can help solve or resolve?
  • What information do they need from me?
  • What are they searching for when they come to me and my content?

Why is this SO important I call it the platinum, while YOUR Ys are only gold?

Because in these answers lie your TOPICS. Your content. The “what do I blog about this week?”

WHY BLOGGERS DON’T BLOG

See, here’s something you probably didn’t know, but may be a part of – the top two reasons non-blogging bloggers, non-broadcasting podcasters, and non-posting marketers give for their lack of activity are:

  • trouble finding time

AND

  • trouble finding topics

Oh, they start off like gangbusters, plugging away for a few weeks, sometimes a month, seldom make it to a year. And then, they run out of the WHATs. Finding topics to blog about just becomes too overwhelming.

“What do I write about?”
“What more can I say?”
“What else is there to cover?”

However, when you focus not on you and your WHATs, but rather on your readers/listeners and their WHYs, finding topics for your topic stream is nearly endless. There’s no niche so small, no business “too boring”, to NOT have customers and their needs. Their questions. Their issues. Their WHYs. Finding topics becomes easy when you know what to look for, to brainstorm.

HOW TO FIND TOPICS

Take those questions up there and look, really look, at your answers. If you can’t answer your “reader” questions, do a bit of informal research. How to do that? Here’s some ideas that only take an hour or two each:

  • Go to Quora and/or Reddit. Search for your niche or type of business. See what questions people are asking. Write them down. Each question can become the basis for a post or other content. A whole bunch of them can become a book.
  • Go to Amazon. Look for “how to” books in your niche. Read the table of contents in one or two of them. Use those topics as “content fodder”. Also, while you’re there, buy one or two. Read them, then create reviews of them.
  • Go to social media. Join groups associated with your niche. Discover what questions are being asked. What discussions are the most heavily commented on or replied to. Make note of them. Perhaps even interview some of the participants for your post, podcast, or case study.
  • Become a lurker. Read other guys’ blogs. Listen to their podcasts. Subscribe to their newsletters. Steal like a cat burglar. Write your post from a different angle. Create a podcast where you discuss all the stuff you DON’T agree with. Or invite the other guy on to treat your listeners to his amazing insights. In short, find inspiration for your content in someone else’s stuff.
  • Interview a previous happy customer. Ask them what encouraged them to buy your stuff or hire your services. What problem did you solve for them? What unexpected benefits did they find? Use their testimonial to get ideas. With their permission, turn it into an interview for your content marketing enjoyment.

Finding topics this way is easy, and sometimes fun!

HOW MANY DO YOU NEED?

The goal is to have 12 to 24 topics to choose from when you sit down to create your content. That way, you have somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 months’ worth of ideas. Imagine sitting down and having 3 months of content just waiting to be written!

I’m currently working on a course where I put all this good stuff together in one place. If you’d like info on it, or want to get on my email list to find out about it when it launches, sign up now.

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