‘Content is king’. We’ve all heard that phrase in recent years and most of us have dipped our toes in the content marketing pool in some small way. But creating content takes time, and it’s hard to stay the course when the benefits aren’t instantaneous. It’s also very easy to lose sight of those benefits when there are a ton of things competing for attention in our businesses.
So today I want to refresh your memory about the reasons why you want to create content for your business blog. (And I’m also going to share two reasons why you shouldn’t.)
Reasons why you should …
1. For connection and to attract new clients
This world we live in right now is full of great opportunities for those of us running lifestyle businesses. The power of content creation allows us to compete with businesses much bigger and more well-resourced than ourselves. How. Because excellent content creates amazing connections.
People like doing business with people they like. When we take the time to understand our audience and give them what they want, they feel like we just ‘get’ them. That means when it comes time for them to give their business to someone, they think of us first. When someone they know needs the services we provide, they think of us first.
The creation of excellent, problem-solving content on our blogs allows us to build genuine relationships with people and reach people we’d ordinarily never come into contact with. This is a perhaps the most powerful reason for taking the time to do so.
2. To demonstrate your credibility
Sometimes, your content might not be about your audience at all – it might be about you. Often this is necessary – on a sales page, people want to know who you are so they can make a decision about whether or not to buy from you. In a book, demonstrating your credibility adds to the credibility of the advice you give. On your website’s ‘about’ page, it literally is all about you!
In this case, the question becomes ‘how much do you need?’ rather than ‘should you include it at all?’
Yes, you do need to demonstrate your credibility to give your content more weight. However, the more time you spend talking about yourself rather than your audience, the more likely they are to close the tab, delete your email or put down your book. Because of this, any credibility content should focus on a few credibility markers, before coming back to what your audience wants.
What do I mean by ‘credibility markers’? These are the key facts and figures that quickly demonstrate why you are the best person to be discussing a topic. This may include:
- Your qualifications
- How long you’ve been working in your field/business
- The number of clients you’ve worked with
- Some of the results you’ve helped your clients achieve
Notice that the first three points are simply a list of figures that can be covered in a sentence or two. Sharing some of your clients’ results then allows you to return to the topic of your audience’s problems or desires. If we assume that your audience includes similar people to your clients, this means they probably are looking for similar results to those of your clients.
By sharing your clients’ results, you not only demonstrate that any advice you’re giving works, you also give your audience a hint of the results they might get.
Want more articles like this? Check out the content marketing section.
The key is making a quick reference to the fact that you know what you’re talking about before shifting the focus back to your audience. We don’t want your resume – we just want a little reassurance.
3. To share your personality
The next reason why you might create content is to share your personality.
Most of us want to feel a rapport with the people we engage in our professional and personal lives, particularly when it comes to ongoing services. Developing content is a key way to develop that rapport, but to do so your personality needs to shine through.
The mistake a lot of entrepreneurs make is thinking that they need to share their life story so their audience can get to know them. However, just as you don’t need to give your full resume to demonstrate your credibility, you don’t need to write a memoir to show you have a likeable /quirky/fun/reflective/spiritual/(insert adjective here) personality.
The fact is that, unless you’ve already achieved the fame and success of Richard Branson or Oprah Winfrey, your audience probably isn’t that interested in your life story. And, once again, the more time you spend talking about yourself, the more likely you are to lose them altogether.
Instead, you can incorporate your personality through short stories and engaging language.
The short story approach means peppering little stories and reflections throughout your content. In a book, this might be a short story or reflection every few chapters, whereas in a blog, podcast or video series you might share a personal anecdote every few episodes. While these pieces might not directly help your audience solve their problems or achieve their desires, most of us can appreciate a little light entertainment before getting back to business, especially if we’ve gotten value from your content in the past.
The language approach means your content should sound like you. If you love adjectives and adverbs, use them. If you are all about cutting to the chase, get straight to the point, then explain how any other references contribute to that point. If you have a wry sense of humour, make little asides to your audience (this could be in brackets in writing, or leaning in to whisper to the camera in video). If you’re not sure, think of the people you love to read, listen to and watch and observe how they make their personality come through for inspiration.
Once again, the key is incorporating this around your reader-focused content, rather than getting lost in your awesomeness.
Two reasons to think twice
1. Because you think it’s a good story
Sometimes what you’re writing has nothing to do with your audience. It might not even demonstrate your credibility or share your personality. You just think it’s a good story.
My advice? Test the story before you publish it. Try it out at networking events and social gatherings and see what sort of response you get. If it’s not a great one, then the story might not translate as well as you think.
If the story does go down well, see whether you can link it back to a lesson that will help your audience achieve their goal. Is the story about someone making a common mistake your audience should avoid? Is it about someone your audience should emulate? If so, then you have a clear link.
If not, save it as an in-person ice-breaker.
2. To take up space
Taking up space means different things for different content. In a book, it’s about hitting a certain word count. When creating episodic content like blog posts, blogs and podcasts, it’s about hitting a target frequency (say, one blog post a week or a fortnight). In any case, the reason you’re creating content is to fill space rather than to provide value.
If you find yourself in this trap, stop!
It’s far better to have 25,000 great words that leave your audience wanting more than to have 40,000 repetitive, fluffy words that make your audience want to skip to the good stuff, or give up entirely. It’s far better to have a monthly epic podcast or video that provides plenty of actionable advice for your audience to implement over the coming month than a weekly reflection about nothing in particular that only encourages your audience to unsubscribe.
The goal of any content you create for your business should be to build your business. To do that, you need to give your audience value. Over time, and with the right offer, happy audience who have already seen a return on your free content will turn into paying customers and regular referrers. On the other hand, your word count or episode frequency is just a number, and rarely has a strong correlation to business growth.
Have you tried content marketing to boost your business? What have your results been?
Share what worked and what didn’t in the comments!