No matter the size of your business, content marketing is a monumental task. But for small- and mid-sized businesses, finding the time to produce enough social updates, blog posts and other media that people want to view, read and share can be really, really difficult.
Last week, I shared these 20 content creation ideas as part of a workshop for small business owners and entrepreneurs. I promised I would add the script to my website, so here’s a big shout out to all the attendees of the NJ Makers Day: Be A Business Maker workshop at the Warren Township Library. This is for you.
The following ideas will help you create content that prospects and customers will love, but that also doesn’t demand too much of your time.
1. Brainstorm ideas
Start by creating a list of ideas and a plan for what you want to post. It takes only a few minutes of brainstorming. Write down all the possible topic ideas in a list, and then organize into themes by month.
2. Work from an editorial calendar
Then, schedule specific ideas in an editorial calendar. You will not believe how much time this will save. Scads.
3. Delegate the work
Content development is time-consuming, but it becomes more manageable when you enlist others to help. Delegate the work to your staff. For example, assign each employee one blog post to write each month. Or put one staffer in charge of Twitter and another in charge of Facebook. No staff? Hire a virtual assistant for a few hours a month.
4. Create bite-sized content
Focus on developing content that is very, very short and takes only a few minutes to create. Snap a behind-the-scenes picture and caption it. Use your phone to record a quick video interview with staff. Or write a short tip of the day. Example: Accountants can share tips during tax season.
5. Share other people’s content
How often do you read an article that is relevant to your business and interesting enough to share? Every day, perhaps? Share these finds with your followers. If you like a quote someone has shared on Facebook or Twitter, pass it on to your followers. Not only will it feed the very hungry content monster, but it’s a nice way to give a shout out to others.
6. Bullet it: create a listicle
These 20 ideas are a listicle, and it’s insanely easy for experts in their fields (such as you) to create. Every one can come up with 20 ideas about their business, from 20 ways to decorate (interior designer) to 20 of your favorite recipes (restauranteurs).
7. Rank the top 10
A variation on the listicle is the top 10 list. For example, as peak housing season approaches, realtors can create a list of the top 10 things you must do to sell your house. Or, create a trend piece from your own data that you can also pitch to the press. For example, the top 10 towns ranked by number of houses on the market.
8. Quote others
People love inspiring quotes. If you discover a quote that fits your business, combine it with a photo to create an image to share. Pixabay offers free images, and Picmonkey is a free service that allows you to easily upload an image and overlay text.
9. Produce how-to instructions
Share your expertise. The most popular type of content – next to cats, of course – is useful information. If you’re a plumber and can show people how to fix a leaky toilet, viewers will love and remember you for it.
10. Ask questions
Chances are, your customers ask lots of questions. This is a good indication that there’s interest in the topic. Thus, your answers make great fodder for a blog post. Likewise, you can mine your FAQs as a source of blog content.
11. Get your customers to speak for you
Are your clients complimenting your services? Ask if they’d be willing to record short case studies and testimonials on the spot using the video recorder on your phone.
12. Steal from the news headlines
Major events are an opportune time to share your expertise. Let’s say there’s a hurricane. If you’re an insurance agent, get out on social media and tell people how to protect their property, contact agents, and what questions to ask if they want to file a claim. And be sure to use the storm’s hashtags to find a wider audience.
13. Recycle old material
Blog or social posts that are older than six months can always be updated and reposted. If you’ve produced content in nondigital formats, these works can have new life online. Have you published a book? Written a paper? Contributed to a journal or been interviewed by the media? Get extra mileage out of the work you’ve done in the past.
14. Publish your speeches
Have you recently given a speech or presentation, perhaps to the Chamber of Commerce or a local networking group? Post it on Slideshare and share it in social media. In fact, you can even wrap it into a blog post.
15. Be a video or radio star
This idea may take more time than the others on this list. But if you’re a talker, you might find it easier to record your ideas on video or audio. Try new apps such as Periscope to live stream your own show.
16. Ask others to write for you
Invite clients, partners and suppliers to be guest contributors. Everyone can identify at least twelve people in their circles who would be willing to contribute. That’s one blog post a month for your editorial calendar.
17. Share your own experiences
Each year, PR firm Edelman conducts a survey that gauges who people trust most. For the last several years, Trust Barometer respondents say they trust people like themselves more than celebrities and CEOs. That’s why sharing your own personal stories are so important. They can make you more relatable and can help readers connect with you. Share the story behind how you started your business, how you learned your craft or what charities you support and why.
18. Give a little bit at a time
We often make the mistake of tackling a big topic all at once, usually in a blog post. But doing so makes the task overwhelming. Instead, take the topic and break it into several blog posts – or even smaller bits – as little as 140 characters.
19. Chunk the work
When you group like tasks together, you’ll achieve economies of scale. I use Mondays to write the outlines for all my blog posts, for example. The more you can group similar tasks together, the faster you can finish them. Set aside an hour to schedule all your social posts on Hootsuite. Or use the 10 minutes between meetings to find content to curate.
20. KISS (Keep it short and simple)
Great content doesn’t have to be lengthy. Aim for pithy. For example, visit marketing guru Seth Godin’s blog. He writes every day, sometimes as little as a sentence.