13 Content Creation Rules

13 Content Creation Rules

Content is king. It’s an expression you hear all the time, especially now that 2012 has been declared the year of content marketing. The truth is that content is really only king if it’s done right! So, here are 13 rules that will get you started with content creation.

1. Know Your Audience

Who are you writing for? Are you targeting women ages 24-40? Are you targeting teenagers? Decide who your audience is and then learn everything you can about them. Find out what questions they have, what they like and what motivates them.

2. People First

Be sure you always create content with your audience in mind. Forget about the search engines in your initial draft. Focus on the value actual people will receive from your content. Why should they bother with what you’re saying?

3. Google Second

After you have an initial draft with plenty of value for your human audience, it’s time to cater to Google (and other search engines). Start by seeding keywords that you want to be ranked for into your content. Get familiar with search engine optimization (SEO).

4. Strong Title

Journalists will tell you the importance of a strong title. The title is what gets you the initial click, so it has to be compelling and stimulating. Use numbers or make a bold statement in your title to grab attention.

5. Limited Fluff

The average attention span in today’s world is very, very short. You need to get right to the point or you run the risk of losing the audience. Eliminate any unnecessary points to keep content concise and hyper-focused.

6. Lists & Subheadings

Another way to work around short attention spans is to use lists and subheadings. These tools will separate large amounts of text into smaller, more digestible bits of content. When using a numbered list, try to work with an odd number (like 13).

7. Research Topics

Coming up with great content topics is not as easy as a quick, 15-minute brainstorm. You should really research your topics. Use Google and analytical tools to find out what your target audience wants to read about. Go right to the source to find out what your current audience wants to read about – just ask.

8. Shareable

Making it easy for people to share your content should be a big priority. Try to think of a blog that doesn’t prominently display social sharing buttons. It’s tough, right? That’s because most people won’t go out of their way to share your content. Make it simple!

9. Frequent & Consistent

Not only does your audience want frequent and consistent content that they can count on, but Google does too. You don’t need to publish a new white paper daily, but you should be publishing new content more than once every couple of weeks. Set a schedule and stick to it.

10. 4th Edit

The difference between good and great is the fourth edit. Look for formatting, grammar, spelling and readability. A lack of readability can be just as damaging as confusing “their” with “there”. Go over the little details to make sure the big picture is flawless.

11. Comments & Subscribers

The idea is to get people talking about your content, so make it easy to comment. Try allowing the audience to comment using Twitter or Facebook. Subscribers are awesome because you can push all of your recently published content to your old subscribers. To get subscribers, make sure your call to action pops on your page. Try offering a free ebook in exchange for a name and an email address.

12. Plan Ahead

Use a content calendar to plan ahead. A calendar will help you manage your content mix and growth. Build a spreadsheet with multiple columns to quickly and easily schedule the various types of content you have (think blogs, webinars and newsletters).

13. Stand Out

There are literally millions of blogs alone on the Internet today. No matter what type of content you are publishing, you have some competition. How do you stand out from the crowd? Take a stance on an important issue, show some personality, use unique videos and photos – whatever. Just make sure your voice doesn’t get lost in the crowd.

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