The content you publish could be an evergreen source of traffic, revenue, brand love and loyalty.
Or it could be a total waste of time and effort.
So how do you know what content to create?
In this episode we'll show you how to decide what questions you should spend time answering for your audience, including ways to learn right now from other peoples' audiences (in case you haven't built your own yet).
Click play, subscribe in your podcast app, download it for later or do whatever it is you do with these episodes, but please, for all our sakes, enjoy yourself.
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“How do you know what content to create? Here’s a huge list of research methods!”
The basic problem:
Keep the focus on the customer! You're an expert on your product/service, and that can hold you back.
In an article on the expert's dilemma, Catriona Pollard explains the dilemma this way:
- Your head is buzzing with a lot of great information yet no clear way to package it into a clear and compelling message that attracts the clients, networks and media attention you'd like.
- You have expertise in a particular area you know could help people, if only you could find a way to tell them about what you're doing.
- You're often confounded when you see your competitors in the media, even though they probably know less than you about the topic, and yet, there they are.
- It sometimes feels like getting access to journalists and coveted speaking opportunities is some kind of "secret club" you don't know the password to.
The only way to solve this problem is to reconnect with your audience. Don't geek out on your product or service stuff, geek out on your audience, their struggles, the questions they're asking, the language they're using.
To reconnect with your audience, follow any number of the research tactics below. Also, spend some time thinking about the answers to these questions:
- Why are they using your product/service?
- What do they hope to get out of it?
- What’s in it for them?
- What's the number 1 question you get asked all the time?
Below are several research methods you can use to discover great topics to make your content about. We talk at length about each method in the episode, so if you want more information on any of them definitely listen to the podcast above.
Answer your own questions
- Take your own personal inventory: what were the hardest parts about this topic for you when you were getting started with it? What resources did you wish you had to make the learning go smoother?
Use your own audience
Use your own site analytics:
- What were your top 15-30 shares in the last six months? Look at traffic, social shares, etc. See any trends?
- What are your 15-30 least successful shares in the last 6 months? Any trends?
- The email subscriber trick: every time someone subscribes to your email list, send them a personal email asking what they're struggling with right now. It starts a good conversation, builds some rapport and reconnects you to their struggles.
- Read your blog comments! Ask followup questions and pay attention to what people in your audience are struggling with.
- Ask your social followers: what should we write more about?
- Survey your audience. We've got more on this idea in an episode on the art of surveying your audience.
interview Customers. Here's a few pieces of content to help you with this:
Use other audiences
Research the competition: use Buzzsumo or Open Site Explorer (linked below) to find out what are their most popular topics?
- Read their blog comments. Huge amount of insights into audience questions there.
- INSIGHT: you're looking for the question behind the headline. What questions are these articles answering?
- INSIGHT: imagine the customer saying this, "If I had a magic wand to help me with (your topic here), I'd want something like…" What would be the magical solution to their struggles?
- Find several books about your topic, look through the table of contents for ideas.
- On those same books, read all the 3 star reviews. Any trends emerge on questions the readers are still asking?
- Use Quora: search for your topic there. What are the most popular questions? Who are the most popular answerers? What are the questions behind the headlines?
- Keyword research: here's how to do it. Your mileage may vary on the value of this one.
Find influencers in your topic/niche: what are they sharing? What questions are behind those headlines?
- e.g., Hitten Shah. Some questions I'm seeing behind the headlines: what is a smart process for making content that works? Is there a checklist I can use to evaluate if the article I've just created is good or not?
- Social Exploring: searching for your topics at places like Instagram, Pinterest, iTunes, YouTube, vine, etc, can make you see different things.
- Read forums: find some forums your audience is a part of, get involved and pay attention. You can find a ton of great questions to answer in forums.