Content is king.

We know, you’ve probably heard that too many times to count. But it’s true. 70% of marketers can’t be wrong. 

Committing to the creation of content is a smart move for any brand looking to drive awareness and generate leads. After all, content marketing brings in 3X as many leads as traditional marketing and costs 62% less. But for some marketers there is a major roadblock holding them back: they have no idea how to create content.

That’s perfectly understandable. Content marketing is still a relatively new marketing technique. Furthermore, so many different things are considered content nowadays that it can be hard to actually understand what we mean when we talk about how to create content.

We hope to clear up some of the confusion in this guide. We’re going to show you how to create content for your brand. But first, a quick explainer of what “content” is.

What is Content?

Nowadays, everything from smartphone apps to Netflix series are called “content.” But for marketers, content should be thought of as information or experiences designed to educate and engage audiences, grow brand awareness, and generate leads.

This content can be disseminated in a variety of formats. Some of the most common formats marketers use to create content include blog posts, social media posts, videos, webinars, ebooks, infographics, podcasts, testimonials, and white papers, to name a few

The process of creating and distributing this content is known as content marketing. 

Simple enough, right? Now let’s talk about how to make some of your own.

How to Create Content In 8 Steps

We get it: the thought of creating content can be scary.

There are no shortage of comprehensive, long-form blog posts, slickly produced podcasts, and videos with really cool special effects.

But don’t let any of that distract you. Creating content can actually be a very simple process. You can start small and worry about the special effects later. Here’s what you need to do.

Step 1: Define Your Goals

Before you make anything, you need to figure out why you’re doing it. Having set goals in mind before you get started will inform everything you do from a content creation perspective. Writing a blog post for the sake of writing a blog post is a waste of time. But writing a blog post with the express purpose of attracting a specific audience is smart.

Here are some common goals associated with creating content:

  • Grow brand awareness
  • Increase share of voice
  • Generate more qualified leads
  • Increase revenue

These goals seem kind of broad, no? It helps to break them down into specific metrics so you can see exactly how content marketing can assist. Some common metrics used to measure content marketing success include:

  • Impressions
  • Pageviews
  • Backlinks generated to website
  • Share of voice
  • Click-through rate
  • Time on page
  • Scroll depth
  • Bounce rate
  • Organic search position

So say your goal is to grow brand awareness. You can see how your content is impacting that goal by tracking impressions and pageviews, as this shows you how many people are finding your content.

Whatever your goals are, they should utilize the S.M.A.R.T. framework:

  • S: Specific
  • M: Measureable
  • A: Attainable
  • R: Relevant
  • T: Time-based

An example of a S.M.A.R.T. content goal would be to publish 12 pieces of content on your blog each month that collectively generate 12,000 pageviews, 500 engagements, 100 new email subscribers, 50 leads, and 10 new customers.

Step 2: Learn Your Audience

With goals in mind, it’s time to identify your audience. Why is this the second step? Because you can’t know what type of content to create unless you know who you’re writing for. Your target audience is sometimes referred to as your buyer persona—the ideal representation of who you want to buy your product or service.

To create your buyer persona, ask yourself the following questions about your customers:

  • Who are they?
  • What do they do?
  • How do they work?
  • What do they need?
  • How do they find information?
  • How can we solve their problem?

How do you find this information? There are a few approaches to creating buyer personas:

  • Talk to your customers directly.
  • Talk to salespeople who deal with your customers on a day-to-day basis.
  • Perform market research.
  • Send out surveys.

Chances are, you’ll have more than one buyer persona. If that’s the case, you need to create a strategy for each one and map out what their buyer journey might look like. 

What’s a buyer journey? Good question.

A buyer journey is the path your customer takes—from awareness, to consideration, to decision—after encountering your brand. If you map out what happens from a content perspective at each stage of the buyer journey, you maximize your chances of having a lead convert.

A buyer’s journey may start with a blog post (awareness), progress to an email funnel and a webinar (consideration), and end with testimonials and a product demo (decision).

Step 3: Audit Your Existing Content

If you already have some content on your website, it’s time to review it and see how it’s performing. You may find that some of your content is already serving your goals, which can help expedite this whole process—create more of that type of content!

In order to perform a content audit, follow these steps:

  • Gather all of your content in a spreadsheet.
  • Break down each piece of content by keyword, buyer persona, stage in the buyer journey, and topic.
  • Track key metrics on the piece of content, such as pageviews, click-through rate, engagement, etc.
  • Based on your findings, categorize each post by what’s doing well, what needs to be updated, and what can be removed.

Step 4: Audit Competitor Content

The last step in the research phase is to audit competitor content. By doing this, you’ll gain an understanding of the quantity and quality of content you need to create in order to attract an audience.

When reviewing competitor content, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What content formats do my competitors utilize?
  • How often do my competitors put out content?
  • Where do my competitors rank in Google Search Engine Results Pages for keywords related to my business?
  • How long is the content my competitors produce?
  • What can I do differently with my content in order to stand out?

Step 5: Create a Distribution Plan

Now that you know who your customers are and what content they engage with, it’s time to roadmap your content distribution plan. Content distribution is the process of sharing and promoting your content across your business’s various acquisition channels in order to get it seen by your target audiences.

Why create a distribution plan before you have any content? Because your distribution plan informs the content you will create. If your research showed you that your target audience likes to use Reddit, you know that you need to create content that is suitable for Reddit audiences.

Generally, you’ll be creating content for multiple formats. Two of the most common and reliable acquisition channels are blog and email. To identify your acquisition channels, consider the following:

  • Where does my persona go for information?
  • What stage of the buyer journey will this acquisition channel serve?
  • Can I create content on a consistent basis for this acquisition channel?
  • Can I create content that matches or exceeds the quality of content produced by my competitors?

Step 6: Create a Content Marketing Budget

The last thing you need to do before you start creating content is...find out what you can afford.

Why not do this first? Because it’s important to know what you need to do in order to reach your goals, regardless of whether you can afford to execute on all of them. Once you know what you can afford, you can then pare down your expectations

Then, once you’ve proven the value of your content creation efforts, you can petition for an increased budget. The overall idea is to keep your eye on your long-term goals, even if not all of them are realistic at the moment.

And just what goes into your content marketing budget? Here are some line items to include:

  • Labor costs (full-time employees, freelancers, agencies, etc.)
  • Technology (CMS, email marketing tool, content intelligence platform etc.)
  • Promotion (PPC campaigns, sponsored content, ads)

Influencer marketing company Izea created a report on the average costs of creating different types of content—factoring in labor, equipment, and other costs. They are as follows:

  • Motion graphics cost $156
  • Infographics cost $185
  • Listicles cost $214
  • Articles cost $249
  • Photography costs $349
  • Topical videos cost $631
  • White papers cost $959

Step 7: Create Content

Finally! The time has come to start creating content of your own. 

Your buyer personas as well as your content and competitor audits will help you figure out what type of content you need to create. But there are a few other steps you should take to ensure the content you create provides value to your business:

  • Perform keyword research: The content you create should rank highly in Google Search, as this will maximize your exposure. In order for that to happen, you need to perform keyword research to find topics to write about. Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing search terms people enter into search engines, with the goal of finding content topics to write about. The higher the search volume, the more interest there is on that topic. Your goal should be to find keywords related to your business with a decent amount of search volume, and create content around them. For more on keyword research, check out our guide to SEO content. 
  • Create topic clusters: Once you have a list of 25-50 keywords, you need to cluster related keywords together. One page should be a “pillar page” that provides in-depth information on a topic. Subsequent pages with related keywords should focus on topics related to the pillar page, and link back up to them. For example, if you operate a business loan blog, your pillar page could be “how to get a business loan,” and your related pages could be “how to get an SBA loan,” and “how to get equipment financing.” Clustering topics is very important for SEO.
  • Create a content calendar: With your list of keywords organized into clusters, create a content calendar denoting the format of the content and the publish date. Remember that content marketing is an ecosystem—it needs a steady stream of fresh content in order to survive. Having a content calendar helps keep that ecosystem in balance.
  • Create your content: This process will differ depending on the format. It may be a blog post, video, infographic, podcast, webinar, or something completely different. Regardless, research SEO best practices for each content format, and be sure to incorporate them into the content piece. 

Here are a few other content creation tips:

  • Create something unique. If it’s a replica of another piece of content already on the web, why would anyone want to read it?
  • Incorporate your brand voice, as this will help you stand out from others, and make your content more memorable.
  • Understand exactly what stage of the buyer journey this piece of content serves.
  • Make sure your content won’t quickly become outdated. You can do this by making a plan to revise old blog content every so often. This can also help from an SEO perspective, as the Google algorithm has been shown to have a bias towards newer content.
  • Stick to one idea, and use clear and concise language. Remember, your main objective is to help people—not confuse them.
  • Remember that you can repurpose content for different formats and audiences. For example, you can create a podcast, then write a blog post highlighting the main ideas discussed in the episode.

Once your content is created, there are a few other things you need to take care of. They are as follows:

  • Edit your content: It always helps to have a second set of eyes on your content. An editor will make sure the content is relevant and on-brand. They could also spot any errors that could undermine what you’re saying.
  • Publish your content: Nothing too fancy here. Make sure you publish in accordance with your content marketing calendar.
  • Promote your content: Sync with your social media coordinator and paid marketing personnel to make sure your content gets in front of your target audience. It helps to refer back to your content distribution plan here to figure out exactly where you need to be sharing your content.

Remember that your content is a library. That means you should focus on a variety of different topics related to your business. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into creating content about the latest trend or news item. Instead, focus on long-term value by creating a comprehensive hub that answers all of your customers’ questions. This way, they’ll return to your content hub again and again.

Step 8: Analyze Your Performance (And Adjust as Needed)

Let’s face it: you’re not going to nail your content marketing efforts first-time round. There’s just too many variables, and lots you probably don’t know yet. That’s why tracking your content performance is key.

This goes back to the goal-setting phase, and determining the metrics that are most indicative of success. Here are some of the ones we mentioned:

  • Impressions
  • Pageviews
  • Backlinks generated to website
  • Share of voice
  • Click-through rate
  • Time on page
  • Scroll depth
  • Bounce rate
  • Organic search position

Keep a close watch on these numbers. If your pageviews are lagging, it might mean your content isn’t relevant to readers. If time-on-page is low, maybe your content isn’t of a good enough quality.

The only way you’ll know is through content analysis.

Knotch Can Help You Create Better Content

When it comes to content analysis, Knotch can help. Our content intelligence platform analyzes all of the key quantitative metrics related to content marketing. Our technology can also interpret exactly how a reader feels about your content from a qualitative perspective. 

Our tailored insights can help you improve content quality and reach your desired audience. By delivering those insights in real-time, we can help you adjust your strategy on the fly and save time and money.

For more information, sign up for a free Knotch demo.