Creating content as a busy service professional can be a tiresome part of owning a business. And coming up with content ideas is usually the bottleneck that slows the entire process! Never fear. I have a painless process you can follow that leads to a range of topics that are unique to you and your business.
With any content you create, you should focus on what your target audience would be looking for. And for this reason, we will start with your target audience. Who are they? If you have more than one, let’s start with the most popular or largest one first.
Content Content (nope, not the same word twice)
You should know everything there is about your persona including how they got to their most recent position/role. This is where we start. (And if you don’t have this info, it’s easy to chat about with a current client that fits the persona)
Ask yourself the following questions around your persona/target audience:
- What is the typical career journey of your target audience?
- Where in their journey do you enter?
- What phases of their journey do you continue to help?
- What are the common questions you receive at each stage?
- How do these questions connect to your offerings?
Each stage of the customer journey provides an opportunity to create content that helps your prospects at that stage and define how you can help them. If this sounds too complicated, don’t worry. I’ve crafted a quick and dirty worksheet you can fill in and get to work.
Once you’ve documented the stages of your prospect’s career development, you can limit your focus on the roles that you specifically target and the one just before that. If you’re using the worksheet then you’ll see it looks a bit like a tree. You can work bottom up or top down – up to you.
With each stage of career write down a list of common questions (any and all). These may be questions relating to the industry or your business/solution specifically. If it helps, think of these questions and topics as a preliminary task or ‘homework’ before they reach out to you for assistance. We’ve all had those calls where there are certain signs that they’re not ready to work with you – think what those are for you and write them down.
Next, look at any keywords you can use. Focus on phrases of 3-4 words in length. If it’s part of a question that’s okay. A guiding rule is that these keywords would be entered into online search to find solutions or answers or insights.
Finally, these keywords become the focus of your content. The key is to focus on the keywords that connect to your solution or service (directly or indirectly). It’s always important to connect your content to your offers or opt-ins.
Now that you have your keywords and most likely your topics you can move on to what type of content to create. How you structure your posts will vary greatly and depend on a few different factors:
- What’s easiest for you (what can you create and maintain)
- What your prospects prefer (where will you get the best engagement and reach)
- What gives you the longest life per post (is it easy to update or freshen)
You’ll also be swayed by the content itself. Something more detailed may work best as a report or ebook. Or perhaps an interview would work best as a video or podcast. It’s important to have some longer form content if you usually create shorter ‘bite-sized’ content. The longer pieces will usually contain more information (and text) and will perform as decent organic traffic/link magnet if promoted.
It may be tempting to gate all your content (opt-in only) but it’s also important to have a mix of open content that can be crawled by search engines and help with SEO. You should also share your content so that visitors can see the quality of what you offer – and a little bit of who you are (or your company is).
TIP: Things to watch for are the growing trend of ‘how-to’ posts. These are less effective for high-end firms as this would attract a different audience. You want to play to your target so think about where your prospects are right before they need you. Usually DIYers aren’t looking to outsource to a high-end service firm. Instead, think about what kind of help or advice are they looking for? And as they grow what changes in their needs?
Your frequency of posting would ideally be week or every 2 weeks. It’s not advised to go any longer than that as new content means ranking for new keywords and sharing your thought leadership on new topics.
However, you must do what you can maintain. And if you’re looking at once a month then I’d make sure your content is mind-blowing to ensure you’re keeping your prospects engaged. Frequency ‘advice’ is timely and will change over the years as search algorithms change so what worked last year may not work as well this year. Keep your content strategy up-to-date.
However, you could be creating regular content of different types on different channels e.g. monthly written post, monthly podcast, and monthly video. This works too if it’s organized and targeted. Just make sure that you have a plan around your content.
So, where does this leave your content?
That’s entirely up to you. That’s not a trick answer. Topic ideas can be inspired from industry trends, competitor insights, news articles, recent research, client testimonials, online forum conversations, and so on. I’ve given you a more structured Approach to help you generate a list of topics tied tightly to your offerings and that won’t easily get tired. However, you can find these topics in other random ways too. For example, if you are in IT Services, what kind of information would you need to know in an exploratory call e.g. existing issues, processes, etc? This type of information could be transformed into a post that outlines these questions with detailed examples. They would need to spend time and think about their answers or document a process. This is your prospect spending time with your content!
Another option would be if you are a research firm would be to offer help in organizing or tracking the area that would highlight a need for your research services. This could take the form of a worksheet, checklist or spreadsheet and is accompanied by a post/podcast or video that goes into detail around how to use it and what the impact could be in their business. Spin off content could dig deeper into each section of the worksheet – then go back to this post and link to those spin off posts.
The options are endless but are totally unique to your service offerings.