In this episode of The Happy Creative podcast I’m talking all things content. Anyone who knows me knows that content is my favourite topic! It’s also the currency of the internet right now so as a small business owner, you’ve got to get your head in a content mindset. In this episode I’m sharing my own content strategy and approach as well as some pro writing tips that are going to change the way you create content right away.
HERE’S WHAT I TALK ABOUT:
- The content struggle and juggle. How to do it better, in less time and with more impact.
- Committing to a time slot in your week for content development and why it doesn’t matter how much time you have as long as you’re consistent.
- A reminder on the importance of knowing your story.
- Creating content streams based on themes and topics that relate to your story.
- Purpose and re-purposing!
- My 5 key pro writing tips to start to create more sparkly content right away.
RESOURCES AND LINKS:
- The 5 Big Questions I Asked Myself To Uncover My Business Story
- Uncover Your Story workbook
- Beth Kirby
READ THE EPISODE HERE:
Do you struggle to write sparkly, on-point and high-impact emails, Instagram posts and web copy? Do you worry that you’re the life and soul in real life but reflecting that in your online content, social media posts and emails is so hard? I totally get that and I know it doesn’t feel good. So today, I’m going to share with you the strategy I used to learn to create better content that has more purpose in a more efficient way. I taught myself this approach over years of trial and error and I grew my last business to multiple six-figures and a team of seven people using this exact approach.
Content that reaches out to the hearts and minds of the people you want to work with. Let’s face it, if you have a business then content is the currency of the internet. Even if your business is not totally online, this approach will help you hone your writing skills and reevaluate your web content, your social channels and your emails.
The other good thing, this applies to any online service of product-based business that wants a proven DIY and low-budget way to attract the clients you want to work with. I hope you’re as excited as I am to dive in. So the first part of today is going to cover my approach to having a content plan. The second part is where I share a few pro writing tips that you can easily adopt to make the things you write stand out and capture attention.
So, onto content planning! I’m going to keep it simple here by sharing how I plan out content in the most efficient way possible (and believe me, I have tried so many different approaches – this works and takes very little time when you set up a simple process).
I’m not going to lie here, your commitment to getting better at creating content is a bit of a game-changer. You don’t have to spend hours every single week but you do have to show up consistently.
Consider what you need to write (emails to your subscribers, social media posts, client testimonials, flyers, meatier content as lead magnets) and set yourself a time limit that you are comfortable with each week to create them.
The good thing is you will get better and faster over time. If you need anymore convincing on this consider this: Bigger businesses pay people to help them do this, but as small business owners we’ve got to get results on a shoestring, and the work you put in to creating high-impact content that your future clients love, will bring mean you spend less (if anything) on paid marketing.
# 2: Knowing your story
So now I know I’ve got your commitment, let’s revisit the story of your business and your clients.
In short it’s the problem – the solution and the result, a three-act show brought to life with vivid details that make it interesting (why you created this business, the problems you can help your dream clients and customers with right now and in the future, why you’re unique and the path you took to bring your dream to life with an added dose of emotion and openness about your journey to here.) We covered this in episode 2 so if you didn’t hear it yet, go find it, I think it will help you!
#3 Content streams
Every content ninja keeps a topic list. I use notes on my phone and laptop but you can use anything, and add to it as you go. I take inspiration from listening to what people struggle with irl and on social media (I think listening to people share is one of my favourite things about social media).
Write down a list of topics that address each of your client’s (or customer types) frustrations or struggles. So if you’re a yoga teacher create topics around motivation, reaching a transformation stage and how to bring the post-class feel-good factor into their every day life.
I know that you struggle with some of the detail of building their own business: revenue streams, pricing, making a plan, building an audience or writing content and every piece of content answers these problems at every stage of business my future clients are at.
Keep it focused too, you don’t need a big topic list. In my business I talk about all things creative business, adventure (i.e. the result of creating a lifestyle business) and content + marketing strategies. I don’t share much about my family life (I’m not shy, but I’m also not a parent blogger) or about lifestyle (fashion, food) because even though I love those things, they’re not going to make my dream clients want to buy from me.
#4 The purpose
I try and avoid the word strategy because I find it freaks people out a bit, but the more intentional you are on the purpose of your content then the faster you will build the know, trust and like factor. And this applies to every single piece of content you create, whether it’s an email update, or a reminder on Stories about a new service to a product description.
At the top of every piece you write, make a note of the purpose, who this piece of content is for, how you are going to make them feel and what action you want them to take when they’ve read it. Maybe it’s an email and you want them to watch a video, or maybe it’s an Instagram post and you want to invite action by asking them to double tap or tag a friend. So much content I see out there lacks this sense of purpose, you have to tell your people what you want them to do. The internet is not a place for second-guessing, you’ll lose them after five seconds otherwise.
This is not the same as cheating or spamming people with the same thing over and over. Did you know that people actually like to be told the same thing multiple times? It’s classic storytelling that you keep the plot simple but you reuse themes. What I’m saying here started life as a podcast will end up as Instagram posts, be expanded into meaty resources for my email list and used on future guest posts.
#6 Batch work
ok so batch working has seriously upped my content output levels. Rather than skit from one thing to the next each day I divide my week up into client work, content writing, podcast production and marketing. Then I write three things on my list to write/record/produce each day. If you haven’t tried working like this, I really suggest you do! It works! If you have a service based business it’s about getting clear on which days you are doing client work and what time you have available for creating content that is going to market and sell your business.
So now you have all the tools to go and create a content plan that tells your story, that is all about your future clients and saves you endless hours of thinking about what to write and when, I’m going to talk about some pro writing tips.
Do you sit there worrying why you have so much to say when you are with your girlfriends, or family but nothing seems to come to mind when you sit down and write? I’ve been there before. So here are my tips to reach out to your dream clients hearts and minds with every piece of content you produce!
Pro tip #1 – tell a story
Did you know we are all kids at heart? As well as having the attention spans of nits, we are much more likely to respond to (or read on) if someone is telling us a story rather than a bunch of information. It doesn’t always have to have a beginning and an end either, but can use forms of narrative…”I was talking to a client the other day and they told me I had transformed their life” is going to have more impact than “I transform my clients lives through my (insert) service.”
As an example, maybe you’re a wedding photographer and you want to remind people of how they felt when they got engaged so rather than say something like “I’m a wedding photographer and I capture the special moments on the biggest day of your life” how about something like this?
“Do you want to bottle that giddy, weak-at-the-knees feeling you got when your partner proposed? I’m a wedding photographer and I make sure you are flooded with that feeling every time you open your album. Want to hire me?”
Pro tip #2 – involve your audience
Remember, we are all kids! We need to be told what to do. You can tell the best story in the world but if people don’t engage with it it’s not going to do the job it needs to. I apply this to everything I write. Ask a question, invite your audience to tag a friend, click through to read or comment, or hit reply and tell you something you’d like to know. Get vulnerable and people will open up to you.
Whatever it is you’re writing, make sure you tell people what you’d like them to do with the story you’re telling them.
Pro-tip #3 – bullet-out content
Subheads are there for a reason – to help the reader stop, take stock, absorb what they’ve just read and be ready to move on to the next part of your story. I always start my content plan with just a title and the bullet points. These bullets are the subheads. This has so many benefits, that I promise you you need to do this! It forces me to stay focused and stick to the story and purpose of that piece of content. It also makes me super efficient because when I have an idea for content, I write the title and subheads into my notes so that when I come to write it, there’s already a clear brief! I can write with more intention (and speed). What’s not to love?
Pro tip #4 – Start your post/email/copy with an irresistible hook
I got an email the other day and it started “This is my story and it’s a messy one.” How could I not read? It was actually from Beth Kirby, who’s podcast, writing and photography I’m a massive fan of. She went on to talk about the impact of mental health on her business journey in a pretty emotive way. I felt all the feels for her, and I felt better about my own journey knowing that other creative entrepreneurs that I admire also had to deal with tough times. I also felt like I got to know more about her than her beautifully created Instagram feed let’s in, which builds in the know, like and trust factor. In short it had IMPACT.
I’m not saying you have to have a big, dramatic story underneath to share, but what I do believe is that you have to use emotion, humour, or suspense. You’ve got to grab your audiences attention.
Imagine you’re a stylist and you want to email / flyer your past customers. Which of these email headers are you going to click on?
number 1 “Offering all my clients a wardrobe declutter to start the new year for £200.”
number 2 “Miss the memo on what not to wear in 2019? No sweat, I’ve got all the goods…”
So, as a little exercise, I suggest that you go back to a web page you’re not entirely happy with, or an email you sent recently and just considering these tips above rework it with a hook. Look back at your old social posts and think about how you can add more impact. Write a new sales page for your website that commands attention. And be brave to take a few hours out to write down some content tiles with bullets that you can come back to when you have time.
OK, so there you have this overview of how to become a content ninja! I have so much more to say on this subject but we’ll save this for another time! I hope this has given you the confidence and inspiration to take some small but intentional steps towards creating better content that your tribe loves!