To generate content, first you must generate ideas

You’ve heard the buzz that content is king. And you recognize that your consumers are beginning to tune out traditional marketing tactics and instead are tuning into content on blogs, websites, and social media.

Now what do you do?

Some businesses and individuals immediately fire up the laptop, set up Twitter handles and Facebook accounts, and launch their new WordPress blog. While the enthusiasm is more than half the battle, there’s still an important step missing: The plan and the ideas.

Often companies start their content marketing strategy without really knowing what their content is going to be. Downloadable white papers! Presentations on SlideShare! A sparkling new blog! It all sounds excellent. But the content can quickly begin to fizzle after several weeks when you (or your company) begin to struggle for ideas.

So, what should you write about?

I know, sitting down and mapping out your first several months of content may sound like as much fun as visiting an indoor playground with 15 shrieking toddlers. But, trust me. You’ll appreciate it later. Not only will it serve as a schedule or a calendar, it will help you determine if you should be posting new content several times a week or several times a month.

To get started think about the questions you get most often from customers or clients. If your business is a professional services business, this might be about a service you provide or a particular expertise that you’ve earned through years of experience. Or perhaps you can share tips and advice. Another option is to throw it out to your customers or clients. Email them, ask them in meetings or phone calls, create a social media post. However you do it, the point is to simply ask what’s on their mind, what keeps them up at night, if there was one thing they wish they had known about your industry, what would it be? Not only will this give you content ideas, it gives you some (not so scientific) insight into what your audience is thinking.

Once you have a list of topics and ideas mapped out, then you get to start writing.

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