Business owners are expecting the return on investment from their content marketing teams, and we need to set a system that will do just that - make a positive impact on our business. Content production is not a cheap hobby, especially if you’re looking to captivate your audience with great stories that improve their lives.
As a result of those trials and errors, we’ve come up with a 4-step checklist for choosing the topics our team will write about. However great your idea might be, not all topics are worth the investment, and that is something we learned the hard way. Note that this approach can be used when running a team of writers, as well as if you’re running a one-person show - you still need to know what you’re doing.
Let’s dig into our checklist:
1. Are You Competent Enough to Write?
Yes, it's as simple as that. Work closely with your writers and have a clear overview of their experience and writing abilities. If you’re not sure your writers can match the quality to be referenced on the topic, then it’s safe to reject it. Do it some other time. Don’t be mediocre.
We’re not against writers who write about many different topics and do enough research. In fact, we’ve written about all sorts of stuff in the last couple of years. But in order to truly grasp what the readers are expecting and what they want to know, one definitely needs to write from experience. We’re talking impact, and we’re talking about being there for our readers.
2. Is This Something Your Readers Need?
One can never overstate the importance of knowing your readers, and how your business impacts them. That being said, you need to know how your content will help your readers in their day-to-day. There is a big difference between entertaining your readers and offering them something that will actually help them be better at their jobs.
It’s not that you’re not supposed to entertain. Sometimes, all your readers need is to be entertained. We’re saying you should primarily focus on entertainment only if your KPIs explicitly require that you increase brand love and brand awareness. Otherwise, you could have invested that time writing something else. Something your readers actually need.
Another dimension you need to take into account is the fact that the topic might already be thoroughly covered. Do your readers really need another article on topic X?
3. Is There an Actual Demand for the Topic?
Numbers don’t lie. If there’s no search demand, and you’re not aiming to generate it, maybe there’s no need to actually go there. This has everything to do with keyword research and going through your favorite content insights tool.
If you’re not ready to invest in creating demand for your content, it’s completely OK to go with what potential readers are currently looking for. Go for the right keywords and set ambitious targets for those keywords in terms of monthly search volume.
Our’s might not be as ambitious as you might expect, but our weekly blog posts are targeting keywords with at least a 1.5k monthly search volume. Some blog posts rank well, and this is producing a steady growth for the past 18 months - we are now at almost 30k organic visits/month.
If you’re not generating demand, generate interest.
4. Are My Readers Going to Learn Anything New?
It goes without saying, but this aspect of blogging is often overlooked. We often think that we have some great insight that we need to share with our audience as soon as possible. But more often than not, we end up reinventing the wheel. How do we know if we’re actually crafting a story that adds value?
We’ve come up with a very simple trick to verify this. Since we’re writing from experience, we ask ourselves one single question:
Would this article have helped me if I had read it a year ago?
We can easily extrapolate this and think about all our peers and other creative professionals that could profit from what we have to say. A fairly simple question, one that's completely bulletproof. And it works so well with previous questions - like a final piece of the puzzle.
Note that this checklist is an integral part of our editorial process, and it might seem a little out of context when taken on its own. Therefore, we’re going to finalize the story about our content marketing process in the coming weeks. We’ll talk about the whole process, from start to finish, referencing the articles that already explored the most important individual steps - research, planning, storytelling, and QA.
Until then, keep up the Real Work!