Content Creation is considered the most efficient way to drive organic traffic to your brand's website. This guide will help you understand all phases of the content production process to get better results.
There are many ways and platforms that you can use to create and monetize online content. Creating articles, videos, podcasts, and even infographics can be a source of recurrent revenue if done professionally.
However, to be done efficiently, online content requires quite a good deal of strategic planning. The Internet is full of high-quality content that competes in ranking places on Google and other search engines. Knowing what to write and how to write it is the key, so you need to do some planning before starting to write a single word.
Content Creation 101: key concepts
Before starting to create content, there are four concepts you need to understand in-depth to unlock the full potential of Content Creation techniques. These are:
- Speak to a niche
- Quality over quantity
- Content is about giving, giving, and giving
- Authority boosts your brand
1. Speak to a niche
Selecting the niche you want to start creating content for is your most vital decision. By choosing a specific audience, you narrow the scope of your content and set the expectations.
You will need to research your niche habits and needs to build relevant pieces of content. After, it turns easy to pick the suitable formats: articles for long reads, videos for entertaining, podcasts to listen to while doing other things, or infographics to quickly inform.
2. Quality over quantity
Well-written articles with an interesting angle make people spend more time reading them. Good content is more engaging. And people keep coming to read, listen or view more high-quality content. That consistency leads to better search rank and gets more visitors. On the contrary, poor content pushes people away and gives your brand a bad reputation. So, always try to produce quality pieces over dumping sub-par content.
3. Content is about giving, giving, and giving
People consume content in search of something. It may be advice about a new laptop model, a new way to do a vegan dish, or learning more about Content Strategy. Solid and engaging information will satisfy their needs. And make them a bit happier.
So remember: whenever you write an article or produce a video, focus on answering specific problems or pains your audience is facing. Be useful.
4. Authority boosts your brand
Content consistently helpful and engaging will grow your brand's authority. Being an authority means your brand is an expert in a particular field. It's a huge privilege that you can use to leverage your brand. For example, you can increase the prices of the services or launch a special offer with low risk.
Now that we see Content Creation's key concepts, let's talk about our next subject: Content Strategy.
Content Strategy deals with high-level planning of your content. It defines the roadmap of creating, producing, distributing, publishing, and promoting content.
Typically to define your Content Strategy, you will need to answer the following questions:
- What is your brand trying to accomplish
- Who is your brand trying to reach
- What types of content your brand will publish
- How your content will support the brand
- How your content will be different
- How you will promote and amplify your content
- What are the metrics to track
Answering these questions will help you build a strong base of quality and engaging content to promote your brand, build an audience, and get leads to your sales if that's the case.
1. What is your brand trying to accomplish
The content you will create depends on the type of action you want to get from your users. The most common are:
- Service subscription
- Sale of a product to the user
- Free subscription
- Email Registration
- Download or preview a content
2. Who is your brand trying to reach
Choosing your target audience is hard. It gets easy when you establish one or more buying personas. A persona is a simplified representation of a person that will most likely buy from you. This representation includes characteristics such as age, occupation, and the activities the persona usually does.
To build your buying persona, you will need basic information such as:
- Age and gender
- Level of income
- Location (namely urban/suburbs or actual city/country)
- Family status (important for B2C consumer brands)
- Level of education
- Job title
- Professional and personal goals
- Beliefs and values
- The Biggest struggles and pain points
- Obstacles and challenges they are facing
- Irrational/rational fears
- Preferred blogs, social networks, and websites
- Influencers and thought leaders they trust and look up to
- Favorite events and conferences (online or offline)
Once you define your buying personas, you will be able to choose what type of content you need to create so that it can match their expectations, struggles, and tastes.
3. What types of content your brand will publish
So until now, you have responded to (1) what you sell and (2) whom to sell. We are now ready to choose what you will write.
There are many types of content you can create. Here are some examples:
- Information Articles
- Inspiring Content
- Training Videos
- Customer Testimonials
- Guides and eBooks
- Content Aligned With Sales Funnel
- Educational Content
It is also vital that your content be as up-to-date as possible since people will spend more time (and no skip) viewing your content and will generate more views.
4. How your content will support the brand
If you write about themes most wanted by your buying persona, you will likely attract people more prone to buying or interacting with your brands.
For example, if you sell pet products, it would be nice to write articles related to pet owners and their problems. That demonstrates your expertise and helps build trust.
The more you adapt your products and services to the specific content you create, the more clicks, leads, sales, and recommendations you'll get.
5. How your content will be different
Whether your market is local or global, you must know who is selling and how large is the market. Analyze the competition already selling products through digital channels and understand how they create (or do not) content to get leads and sales.
If you stumbled on a saturated market with thousands of content creators, you must pivot or differentiate your online activities to grab a part of the market attention. There are many ways to stand out yourself from your competitors. The most important thing is to create real value for your target market. Gradually, your brand will build a community that unifies people around shared interests.
6. How you will promote and amplify your content
There are many ways to promote and amplify the reach of your content. From the Content Strategy perspective, you will need to create content that can apply to the following goals:
- Content SEO friendly
- Content is easily distributed by several media
- Be in media very engaging and searched for
- Simple and attractive layouts
All content must be compliant with the best standards of Search Engine Optimization, containing the titles, descriptions, tags, internal links, and so on. Content must be Google-friendly and have social action buttons.
Try to adjust the same content for different formats and media. For example, if you have a training article, you can have the HTML page, but you can also create a podcast and a video with it and multiply the reach with several networks and platforms.
Try to invest in a media format that is the most searched by your audience. Your research may reveal that your audience favors more video content than written articles.
Use both quality and simple web page layouts to present your pieces of content. And nudge your audience to perform specific actions on the page.
7. What are the metrics to track
One of the least considered factors when planning some business is how to measure success. Content Marketing is no different. You must define clear success metrics to evaluate the investment in content creation.
Content Marketing takes a certain amount of time to generate results. So what we propose is to have a prevision for 3-time ranges: shorter, medium, and long term. It can be as simple as 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year and a half.
For each of these time frames, we can use the following classic metrics:
- Social media views
- Social media Engagements
- Social media clicks on content
- Site Visits / Views
- Email registrations
- Register Clicks
- Article Views
- Contacts through a form
On the other hand, we can also estimate the cost of writing, publishing, and promoting a piece of content to measure the return it has brought us.
Let's recap. The nature of your content depends on the type of action you want to achieve from your users. So the content you write, its size, and its tone should reflect their goals and need.
Content Strategy is labored intensive and can be pretty complex as it leads to many different activities and tools that support it. It involves using tools to perform Content Optimization tasks to find the best keywords and search activities for the theme you have chosen.
The most used tool for Content Optimization is the Google Search Console, a free tool offered by Google to overview and optimize the content on your site. Using this tool regularly helps you understand how search engines work. There are many other tools you can use: check the Best Content Optimization Tools for SEO to know the pros and cons of each one.
The next step on your list is to build your Content Marketing Strategy, which operationalizes the distribution of the content you have produced.
Content Marketing Strategy
Once you have quality and search-optimized content, you will need to monetize it. Let's consider 3 ways to create a revenue stream for your content:
- Using your blog or website
- Using 3rd party platforms
- Selling your content to clients
Monetizing content through your blog or website gives you more flexibility to try different approaches. However, this option can also complicate your content creation workflow because you will need the time and skills to do the marketing. On the other hand, you can delegate the marketing effort to 3rd party platforms and focus on content creation.
These 3 monetization options are not mutually exclusive. You can mix them to adapt to your reality. For example, your site can sell content and simultaneously be present in 3rd party platforms or directly to clients.
Ways to Monetize your online content
Whether you use one or more of these approaches, you will have several ways to monetize your content. Here is a comprehensive list:
1. Monetize content through your blog or website
First, you will need a website to showcase your content. It can be a blog service like Wix, or you can have your WordPress installation on a hosting provider.
Once you have your blog or website ready to upload content, you can monetize it in many ways. We have sorted out a list ordered from less difficult to most difficult so that you can sort out how you want to proceed:
2. Sell Content as a Freelancer
It is the easiest way to monetize your content since your blog will serve as a showcase of your services with a few articles. You can also opt for selling exclusive articles you have published already (you can tell Google that the article's permanent URL has changed with a simple hack).
3. Use Google AdSense
Easy to set up, but requires a large volume of traffic. Typically hundreds of thousands of views to get a minimum monthly income of $500. Your content needs to address a massive niche or use high traffic volume keywords.
4. Sell Sponsored Articles
Sponsored content is usually paid by an advertiser or directly by a brand. You will have to present them with good traffic metrics to show that your brand's website attracts and retains users. Work hard on the media presentation. After the pitch, don't forget to follow up.
5. Get sponsored
Besides creating sponsored content, you can also get clients to support your work more permanently. Create sponsorship or patron packages containing exclusive offers, like access to premium content or backstage stories.
6. Sell Coaching or Consulting Advice
Offering coaching services is one of the easiest ways of monetizing your blog. You can commercialize a one-to-one or group consulting. Or become a coach and turn your blog into a cash-making machine. Remember: you are not stuck to location when operating a digital business. However, a strong reputation is an indispensable visit card.
7. Sell Affiliate Marketing
You write specific articles or set up landing pages that link to a product or service. You will earn a commission for each sale originating from your pages.
8. Sell Physical Products
You will need to set up a shop and a payment system to sell physical products. Usually works best in a niche market where you don't have so much competition.
9. Create Sponsored Email Newsletters
With the leads coming from your content, you can set up email lists organized by interests and create a steady flow of newsletters where you can sell space to advertisers.
10. Sell Info Products
Involves creating a solid collection of articles, guides, and videos. You can also create specific ebooks and sell them via their landing page. Either way, it helps to have a strong authority in your niche. Otherwise, the content lacks substance and turns harder to sell.
11. Sell memberships
You will need high-quality content, especially videos, and established authority. You can enrich your content with special guest speakers. Third-party platforms like Patreon are great for automating the membership process and onboarding new members.
12. Sell Online Courses
It involves creating quality content organized in a course structure layout. Keep in mind that this option is laborious. You need to think about the course syllabus and make graphics, guides, quizzes, and other materials to support your lessons.
13. Organize Webinars or Workshops
Building a strong community around a niche subject and establishing a theme authority will enable you to set up a strong community where you can organize online talks, virtual meetings, and even online workshops.
14. Sell Digital Products
Creating digital products becomes hard since it implies programming. Focus on developing a quick prototype related to the market niche you chose. Then validate it with user subscriptions and iterate. Keep it as simple as possible.
15. Sell your Merchandise
Many bloggers create specific merchandise related to the content they produce. If you have a vast audience and are loyal, merchandise products can be a way to get financial support. You will need to be very creative.
16. Setting up your Social Media pages
Social media is a mandatory step in getting online audiences and being seen in your niche market. Depending on your public (age, interests, and geography), you can choose the ideal social media channels.
One strategy is to open 3 or 4 social accounts but invest most of your marketing effort in only one or two tops. For example, if your audience is Millennials, you might want to concentrate your effort on Instagram. If your audience is more business-related, going to LinkedIn is the wise move.
Building audiences in some channels can be a more painful and time-consuming process. An example of this is Facebook versus Twitter, being the former easier to get more audience.
Monetizing content through 3rd-party platforms
As we said, you can also monetize your content through other platforms. There are 3 ways to do this:
- Using Affiliate Market Platforms
- Selling as an Affiliate (directly)
- Selling Your Services on Marketplaces
You can opt for one of the three of these channels, as the content, services, or products that you will be selling are yours.
1. Using Affiliate Market Platforms
Several Affiliate Market Platforms monetize content from different sellers. These platforms are brokers between you, the advertiser, and the sellers.
These platforms let you choose between brands and services and facilitate you with the links or "widgets" that you can insert into your content, which constitute the call to action to make a registration or a sale.
When choosing these sellers, you will have to take into account the type of content you're creating so that there is a perfect fit between them. If your content is about clothing, you will not want to redirect the viewer to a food product. So whether you opt to write specific content for the services you want to promote or concentrate on a niche and then choose only the ones that are a fit, it's up to you.
These platforms give you commission information and statistics. Some services can pay you for a lead aka registration on their website, or a sale. Commissions are fixed and can range from a few cents to a few dollars or more depending on the type of market and service.
Affiliate platforms pay you after a certain amount of time (end of the month, for example) with a minimum amount limit. You will also have to pay charges from the amount you receive, depending on the provider and your country.
Some Affiliated Marketing Platforms
1. Amazon Associates
Amazon Associates is the most used and known affiliate marketing network. Amazon Associates enables you to earn a commission on anything sold at Amazon.com.
Amazon Associates also enables you to earn a commission on everything new that someone you refer purchases, even if it is not the product you linked to.
Amazon has a flat-rate commission structure. This means you are paid a flat percentage based on the product category, varying from 1 to 10%.
Commission Rates: Amazon Associates offers a commission of around 5% depending on the product.
Payout Schedule: 60 days
Payment Options: Direct deposit, Amazon gift certificates, checks (with a $15 processing fee).
Cookies last only for 24 hours
ShareASale is one of the most popular general affiliate networks. ShareASale sales include both physical and digital products.
Commission Rates: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
Minimum payout: $50
Cookie duration: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with
3. Rakuten Marketing (Formerly LinkShare)
Rakuten Marketing (previously known as LinkShare) is a popular affiliate network that includes a lot of big American merchants such as Walmart, Macy’s, Best Buy, and Papa John.
Commission Rate: Depends on the merchant you sign up with.
Cookie duration: Depends on the merchant you sign up with.
Minimum payout: $50
Awin is one of the largest affiliate networks, with 15,000 advertisers and 200,000 publishers, including Etsy, StubHub, HP, and Hyatt. Awin has digital or physical products for almost every product category. Founded in Germany, AWin includes the US and global companies.
Commission Rates: Around 5% but varies from merchant to merchant. They do charge an application fee.
Minimum payout: $50, monthly.
2. Selling as an Affiliate
An option similar to the above, but with a catch: you register directly into a brand as an affiliate. That way, you get around the middleman (the platform). Use both strategies and see how they complement or what works for you.
This strategy can give you more freedom to choose the products you want to promote. Plus, it gives you more control of your business. However, you must abide by the rules of each brand you choose to affiliate with. Also, managing each seller can be more time-consuming, especially if you have low sales from them.
3. Selling Your Services on Marketplaces
Selling your services through a Marketplace is also a feasible business option, but it also can be complicated because you will be in direct competition with other providers. To stay on the top of the game, you might need to lower your margins to get sales or review your pricing strategy. It is the opposed strategy of having your brand and managing your direct sales contacts. In short, less control and shorter margins.
You have defined your content strategy, set up the website, and create social media pages. Halfway through. Now it's time to start writing and publish your first batch of content and gather some metrics.
If you bet on organic website growth (without paid campaigns), it will take time to get a volume of data considerable to discover insights. So a way to measure the quality and engagement of your content will be to create campaigns on social networks.
Our advice is to diversify on a few (3 or four different pieces of content) and test them with two campaigns each. You can test each article on a distinct audience for 7 days and measure the results.
As we said before, getting substantial organic views can take more time, but it also depends on the frequency of the posts and the ability of your social pages to direct traffic to your blog.