In a recent post I talked about how to drive traffic to your blog. It’s all very well deciding that you want to use social media to help promote your business, and in fact you might even have a pretty good idea as to why you should, and what channels you need to explore, but at some point you’ll need to think about content too.

If you follow good marketing practice answering the following questions will be a great place to start:

1) Who am I talking to – who is your customer, what do they look like, where do they live, what do they do?

2) Where are they? And how can I engage with them? What channels would be the most effective and what type of content do they prefer to consume? Video? Podcasts? Articles?

3) What do I want them to do / learn / experience about my brand? Whats the point of your activity? Signing them up for something? Getting buy in for something? For you to be taught by them so you can help them better?

4) Why should they? What will they get out of the experience?

Getting that little lot right will set you off in the correct direction. What media you’ll need to use, and what form your content will need to take.

But now you’ll have to produce that content. And its an enormous ask for some people to go from whatever it is they do every day, to becoming an author or a videographer or a journalist, or whatever it is they will need to be in order to make this all work.

A number of people have spoken to me lately about how I ‘do it’. Where do I get the time and even the inspiration for the posts I write. Time I can’t help you with, but here are some ideas for inspiration, and even an idea of what you can do if you’re a completely hopeless case and can’t do it yourself.

Overcoming ‘writers block’

This one is easy for me, I have so much to say for myself, I’ve never been short of a word or two! But I do understand some people can struggle to come up with the idea in the first place. ‘What do you write about?’ is one of the most common questions I hear. So what about….

Your own business and life lessons: What do you know? How did you learn it? Everyone has beliefs, and there are often stories that go with those beliefs. Tell us about them!

How can you solve your clients problems? Much better than talking about your business, talk about how you can fix things. And how you did previously. What did it look like? What did the client say about it?

Whats everyone else talking about? What are the hot topics in your industry? Perform a Google News search on your industry and find out. If you’ve any level of experience and competency, you’ll have an opinion I want to hear.

What do the people who work with or for you need to know? Teach them. Tell them stories about how you learned those lessons, or why its important that they learn them for themselves.

What SHOULD everyone in your industry be talking about? Go nuts! This is the chance to set the agenda

Content Curation

So easy it will feel like cheating. Simply share other people’s content. The stuff that amazes and inspires you. Become a filter for your followers. I spend time each day checking my favourite blogs, Twitter Facebook and various other news channels, so there are tons of great things I get to see. And sharing those things with my community is a matter of a few clicks. In fact, this approach will actually help shape your community and its composition. You are what you share and the content you share, its quality and relevance will attract the people it appeals too. Poor content will drive people away, great content will bring them in.

Outsource it

It seems like anything can be outsourced these days, and I came across a company the other day that will even write and supply bespoke articles to you for your blogs and Twitter feeds etc. They are called M2 Bespoke and for an average cost of about £400 a month they’ll do all this (Following copy supplied by Ben Hollom of M2)

M2 Bespoke supply Custom News feeds which deliver fresh news articles every day, covering topics that are relevant to your website and written specifically for you with unique content (Critical for SEO).
At a typical cost of around £20 per story this service will save you both time and money, enhancing your website and feeding Social Media activities at no extra cost. It can be hard to feed Social Media on a daily basis while insuring that content is both unique and thought-provoking. A custom news feed can provide industry news and reports with little or no effort required on your part, once the initial brief and topics have been defined.

Key benefits:
• Be seen as a credible authority and ‘voice’ within your industry
• Increase the time visitors spend on your site and encourage them to visit more often
• Assist SEO
• Provide engaging content for your social media activity, drawing visitors to your website
Frequently refreshing content:
On November 3, 2011 Google implemented its latest update to the Caffeine algorithm appropriately named ‘The Google Freshness Update’. This update to the search algorithm focuses on rewarding websites that offer fresh content. Our service allows you to update your website on a daily basis with relevant, topical content.
Unique Content:
Google highly ranks unique, well written and relevant content  but  producing it is easier said than done.
Keywords & Search Phrases:
All articles contain appropriate use of target search terms without appearing to be over optimised or detracting from the article by artificial use.

If you’d like to talk to M2 direct, you’ll find them here. I also have a presentation from them I’d be happy to send to anyone interested with more info. Please note, I have no commercial relationship with these guys, nor can I vouch for their ability to deliver. But I must say, it looks a great service.

So that it. What are your tips? How do you find inspiration? Where do you go for great content that you could share with all of us? As ever, I’d love to hear from you. Tweet me on @radiojaja or email me direct on [email protected] Even better, leave a comment below, and everyone can join in.

  1. mrsmoti
    mrsmoti says:

    Hippy idealist here… but do find it slightly sad that biz folks aren’t enthusiastic enough about their sector to get RSS feeds to sites they like and repurpose those themselves…Blogs written by someone else quite often sound just like that! … I know… I know… time=money and all that…

  2. Tony Dowling
    Tony Dowling says:

    its interesting isnt it? The point of these sorts of approaches is that people can somehow replace or at least supplement their creativity in these ways.
    Perfect world, everyone is able (has the time ability etc) to ‘create’ content for themselves, and we see evidence all over that this sort of ‘authentic’ approach pays off in spades.
    But still, I rather see quality content than none at all, no matter how its arrived at I guess?
    Great comment as ever! thanks for stopping by!

  3. Joel_Hughes
    Joel_Hughes says:

    interesting post and I’m with Pippa here.

    Buying in blog posts? Good grief! How is that authentic?!

    Seriously though, I’m sure that *can* work – hey, you can pay third parties to write for you but my concern is that they’d have to be tapping into the very heart of your & your brand to create authentic, meaningful content – after all, they are not *you*. I’d prefer to read the words of the company then polished PR hokum SEO’d up to the max.

    I’ve looked at soooo many accountancy blogs where they buy in the content and splat it up to their ‘blog'(sic); the same content as 1,000’s of other blogs. Why bother? What value does this give to your target audience? It’s just a directionless content machine.

    I know nothing about the company mentioned above (M2) and my comments here are in no way directed at them at their services. I just feel that if a person/business does not have time to blog then that should be that; they don’t have the time*; you can’t easily buy yourself out of that situation.

    *btw – I hear a lot of this “i don’t have time” but in many cases they actually means “I cannot be bothered to do this”; this is a completely different matter and, again, this explains why paid for services, as opposed to roll-up-your-sleeves-hard-work, are appealing.

    Anyway, that’s my 2p 😉


  4. Tony Dowling
    Tony Dowling says:

    I think I got the sense that something like what M2 deliver is similar to what we use in the media all the time, as in a well written piece of copy to use in a bulletin or a web piece or in ‘newspaper land’ a full on page or two. its been done for years and isn’t an internet thing at all.
    It may be a story off the wires, or a ‘heads’ supplied by a news hub out of hours. There is a big trade in news copy, opinion pieces, obits etc. and there always has been.
    On the other hand, Im with you that buying in blogs sort of defeats the purpose though! If you are trying to be authentic and use content to reach your market or to build relationships you clearly would be better off writing or creating it yourself, for yourself.
    So I guess it depends what its for? If you want hard news, investigative stuff, you need your own news team. If you want a rip and read service updating people with national heads thats a different thing.
    If you want to populate your site with relevant and up to date copy, maybe writing it all yourself will be beyond everyone but the most dedicated developer
    But connecting with your customer, reaching out to people on a personal level will need to be done yourself

  5. Ben Hollom
    Ben Hollom says:

    Hi all, this is Ben Hollom, I’m Marketing Director at M2 Bespoke. I’m loving the debate and as a marketing person myself completely agree with most of your comments and would share your reservations about a service like ours.

    In an ideal world we’d all write topical engaging content on a regular basis ourselves but sometimes that just isn’t possible, and with Google ranking frequently refreshing content so highly another plan needs to be made. I’m in the same boat myself.

    We work with our clients to develop a brief that allows our writers (real journalists and editors, not software!) to filter the massive amount of information in the public domain, and choose only the most relevant stories to cover for each client. These are written with unique content and attributed appropriately to the original source.

    The service saves you the headache of scratching your head wondering what to write, doing the research and then writing the whole article. Once we’ve delivered the basic 250 words, it’s really easy to personalise the content, maybe topping and tailing or adding a quote before posting to website latest news, blog or social media.

    A service like ours isn’t right for everyone, and it’s not the be all and end all when it comes to your content strategy, but it does a job and ticks enough boxes without breaking the bank.

    A few examples of clients and the content we’ve provided below:

  6. Joel_Hughes
    Joel_Hughes says:

    Hi Ben,
    thanks for throwing your hat in, as I say, my comments are nothing about your company per se – just the topic.

    You mention Google ranking; see the thing is I hear this “Google need to see new content” all the time but who are we producing for? Google? Or are our audience? Yes let’s be aware of Google but our first mission is to create authentic, exciting, stimulating, engaging, passionate, knowledgeable content; if that can be outsourced then great. The key I suppose is getting to the heart of what the client is trying to say and then using your expertise to package it.

    I honestly think the more we worry about how Google et al work under the surface, the more we miss the point – relevance is the key.


  7. Tony Dowling
    Tony Dowling says:

    I’ve got another blog to share on this sort of topic coming soon, and I think I’d side with Joel in terms of wanting a blog for myself, and my perceived audience, rather than the SEO benefits or otherwise.
    However, I reiterate my earlier point, in some cases, as has always been the case ‘bought in’ copy can be effective
    And isn’t that the point? For people like me, mini bloggers as it were, buying in content clearly defeats the purpose, but for some brands and under some circumstances it might work?
    In some of the M2 examples for instance, you’ll see people using industry specific articles on the front page to provide evidence of industry relevance without trying to necessarily show thought leadership? They are clearly rent an article style and standard, not masquerading as anything else.
    No way appropriate for me and my blog, a personal mission if you like, but possibly for big brands needing relevant, skilfully written, if a little vanilla, copy?