When we use the word ‘content’ most people automatically assume that we’re talking about ‘blogging’… As in, writing blogs or articles. But luckily, content can come in any form and it doesn’t have to be the written word in order to be effective. In fact, there are fare MORE effective ways to engage your audience than articles (ahem, video), so if you’re not a natural writer you can rest easy!
Your New Mantra
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we want to supply you with a new mantra. This works for just about anything, but is especially helpful when it comes to business tasks you find daunting. Ready? Here it is:
Your new mantra: ‘What would be easy?’
What is the most natural medium for you and your brand to express itself? What makes the most sense based on what you enjoy and what you’re good at? What sounds fun? What could you create a habit out of and stick to? Content is all about communicating with your audience and you have so many wonderful options! Today we’re going to review a multitude of media (Get it? Multi-Media!?) that you can pick from when you set about planning and batching to make your content easy.
Pick What’s Easiest:
- Written Word
- Images & Graphics
1. Written Word
When we hear the word ‘blog’, most of us think of text articles delivered online. If this is you jam, go for it! But be sure to break up your posts into easy-to-consume, bite-sized chunks. Use headers (Heading 2 and Heading 3’s), bullet points, paragraph breaks and photos to make your content easily ‘skimmable’. This makes it appear less ‘intimidating’ to your reader and increases the likelihood that people will read it. You don’t need to be an ‘expert’ to write great, meaningful, insightful or helpful pieces.
Also don’t forget Jane’s Rule of 5-5-5: Make it easy for your reader to spend 5 seconds, 5 minutes or 5 hours engaging with you and your world. Keeping them for 5 seconds means you need lots of headers and bullet points, break up all that text and make it easy to skim. This is probably the most essential tip, because if your audience is greeted with a wall of words, they’ll bounce.
Five minutes might be a full read-through of the article (although some data suggests that the ideal length of read for a blog post is 7 minutes , so plan for approx. 1300-1600 words). Keeping someone around for 5 hours would be quite a trick, but this means creating a habit of always linking to other relevant content. Make every article or video an excuse to start a new journey, giving the reader somewhere else to go, or something else to learn, download or consume once they’ve finished the first. Jane calls this having ‘no dead-ends’.
Pros & Cons: Articles are great for SEO, but can be difficult to for some users to consume (since we’re all used to getting quick information from videos and slideshows). Plus, if you are not a writer (and even if you ARE), getting thoughts ideas and messages out of your head and into written form can feel reallly difficult. If you struggle with this, you might find one of the other media easier – BUT don’t forget you can always have a video or audio transcribe to get an instant article out of it! Boom – two for one!
Article Ideas We Love:
- Top-10 Lists
- Blogs with questions as sub-headers
- Short informative pieces at link to a broader topic
There is no doubt that video is supreme at the moment, especially if you’re publishing them on the world’s second largest search engine, YouTube. Video is a wonderful way to build a relationship with your audience, convey complicated information easily and quickly, show things that are hard to tell, provide helpful ‘behind the scenes’ or ‘how-to’ info, or simply to entertain.
You can use the 5-5-5- rule with video as well – perhaps have little gifs (5 seconds) or teasers (30 seconds- 60 seconds which play well on social) as well as quick 5 min. videos AND some epic ones for the people who want more info. The idea with 5-5-5 remember is to keep people engaged and moving through your world (or website) until they hopefully convert (ideally buying something or giving you their email).
Pros & Cons: Video can sometimes seem overwhelming because of the amount of equipment or tech involved, but really all you need is your phone. Editing videos can be easily outsourced if you’re not interested in DIY’ing it, and these days raw, real, natural footage is almost more effective than highly-produced video – so the bar is lower for quality – and as long as your sound is solid, you shouldn’t worry too much about how fancy it is. Video is a place where it’s important to be natural, not too posed or fake, so if you find it awkward to be on camera you may need to practice a bit. Video also takes up a bunch of room on your computer and online, because the files are so large, so if you have slow internet or a slow computer, you may find video difficult to work with.
Video Ideas We Love:
- Product Reviews / Reveal
- Commentary / Opinion
- Video Diaries/Vlogs
- Screen Shares
3. Images & Graphics
Our brains process visual information 60,000 times faster than text, so imagery and graphics can make wonderful, engaging content. If you find you communicate best in a visual way – do it! Artists like Gemma Correll and our own Working with Dog members Lili Chin and Mike Brennan all share their sketches, paintings, drawings, illustrations & doodles and works of art as content – to show what they’re working on, to share what they’re thinking or feeling, and to just generally connect with their audience (check out their blogs, instagram or facebook channels!)
Another fantastic visual form, is the infographic.
This art form is a wonderful media for sharing interesting survey results, facts, figures or stats in a very visual way – these graphics are incredible ‘sharable’ on social media, and are great for cause-based messages who really want to get an important point across using facts or science. The infographic makes it easy to share complex or otherwise fairly dry/boring reading in a way that is engaging and interesting, even to people who know nothing about the subject.
If you’re a photographer, creating blog posts with slideshows, galleries or lots and lots of photographs intermingled with a bit of text can be both an interesting read for your audience, and google-friendly (if you’re popping a few keywords in there with your writing). Of course, turning your photos into the occasional meme and sharing on social media can be another great way to use your images on social to encourage a bit of viral sharing.
Pros & Cons: While images and drawings are great for humans, Google can’t ‘read’ them – so they won’t be doing you as much good for SEO as written articles will. However, on visual platforms like Instagram or Pinterest, these visually appealing forms of content reign supreme!
Images & Graphic Ideas We Love:
- Photos intermingled with Text
- Sketches / Illustrations / Doodles
- Handwritten / Calligraphic quotes
One medium you might not have considered that may actually be super duper easy for you to create, is audio. Most commonly presented as ‘podcasts’ or ‘audio books’- creating audio content is essentially just recording yourself talking.
This month in the Fast Lane we are doing a whole course on how to start a podcast, so if you think this is your jam, you may want to go grab it!
Pros & Cons: Podcasts are skyrocketing in popularity so it’s a good time to jump on the bandwagon. Many people find audio (podcasts, audio books etc.) super easy to fit into their day (especially while ‘on the go’) so it makes it easier for people to make time to consume your content. Audio, like video, has some production learning-curves to get past from a tech and file type, tech and tools standpoint, but of course, you can start simple and outsource most of it!
Audio Ideas We Love:
- Interviews or ‘Hang Outs’ with Guests
- Book Reviews
- Opinion pieces
- Musical goodness (do you play an instrument!?)
- Inspirational pep-talks
As you can see, the definition of ‘content’ is widely varied and full of possibility for using your best skills and resources to your benefit. Content creation does not HAVE to be difficult, and by choosing the medium that comes most naturally to you, you can make the whole content marketing thing much more painless!
What comes most naturally to you? Grab the workbook and find out!
If you’re not generally a communicator and you’d rather never speak to anyone in any medium, you may have a bit of a learning curve here… but luckily you can also outsource this bit of your business if it simply isn’t your strength: