While there is little doubt that the focus of your content (using an Editorial Calendar or not) should be on your audience, it is also worth remembering that you as the business owner and content creator should also be getting something out of this exchange.This is where most content creators fall down, after all that is exactly what it is, an exchange, their time for your information or indeed their money for your expertise.
We as authors are providing content to our audience, some free and some paid, but despite the fact that people are handing over money for content, it is actually the free content that requires the most thought, I guess some people just value their time more than their money. Not only are we as content creators thinking about what our audience wants and what would give us the biggest impact within our market, but what we want our audience to take from the information we are sharing.
While all of this would seem quite straightforward, this is where are plenty of authors; bloggers and business owners fail to capitalise. I obviously agree that your content should be all about your audience, we must remember at the end of the day as those who create this content, we must get something in exchange.
When it comes to creating your content you have and end goal in mind for the reader or viewer or listener, you have taken the time to plan out your content, research it, write it, edit it and publish it and after all that, you are hopeful that the audience will appreciated it enough to take the time to read through it all, listen to the full podcast or watch the full video and then take action on what you have told them.
But the big question many failed to ask themselves is what do I get from this, what is the point of this for me as the blogger, author or business owner?
Running an online business takes a lot of dedication and time and indeed knowledge, and while much of the conversations you will see online will revolve around the R.O.I or conversion rates of sales letters, paid content or products, not many will ask what is the return on time invested while creating this piece and that is what we must be mindful of.
After all everything we do, everything we write everything, everything we record and everything we publish must have an expected return on investment, regardless of whether it is paid content or free content.This is what we want to show you, how you can ensure that everything you do has an end goal in mind and will give you a return on the time you invested in creating this piece of content.
In order for you to do this it does take a bit of forward planning and projection. While many will be used to doing this when it comes to projecting sales targets or conversion rates, not many will do the same thing for their free content.
But this is just as important as if you were planning a launch of a product.
When it comes to planning out your free content there should always be an end goal in mind and as a business owner setting that end goal is entirely up to you.
What is it that you want to get from publishing this piece of content? and just so we’re clear I am not talking about a call to action, I am not talking about putting a link at the end of your article to direct your audience somewhere else, I am talking about qualifying your leads through the free pieces of content that you create.
When it comes to mapping this out you really do need to think about the bigger picture, you should always be looking three, six, nine even 12 months down the road.
Ask yourself this;
“What is my goal for the next three, six, nine even 12 months”
By answering this question you will begin to see the bigger picture, do you have a product coming out in three months time, do you want to get more speaking engagements, or are you building up to a big push of an affiliate product?
With a clear end in mind it will make the content creation process a whole lot easier and ensure that every place you create would push you towards your end goal. Not only that, but it will help you qualify your customers well in advance and give you the best chance of converting them for whatever purpose you have set out above.
Time and time again we have seen people set up their online business pump out great free content and try to build an audience and while we are a big advocate of creating content an audience will love in order to increase your market share and overall appeal, there can be a hole in this plan.When many authors, bloggers or business owners set out to create free content to drive traffic to their site, it is largely done in order to build an audience, to create a following and to get recognition within a niche.
However once they have started to build a following and have recognition within that niche, quite often we find that they struggle then to convert those leads into customers and more often than not, we find that it is because there was no clear pathway through their free content that allowed them to quantify and indeed qualify those people who are coming to their site.
Really what you need to be doing is; creating your content with your end goal in mind. This way, every piece of content you create will be linked to your goal at the end of your three, six, nine, 12 months and that way when it comes time to launch the product, you will know that those people who have consumed you’re free content will be very very interested in your product.
While an argument can be made that by really niching down you will find an audience that will want your product, there can be no harm in laser focusing your free content to ensure that you really get the people who want to know more about what you are trying to sell them.
We like to call these your “hyper qualified” customers, they are the ones who have consumed every piece of content, commented on your articles, followed you on various social platforms and even shared your content with their peers, Now how bad does that sound?
Right about now I can hear many of you reading this saying:
“Yeah that all sounds well and good, but how the heck do I do it?”
You will be surprised to know that the answer is a rather simple.When it comes to planning out your content you do need to plan well in advance.We often hear the beginning is the best place to start, but for this we are going to start at the end.
I want you to write down your one big goal for the next six months, and I want you to put this in a clearly visible place so that when you sit down to create your content you will see your end goal.
Once you have your end goal we can begin to work backwards.
To better explain this I’m going to use an example of an online business owner who wants to create a course around periscope marketing.
So the end goal in this case is to create and sell a periscope-marketing course within the next six months. From here we can then begin to map out what will be involved in that course.
So in that course we will have tutorials on:
- What is periscope.
- Setting it up.
- Deciding on a name.
- Themes and hashtags.
And perhaps even some added bonuses.
Now obviously I am just creating these topics from the top of my head, but you get the idea.
From there we can begin to break down each one of these bullet points into maybe three modules or in some case maybe it’s just even one module that needs to be taught. Once we have decided how many modules and what we are going to teach in each one, we now have a very rough outline of what is going to be involved in our course.
From this list of modules we can then look and see what would our audience like to know more about, what is the hot topic at the moment. This is where we can begin to plan out our free content.
You have heard it said time and time again, but you should not be afraid to give away your best content for free, quite often we have spoken to bloggers and business owners and ran through their content strategy and when we hit on some of the things that they wish to include in a paid service we always get the same response;
“I don’t want to give that away for free because I want to charge for it, what is the point in giving it away for free if it is going to be included in my paid service.”
Well the point of giving it away for free is that you will instantly begin to see which members of your audience are very interested in learning more about this topic and not only that, but with some of the questions raised by your audience on these topics, it will help you expand on the course which you plan to sell by covering some of the questions raised in your free content that you may have overlooked or did not think was relevant.
So by breaking your content down from paid, into free, you now know exactly what types of content you should be publishing for free in order to qualify most people as “Leads”.
With this content now clearly marked out we can begin to strategise as to how best to release this content and when to release it.
So while many people will create perhaps a three-part video series to go into their launch sequence, you are in fact creating a launch sequence that will run over the course of six months.
Every piece of content that you create around periscope would give your audience and insight into not only your expertise and knowledge, but it is also training them on some of the key points you are going to cover with in your course.
The best way to prove that your course is worth handing over their hard earned cash for is by giving them little wins from your free content, if they can see that they are getting results with the content you publish for free, it is very easy for them to imagine the types of results they would get with an in-depth course they have to pay for and when it comes time to click that “buy now” button, they will take less convincing and will jump at the opportunity.
Of course this strategy does not only work well for paid courses, it also works very well for a number of other aspects of your business. If for example you wish to build a Facebook group and you want to get more people into that group, then your content needs to incorporate what goes on with in that group.
This is also quite easy to do with a bit of forward thinking and believe it or not it will also help you plan out your content and find content ideas for you to cover.
In order for you to do this all of your content over a defined period will make reference to your Facebook group. This could be done very simply by at the start of your post having something like this:
“I had a great conversation with members of my Facebook group the other day around X. We were talking about the differences between X and Y, and here are some of the interesting viewpoints we got.”
From here the remainder of your blog post or video or indeed podcast will discuss the different viewpoints gleaned from those within your Facebook group and also gives you the chance to give your own personal opinion and expertise on the topic, while all the time showing your audience that your Facebook group is not only busy, but engaging and that you yourself spend plenty of time there talking to those within the group and sharing your expertise on the particular subject.
There is also an added advantage to this, you could ask your audience what they think about the given topic and asked them to share their ideas or their thoughts with your Facebook group, thus giving them an opportunity to feel involved and also giving you a chance to get them to where you want them, which is of course into your Facebook group you have been pushing.
Now I know I have probably taken a little longer than was necessary to go through this, but I feel it’s important.
A content strategy is one of the most important things you can do for your business and while merely having a goal of building your reach within a niche is not a bad goal to have, in order to find success and indeed customers you need to be laser focused on everything you do and this includes your free content.
So take the time to think about what is the return for you as the business owner. Remember, the return for you does not always have to be monetary, but everything should have an end goal. There should always be a point to it, not only for your audience, but for you too.
Remember this is an exchange and you must ask yourself what do I want in exchange for this latest piece of information.