You’ve heard the story of the cobbler’s children, I’m sure. The shoemaker was so busy making shoes for his customers that his own children ran around barefoot.
Too often, service providers run into this same situation. Like the technology business that uses outdated computer systems. Or the organization guru who can’t find her latest book among the piles of paper on her desk.
We’re writers. We have the ability to help businesses improve their marketing. It’s critical that we showcase our skills in marketing our own businesses. A half-finished website and outdated self-marketing materials just won’t do.
The solution, and one of the best ways to show off your marketing skills, is through content marketing.
What Exactly Is Content?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content is relevant and valuable information that’s designed to attract and connect with your target audience — with the goal of moving your readers to action. In our case, that action is to hire us to do their writing.
To be clear, content isn’t selling. In a world dominated by social media, it’s important to understand the difference. You see, people don’t trust marketing messages anymore. A study by Alterian, Your Brand: At Risk?, drives this point home. It reveals that more than half of consumers feel that companies are only interested in making money off of them, not in selling the product that’s right for them.
Yet, surprisingly, content can go a long way toward building trust. According to a poll by the Custom Content Council, more than three-fourths of consumers believe that companies offering custom content are interested in building better relationships with customers.
That belief is also at the core of content marketing.
When you provide useful, actionable, and relevant information that helps your readers achieve their goals, you build their trust. So down the road, when they need a writer, you’re the first name that pops into their minds.
But, that’s not the only benefit. A content website tends to rank better in the search engines. So, by regularly publishing content related to your niche, you’re more likely to rank well in Google. That makes it easier for prospects to find you online.
The challenge, though, is what to create. To help, I’ve put together a list of 20 content ideas you could write in less than a week. In fact, most of them could be done in a weekend.
Read it over and find one that works for you. Better yet, use it to get your own creative juices flowing and brainstorm ideas that are targeted to your particular niche.
20 Content Ideas for Barefoot Writers
- Write a how-to article about anything you do. Something like, “How to Get Your Social Media Done in 30 Minutes a Day,” or “How to Write Headlines People Actually Read.”
- If it’s a complicated idea, write a series of how-to articles. I do this for my own blog. Rather than writing stand-alone articles, I cover one topic per month so I can go deeper with each subject.
- Share common mistakes and how to avoid them.
- List your favorite resources for getting your job done. Perhaps, “10 Social Media Tools That Help You Connect in Less Time.”
- Give lessons related to your favorite hobby or a historical figure. This is an interesting twist on the how-to article. By gleaning tips from an unrelated topic, you can make an old subject fresh and new. For example, “Copywriting Lessons I Learned from Spock.”
- Review a book relevant to your niche.
- Share why a program is or isn’t worth the money.
- Interview a celebrity in your niche or industry. This can build your own reputation because connecting with big names gives you automatic caché.
- Promote a conference you’re going to. For example, if you’re planning to go to AWAI’s FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair in the fall, you know you’ll be meeting and learning from famous copywriters. Why not write about it?
- Share your favorite takeaways from the conference. You could write a series of posts, each one focused on a different lesson learned.
- Explain how something you saw or did on your vacation relates to your writing. Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, did this. After a trip to Africa, her emails sported safari pictures and linked to interesting posts, such as “Sales Wisdom from the Elephants” and “Selling Secrets from the Giraffes.”
- Compare and contrast tools or resources.
- Take a contrarian stand on a common issue. Like Seth Godin’s article, “Keep the Trains Running,” in which he tells writers that meeting deadlines isn’t the most important thing they can do.
- Share timesavers that work for you.
- Curate information, such as a weekly roundup of interesting news in your niche. If you do this well, over time you could become the one place where your followers go for industry news.
- At the beginning of the year, predict what’s going to happen in your niche or industry.
- At the end of the year, highlight memorable events from the year.
- Share interesting statistics from a new study.
- Do your own survey and share the results. There’s no better way to establish credibility than to identify and respond to new trends.
- Share lessons learned, especially if you have an incredible success or failure on a project.
Any of these ideas will get you started in content marketing. So, pick one that looks accessible and start today.
Over time, you may find you enjoy a particular type of content, such as product reviews. If so, you can specialize. But for now, focus on building up your website with lots of great content — one piece at a time.
Aim to showcase your marketing skills with a content website that makes your prospects salivate for your services. Get there by starting this week with your first piece of content.