I was meeting with a friend the other day. She's a small-business owner who I was helping out with some bits of advice. One of her biggest points of frustration is the knowledge that she needs to be creating content - but lacks the time to do it. I know this is not the first time I've heard this from a small or medium sized business owner so I thought it would be worthwhile to lay out some of the tactics I've suggested over time to overcome this dilemma.
Although this seemingly goes against the conversation which led to this post - yes, sometimes you just have to create your own content. It is hard to find time when you are resource constrained but look for ways to make time. If you are looking to establish any type of thought leadership in your niche this will be helped by creating authoritative content that people can share (please enable them to share!!), discuss and point to as a resource.
Stuck for ideas? Look at problems you've faced in your business lately and how you solved them. Write about it. Find lessons for your audience in something unexpected. i.e., Ten Things You Can Learn About Office Politics From a Dog Park. I actually had that idea once while playing with my pup. Executed right - that could have been a hit! Read things that are unrelated to your work. Pick up a novel for example. Your brain will be flooded by ideas before you know it - and you got away from the computer screen as an added bonus. Go for a run! Or something. The endorphins will help you clear your head.
Get creative when creating. The ideas will come.
2. User Generated Content:
One of my favorite examples of this is actually SEOmoz's YouMoz. They have a very well respected and widely read blog. There is another component to this though and that's YouMoz. Users are allowed and encouraged to create and submit content for publication on the site. If it's good/popular enough it will actually get promoted to the main blog where it could be read by tens of thousands of people. That sounds like a win win to me! So maybe you don't have that size of built-in audience to pull from but you may still be able to harness user generated content for your own site. Consider asking a particularly happy or long-term customer write about their experience case-study style. Or put out a call for submissions as part of a contest. There are lots of creative ways to release the flood of UGC. As with before, you just need to get creative.
Sometimes it pays to pay. Outsource some of your content creation needs. This can help you fill those creative gaps without losing out on the powerful momentum you have built up with your other efforts. Company's like MediaPiston or services such as CopyPress and Phenomenal Content have shown up to help with just this type of endeavor. Be sure to use a reputable sites like the ones listed here so you can ensure unique and quality content.
4. Guest Blogging:
Guest blogging can be a great way to increase the amount of content on your site. There are lots of ways to find guest bloggers. The easiest is to ask. Utilize your social networks and ask if there is interest and call for submissions. Look especially to your niche-specific communities for the most relevant content. But don't limit yourself. You know your vertical very well. That's an obvious solution - but don't overlook the power of going horizontal. So you make boats. Other boat makers, boat retailers, parts manufacturers etc would be in your vertical. But go horizontal with it. Look to lifestyle bloggers who might talk about the benefits of boating as a lifestyle or activity for example. Get creative. (Are you picking on this "creativity" as a theme?)
There are even communities based completely on guest blogging opportunities - both as authors and hosts. Take a look at MyBlogGuest as a great example of this. I'm not going to go into much detail around the benefits of guest blogging yourself because that's not the focus here but think to yourself: links, awareness, networking, exposure to new audience(s), etc.
5. Community Driven:
Look to your community for content and content ideas. Find a particularly sticky forum post? Approach the author to write a post based on that. Perhaps there are already pieces of content in your community that could be re-purposed for blog posts. Poll your community. Look at conversation data. What are they talking about? What questions are being asked? You can find a host of ideas and opportunities for content in this data. In addition - look at the user data. You will undoubtedly find lots of incredibly active and authoritative individuals there who might like to contribute at a deeper more high-profile level. Win-win.
If you do have a community this is a great place to find existing content and curate it into blog-worthy pieces. Has someone posted a question that garnered an exceptional response? Pair the two together and form them into a blog post giving credit to the original authors. Voila. Be sure that you are doing this in a way that doesn't create duplicate content issues for yourself by either re-writing or using a rel-canonical solution. The exact implementation will differ by situation - just something to be aware of in this type of case.
The "C" Word
The theme - Get Creative with your content. Think *wait for cliche* out of the box *wait for disappointed sigh*. The internet is one nowadays built on participation and authorship. People are creating content at volumes never before seen. It's up to you, you time-starved-business-to-run-customers-to-delight-rockstar-content-lacking-phenom, to harness this momentum for your own benefit.
Surely I've missed a few ideas here. What are yours?
Kristy Bolsinger is a Senior Associate at PwC in Seattle, WA. She has previously worked at Ant's Eye View (acquired by PwC in 2012), and RealNetworks (GameHouse). Prior to her time at RealNetworks, and Ant's Eye View - Kristy was working as a Social Media Marketing Consultant and completing her MBA at Willamette University. She maintains a social media blog and can also be found on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.