By Georgina Walls
When the pressure is on to write something of value blank pages are scary. I was told time and again that idea generation was key to getting started but, being new to the approach, I’d compare myself to other writers, panic and rush into research.
My process of developing an idea was messy and unmethodical. I put my content through a lot. The therapy was expensive.
That was, until I discovered that with the right strategy, developing ideas can be the most enjoyable part of content writing.
Follow the steps below and learn how to create powerful, compelling ideas that help you smash out great articles in no time. You might even sway your client to hand you more work with a tantalizing display of valuable concepts.
So, let’s get started.
Step 1: Profile Your Client’s Audience
Understand your client’s audience and you’ll know the type of copy that will be valuable to them.
You’re a detective (Stalker?!), analysing information from the audience’s websites, social media posts and behaviours to reveal facts that will help you generate customer-centric ideas.
Whether your client is B2B or B2C, you can use the following questions to reveal facts about their audience:
What are their objectives? What are their main values and attitudes?
They could be a corporate company, an SME with a friendly vibe or individuals who fit into a specific group; new mums for example. This information helps you shape the tone of your language.
Then it’s time use your magnifying glass to dig deeper.
What are their pains? Their perfect buyer experiences? What do they value most and what is their vision of success?
This allows you to look at your client and ask, “How is my client going to provide solutions to their audience’s problems or help them achieve their goals?” By creating a profile similar to the example below, developing your audience profiles will be a breeze.
Golden rule: Your client’s audience must BENEFIT from the information you’re providing to drive engagement. Use your profile to generate ideas focused on solutions to their pains.
Step 2: Understand the Buyer Stages of Your Client’s Audience
There are three different stages, as HubSpot (gods of inbound and content marketing) explains:
- Awareness Stage: Buyers in this stage will visit your blog, interact with your social content.
- Consideration Stage: Buyers in this stage will visit your product pages, benefits or features pages, and “About Us” or area of expertise content.
- Decision Stage: Buyers this stage will visit pricing pages, case studies, and “Contact us” pages.
It’s crucial that you take these stages into consideration when generating ideas. Why? Say you’ve done a profile for a client’s audience and you have some great ideas.
You have a mixture of opinion pieces and opportunities to capture exactly what your client is offering.
But wait…how would someone just looking for information react to your topics? They seek knowledge to satisfy their curiosity, not a hard-sell.
If you focused solely on an audience at Consideration Stage, you risk alienating an audience at Awareness Stage. You’re taking away the opportunity for your client to secure new leads by doing this.
Spend time working out the stages of you client’s audience to counter the above. Do this well and you’ll notice how it affects the tone of your writing, the language you use and the types of topics you develop.
Golden rule: Balance your topics with different buyer stages to widen engagement and instigate new lead opportunities.
Step 3: Create an Editorial Calendar
Finally, the fun part! You’ve implemented awesome tactics to get the answers needed to create brilliant ideas. Now spend thirty minutes unleashing all those thoughts onto paper.
Leave them, and head over to Excel to create your editorial calendar. HubSpot has super useful templates to use and I’d recommend categorising your information like this:
- Article synopses
- Audience stages
- CTA (Call to Action)
- Start and due dates
This will make your editorial calendar clear and concise; an excellent reference for when you’re planning your articles. Square up your raw ideas in the calendar and you have a database filled with magic to confidently lead you into planning and writing your content.
It should look something like this:
As a timeline, it will also keep you accountable and on track (take your deadlines seriously to avoid the stress from playing catch-up).
Golden rule: For idea generation chill with your timescales, especially if it’s your first project. Pick up a pen (or keyboard) and enjoy using your creativity to develop incredible ideas based on your profiling.
Step 5: Take it back now y’all
Step away from your editorial calendar. I repeat, STEP AWAY.
Do the cha-cha slide. Make a delicious meal, put your legs up and watch TV. Treat yo’ self for all that hard work.
Come back to your calendar with a fresh mind. This is the perfect opportunity to perfect your titles, ensuring that they promise a benefit for your client’s audience if they read the article (increasing its value).
Golden rule: Regard your calendar as work that your client WILL see. It’s possible that they’ll want to peruse your ideas and your plan for their content. Ensure it’s mistake-free and easy to read to uphold professionalism and clear accessibility. Your client will love this show of authority, increasing your chances of securing more work.
The world of content writing awaits!
Your writing might be incredible but copy is hollow without a valuable idea. Follow these stages to create ideas made of GOLD DUST. Your client will declare your name in adoration over the millions of voices begging to know more about their products or services.
Well… it may take a while for that to happen but you’re on the right path if you follow these four simple steps:
- Profile your audience
- Understand your audience stages
- Create an editorial calendar
- Leave it and come back again
You see, creating ideas isn’t so scary. Or perhaps you were never scared at all (you machine). Either way, try using this strategy to painlessly give birth to your copywriting concepts.
Just like me during idea generation, you could rise from vomiting pointless ideas to developing valuable works of art. You may even be amazed at how much you learn and (hopefully) enjoy the process too.
Have YOU got another strategy that works just as well? Or other tactics you like to employ? Do share; I’d love to hear more.