One of my favorite things to do is talk shop — to talk about business, design strategy, marketing, getting clients, content, blogging, WordPress — and recently I got to do it again with Suzette Franck and Natalie MacLees on Media Temple’s WordPress Hangout, WP Unicorn Project.
I originally met both of these incredibly smart women at Word Camp Las Vegas. We stayed in touch through Twitter and I connected with Suzette again at WordCamp Phoenix.
Suzette Franck is Media Temple’s WordPress Evangelist and she travels to and speaks at a lot of WordCamps around the country. Natalie MacLees owns Purple Pen Productions, is organizer for WordCamp LA, and is a published author, working on the second edition of her book jQuery for Designers.
Now, about that hangout …
WP Unicorn Project Episode 13: Content Strategy
One of the things that makes the WP Unicorn Project Hangout unique, is that they kick off each episode with a recap and discussion about what’s going on in WordPress core — what’s new in recent release, what’s being working on now, what’s coming down the pipe, when the next release will be, etc.
This way, if you don’t have time to follow all of the details with core yourself, you can tune in to the hangout each week and get a quick overview of what you need to know.
Top 5 Content Tips
Next, Suzette leads us through their “Top 5” for this episode, focused on content strategy:
- Be consistent. Blog regularly and update your site regularly to stay top of mind
- Don’t get obsessed with SEO. Search engine optimization is important, but it should never come before writing great content for real people.
- Know your audience. You need to understand who you’re creating content for and whenever possible speak their language.
- Inspire curiosity. Create content that gives your visitors value and builds interest — content that inspires them to continue to learn, or take action
- Write what people want. Blogging for business isn’t about writing what you want to write about, it’s about writing what your audience and visitors want to know and learn about.
Now, A Little About Me
Then we get into the interview — and it’s not your typical stuffy, formal interview, but a fun and hopefully pretty entertaining conversation.
- We talk about speaking, why I love it, and where I want to speak next.
- We chat about the real stories behind the decision to quit my 9-5 and start Bourn Creative, how I learned web design in my kitchen, and how I created my first WordPress site.
- We discuss why WordPress very quickly became our tool of choice for building websites, why we chose to build our custom themes on the Genesis Framework, and why we use our own starter theme.
- I share why I didn’t want to blog, how I resisted it for years, what changed when I finally caved, why writing for our blog today is one of my favorite things to do, and why I’ll keep doing it as long as we’re in business!
With the personal background stuff out of the way, we dig right into content strategy and how to create content that produces the results you want.
For most entrepreneurs, the challenge they face with creating content is not knowing what to write. This stems from an even bigger problem, of not knowing who your site is for and what it needs to do.
There is no way to know what content you need to write and what it needs to say until you:
- Know who your site is targeted at / who your content will be speaking to
- Identify what you want people to do on your site and on each individual page
- Prioritize actions from most important to least important
Only then will you have the knowledge you need to craft effective content that speaks to and resonates with your visitors, and naturally guides them to take action. Only then will you know what content must be created to provide visitors the information they need to feel comfortable and confident in making the decision to hire you, buy from you, or learn from you.
When creating website content, be sure you provide content that helps visitors:
- Know and understand what do, what you offer, how you can help
- Like your work, like your perspective and approach, like you
- Trust you are really the expert you say you are and are qualified
- Convert and take action with ease
A Big Mistake That Drives Designers Crazy
Everyone wants to focus on design because it’s sexy!
Business owners will spend hours, weeks, and months on design, then bang out content quickly in a weekend. Or if their site isn’t producing the results they want, they’ll waste valuable time tweaking, changing, and revising the design of their site — when the problem isn’t the design, it’s the content.
In this part of the hangout we talk about the problem with clients who want to focus on design and not really focus on the content. We discuss the problems that come with the design first, content later approach to building a website, why it can sabotage your opportunity for success — and why it DRIVES DESIGNERS CRAZY.
- We get really honest and share that designers simply wouldn’t have any work to do if we didn’t start projects until we received finished content.
- We share some of the frustrations that are caused from a design first content approach — like the fact that often the content doesn’t match the approved design that was built out and programmed.
- I share the simple addition we made to our process to help clients create the content we need for the site, provide us their content in full, and provide the right content for their site design
While we’re lucky to work with great clients most of the time, no one has perfect client scenarios every time. In this part of the hangout, we also talk about a couple tricky client situations — like when clients disappear for weeks or even months at a time — and all the problems that causes.
Struggling With Content
To wrap up the hangout, we share some tips on writing website content, including:
- Hiring a copywriter — let them do the hard parts!
- Speaking your content — when writing we’re our own worst critics and we self edit like crazy. Instead, speak your content, transcribe it, and edit it. (As Seth Godin says, “Nobody ever gets talker’s block.”)
- Inviting a friend or colleague to interview you for each page on your website
I also share some tips for coming up with great blog post topic ideas:
- Head to a book store or Amazon and review the table of contents in books on the topic your blog covers. If they are important enough to be listed in the book’s table on contents, chances are, it’s important enough to maybe blog about
- Ask your audience! Ask in your email newsletter, on social media, and in person what people want to read about and what they want you to write about
- If people in your tribe are shy and you don’t get a lot of responses, provide them a way to suggest topics anonymously — some people have questions they want to ask, but don’t went to admit they need to ask them.
- Listen in and follow the hashtags for popular podcasts and radio shows in your niche — the questions asked will give great insight into what people want to know about
- Track the questions asked in industry Twitter chats — this is your audience telling you what to write about
- If you’re in a large coaching program or mastermind program, never miss a Q&A call — these questions may not be specific to your industry, but they will give you valuable insight into what your clients may be thinking and what they need help with
What Do You Think?
Don’t forget, if you haven’t yet watched this episode of the WP Unicorn Project: Content Strategy, click the button below to watch it on YouTube.
And please, share your comments and feedback below or on YouTube! We’d love to hear what you thought about the show.