Elaine Thompson

Content Generation Tips for People Who Think They Can’t Write

By: Elaine Thompson | October 16, 2018 | 
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content

It’s no secret. Content is king in today’s fast-paced digital world.

At the same time, viewer attention is increasingly hard to get and hold.

But what if you are not completely confident in your writing skills?

Fear not!

There are many ways to create unique, engaging, SEO content—even if your writing is less than Hemingway-esque.

Single Word Brainstorm

For a lot of non-writers, beginning a piece of content can be the toughest part.

If the words don’t flow as fluently as you fancy, it’s time to find qualified help.

An online idea generator can be a godsend when you simply can’t think of anything. Type in your noun of choice, and it chooses a title for you.

Indeed, a very helpful tool to get your creative juices flowing.

Content Generation: Outsource

An easy way to enrich any blog or e-commerce site is to hire someone else to do the work.

Doing this can help free your time to work on other aspects of the site.

But outsourcing doesn’t necessarily mean employing a full-time writer if you don’t need one.

Even on a small budget, there are opportunities to hire freelancers who specialize in any niche.

LinkedIn is one of the best-known professional resources out there. And it has its own freelance search engine,  ProFinder.

Upwork is also a popular way to find experienced freelancers.

Plus there are the old standbys, Twitter, Craigslist, and Facebook.

You might be surprised at the number of well-qualified writers you can find on those sites.

Content Generation: Start a Blog

There are numerous high-quality blogs out there that don’t have flawless writing.

Blogs tend to be more conversational. So if you can tell an interesting story, people will tune in.

They’ll also forgive sloppy grammar here and there if the message is personal.

Getting personal allows passion and emotion to come out naturally, and readers connect with that intimacy.

If you’re worried about the mechanics, hire an editor (Grammarly has a paid tier that can connect you to an actual human editor).

Then, once you have your idea, just start writing—leave the spelling and commas to the proofreader.

Invite Guest Bloggers

In 2014, Matt Cutts, Google’s former head of web spam, wrote that guest blogging was dead.

Then, in May 2017, Google ran a blog warning about spammy links in guest contributor article campaigns.

This created a panic about how guest blogging might hurt site rank. Since then, that concern has been largely put to rest.

Google’s intention was to dissuade bloggers from abusing the technique merely for SEO, but using it is acceptable.

In fact, having guest bloggers isn’t just a way to generate new content—it’s also an excellent way to increase exposure, credibility, and yes, search rankings.

As long as the content is legitimate and follows Google’s guidelines, it’s another good arrow in the marketer’s quiver.

Conducting Interviews

Find an expert in your chosen subject, ask them engaging questions, and your content writes itself.

It’s also an easy way to increase your authority and credibility.

Hold a few interviews with major authorities in your industry. Doing this can help boost your reputation as an influencer covering that space.

This is a great strategy for time management as well. Using interviews as part of a series, you’ll only need to write the bulk of the questions once.

Then, you can easily incorporate these interviews into a social media campaign. Find a key quote from the subject and tweet it, or use it as a hook to lure readers to your site. Just be sure to link back to the full interview.

From a marketing point of view, this tactic is clever. Most likely, the interviewee will share it on their social media and website too, effectively doubling your exposure and reach.

Pare Down Words

Depending on your subject, you can rely heavily on images, infographics or lists, instead of just text.

The use of compelling images is an important tool in any content toolbox. And it makes your site more engaging.

People like to look at images.

Jeff Bullas, a top content marketing influencer, says articles with images receive 94 percent more total views.

And images are a good way to break up a wall of text, saving you from writing more.

The human brain likes shortcuts and processes visuals faster than text. That’s why we tend to love infographics.

A good infographic boils down complex data into visually digestible information. They’re linkable and shareable and should be part of your content strategy.

People tend to have short attention spans. Lists and their cousin, the listicle, are easy to write and Google loves them.

The search giant favors keywords in subheads over other places, and lists use a lot of those.

For the reader, they provide scannable answers to questions, quickly and easily.

Buzzfeed, probably the most successful purveyor of the list/listicle, logs nine billion views each month.

And like infographics, lists are easy to tweet, like, pin, and share.

Content Generation: Start a Podcast

According to Entrepreneur, one-in-four Americans listen to podcasts.

The human voice is a powerful tool. It conveys passion and emotion better than static words on a screen ever could.

Podcasts are cost-effective and simple to implement. All you need is a decent microphone and audio editing software like Audacity.

For listeners, podcasts offer convenient, on-demand material they can listen to anywhere without interference.

But more importantly, they’re available where people want them.

According to Pew Research, 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone.

And the U.S. Census Bureau notes that citizens spend over 100 hours a year commuting in their cars.

That’s a captive audience, primed and ready for mobile audio content.

To extend the reach of your podcast, socialize shareable media such as pull quotes, images, and soundbites across Twitter, Instagram, and your blog. People will be able to share and embed these and possibly extend your reach.

For SEO, be sure to add metadata to help interested listeners find your podcast.

Be sure to distribute via RSS feeds and email blasts, and submit to a podcatcher.

Incorporate Video

Done well, video is an incredibly valuable tool.

In the State of Video Marketing 2018 survey, Wyzowl found the following:

“Where both video and text are available on the same page, 72 percent of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service.”

Google says that “over 50 percent of internet users looked for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store.”

A 2014 study showed that one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words.

Now 2014 is practically the Stone Age in internet time, but even if only half of that is true today, it’s still a staggering figure.

Search engines love video just as much as searchers.

The 2013 Hummingbird update from Google gives priority to websites with quality content—including video.

Engage Your Users

It’s time to put the “social” in social media. Your content should be a two-way street.

People liked to be spoken with, not spoken to.

In 2013, the New York Times most clicked-on piece of content wasn’t some hard-hitting exposé, or a huge political scandal blown wide open.

Nope, it was an interactive quiz.

Content is king. Actually, Bill Gates wrote an essay on this back in 1996.

Now, Jeff Bullas says interactive content is the new king.

Quizzes, polls, and other types of active content which get your audience to actively participate with your site makes them stay longer and more likely to share.

It also helps your bottom line.

A Demand Metric survey shows “96 percent of study participants believe that content interactivity impacts buyer decisions as they go through their journey.”

The more you can learn about user preferences and tendencies, the more you can produce content tailored to your target audience.

The best way to get that info? Ask them. Polling readers and asking questions creates a sense of community.

Diversify Your Content Offerings

Give these tactics a try while you work on your content generation.

They’ll diversify your content offerings.  And keep a close eye on your analytics, too.

Chances are, you’ll see an upward spike in key attributes like your SERP rankings and reach, as well as your clicks and conversions.

You can create engaging content, all without needing to write the next great American novel.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

About Elaine Thompson


Elaine Thompson writes for multiple publications, including VentureBeat and MindBodyGreen. She is based out of Salt Lake City, where she lives with her two cats, Weasley and Omen.

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