Whether you’re running a company, working in a marketing department, or making your way as a freelance writer, you need content. You need to regularly research new topics and output new material to grow your brand awareness. The modern internet is basically a content arms race — the more you can produce, the more eyeballs you’re going to capture. Fortunately, with automation and the right tools, you boost your productivity in content marketing.
Step 0: Navigating Content
The content explosion we’ve seen is a bit of a double-edged sword. More content is available than ever before, but the growing mass of information and social media buzz can make it difficult to find valuable content on any given topic. In particular, raising awareness about your brand or product and making it stand out on the web is increasingly difficult.
Despite the difficulty, content marketing is a great way to grow a business, as I have pointed out previously. But with so much noise out there, how do you make sure your content is visible to your target audience?
Here’s where automation and software come into play. With the right tools, you’ll be able to navigate through the maze of modern content and carve out a niche for you and your business. For the purpose of this article, I’m assuming you have already identified a niche and a target audience, and your goal is to understand this audience better and engage it in conversation through your content.
Step 1: Understanding the Field
The first step in the content creation process is understanding the field you’re entering. You need to know who is writing about a particular niche, what they’re saying, and what kind of audience is receptive to the content and sharing it.
You can solve both of these tasks using resources like Ahrefs or Buzzsumo. These tools are advanced trackers which allow you to:
- Track particular keywords in a search engine.
- See search volume based on location and other details.
- See what people are sharing on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
- See what kinds of questions people ask on Quora or Reddit.
Conducting this analysis will allow you to see what keywords are underserved — that is, where there is high demand in terms of searches but a low supply of content meeting that demand. Use this strategy to find phrases, keywords, and topics to write about. You’ll be able to download reports in spreadsheet form and then analyze them further either manually or with data science tools. For example, let’s say you’re running a gaming blog and want to write about gaming laptops. By looking at Ahrefs to find underserved content, you can see quickly that content on MSI and Asus Gaming laptops is lacking. This could be a great story angle for your own content.
You should also make use of Google Trends, a free tool that allows you to compare how the volume of various search queries changed over a given period of time. This tool can provide a useful first step to checking what’s trending.
All in all, this first step is a fundamental phase in which you build a list of keywords, and in particular underserved keywords, which are relevant to your brand. The next goal is to make these keywords into headlines and then stories.
Step 2: Prepare Headlines and Story Angles
The next step in content creation is to prepare headlines and choose angles for each story. You want to find something unique about the given piece of content that is both underserved and also coherent with the brand that you’re building.
Usually, content managers handle this job, and this step is also the hardest to automate. You can extract some headlines from Ahrefs or Buzzsumo, but it’s up to you to determine how to approach a particular story and what should be featured in it. For now, there’s no software that can build the structure of a text for you. Sometimes you can modify existing headlines to make them work for you. For example, you can look up article naming conventions for your niche and adjust certain words, like tweaking “9 Best Content Marketing Tools You Should Try in 2020” to fit your specific content. Sometimes, though, you need to invent everything from scratch.
By researching what your competition is writing about, what people are currently searching for on the web, and what industry-specific topics are relevant on Reddit and Quora, you will be able to find and then fill gaps in coverage. Once you’ve developed the headlines and angles, you’re ready to begin generating content.
Step 3: Content Generation
Once you’ve got your keywords from step one and have ideas for particular stories from step two, the next step is to write them. You can consider various options at this stage depending on your individual budget, speed, and scale. Note that these options are only if you don’t want to create content yourself, which would be another strategy you could employ.
The cheapest option is to find writers on one of many services for freelance work. Currently, the most popular are Fiverr and Upwork, and both work well when it comes to writing. You can choose from numerous writers to choose from to suit your needs, and you can find both individual freelancers or agencies as well.
If you want to work with a larger team of writers on a more consistent basis, you should use a content curation software like Curata or Contentful. These allow you to organize your content creation efforts in a single place so you can track your content calendar, see who’s working on what, and publish pieces on a schedule. Be aware, though, that this is a more expensive option than hiring freelancers directly on Fiverr or Upwork.
Another option if you’re on a budget or you just want to scale your content creation by creating thousands of texts quickly is to use AI tools. Current machine learning solutions are still not perfect and won’t replace copywriters in general, but they can boost your productivity by a lot. Moreover, thanks to templates, you’ll be able to use one form to create dozens or hundreds of texts out of it. Often you just have to upload a spreadsheet with your data, create a sample text with one example to function as a template to be able to iterate the process over all the other rows, getting content at scale. For example, traffic or weather news reporting is automated this way. The most advanced solutions on the market right now when it comes to AI-assisted writers are Arria NLG and Contentyze.
Step 4: Correction and Distribution
The final step in content creation is correction and distribution. Grammarly is a great tool for scanning any text for potential errors. Moreover, it will give you suggestions on style and allow you to check the content for originality. Making original content is especially important to make sure it’s positioned high in search engines.
To that end, don’t forget about SEO optimization. Making sure that all the necessary keywords from step one are in place is crucial to make your content easier for readers to discover. You can give SurferSEO a try for automated SEO suggestions. Alternatively, you can delegate SEO tasks to freelancers just like you did with writing. Fiverr and Upwork feature plenty of SEO experts too.
When it comes to distribution of content, CRMs like Curata or Contentful can do the job, by allowing you to create complex content schedules. Alternatively, you can also use Hootsuite or Buffer to help you with distribution on various social media channels from one place.
Making Content Marketing Work
All in all, each step of the content creation process can be fairly well automated or delegated with the right tools. From the point of view of your brand, what’s most important is creating a coherent, long-term content strategy that guides you in choosing what topics to approach and how to create that strategy on a macro level. Once you’ve got a strategy, micro-level content creation — from researching to writing to distribution — is much easier to automate.