The 3 Questions to Answer Before Writing Content
The top 3 questions to create content that is focused, purposeful, and ultimately valuable to your audience and prospects.
Before you take the deep dive into writing your own content from scratch in a way that avoids pulling your hair out in the eleventh hour of work, here are three big questions to answer before you put your fingers to the keyboard.
That way, you avoid these big content mistakes while staying focused on your content’s bigger purpose that educates, connects, and builds trust with your audience.
Question #1: Whom Am I Writing To And Why?
The first and most important question is all about figuring out who you are going to serve. If you don’t know whom you want to read your content and why they would care, then your content will lack purpose. Without a clear purpose, content ideation will become difficult, but your readers won’t see its relevance.
To define your audience and the purpose of your content, think about who will get the most value out of reading your work versus trying to go for a huge audience. Finding your niche is crucial to building connections and engagement with your readers, even if the niche is tiny. Because ultimately, 100 engaged brand loyalists are way more powerful than 1,000 followers.
Yet, many people are afraid to commit to a niche because they don’t want to exclude anyone from their writing. But by being too general, they inadvertently take the focus out of their work as the purpose becomes blurry. We encourage you to focus on your specialty rather than being a generalist and hone in on the exact people and topics that provide the most value.
One of the best ways to go about this is to create a customer persona. We recommend keeping it simple with personas rather than going down the rabbit hole and getting too specific. Instead, start with one persona you want to focus on and boil it down to one concise statement like:
“My content is intended to serve ___.”
Fill in the blank with your audience; for example, “My content is intended to serve busy professionals.”
You don’t want to be so broad where you say, “My content is intended to serve people,” or too specific such as, “My content is intended to serve midwestern college-educated suburban mothers that make $60-75k between the ages of 30-35.” All you need is the adjective and noun.
Question #2: What’s My Voice and Tone?
Nailing down your voice and tone is about finding your content’s unique perspective. For instance, if you are writing on behalf of your company, your voice and tone will be much different than if you are writing for your personal brand.
A quick exercise that will help find your voice and tone is to create a do and don’t list. Write down a list of appropriate words for your brand and a list of words that are not. Then, write down a list of personality attributes that your brand exhibits, and a list of attributes that it does not.
For example, “Brand XYZ’s voice is clear but not curt.”
Finding your unique voice and tone will ultimately ensure that you are delivering your message in the way you want your brand or message to be perceived. Make sure to include your brand’s voice and tone in your brand guidelines.
Question #3: What Can My Users Take Away?
If you are investing time in content, then there should always be a clear takeaway for readers.
Of course, one of the takeaways will always be value but think about your customer journey and marketing flywheel. Think about it like this:
- Is there a natural progression to your content that your audience needs to read in order?
- Are there action-items or to-dos that you want your readers to do once they close their computers?
- Do you want readers to learn more about a product or service, or maybe contact you for a consult?
What do you want your audience to do after they read? Be clear and always provide the next steps in your content. If you’re unsure, go back to your content’s purpose, why are you creating content in the first place?
Content should always be mutually beneficial; if you’re providing valuable content, it’s ok to ask for something small in return. What do you want that to be? Is it a follow? A like? Scheduling an appointment? Purchasing a product? Write down what the exact next steps are in your brand guidelines.
Once you find the next steps in your content, craft them into well-written call-to-actions and add them to every piece of content you create.
Make Your Content Stand Out From the Crowd
Content is a powerful tool to build trust with your audience, connect with your customers, and improve your conversions. Creating content from scratch is a long-term investment that will pay you dividends for years to come.
But content seems overwhelming when you don’t have a plan.
By thinking about these three questions, we can clear out the fog and make your writing more approachable and impactful amongst the exercises we mentioned.
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