07 - How to create great content
In this guide we take a look at methods for creating content yourself and properly outsourcing content to save you time.
Not everyone likes writing articles and content, but some people enjoy it. Others may feel that nobody else could write about their niche like they can. We are going to take a look at both methods here; writing content yourself and outsourcing content.
Planning Content Creation
Whether you are writing content yourself or not, it is essential to plan what content you will be writing and adding to your store. The main considerations in planning content are:
- Originality – not just rehashing what someone else has done.
- Usefulness – writing what people want and need
- Profitability – focusing on content that is likely to lead to sales
- Consistency – content that relates to each other and can be interlinked
In this guide I am going to use an store niche example of Exercise Bikes. First let’s clarify the considerations of content creation with the example.
Originality of your Content
You will find many articles on the internet relating to exercise bikes. In a quick review, articles mainly cover the health benefits of using an exercise bike, an overview of the different types and reviews of different models. I take a look on sites like Ezine Articles, Squidoo and Hubpages as well as competing sites and Google.
These are good topics and are obviously what people want to read, so there is nothing wrong with using these as a base for your articles. What you must do however is offer your unique spin on the topic and not just rewrite what other people have done.
In this example you could take a look at creating a health benefits focusing on different types of people. For example, young sporty types can get an edge with the extra cardio exercise; people wanting to lose weight can do so without stressing joints; suitable for older people as it can be gentle exercise; good for rehabilitating injuries due to low impact exercise.
The other side of creating original content is covering a topic that has never been done before. Using our example, here are some potential ideas:
- Exercising while you work – it could be possible (with some bike models) to use a laptop while gently pedalling
- Low Impact Exercise – Why exercise bikes are better than treadmills in respect of not hurting your joints
- Exercise Routine – A well planned out exercise routing for using an exercise bike with different goals i.e. weight loss, power, stamina etc.
This is about changing your focus from writing what content you think is needed to writing what content is actually needed.
Basically you need to get a good idea of what questions the people in your niche want answered. Are they confused over Jargon? Do they want reassurance it works? Are they worried about reliability of the product?
To get an accurate understanding of this, take a look in places like Yahoo Answers to see what related questions people are asking. You can also do keyword research to highlight what people are searching for in Google (see our niche research section for keyword research guides).
Here are some common concerns and questions relating to exercise bikes that can be used to create unique and useful content:
- Will XX exercise bike support my weight?
- Will an exercise bike tone my tummy/thighs/bum?
- Will an exercise bike make my legs muscly? (negative thing for women)
- Are the cheap exercise bikes worth getting? Do they break easy etc.?
- What is the best exercise bike for my height?
Profitability of your Content
Sometimes users may need answers or a problem solved in your niche that does not necessarily relate to a potential purchase.
Here are some examples:
- Someone looking for a lost manual for the exercise bike they already own
- Someone wanting information on fixing the bike (e.g. spare parts)
- Someone wanting manufacturer contact details
- People looking for exercise plans
While it is good to have any content on your site, consider prioritizing content that will more likely bring you direct sales. This is not to say all your content should be entirely focused on profit and sales, but gently lean this way. To illustrate the point here are some more potentially profitable topics:
- Comparisons of Exercise Bikes
- Descriptions of guarantees and warranties
- Exercise bike buying guides
All this being said, remember that people may be looking for a future purchase and will remember your site. They may also bookmark your store, link to you on a blog, recommend to a friend etc. due to your good content regardless of the potential profitability.
When you think of creating content, think of it as a set instead of individual pieces of content. You won’t be able to cover all topics in a single article so consider how they will link together.
A good example would be exercise routines. Different people need different routines depending on their goals. To solve this problem, create a single page with some overview information on exercise routines with an exercise bike and link to other articles on “Exercise Routine for Weight Loss”, “Exercise Routine for Athletes” etc.
Particularly when it comes to these related articles, try to ensure your articles are written to a consistent standard and preferably by the same person. This just ensures visitors get used to the writing style and quality of the articles.
Try to group content together in different ways, when they relate to each other. This could be sideboxes in your store or linking from another article like in the exercise routines example.
If you do not have the time to write content yourself, outsourcing is a good way to do it. Please follow these guidelines however, as not doing will undermine all your efforts:
- Quality – there are a lot of non-native English writers who do not do a good enough job of writing content. Check your writers examples thoroughly.
- Research – some writes will try to pan out articles with fluff and filler content, making the article a waste of time to read. Ensure research (as above) is part of the process.
- Word count – depending on what you are using the content for, set a word count as a way to price the job. For a standard article, 300 or 400 words is fine. Don’t limit your article however if there is more to cover on the topic (or split it into two).
- Content Spinning etc. – avoid methods that create content in an automated way. This will never produce the good quality content you need to succeed.
Finding people to outsource to is fairly easy on the internet now. My top recommended site for freelancers is oDesk.
As an employer, you sign up to oDesk and register a payment method. You can then post jobs to the community and receive offers from candidates (with their price and experience details). Once you review the candidates, ask them questions and decide you want to use one you offer them a job.
I typically give them a bit of a trial run to see how they perform and then give more responsibilities over time when i can trust them.
The great thing about oDesk is the way you can manage your workers. If you setup a per hour contract (you can also do it at fixed price) then they use the oDesk software to track exactly what hours they have worked. Even better, you can also see screenshots of their computer from regular intervals along with activity levels (i.e. keystrokes and mouse clicks) so you can check on exactly what they are doing for you.
This guide is about content, although in later guides we will explore how to get smart and outsource all kinds of tasks to freelancers – leaving you to concentrate on the important things.
The Final Word
Hopefully this guide has given you a good understand of how to create content for your store. The aims are to show you how to offer content with value (not just for the sake of it) and how to maximise your content creating efforts. In the next guide we will go over some more ideas for content creation to ensure you have plenty of inspiration for the long term.