A content creator is responsible for providing information and material across any platform or channel. They usually target a specific end-user/audience in specific contexts. A content creator can contribute any format: blogs, news, image, video, audio, email, social updates, and other related content.
Before you can make a content creator a real career, understand the requirements and habits in becoming the best.
The Truth About Content Creation
The truth is that content creation is not everyone’s cup of tea — it’s not just about throwing together a pretty quote. However, once you know what makes a successful content creator, you’ll be able to follow the path down to the principles of successful content creation.
You know what they say — behind every piece of viral content is not luck, but, rather, a strategic content creator who understands marketing and the brand.
Types of Content a Content Creator Can Make
1. Uber Pillar/Category
An uber pillar is a resources page listing that displays (and links to) content on a particular topic and includes at least one piece of pillar content in the listing. This is the category page for that specific content cluster. It should include not just the links to related content on that topic but some content as well. The content is not presented just in chronological order but is designed to feature the evergreen content of each pillar.
2.Pillar Page/Hub page
A pillar page is a piece of premium content that lives all on-page, typically between 3,500-4,500 words long. It is aimed at a large search-volume keyword topic, and a linking strategy between that main topic and at least 8-22 subtopic pages is required.
3. Resource Pillar/Guide
A resource pillar is an article that links to and displays content on a particular topic. This is distinctly different from a category page, as a resource pillar can include internal and external content. In addition, a resource pillar is great for group content around a particular topic.
A content series is a collection of at least 2 articles that targets the same short-tail keyword. The structure of the post titles is typically “[Keyword]: [Blog Topic]”. It can be a limited series or an ongoing weekly / monthly series (i.e. “marketing news of the week”)—each article in a limited series links to the previous and next article in the series. Ongoing series are usually grouped in a tag for easy reference and grouping.
An article that is at least 1,500 words long and provides an in-depth view of a particular subject.
A short article defines a term and aims to get a SERP listing on Google.
An article made of a list, usually with some extra detail to each item.
A variation on a lists type of article, with a small introduction that summarizes the key information and a list of valuable examples that reflect the application of that information.
A step-by-step solutions article that guides the reader and gives instructions to achieve a particular outcome.
A functional content asset that is used to achieve a certain function or solve a pain point.
A downloadable or linkable document that users can download to solve a specific pain point or process.
A feature in a CMS is used to organize articles based on Entities, i.e. people, places, events, things, and subtopics.
How to Become a Successful Content Creator
These habits are the ‘secret sauce for content creators that does a lot than just get viewed or liked. Instead, it gets shared, circulated, and boosts the marketing of a product. And it all begins with how successful content creators approach the work they do.
Through each of these five habits, we’ll give you five actionable steps that you can take to start creating your successful content in the manner that professional content creators do already.
1. Read widely and deeply
It may seem like it’s a good idea to get deep into your niche and industry — and, to a certain extent, that’s true. But why not go for all the details?
Successful content creators understand that the creative process takes time, ideas are not confined to only one space in the industry.
So they’ll indulge multiple spheres of gathering the right prospects and information, use the cross-pollination of ideas to help them look at a piece of content in a whole new way that can align according to brand.
Reading both widely and profoundly allows your brain to form new neural pathways and connections that look for patterns and similarities between ‘niches’ or ‘industries’ that might not, on the surface, look like they’re connected.
YouTubers Jesse and Kong, masterminds of multiple million-dollar channels, call this the ‘Remix Strategy’: Creating viral, share-worthy content by putting a fresh spin or ‘remixing’ the contents from a new frame of reference.
Step 1: Create a feed system
Whether you’re relying on an RSS feed or an app like Feedly, you want to create a reliable stream of two or more sources you can hit up for diverse news and trending articles.
You can also organize and order the content on social networks by subscribing to ‘Pages’ run by publications such as the New Yorker, Medium, The Atlantic, or BuzzFeed.
Step 2: Block off official reading time in your schedule
Content creators are particular with their time — and this includes time set aside for reading. If you have to get up an hour early, do it. If one needs to get into the office earlier than their colleagues, do so. This should be time roped-off, as though it’s a meeting: non-negotiable and recurring.
Step 3: Use Twitter to search for conversations
Reading widely and deeply is also about understanding customers’ and audiences’ reactions, voices, and comments along with the news within your niche and outside of it.
Use Twitter’s hashtag function more often to search for relevant conversations so that you can understand audience’s/customers views and voices.
Step 4: Use long-tail search words to find related articles
Use a Chrome extension like ‘Keywords Everywhere’ to help suggest terms for new searches. This not only helps you understand what your audience is searching for. But it can also help you find new and related content, which will definitely help in marketing.
Step 5: Keep a ‘reading’ journal (digital or analog)
Reading is not a passive activity. For content creators to benefit from these above practices, you need to ideate, summarize, or review the articles you’ve read or content you’ve consumed.
The best way is to keep a ‘reading’ or ‘commenting’ journal. It can be as simple as a GoogleDoc, where you paste a link and share your thoughts about it. Or it can be an analog journal where you ideate and create a few concept maps based on what you’ve read so far.
2. Write as a practice
When Sean McCabe set out to diversify his hand-lettering business and use podcasting to essentially build what he envisioned as a multi-channel ‘network’ known as ‘SeanWesTV,’ he had no idea what he’d be spending so much time doing actually was writing.
In his podcast episodes (number 39) titled, ‘No Really, It All Starts with Writing; he found that building a habit to write was key to his success as a content creator. This, coming from a graphic designer and hand-letterer who, apparently, thinks in doodles.
And as he continued to write, Sean was so convinced that it formed the basis for all other mediums — that he ended up creating a ’30 Days to Better Writing’ mini-course specifically designed to improve the quality of writing and to help others build this habit.
Step 1: Set a goal to write for the year
Content producers can’t follow through with anything without an actual, specific, and tangible goal.
Having a plan for the year helps keep you motivated because anything you write for your audience can further complete your goal.
Step 2: Identify your optimal hours to write
As part of creating content, content creators ideally want to set aside a particular time to write each day. But, of course, you’ll also want to spend a week or two vettings when your energy levels are highest.
Remember that this is a creative and brain-intensive activity that goes hand-in-hand. While physical muscles can often be put to use again after a period of rest, the brain has a cap on focus.
Step 3: Brainstorm the various mediums you want to work in
Remember that writing forms the basis for all other content types. Thinking of creating case studies? These begin with writing instrumental, high-quality ones.
For reference, people reading new york times will be a different target audience while someone who creates content on social media will be a different audience.
Step 4: Create a ‘Content Calendar’
Once you’ve brainstormed the mediums or platforms that you want to focus more on, such as your publication/blog, you can create a content calendar.
For example, let’s say it’s August and you’re planning for September. You’ve decided that you want to create four videos in September, releasing one video a week. In August, then, you’ll chunk out the days you’ll spend scripting these videos, which will then allow you to organize production days.
Voila! Now you have a reliable stream of content that started with consistent practice.
3. Create but also curate
To become one of the successful content creators, who are lean and strategic with content development efforts, it is important to see what’s working and what’s not before you produce more of that content to come up with new ideas.
But how do you fill your brand feed in the meantime?
Successful content creators understand that being online means content is temporary. The target audience tends to skim through posts, scroll quickly through feeds, double-tap and move on.
But while you’re figuring out what content is working and what deserves a re-think, you’ll want to keep your feed like your own website’s owned and earned channels, i.e. Facebook, with consistent content.
Curated content, then, does two things: it helps you provide resources, and, on an individual level, it allows you to create relationships between you and your target audience. This attracts a lot of people who are actually interested and position you as a thought leader.
Step 1: Research your niche
Begin forming this habit by researching and finding five to ten related brands and businesses/companies with a steady flow of their original content using industry news. These can be direct competitors or those who have related brands or businesses/companies.
For instance, if you’re working within the brand design space, you may share another brand designer’s post on design fundamentals.
Step 2: Identify what your target audience craves more
Ideas are useless without feedback. Set up tracking or a dashboard system that allows you to get real-time feedback on how the audience interacts with your curated content and what is most popular.
Understand the type of voice they love to hear or read. Again, it is crucial for someone new to the process of creating content.
Step 3: Build an actual editorial calendar for curated content
It’s the first rule of thumb for any content creator: editorial calendars. Having an editorial calendar can help you figure out when the last posting was done and when a reasonable amount of time has passed for you to post once again.
Step 4: Value add
Curating content works best when you use it to add value to your brand. Do so by adding your take on things, asking a question to your audience network, sending newsletters to your subscribed email address, and then actively engaging with the conversation that picks up.
This will definitely help a content creator in connecting with the audience in a better way.
Step 5: Track the kinds of curated content that worked
Once again, you’ll want to set up a time to either check in on the metrics of your curated content or use an analytics suite to track your brand’s performance. Keep a timely check on what sorts of posts or videos does your audience engages with. Hence, you can help your business generate more ROI.
4. Stay curious — the secret to content creation
The four habits above will help you understand what it takes to create stellar content and how to become a content creator in this business.
But what about the ‘how’? Content development is an ongoing activity that calls on specific tools and processes.
So how do you go about developing successful content?
Step 1: Use tools
In your ongoing process of successfully creating content for your brand, start with a source for ideas for your brand. Three specific tools that can help you are – an about page, NewsWhip or Digitizer. Additionally, you can also take help from relevant industry news, which can provide facts and statistical data about people, companies, and other things that will enhance your content.
Step 2: Specialize in one or two content types (to start)
The sky is the limit when it comes to the number of content types you could work in. Especially if you have a great idea, it might be tempting to re-work it across several formats.
For example, posts that did exceptionally well might also operate as infographics, case studies, Youtube videos, etc.
But, in the beginning, pick just one or two mediums to cross-purpose content. This will help you become an expert in the business and build an actual following on the platform. With your experience, you can then create various pillar and cluster content.
Step 3: Using social media networks, product reviews, and customer service surveys
Use these three sources like an evergreen goldmine of feedback, ideas, and already successful blogs. Customer service surveys, in particular, are the most effective form of sourcing for content development and marketing strategies. These given content creators unique insight into a customer’s pain points, product expectations, and experiences — which is a crucial foundation for reaching out to the audience.
Amazon product reviews are also a great resource to mine for ideas on what the audience and marketers are looking for, what resonates with them, and what product they’d like to see more of. Social media is a great platform to reach out to your audience and marketers directly. Many social media apps can help you interact with the audience.
5) Importance of delivering refreshing and quality content
If you want your brand audience to stay with you throughout your posts, you need to add some refreshing elements to grab their attention and maintain the connection throughout. However, creating quality content is not as hard as it sounds.
Step 1: Keep it updated.
If you add outdated or irrelevant information to the topic, your customers/audience might lose interest in the content altogether. Therefore, it becomes vitally important to stay updated about your industry and avoid adding outdated information to your content.
Step 2: Expand your vision.
Proofreading your content is beneficial to remove errors and recognize incomplete or inaccurate points that might hinder information flow. Hence, try to edit such issues from the content and add interesting facts, figures, or statistics to make the data more precise, accurate, and eye-catching.
Step 3: Reformat if needed.
The content delivered to the users should be easy to understand and use. However, if the format of your content seems too fancy or dull, the user might face issues understanding it or staying connected to it. So, make sure that the formatting of your content is in line with your target audience.
Step 4: Refocus on your content.
The content should deliver the information easily and be delivered in a manner that aligns with the perspective of the topic. If it seems irrelevant, try to work on it from a different standpoint that makes more sense.
The five tips in this post will form a good approach to the entire content creation process. The role of a content creator is to provide creative information from the world around them. Then turn those into effective ways of ideating, developing, creating, and sharing content with the audience.
Each time you start a content creation project, take the time to review each of these habits and see if you’ve executed them. Of course, you may not hit all five patterns at once, all the time, but it’s an excellent mountain to set your eyes on.