As a writer, it’s easy to believe you’ve got plenty of experience and skill under your belt when you’ve done it for years. However, each type of writing requires different approaches and strategies. Content development is not as simple as sitting down and putting words on a page. Rather, it’s a series of steps that allow you to write a piece that engages the exact audience you’re targeting. Content development combines marketing, research, and writing to produce pieces that stand out in a world overflowing with written information. Here are 5 steps you’ll want to take to master successful content development.
Step One: Research Your Client
If a business has done its job, it has established a tone, style, and brand. All the content created for a business should match that voice. Nothing is more jarring than varying styles, which is why consumers appreciate the fluidity. When a voice has been well-done, it’s becomes familiar, like listening to a good friend.
Before you develop the content, go read some pieces and get a general sense of how a business presents itself. What narrative do they use (first, second, or third person), and what format or common nuances are there? Does the business use a lot of citations to back claims? Do they like quotes from industry professionals? Do they like bullets, lists, or subheadings? Go as far as to look at the grammar. Jot down anything of note, and work to match the voice of the business.
It never hurts to check out the competition as well. Look at what others in the industry are doing. Don’t hesitate to ask a client questions to clarify why they do something the way they do. The more you know, the better your content will be.
Step Two: Learn Client Strategies
Content development is often based on strategic information. For example, many businesses create buyer personas and can tell you who their target audience is. You should know a client’s goals; what do they want the content to do, and who they are speaking to? Each piece of information will give you more insight on how to approach the content. Think about it: you’d talk to a teenager very differently than you’d talk to a senior. With content development, you’ll approach each audience in a different way. In essence, you’re “learning the language.” Keeping the overall purpose in mind is essential as well. You’ll create content differently when you’re trying to lead someone down the sales funnel than if you’re trying to give helpful information. Make sure you also understand the type of content you’re writing. A blog will be very different from a whitepaper.
Step Three: Let Your Creativity Loose
One of the greatest challenges of content development is designing something fresh, new, and engaging. The only way to do this is to let the creativity loose. Find inspiration through research. How have others written about a particular subject, topic, or idea? How can you do it differently, or in a way that makes it specific to the business? Find a focus, write an outline, brainstorm: do anything it takes to develop content that stands out.
Step Four: Polish With Top-Notch Formatting
Presentation is every bit as important as the words themselves. How can you make an idea stand out? Some of the best content developers/creators have powerful ways to make the content “pop.” Consider bolding key concepts. Write alluring subtitles. Harness the power of bullets. Do what it takes to draw the reader's eye all the way through the content.
Step Five: Read One Last Time and Fine-Tune
Taking a break and then doing a final read through is an excellent way to ensure you’ve done your best. Look for a few things on that final pass:
- Is the content free of errors?
- Does the piece flow?
- Does it match the voice of the business?
- Is the formatting right?
- Have you gotten the point across clearly and succinctly?
- Is the piece engaging and fresh?
- Do you support your main ideas or focus?
- Does the title match the content?
Content development is a process, but when done well, it can be an effective tool for businesses. Take the time to go through the proper content development steps. If you do, you’re far more likely to have successful content and happy readers.