Selecting your content marketing topics

The enemy of any writer or content marketer is the empty sheet of paper.  It taunts you with its blankness, telling you that your last idea was, in fact, your last idea: you have nothing more to give.

Or you have ideas, but have no idea whether anyone will want to read/interact with/donate to them.  Here are some tips to get your focus.

Check what people are searching for in your market.  Yes, keyword research: it’s not just for search engine marketing any more.  Check out what people are looking for around your issues and see if you have content to match (that has calls to action around the content.  You aren’t just doing content for charity.  Actually, you are.  But you know what I mean).  

Also, search for some of these terms yourself. You will likely see some search terms where the person who searched for that item probably didn’t find what they were looking for.  You can be what they were looking for.

Conversely, you’ll find that some of the content is pretty darn good.  If you can’t improve on it, don’t tackle it in the same format.  But if you see that the blog posts are good, but there are no videos on the topic, then a video it is.  We’ll talk a bit more about media tomorrow.

Check what people are searching for to find you.  In your Google Analytics or equivalent, you can see how people came to your site and what they searched for.  This can be illuminating.  I worked with one nonprofit that went through this analysis and found that most people that found them through search were looking for one of their tertiary services — one that they rarely talked about or promoted.  What’s more, their content on it was scattered incoherently throughout their site.

Working together, we centralized their content into one coherent page that then linked out to the various locations where this service could be found, making it much easier to find.  We also increased the fee for this fee-for-service part of their mission, figuring that good marketing could increase participation.  That was, in fact, the case and that part of their mission now accounts for a more substantial part of their revenues.

Look at what content has worked in the past.  A peek behind the Direct to Donor curtain for a moment.  Since starting this, I’ve written over one hundred blog posts.  Yet two of these blog posts, The Science of Ask Strings and Anchoring, Ask Strings, and the Psychology of First Impressions are responsible for more than 10% of the traffic to the site.  In my world of topics, ask strings are Gladys Knight and each other topic I write on is a Pip.

pips

So while I continue to write on various topics to diversify, I will likely be returning to the topic of ask strings sooner and regularly.  In fact, I’m looking to collect enough content on the topic to do my first white paper.  And what better topic than one that I know readers will appreciate?

Likewise, look at what people are clicking on in your newsletters and in social media.  While this won’t get you outside of the types of posts you’ve already been doing, it will help you find some guaranteed crowd pleasers.

Embrace content fractals.  If you really have a serious case of empty-page-itis, try rereading some of your previous strong efforts.

My theory is that every paragraph in a blog post could be its own blog post.  Take the “Now, start up your email newsletter” post I mentioned yesterday.  Obviously, starting up an email newsletter could be its own post (and will at some point).  One of the points in starting your e-newsletter will be choosing who your newsletter is from.  This idea of an online persona can make for its own post (in fact, I’ve talked about it in my post on liking as an influence point).  In it, I refer to the success of the Obama campaign in using different people for different ask.  Hey, that would make for a great topic about the success of the Obama campaigns and the lessons we can draw from that!  One of those lessons would be selling goods associated with your organization as a list building strategy.

And so on.  When you think you “don’t have any good ideas,” look at your previous content and dive deeper into one of your important points.  My post tomorrow is on the best type of content for each media type.  In writing it, I realized there’s a place for a whole post on each content type and what works there.  If these content marketing posts prove popular, expect that to be coming down the pipe.

Repurpose your content.

  • Three blog posts = an enewsletter.
  • Nine blog posts = white paper.
  • One white paper = one slideshow
  • One slideshow slide + verbiosity = blog post.
  • Your boss who loves to talk about her favorite program your nonprofit does + camera = video.
  • Your enewsletter + editing = donor newsletter

And so on.  People mind if you rip other people off.  People don’t mind if you rip yourself off.

Ask.  There’s a reason I’m writing about my process for writing, even though I feel I have a long way to go: people asked me.  There’s also a reason why I ask people to email me at nick@directtodonor.com or hit me up on Twitter at @nickellinger: I want more ideas for content.  There’s a rule for complaints that for every one person who complains, there’s nine more who didn’t.  I think suggesting content is the same way: if someone wants it, ten people probably want it.

Take from recent or upcoming events.  I personally try to stay counter-programming, but there is a great deal of content created about things like a new Star Wars movie, the NFL Championship, and Donald Trump to try to stay topical.

Now that you know the topics for your content marketing effort, how will you take advantage of it?  Tomorrow, we’ll talk about media and maximizing your topic advantage.

Selecting your content marketing topics

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