A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Content

Well Said Content Guide
Creating content is the heart and soul of your business. It’s where the rubber meets the road and establishes you as an authority in your client’s eyes. Create super awesome helpful content and your clients will sing your praises and share, share, share. Fill your site with salesy, self-promotion all the time and your clients will be running as far from you as they can. People tend to see right through content that’s all about you and not helpful to them.

I’m sure you’re freaking out right now aren’t you? You’re saying, “What do you mean I can’t promote my business all the time? It’s my website, my ideas, my business, I should be able to create what I want when I want.” Here’s where I tell you NO in big capital letters. It’s not that you can’t ever create content to promote your business; you simply need to limit the self-promotion. Think of the 80/20 rule here. Your content should be balanced between 80% not-about-you-helpful-content-for-your-clients and 20% self-promotion for your business.

Now that we’ve gotten the golden rule out of the way, you’re probably wondering, what should I write about? How do I start creating content that my clients will love? After all, not everyone finds finance sexy. Well, we here at Well Said do of course.

What should I write about?

Writing takes reflection and absorbing the world around you. Ideas can come from anywhere and anything. The best method is to put yourself in your client’s shoes and think about what topics they’d be interested in. Consider what stage of investing or wealth management they’re at. For example, creating content for a 60-something Baby Boomer would be different than content for a 40-something Gen Xer.

Consider taking notes during or after client meetings. It will help you understand your clients and what content they’d benefit from. Even better, simply ask them at the end of each meeting what their concerns are and what they would like to learn more about. People always love to talk about themselves, so get your clients talking and helping you with creating content.

Creating Content: Where to find ideas

Ideas surround us every day and there’s a never-ending supply of what to write about between the news, current trends and industry topics. But, if you’re like me, you may have a million of them come at you all at once, and where do you keep them archived? Ideas come to me at the most inopportune times, such as while walking or driving in the car, which can be frustrating. I recommend always having paper and pen handy, or your phone to snap a photo of an article in a magazine. I’ve been known to snap photos of a magazine article while in the hair salon.

#1 The Ideas File

Keeping all your ideas for content in one place is a smart idea. When you’re looking for an idea, everything is at your fingertips and in one place. It’s up to you how you file your ideas, but you have options. If you’re like me, you may have multiple ways to file away your ideas. I’m part old-school paper and part new-school tech. Whatever works best for you, go for it!

A few ways to file and come up with ideas:

Evernote

Is the perfect digital tool to keep all your ideas in one place and across multiple devices. You can create a notebook for each topic or medium that you’re writing for. I keep notebooks for Blog post ideas, Newsletter ideas, Blogs/Articles to read, Writing trips and tricks, Quotes and more. On the basic freebie plan, Evernote allows you to keep your notebooks across two devices (I chose phone and desktop), or for a small fee you can upgrade the number of devices to include your laptop.

Good old file folder system

Yes, I still do this! Call me old fashioned but having a regular filing system for ideas still works. You never know when you’ll find a magazine article or newspaper story that you’ll want to cut out and keep for ideas. Printing off online articles is also a great idea as sometimes the online versions disappear once the content has been out there for a while.

Bookmark folder in web browser

Do you do most of your reading on the web? Tired of emailing yourself links to articles you’ll get to later? Well, your new best friend should be Bookmarks in your web browser. Most browsers will sync over the cloud to multiple devices, so no matter where you are creating content, your inspiration Bookmarks folder will follow you. Sure, you could use the web clipper feature in Evernote, but I personally find it rather clunky and prefer the quick access of links in a browser where I do all my reading. The nice thing is you can create folders for anything, and keep as many articles as you need. For more pressing news articles that I want to “newsjack”, I keep a TO DO folder. Yes, complete with capital letters to indicate urgency. As an advisor, you should be keeping a folder specifically for all your industry publications and memberships in addition to other sources of valuable content and ideas. Since I’m a writer and most topics are finance related, I keep a Writing folder with sub topics like Finance Pubs, Investing, Budgeting, and I have a separate Post Ideas folder for each client I work for. You can get as fancy as you want or keep it simple.

#2 Mind Mapping

This is a fancy new term for brainstorming and can be done by yourself, or in a group if that’s your deal. So grab a paper and pen and get ready to generate some great ideas.

A mind map is a graphical way to look at ideas and concepts. It’s a visual thinking tool that helps structure information, helping you to comprehend and generate new ideas. The premise of mind mapping is to choose your word, idea or topic, put it at the center of the page and then brainstorm as many things that come to mind about that topic, linking each back to the previous by a line. There are no real rules here; you can use colors, pictures, or whatever helps you generate ideas. For more on mind mapping, check out these examples.

mind map creating content

Image from The Mind Mapping Site

#3 Check out the Competition

Sometimes you have to check in on the competition. Yes, your competition can be both a source of inspiration and what not to do. The key here is to take a look at what’s working and what’s not working for them. What content is getting likes and shares on social media from their clients?

It’s really easy to look at something a competitor is doing and want to copy it, but imitation never worked for anyone. A better way to build your business through content marketing is to use your competitor as inspiration only. You want your unique vision and voice to shine through, not your competitor’s.

When researching the competition, look at:

  • What’s trending?
  • What content is being linked to?
  • What keywords are top in your industry?
  • Who are they following on social media that you should be?
  • What influencers are they collaborating with?

The competition, especially the big guys, are always a good guidepost for where things are at in your industry. But remember to use them only as a guidepost, imitation will not get you clients.

Creating content can be fun, energizing, and allow you to give back to your clients. Sharing your unique financial planning strategies and business model will have clients sharing your content and wanting to work with you. Remember, be you when creating content.

In part two next week, we’ll discover how to keep your content fresh, inspiration for boring industries (yes, like finance) and getting the right content for your audience.

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