What to do Before You Work on Your Content
What to do Before You Work on Your Content

What to do Before You Work on Your Content

Knowing what content to create for your audience doesn’t have to be a mystery. You just need some time to do a little research to help you figure out what they need, what you need, and what you’re capable of creating content around.

Then, of course, you need a content strategy. But not before you do the pre-work.

This week on the podcast, I’m sharing three things to do before you take the time to create any content. Before that next social media post. Before you record your next podcast. Before you do that next video.

This week is part one of a 7-part series on minimum viable content marketing, the content that every business should have in their marketing strategy.

Mentioned In This Episode


Welcome to episode 165 of The Content Experiment Podcast, a podcast that supports the idea that content and marketing are ever-moving targets in any business and it’s okay if you don’t feel like you’re doing it ALL right, ALL of the time. You have permission to experiment with little tweaks and changes in your content to find what works for you, what increases value for your audience and what grows your business. And most importantly, what feels good for you.

I’m Abby Herman, content strategist and consultant for online business owners who are ready to make a bigger impact online and CEO and creative director of The Content Experiment, a content marketing agency that offers full service content marketing and podcast management.

I firmly believe that success isn’t about what big marketing brands and so-called gurus think is the right thing; it’s about you and your business. Your lifestyle and, frankly, your values and belief systems.

You get to do business in a way that works for you.

This episode is part one of a seven-part series to help you develop a minimum viable content marketing strategy. Every other week for the next 14 weeks, I’ll be talking about what this can look like for you.

On today’s episode we’re talking about the pre-work. What to do before you start planning out your content strategy. Because without this pre-work, it’s hard to know what to create.

Then, in future episodes, we’ll talk about:
Pillar opt-ins to grow your list
Welcoming new subscribers to your list
Nurturing those subscribers and staying in front of them
Creating pillar content that you own
Using social media to stay visible
And what to do to attract new audience members to you outside your own content

As each episode publishes, I’ll be compiling a Spotify playlist so you can go back to the series again and again. You can find that playlist at thecontentexperiment.com/MVCPod. Of course, today there’s only one episode in the playlist, but we’ll add each new episode in the series as they go live. So save the link and tune in!

Are you new to the podcast? Welcome! I work really hard to make sure this podcast is full of no-nonsense support to help inspire you to get your message out there and give you the actionable steps you need to make it happen so you can get on with business your way. If you like what you hear, hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss another episode.

If you’re a repeat listener and you haven’t already left a rating and review, I’d be so grateful if you’d hop over to your favorite podcast app and do that. Ratings and reviews are what help tell Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, and all the other platforms (and me!) that you like what you’re hearing. And it helps to get the podcast in more earbuds…so others can benefit from the information I’m throwing down on a regular basis.

One of the biggest challenges that business owners have when it comes to content marketing is not knowing what content to create for their audience. Do you feel the same? Like you’re staring at a blank screen, just wondering what the heck to publish for your audience right now?

There are three things you can do as background research and brainstorming to help you get started with figuring out what to create, when, and where.

And this goes for any kind of content, by the way. Whether you’re a podcaster like me or you have a YouTube channel, maybe you’re wanting to get more active on TikTok or you’re trying to connect with people on LinkedIn. It’s important to do these three things to prepare yourself for content creation.

I have a video that walks you through two of the three parts of the pre-work that I’m going to share with you, and some examples and structure. If you go to thecontentexperiment.com/prework, you can get the video and a downloadable worksheet to go along with it.

First, know your goals. Exactly what do you want to accomplish in your business and with your content. Are you launching something in the next few months that you need your audience to know about? Are you trying to build more awareness around one specific service or product? Do you have a message that you just have to get out there to your audience?

There should be a reason behind why you’re creating content in the first place. And I have to say…general visibility is NOT a reason to publish content. Lisa Simone Richards did an interview on Amber Hawley’s podcast, The Easily Distracted Entrepreneur a few weeks ago where she talked about this. I’ll link to it in the show notes. But essentially, she shares that the content you create on your own platforms is for nurturing the people who are already following you. And it’s so true. It’s so hard to get noticed online simply from publishing content. YES, having your own original content is incredibly important. But that’s not the way to get straight visibility.

After you know what you want to accomplish with your content, you’ll want to know what your audience needs and wants. For this, I recommend you survey your audience. I’ve talked a lot about this on the podcast, with my interview with Marcus Sheridan about his book They Ask You Answer in episode 134. And also on episode 144 about why you need to survey your audience.

But essentially…asking your audience what their challenges are around what you do will help ensure that you’re delivering what they want and need. I recommend going through my free Ask Your Audience challenge to get all the tips and templates I have around surveying your audience, but some big things to consider are:

Only survey a hand-picked selection of people. You don’t want input from your entire email list or your followers on social media. I go into why in the challenge.
Be sure to ask them their favorite way to consume content. This will help you determine whether the pillar content you’re creating is in the right place. And if you’re not getting much attention on, say, your YouTube channel, would you be better off publishing something else, like a blog or a podcast? (This is actually how I came to have a podcast in the first place!)
Though you’re collecting information to help you determine what content to create and where, remember that the survey is about your audience and their challenges–it’s not about you. Again, I go into this more in the Ask Your Audience challenge you can access at thecontentexperiment.com/ask.

Once you know your goals with your content and you know what your audience needs and wants, you can put all that knowledge and information into a format that allows you to easily develop and keep track of your content topics.

I call this your Zones of Genius. This is part of the video and downloadable worksheet I talked about earlier in the podcast. I share some examples of different business types and what their potential zones of genius might be. I talk about zones of genius on episode 138, which I’ll link to in the show notes.

But essentially, your zones of genius are the big topics that align with your business goals and that you can talk about over and over again without running out of things to say. Your zones are your big, table of contents-type ideas.

When you’ve done the pre-work, identified your goals, surveyed your audience, and mapped out your zones of genius, you’re ready to dig further into minimum viable content marketing, the minimum I think any business should have as part of their content marketing strategy.

In two weeks, in episode 167, we’ll talk about opt-ins and list growth, then we’ll talk about your welcome sequence, nurturing emails, pillar content, social media, and the content that you don’t own or control.

And all these episodes will be part of a Spotify playlist that I’m compiling and adding to as the episodes go live. That’s at thecontentexperiment.com/MVCPod

As with anything you hear relating to business growth and development, it’s important to take what works for you and leave the rest. I’m sharing what I know to work for myself and for clients, who are mostly online, service-based, or digital product-based businesses in the wellness or education industry. If you find that something simply doesn’t work for you or you’re not sure how to implement it, please reach out! Let’s get on a quick chat at thecontentexperiment.com/chat.

If you found value in what you learned here today, be sure to share it on social media. Take a screenshot of the episode on your phone and share it over on Instagram stories. Tag me at thecontentexperiment. The more you share, the more we can get the podcast into the hands of more business owners, just like you, who need to hear the message that they are not alone.

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