10 tips for content development

Content development is an important part of any content marketing strategy, whether it’s for a website, blog, or social media platform. In this post I’ve listed some of the most important things I keep in mind when developing content. The list is far from exhaustive, but provides a useful baseline from which to begin.

1. Know your audience

This will determine many things, including the platforms, words, and other media you use to tell your stories. By identifying or defining your target audience, you’ll know the kind of language, visuals,and references that will resonate with them, helping you to create content that they will find useful and engaging.

2. Be consistent

This can apply to any number of things from the frequency of posting to the tone of voice. If you commit to posting a new blog post once a week, do so. If you want your content to be engaging to a wide audience, don’t fill it with specialised jargon. Whatever your decision is, be consistent about its delivery.

3. Have a style guide

Is it internet or Internet? Are headings sentence case or title case? What’s the policy on using acronyms? Following on from #2, having a style guide can help with consistency. For example, if the guide covers what style of bullet list to use, then it’s not something that’ll have to be reconsidered every time a post is written. It also means that these lists will always appear in a consistent format. This provides a more user-friendly experience for those who engage with your content on a regular basis, and just plain looks better.

4. Write a catchy (but accurate) headline

While it is important to make headlines search engine-friendly and get in those keywords, it’s also important to ensure the headline is true to the content of the piece. It can be really irritating to click on a link and find that it is nothing like what was promised by the headline.

5. Avoid creating a wall of text

Walls of text can be intimidating and hard for the eye to navigate, so it can be useful to break up a text-heavy piece with suitably placed sub-headings, bullet lists, or paragraph breaks. Another option is to add other media to accompany the written text and illustrate your story in a different way. Images, infographics, videos – these are some of the potential avenues through which you can deliver content. This is actually one of the areas I aim to improve in my own posts across the rest of the year.

6. Give yourself enough time

Writing content, taking images, creating videos – this all takes time. It’s not something that can or should be rushed. The ideal would be to have at least one day to reflect on content before posting it, but this is not always possible, especially in the case of social media, where immediacy is often necessary. Even with social media, though, it is possible to forward plan some level of content delivery and then schedule enough time to make that happen.

7. Keep an eye on what’s happening around you

Current events, what’s happening in your location, annual ‘days’ or ‘weeks’, what’s trending on the likes of Twitter – all of these can help spark ideas for stories or highlight ways you could contribute to ongoing discussions.

8. Get permission to use images

If you’re using images that have come from a third-party source (for example, Flickr), ensure you have permission to use it. If the image has been released under a Creative Commons licence, that’s great, but it’s still important to check the terms of the licence. Have you properly credited the creator of the image? If you’ve cropped the image, is that allowed under the terms of the licence? In New Zealand, the folks at Creative Commons Aotearoa have created some useful resources explaining the different licences and how these can be used.

9. Check your facts

This may be a case of doing some extensive searching online, speaking to an expert in the area, or cracking a book. Whatever your method, it is important to ensure that facts stated in content you create (or that you sharing) are actually correct.

10. Remember the importance of good spelling and grammar

Mistakes happen, but it’s important to minimise them where possible. Whatever review process you have – ideally, that would involve a second pair of eyes – strive for correct spelling and grammar. No matter how good the idea is, if the delivery is poor or filled with mistakes, it runs the risk of turning people away and diminishes the effectiveness of the content.

These are just some of the tips I’ve learned from my experience with content development – what are yours?

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