How smart people who are poor writers create great content

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

writing  |  Brand Journalism  |  Best Practices

I'm hearing much more these days about content marketing - something I've talked about for nearly a decade. It's kinda cool that something that I was once a lone voice in the wilderness talking about has gotten such buzz.

CIWC I wrote a book published by CyberAge Books in 2005 called Cashing in with Content. It was a decent book but with a crappy title because I didn't use "marketing" in the title so marketers had no clue what it was about. It didn't sell many copies. In fact my next book The New Rules of Marketing & PR (which is also about content marketing although I did not use that term) has sold more than 100 times the number of copies.

Content Marketing -- The New Rules of Marketing & PR -- is the idea that marketing on the Web is all about publishing great information that the search engines will index highly and that people will eagerly share via social networks.

Now Content Marketing is hot

Content Rules, a book by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman is selling like crazy (I wrote the foreword) while Joe Pulizzi has created an event called Content Marketing World that is expected to draw nearly 1,000 people (I am one of the keynotes). Wow. We certainly have come a long way.

Many people ask me about the best ways to create content. People say that they have good ideas but are not skilled writers.

Here are a few ways for smart people who are poor writers to create great content

-- Maybe the best form of content isn't text based.
You can create a video series. Or publish photos. Perhaps you can do some research and analysis and create an infographic.

-- For years I've advised that companies should hire journalists.
If you have a journalist on staff, she can help create content for you by drawing on your expertise. Note that I don't advocate "ghost writers" but instead a journalistic approach to a story of interest about what you do. I call this brand journalism.

-- Talk your ideas through and then transcribe the results.
Another approach that works well for those people with expertise but who are not good writers is this three step process:
1) Have someone interview the in-house expert and record the audio of the interview. A good interviewer should be able to tease out some great content in a half hour conversation.
2) Then have the audio transcribed. I use a service that costs about $30 to transcribe a half hour conversation. Using Amazon Mechanical Turk you can get it done even cheaper.
3) Then, working with the expert, have a skilled editor work with the word file of the transcript to make an interesting blog post. Several interviews can be made into an ebook.

Don't let lack of writing skills keep you from creating some interesting content that brands you as an expert.

Thanks to my friend Alan Belniak for sparking the idea for this post.