How to Create Content People Want

by Joe Fontenot
This is an adaptation from my new book, Minimalist Marketing: How Entrepreneurs and Nonprofits are Reaching Their Audience Without a Marketing Budget.

How to Create Content People Want

Creating new content–whether it’s blog posts, videos, or ebooks–takes a lot of time and energy. One of the most discouraging parts of marketing is to create great content, and then have none of your audience engage with it.


And, unfortunately, this scenario is not uncommon.


On the other hand, one of the most rewarding feelings is to create work your audience does want. This article is about how to do that.


Start with their pain points

A pain point is the thing your audience is getting stuck on. It’s the problem that’s motivating them to search for a solution.


By thinking first about your audience’s pain, before you begin creating content, you start out creating something of obvious value.


You begin with a pain point in your planning. But you also do it again when you’re introducing the new content.


Take, for instance, this article. I know that many in my audience feel the need (and rightly so) to create content. I also know, from many conversations, that a lot of content creators get frustrated when their audience doesn’t receive their work. And so this article came as a solution that to that pain, and then that same pain served as the opener the article.


Make a list of your solutions

How can what you offer help them with their pain?


Not every pain point from your audience will be relevant to your work. And if you do try to chase down every one, your message and brand will become diluted.


Instead, you need to stick with what you can do best. The easiest way to get started here is to make a list of pain points, and then make a list of solutions. I’ll sometimes do this in Excel. But I usually just do it in Evernote. Wheneve a new idea hits you, pull out your phone and add it. The value here is that you’ve got a running list of content waiting to be created.


What triggers their need?

In journalism this is called the lead (or the lede if you’re a purist!). And it’s what grabs your audience’s attention.


The key to the lead is that it’s important. It is the issue or example that exposes the problem for what it is. When our target audience comes across a good lead in our content–such as a well written headline–they are compelled to stop and take a look. And that is the job of the lead: to grab their attention.


Depending on your audience and their attention span, you can do this by starting with a (very) brief story, or an example of a common problem your audience faces, or even by telling them of a struggle you personally have.


Pull it together one line at a time

This means, start with a controlling idea: What is the single point you want your audience to understand? Everything you create will support or flow into this central idea.


By basing your work on this single line, you’re able to cut a lot of the fluff. As novelist Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty and Out of Site) once replied about his success: “I leave out the parts that people skip.”


Make sure you’re leaving out the parts people skip. Get right to the good stuff. Your audience will thank you by engaging and sharing it.


Go create it

The real secret to creating great content is doing it over and over again.


Eventually, you find your voice or your stride. And for many who create content as an integral part of their business, this becomes a natural part of their day.


As a caveat: make sure you’ve got someone keeping an unbiased eye on it for you. It’s best if this is not an employee. It needs to be someone who cares about your business, but is not the one creating the content. A partner, or a trusted friend will work. If you don’t have this person, it’s easy to get off track.


What’s Next

For a lot of us, we’re experts in what we do–but creating the content to show that skill can be rough. If you need some help getting started, or want some feedback on what you’re currently doing, schedule a call and we can take a look and work through some ideas with you.