10 Habits of Top-Notch Content Creators

    by Pamela Vaughan

    Date

    January 10, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    top notchBecause content is such a core part of inbound marketing, the modern marketer has to possess (or develop) a very important ability: content creation. Whether it's in terms of blog posts, ebooks, case studies, or other marketing collateral, pumping out content not only at a high frequency but also at a high level of quality is a critical skill every marketer should hone. Do you have it?

    Have no fear! With consistent practice and determination, you too can possess the qualities of a kick-ass marketing content creator. Let's discuss what those qualities are and how you can hone them.

    10 Qualities of Top-Notch Content Creators

    A top notch marketing content creator...

    1) ...Sets & Adheres to Deadlines

    With the fast-paced world of inbound marketing and the requirement to publish new content frequently, setting deadlines is a must. Setting deadlines elicits a sense of urgency and helps you and your contributors manage time and get stuff done.

    How to Hone It: Create an editorial calendar, and stick to it. For other contributors, set expectations and deadlines for contributions up front. For example, at HubSpot, every marketing team member is required to contribute 2 blog posts per month, and each member is designated two weeks during the month when each post must be submitted. For other content projects like ebooks, set a deadline for when the content must be completed.

    2) ...Is Goal-Oriented

    Effective content creators don't only set deadlines; they also set goals. They set goals in terms of publishing frequency and the results of their content creation, and they keep those goals top of mind throughout their content creation efforts.

    How to Hone It: Set goals that address both frequency and results. How often do you want to commit to publishing to your blog? Once a week? Once a day? How many ebooks do you want to create this quarter? These goals should relate to your results-driven goals, such as how much traffic and leads you want to generate from your content creation efforts. How many blog posts do you need to publish to achieve these goals? Likely, lead generation makes up a big chunk of your content creation goals. Be sure to add calls-to-action to every piece of content you create -- blog posts, landing pages, ebooks, webinars, etc. -- to let you achieve your lead gen goals.

    3) ...Relies on Multiple Resources

    Awesome content creators are resourceful, both in terms of human resources and informational resources. They encourage teammates to contribute content, and they know where to find information, data, and statistics to fuel their content machine.

    How to Hone It: Get your company on board with blogging and content creation, and motivate them to contribute. Interview industry thought leaders for your blog. Load up your RSS reader with websites and blogs pertaining to your industry so you can stay in the know (and open up the potential to jack the news). Incorporate data and statistics into your content to make it more credible and compelling.

    4) ...Pays Attention to Details

    Great content creators are detail-oriented. It's one of the qualities that separates the wheat from the chaff. They know that spelling and grammar matter in marketing; they obsess over the perfect titles for their blog posts, ebooks, and webinars; and they don't sacrifice quality for quantity.

    How to Hone It: Don't overlook the power of details. Something as simple as the title of your blog post could make or break its performance. Be sure that every piece of content you create is proofed for grammar, spelling, and readability. Optimize the formatting of your content. Spend the extra few minutes to add internal links. Pretend you're a perfectionist.

    5) ...Never Runs Out of Content Ideas

    One of the hardest parts of producing a ton of content is idea generation. In a recent Twitter chat we hosted on blogging and content creation, idea and topic generation was one of participants' biggest challenges. While even the most seasoned content creators often struggle with idea generation, they know just how to overcome it, finding inspiration anywhere and everywhere.

    How to Hone It: There is no shortage of tips for how to never run out of content ideas again. Consult and use them! Create a backlog of content ideas, dabble in content curation, think about a topic from a new perspective, load up your RSS reader with other blogs in your industry and regularly refer to them to spark ideas -- the possibilities are endless!

    6) ...Thinks Like an Educator

    Fantastic marketing content creators think like educators. They seek to teach their prospective customers with content so they're better informed and can make more qualified purchasing decisions -- ultimately making them better customers! They publish thought leadership-driven content in addition to their product-focused content.

    How to Hone It: Use your content as a way to get found in search engines (by optimizing it with your keywords) and generate leads for your business. Create content that teaches rather than content that pushes. Focus on topics related to your industry, not your products.

    7) ...Balances Quality and Quantity

    Killer content creators understand that they need to find a delicate balance between quality and quantity when it comes to content. While you need to frequently and consistently publish content in order to climb to the top of search engine results pages, search engines -- and your audience -- will also ding you for poor quality content.

    How to Hone It: As a general rule, this will mean different things for every business. For starters, you'll need to conduct an audit and identify what high quality content means for your business and your audience. What has performed well, and what no so well? This post will help you get started consistently creating high quality content, and nixing the not-so-good stuff.

    8) ...Keeps Customer Personas in Mind

    Content creators that stand out are those who keep their ideal customer(s) in mind as they create every piece of content. They stick to addressing the needs, wants, and problems of their best customers to create content that truly caters to the right audience for their products/services.

    How to Hone It: Focus your content on addressing the problems, needs, and wants of your ideal customer(s). If you haven't already done so, spend the time to craft accurate marketing personas that demonstrate your best customers. As you create content, think, "Would this topic be valuable to Customer X?" If not, it's probably not worth creating.

    9) ...Thinks Like a Publisher, Too

    Smart marketing content creators also know that they need to take off their marketing hat and step into the shoes of a publisher.

    How to Hone It: Check out this blog post for starters. Much of the information there discusses stuff we've already mentioned in this post, but by adopting that publishers' mindset, you'll be one step closer to harnessing the habits of awesome content creators.

    10) ...Uses Data to Measure & Improve Content

    The kick-ass content creator is driven by data. He/she not only regularly measures blog performance, but also uses those insights to inform future content creation efforts.

    How to Hone It: Track your blog analytics on a regular basis to identify how different types of content are performing. Is one topic more popular among your blog readers? Does another get significantly fewer views? Is your conversion rate going up or down? Then make decisions based on that data. If the takeaways aren't so obvious, consider conducting some A/B tests on such elements as calls-to-action, layout, etc. to optimize blog performance.

    What other qualities do top-notch content creators exhibit?

    Image Credit: Thelonious Gonzo

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