Rule number 1 of content creation is not to be afraid to write. Fear, as Frank Herbert said, is the mind-killer. But it’s hard not to get an eency bit freaked out when some well-meaning “marketing guru” such as myself says “write an ebook.”
I mean, it’s got that scary word “book” right in it. Most of us would never dream of presuming to write a book. Famous people write books. Geniuses write books. Your Ernest Hemingways and Erik Larsons and JK Rowlings and Ursula LeGuins. It feels like an act of magic you aren’t capable of.
Well, calm down. Writing is just organized thinking set to paper. So anyone can do it if they just have the right method to get their thoughts in order and then follow through on writing. And since long-form content creation is a cornerstone of the inbound marketing methodology, it’s a skill you need to cultivate in yourself or a team member.
What to Write About
So you’ve decided to write an ebook. Now comes the hardest part: what’s it about?
This isn’t arbitrary, and it’s the most important step. You can do everything else right, but if you picked a weak topic, it doesn’t matter how fantastic your content is; nobody is gonna give a single, solitary hoot.
But picking the right topic, and then going and doing a bangup job putting it together will mean you’ve created a valuable content piece that is gonna net you leads for years to come. So how do you decide?
Well, it’s a matter of figuring out what your ideal customers are looking for. Utilizing high-powered keyword research tools like SEMRush, Google Keyword Planner, or Keywordtool.io can help you figure out what your customers are googling around for. Now, don’t worry so much about exact keyword searches; those don’t matter so much. But pay attention to their topics and how often they’re being searched for. If you see someone coming up again and again and again in different forms, it means that that’s content people are looking for.
So what does that look like in practice? Let’s say you have a commercial landscaping business, and you’re trying to drum up more business through content creation. In your keyword research, you’ve seen a lot of search terms revolving around “landscaping ideas;” stuff like “landscaping models,” “landscaping examples,” “creative landscaping,” and more. People are looking for help thinking of a creative direction.
So, what you want to focus on is developing content that answers that intent. And this model applies to any content creation model; figure out what people are looking for, and be the answer.
The Road Map
Rad, so you know what you’re writing about. That’s the tops. Killer-diller. High five. I knew you could do it. That means it’s time to just dive in and start typing whatever pops into your mind like a man/woman/enby possessed, right?
It means it’s time to sit down and start planning. Maybe you haven’t done this kind of outline since high school. Maybe you never have. But you should, because it gives you mile markers as you write to help you make sure you’re hitting essential points in a way that makes sense and serves the reader.
Your outline doesn’t need to be anything fancy; just write down some basic ideas or points to touch on in roughly the order you want to proceed. That helps you to ensure you aren’t forgetting anything, and having a road map makes the writing process a heck of a lot less intimidating.
Drafting & Revision
Now’s the time to dive in. Put your head down, put some jams in your ears, shut out the world, and write. Honestly, do whatever it takes to make sure you work. Reduce or remove distractions. Dance for a few minutes. Do yoga. It doesn’t matter. Just get it down.
The hardest part of writing is staring at that little blinking cursor. It’s mocking you. It knows you’re a fraud, a liar, a talentless hack that can’t do anything. Take that blinking cursor as a challenge and get it to shut up by typing literally whatever comes to mind. Just start thinking on paper and meander your way to your topic. You can fix it up later after you’ve already got a fantastic ebook underneath this rambling introduction.
After you write, make sure you give it a thorough read through. Have a friend or fellow team member give it a solid pass to check for mistakes. See if your points hold together. Make sure it’s accurate. Trim it down. Get super nervous and antsy over it.
Do not distribute a first draft.
Name It Something
Don’t worry about being clever. You need to focus on being clear. Go back to your topic; what is the question you’re trying to answer? The best way to make sure your content shows up in search is to make sure it’s the answer to a question. If your customers are all googling things like “how do you make an awesome casserole” try calling your ebook “How to Make the World’s Best Casserole.”
Ok, so you’ve put a lot of time and resources into this thing. So what do you do with the friggin’ thing?
At the bare minimum, blast this mofo on social media and promote it on your website. Host it on a landing page, and then tweet about your launch, tell people why it’s worth reading, write a blog post – whatever it takes. Put links to it everywhere it makes sense, everywhere you think your audience would find and respond to it. Stick it in your email signature if that’s what it takes. Put out a press release.
In other words, do whatever you need to do to get it out there in the world where it can do you some good and generate leads for you full time
You can learn more about how content can be used as a marketing tool by checking out our free ebook Marketing with a Magnet.