Content creation: 4 questions to set the stage for success

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When a client gives you the green light to create content, it can be tempting to jump in and start writing immediately. You can shield yourself from stress if you take a quick minute to nail down answers to four key questions. These questions are so important that you probably aren’t ready to start drafting if you don’t have clear answers from the client.

By establishing agreement on these four points, your chances of success – and a happy client – are significantly higher than if you forged ahead without it. As a bonus, you can leverage the opportunity to provide input and advice, helping guide your client toward a winning content strategy.

  1. Who is the intended audience? What is their existing familiarity with the topic? Get as much detail about the reader persona as possible. If we’re targeting two or more personas, would it be wise to create multiple versions of the piece?
  2. What is the scope? What topics do we want to cover? For example, will this be a high-level overview of the industry or a detailed exposé about our product? This is your chance to nail down the preferred breadth and depth.
  3. What is the desired style? Are we aiming for a formal research-driven paper or something short and snappy? Discuss structural elements such as visuals, bullet points and callout boxes. Paragraph length and the overall piece should also be addressed. A conversation about style will likely be closely related to scope and audience: What is the best style for delivering our message in a way this audience will appreciate?
  4. What does success look like for this content? Is the content intended to establish expertise, get people to sign up for a newsletter, or provide an educational foundation? This is often a difficult question to answer, but serves as a valuable goal toward which the client and writer can move.

While setting these parameters won’t guarantee your first draft will be a slam dunk, it can minimize revisions. You might even consider including a summary of the agreed-upon guidelines at the top of your draft as a gentle reminder that, for example, the incorporation of several charts was a tactic we chose to resonate with our audience of time-pressed, article-skimming financial advisers.

How do you set the stage for success when you create content? Share your tips and techniques below.

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