But I’m no expert in…

I know I’m always talking about doing content marketing to prove you’re an expert at what you do, but a lot of people ask how they can do content marketing when they’ve only just started their business.

My response is that you must know something about it, otherwise you wouldn’t (shouldn’t!) have chosen to start a business doing it, so you’re already way ahead of most of your readers. If you don’t yet have people asking you questions to give you ideas of what to write about, look at your competitors’ sites. What are their FAQs? What sort of comments and questions do they get on their blogs? Or check out BuzzSumo.com: what articles in your field are popular?

But you don’t have to be an expert in the field to write about it: I currently ghost-write blogs for clients on all sorts of subjects. I know very little about internet security, I’ve never arranged a wedding or gone on a campervan holiday in Scotland, but I write blogs about all of them. So how do I go about it?
Online research

A few years ago I’d have had to spend hours in the library trawling through books and newspapers, or on the phone trying to get people to talk about the subject. Now I just thank God for the internet. It’s amazing what you can find out about if you ask the right questions [says the old-timer who still has shelves full of expensive reference books. I find the whole concept of the internet – freely-shared information – truly awe-inspiring. And most of the information is pretty accurate].

Working out what questions to ask gives you a good idea of the key words and phrases you should be using when you write your content. And maybe subjects for future blogs. Write them down and keep them somewhere handy.
It always fascinates me what a difference changing one word can make to your search results. You get a completely different list of suggestions if you look up “planning a wedding” rather than “organising a wedding”, for instance. Both might be completely valid options for the content you’re going to write – and they’ll give you ideas of how to write it from different angles at different times. A Theme with Variations, if you like.

Sometimes the answers take you down a rabbit-hole where you waste hours following up cross-references and getting nowhere (that happens with dictionaries and encyclopaedias, too, of course. And maps…). Usually, though, you end up sparking a really good idea and start writing on all cylinders.

So don’t think of research as a chore. It’s fascinating and fun, as long as you allow enough time for it. I look forward to doing it even for what feel like really dry subjects, because once I get started, and they begin coming to life, they don’t feel so dusty any more. You gotta love research.

Do you love research – or loathe it? Share your insights below…