Everyone knows that the content creation process is a fluid one.
Your business is constantly changing and evolving, so the marketing materials you are creating needs to be flexible enough to do the same.
But what a lot of people don’t realize is that this also extends not only to your marketing message but the design you’re using to support it.
Why Design is in the DNA of Your Content Creation Process
For the sake of example, let’s say you’ve just used a service like Respona to research hot-button issues in your industry.
You’ve settled on the perfect topic for a blog that you know your audience members are going to love. Naturally, you sit down and get to writing.
You spend hours crafting this eloquent piece and then you start designing the blog itself. You pick your images, you manage your structure. And something just isn’t working.
You picked the right topic and you poured your heart and soul into bringing it to life. What went wrong?
It is simple: you started thinking about design far too late in the content creation process.
From the moment you figure out what you are going to write about, as you are formulating ideas for the eventual text, you need to think about how that text is going to look on the page.
While you’re still outlining, you need to carefully consider font sizes and color choices and page layouts.
You should already be looking at the pictures and other visual elements that you can use when you’re creating the finished product.
If you do all of your writing first and then start to focus on the design element of it all, that visual design is only going to feel like an afterthought.
Those pictures and other visual materials are only going to get in the way of the points you were trying to make. They’re only going to hurt you at that point, not help you.
Because the best content marketers – the true leaders in the space – know that design is just as important as the point you’re trying to make.
That’s why these two ideas cannot be at odds with one another like this. They have to work together and they have to do so from the start.
Note that these are rules you should live by regardless of how “easy” a piece of content seems during the content creation process.
Yes, using a Venn diagram generator seems like a pretty straightforward procedure in that you’re just trying to visually compare and contrast a few basic ideas.
But even when you feel like that Venn diagram is “done,” set it aside for a few hours and come back to it. Does it still make the impression you were going for?
Is the “thesis” statement that you were trying to reinforce just as true now as it was when you started the process?
Has the ultimate message you were trying to convey changed and thus, the design of that Venn diagram now needs to change with it?
Even when you open up a flowchart maker like Visme (which I founded), this is still true even when the piece of collateral you’re going to end up with includes a bare minimum of words.
If anything, that evolution of visual design is more important when you don’t have words to underline the point you’re trying to make.
Above all else, you need to be thinking about A) how the message you’re trying to convey influences your design, and B) how your design, in turn, impacts what message you’re trying to convey.
Both of these concepts are two sides of the same coin – they need to work together to form something far more effective and elaborate than either one of them could be on their own.
You could have a great message but without the right design, the impact of your collateral will be lost.
The reverse is also true. If you have a great design but don’t have a genuine message at the heart of it all, your efforts will come off as hollow.
Content creation is beautiful.
It is how everything gets started in the world. It is how legal formalities are set, how organizations are built, how growth is propelled, how multi-platinum hit singles are created and how record-breaking box office movies begin.
This is why I appreciate writing and content creating so much.
I get questions like these all the time, “How do you find the time to write so much?” or “I would love to create content, but my mind is so busy and I get overwhelmed, where do you even start?”
Truth is, we have it at our fingertips with mobile technology. This is how ideas are generated, believe it or not, and now, they could be generated at any time throughout the day.
Here are 5 unique ways to generate content
1. Find your water.
I have always wondered why we all love to have our getaways in places near large bodies of water or to be in places near the beach.
Well, there is research and science that explains why. Our brains respond positively to the sight of large bodies of water.
It turns into a low powered-meditative state where our eyes are able to follow the flow of the waves of the ocean as well as listening to the consistent sounds of the water flow.
This does not need to be a large body of water, it could be as simple as a lake, river or even jumping in the shower.
The flow of information in our brains becomes much faster. Dr. William J. Nichols, a marine biologist, put the science together about why we positively respond to the sight of water in 2015, called Blue Mind. A very worthwhile read.
2. Keeping with trends.
Keeping with trends involves reading, reading, and more reading.
This also includes understanding what is in traditional news as well as what is being talked about, written or discussed on digital platforms.
For instance, in 2016, there was a major shift in really gearing content to focus on mental health awareness. One that continues to today.
In 2017 other than crypto-currencies, the subject of Artificial Intelligence was at the forefront. In 2018, this discussion has moved into a more specialized niche such as Blockchain technology.
This is just a few examples, but a great way to gauge this to keep a pulse on digital platforms.
Market research is very important. Google Trends, for instance, is a great way to see what is being searched.
What this means, is that people want to know more about that certain subject and understanding more of the details. Topic Research is another great resource.
To generate any ideas for any form of content creation (content creation that is more than just writing), it begins with understanding what the market (in this case, readers) are looking for.
Follow digital platforms, digital media publications and even have a few alerts set up on your phone from some of your favorite publications and writers once a story is published.
You could really customize this portion. The more you follow and read a bit more, the more your mind will start coming up with a few ways to either respond to the piece. Or even begin the process of putting a different angle towards a general topic such as mental health.
To be great at anything, practicing is the underlying habit. Practice and repetition is the path to mastery.
Content is readily available around you and many influential and professional writers, videographers and marketers utilize those platforms so that you could reverse engineer and understand their craft.
In turn, you would better understand their fundamentals and work it to develop your own style.
This is why you need to think about design at every step of the content creation process.
Your content is fluid and if you’re too rigid in your design choices, you won’t have the flexibility you need to really strike that emotional chord with your target audience members.
At that point, you may as well not be working so hard on creating marketing collateral at all.
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Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.