How To Write About Unfamiliar Topics?: A Content Marketing Lesson
Content marketing can be incredibly effective for a brand’s overall marketing strategy when planned and executed well.
Even the most expert marketers working today will tell you it takes a lot of effort and trial-and-error to master the art of content marketing. In particular, content writing about foreign topics or ones with difficult subject matters can be the most challenging.
Those responsible for producing content for an organization — from full-time content creators to freelance/part-time writers — need to become the ultimate subject-matter experts on those products/services that they will be promoting so that they can write with authority.
Enhance Your Content Marketing SME in 5 Simple Steps
With all that in mind, let’s explore how you can write articles, ebooks, guides, and other essential marketing content on subjects with which you’re unfamiliar.
1. Research Your Subject
As a content marketing professional, not surprisingly, Google is your best friend. The search engine is the most popular one on the planet for a reason: it continually refines its algorithms to make searches as efficient as possible.
As HubSpot’s Corey Wainwright notes, your best bet is to find reputable resources through various Google searches — ones that are authoritative, insightful, and educational. The more in-depth, trustworthy sources you find on a given subject, the more likely you are to glean the right information (see: accurate and informative) on the subject.
2. Speak With Existing Experts
Whether you’re a part-time writer crafting blog posts for a few brands or a dedicated content marketing professional charged with owning a company’s entire content creation efforts, speaking with existing SMEs on a given topic is ideal.
Let’s say you need to understand the ins and outs of an enterprise software platform for a client/your employer, and you know little to nothing about it. While you can Google information about the platform, your best bet may be to chat with employees at the company to get first-hand knowledge on how they view their solution and want it featured in related content.According to marketer Alicia Thomas, you shouldn’t be afraid to connect with SMEs who clearly have considerable knowledge and expertise on a topic since getting first-hand information can help your content marketing efforts immensely.
3. Brainstorm Content Topics
After spending a substantial amount of time Googling a subject and speaking with those who know all about it, collect all of your findings to determine the most interesting angles to take on the topic. This is a subjective task, but one that’s essential to ultimately producing a piece — white papers, sales copy, etc. — that hits the mark and engages readers.
For example, if you’re tasked with writing blog posts related to the aforementioned enterprise software, think about how you can create enlightening and intriguing content that helps drive interest, and, more subtly, the company selling it. Ask yourself questions like:
- Are there specific product features/tools that I could highlight in a post?
- Could I produce a piece differentiating our solution from the competitors’?
- Should I explain how users can get the most out of the software?
The last thing you want to do is start writing content without knowing the objective of that content. So, be sure to allocate plenty of time to come up with content angles you’re confident will prove helpful to both your client/employer and their audience.
Also, think of the most basic angles to take with your initial batch of content on a subject and leave the “heavier” stuff for later. The Blog Herald notes doing so can help you gradually grow your SME and prepare for more in-depth topics.
4. Develop A Concrete Outline
It’s not just about narrowing down the most pertinent and interesting angles to cover in your content. You also need to break down the main talking points by section so your piece incorporates all relevant information. The best way to accomplish this is through an outline.
Sticking with the software example, you’ll need to ensure your content aligns well with your findings and general understanding of the solution (buyer personas, value proposition, and so on). If you’re writing a blog post, for instance, you’ll want to flesh out a handful of section headers that will provide the narrative/flow for that piece.
It may take some re-assembling and restructuring of these headers to find the most applicable ones to incorporate, but once you have a good structure for your piece, you are more likely to hit the mark subject-wise.
5. Write, Revise, Refine, Review
As with any content you produce — even on subjects you’re extremely familiar with — it’s all about writing the first draft, then taking a step back and figuring out how you can modify the content so it’s as on-point as possible in your final draft.
After taking your first crack at writing about an unfamiliar topic, have one of the SMEs with whom you initially spoke take a look at it to make sure that nothing pertinent is missing and the featured points make sense. They may have some harsh edits, but the more content you produce around the subject in question, the better you’ll inevitably become over time.
Have you written content on unfamiliar topics recently? How did you enhance your SME on the subject(s) in question? Share your insights with us! Or, reach out to us if you need help with your content strategy.