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Content Creation Checklist: 7 Steps to Get You Started Content development is an art.

By Steve Lazuka

This story originally appeared on PR Newswire's Small Business PR Toolkit

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Content development is an art. It's a lot more than starting with a topic, writing down some words and hitting publish. When writers start out developing a new piece of content, it's a process.

In order to help you to create your own digital content, we've written out this process, step-by-step.

1. Start with an idea.

Each and every piece of content starts with an idea. Whether it's an abstract thought that we need to turn into something concrete, a keyword, a topic or a pre-written headline, we need to have some sort of idea to start with.

Whether you're writing your own content, or prepping topics for a copywriter, we have a few tips for gathering a long list of ideas. First of all, take a look at your website's analytics and find your highest ranking search terms. Those are ideas. Find your lowest ranking search terms (that are still relevant to your business/industry.) Those are ideas, because you want to rank higher for those terms. Start typing in keywords for your industry into Google and let its autofill feature give you even more ideas.

2. Do your research.

You know your industry like the back of your hand, probably. That doesn't mean that you have all of the statistic-based facts and all of the pieces of the puzzle already in your brain. No matter how well-versed you are in your topic, you still want to do some research before beginning to write.

As copywriters, we tend to write on a variety of topics and industries, so the research portion is the most time-intensive. It's important to search through popular, well-known websites, as well as some of the more obscure journals and webpages that are still reputable. (It's crazy how much fake news can get mixed up in your research if you're not careful.) Find statistics that relate to your topic, and keep your sources saved in case you need to link back to them.

Continue to read on your topic until you feel confident enough to write a full-length blog post about it.

3. Determine the direction of your content.

Is this an informative blog post? Is it long-form, or are you sticking to a shorter, to the point blurb? Is it going to be humorous? Do you want to turn this into an infographic or a video instead? Do you want to create an accompanying infographic or video?

Make sure that you have the voice and tone of your article in mind before you start writing. Otherwise, you may find your content going in all different directions, instead of being one cohesive piece.

4. Create your headline.

On average, 80 percent of people will read your headline, but only 20 percent will read the rest of your article. This means that you need to create an exceptional headline that will get people to click through to your blog post and read the full thing (and then share it). Some copywriters will even create 20 to 30 different headlines for a single article, then choose the best one. However, you have a business to run. Instead, we recommend using a headline generator to help you out.

5. Write.

Use your introduction to tell a story. Hook your readers in, and make them want to continue reading. Ask the question that you're going to use the rest of your article to answer. Use the body of your blog post to answer the question, and break your content up into sections. Web content users tend to prefer skimmable content, and we aim to please. Finally, use your conclusion to both wrap up your article, and offer a call-to-action so that readers know what to do next.

6. Grab a drink.

No, we're joking. That's not a part of the process. However, once you finish writing, we do recommend taking a step away from your blog post before going back to proofread it.

7. Proofread and publish.

When you've been looking at the same piece of content for awhile, your typos tend to blur with the rest of the piece, and your garbled sentences instead sound phenomenal. After taking some time away, come back to your article and read it out loud. This can help you ensure that your sentences flow smoothly and you haven't made any spelling or grammar errors.

Steve Lazuka is the founder of Interact Media, creators of the Zerys Content Marketplace and Zerys for Agencies content marketing platforms. 

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