In this post, you’ll learn how to create digital content that people want to see.
The online world is made up of content. Whether you’re searching on Google or scrolling through TikTok, you’re consuming content.
So if you want to build online visibility and drive traffic to your website or business, you need to create digital content. This will allow you to reach your target audience online.
Also, creating digital content allows you to build an audience and develop trust with them. You’ll become the go-to authority for anything related to your niche and topic of choice.
For example, we publish frequently on YouTube. Here’s an example of the type of comments we get:
Finally, you can actually earn a living from it. You could be paid as a content creator for your digital content creation skills, or you could monetize the audience you’ve built—ads, product placements, affiliate marketing, consulting, selling your own products, and more.
Here are some examples of digital content you can create:
- Blog posts – You’re reading one now. They’re one of the most common types of digital content. Learn how to write a great blog post here.
- Videos – They could be longer-form ones (like those we publish on YouTube) or short-form videos (like TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and more).
- Podcasts – Audio content that can range from short-form (<5 mins) to long-form ones (I’ve seen seven hours and more). These days, podcasts also come in video formats.
- Photos, images, and GIFs – One of the most common types of digital content on social media. They could be real or AI-generated. This category also includes custom illustrations, charts, diagrams, graphs, infographics, memes, and more.
- Social media posts – These are content published on popular platforms like Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, and more. There may be specific formats for each platform (e.g., carousels on LinkedIn, threads on Twitter, and more).
- Newsletters – Emails sent to an audience at a particular frequency. These can be long-form essays, curated links (like our newsletter), or more.
- Courses – A structured series of videos (sometimes together with text and worksheets) intended to teach a subject or topic, like our SEO course for beginners.
The process of creating digital content is similar for every channel.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Decide on your main type of content
Making a video is different from writing a blog post. So each type of digital content requires you to possess different skills.
However, even if your ideal goal is to be able to create any type of digital content, you’ll want to begin by prioritizing. At this stage, getting started and doing the real thing is more important than dreaming about being able to create all types of content.
So choose the one type of digital content you wish to excel at creating and get started.
As writer Scott Young says:
Attempting several pursuits at once is a recipe for accomplishing none of them. Progress requires priorities. We need to tackle projects one at a time—not try to juggle them all at once.
I recommend starting with the content type you have the most affinity with. These can result from your natural strengths or simply the platform you spend the most time on.
For example, if you find yourself
wasting spending hours on YouTube, then making videos could be up your alley. For me, I enjoyed reading books and blog posts, so I ended up choosing writing as my main marketing skill.
2. Find proven topics
No matter the type or platform you’re creating content for, you’ll want to ensure you’re creating something that appeals to your target audience.
Nothing beats the good old-fashioned method of asking your target audience what they want to see.
Find friends and family who match your audience profile and ask them what they’d like to see or what type of content is missing/neglected on the internet. For example, I breakdance as a hobby. So if I were to start a YouTube channel about breaking, it would be as easy as hitting up my regular practice spot and asking my fellow breakers some questions.
If you’re a business and have existing customers, reach out and ask them. You can join online groups on Facebook, Reddit, Discord, and Slack and ask them questions.
Beyond that, you can use tools to see what type of topics already performed well. This is an indicator that people are interested—and will continue to be interested—in those topics.
For example, if you’re creating blog posts, you’ll want to know the topics people are searching for on Google. Since they’re searching for those topics, then it’s likely they’ll want to read about them.
To find these topics, you’ll have to do keyword research. This is the process of finding the words and phrases people search for in search engines.
The easiest way to do this is to use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. Here’s how:
- Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
- Enter a word that’s relevant to what you want to create content about (e.g., basketball)
- Go to the Matching terms report
- Switch the tab to Questions
This report will show you all the questions containing “basketball,” sorted by search volume. Look through the report and pick out the questions you want to write about.
- Reddit – Find a relevant subreddit (e.g., r/tennis if you’re making tennis videos) and select “Top” and “All time.” This will show you the most upvoted posts in that subreddit.
- Twitter – Install a Chrome extension like Twemex, which will show you a user’s most popular tweets of all time.
- YouTube – Use tools like TubeBuddy or VidIQ to do keyword research for YouTube.
- Podcasts – Use a search engine like ListenNotes to see which episodes in your niche are trending.
3. Create the content
There are three main steps involved in the process of actually creating the content:
Let’s take a deeper look.
Before you put pen to paper, you’ll want to have a clear idea of what it is exactly you want to say. Otherwise, there is a real risk of going off-track, missing the main points, and making your audience fall asleep.
You may get away with simply throwing your thoughts out as a tweet or IG story. But even then, those types of posts can benefit from planning and rewriting:
1. Always give value before you ask for value.— James Clear (@JamesClear) August 11, 2020
2. Spend more time revising your tweets than you think is reasonable. Most of mine take 10-20 minutes to write.
3. Post at least 1 tweet per day.
So this stage means creating an outline (or a storyboard if you’re making a video). For example, this post began as an outline:
To create the outline, I combined a mix of:
- My own personal experience and knowledge.
- Looking at what the top-ranking pages have covered.
- Running a content gap analysis.
Here’s how to do the last one:
- Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
- Enter your target topic
- Scroll to the SERP overview
- Select a few of the top-ranking pages
- Click Open in and choose Content gap
This report shows you all the common keywords the top-ranking pages are ranking for. These could make potential subtopics we could cover. However, we only want to see the most relevant ones, so let’s set the “Intersections” filter to 3, 4, and 5:
Scrolling through the list, we can see a few subtopics to include:
- how to learn to play basketball
- how to be better at basketball
- tips for basketball
- basketball techniques
- how long does it take to get good at basketball
- how to get the ball more in basketball
If you’re making an educational video on YouTube, this script format has worked well for us:
- Problem – Lead with the problem your video is solving.
- Teaser – Show that there’s a solution to the problem without giving it away.
- Solution – Teach how to solve the problem.
Once you’re done with your outline or storyboard, I recommend getting a friend or colleague to give feedback. We do this for all our outlines (and drafts too). At this stage, this feedback will be invaluable in helping you identify what’s missing and what could be improved, especially with regard to the structure.
No matter what you’re creating, this part is really about hunkering down and just making the content.
You’ll have your own quirks and fancies here (for example, I enjoy a cup of strong coffee while writing). But from experience, it’s seriously about blocking out a chunk of time and working on the content with no distractions.
This could mean:
- Creating a non-negotiable block of time on your calendar and committing to it.
- Putting your phone on “airplane” mode or in another room.
- Letting others know you don’t want to be disturbed during that time (especially important if you work from home).
- Using a webpage-blocking Chrome extension.
- Logging out of all social media and team chat software, like Slack or Teams.
- Forcing yourself to create without editing (this pertains especially to writing).
- SEO Copywriting: 13 Tips to Create Great Content That Ranks
- What Is Content Writing? 13 Tips for Creating Amazing Content
- SEO Writing: 7 Steps to Create Search-Optimized Content
- 21 Writing Tips to Become a Better Writer Fast
- How to Become a Better Writer (Beginner’s Guide)
- The Simple (But Complete) Guide to Video Marketing
- How to Edit YouTube Videos for High Engagement
When you’re done creating, you should (again) get feedback from a friend or colleague. Doing this will help reduce inaccuracies, logical loopholes, spelling errors, and grammatical mistakes.
This is the easiest part. Once you’re done, it’s really just a matter of formatting, finalizing, and uploading your work onto the target platform.
4. Measure and monitor performance
Content creation is all about the feedback loop. You’ll want to create content and publish it, and you’ll also want to know if it’s hitting the target.
Are people consuming it? Do people like it? What can you improve on or do less of?
Answering these questions will require you to measure your content’s performance. Besides getting qualitative feedback from your audience, you can also use tools to see said performance.
For example, if your main digital content type is blog posts, you’ll want to check Google Search Console and see if you’re generating any search traffic.
You’ll also want to add your main keywords to Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker to see if you’re ranking high on Google:
For other platforms, you’ll likely be able to see your analytics via the platform itself. For example, if you’re creating content for YouTube, you’ll want to go to YouTube Studio and check your analytics.
When you see something working, consider doubling down and making more of the same. But don’t be afraid to experiment too. Use the scientific process—if something doesn’t work, can you try a different approach? Perhaps a different hook, structure, or format?
It’s all about playing around, experimenting, and figuring out what works along the way.
There are two main factors behind successful digital content creation:
- Consistency – Two things here: First, to be good at something, you need to practice consistently. Second, it’s hard for your audience to become a fan of someone who creates once and disappears. So make sure you’re always showing up. Do this by publishing at a frequency you can commit to. But don’t be overly ambitious—you can always ramp up in the future.
- Longevity – According to SEO Jacky Chou, publishing 21 podcast episodes puts you in the world’s top 1% of podcasts. This stat is not telling you how easy it is to produce a podcast but how quickly most people give up. You can win the game simply by outlasting everyone.
Any questions or comments? Let me know on Twitter.