How to brainstorm content ideas that take your audience behind-the-scenes of your business
6 ideas to take your content marketing to the next level
by Brittany Taylor
published November 2, 2017
updated June 5, 2018
¶ Stuck when it’s time to brainstorm content ideas? Try turning to the types of content you like to consume, whether it’s through print, digital, video, or audio. What are the trends? What patterns emerge? What do you want to see more of in the world?.
Personally, I love a good behind-the-scenes story.
I want the scoop, the dirt on what it was like to work on that project and how it felt to clear that hurdle. When I’m watching Matilda, I want to know how many candies Trunchbull had to eat and how they filmed the kitchen scene. When I’m reading Harry Potter, I want to know where J.K. Rowling started and how the text evolved into its final, published form. I don’t just want the what; I want the how.
And you know what? I’m not the only one.
Truth: People love process
This endless fascination with process is why profiles exist in magazines. It’s why Entertainment Tonight goes on-set. It’s why magicians are famous for not revealing how they perform their tricks, and it’s why reality shows focusing on oddball professions are so popular.
You don’t have to be a celebrity or a renowned expert in your field or involved in a completely out-there project for the masses to be curious about exactly how you do the work you do.
You can just be you and tell us about how that works, and we’ll eat it up. (We humans are notoriously nosy, after all.)
Truth: Process captivates potential clients
Offering a behind-the-scenes peek at your work process doesn’t just get a gold star for attracting attention. It also lets people who are in a position to pay you for your work—regardless of whether you offer a product or a service—to fall in love with the experience, expertise, talent, and sheer labor that goes into producing the final result.
We start to see work not just as work but as an art or a craft.
We start to think: “I want her to create something like that for me.” We say to ourselves: “I want to see what she can do for my business.” We say: “I want to ask her my questions,” and, “I want to hang her art on my wall.”
When we know what goes into something, we value it more. The more we value something, the more we want it and the more likely we are to build it into our budget or add it to a future wish list. We become fans who want a piece of the entire experience, not just the deliverable.
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How to brainstorm content ideas that focus on process
Knowing that taking your fans behind-the-scenes works is one thing. But how do you turn “that thing you do” into crave-able content your audience wants to read?
The answer: It’s all about bringing process into your editorial planning.
As you brainstorm content ideas for social media platforms, email newsletters, and your blog, consider how you can weave different elements, client or customer experiences, and passion projects into the marketing content you’re already creating for your business. Think of it as another tool you can call on as you fill your editorial calendar, another set of stories you can tell to educate, entertain, and entrance your audience.
Here are a handful of ways you can bring your process to life online:
Record a timelapse video of you in action
If much of your work is visual or screen-intensive, a timelapse is a fascinating way to share it. Holly McCaig has been doing a masterful job sharing her digital lettering process on Instagram. I’m also digging the SNL makeup crew’s videos of different character preps.
Wow your crowd by listing every step you take to create a single, simple-seeming product
I’m envisioning a “52 steps to crafting every single greeting card in my Etsy store” masterpiece. Also: I would totally read this blog post. If you write it, hit my “contact” link and share it with me, would you?
Spend an afternoon sharing an Instagram Story of the different steps you take to complete a project
Instagram Stories are a low-pressure way to ease into video and experiment with different styles because the stories disappear after 24 hours.
Expand on your portfolio by sharing details of client projects or custom orders
Some projects come with backstories, unique challenges, or mishaps that you conquered. Sharing the journey to the end result lets potential clients or customers envision what it would be like to work with you personally.
Working analog? Snap photos of different stages of your creative process
I routinely go through my scratch notebook and photograph close-ups of my brainstorms, notes, and first drafts. Then, I use those images as jumping-off points to share client and project stories on Instagram.
Hire a ghostwriter to help you turn your process into a behind-the-scenes story
Sometimes, it’s easier to let someone else shape a narrative for you. I interview all of my clients to get at the heart of what they do and what makes their work unique and valuable. Want to bring me on board your business? Take a look at how we can work together.
What's it like to work with me? It looks like this.
My name is Brittany, but my friends and clients call me "Britt." Online small business owners hire me to create content strategies and write their blog posts, email newsletters, and social media updates. I work with bosses around the world from the marshes of Charleston, S.C.