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According to statistics compiled by trusted marketing website Hubspot, “Content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising.” They also say that, “Almost 50% of Internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store….” and “One in ten blog posts are compounding, meaning organic search increases their traffic over time.”
It’s clear that content development is important, but we all know that it can become quite time consuming and stressful to actually develop, create, and publish that content. That’s why it’s so important to play smarter, not harder, in the content development and marketing game.
The Matyas family runs several different home-based, internet-run businesses. Jason is a marketing strategist, consultant, and business coach. He’s also founded and co-founded several businesses, many of which you’ll read more about below. Shannon is a freelance graphic designer. The children help out with Seeds for Generations, the family seed business, along with other family friendly projects. (They also bring along a few contractors to help with content development and promotional efforts as needed.)
For the past several years, the Matyas family has been focusing on three businesses in particular:
Return to the Old Paths | Beyond Off Grid
Jason is the co-founder and executive producer of Beyond Off Grid | Return to the Old Paths, a documentary film and media project that explores why we should strive to reduce our dependence on the modern economy and control grid, and how this can be accomplished. By exposing the weaknesses of the modern culture, financial, economic systems, and essential life support systems, and bringing to light the solutions that are available by learning from the past and wisely applying technology, this project seeks to inspire people to a greater degree of self sufficiency and local community interdependence while trusting in God. In addition to the documentary film, this brand hosted dozens of educational webinars and training programs, as well as a three day training conference, all designed to equip people to Return to the Old Paths through lifestyle change.
Seeds for Generations
Seeds for Generations is the family heirloom seed company. Jason has been gardening since he was very young, in the garden with his own parents. For a long time, he looked for an opportunity to have the kids work alongside him and with each other, so he started this cottage industry to share heirloom seeds with others. In addition to packing and shipping physical products, Seeds for Generations also offers garden training and garden planning & productivity tools, along with a gardening blog and YouTube channel. Jason also presents seminars at homesteading, gardening, and preparedness events, as well as speaking in online training events. The children participate in gardening, harvesting, seed processing, packing, fulfillment, and help run their booth at events that they attend several times a year.
Get Ready to Thrive
This is the latest brand they have built, whose mission is to teach others how to live a more fulfilling life and build a better future. This focuses on the practical ways for a family to live healthy, be prepared, and work together. While we’re still largely in the content development phase of this website, we’ve already offered training webinars on food security and healthy eating, as well as a growing collection of blog posts on practical topics.
Through the experiences of these businesses (and others in the past, as well through working with clients), we’ve learned several important things you should know about building up your content development and production efforts.
How to Scale Up Your Content Development Efforts
Develop & Create Content on What You Know
Make content development and content creation easy by starting with what you already know. Where do you consider yourself an expert? Focusing on those topics will save you research time, and you also won’t have to work as hard to create quality content. If you’ve never done a live video before, for example, but you LOVE writing, it would probably be best to write several blog posts instead of building a brand-new (and expensive) video setup from the beginning.
Remember Seeds for Generations? This company began because the Matyas family loves gardening. Jason was able to turn what he’s learned about gardening into helpful training in the form of webinars, without much additional research or from-scratch content creation. As his skills have grown and he’s gleaned wisdom from other experts, he’s been able to expand and refine gardening presentations.
Use Outlines Early in the Content Development Process
While it may be tempting to simply turn on the camera or start typing, you need a strategy and plan for content development and content creation. What are your main points? Who’s your main audience? What’s your primary call to action (i.e., action you want reader to take)? Jot down at least a quick outline, then review it yourself and have others look over it too. Make sure the content flows and includes everything it should cover. That’s a very important step in content development.
Each blog post that’s published here on Get Ready to Thrive starts with an outline. It may be very rough or very detailed, but it always starts with an outline that is then reviewed and edited accordingly. Across all brands, blog posts are also prioritized according to promotional timing considerations. (For example, planting seeds in the spring, harvesting and using herbs in the summer, homeschooling in the fall, etc.)
Repurpose Existing Content Instead of Developing New Content
Once you’ve built content, it’s very easy to repurpose it into different formats. This is especially useful if you have lots of video or audio content available, as it can easily be used to create blog posts, social media posts, content upgrades, or even additional videos!
What's a Content Upgrade?
A content upgrade is a type of lead magnet. You create additional content that builds on the content someone is already consuming, except the expanded version is only available to those who sign up for your email list at that particular entry point (blog post, webinar, landing page…).
Remember that Beyond Off Grid/Return to the Old Paths is a film and media project? Naturally, the team had a lot of media content available, including hours and hours of uncut film footage. In addition, they also had hours of webinar recordings and live training recordings from the Summit Online Course and Summit Live Event Video Course, all of which were available for use.
In this situation, there was so much content that it was almost impossible to know what was available…or where to even start using it all. Jason had an intern program for this project, so the interns combed through the content, performing a content audit. As part of this process, they noted video topics that might make good stand-alone clips or social media quotes.
Along the way, the Content Development Intern also started creating detailed companion notes for each session, which were eventually used as bonus materials in the courses. Finally, these notes were also used to create blog posts to promote the courses they came from! In the end, ONE video training could easily become 3+ additional pieces of content, with very little (if any) additional content creation required along the way!
Repurposing content is especially important for media-heavy businesses. Similar methods have been used for content development and content creation on Seeds for Generations and Get Ready to Thrive, where we’ve used topics covered briefly in webinars to create tools to help viewers take action. Examples include planning tools like our Garden Planning Calculator and Herb Planting Calculator, among others.
Create Templates & Standard Procedures for Content Development, Using the Proper Tools
It’s important to have at least a general idea of your content development procedures and formats. Even after the content is created, you still have to build slides, format blog posts, create documents, and design graphics. To speed up the process and make it easier to involve additional team members, decide on general formatting guidelines you’ll always use. Create a Pinterest graphic template. Develop a blog post formatting structure. Decide how you’ll handle links (including affiliate links).
We’ve been building our Instagram profile on Seeds for Generations. Early on in the process, we settled on standard graphic design templates for creating images. We’ve also used similar templates for creating sale and website graphics for both internal and affiliate use. (Don’t worry about making it perfect. The templates will naturally evolve over time. It’s just important that you create SOMETHING standard to start with.)
This is also an important time to remember to use the proper time-saving tools. Jason loves AppSumo deals, where he finds lifetime deals on digital marketing tools for creating links, making graphics, tracking stats, researching keywords, and more. For our graphics, we currently use RelayThat, an in-browser graphic design tool that allows any member of our team to quickly create marketing graphics by customizing a design template, adding pictures and text, to create banners of different sizes for any situation. If you’re spending hours making graphics manually, a good graphic design tool will probably save you TONS of money and opportunity costs in the long run, and the same may be true for other tools also.
Collaborate with Other Bloggers, Teachers, & Experts
Remember, content isn’t just about you. There are so many bloggers and experts in your niche that have a wealth of information to share, information that you AND your audience will appreciate. Collaborate with likeminded bloggers. Accept guest posts. Invite guest webinars. Put a call out for links to create a roundup post.
At Return to the Old Paths, the entire Beyond Off Grid Summit Online Course is basically built from expert presentations on core topics. These were originally live webinars. (We built an email list of 31,000+ people over several years almost exclusively through webinar registrations!) A set of these webinars that were hosted live were then edited to be used in the Beyond Off Grid summit live event that was hosted over a week and generated 30,000 visitors. Finally, the intros and outros were edited again for use in the paid course. All from content contributed by other experts (who were affiliate promotion partners for these promotions/products).
In addition, make sure you’re sharing helpful content from other experts in your niche. Join share threads and reputable Facebook groups. These provide opportunities to ask questions of those who know more than you do, collaborate for future content creation and promotion purposes, and more. We do this with our blog posts almost every week, distributing them in share threads and sharing related content from other bloggers on our own social media pages.
Concluding Thoughts on Content Development
Is content development hard? Yes. But it’s SO worth it, especially for small businesses who need to set themselves apart. Use these tips to streamline and scale up your content development efforts.