In a group setting, it's great to start with a brainstorming session for story ideas. But if you don’t have access to this in your work environment, social media can be a good place for virtual brainstorming. For example, I’ve been part of a private Facebook group of social media professionals for years, and I’m always turning to them for ideas and feedback. It’s a safe place for brainstorming even the craziest ideas.
One you've let the creative juices flow and come up with some topics and themes, it's time to get focused. Start with the end in mind. What do you want the piece you're planning to write to achieve? Who are you writing it for, and what impact do you want it to have on this audience? Then, stay laser-focused on this audience and your objective for them.
A next step can be to craft a simple outline to organize how your story will unfold. If you start with this level of focus, you can then have the freedom to be yourself in your writing without straying off topic or rambling about things your audience doesn’t care about.
If at the end of the day you produce a piece of content that your boss or client doesn’t like, it’s important to understand the reasons, so ask questions and listen. You can’t improve if you’re defensive about feedback. But you also shouldn’t let it get you down. Just go back to the drawing board until you've addressed their concerns and written a piece that everyone is happy with.
After publication, you can find out whether your piece resonated by studying web analytics, like clicks, comments and shares. Increasingly that’s how both journalists and marketing writers are judged.
The lessons you can draw from a piece that didn’t work vary quite a bit. Sometimes, it’s because the idea isn’t unique enough, or the story isn’t well written enough. Other times, it’s simply that you aren’t crafting your headlines in a way that attracts clicks, or that you aren’t sharing the content in the right places.
Keep iterating and experimenting to make each piece better than the last.
- Scott Baradell