In a world where seemingly everyone has to be a content producer, your ability to find interesting sources can set your work apart, and give it a leg up.
No matter how good you and your team are at brainstorming and thinking creatively, there is a good chance that someone else has already written about the topics you will be writing about. Every business — and individual — is under tremendous pressure to satiate Google’s desire for continuously new or updated content. This is not to say that you should abandon attempts to generate one-of-a-kind topic ideas. It is simply an acknowledgement that there is a lot of content out there — much of it bad and repetitive — and to avoid wasting time and money, you have to do better.
Here are some sources you can explore to help you produce content that is noticeably different from the myriad of articles available on any topic.
1. Sources outside the legal industry. Get the opinions of business leaders who are not in the legal industry to gain a new perspective on a topic. This will give your content a different spin from the articles your competitors may be writing. It also gives you the chance to quote a professional who is not commonly quoted regarding a specific matter.
2. Scholarly publications and peer reviewed literature. Many blog posts and online articles simply quote or reference other blogs when sourcing content. In some way, this makes sense. Linking to pages and sites that are contextually relevant increases your chance of building quality backlinks.
Unfortunately, this practice also produces a lot of articles that cover the same ideas pulled from the same people. Scholarly publications are used less often for inspiration because they tend to be dense, and reading them is time consuming. This is precisely what makes them good sources for new ideas. And, referencing peer reviewed literature gives your content more weight and authority. Google Scholar is a good place to start when looking for academic publications.
3. Client feedback and questions. Your clients — and the leads you may have lost — are excellent resources. For every client who asks a question, there are likely hundreds of potential leads who are wondering the same thing. You can also tap into the insight of your competitors’ clients by reading the frequently asked questions on their websites, and by reading FAQs on large legal sites. Avvo, for example, has a section titled “Browse Questions From Others.”
4. Data. Data, reports and white papers contain interesting insights that can be used as the basis for content pieces. Increasingly, people are going online to research their legal issue before making the decision to hire a lawyer. If your website can provide data-backed and unique information, these researchers are more likely to find it, read it and trust it.
Research papers, reports and data are also often hidden behind subscription walls, or available only to people who are willing to sign up to receive the. Therefore, it is less likely your visitors will have read your source reports than, for example, a competitors’ blog post. When using data, be sure it comes from a study that is recent and relevant.
5. Interviews. Doing your own investigative research and interviewing experts guarantees you access to exclusive content. Many people, especially those who are simply focused on churning out as much content as possible, will not take the time to get their own sources. When interviewing your expert, try to ask questions that are not commonly answered online. Ask your expert what they wish they were more often asked, and let them tell you what you do not know. To get the most out of your interview, ask the expert if you can reference the interview for future pieces, and get permission to post the transcript online.
6. Books. Yes, books. The kind written on paper or downloaded to an e-reader. While you cannot read a whole book before producing every piece of content, you should make a habit of reading books about marketing, business development and any other topics you find interesting. Books, like scholarly publications, provide an in-depth look at a topic and are more likely to inspire unique ideas than are short blog entries. Reading regularly also makes you a better writer, as you are exposed to writing methods, ideas and vocabulary with which you are not already familiar.
Producing original content takes time. But focusing on quality rather than quantity can yield rewards in terms of rankings and conversions.