Not necessarily, a picture speaks a thousand words!

I strongly feel that a Picture is a canvas that invites more than one perspective, determined by your interpretation. Every interpretation is influenced by your personal experience and exposure to environments.

Why do I say so?

Look at this picture. This is the picture from the cold mountains in Northern China. The dystopians call it the “dark sun”. What you see here is a rare occurrence, to be precise, it is repeated once in 588 years. During winters the sun seems dark, losing its charm. What you see in the image below is what happens only one night. Though the local oracles predict the date accurately, a week in advance, this is a sight that can be enjoyed by only an informed few. Four years ago, the photographer of this picture, ofcourse went on to win the International Photographer’s award.

Here is another image. This is the image of a victim who was abused and threatened by her pedophile father for straight 8 years. The father was eventually arrested and sentenced to death in Indonesia.

The first picture leads to emotions that make you feel triumph, may be envious, curios, adventurous, and disappointed because you won’t get to see it for yourself in this lifetime.

The second image raises questions about the existence of society and law, distress, anger, and a lot more aggressive yet sympathetic thoughts.

Now, I am going to tell you something even more interesting. This is very important to understand why a picture is not necessarily the best way to communicate. Here is the bomb.

I lied. Both the images are computer-generated.

The first one was used as a cover image of a book, and the second one was used to arrest a pedophile in Australia.

The apparent is not always what builds it. Your ability to see through the not so apparent is what creates the depth in your output.

Nischala Agnihotri

An image can only communicate what the storyteller intends you to see. And, if it is abandoned by words, then it is left to the imagination of the audience.

Words have the ability to strengthen a context, provide direction to the audience, and converge the thought process and imagination of the author and the reader.

If you felt deceived after reading the description of the image, then the idea of focusing only on visual aspects while building a content structure would fail the intent of accomplishing a call-to-action for a marketer.

Everything comes back to content and the writer.

What Really Goes Behind the Content Writing Process?

Wake up at 5.30 am. Run through a few quick stretches, breathing exercises. Slide into the kitchen, grab some ingredients from the refrigerator to cook food for your kids and husband. They need to step out of the house by 8.00 am. So, your clock starts ticking soon. Grab your book so that you reach your daily reading target. Somehow find 30 minutes before everyone wakes up to meet your reading goal for the day. Be ready to wish ‘good morning’ to your children so that you ensure they have a wonderful day ahead.

I will stop here.

If you really want to know what happens to this content writer, read the story in the next episode of this article. But let me tell you, it is not different from the life of any other professional. If writing is just another gig, then you can flex and have a lot of time in your arsenal. But, professional content writing is really not like how it seems.

Calling myself a freelancer invites looks and responses that mean, “Oh! You have a lot of time on your plate. You get to do what you want to. You get to go on more number of holidays than us. You are having a ball of a time each day. Your job is easy because anybody can write.”

My answer, “Really, then why don’t you try it yourself.” When someone actually tries they hibernate into an empty synapse zone which is called a ‘the writer’s block’. The result of which is to hire a professional writer. While many look for help from professional writers out of frustration, there is little information about how exactly the content process works.

I have had some clients who just drop a topic and ask me to write 1000 words about it. The topic often looks like this ‘write about chatbots for retail industry’ or ‘innovative ways of reducing costs of your martech business’. While they seem like good topics to write about, the writer is not furnished with anything else apart from this information.

“Like, really !!!” Each topic can take its own course. When you google these topics you will find at least ten different articles with a different scope on the first page of search results, followed by a few other hundreds of perspectives.

Just the topic is not enough for someone to write a compelling article that will convert readers into customers. Sadly, such topics are created with a lack of a decent goal or objective in mind. As much as, marketers need matured and professional writers, awesome writers equally need matured marketers too.

I will hold off my tantrums here and dive right into the content process.

So, how does the content process look like?

Top 3 phases of Content Process

From 30,000 feet high, it looks like this.

Content Process and its three phases
Three phases of Content Process

It also includes Content management, distribution, and measurement. So, here is the answer to what each phase mentioned above consists of.

Content Strategy

  • User Personas User Journey
  • Define Content Types
  • Audience Strategy
  • Positioning Statement
  • Empathy and Experience Maps
  • Build Your Story
  • Content Audit
  • UX Writing Flow
  • Content Mix
  • Content Distribution Mix
  • Budgets & Costing

Content Marketing & Management

Most of this deals with practical and realistic planning and finding resources to execute the content strategy. You have to include the 4Ps of marketing. The product equates to the content piece. Place is about where you publish your content: owned, shared, vs paid media. Promotion is where and how you intend to distribute the content. Price is often the CTA combined with the consideration you are seeking: an email ID, reader’s information and preferences, and so on.

  • Content Goals and Targets
  • Keyword lists
  • Content Calendars
  • Website Revisions and Updates
  • Paid vs Organic mix
  • Distribution Plans
  • Content objectives
  • Call-to-actions

Content Production

This phase of the process is where writers and designers are in full form. It involves editing, writing, and designing.

  • Asset creation: content writing and illustration
  • Article outlines
  • Graphic outlines
  • Reference and research links and sources
  • Editing

After, production and publishing, you will get down to measurement and analysis.

Many people are involved in bringing out a masterpiece that tells the story of a business. For the benefit of time, I am going to focus on three crucial roles imperative in a lean content production process.  

Meaning and Scope of Each Phase

Content Strategy answers ‘why a content piece is being created?’

Content Marketing is all about discovering the channels and media to be used to distribute your content piece. For instance, here are some of the channels that are a must for me to distribute content published on www.nischalagnihotri.com

Content Production includes the following steps:

  • Use the topic to generate article outline
  • Create questions that become sections to an article
  • Each question is one segment of the article
  • Google each question to find answers
  • Have the keyword list by your side.
  • Research each question upto atleast 4 to 5 layers until all your questions are answered. By this time you would have a skeleton of a story in mind.
  • Best articles are created when the writer gains command over two aspects – experience and empathy that comes out of it. Read enough until you have an empathetic sense of the experience that your audience will go through.
  • Have a vocabulary list that meets the language standards of that audience
  • Mix them up and start writing.
  • Edit grammar, wordiness, and facts.
  • Read one last time. Push it out to for feedback and inputs.

I have also added a guide here that explains the content development process.

Blogging is the warm up exercise to Write something Bigger. A Book?

I borrowed this title from someone I know. “Blogging is a warm-up exercise for writing a Book Click To Tweet“, this is true. It prepares you to get back into the battle ring just before the final call, though you are brutally bruised during the writing journey.

Blogging begins with writing those few hundred words every day. Polishing each sentence over several rounds of editing. Publishing each script, though you know no one may like it, share it, comment on it, or even view it! Despite knowing that your piece of art will not be acknowledged, you will set yourself up to wake up every day and write those few words before you sleep.

It helps you become think-skinned towards rejection and criticism. It helps you learn fast. It helps you fix things faster and publish a better version. It trains you to consume a routine of writing that soon becomes your second nature.

What really matters is to stay committed until your words mature into a Book that is published…

Then, writing still continues.

 

P.S. Thanks to Mangalam, Author of Lean Product Management.