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What do Jack Johnson and content marketing have in common?

‘Questions, I’ve got some questions... But what if I could ask you only one thing, what would you tell me?’

You may have heard Jack Johnson, the melodic singer-songwriter, pouring his heart out on the radio... but what does he have in common with content marketers? The answer is this: he’s got some real questions, demonstrated by his famous hit.

Well, content marketers have plenty of those two – as highlighted by the recent ‘Content Marketing Survey Report 2013’, published by Business Bolt. It asked those taking part in the survey (all 265 of ‘em) the following: ‘What is the top content marketing question you want answered?’ However it didn’t actually provide them with the answers.

Don’t fear though - we’re here to help you through some of the most common questions on the tip of content marketers’ lips...

How can I get reliable outsourcers?

Finding a content marketing agency that you can trust to create high-quality, unique content for you is hard. We know that. As such, there are a couple of things to remember.

If the rates are cheap, it probably means they are too good to be true. Don’t be fooled by £10-an-article deals. It really won’t be worth it. Instead, let your mind be led by what you’d happily pay for a strong, well-written article and let that be your benchmark. Also, if the agency isn’t willing to show you examples of past work or testimonials/case studies, there’s probably a reason for that. Any company that believes in its writers and their abilities will be champing at the bit to show you example pieces.

What’s a good average length of a piece of content?

Before we answer that one, let’s look at where you’ve gone wrong with the question - there is no average piece of content. There are news articles, features, whitepapers, case studies, guides, blogs... the list is never-ending! So let’s look at the ideal length for a few of these.

For online news articles, aim for around the 250 – 300-word mark. This provides just the right amount of information for the online audience; giving the writers enough space to get the critical points across, without opening up room for waffle or unnecessary content.

Blogs, as a rule, should be no fewer than 350ish words long. Ideally, you should try to hit the 500 or 600-word mark. Whitepapers should be around four times’ that, approximately 2,000 words; whilst guides should come in around 750 – 1000 words.

How can I get more quality content out faster?

The word you want to focus on here is repurposing. Feel free to repurpose your content in as many ways as you can think of, but follow two golden rules: do spend a good amount of time on the first piece of content, be it a blog, webinar or feature and don’t duplicate.

This may sound confusing, but duplication is not the same as repurposing. The latter is turning a great blog into a set of slides you can share around, or expanding a news article into a longer feature piece. It’s about re-shuffling the wording, re-writing key phrases and generally making it sound a little different – as well as changing it to reflect the other medium. For example, you wouldn’t make a set of slides that are just words – you would take the key points from your blog and complement them with data or graphics.

The first point is vital too. If you don’t spend the right amount of time and effort on the original piece of content, then you won’t have quality content. If you do, you’ll have a great piece sitting right there that can be transformed into many other things... giving you quality content, faster.