March 7, 2013
The 7 Steps of Creative Content Development
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Making compelling content from start to finish
We all want to find the creative genius within ourselves. We all want to be the person who comes up with ideas in a pinch and executes it flawlessly. These days, your online audiences are craving quality educational, engaging and/or entertaining content.
We’ve all seen and experienced examples of great content; from the dollar shave club to the amazing Toyota 86 landing page. Yes, quality content is an idea we’re all familiar with – but how do we ensure we’re getting the best possible ideas out of ourselves? Where do these creative ideas come from, and how to we make sure we fulfill them to their maximum potential?
I find it best to go through a step-by-step process to ensure I’m getting the most out of the creative genius that flows through Reload. I’d like to take you through a normal process that helps explain how we develop something memorable from nothing!
Here’s a quick infographic I’ve whipped up to help illustrate the different steps that I go through every time I’m asked to develop a piece of quality content for Reload or for one of my clients. If you’d like a bit more information, read on after the infographic where I detail the steps I take in a bit more detail:
Embed this infographic on YOUR site
Step One: Calm yourself
You’ve got a new project, a new opportunity, and a clean slate. This may be where you start to feel your heartbeat go up a bit. You have lots of thoughts going on in your head already, but do your best to cleanse your mind and relax. The best creative thinking is done after your prepared, relaxed and ready to dive into all your creative concepts.
Step Two: Research
Ah yes, the most exciting part!
Who is the client? What is their product or service? How long have they been in business? What makes them unique?
Nothing you learn will be of waste! Look for flaws that can be avoided or possibly shown in a positive light. Make a list of attributes that define the product/service and highlight the parts you think are most valuable. Research competitors for insights on the market and ideas that have been used previously. Finally, consider putting yourself in the mind of the buyer – what would interest you in regards to the client’s product or service?
If the client is in a competitive industry, make sure to look for a niche or a way to separate them from the competition. For example, if the service is personal training, check to see the cities where they are located. Do they visit customer’s homes? Do they have a unique method?
Anything that helps separate the client from the rest will give you an edge on creating a memorable idea.
Step Three: The SMALL idea group
Get a small team of people together to discuss possible creative ideas regarding the brand. When I say small I mean 2 to 3 people, tops. Large groups tend to snuff out ideas from quieter group members and, more importantly, the group can get into a ‘hive mind’ where people jump on a bandwagon instead of grazing over lots of ideas.
At this initial stage, you should be looking for quantity; lots and lots of ideas where nothing is shunned or ignored. Dean Kean Simonton, from the University of California, did a study on over 2,000 famous scientists throughout history and their connection with ‘creative genius’. Some of the more popular scientists included people like Einstein, Tesla, da Vinci and Charles Darwin. One of his major finds within this study was the ability for people to create large sums of work. Einstein published 248 papers in addition to his famous piece on relativity. Simonton had found that among all of the ground breaking ideas were also relatively standard and forgettable ones, concluding that one of the most important aspects of creative thought is creating in quantity as well as quality.
Make sure you get all your points across but listen for opportunities with other people’s ideas. Many times the best ideas are fused from bits and pieces. I like to write down ideas on a white board and connect similar ideas together. Consider it some kind of ‘safe room’ where you can say anything you want…anything at all. No matter how strange or impossible, ideas should be heard. This meeting should be filled with laughter, loud noises and accentuated gestures.
Step Four: Connecting the Dots
Take all your bits and pieces and lay them out on a large table. Look for patterns and opportunities to make something larger than just one piece of content. Often our best ideas come from idea merging or looking at the larger picture. da Vinci was throwing pebbles in a pool of water and watching the ripples move outward when thinking about the concept of sound. He merged the two ideas together to formulate that sound actually travels in waves, similar to the ripples in a pond. Be open to finding the gaps and connections between your goals and ideas.
Do additional research to make sure your ideas are actually possible. Remember to ask yourself throughout this stage, how will this help reach the goals I’ve made? Does this fit within my current constraints? What are the opportunities and drawbacks of this idea?
Start to narrow down your choices and number your options based on your own criteria, crossing off ideas that just aren’t working. You should still have about three solid choices, but one in mind at this point.
Step Five: Sit and think
Take a break, go get some coffee and do something else for a bit. Sleep on it and come back to it later. Give yourself time to reflect on all the things you’ve just created! It takes time to see things with fresh eyes.
You’re most memorable products will most likely develop or be recognised after a good amount of time has passed. Paul Cezanne, a French Impressionist, never had an exhibition of his work until he was 56. Accomplishments take time.
Don’t expect this step to be done in a day. You really need to refresh and give yourself time. Don’t be afraid to throw everything away and start again! You need to be sure the ideas you’ve come up with are genuinely good, not just something you fell in love with at first. It’s best you do it now than once you’ve begun the creative.
Step Six: Pick a medium and wireframe
To put it bluntly, ideas aren’t worth very much. Without adequate skill and considerable effort, an idea will remain an incomplete idea unless it is realised. Inspiration and motivation form only the starting point of creativity, not the final product.
The next step is to prototype your idea into something tangible. Look for fresh minds to give you feedback and be careful to not get attached to your idea just yet. Understand that the product at this point is still very new and can be molded and refined. You should be open to reviews and recommendations from peers, looking for ways to improve on what you’ve started.
Take time to review all feedback and look at it objectively. Remind yourself of your goals and ask if your idea will meet them.
Step Seven: Construction
Begin the final stage with enthusiasm. You went through a great amount of inspiration and creativity to get to this stage, but the best pieces of work only come to those prepared through hard work and hard thought.
Perseverance will be the main goal at this stage. Working tirelessly to finalise and deliver the product you cradled from the very beginning. Oversee workflow with great consideration and care to make sure that it’s created to your specifications.
The little details will matter at this stage as well. Look for any and all flaws and focus on the end product. Ensuring quality will make the difference between a satisfactory and extraordinary accomplishment.
Enduring the long road of creativity is incredibly rewarding, and it’s a process that will benefit you throughout your life, both in business and in everyday life. Using a proper creative structure will keep you focused on creating a unique and memorable product, and just possibly help you find the creative genius in you.