Are you a content creator? Do you find yourself desperately looking for something to share about two-thirds of the way through the month?
I have been where you are, staring at my screen willing an idea, any idea, to come to me. It can feel like everything has been said, and that there are just no more topics to cover.
This is the point in every content marketer’s life when they start getting a little overwhelmed by their editorial plans.
Updated posts, recycled blog posts in new formats, master list posts… these are all pretty standard workarounds for when the inspiration just isn’t flowing.
But I want to point you towards a different route that should immediately become a regular part of your publishing routine: expert roundups.
The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Small Business
Expert roundups – The best thing ever
You can probably guess what an expert roundup is, but I am going to explain anyway. An expert roundup is a collection of quotes or interviews of people who are influential in your chosen field. Someone who has authority, and has some advice to provide to you and your readers.
An example of an expert roundup is this one. It is a collection of experts discussing Google’s quality raters’ guidelines.
Creating your own is one of the greatest ways you can freshen up your content. It is also a pretty simple process, just follow these five steps!
Step 1 – Start making your expert list
The first step is an obvious one… you need to know what experts to contact! I try to make a few lists of experts about once every three months, which will encompass several expert roundups using a couple of different media forms. That gives me a better selection to choose from.
So one list will be bloggers and book writers who I think could contribute something special for a roundup. Another list will be YouTube or podcasters that I want to contact.
The third type of list is usually an occasional type. I only put it together when I am going to be attending some kind of event where experts will be. A conference, an expo, a meetup, a party… somewhere that networking is a natural part of the environment.
I use Twitter lists to keep in touch with different kinds of experts.
Once you have your lists it is time to move onto the next phase…
Step 2 – Come up with great questions
Some people will suggest coming up with your topic list first, but I have never found it to be as helpful as putting it second. Having a list (or several) of experts will allow you to start organizing the topics you want covered. It may even give you some ideas to help you along the way.
Coming up with an interesting question determines the success of the future article: A good question prompts the participating experts to come up with detailed answers and directs the conversations to something your audience would be willing to learn about.
SerpStat is a great tool to get some question-inspiration. Type in your core term and it will return the search queries that are questions.
SerpStat is powered by Google Suggest which means it shows you the questions people actually type into the search field (Those are definitely questions they’d appreciate answers to). Here are some more tips on using the tool.
Take a look at each expert and ask yourself, “What do they know best? What can they contribute to my followers?” From there, begin to separate them into groups depending on how long you want your roundups to be. I prefer to make a couple of posts or videos on any topic, and so split those experts up to get more content out of the deal.
It also leads directly to number 3…
Step 3 – Begin contacting your experts
Having a specific topic in mind when you contact your experts will make them much more likely to follow up with you. After all, it doesn’t take that long for someone who really knows their stuff to write a paragraph or two giving a tip, opinion or anecdote. And it is a benefit for them, because it further expands their authority and loops them in with other respected members in the industry.
I would say two weeks are plenty of time prior to the publication date to contact experts for blog bites. However, if you are contacting for a video or other recorded media style, you will need to provide a lot more notice. I try to aim for 4 – 6 weeks, in order to find a good time to get the recording, without having to rush the edits.
If you are in a hurry (e.g. filling in your editorial calendar before you leave for a vacation), use MyBlogU to easily find and contact the experts. MyBlogU scales many steps I am listing here:
- Finding experts to provide their quotes
- Contacting experts to update them of the deadlines and article status
- Creating an HTML output to use as a base for your article
Step 4 – Hype and release
Finally, it is time to start hyping up those readers / viewers / listeners! About a week before you publish send out a social media post alluding to something big and expert-filled on the horizon. Then a couple days before release a teaser with a bit of the info and a promise for more to come.
Work on your promo materials! Your participating experts are your assets: Feature them in your teaser videos and banners.
Tool alert: I highly recommend using Bannersnack for creating your promo materials. It’s an easy-to-use banner creation and hosting platform that lets you make awesome banners and even track their performance through analytics.
If you plan on turning expert roundups into a long-term strategy, Bannersnack analytics will help you A/B test and identify the best-working promo media.
Don’t forget to tag your participating experts in social media updates to engage them in promoting the piece! Here’s a quick checklist on social media tagging.
If you choose to make expert roundups a regular feature you can lessen the hype time and just send out a reminder, but by then people will know the score and get excited all on their own.
Step 5 – Establish your content plan
By now you should have a good idea of what expert advice you will have, and you can start planning the content itself. This is pretty straightforward: design, formatting, presentation, visuals, publishing date, etc.
I like to gather enough advice to make several expert roundup posts and schedule them for a few months, with a quick email to the expert thanking them and letting them know when it will be posted, and that you will shoot off a link to it once it hits the site.
I don’t do more than one expert roundup a month not to overwhelm my readership. Expert roundups are for diversifying your editorial calendar once in a while. When used too often, they may hurt your blog because too much of anything is not a good thing.
Since videos, podcasts and graphics take longer, consider alternating between content formats when you publish. So you can release a blog expert roundup, and then a few weeks later release a video, etc.
Here are different types of expert interviews you can try adding to your editorial plans.
Monitor the performance of each roundup religiously to be able to identfy what works and why. Again, don’t run roundups too often: It’s much more effective to do them right each time than publish them each week.
I use Cyfe to monitor every roundup I do: I monitor social media signals, traffic (using Google Analytics) and rankings of each roundup I do on my blog.
The beauty of doing expert roundups is that you are no longer alone promoting them: Those experts will be there to share, link and comment!