Even the term sounds a little boring. It makes the process sound about as enthralling as writing the ingredient labels for food packaging. It just sounds so, well, industrial. It feels as if you’re applying for a job on an assembly line.
Fortunately, there’s an antidote for the tedium. (And it’s not turning your articles into illustrated graphic novellas; though that is fun.) No, the antidote is something much simpler.
Fall in love.
Specifically, fall in love with asking amazing questions.
Even more specifically: fall in love with what might be called “tractor beam” questions — the kind of questions that, the moment your eyes scan across them, an invisible force as mighty as Darth Vader’s Death Star grabs you by the shirt collar, and a voice in your head says, “I must read this immediately or I will die.”
The goal here is to develop your question-asking skills until 1) you understand the difference between an average question and an amazing question and 2) you become emotionally invested in that pursuit.
This will add a powerful motivator to your content creation projects — whether you’re blogging, creating videos, memes, comic books, or sound bites.
Why It’s Important to Learn to Love Content Creation (No Matter What It Takes)
A quick aside: let’s be honest here; if you love your content creation, it will show in your content creation. (And if you absolutely hate it, that will show too.) Your excitement (or utter despair) will become contagious to the business who is consuming your content — even if only on a subconscious level.
So figuring out a way to enjoy your content creation — by approaching your search for good questions like an Indiana Jones treasure hunt, for example — is crucial. If you learn to love it while also keeping it useful, good things will come. Before they know it, the businesses reading your stuff are enthusiastic, even emotional, about your product and your website, and they might not even know why.
So let’s start falling in love with great questions.
But What Does It Really Mean to Fall in Love?
Falling in love might be described as curiosity heightened to its most intense, outward-focused, adoring state. You become self-forgetful. All you can think about is the other person — what makes them tick, what makes them happy, and why the heck they love the color orange so much. Falling in love is a strange form of altruism and selflessness.
So the best place to start when searching for great questions is not what interests you. It’s what interests your potential B2B clients. What makes them tick? What makes them happy? Why the heck do they love the color orange so much? Why do they always hire that Simon & Garfunkel cover band for corporate retreats? Start seeing the world from their eyes. And then the great questions, from their vantage point, will come. And as you learn about other businesses (i.e. other people — remember, we’re not talking about robots) with a childlike curiosity, you’ll discover all sorts of fun, interesting little things along the way that will make the search for good questions enjoyable.
But it’s more than just any ol’ great question. It’s the pursuit of the perfect question, from their point of view — the Death Star tractor beam question.
But achieving this will require some humility.
Humility Required: You Don’t Have All the Questions
When someone is a know-it-all, they might be told, “Hey, you don’t have all the answers, okay?” The same is true for the pursuit of the perfect question.
Hey, you don’t have all the right questions, okay?
When you’re stuck, look for outside help. Go to websites like quora.com where you can see questions that businesses are asking.
It can be easier said than done, though. Business Insider makes this astute observation: “…on a site whose range of topics stretches from ‘Do Silicon Valley VCs invest in European early-stage startups?’ to ‘Given our current technology and with the proper training, would it be possible for someone to become Batman?’ how can you maximize its potential for your business?”
(The latter question is a particularly valid question. The FoxTail team may or may not be working on this right now, in fact.)
If you’ve never used Quora, here’s a quick crash-course:
- After signing up with a profile, find the category (or categories) of expertise that is relevant to your business by typing “b2b” (for example), or any topic or term that is relevant, into the search box at the top of Quora
- After results appear, under “by type” on left, click “questions”
- Look for questions that have high number of “want answers,” which indicates the demand for that question
- Use those questions for content creation ideas
Oh, and a few more house-keeping tips for good Quora use:
- Don’t forget to “follow” the topics relevant to your industry or “follow” other businesses/potential clients who are active there
- Get involved: ask great questions yourself, and only give superb, top-of-the-class answers in topics that you know extremely well
- Don’t use it as a tool of aggressive self-promotion with which you bludgeon others relentlessly
Follow this great advice from Marc Gayle, founder of CompVersions.com: “Don’t try and market your site or product [on Quora]—put information about what you are working on, what you own, etc., in your bio/profile, but don’t market it unless there is a specific situation that it adds value. Figure out how to give back to the community.”
Besides Quora, Yahoo Answers also provides a similar service. Although it doesn’t have Quora’s excellent “want answers” indicator of whether a question is in high demand, the UX of Yahoo Answers makes it quick to use. Just click “Discover,” then click one of the categories on the left, and start browsing through a never-ending list of ideas for questions. The questions here typically tend to be more general, evergreen questions.
Great ideas comes more from being able to listen then they do from being able to speak. So listen to everything, internalize it, ask your questions, and come up with great topics that help you but also help your readers.