What’s the Problem? – Developing A Content Strategy, Step 2


As you saw in step 1 of this training, coming up with a content strategy isn’t all about brainstorming ideas and planning when to post them (although that will come). It’s also about planning the right kind of content, and that comes with understanding our audience, their problems, and our purpose.


So now we know who we’re writing for, it’s time to get a little deeper into the way they think.

Why Problems Matter

Many of us go about planning content the wrong way. We think about what we think people want to read about, and we think about the features of the products or services, rather than how they will really help our customers. We need to flip this around and start relating everything we write to something our audience really cares about. Typically this means solving their problems.

Think about the way you feel as a reader. When you read something interesting, that’s all good. But when you read something that solves a problem, you come away thinking how useful that blog is, how you’ve finally found someone who understands you, and even how you’d be happy to spend money for more of the same!

This is why your content will do so much better if you create it with your reader’s problems in mind. Don’t skip this step of the training: it’s very important!

[tbpquotable]Writing tip: Always ask yourself which problems your content can solve for your audience. [/tbpquotable]

Finding the Problems You Need to Solve

Have I convinced you of the need to go deeper to find what matters to your audience? Good! So, how do you do this? Here are some questions to ask. Note down as many answers as you can for each one…

  • Put yourself in the place of a reader just getting started in your niche. What questions would they ask?
  • What are the biggest fears of your readers in your niche?
  • What are their regrets?
  • What have they failed at?
  • Do they have secret hopes and desires that they are afraid to tell people?

The answers can be things like: Not having enough time, money or specific skills; regretting that they have never followed a specific dream; aspiring to a specific lifestyle but feeling stuck in a different one.

But your answers need to be more specific than these examples. For example, if you know your audience wants to be rich, go deeper and understand why. Is it because they want to travel the world while they have the chance, is it because they want to help people through charity work? Or do they simply want their dream car and dream home?

As you can see, “being rich” means different things to different people, so you need to know what it means for your ideal reader.

If you can’t come up with any problems you need to solve, here are some great sources of information:

  • Search for forums in your niche and see what problems regularly come up,
  • Have a search through Yahoo Answers to see which questions regularly come up,
  • Ask your audience in surveys and emails.

Your Homework: Go through the questions above and list at least five real problems for your audience.

Practically every answer you give at this step in the training can later be turned into some form of content, whether it’s a blog post, a paid info product, a course and so on. So this work really will pay off if you take the time to do it now!

Look out for the next step of the training on Monday!


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I’ll be posting each step of the training on the blog for the public, however you’ll get extra planning tools when you subscribe to my mailing list.

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Ruth has been creating online content since 2008, and selling done-for-you content packs since 2010. Her aim is to help you work smarter, NOT harder!

14 thoughts on “What’s the Problem? – Developing A Content Strategy, Step 2

  1. Tamala says:

    I love this!! Thank you once again Ruth for an awesome blog post on content strategy!!! I will definitely think about how my blog could possibly serve my potential readers – what problems they may have. Can’t wait for phase 3 🙂

  2. Fran G. says:

    I really like the idea of solving problems for your visitors. This year is the first time I wrote down their possible problems related to their dogs and sought out more specific solutions. It’s still in the early stages of planning posts and articles. Your post are very helpful. I can use them to further cement my ideas for responding to my audiences problems.
    You’ve got a winner here with this course. It’s something that people in a wide ranges of niches can use. Thank you.

  3. Edie Dykeman says:

    What helps me with content for ElderCareCafe is that I’m a caregiver to a 91-year-old and I know the problems caregivers and aging seniors have. I’m not that intuitive on other sites that I have, but I really think I need to spend more time re the points and questions you mention in this post. People do want answers to their problems and we are in a position to help them out. Love this series!

    • Ruth says:

      Edie – This is a great example of a benefit of going into a niche where you’re actually going through the same things as your audience. Unfortunately it can be hard in other niches where we’re not necessarily in the same position as our readers.

  4. Bonnie Gean says:

    You’re doing a wonderful job here Ruth and I appreciate the time you’re taking to make this available to many people.

    They will surely learn from this… and I need to put it into practice! 🙂

  5. Tamsin says:

    Great guidance, Ruth! Thank you. So simple, but we don’t do it. Jump in boots and all and wonder why it doesn’t work! Time to apply some more thought to the process 🙂

  6. Patricia Weber says:

    My take away from this step is to blog about WHAT the problem is that people might have, then answer with the HOW that might be affecting them as well as WHY and HOW they can solve it.

    Thanks for the valuable insights Ruth.

    • Ruth says:

      Patricia – Excactly! I also think if you have a solution to a really common problem it’s a great idea to turn the answer into a product 😉

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