It's hard to get away from talking about content in my line of work. Though I haven't had a chance to really talk about it recently. I've been creating a lot over the past eight to nine months. And none of it for Merry Fools. That happens when you're busy with client content – your own gets pushed aside.
But now that I have a little breathing room, I'd like to spend a moment on it.
First off, what is content?
I often fumble for a description when someone asks me what it is I do for a living.
Saying I'm a content developer for a small digital agency gets an odd stare. No one knows what that means, so I usually just smile and follow up with, "Computers."
So, let me explain what content development is and hopefully I can draw from that the next time I have one of those uncomfortable encounters.
Content, when referring to the web, is anything on a website that is textual, visual, or audible. It really doesn't get any simpler than that.
I do all of that. Write copy, create images, make animated videos…. Whatever is needed for a client in the way of content, I'm your guy.
I manage the content on social media pages for clients as well, and for ourselves, and create copy and images from scratch when there is none.
So let's talk about copy. Copy includes every word you see on a webpage. From headings and titles down to the words on a button. Like "Download Now."
Yeah, that's me. "Download Now." Creative, huh?
Without my talents tough, as insignificant as they may seem, webpages would be boring, making for just a shell of a website. It takes a little bit of imagination and skill to make copy work and compel visitors to follow through on your call to action.
Not only do I have to keep your attention, I have to do it in a way that works for two different types of viewers – those on desktop and those on mobile devices.
Especially of users on a phone – you have to be very conscious of the length of your copy.
Too much text, or text not broken up into easy to read snippets, what is referred to as a wall of text, will chase visitors away.
You have to be concise, yet articulate your point without losing context.
I like to think of Twitter when I write copy. If I can say it in 140 characters or less and still get my message across, then I have succeeded. Less is more, as "they" say.
I pretty much use Word exclusively for writing copy. For one, it's a great copy editing program. And two, it's paid for by Merry Fools. There are alternatives, like Open Office, that are free. I recommend trying one of those if your budget is extended.
There also has to be a good mix of images and other content to break up the monotony of long copy.
So, let's move on to image content.
People are visual beings and sometimes it helps to have a visual of what you're talking about to move the conversation along.
I use Photoshop for most of my images. Whether I'm altering a professional image or creating something of my own, that's my go-to program.
If you want something comparable without the cost, try GIMP. It's a free image manipulation program and works just as well for image manipulation or for making memes.
I try to use images that provoke some thought and that aren't easily associated with my topic. Being that people are visual creatures, they respond better to stimulation from mild abstraction than from something entirely overt.
Another program favorite of mine is Illustrator.
I know, I'm an adobe whore. What can I say? It's a great program for creating assets from scratch.
For those of you who don't want to spend that kind of money when there are free alternatives, give Inkscape a shot. It's a pretty cool program in its own right.
Not really a whole lot to say about images, but try to have fun with them. In the right context, of course. Obviously, you don't want to offer up something off the wall for a client, unless it's requested.
Audible content. I don't really do too much video work. It’s time consuming for one.
To give you a good estimate – for every minute of script (one page is about a minute) it takes about a week of production to produce.
I'm speaking of animated video here. That involves script writing, asset creation (the images), voice recording, adding music, and finally, assembly and editing.
Two, we just don't get a lot of calling for it. But when I do get to do it, I like to have a lot of fun with it. It's a great creative process that really lets you unleash.
A lot companies have entire teams that produce video. A team for scripting, a team for assets, a team for animation, etc., etc. I do it all myself – because we're a small company. Yet, I still manage to get video out in average time.
My program of choice is After Effects. Again, an adobe product. I love adobe. Love. Love. Love. Give Blender a shot if you prefer open source programs. It's free and great for 3D animation. Blackmagic Fusion is also worth checking into. Again, it's free.
Well, that's it for content development and what is content. I hope you have better understanding even if I didn't go very deep into the subject. I just wanted to touch on what it is so that you can avoid that awkward stare the next time someone says that's what they do.