Even though the role of content marketers is content managing (i.e. producing lots of content), even the best of us run out of time and inspiration sometimes. But when it comes to writing kick-ass content that will really make an impact on your audience, you can’t just put a whole bunch of words on a page and hope they’ll stick. It just doesn’t work like that.
We’ve all had that ominous feeling in the pit of our stomachs: you’ve got a blog due today but it’s already 3:30pm and you’re still neck-deep in emails and, oh yeah, don’t forget that infographic you said you’d pull together for Sales and that other infographic you’ve been meaning to do for Marketing but you just haven’t found the time.
Time is everyone’s mortal enemy, but more time is what content marketers need to produce the best content. And let’s be honest: it actually takes a long time to write really great content. HubSpot did a survey in 2017 that found that most marketers spend one-to-two hours writing a 500-word post, while another survey by Orbit Media Studios found that the average blog post takes almost three-and-a-half hours to put together. You do two blogs in a day and there’s not much time to do anything else (plus your brain will be fried).
Wish you could be more efficient with both your content production and your limited time?
We’ve pulled together some handy hints that will help you create better content - quicker.
1. Audit The Content You’ve Already Got
Stop what you’re writing right now and take a good hard look at your current content strategy. If you know what content you’ve already got, how it’s performing online, what gaps you have, and what works and what doesn’t, you’ll have more of an understanding about how to tackle your next piece of content.
A content audit is important because it will help you:
- Figure out how to get more out of existing pieces of content
- Understand how previous campaigns performed
- Discover - and solve - failings
- Share the big picture with the rest of your team - because no man is an island
When everyone’s aboard the same content production train, the process of creating any piece of content will become more productive. It’s really as simple as that. Don’t limit this intel to just the people who sit near you either; if other people in other departments (particularly Sales) understand what you’re doing and how your actions will impact them, they’ll be more likely to care about your cog in the wider business too.
2. Create an Editorial Calendar
The most organised people are less likely to be the ones who rely on brain power to remember tasks and more likely to be the ones who religiously use their calendar. Set a good few hours aside to plan what the next few months of content will look like so every time it’s time to pull it together, the planning work is already done for you.
Creating an editorial calendar is a great way to avoid writer’s block too. When you’ve run out of inspiration, at least you’ll always have a title to prompt you in the right direction.
The more info you can include in your calendar the better, especially for the wider team. Include essentials like:
- Publish date
- Working title
- The persona you’re targeting
- Journey stage
Yes, building a content calendar is an essential step that you really shouldn’t skip over. But it shouldn’t take too long to do well it’s essential of you want to nail your content strategy.
Don’t have a content strategy yet either? Check out my recent post: How to create a content marketing strategy in 2 hours
3. Implement Foolproof Processes & Stick to Them
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Set up strong content development processes that are easy for your team to understand (and ensure everyone understands what happens if they’re not followed correctly) and you’ll be one step closer to a content strategy that really works.
A solid content creation process might include the following steps:
- Brainstorming and concept development
- Approval and adjustment
If your team is larger than one, get everyone involved - because as the cliche goes, many hands make light work. The more ideas that get bounced around, the more creative your team and your content will become. If you ride the content creation train solo, ask people from other teams to contribute. Not only will you get more ideas from different perspectives, you’ll also make them feel like you really value their input.
4. Improve Your Time Management
Planning takes time, yes, but when it’s done well your writing time will be cut significantly. The more that’s planned in advance, the easier it’ll be to pull your writing together when the time comes to put finger to keyboard.
Implementing some time management techniques into your writing routine will help you stay on top of things too. It’s all too tempting when working digitally to edit on the fly, changing sentences and structures as we go, in the hope that we won’t have as much editing to do at the end.
But this really just disrupts your natural flow, or at least it does mine! I always find it more fruitful - and time saving - to get all my notes and thought down in one dump, probably take a quick break from it, and then go back in to edit intensively. I’ll probably spend as much time (if not more) editing than writing - and that’s what works best for me and most people I’ve worked with.
Another method I’ve seen used successfully is writers who split their time into sections, using timers to move them onto the next stage. They might allow themselves 15 minutes to check their emails, then a timer goes off. From there, it might be 45 minutes to plan two blogs, then a timer goes off. From there it might be time to grab a coffee. After that, they might allow 90 minutes to smash out a blog that they’ve already planned.
Setting goals, writing lists and physically crossing tasks off as they’re completed or archiving tasks from your Trello board might work better for you. Find a strategy that works, then stick to it. You’ll be surprised at how much your time management improves.
5. Aim to Become Better, Always
Just because you’ve created processes, set up shared calendars and written documents, doesn’t mean you can sit on your laurels and expect magic to happen.
Improvement only happens when you’re willing to constantly evaluate your performance, and encouraging the wider team to get involved will help everyone take ownership of their part of the puzzle too. Be open with each other about what’s working and what’s not, what’s annoying and what they really like. The more you can improve your processes, the more efficient you and your team will become. If you want to create better content but you're not sure where to start, lets grab a coffee and chat.