Every business needs content. But despite this fact, many businesses still find it difficult to post on a regular basis. Among the leading excuses, people blame a lack of time to why they don’t publish more frequently. But you do have the time. What you don’t have? A strong content creation system in place to make time work in your favor. When you establish a system for creating content, the entire process becomes less scary. You feel more prepared, capable and excited about writing something awesome. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s setup this system.
Make it a Priority
First things first: If you don’t make creating content a priority, no tricks or tips can help you. And if you truly don’t have the time, hire someone to do it for you. But generally speaking, when we make something a priority, we can find an extra hour in our week to make it happen. [box type=”info” align=”alignleft” ]Pro tip: Wake up an hour earlier and write before daily responsibilities start pulling at you.[/box]
Generate a List of Topics
Once you’ve made it a priority, start collecting topic ideas. I use a Google Spreadsheet to collect ideas for future blogs. (Download it HERE) But you can also use things like:[checklist]
- Trello Boards
- Moleskine Notebooks
- A Voice Recorder App
- Text Messages to Yourself
- Post-It Notes
- Your Hand[/checklist]
Okay, so maybe not your hand. But the rest of these tools will do the trick. You simply want a way that works for you. But how do you come up with new topics? Good question. When generating ideas, you want to look for two things:
- How it educates, entertains or benefits your audience.
- How well you know and understand the topic.
If you don’t know the topic inside and out, you can’t create content quickly. And if it doesn’t directly resonate with your target market, it won’t matter how fast you write because the post won’t perform. Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to come up with some ideas. I use a three-fold process for creating topics. Using this system, you’ll create content you know will hit home with your audience. It looks like this:[starlist]
- What questions have my clients/customers asked me this month?
- What have I taught my clients/customers that they didn’t know?
- What content have competitors published did well?
- What generic topics could I put a more targeted spin on?[/starlist]
Let’s say I own a local coffee shop. Over the past month, I’ve noticed that a few of my customers have inquired about why we only sell organic coffee and what that actually means. So, I gave a brief lesson on the differences between organic and non-organic beans. Look for those moments and find the content opportunity in them. Perhaps a blog article further explaining it would really resonate with others. When looking at competitors, set up an RSS feeder to quickly scan through content. You can review their feeds and find topic ideas where you can add your own unique spin. In the RSS feeder, consider adding in more generic blogs like Buzzfeed, Lifehack and TheMuse. It can give you some great title ideas, while sparking your imagination. For example, Buzzfeed posted an article called, “21 Things Only True Equestrians Would Understand.” As a coffee shop owner, that could spark an idea to create my own article entitled, “21 Things Only True Coffee Lovers Would Understand.” [box type=”info” align=”alignleft” ]Pro tip: This should only take a few minutes out of your day. But if you commit to the process, you’ll have a constant stream of new content ideas. Believe me, this makes writing a whole lot easier.[/box]
Create an Outline
Okay, you have a long list of topics and chose your favorite. Now it’s time to sit down and face the blank page. This can seem daunting. But luckily, you’ve chosen a topic that you really know and that will resonate with your audience. Start by creating an outline for your post. Remember outlines? Those pesky little things your English teacher insisted you create. Well, I hate to break it to you: she was right. An outline will help you keep your article structured and moving in the right direction. I use my subheadings as an outline and go ahead and write my introduction and conclusion. This helps me know where I’m starting and ending, which better directs the path I take to get there. So, when I first sat down to create this post, my page looked like this: If you have any notes for each section, you can quickly type those in under the subheads. And if you need to do some research or have to gather quotes, put those under the correct subhead as well. [box type=”info” ]Pro tip: This step in the process shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes. If it takes longer, you don’t know the topic well enough to write the post. Remember, we’re trying to craft content quickly. You don’t have all week to spend combing through studies and research. You need to get content out the door so you can focus on other things.[/box]
Write the Post
You’ve already written the introduction, conclusion and subheads. Now, you only need to fill in the blanks! While writing, don’t stop to second guess yourself. Just write. And as you do, keep these things in mind:[starlist]
- Keep your post under 1,500 words. Yes, from a search engine perspective, it’s better to publish longer posts. But if it’s a matter of shorter posts or no post at all, publish something shorter.
- Speak conversationally. This helps the readers engage with your posts, but it also makes it easier for you to write.
- Make it simple. Creating something simple makes things nicer for you and the audience. Don’t worry about including long, highly sophisticated language. Just keep things simple, concise and to the point.[/starlist]
[box type=”info” align=”alignleft” ]Pro tip: Try to spend no more than an hour writing your post. Aim to finish the writing in about 45 minutes and use the last 15 minutes to re-read and adjust the article as necessary.[/box]
Proofread, Format & Schedule
Before you start proofreading, set the post aside. In an ideal world, you’d walk away from it for a couple of days. That way you can look at it with a fresh, unattached viewpoint. When you start editing too quickly, you’ll overlook mistakes you could have caught otherwise. You’re simply too close to the work. Once you’ve given it a good proofread, it’s time to format and upload the post to WordPress. You’ll want to do the following:[checklist]
- Add in relevant images
- Set a featured image
- Put the subheads as H3 headings
- Insert any internal or external links
- Bold and italicize where appropriate[/checklist]
Then schedule the post to publish and you’re done! Congratulations! You just took a post from nothing to completion in less than two hours. [box type=”info” align=”alignleft” ]Pro tip: This final step should take you no time at all. Teach your assistant or hire someone to do it. But if you’re determined to do it yourself, it will take about 30 minutes.[/box]
Creating content for your business on a regular basis feels like a daunting task. But it only feels that way because you haven’t created a productive system. You can accomplish your content marketing goals when you make it a priority, always look for content opportunities and carve out some time in your day to write. Do you feel like you don’t have time to create great content? How can this system help you develop, plan and execute ideas? Comment below with your thoughts.