Does content creation constantly get pushed to the bottom of your to-do list?
…the blog post you keep meaning to write
…the website copy you need to update
…the monthly newsletter you want to create
…the book you never get round to starting
…those sales emails you need to compose
…those information packs you want to produce
You know it’s important, you know it will add value, but it just never seems to be a priority. There’s always something more valuable, more urgent or more critical to work on.
Except there isn’t.
It might feel like there is, but most of it boils down to excuses and procrastination.
In the same way that many people find excuses not to exercise, many business owners find excuses not to work on their content.
I can talk about the benefits of content marketing and how to do it until I’m blue in the face. But giving you all that knowledge, telling you why content marketing is so great and teaching you how to do it, won’t make the content appear.
And you can’t do content marketing without content.
So this is my simple guide to beating procrastination, overcoming writer’s block and getting down to the hard work of actually turning ideas into content.
Have a content strategy
There’s no point simply creating content for the sake of it. You need to have a goal for your content – it should be part of your wider marketing strategy.
Before you start your content creation process, really think about what you are trying to achieve. Your content objectives might include:
- Establish your expertise & build trust
- Showcase your personality & company values
- Build a community
- Improve search engine results
- Drive traffic to your website
- Raise awareness of your products & services
- Increase your social media presence
- Generate enquiries
- Build a subscriber list
- Stay in touch with existing clients
- Win repeat business
- Entertain your followers
Block out time
Establishing a good routine will help make content creation easier to manage. Don’t wait until you have time – make time. Block out time in your diary or calendar for content creation and stick to it as if it were an important meeting.
If you run your own business, it can be hard to carve out much time, so aim for just one hour a week to begin with.
Once you’ve blocked out your hour, use my simple process for creating one piece of great content each month:
Week One: Use your content hour for planning and research. Put together an outline for your content. Find any facts and figures you need, collate any links you want to include, and make sure you’ve got all the relevant information prepared.
Week Two: Use your content hour to write your content. It doesn’t need to be perfect at this point. Just get your ideas in a logical order. If it helps, use a dictation app – say what you want to say out loud and let the app transcribe it for you. The important part is getting the bulk of your copy in place.
Week Three: Use your content hour to edit your content. Go back through what you wrote or transcribed last week and start to perfect it. Cut the waffle and remove any jargon. Make sure you aren’t repeating yourself or going off at a tangent. Take out any irrelevant points and check for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.
Week Four: Use your content hour to polish your content – get it ready to publish or send. Do a final proofread – read it out loud if you need to. Find any images you want to use and put the content in place on your website or email template. If you can’t publish immediately, use whatever scheduling tool you feel comfortable with or set yourself a reminder.
By following this process each week, you’ll find content creation less daunting, and you’ll use your time far more effectively. As you build up a good routine, you can start to increase the frequency or length of your content creation time.
Set some long-term goals for your content. For example, ‘I want my new website to go live six weeks from now’ or ‘I want to publish my eBook in September’.
Once you’ve set your targets, work backwards and create smaller goals. How many chapters will you need to write each month to meet your September target? How many web pages do you need to complete each week to achieve your go-live date?
Having clear targets will help you stay on track.
As well as long term goals, set short-term goals at the start of each session – what are you going to work on? Maybe your goal is to write the outline for your next blog post, edit a chapter of your book or update your website home page.
Try and set yourself a SMART goal – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. For example, to write 300 words in one hour.
Having a goal will help you stay focused. Plus, when you achieve your goal, you’ll feel good. And when something makes us feel good, we want to keep doing it. And if you keep doing it, you’ll achieve your long-term goal.
A lot of people put off content creation out of fear:
- Fear they won’t do a good job
- Fear their content won’t get results
- Fear people won’t like their content
- Fear they’ll do it wrong or make a mistake
Don’t let fear hold you back.
Who cares if not everybody likes your content? You only need your ideal clients to like it, not anybody else. And if you write with them in mind, as if you are writing directly to them and nobody else, you’re more likely to get the results you want.
Maybe you’re experiencing a bit of imposter syndrome – you feel like you aren’t really an expert so you shouldn’t position yourself as one.
But that’s rubbish. If you know more about your subject than the average person, then you can add value. Who cares if there are people who know more about the subject than you– you aren’t writing for them. You’re writing for the people who don’t know what you know. And if you aren’t providing the information they are looking for, they’ll find it from somewhere else – probably one of your competitors.
So if fear is holding you back, picture someone you have helped and write as if you are writing directly to them. Answer the questions they might have, use the language they would use.
Writer’s block can strike even the most experienced of writers, and there’s only one way to get over it.
You might write a load of rubbish at first, but slowly you’ll start to formulate some good stuff and eventually, you’ll have some content you can actually share. You can go back and cut all the unusable sentences later.
If you’re really struggling, try doing some creative writing for 15 minutes. Open a dictionary, pick a word and write a story or poem around it. Nobody will ever see it, but it will help get your creative juices flowing, and you’ll find it easier to write when you go back to your content.
Get someone to hold you accountable
Sometimes we just need a good kick up the bum when it comes to getting things done. If you’re struggling to make yourself do the work, get someone else to hold you accountable. Tell them what targets you’ve set yourself and ask them to check in with you to keep you on track. If we share a goal, we’re more likely to stick to it.
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