How I Create Quality Content

5 Analog Content Creation Tools That Trump Digital

Analog Content Creation ToolsDon’t get me wrong digital tools and technology rock when it comes to content marketing. BUT, nothing trumps old-fashioned analog content creation tools when it comes to raw content creation.

Content doesn’t exist until you decide it’s important to create and to share. 

Content creation requires that you capture your ideas, organize them, edit them and optimize them for reader consumption. (Note: Reader refers to the audience for any form of content including visual, video and audio, either live or recorded.)

Why analog content creation tools trump digital

Analog Content Creation ToolsDigital tools allow information to be transmitted directly from your unfettered brain through your fingertips to your computer, tablet or smartphone. Often, this process doesn’t require any thought. You just do it.

But every so often one of your rapid-fire social media or email responses conveys something you would never have said to someone in real life or on the phone. But unfortunately it’s out there before you can do anything to stop it.

By contrast, analog content creation allows you to get your thoughts out however they occur to you and affords you the time to think about them before you transform them into amazing content.

Random notes, words and/or snapshots can be captured and mellow somewhere deep in your subconscious before you create your quality content.

On a personal note, unlike many of my content marketing peers, I spent time focused on becoming a writer. Specifically, I’ve wanted to be an author (note the distinction) since I was in third grade. (Here’s why your third grade teacher was wrong about writing.)

But I had done nothing about this dream until one of my college friends died of cancer. Her death propelled me to take my writing seriously.

While I worked full time as a marketer for high profile multinational companies, I spent my summer vacations at writing workshops where I had the good fortune to study at high profile writing centers like the University of Iowa and the Fine Arts Work Center with prize-winning authors like Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours.

While I haven’t written a book yet, I learned how to write and it’s influenced my content creation. In the process, I learned that writing is a habit.

This is why I feel strongly about using analog content creation tools, especially for content ideation. To that end, daily pages as recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way help, especially if you do them by hand. (Here’s some writing inspiration that uses these analog tools.)

5 Analog content creation tools that trump digital

The 5 analog content creation tools that trump digital content creation tools include the following.

1. Pens and pencils.

I always have a favorite pen. Over the years, it’s changed.

Somewhere at the back of my desk, I have a maroon Montblanc ballpoint. But now it feels too special to use.

The best pen ever is the Fisher Space Pen. It’s a version of the one used by the Apollo astronauts. The ink cartridge is pressurized so that it will write in any direction at any temperature. Further, its parts are useful. The pen’s spring was part of the solution that saved Apollo 13, at least according to the content that came with my pen.

Now I tend to use give-aways from tradeshows. I got into this habit due to my father who always asked me to get him pens each time I went to a conference. While I volunteered to go to Staples to purchase pens, he replied that he only wanted the “free” ones from events I attended.

Additionally, I have at least 2 or 3 colored pens. I find that they’re useful for editing print versions of my content since the ink stands out. My favorites are from Muji, which has a shop in the JetBlue terminal at JFK.

Pencils are also useful for editing because they allow you to change your mind about your writing without making a black mess of scribbles.

2. Paper, notebooks or moleskines

I like the tactile feel of writing on paper. My favorite type of paper is grid pads. I like that the grid lines allow me to place my ideas in different places on the page. (Although to assuage my conscious, I reuse my print outs for scrap paper and notes.)

Notebooks and moleskins are also good for this function. In fact, at tech events, moleskin use is on the rise. While this sounds like a funny irony, the reality is that the act of physically writing something down helps you to remember it.

Personally, while moleskin pads are beautiful and have a rich history of great people collecting important thoughts and sketches, I find this puts pressure on me to write amazing content.

3. Whiteboards and blackboards

Once you capture your initial ideas, you must organize them in a fashion that tells a story your readers can understand and remember. Whiteboards are great for gathering these diverse facts. Their advantage is that you can step away from the board and get some actual physical distance from your ideas.

Whiteboards are also useful for mind mapping your ideas and group brainstorming sessions.

Personally, I use a white wall in my apartment when I have to organize a lot of information. (I’m lucky my husband doesn’t mind too much!)

4. Post-it notes

I use a variety of post-it notes: bright colored ones, small thin ones and ones with advertising. The colored ones are great for organizing information, either on a free wall or white board. They’re also good for classifying information with a specific color for each category.

Additionally, I carry a 4”X6” yellow lined post-its to capture hasty notes. There’s generally one in my backpack or pocketbook.

Want help with your writing and notes? Check out these 21 Writing Tips.

5. Writing confidant

For a writer, a confidant is a necessity. This is a real person, generally your spouse, colleague or best friend, who you trust to give you truthful feedback without being mean.

Why? Because you need to get outside input and this person provides a sounding board for testing your content ideas.

While this person may never write a single word, they play an important role in helping you to refine your ideas and get another point of view.

Note that this should be someone who supports what you’re doing or they’re liable to just tell you that your content is crap and who needs that negativity.

Bonus items

While not totally analog, voice recorders and cameras are also great ways to capture these fleeting ideas. They have the benefit of being part of every smartphone which most content creators have within arm’s reach at all times.


Once I get my ideas down on paper and organize my thoughts into an outline, I’m ready to starting writing. At this point, I leave my analog content creation tools and open my computer.

But without going through the ritual of using my analog content creation tools, I find that my writing looses its way. I wind up writing a lot more and my drafts require many more editing iterations.

What’s your content creation process? What analog content creation tools do you use and what meaning do they have for you?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

P.S. This article is dedicated to my colleague Ian Cleary of the RazorSocial blog. He’s affectionately known as “The Tools Guy” but doesn’t believe analog tools are part of content marketing.

P.P.S. Please join me at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, September 8th to 11th.

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