Don’t Panic! Avoid The Content Creation Crunch
April 15th is tax day in the U.S. It’s a deadline that instills people with a sense of panic. Similarly, content creation can cause anxiety if you’re faced with last minute crunch because it’s not finished.
Despite being an accountant’s daughter, this year was the first time since I’ve been married that my husband and I filed our taxes before the deadline.
I can’t tell you how happy I felt as we walked out of our accountant’s office. No ominous paperwork and spreadsheets lurking, waiting to be completed. I’ve even filed the accountant’s documents so they don’t get lost in the tower of bills and other official documents on my husband’s desk.
What did I do differently this year that enabled me to avoid anxiety and panic?
I had a process to keep my financial life more organized. I filed my bills by type on a monthly basis and collected the tax documents when they arrived. To make record keeping easier, I put all tax deductable items on a credit card to facilitate tracking and reduce receipts and bits of paper.
What does my improved tax filing have to do with your content creation?
Like paying taxes, it’s easy to have so much to do that your content creation deadline sneaks up on you. Since they’re integrated into your overall marketing plans and related sales and events, the deadlines can’t be changed. As a result, you’re in a content creation crunch.
Just as the application of a small amount of organization and preparation reduced my tax work, you can do the same with your content creation.
10 Point checklist to streamline content creation
To avoid content creation panic, here’s a useful 10 point checklist to streamline content creation. It’ll help you craft your content before you ever sit down at your computer.
1. Determine your content’s main objective.
I know this sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many content creators skip this step! Knowing what business goal your content must achieve focuses your content efforts.
2. Know your content’s target audience.
It’s much easier to address your content to a specific person than it is for a nebulous group.
- Create a marketing persona. The details make the character real for the writer. Answer the question: Who is the intended audience for your content and how will your information change them?
3. Establish due dates and deadlines.
Connect these dates with your overall marketing plans. Plan beyond the initial draft since any delay will have an impact on the rest of your creation process. Include any dependencies that will influence your content creation process. Among the deadlines to consider are:
- Rough draft
- Time for copyediting
- Time to create related or additional artwork
- Optimization for search
- Additional time for technology support and publication
4. Collect content ideas.
The key to avoiding a content creation crunch is to never start with a blank page. This is the recipe for a longer content creation period. It’s intimidating.
- Keep your content inspiration in one place. While scraps of paper are useful to capture ideas, organize them in a central location, especially if multiple people are involved in the creation. Michael Hyatt recommended this at SMMW15. (Here’s the reference with content ideas.)
- Ask peers for content suggestions. Even better, get them to provide you with a rough draft or blind copy you when they’re explaining things to peers or customers.
- Gather questions customers frequently ask. Get help from your sales and customer service teams. It’s much easier to answer a question than trying to figure out what information your prospects want. This is Marcus Sheridan‘s “They ask, you answer.”
5. Create a content structure.
Make your content consistent to support your brand. (Here are 7 content branding tips.)
- Establish the basic elements of your content. This reduces creation time because you know where your content is going even if you don’t have to start writing at the beginning.
- Choose your content format. Knowing whether you’re creating an article, podcast, or video influences the structure, presentation and information.
6. Develop your voice.
This represents your content’s style and personality. It should be closely aligned with your brand. To this end, answer the following questions:
- What character or person represents your business or brand? What is she or he like?
- What type of language does she or he use? Is it formal? Does it contain foul language or abbreviations?
- What is the educational level of your audience?
7. Do your content creation homework.
Gather the input you need before starting to develop your content. You can do this yourself or get help from other resources. Among the information, you’ll need is:
- Data and information resources
- Links both to your own content and to other third party content
- Quotes and input from others
- Examples to clarify your points
- Keywords to ensure that your content is findable
- Images and other media to attract reader attention
Since titles make or break your content’s performance, brainstorm ideas before you start to write and tweak them later. This reduces work since you don’t need to re-edit your work to fit a better title. At a minimum, start writing with a working title.
9. Incorporate marketing messages and/or promotions.
Beyond creating content to support your prospects and customers through the purchase process, does your content need to deliver a special offer? This is tied to your marketing calendar. Since content marketing shouldn’t be promotional, incorporate your message without shouting ME, ME, Me.
10. Acquire additional resources where appropriate.
Get the people (employees, freelancers or agencies) and financial budget to execute your content. For many companies it’s difficult to keep your content creation going without support.
Avoid content creation crunch by planning ahead.
To the extent possible, do as much of the content creation before you ever sit down to your computer to start crafting your content.
Following this 10 step checklist will not only help streamline your content creation process but also help generate ideas for new, related content.
How do you streamline content creation?
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