How to Create More Amazing Content in Less Time
A content and social media marketing specialist, Ben Jacobson joined the Lean Labs team in the summer of 2014. Ben has been active as a digital branding professional since the early days of social media, having overseen projects for brands including MTV, National Geographic, Zagat and Wix. His writing has appeared in Social Media Explorer, Search Engine Journal, Techwyse and the Mad Mimi Blog. Ben resides just south of the Carmel Mountain ridge in Israel with his dashing wife and two sprightly descendants.
It's not just you. Even the world's best marketing writers admit they sometimes struggle to create high-quality content efficiently. Today's inbound marketing practitioners face even more complex challenges than copywriters and brand journalists do, as we're responsible for so much more than writing content. A complete inbound program involves social engagement, email, landing pages, calls-to-action and more.
If you can force yourself to stick to the below rules, though, you should be able to avoid any major issues with dropped balls, missed deadlines, seemingly never-ending assignments, compromised focus and bouts with weakened creativity.
How to Create More Content in Less Time
Keeping productivity and quality at a high level essentially comes down to discipline. There are some great tools out there that can help keep you on track.
With the right routine and tools in place, you'll be able to keep churning out killer content; even on those days when the inbox has it out for you and the sneak attack meetings keep coming.
Tip: Keep an Updated Publishing Calendar
If you need to think of a new content idea every few days, your writing will be slowed significantly. Instead, take some time at the beginning of each month to list all the topics for that month and schedule them in advance.
If you've got more than one team member working on content, you'll need a calendar to make sure everyone is aware of the latest scheduling updates. Also, it's important to maintain a mix of post types and lengths. An editorial calendar makes this easy.
Google Calendar is a useful tool for creating a shareable publishing schedule, especially if you're posting every weekday. Alternatively, Google Spreadsheets can be highly effective as well. There are even some great user community-shared templates out there.
When you know your upcoming assignments with enough advance notice, you can plan your workflow ahead of time and break up the writing tasks into bite-sized morsels, a system the superb bloggers at Buffer swear by.
Tip: Keep Tasks on Schedule
It’s all very well to set due dates for posts, but if you don’t keep to the deadlines, you’ll quickly feel like you're facing a Sisyphusian catch-up challenge.
A task management tool like Asana can help keep you and your team focused. Asana allows you to assign tasks to other teammates, along with deadlines, and easily keep track of when each task is completed.
Be clear about the importance of adhering to deadlines and hold team members, yourself included, accountable for missed due dates. Asana integrates conversations into task management, so if you turn off email notifications, you can significantly decrease the amount of emails landing in your inbox and increase efficiency.
When ideas, conversations, and files are all in one place, you're likely to find it easier to keep track of and manage your writing.
Tip: Stay Focused - Get Rid of Distractions
It’s surprisingly easy to get distracted while writing. When searching through Google, you can come across interesting websites that have nothing to do with your research. It’s also easy to accidentally click on the Facebook tab and, 17 minutes later, remember you were supposed to be writing.
Consider using a writing app that allows full-screen, distraction-free interfaces. Turn off social media, disable push notifications, ignore the inbox and keep everything else that distracts you away.
If music keeps you focused, go ahead and play it, but if it proves to demand too much attention, you may find it more effective to work in silence. In an office environment, it’s also easy to become distracted by what’s happening around you or by team members who have to ask you “one small question.”
If possible, put up a sign that says something like, “Writing now. Please do not disturb. I will be available at 2:00.”
We highly recommend Scrivener, a desktop app designed especially for writers. It allows you to easily organize notes, concepts and research for easy access while writing. This means you can compile all your data in one place and then do the actual writing in an interface designed to minimize distractions. You can even rearrange virtual index cards to easily turn random notes into a cohesive piece of content.
Tip: Always Be Thinking Content
For many writers and inbound strategists, the most time-consuming aspect of content creation is coming up with great ideas for content. If you wait until the beginning of the month to sit down with a calendar and generate 15 ideas, you may find yourself with writer’s block before you even get started. Instead, keep content opportunities in mind at all times.
As you browse the web for other purposes, look out for interesting articles and topics. Save them with an app like Evernote, so you can return to them when it's time to block in your publishing calendar.
Evernote allows you to save everything from web articles to photos and handwritten notes, and it syncs seamlessly between all of your connected devices. With one click, the notes are transformed into presentations, so you can easily see all your notes and share them with other team members.
Creating Great Content is Up to You
These tips and tools have served us well at Lean Labs, but ultimately, you're going to have to do some trial and error until you find the groove that works best for you. Everyone's different, and the better you know what methods and apps enable you to consistently ship out killer posts, the better shape you'll be in.
Do you find the white noise of espresso machines and clinking spoons keeps you at the top of your game? Are you loyal to Basecamp for your project management and scheduling needs? Do you get your best work done after midnight? Any Wordpress plugins that have changed the efficiency and quality game for you? We'd love to hear about your own regimen and preferred solutions, so please share in the comments below.