Anyone can do content marketing, but certainly every person cannot do it well. Companies and individuals who do content marketing haphazardly usually find it ineffective, and often give up. But the truth is, it’s only ineffective because they don’t have a strategy for consistently producing and promoting engaging content.
This post will outline 7 steps to help you stay productive with your content, and includes ideas for coming up with topics, regularly creating great content, and distributing it to your audience.
1. Use a formula to come up with engaging topics.
One of the hardest parts of content marketing is coming up with new content ideas. You need to continually come up with new angles on old topics that are still of great interest to the public or to a certain niche. The main thing is to figure out what your audience actually wants to read, and write amazing, attention-grabbing headlines.
And this is in addition to actually writing and promoting your content!
To ensure you always have access to a steady stream of new content ideas, I recommend having a plan or formula in place. For instance, here is my formula in a nutshell:
- Use tools like Buzzsumo to find topics that have already proven popular.
- Scan popular sites for headlines you could adapt to fit your topic.
- Come up with 2 titles for your post, and then have a friend or colleague pick the best title.
2. Get organized using tools.
Content marketing is time-consuming, but tools can make it faster and more effective. A quick Google search will reveal tools to help you minimize distractions, come up with content ideas and schedule your blog and social media posts. But here are a few of my favorites.
- Evernote Web Clipper: Clip posts, pages and images that jump out at you as you’re browsing the web. Use these as inspiration for new content.
- Ommwriter: Cut out all distractions by writing your content using this minimalist word processing tool.
- Hootsuite: Schedule your social media posts and monitor social media mentions so you’re on top of what’s happening in your industry.
- Trello: Plan new blog topics all in one place, either independently or with your team.
3. Use an editorial calendar.
Creating and promoting too much content can sometimes be as bad as not producing enough. When you constantly bombard your audience with content, you don’t give them time to really absorb it and appreciate its value.
The flip side is that when you don’t produce enough content, your audience may forget about you or even “unlike” or “unfollow” you. This is where an editorial calendar is so valuable.
Have a plan for how often you’ll create and promote your content, and stick to it. Your calendar doesn’t have to be fancy, it just needs to be. Here are some great free tools and templates you can use:
- Hubspot’s free editorial calendar template
- WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin
- Co-Schedule’s free editorial calendar templates
4. Set aside uninterrupted time for writing.
If you always do your own writing (as opposed to outsourcing some), it’s important to schedule in chunks of time each day to actually write. If you don’t mark this time in your calendar, other tasks and activities will inevitably move in to fill that space.
To become a more productive writer, log out of your social media accounts and turn off your phone and email notifications. Give yourself a limited amount of time to get x amount of work done, and then try your best to stick to it.
A word of advice: If you give yourself 3 hours to write an 800-word post, it will take you 3 hours. If you give yourself an hour, it will take an hour. Keep this in mind when budgeting your time. I like to use a time tracking tool to make sure I don’t go over, it’s 100% free.
Here are a few tools that I use to minimize distractions and disruptions when writing:
- RescueTime: Lets you block certain websites (ahem, Facebook) and lets you know when you’ve spent your allotted time on a particular task.
- Focus: Allow you to block distracting websites as well as apps like Mail and Skype.
- Time Out: Lets you know when it’s break time and when it’s time to get back to writing.
5. Outsource some of your content marketing.
If YOU’RE the bottleneck that’s slowing down your content production, it’s time to outsource some of your content marketing-related tasks. Hiring competent writers, editors and social media managers can make a huge difference, not only in terms of speed and efficiency, but in terms of the quality of your content.
Not sure where to start? Here are some articles that will help.
- 4 Outsourced Hires You’re Missing Out On
- Should You Outsource Content Marketing? 11 Questions to Consider
- The 5 Ws of Outsourcing Your Company’s Content Creation
- My Personal Content Marketing Guide
6. Have a consistent distribution plan in place.
Creating content isn’t enough. You need to get it in front of the people who really matter: who will read, share and comment on it. This is where a content distribution plan helps.
Each time you hit the “publish” button, there should be a set of steps you follow to make sure that content gets seen. It could be pushing the content out to your email list or posting a link on social media.
Here are some excellent resources to help you come up with your own content distribution plan.
- Kissmetrics: How To Overcome the Content Distribution Hurdle
- Smart Insight’s Content Distribution Matrix
- Content Marketing Institute’s Template For Content Marketing Distribution
7. Reuse and repurpose content.
Creating new content is more expensive and time-consuming than recycling or rewriting it. If you’ve been in the content marketing game for a while, you likely have reams of content just waiting for a second chance at life.
There are a number of ways you can reuse and repurpose existing content:
- Turn old blog posts into ebooks or other info-products.
- Rewrite old posts so they get better rankings and are more up to date.
- Whittle down old content to create new microcontent that can be shared on social media.
- Share old content with new social media fans and followers.
There’s no big secret to being productive as a content marketer; you just need to be smart about how you’re spending your time. The 7 steps above will ensure you use your time as effectively as possible, getting your awesome content in front of the right people ASAP.