3 Ways To Write Better Content (without wasting time)
An online entrepreneur is expected to do everything in their business. But doing hashtag all the things is incredibly time consuming, especially when it comes to content creation.
With the influx of content in the digital space it’s easy to get drowned out in all the noise, so it’s not just important, but crucial that the content you’re creating is top level. A few slightly remixed tips and tricks here and there isn’t going to do much in terms of business growth except take up valuable time.
If you’re going to put out semi okay content your time might be better served watching reruns of The Office instead.
But what if you’re serious about putting out ah-maze-ing content that really attracts your audience and turns them into raving (purchasing) fans? Taking it a step further, how can you create that kind of content and know you’re not completely wasting your time?
(Because we’re human and maybe we’d like to create stellar content and still have time to watch a few rerun episodes of The Office?)
Is both possible? Can that be an actual thing?
Well my dear entrepreneurial minded friend, there is a way to write great content that’s actually worth the effort, even better you’ll save time since you’re not wasting it on content that will never be put to use.
Here are 3 things you can do to write kick ass content that’s valuable, helpful and an asset to your business, without spending hours staring at your computer screen sobbing...I mean working.
Pst! This post contains affiliate links! That means I get a commission from any purchases you make (at no extra cost to you). I’ll only recommend dope stuff that i’ve tested and truly find valuable. Scouts honor.
Let’s get into it.
1) Plan it out.
What? Does that sound a bit obvious? You’d actually be amazed at how many businesses don’t actually have a content marketing plan laid out. I’m not talking about a few scheduled posts in Facebook or template pictures for Instagram either.
But a strategic, well thought out, measurable plan for all the content that’s created and distributed.
There’s a purpose for each piece, the piece of content is tailored for a specific audience, it’s scheduled and important events, dates and launches are considered, and there are key performance indicators identified to help track of the conversion and usefulness of that content.
The reason this helps you create better content in a shorter amount of time because now you’re...
A: not flying by the seat of your pants and having to constantly think on your toes.
Not having a plan is like trying to travel cross country without a map. You might eventually get to the other coast, but your time getting there will take longer as supposed to if you had just invested time in setting up a route before hand.
Do you want to be wandering around Utah for 3 weeks? (No, the answer is no. Nobody does).
B: you’ll actually be able to measure what’s working.
You might have heard the phrase “what gets measured gets done” but also, in the words of Peter Drucker “what gets measured gets improved”.
When you have a plan, there’s a purpose for each content, and with a purpose should come key performance indicators that help you measure if that content is meeting that purpose. If not, instead of creating something brand spanking new, you can tweak, refine, and improve that piece of old content and then repurpose the crap out of it, saving you time and mental bandwidth.
C: you’re not creating random pieces.
Have you ever had a great idea to write a “how-to market on Facebook” blog post, poured some good sweat, blood, and tears into making it (a little dramatic but okay) and then realized that blog post you just wrote was a complete waste of time because it’s not relevant to your upcoming course launch in any way, shape, or form?
Yea, that’s a sucky feeling.
When you have a plan, it’s an easy way to tell yourself no. Or at least “not right now”.
So set aside some time to look at your calendar and at the very least plan out your next 30 days, but 90 is preferred.
2) Consider what your audience has asked from you and wants from you.
My son has a favorite cup (stick with me here). It’s a plain blue plastic cup that’s not special in any other way besides the fact that it’s blue.
Before I Konmari’d the hell out of my kitchen and got rid of all my extra unnecessary dishes, we had a bunch of other kid friendly cups for him to use. Some of them were pretty cool. I mean one overpriced cup even had 3D Lego characters on it that moved when you moved the cup. However, whenever my son asked for juice he requested that same old blue plastic cup.
Every. Single. Time.
I would attempt to convince him to use the other cups, because I had bought them and they were cool. I’d pour his favorite juice in a different cup in an attempt to get him to change his mind. We’d get in some heated power struggles over a cup.
It took a while until I realized it was easier for us both if I stopped being so insistent on him using a different cup and just gave him what he asked for.
Do you see where I’m going with this story?
We can try to convince our audience all day long to be interested in our posts about whatever topic we think they’d like but often times our audience will make it clear if they’re interested or not.
If you keep writing about popular mindset books for girl bosses but your analytics are showing that love your posts on project management software reviews, guess what topics you should be writing more about?
Don’t fight with them about the blue cup. Give them what they’re asking for, because even if you’re writing fantastic content on those other topics, you’re wasting time if they don’t care.
But...what if you don’t enjoy writing about how awesome Asana is? Or if girl boss mindset topics is something that just really lights you up? What if your audience is showing interest in a topic you want nothing to do with? If that’s the case you have three things to consider.
The first two: are you targeting the right audience? And are you positioning yourself in the right place?
This is why the first tip about planning is important. You might have inadvertently been positioning yourself in the completely wrong niche while producing spur of the moment content.
Being recognized as a Pinterest expert might not be so awesome if you’re actually a YouTube strategist or if you’ve been attracting Facebook enthusiasts with your posts on how your grew your Facebook group.
The third thing, are you trying to educate your audience with information they’re not quite ready for yet? Sometimes we need to give them what they want before we can teach them what they actually need.
For example, if you’re trying to show your audience how to strategically build relationships on the ‘gram but everyone keeps watching your “5 Steps To Grow Your Followers” video from 2017, sit back and take a look at your customer’s journey.
They might want 10 kagillion million followers thinking those numbers are what will help their business grow. Instead of trying to force them to pay attention to something else, let those posts capture their attention first and then educate them on what they really need once you’ve attracted them.
3) Create a writing S.O.P.
S.O.P stands for standard operating procedure, a more popular way to word this is “workflow”. Basically create a step-by-step process for how you’ll create your content.
Not only does this help you write faster and better, but should you ever outsource content creation, there’s no confusion about how things are set up and ran. You efficiently streamline everything.
For example, my workflow for writing blog posts looks something like this:
Research topic and keywords
Add to content calendar
Outline content on paper (because my brain works better when I use pen and paper)
Type content in Google Docs
Create Pinterest Graphic
Add to Squarespace and format (I have a basic template for my blog post formats)
Edit and add inbound/outbound links
Create social media content for blog posts
I typically follow that order every single time. When I already have my posts outlined on paper, it’s almost a seamless transition to type out the bulk of the post in Google Docs. However, when I try and skip the outline phase...well, let’s just say Netflix usually gets the best of me.
This also comes in handy for batching content as well since you’ve broken down the process into manageable steps. Now you’re able to separate tasks into different blocks. While this whole process might be overwhelming to try and batch in a single day, it’s a bit easier to spend one day for outlining content, another dedicated to Pinterest graphic creation and so on. It’s also easier to see what tasks you’re able to outsource.
It’s handy to have a template idea blog post formats as well. (This was incredible helpful since I was able to give my VA the format and she just plugged in the actual content.) Essentially it’s:
Content (main points with 3-4 subheadings)
Related Blog Post Carousel
I fluently speak meme and GIF so the majority of my visual content are sourced from Giphy and inserted where they make sense. I highlight the words/phrases where there will be outbound/inbound links if I don’t already know what that link will be and add them in during the editing process.
For others the format might include a Youtube video insert in the beginning of a post. On Rachel Ngom’s site, you’ll find her related blog posts listed inside of the text after the post introduction. On Stacy Tuschl’s website you’ll find her podcast episode embedded in the post on top and the transcript below.
When you create a template for your content, it’s easier not to waste time tinkering with the format and “look” of the content and your audience knows what to expect as well. I know if I can’t listen to a podcast, I can hop on Stacy’s site and read the transcript.
If you only have some episodes transcribed or some videos available, it can create a frustrating user experience. So create a template and stick with it.
Some tips for creating a workflow:
Have it recorded in some kind of project management program (like Trello, Asana, Monday.com, etc)
Separate writing and editing (editing and writing requires two separate focuses from your brain which can interrupt the creative process of content creation.)
Separate the tasks you don’t enjoy doing (and outsource them is possible) Example: I don’t like graphic creation AT ALL nor do I like the formatting portion. It’s too much for my ADHD brain to handle in one day, so those two tasks are batched on days separate from my actual content creation days so you won’t feel my irritation seeping into my writing...mostly haha.
In conclusion this long as heck blog post can be summarized as this- create epic content by listening to your audience and planning. By doing this, you automatically save precious time by not wasting it creating things no one is interested in reading.