Based on phone calls, surveys, and conversations on social media, the greatest content creation challenge bloggers and business owners face is…They are overwhelmed! There’s simply not enough time to create!
Many bloggers have full-time jobs in addition to their online enterprises. Business owners already wear a dozen hats and struggle to put on their content creator caps.
They know they should be creating content but they are just too busy to squeeze it in.
If this sounds like you, what can you do? How can you make that vital connection to your customers via content without sacrificing anything else?
There are three main ways: employ general productivity hacks, employ content creation specific productivity hacks, or outsource content creation.
We’re primarily going to discuss the second strategy today.
Content Creation Productivity Hacks
There are a number of ways to make content creation take less time and become easier to squeeze into your hectic schedule.
- Do some market research (hone your focus)
- Develop an editorial calendar (eliminate topic indecision)
- Brain dump and then edit (maintain flow and be efficient)
- Write in batches (use the time you have efficiently)
- Use an automated system to post your social content (free up time for other tasks)
- Use tools, programs, and hacks sparingly (keep it simple)
Let’s look at each in turn.
Survey Your Market
Ask your audience or customers what they need or what they’re interested in. It sounds basic, but it works. You’ll get straight from the source fodder for your content.
You can do this by:
- sharing a link to a free internet survey (SurveyMonkey and Typeform are good options)
- putting a poll on your website or social media channels (where does your audience hang out?)
- providing a paper questionnaire (if you interact with customers face to face)
- arranging Skype or phone calls with current or prospective customers (more time consuming, but you get richer information)
- sending emails to your subscribers or other contacts (you can tack on some questions to an existing broadcast or sequence or create a new one for this purpose)
You’ll have a wealth of ideas to write about AND can be confident that your content will be serving your market.
So how is this a time saver?
For one, it eliminates the doubt that creating content matters. It’s clear that you’ll be helping people. That should either erode procrastination (a productivity issue for many including me!) or underscore the importance of getting it done.
For another, it sets you up nicely for the next tip: developing an editorial calendar.
Develop An Editorial Calendar
In short, an editorial calendar is a pre-populated (by you or someone you farm it out to) document that shows you when and what to post. It’s a real time saver, keeps you organized, and ensures that you put out content that matters to your readers. To get much more detail, including a link to a template, click here.
Brain Dump — Then Edit
When creating content, momentum is your friend.
In my experience, it’s best to do a total brain dump and get all of your points down on screen or paper before attempting to refine them.
Brain dumping keeps you in a state of flow. Your brain is naturally pumping out ideas, phrases, and perhaps an epiphany or two.
If you disrupt that flow, it can be hard to get it back. Your amazing writing groove may deteriorate into frustrating writer’s block in a mere moment.
Those insightful nuggets, just on the brink of being penned or typed, may be gone forever.
At the very least, you are wasting time.
By editing in the moment, you are taking far longer than if you edited in one swoop after the draft was completed. Your brain is being forced to toggle between creativity and analysis. Sure, it can do it — but it’s not efficient.
So keep that magical momentum going and avoid the temptation to edit as you’re getting your initial thoughts out.
To keep you in flow (and best utilize your limited time), try the next strategy: writing in batches.
Write in Batches
The writing process has many elements to it:
- idea generation
Writing a piece from start to finish can take a fairly large chunk of time — especially if it’s lengthy or complex. But you generally don’t have hours at a time to devote to content creation.
However, by segmenting the tasks involved, you can make progress even when time is tight.
Batching your writing tasks keeps the content creation process moving and allows you to take advantage of spare minutes when the hours just aren’t there.
If you have a plan about what to write (thank you market research and editorial calendar!), the idea generation step is already done.
Next up, sketch out outlines for the coming month’s posts. Since you’re literally just writing bullet points, this can be done fairly quickly. This simple task really sets you up to be productive in the following phase.
At your next opportunity, fill in the outline with the meat of the post. Don’t worry about perfecting the copy at this stage. Your goal here is to expand upon the points in the outline — nothing more. Since you’re not worried about having a polished product, you can get through this stage with some speed.
Once the drafts are filled in, it’s time to get them ready for publication. This step is when you critique and adjust your spelling, grammar, word choice, sentence order, etc.
You can add information that you forgot previously or take out lines that don’t support the purpose of the post. (Save those for later, though! You can likely use them in another piece.)
The polishing stage is also where you add images, insert links, optimize for SEO, etc. (Though those things could absolutely be spun into their own subcategory of batching.)
When the post is complete, you can schedule it to be posted on the date reflected on your editorial calendar (or whatever date you would like). Doing this eliminates the need to remember to hit the publish button on the day the post is set to go live.
Finally, once your posts are published, you’re going to want to promote them.
Your email newsletters can be written in advance using the steps above.
Social media copy can be written in batches, too, (though usually in a single step) which is particularly useful in combination with the next tip.
(For more on batching, check out this post from Craft Your Content.)
Use Automation for Social Posting
There are many tools out there that will publish your social media posts for you.
You need to provide the program with enough material to fill a queue. But, once you’ve done that, it publishes your content without you having to think about it.
This set up enables you to be in front of your audience while you do other things.
You’ll want to manage the queue fairly regularly, though, adding new posts, changing timeslots based on post performance, and removing posts that no longer fit. This keeps your content fresh.
Remember: Even though your posts are automated, you still need to engage with your audience for social media to be effective. Reasonable people know that you’re busy and don’t expect an immediate response. But you should try your best to give back when folks take the time to read and comment on your content offerings.
In case you’re curious, I use Smarterqueue (not an affiliate link). I haven’t used it for long but I really enjoyed their helpful onboarding process and my posts have been published without a hitch so far. At $19.99 per month, I think it’s a good value.
Keep It Simple
Speaking of tools, it’s important to not become distracted by them.
Yes, there are many great systems that will help your business. And, yes, you should comparison shop before choosing one.
But here’s the thing– there are countless viable solutions for every conceivable business problem you may need to solve.
And new ones are being released all of the time.
While some options are definitely better than others, there are many that do the same thing with relatively minor variations. You’re never going to know about all of them or have the time to research and compare them. Don’t even try.
It’s really best to have a few core tools that get the job done so you can focus on other, more important things.
Even with that said, I know that it can be easy to get swept away by shiny object syndrome.
You should definitely upgrade when it makes sense for your business. But, if you switch systems or tools too often, you lose efficiency.
You’ll spend a lot of time choosing a new tool, migrating to it, and learning how to use it. In the end, you may or may not get a competitive edge for doing so.
Trust me — in the year I’ve spent learning about digital business, I’ve chased a few shiny objects. I changed email marketing systems and took courses when I probably didn’t need to, wasting both time and money. However, I needed to learn this important lesson.
Hopefully, you’ll learn this lesson with minimal impact to your wallet and your schedule.
Tricks like these can really cut your content creation time down by a ton.
If you can successfully implement them, you may find yourself able to add creating content to your to-do list without adding to your level of overwhelm.
That said, if these tips aren’t enough, or you don’t even have the time to explore them, you could consider outsourcing.
If you really love to write and you’re confident in your skills, you could elect to outsource another business or blog function so that you have time to create.
But, if you really just don’t want to deal with creating content, you could unload the process to someone who specializes in it.
My cheap plug: As a full-time content creator, I have the bandwidth to assist you. I can help you by creating content that inspires your audience to do business with you.
Want to learn more? Click here. Or, drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell us— what strategies have you tried to streamline the content creation process?
Great tips! I really like the idea of planning out the week or month using an editorial calendar.
Thanks, Sandra! Having a plan saves a lot of time and frustration for sure!