This post is part guide, part therapy! We’ve been helping companies and individuals create regular videos for years but we’ve only really got to grips with creating content for ourselves over the last year. Crazy, I know, and all together too common for individuals and companies in marketing. Busy doing it for other people but never seeming to take our own medicine. Utterly crackers, given how well it works. Well, we finally pulled out fingers out and started doing it for real. As with all content marketing, it takes time and consistency so we are only a few months into our journey and the effects are already starting to show. Our search ranking is on a pleasing upward trend and people are responding well to the information we are putting out there through the different channels.
However, it has been a tough battle.
Creating content takes graft and grind
Compared to Pay Per Click it seems a difficult road to travel. We are putting out written and video content each and every week. That level of consistency can be daunting and draining. After all, we have a business to run here. Finding the time to get the content done in the quantities required and to a high quality is difficult. I won’t lie, some weeks we’ve utterly failed, others we’ve succeeded.
What I want to do in this post is set out some of the methods we use to ensure that the job gets done on time to a decent quality. You won’t be surprised by some of the things on this list but some will give you pause for thought and hopefully give you the strength of purpose to keep going.
First off, it is probably worth getting a reminder as to why we’d even bother to churn out such quantities of video and written content. I wrote a long post a few months ago about content marketing and why you should bother. It is worth taking fifteen minutes to have a read and get to grips with some of the principles and benefits of it all.
Why bother with creating content?
Having said that, here are a few of the quick reasons why you might be creating content.
Better organic search ranking. Creating good quality content that is USEFUL and RELEVANT to the intended audience and has been created with your keywords in mind can transform your search engine rankings when taken alongside all the other SEO best practices.
Speeding up the sales process. Being a respected source of information drives the marketing and sales process. People will whizz through your funnel as much of the trust building stage has been achieved by prospects engaging with your high-quality content.
Becoming a ‘Thought Leader’. Whilst I hate the term (I think it makes people sound like super-villains – ‘Fear the Thought Leader!!!’) I completely buy into the premise. Being seen as an expert in your field through the publication of quality information is incredibly useful. I feel that it has been diminished in recent years simply through the sheer volume of information out there. Good information, however, is always useful and creating high quality information and content to share is a great way to make you stand out from your competitors!
Those are just a few quick reasons. There are loads more to consider but I wanted to get into the meat. How do you keep on track with your content creation?
Creating content marketing
There is no great secret to creating great content. Here are my suggestions when it comes to building your regular content creation habit.
Right from the outset it is important to set clear goals to help you keep on track with content creation. Having a plan for the kind of content you want to produce will be a valuable tool to keep you on track. I try to plan the content for each quarter of the year. What this means is that you can address themes and have mini series of content that all tie together. This is particularly useful with video. It means that I can group the videos together into playlists on YouTube. This helps our content be more easily browseable and helps with view times.
We set aside time every quarter to plan the coming three months. In this meeting we get all our ideas down on paper no matter how bad. We then whittle them down into a more manageable list and start the process of assigning topics to people in the team. For example this quarter just gone I have been producing a series of videos about metrics. Basically, how to make sure that your videos are performing well. This is a question that we get asked repeatedly so it made sense to create a video series that would not only work well as a blog but also as an FAQ series. A handy trick if you can find a way to make it work!
We have a tried and tested planning system at VideoTrack that helps us get our ideas out of our brains and onto the page or screen. Have a plan. Once you have a plan you can then have the satisfaction of crossing titles off the list as you create each new piece of content
Build good content creation habits. Here at VideoTrack we aim to produce at least one piece of content each week. I use a little habit tracking app called, appropriately, Habits. I have set up a bunch of tasks and frequency of performance rules. The app reminds me to do them. As I achieve my tasks I check them off the list and get the satisfaction of seeing my habit stats improve. Tragic, I know… yet very effective. Being reminded and nagged by my phone to do jobs I know I need to is useful as soon they become second nature and not onerous.
Writing and making videos is becoming an ingrained habit and that in turn makes the process of creating that little bit easier.
This one is easy-peasy. Be ready to create content on the fly. I’m writing this blog whilst I wait for new tyres to be fitted to my car. I have a little portable Bluetooth keyboard, Google Docs and a smartphone. No laptop needed. I’ve parked myself in a cafe ’round the corner, grabbed a coffee and a cheeky pastry and I’m off and away writing. Super easy.
For video it gets a little more complicated but not that much. I have a corner of the office set up as my little video blogging space as well as our studio. Now, I appreciate that not everyone can have a video set up as complete as ours. We are a video production company after all and it would be weird if we didn’t. However, there are so many excellent smartphone video apps, mics, tripods etc… that making short, useful videos on the fly is pretty easy (alternatively, just get us at VideoTrack to do it for you!) It all comes down to being prepared to act on your plans and goals.
We all have those spare moments of time that we can use so much more productively. Ask yourself the question, would you be happier knowing that you’d spent half an hour productively creating content, or randomly browsing junk on Facebook?
You will feel great about it I promise. Once you build this habit of creating content in the dead moments you’ll be way more productive.
One word of warning though, don’t get obsessional. If you are taking a proper break then make the break count. Don’t sit writing over your lunch break when you should be giving your precious brain a moment of calm. Calm minds lead to great content.
This is another no brainer really. A short point. Make sure that you build some accountability into your process. Make time to share and review with your team. Put time in the diary to get together and share what each of you has been doing. It is a great way to get a little urgency going on. No-one likes to turn up to the party empty handed.
4. Let it sit
Don’t feel the need to write and publish straight away. Let what you have written sit for a few days and then revisit it. Leaving a few days between writing and rereading can yield good returns. Coming back to a piece after a short break can help you appraise it with a more critical eye. Is it doing what you wanted it to do? Will viewers or readers get real value from it? If you can read it with a fresh eye and feel that it is still hitting the mark then you know that the content is probably doing the job that it should.
5. Take criticism in the spirit that it is offered
Asking for criticism of written or video content can be a nerve-racking experience. You never quite know what you are going to get. If you are asking for feedback and don’t like what you get, what do you do? How do you react? Use criticism to sharpen your skills not as a way to seek validation for what you are doing. Bad content is damaging to you and your business and the way to improve is to get feedback that helps you to develop. I look back at some of my earliest work and cringe because it is terrible. But I can see the slow improvement over the time I have been creating. I still have a VERY long way to go and I am incredibly lucky that I have people around me that I trust to give me honest, constructive feedback.
It is important to differentiate between good criticism and unhelpful criticism. We instinctively know what this looks and feels like. Good criticism comes from a place and mindset of kindness and desire to help. Seek out those who can look at your work with help in mind and you won’t go too far wrong!
Constructive criticism can be a powerful tool to help you become a better producer of content. It helps you to focus on your voice, your content and your audience. Ask for it from people you trust.
6. Set it free
So this point may be obvious but I’m going to say it anyway. Don’t put off publishing your content. Get it out there. You will never create the perfect article. But the best blog in the world is useless unless it sees the light of day. You need to publish. You can always revise the text or re-edit the video if you feel that it isn’t quite right. However, the temptation to sit on an article tinkering with it for ever until it is strong. A desire for perfect will get in the way of content marketing.
Creating content is about good habits
The process of creating good quality written, audio or video content is mostly about habit forming. Once you get into the rhythms of producing and, more importantly sticking at them, you will soon find out that the creation process isn’t a drag but an enjoyable part of your business day. The best thing about it is that the results speak for themselves. A good, consistent addition of relevant, useful content to your website at least once per week will deliver massive benefits in terms of how you organically rank for relevant keywords. So, in short, find a way that you can be regular with creating content because it delivers high quality traffic to your site and, most importantly, money on your bottom line!
You might like our post on content marketing.