Forming a content creation habit
One way to manage your content marketing and create great communications for your company is to have a company like Utterly Content manage the process for you. But for those who want to manage content creation in-house, or simply don’t yet have the budget for working with agency support, you’ll need to make a habit of creating and promoting great content. Here we’ll think about how to develop a content creation habit, and provide a downloadable suggested plan to turn you into a habitual content creator.
Before you can make a habit of creating content, you need to make a habit of sourcing inspiration for your content. So, begin by introducing content inspiration tasks into your daily and weekly schedule. This should include:
- Spending time listening to your customers (or prospective customers) and understanding their needs and interests;
- Reading content created by your competitors;
- Taking inspiration from other companies and organisations who are making a success of their content marketing.
Content curation tools can be really helpful for this as a means of storing this content up. Your preference for choice of tool may vary, but options include simple bookmarking functionality in your web browser, using “read later” technologies built into your smart phone, or using apps like Flipboard or Instapaper. A personal favourite of mine is Scoop.it, a great way to source great articles to read and to capture.
Anchoring these activities to something else that you’re doing is a good way to begin to make a habit of this. For example,
- Every time you head to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, or while you’re waiting in line at the coffee shop for your morning latte, use the wait time to read 2-3 blog posts or other items of content that your competitors or other companies are creating;
- While you brush your teeth, aim to read 10-20 tweets from a Twitter list that you have created of accounts from companies that inspire you;
- While you travel to work on the train or bus, use the time to watch a video or listen to a podcast created as part of a content marketing effort by another company, or read up on advice from blogs like ours on content marketing advice.
Proper editorial planning will help to make your approach to content creation more habitual. Having a mechanism for capturing your ideas will help you “store” those ideas up in a bank that you can draw on when ideas are not flowing as freely as they might at other times (note: writers block is normal, so don’t fret it – if you’ve already got ideas in your content bank, then you’ll always have something to work with).
You’ll need to create three things to help with your content planning:
- A place for you to jot ideas no matter where you are or what you’re doing. They’ll come to you in the shower, at the gym, or at the desk. They’ll come mid-meetings, and before you drop off to sleep. Make a note of them the moment that they strike you. A cross-platform compatible app is helpful for this – something like Evernote. I use two things: a custom app in Podio, and also the “drafts” function in WordPress. My ideas for the Utterly Content blog often sit as a “draft” blog post in WordPress well before I start working on them – just a title or a couple of notes is enough to capture the idea, and having them in draft form then forces me to write them up later.
- An editorial calendar. This will force you to turn your ideas into a workable, concrete plan. This could be as simple of scheduling distribution dates for content into your calendar, a google or excel spreadsheet, a table in a word document, or something more custom-built such as a GatherContent workspace or, again, an app in Podio or a similar project planning tool.
- A space to capture insights and thoughts on what your customers are thinking, feeling and doing, or things that are topical in the world or your industry (that is of interest and relevance to your customers). What are the questions you see them asking, the challenges that they’re facing, the content that they’re engaging with and sharing elsewhere? All of these insights will help you to plan content that truly resonates with them and adds value and relevance to their lives. Again, this space could be a custom app or notebook in Evernote, Podio, Google docs or even just a good old-fashioned paper notebook.
So, now you have your ideas logged, the next step is to start creating that content. This is where the real tactics of trying to form a habit come into play.
- Make an up-front commitment that you will write a minimum number of words every day for the next 4-6 weeks;
- Try to make your writing effort small and often;
- At the start, consider a small reward to yourself for accomplishing your writing goals (a cake, a glass of wine, that new scarf you’ve been wanting to buy…). Long-term, this won’t increase your content creation productivity, but in the short-term it may help to get you started;
- Schedule time for writing into your diary, just like committing to a meeting. Mornings are good as you’ll get it out of the way before you do anything else, and writing content can be a great “warm-up” exercise to kick start your focus and creativity for the rest of your working day;
- Adopt focusing techniques like the Pomodoro technique and commit to 1-2 cycles of the technique (30-60 minutes of your time) dedicated to content creation. You can download and install many free apps to manage the timing for the Pomodoro technique, or here’s a handy web-based timer to use.
A Suggested Schedule to Kick Start Your Habit
Here at Utterly Content we’ve designed a handy 4 week schedule to help you kick start your content creation habit. Download the planner here, print it and pop it on your wall. Let us know how you get on!
Even when content creation becomes a habit, it’s still not an easy task to maintain, but it’s essential for any modern and effective approach to marketing and communications. If you need extra help with developing and implementing your content marketing and content creation, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can help you.