It’s a new year and you’ve made a commitment to content marketing because you know it works.
After all, successful internet marketing is rooted in content marketing…and Search Engine Optimization efforts thrive when a continuous stream of great content feeds the likes of Google, Bing, Yahoo and a myriad of 2nd tier search engine providers.
But content marketing can be a pain in the….ummm… let’s go with ’neck’.
Just as we launch the new year with great intentions to lose weight, watch less television and spend more time with our family, it’s tempting to make bold resolutions when it comes to doing what’s right for grow your business.
Inevitably, we find ourselves overcommitted, under-resourced, and out of ideas.
So what can we do to ensure your content marketing plan is successful?
Here are 6 ideas to make content marketing more enjoyable and effective:
1. Avoid Overcommitting Yourself
Most SEO companies would tell you that you need least three new articles a week to make a dent in the universe. This being the minimum to gain the notice of a loyal cadre of readers. This is a lie.
Yes, frequency does play a huge part in the weight search engines assign to content from your website’s blog. But it’s just one measure. Given the choice between quality and quantity — shoot for quality.
That may mean you can only do one article a week. Maybe even only one article every two weeks. But, if it’s an excellent article that readers link to, reference and share with their universe of contacts that one article can pay dividends for years (and years).
One is better than none. And if you overcommit, you’ll burn out and stop producing altogether.
The key is to set a pace and frequency which is right for you and to which you can COMMIT to executing.
So instead of saying ‘I’m going to write X articles a week.’ Try changing that to, ‘I’m going to form a habit of writing X articles a week.’
Something which might help you get started is creating an editorial calendar for yourself.
2. Create an Endless Pool of Content Ideas
I hate a blank page. Every writer does. Coming up with creative ideas on command seems practically impossible.
But the truth is we’re inspired every day with new ideas, we just fail to capture them. The trick is to have a system for collecting these ideas. That way, when it comes time to pound out your next article you have an inventory of great ideas that will inspire you enough to write 400-1000 words.
Some writers have a notepad handy to jot their ideas down and then when they get to their office they dump the new ideas into a file folder (or swipe file) for future reference. I use Evernote (http://www.evernote.com) because it’s always available to me and is easily accessible from my phone, the web or my computer. I can even email these ideas to a specific folder I’ve created called ‘blog posting ideas.’ That way, the ideas are always just there waiting for me when I’m ready.
I also like to use ‘Google Alerts’ (http://www.google.com/alerts) keyed to key phrases in my industry which trigger messages to my ‘idea file’ each time a topic of interest is discovered by Google. This is really powerful if you want to focus on topical / trending content as the alerts come to you in real-time.
3. Establish A Structure and Focus For Your Content
Rarely had the words flowed from my penny pencil with such feverish fluidity…
–A Christmas Story
Writing is painful and time consuming because most of us are shooting for perfection with our first draft.
We hit a phrase that doesn’t quite scratch our itch so we work and re-work a 6 word phrase until it’s ‘just right.’ In the end, we spend so much time focused on the phrasing of a single sentence we forget the key point we were trying to make with the article. So we write and write until we finally land on a point and we settle in on that point because we’re just so tired.
Establishing a structure and focus for your article can help streamline the writing process. Simply by blocking out the key questions you want to answer, the points you want to make, and the areas you need to research can make your life a lot easier.
If you start with something akin to a form that you fill out, it may help get the creative juices flowing and allow you to stay on point.
Call to Action:________________________________________
Once a loose structure is set you can free-form all you want.
4. Divvy Up Your Roles and Responsibilities
Many hands make light work.
If you can enlist a team of co-workers, colleagues, friends, family…whoever…to assist you through the writing process, you’ll avoid feeling overburdened and get a better quality product.
If you can identify the areas of interest and strength within your organization you can set up a mini production line which assigns responsibility and contribution from each of your team members to add value and depth to your blog post.
Some areas of division of the duties beyond actually writing the whole article yourself can include:
- idea collection / blog ‘pitches’
- article research and fact verification
- rough idea and concept development
- proofing / editing
- image and support material selection
- posting to the blog
5. Putting Your Pants to the Seat of Your Chair
Writing can be….no….writing IS a chore.
If you’re really going to form the habit of writing for you company’s blog on a consistent basis, you need to make it as enjoyable a process as possible.
If that means writing in the early morning hours before your brain gets all cluttered with the business of the day, so be it. If you’re more creative and able to write at night when you’ve gotten all your ‘real work’ done, cool.
But you have to schedule the time and place that works best for you.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to spend 30 minutes before bed blocking out an article idea. The goal was not to write an article but just to get some ideas on the page. Then as I slept the ideas would work away in my subconscious and when I awoke, I would suddenly have clarity on what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. Try it. It works.
Your best bet is to create an environment which allows for focus and enjoyment of the process so that you find yourself craving for new opportunities to escape to your writing zone. Again, set the goal to form the habit and your chances of success will improve.
6. Consider Engaging a Professional
All that said, most people reading this article will have trouble sticking to their content marketing commitment. I wish that weren’t the case, but sadly it’s true. Each business and each colleague in that business has their strengths. Sometimes its best to step back and let the professionals do their thing.
If after reading this, you find yourself taking a deep breath and wishing someone else could step in and develop and execute and effective content marketing strategy, may I shamelessly plug our organization, Sanctuary Marketing Group.
With years of experience in the internet marketing, direct marketing and publishing worlds, we are uniquely positioned to help you with your content marketing needs and we’d love the opportunity to talk with you about your goals for the coming year.