One of the biggest hurdles marketing and content teams face with their content strategies is simply resource. While we’d argue that it’s always worth investing time and resources into creating new and engaging content, we know that’s not always feasible.
If that’s you, instead of getting overwhelmed and falling off the bandwagon altogether, keep chipping away at your content plan and focus on quality over quantity. After all, one excellent and well optimised blog is much more beneficial than 10 quickly churned out, poor quality pieces.
Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. But if you are struggling to keep pace with your content output, these four old-school building blocks might just help you stay organised and focused.
1. A calendar
What: An overview of seasonal and scheduled events.
Why: To prompt ideas and encourage forward content planning. Not everything you write will – or should – come from the calendar, but it keeps you focused on what is happening in your market and the wider world. Which events will your audience definitely want to read about? Which can you use to generate an original, unexpected angle? Keep them in sight and you can start working on quality, timely pieces well in advance.
- Start with a skeleton of big repeat items. For example, a travel company might focus on booking periods for seasonal trip types, industry get-togethers and notable non-travel dates such as festivals, sports championships and so on.
- Colour-coding can help. For instance, highlight industry dates in one colour and generic sports and celebration dates in another.
- Return to your calendar around once a week to make edits and add smaller one-off events, and to remind yourself of what’s coming up.
- Regularly note down some post ideas related to upcoming events (see tip 4).
2. A timetable
What: A weekly or monthly posting framework.
Why: Structure makes a big psychological difference. Daily posting might have its drawbacks for under-resourced marketing teams, but it keeps you on your toes and gives you a feeling of progress. When you slow down production, those motivational factors can disappear – so make sure you have something solid to work towards.
This is also the place to decide what post lengths you want to aim for. We generally recommend focusing on either very short, snappy pieces, or long reads which take a deep dive into one topic – ideally avoiding the generic mid-range.
- Compile a list of your most valuable posts. Base it on several indicators: social shares, page authority, comments.
- Analyse it. What is the distribution of word length? How much effort did each post require? Try to put time values on them.
- Break the list down into two or three post profiles with average time values against them. For instance: micro-posts of under 300 words, taking an hour to produce.
- Based on those cues, create a timetable that you’re confident you can sustain. It might be something like two or three micro-posts a month, with a big, high-value one every fortnight.
3. A library
What: A (controlled) firehose of inspiration.
Why: Varied reading encourages varied writing. Some of the best digital marketing – think Innocent, Apple or Monzo – exhibits a fun, wide-ranging curiosity both in blog posts and on social media. These companies make a real point to produce content about things other than the product or service they offer, in order to engage more people and showcase versatility.
As well as helping you develop new and original angles, varied reading will give you plenty of sources to link to, boosting the usefulness and authority of your content. (Just make sure the sources are good ones…)
- Make two lists of interests: sub-categories within your brand’s niche, and interests outside the niche. (Optional: a third list of areas you think might have commercial value.)
- Compare your lists to the blogs and social media profiles you follow. Which subjects are under-represented? Fill the gaps.
- Make sure your Twitter lists, email subscriptions and bookmarked sites reflect the lists you made. Think of it as an efficient kitchen: well-stocked and sensibly arranged.
- Now aggregate by subject area. For instance: create a Google sheet with tabs for particular topics, with columns linking to your reading source, as well as why you see it being useful reference.
4. A storage system
What: A system for grouping and annotating sources and ideas.
Why: For a short, off-the-cuff blog piece you might work with a couple of relevant articles open in browser tabs. Try doing that when it comes to developing an in-depth piece and you’ll quickly come unstuck.
As well as juggling multiple sources specifically for the piece you’re working on, you should also have ideas in ‘storage’. In fact, some of your reading notes and sources might be lying around for months before they come together into a post.
A good storage system allows you to easily add new material, link it to saved items and quickly see how it all fits into the bigger picture.
- Install a note-taking app. Look for integration with browsers, RSS readers and social media, and synchronisation across devices – you want to be able to save clippings as well as just make notes, and do it from anywhere.
- Create a taxonomy. My Evernote contains folders for particular projects as well as for subject areas. Within those, tag and annotate material to link and develop themes.
- Carry a paper notebook. For some this is preference, but there are practical reasons too: batteries run out, and not every bit of inspiration comes in a digital-friendly format.
- Consolidate regularly. Transcribe written notes into your digital archive, sift through active folders and review annotations. Slowly but surely, you’ll see your ideas start to come together.
While they may seem basic or obvious, the above building blocks really are the backbone of any successful content team. Focus on getting them right and the rest will follow. And if you’re still struggling, why not get a little help from the experts? We have a team of content specialists here at Melt Digital who can help with content strategy, copywriting, ideation and more. Get in touch to find out how we can help you today.