So recently Marketing Sherpa had this chart up as their chart of the week. Number 1 is no surprise. Link building is like outbound call marketing, only slower and more repetitive. The second two are a bit of a puzzler, though. Why is it that people find content creation and blogging so difficult? As far as I can tell, there are really only a handful of reasons.
The first is simply making the time. Putting out high quality content or regularly blogging is difficult. How difficult? I still can’t seem to put out blog posts for S&G on anything resembling a decent schedule, and I’m a professional writer. It’s even worse for people who haven’t been forced to deal with deadline after deadline. When you’re not used to just powering through writer’s block because you don’t have a choice, it can seem like an impossible wall to get over. There are two solutions to this problem:
1. Make writing/producing your job. Set deadlines for yourself and stick to them. Pretend your editor is standing behind you and screaming. Can’t think of anything to write? No problem. Just start writing about something and hope that by the time you’re done editing it makes sense.
Sure, initially you might put out a lot of content that is meh at best, but as you get better at simply powering through, the quality will improve. Eventually, you’ll be able to get to the point that you stop noticing writer’s block and writing is habitual. The downside to this method is that you have to go through a lot of editing and you run the risk of making your content too routine. You might also burn out, and you don’t want to do that if you want to keep putting out the best content you can.
2. Write/Produce when you’re inspired. Sometimes, it’s better to wait until inspiration strikes. This is really best for smaller, newer companies that have a constant stream of news and happenings to keep the momentum going. You can try to loosely keep to a schedule, but you don’t have to. In fact, if the content you’re producing is not super time-sensitive, it might be best to simply write as much as you can when inspiration hits and then schedule it to publish on a regular staggered schedule.
The advantage is that your content and blogging will always be enthusiastic, and you will likely find it easier to produce higher quality writing, videos, podcasts — whatever. The main disadvantages are that you may often have dry spells, lose interest, and your readers will be constantly kept guessing about when new items are coming out.
Really, the ideal solution is to take a little from column A and a little from column B. Get into the habit of producing content regularly, but don’t force it so much that it begins to wear on you. Let yourself look for inspiration, but don’t let it become an excuse.
A few tips to would-be content producers:
1. Write out a list of topics you want to produce ahead of time so you know what you’ll be talking about even if writer’s block strikes.
2. If you do get hit with writer’s block, take something that seems boring and try to look at it from a slightly askew perspective.
3. Don’t expect every blog post, video, podcast, and white paper to be phenomenal. It’s ok to have peaks and valleys, so long as the general trend is positive.
4. If you publicly post a schedule of blog or content updates, stick to it. Nothing frustrates an audience more than having a schedule broken.
So now that we’ve got one concern answered, what are the rest and what do you do about them? Great questions, and we’ll get to all of them in future posts. The next installment, coming out shortly, will focus on organizational impediments to putting out strong and consistent outbound content, followed by a multi-part series on building a content process.