OK so you have a beautiful shiny content marketing plan with titles and dates and ideas and suddenly it seems a bit overwhelming..
I know that feeling…
But remember you have created this overarching 90 day sprint content plan to help you reduce this overwhelm. Now all you need to do is write them. Focus on the actual content plan and the topics you have chosen. Drag your attention on each item, one at a time and it will all fall into place.
OK. Minor panic over?
Great - let’s get onto the ninja tips so that you can do this with the minimum of fuss. I am focussing on blog posts first as this really can be the linchpin for further content creation. However this approach can also be applied to a webinar, a slideshow presentation as well a video (yes it can!)
Research what has already been written.
Some people like to create content free from inspiration from what has been written before. I am not one of those people. Whilst sometimes I can write straight from my head, most of the time I tend to research my topic, see what has been written before and then put the spin on it I need to that suits my audience. Don’t be afraid to disagree with the online view if you feel within your zone of genius that this is not correct.
I always recommend reading widely anyway. I just find this makes me a better writer as well as helping me understand the needs of my ideal client. I also find that reading other people’s articles, looking at other people’s images, watching other people’s webinars allows me to appreciate standards, expectations and spark additional ideas and as well as give a confidence boost that you can do it too.
Stuck with where to look for inspiration - apart from Google - look inside Medium or LinkedIn for additional articles worth reading.
Prepare your article/webinar/presentation/video scaffold (yep you are back at school!)
I find that I work best when I write down a few key bullet points on what I am going to cover. Look again at what you have written down, are those points going to cover off what you wanted to outline?
If they are going to cover off your article subject then great - you are well on your way. If not maybe you need to go back to point 1 for more inspiration.
I often find that writing my first paragraph can set the tone for the rest of the article. I can touch on my key points and this gets my mind in the zone to expand on the other points. At this point you might start to find that words are starting to flow - this will happen. When we start to focus in on what we want to write about ( ie the research phase ) and then you jot down a few points, this expansion phase should flow.
Remember you are an expert on your subject matter. This is what your business does, go with this. At this point you just want words to flow - you will come back to fix up grammar/spelling/catching phrases soon.
Review again your intro and conclusion
Review your intro and review your end. Is the intro compelling to get people started reading? Is the conclusion strong, are you enticing them to do something? Sign up to something, read something more, access something. Not all of our blog posts might lead to a sale of some kind, but at the very least we should be inviting an action of some kind, even if it is just highly prized comments. Looking for killer statements or headlines? Try researching inside Amazon for some zingy phrases.
Read your piece out loud.
I find the read out loud test works the best. But make sure you read what you actually have written and not what you think you have written. Does it make sense when you read the written words. You will probably find that you pick up some errors after you do this, I often do. When I take shortcuts and don’t do this step - I invariably find mistakes later on my website!
Upload your blog or if you are going to create a video even better - do that!
If you can, create a video of your blog. If not post your blog.
Now was that hard?
Not really - but want to up the ante? Want to really become a content ninja and allow yourself more time to do other things than worrying about content? Read on.
Ninja Tactics revealed
Batch your work and record videos.
What is this and Why do it?
Well this is the first part of the ninja tactics. People are more tuned into the visual. In 2017 - I will be recording all of my blog posts first as videos. Sometimes I may just talk straight to camera - freestyle, that could be fun!
What I will be doing next year will be transformative for my business and might just work for you. Make sure that your prepare at least a month’s worth of content in a sitting. Remember you have already identified what you will be writing about, in this step you are just doing it.
I will be recording all my videos in monthly blocks (so 4 at a time) meaning I get in the zone of writing. I will be more productive, more creative and more effective than if I sat down to just do one item and them make a big agonising exercise of it. You will be amazed at home much faster you can create your posts/articles/presentations etc when you prepare them in this way.
If you choose to do a recording there are a few things to consider re the words. You can either read your post to camera ( got a mac? iMovie is awesome and you can have your script on your screen - too easy!) or just record straight to camera.
Outsource some key tasks
Stop thinking you need to do everything - you don’t.
So you recorded that video? What now, send your video to FIVERR and get someone with skills to convert it to a little movie for you. We don’t need to do it all ourselves ( I will be chatting about cheap and reliable outsourcing options in 2017).
Thinking of creating a podcast? Well now you can convert that mp4 to an mp3 and upload to your podcast. ( I will be chatting about how to create a podcast in 2017).
Recorded straight to camera from notes? Get a person on FIVERR to transcribe your words - viola, there is your blog posts. Potentially 3 distinct pieces of content from one recording. It can be done!
Create graphics in batches
Once your writing or recording is done, now is the time to create some graphics or choose some graphics to suit your post. Try and choose at least 2 images for each blog post, I recommend a funny one as well as something more traditional, remember we want people to be attracted to our articles and then read them. Plus more image options means you have additional options when sharing your content across your social channels.
When creating graphics, my go to resource is CANVA. I recommend deciding on a theme or look for your images and then sticking to this for the LIFE of this 90 day content sprint. Consistency trumps creativity in relation to graphics you will create EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Plus we are wanting to be ninja graphics creators, so stick to a theme. If you get bored, change the images in your next round of content creation - but not in this batch. You want to be productive and increase efficiency. Otherwise you can waste too much time fussy over the creation process. Spend more time choosing a good image and then apply your design template, rather than spending too much time on the creation part.
Pull quotes from your own articles
Reuse some of your key points from your article as a quote graphic you can also use on social media. This will also be a link back to your article. We need to constantly push out on social media our own work and having the ability to do that with graphics that repeat our message is perfect. Your words are good - repurpose them over and over!
Need to mix it up? Try Brainyquote to find quotes from others that help cement your message. I do this is all the time for quotes that match my key themes. Someone has always said something witty you can use and then your quotes can be different from everyone else’s ( I hate seeing the same quotes over and over on social media )
Schedule and Automate Posting
Your work needs to be read and viewed by as many people as possible. So don’t just post links to your articles once. Schedule them inside your social media moderation tools to be repeated on a cycle. I use Sendible to do this, both initially when the article is fresh, as well as dropping it into a smart queue for repeating in the cycle of all my old blog posts.
It works kind of like a #tbt but on an endless loop and not just a Thursday. People will not see it otherwise. So don’t think you will annoy them - you won't. Most people will not see the post unless you do this in this manner.
Wrap up and Review
Depending on how much content you have planned to suit your business will dictate how much time you need to block out to create your content for each people. If you have a light schedule, then you may find that 2 blocks of say between 2-4 hours will do it for each period with do it. You will get better and faster. But you need to block this work in and treat it as a project with key timelines to get the real benefits.
Once it is done - you can just focus on engagement and that is far more enjoyable and profitable for everyone.
Got a ninja tip you would like to share? I would love to hear about how it works for you..