man writing on sticky notes prioritize content creation

Being successful in business and content marketing boils down to one thing – creating content that your colleagues and audience find useful and shareable. You’ll need to demonstrate thought leadership by putting your words into the public sphere and that can be scary. It’s a necessity to stand out from the crowd and make your mark in the conversation. Where to start? I’ll show you a great way to prioritize your content creation. But first, I want to highlight three important elements that all great content has – Copy, Visuals, and Purpose.

woman reading storytelling bookCopy

The copy or written body of what you create needs to be well-crafted. Being able to write well still matters. Even if you’re shooting video, there will be copy involved. You will plan out the script and story ahead of time. It’s possible that you’ll be shooting a video with no words but even then, you’ll be creating using words and visuals of some kind. In that case we use storyboards.

Visuals

All stories need visuals. Yes, you may be an audio/podcast/pure storyteller but on the internet, we really need something to look at. You’ll need to include some of the following: pictures, graphics, infographics, video, slide decks, etc. The images you use to underline the points of your story can make or break the message you’re trying to convey. The quality should be high, skimping here can backfire, and think carefully about what emotions you are trying to evoke. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so choose wisely.

Purpose

When it comes to purpose, I ask myself a variety of questions when I have what I think is a brilliant idea. What do people need to know? What do I want them to learn? What action do I want them to take at the end? What questions do they have that I can answer? The answers to these questions are the purpose of what I’m creating. This helps get me out of my own head and directly address the actual needs of the people I talk to every day.

Need a refresher on why creating content is important? Read The Value of Content Marketing

So What Should You Create?

Content ideas are all around you but everything takes precious time to create. If you’re like me, you’ve got plans coming out of your ears but time management is the fine art of delivering on your ideas. Deciding what’s the most important and how you’ll prioritize content creation is a necessity. This graph will help you see your content in a new way.

Content Marketing priorities

Social Media Posts & Curated Content

This content is the easiest to make. These can be quick thoughts or reshares of another creator’s content. You’ll have the most of these.

Blogs, short-form & Guest Content

These take a little bit more time and thought. The length of your blog is important so that search engines can find and index what you’ve written to be served in search and it’s generally understood to be a minimum of 350-400 words. Anything shorter has been determined won’t provide much value to the readers. It’s actually pretty easy to get to that number but you’ve got to establish what it is that’s important to your audience, something they need to know or learn (Purpose). Guesting content might be writing for another organization or being a guest on a podcast. It definitely requires energy but this is something you can do without a ton of prep.

watercolor wireframes prioritize content creationVideos, Infographics & Templates

This type of content starts to ask more of you creatively and time-wise. Videos take a lot of effort to plan out, shoot, and edit. Don’t get it twisted. These are a time investment and you won’t always get a return on that time. See: 5 Steps for Better Video

The pyramid I made in this blog is an infographic. (Infographics are visual images such as a chart or diagram used to represent information or data.) There are so many free and paid tools that can help you make attractive visuals and infographics (remember the 3 points I made at the beginning of this blog – visuals are paramount.) I highly recommend Canva.

I regularly make templates for my clients to help them through challenging tasks that need to be done and have lots of steps or fill-in-the-blank worksheets. Look around at what you provide to your clients or customers, I bet you have something you can turn into a template. These take time to create but they’re worth it. You can share directly with people and on your social media channels. In fact, I turned my most useful templates into a workbook! (I provide templates in my new Mentoring Program – ask me about it!)

Blogs, long-form & Presentations

Now we’re taking a lot more time to create. Blogs need to be of a minimum length to be indexed by Google (this means they show up in search) but I consider short-form blogs a bit lazy. Your blog should be quality content and a quality blog will include research, cited sources, data, and of actionable benefit.

When I first started writing my blog 15 years ago, mine were super short. The more thorough I became as a writer, the longer they got. If you’ve got value to share, your readers will stay. I’ve seen research showing that blogs perform best between 1,000 and 5,000 words. That a big range. I bring receipts: Neal Schaffer says 2,000, Hubspot says 2,100-2,400, Wordstream says 2,700-3,000. It really depends on what you’re trying to do but I peg a good length at 2,000 words. That takes time. Don’t expect to create it all in one sitting. Collect your research, create a first draft, edit, include all your cited sources and links, insert images and formatting, then publish. I read it again after publishing and catch funky errors. All of that takes time. (BTW this blog clocks in at 1911 words.)

Presentations, of course, also take a lot of effort. I’m a professional presenter and for over 10 years averaged 75+ a year. Many of mine repeated or borrowed large sections from other presentations so my typical development time was 1.5 hours or less. When creating a speech from scratch, you can expect a minimum of 3-5 hours of research and development, not including practicing delivery. The great thing about presentations is that you have the live delivery, a video recording (if you can set that up), the slide deck, handouts and anything else you can create from that event. Presentations can go a looooong way.

Books, ebooks & White Papers

These are the least common and most powerful forms of content you can create. It has the most impact on your audience and, in their eyes, boosts you to the level of expert in a way nothing else can. I think of writing a book as the Mount Everest of creation. It’s person writing in a journalmythical, scary, difficult, and only a dream for most people. The truth is, once you’ve written one, you can make many many more. But I won’t minimize how big of a step it is (let me know if you’d like help!) and requires years of commitment. Some people can bang out a book in a weekend, I’ve been in marketing presentations that tout this possibility. That’s unrealistic for most writers. Yes, you can write a bathroom book that can be read in a day but you might want to create something with more depth and value. I wouldn’t have that type of book be your first otherwise it sets a tone for the depth of value that you bring to the table.

You’ll be planning out your physical, ebooks and White Papers for years. I have a folder for each one (I just looked in my files where I currently have 10 defined business books, I’m almost done with book 4, and someday I have a children’s series to write) where I collect information for years until I’m ready to commit the time it takes to write that particular book. Some projects make sense for physical as well as digital publication but, in my case, number 5 is going to be digital-only which means it’ll only be available as an ebook. You’ll have to determine which is the route that particular piece of content requires.

White Papers are informational documents issued by a company or not-for-profit organization that promote or highlight the features of a solution, product, or service that it offers or plans to offer. They are also used as a method of presenting government policies and legislation and gauging public opinion. (Investopedia) This may or may not be a type of content that makes sense for your purposes.

Where Does It Land?

Content Marketing FlowchartOnly you know if that idea is a book or a quick social media post. It might be both. Most of my ideas can fit into every single one of the rungs on the priority list. I have to be honest about how important that content is. Sometimes I’ll create a fast social media post on a topic to test the waters. The engagement I receive gives me an idea of how valuable it is to my audience. Then I decide how much time I’m willing to commit to it.

If the concept is significant, I’ll work my way through the pyramid creating content with that same idea again and again, giving me the opportunity to look at it in new ways as I grow and change, sharing the new creations with different audiences, distributing it in different places. If it’s a principal subject for you, it can be never-ending.

(Here’s another infographic that I had my graphic designer make for me many years ago showing how one idea can be interpreted again and again.)

Planning to Prioritize Content Creation

It’s a good idea to have an editorial calendar or some other planning document that allows you to capture all your brilliant ideas in one place. This allows you to add notes such as content themes, when you’d like to create or release it, and how you might expand the idea if it serves in multiple categories (blog, video, presentation, etc.) This is a key step in helping you to prioritize your content creation. See: Editorial Calendar Template | Theme Schedule Template

Idea Graveyard

Jot those ideas down in one place and then set time aside to actually create. Maybe you like a rigid approach where you write or create at the same time every week. Or maybe you’re like me, you put it on the calendar but it never seems to happen at the designated time. I don’t give myself a hard time, I use those scheduled times as reminders that I have prioritized creating and I find the time for it.

One note of warning: if you find you never make the time to create, I encourage you to ask yourself if it is in fact a priority. If the answer is “I’m busy” I say that’s an excuse. Every single person on this planet is busy but we make time for what we care about. We prioritize it. If you don’t prioritize it, then it’s not important to you.

Don’t let your inspired thoughts die on some sticky note. We want to hear your knowledge, wisdom, and lived experiences. Save your ideas, set a time to create, and prioritize what you want to spend your time creating. I know you can do it.

Let me know how I can help.

 

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