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7 Ways to Create Better Content in a Fraction of the Time

Barry Feldman: January 19, 2014 | Best practices for copywriting, Content marketing, Video | Comments
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creating great content in less time

This is a guest post by Mike Sobol of ContentBlvd.

Deep content is immensely valuable for your readers, your credibility and your SEO. When you delve into a subject and create a post that others use as reference material, that’s a content marketing home run. Barry does it here on his own blog with astounding consistency. Chances are, however, you aren’t such a prolific content producer. So let’s look at how you can create more fantastic content in much less time.

First, a Disclaimer

Fast content doesn’t mean bad content. If it isn’t useful, don’t create it. No one wins when you publish new content for it’s own sake — not your site, your brand or your readers. So don’t publish something quickly because you think you need to.

The only reason ever to publish a piece is because you believe your audience will benefit.

I happen to be a long-winded person who enjoys digging into the details. Paradoxically, perhaps, that limits my own production. And maybe that limits you, too. You know it’s your job to provide value, so when you aren’t confident in your message, and don’t feel like you have the time and attention to give a topic it’s due, you opt to produce nothing at all.

Well, that’s baloney, and it leads me to my first point.

1. Say What You’re Doing

This is the true-life pitch that Evan Williams gave to his investor, Mike Maples, when Evan described his idea for Twitter. No joke. See Mike Maples tell the story here (at the 27:00 min mark). You say what you’re doing.

Of course, blog posts and other content aren’t tweets. Twitter or Facebook-length posts usually don’t deliver enough substance, (unless you’re Seth Godin) but the idea is valid.

As a practitioner in your field, how you do what you do, why, and when is prized information for your audience. While it’s a good idea to skip the moment when you’re making a ham sandwich, there are many other times when sharing bits of your day provide insights your audience just can’t get any other way.

So, when you’re answering a client’s question, or you just got out of a meeting that changed your mind about something, or you just solved a complicated issue, write about it. Not into the writing part? OK then…

2. Record What You’re Doing

As a dog trainer, I used to film myself at work to create training videos for other trainers, and that was better content than anything I could have made in a sterile, staged setting. It’s the same concept as describing what you’re doing in a written post, only faster and often more interesting for your audience.

“But I’m not doing anything interesting like that!” Sure you are. If you’re in business, someone is curious about how you do what you do. I was amazed to watch plumbers repipe my entire house with pex tubing in just a few hours and would no doubt have hired them sooner if I had seen them at work on video.

Assuming your work really isn’t conducive to audio or video recording, your knowledge is. Moz.com’s Whiteboard Friday series is a perfect example of great ideas getting recorded in entertaining, consumable fashion with surprisingly little effort or production hurdles.

While the Moz videos are always in front of a whiteboard, you could just as easily record in any other setting that works for you and your products or services. Search for How To videos on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean.

3. Interview People

At last week’s NMX Conference in Las Vegas, I was interviewed at least four times. Bloggers and podcasters roamed the exhibit hall finding people to talk to, microphones and video cameras in hand. Edit together those clips, add some expository text, and voila, there’s a new post or podcast.

An upcoming guest post I completed for another site was an interview I conducted over email about one company’s content marketing successes in 2013. Technically, my interviewee wrote most of the post and was happy for the featured spot. All I did was ask the questions and put it all together! I plan to do a lot more of those.

4. Take Notes. About Everything. All the Time.

I have a spiral bound notebook that helps me capture ideas. It’s always open on my desk. Years ago, I mocked the low-tech concept, until the day my boss immediately recalled a dozen details I had since forgotten. All he had to do was flip back through his notebook.

I also use Evernote, I draft emails, start new Google docs… whatever gets ideas out of my head when they happen. Then, when I do have time to focus on writing, I’m surrounded by ideas, not hunting for new ones. Links, quotes, concepts, outlines, events– almost anything you see fit to jot down has the potential to spin into an entire article.

Not surprisingly, all those ideas tend to feed brand new ones. That’s what happened with this post. I hadn’t logged this specific topic, but I did have a lot of these ideas written down. So here I am, taking my own advice to write a post quickly and efficiently by withdrawing from my own idea bank. Instead of creating posts about each of these points, I’m wrapping them into one.

5. Riff on Your Old Content

The inverse… or converse… (or something), of wrapping together lots of points you’ve been gathering is to riff on old content– take one article and spin ideas from it into new ones again and again. Coincidentally, I wrote a post last year called, How to Riff Like a Rock Star. (See, I’m doing it now.)

I also just drafted a static page on my site called The 10 Commandments of Content Marketing. Think that won’t get an airing at least ten times? The more solid pieces I create, the quicker I can develop new content derived from my “back catalog” of completed articles.

6. When It’s Awesome, Share It

I suppose sharing stuff you think is awesome (and relevant to your audience) is what curating content is all about. But I don’t like that word. There’s a strange stigma to it, that if you’re curating, all you’re doing is taking other people’s ideas. So what?! Who doesn’t want a bigger platform? I love it when others quote me or write about my work.

As a professional in your space, your opinion matters to people. By showing your readers what you think they should be reading, and even giving your thoughts on it, you solidify your role as an influencer. Press it, tweet it, Clip it, Skitch it, Scoop.It, Repost It, embed it, blog about it. Whatever curating tools you like, pick some and use them. You’ll publish like the wind.

7. Invite Guest Contributors

You can’t get faster than not writing at all. Guest contributors bring added insight, perspective, and greater exposure, too. Just be careful never to sacrifice the quality and relevance of your blog for the sake of a free post.

One Final Thought

If you’re inclined to read an entire post about how to create content faster, you may also struggle with the blogging habit itself. I know I have. So to solve that problem, I looked at how to take steps to make it as habitual as my morning coffee. Check out the post here, then take a step. Any step. Your audience is waiting.

***

Mike Sobol is co-founder of ContentBlvd.com, a content marketing platform that brings brands and publishers together in new ways to help the best content win. He can be found sharing his thoughts everywhere from Forbes.com and Search Engine Journal to his mother’s Facebook page. Connect with him on Google+, Twitter or brain wave (results may vary).

Barry Feldman
Barry Feldman, founder of Feldman Creative, is a prolific writer with 25 years of experience bringing his clients' online presence to the next level through copywriting and content marketing creation and consulting. He writes and educates clients on online marketing on The Point and on many other sites across the web. Connect with Barry on Google+.
Barry Feldman

@feldmancreative

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Barry Feldman
Barry Feldman
  • http://www.modernpreneur.com/ Craig Carpenter

    Thanks for these tips Barry. I just launched my blog and have been struggling with the idea that “there’s already SO much great content out there – how could I contribute in a meaningful way?” It’s difficult to dig deep and inspire. Hopefully I’ll get better with practice.

    • http://greatblogmikewelldone.blogspot.com/ Mike Sobol

      That’s just it, Craig. New ideas online come at you like a fire hose, but they do for everyone else, too. Focus on sharing great ideas, more than producing everything from scratch and you’ll be sure to find your voice and an audience while you’re at it!

  • http://www.fivefoldfatherhood.com/ Ricardo Butler

    Nice!