This five-part series is a guest contribution from Pamela Wilson of Big Brand System.
Content marketing works — you know that. It’s one big reason you read ProBlogger! You like the content here and you want to learn more about how to create it yourself.
It’s all well and good to talk about how to write content effectively, of course.
But at some point, you’ve got to actually do it. Regularly.
Content marketing works best when it’s done consistently over time.
One single piece of well-written content won’t turn your business around. It’s the act of creating and publishing useful content over time that creates business results. Prospects and customers begin to trust you when you show up and are helpful week after week. You become like a wise friend who’s always there to lend a hand.
Which, of course, can seem like an incredibly daunting task and an overwhelming commitment. But it doesn’t have to be.
In this post, I’m going to make the case for creating less content, but better content. And I’ll begin to share my system for publishing high-quality content consistently. It’s a system I’ve used for years, and it made content creation faster, easier, and more fun.
This is the first of a five post series! It’s has been customized for ProBlogger readers and is an excerpt from my new book, Master Content Marketing: A Simple Way to Cure the Blank Page Blues and Attract a Profitable Audience.
Why Creating Your Content Over Several Days is a Genius Move
Some people reading this post will be part of a team that creates content, and that team may include an editor. Lucky you.
Most of us, though, create our content without the benefit of input from an editor or other team members. For most of us, content creation is a solo act.
That’s how it is for me with my content on Big Brand System. I write it myself without any feedback from an editor. And early on, I discovered a way to create that content that allowed my “inner editor” to come to the forefront and improve the articles I was writing.
It all starts by spreading the content creation process out over several days. Doing this gives you a chance to:
- Think about your content even when you’re not actively writing it. You’ll find yourself coming up with a new idea or a different angle when you’re working on something unrelated, or even when you’re doing something during your off time: watching a television show; washing dishes; taking a walk.
- See your content with fresh eyes. Creative “blindness” happens when you’ve been staring at the same project for too long. It doesn’t allow you to see what a piece needs, or notice the errors you’ve made. Spreading out your content creation process allows you to develop “fresh eyes” again — eyes that can see mistakes. After you’ve stepped away and done something else, you’ll return to your article and notice what’s missing or what needs to be changed.
- Create content in a stress-free manner. Looming deadlines can be incredibly stressful, and that stress doesn’t allow us to do our best work. By starting on the content creation process well in advance and doing it one small step at a time, you give yourself a stress-free environment in which to create. This will support your work and help your ideas to flourish.
The process I’ll outline here can be adapted to whatever publishing schedule you use. You may find it interesting to know that even though on Copyblogger we publish a new piece of content four to five days a week, no single author writes more than once a week.
So when I recommend one strong piece of content per week (as I will below), this advice can apply even to sites that publish more frequently than that.
Why You Should Focus on Creating Less Content — But Better Content
It’s true — there’s a lot of content on the web already. More is added each day. You may wonder how yours will ever get found and consumed.
How can you make your content stand out from the rest?
The answer is to focus on creating content that gets noticed because it’s written with the highest standards of quality.
There’s already plenty of badly-written, clumsy content out there.
But high-quality content that’s written thoughtfully and presented in a way that makes it easy to read and consume? It’s rare. Quality content stands out.
Great content — well-planned, masterfully written, easy-to-read content — always rises to the top.
High-quality content works, too. It gets read and acted on. It gets passed around and bookmarked. It gets reader comments and people actually remember it — sometimes for years to come.
If you are working alone and you’re creating several pieces of content each week, consider putting all that effort into creating one ultra-high-quality piece of content that’s published on the same day each week. The rest of the week can be spent promoting that piece of content and driving people to read it. And once your content is published, you can re-start the system and begin creating the high-quality content you’ll publish the next week.
Introducing the 4-Day Content Creation System
When I first started my Big Brand System website, I was running my marketing and design business full time, plus I had two children in high school who were still living at home, and I was keeping a household running. I didn’t have a lot of time to spare for content creation, and I certainly didn’t have a five-hour (or more) block free to use to create content every week.
At the same time, I knew that publishing content on a consistent basis was the most effective way to get both people and search engines to notice my site. It was how I’d build the audience I wanted to develop for my business.
So I made a commitment to publish one new piece of content once a week. I knew this was a sustainable schedule that I could stick to consistently. And I suspected that fresh content once a week would be enough.
It was. Over the years, my audience grew, slowly but surely. When I first drew back the curtains on my website, there weren’t many people out there watching. But that changed quickly as I began consistently publishing helpful, useful, easy-to-read content.
Because I didn’t have big chunks of time available to write content, I developed a system that entailed spreading the content creation process over a period of days rather than creating content from start to finish in one sitting.
It turns out, this adaptive behavior was a highly efficient way to create quality content week after week.
In this series, I’m going to present my system for creating content over a period of four days:
Day 1: Build Your Article Backbone.
Day 2: Fill in the Details.
Day 3: Polish and Prepare to Publish.
Day 4: Publish, Promote, and Propagate.
Out of sheer necessity, I developed my strange system for getting content created.
And, as often happens when inventions are born from necessity, I hit on something that worked even better than sitting down and trying to write an epic piece of content in one single session.
In May 2012, a little over two years after I started my online business, I wrote about my weird little content creation system in what has turned into one of the more popular posts on Copyblogger: A Simple Plan for Writing One Powerful Piece of Online Content per Week.
The positive response that post received is one of the reasons I wrote my book, Master Content Marketing. It gave me the confidence to think that maybe I could actually teach people how to write content — even though I had just learned myself.
I’m going to share it with you here with some additional details that will help you put it into practice. It all starts with deciding which day you want to publish, and working backward from there.
What Day Should You Publish Your Weekly Post?
This system starts with finding a consistent day every week when you’ll publish your content. A few considerations for choosing your publishing day:
Think about a convenient day for your reader, not for you. It’s tempting to say, “I want to publish on ___day, because that day works best with my schedule. But it’s not about you, is it? You’re publishing content because you want to reach an audience. Think about what will work best for them, and work your schedule around that. Read on for more about this.
If your content is time-sensitive, publish it on the day it will be most useful. Let’s say your website features information about the latest happenings for antiques lovers in your region. You talk about sales, events, workshops, and new stores that have opened up in your area. You know that your readers do most of their antiquing on the weekend. When are they making their weekend plans? Probably on Thursday — or Friday morning at the latest.
Publish your content on the day it’s most likely to be useful to your readers. Think about how they’ll apply the information you’re sharing and when during the week they most need it.
Look for a traffic pattern in your site analytics. If your publishing schedule has been willy-nilly or non-existent, take a look at your site analytics. Is there a consistent spike in visits to your site on a specific day of the week? If so, make the most of existing traffic patterns by publishing a new piece of content that day.
In the end, you may find that none of the guidance above helps you choose a publishing day. In that case, it’s time to make an educated guess. Think about your audience first, and choose a day you expect will work for them. Plan to review your traffic after a few months to see if it spikes on the day you publish (that’s a good sign). You can even do a short audience survey to ask your readers what day they prefer to see new content from you and then look for a pattern in their answers.
With your publishing day chosen, work backward three business days. If you’re publishing on Friday, you’ll start your four-day process on Tuesday. If you’re publishing on Tuesday, you’ll start your four-day process on Thursday of the week before (take the weekend off!).
In the rest of this series, we’ll talk about what to do on each of your three publishing days. For now, choose the day you want to publish. In the next article, we’ll talk about what to do on Day 1.
Pamela Wilson is a 30-year marketing veteran and is the author of Master Content Marketing: A Simple Strategy to Cure the Blank Page Blues and Attract a Profitable Audience. Find more from Pamela at Big Brand System.
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