By Brody Dorland published May 31, 2011

My Pocket-Sized, Content Production Secret

I’m going to let you in on a little secret that helps me keep up with my content production. I’m dictating this article while in my car on my way to a client meeting using the audio recorder on my phone.

As marketers, we’re all slammed with a never-ending to-do list. And no matter which side of the table you’re sitting on (corporate side or content service provider), one of the biggest challenges you face with content marketing is finding the time to create good content on a consistent basis.

If you’re a professional copywriter who has the gift of spitting out gold in mere minutes, good for you. I envy you. But if you’re anything like me, writing good content means inevitably wordsmithing every sentence, which requires a good chunk of time (even with my degree in journalism).

For those of you who are not natural or skilled writers, the task of blogging, creating web content or even tweeting on a regular basis is probably varying levels of daunting. How the heck are you going to get all that done in addition to your other responsibilities? A tool that has really helped me increase both my content production and quality is an audio recorder.

Tips for the Corporate Marketer

On the corporate side of the table, you’re probably  responsible for keeping new content flowing weekly, perhaps daily. If you’re on the ball, you have an editorial calendar you follow and you have subject matter experts you can leverage for editorial help.

I remember my corporate days, sitting in an engineer’s office picking his/her brain and frantically taking notes. Then I’d go back to my computer and try my best to wordsmith something that made as much sense as the conversation I just had. I can’t tell you how many times I thought to myself, “I wish I had recorded that conversation.”

What’s stopping you? Certainly not technology. Simple audio recorders are $20 on and your phone probably has one.
With my audio recorder in hand, here’s what I would do now:

Record every brainstorming meeting
Since you never know what great ideas might come up, put your recorder on the table and don’t forget to hit record. Don’t worry so much about taking notes. Sit back and listen. If the meeting doesn’t produce anything great, then delete the file. If it does, a quick transcription will help you recapture the good stuff.

Interview like you’re the customer
If you’re working with a subject matter expert (SME), facilitate your meeting as if you’re a customer with a specific challenge or pain point. Ask questions that help the SME address the issue in a way that benefits you, “the customer.” Then transcribe their answers into a great piece of benefits-focused content.

Keep the conversational tone
One thing that’s great about web content is that we can (and should) keep it more conversational than some other mediums. When we’re recording conversations, it’s a huge time saver to translate these conversations almost word for word so they maintain that voice and tone.

Use your drive time / commute
For busy marketers every minute counts, and the time spent commuting from place to place can be used effectively even if you need to be “hands free.” Look at your editorial calendar before you leave, pick a topic/content idea and talk through your thoughts en route. With my Android phone’s native speech-to-text function, I can start a new email to myself and bang out an article during a 20-minute drive.

Tips for Content Service Providers

Record your client calls
I’m a big fan of GoToMeeting, and hitting the record button allows me to capture both the audio and video (screen capture) from a virtual meeting. Whether you are creating content from this meeting or you’re handing it off to another writer, you’ll all benefit from capturing the client’s actual words.

Sit back and listen
When you’re recording the audio and not having to take frantic notes, you can let your brain explore a little more deeply into the individual thoughts that are flowing from the client. The meeting turns into more of a natural conversation and less like a question and answer session. Good things come from this.

Is the audio podcast worthy?
I’m no longer surprised to uncover unique, charismatic personalities within organizations. If I find myself looking forward to regular phone calls with these people and getting great stuff each time, should a podcast be considered? With the right people, a good content format, a little coaching and some inexpensive equipment, you can help your clients create their own industry radio show.

What did I miss? What other ways are you using audio tools to help you get more content done? Tell us about it.

Author: Brody Dorland

Brody is an online marketing consultant, blogger, podcaster, and co-creator of DivvyHQ, a cloud-based editorial calendar application that helps you manage your content, ideas, editorial teams and production schedules all in one place. Follow Brody on Twitter @brodydorland.

Other posts by Brody Dorland

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  • Anonymous

    I agree with your list because I also suggest using an audio recorder to my future author clients. However, I’d say be extra careful about recording while commuting. Some people get really passionate and lost into their topics. Maybe that strategy is best for those who sit and wait in bumper to bumper traffic.

    • Brody Dorland

      I knew someone would ding me for recording while commuting. That’s why I typically use the speech to text function on my phone on the road. I can start and stop with the flow of my thoughts (and traffic). 

      Thanks for the comment Cheryl!

  • Amanda Maksymiw

    This is really great advice, Brody, on tackling one of the many challenges content marketers face.  I have found myself using my phone to record ideas for blog posts and other content types.  Most recently I used the recording app on my phone to interview a few customers at a recent event. 

    Thanks again,

    • Brody Dorland

      Absolutely…Using your recorder for on-the-spot interviews is a no-brainer! 

  • BlueFerret

    This is exactly why I bought a Sony digital recorder.  It’s invaluable for content help.  I encourage every writer I know to get one.

    If I’m stuck on writing a webpage or email, I go for a walk with it.  After a little rambling, the content starts coming together.

    New idea on the road?  Can’t very well write it down while going 70!

    Self-recording is one of the best ways to break through a creative block too.  It changes the format, and you’re working as fast as you can talk.  That prompts your brain to spit out everything relevant.

    My recorder may be the best investment I’ve made in the past 5 years!

    • Brody Dorland

      Yep…love the walk idea. Glad to hear your recorder gets a lot of use!

  • Tina

    Thanks for sharing your secret, Brody.  I have struggled with using a recorder for other things and seem to moving in that direction once again.  Actually had not thought of using a recorder for blog ideas… duh!  Have to figure out the best method — phone or digital recorder.  I seem to have many of my “light bulb” moments in the shower, believe it or not!  Must be the theraputic effect of the warm water.  I’ll have to add one more feature to my recorder must have list….waterproof!

    • Brody Dorland

      Yep…I too need to a waterproof recorder…;o)

  • Rachel

    Thanks for the advice. Even as a professional copywriter, it takes me awhile to complete a decent blog post. The recorder in my BlackBerry helps when I’m on the go or have an idea as I’m about to fall asleep. I also like to take 20 minutes every once in a while to dump out ideas without stopping to refine them. I’ll let those ideas sit overnight. When I go back to finish the post, all I have to do is polish my rough draft. 

    • Brody Dorland

      Exactly! No more ideas that fall into the ether because you didn’t have a computer or a pen/paper!

      Thanks for the comment Rachel… 

  • Brody Dorland

    This just in…A new wordpress plugin has just been launched called VoicePress that allows you to speak your post within your WP interface. For those of you who would rather talk than type, give it a look. Looks like it only works on Chrome browsers at this point.

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  • Jquinlivan

    I hope you were a passenger while recording this post. Voice recording while driving is about as distracting as a teenage texter or a cell-phone-to-ear-SUV-driving-soccer-Mom — worse than a drunk driver and just as dangerous. I’m all for time management, but, hey, it’s not a life and death matter. I use the recorder on my iPhine too, but I use it in parking lots or I pull over.

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  • Eran

    Great idea Brody, and it’s something I have recommended to others on many occasions, but I usually forget to take my own advice! 🙂 Still, you’ve inspired me to crank up my great little Olympus DVR and start using it during the daily commute. As for getting the content transcribed, I can recommend as an excellent service I have used before. Low cost and easy to use.