By Mo Harake published January 6, 2017

10 Ways to Save Time in Creating Content

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As a content creator, you’re aware of the arduous task of getting a single piece completed. Audience research, topic sourcing, planning, collaboration, editing and revisions, and sourcing authoritative data to back up ideas, etc., are time-intensive tasks.

I used to waste a tremendous amount of time creating, producing, promoting, and distributing content. Then I set out to optimize the process, while also working to improve the response from my audiences. Here are 10 tips I learned along the way.

1. Streamline research

The research phase can eat up a ridiculous amount of time if you’re not careful. We all want to create the content that our audience wants the most. It can leave you leaping back and forth on topic ideas as you try to decide exactly what your audience wants at any given time. Even with a strong understanding of your audience, you might feel lost in finding new topics.

Streamline this process and eliminate the concern.

  • Start with your analytics and look at what topics are working best right now.
  • Look at your competitors and review the content their fans are engaging with.
  • Check BuzzSumo against your best-performing topics and target keywords.

Grow ideas from the best-performing content across the board.

2. Compile multiple ideas at one time

Don’t make the mistake of forcing yourself to come up with a topic on the day you’re to write it; plan far in advance.

At least a month in advance, plot all the best content ideas (based on what you learned in the first tip) on your editorial or content calendar. If a topic is inspired by multiple sources, make sure you list those contacts for possible citations in the idea stage. When the time comes to write a new piece, refer to your calendar, grab the topic, and start writing.

At least a month in advance, plot your best #content ideas on your editorial calendar. Click To Tweet

coschedule

Click to enlarge

3. Cut back on quantity

Businesses that regularly publish on their blog see 67% more leads from their inbound efforts over companies that don’t. That doesn’t mean you need to hammer out volumes of content every day.

Businesses that regularly publish on their blog see 67% more leads from inbound efforts says @dannywong1190. Click To Tweet

I’m on board with the 10x content formula. I’ve reduced frequency in favor of writing long-form content with far more value (10 times) for the reader. These pieces take a bit longer to produce, but they’re far more comprehensive and have a massive impact on authority.

Fill in the long-form content gaps with bite-sized content formats, including:

  • Slide decks
  • Infographics
  • Social images with tips

4. Schedule writing time

If you don’t schedule time to write, you’ll never get around to it or you’ll scramble to meet a deadline. Block out time each day to write and only write in that window. Don’t let other activities lead you to cancel your writing time or to reschedule it.

Block out time each day to write & only write in that window. #writingtips Click To Tweet

My own schedule is so packed during the week that I schedule writing time on the weekends. After my morning workout and breakfast, I write in 30-minute blocks with five- to 10-minute breaks to disengage and keep my focus sharp.

5. Set goals

Scheduling time is only the first step in the writing production process. Next, set goals around what you will accomplish in your writing time and drive yourself to achieve them.

I make it a point to set a goal for a specific word count and do everything I can to smash it. If I’m on track with my goals, I’ll hit my publishing window for the content without wasting too much time.

6. Eliminate distractions

Write in a bubble. Shut out the world. I use so many apps to keep track of projects at the office – analytics, email, social media, events – that if I don’t shut them down while I produce content, I’d never get it done.

Write in a bubble. Shut out the world. #productivity Click To Tweet

Your brain is naturally wired to want to complete tasks. That’s why unfinished projects can stress you. Little tasks like checking social media and replying to emails trick the brain into feeling like you accomplished something when in reality all you’ve done is waste time.

Be ruthless about eliminating distractions:

  • Turn off your phone or at least turn off notifications.
  • Stay away from online sites that distract you, especially social media platforms.
  • Let others know about your scheduled writing blocks; tell them it’s a no-interruption period.
  • Create an environment that lets you focus (I use music to help me).

Stay away from distractions and you’ll find your focus improves dramatically – as does the mental reward when you finish.

7. Work backwards

I’ve had my share of times staring at a blinking cursor trying to decide how I wanted to proceed on a topic. When I worked backwards, I saw a huge improvement in how quickly my content came together. Once I’m locked onto a topic, here’s what I often do to get the content flowing:

  • Create a social post to promote the core idea of the article.
  • Break the core idea into segments – what exactly you want to cover in the post.
  • Research the data to support your ideas.
  • Find quotes from influencers applicable to a segment or core idea.
  • Build the content around the information you gathered to flesh out a draft.

8. Get an editor who makes you better

Early on I was overly critical of my content and spent a lot of time proofing and removing fluff.

Great editors won’t just edit to polish your piece, they’ll show you what was edited and give you feedback to make you better. This improves the speed at which you write, and greatly reduces proofing and editing time.

Get an editor who will give you feedback to make you a better writer. #productivity Click To Tweet

9. Create a repeatable promotion and distribution process

A lot of content marketers who seem to have a well-refined approach to content marketing just wing it when it comes to promotion and distribution.

I did the same. After I finished writing a post, I would bounce around sites to decide where to post and promote. Don’t get stuck in that loop. Create a process you can repeat every time your content is complete. It should detail:

  • Where content gets published and distributed
  • Where it gets promoted
  • How it’s promoted
  • How mentions and influencer inclusions are handled (and how they’re notified)
  • Amount of time dedicated to future promotion for that specific piece
  • How the content is repurposed – when and where

Turn content distribution and promotion into a precision process to supercharge your content in minutes, not hours.

Turn distribution & promotion into a precision process to supercharge your #content. Click To Tweet

10. Swipe the best and make it better

Content marketing is a competitive space. Your audience sees a lot of content on similar, if not the same, topics. To keep their attention and make sure you didn’t waste your time, your content must bring major value.

Brian Dean’s skyscraper approach is a great place to start. Instead of creating something from scratch or regurgitating the same ideas of others in your industry, take the best of what’s out there and build on it.

BuzzSumo is a great tool to help you do this because it shows the most-shared articles around a specific topic. Take the top articles your audience loves and start compiling. Create a post that’s a complete, comprehensive guide to whatever topic you’re dealing with. That will make your content stand out from everyone else’s.

buzzsumo

Click to enlarge

I’m not suggesting you swipe content; rather, take their idea or perspective and make it better and more complete.

Conclusion

No matter how you approach content marketing, there’s always a way to improve the process and trim the time spent to create polished content. Just remember to take the shortcuts that work without cutting quality corners if you want to reach wonderfully performing content metrics.

What have you done to streamline your content marketing? Share your tips in the comments.

If you want to take more steps to improve your content marketing processes and strategy, subscribe to CMI’s free daily newsletter.

Cover image by Ryan McGuire-Bells Design, Gratisography, via pixabay.com

Author: Mo Harake

Mo Harake brings over 12 years of ecommerce and digital marketing experience leading brands like FIJI Water, 7Diamonds, Kill Cliff and venture-backed startups to his work as managing director of Stray Digital. For more on his approach to e-commerce, content marketing, and growth hacking, visit him on LinkedIn or at the Stray Digital blog.

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  • Diane Cecilia de la Cruz

    Thanks for this very useful post, Mo. Like you, I work backwards whenever I get stuck. Thanks for sharing your own process of getting the ideas flowing.

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    Thanks, Mo.

    I too prefer to write blog posts on the weekend. Less email, etc. to compete for my attention.

    -Diana