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How to Avoid 7 Productivity Land Mines in Content Marketing

There’s no way around it: Content marketing takes a lot of elbow grease and time, but the rewards are great. And, as we’ve shown in this week’s series on productivity, there are plenty of ways to streamline your efforts and make them work more smoothly. Here are some of the most common issues content marketers face, with solutions for each. 

Are you spending too much time trying to figure out what to write about?

If you write with any frequency, I’m sure you have wondered, “What should I write about next?” In fact, as indicated by the 2012 B2B Budgets, Benchmarks and Trends research, producing engaging content is the biggest challenge for content marketers. Coming up with ideas is something our authors have covered a lot on CMI, so here are some ideas:

Do you need a better way to plan all of your content?

If there is one tool I think every content marketer needs to be efficient and organized, it’s the editorial calendar. While this document can be fluid, it provides the structure you need to know what content you need to create when. You can download a template that I created, or you can check out this recent post from Joe Pulizzi on Copyblogger about the components of an editorial calendar.

Are you trying to get more focused when you write?

In his post, 3 Tips for Increasing Your Content Productivity, Roger Parker suggests two tools to help you stay focused: “Don’t assume that your current word processor is your only writing option. You may be thrilled, for example, to discover highly focused writing tools like IA Writerwith its uncluttered writing environment. Or, if you want to keep your ideas and online sources in front of you as you write, explore Scrivener, which uses an index card motif. ”

Alternatively, if you don’t like looking at a blank screen, you can “talk it out” by using an audio recorder, a tip suggested by Brody Dorland.

Do you need a way to break down all of the tasks associated with a project?

Dianna Huff provides this general framework for reducing “getting it all done” content marketing anxiety:

  1. Keep track of your workflow
  2. Determine your bottlenecks
  3. Design your own system and processes

As an alternative, in a comment to Roger Parker’s post on increasing productivity, Howard Rauchl provides some great tips on how you can figure out how long it takes for content creation so you can have realistic expectations:

In the productivity workshops I used to run at Folio, I chided editors because many assumed they were efficient. There are always shortcuts, and eventually they must be discovered. So, when it comes to content marketing, the premise in terms of content creation is that anyone supervising the process must know how long it takes to do everything.

Here is a simplification of how to start the process: (1) Break down the job into components; let’s say you end up with 12; (2) of that number, identify your three or four biggest time-eaters; (3) within the framework of a 20-21-day work month, estimate how much time is required to complete tasks involved; (4) then do the same for the lesser time-eaters; (5) you may find that your 20-21-day month has become a 25-40-day monster.

So now you know everything I know! Right now I am in the process of developing estimates for digital content workloads. The process is clearly diferent from content marketing, probably because the biggest time eater is e-news writing. Perhaps a good starting point for content marketers interested in this kind of stuff is to first identify key presentation categories… like white papers, webinars, newsletters, eBooks, etc. Then within each category, develop time-eater sub categories… and go from there. Enjoy!!!

Do you need a better way to organize and access all of the information you come across?

If you’re like me, you’re always finding ideas of things you want to try or getting inspired about things to write about. But, unless you centralize all of that info, this can be a time-consuming process. A great way to store, organize, and access your ideas is with Evernote. It’s no surprise that it’s been a very popular productivity tool for years. Here are some tips on how to set up Evernote to capture and store info, as well as ideas on how you can use it for content marketing.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by all of the social media channels out there and unsure of where to focus your efforts? 

Instead of diving in to all social channels, Jayme Thompson suggests deciding which ones make the most sense in Cutting the Complexity of Content Marketing. She explains: “Our customers are probably much less aware of the newest, greatest content outposts than we are. If you do some listening and find the ponds they’re in, customers will find your content. And the No. 1 way to simplify? Start small, see how it goes (track it), and then add on when necessary.”

Are you looking for ways to automate distribution?

Once your content is created, you need a plan to get it out into the right channels. Brody Dorland wrote a fantastic post on 12 things to do after you have published a blog post with the updated 7 additional tips. Taking a cue from that, I developed a simple template for content marketing distribution. You can download and customize this template as a way to help you remember all the key steps when you want to get the word out.

What other productivity challenges or tips do you have? Let me know in the comments.