Yeah, you read that right. You can cut your content development process time in half with a few handy tricks, tips, and tools. Content development, mainly writing blog posts is one of the most time-consuming aspects of content marketing for most people. I’ve spoken with people who take 2-3 days to write a blog post. I do most of mine in a few hours. How? It’s all about preparation.
The secret? It’s to batch your content! It’s that simple. But it works.
Creating your batching process can help shave hours off your content production times. By working on a handful of posts at a time, you can stay focused and work ahead. The key is to spend time laying the foundation for your program ahead of time, so when it’s time to write, you’re all set.
I’ll share my exact batching process. I use an Excel spreadsheet to map out all my content topics and monthly content calendar. This process was developed and then refined numerous times over the years. I have this very process to manage content production workflows for multiple clients at once. Keeping hundreds of pieces of content in the queue and moving on track, always. Organization is a big part of speeding up your process.
Keep a running content topic list. I have a note on my phone and add topic ideas to it as they arise when I’m out and about, talking to people. Many of the blog posts I write are a direct result of a client or prospect’s question about content marketing best practices, challenges, or issues they’re facing. I find writing the idea down immediately helps. If I don’t, I forget it. Anyone else?
Marketing Pro Tip: Answer your customer’s questions with the content you develop. Don’t just try to push your agenda. Provide information they need and they’ll want to read what you write. They might even share it! And isn’t that the goal?
Planning and being organized helps speed up the process in several ways. If you keep a running list of ideas, it’s easy to have topics to work with when it comes time to create your content calendar. Creating a schedule is key to speeding up your process. You always know what needs to be written next.
Have you ever sat down, known you needed to write a post, but had NO IDEAS? What happens? You check Facebook, you respond to email, you look at pictures or videos, but you get no work done. An hour later, that blank Word doc or WordPress page or whatever, is still staring you in the face. And that stinks.
When I get ready to create a content calendar, I start with the master topic ideas tab and see which ones will work for the current content plan.
Before I start writing a word, I think about which posts I should write and where they should be shared. I write for my website, as well as industry sites. I note where the post will be shared right in my monthly content calendar. If all the content you’re creating will be posted on your blog, you can skip this step. It works for me but may not be necessary for you.
Since I write for multiple audiences on The Etched Blog, it’s essential to ensure we provide information that’s useful to all of them on a regular basis. Due to this, I also determine which content pillar each topic idea aligns with, ensuring there’s good coverage for each. Some of our readers are Etsy Shop owners, other Shopify site owners, or website owners. We’ve got three audiences right there.
What does a persona look like? Sometimes companies have personas that include pictures, names, interests, etc. Some will print the personas off and keep them in the marketing office; others know who they are and refer to them when necessary. Some like to note which persona a specific piece of content is going to target. I don’t record the persona in the master content plan, but I do note which content topic pillar it addresses (and those all align with my personas).
Now that we’ve got a list of ideas, audiences we’re addressing, and a sense as to where our content will be published, it’s time to create the actual content calendar. I like to keep each quarter on a separate tab within my Excel Workbook to ensure it’s easy to reference, answer questions, and double-check when necessary.
You can batch content for a few weeks, a month, or a quarter. It’s up to you. I batch one month at a time for production but one quarter at a time for planning, if that makes sense. I complete three months’ worth of content calendars at a time and later write the content one month at a time.
This is where your blog topics list, audience information, and content distribution plans will come in handy.
How do you determine your posting schedule? I completed a competitive audit and reviewed other content and digital marketing agencies in my market to decide what they were posting and when. From there, I looked to see how engaged the audiences were and determined if there were things I should do differently. Then, with the research and data behind me, I mapped out a custom posting strategy for Etched. There is no one right answer for posting frequency. Honestly, the correct answer is what works best for your business and what you can manage.
Marketing ProTip: The right posting schedule is the one you can keep up with that works for your business. If you get enough leads with one post per month then maybe once per month is right for you. If you find 10 posts per month generates more leads for you, then maybe you need to post 10 times per month. There are best practices and guides but they’re just that…. Practices and guides, not real life data. Real life data should trump best practices in your decision making.
Start filling out your posting schedule with the names of the blog topics that you came up with earlier. Make sure you’re covering the content needs of all your audience members and if you are writing a post for another website this month, think about what you want to share here vs. there. Keep in mind; sometimes the other website has the potential to reach more readers than your blog does. It may make sense to give what you feel is a fantastic topic to another site in hopes of building brand awareness or gaining additional exposure
SEO ProTip: Do your keyword research before the content planning phase. Know what terms you want to target and include them on your master spreadsheet above. Choose 2-3 terms to target and be sure you haven’t used them previously. Then create your titles using the keywords you want to target.
Moving to Content Production
To make things easier for me to focus, I break my content planning and production into two separate parts. You can do whatever works best for you. I’ve found it’s easier for me to stay in a creative mindset this way. I block time out on the calendar so I can focus on the tasks without disruption. I find setting aside a block of 2-4 hours to be the most beneficial. It gives me enough time to focus on content planning and not worry about calls or other priorities during that time. I don’t miss out on an entire day
Marketing ProTip: Physically block out time in your calendar for both content planning and writing your posts. It will help speed up the process by allowing you uninterrupted time to focus on the projects. Do them on two separate days so you can focus on the calendar one day and writing & editing another.
Marketing ProTip: Use the month, year, and piece number to name your content pieces so you can avoid confusion and duplication. If you’re working on content for multiple clients, add their names to the files. For example, EtchedMarekting_717.1_25QuestionstoContentStrategy.docx.
How many times have you wasted 10 minutes searching for a file that’s not saved where you thought it was? We all have at some point in time. I’ve found organizing my files by date and month within the blog posts file makes it easy. If you’re dealing with clients who lose files you send them – this can be a lifesaver for you too. Not that I’ve ever had to send the same file to a client 3-5 times.
You can cut your content production time in half by being very organized and focused in your approach. It’s easier to write a blog post if you have everything you need to start when you sit down. Spend time focusing on the research and organization part of the process ahead of time and you’ll be able to write much faster.
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