Time Is Not On Your Side: The Truth About Content Marketing
It’s 9:50 Tuesday morning. You normally publish your company’s weekly blog post at 10AM.
You let out an exasperated sigh as you realize that, yet again, there will be no blog post going live this week, and there probably won’t be one next week, either. After all, the reason that this week’s post never got written is that you are in the middle of a major fundraising round with no time or brain space to spare, and it’s not looking like the hectic pace is going to slow down anytime soon.
You know that content marketing needs to be a priority. You’ve had meetings about it, conducted brainstorming sessions to come up with ideas, and you even put together a content calendar. But nothing ever seems to get done. “It’s just a blog post” you say to yourself, “why can’t I make this happen?”
And therein lies the rub: it’s not just a blog post.
Content marketing is a lot like an iceberg -- what you see on the surface is nothing compared to the work that goes on below. A high-quality 1,000-word post could easily take several hours to produce.
Faced with figures like that, what is a time-strapped marketer to do?
Get real, develop processes, and get to work.
It’s Time for a Reality Check
Ok, let’s get candid for a second: I truly believe that the root of many content marketing woes is a general lack of awareness of just how much time and thought goes into creating content that drives business forward.
If a blog post is seen as something that can be easily “thrown together”, then it will never be embedded into job descriptions, processes or workflow. It will remain a priority in name only, meaning that when things get busy, it will consistently be one of the first things put on the backburner.
One of the best things that you can do for your content strategy is to get honest with yourself about what it’s going to take to produce excellent material, and then respect the process enough to carve out time for it. A healthy respect for the role of content marketing in your business goes beyond basic lip service -- it means actually investing time and energy into the things that you say are important to you.
The Behind-the-Scenes Life of a ‘Simple’ Blog Post
If you’re still doing the mental math trying to figure out how a “simple” blog post can take several hours to create, let me give you give you a hand by shedding some light on the Onboardly process.
A blog post -- or any piece of content for that matter -- goes through several stages and more than one member of our team before it goes live. Loosely speaking, a piece will go through seven steps from ideation to public consumption:
Creation of an outline
Uploading and formatting
The first step, topic generation, can take place anywhere from weeks to months ahead of the publish date. Advance planning not only helps with delegation and time-management, but it also allows us to look ahead and develop content that capitalizes on attention around specific dates (ie. Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.).
Steps two through seven typically begin one and a half to two weeks ahead of the publish date, allowing ample time for editing and optimization. If you’re working with an outside writer, be sure to factor in additional time, as communication during the editing process may be slower.
Having these processes in place allows us to ensure that we are consistently putting out content that drives our business forward and reduces inefficiencies that come with last-minute scrambling.
Process: Your Knight In Shining Armor
After many years in the marketing game, I’ve come to realize that one of the biggest differentiators between a successful content strategy and one that falls flat is good process. That’s why our team spends almost as much time developing and refining processes for ourselves and for our clients as we do actually creating the content itself.
While it would take much more room than a blog post allows for to share with you all of my favorite tips and tools, here are a few suggestions to help you increase output and reduce stress:
Up Your Content Calendar Game
It’s all well-and-good to say that you’re publishing a blog post on writing an effective pitch deck on the 25th, but when is the outline due? When is the draft due? When does it need to be uploaded? When we only have seemingly far-off deadlines to work with, it can be easy to lose track of time and find yourself on the publish date with no content to share. Listing all the smaller deadlines in your calendar is a helpful way to track progress and better manage time.
Whether it’s the Friday before a long weekend or the quiet week leading up to Christmas, every office has slow days. Why not take advantage of them to get some serious writing done? Batch writing -- which is exactly what it sounds like -- is a great way to build efficiency into your content process. In fact, Natalie MacNeil, creator of She Takes On the World, has been known to churn out an entire year’s worth of content in one day. Even if you produce rough drafts that can be edited later, you’ll be miles ahead of where you were!
Bring More Hands On Deck
When you take a look at just how much time and effort goes into producing an article, you realize that it is a lot of work and responsibility to add to one person’s plate -- especially if this is in addition to their other duties. Take the time to check in with your content lead and see how they’re doing -- are there particular tasks that take up a disproportionate amount of their time? If so, you might want to consider involving other members of your team or even outsourcing some of the work.
You Will Never Have More Time
“Content: there is no easy button” - Scott Abel
Instead of wishing for a 25th hour in the day or an eighth day in the week, it’s time to start making better use of the time you do have.
The cold, hard truth is that there is enough time in the day for us to get everything on our long lists done, but we always find time for what is truly important. You can create all the processes in the world, but if you’re constantly bumping content down as a priority when things get busy, it’s never going to get done.
And remember, it’s not “just a blog post” -- it’s a gateway to your community, a branding asset, and a lead generator. Start treating it as such, and you’ll soon see the results you are looking for.