Better content leads to a better campaign. When the quality of your content is elevated, you’ll see higher readership, better publication outlets, greater reader retention, more traffic and better relationships with your consumers. Unfortunately, some marketers struggle for years to develop better content, only to fall short of any meaningful improvement. It takes months (sometimes years) to develop a feel for your target audience and establish a process that allows for the curation of better titles and better writing.
Still, not all modes of content improvement necessitate this level of time or commitment. In fact, there are multiple strategies that, if implemented as little as once daily, can help you become a better writer and greatly increase the quality of your content output.
Here are seven habits that can help you streamline content creation:
1. Read the News
Reading the news should be one of the first things you do in the morning. Keep a list of reputable news sources—on a national and local level, as well as specific to your industry. Each morning, inform yourself of current events and look for any major new developments for your industry on the horizon.
The best case scenario is that this reading will lead you to new potential article topics. If not, they should at least give you some background information that you can use in the context of separate article topics. Failing that, you’ll at least expose yourself to different styles and forms of writing, which can in turn make you a better writer.
2. Read Competitors’ Blogs
After the news, be sure to scope out your competition, especially if they have a powerful existing content strategy.
Keep a short list of your competitors on social media or in your bookmarks, and visit them daily to see what new developments you can find. What kinds of topics are they posting? What kind of responses are they getting? How have they changed their approach? What’s working for them, and what isn’t?
The answers to these questions should help point you in the right direction for your own strategy. Never copy a competitor’s strategy directly—but do learn from them.
3. Listen for Social Mentions
There are many ways to listen for mentions of your brand on social media. The easiest strategy is to simply search for these mentions on the platforms themselves, and scout your recent publications for replies and comments. See what people are saying about your brand, and learn from their insights and reactions.
You can also use an automated social listening tool or third party platform to scan the social web for relevant mentions. If your brand isn’t well-known enough to warrant its mention across the web, you can be equally as effective in searching for mentions of terms related to your industry.
4. See What’s Trending
Rather than searching for the mention of a specific term, this daily habit is about perusing social media sites to see what general items people are talking about. Chances are, this won’t have much to do with your industry, but it will help you get into the mind of your target demographic.
Twitter and Facebook both have “trending” sections you can evaluate for this purpose, but for LinkedIn, you might want to head to a Group relevant to you or your demographics and see what people are talking about.
5. Write Out Three Ideas for New Articles
This is an important strategy, especially if you find yourself struggling to come up with great article ideas. Each day, write down three potential new topics; they don’t have to be perfect, and they don’t even have to be great—they just have to be feasible.
Over the course of a work week, you’ll have 15 potential titles to choose from. They’ll look different to you after sitting for a while, so you may find yourself liking them more, less, or with a different slant. No matter the case, if you perform this habit daily, you’ll perpetually have a wealth of article topics to choose from, and you’ll actively get better at generating new ones.
6. Talk to a Coworker
Content writing can become stagnant and difficult if you limit yourself to only your own thoughts and opinions. One of the best ways to break out of this shell is also one of the simplest—talk to one of your coworkers.
It can be a direct colleague, a supervisor, or someone from a completely separate department; the point is to get an alternate perspective on your business. Doing so will broaden your understanding and improve your writing while exposing you to new insights that can fuel greater topic ideas.
Last but not least, take some time every day to expand your professional network. You can do this online (particularly, with LinkedIn) or do it in person at networking events. You’ll meet new people in new industries that may be related to yours or in entirely new applications.
Whoever you meet, you’ll learn something new and gain new perspectives on your brand’s place in the world. You’ll better understand your demographics, you’ll learn common questions that outsiders ask about your industry, and you’ll learn different approaches to communication and understanding that make you a better communicator (and thus, a better writer). Plus, you’ll peripherally build your social audience to increase the impact of your syndicated articles.
Work these seven daily practices into your ordinary routines, and within a few weeks, you’ll see a noticeable improvement in the type and quality of the content you create and distribute. As with all things marketing, the best course for improvement is to measure the results of your efforts and make gradual, iterative adjustments until you see an improvement over time.