overwhelmed writer

Managing a blog can be extremely time consuming and intellectually draining. It’s not easy to create high quality content quickly, especially when trying to manage other strategies. Over 80% of online businesses use some sort of content marketing; however only 32% of marketers say they are effectively executing enough content according to Kapost. Creating compelling, engaging content takes effort that few online brands are willing to put forth. Here are 5 ways to help increase your content creation speed in order to keep up with your industry.

1. Planning

One of the most time consuming aspects of writing is figuring out what to write. I typically see companies managing their blogs with a shotgun approach. They write about dozens of different topics and subjects, hoping one of them sticks with their audience. While that approach may save time, it isn’t an effective form of planning. I recommend following these 5 steps when trying to decide what to write:

1. Define your goals. You should have clear goals and benchmarks for your content strategy. These goals will help determine where your efforts are best spent when producing content.

2. Know your audience. Imagine trying to throw a birthday party for someone without knowing their age, gender, or anything about them. Chances are you’ll plan the wrong party. Writing without knowing your audience is like a planning a party without knowing your attendees. Define who your audience is, where they spend time online, and what they want.

3. Dig into your site’s analytics. Your site’s analytics are worth their weight in gold when defining content marketing strategies. I recommend looking at the following:

  • Landing pages
  • Acquisition of traffic (sources of traffic like Google, Facebook, etc.)
  • Mobile overview
  • Social overview

Each of these analytic filters will help you identify key patterns, topics, and sources that will aid you in your planning efforts.

4. Look at your site’s social signals. I recommend aggregating your top 10, socially best performing blog articles into an excel spreadsheet. Your list will help unearth certain trends within your blog pieces that spark social reactions. Use these as a foundation for future blog pieces. For example if you wrote a piece, “50 Marketing Tips that All Entrepreneurs Should Know” and it performed extremely well, consider creating other lists relating to similar topics.

5. Conduct competitive reconnaissance. Each industry has at least company with an extremely high performing content strategy. Visit your top competitors site’s and browse their blogs to see what’s working for them. Are they covering topics that you’re not? What are they doing well, that you could implement? This should add additional inspiration and empirical evidence for what works.

Managing a blog is the second most difficult aspect after figuring out what to write. Editorial calendars are an excellent way to plan and stay organized. Editorial calendars are used to define and control the process of creating content, from idea through writing and publication. In other words, it’s a calendar that schedules all of the content you’d like to publish throughout the month.

Here’s how to set up a simple editorial calendar:

  1. Determine your production capabilities. How many pieces of content can your company produce each month without losing quality?
  2. Determine a schedule. Which days will your company publish content each week? Typical calendars follow a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule but really anything is possible.
  3. Refer to your categories. Categories are like chapters in a book — they tend to be more broad in nature. Schedule content that fits several different categories to avoid overloading one section of your blog.
  4. Brainstorm blog article ideas. Come up with 5 to 10 different content pieces for each category using the “how to decide what to write about” steps listed above.
  5. Put it to work. With a foundation in place, it’s time to start filling in the days. Following your publishing schedule, start filling in which articles will be created and when they will be published throughout the month. Remember to stick to your calendar!

2. Organization

Organization is a key component to creating content quickly. Consider creating content like making a sandwich. It’s easy to quickly make a sandwich when all of the ingredients are on the counter ready to be used. Conversely it’s not so easy to make a sandwich when you have to go to the store and pick up bread, meat, and cheese. Content is no different. Prepare to create, by pulling out all of the necessary ingredients to produce your meaningful work. There are dozens of tools out there that will help organize your time, thoughts, and strategies.  Here are some tools that can help.

Toggl – Toggl is a free time tracking tool that allows users to track different tasks within different projects. Effectively manage the use of your time with Toggl.

Evernote – Evernote is a dynamic (free) note creator and organizer. Evernote allows users to create and publish their notes in different notebooks within their Evernote account. Keep all of your thoughts in one place with Evernote.

Basecamp – Basecamp is a collaborative tasking tool. Basecamp allows company employees to create different projects and tasks with collaborative efforts. Employees from the same company can see what needs to be done in order to complete a project.

Wunderlist – Wunderlist is a free app that allows users to mange and share their to-do lists. The app is super simple to use and helps keep tasks organized.

Dropbox – Dropbox is a free, cloud-based, toll that allows users to transfer and store photos, docs, videos, and files.

bubbl.us –  bubbl.us allows users to create mind-maps and brainstorm ideas. Create awesome flow charts and share them with your team members and clients.

3. Prioritization

There are certain elements to creating content that are extremely important and there are elements that aren’t so important. I recommend jotting down your writing process and prioritizing each element according to its importance. Here’s an example process:

  • Look at content calendar to discern which topics need content
  • Select a topic and start researching
  • Compile 10 relevant sources relating to topic
  • Write body of article
  • Search for media to insert into article
  • Create graphics or images
  • Write down 20 headlines and select one

Every writer has their own procedure and way of creating content. I recommend identifying which elements in your process are important to accomplish before moving on. For example, don’t search for graphics if you haven’t even selected a topic. Prioritizing your time and process will help speed up your content creation.

4. Focus

Focus is one of the most critical elements of increasing content production speed. Here are ten simple and fast ways to improve your focus while writing:

  1. Turn of your cell phone
  2. Log out of social media
  3. Finish what you start (don’t let half finished drafts linger)
  4. Close your email
  5. Close your door
  6. Schedule a writing block
  7. Be true to your writing style
  8. Don’t covet what others are doing (focus on your writing rather than friends at the bar)
  9. Be accountable for your writing time (do what you say you’re going to do)
  10. Quantify your writing goals

Each of these tips are simple but take effort to implement. Writing takes a lot of brain power and can be even more exhausting with distractions.

5. Commitment

Let’s face it, there will be times when you don’t want to produce content for your site or clients and that’s okay. It’s not okay to completely give up. Writing is time consuming and takes a lot of mental power. I recommend implementing the following three steps below:

Write during the morning. It’s difficult to write late at night when you’re exhausted and have the weight of that days activities on your mind. Wake up early and devote an hour or two to your writing. A fresh mind helps increase writing speeds.

Read a book. Reading can be extremely beneficial to mentally recuperating. Some of reading’s benefits include: stress reduction, vocabulary expansion, mental stimulation, memory improvement, stronger analytical thinking skills, better writing skills, and improved focus and concentration.

Clear your mind. Take five minutes each day for quiet, clearing time. Find a quiet place, take some deep breathes, and just be. After the five minutes, get up and take a walk to wake up your mind and body.

Follow these simple principles and you’ll be on your way to writing more quickly in no time!