Stuck in a content creating rut? I know how that feels.
Experiencing writer’s or producer’s block can be highly debilitating. Especially if you’re a content marketing professional or content strategist like me.
In this article, I will share you a secret to endlessly creating content.
One that many top digital marketing experts, social media marketing gurus, and content marketing thought leaders use.
But first, let us look at some of the reasons why you’re NOT creating content.
Common Problems in Content Creation
You know that content is king. You appreciate the importance of content in a screen-based world.
Yet you’re UNABLE to continually churn out content.
Chances are that you faced one (or more) of the following issues…
- Lack of Inspiration: It can be a chore to continually create fresh and invigorating content that is relevant to your business.
- Lack of Motivation: Content isn’t just hard work but heart-work. You need to be in the right emotional and psychological state to craft content.
- Lack of Direction: What video should you produce this week? Which topic should you write on? Without a clear direction, you can be lost in the murky digital seas.
- Lack of Resources: Sure you’d like to develop an awe-inspiring content pillar with 3,000 words and a 10-minute instructional video. But how can you do it alone?
- Lack of Expertise: Creating quality content isn’t just a walk-in-the-park if you’re unused to it. You need to develop expertise in the art and science of content creation.
And many more…
But deadlines and pending, and your boss is glaring. What can you do to keep your content mill spinning and weaving—come hell or highwater?
The Secret? Document—Not Create!
Too many content marketers think of themselves as authors or auteurs.
Spurred by the latest Hollywood movie or bestselling book, they imagine that content creation must lead to a New York Times bestselling book. Or to score an interview with Oprah or Ellen.
While I’ve shared ways for you to brainstorm content ideas, there are situations where you just don’t have the time or energy to do so.
The sordid truth, however, is that most of the content which you create doesn’t have to be divinely appointed.
Instead, you should simply document what you know or do.
Yes, that is the secret.
No flash of lighting. No life-changing experience. No visits by magical muses.
To ignite your content documentation journey, here are 6 strategies you can adopt.
#1 Start a Content Bank
Do you save money regularly? I hope you do. Doing so helps to buffer you from the vagaries of the economy.
Like your financial investments, content should be treated as an asset. Treat each precious piece with tender loving care. Find ways to accumulate content ideas and thoughts whenever you come across them.
Create a folder (perhaps on Google Drive) and dump whatever interesting content pieces you come across there. These can be anything from blog articles, infographics, ads on social media, to YouTube videos and photographs.
Sort them out by categories if you may, and use this as an intellectual resource that you can tap on later.
Alternatively, you can do it the traditional way—cut out newspaper stories, magazine articles, or interesting brochures and file them.
Once you’ve got your “content bank,” you can occasionally draw on it for content ideas.
#2 Interview Experts (or Collect Their Insights)
I’m not a professor or a thought leader doing original cutting-edge research on content marketing.
However, I am able to continually come up with new content ideas because I spend a lot of time consuming content from the experts.
If you’re not able to come up an original idea, you can perhaps try to interview the thought leaders and influencers in your trade.
Should that be difficult, consider following them on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter are good places to start). Read what they write or produce, and consolidate them for your content pieces.
Make sure that you link to these experts and acknowledge their contributions. All experts love to be linked and promoted on other people’s websites, blogs, or social media accounts.
Doing so not only saves you time in creating content—it helps you to connect with the leaders in your space.
#3 Write Down What You Read, Watched or Heard
Next consider documenting what you have read in a book or a blog post, watched on YouTube, or heard on a podcast.
In other words, be a scribe.
Write down a summary of the main learning points. Use your own words to describe each step. Expand each point with relevant examples.
Doing so helps me to trim the amount of time needed to brainstorm ideas while improving my content throughput.
(Read this article for more ideas on writing quality content.)
#4 Record Your Random Thoughts
Have you ever got a random thought while you’re showering? Or working out in the gym? Or perhaps even wandering around the neighbourhood?
Jot it down!
Or if that’s not possible, use that omnipresent device called a smartphone and film yourself talking about it. Selfie videos are really catching on these days—but do ensure that your voice is clear and that you can be heard.
The reason why I am able to be fairly prolific (averaging one article a week, and I’ve done it for over a decade) is that I try to record what I think.
Or feel. Or know. Or learned. Or was inspired by.
#5 Re-purpose Offline Content to Online Content
This technique is useful if you work in an organisation that already has tonnes of offline content.
What constitutes offline content?
- Sales letters
- Marketing brochures
- Corporate brochures
- Instructional manuals (you wouldn’t believe how useful these could be!)
- Any type of guides
- Educational content
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for a certain process
Naturally, you do not want to share your trade secrets. Or an insider piece of knowledge that your competitors may use against you.
Having said that, there is probably nothing new under the sun these days, given that you can find virtually everything on Google or YouTube.
#6 Curate Industry News
Another useful way to document your content is to follow industry publications and compile them.
This could be in the form of weekly newsletters. Or daily emails. Or monthly reports.
Use these well produced pieces of content as triggers for your own.
For example, let’s say I received an update from an industry magazine that Facebook will be changing its algorithm. While I can simply share that post with my followers, I may also repurpose it into a longer piece and add my own tips and perspectives.
This was exactly what I did in this piece on Facebook’s News Feed changes here.
#7 Comment on What Influencers are Saying
If you can’t come up with something inspiring and provocative and interesting to say, do what many content strategists do:
Critique those who do!
All of us have an opinion or two. Instead of bottling up what we think or feel, react to what a thought leader or influencer has publicly expressed.
This has a couple of benefits:
- It saves you the trouble of creating your own content from scratch
- You can catch the attention of the other person you are commenting about
- Your audience will love the exchange (assuming that there is one) between the both of you
As you’d imagine, doing this may be risky IF you do not know your stuff. Thus, I’d advice that you stick to what you can knit best.
Oh, and do be respectful and polite when you’re doing so.
Conclusion—More Engineering Than Imagination
There you have it. Seven techniques that you can immediately apply to grind out those content pieces when your well is dry.
Which of these tactics do you think you’d apply and why? I’d love to read your thoughts.
PS – Read this article if you need some creative ideas in content creation.
Oh, and if you prefer to watch me in action, here’s a video I produced on this very same topic!