by Susan Murphy
You may have heard this expression in online circles before: Content is King. It’s very true that in order to really begin to see the benefits of having an online presence, you must have stellar content that is timely, relevant and speaks directly to your audience in human terms. Not only will having great content help you to cut through some of the noise online, but over time you will also reap the benefits of being much more searchable (what I like to call Google Juice).
The problem is, creating great content consistently is hard. Really hard. In theory, it sounds great. You’re going to start a company blog, build an audience on Twitter, and create a great community of engaged customers on Facebook. You plan and strategize and dream, but the reality is, Monday morning rolls around and before you know it, you’ve got emails piled up and customers on the phone and your vision of being the King or Queen of online content becomes a distant dream, shelved for yet another day, week, or month.
So how do you find that balance between running your business and telling stories about your business? Here are a few things that might help.
Have a Plan
I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record on this, but I can’t stress the importance of having a content strategy. It doesn’t have to be complex, and it doesn’t have to be lengthy. But it does need to clearly define your BUSINESS goals and objectives (things like increasing sales, increasing walk-in traffic, building your mailing list, etc. are all great places to start). It needs to lay out some strategies (that’s the HOW you’re going to do something) and define specific steps you need to take to get there. You also need to put something in place to track your success (measurement).
Your plan doesn’t have to be a 30 page document that nobody is ever going to read. It could be one page. It could be on a sticky note stuck to your computer monitor. Doesn’t matter how it looks, really, it just matters that you’ve got one, and that you’re following it.
Have a Process
The truth is, in order to continually get new ideas for content, you’re going to have to start reading a LOT more. It can be really challenging to know where to start with this, since the Web tends to be just one big jumble of information. Set up some processes and get your toolbox in order.
Have some places to listen. I do most of my listening via HootSuite. I have lists and columns set up for various things I’m interested in – industry stuff, client stuff, and personal stuff. I dip into the stream when I’m looking for ideas and I never come up short. Spend a bit of time listening every day, and jot down ideas as they come to you.
Have a place to collect bookmarks of articles you want to keep. I love Pocket for this. It lets me save any page, tag and categorize it, and even share with others. It has apps across my laptop, desktop, iPhone and iPad too so my bookmarks are with me wherever I go. I always have a reading list, and I can look at it anywhere – in line at the grocery store, waiting for an appointment…anywhere!
Have a place to compose posts. Ideally this is NOT inside your WordPress compose window. (You only need to write 600 words, have WordPress go wonky and lose it all once, and you’ll learn that lesson.) I personally use Evernote for all my blogging, I love how it organizes things. But you could do it in Google Docs or even Notepad if you’re so inclined.
Make Some Time
I’m writing this at 6am on a Wednesday, before a full day of meetings and the usual chaos of running a business ensues. My email is quiet. My phone is quiet. I can write my brains out for an hour, distraction-free. Find the time to write, whether it’s getting up a little earlier or going to bed a bit later. Put it in your calendar, and you’ll do it.
Just Hit Publish
There comes a time when you just need to hit publish on whatever it is you’re composing. I know people who spend weeks on a single blog post. That’s fine if you’re writing the next great novel or business book, but it’s not at all necessary when it comes to publishing online content. Turn on your web cam, record a few thoughts and post it to YouTube. Curate some links to share on Twitter (adding your own sentiments). Write 300-400 words on your blog and then hit that publish button. Don’t over think it. Try to create at least one new piece of content each week. You’ll soon find that the more you hit publish, the more ideas you’ll have.
Ready to begin your reign?