I don’t know about you, but I can’t get to work amidst clutter – whether it’s on my desk or in my computer.
Your approach to content creation can get cluttered, too. From disconnected ideas to disorganized files, a messy approach can slow and disrupt the writing process. This season, set yourself up for efficiency and success by “spring cleaning” these aspects of your content creation.
Project Management and Content Creation Tools
First, let’s talk about how you’re going to manage content creation with your team. Remember, the tools we use in content creation are as much a part of the process as the content creation itself.
Numerous tools exist for organizing professional tasks. If you’re using one for content project management that doesn’t suit your team, it can create more problems than it solves.
The last thing you need is confusing project management that leads to lost drafts or skipped editing. At bizbuzzcontent we use Asana, which makes us more efficient with:
- Daily, weekly and monthly task views.
- Project subtasks, which can each be assigned to different team members.
- Recurring scheduling for repeated tasks.
Now, for the digital tools and resources we use for actually creating the content. Personally, I like to keep my arsenal slim but powerful; it means I spend more time with the programs and get to know them better. It also keeps my browser’s bookmark menu easily navigable.
Google Drive is great for document collaboration with team members and clients. It also reduces the issues of file incompatibility that can occur when team members use multiple word processors. As you create folders and subfolders for storage, it’s essential that you keep your Drive neat and tidy so everyone can find what they need. Spend some time with Google Drive this season, ensuring:
- Each client/project has the appropriate folders and subfolders.
- Documents are shared with the team members who need them (and not with those who don’t).
- Important documents are in the right folders.
- Unneeded and duplicate files aren’t cluttering the folders.
If image creation is part of your content services, use resources that support a consistent look for your brand. Different stock image resources feature a wide range of collections, and can create specific looks for the blogs and websites they populate.
Rather than grabbing legal-to-use images from wherever you and other team members find them, use one or two stock image sites offering collections that truly reflect your brand. At bizbuzzcontent, one that we like is Pexels, which provides a sizable selection of very professional looking photos.
As with document creation, image creation is more organized and efficient when team members can access and edit the same files. Check out Canva if you’d like to share image content with your colleagues and/or clients (think Google Drive for images).
Editorial Calendars and Outlines
Look at your process for content creation. Do you dive in blindly, or follow a marked path of topics, outlining, writing and editing?
To step back and get a big picture view of your content (and to see if your overall messaging is goal-oriented), maintain an editorial calendar. Imagine a shared spreadsheet that includes:
- Content types (blog, social, e-book, etc.)
- Draft due dates
- Publish dates
Add whatever detail you need to get a snapshot of the company’s content schedule. Store the editorial calendar in a shared file (like the Google Drive files I mentioned earlier) so that everyone who needs to can see and edit it. We use editorial calendars for many clients here at bizbuzzcontent, and I can’t imagine functioning without them!
Goal-Driven Content Creation
Now that you’ve got the tools in place to make the process efficient, it’s ready to start thinking about what type of content you’re going to create. Rule No. 1: Content should be created to help businesses meets their goals, whether those goals are about awareness, engagement or sales.
When content creation stops working toward those goals, it can feel chaotic and directionless. Just because a topic is trendy doesn’t mean it will fit with your brand; at the same time, a conversation you’re not seeing in the headlines might be just the thing that makes you stand out.
If you need some guidance to keep your content aligned with business goals, start by asking if your content addresses:
- Who you want to reach.
- Why they need your content.
- How they’ll use it to interact with your brand.
- What the content says about your brand.
You’ll also want to find ways to measure what the content is doing for your goals. Common key performance indicators (KPIs) include traffic volume, engagement, brand awareness (thought not always easily measurable) and conversions.
Jessica wrote a great piece at the beginning of the year in which she provides a content strategy blueprint for 2018. If your goals and content feel chaotic, it will help you get organized for the months to come.
If blogging is a major part of your content creation, check out my post on creating an organized blog strategy. From time management to metrics, we’ve got you covered.
Thoughtful, Controlled Writing and Editing
You’ve got your tools, you’ve got your goals and you’re ready to write. Even the best of us occasionally feels disorganized at this point. Starting a sentence, let alone an entire article or e-book, can be more daunting than expected. As the author David Levithan says:
“The first sentence of the truth is always the hardest.”
Where to begin?
For individual pieces of content, begin with an outline. Find primary sources and determine what the major sections of the piece will cover. Don’t get overly detailed with the outline, as certain aspects may change as you get deeper into research. But having a starting point and sources to consult make it much easier to get started.
During the actual writing, mental organization is key. For tips on keeping the main point in mind and writing concisely, check out Carrie’s post on writing clear, organized content. Her major pointers include:
- Following the traditional outline format for a 5 paragraph essay.
- Creating working titles to drive the main point as you write.
- Trimming unnecessary words and flowery language.
To keep files organized, and know where content is in the writing-editing-submitting process, name them appropriately. A first version might simply be named with the title:
How to Write Clickable Titles in Just a Few Minutes
If a team member returns it for edits, perhaps add a “V2” at the end to indicate that it’s the second version:
How to Write Clickable Titles V2
Final versions, which are ready to be published, might include “final:”
How to Write Clickable Titles FINAL
During editing, tack editors’ initials onto the file name, so you know how many times the content has been seen and revised:
How to Write Clickable Titles_AB_CD_EF
A finished piece of professional content begins well before the actual writing. If your content creation process feels disorganized, freshen it up with a good spring cleaning. From aligning ideas with business goals to naming files more informatively, you can bring order to the chaos – from start to publish.
Looking for expert guidance as you organize your content? Check out our services and get in touch!