For a lucky few, staring down at a fresh page in a notebook or a flashing cursor on a computer screen is met with anticipated glee. For the rest of us normal people, the allure of setting aside our “real” work or sacrificing half of a crisp autumnal Saturday to develop content is not so appealing. The reluctance to embrace the process of content creation can differ for many people, but it typically comes down to a few areas: lack of preparation, procrastination, low confidence, and an under-utilization of resources. Improving in these areas and continuing to do so despite difficulties may prove tough especially if you feel like you aren’t seeing immediate results. However, once you fully invest and tap into the actual value of producing content, your misery will turn to joy.
It is hard to prepare for anything without an objective. In the case of creating content for a website or blog, preparation starts with idea generation. Coming up with ideas is hard because many people only turn on their idea radar at times designated for brain storming. This is a mistake because good ideas will find you. Ideas are everywhere. You just need to learn how to be be a better listener. Here are a few ways to position yourself to grab great ideas with little effort:
- Be aware. Any interaction, as a participant or a casual observer, online or in real life, is a potential boon for topics worth talking about.
- Ask Questions. While it’s best to start with your own customers, a general curiosity in life will serve you well.
- Don’t Forget The Bacon!-What can a children’s story tell us about our ability to remember what people have said? It’s a skill that doesn’t come naturally for some of us, so we need to find a way to work with it in a better way. When an idea appears in your life, take out your smart phone, tablet, or notebook, and write down the source and value behind what you have heard. Then, when you’re ready to sit down and write, the ideas are tracked and you can more easily allow the creative flow to begin.
Following these steps creates a solid foundation that will make the actual act of writing a lot easier to sit down and accomplish. Starting is often the biggest hurdle for people who vilify the writing process, so take advantage of the tools you have and get going!
Preparation is a key step in eradicating the next hurdle: procrastination. Procrastination is something many people experience. Some even argue it’s genetically passed on. Knowing your ancestors were productive enough for you to exist and procrastinate today should be all the evidence you need to keep the tradition alive, right? Not so fast. Procrastination may not interfere with your survival, but it will interfere with your immediate well-being. The looming thought of a yet to be completed assignment is a dreadful one that can arise from many origins including:
- Poor time management
- Lack of motivation
- Over-extension of resources and abilities
Changing these behaviors is difficult and can often be exacerbated by other problems such as writer’s block. While there is a definitive and insightful case study on the inability to overcome writer’s block, this doesn’t mean you must succumb to the same failings. When you feel like your writing is stuck in neutral, “Mind the Gap” that exists. This involves taking inventory of your existing content, and seeing if what you have already written helps you develop new ideas. If this doesn’t help, maybe it is time to take a step back and start fresh. Take a walk, clear your head, try something different, do some free form writing. Shake things up to get things moving. This may not make your writing enjoyment level go up, but it will help you shrink the time it takes to complete the task at hand.
The pitfalls of procrastination are many, but there are solutions. Let’s look at ways to overcome the issues highlighted above:
- Problem: poor time management. Solution: Create a prioritized and time oriented to-do list.
- Problem: lack of motivation. Solution: Reward yourself. If the act of writing doesn’t motivate you, a cookie, a DVR’d episode of your favorite show, or a new pair of shoes just might. Find something that can excite you about finishing a project and get it done.
- Problem: over-extension. Solution: It’s hard to think when you are juggling a lot of projects and teetering on mental and sometimes physical exhaustion. Rest and reschedule. If adding content creation to an already full plate causes it to spill over, you need to take inventory of what is important and keep your focus on that realm of your experience.
With proper preparation and an awareness of your procrastination tendencies, you should start to feel more comfortable with the writing process (or at least begin to feel that way!).
Becoming a confident and authentic writer is one way to embrace the writing process and hopefully diminish procrastinating. Through preparation, your confidence should grow in knowing you have topics worth sharing with people, and knowing how you want to share it with them.
- Make it easy on yourself and use your own voice. Trying to come up with an idea that you can translate into written word is hard enough, developing a brand new “voice” in which you communicate it is even harder. Stay true to yourself and don’t try to adapt your voice to how you think it should be.
- In terms of topics, stick to what you know and don’t spread yourself too thin. If you want to introduce a new facet to your content, make sure it’s a vertical that you can speak to in breadth and depth. This will give your audience incentive to listen because of your ability to communicate value confidently and from an authoritative position.
- Know your audience. It’s much easier to communicate to people you share a relationship with. If you’re only beginning to push out content without much of an existing audience, figure out who you want to be writing for and keep them in mind along the way.
Following these steps can instill the confidence needed to write successfully for your audience. Remember, as an authority in your field they are counting on you to lead them to solutions, so embrace this role in your writing.
Know Your Resources
Being able to tap into diverse content creation resources is the final step to tolerating the process. The primary benefit of these resources? Less for you to do! While this may be good news for you on a personal level, your company will also see the following benefits:
- Involving employees in the process will create new ways to think about content. Once you have your roster of content contributors, encourage your employees to be themselves and use a writing style that fits your company and allows them to comfortably convey your message.
- Diverse delivery methods will increase the size of the audience you reach. But remember, one size does not fit all. Some people just don’t care to sit down and read an in-depth article. This is where adopting resources such as videos and webinars can go a long way in presenting your company’s perspective in a unique and fresh way.
- Once you have attracted visitors with useful content, you will want to use analytics and data to measure the impact your content has on conversions. This will help you understand what types of content is producing the best results for your customers and company.
A couple of things to remember after you have a full grasp of the resources at your disposal.
- More is not always better. Keep things simple for yourself and make sure quality comes first.
- Be intentional. Keep your objective in mind throughout the writing process from brainstorming to final publishing.
If you track what content works, you will likely be a little more motivated to mimic past successes when sitting down to write. Don’t let the viewer have the only reward, if you know there is a big-picture reward (making the world a better place, sales, conversions), you are likelier to sit down and focus on writing a piece.
For many of us, writing content is a necessary evil that we reluctantly embrace. We do it because sharing our voice is important. Doing so helps foster trust, authority, and most importantly builds a bridge to understanding what people need and how you can deliver it.
What are some tips you have successfully used when your content is stuck in neutral? Feel free to let us know in the comments!