Creating content its hard, especially if you're running a business and wearing a lot of different hats.
So how in the world do you stay consistent with content output? First off, by being keenly aware of what happens if you slack off.
What Happens When You Stop Producing Content
On one of Neil’s personal blogs, QuickSprout, he decided to take a month-long break because he got lazy and tired of blogging after so many years. His traffic not only dropped, but he had to blog for three more months to get back to where he was.
That’s why you need to stay on top of your content. You need consistency and quality. That means blocking out the time to make this work.
Block Out Time for Content
Let's say you're working at an agency or a start-up and you're building out your own personal brand. You’re working a 9-5 job, waking up at 7 a.m. and leaving for work by 8 a.m. Well, guess what? If you want to build up your personal brand, it would probably make sense to wake up at 6 a.m. and start writing.
Last quarter, I challenged myself to write 500 words per day, or about 37.5K words in one quarter. I actually exceeded that, and here's the thing: I learned more about blogging, topic ideation, headline perfection, and lots of other stuff about content in that one quarter than I have in a year. And it only cost me about half an hour a day.
Related Content: The Best Way to Be as Productive as Possible Every Day
If your content and, by extension, your brand is important to you, you need to carve out the time to make it work. Put it in your calendar, map out the type of content you want to create, test it and repeat.
For example, I reserve Thursdays for podcasts. I give myself three hours for podcasts. Wednesday, I'm shooting a lot of videos. And Tuesdays, I'm writing content as well as deciding what type of content I want to create on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Identify Topics and Find Writers
One of the issues that most people have when it comes to writing consistently is they're not sure what to write about. No problem. Go to Buzzsumo, type in keywords within your industry, and they'll give you the best possible topics automatically.
If you're strapped for time, go to Problogger and post a job posting like “Looking for a blogger.” You'll get 100–200 applicants and you should be able to find some good bloggers there.
When you're posting your job listing, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, you want to tell bloggers what industry your content is in. Tell them that you need unique content and that they have to come up with topic ideas. You could have them ghostwrite or you could have them write under their own name.
Let them know that you want 2,000-word articles. Ask them how much it's going to cost. Ask them for writing samples. And tell them what kind of tone you want them to write in, like a conversational tone using the words “you” or “I” or a more professional tone.
If you do that, you should get maybe three or four good writers that you can hire on a consistent basis. Most writers can write a 2,000-word article for $200. Some really good writers will charge more and the vast majority of writers will charge less. Pick what’s right for your budget, but don’t skimp on quality. If someone is charging $50 for blog posts, they’re probably not a great writer.
Follow a Content/Editorial Calendar
So now that you have the writing done, now that you have writers and topic ideas, you want to start scheduling your content. The way you do it consistently is you have writers submit topic ideas to you, you approve them and slot them into your calendar, you have them outline it, you approve the outline, and then you have them write the piece.
Once you have a backlog of a week or two, then you want to start publishing the posts so that way you're always consistent. If you are going to be the one writing, block out time early in the morning or late at night, because that's when you'll have the least amount of distractions, and you'll find that you're going to be the most efficient with your writing during those times.It takes forever at the beginning to write a blog post. That's okay. Eventually, you'll speed up. Click To Tweet
But you don’t just want to constantly spend money producing new content week in and week out. Not only is this really expensive, but at some point there are diminishing returns. That’s why we always talk a lot about repurposing content. But even when you’re repurposing, you need to have an editorial calendar. Content Marketing Institute and CoSchedule have great editorial calendars.
Read More: 9 Ways to Repurpose Your Old Blog Content
Sync Your Calendar with Your Product Launches
Perhaps this goes without saying, but ideally your content calendar syncs up with your products and services. So, before you release a new product or service, you want to educate your customers and create a demand for that product or service. That way, you can get the word out, generate more signups, and ultimately get more customers.
The beautiful part about a content calendar, or an editorial calendar, is that you can ensure that you are targeting the right people.
For example, on Neil Patel's site, he writes a lot about marketing. And because he uses an editorial calendar, he's not overwhelmed or directionless. He knows that each week he needs to write at least one SEO post, one social media post, one content marketing post, one post on paid advertising, etc.
But if you don't have an editorial calendar, you may find yourself blogging about SEO or maybe neglecting all the companies that are interested in paid advertising. Sure, paid advertising stuff won't drive as much traffic, but you know what? Those companies typically have way more money to spend on marketing, so I need to make sure I'm incorporating paid content within my blog posts.
Takeaway: if you don't use an editorial calendar, you're going to neglect certain audiences.
Try Out These Great Content Calendar Tools
We've recently started using a tool called CoSchedule. CoSchedule really helps us from a high-level view. It lets us see what social shares are scheduled, what blog posts are scheduled ahead of time, and which editor is managing which project.
Pace Yourself (Walk Before You Run)
When you're producing content, make sure that you pace yourself. Don't try to start by producing content every single day, because you know what? You're setting yourself up for failure from day one. When I create a blog, and I'm trying to write content consistently and produce it consistently, I like starting out at once per week.
Once I’m comfortable with that pace, I ramp up to 2–3 times per week, then 4–5 times per week. I've tried to do up to 14–20 times per week but that's really hard to maintain unless you have a company with a big budget and you can hire a ton of people. Realistically, you're going to max out at roughly seven articles per week (one per day).
Document Your Process and Follow it Religiously
And finally, you've got to have a process for this entire thing. Everything starts with keyword research, topic generation, and then you ideate the headline, and then you have people begin to write the draft. Then you have the editor come in and make changes to it before you publish. And then you go out there and promote it.
You have to have a process to follow. That way it's clockwork. If you document all of this, then you can hand it off to new writers who are coming in so they're aware of the entire process and how to do things, and then you can continue to scale up.
This post was adapted from Marketing School, a 10-minute daily podcast in which Neil Patel and Eric Siu teach you real-life marketing strategies and tactics from their own experience to help you find success in any marketing capacity. Listen to the podcast version of this post below: