By Laura Brown
The statement “content is king” has proven true for decades now, and digital marketers are in a perpetual race against time to produce articles, videos, and interactive assets faster than ever.
It’s no longer a matter of making quality content – that’s just a given. Efficiency is now a critical metric that determines the success of a campaign or a brand as a whole. There’s not a second to waste as companies compete for customer attention and to rise in the ranks of Google.
And while there may not be a bulletproof blueprint for creating content in a lightning-fast time frame, there are certainly plenty of tips that creators can follow to speed up the process.
We’ve compiled some of the most effective strategies for creating content quickly without sacrificing quality and maintaining momentum for the long road ahead.
Without a solid overarching strategy in place, content creators are always going to be behind the curve in terms of efficiency.
Whether you’re a writer, designer, video editor, or web developer, you need to think ahead and have a consistent schedule that always points you in the right direction.
“Creating content can seem cumbersome and time-consuming,” said Rachel Roff, Founder and CEO of Urban Skin Rx. “You can create content efficiently by having a clear plan of what content you want to create and by when. Content calendars can make a huge difference in keeping you organized with your content and help you not repeat topics too close together. You want your content to be fresh and interesting, so try to diversify your topics.”
On the flip side, creators should not limit themselves to assignments set on their content calendars. It’s important to maintain some degree of flexibility and be willing to create assets on the fly as they relate to industry events and customer interactions.
“By sticking too closely to the content calendar you can miss some gold mine opportunities to connect with customers and capitalize on the momentum of the culture in your space and beyond,” said Francis Pollara, Co-Founder at The Future Party. “Spontaneity is a huge factor in a successful marketing campaign, and that’s especially true in the rapid-fire social media environment. Be ready to jump on trends and bandwagons if you identify a positive angle for your brand. Otherwise, your competitors will always be a step ahead.”
With that in mind, remember to maintain strong brand identity and a consistent message in everything you create for your website or social media accounts. This will ensure you stay on the rails and don’t deviate too far from the mission of the company.
“Everything you create should be infused with the same energy, a familiar brand voice, and the relevant messages that your audience can identify and relate to in an effortless way,” said Michael Hennessy, Founder and CEO of Diathrive. “Many brands appear disconnected because their messaging is all over the map. Stay consistent and you’ll have a much easier time creating content in an efficient, focused way.”
It never hurts to review the fundamentals of your brand philosophy and the goals of the company as a whole, especially if you’re working with third-party partners and freelancers to create content.
When it comes to the practical process of content production, every creator has their own take on what works the fastest.
While there are many variables across disciplines, certain accelerators can help content creators jumpstart the process and get on the right track without delay.
“The biggest content creation ‘hack’ I’ve picked up is to start with a ‘skeleton’ framework of what you want the final product to look like,” said Shahzil Amin, Managing Partner at WellBefore. “If it’s an article, start with headlines and an outline with headers. If it’s a video, map out the key points you need to make and the accompanying imagery required. For interactive content, consider the user experience and how they’ll be engaged throughout. From there, it’s a matter of filling in the blanks and doing the work to completion.”
Using the right tools is another key factor when shortening content production timeframes. If a certain piece of software or web app can help you finish a project more quickly, why would you do things the old-fashioned way?
“You can’t automate the creative process because that happens internally, but you can absolutely use technology to speed up the execution of your ideas and bridge the gap from theory to reality,” said Melanie Bedwell, Ecommerce Manager at OLIPOP. “Keep useful pages bookmarked in your web browser and leave the tabs open. Learn as many keyboard shortcuts as possible to reduce time spent clicking around the screen. Organize your folders and spreadsheets in a way that’s intuitive and accessible. These small tweaks don’t seem significant, but when you implement them at scale and over time, they save you a ton of effort and shift content production into overdrive.”
Not sure how to quicken the technical side of content production? Always be willing to experiment with new tools and watch digital tutorials on how to get the most from the software you have on hand.
With dozens of powerful content formats at your fingertips, there’s no excuse to limit yourself to the handful of formats that existed in the early days of content marketing.
The written word is still unmatched in terms of reach and effectiveness, but why not boost efficiency by transforming and repurposing those pieces into a variety of formats?
“Content repurposing is about getting the maximum return from every single piece of content you create,” said Content 10x Contributor Amy Woods. “Content repurposing can take many forms, and there are lots of different and creative ways that you can repurpose your content, but every content creator must repurpose.”
When you realize that a single piece of content can be restructured and reformatted for a multitude of channels and scenarios, your production process will instantly become more fluid, fast, and efficient.
“It’s really about working smarter, not harder, in this current content marketing environment,” said Matthew Mundt, Founder and CEO of Hug Sleep. “If you have a blog article that has served you well on your site, you can easily morph that into a video script and make a clip for YouTube or Instagram. Screenshots from that video can then be chopped up into images for an email newsletter. That newsletter can then inspire your next round of social media posts. You can see how everything is connected and this ecosystem is like a self-perpetuating machine.”
Even with a rock-solid strategy and complete mastery over your tools, there is no substitute for a strong mindset when it comes to content creation.
Just ask any great artist, musician, or marketer: the disciplined mind will beat the technical expert 10 out of 10 times, so develop that skill to the fullest degree possible.
“Yes, focus and concentration are muscles that must be exercised each day,” said Seb Evans, Co-Founder of Banquist. “If you don’t train those muscles they’ll atrophy and will require more time to build back up again. It’s not the answer that most content creators want to hear, because it necessitates hard work and willpower. It’s not a magic pill solution. But if you earn that discipline the right way, that’s your golden ticket in any pursuit, creative or otherwise.”
Where should inexperienced creators start to work out that discipline muscle? It starts by seeking out the “flow state” that psychologists have observed in great minds throughout history.
“There is unmatched power in achieving flow state, whether it’s mountain biking, oil painting, or creating content for marketing,” said Designer and Brand Owner Daniel Patrick. “This means locking in on the task in front of you and blocking out any and all distractions. It’s like having blinders on to the world around you and nothing can get in your way. When you hit your stride, inspiration comes to you naturally and you no longer have to force it. That’s when you become extremely efficient in anything you do.”
Experts say that it can take up to 20 minutes to achieve flow, and when broken, that process must start over again from square one.
The key is to simply get started, keep those distractions at bay, and get back on track immediately if thrown off track.
With the correct mindset, a strong game plan, and the latest tools, your content production efforts will be smoother and more efficient than ever.
Just don’t forget that quality is still the name of the game in the modern marketing arena, now that search engines are focusing on factors like authority and site reputation.
“A lot of marketers are under the assumption that simply creating more content than the competition will get them the results they want,” said Marketing Guru Neil Patel. “I beg to differ. If Google algorithm updates like Panda and Penguin have shown us anything, it’s that quality trumps everything else.”
When all the factors fall into place and your team is firing on all cylinders, content creation becomes a joyful experience rather than pulling teeth. Try out these concepts and commit to being more efficient in all aspects of your creative life.