If you’re actively creating content, you’ve probably noticed that “waiting for inspiration” doesn’t tend to work all that well.
In this podcast, I go through my workflow for content creation. This works for blog posts, podcast or video scripts, infographics, slide shares, or really any piece of strategic content you’ll want to create.
In this 22-minute episode, I talk about:
- How the “Idea Field” will knock out writer’s block
- The 3 questions to ask when you’re deciding what to write about
- How to speed up your content creation with a “wire frame”
- Tips on writing, editing, and publishing your content
- How to promote your content once it’s created
If you want a quick overview, the steps are:
- Cultivate your idea field
- Harvest an idea, asking the 3 questions
- Construct a wire frame
- Fill in the blanks
- Edit, massage, and tweak
- Click publish! (woot woot)
- Promote your content
The Show Notes
- Brian Clark’s post on Why You Should Always Write Your Headline First
- A quick read on the role of Subheads
- Brian Clark’s book on content strategy that builds business, instead of just “taking up space” (instant access with free My.Copyblogger registration)
- Pamela Wilson’s robust weekly content plan
- Jon Morrow’s classic ProBlogger post on Working with Speech Recognition Software
- Brian Clark’s Magnetic Headlines ebook (instant access with free My.Copyblogger registration)
- My article and free ebook on Effective Content Promotion (instant access with My.Copyblogger registration)
- My article on List Posts that are Worth Writing (and Reading)
- Evernote is a popular and user-friendly tool for your idea field
- My podcast on the 7-Minute Content Makeover Checklist for your final polish before you click publish
7 Straightforward Steps to Superior Blog Posts and Podcasts
Sonia Simone: Greetings, superfriends! My name is Sonia Simone and these are the Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer. For those who don’t know me, I’m a co-founder and the chief content officer for Rainmaker Digital.
I’m also a champion of running your business and your life according to your own rules. As long as you don’t lie and you don’t hurt people, this podcast is your official pink permission slip to run your business or your career exactly the way you think you should.
I like to alternate between the “soft” mindset stuff and more “hard” pragmatic tips, so today is a pragmatic day. I’m going to get practical and talk about the structures and processes that I use to write blog posts and podcast scripts.
I also use this system to write interview outlines for the premium content we produce for our Authority community. It also works well for infographics, slide shares, and if I did video, I’d use it for my video outlines. It’s really any form of creative content.
In fact, it can probably be adjusted if you’re a visual content creator — something like cartoons or other creative images. If you use this, let me know in the comments over at pinkhairedmarketer.fm!
Step 1: Cultivate your idea field
- Allow for space to capture links, bullet points, etc.
- Quotes can go here as you collect them.
- Should be a flexible bucket you can dump different things into.
- Keep it incredibly simple. One step is ideal.
Strongly consider creating a micro-habit of planting at least one seed in your idea field every day.
A well-planted idea field is the key to beating writer’s block. Keep adding to your field, so that you have ideas in various stages of readiness. As ideas occur to you, add them in.
For this reason, it’s optimal to use a tool for your idea field that is always with you. Evernote is popular and works well, because it easily syncs between mobile and your laptop. But plenty of writers have made this work with a paper notebook that’s small enough to carry everywhere, or even with index cards.
Important point: It’s totally fine to have stupid ideas in your idea field. Sometimes weird ideas turn into your strongest content.
Keep an eye out for articles, questions, social media conversations, etc. where you can find ideas.
Step 2: Harvest an idea
When it’s time to sit down and write that blog post or script, go into your idea field and pluck one out.
You have three important questions to ask about each idea you harvest:
- Does this matter to the audience? Is it something they want? Need?
- Am I the right person to write this?
- Do I need additional resources — quotes, research, interviews, etc. — to do a great job with it?
Step 3: Construct a wire frame
Just like designers will “wire frame” a website, so they can see where the pieces will go, you’re going to wire frame your content to see how it will fit together.
- Write your subheads. What aspects of this topic will you be addressing?
- What’s the point of this article for your audience? What do you want to communicate? What benefit will they gain from reading or listening?
- What’s the point of this article for your project or business? How does it fit your overall content strategy? (see our content strategy ebook)
- Write your working headline. This isn’t optimized to be shareable or amazing yet, it’s just what the piece is about.
This is often a good time to write your opening — a paragraph or two that outlines why you’re creating this content. You may or may not end up keeping it; sometimes this works well as part of the finished piece, and sometimes it’s smoother to trim it out in the final edit, and come up with a punchier opening.
Step 4: Fill in the blanks
Once your subheads are written, go back in and “fill in” the wire frame with some writing.
Flesh out each point you want to make. You don’t have to be a perfectionist at this point — just get across what you want to say. You could even use voice recognition software. I find this actually takes more time, because it needs so much cleanup, but some people who are seriously writing-averse swear by it.
Once you have some text that says what you want it to say (even if it’s not what you’d call perfect), you have a first draft.
Time to celebrate! (woot woot)
Step 5: Edit, massage, and tweak
Try to put at least a day between Steps 4 and 5. You want to give yourself a chance to sleep on the material and work through any lumpy spots.
This step is to edit your work, looking for anything that looks weird or awkward and rewriting it. Also look for logical breaks — have you made your point effectively? Could you use more evidence, or better evidence? Does everything follow?
This is also a great time to look more carefully at your headline.
- Most important: Is it clear? Will the reader or listener have a good idea of what they’ll get out of reading or listening?
- Have you optimized it for shares? (see our Magnetic Headlines ebook for more tips)
- Could you slip a number in there? For example, if you notice that you have seven main points, you can turn it into a 7-Step headline, like this podcast.
You can do the editing step once or twice; it’s up to you. I do it twice. I do a preliminary edit, then try to leave it one more day, and before I queue for publication, I go through my 7-Minute Content Makeover Checklist.
If you’re short on time, make this one step, although it’s still helpful to do it in chunks — your main edit to make your rough draft sound smooth and fluid, then the content makeover checklist for small tweaks.
And if this is a podcast or video script, it’s time to go ahead and record.
Step 6: Publish!
If you can, take one last look. Just a quick skim. Does it grab you? Can you do a little more work on the headline? Does the image look right? Does the post look good on the page?
For a podcast or video, of course you may have some production to do here — your A/V editing, transcription, etc.
Once it all looks like it should, schedule or publish it!
(More celebration here. Woot woot!)
Step 7: Promotion
Crafting great content is important, but it isn’t enough. You also have to let all of your promotion channels know you have something new.
Of course, you’ll go onto Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or wherever you hang out and communicate with your audience.
If it’s a particularly strong piece, email some of the key content publishes in your network and let them know about it. Don’t do that for every single piece of content; do it for the ones you feel are home runs. Be selective, of course — if a piece is a particularly excellent match for one person in your network, share it with them but perhaps not with others.
Now it’s time to take a little breather, then go right back to cultivating your idea field and getting ready to produce the next piece of content.
It’s a cycle, rather than one monster push. Once the habits are up and running, you’ll find this very workable. And it’s not so much work that you can’t double up some weeks, to free up some space in your calendar for a vacation or spending time with family and friends over a holiday.
For a text version of this that you can easily refer to again and again, take a look at Pamela Wilson’s version of this concept: A Simple Plan for Writing One Powerful Piece of Content per Week. She breaks it down slightly differently than I do, but it’s a similar approach that you can blend with this one — just take the elements that work best for you and create your own personalized process.
2015 holiday schedule for Rainmaker.FM
This is a reminder if you didn’t catch this last week — you may know that this podcast is part of the Rainmaker.FM marketing podcast network, and we have some holiday schedule information for you.
This podcast will be taking a break for the week of Thanksgiving in the U.S., which is Monday November 23, and for Christmas week, which is Monday, December 21.
I’m going to re-publish episodes for those weeks, so let me know which ones you think should make a comeback! Drop me a comment on the pinkhairedmarketer.fm site to let me know which episodes you feel have had the most impact, and we’ll get them republished.
And finally, the whole network team will be taking a break the week between Christmas and New Year’s day, so there will be no new shows that week. That would be a great time for you to work on your goals for the new year!
If you’ll let me give some more of my bossy advice, get that into your calendar right now — take a full day, or a few half-days, to sit down and think about what you want to make happen for 2016. I’ll be back to you the first week of the new year with some thoughts on goals, vision, and measuring your progress.