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Finding Time and Inspiration For Your Content Strategy

At Newfangled, we are strong believers in content strategy.  It is the core of what we do on our own site, and it is a focal point for many of our client sites.  We believe that having a strong content strategy, whether it be a blog, a newsletter, whitepapers, webinars or podcasts, is central to a successful modern marketing website.  In fact, Chris Butler just wrote a blog on why content is important.

However, it is definitely easier said than done.

Most companies do not have dedicated resources to write content for their website.  You probably rely on your industry experts to not only be experts at what they do, but to also find time and inspiration to write about it for the website.  This can sometimes be a bit frustrating.  Unless you are a professional blogger, it is often hard to find the balance between your “regular” job, and promotion through a content strategy.

This past week, our project management team all got together and discussed our own content strategy, specifically the blog.  It was clear that the two main items keeping most of us from blogging regularly were:

1) Time – the lack thereof.
2) Inspiration – not knowing what to write about.

We have gone through a few different strategies in the office in attempts to overcome these hurdles, all to varrying degrees of success.  Of course, whatever works (or doesn’t work) for us, may or may not work for you.  If anything, we learned that you should keep trying different things until you find what works and keeps everyone sane.

After our discussion, we decided to try a couple of ideas to help address the two issues.  

What To Blog About?

During our meeting, Chris had us write down as many blog topics as we could think of in 2 minutes.  We each came up with three or more.  Between the six of us in the meeting, we had over 18 blog post ideas right there…in two minutes.

But not everyone wants to write about everything, so we decided on a fun way to keep everyone writing, but not assign topics.  No one liked the idea of just being told what they had to write about, but we were also having trouble coming up with our own unique ideas that we wanted to write about.

We decided to write down all of our ideas on post-it notes and put them up on a designated wall.  Then, whenever you had time to blog, you could go look at the wall and pull down a topic that interests you.

This way, no one is assigned what they have to write about, nor are they tasked with coming up with their own topic.  Just whenever you think of a good topic for someone to write about, you can post it on the wall.  Then, when you want to write, go pick one up that you like. (I picked up the post-it that said “Strategies for creating content when you have no time”).

Finding Time to Blog

The biggest, and more daunting issue is that of time.  Blogging, and writing for the web, takes time.  Podcasts take time.  Webinars take time.  It is not an easy task to fit into your already busy schedule.  Simply put, when it comes down to using the little time you have towards providing a service for a client or writing a blog post, you have to give your time to the client.  They are the ones paying your bills!

One of the best things that we have done is create an editorial calendar.  Everyone is asked to write one post each month and the calendar shows when each post is due.  This works out well for a couple of reasons.

The first is that when you do find yourself with some time to write and some inspiration, you could potentially write two or three posts, and then not have to worry about blogging again for a few months because you can simply schedule them out to post as needed.

The other reason I like this is because it sets goals.  When you know that you need to write something by a certain date, it is easier to find the time to do it.  Knowing that I have a “deadline” only a couple of weeks out, helps me focus on getting started with writing a post.  Again, this may just provide added stress for some people, which is why I want to note that our strategy is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Another thing we are trying out is occasionally using our scheduled weekly team meetings as time to blog.  This is a time that is already blocked out on our calendar, so once a month or so, we will bypass the meeting and just gather in the conference room and work on writing a blog post.

The change of location is a big help, and the fact that everyone else is in here blogging helps you keep focus.  By doing this, it has helped us utilize the time we have, without taking time away from our clients.

The last advice I would give about finding time to write is, just do it (thanks Nike).  The more you write and the more comfortable you are writing, the less time it takes.  As Chris Butler said in a recent post, “If you really want to write, you have to write something every day.”  And with the importance of a solid content strategy on the web, it is definitely time well spent.  Writing for the web is a great tool to learn and will not only help build your personal skill set, but it is an extremely important part of today’s marketing websites.

If your company has any great secrets on how you maintain momentum with your content strategy, we would love to hear it.  As I said, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

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