BEHIND-THE-SCENES: HOW I CREATE SO MUCH CONTENT
You know when you see someone absolutely blasting it in the blogging world? They're creating all the content, active on all the platforms...
And you're wondering, how the hell do they do it all? They kind of annoy you, right?
I know. They used to annoy me too. Until I became one of those people.
And that happened because I decided to try a new productivity method for my blog that’s making its way round the blogosphere: batching. And in this case, batching your content.
You’ve heard of it, right? But what does it mean?
Well, instead of writing content as and when you need it or feel like it, you dedicate a chunk of time to creating it. You say, “right, my Sunday morning is going to be spent creating as much content as I can.” Then you can schedule it for when you want.
This means that you’re not fumbling round the night before for an idea of something to write about (we’ve all been there). You’re actually spending more time in the content zone, creating your best work.
But I don’t just mean blog posts. Oh no. This could apply to anything. You might decide to write some blog posts. Or you could map out your next few newsletters. Or how about your Instagram captions for the week? There are so many things to choose from.
I’ve tried batching tasks in the past, but it never really worked until I tried it out specifically for my content. So I can now smash out 1,000 words in less than an hour. A few weeks ago, I could actually take a whole weekend off (it’s never known), because I had my content scheduled so far in advance. And I mean all my content - blog posts, newsletters, tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram captions - that's A LOT of words.
I won’t lie. It’s hard. Harder than I thought it would be. Especially when you start to embrace the fact that content doesn’t just mean blog posts. I kept questioning myself whether I could do it, whether it was all just a waste of time, whether this was the right path for me. I was experiencing a HUGE level of doubt, because I didn’t want to go back to where I was a year ago, stuck on the same numbers with no engagement.
But I knew I needed to up my content, it had always been a goal of mine. I also knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get into this new way of working, but it would definitely benefit me and my online presence in the future.
Creating your content in this way isn’t cheating. You’re not sacrificing quality or value. If anything, you’re putting more of that into it. You’re taking the time to craft your content instead of rushing or running out of ideas. That means it’s a good thing.
So what’s today all about, then? Well, I wanted to take you behind-the-scenes and show you exactly what my process looks like.
As always, I want to make this as valuable as possible for you, so you’ll find plenty of explanations, tips and screenshots along the way. If you want to up your productivity, find a new way of working and improve your blog or brand, this is for you.
I’ve already written the ultimate post on all the tools I use to run my blog and business. But as a quick reminder, here are some of the key ones:
- Evernote: where I save all my content ideas and write all my posts from outline to finished piece.
- Google Docs: this is where I keep my editorial calendar. I have a colour coded table to keep on top of my categories and unbold headlines when they’re all scheduled and ready to go.
- Squarespace: where you get to read all my content!
- MailChimp: how I send emails and new issues of the #BloggingBreakthrough magazine to my community.
- Planoly: how I plan out my Instagram.
- Buffer: how I schedule all my tweets.
What my process looks like
Decide on my content themes for each month, specifically, the first quarter of the year (I like to plan by quarter).
This involved understanding where I was at in terms of my blog and business, and also what content my readers would want to see at different points of the year.
Before the end of 2016, I took all the feedback I had from my readers and Blogging Breakthrough community, honed in on my topics and decided that in order to match my overall purpose, I needed to narrow them down to just two.
Then, I had an inspiration where I came up with content ideas that fit into each of those categories, whilst making sure they related back to where I wanted to go with my blog and what my audience wanted, too.
Add all the content ideas to a note in Evernote along with a tickbox and any other information
If I had an idea of the structure of the post, or I wanted to include certain research, this would all be noted down at this stage. If you’re not going to remember your ideas from just noting down the headline, write down as much information as you need.
Match up content ideas with content theme for the month and add into the editorial calendar in a Google Doc
This also makes it really useful for you to make sure each piece of content flows along from one another, what topics you’re writing about, when you need guest posts and so on. My editorial calendar system is a simple one compared to others, but it works really well for me. I also keep my newsletter schedule in here too. In order to keep track of what is done and what still needs completing, I follow this system:
Bold = to be completed
Un-bold = scheduled and ready to go
Get each post written up in a Google doc
I made sure to work through each piece of content in terms of when it was due to go live. The soonest had the most priority. I felt much better working that way. It really helped me to get more done. Once I was on my way, it was easy to get a week’s worth of content done in an afternoon (two blog posts and a newsletter).
Once each post had been written, I’d go into Fotor and create the main blog post graphic as well as a graphic to be used for Twitter.
I always go vertical for my blog post image. I take my own photos, then add a box over the top and the headline of the post. I do the same for Twitter, but use Canva to get the right template.
Post is added to Squarespace, edited and scheduled for the go-live due date
I follow a formatting system here, which I’ve talked about in a previous post.
When my two blog posts for the week are written, I get onto writing that week’s newsletter and schedule it
I never post my blog content to my mailing list. I like to write an exclusive piece of content for them.
I’ll always be sure to promote every blog post on Instagram
I make sure to use the same image from the post in my Instagram upload so readers are familiar with the content and the brand. In terms of the caption, I like it to be more educational, without giving too much away. Sort of like, “In this post you’ll learn…. - click the link in my bio to find out how!” All the images are stored on my phone and all my captions are pre-written, so when it comes to publishing an image, it’s super easy.
And don’t forget those promo tweets!
Once the post is published, I tick off the idea in Evernote so I know I’ve used it and store a copy of the original document in a monthly folder in Google Drive.
Head to my editorial calendar in Google Docs and unbold the post title so I know it’s all done and dusted.
So, let’s quickly recap all that, shall we?
#1 | Decide on my content themes for the upcoming months. Understanding where I’m at with my blog and business, what my readers want to see and come up with some content ideas.
#2 | Create a note for each category and list all the ideas in there along with any other info.
#3 | Add content ideas into the editorial calendar, make sure they flow and put them all in bold.
#4 | Get writing!
#5 | Create the graphics you need for each post, including the main blog post image, plus one for Twitter and Instagram.
#6 | Format the post in Squarespace and schedule it.
#7 | Get writing the week’s newsletter, format it and get it ready to schedule.
#8 | Promote the new blog post on Instagram using a tool like Planoly or Later where you can upload the photo and caption, and schedule it ready to go.
#9 | Get your promo tweets scheduled in Buffer (3x on the day of publish, 1x the next day, 1x the next week etc.)
#10 | Tick off the idea in Evernote and store a copy of the original document in Google Drive.
#11 | Unbold the headline in my editorial calendar so I know it’s done.
Repeat steps one to eleven for each piece of content.
There you have it. That’s every single thing I do for each piece of content I create on this blog. It’s exactly what I did for this post. I repeat this process for every article and sometimes more if I’m batch creating within a fairly big chunk of time.
How to make this method work for you
Dedicate time to planning
This my friends, is key. You can be spontaneous with your blog and just try to go with the flow. A lot of people do this. But you'll get MORE results in LESS time if you really take the time to plan ahead. But if you're the kind of person that finds this difficult, this is how to go about it:
- What can you create all in one go? What can you batch? Things like blog posts, Instagram content, tweets, photography and newsletter content work really well for this.
- How much do you need to create? (E.g. If you post to Instagram twice a day, that's 14 images and 14 captions to prep for the week ahead).
- What will you write about? In other words, what do your readers want and what topics do you want to cover?
- What time have you got available? For instance, if you can only spare half an hour, you don't want to dedicate that time to writing blog posts. Work with the time you have. Remember to prioritise in terms of due date.
- Is there anything on your to-do list that you can get done now or push back until later? Follow the two minute rule - if a task will take two minutes or less to compete, get it done. On the other hand, if there are some tasks you can push back to free up more time for batch creation then go for it.
- Where will you get the work done? Do you need to get set up at a table to keep yourself motivated? Or would you rather make a comfy fort on the sofa? Make sure you're working somewhere where you're alert, present and inspired.
Don't overwhelm yourself
If the idea of creating two weeks worth of content in one sitting makes you panic, cut it down. Start with one week and build up from there. The more you batch create, the quicker you'll get at it. But this exercise won't work if you just sit down to create one thing. In order for it to truly benefit you, you need to create a bulk of something at once. Just give it a try - when you stop you might be inspired to carry on creating!
Work with the time you have
It can be hard to work in this way when you've never tried it before, especially when you're limited on the time you have available. But you'll be surprised how much more productive it can make you.
The best bit about it is thinking right, all my content is written and scheduled for the week so I can give myself the weekend off - woo hoo!
Keep your to-do list with you at all times
Keeping your list of ongoing tasks with you is such a good idea, because when you've got some time to work on your blog, you know exactly what you need to do. If it's 10 minutes waiting in a queue where you can write some Instagram captions or your lunch break when you can proofread all your upcoming content. You never know what you could accomplish in that time. Anything to get another thing ticked off the list!
Do you use batch creating to help get more tasks done? How have you made it work for you?