Welcome to Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and growing their businesses from home.
Today’s Q is:
What tools and methods do you use to make your content creation manageable?
Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:
Spreadsheets! I use spreadsheets to list out topics so I never have to think about what I’m going to write or post on social media next. I also use a formula to help me balance the types of posts I create on social media.
Advanced scheduling. When I am on a roll, I will create several posts at one time and then schedule them to post in the future. That way I can work on other things and not worry about going back and posting something every day. I do the same with social media posts with software called Postplanner. It actually helps find popular content as well.
Listening to my clients. When someone has a question, it helps me come up with another way to show him or her the answer through content creation.
Jessica Lee from Psychic Readings Guide says:
For me, managing content creation needs to be kept as simple as possible. I’ve tried various types of Mind Mapping software and find that this hinders my creativity and productivity. In the last few months, I’ve gone “old school.” I tend to get a lot of inspired ideas throughout the day, so I keep a pen and paper handy at all times to jot them down. Sometimes, whole sentences and paragraphs for articles and/or courses will flow into my mind, so I want to be sure to capture those thoughts.
Then, each morning, I sort of feel where I’m at with creating content. I can’t force it and have to allow it to flow naturally. For example, if I’m writing a three-part series on a topic, I may not write them in logical order. I always work on what’s flowing and most enjoyable at the moment. Taking the path of least resistance always bears more output, and that includes managing content.
I keep a master file in Microsoft Word labeled “draft.” I dump all of my thoughts and written notes into it. It’s common for me to have four to six different content projects in this file. As I work, I’ll start to see patterns of things that can be pieced together to create rich content. I also like having a large master file because I can easily move things around within a single document. From there, the pieces get uploaded to wherever they are going – be it an eBook or article. Then, I polish, edit, and publish.
Helena Bowers from Your Message Amplified says:
In all seriousness, as a solopreneur the majority of my time is spent creating content – product content and marketing content. When you stop and think about everything that needs to be done from info products to autoresponders, newsletters, social media statuses, etc… it can be really overwhelming if you don’t have a good system in place to manage both the workflow and your time. And if your business includes creating content for your clients too, it can be even more so.
I still like to work a lot with pen and paper, so for years my main organization system consisted of a series of project folders, notebooks, yellow legal pads and a day planner. It’s only recently that I’ve started experimenting with using more online tools to keep organized. The two main tools I’m using in conjunction with my folder system are Freemind and Google Calendar.
Freemind is a mindmapping tool that allows me to brainstorm content ideas, create outlines, and keep track of all the notes I scribble on yellow legal pads throughout the day. Every idea I have, whether for a product, blog post, or something else starts its life on the master mindmap along with an approximate deadline. Once I decide on a firm deadline, then a project folder gets started along with a notebook for that particular project.
Recently I learned about time-blocking from one of my coaches, and that’s where Google Calendar comes in. I use it to block of specific times to work on specific projects. My old paper calendar system was confusing at best, and usually left me in the position of wondering, “What do I want to work on today?” Having blocks of time set aside for particular projects means that:
a) One, gets done before moving on to the next.
b) I no longer have to wonder what to work on.
As long as I stay disciplined and don’t let myself get sidetracked, using the calendar to organize creation time leaves me much more productive. On the whole, it’s a system that works for me and balances the need for having everything in one place and easily manageable with the need to physically create with pen and paper.
Christa Jensen from ChristaJensen.com says:
To make content creation manageable I use these tools and/or methods:
PLR (Private Label Rights) Content. This is one of the big tools I use. The fact that I have access to content with the legwork already done for me plus, the subject matter I need or want to share is a HUGE help in creating content. Once you get the hang of using PLR content, making it your own becomes a snap.
Using a Blog Idea List. I often have great ideas for a post and the timing is not right at that moment; but, it will be of use down the road. I keep my idea notes and visit it frequently when I need ideas for upcoming posts.
Scheduling. I have found it truly helpful to write content ahead of time and schedule them out. I think many will agree you can have some fantastic days of uninhibited writing where ideas just flow from your fingertips. Getting those scheduled to go is a big help.
These tools and methods have helped me create some great content and imagine it will continue to do so!
The process of content creation isn’t easy. From creating optimized blog posts, to sending personalized and segmented emails, to publishing content on social media (and the list goes on), one can easily sabotage the process in the magnitude of other business related functions. That’s why it is important to learn how to refine the process in order to make the most out of your time. So, in exploring better options for myself, I figured it could be helpful for other homepreneurs who feel inundated with this tedious yet very essential aspect of an online marketing business.
As a couple of our Sparkplugging advisors described, I use spreadsheets and time blocking as well. Brainstorming topics in advance helps with getting past a wave of writer’s block and it creates a system that takes the thinking out of the equation. For example, I use two days a week (usually Mondays and Tuesdays) to focus primarily on researching topics and keywords, writing content and catching up on weekly content trends. I have a hard time shifting my focus from one task to another so this technique helps me get into a flow state, which generates speed and creativity for me.
To figure out topics, I use Blog Social Analyzer to learn about what content has been popping online. I also tend to use outlines when writing blog posts. It breaks down the task to where I am just filling in the blanks then I edit to make it cohesive. For example, for our weekly Sparkplugging group post I try to break it down into 4 quick components:
- A general description of the topic and why I asked the question
- My input on what resonates with me
- My tips on the topic
- A summary that will hopefully entice the readers to think about their own businesses
Currently, I’m in the process of exploring the use of an editorial calendar such as CoSchedule as it can bring functionality and automation to content creation and marketing. There are many methods and tools that can prove to help with this process. The key is to find what works best for you without greatly affecting your time management and while also minimizing stress and overwhelm – something that can be challenging for many solopreneurs who run home-based businesses.