If you’re in business, you need content. When I say content, it could be blog posts, articles, social media posts, brochures, web page copy, product descriptions…the list goes on and on. Even if you plan to advertise who you are and what you do via video or podcast, you’re going to need (yep, you guessed it) content.
For many people, the idea of content creation stresses them out. If you’re operating on a lean DIY budget, hiring a writer may not be in the cards for you right now. So, how can you get the best possible content for (next to) nothing? By using any (or all) of the following tips.
Create an Editorial Calendar
In its simplest format, an editorial calendar is a list of dates with some sort of indicator of what you’ll publish on that day. There are loads of free editorial calendars online that you can download and use. You can also just use your Google calendar or iCal. Consider how often you want to create and distribute new content.
Think up some basic ideas in advance and add them to the calendar. Watch for industry updates, current events, and pay attention to what others in your industry are talking about. Use those ideas (but make sure that you’re creating your own content and not stealing the work of another person). Plagiarism is bad. Repurposing is good.
If you use this idea, think about how long it takes for you to develop content. Do you need a day to research? How much time do you need to write a draft? What about editing? Make sure that you give yourself enough time to give the content the time and attention it truly deserves…that your audience deserves. Your audience won’t subscribe to you blog / newsletter / whatever if you’re not churning out consistently helpful content.
Oh, and if you work with an assistant or have someone who will help you with content, make sure that you add them to your editorial calendar so that they can see what needs to happen and when it needs to happen by.
Repurposing Content Is Your Friend
If you already have some content or if you know where you can find content that you know your readers want to see, repurpose it. For example, if you write X Best Ways to __________, you could also record it as a video or a podcast. You could use Periscope or Facebook live. You could, later on down the line, write a similar piece of content on the X Best Practices of _______________.
You can also repurpose current event content. This is sometimes known as newsjacking. And as someone whose written news articles and various forms of content, there are some things you need to keep in mind:
- Repurposing and newsjacking are great, but they shouldn’t be your only form of content.
- Both methods are fast since the content you’re exposing already exists.
- Opinion pieces are popular (and analysis pieces are often more opinion than analysis, at least from my experience as a reader and as someone who taught analysis). You can get some good traffic IF you write a good piece and IF you share it out.
- Opinion pieces are popular and you may get some visitors who disagree in a way that’s not so agreeable.
- If you choose the right content, you could go viral on social media.
- It doesn’t take as much time as coming up with 100% unique content.
- You could alienate your audience if you’re not careful. I don’t care where you stand politically. Keep in mind that other people care and it can hurt your business. Be careful with what you repurpose and always think about the full impact it could have. And don’t cry foul if you don’t like what happens. It’s a risk you took.
- Newsjacking creates dated content as opposed to evergreen content.
Get an Intern
If you’re near a community college or a four-year college, reach out to the career services office and ask with whom you should speak about an internship for journalism, communications, or marketing majors. Of course, you can choose whatever majors you want. You don’t have to use those. Sometimes, college students want or need an internship for credit. You do a little paperwork. They get to dabble in content creation. You get the benefit of possibly getting some help from someone who may have a clearer understanding of what your target audience is interested in reading.
Use Your Current Resources to Find Content Ideas
One of the most common things I hear from people who need content is that they just don’t know where to start to find ideas. Use your resources:
- Email newsletters. I bet you’re subscribed to at least one that you delete. It could be news related. It could be industry related. It could just be a newsletter from the local business. If it comes to you on a regular basis, open it and scan it. Email newsletters are fantastic for content generation. You’re not looking to take anyone’s ideas. You’re looking for things that catch your attention…and how you can create something similar that could capture the attention of your readers. And, yes, you can even check out and learn to capitalize on “click bait” type work. Wait – don’t go…keep reading. By this, I don’t mean fake news. I mean things like this and this. There are a ton of round-up style newsletters you can get daily. The Hustle is one of my favorites. SmartBrief is also great because you can choose your own interests.
- Reddit. I don’t use Reddit, but I do use a certain social media posting engine that gives me things it finds on Reddit that I might be able to use for my client. Just be careful not to fall down the rabbit hole.
- Pocket. Pocket is an app that alerts you to new content (if you want) or you can save interesting content that you find. It can be a good source of content that you may want to reuse or share with your audience. FlipBoard is also great for this.
- What’s trending on Twitter.
- Neat things you find on Pinterest. You could create a fantastic round-up style post or get great inspiration for your own content.
- Google Alerts. You can set up Google Alerts for mentions of you, your business, your industry, or just your interests. When I write for news sites, I usually have a dozen or so alerts set-up. For my personal use, I have an alert for mentions of certain clients and a few legal interests.
There’s absolutely no reason why it should be hard for you to create content for your business (if you decide to do it on your own). Let us know in the comment what you do to create content without being stressed out by the process!