Estimated read time: 12 minutes
Ongoing content creation, distribution and optimization has to be part of your content creation strategy. It just has to. That doesn’t mean we always have to write new stuff. Sometimes we update existing content or repurpose it. But a content creation strategy finds ways to do something new with content every week. If you have a content team, that should probably be their daily tasks even.
It can be hard. I know. Meetings get in the way. Slack messages do, too. But to make content work for your company it has to be an ongoing thing – dare I say lifestyle?
From my experience, the most sustainable way to stay on a content creation schedule is to get going and work way ahead. Have a place where you publish content routinely. That could be your blog, an article section, or something else on your website.
I’ve heard plenty of excuses why companies aren’t creating content.
- Too busy.
- We focus on our clients.
- Have nothing to say.
Today, there are tools that can remind us and good processes help, too. First, commit to an ongoing content creation strategy. Don’t just make it a once-in-a-while campaign but commit to publish a blog posts or livestream or podcast or all of the above weekly.
Then do it.
Content creation on a schedule is really about building that muscle. We discussed the concept and how to get started on this podcast episode as well:
WordPress reminder makes it easy
In summer 2021, the mobile WordPress app rolled out a reminder to blog! Download the app for your phone or tablet and then simply add the new notification clicking through these screens.
Even if you don’t write in the app, which I do less now than two years ago, it’s still a nice way to be reminded.
Scheduling content as part of your content creation strategy
Social media and blog posts can be published instantaneously. People have something to say, they write it (social or elsewhere), reread it (maybe) and then publish or Tweet it. Done.
As part of a professional content creation strategy I don’t recommend that!
That doesn’t mean that no posts go live immediately. For example, if something extremely timely needs to be Tweeted, Tweet it. Live. If somebody is asking a question on social, respond. No need to schedule a response. Also, don’t get caught in Approval Hell.
But scheduling content is OK and makes our content creation strategy more organized and less stressful.
Here are several reasons for why scheduling helps:
- A blog post might be finished at 2 a.m., but that might not be the best time necessarily to publish it. Note that it can be hard to know what the best time to publish a post is. My tip: Experiment with different times and days and watch web traffic and audience engagement. Repeat what worked and build on that.
- You were able to pull 15 Tweets out of that blog post. Surely, you wouldn’t want to send them all at once. Especially, if it’s 2 a.m.
- Ongoing updates can make your brand appear much more active and engaged.
- Scheduling updates a ways out can make content production less stressful. No need to worry about tomorrow. We are thinking about three or more weeks from now.
- It assures that different stories don’t step on top of each other.
- When people visit their blog it looks much more active and consistent when blog articles are spread over a few days versus one big content dump on one day.
But no auto pilot, please!
A note of caution: It’s still a good idea to keep abreast of what is publishing when and what else is going on in the world or with your target audiences. You wouldn’t want an unrelated post to connect negatively to a breaking news event, for example.
I decided to publish at least once a week on here. Then I write a post for the next week, then the next week, and so on. I do that until I’m scheduled a few weeks. Some weeks I don’t write anything new at all, but update existing content and republish it. For example, this post falls into that part of my content creation strategy. I wrote pieces of this in 2014, others in 2015, then updated it in 2017. Now in 2021, I added the WordPress update and did some additional writing and copy editing.
Here’s why I love being scheduled a few weeks out:
- I don’t have to rush posts routinely.
- Even if I take two weeks off I’m still good.
- That allows me to focus on relevance in my stories over quantity.
- It makes me feel organized.
I highly recommend to get on a schedule. Write posts as ideas come up and then schedule those posts – one per week.
VIDEO: My 7 Steps to get on a blogging schedule:
Scheduling blog posts and social media updates doesn’t hurt authenticity
Authenticity is important in content marketing and storytelling. I believe it will become more important as more people, brands and organizations continue or start to publish content.
Every once in a while a handful of people don’t agree that authenticity and the scheduling of posts and social media updates go together.
Authenticity and good content can be scheduled
The way I share and the kind of content I share, the timing has nothing to do with authenticity. At all. Whether I share it now or later, doesn’t affect the genuine thought behind the post or update.
Today, I use Buffer to space out my posts and simply add them to the queue.
That way, I don’t publish too many back-to-back posts, which could get annoying for others in my networks. In addition, I could also easily end up publishing things when nobody is paying attention, like at 11 p.m. or 4 a.m., two times at which I frequently have ideas for posts. On a side note: I have Tweeted at 4 in the morning before and a handful of people have retweeted me immediately. Even at that hour of the day.
Most of the things I publish have no time element.
They are relevant two weeks from now as they were when originally written. For example, some of this post was written in 2014, some in 2015 and other parts in 2017. Much of it remains relevant – even now in 2021. Of course, when I have something timely to say I will publish it immediately. But that doesn’t happen all that often. Most of my thoughts aren’t tied to the current moment.
And when people respond to my scheduled posts, I respond as quickly and authentically as possible. My opinion stated in a scheduled update didn’t change in the time that has passed since the original writing.
I have had it happen that somebody reading a scheduled Tweet asked for an example of the scenario mentioned. Due to the time that had passed I couldn’t remember one. In that case, my Tweet was still authentic and accurate. I just couldn’tcontinue the discussion. That is clearly a downside to scheduling updates.
Overall, it has helped me think through my thoughts and schedule authentic updates in a less timely and more efficient manner.
We discussed the importance of distribution on this live chat further:
One way to accomplish good distribution is through scheduling.
Scheduling content without driving yourself crazy
Audiences on social media networks, your blogs and other channels all appreciate meaningful, timely and relevant content. Some communication strategists have said that all channels should get unique content, but with the number of channels, I’ve found that this isn’t the most effective strategy. For smaller organizations it would be quite impossible.
I am an advocate of a Create Once Publish Everywhere strategy. Typically, I recommend to start with a blog (aka website) post and then distribute the content (but reformatted) to the other channels.
It’s a good idea for your content strategy to include ideas and potentially even steps on how to ensure that all channels are hit. You might make a check list on your computer or on paper.
Scheduling content: The tools
I often recommend a self-hosted WordPress install for just about any content-heavy site. Using WordPress allows you to schedule posts to be published on a particular day and at a specific time. Instead of pushing PUBLISH use the schedule function. Plus. WordPress gives you an easy overview on the dashboard of upcoming scheduled posts.
Using the free Jetpack plugin you can easily tie your site to all of your social accounts. An automatic update will go out once the post is published. Keep in mind this is just the headline with a link back to the post.
But, wait, shouldn’t we do more than just pushing out links? The answer is yes, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t let people know that a new blog post is available. But posts like this shouldn’t be the only posts going out on your social media.
Look at the post’s content again and pull individual social media updates out of it. These could be complete sentences lifted from the post or concepts addressed that you rewrote as a social media update. An example? Sure. Let’s take the paragraph above. Tweets from that could be:
- Don’t just Tweet links. Engage where the audience is. #socialmedia
- We reformat content based on user expectation. They wouldn’t expect any less. 🙂 #ux #contentstrategy
There are a number of social media scheduling tools out there. Whichever one you end up using make sure it also works on mobile. If it’s doesn’t, it’s likely not advanced as it should be.
Once you have enough content, start with one post in the morning, one over lunch and one over dinner time. You can fill in more posts in between as needed. As long as posts are relevant audiences will appreciate them. We wouldn’t recommend posting several times per hour as a matter of routine.
Channel Differences and Content Reformats
All channels’ audiences have different expectations and channels display content differently. Keep this in mind as you are moving content between channels.
Website posts typically should be at least 500-1,000 words. That’s helpful for search engines, and also makes visitors’ time worthwhile. Very few bloggers can pull off extremely short content that’s worth reading on a blog. Plus, many people skim and read just parts of the content. But, please: Make the content worthwhile. No fluff.
Like all channels, testing what works is important here, too, but one strategy you might try could include posting one main article in its entirety and then offer links to other headlines. Of course, the main article was previously published on your website.
Twitter is short and all the time (but don’t post more than once every 15 minutes). You probably don’t want to post as often to Facebook and LinkedIn is somewhere in the middle. With Facebook’s algorithm and declining reach in 2017, I would highly recommend boosting posts. Of course, that costs money.
The key take-away here: Take bits and pieces of website content and repurpose them as standalone pieces. Don’t always link back to the website. But link when it’s relevant from time to time.
Content creation strategy conclusion
As part of your strategy, it’s important to determine a cadence. How often should we create content? How often do we update it? And how do we distribute it for maximum exposure.
Since I’ve gotten in a routine and made it a habit, it’s so much easier than doing it ad-hoc and without a strategy.
Quality and quantity
Some people will tell you that if your posts are high-quality it’s best to publish less often. Others will tell you that blogging a few times a week still works.
The problem with writing aiming for higher quality is that that is actually a lot harder than it sounds. First of all, what’s high-quality anyways? Is it better writing? Does it mean we have better images? Or does it mean something else?
And nobody actually sets out to create mediocre content. Typically it just kind of happens.
Really the audience decides what’s high-quality and what it really comes down to is the usefulness of the article to the audience. That often means it’s a unique story that does something for the reader, whether that’s educating, entertaining or something else.
And I produce and post articles that I thought were of high-quality and then they didn’t go anywhere and then I post what I thought was just barely interesting but the audience decided that it was of high-quality and the post took off.
How to produce quality content
This is such a somewhat regular enough occurrence that I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to actually produce high-quality content on an ongoing basis is to continuously produce content. Some of it will be high-quality and some of it will be medium quality and some of it will be lower quality. Hopefully you can tilt the scale toward higher quality and and learn from when some articles are perceived lower quality and don’t resonate with the audience.
So once a week might be a good start and once a day might be too often. It also depends on what your blog’s topic is and how many people are involved in the blog and also how many are participating in the production. So for example if you have 22 different people who want to share their stories and all those stories fit into the over arching business goal posting daily might not be very hard to do.
But if there’s two of you, posting daily is probably fairly impossible especially if it’s an additional task for those two people.