Habits don’t form overnight — especially the good ones. Just think about how long it took you to start flossing your teeth every day (and chances are you’re not all the way there yet). For the average person, it takes about 66 days for a behavior to become habitual, and even then, that’s doing it daily.
You can imagine how difficult it can be to get in the habit of creating content. Yet the benefits of doing so are numerous. Companies that blog at least 11 times a month get almost three times the traffic as those that blog only once a month. Content also contributes to three times more leads than online advertising.
If that isn’t enough motivation to pick up a content habit, I don’t know what is. Here are seven steps to jumpstart your efforts:
1. Determine your target audience. Knowing your target audience is the first step in content creation. It provides direction and, more importantly, sets expectations for your takeaways (i.e., what you want readers to learn). Ask yourself whom you’re creating content for. Is it a prospect, an existing customer, someone considering a purchase, or a customer who’s left you for a competitor?
2. Brainstorm ideas. To create content, you’ll obviously need ideas, and these ideas can come from a variety of places. Your customer base is a good place to start, but check out your competition’s blogs as well. You may see a post that is missing an important piece of information or could be taken in a different direction.
I also recommend organizing your ideas in one place. We use Trello for this. Our entire team has access to the platform, and all of our ideas get dumped onto the “idea” board, where we can revisit and expand upon them. Then, we advance the ideas with the greatest potential to the next stage of development.
3. Choose the medium for delivery. Not all of your ideas will work as blog posts. Besides, variety is the spice of life. For example, we decided a blog post wouldn’t be the best medium to discuss our first year of business; instead, we went with a video. It would not only add variety, but also differentiate the piece from other posts.
Look at your best ideas, and determine whether the content should be delivered in a blog post, external article, guest post, video, infographic, whitepaper, or e-book. With Trello, you can create boards for each medium and move your ideas into the correct area for development — at least that’s the method we’ve found most useful.
4. Plan your content calendar. Planning your content calendar shouldn’t just focus on deadlines — though, admittedly, this is the most critical piece. It should also highlight the topics, mediums, channels (e.g., your blog, guest blog, or other outlet), and who is responsible for creating the content.
We use CoSchedule for our editorial calendar. Having all the details in one place ensures you’re not publishing identical pieces twice in a row. It also allows you to see whether you need to source images and alerts you to potential call-to-action opportunities.
5. Start writing! Not much explanation is needed for this step. Just start creating content. I should, however, mention that you might find that certain ideas may not work in the chosen medium as you develop content. So it’s wise to have a backup idea.
6. Open content up for feedback. We solicit feedback from people in the office to determine whether we’re hitting all the necessary points. Sometimes, a blog post doesn’t have enough depth on a particular area. In this case, we go back to the creation phase to beef up the content. Other times, you’ll need to cut content due to problems with flow or redundancy. You want to get your point across — but not over and over again.
7. Promote the content. This is the step where you plan out what platforms you’re using to promote the content. In some cases, you might submit the article to sites like BizSugar to see whether they’ll promote it to readers. Or you might put the content out there on your blog, in your newsletter, or in an email.
We use CoSchedule so our content gets promoted on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites multiple times. For one piece, you might send a social message and let initial social messages trickle out to accounts over two to three hours on the publish date. The next day, you should share messages again on the appropriate social channels. Then, over the next month, send another series of messages on a weekly basis.
You need to promote your content if you want people to read it, so tweet it to your followers; share it on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn; submit it to other outlets; and consider how to repurpose the post to extend its life.
Consistent content educates prospects, illustrates expertise, establishes thought leadership, and encourages more sales opportunities. If you’re not creating content consistently, you’re missing out. So get in the habit by putting ideas on paper, planning a publishing schedule, and promoting your content. After 66 days, you may just have a habit that’s hard to break.Like this post? Subscribe now and get notified about new content!