It doesn't matter if you're starting out with creating content or you've been blogging for years, it doesn't hurt to make sure your content strategy plan is up to date and driving results.
Not only is this important for your clients (if you work on their content/strategy) but also for your own brand or business. It's hard to sell your clients on the idea of inbound marketing and content marketing if you aren't using it for yourself. It's also a key part of how to drive new leads from organic traffic.
If you're having trouble planning for the upcoming year or need some fresh ideas to include in your plan, go elsewhere.
You read that right. If you want a content strategy guide, try this post. I'm here to tell you about the real secret to your internal strategy...and that's the fact that it's freakin' hard.
If you're willing to trust me, which you should because I'm an upstanding citizen and a pretty decent marketer, hang in there til the end of this post.
Why Is Creating Your Own Content So Damn Hard?
This post isn't really for the big agencies of the world or the big marketing teams with a bunch of skilled writers just churning out content. This is for the little people, the "small but mighty" teams that do it all, the one-person content team, the freelancers.
The fact of the matter is this is a post about vulnerability, owning your weaknesses, and looking at the fact that creating content for your own brand is so damn hard.
A Tale of Good Intentions
Raise your hand if you've ever been personally victimized by content creation.
Look, someone has to be the one to talk about this. If you're in marketing, you've had your rounds with content in some way. If you're a small business owner trying to get your brand off the ground or you're a startup/small team trying to do this whole "content marketing" thing, you've probably been knocked down a few times. I get it, it's ok to admit it, I'm here for you (can we start a support group for content marketers?).
After being in charge of content at NR Media Group for a little over a year, I can confidently say that content is hard. To clarify, I'm not talking about creating content for our clients (so if any of you are reading this, don't worry, your content is in good hands). I'm talking about creating our own.
Our internal content wasn't doing too bad about a year ago. We had a somewhat steady stream of blogs going out that were generating traffic; stuff was happening like it was supposed to.
Somewhere between here and there, we got derailed. Sometimes we just hit a small bump in the road where a week or two would go by and we were too focused on client business that we put our content on the back burner. Then a couple weeks turned into a month, and that month turned into several months where we were lucky to get a few pieces of "fluff" writing out that were driving some traffic and nonexistent conversions. All just to say we got something out.
We've been a small team since the very beginning, but that has never stopped our capacity for doing good work for our clients and their content. You need a blog about dental care? On it. One about things to do in your new city? Perfect, I got you. But when it came down to writing relevant content for our own blog, I struggled, we all struggled. But why?
The Trouble With Your Content
While it's easy to get caught up in your day to day and write off the fact that you didn't write a blog this week, you eventually have to realize the slippery slope you're on.
Now, there will be attempts to get the train back on the tracks, to get your content machine churning out what it needed to. But anytime it comes down to writing a blog for yourself or working on a client task, the client task is probably gonna take priority; as it should.
This cycle will keep happening if you don't address the root of the problem and make some changes.
How to fix your content
I promise this post wasn't just about the story of how hard content creation is and I did tell you it would be worth it if you stuck with me. So here is what everyone wants from a blog, keynote, webinar, etc..the actionable takeaways for how to make content not-so-hard, aka how to fix your content.
Be Your Own Client
The trouble with internal content when you're a small team lies in the fact that it's very easy to stop treating yourself like a client. Then, you will always put yourself on the back burner for your "actual" clients.
If you're not thinking of your own brand/company as a client, start now. Set goals and expectations and deadlines for your own to-do's just like you would for a client. We even have separate time tracking and Trello boards for NR Media Group as a client versus internal tasks. If you have people that manage certain clients, assign your company to one of them.
Visualizing your company as a client helps put you in the mindset of treating yourself as one.
Obviously you still know you're not technically a client, but viewing yourself like one also let's you plan for your team's available working capacity and how their time can be spent.
Get Everyone Involved
This is important. If you have a small team, it's unlikely you have one person who is only creating content. Everyone most likely has their hands on several tasks for several clients. That makes it hard to dedicate one person's time to creating content for your brand all by themselves. So get everyone involved.
Not only does this help to ask a little of everyone versus a lot of one person, but it opens up the door to a variety of topics from experts (aka your own people). It's a lot easier to write about something you know and are passionate about instead trying to fake being an expert in something.
We're huge advocates for being authentic. We have the team we do because we all have our own unique skills and personalities. Culture is important, so let yours shine.
Utilize Your Resources
This blog has been honest and straightforward to this point and we're not stopping now. Let's face it...sometimes your small team is too small. There may be a month where vacations fall in line with a lot of projects or a client has a particularly long task list and your team is spread too thin. Does that mean you need to hire someone? Not really, unless that month is really every month.
What you can do is have some trusted options to support you.
Repurpose old content from an ebook or a blog that needs updated. Look at what evergreen content you have that can be shared again, or a blog post that just needs some small updates.
Have a team of contractors you can pull from. We take a lot of pride in our bench of contractors that we work with for anything from writing to print design to development. You could also take guest posts from local/trusted experts that you want to work with.
Build syndication partnerships. Not only does this give you an option for new content, it also benefits your domain authority and can drive referral traffic. Partner with other organizations that complement your business/industry and see if you can reshare their content on your blog and vice versa. It's a win-win.
Can We Fix it? Yes, We Can...Maybe
I can't report back just yet to tell you if these pieces of advice are the end-all be-all to solving the problem with your internal content creation for a couple reasons:
- I don't know you, your business, your team, or your content. I can only assume that you're like us, faced similar issues, and can find some useful info in this.
- This is new for us. After a productive Q3 regroup, we finally all got on the same page and decided on these shifts in our content strategy. So all of these tips are things that we're testing right now, but they're already helping.
Change is hard and takes time, and content is a marathon, not a sprint. These are the things we're doing (and you should do, too) to try to shift how you look at and approach your content strategy.