You’re staring at your computer screen, racking your brain for new blog post ideas, fretting over what to publish in a couple of days, and pulling out your hair at the idea of then having to schedule social posts, formulate your weekly newsletter, and do it all again the next week. The content wheel has caught up to you and is threatening to run you right over. Take the terror out of your content marketing and feel more comfortable creating by first identifying where it went wrong.
1. You Rush It
Every content marketing firm in the world will approach the field a little differently, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the perfect copy and content. But you can bet your sweet Aunt Betty that all the companies rocking their content marketing out HARD have one thing in common - they plan. A lot.
In his book Content Inc., Joe Pulizzi recommends having a “state of the union” for your content marketing once a year, but meeting at intervals of monthly and weekly as well, to keep your stories relevant. You don't sit down on Monday and decide what to write for Wednesday. To be on top of it you should have content planned, drafted, edited, and designed for at least a week.
Though I would recommend a similar strategy, I understand when you simply don’t have the bandwidth to make your content that deeply ingrained in your daily routine as a business owner.
If you're feeling strapped for time start with a monthly editorial calendar
At the end of each month, think to the month ahead and consider all the big events for your business and your community happening. Then brainstorm content surrounding those events. Take 15 minutes for that. Then take another 15 and brainstorm pillar content that answers the big questions your target audience has. With one last 15 minute chunk, brainstorm some entertaining articles, here's the kicker, that still add value.
Then write the topics you choose (I’m betting moolah you ended up with way more ideas than days in the month) on an empty month spread layout. This way you can see at a glance what you’re planning on publishing for the month and ensure you have a solid mix of content types. See? Less than an hour of your time per month can take a load of pressure off.
2. You don't feel confident in your words
You slay at the work you do and you’re beyond committed to the people you do it for. You’re damn good at your job, and you stand firm in that knowledge. Buuuuut, when it comes to writing about your area of expertise, all of a sudden the self-conscious monster stomps in, roaring so loudly you can’t hear that clear, confident voice that propels your business.
This is a pretty common issue among business owners, especially in the startup and small business world. So on the bright side, you’re not alone. Not many of us looooove to talk about ourselves, but as business owners and entrepreneurs, you have to ride a fine line of humility when it comes to your content. Be humble, but don’t step down in your power to do it.
One of the worst things you can do for your content is to give up your authority. It’s one thing to sound like a responsible business owner who understands there is always room for growth. That level of humility is important. But when you start sounding like you aren’t sure about what you’re doing, people will take that to heart and move on to someone who stands sure in their knowledge.
Taking back that content confidence and muzzling the self-conscious monster isn’t as easy as it sounds, but here’s a trick I’ve found to be extremely helpful.
Before you write any piece of content, reflect on your business’ vision statement. Think about why you started your business and why you’ve been successful so far. You know your stuff, firestarter. That’s why you’re doing this. Now go infuse that confidence into your writing. Do you have tips for increasing your confidence in content? Let me know what works for you in the comments.
3. It takes away from what you feel you should be focusing on
If you’re dreading sitting down to write that blog post because you think there are a million other things you should be focusing on in your business, you’re going to be unhappy with the end product. It’s hard to create something wonderful, useful, and on-brand when you’re rolling your eyes and sighing heavily every step of the way.
If this is the main reason you’re unhappy with your content, you’ve got 2 options.
First, you can look at content a little differently and change up your relationship with it. Content doesn’t have to be all studies and white papers and in-depth coverage of every aspect of your business. It doesn’t have to be attached to webinars and ebooks. Your content needs to be strategic, yes, but it also needs to be heartfelt.
Spend time writing about the questions your audience has, sharing your knowledge, and building relationships. Focusing more on them than you is a great way to alter the content paradigm in your business. If it still is just absolutely not your thing, stop trying to make it work. Don't give up on content, it's SO important, but stop trying to do it yourself if you legitimately hate it, or can't shake the struggles.
Second, you can outsource. There is no shame in sending the word-writing to be done by someone who freaking loves writing words. If content creation is not your zone of genius, don’t force it. Strike up a partnership with someone who is going to care about your brand and its visibility as much as you do, and rev those content engines without you ever having to type a word.
4. You feel cornered
It’s not unusual for business owners to start out excited about writing for their brand, only to have it fizzle out a month later when they feel they’ve exhausted all their creativity. If this is where you’re struggling, the likely culprit is that you’ve pigeonholed yourself without realizing it. You’ve decided you can only write about your business in one rigid, particular way and you haven’t explored the wealth of options beyond that.
Well, it's time to hop outside that box and get in touch with your creative problem solving mode.
Your brand’s stories are most effective when they do one of three things: educate, inspire, and entertain. And they are a freaking suckerpunch straight to the jaw of your competitors when they do a combination of all three.
To back out of that corner and welcome all the content opportunities that exist for your brand, consider the questions you receive most often. These might be questions about your services, they might be about how you did X for Y client, they might be how you accomplished ABC for your own brand, or what step 123 looked like on your journey, or how on earth are they supposed to do XYZ, you make it look so EASY??
The questions you are asked most often, about your business, your lifestyle, and the inevitable intersection of the two, are a great launch pad for expanding your content.
Another great way to get “unstuck” is to think about businesses you admire, or questions YOU have that you want answered. If you want to learn more about the business you’re in, look to the bigger players. Reach out, ask if they would be interested in an interview, and share them with your audience. Boom - great fodder for your site, a new relationship established, and you get to learn a new thing or two about your field in the process.
Not so stuck anymore, huh?
There are a million reasons you might be unhappy with the way you’re telling your story now, but don’t be complacent with disliking your content. Because I promise, if your content is making YOU sad, it's absolutely making your dream clients sad, too. Definitely not something you want. Crafting quality stories on a regular basis is an important part of growing your business, so why not feel good about it?