By Mark Schaefer
I’ve never met a person who says they have too much time, especially when it comes to creating content!
But here’s a fact: successful bloggers, YouTubers, and podcasters have the same number of hours in a day as you. Everybody has the same time to create content, but not everybody makes it a priority. The real question isn’t having the time, it’s whether you have the tenacity and drive to do it … and keep doing it.
There’s probably nothing I can write that can impact your determination, but I can provide you with 25 ideas and best practices to help you squeeze more content-producing productivity out of every hour.
- Focus. Don’t try to be everywhere and on every platform. Pick the content type that fits your mission and stick to it.
- ABC (Always Be Creating). There are story ideas all around you. Make a habit out of writing down every inspiration as it happens so it’s not lost. Be aware of what you see, hear, and read every day and think about how that could become a relevant piece of content. If you follow this practice, you will always have a bank of ideas.
- Make time to create. Block out several undistracted hours each week to create. Schedule this with discipline like you would prioritize an important meeting.
- Add an insight. Let’s say you see a post of five ideas to bake a better cake. For your cooking blog, create a new post noting the original post and writer, list the five ideas, and then add two more ideas of your own. You’ve just added value to your readers, helped the original author by linking to their content, and created a great piece in a fraction of the time.
- Find a routine. Try to create content at your most productive time each day, or on the same day each week. By doing this, you’re training your mind to expect that this is the time you’re going to create content. You might even look forward to it!
- Let it sit. Don’t spin your wheels too long on any one idea. If you’re feeling stuck, move on to another idea to use your time productively. Some of my best posts don’t bloom for weeks after the initial “planting!”
- Learn to say no. Every minute you spend on tasks not central to your goal is time that is gone forever. Guard your time carefully since it is the only asset you have to devote to content creation.
- Look ahead. What interruptions do you have in the upcoming weeks and months? Vacation? Business trips? Family commitments? Prepare for these “outages.” If you try to rush content, quality will suffer. Success requires consistency.
- Take a break. I know this doesn’t seem to make sense, but taking breaks make us more productive. Studies have shown that even two-minute breaks can increase productivity by 11 percent.
- Imperfect is perfect. The biggest obstacle for many people is they waste too much time seeking perfection. You are human. That post or video is probably never going to be perfect. Push the publish button any way.
- Use the apps. There are free apps to help you create free and easy illustrations, infographics, and videos. You can create podcasts on your smartphone now. There are apps to help you find content ideas, edit, guide your SEO, and write better headlines.
- Mix the media. Don’t have time to write a post this week? Well you can make a three-minute video in … well, three minutes! Embedding a little video in a post is a great time-saver and provides variety for your readers. I saw an interesting post one time that was simply a photo of what the blogger’s office set-up looked like. So simple and it probably took him five minutes. Mix it up.
- A little help from your friends. In a time crunch? Why not invite some of your trusted friends to submit a a guest blog post, a video for your channel, or a “takeover” of your Instagram or Snapchat account?
- Ask, don’t answer. Don’t feel pressure to develop time-intensive advice on every piece of content. Some of the most engaging posts are questions, not answers. “This has been bothering me and I don’t have an answer to it. What do you think …”
- Copy and improve. You consume so much great content every day. Part of the value you can provide to readers is exposing them to new ideas from others and then improving on it. For example, I was reading about the “flow state” of peak performance and wrote down an idea about how this could be applied to content creation.
- Out-source the admin. Much of the time needed to create content comes with the editing, producing and scheduling. Podcasting and video editing can be particularly time-consuming. Try to out-source these activities so you can spend your time on the actual content creation.
- Don’t multi-task. Turn off the TV, smartphone, iPad, text messages and alerts. An average knowledge worker wastes 28 percent of their time on interruptions and “recovery time.”
- Prepare a content calendar. Plotting out your content plan week by week can help you visualize your commitments and arrange your content to align with your work schedule. For example, I don’t schedule content that is going to attract high levels of engagement on days jammed with meetings.
- Round-up posts. Come up with an interesting question or industry problem and ask a group of trusted industry friends to provide a 2-3 sentence answer. Collect them all and you’ve got an extremely interesting post with little original work on your part.
- Set a deadline. When I was starting out, I would take forever to create content. I fretted over so many details. I found that when I set time limits on the content (I will spend one more hour on this – then publish!), I was much more effective.
- Don’t over-think it. A great piece of content doesn’t have to be a PhD thesis or earth-shaking insight. Some of my most popular posts have emerged from a simple observation or a question on my mind. There’s no pressure to be profound.
- Create a list post. Readers love lists. They’re easy to scan, easy to digest, and lists are highly-shard content. Lucky for you, lists are also much quicker and easier to write than longer-form content.
- Re-purpose your content. Transcribe a podcast to create a blog post. Use ideas from a blog post to publish a slide presentation. Base an infographic on your slide presentation. Starting to see the potential here? It’s possible to make many pieces of content from one core idea.
- Narrate. Most people can speak 3-4 times faster than they can type. I use a college student in my area to transcribe all sorts of audio and video content, which saves a significant amount of time. There are also apps available that can do a decent job of transcribing at very low cost or even free. You can spend your time editing, instead of writing.
- Drink a beer. Several research studies showed that slightly elevating the alcohol level in the bloodstream increases creativity levels. I am not making this up.
The last tip is my favorite. It might be the best blogging tip on the whole planet. No need to thank me. What tips would you add to this list?
Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.