With the need for a steady flow of content creation (“content is king,” after all), there is no question it becomes an overwhelming task. Marketers are understandably looking for ways to save time on content development.
If you want to find a simpler or easier approach, just keep reading.
7 Ways to Save Time on Content Development
Don’t waste time on unnecessary steps and redundancies. From ideation to creation, here are seven ways to save time without sacrificing your content marketing strategy.
1. Keep a Thought List
Ever have a random thought while you are driving or in the shower? Write it down!
No idea is too small, too stupid, or too off-topic. Trust us. Sometimes the most surprising ideas will turn into your greatest successes.
If something comes to you, write it down (probably best in an app on your phone, like ColorNote so you don’t lose it). See a competitor idea you like? Add the link to your list and you can come up with an angle on it later.
As you use the ideas, you can delete them from your phone (unless you think there may be another angle there for the future).
How this saves you time: Two ways—one, you’re brainstorming a list for the future. When you need ideas, you will already have starts you can pull from. And two, you’re freeing up your mental space by just getting every idea out. Writing down your thoughts to look at later helps you stop thinking about them in the present.
2. Create a Content Calendar
It can be as simple as a Google Sheets or Excel spreadsheet. Build a calendar that showcases all upcoming content you want to create and when you plan to publish it.
Work to think a month or so out and require content to be completed at least a week before you want to publish it. You can use a scheduling tool to set publish times so you don’t forget to do it at a time that is optimal for audience engagement.
A content calendar will help you create content that is relevant to upcoming events and holidays. Seeing your content ideas laid out may also spark ideas for more content (which you will add to your brainstorming list).
How this saves you time: A content calendar will keep you and your team on track. It will also help you churn out the content well before the date you want to publish, giving you time to proofread and edit.
To save even more time, you can outsource your content creation—which is made even easier when you already have the details planned out well in advance. Your content calendar could include a brief outline or competitor links if they come to you easily since that can make the content creation even faster.
3. Build an Inventory
Don’t just throw new content onto your site—know what you’ve done and where you need to fill the gaps.
It isn’t going to look great if you have a lot of outdated content on your site. During the content audit, you will want to note what content:
- Needs to be updated with new links or figures
- Should be completely rewritten for accuracy
- Is missing and needs to be added to your index
Remember, Google tends to give credit to sites with a strong history. It may be a better idea to update content and add the “Originally written on XXXdate” or “Article updated on XXXdate” so your readers understand they are looking at a fresh article, but Google still sees the authority of a well-aged archive.
How this saves you time: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You probably already have a lot of content that can be refreshed or repurposed, saving you time on content creation. You can repurpose content moving forward by adding old (and relevant) articles to your social media calendar.
4. Ask Your Sales Team For Input
The people most likely to help you with relevant topics are your sales team. At the same time, they can use all the support you give them.
Talk to your sales team about questions they field a lot. What are they telling the customers? What do the customers find helpful? Use this to build the kind of content that answers questions your audience is really asking.
You will probably run into some tricky questions—like pricing on services or products that can be complex or change based on the project details. In these cases, just write about information that will empower the reader with knowledge and pre-qualify them for the sales process.
The more details you can give a lead, the more they will consider you as they move from their initial awareness stage down the sales funnel into consideration or decision stages. If you want to appeal to a lead, you need to give them enough information that they can determine if you will have the right options and pricing for them.
How this saves you time: Both you and your sales team can save a lot of time here. Your sales team can give you ideas and answers for content to add to your calendar. And, in turn, you will give your sales team a piece of content that they can send to customers for easy reference. Plus, people who are more likely to do these initial research stages on their own will now have the tools to do so and can approach your sales team when they are a marketing-qualified lead (MQL).
5. Establish a Style Guide
Sounds like more work right? But, a style guide will help organize your thoughts on branding and direction.
When you create a style sheet, you will include some of the more important information that influences content, like:
- What audiences are you targeting? (buyer personas)
- How should the company be seen? (brand traits)
- What channels are you using? (content formats)
Your style guide can also include any odd rules you might have in place to follow compliance or specifics on grammar (oxford comma, or no?). And, your guide can provide examples of past content that really fits the direction you are aiming for.
You want to aim for simplicity and clarity in your style guide or you risk it getting ignored. The style guide will help keep your content consistent and cohesive—especially if you have multiple writers working on various parts of the content marketing strategy.
How this saves you time: No matter who writes the content, a thought-out style guide can help them get much closer to a completed draft. This will save you a lot of time when the content coming in is already very close to the mark. You can make tweaks as needed, and then simply set the content to be published on the scheduled date.
6. Use Guest Posters
Not only will a guest poster save you time, they may help boost your content reach!
Usually, a guest poster will have an audience of their own (even if it’s just their immediate friends and family circle). When a guest poster gets a byline on your blog, they are likely to share it with others.
Ideally, you will choose guest posters that target a similar audience and have a larger reach. These might be professionals in your field, influencers that appeal to a similar crowd, or companies that offer a very different service but serve the same audience.
While it’s nice to have a name involved that gives you clout, you don’t have to pick someone highly popular with a certain crowd. Sometimes, it’s worth saving time to use any willing guest poster.
Someone who is going to write your content for free (or cheap) is likely looking to get something out of the exchange too—like increasing their own recognition. So, don’t turn your nose up at the unknowns if you don’t have guest poster offers pouring in…
Always have them send you the content so you can proofread and schedule the article. Giving a stranger access to your accounts is a bad idea for obvious reasons. Also, you don’t want to end up with questionable content published to your site and hurting your brand reputation.
How this saves you time: No will spend some time finding the right guest posters and getting quality content from them. But, it will save you the time of writing it and, possibly, even brainstorming ideas (if they choose their own). You will also save time on increasing the reach of your content since they should naturally help push it out to their own audience if you let them know when it’s published.
7. Aim for Multi-Use Content
When you put your time into certain content forms, you can easily repurpose that content for other aspects of your content marketing plan. A webinar, for example, could turn into multiple blog posts, a huge number of social posts, and several emails to target various segments of your list.
Examples of content that could become shorter off-shooting blog posts and social media posts:
- Long-form blog posts filled with detailed insights
- Statistics or reviews that are full of original data
- Webinars or virtual conventions on specific topics
- YouTube content that can be summarized and embedded
- Podcast episodes—especially ones with guest speakers
Start with the bigger items and plan out ways to get more use out of that content.
How this saves you time: When you focus on certain forms of content, you will save a lot of time by being able to reuse that content multiple times. Even if the initial content takes more time to put together, the result may still save you time by providing you with plenty of content to work with. Plus, once you get a system in place for doing something complex (like a webinar or industry study), you will find it easier to produce those kinds of content in the future.
BONUS TIP: Outsource Your Content
You don’t have to work in the weeds of your content strategy. Many teams are outsourcing pieces or entire chunks of their content needs to professionals who can help.
We don’t have to tell you how this will save you time. When professionals help you with your content, you can rest assured that it will be well-done. Your style guide and content calendar can really support this process and ensure everything says on-target for your brand.
If you are looking for help with outsourcing content, look no further. Talk to us today about how we can help you grow with site optimization, creative visuals, organic content, marketing strategy, and more.