If you’ve ever reached the end of your day and tried to remember just one thing you accomplished, you know the feeling of realizing an entire day has been wasted.
But it’s not always that obvious. Much of our wasted time happens with the best intentions. This is especially true in marketing where a lot of time is spent blazing uncharted territory then trying to make sense of it all.
If you are just starting out in content marketing and blogging, I’ve put together a list of three ways you may be wasting your time in content marketing and how to avoid them.
1. Creating Content Without A Well-Planned Strategy
Have you ever visited a blog and wondered what the content has to do with their business? It’s so far out of left field it leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
Not only does writing without a clearly defined strategy have a negative impact on your brand, it also won’t produce results. If you don’t have a strategy and purpose for every piece of content, your hard work is probably going to waste.
With so many articles being published every day, there is just no room for average. And your competitors aren’t just in your industry, you’re also competing with Facebook, BuzzFeed, and Huffington Post for your audience’s attention.
Before writing your first post, you should have a content strategy and goals for your content that include:
- Target audience and audience personas
- Keywords and phrases
- Tone of voice
- Branding elements
- Promotion strategy
- Metrics and ROI
- Competitive analysis
- Contents schedule
- List of article ideas and titles
- Clearly defined roles for everyone involved
When we onboard new clients, this is always the first thing we focus on. We never start writing until we have a complete content strategy with each client.
This list is far from comprehensive, but it’s a good start to building a content marketing strategy for your blog. It doesn’t matter if you use an outside company or an internal team, someone must champion your strategy and have a plan for every post.
2. Inefficient Content Production
If your idea of writing articles is sitting down and attempting to brainstorm a post off the top of your head, I’m just going to say it: You’re doing it wrong. Without a clearly defined process and schedule for creating content, you will spend at least double the production time per post.
Have you heard of the Planning Fallacy? The phenomenon in which we tend to severely underestimate the time needed to complete a task. Don’t feel bad, it happens to everyone (myself included), but blogging seems to be one of the biggest tasks we underestimate.
Most people don’t think about the work involved between coming up with an idea and publishing a final draft. On average it takes a company 12-16 hours per month to create and publish four high-quality blog posts.
Think that sounds outrageously high? Just consider the number of steps involved in writing, producing, and publishing one piece of content:
- Choosing and researching a topic
- Selecting the right headline
- Brainstorming an outline
- Writing the post
- Editing for language
- Proofreading for errors
- Finding a good photo
- Uploading and formatting the blog post on your website
- Optimizing the post and photo for SEO and interlinking with other posts
- Promoting the post
- Reusing and repurposing the content
Consistently producing quality content is a big job! One way to save time on content production is writing more than one article at a time. For example, we batch our clients’ content into monthly production and create four posts at once. This takes the client’s involvement from 16 hours a month to two hours a month.
Batching reduces transition time and forces you to constantly think ahead and know what you’ll write. Quick tip: It’s also a smart idea to do this with your social media strategy.
3. Your Blog Reads Like A College Textbook
One of the biggest mistakes I see companies make is writing a blog with zero personality. The posts may have started out full of character, but after the editing process, any hope of life has been sucked out completely.
This not only wastes your time, it also wastes your readers’ time. Chances are, they won’t make it through the first paragraph because the content is too stale to read.
If you Google the subject you’re writing about, there are likely dozens of articles on the same topic. At this point most people throw up their hands and think it’s not even worth it. But the truth is, people aren’t just reading your blog for the content. They also read for your take on a subject because they like your personality injected into it.
I’m not telling you to go crazy with personality and scare people away. What I am saying is every company has their own voice, and it takes time to find and develop yours. Start by sharing personal experiences as examples on your blog and paying attention to what your customers respond to in person and over email.