Your company's content creation can come to a grinding halt, sometimes almost by accident. Perhaps you decided to take a break from content over the winter holidays, since many people are out of the office during that time anyway. Then your team was slammed with work when you came back after the new year - and suddenly it's been four months since your company published a blog post or an infographic, much less released an eBook.
How can you get back on track with content creation after being stalled for so long?
Restarting after a long hiatus can seem like a daunting task, maybe even so daunting you think it would be easier to just give up on content creation all together. But getting back on track is critical to the success of your whole marketing effort. If you take a practical, incremental approach to understanding what went wrong and fixing it, the entire process becomes more manageable and less intimidating.
Here are some tips to help get your company or department back on the right content creation track.
1. Determine what went wrong
If you're a fan of procedural dramas, get excited, because this is your chance to conduct your very own autopsy - on your content creation process.
Behind the collapse of every content creation effort is a host of possible causes, and it's your job to figure out exactly which ones apply to your case.
Maybe the chief content creators ran out of ideas, or team members suddenly had to take on more work that pushed content creation to the back burner. Or maybe your leader lost his or her enthusiasm for the program, or had so many other things to do that signing off on new content fell to the bottom of the list.
If you don't have an established content marketing plan, that could also be the culprit. It's hard to stay on track with content creation if you don't have a content marketing plan that supports your broader business goals. Or maybe it's simply that you were operating without an editorial calendar that lays out specific deliverables and their due dates and you lost track of what was happening when.
Pinpointing the cause of your unplanned hiatus will equip you to craft a new content creation game plan that helps you avoid these pitfalls moving forward.
2. Reset your priorities and get buy-in
The fact that you stopped creating content in the first place could be an indicator that the content team's priorities aren't aligned with the organization. For example, others in your organization can derail a content program if they start taking issue with topic choices or strategic direction - which usually indicates some misalignment with your overall content marketing plan. That's why it's so important to make sure that everyone involved (from the top down) has bought into your strategy at the very beginning.
To reset the program, you need to evaluate your strategic goals and determine if they're compatible with the organization's goals and those of its leadership. Ask yourself what you're trying to accomplish with your content strategy as a whole. Brand awareness? Lead generation?
Then revisit your existing plan, or use those answers to guide the formation of a new content marketing plan. In addition, getting feedback at this stage from everyone involved - both the content team and any leadership - will make it easier to get sign offs and continued buy-in as you move forward.
3. Develop a plan for creating content
I don't mean a plan for creating this week's blog post, but rather a plan for creating an entire backlog of content that will help you avoid this situation in the future. That backlog will be your savior when one of your writers doesn't come through, or when that great idea you had for content turns out to be extra challenging (and time consuming) to write.
As you've seen, that content gap can quickly turn into a giant chasm, so you probably don't want to drag your feet once again on assembling that backlog, right? Here are three ideas to create new content quickly and jumpstart your content machine:
- The content sprint - Do you have an internal team of content creators? Get everyone behind the effort, band together for the cause, and write a whole bunch of copy at breakneck speed. Assign each person two or three or four items (whatever is reasonable), but the deadlines should be compressed - falling within a two week period, max. With a bit of concentrated effort, you could have nine or 12 pieces at-the-ready in your pool of content.
- The army of freelancers - No internal team? If you can cobble together some budget, you can do the same sprint, but using freelancers. Yes, it does require some funding, but now you can accelerate your sprint - and maybe be publishing again in just a week or two.
- The repurpose - You can also kick start content production by repurposing content you have already created. The internal team, freelancers, or a combination of both can create four blog posts out of your eBook from last quarter, or turn a blog post into an infographic to get you publishing again quickly. Meanwhile, make sure you have someone else working on original content to complement this repurpose effort.
4. Come up with some ideas
It's very possible that your content efforts came to a halt because the well just ran dry. Obviously, to do a content sprint - whether internal or without outside help - you need something to write about. So where do you get those ideas?
- A brainstorming meeting is always a good solution. Just make sure you set it up well to make it as effective and productive as possible.
- Look at what your competition is doing. Don't copy, but see if there are some interesting topics or approaches that just never crossed your mind. How could you make them even better?
- Enlist the help of your freelancers. Your ideas don't have to all come from inside your company. Sometimes an outside perspective on your industry is just what you need to freshen things up.
5. Make a calendar
Now that you have ideas and a plan for turning them into real content, you need to capture it all in an editorial calendar that's practical and detailed, or things will slip through the cracks or be forgotten - and you'll find yourself referring back to this blog post to figure out what went wrong.
Make sure your editorial calendar includes deadlines for each piece and which team member is assigned to each step. To keep your team accountable, I suggest inputting everything into a project management system, such as Asana or Trello, so you can catch delays before they get out of hand.
Once you've done your analysis and assembled your plan, it's time to start executing on it. But make sure you've accumulated that backlog of content and have a solid calendar in place so that you can maintain a regular publishing schedule.
Follow these steps and you'll have given CPR to your content creation process - just don't let it die again.