The top 9 reasons content doesn't get made
By Chris Gillespie, founder of Find A Way Media
The discouraging reality
Have you ever signed up for a gym membership in January with quasi-olympic aspirations only to cancel in February because you just weren't going?
That’s much the same feeling that many marketers feel when they launch a content marketing initiative. What begins with the best of intentions gets bogged down in the day-to-day drudgery of actually implementing it. Their interest wanes and suddenly, they're no longer publishing.
Yet, if you let it stop, it dies. “Consistency is key,” says to Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute.
What can save you? Knowing that you're not alone!
Everyone rides the content-creation rollercoaster and here are some tips for managing yours successfully.
9 reasons that content doesn’t get made and what to do about it:
1. I can’t dedicate enough time to it
You can nip this one in the bud by not being overly ambitious when you start. Just as with the gym plan, know that it’s going to take time to get ramped-up and for writing this much to feel comfortable.
The solution: Rather than leaping in and trying to implement a full-scale content program of daily blogposts, definitive guides, and original research, pick one thing and do it very well. We recommend that if you’re starting from scratch, you shoot for an initial goal of simply creating a content backlog and publishing 1-3 pieces per month. As you feel that you have the capacity to lift more, scale it up.
2. I have too many competing priorities
Yeah, you and everybody else, huh? At its heart this objection is really a problem with time management - you've either put together a plan that’s overburdensome or you can't resist the allure of shiny new objects. As self-help guru Stephen Covey puts it, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
The solution: Schedule your content creation and stick to it. If you truly don’t have time, you need to re-think your priorities - if content marketing really matters to you, sacrifice something else or hire help.
3. It stopped being fun
There’s a joy to writing that evaporates once it becomes grueling. Perhaps your editorial queue is so long that you’re no longer seeing the fruits of your labor. Or, perhaps, you’re working so hard to stick to a script or weave-in keywords that it feels more like a crossword puzzle than writing.
The solution: Let it be fun again. Try writing your next piece all at once and completely freeform. Write everything that comes to mind and leave underscored gaps “____” where you’ll come back to fill things in like statistics or quotes. You’ll both develop your idea more fully as you go and you’ll find that the flow state is fun.
4. It’s harder than I thought
Writing well is real work. Many of the most impactful elements like great headlines, ledes, spacing, punctuation, and conclusions all take a lot of trial and error that you may not have time for.
However, it's precisely the people (like yourself) who have the least time to write who should be doing it, as seniority confers insights that your readers will actually value. Conversely, those with the greatest amount of free time shouldn’t be the public face of your company. Here’s a chart.
The solution: Hire a professional writer. You get the best of both worlds: you can mind-dump your world-class insights into a word document and allow them to sculpt it into a beautifully polished piece.
5. I'm out of content ideas
It's difficult to write when there's nothing to write about, huh? Except that, there are unlimited numbers of topics and you've likely just developed tunnel vision around a few overworked ones. Your customers are humans - they've got complex lives full of challenges and as long as they're still working, there are things you can find to write about and help them with.
The solution: Get out. Seriously, close that laptop and go outside for a walk. More exposure to your world will fill your brain with ideas and you'll start to dream up new topics automatically. You may also be inspired to expand your topic - cover things that they're interested in but which don't directly pertain to your products, such as Adobe's CMO.com or Casper Mattress' Van Winkle's. The point is to build an audience and write interesting things, not sell yourself.
6. My contributors keep flaking out
Contributors are tough to wrangle yet an absolutely invaluable component to content marketing. They provide the diverse insights from around your organization which are exactly what your readers come looking for and yet because writing isn't their primary role, they frequently let the real work take precedent, miss deadlines, or get discouraged and set things aside.
The solution: It comes down to managing people and creating accountability. Brand your contribution program with its own name and make it official. Give it all the marketing pizazz you’d give any campaign, including the WIIFM (what they stand to gain) and the frank admission that because of how busy you are, you'll have to factor missed deadlines into accepting any future submissions.
Next, rather than emailing around requests, get verbal commitments (in-person if you can). And to really seal the deal with nefarious efficiency, get an office whiteboard and publicly list people, what they’ve agreed to contribute, and the dates.
7. I’m waiting on a branding question to get resolved
We see this a lot: people say that because their CEO hasn’t yet decided whether their product is a “analytics platform” or a “business intelligence tool,” they they can’t finish the piece. But it’s really a chicken and the egg scenario, isn’t it? You don’t know will resonate with customers so you hold off on finding out what will resonate with them until you know.
The solution: Convince your superiors (or heck, yourself) to let you get it out there so that you can find out. A/B test the language among colleagues or customers and go charge forward with what performs better and is more easily understood.
8. Our content strategy keeps changing
Change is good - you should always be testing - but if the changes to your content strategy prevent you from finishing pieces of content, it’s a sign that you've missed some foundational planning. Perhaps you’re not sure who exactly your audience is, where they go for their news, or what kind of content performs best with them. If you knew these points, the changes would only be cosmetic and not show-stopping.
The solution: Get your fundamentals right. Define your personas so that you know precisely who you're marketing to and what they want to hear. With that in place, everything else should flow.
9. I got discouraged after I didn’t see an impact
Remember the gym analogy at the start? This is the exact same thing: You don’t go to the gym two or three times and hope to get fit. You commit to the final vision that you have of yourself (perhaps as some sort of an Equinox-style greek god?) and you make it such an ingrained part of your routine that makes you feel anxious if you haven’t done it in a while.
The solution: Track your metrics and content performance to both improve and stay engaged. You'll start to feel a little dopamine hit in seeing those performance indicators tick upward and that's when it truly becomes a habit.
Do or do not - there is no try
Remember, what you don’t do is is important as what you do do in content marketing: Don’t overburden yourself, don’t let things get in your way, don’t let it be boring, and don’t let those contributors wiggle out of that “day in the life of” blogpost that they promised you.
Do this, and you’ll finally ensure that that content gets made after all.