“Every marketing company is a content creator.” Even the largest companies have now become content creation powerhouses… and we are too.
When I ask, “What’s your biggest writing challenge?” people usually talk about feeling overwhelmed by having to do SO much content creation in so LITTLE time. Even if you write professionally, as I do, there’s an awful lot of writing that has to get done.
It’s hard to cut back on the amount of content that’s needed. So the challenge is to come up with tips and techniques to generate more content creation with less effort, in less time. Here are just 4 methods. Please comment if you’ve got a tip of your own.
(1) Keep an idea file.
In content creation, nothing wastes time more than facing a blank page without a single idea of what you want to write about. If you’re on deadline, it’s even worse: you can’t do anything else till you come up with a realistic idea.
Many business owners keep an editorial calendar. You can get a free WordPress plug-in, modify your Google calendar, or get a calendar included in many training products.
You can also set up a virtual file (I love Google Docs) with headlines, clips from articles and blog posts, and articles that caught your interest. You can include articles you passionately disagree with, ideas that make you angry, or conversely, topics that inspire you to take action and feel really good about what you’re doing. You can also collect ideas related to topics; if you’re a parenting coach, an immigration lawyer or a financial advisor, you’ll find hundreds of stories in the news every day.
Every so often I’ll think of a really good headline. I add it to the file and eventually put together content that fits the headline. I don’t do this often enough: it’s a hundred times easier to write to a headline than to come up with a headline for content that’s already written.
(2) Start with a story.
Stories of course represent compelling content — and also help with all kinds of content creation. You can pretend you’re writing an email to a friend or colleague, describing something you experienced recently. Or you can begin writing the backstory of your client — what they experienced before they decided to call you.
Create a series of prompts for yourself.
“Describe a moment when you faced a conflict between your family and your business.”
One person wrote about the time his parents stopped by the house for dinner — a few hours early. He was in the middle of recording a webinar.
“Tell me about the time when you worked with a difficult client.”
“Imagine you have just had lunch with your favorite role model in your field. What did you talk about? What advice did you get?”
The very best prompts will come from your own imagination. You can look at other blog posts from writers you admire and turn their openings into prompts you can use. Your stories will be completely different.
Lillian, a professional organizer, wanted to write an ebook about the need to clear clutter. She wanted a chapter on the need for a clear office desk.
She created a prompt, based on the client’s backstory, “How did one of my clients learn this lesson?” She remembered a client who realized she just paid $300 in late fees because the bills were buried in desktop clutter.
This section is abbreviated from my new kindle book, Grow Your Business One Story At A Time.
(3) Use swipe files.
Swipe file? If you’re new to swipe files, you might be responding, “Isn’t that like stealing? And where’s the creativity?”
I felt that way when I first heard the term. But the truth is, every successful copywriter I know uses swipe copywriting…that is, they find examples of copy to use as models. They’re a source of ideas, not a license to steal. It’s key to timely content creation.
Copywriters who want to keep learning will study swipe files, because styles change and some examples will be more appropriate for your product and market.
Copywriters use many swipe files — not just one or two. They use the swipe file as a starting point. Sometimes I’ll start with a swipe file for inspiration and my finished copy will look completely different.
Sometimes you’ll get inspired by reading actual copy. And sometimes you can get collections of fill-in-the-blanks, such as Richard Bayan’s Words That Sell. (Just about every copywriter I know owns a copy of that book and uses it regularly.) You can use collections of headlines for inspiration, such as copywriter Amy Harrison’s 41 Classic Copywriting Headlines.
The best way to generate your own files is to take note of sales copy that makes you want to buy — whether you actually pull out the credit card or not. For instance, the Coach Glue team creates particularly fascinating bullets. For example:
- Why a platform’s popularity has zero to do with whether it’ll work for you
- Proven ways to identify where YOUR deal clients are online (your ENTIRE success on social depends on identifying and marketing in the right places–and I’ll show you how!)
- Hush-hush tools social media experts use to stay on top of an industry that’s forever in flux
- Exactly why (and how) to safely ‘stalk’ your competitors and their content
Of course you wouldn’t use these ideas … but you might work wth a structure like, “Why a ____ has nothing to do with your ____”
And remember you’ll use bullets even if you’re not writing a sales letter. You can use bullets as headlines and sub-headings for your blog posts, articles and lead magnets.
(4) PLR: Private Label Rights
When you purchase a PLR product, you get to go beyond swiping. You can just use anything you get when you create articles, products, and blog posts. When you buy from different sources, you’ll find differences in what you can change and where you can use your product, but the good ones are pretty liberal. The key is to choose PLR that’s well written and directly related to your audience.
PLR content should be regarded as a first draft. You have to edit and shift the content to conform to your own style and interest. But it’s infinitely easier than starting from scratch, especially if you’ve always wanted to write about that topic.
PLR products tend to be priced lower than training products, so if you’re interested in a topic, you’ll often get value by buying the PLR just for yourself.
I use a PLR product as part of my program on becoming a copywriter: I found a copywriting course that’s well-produced, as good as anything I could have created myself.
Finally, here’s a free download on how to repurpose your writing to save even more time. Click here to learn more.