As you read this, I will either be in Shanghai, or on my way there (my brain is currently too fried from conference prep, getting ready for a blog launch, and a variety of other projects to calculate the time/travel difference!). And that’s actually a perfect segue for this week’s Two for Tuesdays, in which we look at the biggest challenge that you’re going to see to content marketing in 2015.
The inspiration for this post comes again from Business 2 Community, with a post from Asaf Rothem, "3 Major Challenges Your Content Marketing Department Will Encounter in 2015." Admittedly, I chuckled at the title, because for the most part, none of us will have a full blown content marketing department.
Even more to the point, for the legal industry, clients and potential clients really want to hear from the experts – lawyers. They don’t want content from a "department." They want it right from the source. So even if you have help with distribution, editing, etc., the original words must be coming from you, the lawyer, to be most effective.
With that being said, what struck me about this article is the first challenge – it’s one we hear all the time when it comes to content marketing, so it’s one that bears discussion here: Not enough time.
Who hasn’t heard this one, or thought it themselves?
"There’s never enough time to write an article, write that blog post, etc."
I come up against it myself – when I’m very busy, the first thing that’s going to get cut is blogging, unless I’m incredibly strategic about it in advance. For me, that’s the key – I do not have the luxury of assigning myself "write a blog post" in my to do list on any given day. It has to be very specific.
There are a couple of tips we’ll look at today for addressing this challenge.
Tip One: Develop an Editorial Calendar
That’s why I developed an editorial calendar last year. I took a very basic template and looked back over my blog to see what I wrote about most often, what my readers most liked to see, and what topics made the most sense to continue with, and I made a list of them.
I also wrote down a few new ideas, which included new ways of delivering that same content, in order to keep it fresh.
Then, I created the calendar. Some of my best practices (which may or may not work for everyone) included:
- Keeping the post topics broad, so that I can be as timely as I want to be, while still having an idea for the day’s post.
- Choosing regular features, such as Two for Tuesdays and Roundups, which would be weekly, and Wondering Wednesdays and ILNTerviews, which would be monthly or quarterly.
- Looking at the calendar quarterly, rather than yearly. This way, I can review on an ongoing basis what is working, what isn’t working and what new ideas have come up in the past three months that I may want to incorporate.
It’s been a huge help to me – I can purposely give myself lighter weeks when I know I’ll be swamped (such as right before a conference) and set up guest posts or other pre-scheduled posts for when I’m traveling, so that the blog doesn’t languish too long.
The calendar is set up in a spreadsheet, so although I look at it daily to post the link for tracking purposes, I also review it weekly for the following week’s posts, to calendar them in my agenda and prepare for what’s coming up. I can, of course, be flexible, but having the blog posts assigned to myself already with a topic or idea in mind helps me to focus and write them much more efficiently. I don’t waste any time at all on them.
If I need to cancel or defer one, I can of course, do so, but I skip far fewer posts than without an editorial calendar, so I easily battle the content marketing challenge of lack of time, without my blog suffering.
Editorial calendars can be for more than just blogs though – use them for all kinds of content! If you have a presentation coming up and you’d like to break it down into smaller tasks, and then repurpose the presentation afterwards into articles, a webcast, an online presentation, etc., set up an editorial calendar just for that purpose.
Maybe you want to start a podcast instead – you can set up an editorial calendar with various deadlines and assignments for that as well. Content is more than just blogging, so your editorial calendar can be more than just blogs too!
Tip Two: Carve Out Time
This is a tip that comes from other lawyers, so you don’t have to take my word for it.
For me, I use the afternoons to write – I deal with my most pressing work in the mornings and early afternoon, and then the more esoteric stuff, like blogging, in the afternoons. That works well for me. I rarely, if ever, blog in the morning.
Some lawyers will write in the morning. Others write on Saturday mornings or first thing Sunday. Some write late at night after the kids have gone to bed, while others will write during their commute.
The key here is to find what works for you. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time – tell yourself you’ll blog for 30 minutes, or work on your article or presentation for 30 minutes and set a timer. When it goes off, you’re done.
Whether the post or article is finished in that time, doesn’t matter – you can finish it the next day, or hit publish and over time, you’ll become more efficient, or you’ll learn to do a little bit at a time and finish in a couple of sessions or so. Either way, you’re making writing or speaking or some type of content production a habit and part of your routine.
Over time, you’ll find that you’ve amassed quite a body of content, and you’ll be surprised by how much you’ve put together. You may also find that you’re no longer using that "I don’t have the time" excuse!
What are your tips for battling the time crunch in the pursuit of content marketing?