The following is a guest post from Worldwide101 founder and CEO Sandra Lewis:
Many of the hundreds of solopreneurs we work with used to suffer from a common affliction known as “Prioritization Overload,” or “PO.”
Okay, we made up that term. But the struggle it represents is real. PO sounds a little something like this:
“Entering your expenses before tax time is your number one priority right now.” – Your Accountant
“Updating your terms and conditions to comply with new data privacy rules is your number one priority right now.” – Your Lawyer
“Rebranding your website is your number one priority right now.” – Your marketing advisor
“When are you coming to visit? We never see you!” – Your mother
Symptoms of PO include stress, overwhelm, throwing of papers, and banging of one’s head lightly on one’s desk…
The problem with having 10 or 15 “number one” priorities is, well, it’s not mathematically possible. After all, you’re just one person – or a very small team – and you only have 24 hours in a day (and statistically, only about 5 super productive hours).
So how do we, as business owners, actually face overload head on without letting it take us down?
The only known cure is figuring out how to best leverage our time in each area. For the purpose of this article, I want to talk about one priority in particular, but I’ve found that you can really take the same lessons and apply them to every different part of your business.
You’ve heard it a thousand times:
“Amplifying your social media presence should be a top priority right now,” and the research backs it up:
But let’s take a step back – because you know that in order to be successful on social media, you first have to have a killer content strategy. Otherwise, what are you really sharing on those channels that’s going to help you achieve your goals?
Content marketing has become the most popular technique amongst businesses over the past decade for its promise of low cost and high ROI (there’s no need for glossy circulars, flashy websites, or high priced ads).
It’s not easy to find a better way to build community and gain the trust of your customers and consumers, providing them valuable insight in addition to your product or service. But the hidden cost in this strategy is the toll it takes on your time.
Over at Worldwide101, we found that, along with many of our clients, our content marketing efforts were eating up too much time.
We knew it was worthwhile, we knew we needed to keep at it (capturing the nuances of our service takes a bit of explanation, so we like to write about it), and we knew it was really important to our overall mission.
But we didn’t put our first focus on arguably the most important aspect: the best way to make our content strategy super efficient, right from the get-go.
Luckily, we run an entire business focused on maximizing efficiency, delegating effectively, and leveraging the time of business owners everywhere. So we had all the answers at our fingertips – we just had to figure out the best way to use them.
When we started walking the walk with our content marketing strategy, we were able to grasp how easy it was to turn our content marketing strategy from a black hole into a well-oiled, time saving machine.
We identified five things within our content strategy that we could approach differently to save, on average, 10 hours per piece of content – it ended up boosting our views, as well (win-win!). That’s a lot of time-savings to put toward all the other number one priorities, and a lot more eyes on our content.
Here’s what we did:
If you want your content to be useful, adding in some truly valuable research is key. But for a busy business owner, it’s not always possible to dedicate two hours of quality research to each piece you want to write.
It’s impossible to erase that time commitment – but what you can do is erase it from your schedule.
Delegate research to someone else! Admittedly, on the Worldwide101 team we have an advantage: we have loads of team members skilled in research, who actually enjoy doing it and can do it really well. So, our content manager identified a member of our team to bring on who can research pieces for her.
In order to do this, she just sends a quick synopsis of the content she’s looking to create and has them pull a few things:
It’s priceless to have this information identified and ready to go when we begin to write content. If you don’t currently have a team to delegate to, there are tons of options for finding someone to help you remotely.
Another great tip for streamlining: if you choose to delegate out research, try working with the same person each time. They will start to understand the nuances of your business and get integrated into your systems and processes, which will save you even more time on this task.
There’s a lot of pressure out there to keep a stream of amazing content continuously flowing if you want to stay relevant.
But it’s a bit counter-intuitive.
Maybe you remember a mom or a teacher telling you as a kid, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
It’s kind of the same with content – “If you don’t have something valuable to say, don’t feel like you have to say anything at all.”
What we’ve seen with hundreds of influencers we follow is that they don’t necessarily have new content every day, every week, or even every few weeks. Sometimes they just have one post a month – and the post is GOLD.
To test this theory, ask yourself, who would you rather follow and stay engaged with? Someone who puts pretty good content out every other day that you may or may not be interested in, or someone who really adds value to you and your business once a month. The old adage about “quality over quantity” absolutely applies to content marketing strategy.
We decided late last year to try this model, and moved to one internal blog post a month (we were previously doing 3-4).
By focusing our energy on just that one post, we saved an average of four hours that would have gone toward writing three okay posts. And actually, our blog’s pageviews have increased by 35%:
(Note: we didn’t run this as a controlled experiment, so what caused this increase is our theory based on patterns we’ve experienced in the past.)
So have our newsletter clickthrough rates (that feature our original content) – from a previously mediocre clickthrough rate of 0.59% before we changed tactics, to now 4.22%, well above our industry average of 2.47%.
To give an example here, one of our most popular blog posts deals with the way we have continued to revolutionize our brand to stay ahead of the curve in our competitive industry. This post took quite a while to build, due to the fact that we really had to craft the whole personal story to tell it correctly – beginning to end.
Compare that post on small business branding to this one, done back when we were publishing several posts a month. The quality of the information delivered and the value of that information to the reader is pretty obvious. It’s essentially the same topic, delivered in a more well-thought out way.
Now that you’re putting a lot of effort into the great content you’re creating, you should know that it is totally okay to repurpose your thoughts for use in other content.
One of the greatest things we did in order to streamline this process was to create a simple internal content database.
This database (nothing fancy – we just use WordPress) automatically pulls in our published blog posts, and we add in any other guest blogs, interviews, or articles we do for other publications.
Then, if we’re writing a blog post on a particular subject, all we have to do is search a keyword on our topic and we instantly have access to anything we’ve ever written, or had written about us, on that particular topic.
When I’m writing content personally, I can use this database for inspiration on certain nuanced angles, pulling quotes used in other interviews or even just finding links to include to expand on an idea in a new piece. It’s a great time saver.
If you don’t want to set up an entirely different site, you could always just pull external articles or interviews into your current blog site as a draft post and use the search function there.
Now, we don’t suggest “repurposing content” as in publishing the same content in multiple places – as you probably know, it’s not helpful to SEO – but you should feel encouraged to repurpose great quotes, ideas, or examples from past work you’ve created.
To give a visual on this, I wrote an article on ThinkGrowth.org that discussed lessons I’ve learned as a startup founder from Jeff Bezos and my cleaning service. You’ll see in the third paragraph under the second point where I discuss the moment I realized our customers truly wanted us to thrive, and how that gave me the confidence to make an ask of them.
Then, in this article for IndieHackers, I used the same point to support a completely different angle about how the realization mentioned above led us to make a decision to bill our clients in advance, and how that stabilized us financially as a company and led us to adopt a subscription model for our service.
Synopsis: There should be no shame in your repurposing game.
As you probably well know, systems and processes help you leverage your time and scale efficiently and effectively in every aspect of your business – and it’s no different when it comes to content production.
Having a set process in place for how your content will go from an idea to a piece of relevant content to a lead driver should be laid out clearly, even if you are the only person involved in the process. Make checklists for yourself, have timelines and deadlines, and keep all your items in one place.
This rings especially true if you’re working with someone else to get your content “out the door” ready. Having processes in place for outlining, editing, and revising stories can help avoid a lot of time waste.
Luckily, some of the tools you can find online today make streamlining processes super easy. Tools like Zapier, GoogleDocs, and Slack can create automated processes that you can really just set and forget. A little time investment setting some of those up on the front end will really pay off in your long-term content management and publishing strategy.
A quick side hint: When automating social media, just beware of the different rules. For example, you might have seen Twitter’s 2018 ban on duplicate content. If you use a platform like MeetEdgar, they’ll take the guesswork out of following the rules for you, but make sure you’re aware of what the different best practices are for each platform.
Now you’ve written an incredible piece of content – you’re golden, right?
Not quite – it’s easy to underestimate the amount of time that’s involved in actually publishing and getting your amazing content out there.
For us, choosing the right featured image was one of the things we found was wasting precious time. In addition to that, there’s getting the post on your blog, formatting it correctly, adding the right tags, finding the perfect images for the body content, and then pushing your content out to your social media networks with really amazing, intriguing, well-written posts. (Tick, tick, tick).
Again, nothing here is really avoidable in the content marketing process, so you have to find a way to get it done while leveraging your time. The best way we found to do this was to delegate it to one of our skilled assistants, and you can do something similar yourself.
Not only were they able to take it on, but they’re often better and faster at getting it done because it’s an area of expertise for them, they’ve done it for multiple clients, they already know the system and the appropriate steps to take in implementing SEO, etc. There’s something to be said about delegating not only to save time, but to give certain tasks to individuals who specialize in it.
Delegation and automation tip: Find an awesome social media platform like MeetEdgar that can automatically publish your content at chosen intervals to maximize exposure.
These are the five things we did to really help get our content strategy streamlined and maximize its effectiveness.
We’d love to hear some of the things you or your company is doing as well – share with me in the comments!
Sandra Lewis is the Founder and CEO of Worldwide101. She’s passionate about helping founders move their business forward with the right skills and resources. Setting an example of the efficiencies gained working virtually, she manages her entire team on a virtual basis.