Creating original content and making sure it reaches the largest possible audience is more than a full-time job. The act of creation alone requires time, energy, and endless passion, if not inspiration. But that is also not enough on its own…
Beyond all the creativity, a content writing business is, at heart, first a commercial enterprise. No customers means no business. And then, of course, there are other ancillary time-sucking activities required. Streamlining key aspects of these activities will help you become more efficient, and ultimately more successful.
10 TOOLS AND TIPS TO STREAMLINE CONTENT CREATION
Here are the top 10 time-saving tools and tips for content creators and marketers looking to bring in a regular, steadily increasing income stream.
1: POST ON JOB BOARDS
When it comes to saving time on content creation, a large part of the process involves hiring or contracting the right people. How do you do so? Find a few good job boards to post on. You never know what, or rather who will turn up. Set aside time every week, no matter what else you do, to look through applicants and update your profile/postings as necessary. But don’t just pick the most common interdisciplinary job boards; instead, look for niche sites.
Problogger is one of the best American job boards for writers and content creators, but there are lots of others, including those centred around specific topics (such as travel or tech).
2: CREATE AN ONLINE PORTFOLIO
This is also a no-brainer. Once you have samples and clients, you’ll want to show them off so you can continue to attract business. There are many different kinds of online portfolios. You can create one for yourself from scratch, or you can use a content aggregator. The best aggregators will automatically search for your byline and add to your portfolio on a regular basis. Muck Rack is a place you are likely to pick up extra work from people who have seen your portfolio. So is Contently.
3: SET UP INVOICING AND BASIC LEGAL AGREEMENTS
While many clients will send their own paperwork, setting up the back office is also an essential part of doing business. This includes everything from setting up your own invoicing, to legal agreements. There are many different sites where you can access these kinds of services. Do a little research and experiment. Wave is a convenient choice, but there are quite a few online services like this now. Find the one you like and stick to it.
4: CONSOLIDATE RESEARCH TOOLS
Content feeds and message boards are a great way to stay on top of emerging or cresting trends. Places like Quora, Reddit, Feedly, and Buzzsumo are all viable places to start. These are also good places to post your content once published to increase traffic. Catching a topic right on trend, with the right headline and SEO, is the key to going viral.
Setting up Google Alerts and/or an RSS reader is also a great way to focus research time. Instead of scanning search engines manually, set up Google Alerts for topics that you follow on a regular basis, or set up your RSS reader with a few blogs you really like.
5: STREAMLINE KEYWORD AND HASHTAG RESEARCH
A huge part of being a successful online marketer is having the ability to incorporate not only hot topics, but other aspects of online trends—like hashtags and influencers. The same is true of SEO. Keyword traffic is important. A tool like Google Keyword Planner is invaluable in helping you identify SEO strategy. You can also begin to estimate your marketing budget as you consider issues like cost per click. SEMrush is another popular alternative. Add your keywords and track their position in all major search engines. This kind of research has never been so easy.
6: CREATE IMAGES AND VIDEO
As if creating written content wasn’t hard enough! However, the best way to get “seen” on the web is not just to rely on text, but on pictures, graphics, and video too. Memes and GIFs are very effective ways to communicate. Luckily, online tools make it much easier to create and disseminate them. And don’t forget animation. There are an increasing number of partially free services to help you get started on creating knockout animations (even if you are not a professional animator or artist).
While this may be one of the most intimidating “new” skills to learn, the most important step is experimentation. Find an online animator tool you like and go from there.
7: AUTOMATE CONTENT DISTRIBUTION
Getting eyeballs on your content is the name of the game, and that means distribution, distribution, distribution. But apart from getting a Twitter feed or Facebook account, there are lots of other options—and posting content manually on many different channels takes a lot of time.
The best way to optimise this process? Set up a social media manager. Connecting your social media accounts for timed mass distribution is the only way to effectively and efficiently get your content seen. Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer are great starting places but don’t stop there.
Depending on the subject, LinkedIn is also a much-overlooked place to get traffic. Don’t pass it by!
8: UTILISE CONTACT DATABASES
There are a couple of powerful tools out there for maintaining your own contact lists and setting up campaigns (from email marketing to send out custom newsletters). Mailchimp is a heavy-hitter, with lots of free tools. Buzzstream is also a good option.
While this is also a time drain, it is a great way to understand how your audience interacts with your content, which tends to actually save time in the long-run. Being able to quickly understand customer behaviour and drop new campaigns makes this kind of customised outreach an invaluable tool.
9: REVIEW YOUR TRAFFIC
Tracking and analysing your traffic is an important part of the whole process. Many sites, such as WordPress, have built-in analytics tools to help; however, one of the go-to tools is Google Analytics, just because it is so easy to use. Dasheroo is a newer tool that also integrates with many different social media platforms, as well as online shops and even apps.
10: USE NEW PLATFORMS TO PIVOT
Setting up infrastructure around the entire operation of content writing itself (forget the subject matter) might distract from writing or seem like a waste of time. However, ultimately the goal is to be seen, read, and, of course, paid. In a world where the rules are constantly changing, prepare to be flexible. Experiment.
Look at new blog platforms (like Medium) and explore new social share networks like TikTok. By expanding into newer platforms, you have a greater chance of getting seen and making your mark. So don’t hesitate!
There are innumerable tools out there for the shrewd content writer and marketer to harness. Whether you’re looking to expedite the process of writing, distributing, or gaining clients, you can look to the Web for answers and guidance along the way.