5-Step Content Creation: How to Create Better Content in Less Time
Creating content can be fun – but creating a LOT of content can be quite a daunting task. Whether you need to write daily blog posts, videos, podcast episodes, or write emails – this five-step system for content creation will help you get the task done smoothly. It takes the idea of batch content creation and moulds it into a simple process.
At the same time, the five-step content creation process allows you to create high-quality content (higher quality than if you'd just create one piece at the time). As you can take your time for each step, the material will be better thought out – and better than ever.
This article was first published in 2018 on the now-defunct Farmish Collective website, but has been moved here on request. This system works for so many people! I also did a live video about my content creation process back then. If you like to listen & watch more than you like reading, just watch below.
Step 1: Jot Down Content Ideas anytime
Inspiration always hits us at the wrong time. While we’re in the garden, at the supermarket, or in bed in the middle of the night; that’s why it’s good to always have a tool with you to take notes. Some people will use their phones for that (there are several apps that will let you take quick notes while you’re on the go, like Evernote). Others always have their notebook with them (in the car, in the garden, on the nightstand. Hey, having a notebook with you in the garden is often useful, if you want to keep track of how things are growing!
I personally use AirTable (my go-to app for taking anything from idea to full plan), but whatever works for you is probably “the best” tool.
The good thing about writing down your first thoughts like that, is that you can let them go after that, and continue to concentrate on whatever you were doing (shopping, gardening, sleeping). When you get home or wake up, the idea will still be there – no need to start working on it right away!
Step 2: Create a Content Plan
Content planning is a crucial element of content creation – at least if you want to do it efficiently and streamline your content. Although some people enjoy putting out anything they can think of at any time, successful entrepreneurs usually have a lot planned out ahead of time.
Finding inspiration for your content plan is a whole different matter (and the subject of a different blog post), but usually, it can help to know what the top questions are in your niche, what your followers are currently struggling with, or just what the top searches are on the topic (keyword research helps you discover that). Answering the questions and offering solutions for your followers’ challenges can provide us with enough inspiration for years to come!
For your content plan, just write down the dates on which you want to publish new content + the topic of your content (whether that’s an article, video, podcast, email or something else) next to it.
This way, you can "plan" content for months or even years in advance.
Step 3: Create an Outline for your Content
Step three is when we create an outline and a structure for our content.
This step can be taken either right after you’ve finished the content plan to come – or you can sit on that content plan for a while before you start working on it.
Batch creating content is the number one way to save time on content creation. Writing down the bullet points for your complete content plan can sound daunting, but once you’ve done it, you’ll hopefully start to enjoy it.
Now let’s assume you have anywhere between 4 (1 piece of content a week for a month) and 52 (a full year) topics or working titles written down by now. If you only have 4, you could be doing this on paper – if you’ve got a lot of ideas, putting them into your computer directly might be a good idea.
AirTable is really the perfect tool for the first 3-4 steps: it allows you to make quick notes, reshuffle them into a content plan, put a date on it (and get the overview in “Calendar View”), even add bullet points in a Long Text field.
Every topic will now get a short description: what is this blog post, video, podcast or email about?
In many cases (a blog post, or a longer video or podcast episode), you will also add 3-7 bullet points to each of the topics. A short video (quick tip to do x) or your average marketing email won’t need this, but anything more substantial will now get structured with a complete outline.
This is the step in which you might assign time for extra research at the next step. Or maybe you prefer to get your initial research done right away; it's up to you. If you’ve got a good list of subjects to write or talk about, you might even want to take a full day to do all the research – and write down the most important bullet points for each subject.
On the bright side – this way, you also get to find overlaps. If several articles or content pieces are related to each other or based on each other, you only need to do the research once!
After writing down all the bullet points (basically, the structure of your articles, emails, videos or podcasts), I personally like to sleep on it. When I get back to it later that week or even next month, I might get insights I didn't get the first time around.
Step 4: Elaborate on the Bullet Points
Once you've got all the bullet points for all the content pieces, pick one to be your first subject and start writing.
What you’ll do in this step, is write 1-2 sentences about each bullet point. You did the research (if relevant), so in most cases, the words will flow easily.
In this step, you’ve probably transferred your content to your tool of choice; some people like to write directly on their website, others use a notes app. Here at SmartAlpaca we use Google docs, so we can share it with team member or clients - and go back and forth with edits and suggestions.
It can be useful to block time for this: I love putting a timer on (usually in the form of a Pomodoro) so we don't start procrastinating, and just breeze through the content... one article or script after another. Having a deadline really helps at this stage!
Once each bullet point in that first content piece has a couple of sentences (or maybe even more bullet points, if it's an extensive article), it's time to move on to the next topic. Basically repeat the step for all the content you want to batch-create at this time - so by the end of the day (or your working block), you've got the essentials for a bunch of content lined up already.
At the end of this step, get back to your other work - I like to sleep on things (again). Taking some distance makes it easier for me to catch mistakes, and I often get inspired to add more later.
Step 5: Create your Content
Now step 5 is where we’re turning it into the actual content we need. That can be a series of blog posts, scripts for your videos or podcasts (although I make videos without writing a script, I need the bullet points!), or an email marketing campaign.
You will notice that since you already have most of the content set up, this part will be super easy… if you’re not good at copywriting (or just don’t have the time for that sort of thing!), you could even outsource this step. A good copywriter will know exactly how to flesh out what you already have (thanks to the 4 first steps), and you’ll save time on the actual writing & proofreading.
For another really handy way to create more content in less time, check out this article on turning your videos into blog posts.
Now tell us in the comments…
What type of content do you create – and what is your favourite tip for creating quality content easily & efficiently?