How to build a content strategy (for small teams who hate marketing)
"Content is King" The most annoying phrase ever. So here's a step-by-step to find your own repeatable content creation strategy.
Who in the world has time to create good content when they're wearing ALL the hats required to run a business? Developer, CEO, Sales, Customer Support, CFO, COO... Now you have to deal with marketing and content too?
"Content is King."
The most annoying phrase for busy founders with no time or budget.
I felt this way for a long time, but a few key processes have really helped me to break down my Marketing activity into small, daily (yep that's right daily) habits that don't feel overwhelming. And the really amazing part? I actually really enjoy it now. Never thought I'd say that.
If you've read anything I've written before this will sound very familiar, but the first and most important thing to remember is that there is no single right answer for every team. You need to dedicate a little bit of time testing different things and seeing what works for you. So below, I've created a step-by-step process to work out your content creation strategy.
Step 1 - How much time can you (realistically) set aside every day?
I'm often amazed at how many people want to write 10-15 minute read blogs, or create 60 minute YouTube videos for their content when they already work 40+ hour weeks. If you have things on your schedule that you can get rid of then great. But the likelihood is that you just don't have the time to consistently create content on that scale.
So, look at your schedule, be as objective and analytical as you can and see how much you can feasibly allocate every day to creating content. For me, this is 200 words or about 10-15 minutes. (The idea for 200 words came from this great blog post by Canny founder Sarah Hum). Some days, it'll be longer, but create a low benchmark that you know, even on your busiest days, you can still fulfil.
Step 2 - Experiment with content types and structure
This will differ for everyone, but the comment I get most consistently from my particular clients is "I hate writing, I struggle with proper sentences now when the longest word I type is 'exception'." And I really understand this - I'm someone who would struggle a lot with video or podcast as a format, so I gravitated towards blogs, but you might be better with another format. These steps will work for any form of content no matter what you choose.
To start, just pick one that you think might work, and then set your daily goal for it based on how much time you have. If you want to do podcasts, first spend some time writing the structure, then you'll find all the other things that you need to do in order to create an episode for example: script > rehearse > record > edit > publish > shareCreate some dummy content first, that you have no intention of publishing, to take the pressure off. You'll quickly find which things you are naturally gravitating towards.
Once you have your format (written, audio, video, visual etc) you can create the process required to get it ready to share. There's an example here for podcasts but you can make the same thing for blogs, video, artwork, photography or social media posts.
Step 3 -Build your board and start populating it!
How you do this is personal preference. Could be an analog board pinned up on your wall (although I wouldn't recommend that for anyone who has a team), a Trello board or a Notion space, or any other tool you want to use. The key is to create a flow, and to have a view where everything is visible at once. Make some version of a kanban board, with columns representing each stage you identified in Step 2, and add one extra column at the start called 'ideas'.
Now you can start dumping things into the board. Don't overthink this! If one other person on the internet might find your content helpful, jot it down. You don't have to have the title or anything right yet, this is just pure topic dumping. These all live in one long list in the first column on your board.
You may well change where and how you're managing this content, and it doesn't all have to live in one place. For example, you might want your ideas in a more analogue format like a notebook which you keep with you at all times, and once they move into something being created it becomes digital.
Remember also that this part isn't about creating the content itself. It's just ideas for the content. Moving forward, whenever you have an idea that might be cool to make something about, it gets put straight into the ideas column.
Step 4 - Work on whatever attracts you!
Here is where the board's magic comes into play. You could have 2 or 200 ideas, it doesn't matter, but each day when you're working on your daily habit (mine, remember is 200 words or 10 mins), open up your board and choose the thing that draws your attention. Move it across the board as it goes through each stage you outlined in Step 2. Some people are really monogamous and work on one thing at a time, but I found that the beauty was I could be working on multiple things, and if I hit a small roadblock or mental fatigue with one post, I could switch to another shiny one.
A small tip here: As I work on blogs, I've set a 3 month limit. If something started being worked on and then stalled for 3 months it gets canned because clearly there was something wrong with the idea. My first column of topics stay forever though - you really never know when things might come up or spark something else.
Step 5 - Get others to look at it, and get it out there!
Make sure that even if you are a solo act, get one or two people you trust who can help look over your content at a few crucial stages. If you're making videos, get someone to look at your script before you start filming / editing. If you're writing, get people to check your words. An objective pair of eyes is invaluable - just make sure the people you choose will happily give you constructive comments to improve, without being overly negative or just saying "it's great!".
Once you've published it on your chosen platform, make sure you share it everywhere you possibly can. Learn which formats work for which spaces (pro tip: just sharing a link almost never works so spend a few minutes crafting a line for each platform that will resonate with the audience there). This will feel really spammy the first time you do it - get over that, because you need to do this to learn which places you're getting interaction. Set up analytics on as much as you can so you can track what happens when you post and at the very least, make sure you have decent analytics on the place you're hosting content so you can see spikes in traffic and where users are coming from.
I know, I've said it a lot already but the secret to making this work is consistency. Make that daily quota as small and reasonable as you can - you'll often do more than it anyway! The more it becomes part of your routine, the easier creating content will be and you'll also be able to experiment with how much you can / are comfortable with delegating when the time comes.
- Set your daily benchmark
- Build your board & populate
- Work on what you like & get editors
- Publish & Share
Does all of this sound like too much trouble? Not sure how to get started or what to experiment with? Get in touch and let's see if I can help!