ARTICLES | CONTENT CREATION
How often do you need to create content?
By Gary Bloomer
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Author's note: When it was first published, this article was originally 2,928 words long. It's been cut to 1,800 words to make it easier to read.
According to Worldometers, in March of 2019 4.4 million blog posts were published every day.
In 2020, over 409 million people reading over 20 billion pages on WordPress alone each month.
At that rate by the year 2030 there could be 45 million blogs active in the United States alone.
Let’s assume 10% of the blogs from 2019 make it beyond their first birthday. That’s still 440,000 blogs a year that will need content.
Lots of it.
So, how often do you need to publish content?
I'm asking this because it's a question that’s tripped me up and that almost led to me giving up the idea of starting a blog altogether because I was confusing ‘publish’ with ‘create’, and because I didn’t start my blog with a plan to either create content or distribute it.
Because I fell into the trap that I had to publish something every day, I found myself in overdrive and suddenly, reality kicked in. And it wasn't pretty.
Think about this for a moment: if you are "supposed" to post something new every day because some blog guru told you that that's the way it's supposed to be, or because you heard it from someone who "knows a guy" and you fail to carry out your due diligence, the enormity of the task means creating 365 pieces of content a year which is A LOT OF WORK!
At 500 words per post, that’s 182,500 words of text a year, or roughly three, 200-word business books.
For most people, that’s more than they’ll read in five years let alone how much they can write in twelve months.
The difference between those who stick to it and those who quit lies in understanding a few basic guidelines—guidelines I was ignorant of and that I ignored for several years when I started out back in 2009. Not least of which is this: To succeed with a blog you need discipline and you need a plan.
Read. That. Again!
In the early days I had neither and it tripped me up and dragged me down.
Now, I work with a content creation plan and a distribution plan and I don’t write or publish anything new every day.
Without a content creation and content distribution plan my output slowed and my reach diminished.
I ran out of ideas, I had no clue how to repurpose content for multiple markets or audience types, and frustrated and angry, I quit.
My website—this website—remained stagnant for almost four years! It sat there, doing nothing, costing me money, pissing me off because I was too proud to admit I had no idea what I was doing.
Here are a few thoughts to get your over the content creation/
content publishing hump:
1. Go narrow and deep. The thinner you slice things, the more you focus on specific aspects of your niche, the more ideas and the more subjects you’ll have to create content about. Write a list of sub-subjects and drill down. Compare a handful of similar products with each other. Create buying and shopping guides. Put together ideas on how to apply various kinds of cosmetics.
2. Create a stash. Instead of starting on day 1 with one piece of content, create a small library of content that you can share over time. If you absolutely must share something every day, set a goal of creating 15 to 30 pieces of content ahead of your launch date and then set those pieces of content to appear every day, or every three days, or every week or so. Remember, you DON’T HAVE TO create and share content every day.
3. Keep adding to the pot. As your content appears on your publication schedule, be actively creating new content behind the scenes to add to the hopper. Draw from your list of content ideas and be active about creating while pulling from your pool of content to fuel distribution on the front end.
4. Distribute strategically. Once your content has been on your website for 7 to 10 days, start sharing it in multiple places and in multiple ways: chop a 2,000 word article up into a series of sound bites that you distribute via various social media channels (being mindful not to share the same content to multiple platforms at the same time). Share excerpts as longer social posts, or share the whole post on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Medium (but not all on the same day), being sure to include a call to action and a link back to your website so that anyone interested in learning more can become a subscriber. Once you have that person on your email list you can continue messaging them over time with useful, relevant, valuable content that is information-based rather than sales-based.
5. Go long. Creating longer content pays dividends over time by virtue of it containing more useful information. So don’t be afraid to create a 1,675 word article, or a 4,000 word article. in many cases the longer the content is, the better. True, not everyone will read it, but everyone is not your ideal reader. You want dedicated, focused readers rather than browsers. And by the same toke, don't be afraid to revisit older, longer articles and cut them down: less is more.
By setting yourself the goal of having to create and publish something every day you place yourself under needless pressure that will ultimately crush your chances of success. I’m telling you this because it happened to me.
When I started my website back in the latter part of 2009 I was going to share something every day and I was going to write a newsletter every week. By the time I got to week 43 of my newsletter—which was something I did without any kind of plan—I was worn out, fed up, and I resented the whole process.
I had no content creation or distribution plan.
I had no clear idea of who I was writing for, or why I was writing, or what I was writing about, or why anyone would care what I had to say.
It got to the stage where I resented the whole process, so I stopped sending my newsletter. I stopped sending emails. My website sat there, doing nothing for five years.
In 2015 I deleted everything and started again. I made copies of everything before nuking it but I stripped the site back to its bones. This one change scared the crap out of me but also liberated me to start fresh.
I niched down and thought about who my ideal, preferred reader is.
I put myself in that person’s shoes and came up with a list of questions—if I were this person, what would I want to know? What would I want to learn? What content would I find useful, relevant, valuable, and timely?
With those questions in mind I created answer-based content so that the people in that specific group would get some value out of my content rather than me just bashing out any old crap and hoping something stuck.
Nowadays, I create content according to a focused plan, so I have intent and clarity.
I create longer content but I share that content less often and in more ways so that it’s seen by a wider group of people.
I no longer send a weekly e-newsletter: my email subscribers hear from me when I have something to share that I believe will be of value.
The idea that you must create content every single day is nonsense.
The thought that you must get stuff out there and that once you’ve decided to start a blog that you must get it going now, now, now, is a flawed recipe for frustration and disaster.
There’s less of a rush than you think there is. You might think there is but there isn’t. You have all the time in the world.
There’s no reason to create (for which read ‘publish’) content every day. There’s no reason to put yourself under impossible pressure.
- Start with an outline of who you are creating content for and what kind of content you’ll create.
- Be specific.
- Figure out what subjects within your niche your readers (viewers, listeners) are looking for, then create content that answers their concerns and that addresses their questions.
- Of those subjects, niche down within them. If your subject is vegetable gardening, create posts about growing specific vegetables, about soil conditions, about common pests and diseases, about essential tools, about planting guides, and so on. This way you're delving deeper and deeper.
- Set up simple page layouts for templates so you’re not having to constantly reinvent things.
- Source images from copyright free, public domain sites such as Unsplash.com.
- Create a small library of in-depth pieces and roll them out on your website as evergreen content rather than as dated and time-stamped blog entries.
- Use keywords in page titles and metadata (the few lines of text that show up under a search result in a Google search listing), and set canonical URLs for your original pieces so that search engines know which page to show in search results as you share duplicate content across a range of platforms.
- Once you've set up pages, remember to cross link them within your site with natural-looking links and anchor text.
- While your articles are sitting on your site and before you start sharing them on social media, make a list of 10 to 20 thematically-linked websites that have blogs on them that accept user-generated comments.
- After a 7 to 10 day period, and as start sharing your articles through your social media sites, start commenting with useful, relevant, supportive comments on the blogs in your list above. Be mindful and respectful, avoid being openly self-promotional.
- Give every piece of content a call to action so that you’re initiating actions such as collecting email addresses.
- Once the material has been on your site for seven to ten days, start sharing excerpts from it as social media posts. Avoid posting the same content to multiple sites on the same day.
- Convert each piece of content into a series of mini-stand alone pieces (images, soundbites, call outs, etc.), sharing them over time with links back to your original piece.
- On your social media streams, intersperse your main content pieces with other, relevant, thematically-related content that connects with the interests of your community and followers. Don’t be afraid of sharing your main articles every 15 to 30 days to reinforce its value.
- Keep your plan simple and be willing to fine tune it as needed.
- Given everything else going on in your life (work, family, grocery shopping, going out, sleeping, commuting, etc.) be realistic about what you can reasonably get done.
- Don’t be afraid of failing. Fail quickly, fail forward, and fail frequently.
- Focus on incremental progress rather than on idealized perfection.
- Plan your work and work your plan.
If this list seems like overkill, it's not. It's a tried and true method of building essential momentum, reputation, and authenticity.
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About Gary Bloomer
Gary Bloomer is originally from the UK. These days he lives just outside Philadelphia. Since 2009, he's answered over 5,000 marketing, branding, and social media strategy questions from small business owners from all over the world on the Know-How Exchange of MarketingProfs.com. His website is a love letter to the world of small business marketing.
To learn more or to get in touch, read the About page.
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