Effective Content Creation: The Busy Person’s Guide to Creating Content

Staying focused isn’t easy.

And I have 221 reasons to explain why.

Smartphone users recently surveyed averaged carrying out 221 daily tasks. Accounting for eight hours of sleep per day, this means that the average smartphone user is handling their phone up to 14 times per hour.

Now, I understand that some of these tasks are carried out in succession. For instance, many of us will conduct multiple tasks one after another, like, checking the weather, scrolling our social media feeds, or sending a text. But this same study also revealed that the average smartphone user would pick up their phones more than 1,500 times per week. Needless to say, but smartphones prove to be an unending source of daily distraction.

I want to believe that I don’t handle my smartphone this often, but I’m having a difficult time convincing myself otherwise. I am the rule and not the exception to consistently checking my phone. Focusing on what’s in front of me is a constant challenge. And crazy enough, the battle to focus doesn’t stop with our phones for you or me.

Life is busy.

Personally, I’m married, have five kids, work full-time, participate in the life of our local church, exercise on occasions, pick-up contract work when I can, and maintain my blog and social media accounts.

Focusing on what’s in front of me is a challenge. Some days I do well. Other days I fail miserably. (You can ask my wife who often has to redirect me.)

Despite the distractions I face and the responsibilities I have, I still have a desire to help individuals and organizations reach their audience with their message. To this end, I like to create content, in particular, written content.

There’s More to Creating Content than Content

10338411_849882698435692_5233134693788257313_oIf you’re reading this then I imagine you wrestle with focusing on your content creation, too. You, like me, have a desire to create. A desire to write, record podcasts, or make videos. You have a desire to tell a story, to get a specific message out about your product or service, or to make a difference in the world.

I know your life is different than mine, but I know you face similar challenges to consistently creating content. You have demands—in a good way—from significant others, family, and friends. You’re working full-time, part-time, or looking for employment. You may be a full-time or part-time student. And you’re probably hustling on the side as a blogger, freelancer, or solopreneur.

Finding the time to create content, pursue our dreams, and make a difference is no easy task. We’re pulled in a myriad of directions and presented with a plethora of options when it comes to connecting with our audience. We can write blog posts, Facebook updates, tweets, pins, record podcasts, create infographics, and on and on and on.

And it doesn’t stop here.

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4 Ways Your Content Can Support Your Business Goals

Your content is not your business.

Some people, groups, and organizations can generate substantial revenue by selling ads on their blog, podcast, or YouTube channel because of the size of their audience. But this is not the case for the vast majority of content creators. And I would add that I don’t think it should be the goal for most people and organizations, too.

Though the content you create is essential for building your platform and an audience, it is not your business. In other words, it is not what you’re going to predominately make money directly from. But your content does one vitally important thing: It supports your business.

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The content you create is what connects you with your target audience, introduces them to who you are and what you provide, and creates a mutually beneficial relationship. Your content can compel visitors to your website to make a purchase, opt-in for your email newsletter, or sign up for a free trial of your service.

Your content supports your business.

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Why Your Platform Must Be Built with Content

Content.

It possesses a God-like characteristic in its presence.

Whether we’re at home or work, in a car, flying in a plane, riding on a boat or on our phone, tablet, or laptop, we live in a sea of communication.

It’s everywhere we turn.

It’s everywhere we look.

And we cannot escape its reach unless we travel to a remote part of the world without access to the Internet, television, or radio.

We are bombarded daily with a slew of messages. The amount of information we swim through every minute is staggering. Every minute, Internet users:

  • Send 204 million emails
  • Upload 72 hours of new video to YouTube
  • Share 2.46 million pieces of content on Facebook
  • Tweet 277,000 times on Twitter

This amount of information presents a daunting task for creative people, solopreneurs, and even large corporations. Breaking through this noise can feel like offering someone who just finished drinking from a fire hose a glass of water.

But here’s the great thing.

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You can rise above the noise, cut through the clutter, and connect with your audience without having to take out a television ad during the Super Bowl, a billboard in Time Square, or conduct a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign.

You can build an audience of people “who will rely on your for information, advice, and help, and will seek out your expertise” with nothing more than a blog. Individuals, non-profit organizations, and even startup companies have developed highly engaged audiences who place them in a position to launch a career, further a cause, or establish a profitable company.

But, in order to do this, you have to first understand how today’s media-rich environment has forever changed the way we obtain information and make purchasing decisions.

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A Simple Blogging Template to Help You Quickly Write Killer Content

Blogging is not for the faint of heart.

If you’re reading this then I imagine you, like me, wrestle with creating content consistently. You have demands—in a good way—from significant others, family, and friends. You’re working full-time, part-time, or looking for employment. You may be a full-time or part-time student. And you’re probably hustling on the side as a blogger, freelancer, or solopreneur.

But despite these scheduling challenges, you still have a desire to create content. You have a desire to tell a story, to get a specific message out about your product or service, or to make a difference in the world.

Thankfully, you don’t have to do this work without being equipped. There are plenty of tools you can use to help you create killer content both effectively and efficiently—one of those tools being a blogging template.

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Below is a simple template I’ve personally used for a few years. It is loosely based off of what are arguably considered the seven best practices on writing for the web.

This blogging template isn’t intended to serve as a mold for you to pour your words into. Rather, it’s intended to serve as a guideline to help you quickly write killer content.

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How a Six-Year-Old Can Help You Create Clear Messages

“If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

— Albert Einstein

Getting the attention of people is difficult.

We are bombarded with a slew of messages everyday. Whether we’re at home or work, in the car, or on our phone, tablet, or laptop, we live in a sea of communication.

The amount of information being created today has forever changed the way people consume content.

Many people will not read what you write word-for-word. They will simply scan your post in search of what they are looking for. Many people will not watch your entire video. They will watch the first few seconds or do something else while it’s playing in the background. And many people will not listen to your entire podcast. They will review your show notes and fast forward to what they want to hear.

If you haven’t figured out what this means for you, let me explain: If you don’t satisfy your audience’s appetite—quickly—then they’ll move on. This is why simplicity in your messaging has never been more necessary than it is today.

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Your target audience isn’t in the mood to take their time to figure out what you’re trying to say. They’re driving by your message at 70 mph with one hand on the wheel, the other on their stereo, while periodically glancing at their phone.

Clear Messages are Simple Messages

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11 Web Tools to Help You Organize, Optimize, Distribute, and Create Your Content

Tools are important for any craftsman. Not only for those who work with wood, architectural design, or paint, but for those who work with words to write articles, who edit sound bites into podcasts, or arrange frames for a video.

The tools you use will either support or detract from your work. Possessing the right tools for the right job is crucial to not only creating your best work, but to help you work efficiently and effectively, too.

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Below is an inexhaustive list of 11 web tools to help you organize, optimize, distribute, and create content. I hope you find some new tools to place in your proverbial tool chest.

Web Tools to Organize Your Content

Knowing what you want to achieve, keeping track of your tasks, and reviewing your progress is crucial to help you accomplish your goals. Here are a few tools I use to help me do just that.

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Define Your Audience to Experience Freedom as a Content Creator

Creating content for the public to view is not like writing in your personal journey or creating homemade videos for your family. You’re creating content for a public audience—not yourself.

If you desire for the right people to read, watch, or listen to what you have to say, then you need to know who they are, what they want, and where they spend their time online.

These simple steps will not only help you to best connect with your audience by creating content that resonates with them, it will also help you maintain your sanity. Let me explain.

The options available today for you to share your message are nearly countless. From blogs, videos, podcasts, multiple social networking sites, and on and on and on, your have multiple choices to consider where you need to deliver your message.

But let’s face it.

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You don’t have the time or resources to share your work everywhere people are online. And besides, even though your mom may have told you otherwise, your content isn’t for everyone. This means that your content doesn’t need to be everywhere in the physical or digital world. It just needs to be delivered to where your audience is spending time.

As an individual content creator, you have the permission to not be all things to all people. You have permission to focus. You have permission to create content that meets your objectives and connects with your audience.

One way to better understand your audience is to create what is called a user persona, which “is a fictional person who represents a major user group for your site.” Continue reading

The 2 Essential Writing Hacks for Newbie Writers

Writing.

It’s an innate desire most people possess.

In fact, previous research revealed that 81% of Americans believe they “have a book in them.” Not only do most people desire to write a book. Many people write books every year to the tune of nearly 1.5 million books (new titles and non-traditional) published in 2013.

Most people have a desire to tell a story, to share an idea, or make people laugh. And writing happens to be one of the best means available to help people to express the desires of their heart.

Writing is similar to having a desire for food. It is a desire you cannot satisfy until you fulfill its cravings. “Writing is like a ‘lust,’ or like ‘scratching when you itch,’” remarked C.S. Lewis during his final interview. He went on to say, “Writing comes as a result of a very strong impulse, and when it does come, I for one must get it out.”

Most people possess a desire to write to one degree or another. But many of these people never act upon their desire. I know there are a variety of reasons why this is the case, but I think it boils down to just one thing: fear. The fear of not being able to express yourself well, the fear of not having something worth sharing, or the fear of what others will think.

And I totally get this, too. I have a tremendous fear of writing. I have to punch fear in the face every time I sit down to write, edit, and publishing anything.

But over the years I’ve been able to overcome my fear of writing.

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It wasn’t something I actually planned to do one day by drafting a master plan in how I could take over the world one word at a time. It was something that gradually happened over the years.

After reflecting upon my experience and the experience of others, I believe there are two essential writing hacks that newbie writers cannot afford to overlook. There are many writing hacks you can utilize to help develop your writing abilities. But the two writing hacks below cannot be avoided in your journey to becoming a writer.

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How I Overcame My Fear of Writing (And How You Can, Too)

“Ma’am, can you please pass me?”

I muttered these words sheepishly under my breath while my senior high English teacher looked at me with a contorted face.

After these words left my mouth with a lack of confidence, there was a long moment of silence fit for a memorial.

While looking down at her desk—apparently trying to avoid making eye contact—she began shuffling some papers around, placing them neatly on the right-hand corner of her desk.

My hands began to sweat and my heart race. “If I don’t pass, then I have to go to summer school. If I have to go to summer school, then I can’t play football in the summer at college,” was the line of reasoning racing through my head.

As each second passed by if felt like an hour. I was beginning to lose all hope.

But then, against all hope, I was pardoned as a free man, set free from my failing grade—though I was guilty of not applying myself.

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It’s Time to Spill the Beans

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Does Your Website Make Your Readers Think?

Many websites lack something important.

It’s not a sleek design, a cool feature, or state of the art coding.

It’s making their objective obvious.

This may sound ridiculous to you at first. But think about it this way.

People are browsing the web at lightning speeds. They are quickly scanning webpages, following a litany of links from a variety of sources, and rarely reading what’s in front of them.

“So, what does this have to do with my website?”

Well, I’m glad you asked.

You have 15 seconds before the average online reader decides whether or not they are going to stay on your website.

The time you have available to connect with your readers does not leave you with a lot of options. In fact, the only option you really have available is this: Don’t make your readers think. This is arguably the most important principle when it comes to determining whether or not your website works.

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Ensuring that your website doesn’t make people think is not about being simplistic—like displaying fingerprints from your kids as opposed to paintings from Monet. It’s about being simple. So simple that the objective of your website is plainly obvious to people.

Currently, I’m in the process of updating my website. I’ve found that my objectives have changed from when I first began. So, to help me think through these changes, below are three questions I’m asking myself. I hope these questions help you to also think through your current website and even prepare for future updates.

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