Wednesday, August 12, 2015

No more writer's block : a DIY Content Creation guide

Today everyone realises the importance of blogging, publishing and sharing information as a means of personal branding. This is important if you are an entrepreneur or consultant with a service to offer, a professional who wants to command appeal in the job market, or a senior business leader projecting his/her expertise to potential clients. 

Everyone knows it is important, but few people do it! And I can understand why. For me, content creation is key to new business development, yet it is the first ball to drop when things get busy for me at work.

In this post, I aim to practically address some of the most common barriers to content creation, and offer DIY workarounds that can help tide over busy periods.

1) I don't have the time to write!
This has to be the most common excuse I have heard, especially from senior people with experience, who can potentially share the most valuable content! I understand, but I don't think that this excuse holds. Here are some workarounds for it.
All content need not be original. There is also curated content - stuff that you have read, filtered out from the general mass of information, and shared with your readers. On days and weeks when you feel that you do not have  the bandwidth to create, don't stop curating. I want to draw a distinction between curating and random sharing of links. Curation has to be relevant to your area of interest, expertise and to your target audience. Choose interesting pieces that highlight an ongoing trend, or showcase how your business area (for example - research, analytics etc.) can solve problems. Or simply share very interesting news items that people wouldn't normally stumble across.
So, in a nutshell, even if you don't have the time to write, make the time to read. You can use a good Feed Reader (I use Feedly) to aggregate the news feeds from different sites. Or you could use Twitter Lists, StumbleUpon, Flipboard, or any service that works from you.

2) I have a writer's block
Every writer suffers from writer's block, so it's hardly surprising when people drag their feet over starting a blog, writing a post on LinkedIn, or creating an article for a third party site. Maybe writing long-form posts is not your cup of tea, so here are a few alternatives that you can select from:
a) Put up your presentations on Slideshare
b) If you are a good presenter, consider recording your voice as a narrative on your presentation and uploading it to YouTube
c) Are you a photography buff? Do you find yourself taking pictures when you are out on work? Do you snap interesting pictures that give insight into people, communities or cultures? Visual content is powerful and stimulating and gets lots of eyeballs. Consider creating an Instagram Account or using Tweet Pic. Of course, you can also simply upload your pictures to any social media site.
d) Check out the compact writing style of tech blogger John Gruber on his hugely popular Daring Fireball blog. John typically quotes a news piece or blog and adds two lines on his own opinion. Simple, effective and original, and the reader can take it in without having to spend a long time reading.

3) I'm too busy to spend my day on Facebook!
This is one of the easiest barriers to tackle. Use a social media management tool like BufferHootSuite or TweetDeck. I have a free Buffer Account that lets me schedule the posts for all my social media accounts, even a week in advance. It takes just 5 to 10 minutes to do this, and then I don't have to worry about logging in and posting regularly.

4) I can't find anything to say or share
Many people think that they should only create content that's related to their work or industry. But let's face it, that may not be the content that interests you. For example, though I have an advertising background, digital advertising does not interest me as much as pure technology. I share, and write, around my interests. You will never feel a shortage of things to say if you do this. It can make the process of content creation easier, and also make you look (and feel) interesting!

5) We do great work, but we can't share it due to confidentiality
Many of us are bound by NDAs or confidentiality clauses that prevent us from sharing our work. However, there are two workarounds that still allow us to showcase what we know, without breach of client confidentiality
a. You cannot share data, but your insight, learning and experience are your personal intellectual property, and you can always talk about it.
b. You can tap into the power of re-packaging of content. Re-packaging is a concept that requires an entire post to explain it and I will probably do that later. But as of now, it simply means, milking any content that can be shared, to its maximum potential. Have you done a pro bono project on digital marketing for a charity? It can provide food for several blog posts. Eg. 5 top visual content ideas for non-profits. 5 exciting digital marketing ideas that corporates can learn from non-profits. A slideshare presentation. A LinkedIn post. You get the idea. Whatever is in the public realm, you can maximise its reach and potential.
There are so many new mediums and channels to explore too. Not new to digital media, but new for businesses to try out. Creating courses on Udemy. Live streaming events through UStream, Periscope or Meerkat. Publishing on LinkedIn. And these are just a few.

There is no getting away from the fact that creating quality content on your own requires time and effort. However, neither is it as daunting or time consuming as we feel it is. It is possible to fit some time for content creation into your schedule, and benefit your personal brand image, or your business through it!