Coming up with blog post ideas is easy. There are 1000’s of blogs, webinars and free resources available that are dedicated to solving this perceived challenge.
Yet consistently publishing blog content remains a hurdle for most content marketers.
Why? Because ideas aren’t the problem.
I’ll confess, I thought ideas were the problem once myself. In fact, I sat down to write this very post about how to come up with more blog post ideas. During my research on other posts on the topic, I realized very quickly that writing a post about coming up with blog ideas was not going to be unique.
That sparked some reflection on my part. What I determined is that coming up with blog ideas isn’t the hard part. Often I’ll plug headlines into my editorial calendar and be ready to go for months. Then, one-by-one I start to push back the deadline of each post. Because the problem isn’t coming up with the blog post ideas, it is following through with the writing process.
The gap between planning and execution is the real challenge we face.
Why do we face this challenge when creating consistent blog content?
Let’s have a look at the underlying reasons we continue to face this content creation challenge and my advice for overcoming each of them.
1. We plan too much
Documenting a plan is an important step when launching a blog. It creates accountability, structure, and guidance for what is to come. But we plan too much. Spending too much time on a ‘perfect’ plan is pointless. If there is one thing I have learned from managing a long list of both successful and unsuccessful blogs for the last 4 years it’s that plans are about as valuable as the paper they are written on.
It is human nature to want predictability, and that is what a plan is meant to give us. But predictability is unachievable in an ever-changing business environment. Those that continue to strive for perfection, planning every minor detail within an inch of their life will ultimately never execute.
Don’t obsess over the perfect plan. Execute early and fail. Then create something even better.
2. We set unrealistic expectations
How many times have you put loads of blog post ideas into your editorial calendar only to never actually publish them on the scheduled date? I know I have done it before. I get it. We all realize that lots of regular content is going to improve our website traffic and increase our lead flow. But it is a bad feeling when you have to constantly push back the publish date of each post because you haven’t found the time to write.
Under-commit and over deliver. As soon as I came to grips with the fact that posting 3 times a week was unreasonable, and set more achievable goals, my productivity shot through the roof. Set yourself challenging but achievable goals, not impossible ones. Of course being ‘consistent’ is essential when engaging a blog audience, but don’t confuse consistency with quantity.
If you’re battling with the age-old challenge of quality or quantity, lean towards quality. Longer, more in-depth blog posts will get you more traction than a whole bunch of poorly written short ones.
3. We don’t have a system to write
Unlike the best content marketers who have a consistent and repeatable system to write posts, many of us wing it. We write to meet deadlines, and there is no structure to how we create each individual blog.
Create a repeatable content creation system that holds you accountable and removes the friction points that stop you from hitting your targets.
4. We don’t have any quality governance in place
The best blogs are meticulous about maintaining a certain standard. For blogs that are written by just one content marketer, this standard is much easier to replicate. But for company blogs or publications with multiple writers, this is a much bigger challenge. Take a moment to think about the most successful blogs you read, and reflect on how similar the structure and style is for all of their posts regardless of the author.
If you have multiple authors on your blog, create a set of strict editorial guidelines for them to follow. And don’t accept submissions that fall short of this criteria. By setting a precedent like this you will develop a reputation for high standards.
5. We haven’t created accountability
What is going to happen if you don’t meet your next blog deadline?
If you are the master of your own KPI’s, the consequences are essentially nothing except a few feelings of unmet expectations. If you are in a team, you might feel slightly more obligated to reach these deadlines, but the consequences are still not substantial. This is a major reason why we don’t create consistent blog content.
Make commitments that you can’t dodge. In my experience, every time I have enlisted accountability from someone I respect, the more likely I am to follow through with that commitment. Let me give you a couple of examples where you can create more accountability for your blog schedule;
- Engage a mentor or coach to hold you accountable. This works best if you are holding them accountable to their own goals as well.
- Create a common editorial calendar with your team. Make sure the calendar allows you to highlight who is responsible for each post.
- Interview an industry expert for your blog and commit to a publication date.
- Pre-plan a string of blog posts and tell your audience what they can expect to come next.
6. We write just-in-time
This is one I struggle with a lot myself. As soon as I write a blog I’m desperate to hit publish and get it in front of the world. But what this does is create a bad habit. If we are used to hitting publishing as soon as we finish a post every time, human nature will make us write content just-in-time for a deadline.
What if something out of the ordinary happens?
All of a sudden a client needs to speak to you on the phone, or you come down with the flu. Is it then ok to miss that blog deadline?
We might convince ourselves at that moment that it’s ok. But that is just an excuse. Writing content at the last minute creates a bad habit that can turn into a virtuous cycle of missing deadlines.
Backlog your blog content. Instead of writing content as you need it, write content for the next month. Use a common editorial calendar so people can add ideas in as they come up with them. Every time you are inspired to write, sit down and write as much as you can. The more the better. That way, the next time you feel a deadline approaching you won’t be struck down with desperation and anxiety. And if something else important comes up you will be able to prioritize the things that matter because your blog content will be ready to go.
If you don’t have the internal resources to create a backlog of content, outsource it.
7. We aren’t getting ‘results’ and don’t see the benefit
Does it feel like you’re committing a lot of time to content and not getting the conversions you were hoping for?
This is extremely common. And it is way easier to give up than it is to persist.
But the proof is in the pudding. Content is a proven business growth tactic if executed well. Even though it may feel like you are spinning the wheels and not making progress, a few small tweaks to your strategy and a little bit of persistence will turn things around.
Be very clear about what content means to your business. What is the direct link from each piece of content to the desired business outcome?
Of course, there is no perfect science to creating this link, but once your team see tangible value in creating content they will be more likely to contribute.
A couple of bonus tips for creating consistent content;
- Promote more than you write. By focusing on the promotion process and getting recognition for your blog content you achieve better results. These results will drive motivation.
- Make ambitious employees the face of your brand. Encourage employees to build their personal profile with your blog as a platform.
In order to create a consistent stream of content, we need to stop worrying about a long list of ideas. Instead we need to focus on bridging the gap between planning and execution. To bridge this gap we need to;
- Cut the planning phase in half. Throw the 40-page strategy in the trash and focus on execution.
- Set realistic expectations and exceed them.
- Create a repeatable process.
- Develop a set of editorial guidelines.
- Scale up accountability.
- Backlog content.
- Draw a direct correlation between desired business outcomes and relevant metrics.
Are you struggling with creating a consistent stream of content? What tactics have worked for you?