How’s your content production going? Many website owners struggle, to be honest. I’ve spent 35 years producing, managing and strategising content for different platforms, including websites and email, even direct mail, books and so on.
I have some ideas to help you with writing and publishing content.
Why do you need to produce content?
You will need to produce content—and, by content, I mean text—for your website. And, unless you only see it as an online brochure that you’ll hand links to when you meet people face to face or online, the content will have to be good for Google as well as your potential customers.
You can—should, even—produce diagrams, photographs, and video, but I’m going to talk about words. Why? Because Google and the other search engines only asses words. That means they have to be your priority for your website. Text content helps you feature in the search results.
Who’s going to write your content?
Basic fact: someone is going to have to write your content. Software isn’t up to it. And, if even if you think software will be up to it sometime soon, I wouldn’t advise you to wait. Your competitors surely are not. Don’t sit by while they are filling their sites with great pages and blog posts.
Content generation is a drain on your business’s resources. Sure. But so is attending networking events, cold calling, printing brochures and even doing everything involved in delivering a door drop. The point is, whatever kind of marketing your business needs to use to stay profitable has its own challenges.
Smaller and one-person businesses
If you’re a small business, you’re unlikely to have a marketing department. Marketing is often part of the owner’s remit, along with a million other things. You’ll need to find the discipline to get the job done.
If you’re a one-person business like me, you need to cut out time from your calendar to research, write, edit and publish. That time will need to be found each week if you are to compete.
I’m not saying you must publish a blog post each week, because there’s no SEO magic in publishing to a strict schedule. You get rewarded for great content. The more you publish, the more powerful a marketing machine is your website. It’s up to you how and when you deliver it. What you must do is maintain your momentum.
Think you can do it? Be realistic about your abilities, your current work demands and the pressure on your schedule. Set a target number of words for a session (perhaps 100 words when you start, increasing as you gain confidence and experience). Give yourself plenty of time for editing, polishing and revisions.
If you employ a writer—or one of your colleagues has a defined role as a writer—this is important. You do need to have a nominated writer or perhaps more than one. The approach of: ‘Amy can do it. She writes OK’ will not work.
I’ve seen this kind of thing hit the rocks so many times. You’ll need to get Amy to buy into writing for your website as part of her role and define how much time she is able to devote to it. Don’t forget to be realistic with your estimate of how much time generating content will take.
It’s very unlikely any colleague will have fully developed copywriting and SEO writing skills. You will also need to invest in training or mentoring and the time to hone skills—publish, measure, learn, feed back into the writing process.
And please think hard if you’re considering using senior people for content writing. The truth is, they have a more important managerial and strategic role in your organisation and are too expensive a resource to devote to writing for your website.
My content workflow tips
Build a workflow, so you can stay focused. Here are some ideas, based on mine:
- Mark out time in your calendar (see above)
- Set up a board to track your content—I use Trello; others use Notion); you may like to use a content calendar plugin for WordPress or even a whiteboard in your office (don’t let anyone wipe it out!)
- Plan your content—keep noting down ideas as they come to you; talk to your audience and find out what they’re interested in. Incidentally, building a content strategy is outside this blog post’s scope, but it’s essential to content creation and fits as a stage before this workflow
- Do your research. If you’re an in-house writer, strangely, this can be difficult. Most businesses and organisations ‘know’ their target audience; their customers. But often they don’t. Seeing their products or services from the inside is not the same as how your customers see them. Take a step outside and look in. Understand your customers’ pain and how you or your company can help. It can sometimes be a revelation
- Do your Key Phrase Research—are people actually searching for the content you are planning to publish? Maybe you can turn things around and create content that dovetails with some of the search terms you’ve identified
- Start writing your first draft—it won’t be perfect, and you probably won’t get all the way through in one sitting
- Edit and polish—use a tool like Grammarly, if it helps. Tools aren’t cheating. They’re what professionals use
- Show it to others—share a Google Doc, Word document or a draft on WordPress and ask for comments
- Pull it all together and publish. Remember, Suck it up! Content is never perfect and get it published and working for you
When content production is too much of a burden
If your business cannot handle content production, you must consider outsourcing it. Otherwise, your marketing will be unsustainable, and with an obvious impact on your business. You can outsource the writing or the SEO content/content marketing to a professional writer or an agency.
But make sure the person or people writing your content are native speakers and experienced in the type of content you are commissioning and in writing for your market or a similar one.
Someone who revels in writing weighty, in-depth White Papers is unlikely to feel at home writing bright, engaging social media posts; a case study powerhouse may not have the attention to detail and testing attention to detail that a great writer of landing pages has.
Don’t forget, someone in-house will need to brief and possibly project manage whoever you choose to produce content. You’ll need to work with your content supplier on some level to get the results you’re looking for.
Struggling with your content?
If you need help producing content, or with training, coaching or mentoring, just get in touch. Or if you have a content itch you need to scratch urgently, we should talk?
There’s no obligation.
David Rosam has been working on the internet for 25 years, after a career in direct marketing copywriting for the tech and financial services industries.
Today, he specialises in Content-Focused Search Engine Optimisation—from audits, through research and strategy to implementation.
He was probably the UK’s first SEO Copywriter.