Battling through a batch of content on [insert uninspiring topic here] while rejection emails pile up in an inbox- sound familiar? Content marketing can be a tough world to make it in.
Here are some of my daily challenges, from editorial calendars to writer’s block. Once you can tackle these challenges, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a content maverick (or at least less frustrated).
People Think Writing Happens By Itself
Content marketing hinges on writing, but writing is a poorly understood pastime. In fact, part of the problem is that people view writing as some type of vague and creative pastime that does itself in between coffee and tea breaks.
The truth of the matter is that writing is incredibly time-consuming, and writers need space and time to come up with coherent content. It’s a real craft that can be learned, but also one that cannot be ‘faked’.
Solution: Give writers sufficient space and time to do their job, and if you are a writer yourself, remind people that content does not create itself. Explain your process to your clients or colleagues to help them understand. If you are worried about a deadline, enquire about the content in a diplomatic manner. As a writer, give people visibility on your progress and be contactable.
Stumbling Upon Writer’s Block
The worst feeling in the world. You are there, twiddling your proverbial thumbs, drinking your fourth cup of coffee and still you’re getting nowhere. To some extent, there is always going to be an element of writer’s block in content marketing, but contrary to popular belief it is something you can learn to push through.
Next time you’re wrestling with a challenging bit of content try the following:
- Move on to another piece and tackle the tricky one later
- Flesh out your content with SEO keywords to get you started
- Start at the end instead, or the middle- don’t get waylaid by a tricky introduction
- Do more research
- Choose the images for your piece, they might get you writing
- Talk to another writer, your colleague, a designer, your partner- anyone! Fresh eyes can make all the difference.
No One Wants To Read My Content
Content marketing for SEO in some industries can feel brutal and demoralizing due to a lack of shares and leads. One good place to start is to examine the content you produce.
There are plenty of articles out there about how to write compelling content, so it’s a good idea to have a read-around. Use online writing tools to analyze the readability of your copy and scrutinize your own content habits- what do you read and share, and why? There is plenty of good (and bad) psychology that goes into content marketing so pick up some books and get reading, you never know what might strike you as useful (color psychology anyone?).
It’s not about adopting someone else’s strategy ‘wholesale’, but exploring how your content can be made better.
The Overzealous Editor
Getting content out there can be hard, and editorial requests can feel frustrating. However, editors are justified in maintaining a house style, so try not to take minor requests personally. If a whole rewrite is needed, balance the work with the benefit of publication: is it worth it? Remember that a friendly editor could be a great friend indeed.
It is easy enough to accommodate small textual edits, but waiting three months to be published due to editorial calendars means that you will have to plan ahead.
Make small edits liberally, more substantial ones in the function of their return, and always plan ahead with content.
Not Enough Information
Trying to write on a new topic, armed with very little information can be an absolute nightmare. Luckily, the cornerstone of content marketing is good research. Research skills often get undervalued, but without them, your content will fall flat.
Make not having enough information into an opportunity to do some exciting industry research. If research is proving impossible, it’s time to reach out and speak to industry experts or community groups.
Too Much Information
Sometimes information overload, or loads of similar content, can be just as bad as no information.
Information overload means you will have to plan out your content according to specific themes and areas of interest. It’s all about finding the pearl in the proverbial oyster, so get someone who is good at sifting information to do this for you. Writing lists and organizing information into subfolders is a great place to start.
If there is a lot of similar content out there, try to develop a new and unique angle, or focus on a subtopic.
Getting The Design Right
Getting the right design for your infographic or white paper content can be just as challenging as getting the words and initial idea down. Don’t ever dismiss design, or treat it as an afterthought. Visuals are increasingly important and the best content out there is visual.
Get writers and designers talking: they are essentially two parts of the same coin.
Content marketing is not well-understood by people, which can be frustrating and lead to endless email exchanges. However, this means that you have a great opportunity to shape their views and opinions of the market. Share your successes with them and explain the challenges you face to gain their respect.
Drowning Out The Noise
Working in a busy world means that you have to sometimes drown out other people’s voices and ideas to be able to access your own creative faculties. There is no simple solution to this one, but often just physically distancing yourself from a situation can make a big difference.
Go for a walk, listen to a song, and have a strong coffee: these will all help you think and act clearer.
Content marketing can yield incredible results. But none of it comes easy, or particularly cheap. At its worst content marketing can be erratic and overly time-consuming, so it’s important to start off with realistic expectations. In a nutshell, don’t sell someone a mansion and then give them a shed: explain to them the realities of the market and its timelines.
Keep clients on board and excited by sharing all the great stuff that you do, but don’t get stuck in the trap of over-reporting. Manage expectations from day one. This is key in content marketing and will have a massive impact on job satisfaction and return.