Consumers are demanding more content, and you’re running out of time to give it to them. Research collected by the Content Marketing Institute says:
- 80 percent of millennials want content created for them
- 70 percent of consumers bond with companies via content
- Half the time people spend online is spent engaging with custom content
They don’t want to wait for that info, either.
So, content marketers need to streamline content creation so they can churn out great content faster.
These tips and tools will help you create content that you KNOW is awesome in a fraction of the time it usually takes.
By the end of this roundup, you will have a content ideation and creation workflow that will save you hours while getting results!
Get Ideas, Write Headlines
There’s nothing worse than facing that blank screen where your hot new content marketing idea is supposed to be. Except maybe when you have an idea, but you feel like it’s pretty blah.
Coming up with topics that work is one of the hardest tasks for a content marketer.
The good news is that there are tools that give you a shortcut to what works. Try this:
1. Plunder Ideas from Trending Content on Viral Sites
When I was writing this post, 22 Absolutely Necessary Charts for Any Dessert Lover was trending on Buzzfeed.
The post is a collection of infographics with lots of pictures of delicious desserts and practical help for foodies on complementary meal pairings. What can you learn from this?
Infographics work. As Darcy Coulter says on the Contently blog:
“According to Google Trends, there are 62 million results for the search term “infographic” as of April 2015. That’s a lot of info, and a lot of graphics. It makes sense: Color images increase willingness to read by 80 percent, and 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual.”
Viral content sites do the hard work of testing and proving great topics. See what is working for them to come up with topic ideas for yourself. Here’s what I did:
- Visit Buzzfeed (or Upworthy or any of the sites which always have viral content).
- See what’s trending (this is at the bottom of the right column on Buzzfeed)
- Pick a headline that catches your eye.
- Tweak it to be right for your audience.
Use the title and type of post as inspiration. For example you could write 21 Infographics No Business Owner Can Afford to Miss. Sure, you still have to create the article (see tip #4 for help with this) , but you have an idea that you know will work.
2. Find Hot Ideas via Social Media Trends
The best indicator of future success is current success. If people are already sharing something on social media, then you know those people will be interested in sharing your related content.
One key tool for finding hot content ideas is Buzzsumo. As Steve Rayson says on their blog:
“You can now be the most knowledgeable person in the room without hours of searching and reading.”
Here’s what you do:
- Visit the site and put a short phrase describing your idea into the search box.
- Use the filters in the left column to narrow the results by type, date of publication and more.
- Check out the top three results (you see 10 in the free version of the tool) and see what inspires you.
Let’s suppose you’re in the security business. You could create the following ideas from the titles shown in the screenshot below.
- Marketing 101: How to Increase Sales for Your Security Business
- Creating an Effective Home Security Network
- 500 Security Experts Reveal Their Favorite Home Security Tools
Another way to use Buzzsumo is to pick a trending post in your niche and take the opposite view. Instead of talking about conversion optimization mistakes as the SEJ article in the screenshot does, discuss ways to be sure of nailing conversion optimization instead.
Buzzsumo is my first choice for generating content ideas (Paddy Moogan’s got an in-depth guide on the Moz blog), but there are other great tools too. These include:
- SocialMention for real time information on what’s trending across multiple social sites.
- Topsy, for assessing the popularity of topics on Twitter
- Nuzzel, which links with your Twitter account to show you what’s hot among your fanbase and wider network.
One extra tip is to figure out what content is most shared from your blog or website and combine that with generally trending content to create new ideas. You can use Buzzsumo for this too:
- Put your domain name into the search box. I have used Kissmetrics in this example.
- Set the filter to the past month so you know that the results represent current sharing behavior.
- Make a note of your top topics and throw them in the hat with the topics brainstormed earlier to create new ideas.
3. Massage Headlines for Greater Effectiveness
Once you have a few ideas and titles, you can make them more effective by doing some quick analysis. My favorite tools for this is CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. To use it:
- Type one of your new headlines into the on-screen box.
- Hit “analyze” and check the score.
In this example I used the first headline generated and although it scores a respectable 66, I think I could improve it by adding some power words and by making sure that the beginning and end of the headline are strong enough to attract readers.
Check out the screenshot below for some variations and their scores.
CoSchedule’s tool analyzes headline type, word balance, character count, keywords and sentiment and shows you what your headline will look like in search results and email campaigns.
The point is that you can use what’s popular to create your own variations. To save even more time later, create your own swipe file of winning headlines using a content curation tool.
Choose Your Content Format
Once you have a couple of ideas, it’s time to decide how you’re going execute them. There are some great shortcuts you can take by using templates, repurposing content or curating content.
4. Use Templates for Content Creation
If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to plan, templates can jog your memory so you don’t miss anything when creating different types of content.
They’re also useful if you’re not creating content yourself. A good template, like the one used to guide writers for Publicate, can help guide everyone on the content team so you get consistent style and tone. The Publicate template, for example, reminds writers to let readers know at the start why a particular post will help them and to add key takeaways at the end of the post.
There’s not much more to say about templates, other than to recommend some expert resources you can use:
- Hubspot has 78 Free Templates to Make Content Creation Faster and Easier. This includes templates for ebooks, infographics, press releases, blog posts, Slideshare, social media images and video scripts.
- “When it comes to communicating your ideas, the way you organize and present them is as important as your ability to put them into words,” says Neil Patel of Quicksprout. He provides templates for 12 different types of written content, including reviews, list posts, interviews, how-tos and more.
- Kapost has a list of all its worksheets, cheat sheets and templates for different aspects of marketing.
Using templates can be a lifesaver, especially for content types you don’t work with often. Use any of these and you’ll create content in a fraction of the time it usually takes you. But there’s also another way to save time in content creation: by using the content you already have.
5. Get More From Content by Repurposing
If you already have a lot of content, then one way to feed the content beast fast is to take content that’s already doing well and put it in another format.
The point is, if you’re using information in a single format, you’re wasting your time, and not leveraging your content enough.
Instead, think about turning evergreen and popular posts (you can find them using Buzzsumo, Google Analytics or the statistics tool of your choice) into something that will:
- reach a new audience and expand your network
- get new social shares and traffic for the existing content
- save a TON of time.
Here’s an example: I had a post on my blog called 3 Issues That Might Drive Your Writer Away. It was shared 56 times (which is OK for a site I only post to sporadically) and a ton of comments.
I decided to pick out the main points and create a SlideShare presentation, which gained another 400+ views.
If you have a large audience you will get even more from the strategy. Ways of repurposing include:
- Collecting multiple blog posts into a guide or ebook
- Changing a single blog post into a Slideshare presentation (use Haiku Deck or Canva to create it)
- Using a blog post to create a video
- Using the transcript of a video as a blog post (Speechpad is a great transcription service)
- Making an infographic from a Slideshare presentation
- Turning a blog post or video into a podcast
6. The Value of Content Curation
You know what’s even faster than using templates and repurposing for content creation? Content curation – and there are lots of ways to do it. Curata’s 2014 research suggests that 25% of your content should be curated, and it makes sense. Creating content from scratch is a time sink so getting a helping hand from others is a smart move.
Let’s be clear: this is NOT about collecting and publishing others’ work as is. It’s about taking the time to collect excerpts of resources that will be useful to your customers and to add your own perspective on why those resources are useful and what they can learn. That’s how you create value.
You can use curated content to create roundup blog posts, email newsletters, resource hubs and much more. Curation can be time-consuming, though, so the key to success is to use a tool like Publicate which makes it easy to compile and organize content.
Other ways to curate content include:
- Using Nuzzel to see what your network finds share-worthy
- Using a Facebook interest list or Twitter list related to your niche and keeping tabs on what’s shared there.
- Subscribe to your favorite industry blogs with Feedly, and have that content flow into your content curation tool via integration.
Wondering which strategy to use? Here’s my advice:
- If you’re creating a new type of content, use a template to speed up creation.
- If you have a lot of content to draw on, use repurposing.
- And if you’re in a niche where there’s lots of great information to share, use curation.
- Or, if you’re trying to kick content marketing up a notch, use all three!
7. Create Visuals
According to research cited from eMarketer, 75% of the content posted on Facebook are photos and photos account for 87% of interactions.
“Photos could be the “holy grail” of social media engagement.”
– Patricia Redsicker on Social Media Examiner
Photos also get more retweets on Twitter. With Instagram and Pinterest also popular, it’s a no-brainer to use visuals within your content marketing mix.
Here’s how to make great visuals fast. My favorite tool for doing this is Canva.
It includes templates for almost every type of visual you could need. Click on one and you get access to additional layouts, fonts and backgrounds. You can search a million images till you find the perfect one (some are free while others cost $1) or upload your own and add it to a layout with a single click.
Even better, Canva for Work allows you to set up brand colors and fonts ahead of time so you can create new visuals even quicker.
Another great tool for creating visuals fast is ShareasImage, available on the web or as a Chrome extension. You can either edit a pre-existing template or create your own graphic from scratch, using the available fonts, backgrounds and filters. With the Chrome extension, highlight a quote you like on any web page and instantly you get a quote graphic.
If you want to create infographics, then use Piktochart. You start with a theme you like, edit any elements you want to change and you’re ready to share. Unless you’re a perfectionist, you can make an infographic in 10 minutes (provided you already have the data, of course!)
Have a script you want to turn into an animated video fast? Then check out Powtoon to bring it to life with animated characters and attractive backgrounds. There’s an excellent guide on the Powtoon blog which will help you get started.
Finally, Animoto lets you choose a video style and add photos, videos and text to create something exciting.
Share and Promote Like There’s No Tomorrow
There’s no point in saving time on content creation if you lose it when promoting. The secret is to make the promotion process more targeted and much, much quicker. Here are four tools to help with that.
8. Find Key Contacts Fast with ContentMarketer
To get the best reach for your content, you need to connect with people who will help to promote it. But finding their details manually can take time you could use more effectively elsewhere. ContentMarketer gives you a shortcut.
To use it, either enter a URL or upload a CSV with names and web addresses. ContentMarketer also works with exported lists from other tools, including Buzzsumo. The app will pull in missing email addresses for the people on your list or those mentioned in your post. Check the imported list to make sure you’ve got the people you really want to reach on it.
Once you refine your list, you can start your email outreach right from the tool, using pre-made templates.
9. Discover Key Influencers for Quick Content Promotion
“Leveraging the power of this select group of influencers serves as a highly valuable strategy for businesses looking to expand their reach.”
– Lisa Toner, Head of Relationship Marketing at HubSpot
And it’s not just valuable; it saves time. So how do you find these influencers? Here are two tools that I really like.
Buzzsumo really is a wonder tool, which is why it’s getting yet ANOTHER mention here. When you’re checking out top content in your niche for ideas, go one step further and click the “view sharers” button next to any of those posts. You’ll see a selection of the people who shared the post and can assess their influence based on page and domain authority, retweet ratio and more.
Check out the “view links shared” button too so you can be sure your content is compatible with their interests and then navigate to “analyze links” to see the sharer’s favorite topics.
Another useful tool for finding influencers is Klear (formerly Twtrland). It works with your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts to identify the people who are influential in your network. But you can also search for those who have influence on particular topics and create an influencer list with a single click.
10. Save Time with Content Scheduling
Buffer is another of my favorite tools. To get started, connect your social media profiles and create a social media posting schedule. Install the Buffer extension in your browser, then you can send relevant content to your Buffer whenever you find it and it will automatically slot into your schedule and post at the right time.
Now you know how to:
- use popular content to identify what will work for your brand
- create content quickly with templates, repurposing and curation
- get a head start on visual marketing
- streamline content promotion and sharing
Your next step is to pick the tools that work best for you and create your own content marketing workflow. My picks would be wonder tool Buzzsumo, Publicate, Canva and Buffer. What would yours be?