We’ve all heard the aphorism: Content is king. But content’s path to the throne can be bloody and hard fought, with search engines tearing through the line of succession to appoint a new monarch every few days.
Producing regular, timely content is crucial to online success, but it can be challenging. While topic ideas and sage industry advice may be buzzing around in your head, next comes the hard part: actually writing it down.
You are busy — you don’t have time to be formulating a dense introductory monarchy metaphor. Readers and potential customers want to hear from you regularly, even when you don’t want to write. Frequently publishing content drives more traffic and increases lead generation. Here are some tips on quickly producing content that will keep your audience engaged and help your writing assume its royal status.
1. Stay prepared
You never know when inspiration will strike, but typically it’s not on command. Set aside time to brainstorm ideas for future content pieces and keep the list on hand. Every time you need to write a new article, you’ll have (at the minimum) a variety of topics to choose from. These brainstorms don’t need to include detailed descriptions of your content ideas; though if you’re feeling inspired, seize the moment and knock out a few paragraphs. Your future self will thank you.
2. Live by a schedule
Consistency is key. A regular publishing schedule will keep you on task: Remember, your audience is checking back for your latest article and insight. A clear, realistic content calendar and process allow you to be more efficient and keep you from wasting time — or at least, wasting too much time.
Setting mini deadlines also can ensure projects are being accomplished. Whether it’s “500 words before lunch” or “one paragraph before my first cup of coffee” (sounds daunting, I know) these self-imposed goals will keep you focused and working toward something every step of the way.
3. Have a purpose
This may seem obvious, but going into your writing with a clear purpose in mind will speed up your process, helping you “trim the fat” as you go and making editing faster later on. Without a strong, specific central topic or idea, the article tends to wander and balloon into a much longer and more time-intensive project. An outline will aid you in keeping your overarching purpose in mind, even in a casual, scribbled-on-a-sticky-note form (usually my style). Keeping your content simple is usually best, resulting in a valuable but easily digestible experience for your audience.
4. Research efficiently
Research is important for great, insightful content, but don’t let it eat up all of your time. A quick fact check easily can turn into a Wikipedia deep dive, with little of the information actually making it into your piece. Do the necessary initial research and start writing as soon as possible — this will give you a frame to fill with additional information and statistics later.
Larger scale projects may require more in-depth research processes, but for shorter pieces, don’t drown yourself in facts. Plus, once you’ve begun writing, your searches will be more relevant to the specific information you need, allowing you to produce your initial draft more quickly.
5. Focus on writing first
While it’s tempting to pause your writing to proofread and investigate the red squiggly lines littered throughout your document, minimizing real-time editing will allow you to lock in and produce content faster. Then you’ll be able to review the article as a cohesive unit, which may influence your editing decisions. Once you get to the proofreading stage, be extra-critical — the more mistakes you catch now, the more time you’ll save later on.
6. Give yourself a break
Taking a pause every so often keeps your brain fresh and helps maintain your concentration. While it is tempting to kick your feet up after finishing the first sentence, only take breaks in moderation — every 30-50 minutes is a common suggestion, although experts’ recommendations vary. Taking time off from writing might seem antithetical to the goal of creating content more quickly, but renewing your energy will help you avoid hitting a wall.
7. Don’t force it
You’re on a deadline (even if it’s self-imposed) and you need to deliver the content you promised, but some days the words just aren’t flowing. Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is walk away from whatever you’re writing. If you’ve been lulled into hypnosis by the blinking cursor on a blank page, remember that you can always come back later, or switch to a more inspiring topic.
When it comes to writing, trust your instincts. Don’t try to pad a piece with words to hit a certain length, or write in a way that isn’t working for you. If writing feels like you’re undergoing brain surgery, it likely won’t be too great to read either. Try approaching the topic from a different angle, or sitting on the floor, or going for a brief walk — sometimes shaking up your routine is the key to a fresh perspective.
Ultimately, the best way to produce content more quickly is to put your head down and write. If you hold yourself accountable, work efficiently and have a clear objective, the page-turning (or page-scrolling) words will come flowing out in no time.