Jessie van Breugel x Pragya from Shield
Creating content can be hard as there are no rules in the game. You have to set these for yourself. Ranging from topic selection to content creation and staying consistent. It can be a tough challenge to balance it all. That’s why it’s recommended that you start thinking about setting up a system that works for you.
Let’s call this a content management system. Having such a solid system in place is the differentiator between mediocre creators and creators who are able to make big bucks. It's a common belief that consistency is more important than quality. Knowing this should be a fair indication that you should do everything in your ability to become the most consistent creator you can be. It’s better to show up 365 days in a row with 7/10 quality content than 12 times a year with 9/10 quality content.
That being said, let’s dive in the approach to set your ultimate content and creation process.
Know where you’re going
Define your direction
To become consistent, you first have to understand which direction you’re headed.
Ask yourself this ↓
"What problem are you solving?"
The problem you want to solve for your audience functions as your North Star.
It gives you the right direction and it shows your target audience to who you’re speaking to. Here are some examples of how others use their Bio to attract the right audience to their LinkedIn profile.
Know what topics to talk about
Once you identify what problem you are solving, you can now define your content pillars. Your content pillars are the key 3-5 topics you build your content around. Having these content pillars at your disposal allows you to strategically create content that addresses the problems and pain points of your audience. Think about 3-5 topics that you are good at, are passionate about, and what others want to learn about. We like to limit it to that number for a few reasons:
When you keep the number small, you’re focused
When you repeat your message, you attract exactly the right audience
Your audience knows what to expect from you and comes back for more
Define your target audience
Thirdly, once you’ve defined your content pillars, you can take the next step: defining your target audience.
As the famous saying from Seth Godin goes,
“When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.”
To build an engaged audience, you have to be specific. Ideally, you want to have a clear picture of one member of your audience when you sit down to create content. Keeping this person in might massively help with addressing their unique needs and making your content as specific as possible.
Some of the questions you can ask yourself to figure out your ideal audience are:
Which type of audience(s) do you like spending time with?
How much do you like these groups of people?
What kind of problems do these people have?
Do these people care about these problems ?
Are they willing to spend money to solve them?
Use this as a starting point to question yourself deeper about your target audience. This would be a great pace to then start thinking about solutions by the means of your content.
Build a content system that works for you
Your content is the backbone that builds your brand and online presence. You want to make sure you focus on types of content that’s aligned with your unique skills, experience, and personality.
Yet, to figure out your ideal format, you have to get comfortable with experimentation. Test content types you are good at and comfortable creating. You want to operate from a place of strength. Building an audience is already hard enough, so be careful to not add extra complexity by trying something new.
In the beginning, it’s much more helpful to “stay in your lane” and focus on publishing consistency. Do you prefer writing? Then, great formats would be short- or long-form posts on LinkedIn. More visually skilled? Start with a slide deck, an image with captions, or short videos. Do something you already have a certain skill or expertise and only care about adding new things later down the road. When you get to this point, you want to be mindful of not overreaching your capacity. Let’s take video creation as an example. If you want to create video content but are new to it, don't aim to release 2 videos per week, start with one and adjust expectations realistically.
You want to stay sane as a creator
With that being said, let’s dive into the mental aspect of being a creator. You’d ask what that has to do with content creation. Well, it’s the foundation of everything.
The different tasks of a creator can be split into broadly 3 categories:
Engagement with other creators
In a nutshell, that’s how you grow an audience. In terms of content creation, you want to optimize creativity and inspiration. Many successful creators recommend blocking time, let’s say 2 hours on Sunday, to create content in bulk. This allows you to collect ideas during the week (more on that in the last part of this article), and convert those ideas into full-blown pieces of content.
Take this creative session serious for the best result:
Remove distractions: place your phone in a different room and disable notifications.
Be hydrated and not hungry: this allows you to work focused for a brief period of time
Set a clear goal in terms of output: know exactly how many pieces of content you want to end up with.
You’re certainly not done when you’ve created your content. You still need to publish your content to the world. The easiest way to become consistent with your posting is to pick the same time every day. The benefits here are twofold:
You have clarity
Your audience knows when to expect a new piece of content.
Many successful creators schedule their content to make sure they publish consistently. It can mean the difference between a creator that’s stagnating and a creator who wins by repetitively showing up. Among many others, these two tools you can use to schedule your content:
With the publishing part covered, it’s now time to look at the bigger picture: a content calendar.
This tool can literally be a lifesaver for busy creators. It’s an overview of your upcoming social media posts. It can be organized as simple as a spreadsheet, in your Google calendar or with an interactive dashboard (for example, with Publer or Hypefury).
A social media calendar usually has some combination of these elements for each post:
The date and time it will go live
The social network and account where it will be published
Copy and creative assets (i.e., photos or videos) required
Links and tags to be included
To create your own content calendar, head over to this article of Hootsuite.
When your content is planned out in advance, and you’ve scheduled your content to post automatically at the right times, you can actually take time off. No logging into your work accounts on Thanksgiving, or late at night, or early in the morning. That’s how you buy freedom as a creator.
Finally, you want to look at repurposing content, aka recycling content.
You’d ask: Why would you repeat yourself?
Only you remember all your old content. When you post consistently your audience grows. So, many of your audience has never seen that content anyway. One of Shield’s favorite creators, Justin Welsh, shared his simple repurposing strategy.
Three other tactics to become an unstoppable creator
You know how hard it is to be constantly inspired right? That’s why you want to have a system that’s optimized for it, as inspiration is crucial for every creator.
Inspiration often comes from interacting and engaging with other creators. Especially once you have found relevant creators to engage with. Use the comments you place on other creators' content as stand-alone posts for yourself or as inspiration to expand on. That’s why it’s recommended to keep a note-taking system so you can capture your genuineness.
In order to be able to come up with your desired amount of content, you want to have a library of ideas ready. Throughout the week you consume other creators' content and go through your life, you pick up ideas and inspiration. You don’t want them to go to the waste. You want to save them, right?
The ways to do this are abundant: Some creators swear by the simple note-taking on their phones, and others build a fancy note-taking dashboard in Notion or Evernote. Don’t get lost in the complexity as there’s no such thing as the perfect system. Find a system that works for you.
An example of a note-taking system in Notion (created by Thomas Frank)
Finally, the content you consume has a big impact on the content you produce. You want to be careful with the accounts you follow. You want to follow the right accounts, those that inspire and motivate you. This helps you stay inspired and consume well-written, inspiring content spills over to our content as well.
In a nutshell, you want to follow accounts that:
Make it a habit to keep your feed clean and do a regular check-up. As a creator, it’s your duty to protect your energy.
A great content management system is the difference between a wannabe creator and a serious creator. One who knows how to create content that resonates with their audience converts followers into fans and is able to monetize their online content.
Invest time to build your ideal content management system now, and reap the benefits later.