The 7 tips to get content. Fast
My secrets for speedy production revealed
Speed up your content production process and never be out of stock. Getting content is easier than you might think. My procrastination and writer's block made me rethink and reconsider my life until I had my creative juices for ideation, a solid process, and a clear structure in place.
Easy does it with my seven tips that originate from learning by doing.
By the way, any content piece takes me about two to three hours, from idea to copy, visual, and publishing here and on socials.
Why it matters
Content production can be annoying; you’re stuck for inspiration and lack creativity -- it’s just not happening. Next to this failure of ideation, the process of creating and publishing can be a burden as well.
People often ask me for tips and tricks.
- Ideation: content is for grabs
- Stock: you’re an idiot if you don’t plan ahead
- Process: from paper to LinkedIn
- Structure: forcing myself to add value to my reader
- Visual: the carrier of the message
- Mobile: different formatting needed
- Have fun: non-negotiable
- Timings: how fast is fast?
Well, here you go.
1. Ideation on paper
I always have a list of content ideas; those are handwritten in my little green book. Every time I have inspiration, I stumble upon something, or it just pops up in my mind, I write it down. Often, it’s just one-line; other times, it’s a few bullets.
Not all of those brain farts and mind dumps are equally qualitative. By writing all down and going over them from time to time, the good ones will rise to the surface.
The secret is in the handwriting. For sure, you can have a digital app for keeping your notes, yet using the laptop takes away the charm.
More important, by using old-school pen and paper, you’re forced to slow down. Think before you write and give your thoughts a little bit more love and attention. I’m a nerd; I even use different colors, metallic sage green for the one-line title and bright orange for the details.
2. Stock for peace of mind
One of the best tips I learned back in 2010 working for Volkswagen (Pon) is to keep a stock of content.
Keeping stock equals keeping peace of mind, headspace, and creativity. If you know you have your next few content items ready, you can take your time to produce new material. There’s no rush, no urgency, or a specific deadline.
We always had the content ready for the next fortnight and some additional evergreen content on the shelves. Evergreen content is content you can always publish; it’s not timely, not seasonal, and plug-and-play ready. Great for if any very last-minute changes are needed due to circumstances.
E.g., at Volkswagen, we had a great social post with a T1 Volkswagen as a train; however, in the early morning of publishing day, there was a train accident. By having stock content, it was very easy to adjust and switch the content items.
3. Process to create content
I have a self-developed process in place; I use this for my own publications and (unnoticeable) for my clients.
- To start, I write down the idea. Old school pen and paper.
- Then, I drill down the details, also on paper. Below you’ll find the structure I always use. I fill in all the elements with raw, unedited sentences and keywords. In this step, I already start thinking about the visuals I want to use; for the header and in the body.
- When I’m happy, in step three, I take my laptop, open Word and start typing, editing, and AI correcting. This is my first ugly draft.
- Next, I create a draft in PressPage using a bespoke template. PressPage is the platform I use. I copy-paste the first ugly draft into the template. And I continue to edit and refine. And I argue with AI to balance between boring correctness and creative writing.
- Now it's time for visuals. Even before the copy is final, I create my visuals and add them to the case. In the name giving of the visual, I always put some keywords, the same as in the H1 (title) – SEO likes this.
- Followed by writing, deleting, editing, deleting some more, and refining the copy together with the visuals. Seeing and feeling how the final content will be. I do this in the www preview modus. I always proofread aloud to check the flow; if you can read the copy aloud without stumbling or hesitating, it’s good copy. And in this step, I double-check the H1 and H2 (subheaders) for SEO keywords.
- Once I’m more or less happy with the result, I hit ‘command + option + I’ to switch Chrome to the preview modus of an iPhone 12 Pro. Now the real rewriting and editing work starts. I optimize for mobile reading, not for laptop. Therefore, killing some more darlings, rigorous formatting, adding subheaders, shortening paragraphs, adding white space, and switching words are done in mobile preview.
- Only then I hit publish. Refine the very last details until I’m proud of the result and eagerly want to share it with y’all.
- I log off and go offline. Always sleep a night on it.
- Lastly, the next day, I do a sanity check and edit the very, very last details. And secretly already check the statistics.
- Copy-paste the whole bunch to the LinkedIn newsletter article. As that’s where I get the most reach. I make some final bespoke LinkedIn modifications, and I hit publish. Just after writing my caption for the timeline. To be able to publish, LinkedIn obliges me to make a timeline post, even though that has a shamefully low reach.
- Finally, sit back, relax, freak out, and check the DM and stats for immediate feedback.
Above is my thinklikeapublisher.com process.
I apply the same steps to my clients’ content. Not out in the open, more as a sanity check.
4. Structure per content item
This is my lifesaver. Every piece of content has a few recurring elements. Depending on the channel, these differ in number and in length. A social post has a different structure than a blog post.
Below you see my bespoke structure at this moment. It’s not set in stone, and I iterate and adjust continuously. These elements are the basis of all my blog posts.
- Ideation: the raw version of the title, the idea.
- What to know: zoom out. In one to three lines, what my reader knows after reading this blog. This sounds pretty obvious, yet writing this down by hand forces you to start with the ending in mind. What is the one main thing that you want your reader to know after reading your copy?
Stick to one topic; if you have two main topics and two things to know, zoom out even further, or create two blogs. Stolen from ‘Writing that Works’ by Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson.
- Why it matters: this one, I stole this from WARC. Writing down the ‘why it matters’ forces you to think deeper. Why is this important for my reader? How does this influence my reader’s industry or business?
In this step, you think about how your content adds value to your reader and write that down in a few simple lines with simple words.
- In the ‘what to know’ or the ‘why it matters,’ I usually add a bullet list with the subheaders and a very short explanation. This functions as an overview of what the reader can expect. This doubles as a summary.
- The three things: or ‘to do’ or any other list. This is the body of your content. The proof of your claim. And the information you promised in the title. I always try to stick to an uneven number. Preference for three or five. Seven or an even number if needed.
- Closure. I don’t write this one down on paper, as this is a recap of the ‘three things’ and circling back to the intro ‘what to know.’ There is no new information in this element. I’ll get to this once I start typing in Word. If you’re stuck for a subheader instead of ‘recap’ or ‘summary,’ the ‘final words’ will do the job excellently.
- When applicable, credits and links. There’s no discussion on giving credits where credits are due. I always collect them in one paragraph, easy for my reader, and no distraction in the copy with blue links or references.
Notice that all information, the catch, is in the ‘what to know’ and ‘why it matters.’ I start with the end and the summary. The reason is that I immediately want to tell my readers what they need to know, as their attention span is very short. Then they’ll decide whether to continue reading or not.
5. Visuals matter
This I already mentioned in ‘process.’ However, this is so important that I’ll just repeat it to make sure this gets the designated attention.
Content is more than the copy. We, humans, are visual creatures and like something that looks appealing (read: sexy).
We look at the picture first, and then we decide whether to read it or not. Use your dirty mind and imagination to create the visual that gets noticed. Keep in mind; the visual is the carrier of the message, not the copy.
Read more in ‘Think visual.’
I use Canva for the creation of social assets based on the header visual. Get the visual, copy past the title and subheader in the visual, adjust animations, and go.
The visual below honestly took me 1,5 days before I found it. On the left is the original, and on the right is my edit for social.
I only hit publish when I'm happy with the energy between the title and the visual. Sometimes finding the right image to express the story takes longer than writing and publishing it.
6. Mobile by design
This one is also a repetition of the ‘process.’ As ~80% of your users are on mobile, this is the default for your content.
You are the one to perfect the formatting for mobile reading and make it easy on the eye with short paragraphs, headers, sub-headers, and the usage of whitespace.
- What looks lame on the laptop (left visual)
- Is easy on the eye on the mobile (right visual)
7. Have fun
So obvious that we tend to forget. If you love what you do, your audience will notice. Your passion and pride for your brand and products show in the content you create. This is something you can’t capture in a process or structure or even in words; it’s something you feel.
I always ask my team if they are proud of the content they just made. If the answer isn’t f**k yes, then I reconsider publishing, and we’ll work on it a bit longer until we are.
If we are not super proud of what we publish, why the h*ll should our audience read it?
How fast is fast? As a seasoned content producer, I dare to say I’m pretty fast at producing. And maybe more important, it’s continuous, and I’m consistent.
From start to end, idea to publication, it usually takes me about two to three hours.
A ballpark in timings
- Paper ideation: from title to structure with the raw outline: 15 minutes
- Word document: one to two hours
- Thinklikeapublisher.com first draft: 30 minutes
- Mobile formatting: 30 to 60 minutes + a night’s sleep
- LinkedIn publication: 30 minutes
- Social assets in Canva: 5 minutes
- Finding and editing visuals: 30 minutes to 1,5 days.
Sometimes I have the visual before I write down the ideation. Other times I keep on searching till I find the one and I don’t comprise.
As said, if it’s not a f**k yes, I don’t publish.
Here we are, my long list with hands-on tips for speeding up your content production process and how to never be out of stock.
If you want to know some more details, don’t hesitate to drop me a DM or jump on a quick call.
Creating content gets easier the more you do it. I will not say practice makes perfect; I do say practice speeds up the process. Don't forget to have fun and keep those creative juices flowing.