The demands on content developers are relentless. Just as you meet one deadline, another emerges.
Not only do you have to create an endless stream of ideas, but you must also quickly translate those ideas into blog posts, articles, emails, newsletters, e-books, infographics, etc.—and then summarize them in 140 characters.
Demand for content is always increasing: 70 percent of B2B marketers plan to create more content this year than in 2016. If you are a fast, efficient writer, you can stay busy for a long time. Below are eight useful tips for speeding content development:
1. Know your content-market strategy. It doesn’t matter how fast and efficient you are as a writer if your output doesn’t advance your organization toward its objectives. If you don’t know what the strategy is, find out now. If you determine there isn’t a strategy, you could attain hero status in your organization by helping devise one. Justin McGill lays out a seven-step “start-to-finish” guide to creating a content marketing strategy on the HubSpot blog.
2. Create an idea capture system. “If you have a good idea storage and retrieval system, you’ll never run short on ideas,” advises veteran blogger Michael D. Pollock. “You’ll also write faster because you won’t be spending time looking things up.” Capture ideas that come at odd times—even in your sleep. Try keeping a journal or jotting inspirations down on 3×5 cards. You might also save ideas in a notes app by typing or speaking them right away. Here are other ways to ensure you don’t lose that next idea before you can turn it into great content.
3. Eliminate distractions. “I can write at least twice as fast—and often even faster—without any distractions,” says Ali Hale at Daily Writing Tips. “If you’re constantly interrupted by friends wanting to chat on instant messenger, by incoming emails, by new posts coming through to your RSS reader—turn everything off. You might think it only takes a few seconds to read each message, but every time you turn your attention away from what you’re writing, you lose momentum.”
4. Do your research first. “Before you sit down to write, make sure you’ve done all your research and are well versed in it,” Samar Owais advises on the Hongkiat blog. “This way all you have to do is write without stopping. Research before writing will also stop unnecessary actions like reading off-topic articles while you are writing.”
5. Know your main idea. “The key to writing faster is knowing what your main idea is,” writes C.M. Smith at Lifehack. “A main idea should be something that you can explain in one sentence and doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand it. That is, unless you are writing about rocket science.”
6. Begin with an outline. Most of us learned about outlining in middle school, but these days it seems like a luxury. We feel compelled to start writing immediately, but outlining can help us work faster. “Creating an outline (even if it’s only a mental one) focuses your writing, keeps you on track and eliminates unnecessary information,” according to Write Content Solutions. “You can use a more formal outline, or jot your ideas down while organizing how you want to present them. Cut out any ideas that seem out of place or don’t relate to the topic as a whole.”
7. Draft a working headline. “Crafting a headline keeps you focused on your topic and your purpose,” writes Leah McClellan at Simple Writing. “Even if you end up rewording, a headline makes a promise you have to keep. Having trouble? Write one sentence that describes the topic and the value you’ll provide. Now try variations in rapid succession for five or 10 minutes. Just let go, and write freely. Sooner or later you’ll get a few good ones.”
8. Give yourself permission to write a bad first draft. “Trying to get everything right in the first draft will absolutely kill your writing speed,” advises Corey Pemberton at Bidsketch. “It’s demoralizing to look up at the clock, see 15 minutes have passed, and realize you’re still on the same sentence. It’s much faster to blaze through a first draft then go back and polish it up than to agonize over every word. This change in workflow is one of the most important things you can do to pick up your speed dramatically.”