Do you remember your first job as a kid?
Maybe it was a summer gig bussing tables or sacking groceries. Maybe you flipped burgers at a fast food joint.
When I was growing up, I had a paper route.
One of the most important lessons I learned from delivering papers was consistency. If you didn’t have a newspaper bundled up and on the doorstep of your customers by 5:45 AM, you were hosed.
My parents helped me with the route, but I learned some invaluable lessons as a paperboy. Efficiency, routinization, process, and customer service all played a part in our success. Simply put, you had to have a system or you’d be toast.
I talk to dozens of people weekly who unnecessarily struggle with creating valuable social media content.
Content production for a blog, newsletter, or social media channels works exactly the same way as it did for my paper route:
- You have a product to deliver.
- Your customers want the product in a timely manner.
- You need to a system to deliver said content.
- If you don’t deliver on time, you’ll be hosed.
Here’s how delivering the paper is a lot like online content production:
1. Pick a Time to Create
For the paper route, we had to start early there was no way around it! If people were going to get there paper early, we had to start early. Makes sense, right?
When you’re planning your day, you need to know the times when you’re most creative. For most of us, it’s going to be in the morning. For others, it’s going to be late at night.
Either way, you need to know yourself well enough to say “I am most lucid, alert, and awake at _____. I will create social media magic at that time.”
For me, those moments come early in the morning. My evenings are filled with family and various odds n’ ends from the day. I know if content creation is going to happen, it’s early.
Build a Production System
For the paper, we had a precise system set up:
- The Register drivers dropped off unbundled papers are the end of our driveway.
- Grab the stack, bring it into the garage.
- Grab separate sections (main, sports, opinion, etc.) and bundle them accordingly.
- Bind with rubber band.
- Place in plastic bag (if it was raining).
- Place paper in carrier bags.
- Head to customer neighborhoods, dominate.
Digital content production works the same way. You must have a system in place to make it work efficiently and properly. Here’s what my system looks like most mornings:
- Start Pomodoro app for 10 minutes.
- Scan Pocket feed and Twitter lists for inspiration.
- Queue up interesting articles for the day in Buffer and Hootsuite.
- Set Pomodoro app for additional 25 minutes.
- Open up Scrivener app.
- Write undistracted for 25 minutes, creating blog posts, emails, or other content needs.
- Queue up content for the day.
- Go about my merry way.
The process is flexible enough to shift if need-be. Sometimes I’ll need more time to create depending on the needs in front of me. The point isn’t blindly following a schedule. It’s having a framework to build within so I don’t have to guess.
Your content will not create itself. Building a system like this one is the best way to ensure it gets done.
Know Your Route
Some people paid for the paper. Others did not. We delivered to the ones who paid us. We did not deliver to those who did not.
Sounds fairly basic, right?
It is until you consider many of us are delivering the content we’ve labored over to the wrong people. To the ones who haven’t “paid” us, so to speak.
In short, we’re speaking German to a Dutch audience. Our blogs focus on crafts when they should be focused on car batteries. We’re selling the wrong things to the wrong people.
We need to become masters at studying and knowing the needs of our audience. It’s why you see the little green nag in the top right corner of my blog. I’m always curious what you’re interested in.
Why? So I can create more content that’s helpful and valuable to you.
Here’s a hard truth I had to realize: No one cares about my content if it’s not helpful to them. It doesn’t matter how clever or witty I think I’m being, people do not care unless it benefits them some how.
I would’ve been a lousy paperboy if I delivered the Johnson’s paper to the Smiths. Similarly, we need to know our online audiences and give them what they want.
Deliver the Goods
Last but not least, you actually have to throw the paper on the front doorstep. In other words, you need to deliver.
Your content does no good if it’s sitting in a draft folder somewhere, waiting until its perfect to be released.
There will always be haters. They will:
- Criticize your grammar.
- Complain in your comments.
- Tell you what you’re doing wrong.
- Complain about your emails even after they opted-in—TWICE—to your email list.
…But you need to show up anyway. You need to be consistent and deliver what people expect. On time, every time. You’ll have flub-ups (I slept through my delivery time on more than one occasion), but you keep delivering because that’s what it takes to be great.
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