It hits us all every now and then: a creative dry spell. I just didn’t think I would be affected. This is my story of getting out.
A few months ago, my husband surprised me in an unusual condition.
I was groaning in frustration and pulling my hair in exasperation. (For those who don’t know me personally, I’m blessed with a very thin, Scandinavian hair type, and pulling away the little hair I have is really not a good idea.)
“What’s with you?”, he asked.
“I can’t write!” I moaned.
What else is new, you might be thinking, and based on the expression on my husband’s face, that’s what he was thinking, too.
Unfamiliar, unpleasant creative block
The truth is, for me the lack of creative flow was new and rare. I practically never get paralysed by a writer’s block and even under a tight deadline, the act of writing brings me joy.
This probably sounds very annoying, but look at it this way: writing is what I’ve been doing for a living for almost two decades. Routines and tools I’ve developed over the years keep me functional, just like surgeons are able to operate sleep deprived and professional athletes perform in jet lag.
I’m sure you are able to excel in your profession even on days when you’re not at your best, too.
Still, not enjoying writing anymore rattled me. Before, I waited in anticipation for my monthly content creation days. Suddenly, I started feeling like pushing them back.
Three steps to a content plan that works
The feeling was unfamiliar to me, but I knew the problem itself very well. After all, I had helped countless clients overcome similar situations.
Communication teams who felt they were constantly running behind in their content creation. Business owners not knowing what kind of content to create and how to get started. Entrepreneurs having a lot to say, but struggling to get the message across.
It was time to take a closer look at my own toolkit and see how my own medicine could help me get out of this creative rut.
Here are the three strategies that have helped my clients over the years and that helped me this time.
Create less content
The most common advice I give to my clients when it comes to content creation is this: create less content. Focus on quality and engagement rather than publishing as many posts on as many channels as possible.
Many teams and businesses could cut out a third or even half of their content and still get the same, or even better results.
This decrease of volume frees up time and headspace to distribute content more widely and to connect with the audience. When the lower publication rhythm starts feeling easy to maintain, then it’s time to consider adding channels or increase the publication frequency.
Lowering the barrier was where I started, too. Instead of the previous four or five posts a week, I slowed down to three weekly posts and focused on my most important channels, newsletter and LinkedIn.
I allowed myself to publish less content on Facebook and kept my blog publishing rhythm at two posts a month instead of aiming for weekly posts, which had been my goal earlier.
The time I saved, I used for ideation and searching for new, inspiring ideas.
Repurpose and recycle more
Creating less content is a great first step, but another thing that helps communication teams and content creators save even more time is content repurposing and recycling.
Most of the followers don’t see each piece of content we publish anyway, so reusing and repurposing some ideas helps get your content in front of more people without adding too much time on your content creation.
I focused on sharing tips from my previous blog posts as social media visuals or tip carousels.
Evergreen content types, like downloadable guides, are great material for repurposing, too.
I also leveraged repurposed content in my newsletter, because that is an important channel to engage with my followers and I didn’t want to slow down the rhythm too much.
Another way to lighten the load is to outsource and get more support. Would someone else in your team or an external contributor be able to take on more work temporarily, while you refresh your ideas and work on the strategy?
Test ideas and adjust your content plan
Freeing up some time and headspace is crucial so that you can re-evaluate your strategy, see what doesn’t feel like it’s working anymore and get fresh ideas for the future.
It also worked for me, and after a couple of quiet months, new ideas started to flow. New content series popped up, new topics came to my mind.
I also realised I wanted to adjust my target group, use my own voice and share more of my own story.
When you get to this stage with your business, it’s time to start testing new ideas. Setting up your content plan again will probably take from one to two months, so be patient and adjust your plan as you go.
Content strategy checklist
Now my new content structure is in place and writing feels cool again. As frustrating as this period was, it was also an important lesson learned – and a valuable test run for my own tools and strategies.
If you or your team are feeling that something is not right in your content plan, go through these questions:
? Have we re-evaluated our content plan in the last 6-12 months?
? Is our content plan aligned with recent changes in the business? (New business model, new products and services, new target group, etc.)?
? Is the audience engagement steadily growing?
? Does my team have enough time for content creation?
? Are we too set in our ways and not trying new things anymore?
If you answer “Yes” to most of these questions, great!
But if there are more than a couple of “No’s” there, it might be time for a content strategy review. A review will help you identify the parts that require work and set your content up for success again.
Review your content strategy step by step – and if you need support, just give me a call!