It’s 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. You’ve spent all week in meetings. You helped sort out an issue with an important customer and even jumped in to help another team wrap up a project. Now, just when you’re feeling tapped out and ready for the weekend, you need to come up with a blog post for next week.
This is so often how content marketing happens.
For every writer who gets up at 4 a.m., puts on a vinyl record, sips coffee, and writes blissfully, there are 100 like me—the ones who jam 20-minute writing sessions between calls and other projects. This is compounded by the fact that subject-matter expertise is in short supply in the content world. How can you knock out a really solid post on a tight deadline?
The less you know about a topic, the more time you need to write well about it. The more time an article takes, the less likely it is to get done, due to time constraints.
There is one simple solution that alleviates the time problem and the subject-matter problem: unlock internal knowledge at your company. Stuff you know well, topics that your coworkers are subject-matter experts on, things that might already exist in a format currently unsuitable for the public. Unlocking internal knowledge makes it easy to write quickly (because you know the subject matter!) and write well (because you know the subject matter!). As an added bonus, it also means you can write without relying on external sources—everything you write is source material.
This isn’t a silver bullet, but it is one way to ensure higher-quality content that you can write quickly. In this post, we’ll walk you through a few ways to go about this and include some examples for inspiration.
Document an Experience to Tell a Very Human Story
The easiest way to create an ongoing stream of interesting content that’s mostly easy to write is to document a firsthand experience. There are a few reasons this works really well:
- It creates the opportunity for an ongoing series, i.e., a stream of good content in your editorial calendar.
- You can be upfront about what you don’t know. Instead of faking subject-matter expertise, readers can follow along as you pursue it.
- People love episodic content. When each article paves the way for another, readers keep coming back.
To make this work, write about an experience that’s at least indirectly related to your product. If, for example, you work at a CRM company, you could document how the marketing and sales teams are finding ways to work together. If you work at a marketing-automation company, you could walk readers through the process of ideating, writing, and designing a new email campaign.
One of my favorite examples of this strategy is Groove’s Journey to 100k MRR blog. Founder Alex Turnbull documented everything he was learning as he and the team grew the company. It had nothing to do with the nuances of building a customer support company, but it worked because:
- It created massive awareness of the brand. Founders, execs, and marketing folks read the blog, and I’m sure many adopted Groove when the time came for a new support tool.
- It built tons of links to the site, which elevated the domain authority, which made it easier to rank content directly about the product.
- It showed progress toward a clear goal. That kept readers coming back to see what would happen next, thereby building a massive audience.
You don’t have to build your entire content strategy around this idea, but it’s a lane that you can use to add useful, interesting content to your editorial calendar.
Interview Your Teammates, and Ghostwrite on Their Behalf
As a content agency, this is part of our job. In hundreds of conversations with content teams, I’ve come across dozens of teams that wish they could get fellow team members to write, and maybe three that took it upon themselves to just write on behalf of their busy/uninterested coworkers.
Ghostwriting for your own teammates solves perhaps the most fundamental content marketing problem: the people with the most to say are often too busy to write. The solution is simple: just do it for them.
Create a simple and comfortable process to facilitate the transfer of knowledge. You’ll need to interview your teammate to collect the information. Then, you’ll need to go back and forth in a document to nail the tone and style. This is the hardest part, but after you’ve done it once, you should be able to replicate it. You may even consider creating a short style guide for each person that you ghostwrite for.
There are posts like this on the Animalz blog—we have all the same content marketing challenges as anyone else!—but if we’ve done our job right, you’ll never know which ones.
Repackage Existing, Internal Documents for the Public
Your company is creating content all the time. Every Google Doc and PowerPoint presentation is a potential piece of content. For obvious reasons, you can’t always make these things public. Often, you can repurpose and repackage these documents as blog content.
A number of our own blog posts started as documentation for our team:
- 10 Ways to Create a Healthy Feedback Culture at Any Company started as an asynchronous discussion about improving our own culture.
- How to Diagnose and Maintain the Health of a SaaS Blog was born from our content audit documentation.
- Use These 8 Content Creation Lanes to Flesh Out Your Strategy came from some training materials for content strategists.
None of the original materials were ready to be published as blog posts. But the writers had some great raw material to work with, and we already knew that the topics were useful since they were being actively discussed internally. You may need to get sign-off to do this, but once you do, it’s simple. Take the core concept and optimize it for a broader audience.
Capture Your Own Ideas to Distill Your Thinking
One thing all content marketing should actively pursue is taste. What do you like, what do you dislike, and why? Developing taste is a soft but critical skill in your career development, and it’s best honed by writing.
As you notice things in your industry, market, audience, company, etc., you should assess how you feel about those things. Every now and then, it’s worth documenting those opinions in the form of a blog post. The act of writing forces you to distill your thinking, and it creates content as by-product.
You may find that readers really enjoy this kind of content because it cuts through the noise. Some people call this thought-leadership content, but that carries connotations about execs and VCs. You don’t have to be a CEO to write down your opinion about an industry you work in every day. Capture your own thoughts in a tactful way and you’ll almost certainly create content people care about.