Content Boot Camp Day One: Getting a Fix

CONTENT BOOTCAMP 1

If you’re reading this, you might be looking to polish content you already have, or you might be starting from scratch with a tank full of freshly-brewed anxiety. Never fear, you’ve found your way into content boot camp: an easy-to-digest series that will help you find your footing in the world of content.

Even if you think you know content, you might be surprised at how little you’re really flexing your creation-distribution muscles when it comes to your brand. In this first section of Content Boot Camp, we’ll be discussing why delegation and knowing who is in charge is the best thing you can do for content success.

Consider This Your Content Wake Up Call

If you decided to add a new product to your business tomorrow, how would you do it? It’s a simple question, but even well-established companies struggle to answer it succinctly.

  • Who is responsible for getting images of the product?
  • Who is responsible for its media – social media mentions, how-to videos, etc?
  • Who is completing the on-page description for the product?
  • Who is responsible for checking copy is accurate and “ready for battle?”

You’ll probably notice a common theme with those questions: they all need a name or names attached to the answer. Delegating and clarifying who oversees your content creation and implementation is crucial – arguably, even more important than the content itself, at least in the beginning stages. That’s because bad implementation can ruin even the best copy by putting it somewhere where it can’t make a useful impact, and great implementation can send bad copy far and wide, making it nearly impossible to “undo” if a mistake is found after the fact.

A good content team should look more like a “bucket brigade” than a relay race: if there’s an issue, you don’t want the person holding the active role to have to backtrack very far to get assistance. Handoffs that take a “not it!” approach divorce your team members from their duties, inadvertently rewarding a “one and done” mindset. In a nutshell, all members of your content team should feel at least a moderate level of responsibility for content, even if the process isn’t currently in “their” step.

One Person Does Not an Army Make

Now, if you answered the above questions the same way – you – that’s another big, common obstacle. Bootstrapping operations is a longstanding tradition for scrappy startups and lean corporations alike, but one person does not a content team make. Even if you’re stellar at content creation and always do everything exactly right – unlikely, as even seasoned content creation professionals embrace continuous development – you’re going to start sounding stale sooner or later. Much like our conversational tones as humans, we tend to lean on favorite phrases and words, we explain things in a familiar way, we misuse words we may think we understand but simply don’t. Good content is rich and varied, and that means it comes from more than one source.

Okay, so what if you’re on board with that but your budget isn’t? Cost is a legitimate concern when assembling a content team but be sure to bear in mind you don’t necessarily need to hire full-time, office-situated employees. For most small to medium-sized businesses, freelancers are a way of life: design, janitorial, payroll, human resources – chances are you’re using a third-party service for some business functions already. Using contract or as-needed freelancers can lean lightly on your budget while making a big impact on your bottom line. We’ll discuss freelancers – both finding them and using them – more in-depth in later boot camp lessons, but for now think about what you’d like to outsource – your pain points, the content you struggle most with, and so on.

Content Creation Tip Takeaways

Here’s the first important rule you’ll learn in content boot camp:

Rule # 1: All Written Content Must Be Read By At Least Two People Before Going Live

Simply put, mistakes are made during content creation. No matter how long you’ve been creating content, how careful you’ve been, how many times you’ve double-checked one thing or another, you’re only human – and spellcheck isn’t infallible either. Whether they’re true typos or just a misunderstanding about a product attribute, sticking diligently to the “four eyes” rule will give those mistakes a much slimmer chance of making it out into the world. Different readers tend to focus on different aspects, which makes a great filter for spotting those sneaky little mistakes that slip right by you.

It’s Time to Make a Plan

Now that you’ve gotten a handle on a few of the basics, it’s time to take things up a notch with one of the most challenging parts of creating content: planning. Stay tuned for our second installment of Content Boot Camp: Making a Plan – it’s packed with valuable information you’ll need to get your content ready for battle against your competitors!

Delany M is a well-rounded freelancer with an emphasis in product descriptions, landing pages and articles. With over a decade of experience to her credit, she has enjoyed writing for national chain retailers, small e-commerce boutiques and a wide range of service providers. She prides herself in going “beyond the word” to capture the essence of a brand or company, ensuring copy that is as noteworthy as the goods and services her clients provide.


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