When you’re short on time and need to create new content, there’s nothing worse than a bit of writer’s block. But, with a few techniques, you don’t have to get lost in writing the “perfect article”, you can write something that’s both meaningful and quick.
A few rules before we get started.
One, don’t bother if you can’t write 500 words.
That’s your minimum. It’s as close to a rule as you get with content, and yes, 499 is fine. But really, if you want people to see value in your writing, make 500 words your goal. Longer is fine, but less is no good. Unless, of course, you’re just writing an update for LinkedIn or Facebook. In those cases, a few sentences will do.
But articles need substance to hold value. That means, give the reader something they need, even if it’s brief.
Two, don’t just regurgitate an old article.
It’s true that you are the only person who has read your entire blog. But that doesn’t mean you want to trick people. Find a new point to make and settle there. Better yet, link your new piece to your older one so you reduce your amount of orphaned content. (Orphaned content being articles that are unlinked to other pieces on your website. In the world of SEO this is a no-no, but more on that another time).
Three, give yourself one-hour to make this happen.
Time and concentration are the writer’s nemesis and friend. When you devote time to writing, it’s always better than when you try to fit it in between phone calls, emails, watching the kids, patients, or whatever else has your attention. One hour isn’t impossible to find.
When you do find it, put your cell phone in another room and do nothing but write. Set a timer if you need to, but focus. When you get to the end of your time, see where you are and revisit later. You may not be finished, but you’ll be closer to getting something accomplished than you were before.
Here are my 5 hacks to create new content when you’re short on time and ideas:
1. Revisit the most important topics covered by your brand
We all have topics that are core to our brand. For you, that could be big areas like depression, sadness, anxiety, resume writing, conflict management, or parenting. Think BIG. These topics on their own are never really covered in one article. Heck, they’re rarely covered in a dozen pieces.
Go back to your intake calls, discovery session notes, or consultations and look for patterns. What do people ask about or call about regularly? What’s brought up in sessions often by different people? What do you think people ought to know but they really don’t.
These are all great topics.
Make a list of those ideas. This gives you something to return to and a place to start today. Then, ask yourself, what can I offer in 800 words to add depth, insight, or even a small pick-me-up to your readers? Remember, you can link to more in-depth pieces for greater understanding. Pick one small area and make that your focus.
2. Don’t write manifestos
Short is short. We’re not talking 2000 words for this exercise ever. This is a “less is more” activity for your business. If you’re wondering why it’s needed, the answer is simple. When you stop publishing articles, you drop in placement on search engines. Search engines reward new content and “fresh” ideas.
If ranking highly in search is a goal, you have to produce content. Lots of content. And, the beauty here is that there is a time and place for in-depth pieces, as a time and place for shorter ones. This time is for short ones.
As long as you stay in the lane of your expertise and mix it up with longer pieces occasionally, you’ll stay on the winning side of search.
3. Revisit older pieces for nuggets of inspiration
We all have articles we had to edit gems out of because they were too tangential or too distracting. When you edit those pieces, don’t throw them out. Save them for exercises like this one.
If you haven’t done that yet, go back to your most popular articles and re-read them. What do those articles inspire in you in terms of questions or desire for greater understanding?
Whatever comes up in your mind, you can bet your clients have the same questions. Those little nuggets are great topics to cover in a shorter piece.
Here’s an example: In this article, we offer a list of things we do when creating a social media strategy for a client. The first item on that list is branding.
As I read that, I wonder, “do people know what branding is?”, “what’s an example of branding for a small business?” “we’re not all Starbucks or Amazon, is branding still required”, and “how do you brand a small therapy or coaching practice?”
All great questions and each one could be either an article or a part of one in the future.
4. Write technique or process pieces that can be used as a part of something bigger later on.
As a helping professional or healing practitioner, a whole lot of your work is done through processing. Meaning in your sessions, you lead clients through experiences to reach a goal or to experience a feeling or event.
Writing does not inherently lend itself to that kind of work. Writing is more or tlike lecture teaching. Without the feedback loop with clients, there’s very little back and forth between a client and a writer. To me, that’s the missing link for our profession when it comes to writing. But, it’s a chasm you can cross when you have process-oriented work ready to share.
Revisit older articles again and this time, ask yourself what you could add or create that would help the reader deepen their experience? Would a well-timed meditation help? A list-building exercise? A brainstorm or braindump? Maybe a writing exercise around a certain topic?
Each of these ideas works for short, quick articles because you can not only use them as new blog posts, but you can link to them again and again when you find places in your writing where exercises would support your readers.
5. Finally, update and republish older blogs.
When creativity leaves you and you’re left with the task of writing and nothing new comes to mind, rework an older article to give it new life. The rules here are simple: it really does need something new to make it worth someone re-reading, so don’t cheapen out on the edits.
Make it easy for yourself by adding a few hundred words as either new paragraphs in the form on an add-on to deepen the piece.
Or, if you have a list, consider adding 2-3 new items to it, but be considerate of the size of the piece you’re starting from. A list of 5 is significantly more when it becomes a list of 8. But a list of 47 is not changed as much by making it 50. You also want to change the title of the piece to reflect your edits and update the photo. These cosmetic changes do wonders for the look and feel of the article.
You can update the URL too if you have a 301 redirector as part of your website/cms. That can be very helpful if you added new keywords or content that’s not reflected in the old URL. Just be mindful to never change an old URL if you don’t have the tools to redirect it to the new one, or you’ll lose the traffic that comes from placement in search engines.
Finally, one technical detail about publishing as new: to publish as new, you’re going to change the publish date. Make your edits and when you’re ready, change the old publish date to today’s date. That will push your piece to the top of your blog list and give it a new life.
Then, share it on social media, repost on YourTango if you’re a member and it fits our audience, and add it to your newsletter.
That’s all. Remember, you have an hour to create new content. Do the work in that timeframe and you’ll be surprised what you create and how much easier it was to find a flash of creativity in your busy schedule.
Need other writing support, here are a few of our best posts to revisit:
Have questions about YourTango Experts or the topics covered here? Reach out for a free consultation with our team to explore how to grow your practice, build your brand, or make content and social media work for you.