There was some sage advice for me this morning in the 29th chapter of Proverbs:
Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
I read that twentieth verse and pondered how hasty I generally am with my words – both spoken and written. It’s expected in American culture to think on your feet and give quick responses to almost any question asked. Maybe it’s because we’re oversaturated with information but I feel like I can’t afford to slow down before I speak. This feels especially true in the blogging world where fresh content is critical to driving growth, creating community and ultimately, generating income. So how do you balance freshness without sacrificing authenticity when it comes to your writing?
That’s a long sub-head, I know, but in case you’re a skimmer who determines how much of your time you’ll give me based on the content of my sub-heads, I wanted to give you the short answer upfront. A content calendar is a wonderful little mechanism that frees your mind to write creatively and consistently. What tool you use is less important than doing some actual planning. It could be a text doc with a separate line for each day of the year and a post title or topic listed on each line. If you’re looking for a good summary of options when it comes to creating a content calendar, Content Calendar 101 from Vervely is excellent. I won’t get into the how to of content management here but just wanted to remind us copywriters and bloggers that planning is an essential ingredient to success.
Having your content mapped out is one tool in your arsenal against dry, stale, inconsistent writing. Another important tool is reading.
Another time-tested tool to having measured, wise speech in either written or verbal form is to read your work out loud at least once before you send it to the client or press “publish.” Just like you spell check a document before showing it to someone else, reading your work should be a regular part of your writing process. Hearing your words out loud helps not only with the cadence and flow of your writing but also, you might hear (and be able to eliminate) something foolish before it makes you look bad. When I worked in an office setting, my supervisor suggested I read all my radio spot drafts out loud multiple times before turning it into him to edit. I would try to capture the sound of the character who I imagined reading my spot copy. I sounded silly but it did help me refine the words I chose and get the spot within the time limits I was given. It’s a practice that carries over well to other types of copy as well.
How do you plan your content? What do you do to keep your content fresh and fool-proof?