Consistency is just as important as quality when it comes to content marketing. Ben Adam-Smith from Regen Media explains how improving your systems can make this important aspect of modern business more manageable
Frequency and consistency are essential ingredients in any content marketing strategy. Viewers, listeners or readers will quickly drift away if you fail to give them what they’re expecting, when they’re expecting it.
Ben Adam-Smith produces a flurry of content for both his businesses – Regen Media and House Planning Help. From podcasts to blogs, there’s always something new to work on and squeeze into his busy schedule.
Ben believes the frequency of content you produce should be personal to every enterprise. But when you set it, you need to stick with it.
“Frequency is something that you set yourself,” says Ben. “It could be once a month, once a week or once a day. You don’t have to go overboard straight away – but once you’ve set your frequency, you really should keep to it. You’re setting expectations with your viewers or listeners. You’re telling them when they should expect something from you.”
Ben had never had any problems meeting frequency until last year, when his now one-year-old arrived. It’s a reality that many businesses face when personal situations change or you decide to increase your output or frequency of content.
“Having a baby exposed holes in my systems,” says Ben. “It’s the same for other businesses too. Maybe you do have time to do all the things in your content strategy, but it often gets to the point where you can’t do it all yourself. You might be okay if you just produce really simple content. But if you’re keen to increase quality and value, then you get to a point where you have no more capacity. It becomes so difficult.”
Systems Equal Success
Ben solved his content conundrum by assessing his systems and working out how he could delegate certain processes. He sums it up with a quote he heard at Podcast Movement 2015 from entrepreneur John Lee Dumas: “Systems equal consistency – and consistency equals success.”
“Looking at my own systems exposed that they’re all very dependent on me,” he says. “So I needed a strategy where I could be involved to a much smaller degree. It’s difficult, because you want to do it all. But if you want to build your business, you have to accept that you can’t.”
Ben broke down his processes and worked out how other suppliers could deliver different parts of the puzzle.
“For my podcast, you have the researching of guests, the interview, editing, and writing up show notes. When you break it down you realise there are plenty of efficiencies you can make.”
The part Ben found it hardest to release the reins on was the editing of his podcast.
“I worked in radio for a long time and always did my editing myself, but the way I like to do it takes a long time, so now I’ve finally hired an editor. You realise, ‘okay it may not be exactly as I would do it’ but it’s up to me to feedback – and it means you can get the content out there when people expect it.”
It’s this balance between quality and consistency that Ben feels is particularly important.
“Of course, quality is important, but there’s something really important about consistency too,” he says. “For me, it’s just as important as quality. So if you’re just starting out, the quality may not be there straight away. But we’re all on a learning journey, so it’s important to get out there and produce it regularly. You shouldn’t expect it to be amazing straight away. Just do it – and you’ll hone your art over time.”
Here are Ben’s top tips for getting on top of consistency:
1. Find your sweet spot
When you’re starting out, don’t try to do too much in one go. Build up slowly and get a feel for the work that’s involved. By doing so, you’ll find your sweet spot and work out what you can deliver consistently, without compromising on quality. Just like producing too little content, producing too much can also be counter-productive. Ultimately, you’ve got to look at your business and your goals. Understand why you’re doing this.
2. Simplify your processes
If you need to produce very frequent content, then it’s a good idea to simplify your processes. You don’t want it to become a chore, otherwise you’ll take the fun out of it and people will notice. Maybe you could leave out editing all together and broadcast the full interview. Or perhaps you could just provide a summary of the show in your show notes, rather than more elaborate ones. You need to create a plan that’s workable and allows you to meet your frequency requirements without losing your enthusiasm.
3. Group important tasks together
Think about which tasks you can group together and also those you can automate to reduce the time spent on them. For example, if you spend a lot of time organising interviews – going back and forth to find suitable times – there’s a useful app called ScheduleOnce. It allows you to share your calendar and shows your contacts the time blocks you have available.
It also takes a lot of time out of your day if you can do lots of the same task at once. I love doing one-on-one interviews, which can be time consuming with travel etc. So at the International Passivhaus Conference, I went a day early and did a number of face-to-face interviews in my hotel room all on the same day.
Take an inventory of tasks that go into content creating and consider which ones you really have to do. Quite often there aren’t many. If you have the resources, then get people to help you. I found it hard to let go with editing – but if you want to move your business on, you have to do it. Finding good people isn’t difficult. Websites like Elance, Upwork and PeoplePerHour all have user rating systems so you get a good sense of what people are like. But it’s important to remember that you get what you pay for.
5. It’s okay to take a break
If you have a change of circumstance, like starting a family, I think it’s okay to ramp down your content creation. On the whole, people understand. Also, if you’ve lost enthusiasm – you might even hate what you’re doing – then there’s no shame in stopping that particular aspect as you’ll still have learned a lot along the way. You have to remember that this is work. You’re choosing to do it to further your marketing, so if it’s not working, there’s no shame in stopping.
How have you delivered consistent content to your community? Please share any tips and tactics that have worked for you.