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Creating good content will never be a rush job

Creating good content will never be a rush job

3 minute read

Creating good content will never be a rush job

3 minute read

Creating good content will never be a rush job

Fi Shailes

Senior social media marketer and content writer

Of all the assumptions non-marketers have dared make about aspects of marketing, one, in particular, continues to pop its head up and irritate me deeply - and that is a general idea that ‘creating good content is a really quick process’.

I’ve heard comments like this intermittently throughout my professional career. It might have reared its head in a phone call, via an email exchange with colleagues, or as a flippant throwaway remark flung in my direction across a meeting room. In any case, I’m pretty sure that every blog, paper, video, report, brochure, web page and infographic being ‘a quick job’ is still a myth perpetuating itself in organisations all over the place. And I for one, find that quite annoying.

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling ‘a bit touchy’ about this subject. 

At least, I hope I’m not alone.

Having spent the majority of my working life slaving away in-house at organisations public and private, I harbour a worry that sometimes copywriters and content writers (mainly) can be seen as some kind of two-a-penny, dispensable resource because certain influential figures bandy about the view that ‘anyone can create content’, ‘anyone can write’, and the classic ‘we can get Derek in accounting to write our next prestigious research paper’.

I once heard a C-Suite colleague brag that he could run off a blog in half an hour and that there was nothing to it. Well, I saw one of his blogs, and I regret to inform you, dear reader, that it was utter rubbish.

And not too long ago, I remember working for a (generally nice) client - writing a blog or two each month for their website. (As a bit of background, the subject matter for their blogs was always a little technical, riddled with acronyms and industry-specific, so it was not content I could simply write drawing from my own knowledge.)

We were debating my rates at the time, as I had realised that there was an imbalance between what I was delivering/how long it took to pull together vs the fee I was getting for each completed piece.

My client’s argument against paying me more for my time was largely comprised of the following statement (verbatim):

…you will get quicker the more you write, so your time will reduce over time. 

*facepalm* You didn’t just say that. 

Anyone close to the business of crafting content will know exactly how painstaking and time-consuming (but ultimately, enjoyable) creating content can be. Design, approvals and publishing aside, if you look at the ‘creation’ bit of the process on its own, in all likelihood, that’s the part that will have invariably taken the longest.

If you appreciate this, and you hear there’s an aspiration from someone up on high in the organisation that a new white paper is needed in two weeks, YOU ALREADY KNOW it’s not going to take two weeks. YOU KNOW it’s going to take longer if it’s going to be anything worth reading. But the assumption’s been made.

I’m not just talking about writing words either 

Content writers, copywriters, designers everywhere… whatever your content-related craft, in most cases you wouldn’t expect that you can just blankly sit down and start creating. There’ll be an idea or a brief to play with and expand on; a thought that needs interpreting into something tangible.

You’ll probably need to think through how you’re going to build that initial idea or thought out into something effective and purposeful, research it a bit, read around it – get under the skin of it. 

“Who is the target audience?”, “where is the value for the reader?”, “what’s it saying that makes it different to other pieces out there in the industry space?”... these questions (and more) often need thinking through too.

Then there’s the visual part of the content if, for example, you’re creating an infographic or an animated video.  

Next, there’s checking, editing, re-editing even, maybe. Removing typos, confirming the accuracy of facts, figures, statements, quotes, avoiding repetition, cutting down or ‘fleshing out’, and checking the ‘flow’ of how it reads… it all takes time.

I’m afraid I don’t see crafting content as some kind of sausage-making machine where you’re in a continual churn of just chucking out the same product, time and time again. It’s a process that needs to be respected. And, even though my current full-time job no longer involves creating marketing content, I am still determined to stand up for those who do and are simply not given the right tools, time and space to do it. 

In my opinion, any content creator worth their salt will agonise a little about the content they’re creating. They take pride in it. They carefully tend to it. It’s something they’ve sculpted, moulded and woven together with great care.

You simply can’t rush good content.

Of all the assumptions non-marketers have dared make about aspects of marketing, one, in particular, continues to pop its head up and irritate me deeply - and that is a general idea that ‘creating good content is a really quick process’.

I’ve heard comments like this intermittently throughout my professional career. It might have reared its head in a phone call, via an email exchange with colleagues, or as a flippant throwaway remark flung in my direction across a meeting room. In any case, I’m pretty sure that every blog, paper, video, report, brochure, web page and infographic being ‘a quick job’ is still a myth perpetuating itself in organisations all over the place. And I for one, find that quite annoying.

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling ‘a bit touchy’ about this subject. 

At least, I hope I’m not alone.

Having spent the majority of my working life slaving away in-house at organisations public and private, I harbour a worry that sometimes copywriters and content writers (mainly) can be seen as some kind of two-a-penny, dispensable resource because certain influential figures bandy about the view that ‘anyone can create content’, ‘anyone can write’, and the classic ‘we can get Derek in accounting to write our next prestigious research paper’.

I once heard a C-Suite colleague brag that he could run off a blog in half an hour and that there was nothing to it. Well, I saw one of his blogs, and I regret to inform you, dear reader, that it was utter rubbish.

And not too long ago, I remember working for a (generally nice) client - writing a blog or two each month for their website. (As a bit of background, the subject matter for their blogs was always a little technical, riddled with acronyms and industry-specific, so it was not content I could simply write drawing from my own knowledge.)

We were debating my rates at the time, as I had realised that there was an imbalance between what I was delivering/how long it took to pull together vs the fee I was getting for each completed piece.

My client’s argument against paying me more for my time was largely comprised of the following statement (verbatim):

…you will get quicker the more you write, so your time will reduce over time. 

*facepalm* You didn’t just say that. 

Anyone close to the business of crafting content will know exactly how painstaking and time-consuming (but ultimately, enjoyable) creating content can be. Design, approvals and publishing aside, if you look at the ‘creation’ bit of the process on its own, in all likelihood, that’s the part that will have invariably taken the longest.

If you appreciate this, and you hear there’s an aspiration from someone up on high in the organisation that a new white paper is needed in two weeks, YOU ALREADY KNOW it’s not going to take two weeks. YOU KNOW it’s going to take longer if it’s going to be anything worth reading. But the assumption’s been made.

I’m not just talking about writing words either 

Content writers, copywriters, designers everywhere… whatever your content-related craft, in most cases you wouldn’t expect that you can just blankly sit down and start creating. There’ll be an idea or a brief to play with and expand on; a thought that needs interpreting into something tangible.

You’ll probably need to think through how you’re going to build that initial idea or thought out into something effective and purposeful, research it a bit, read around it – get under the skin of it. 

“Who is the target audience?”, “where is the value for the reader?”, “what’s it saying that makes it different to other pieces out there in the industry space?”... these questions (and more) often need thinking through too.

Then there’s the visual part of the content if, for example, you’re creating an infographic or an animated video.  

Next, there’s checking, editing, re-editing even, maybe. Removing typos, confirming the accuracy of facts, figures, statements, quotes, avoiding repetition, cutting down or ‘fleshing out’, and checking the ‘flow’ of how it reads… it all takes time.

I’m afraid I don’t see crafting content as some kind of sausage-making machine where you’re in a continual churn of just chucking out the same product, time and time again. It’s a process that needs to be respected. And, even though my current full-time job no longer involves creating marketing content, I am still determined to stand up for those who do and are simply not given the right tools, time and space to do it. 

In my opinion, any content creator worth their salt will agonise a little about the content they’re creating. They take pride in it. They carefully tend to it. It’s something they’ve sculpted, moulded and woven together with great care.

You simply can’t rush good content.

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About the author

Fi Shailes

Fi works at digital agency twogether as a Social Strategist. She specialises in all things social and content, and freelances part-time at Digital Drum.

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