Striking the right balance with your content creation volume

Striking the right balance with your content creation volume

6 minute read

Striking the right balance with your content creation volume

6 minute read

Striking the right balance with your content creation volume

Fi Shailes

Senior social media marketer and content writer

No matter how long you’ve been creating content for, there’s one enduring question which will have undoubtedly popped into your head at one time or another:

Is the content I’m creating, the right amount of content?

How much nurturing via email marketing do our subscribers really need? How much new content do our brand’s followers want to see on social? And that old classic:  ‘how many blogs should we produce this month’?

When there’s a justified reason for content and when it is tailored brilliantly for an audience, that audience is happy to receive regular content from organisations or individuals directly in their inbox.

Two schools of thought

There have always been two camps of opinion when it comes to content creation. One which is comfortable with and actively advocates creating high volumes of content as part of their marketing strategy - and one which flies the flag for quality over quantity and the whole ‘less is more’ adage.

The former argues that higher volumes of content mean that you’re driving higher levels of engagement, more website traffic and creating higher levels of brand awareness. This to an extent is true. However, in the long-term, you can bet readers will soon catch on to any flimsy premises for new content that are hollow, fluffy and ultimately lacking in real substance or value.  

In my own experience of building a ‘content creation machine’ at my old organisation, I always tried to balance quantity with quality. We had an overwhelming internal demand for content, and as is often the case, the resource we had to play with was minimal. We pressed on, regardless, but often it proved to be a great deal of time and effort spent for results which were a bit hit and miss.


So, what do other content creators think of the volume vs quality debate? I thought I’d run a quick ‘finger in the air’ poll on Twitter to try and get a sense of which way my content creating peers were veering towards:

A screenshot of a twitter poll results showing that 97.4% of the 78 responses said they choose quality over quantity when it comes to content creation.

It was pretty unanimous. 

(Incidentally, a second poll I ran on Twitter went on to reveal that, despite what they may think is best these days, just over 65% had tried the ‘volume over quality’ approach in the past.) 

Perhaps the reason people feel so strongly about quality trumping quantity is simple. At the root of it is our belief that this is the right approach to take for the good of our end users/readers.

We think about what they need and what will resonate with them; but also what will offer genuine value vs the time they will ultimately spend consuming what we’ve put in front of them. And, ideally, they have discovered our finished content and willingly grasped it - rather than it being force-fed to them (hello ‘content marketing’). 

According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, the biggest investment made by B2B content marketers last year was on ‘content creation’, with 56% citing it as their top area of spend. 

So, why are some organisations still creating so much content? Perhaps too much?

Our competitors are doing it

It’s good old FOMO (fear of missing out). When we see others publishing and promoting fresh content on a regular basis, there’s a possible instant pressure to keep up. We think of brand awareness, and we think of possible lost traction on SEO due to competing content. On top of that, if you’re in a large organisation, you might have all manner of senior managers and so on pinging you links to the latest blog, paper, etc that they’ve just come across “what are we doing in response to this topic?”.

There’s an enduring internal pressure to create

We’ve got multiple publishing platform types at our fingertips these days. And whilst it’s great that teams of content writers have popped up in businesses and organisations here, there and everywhere, could this mean that there’s now an onus and a pressure to ‘keep creating’ – even when there’s not necessarily a firm need for it?

Consider also, that building up a mountain of content items can often give marketing teams (and organisations in general) a false sense of progress, because 'look at all this stuff'... but really it could all be noise - adding to workloads and also distracting people from other tasks that may be more beneficial for the company. There’s an ‘opportunity cost’ there.

According to very recent research, 43% of content creators are creating content in response to an internal request, whereas 30% say they are creating content with a particular audience in mind. My interpretation of the survey results is that we may still be defaulting to what non-marketers in our organisations ‘think’ audiences want to see/read from us – rather than what we know they want to see/read from us. 

Are we still guessing – rather than it being based on data or direct experience on the part of the content writer or a marketing team member?

And all of this internal pressure can have a negative impact internally. When you think about the practicalities of teams creating more content, you soon realise that the onward work this creates can leave designers, social media managers, team managers and senior managers (both of which are in the approval part of the chain) in an endless cycle of work. 

Those leading the charge at your organisation - whether that’s a departmental director or team manager - therefore need to give their teams permission to focus more on quality and less on volume when it comes to content creation. 

We don’t properly evaluate what we’ve already published and promoted

(i.e. we don’t have the confidence to push back on requests and strip out ‘doomed’ ideas.) 

It’s probably fair to say that, when you’re on the content production hamster wheel and you’re so focused on hitting those outputs for the week or month, it can be hard to find time to stop and assess what’s gone before. 

How successful was that blog or paper, actually? Did the article we thought was amazing internally really hit the right notes with readers - or were the pageviews well below average?

We were publishing an average of 2-3 blogs per week, often with multiple white papers and reports being produced alongside. Did we stop and evaluate the performance of every single thing we distributed? No, I don’t think so – we just didn’t have the time or resource to do so, but we should have made the time. 

Analysing the performance of the content you’ve released into the wild can help equip you with real evidence for future requests and enable you and your team to make the right decisions when it comes to what’s in your content strategy.

Ask the right questions before you begin 

If you’re thinking of creating more content than you originally set out to, or clients/colleagues are requesting more content creation, consider these three questions before rushing to put your fingers to the keyboard:

1. What is the purpose and goal for the new content, and does it have a specific audience in mind?

2. Does this content already exist/might this duplicate content we already have?

3. How will we manage the content/measure its impact and performance?

Conducting these quick sense checks will allow you to go about creating content with more confidence, and more mindfully. They’ll also help you think through the rationale behind each piece, so you can push back with firm reasoning should you think something is best dropped. 

Allow yourself to climb out of that content production hamster wheel.

No matter how long you’ve been creating content for, there’s one enduring question which will have undoubtedly popped into your head at one time or another:

Is the content I’m creating, the right amount of content?

How much nurturing via email marketing do our subscribers really need? How much new content do our brand’s followers want to see on social? And that old classic:  ‘how many blogs should we produce this month’?

When there’s a justified reason for content and when it is tailored brilliantly for an audience, that audience is happy to receive regular content from organisations or individuals directly in their inbox.

Two schools of thought

There have always been two camps of opinion when it comes to content creation. One which is comfortable with and actively advocates creating high volumes of content as part of their marketing strategy - and one which flies the flag for quality over quantity and the whole ‘less is more’ adage.

The former argues that higher volumes of content mean that you’re driving higher levels of engagement, more website traffic and creating higher levels of brand awareness. This to an extent is true. However, in the long-term, you can bet readers will soon catch on to any flimsy premises for new content that are hollow, fluffy and ultimately lacking in real substance or value.  

In my own experience of building a ‘content creation machine’ at my old organisation, I always tried to balance quantity with quality. We had an overwhelming internal demand for content, and as is often the case, the resource we had to play with was minimal. We pressed on, regardless, but often it proved to be a great deal of time and effort spent for results which were a bit hit and miss.


So, what do other content creators think of the volume vs quality debate? I thought I’d run a quick ‘finger in the air’ poll on Twitter to try and get a sense of which way my content creating peers were veering towards:

A screenshot of a twitter poll results showing that 97.4% of the 78 responses said they choose quality over quantity when it comes to content creation.

It was pretty unanimous. 

(Incidentally, a second poll I ran on Twitter went on to reveal that, despite what they may think is best these days, just over 65% had tried the ‘volume over quality’ approach in the past.) 

Perhaps the reason people feel so strongly about quality trumping quantity is simple. At the root of it is our belief that this is the right approach to take for the good of our end users/readers.

We think about what they need and what will resonate with them; but also what will offer genuine value vs the time they will ultimately spend consuming what we’ve put in front of them. And, ideally, they have discovered our finished content and willingly grasped it - rather than it being force-fed to them (hello ‘content marketing’). 

According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, the biggest investment made by B2B content marketers last year was on ‘content creation’, with 56% citing it as their top area of spend. 

So, why are some organisations still creating so much content? Perhaps too much?

Our competitors are doing it

It’s good old FOMO (fear of missing out). When we see others publishing and promoting fresh content on a regular basis, there’s a possible instant pressure to keep up. We think of brand awareness, and we think of possible lost traction on SEO due to competing content. On top of that, if you’re in a large organisation, you might have all manner of senior managers and so on pinging you links to the latest blog, paper, etc that they’ve just come across “what are we doing in response to this topic?”.

There’s an enduring internal pressure to create

We’ve got multiple publishing platform types at our fingertips these days. And whilst it’s great that teams of content writers have popped up in businesses and organisations here, there and everywhere, could this mean that there’s now an onus and a pressure to ‘keep creating’ – even when there’s not necessarily a firm need for it?

Consider also, that building up a mountain of content items can often give marketing teams (and organisations in general) a false sense of progress, because 'look at all this stuff'... but really it could all be noise - adding to workloads and also distracting people from other tasks that may be more beneficial for the company. There’s an ‘opportunity cost’ there.

According to very recent research, 43% of content creators are creating content in response to an internal request, whereas 30% say they are creating content with a particular audience in mind. My interpretation of the survey results is that we may still be defaulting to what non-marketers in our organisations ‘think’ audiences want to see/read from us – rather than what we know they want to see/read from us. 

Are we still guessing – rather than it being based on data or direct experience on the part of the content writer or a marketing team member?

And all of this internal pressure can have a negative impact internally. When you think about the practicalities of teams creating more content, you soon realise that the onward work this creates can leave designers, social media managers, team managers and senior managers (both of which are in the approval part of the chain) in an endless cycle of work. 

Those leading the charge at your organisation - whether that’s a departmental director or team manager - therefore need to give their teams permission to focus more on quality and less on volume when it comes to content creation. 

We don’t properly evaluate what we’ve already published and promoted

(i.e. we don’t have the confidence to push back on requests and strip out ‘doomed’ ideas.) 

It’s probably fair to say that, when you’re on the content production hamster wheel and you’re so focused on hitting those outputs for the week or month, it can be hard to find time to stop and assess what’s gone before. 

How successful was that blog or paper, actually? Did the article we thought was amazing internally really hit the right notes with readers - or were the pageviews well below average?

We were publishing an average of 2-3 blogs per week, often with multiple white papers and reports being produced alongside. Did we stop and evaluate the performance of every single thing we distributed? No, I don’t think so – we just didn’t have the time or resource to do so, but we should have made the time. 

Analysing the performance of the content you’ve released into the wild can help equip you with real evidence for future requests and enable you and your team to make the right decisions when it comes to what’s in your content strategy.

Ask the right questions before you begin 

If you’re thinking of creating more content than you originally set out to, or clients/colleagues are requesting more content creation, consider these three questions before rushing to put your fingers to the keyboard:

1. What is the purpose and goal for the new content, and does it have a specific audience in mind?

2. Does this content already exist/might this duplicate content we already have?

3. How will we manage the content/measure its impact and performance?

Conducting these quick sense checks will allow you to go about creating content with more confidence, and more mindfully. They’ll also help you think through the rationale behind each piece, so you can push back with firm reasoning should you think something is best dropped. 

Allow yourself to climb out of that content production hamster wheel.

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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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