It was an early morning of coffee, loud music, and blasting the internet with everything I could muster.
I had already published a few articles on my website, skipping the draft process. Then I scrambled to share them on every social media network and group chat that I could think of.
Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Slack channels, Facebook groups, email newsletter(s) — you know the drill.
It was a copy/paste nightmare, but that’s what the “experts” had told me to do. The familiar phrases of “Content is king!” and “Blog every day!” were among the many maxims running through my mind that morning.
We are often told that your frequent presence online is vitally important. More interaction, more connection, more conversion.
This is partially true, but experience has taught me that excessive presence damages both your authority and your own personal fulfillment.
More content is not always better content
I was on a content-production rampage during this particular reinvention (yes, I’ve done this “online thing” quite a few times, and from scratch). Yet, I was just as internally frustrated as when I wasn’t producing any content at all.
The problem — obvious now in hindsight — is that more does not always mean better.
It’s the most basic of truths, known by everyone you’ve ever met, yet contrary to the mainstream teachings of many online “gurus.”
Instead of wasting your time with fruitless effort, here are five steps that will help calm your content anxiety and safeguard you against our shared tendency to believe frequency trumps quality.
Step #1: Adopt the “One-day-queue” rule
Slowing down might sound easy, but it’s far from it.
If you’re like me, your typical routine is to go from inspiration to creation to production in the same morning (thanks to that gallon of coffee).
That habit makes sense when you’re passionate about your project. Unfortunately, it may stunt your capacity to produce meaningful work for your audience.
Instead, live by what I call the “one-day-queue” rule:
When you are inspired, resist the urge to create and publish on the same day.
This includes blog posts too — don’t rush to publish an idea that you haven’t fully developed.
Hold back to ensure you’re publishing the most relevant, useful content.
Step #2: Work with an editor
If you write any type of content, working with an editor should be a priority.
Your editor can shield you from your own impulsiveness and prevent you from publishing a post on your blog or sending your email newsletter in a fury.
When you get in the habit of having someone else review your content before you publish, you’re forced to slow down your process.
Editors also don’t have to be expensive. If you ask a friend, coworker, or family member, he or she might even review your work for free to support you.
An “editor” who has an eye for polished content will help you craft your best work — and any cost will be money well-spent.
Step #3: Schedule social media updates
What do I mean by that?
Let’s say you’re scanning — you guessed it — your Twitter timeline, and you get an idea for a tweet.
Instead of satisfying the urge to post that tweet immediately, funnel your impulse through a filter by scheduling it for at least 10 minutes in the future.
In that time, you might rethink posting that tweet and therefore have time to delete or rephrase it.
That’s an option you wouldn’t have had if you just impulsively posted the tweet.
Step #4: Learn the art of observation
Simply observing may be difficult for some creatives, but it’s undeniably required.
Discovering and examining your audience’s needs will help you serve them better.
Spend more time watching and less time building.
Don’t build for the sake of production; build for the sake of creating a solution.
Solve your audience’s problems, and you won’t have to shout so loud.
Step #5: Focus on the entire process, not just the product
I once mentioned in a newsletter email on mobile-first design that web designers should focus more on the process than the product.
It’s understandable that we have a natural tendency to be preoccupied with that glorious finished product — part of the process, even.
But our motivator can often become a distraction and we neglect other important steps.
Aim to balance the time you spend on your marketing efforts and creating your products.
Better content, at a manageable pace
Following these guidelines has allowed me to craft high-quality content at a more regular pace, and with less effort.
I don’t write a blog post and publish it the same day, or blast out an email prematurely, just to find several typos in each of them the next day.
Instead, I feel confident knowing that the content I do publish (or cancel) has been carefully reviewed.
In turn, those who follow me receive better content, read articulated and refined writing, and experience an overall stronger presentation.