The 11 “Secrets” of Prolific Content Creators

The 11 “Secrets” of Prolific Content Creators

Reader Comments (100)

  1. I’ve found number 5 – break the project down – to b a huge help. I have an ever growing list of post ideas and for a long time I would just write the title and nothing else. Then they would sit there and I’d never actually write the article because I had no connection to what I was thinking when I came up with the title.

    Now, I write the title and a short outline, then add to that outline as I brainstorm. Later I can come back and fill in with content.

    #7 – I don’t have a uniform, per se, but I do have an office! Once I get to my table at starbucks, I’m in content creation mode! Something about being there lets me concentrate hard.

    • Thanks, Graham! I agree that outlining is fabulous, too – that really helps me start writing blog posts. I like that once I write the outline, I can tackle any section that looks appealing in that moment.

      I find writing the opening of a post to be the toughest part, to I leave that for last!

    • I have the same problem with #5. I would jot down these amazing ideas on a calendar only to return to them clueless as to what it was exactly I wanted to write about. Now I try to write down the basic gist of what got me so excited about the topic in the first place before I lose it. Then when it’s time to write, I now have an outline of what I want to write about and am less likely to forget the ideas.

  2. Hi Beth,

    Thanks for the great advice. I am leaving my job at the end of the month to become a full time writer/blogger, so I will definitely be putting these tips to good use! I think #2 will be most important for me in terms of making my writing career work. I also love #7 and #9.

  3. To me, #2 really stands out on this list. Calling yourself a professional not only changes your outlook, but definitely changes the way your perceived. And, if you’re a good writer… you get away with it!

    • Hi Ben – thanks for you comment. I highly recommend Steven Pressfield’s books “The War of Art” and “Turning Pro” for more thoughts on the “turning professional” mentality. Brilliant stuff. And his interview with Robert Bruce (linked above) was also outstanding – I highly recommend listening to it in its entirety.

  4. Hi Beth, I liked this post a lot, these are really useful points to make great contents.
    I think that number 2 is one of the major difference between people who “get it” and people who don’t reach success: if you act like a pro, you always force yourself to do it better.
    Obviously, also the other points are important!

    Beth, I would catch this chance to ask you a question about Pinterest.
    It could be a really powerfull social media to gain exposure for business, but I read that its audience is mainly made by women interested in fashion, cooking, interior decoration and other similar stuffs.
    Do you think that Pinterest could also be useful for a business that is in a different field?
    Thank you πŸ˜‰

    • Hi Mauro – here are the best stats I’ve seen on the Pinterest audience right now (from Mashable). Yes, Pinterest users are primarily female right now (72% in March, when that infographic was published) but it’s shifting quickly as more and more men join. And yes, some big topics are fashion, recipes, etc but that’s also changing rapidly. That infographic also includes the top ten content topics on Pinterest, including some head-scratchers like “Iowa” (huh?)
      Bottom line – I’ve seen all kinds of companies doing great things on Pinterest. So I still recommend considering it, if you think it might be interesting for you!

      • Thank you very much, Beth!
        Your answer is really helpful and I found the infographic really interesting.
        Considering that I have few infographics under construction, Pinterest could be useful…
        I am going to consider the option to jump on Pinterest in the next weeks…
        I already joined your newsletter to know more about it πŸ˜‰

  5. When I stated blogging, I had no idea about SEO or any of those other stuff. Actually I still don’t have a very big knowledge of them. But I still would rather put in the time to built up my own site and make that profitable than work for someone else. Great post…

    • Sorry you took it that way, Jay – I didn’t mean it to come across as purely self-promotional. Just wanted to describe my experience in writing the book and hopefully give some tips that would help people.

    • Jay, Beth was simply providing her own real life examples for the steps she outlines in the article. This isn’t an article about how to use Pinterest for marketing your business, so the article is not a plug at all – two separate topics.

      I think it’s brilliant that she has created a book in such a short period of time & graciously shared her knowledge in how to create a substantial amount of content. Something I think a lot of people struggle with.

    • Jay, this is a site primarily about content marketing, so take notes. Also, I think Beth’s post last week about Pinterest was much more likely to sell her book … about Pinterist. πŸ˜‰

    • Yeah no offense, that was my first impression as well which immediately prompted me to check Beth’s credentials which so far has seemed to be a blog about blogging and pintersting about pinterest. Hope there’s more to it than that.

      • Hi Deb – thanks for your comment. Pinterest is a billion-dollar company, and is the fastest growing social media site in history. It’s also estimated that there are approximately 500 million English language blogs (and over 100 million blogs in other languages) on the web today.
        Social media is where the action is – in marketing, advertising, and publishing. It’s totally fine if you don’t want to get on that train, but you can’t deny that it’s a big deal.

  6. Congratulations! You showed us the ‘power’ of a guest blog post and a blog post in general. I wish you much success with your book. I’m still looking into Pinterest to see how authors use it and if it works for them. This could work for my middle grade and YA projects along with my freelance writing business.

    Set a schedule

    Last weekend, I revisited my middle grade book (based on a short story I wrote in 2008) and have begun outlining it. I have my characters and chapter titles in my “notes” Word document (like “Odds and Ends”). I re-read what I wrote in 2008 and will clean up and build upon the story. Writing on the weekend works for me because I can write for 6-8 hours at a time. If I can’t sleep, I’ll write at night or early in the a.m. πŸ™‚

    Best of luck on your new book!

  7. This is great!! Thank you … I love the “uniform” … as a writer working from home, I know this is SO true. On days when I “dress the part” – it puts a whole different energy into motion – ha! … today happens to be one of those πŸ™‚ Appreciate the helpful tips ~ Thanks.

  8. You are so right in observing that everyone should figure out a schedule that works for them. I was a night owl for many years — it was the ONLY time I could write really productively. Our society tends to scoff at night owls — or judge them to be lazy or disorganized. Nothing could be further from the truth! I know this because, mysteriously, overnight, I turned into a morning lark. I didn’t TRY to do this — it just happened. (I’m blaming hormones.) In any case, I now strongly prefer writing in the early morning. (I’m up at 6 am most days — even on weekends.) I don’t think I’m any better — but society does!

    We’re all hardwired to prefer certain times of day. We all need to figure out which works best for us!!!!

    • Hi Daphne – I think I was embarrassed about being a night owl for a long time…I feel like society really encourages early risers. But now that I’ve finally embraced my late night tendencies, I’m getting a lot more writing done. And who knows – maybe it will change for me, too! Then I’ll adapt to that, as well! Best of luck!

  9. What a great post and so inspiring too. Breaking a project down certainly works for me. I find it helps to keep my thoughts and writing on track. All too often I find that once an idea is broken down, it can contain too much information and would be better as two articles. This saves time and makes for a more interesting read.
    I particularly like your tip of not deleting anything but saving it for later. How simple but so effective. Thanks.

    • Thanks – the tip about not deleting anything came from some author friends of mine. It saved my butt several times during edits. Another side benefit – I could stick paragraphs in my “Odds and Ends” file when I wasn’t sure where to put them, and when I was finished with my first draft of the book, I looked over all those snippets to make sure I had included everything I wanted to add. A nice little reminder when I was in a hurry.

  10. Thanks for sharing these solid, stellar tips. Sticking to a schedule isn’t easy, but as writers if we don’t commit to practicing our craft on the regular we can’t progress. Both of the blogs I manage seem to pick up followers when updated daily as opposed to when updated only a few times per week.

  11. My favorite part of this article was the “writer’s uniform.” When I wrote “Autism’s Hidden Blessings,” I wore a baseball cap on every day when working at the coffee shop. When I wore it the regular way, bill to the front, it meant “DO NOT APPROACH….WORKING.” A bill to the back meant, “Okay, I can chat now.” I know it’s extremely quirky, but it worked for me and I got the manuscript in on time!

    Also, writing the table of contents first and chopping the manuscript up by chapter…good advice. Again, that worked for me and prevented me from writer’s burnout. If I didn’t feel inspired to write on one chapter, I could jump to another one and go with the flow. If I were to taking on writing an entire manuscript, I would find a million other things to do every time I sat down to write. The entire task would be too overwhelming.

    • Hi Kelly – I’m glad your baseball cap works for you as a “uniform!” And yes, concentrating on one small section at a time really kept me from getting overwhelmed and helped me stay productive.
      Anne Lamott, in in her very practical book on writing, “Bird by Bird,” talks about looking at things through a one-inch picture frame while you’re writing. Have you read it? Breaking things into chunks helps me concentrate on just one little section at a time. And keeps me from weeping. πŸ™‚

  12. I so agree with the tip about “feeding myself” good information. I had been on vacation during a move from CA to AZ and hadn’t had time to read or feed my brain. I got back to work last week and had total writers block because I had not been reading enough. It was terrible and very eye opening for me. This really is a great post!

    • Thanks, Nadine! And yes, not reading regularly makes writing so much harder for me. I always have to be reading something juicy, and that’s what I tell my clients to do, too.

  13. WOW! This was a powerhouse post for me. I love step 6 and step 10. Especially 10 – that’s such a great idea for me. I’m so glad I took the time to consume this one! Thanks!

  14. Beth – Well done. I love the idea of “breaking the project down.” I often use mind mapping as away to begin to visualize my “chapters of a blog post or presentation. I use different colors and shapes for each of my different offshoots of the main subject or title. It’s amazing how I can easily find where to put “new ideas” or concepts once the original map has been created.

    Good luck with the book release.

    • Thanks, Sean! I love mind mapping too. The original table of contents for this book originally started off as a mind map. Do you have a software (or online) program that you like to use for it?

  15. It is truly surprising how quickly mental rust sets in! One week without writing stretches into two then three and before you know it, you’re making mistakes when spelling your own name. Even as a professional speech writer I’ve been guilty of not doing the first four on your list.

    Thanks for this post and every success with your book.

  16. Thank you for the article, Beth. #5 and #6 work very well for me, and now that my second book is about to be published, I’m starting to get serious about #2, rather than seeing my writing only as a means to an end.
    By the way, Made to Stick was the Heath Brothers’ first book. The book you mentioned was Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.

    • You’re right, Jack! I love both these books so much that I think the content sort of melded together in my head! Thanks for letting me know.

  17. Hey Beth, nice article.
    Before you wrote the book did you actually have a lot of success blogging with pinterest?
    Or is this one of those long research papers for what could “potentially” happen if you dabble with pinterest.
    Isn’t pinterest about making real life be interesting?
    Why would a person who is interesting and creative as it is need to read a book about pinterest?
    It just seems like the result of this book might be a bunch of unqualified uninteresting people telling a bunch of other unqualified uninteresting people how to do something that they have yet to do.
    Know what I mean?
    Great writing regardless, thank you.

    • Hi Deb – thanks for your comment. Pinterest is consistently one of the top referrers of traffic to my blog, and the traffic that I get from Pinterest is of much high quality than traffic from some other sites – visitors stay on my site for longer and convert much better.
      As to your second point, as with many things in life, technique and strategy matter. It’s wonderful to have a great product or be fabulously interesting, but it’s whole different ballgame to convey information about your product or personality in a way that helps you increase traffic and grow your sales. And that’s one of the reasons why I wrote the book.

  18. Beth-
    Great stuff. Very inspiring.
    Love the concept of “suiting up”. What a cool tool to separate the personal and the professional world.
    Never thought of the “go pro” mindset. I can see where that would make a big difference in daily productivity.
    “I knew that my job, every single day, was to write to the best of my ability for a large portion of the day. I was a professional β€” and that’s what professionals do. ”
    So worth bookmarking!


  19. Thank you Beth, this is just exactly what I needed to know. I’m a webmaster and blogger, but I hadn’t paid much attention to Pinterest. Now I will, you can count on it! Thank goodness for people like you who are so willing to share your expertise with others.

  20. I love these and want to add a 12th one: take days off! All creative minds need a chance to rest. Your brain will spin all sorts of new angles while you are at the spa, on the beach or wandering through the park. Always make sure you have something with you on which to record them, even if all you bring is your phone.

  21. Great to hear such good advice from someone who’s DONE IT! I especially like the “writing uniform”! I guess I have one too – shorts and a t-shirt! – although I didn’t realize it! LOL!

  22. I think part of a struggle that my blogging students face is twofold:

    1 – what the heck do I write about at all?
    2 – how do I write it so that it pays off for me?

    There is so much emphasis – understandably so – on the marketing of our writing, down to the headline we use for our Facebook status or how many characters are in our tweets. It becomes a challenge just to enjoy it, to speak from the heart, and to focus on sharing only with those people for whom you truly resonate with, rather than collecting unique visitors. Excellent article to share with my students!!

  23. What a great article! i recently graduated from college and as I try to find a job/decide what to do next, it’s all too apparent to me that I what I should really be doing with my time (rather than cleaning or reading my entire blog roll) is writing. #8 really resonated with me. I definitely think I spend too much time consuming and too little time creating.

  24. Hi MaLinda – I’m not good at taking days off…I’m terrible at it, actually. I need to start scheduling more downtime and then locking my laptop in a closet so I’m not tempted. I guess that means I love my work, which is great – but I think you’re correct in saying that we need recharge time. Thanks for the reminder.

  25. Coming up with great content is really a challenge. Your tip # 1 really says it all for me. It’s about writing consistently until it becomes a part of your system, and there’s no more room for excuses. Cheers!

    • I love me so color coding, too, Kelli! This trick worked so well I’m going to start using it on other projects, too – like my client project estimates!

  26. Hey Beth,

    I wish I could pick just one point that really resonated with me, but I would be lying if I didn’t say all of them apply to me and my current writing struggles/success. I love the “odds and ends” folder idea – I do something similar but it’s only cut and paste at the bottom of the particular post I’m working on. I’m definitely going to start putting all of those thoughts into a separate file.

    Thanks for a great post!

    P.S. Just a heads up, the book you refer to in #11 is really called Switch. It just so happens I read the chapter on action triggers today… weird, huh? Made to Stick was Chip and Dan’s first book. Both are phenomenal, I just wanted to make sure your readers are looking for the right book if they’re interested. Take care!

  27. This is an awesome article, Beth! I usually have a pretty strict regimen for writing my blog and my books, but lately that’s gone out the window. I started back on track this week and your post was a great encouragement. I’m saving this one!

  28. IT BURNS ME UP — sorry for yelling, but I’m angry– when dopey people say things like: “this post seems like a thinly veiled plug for your book.” What is wrong with people?

    For crying out loud, you even said in this post: “Since my main marketing strategy for my book is to publish guest posts as much as I can,”

    Beth, you wrote a very informative post, sharing great ideas and all some people can think of is that you have some dark, evil, alterior motive.

    Jealousy truly sucks. There are trolls all around us. Why can’t people (and I use the term loosely) just appreciate the useful, helpful and FREE information provided, and leave it at that. But no, that would be good and decent, and we can’t have that. God forbid. So instead, some small troglodytes feel the need to hurt those who are just trying to be helpful AND, maybe make a buck. I’m not sorry about this rant. Believe me, I can say more, but I’ll just say, thank you Beth.

  29. Hi Beth, I love your advice in this post. My favorite point is balancing consuming and creating. It’s easy to consume too much and create too little because reading is easier than writing. In order to write more, you’ve got to know when to cut yourself off from reading sources and put your head down to write.

  30. Beth,

    What did you do for food? (I am serious!) As the person in charge of food in my household, I’m in awe of your 35,000 words and wondering …

    Congratulations, by the way. Awesome accomplishment.

  31. I guess I am a bad writer. When I am not writing, my mind is full of thoughts that I want to capture in words but when I start doing so, these simply vanish. I guess I won’t be able to write a 35,000 words document like you did. You have done an amazing job. Keep it up.

  32. Just the “kick in the pants” I’ve been needing! Making the conscious transformation from a casual writer to a “professional writer” is what I have been missing. Not seeing myself as a professional writer, I’ve allowed myself to slack off some days when I should be approaching my writing as a career. For me, though, it really comes down to balancing my “work writing” with my desire to indulge in daily casual writing time, as well.
    And I think I will come up with a “writing uniform”, too πŸ™‚

  33. When I wrote my first published book, that’s what I did: focused on it as my major project. I found that I could only work on it for three hours each day until I had to do something else. My trigger for starting to work on Money Management for Cross-Cultural Workers: it was the first thing I did after breakfast. Then the rest of the work day I took a walk outside and read and listened to other content. I believed I could get it done, and I had a self-imposed deadline.
    Thanks for sharing the prolific content creation secrets, Beth! I like the idea of an “odds and ends” document.

  34. Great tips. I LOVE LOVE the odds and ends idea. I’m going to start this right away. Why put all that effort to waste right? Perfect! Thank you, as always, for great insight for writers.

  35. I’m really good at #5, and it makes sense since I’m a coach, so I’m regularly breaking down complex skills into manageable bites for athletes. But sometimes it seems I can never get past #1!

    I’ve also found that big projects require proper fueling, just like a 5k or marathon does. Don’t neglect how much more focused and creative you can be when you eat healthy!

  36. Hi Beth, First of all I would like to say congratulations for publishing a new book and secondly for getting chance to make us informed using the Copyblogger what is always on my radar and many peoples like me specially who had commented over here.

    It was really surprising for me that you compiled 35,000 words in a book in just 6 weeks, and that’s why I would like to know that how did you researched that topic of “Business Promoting on Pinterest” and when ?

    • Hi Robinsh – I did quite a bit of research for the initial Copyblogger Pinterest article that I did in February, so some of the legwork was already done by the time I started the book. But I really love researching and learning about topics related to content marketing, so I just did more research as I was writing and it was actually kind of fun! πŸ™‚ I would write for an hour or two, then research for another hour. And I always stayed up to date on the blogs in my RSS reader, too – they often featured Pinterest marketing articles, which I added to the pile. Thanks for the great question.

  37. Hi Beth!

    Great Post and well organized list and I agree with you on the point to make the bigger projects in to small pieces of work and keep tracking that works with the time set for that. For me this approach working really well. Thanks for sharing very usefull knowledge. πŸ™‚

  38. #2, I can’t stress enough how true and important this is. Many “writers” just push out content for the sake of getting it done, so they can check “that article I need to do” off their lists. One of the greatest barriers to putting out good, shareable content is that apathetic attitude.

    The minute you acknowledge that you are a professional and that everything you do should reflect that is when you will start to see results. It goes along with the saying “act like the person you want to be”. Approach every piece of content as a direct representation of yourself and you’re brand and you will never settle with “just getting the article complete”.

  39. Yes!

    Systematize everything, especially yourself. My number asset is my own body its energy levels. If those aren’t working, then I’m wasting time trying to write good content.

    #5 is great and I think anyone familiar with the principles of success would agree: Small chunk everything!

  40. I think the whole idea of a “uniform” is really great – this winter I spent days in my PJ pants and it basically felt like I was bumming around the house – not really “working”. Just getting outside to a coffeeshop or anything can have a very positive effect on your outlook as well. Great article!

  41. I love the idea of the odds and ends document – I’m going to adopt that one immediately. But most of all, AMEN to number one. Let’s just say goodbye to excuses and prevarication and type some words!

    Your book looks great, just added it to my wishlist.

  42. Congratulations Beth on the book deal! Your ability to write an entire manuscript in a short period of time is a testament to your ability to do the work with discipline and without excuses. It was a great decision on your part to break the project down into smaller pieces to make a daunting task more manageable.

  43. I get into my best writing mode when I’m highly motivated. At times there are distractions that I couldn’t write for more than 20 minutes. At times I got into that mode, I can do anything including writing even if it requires hours of my time. Actually this week is that mode. HIghly motivated and productive. No games, youtube, facebook, just tasks that move me forward.

  44. Thank you for writing this. I have been moving in this direction, but I didn’t have everything spelled out. It makes the task in front of me solidify into what needs to be done. I am going to have to remember to come back here and reread this when I start slowing down (it’s NaNoWriMo season).

  45. Thanks for your tip Beth. “no-tolerance policy for whining and excuses.” LOL. That is SOO me.

    Totally loved the quote that you’re using on this post “What we need to do as writers, artists or entrepreneurs is to turn pro, mentally”. And this is the thing that i never thought before.

    This is what i love about Copyblogger site. It always slaps me in the face with many great tips that make me realize that i’ve been doing many mistakes in the past. Just saved your post. I must save this post!!

  46. Thanks, Tim – the “turning pro” concept is 100% Steven Pressfield. He’s my hero. Sometimes digging in and really doing the work is still a struggle for me, and some days are better than others. But if we continue to get up every day and fight the good fight, we’ve already won in many ways! πŸ™‚

    Keep fighting!

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