How to fall in love with content creation by focusing on long-form content
The average person spends around 7 hours consuming content daily
*Checks Screen time nervously*. The demand for content to be created to sell a product or service has never been higher. (Source: Forbes)
The number one thing is see my clients struggle with is how and what to make content about when building their brand. Being an entrepreneur now means also being a content creator. But the illusive algorithm tends to psych people out, and I get it. What worked a few years ago doesn’t work now. What works now might not work next month. So how does one balance the tasks that come with starting or scaling a brand or business and consistently create content that people actually care about?
Namely, because people feel like the rules are always changing, not to mention influencers setting highlight reel expectations for life, and the amount of time it takes to edit a freaking reel, just for it to disappear from your drafts afterward (been there, done that). So let’s make one thing clear: there is a big difference between being a full-time content creator and creating content for your business. Set your expectations for yourself accordingly.
Pre covid, I started to build my personal brand by posting mainly static images, lengthy captions, and lots of stories daily. Then, when reels were first introduced, I started to post them, too, without giving them much thought. At the same time, the world at large and my own world and life were changing quickly – social media and creating content became a bit too much, and I quit Instagram cold turkey, rarely posting for over a year.
During that time, I started freelancing and sparked the idea (inspired by content I had seen on Tik Tok) to start a business. I knew that to grow my business in a super small town while working out of the spare bedroom in our apartment, I needed to build a presence on social media and connect with an audience of people that I would love to work with. But how to get from point A – a brand new Instagram account with zero followers and only a few clients to my name, to point B – having an audience of people that could benefit from my expertise?
It took a while to get my bearings. The world of Instagram looked much different than I had left it a few years prior. I was building something different now, and I didn’t know a soul who had any clue what I was really up to. So I would plan out content, post a bunch, get little to no traction, get discouraged and give up, eventually starting the same pattern a week later. I thought I knew what I was supposed to be doing, so why wasn’t it working and also taking up days of my time?
I felt like I had work to do for clients and things that actually made me money (unlike instagram), and I couldn’t waste all this time making content. On the flip side, I knew that referrals wouldn’t last me forever, and I wanted to make a more significant impact by creating high-quality and high-converting content. In fact, 73% of the top marketers use content to nurture their audience. Content marketing is a proven way to boost brand awareness, nurture leads, grow audiences, and make sales. I started by making a few key changes.
First, I got help. It was clear to me that I just didn’t have the capacity to manage In-depth Brand and Web design projects and all of the content creation tasks on my own, so I invested in the help of a Social Media manager, and we developed a system for co-creating content that felt on brand and authentic to me.
But I still struggled with wanting to educate and engage a new and small audience about complex ideas and topics – and squeezing it into a 7-second reel to a spice girls song. I had invested in outsourcing only to spend just as much time micro-managing a content strategy that was stressing me the eff out.
So I made another change – and committed to creating content outside of Instagram. Namely – Long form content. Long-form content engages your audience for an extended period – longer than the mere seconds that the average person spends on the Instagram post that took you an hour to get just right. I started playing by Instagram’s rules and creating short-form content that planted seeds about single ideas. My long-form content on my blog gets repurposed into short-form content on my Instagram, which saves me time and energy and has helped me to fall in love with the content creation process. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet. First – do people still read blogs? And what exactly constitutes long-form content?
Video is the most common form of media used in content strategies, replacing blogs for the last two years and becoming the primary media for over 60% of companies. The number of long-form videos created grew by 140% last year. Anything longer than 10 minutes is considered a long form video and they are becoming more and more popular with web users. According to the HubSpot State of marketing report 2021, the number of videos that were 30-60 minutes in length grew by around 140% in 2020. Consumers are more engaged in video content than ever, meaning being on screen gives you an excellent opportunity to educate your audience and convert viewers into qualified leads (Source: HubSpot State of Marketing Report 2021). YouTube is the most popular channel for viewing video content online. I’m not the only one of 122 million youtube users with a daily ritual of catching up on my favorite creators’ newest uploads(Source: HubSpot Content Trends).
Is Blogging dead?
Short answer No. Long answer, what blogging used to be – is kinda dead. Gone are the days of writing a blog a day – now SEO is king, along with long-form content. And before you go thinking that it won’t be worth your time – Companies with blogs produce 67% more monthly leads. How much are 67% more leads worth to your business? (Source: DemandMetric). Long-form blog content is generally considered to be content that is 1200 words or more.
Long-form content is the most effective way to nurture your niche-specific audience. When you create content that educates a specific person on their unique problem – you can keep their attention longer than any short-form content. Long-form content, especially Blogs, also helps you to rank on web searches and build an organic audience over time. Long-form content is a long-term strategy. It has a longer hypothetical shelf life online than short-form content does. The work you put into long-form content can be found, valued, and learned from for longer than the short-form content you create. More importantly, long-form content – specifically if you have a Blog – also lives on your website > so it can help to directly convert your qualified leads into die-hard customers.
In contrast, short-form content – is short-term content:
Short-form content lives on platforms that are constantly being updated and refreshed by the masses. These platforms are programmed by mathematical equations called algorithms that curate each user’s experience to bring them the most up-to-date information in the least amount of time. So short-form content is a short-term strategy (but that doesn’t mean it isnt important). Short-form content also has a pretty short shelf life. If an audience member sees your post in their feed, you have seconds to get their attention and hopefully keep it long enough to get them to read the caption. Even if you nail that Instagram post, and now someone makes their way over to your profile. You only have a couple of minutes of their time – while they tap, tap, swipe – through the last 6-9 posts. Not quite the same as someone intentionally taking the time to read your blog or listen to your podcast. The power and goal of your short-form content should be to reach more people who can benefit and learn from your long-form content.
What kind of content should I create?
Okay, now you know the power of creating long-form content – but where to start? Creating long-form content has helped me fall in love with the content creation process, including how I create short-form content. In my opinion, a manageable long-term content strategy focuses on creating educational and valuable long-form content – and then finding ways to reuse it for short-form content.
Step 1: Pick a platform
The first step to creating long-form content is choosing what kind of content you will create – written content on a blog, recorded audio on a podcast, or Video on youtube. Decisions decisions. The tip I give my 1:1 clients who are unclear on where to start is to create content on the long-form platform they feel the most comfortable with and interact with the most often. Where do you go for info? Do you read blogs? Watch videos? Listen to podcasts? Start there.
Disclaimer here: You still have to know your audience and take them into this decision. If your target market is unlikely to utilize the platform, then it might not be the best place for you to create your long-form content.
Step 2: Set yourself up for success
What do you need to get started? How can you set standard operating procedures and expectations around creating long-form content? I recommend starting with a template and procedure that can be easily replicated each time you sit down to create a piece of content. How often will you post your long-form content? What day will it go out? Spell it out ahead of time and set yourself up for success.
Step 3: Map out your content
Okay, so I need to create content – but what do I create content about? If I had a dollar for each time someone asked me, “what do I post about”- well, I would have a few more pairs of lululemon aligns in my closet. Map out your content ideas by starting at the core of what you do. I call this “your core content,” aka—the most important pieces of your brand and business. Shoot to create an educational piece of long-form content for each subject. Think “How to”, “5 steps to”, “Top 10”. You can also brainstorm sub-topics that relate to your core content. This way, you create content about big ideas and solve unique problems.
Step 4: Make the time to do the freaking work.
I get it; you’ve got a whole business to run, clients to help, dishes to wash, laundry to fold, and a workout to squeeze in. But, Here’s the thing – you have to make time for long-term content – it won’t make itself. I like having my Mondays dedicated to all things marketing – that means content creation. I prefer to batch tasks, but when life gets busy, I know I can squeeze some writing time in the mornings when the world is quiet. As I type this very blog, it’s 8:24 on a Sunday morning. I’m watching The Crown for the third time, and my kitten is curled up on my chest. Sure It’s not ideal to be working on a weekend – but hey, I’ve got a fresh cup of coffee, and things could be worse.
Step 5: Repurpose
Coming up with and creating short-form content can be super time-consuming. Quality over quantity is still your best bet, but the more active you are on short-form content platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok, the more the algorithm “likes you,” which means more engagement. Look at your long-form content as a pizza – and your short-form content as taking a single slice.
Slice up the long-form pizza pie into smaller short-form ideas and dish them out to your audience one at a time. Not everyone wants a whole pizza – sometimes, they just want a slice, and that’s when they will go to you for your short-form content. When they want to order a whole pizza – that’s when they’ll go to your long form.
**Pro tip: Everyone is, at first, a beginner. Keep this in mind and be okay with practicing and being a work in progress.
Writing for my blog has become a task I look forward to each week. I love knowing that each time I post a blog that it’s doing a solid for future me and the future of Cedar June. I also know it’s allowing me to provide valuable resources for other creatives, coaches, and founders.
It also helped me to break down larger ideas into smaller bite-size pieces of short-form content on social media. It takes my team and me less time to create quality content for Instagram because a few of our weekly posts are repurposed from pieces of long-form content on the blog.