15 Habits of Legendary Content Creators

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Everyone can have happy and successful careers as content creators, if they adopt positive working habits. According to Pearson, the right habits can be the difference between successfully achieving goals and having work-life balance, or struggling to simply meet expectations. While procrastination is among the worst things you can do on a daily basis, especially when you’re striving to meet deadlines, small changes in other areas can yield remarkable results. We’ve highlighted some of the many ways modern content creators can boost their productivity and quality, by curating brilliant expert advice:

15 Habits of Legendary Content Creators

1. Read News Daily

Literary experts have known for decades that successful authors read a ton. You simply can’t write with empathy and the right context if you exist in a vacuum. Maggie Hibma of HubSpot recommends immersing yourself in industry news every day, even if it’s your day off our you’re on vacation.

Almost no one can sit down at their laptop and hammer out a brilliant blog article first thing in the morning. When you get to work, grab your tea, sit down and dive into your carefully-curated RSS feeds, favorite blogs, and news websites. You’ll be far more informed because of this pattern.

2. They’re Masters of Time Management

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You can’t be an effective content creator without a healthy respect for deadlines. If a major industry news story crosses your desk and you drag your feet on newsjacking for days, you won’t get the surge of traffic you deserve. Content marketing demands the right context - so you’ve got to know when to redirect your time, and how.

“Write faster” isn’t even close the the solution, because you’re much more likely to see a drop in quality than better results. Better focus, scheduling and time-blocking can help significantly. For more on the subject, we recommend 13 Time-Saving Blogging Tips from the World’s Busiest Marketers.

3. Create Often

As 90% of organizations turn towards content marketing as part of their strategy, a new class of content creators has emerged. This group does very little actual writing - their titles may be something like “Content Marketing Manager,” and their day-to-day tasks typically involve more management, content curation, and editorial calendar creation than actual writing.

Regardless of whether you’re a newly-hired content creator or a Chief Marketing Officer, it behooves you to create something every day. It doesn’t need to be a full-length eBook, but simply writing for 10-15 minutes can help you keep your skills up.

4. Invest in Ideas

A well-written blog about a tired subject isn’t going to do as well as a mediocre piece of content about a fresh, new, and exciting idea. You should never settle for mediocre, but the world’s brightest content creators recognize that great writing and fresh ideas result in loads of traffic, leads, and customers. Invest in the freshest ideas by recording concepts as they come to you, listening closely on Twitter, and actively inviting your community to share their thoughts on what they’d like to learn more of.

5. Think Like a Scientist

The days when writers were isolated creatives who spun ideas, and sent a tidy manuscript off to their publisher are over. Now, content creators are publishers, and it’s up to you to dive into the research and distribution that presses handled in the past. Scientists rely on data and analysis to make decisions, so you’ve got to take a similarly number-driven approach to your publishing.

6. Don’t Get Comfortable

Fail quickly, and always be ready to pivot. The worst thing a content creator today can do is getting comfortable and therefore refusing to improve.  We totally get it - change is hard, and it can be tempting to do what you know. However, formulaic and repetitive content is pretty much the opposite of what Google considers quality. Klazema Communications recommends always paying attention to the details, and never failing to improve when your metrics say you should.

7. Network Effectively

There’s never been a formal study done on the topic, but I’ve got a theory that many great content creators are introverts. As much as it may feel challenging, you’ve got to step outside your tendency to disappear into your ideas, and become a master networker. Whether you’re meeting people online or offline, adopt the principles of great networking and help others by promoting their efforts. Focus on quality relationships, not quantity contacts, and your social sharing results will soar.

8. Be Multi-Fauceted

Really successful content marketing brands aren’t just blogging anymore. As Lisa Nirell recently highlighted in Fast Company, the average brand is now using 12 tactics. Content creators need to learn now to write, design, edit videos, record podcasts, and schedule Tweets like a pro. For extra credit, take Nirell’s recommendation to do truly innovative tactics like short webcasts.

9. Engage Your Audience

Once you’ve mastered the art of brand voice and publishing regularly, it’s time for content creators tackle an even-bigger challenge, the idea of true community engagement. This concept was recently named one of the toughest issues facing content creators in a MarketingSherpa survey. Here are some of Nirell’s ideas to move beyond simple responses to comments:

  • Giveaways in Response to Shares and Feedback
  • Regular Surveying for Input
  • Live Polling

10. Be a Hybrid

Truly amazing content creators are whole-brain professionals. They’re intensely creative, but also remarkably analytical. These individuals create moving, educational art in response to metrics and changes in industry trends. It’s not easy to adopt a whole-brain work style, but it’s going to serve you well in life and your career, even if you don’t stick with content marketing forever.

11. Leverage Audience-Interaction

While Gawker is a truly controversial publication, you can’t argue with the fact that they’ve built an engaged audience. Founder Nick Denton is a pioneer among content creators, even letting readers re-write headlines and stories in real-time. Embracing this concept could put you years ahead of your competition.

12. Stick Only to Your Framework

General Electric is often lauded as one of today’s great content brands, and it’s true. They’ve managed to create a massive, worldwide audience around an admittedly boring product by marketing across many different mediums - from Facebook to Pinterest. Their Global Marketing Director Linda Boff recommends “being free within a framework,” the idea of setting some basic ground rules and then going (a little) crazy. Here’s her definition of a framework for content creators; a budget, a team, a medium, and a message. Know where you’ll publish and the overarching brand story you’ll be sticking to, and then let your creativity run wild.

13. Contribute to Conversations

Amazing content creators are really just teachers who relay important concepts to customers, but the top 5% have learned how to become a part of important industry discussions. In the last few weeks, HubSpot made the decision to separate their blogs - they’ve now got their traditional marketing content stream, but there’s been the addition of “Up & To the Right,” a sometimes-controversial blog that’s focused on tech news. If you can only pick one tactic, teach, but if you can do both, become an industry news source.

14. Be an Early Adopter

Facebook and Twitter won’t always be the reigning social media networks, and the best content creators aren’t afraid to dive into the new mediums which are emerging every day. Whether you’re dipping your toes into Slideshare or Medium, the worst that can come of being an early-adopter of new platforms is poor results. Always try new things, because you never know what’s going to truly take off.

15. Be Curious

Intellectual curiosity is the driving force behind improvement, which is why content creators need to hold tight to their sense of wonder. You’ve got to maintain a healthy curiosity about where your industry is going, how you can continually improve your content, and whether you truly understand your brand’s prospects. It can be difficult to ask the right questions when you’re bogged down by deadlines and production quotas, but never stop wondering.

What habits have you adopted to become a more effective content creator?