A Day in the Life of a Content Creator
A content creator’s life is a mix of interesting and exhausting; there’s never a day when it isn’t satisfying. While many may have the luxury of hitting the snooze button once or twice, I’ve rarely enjoyed that privilege. Instead, my day starts early (often as soon as my feet hit the ground) by scouting the internet to see if there’s anything worthwhile trending. Besides scrolling through memes on social media, I look for topics that are a part of popular conversations and understand the public’s sentiments around them. And of course, there’s news – a primary source for ideas – which I derive from newspapers, the internet, and social media. My content creation work begins only once I have interesting ideas or topics to work on. One of the things I enjoy most about being a writer is that I have the flexibility to create content on subjects of my expertise and topics that appeal to my audience or even myself. Unfortunately, audiences today have only limited attention to offer. Their preferences are usually inclined to what’s ‘in’ and ‘hot.’ Therefore, I must stay on my toes and capture their mood in my work. The more relevant my content is, the more it is viewed and shared.
I’m a researcher, storyteller, marketer, critic, and synthesizer of ideas during a typical content writing session. For me, creative satisfaction comes from iterating and challenging my understanding of a subject. So, as I explore the different aspects of a subject, my opinion about it often changes. But from a content marketing perspective, I must also keep in mind the needs of the brand and its target audience. So, I need to harmonize my own point of view and the intent with which a piece of content is being created. And when my instinct or analysis isn’t enough to show me the right track, the client brief serves as my compass.
One might say that creativity is spontaneous and cannot be cultivated. However, I do not have the luxury of waiting for my creative juices to flow as a lot of my work is time-bound. Since my audience has a plethora of information reaching them and fighting for their attention, I need to make sure that my work is just as appealing as it is useful. But ‘writer’s block’ can come without warning and can leave you feeling frustrated. I try to fight this by following a process I devised after months of trial and error. So, if you are planning to become a content creator, here’s some advice.
Once I have narrowed in on a topic, I put on my Sherlock Holmes hat (metaphorically speaking, of course). At this stage, I research and gather all the information I can about that specific topic before sitting down and putting the content together. The key is to use the right search terms or keywords to avoid being pulled in a different direction and wasting time. If a topic is new to me, I usually scan Wikipedia for better understanding, I check credible sources to verify this information, especially when a citation is required.
A good practice is to set up Google alerts on topics that you frequently write about, for example, auto, nutrition, fashion, etc. This can save you time as the most relevant content related to your area of expertise gets delivered straight to your inbox. I also keep a running list of ideas saved on Google Drive and refer to them to build on my content.
Once I have the outline ready from researching, I move to the content creation stage. While I do have the freedom to let my creativity take charge, there are times when I have to stick to a rule book – client requirements in the case of branded content for marketing. The brand’s stance, voice, and SEO guidelines tend to shape my work. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t make my work different or stand. My goal with each piece of content is to provide my audience with something fresh and new – an ‘Aha’ moment – if you will. In the end, to be recognized by readers, you need to provide information that is useful, relatable, or impactful. For this, I look at Quora and social media platforms to get an idea of what my audience wants to know.
Most people think that once a piece of content is created (in my case – written), the job’s done. But there’s a crucial step in this creative process that no writer worth his or her salt will skip, and that is editing. Being able to critique your own work is the only way to improve. If you are an independent content creator, there is little scope to get honest external feedback before publishing your work. Once published, there’s, of course, the comments and feedback section where your audience can leave their remarks. But to ensure your content is up to the mark, analyzing your work or asking peers in your network to do so is important. You can even consider joining certain groups on social media where you can connect with other creators!
While editing articles, besides fixing the structure, flow, grammar, etc., it is essential to think like a reader. After all, they are the consumers of your content, and they expect to receive information as quickly and as lucidly as possible. It is, in fact, a key writing principle for internet content. Some websites even indicate how long it may take (‘3-minute read’, ‘5-minute read’) for an average reader to read through a piece of content, allowing them to decide whether they have the time to read it at that moment. So, as a writer or content creator, getting your message across within a decent amount of time is necessary to generate engagement and interest.
Finally, it is important to have time blocks for each stage in the process of content creation. This keeps me accountable, especially when I’m feeling a little lethargic. Giving different stages of the process approximate ‘ETAs’ helps me stay on track when I have tight deadlines. Delivering all my work on time makes for happy clients, which boosts my professional image and work prospects.
Working as a content creator, I’ve realized that deadlines are often a blessing in disguise. Psychologists say that they trigger eustress, which means good or beneficial stress. And from experience, I can vouch that deadlines help deliver quality work at a good pace and keeps me from slacking off.
As a content creator, I owe it to myself and my readers to perfect my craft since they rely on the information I communicate to them. Hence, I’m always on the lookout for inspiration to do better. I learn from other writers and compare my work to different types of content and try to deliver something new and useful with every piece. It keeps me grounded, focused, and always looking for ways to improve my craft.
Contributors: Minal Malli, Sanchea DSouza, Swapnil Adsul