Inbound Business Tips

Between process and freedom: 6 Steps to better content creation

Isn't creativity about freedom? That and a dose of process. Read on to learn where you find that sweet spot between the two to deliver exceptional content creation.

In a 1990 interview with Steve Jobs, Jobs stressed that too many processes can kill creativity. This came from one of the most successful and iconic creators of the our age. In this post, let’s look at whether process stifles content creation and how you can find that sweet spot for exceptional content creation.

Athletes have a dedicated training routine, as should content creators

Let’s put technology aside and talk about sport (sorry, I can’t help myself). Think about the world’s super athletes: Usain Bolt; Michael Johnson, and Wayde van Niekerk (who smashed Michael's 17-year 400m world record.) Do you think their training routine was lifted from an issue of Men’s Health? No way!

Their coaches, along with a nutritionist, physiotherapist (and possibly a psychologist) determined the perfect training and nutrition regime to ensure peak performance.

Do you think the exact same work regime will make every copywriter, videographer and designer produce their best work?

Content creation needs a dose of process. Careful – not too much

There’s plenty of literature supporting the idea that creativity and motivation get crushed by too many processes, as well as micromanagement. See this Harvard Business Review article – it’s a bit old, but human psychology hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years.

And if you’re the type of person who left a company to start their own shop, you probably don’t like micromanagement, either. Which is what I did. I own a HubSpot inbound marketing agency in Melbourne and micromanaging is definitely not how I run my own company.

Creativity is the opposite of process: It can be free flowing, unpredictable and spontaneous. The catch-22? In business, content creation needs structure. Blog posts require keywords, meta descriptions, calls to action, and angles that align with audience needs, your company purpose (and much more). That’s not all – design needs to follow brand guidelines and templates.

Where’s the sweet spot between freedom, creativity and structure?

The sweet spot is not a myth. Here are tips on how to find it:

1. Create a thorough brief

This is one of the most important steps in the whole content creation process. Without a thorough brief, your creatives won’t know which direction to run. Not only that, but a poor brief leads to back-and-forth conversations about what’s required, multiple edits, misunderstanding and wasted time.

2. Set a deadline and a deliverable and let them run with it

This boils down to communication. Make sure your content creators know exactly what you want them to do and by when. Leave the rest up to them. Are they most creative at 10pm? As long as they’re making their targets, how and when they work shouldn’t be your concern.

3. Give them everything they need to create

Your content creators are in-house? Make the office environment comfortable, collaborative and stimulating. Just ask staff what they need. Do they want more plants? To work from home once a week to focus? A quiet room in the office or a decent coffee machine? Provide the right workplace and you’ll reap the rewards.

4. Don’t micromanage

I mentioned the perils of micromanagement above. If you’re worried you might be a micromanager, read this Harvard Business Review article to find out how to adjust your approach.

5. Involve them in the brainstorming process

Yes, you need to give your creators an excellent brief, but involve them in the brief creation, too. They’ll feel more involved in the work they’re doing And who knows, they might come up with ideas for content you’d never have imagined.

6. Create processes, but be prepared to colour outside the lines

Yes, there needs to be some parameters surrounding what is produced and how it’s produced (a writer can’t just make up their own keywords), but don’t freak out if you have to bend the rules now and again. Experiment with content.




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