5 Productivity Hacks for Creatives: Content Creation
Hi there! I’m back again with another set of productivity hacks for creatives. This time, I’m chatting with Natasha, social media manager and strategist of Sol Studio, on how to be more productive with content creation. When you’re strengthening your brand online, it’s important to know what kind of content you want to post, how much time it will take to create it and how to maximize the time you’ve allocated. We’ll share our strategies for each of the 5 steps in the content creation process below.
1. Ideation/Planning- when, how often, how much, how much on a monthly basis, drawing inspiration
For me, the content creation process starts with brainstorming and creating a digital content plan. I use Airtable, a customizable database used to organize everything in my business, for all of my content calendar creation. When I start the planning stage with a new client, we start by determining what our 5 pillars or categories of content will be. Then, I use Airtable to plan out topics, campaigns, a posting schedule, and the type of images I’ll need to obtain. Brainstorming new campaign ideas, content ideas, and tools I can use is just apart of this first step for me. I grab from other Instagram accounts, Pinterest, newsletters, and blogs for new ways to keep my feed fresh.
On my business Instagram account, I stick to posting three times per week and my image content includes one yellow graphic and two other photos within my 5 pillars of content. By planning out my weekly schedule, I then know how much content I need before scheduling using a tool like Planoly or Later.
When a client books a brand shoot with me, I set up a planning meeting with them to discuss the purpose of the shoot and how they would like it to go. This helps me understand their brand and determine a theme, location and what kind of shots we’ll need to tell their story.
I send them a Brand Photoshoot Guide in Google Docs that we both have access to, and they either complete it beforehand or we go through it together during the meeting. It saves so much time and ensures we’re on the same page.
I also send them a private Pinterest board where they can pin inspiration for the shoot. Whether it’s colors, poses or a location, it further helps me understand what they want their images to look like for their social media and website.
A week to a few days before the shoot, I do some location scouting. Especially if it’s a place I’m not familiar with, I like to get a feel for the best areas on location to shoot. It’s best to visit the location during the same time of day as the shoot, but it’s not required.
If you’re working with a photographer on content creation, book an hour or two of shooting to get as many photos as possible for the month. Meet with them once a month and bring as many outfits, props, and ideas to the shoot. That will ensure you have enough content for at least two weeks to a month without having to shoot more often.
2. Creating- how you’re going to create the content
There are a few methods I like to create content for my business account. I’d say over half of my photos of me or flatlays were taken with my handy dandy iPhone 8. I also love to collaborate with amazing photographers like Christina to amp up my content creation game and curate personal branded photos.
For my clients, I used a variety of stock photos, reposting other accounts content, or coaching them on how to create content on their own. Consistently editing your photos using presets or filters is the best way to make all of your content cohesive. Personally, I use VSCO for all of my feed photos and have invested in Lightroom presets for using my DSLR camera for content.
When creating your content, I suggest creating a balance of photo options within those 5 pillars. Close up shots, shots of you, product shots, working shots, and everything in between will help you when you’re planning out your feed. I use Later’s preview tool to plan out visually what my feed will look like with the photos I’ve gathered and easily rearrange them.
Image credit: Grace Studio
I approach content creation from a lifestyle/storytelling perspective. For example, if you’re booking a personal style shoot, be sure to bring accessories and a showstopper item to really tell the story of your outfit. You can only get so many full body shots. I love to capture a good pair of earrings, arm candy or a stunning pair of shoes!
Bring props that relate to your brand. For example, if you’re a hairstylist, bring some of your styling tools. If you own a product based business, bring your products! We can create images that tell the story of your brand.
Don’t forget headshots! Your clients want to see the person behind the brand. I know it can be uncomfortable to get in front of the camera (one of the many reasons why I’m behind the camera!) but it humanizes your brand and becomes instantly more relatable.
3. Scheduling it and planning grid
Bulk scheduling is my jam. As a social media manager, scheduling weeks worth on content in one sitting ensures I effectively implement strategies, create a cohesive feed, and free up my time for engagement sessions. Using a tool scheduling tool automatically posts to your Instagram feed which helps lessen the stress of remembering to post or optimizing your posting time.
Other grid planning tools I love to recommend alongside Later and Planoly include Preview and Plann. When creating your content calendar in Airtable, you can also change the view to Gallery and add a row for Attachments to add your content and visually organize posts.
When you’re scheduling your content, use the tools Natasha mentioned to plan your feed. I use UNUM to organize some of my favorite shots to see how they mesh together in my feed. This is also why it’s important to have enough content ahead of time to do this! If you only bring one or two outfits to a shoot, it can be hard to plan your content or have enough to post before your next shoot.
4. Promote- more organic promoting on social, paid
At Sol Studio, I like to focus on organic growth using engagement techniques and hashtag strategy. Since the algorithm is semi-chronological, I like to track my analytics within my Instagram business account to ensure I’m posting my content when my audience is most engaged. The faster you get engagement on a new post, the more likely your post is to get shown to more users. By scheduling my posts in my Later account, I can ensure this time is optimized and that I add my strategic hashtags to each post. I suggest storing a few lists of hashtags within your scheduler or a note on your phone. Using strategic hashtags will help your post reach new followers and boost your engagement.
I try to actively use stories leading up to a new post. Using internal tools like stories appeases the algorithm and can help your post be seen by your followers. When I’m in launch mode for a client, I will utilize paid promotions on Instagram feed and also Instagram stories. Stories are where users are actively engaging and can swipe up to learn more about your CTA.
I have been using more paid ads on social to reach a more targeted audience. I do also engage with potential clients, brands I’d love to work with and complementary businesses like Natasha to collaborate with and cross-promote for more organic engagement.
5. What’s next- planning the next set of content
Each week, I track my analytics and engagement for each post that went out including stories. I try to look at things like when the post went out, what hashtags I used, the type of image content, and the overall copy to determine what worked and what make didn’t work as well. On the first of each month, I like to track analytics for my clients to stay on top of their growth and strategically plan or the next set of content.
As an active user of stories, I like to poll my audience frequently to ensure I am creating content they want to see and offering as much value as possible. I constantly am brainstorming new content ideas through researching conversations Facebook Groups, questions in my DMs, and industry news. I have an Airtable section all for organizing ideas and topics I have to grab from for my next bulk scheduling session. When I am going through the scheduling step, I like to plan out my image content first so I can plan a timeline for when I’ll need to do another shoot for content. Through bulk scheduling, you can set your visibility up for weeks at a time to allow time for content creation with a photographer or behind your own lense.
As I mentioned, booking at least one shoot per month and shooting in bulk will make your time and planning more productive. Having a content calendar and blog post idea in mind before booking a shoot helps you and the photographer plan the content, which shots to get and how you will promote it on your blog and social media!
If you’re looking to amp up your Instagram strategy and content, be sure to download Natasha’s FREE guide for creating s successful social media strategy. Need 1:1 support when it comes to using social media for your brand or business? Redeem 50% off Natasha’s strategy session and audit before this offer expires.
What are your thoughts on making content creation more productive? Share with us in the comments!