Can I tell you a secret? I wrote this post on December 3. I wrote all of December’s articles at the beginning of the month. You see, I’ve been experimenting with this thing called batch content.
One of my goals for this upcoming year is to give myself more time to do other things, like write creatively and play with social media marketing. The only problem is writing these posts takes a significant amount of time to create.
It can take me up to eight hours to write one post, especially if I’m doing a deep dive into the subject. And because I am a bit of a procrastinator by nature, I also give myself time and room to dilly-dally.
Between those two things and wanting to refocus my time on other things, I need to do something else to take the time to do everything I want, and in walks batch content.
Today, we’re going to look at what batch content is and what I think of it.
What is Batch Content?
Before we get into everything, let’s define what batch content is:
Batch Content: the process of creating all of the high-quality content you need for your blog, newsletter, and social media accounts within a short time.
You can do this under a time frame that works for you. Some creators will pump out 30 blog posts in a week or two. Others post two to three times a week on all of their platforms and create, say, 50 pieces of content within a week.
It’s a bit of a crazy idea, but the idea behind it is to front-load all of the hard work so that you can devote more time to writing or editing. But there are a lot of benefits and drawbacks to creating your content this way.
The Benefits and Drawbacks
By benefits and drawbacks, there is really only one in each category.
The most significant benefit is that this will save you so much time. Seriously. Take Rachel Ngom, for instance. She runs a six-figure business but works only about 25 hours per week. That’s due to this process.
Think of it this way. What’s going to save you more time, making all your meals for the week in one afternoon or making dinner every night?
It’s making a week’s worth of meals in an afternoon. You can have multiple meals bubbling on the stove simultaneously, and you can do all your prep work together as well.
Here’s another example for you. What will take less time, watching all of your sport shows at the same time or recording all of them and watching them in one sitting?
Again, using your PVR and binge-watching sports will take less time. Mostly for the use of the fast-forward function.
As much as that sounds great, there is one drawback, it can be exhausting if not done correctly.
The science behind why batch content can be exhausting
Believe it or not, there is a bit of science behind this. According to Sarah Blake, there are four stages to the creative process:
- The Dreaming Phase: The big-picture brainstorming phase.
- The Planning Phase: You take your brainstorming session and start to turn it into a plan.
- The Creation Phase: Take your plan and execute it.
- The Completion + Release Phase: You edit the finished product and send it out into the world.
As you can see, phases one and three take more creative energy, while phases two and four are more detail-oriented. And according to Sarah, you want to avoid switching between the two types of tasks. If you try to brainstorm, outline, write and edit a piece of content all at once, you will exhaust yourself.
The flip-side of this is now you know what you shouldn’t do is everything all at once. You know, as I did. Oops.
My Experience with Batch Content
Social media has never been a priority in my life. I rarely use my non-blog related accounts because I don’t need to know what the world is doing. I’d rather clock out to write, read, hike, or spend time with my husband and loved ones.
Born out of the frustration of never seeming to have time to do the things that I need to do to recharge and relax, I started looking for productivity hacks and optimization strategies for social media because that was the one thing that was sucking up most of my time. I especially needed it since I added more social media content by creating accounts for my literary magazine.
On top of everything else, I was battling burnout from our move in October.
I needed a break, in total honesty, but I didn’t want to stop this blog’s momentum. So I came across this video by Vanessa Lau, and it got my wheels turning:
Some other things happened, and I ended up taking a week-long break at the end of November.
Every Story Needs a Good “Screw It” Moment
Due to that week’s events, I decided to say “screw it” and scheduled a month’s worth of posts to be written in one week the following week.
This brings us to today, December 3.
At this point, I have finished six out of the ten long-form content pieces I need to get done for the month. This post is number seven. I am tired, but I think that has more to do with it getting dark outside than anything else.
I did have a bad day two days ago because I couldn’t focus on the task at hand and was up until midnight trying to get my allotted two posts a day done. What I should’ve done was given myself the time to regroup and use up one of my scheduled “procrastination days.”
And if I keep on track, I will finish writing these blog posts on Saturday, and then I can start scheduling the social media promotion posts on Monday.
Was it Worth it?
I’m not entirely sure of all the ramifications of this little experiment, as December is far from over. However, it feels good getting all of this done ahead of time. It gives me space and time to edit, and it’ll let me deal with any surprises without chasing my tail.
At this stage, I can also easily see myself having more time to do other things later in the month.
The upfront effort required to make this work is a bit of a pain, but often I find myself finishing one article and sliding smoothly into the next one. For that reason alone, it makes doing all of this easier.
In short, I will do this again. I genuinely believe that the effort is worth the extra time in the long-term.
How to Use Batch Content Without Exhausting Yourself
Alright, you have heard about the benefits and drawbacks backs for batch content. You’ve also gotten a glimpse into my experience with it. Now it’s time for me to show you how you can replicate the process for yourself.
You don’t need any fancy equipment or organization tools. You make it as straightforward or as complicated as you want. I used a combination of my editorial calendar (Google Calendar) and Trello to keep myself on track.
With that said, here’s the way to batch your content, according to the experts:
Step 1: Brainstorm Ideas
As with any project, the first thing you need to do is brainstorm ideas. How many you come up with is up to you and dependent upon your posting frequency.
It is recommended that you develop between ten to 20 ideas if you don’t already know what you want to discuss for your batch period. Some of your ideas might be unworkable, boring, or lacking originality. Others will be spot-on. By letting yourself write down everything, including bad ideas, you can get to the interesting ones.
For me, I post two long-form content pieces a week, which means I need ten blog article topics. From there, I went through my extensive list of content ideas to see what popped out at me.
In this case, I found topics such as marketing and getting ready for the new year interesting. So that’s what I decided to focus on.
Step 2: Create Outlines & Do Your Research
The next thing you need to do is create outlines for each of your topics. It’s also here that I would again do your research for each post and then save the links. That way, you can focus solely on writing.
I know that goes against the grain for many pantsers, but there are benefits for doing it like this. For example, you can spot links and connections between topics and create a narrative, allowing you to go into more depth per issue. You could also reuse the same structure for several posts.
Additionally, this allows you to be a bit more strategic about your blogging.
For instance, you could tie your post into a short story or charity you want to promote. Or you can use it to funnel traffic to your books or mailing list.
For me, I didn’t do the outline, but I made sure that I knew how I wanted to link each of the posts together, and all of them relate to one another in some way. The same goes for all of my content on the mystery genre or character development.
Once you’re done outlining and figuring things out, plug it into your editorial calendar:
This is where Trello came in for me. I wanted to visually see when things were eventually published on the calendar and then organized them in chronological order for completion:
Step 3: Create
As with writing a novel, you need to keep the editing and writing processes separate. For this stage, you need to focus on the writing side of things solely. The time for editing can come later. Remember, you can’t edit a blank page.
This part should come relatively easy because you have your outline and research already done. All you have to do is put words on paper.
You also have the opportunity to figure out how many posts a day that you need to do to reach the end of your batch. There is no right answer to the question: “how much should you do in a sitting?” That’s entirely on you.
I can do at most two long posts a day before my brain melts. For short content, like the publishing opportunities) about three to four in one sitting.
Take Care of Yourself
Most importantly, take care of yourself.
That means making sure you still exercise, eat, and sleep. Spend time with loved ones. Drink lots of water and have your favorite snacks on hand. Adjust the brightness on your computer screen and sit in a comfortable chair.
Yes, you’re working hard, but you don’t need to kill yourself in the process.
Seriously. Take it from me. You do not want to sit in a chair for over 12 hours and then have to fight with sore elbows all night. (It happens if you’re sitting in the same position typing for too long.) It’s easier for you to get up and walk and take frequent breaks.
Doing that will actually make the process go by faster because you’re giving your brain time to think about what you’re writing. The only thing you shouldn’t do is take the day off or give up.
Step 4: Edit and Schedule Your Posts
Once everything is written, go back to the beginning and edit that first post. As with the planning stage, you may want to look for additional thematic links between posts and bolster them up. You may also want to add photos to your posts at this point as well.
By setting aside editing as a specific stage, you’re more likely to make time for it, too. Editing makes a difference, so don’t be tempted to skip or rush this step.
When you’re finally done, it’s then time to schedule things for posting and create your marketing materials to promote your articles.
There you have it! Batch content in a nutshell. It’s not as hard as you think it is, but it does require the use of self-discipline, which you should have in abundance after NaNoWriMo.
It’s something that I plan to use frequently in the months ahead to give myself more of that free time everyone strives to achieve. I hope that you test this out and try it for yourself. Take things step-by-step, and don’t forget to take care of yourself in the process.
The best thing about all of this is that you can use it for anything blog or social media related, making it a versatile tool in your content creation strategy.
Have you tried batch content before? If so, how did it go? If not, do you think you’ll try it? Let me know in the comments below!
Stay safe, everyone.
Until next time.