Written on November 13, 2016
(Disclaimer: We gained that reputation before I became a content writer.)
I used to focus on community building. Recently, I had the opportunity to venture into the world of content marketing. A big part of content marketing is writing, and I don’t consider myself a great writer.
So I’m thankful for the opportunity, especially being able to learn from and work alongside some of the best content marketers in the industry.
At the same time, I also know there’s a lot of work ahead of me.
What I Have Been Doing
For the last three weeks, I have been working much harder to improve my writing.
I wrote at least 750 words a day.
I worked on the basics of writing such as spelling, grammar, and sentence structure.
I took notes in my Evernote whenever I learned something new.
But I know that if I want to become a better content marketer faster, I need to do more.
Figuring Out A Plan
When I was thinking of what I could do, I thought of my university days.
My grades were pretty good but it wasn’t because I’m smart (I don’t think I’m smart). It was because there was a great system for learning. And I like to think I’m rather diligent in following the system.
Because I trusted the system, I did everything the system had planned for me. I attended (almost) every lecture. I did (almost) every tutorial before the seminar classes. That served me well.
When I stepped into the “real” world, I realized things are different. No more syllabus, no more lectures, no more homework. I became a little lost.
I thought about it, and I think I might have found an explanation.
Back in university, instead of having to figure out how to learn, I was focusing on learning. With the system, I knew exactly what to do to become better.
Now, without a system for learning, I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I have been learning in a disorganized manner.
My gut feeling was that having a system would be beneficial to me if I want to learn faster.
(Graphic by Hugh MacLeod)
Defining What I Need to Do
Before I dive right into creating a system, I thought it’d be great to define what I need to do.
To become a better content marketer and writer, I know I need to do more than writing regularly.
My hunch is I have to go through the full process of creating a content. Many times. While I have been writing daily, I haven’t been publishing my writing. I haven’t been editing and refining my writing, too.
I’m sure I’m missing out valuable lessons there.
Having considered that, there are two major things I need to:
- Publish more online
- Learn more about content marketing
Creating A System for Myself
After I’ve defined what I need to do, I could start creating a system to speed up my learning.
Like the system in my university, I want to have a system which gives me a clear idea of what I need to do to become better.
Thankfully, Kevan Lee, a great content marketer (and my team lead), generously shared how he got into content marketing. I decided to follow his approach.
Here’s the system I’ve come up with:
- Publish twice a week: This can be on the Buffer Social blog, our Medium publication, here, or other blogs as guest posts. By publishing articles, I’ll go through the full process of content creation — from ideation to research to writing to editing to promotion.
- Create a playground: This blog will be my playground. Apart from publishing articles, I can experiment with new things. I thought of experimenting with email newsletters, re-publishing onto Medium, and more. Also, since few people know about this blog, it takes some pressure off me.
- Read more articles and books: One thing I noticed is I can’t tell what a quality article is and what makes it great. I believe reading more will help me improve my judgment. More specifically, I want to read two articles a day and finish one book every two weeks.
Bonus: To add structure to my learning process, I’m taking HubSpot’s content marketing course as well. It includes about four hours of videos and an exam at the end.
While passing the exam doesn’t necessarily make me a great content marketer, knowing that there’s an exam usually has a psychological effect on my mind to work (even) harder.
I believe this system should adapt as I progress further so I expect it to change in the future.
Keeping to the system
A challenge for this would be to stick to the system.
It’s much easier to say that I want to do all that than actually doing them.
So I thought of a few ways to help me:
- Writing this post and publishing it is in itself a way. I hope by doing so, I’d feel more accountable to keep with the system.
- At work, I found that when I tracked the progress of a project, the project would tend to be at the top of my mind. So, I created a spreadsheet to track my progress. (It’s public if you want to check it out!) I kept it simple as I want it to be easy to update.
- For the last three weeks, I have been tweeting about my daily writing streak. Receiving encouragements from others has motivated me to continue. So, I’m going to tweet about my progress for this too. Perhaps wanting to be able to share my progress with this system could keep me going too.
Over to you
Do you use a system to speed up your learning? How do you keep yourself accountable?
I’d love to hear and learn from you!