Recently I had 2 clients who I write content for run into an issue – the pieces they wanted me to write about were a bit of a jumble.
As they described what they wanted in each piece, it kind of went here and there and everywhere, and it was hard to pin down the outlines for the posts.
Maybe you’ve felt that way before – you start drafting a piece, and it kind of goes all over the place, and you’re stuck and can’t make sense of it all. It happens.
But what do we do when that happens? I’ll tell you.
I have a process for streamlining content creation that results in fast outlines and quickly written, high-quality content. This is the process I use to fix jumbly posts that are difficult to nail down.
If you’ve struggled with writing content – whether it’s for your blog, YouTube channel or podcast, you can use this to make that problem go away in about 10 minutes.
I call it the Simplified Content Model, and it goes something like this.
Step 1: Start with a simple outcome.
If you own Product In A Weekend, you’ll be familiar with the concept of a simple, concrete outcome that your product will deliver on.
This simple outcome can be stated in a simple, straightforward sentence.
- I want to teach people the simplified content creation model.
- I want to make a case for switching to keto.
- I want to show people how to fix weak branding.
- I want to give tips for de-escalating relationship fights.
- I want to explain different ways to get testimonials.
A simple outcome is just the thing you’re trying to accomplish with your content.
If you were to say out loud, “Ok, people, today I’m going to tell you ______”, it’s what goes in the blank.
Usually, this gets captured in the title of your content piece, but sometimes we’re more artful with our language. Regardless, YOU have to know the outcome you’re working towards.
Step 2: Chart out the minimum required steps to get there.
Once you know your simple outcome, your next step is to scribble down the minimum required steps to achieve your outcome. What’s the briefest, most concise way you can describe what you have to communicate?
In our example of “I want to make a case for switching to keto”, it could look like this:
- Explain the health benefits (heart health, cleaner foods, etc)
- Explain the physical benefits (weight loss, clearer skin, etc)
- Give examples of people and their results to back those up.
In our example of “I want to show people how to fix weak branding”, my minimum steps for developing my post looked like this:
- Explain what element makes a brand weak to begin with
- Tell them how to strengthen that element
- Give a real-life example based on my brand
There. That’s it. Minimum required steps achieved. Just progress from the thing you have to do first, then second, until you’re done.
Important: The key here is to only make notes on what MUST be said, not “all the things you have to say on the subject”.
When we think of all the things we know, it’s easy to ramble, wander around on our points, and get into a mental jumble.
We can always add extra stuff to our content later (that’s step 4), but for this step it’s just the minimum.
Step 3: Draft out the bare bones of each step.
This is the step that will trip you up, so you just have to have some basic awareness that it might feel weird to you. Awareness can be curative here.
In this step, you take each of those bullets you made – the progression of things you have to do to accomplish your outcome – and write out the basic, bare-bones information required to complete that step.
Concisely. Don’t go on forever, just explain what you need to explain as simply and straightforwardly as you can. It doesn’t mean you have to be extra-brief – just say what needs to be said.
I like to complete this step by imagining I have a 60-90 second timer to accomplish that step, like I was asked the question on a game show. Just say what needs to be said – no more, no less. Of course, it will take more than 90 seconds, but the idea is to keep it focused and straightforward.
This will trip us up sometimes because we feel like we need to over-explain or we can’t bear not making certain points, or we feel like nuances and important subtleties will be lost.
To overcome that, just tell yourself you can get to that part later. Mentally pretend you’re on a timer, and you just have to explain a concept as simply as you can.
Do this, and you’ll have the key parts of your content written in no time.
Step 4: Decide if you want to add anything else.
In this step, we can revisit what we wrote in each step and see if we want to add stuff, flesh it out, expand on what we’ve written, or edit what's already there.
For example, in the “minimum steps” section, I gave 2 examples – the piece on keto and the piece on weak branding. When I did my initial bare-bones draft, it only had the first example. I added the other one later. I could have added more examples if I wanted to.
I also added the part above about getting tripped up by over-explaining. It wasn't necessary for the bare-bones explanation, but I thought it would add valuable advice for the reader.
You can add as much as you want to your content – but when you have the bare bones in place you’ve established what needs to be said. You have a flow and a progression that works.
Now you can add stuff – like the examples above – without it sabotaging your ability to make your core points clearly. No more rambling, wandering, or vertigo trying to figure out where you are in the piece. No more getting lost and confused.
In my piece Weak Branding? Fix It With These 3 Words, I added plenty of additions – more information in each section, a word of encouragement at the end, a tip for how to make it easier to come up with your branding words, those kind of things.
And it was a lot easier to do after I had my core points in place.
5. Add an introduction and a close.
Now that the core of your content piece is complete, all you need to do is add an introduction and a close. There are generally easy to create at this point, because you already know what you said, so you don’t have to repeat any of it in the intro / close.
If you get stuck on the intro, an easy hack is to describe why you decided to create that piece. (Re-read the intro to this piece to see how I did it there.)
If you get stuck on the close, you can just encourage people to take action in a specific way. (I'll do exactly that in a moment.)
And that’s it. Now you can use the simplified content model starting IMMEDIATELY.
To see just how easy this can be, take 5 or 10 minutes today to start on a new content idea. A “how to” post on something you’re expert in is a good one to begin with.
- Write down your simple outcome.
- Write down the minimum required steps you have to cover.
- Draft out a bare-bones version of each step.
You’ll have 80% of the work done just like that, and you can add the rest afterwards.
And when you’ve done this, send me an email and I’ll give you a high-five. Because you deserve it.
Go get em, kitties,
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