Friends. I love processes.
I nerd out talking to people about their workflows. Picking up the pieces I can borrow (steal) and use for my own purposes.
And because it’s 2021, and we’re all good little online biz people, processes often mean systems.
I am a fiend for a free trial and am often asking,
What software do you use for this?
How did you send that?
(And also, is it free?)
In that vein I’m opening the door to my own little content workshop. Welcome, Sarah come on in and take a gander at what’s happening inside.
The things I use. Why I use them.
And yes, what I choose to pay for and what I don’t.
But first, a note on planning
When I started drafting this email I intended to cover everything from planning to maintaining content. But I soon realised you’d be reading this email from morning tea through to dinner.
All you need to know for now is that, when it comes to planning, I’m a low-fi kinda girl. Sharpies, index cards and post-its are my friends, whether it’s planning a webpage, a full site, social content, email sequences or something else.
I work in a world of sketching rough outlines and then filling them in.
If you’d like me to talk more about creating these rough outlines - for any particular content type - hit reply and let me know.
Let’s assume you have a plan. A rough outline of what questions you need to answer for your audience, and the order you will answer them in.
It’s time to write.
Write in something designed for writing.
Don’t create in spreadsheets.
Don’t create in your CMS (the back-end of your website).
Don’t create in your scheduling software.
No matter how clever you are, or what you’re writing, you need minimal distractions, lots of white space, formatting control and (ideally) a decent spellcheck.
For you, the best place for writing might be a journal or notebook.
It might be a fresh Google Doc.
You might even be a fan of Grammarly (desktop version only please*).
I personally flit between all 3 depending on what I’m writing and genuinely how I’m feeling on the day. I do like the cleanliness of Grammarly, but want to keep everything safe and secure in Google so usually most writing happens there.
And so you get the full picture of just how scattered my brain is, I also sometimes use Hemmingway for making my stuff more concise.
A note on designing (webpages, print collateral) as you write.
The relationship between content and design is a complex, entirely interconnected and important one.
It’s good practice to write first, and then adjust or design second.
On a webpage for example, you - as a sole person doing all the things at once - might think you’ll save time by writing your content and designing your page layout at the same time.
I find that, in this scenario, you’re going to be worried about what looks good and how it fits on the page first.
Not to say that isn’t important, but it shouldn’t be your primary concern over:
The order of the information.
The message and clarity of that message.
The words themselves.
Plus (and trust me on this) you’re going to stuff around a lot more and it’s actually going to take much longer.
Instead, take your rough outline - for a webpage this might be a heading and series of subheadings that signpost what will be on the page and make logical sense without any other copy.
Fill in the blanks.
Edit for clarity.
And then consider the best layout for the whole lot.
*The browser-based version of Grammarly works by injecting code into web applications you’re writing in. In some cases, that code is going to conflict with the code of whatever it is you’re writing in. While it’s a pretty great companion for Gmail, if you are responsible for website updates or blogging, it might not play so nice with your Content Management System and some email marketing platforms.
Video isn’t just the current darling of all digital marketers. It’s also an excellent tool for client communications and onboarding.
As long as it’s accessible.
I have a fair few reasons to record things in my biz:
1. I use Loom to record and host short walk-through videos to hand over documents for review, consult notes and some proposals. Loom is a paid tool, but a solo Zoom room can work just as well.
2. I use my phone to record Instagram Stories and IGTV videos.
3. I (new thing alert) also use my phone to record short welcome videos to people who have subscribed to this email list.
But, if you know me, you also know that I believe in providing alternative ways to access this information.
Which means captions and transcripts.
Veed is a browser based video editor that includes auto-captioning. I like it because I can film in advance and edit on a big screen with a keyboard. I can download the subtitles as SRT or text files, which makes transcribing things easy.
For me, it was worth investing in because it has removed a lot of the frustration I was feeling with phone-based captioning. My hands are much happier with a keyboard.
It does involve a little more fiddling (getting files for Stories from my phone to my computer and back again) but I do it throughout the day between other tasks. I can also brand my videos, and I found it simpler to use for longer videos than the other options I tried.
For my client handover videos, again there is some double handling, because I re-upload them to Loom for hosting once they’re captioned, so that I can track views. If I wanted to drop my paid Loom subscription, I would host the videos in my Google Drive and share links.
I was going to write something about graphics but...ah...like every other online biz owner I use Canva. Unpaid. I don’t do anything too fancy.
What about you?
What are your fav tools? How do they fit your process? Or how do they not fit? Do your tools and processes need a spring/autumn clean out?
I am a nerd and I want to know.