Content Creator Foundational Habits
We're going to talk about the content creator's foundational habits as an important part of the livecast lifestyle.
Why do we create content?
We create content to:
- Increase our online visibility
- Connect with our audience
- Establish credibility
- Build trust
- Grow our business
- Create more opportunities for collaboration
We also do it to have fun and to spend time with one another. Spending time with your partner in teamwork activities is good for a healthy relationship.
It's also productive to establish these habits that result in creating content. Spend time doing the things that make you feel emotionally and mentally healthy. That's the impact it has on us.
Obstacles to Content Creation
What gets in the way of creating content are obstacles such as our health, family, clients and travel. Our routines can easily be pushed aside when these other priorities claim our attention.
The health of ourselves and our family members is sometimes our biggest obstacle. For instance, my partner, Jen, of Women Conquer Business, is sick this week. She's coughing and we're not able to do a show because nobody wants to listen to coughing on a podcast.
Because health is the number one obstacle to consistent content creation, we have to make sure that we are staying as healthy as we can and keeping our voices in good form. If you're not healthy, you can't put on a good show. Or, you may be having doctor’s appointments that conflict with your content creation schedule.
If your family needs you because they're not healthy, they have injuries, they're in the hospital like my mom or they're going through cancer therapies like my husband, then you need to be there for them. So family comes in a close second to your health.
Clients and Sporadic Work Deadlines
You might have clients or work deadlines you must focus on and get done because you've made promises and you're getting paid for that work. Sometimes that takes priority and gets in the way of doing your regular content creation.
Networking and Travel
We might go to conferences or need to travel for vacation or to meet up with family members, clients, or friends. Those things can also put our content creation on a back burner
We are experiencing at least three of those four with the potential that the fourth is going to be required. At the same time, we make a judgment every morning about where we’re going to invest our time that day, whether it is to focus on any of those other things or to produce our shows.
Toby tells a story about a conversation that happened with his ex-wife. One evening she wanted to sit down and talk about priorities.
She asked, What are your priorities?
Toby answered My health, my income, and my family.
She was a bit upset that he hadn't put the family first. He explained to her that without health, he couldn't produce an income. Without an income, he couldn't maintain the quality of their family life.
Although she was disappointed that he hadn't put family first he knew his good health gave him the opportunity to invest in his family and spend weekends at soccer games. When one member of the family is unhealthy, the whole family has to focus on it. If you don't have an income, then you can't pay for maintaining your health.
At some point, you have to ask yourself, what are your priorities?
Some of those priorities are going to become personal obstacles when it comes to creating content. That’s why you must establish habits as part of a streamlined system and plan ahead whenever possible.
We love what we do in terms of content production, but there are always going to be obstacles, both personal and professional that get in the way of producing that content.
Sometimes we get to a point where we can handle what's going on. I already have a full plate, but I'm handling it.
Then something else comes along and jumps onto your plate and then it starts to overflow a little too much. There are times when your schedule gets very difficult to maintain your usual set of habits. That’s a good time to remove any extra activities and say no to additional responsibilities. When you know the bare minimum you must do to stay on track, it is easier to know what you don’t need to do.
Develop a System
What we really need to do is design a system that is going to be the bare minimum. We feel like if we can do these things every week, then we can maintain the content creation which supports our business.
Specific Set of Actions or Tasks
What absolutely needs to be done on what day in order for you to maintain your business?
What is within your control?
I can't set a goal of I'm going to have 10 people show up for my show today.
That's not in my control.
I can control my showing up and that's it. That's a habit in my system.
What contributes to your progress toward your goals?
Only add tasks into your system if they contribute to your goals. What are your goals? As content creators, our goals include audience growth and connection.
If I get my LinkedIn newsletter done on Monday and then I can get some social media posts up, those things help me move towards my goal of getting my show out, connecting with my audience, and growing that audience. But it will only continue to grow if I'm consistent with it.
It needs to be something that's fun and fulfilling. What do you enjoy about content creation?
I enjoy writing my LinkedIn newsletter. Sometimes it's a challenge, but I'm always satisfied with the final results and it makes me feel fulfilled to have gotten that out every week. I also feel successful if my audience has grown that week, even by 1 or 2 new subscribers.
Design a system that you can stick with and have control over. Break that system down into simple tasks that you can accomplish and that add to your success.
Less than 1% of all the people on YouTube actually make a living at being on YouTube. They have two characteristics that are common to them aside from the fact that they worked a long time to get to that point.
- They're consistent about how they produce content. Sometimes as much as several times a day.
- They have a methodology for making that content. Although in some cases it's designed to look like it is serendipitous, it is not. It's part of the plan. It's what produces a livable income for them and behind all of that is a system that enables them to do that.
Can you do that?
Yes, you can. Once you have a streamlined system in place, all you need to do is apply your creativity, and your ideas, and show up consistently.
Build Your Habits Every Week
Habit Helper: Calendar Tasks
I like to use Google calendar to create a task and then have that task show up on the same day every week. On Mondays, I write my LinkedIn newsletter and create and schedule social media posts. On Tuesdays, I write and send an email newsletter and schedule shows on Streamyard.
These things are tasks that I do every week. They appear on my calendar on the same day every week and then I can check them off as I do them. This keeps my content creation strategy simple. As long as I'm looking at my calendar every Monday through Friday, I can remember what I need to get done. If for some reason I don't get a task completed on the day it's scheduled, that task carries over until I check it off.
These tasks are things I have committed to getting done.
- Monday, LinkedIn newsletter and social media posts.
- Tuesday, Schedule shows and email newsletter.
- Wednesday, Messages and Methods live show and post-production.
- Thursday, Women Conquer Business show, post-production & Videotero Live.
- Fridays, Edit and post the blog.
If I don't finish the blog on Friday, I'll finish it on Saturday and I'll still post it before the new week. That content is produced every week because it's on my calendar and I’m committed to getting it done.
In addition to putting it on your calendar, you can also share your calendar with others. We share our calendars so when one of us plans something it shows up on the other’s calendar.
Not only is it important to keep you organized, but it helps other people organize around you. Put the task in your calendar and schedule it for as far ahead as you need to, and share it with your team so they know you're busy during those times. They can be prompted to ask is there anything I can do to help you with this task?
We can't produce our email newsletter unless we've scheduled the shows and produced the thumbnails necessary to do that. So calendar task entries help us keep track of what we both need to do to support that task.
What tasks do you do every week that contribute to your goals?
Consistent Work Environment
Our studio is our work environment. We always know that when we come into the studio, we're going to be producing work.
An in-home studio or office is a designated place to do work, read emails, create blog posts, do editing, put Canva designs together, and post on social media. All of those things are my work and I know when I go into my office, that work is going to happen.
You want a quiet, comfortable office, conducive to getting your work done. If you need music, have that set up. I put on study music from YouTube which plays quietly on my speakers while I work. If you drink coffee or tea while you work, have a place for that in your office. I have a Cosori hot pad to keep my coffee at the temperature I like. Keep your space clean and uncluttered so that when you walk in, you're ready to get to work rather than feeling you must start cleaning first.
Everything should be in good repair. If you have broken equipment, get rid of it, replace it or repair it. Make sure that everything in your office is usable and that you have all the supplies that you need so that you're not breaking away in the middle of a project because your printer is out of ink and you still need to order a new cartridge.
Where do you go when it’s time to get to work?
Do you have a door for your home office? Do people know not to bother you when you're in your office? You need that quiet time to work on your projects and interruptions will cause unnecessary friction. Establish boundaries with anybody who lives in your house with you, whether that's a pet or grandkids or your spouse, make sure they know and respect your boundaries.
Toby doesn't have a problem with boundaries with other people because he lives alone. But he is a news junkie. The news device is in a different room. When he leaves that room and comes into the studio office, it's not to watch the news. It's to focus on the things that need to be done in order to produce our content. It is a good environment to be in because it sets the tone for work time.
What boundaries help you to be more productive?
Do What You Enjoy
If you enjoy it, you're going to want to do your work regularly. So you should be doing things that are easy and even fun for you.
If it's not easy and you can't get over the hurdle of getting that work done because you don't like it, then maybe you need to rethink that particular task. Give it to somebody else to do or decide if it's something that must be done by you. Make sure it is in alignment with your goals and it has a valuable purpose. If it must be done by you, then think of ways it could be more enjoyable.
Do the tasks that are creatively fulfilling for you. I enjoy producing my LinkedIn newsletter and blog posts. I enjoy putting slides together. I work on them longer and put a lot of thought into them because they're fulfilling for me. I feel good about my work and myself and I often learn new things when I’m doing these tasks.
What tasks do you do regularly and why do you enjoy them?
Create and Use Templates
Once you've done something regularly, you have templates to speed up your work. On Canva, you might have a template that you use for your thumbnails or social media posts, and you use it over and over again. If you use slides as we do, take last week's presentation, make a copy of it and then change the copy. That provides a template that makes it faster to complete and the branding stays consistent. Don't redesign everything every week.
What templates do you use that make your work go faster?
Extra Time? Extra Tasks
I work on extras if there's time. I like to make audiograms, but some weeks are too busy and I don't have time. I'll do them if I have the extra time and then automate them when possible.
What extra tasks would you work on if you had extra time this week?
After I've made social media posts or audiograms, then I have social media scheduling automation applications post them at certain times that I can choose. That helps me speed up the process to set it and forget it for the rest of the week. I only do social media posts on Monday, for instance, and then I don't have to worry about it until the next Monday because it's automated.
For our content library website, we use Podpage. Once you set it up, it automatically populates information and content for you whenever you post your original content.
These things can really help you to keep that habit going because it's easy, enjoyable, fulfilling, and automated.
How can you automate tasks so you can set and forget them?
Tracking Your Progress
When you have a checklist, you can check things off each time it's done, then it goes away and you can focus on the next thing. Those checklists help so you don't forget the steps that you need to take in order to get things done. When I do an email newsletter, I need to have certain things done first. If I don't have to remind my partner to get it done because he has his own checklist, then that saves me time and energy.
Toby made a list of activities to produce a livestream on Amazon live. He put it into a Google Doc and shared it. Now it is a template checklist we can use and update as needed.
Checklists are an important part of sustaining your consistency in production.
Think of specific things you have control over that you can track.
How many newsletters did I put out this month? How many blogs? How many videos? How many podcasts?
You can look back at the past month, quarter, or year and see how much your portfolio of content has grown. That's the main thing you have control over. Then you can see what effect all your content had on your analytics.
Your analytics tell you what's happening out in the world because of the things that you're doing to create and distribute content. The analytics show you who's showing up. How long are they watching or listening? Demographics such as gender, country, and age group are in your analytics and helpful to know if you’re looking for collaborators or sponsors.
Analytics tell you if you had new subscribers and if they subscribed because of a particular video. Then you’ll know that's the kind of video your audience likes and make more of that kind of content. Your analytics are there to help you be a better creator who is more focused on creating the content your audience responds to best.
YouTube produces a strong set of analytics on each of your livestreams and videos that you've done. You can find out information that helps you produce better content, and schedule the best time for that content to become published. It's worth spending the time necessary to understand what your analytics are telling you so you can take advantage of that information.
Work that into your schedule as well. Every Thursday, we look at our analytics.
When do you look at your analytics and what do you do with that information?
How Do You Define Success?
When you define success, keep in mind that some things you have control over and some things you don't. Don’t get discouraged if you don't see big results right away. Manage your expectations knowing there are factors outside of your control. Focus on what you can control. Look at your progress over time, especially if you've been publishing consistently for at least a few months. You can appreciate how much you produced and realize how much you improved. That improvement indicates success.
If you went back to our early videos, you could see a big difference. We incrementally improve when we do this every week. You can't get better until you put in the work every week or every day.
We have control over our own improvement. That's success for us. If we were to say we're not successful until we have 10,000 subscribers on YouTube, then we might not get there. We would be very frustrated and probably give up. The number of subscribers we have is outside of our control. What we can control is how much content we put out, and how much we look at our analytics and design our content to fit the audience.
Reviewing analytics and audience feedback means we have more control over our responsive content strategy.
If you have one or more partners, you must understand that they may have different definitions of success than you. They may have different priorities. That doesn't mean you have to adapt to their definitions, but you should at least be aware of what they are. Have that discussion so there are no expectations or unpleasant surprises.
Our priorities and definitions of success may be slightly different, but we can talk about those and organize them in a way so that we are both satisfied with the eventual results.
Live Show Planning
Let's talk about the live show planning that we do. This is great to know if you think you want to do live shows as well. This is the list of tasks in the correct order that we need to accomplish:
- Title & description
- Schedule on Streamyard
- Slides or Guest
We start off with the title and description. That means we need to choose a topic and check our title for keyword ranking to make it interesting and easy to find for our target audience. We include more keywords in the description. We need that optimized title and description for thumbnails and we create the thumbnails on Canva from that information.
We need to know what day and time to schedule the show on Streamyard. Then we need the title, description, and thumbnail graphic as input to schedule the show on Streamyard.
Next, we get to work on slides. Alternatively, we may have a guest and we'll confirm the guest and make sure that they filled out the necessary talent release and information sheet.
Then we get links. If we're going to be sending viewers somewhere, we'll get the links for that so we can put them in the show notes. If we have a guest who has links, we'll make sure we get those from their information sheet and put their links in the show notes.
These are all the important things that we need for planning our livestream shows.
In the content entrepreneur age, we always expect results to happen quickly for us. But content entrepreneurship not only requires effort, it requires patience. When you're building a YouTube channel, you can monetize the channel when you have a thousand subscribers. Shelley has had her YouTube channel for 4 years and it sits at 470 subscribers. You’ve got to have other goals and ways to monetize while you’re building your audience.
We wonder whether the algorithm is working against us sometimes. The algorithm works best for you when you produce quality content and you do it consistently. Even that takes time to have an impact, whether it's monetization on YouTube or gaining subscribers or followers.
It requires patience because it's a long game. Successful marketers agree that podcasting and YouTube video live streaming is a long game and you have to be in it at least 18 months before you're going to see any kind of return or a minimum viable audience.
You're pushing the rock up the hill so hard every day with no response. You’re fishing at the lake every day with no bites. But you’re getting stronger and smarter along the way.
Eventually, some of that ROI will come back to you if you will stay consistent. Count on it taking at least 18 months of consistent content creation, management, and distribution before you're going to see much in the way of a minimum viable audience unless you get very lucky.
A Show Flow is like a setlist for performers. It is an ordered list of what will happen during the show including the segments, sections, and prompts that inform the hosts what to do.
The reason I create a Show Flow for our shows is it helps with planning. It is a list of what we need in front of us during the live show. It is a reminder of what we need to think about ahead of time with blanks to fill in so we know we have all the materials ready to go live.
During the live show, the Show Flow helps with consistency. I use a Show Flow every week with Jen McFarland on the Women Conquer Business show. It's got the same segments each week, but we fill in the blanks with new information and it keeps our show consistent. We know what's going to happen and the audience knows what's going to happen.
Then at the end of the show, we have that information in one place to build our show notes. We use a shared Google Doc for our Show Flow.
The audience knows they can expect certain things to happen at a certain time during the show. If they're anxious to get to the tweaks of the week, they know that segment comes near the end. So it manages expectations and it provides a great tool for communication between the hosts of the show.
Sample Show Flow - Women Conquer Business Show
- Open chat
- Breaking news
- Tweaks & Tools
We start with the introduction, which is a prerecorded video with a graphic card background created on Canva with a countdown timer, audio introduction, and music. The card changes every week using the title of each show so the audience knows what it's going to be about. That starts the show. The audience can hear the music and introduction if they're listening to the podcast. If they're watching the video, they are informed about what our show is all about and when exactly it will start.
Next, we have open chat where we talk back and forth about how everybody is feeling, anything exciting happening, and what's going on in our lives. This is a good time to greet anybody in the chat room, too.
Then we move into breaking news. If there's anything coming out or that just came out that we're excited about we share it. For instance, there's a new YouTube analytics tool that we're starting to use, and it's pretty cool. That could be our breaking news.
After that, we get into the training or the “meat” of the show. That's usually broken down on the Show Flow notes into sections. We have a list of three to seven sections or steps and each one of those is listed on our Show Flow so we can stay on track. Those steps will also show up in our show notes so podcast listeners can scan through them.
Then we do a CTA, which is a call to action. That might point the audience members to read an accompanying blog post or we may offer a free download, share a course or a book that will help incorporate the training information and make more use of it.
Then we talk about tweaks and tools. That might be something that we just learned this week, or started using more this week that's proving helpful. I might talk about my LinkedIn newsletter and how I think that's a really good tool for people to use because LinkedIn helps you with visibility for your content. It's a really great tweak and tool that our audience will appreciate.
We end with inspiration. I usually have some sort of inspirational thought or nugget that helps lift everybody up at the end of the show to give them a good feeling. All is right in the world. You're doing wonderfully, don’t give up! This is a good way to offer appreciation to our audience for watching our show.
The Show Flow keeps us on track and prepared for our live shows. We make sure that things are happening at all times so we don’t have empty air or rabbit hole diversions. Topics and training are happening in a way that supports what the audience expects to see each week.
Each Show Flow is set up differently, depending on the goal of the show.
The goal of the Videotero Live show is to help people who are using their phone camera but want to graduate to using a regular camera with lighting and lenses. So how do we help them do that? That is the focus of the Show Flow.
The Content Creator Lifestyle
We published our book on Amazon called Livecast Life, the Content Creator Lifestyle. Part of that lifestyle is consistent content creation habits. We want to help you establish and expand those habits in your own life so that they are foundational and add to your success. That way, you're always able to stay on track with your content creation. You can find our book at http://book.livecast.life.
Our email that goes out every Tuesday includes weekly personalized updates, helpful information, links for all our shows, behind-the-scenes photos, free offers for training, and digital marketing news. You can sign up for our email list at http://news.agkmedia.studio.
We hope you can put this information to use to establish your own content creator lifestyle habits that will carry you through when things get busy and challenging. You’ll know that you have a system that works to keep you on track in your business. All you need are some simple tactics that you can use in your own life, whether you're creating content for your business, leaving a legacy, or just because it's something you feel called to do. If you want to share your vision for your own livestream podcast with us and put together a schedule of basic habits to get started, schedule a call with us at http://calendar.agkmedia.studio