Given that you are a team of one (or maybe two), you just go along doing without pausing to think about what you could do differently or better. But while running a content business will never be easy, you can make it easier by organizing and streamlining your operations.

Here are five things to help you do just that:

1. Don’t strive for perfection: Winston Churchill once said, “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” I consider it a thief of time and brain power. By focusing so much on one thing, you either never finish those other tasks or do them poorly.

Reflect on the time you commit to your business (use a time tracker like Toggl to help). What do you spend too much time doing? Where should you spend more time to grow the business?

That general understanding will set the stage for the next things to do.

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2. Document the why and what: I divide this to-do item into two parts: What is your overall content business strategy? What is your content plan?

You should document the overall content business strategy – the who, what, why, where, and when. It’s been proven that writing something down makes you more likely to achieve it. Plus, when you have more than one person working on the business, it lets you all operate from the same page.

Your strategy leads to your working editorial calendar, which will be updated regularly. By identifying your content categories and publication dates, your content calendar (a simple spreadsheet can help get the job done). Then, every month or quarter, you fill in the buckets with your content themes, specific titles, etc. That way, you don’t end up the day before you need to publish something trying to figure out what to create.

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3. Automate whatever you can: Take advantage of the automation features in the tools you use. Yes, it takes time to figure out what they are and how they work. But investing that time now will pay off in the not-too-distant future.

For example, if you send several emails to new subscribers in their first few weeks, use the automation feature in your email platform to do it for you. Or perhaps you can set up an automation sequence when a sponsor comes on board to get signatures on the contract and later send the invoices. 

Social media automation also can work well. For example, you could spend a block of time working on the posts for the next two weeks and get them all scheduled then. Of course, if something major happens in your business, community, or the world, go back and check your language. (Earlier this week, I saw a newsletter lead-in that should have been changed, given the attacks in Israel.) Keeping the language – a rocket is headed for a mysterious metal world – was a poor choice (that’s why you need to go back and view what content you automate).

4. Get a generative AI assist: By adding artificial intelligence to your team, you can free up time from the mundane, get brainstorming help, and imagine more possibilities.

I recently wrote an article involving many websites and X handles. In the old days, I would have spent a lot of time on it – searching for the website, visiting the site, copying the URL, pasting it back in my content, then returning to the site to find its X handle and repeating the copy-and-paste process.

Instead, I went to ChatGPT, pasted the list of companies from my notes, and asked for their websites. In less than a second, I had the list. Then, I asked for the X handles and got all of them. Of course, you still need to verify the links are accurate – one of the X handles was wrong. But even doing that, I saved at least 20 minutes.

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5. Readjust your thinking: This step may seem easy, but it may not be. Now that you’ve streamlined your operations, you must follow the outlined processes and procedures. Muscle memory means you’ll be tempted to revert back to what you always did. So go forth deliberately, exercising your new operations muscles. Your business will be so much better for it.

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About the author

Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. An IABC Communicator of the Year and founder of G Force Communication, Ann coaches and trains professionals in all things content. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.