I published thousands of articles, videos, and podcasts over 10-plus years.
But still, when I don’t do it for a week or longer, restarting my content creation is hard. I feel like a rusty engine. Words don’t come as quickly. The entire process is slower than when I made a regular habit of content creation.
Worst of all, the “Resistance” rears its snarky smile. I procrastinate. Checking my energy level becomes an excuse not to start: “I should wait.” “I lack motivation.” “My content won’t be good enough without the right energy.”
This is why content creation must become a habit – and possibly a daily habit. It should be as normal as waking up. (In other words, if you don’t create, you better be “dead.”)
Atomic Habits by James Clear is an all-time bestseller. If you have even a slight interest in productivity or personal development, I bet you stumbled upon one of his ideas. He proposes a science-backed approach to building habits – you can apply the strategy to make your content creation efforts automatic and reliable. Here’s how:#AtomicHabbits bestselling author @JamesClear proposes a science-backed approach to building habits. @MrCabasVidani talks about how to do it for your content creation efforts. #ContentEntrepreneur #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet
Quit setting creation goals
A little clickbait-y, but true. To understand the importance of building a creative habit, ditch the traditional beliefs about goal setting.
Over decades, authors and scientists convinced us that the key to success was setting the right goals. I wasted days designing them for every area of my life … just to close the year wondering what went wrong: Did I need a different method? Was I too delusional?
But successful and unsuccessful people have the same goals. What makes the former achieve them? The answer is they have systems – a set of actions they commit to regularly repeating (i.e., a habit). As James explains: Systems without goals guarantee progress. Goals without systems can’t guarantee anything.The difference b/n successful and unsuccessful people with the same goals? The successful commit to a system – a set of actions they regularly repeat, says @JamesClear via @MrCabasVidani. #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet
Think about how that works for your content creation habit. Publishing a video on YouTube every week is a system. Writing 250 words every day is a system. Calling 10 prospects every week is a system.
Reaching 100K subscribers by the end of the year is an outcome, not a system. It doesn’t detail how to achieve that goal. It’s vulnerable to factors outside your control.
In a systematic approach, goals still play a role, but they only set the direction. They describe a long-term ambition. Something like: “I want to help people eat better.” “I want to work for myself on my terms.” “I want to connect professionals in my field.” To achieve those goals, you design a system that will steadily build progress toward completion.
How to develop an unstoppable creation habit
So, find the right systems for your content business and make them automatic. Progress will be inevitable. A habit is a behavior repeated enough times to become automatic. In other words, your systems must become habits.
James Clear gives four laws to create a new habit and make it stick:
- Make it obvious.
- Make it attractive.
- Make it easy.
- Make it satisfying.
Here’s how content entrepreneurs should implement those laws:
Make it obvious
Content creation must be unavoidable. Set an appointment on your calendar, possibly every day, to work on content. Otherwise, anything can get in the way – other commitments, countless contingencies, your self-doubt, etc.
Given every piece of content goes through several steps and sub-steps, add each to your calendar and estimate their duration. You won’t waste time thinking about what to do next.
For the same reason, document the procedures for each step of your content creation process. Don’t wait for the perfect process. Write everything you do as soon as possible. Then, keep updating the documents as you use them. They’ll eliminate indecision.
Make it attractive
If you aspire to be a content entrepreneur, you probably like creating content (I hope so!). But it’s still hard. It’s exhausting and constantly challenges your insecurities (imposter syndrome, anyone?). We are not robots. Our work conditions affect the quantity and quality of our output.
When content creation is an attractive habit, it requires less effort and motivates us more.
First, create the most conducive environment for your content creation habit. I found a flow when writing in cafes (even at Ikea’s). The change of environment and the background movement promote focus for me. But you might prefer a silent and secluded room. Experiment with different solutions until you find the most helpful one.What's your most conducive environment for content creation? @MrCabasVidani says he finds the writing flows when he works in cafes. #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet
If you can, shape your environment based on your preferences. Add furniture and decorations that make it attractive and comfortable. Optimize lighting. Make sure anything you need is close. Even the aesthetics of our tools can help. We spend hundreds of hours staring at our computers, smartphones, keyboards, mouse, etc. If they spark a little joy throughout the day, content creation becomes easier.
Depending on your budget, choose hardware that pleases your senses. Do you like how it looks? The tactile feedback? The sounds it makes when you use it? The same holds for software. One of the reasons I love ConvertKit for my email marketing is that it’s beautiful. Be aware of how your most frequently used apps make you feel.
Make it easy
I’ve fallen prey to several “expert” suggestions. They share a new awesome tactic that will guarantee success, and people quit everything to go full throttle with it.
The truth is tons of tactics can work in all areas of content businesses. But they will fail if they are not right for you. Video is exploding, but you become a zombie in front of a camera, stick to writing.Don't go full throttle with expert suggestions until they are right for you as a #ContentCreator, says @MrCabasVidani. #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet
Choose what will make content creation and running a business easier for you. Make that automatic, and you’ll get better results. For example, choose a primary distribution channel and format that you like to use and comes more naturally.
If you’re just starting, lean toward the quickest formats to create. For example, TikTok works well because it prefers raw videos, which you can shoot on your phone in less than a minute. Or Twitter could work well for writers as it forces you to create your message in less than 280 characters – no complex research or editing.
Ultimately, ruthlessly simplify your content production:
- Choose the tools that make it easier and faster for you, not the cool tools with tons of useless features.
- Limit editing, especially for audio and video content.
- Limit bells and whistles (graphics, audio) when they’re not essential to the message.
Make it satisfying
Of the many ways to keep a to-do list, all share the same major benefit – the physical pleasure of ticking off a completed task. The positive sensation reinforces the positive behaviors.
How do you make your content creation habit satisfying? The smallest investment is a habit-tracking app:
- You can tap or click to track the execution of the habit.
- You see at a glance how long you’ve been doing it.
Both are powerful ways to make your efforts more tangible. An even more powerful reminder could be a sheet of paper on the wall where you track your habit.Use a habit-tracking app or post a paper on the wall to track your #ContentCreation habit. It makes your efforts more tangible, says @MrCabasVidani. #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet
As a content creator, you also can get satisfaction from your analytics. Look at the growing trend of your views, subscribers, shares, comments, likes, etc. Or appreciate the conversion results from a recent piece of content you published.
Caveat: Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see big results. Manage your expectations as too many factors are outside your control.
To 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.
Your next step in the content creation habit
Find the easiest way to create content today, tomorrow, and the day after that. It could be committing to writing a few words or spending 15 minutes on a phase of the creative process. Maybe it’s recording a one-minute video. The point is to commit to doing it every day at the same time.
At the end of each week, evaluate how it’s gone and start developing your system to make the content creation habit stick.
About the author
Alberto has been a content entrepreneur since 2010, writing posts, producing videos and podcasts, and selling ebooks, courses, and services. Now he helps content creators become consistent through coaching at https://www.coach.me/albertocabasvidani.