In a digital world with fierce competition for the audience’s attention, quality content is king. Every piece of content you create – blog posts and white papers, email newsletters, social media assets, photo and video, etc. – should be carefully crafted to align with your brand and marketing goals. Any digital marketing strategist knows this. It’s not new information. This need for creating evergreen content can create a huge amount of stress when you are feeling stuck or uninspired… now add to that your teams working remotely and the whole social distancing during a pandemic aspect and things become exponentially more daunting.
Whether you are working remotely or your company doesn’t have access to an in-house studio, the need to be able to create content as part of your digital marketing strategy remains the same. That’s why we are going to share our top tips and favorite tools to help marketing professionals and content creators at all levels create content without a studio.
What is Evergreen Content, and Why Does it Matter?
To be able to efficiently create content you need to understand what evergreen content is and is not. The most basic definition is simply content that continues to be relevant after it’s posted. Usually people think of this in terms of SEO and copy for blog posts (just like this one!), white papers, or newsletters that can be continually repurposed for social media and other channels– more on this later.
So why is it important to have evergreen content as part of your digital marketing strategy? The most glaringly obvious reason is because it is relevant all year long, year after year. This means better website traffic and brand awareness because presumably it’s valuable information that will be shared and linked back to over time. This helps to establish your brand as an authoritative voice in your industry by showcasing your experience and business expertise, which is a fantastic way to promote your business while also helping you better serve your clients.
How to Create Effective Content For Your Brand
The key to any content creation strategy is to make sure you have clearly defined goals for the content and the campaign the content is for as well as knowing who you’re creating this content for so you will best know how to reach your audience. Once you have that down, it’s time to move on to the fun part.
For the purpose of this post, we will talk about creating audio and video content together because though different mediums the creation process is similar, as are the tools and basic editing skills.
If you create a loose outline ahead of time, you can save yourself a whole lot of time recording and headaches in editing later. Briefly listing your key points ensures you stay on topic and don’t forget anything important that you wanted to say. It may be tempting to just write out a whole script for yourself, but that requires far more effort than is actually necessary and can come across as sounding robotic and unnatural, which is going to virtually kill your engagement. Part of the appeal of video and audio is the human element to it so don’t waste that opportunity to further flesh out your brand voice. It is important to have an organization system and story structure that works for you so you don’t go off script and have a ton of extra stuff to cut out later.
Record your footage in small increments. This works best for short videos and audiostories but could be implemented into longer timeframes if necessary. When you break your clips down into a few sentences or time recorded less than a minute it makes your editing process much swifter because it is much easier to stay on topic for a few lines without messing up than it is to try and do the whole thing and then have to go back and edit out any missteps along the way. If you mess up, just immediately delete that clip, re-record it, and keep going.
You may feel like you don’t have the proper environment for video or tools for audio. We can tell you from experience that recording video from your phone works very well for both audio and video footage (sidenote: many audio stories are actually recorded as video footage and separated during editing). We’ve tested whether or not the iPhone does better with a plug-in rode mic of varying budgets and when using the native voice recording app it is virtually undetectable in difference. It does, however, make a massive difference in video because of the distance of the phone mic to the sound source. You can pick up a decent rode mic for around $30 on Amazon.
The biggest tip here is to use what you already have and make the most of it. Even professional photographers in large studios with big budgets abide by this rule. Whatever camera you have access to is perfectly adequate for the purposes of creating social media assets and basic flat lays. As long as you aren’t planning on using these photos for very large prints, your phone should work just fine, though by all means use whatever camera you are most comfortable with and have access to.
When it comes to the creative aspect, it’s really easy to fall in the trap of decision fatigue. Look to the small mundane things for inspiration. That furry rug or blanket just became a great flat lay background. Those fancy scrapbooking papers from the craft store can be layered in dynamic angles on top of each other or on posterboard for endless flat lay possibilities. Speaking of flat lays, you absolutely can’t beat seamless paper. The smallest width is perfect for flat lays and headshots, but storing these can become quite cumbersome, especially when you start accounting for background stands or additional lighting. The solution? Get some white (or whatever color speaks to you) posterboard and put it on a flat surface near a window. Prop another posterboard up opposite the window and you just created a perfect little lightbox for your product. It’s up to you to work with the small details and props that fill in your brand message, but that is something that tends to come naturally once you start setting it up.
Speaking of lighting, you don’t need a fancy studio set-up (though they are a nice luxury to have) to get quality light. There are in-expensive continuous lighting and video light options that you get for a reasonably low price if daylight just isn’t cutting it for you. Another option is to using LED flashlights to supplement or fill in where natural light isn’t strong enough for the mood or the shadows are too dark. Color correcting the white balance in your phone’s native photo app works really well to combat any odd coloring, but if you are more advanced or are using a camera, there are plenty of desktop and mobile apps that will do this and so much more.
Using templates is the most efficient way to create dynamic graphic design either at your desk or on the go. Many websites and social media management tools are offering content creation tools directly within their platforms now, which means you potentially have a one-stop-shop for stock images, template design, and resizing the same graphics for multiple platforms. Don’t waste your time by not capitalizing on the work you have already done. This will allow you to consistently create more graphics that are on brand, visually appealing, and far more efficient.
When you are putting together designs look to interesting photos to add another easy visually appealing element. Photos can add to the mood without having to say anything with words (think mood boards) so look to interesting textures in nature, the city, or just out and about through your day. We like to keep our phones handy when we are going about our business to snap a quick shot of anything we see that catches our eye and then you have a whole library of backgrounds and elements that you can implement literally at your fingertips.
Tools for Content Creation
There are a ton of free content creation tools available online. They range from completely free to a limited “freemium” plan that can be upgraded. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but these are some of our favorite free online content creation tools ranging from stock images, design, video compilation, and editing. There should be plenty here to get you started with your content marketing.
Images and Graphics
Video and Motion
Memes and Gifs
Blog Topic Generator
Content Idea Generator
There are many more time-saving free content creation tools out there that help with every step of the process, from coming up with ideas to actually creating content, but these are some of our favorites because of their ease of use.
Even for the most experienced brands, effective content creation can be time-consuming and overwhelming. It can also be difficult to decide where to begin.
If you feel stuck or need a refresh, our faction of creative talent and their marketing superpowers are at the ready to save your strategy.