Finding your ideal workflow for content creation

blogging content creation getting started passions podcasting writing Aug 03, 2022

When I finished my college years, I immediately ventured into a unique and often misunderstood career. I became a pastor. The church I was hired to serve was a small country church that felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. According to census data, there were 331 people who lived in that community, but I'm not sure where they were hiding because it felt like the real number was closer to 100. Still, I wanted to do the best I could as I served my congregation and my new community.

It has come to my attention that there is a lot of confusion that surrounds the weekly tasks of a pastor. The most visible thing a pastor does each week is lead a worship service and preach on Sunday mornings. I honestly think there are some people who may believe that's all a pastor does. I can't tell you how many times over the past 25 years I've heard jokes about pastors only working for an hour each Sunday. If you're a church-going person, I can assure you that unless you have the worst pastor in the world, he's working more than an hour a week on his teaching, preaching, counseling, leading, administration and outreach.

When I first took on the role, I was very enthusiastic about it, but my first few weeks on the job felt drastically different from every other job I had ever had. Instead of clocking in at a set time, taking care of the tasks my boss told me to accomplish, and then clocking out at the end of a shift, my schedule was more flexible. I discovered that the job wasn't about being on-duty during certain hours and off-duty during others, it was about accomplishing certain tasks that had weekly or seasonal deadlines, proactively planning for the future, investing myself in the well-being of the people I served, and developing relationships in the community. In essence, I would always be on-duty in some sense of the word, and I would be held responsible for outcomes, not hours.

As I came to understand that, I started wondering if there was a way I should carve up my weekly schedule in order to stay on task. I asked an older pastor if he could give me some advice and he said, "My advice is to take time off when you can because there will be some weeks when it's literally impossible to do so." In time, I learned exactly what he meant, but at the time, I really just wanted a practical metric that I could use to organize my weekly schedule. I wanted to know some "best practices" for what tasks to do on each day of the week and which hours I should be working on those tasks.

In time, what I ended up discovering was that every pastor does this differently. Some are rigid about their schedules, some are flexible, some are proactive, and some are reactive. In the end, I needed to figure out what worked for me. So that's what I did.

I'm grateful that I learned that lesson early because as I have added the tasks involved in developing an online platform and managing 17 different income streams, I have needed to apply the principles I learned from pastoral ministry to the other forms of work I'm doing, particularly to content creation.

If you're creating an online platform or developing a message-based business, you will need to create regular content. If you aren't creating that content on a consistent and predictable basis, I highly doubt you'll succeed because you won't be giving your audience what they are coming to you for.

Just imagine if your favorite TV shows only released episodes on occasion without any rhyme or reason. Would that impact your watching habits in a negative way? Of course, it would. And what if you attempted to tune in to the Super Bowl this year but it wasn't airing because the NFL got busy doing something else that week? Would that damage your opinion of their brand? And what if you subscribed to a magazine, but it rarely showed up? Would you keep paying for your subscription or would you cancel it?

The same principles apply to platform development. The platforms that succeed produce consistent content without failing to deliver at a precise time. The platforms that fail never give themselves the opportunity to earn credibility with an audience because the person behind the platform isn't committed to a workflow that delivers content on a set schedule.

I have two different platforms that emphasize completely different things. I have a faith-based platform that delivers content aimed at helping people grow spiritually. I also have this platform that teaches people the art and science of platform development. Both platforms are succeeding, and one of the biggest reasons that's the case is because I stick to my workflow and I deliver the content I have promised to deliver without fail.

Since January 2016, I have never skipped a day of delivering my "Chapter-A-Day Audio Bible" podcast. The same is true for my other shows. I also stick to my weekly blog posts, newsletters, live calls, and other scheduled events. Basically, if I say I'm going to do it, I do it.

So here's my content creation workflow. I'm creating content that I enjoy creating and doing it in such a way that it doesn't conflict with my other responsibilities. I tend to focus on creating content during the margins of the day, I don't watch much TV, and I'm careful about how much time I spend mindlessly consuming online content. When I limit those mind-numbing distractions, I have more time to create my own content.

  • Daily: Produce two short-form podcast episodes.

  • Sunday: Record and edit one long-form podcast, upload a 2,200-word blog post, schedule a newsletter, and make social media posts to promote the new blog content.

  • Tuesday: Write a 1,300-word blog post, teach an online membership session, create a long-form podcast episode, create a short YouTube video, create a long-form training video, upload the blog post, and schedule another newsletter.

  • Friday: Write the 2,200-word blog post that I upload on Sundays.

  • Margins of the Day (early morning or late evening): Have fun working on new forms of content when I feel inspired to do so. Some days I do and some days I don't.

To some people, this probably sounds like a lot of work. To me, it's just as much enjoyment as it is work. No one is making me do any of this. I do this because this is the biggest way God seems to be enabling me to help people, and I find it both gratifying and rewarding. I keep walking through the doors God is opening for me.

From a spiritual standpoint, this feels to me like a big part of my purpose in life (at least during this season), and from a business standpoint, I have now become a safe bet for those who want to partner with me. This approach directly contributed to the fact that I was offered a book deal (with a generous advance) from the largest publisher in America, and the fact that I just signed a six-figure contract with a popular media network.

If you're a content creator, your mind probably thinks like an artist. Let me encourage you to also let yourself think like a pragmatist. Pragmatically, if you develop a scheduled workflow that you remain faithful to over a long period of time, even on the days when you don't feel like it, you'll become a content creation superhero that your friends (who spend all their waking hours watching TV) will marvel at.

-John

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