How often should I be producing content?

A framework that combines momentum and moments

Every content marketer struggles with one ever-present question: “How often should we be producing content, anyway? 

There’s no one correct answer. Some common ways that companies land on content cadence include: 

  • Budget and resources: What resources are available to produce content in the first place?
  • Channel strategy: What existing channels need to be “filled”?
  • Building on success: Internal pressure to produce “more” when something is working
  • Avoiding failure: Internal pressure to produce “less” when something is not

There is a sense that to be successful, an organization needs to find that frequency sweet spot, set a content calendar, and churn away.

This week we’ve been reading and dissecting Janessa Lantz’s “A Fresh Take on Content Strategy,” which is making the rounds again after being published a few years ago. It presents an interesting framework for content planning that seems to counter the above approaches. Janessa’s take is that your content should feel less like a “treadmill” — constantly producing low-impact blog posts, for example — and more like a “barbell” — investing in a few tentpole-like pieces that are unique, high-impact, and that you market like hell. 

Janessa has some really good points, and the post is worth reading in its entirety. The two takeaways I most agree with: 

  • Your content mix should include major releases that feel super high-value to the audience — something they might even pay to access, like timely proprietary research. 
  • Your content marketing needs its own robust channel marketing plan that pulls in both traditional and non-traditional means to promote it. The packaging and repackaging of this content in different formats (blog posts, social posts, events, etc.) are what the best content marketers use to get the most impact from their efforts. 

But does the barbell approach mean you can lean back from the content you’re more consistently producing? Can you drastically reduce your content marketing, directing resources to only large-scale efforts, without seeing a reduction in ROI? 

Probably not. 

Think about content marketing as a game of baseball — the more at-bats you have, the more chances you have to get on base or hit a home run. If you have just one at-bat each quarter and you strike out, you’re out of luck (and have a lot to explain to your boss/team). 

To put in back in the context of Janessa’s exercise-related metaphors, we’ve been discussing a strategy that looks more like “hurdles”: Using a “treadmill”-like cadence that creates momentum, but that is also populated with “barbell”-like moments that can create significant lift over time (and aren’t an all-in bet to drive your strategy). 

This way, you’re not committing to a single idea for an extended length of time, but building space for testing opportunities when you might be able to double down in the future. We’ve seen this two-pronged approach — consistency in content creation and the marketing of it, along with important-moment-spikes — be mutually reinforcing, and lead to greater loyalty and impact over time. 

This approach also helps you build a platform of your own: Producing content with some degree of regularity helps you build consistent distribution, which helps earn permission to take bigger risks. 

Back to the question of specific cadence — the better questions to ask are always about connecting audience value and your marketing/sales goals: 

  • Am I producing something useful or inspiring to my audience, something that they aren’t getting elsewhere? 
  • Am I producing that type of content often enough to satisfy my goals? 

To succeed, you need to pair the ongoing, steady work of creating unique content that builds community, drives discovery, and teaches your audience to expect something from you with tracking and meeting your content goals. R


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