How long does content creation actually take?

Estimated read time: 3 minutes


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Content creation can sound so simple:

  • Interview people (It’s just like talking over dinner, right?)
  • Write an article
  • Social media!!!! Social media!!!!
  • Shoot some photos
  • Shoot some videos
  • Do a podcast, too, while at it.

In some people’s minds content creation – whether it’s in content marketing or traditional journalism – shouldn’t take that long. Heck, it seems so quick in the boss’ heads. Many of those bosses have never actually done the tasks and it’s all – as I said – in their heads. It’s an entirely different story to actually do it.

I’m estimating this 12-hour task to be done in 30 minutes.

For some who are asking for content to be created it can be deceiving how long things actually take to produce.

Even in the journalism world this is true. Daily newscasts go on and from time to time another one is added. Remember years ago, when there was no morning news? Now they start at 4:30 in some locations. Some markets have added a 4 p.m. newscast. In Eastern Iowa, the evening newscasts (across several channels) are on at 5, 6, 9 and 10.

How much news is actually happening around here? Seriously, all this content production takes time. The same is true in content marketing. Writing a decent blog post takes time. Research might be involved, writing, photography, we may even want a graphic. It’s not created with the snap of a finger.

Journalists are often trained to turn stories very quickly. I’ve done it for years. It can be super stressful while also exciting.

Report. Report. Write. Write. Publish. End of day.

Repeat.

Of course when I did this the 24-7 news cycles presented by the Internet were just starting. We mostly worried about the printed newspaper. Today it looks more like:

Report. Write. Publish.

Report. Write. Publish.

Report. Write. Publish.

Report. Write. Publish.

End of day.

Repeat.

Either way, a well-reported story could take all day. And somebody else was taking the (good) photos and another person was doing graphics.
Even in such an accelerated workflow, things still took time and you weren’t on your own. And as much fun as it was, it’s super stressful. You are always sprinting. It’s kind of like a marathon made up of sprints.

Content marketers usually have a bit more cushion time wise, but as more and more content marketing operations start acting like newsrooms, that also increases the likelihood of quicker deadlines.

It’s all good and well and great stories are told by content marketing journalists and storytellers alike. But to those out there who haven’t done the actual work, you also don’t know how long it takes or what’s involved. Be realistic.

This also comes up when totally different skill sets have to be used.

For example, interviewing is one skill set. Shooting photos that are useable is an entirely different one.

It’s not as simple as: Oh, just get out your phone and take a picture. Everyone has a phone in their pocket.

Many have pens in their pockets, too, and that doesn’t make everyone a writer.

It’s actually useful when we all push each other to share more and better authentic stories. But keep in mind that theory and reality aren’t always the same.

We should treat our best storytellers better than machines who push out widgets. They help us tell our stories and preserve them for tomorrow’s readers and future generations.