Your content quilt

How to grow your portfolio of content effectively.

An illustration by Sam Warburton

A content quilt is a portfolio of different types of content that you’ve created for your brand or organisation. Blog posts, illustrations, podcasts, audio books and guides are all examples of different types of content. This blog post covers one strategy for how to introduce more variety of content into your portfolio.

Why do you need a variety of content?

A variety of content is useful for reaching different types of people. For example, if you’re a master of illustration and this is your chosen medium for communicating with others, you’ll attract an audience who love illustrations. This is great because you have an engaged group of people who eagerly anticipate your next illustration, but what about the people who need to hear your message but prefer watching videos? Or what if someone usually loves your illustrations but is looking for a book because they fancy a longer piece of content today? Your illustration is ignored by the person who needs and wants your content because it isn’t packaged in a different format.

If you want to grow your reach and audience for your content, you need to develop new skills, build habits, and continuously improve. If you dive in too quickly and try to create every form of content right now, you’ll lose the quality and consistency of your work. Scrambling to do every type of content immediately is overwhelming as a content creator and you won’t be able to sustain this diversity of content for long.

Four tips for growing your content portfolio effectively

1. Start with short static content and work your way up to longer immersive content

In my matrix below, I’ve grouped types of content into four categories which are short form static, long form static, short form immersive, and long form immersive. Static content is stationary text or visuals, whereas immersive content features moving images and/or sound. In my experience, static content is simpler to produce but you might disagree. I would recommend starting with short form static content, then work on longer forms of the same static content.

As you build your skills, you can work your way up to short forms of immersive content. Again, you can gradually create longer forms of immersive content as you master your skills. Alternatively, if you have a wide range of skills already, you could move from short form static to short form immersive and work your way up from there to longer forms of content.

As you become comfortable with each box, you can add the next patch in your content quilt. By starting small and focusing on each form of content creation in isolation, you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come. Each piece of content will be created masterfully, so you won’t have to go back and edit work or be ashamed of anything you’ve created professionally. Of course, there’s always moments when you look back and think, “I could do it so much better now,” but collectively your body of work will be something you’re proud of.

2. Continuously improve your skills

I tried this for myself, and it truly is a game changer. This improvement has made a significant impact on my creative process and now I want to share it with everyone!

3. Learn and adopt new skills

Let’s go back to Robert Greene’s quote, “the future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” A willingness to try new skills will ensure that you’re always ready and ahead of the curve for new technologies and better ways of doing things. There’s no denying that learning a new skill is hard work. You might be excited by your curiosity and opportunity to learn something new. As the illustrated graph shows below, your confidence and emotions take a hard drop as you begin to realise how much work is involved. This is the point where most people give up learning their new skill and quit. If you ride out the curve, you can master this skill and fulfil the hopes you had at the beginning of the learning process.

4. Build habits

Create these two types of content side by side and when they both become second nature, add another habit. Repeat this habit building until you can physically and mentally add no more. You’ll reach a point where you naturally can’t build any more habits into your workday. If you reach this level of habit mastery, consider outsourcing and inviting extra people to take on some of your content creation so you have more time to focus on what matters to you.

Quality content takes time

As a final point, don’t put a time pressure on yourself. It could take you decades to move into introducing new types of content and build up the skills required. Also, growing a diverse portfolio isn’t for everyone. If you want to keep your content niche for a specific set of loyal fans, stick to your familiar type of content. If you have a message that’s important for the whole world to hear, repackage your message to make it accessible in different forms of content.

To get your message across to as many people as possible, build a content quilt with diverse types of content. To avoid a drop in quality and becoming overwhelmed, introduce different types of content effectively into your portfolio. Start with the basics, mastering short form static before moving onto the longer and immersive types. Continuously improve the skills you have already to increase your efficiency as well as learning and adopting new skills. Building different types of content creation will help you to keep growing your portfolio up to the point where you need to consider outsourcing or prioritising.

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