Content creation is one of the key business components that, while the most important, is probably the most stressful. How can you always be expected to come up with new ideas all the time? And further, how can you keep these ideas innovative and fresh? Here are five ways to encourage creativity and innovation while still in the office:
1. Make a list of topics
Even if these topics don’t end up on your company blog or your LinkedIn profile, this is one of the simplest ways to start the brainstorming process. Inc. has a few different kinds of techniques for this. When you’re making this list, make sure to use whatever medium you are most comfortable with (whether that is sticky notes, computer, whiteboard, etc.)
2. Take a walk
As simple as this seems, sometimes it just takes getting up from your desk and taking a lap around the office. You might spark a conversation that turns into content, or you might see something that reminds you of this cool article that you read recently. This oldie but goodie New York Times article proves that a walk might just be your best bet to boost creative thinking.
3. Think about your audience
Who are you trying to reach? Are you writing a corporate post with references? Are you writing a personal article for your own blog? All of these options have different people that should direct your content creation. If you work or are near the people that might be reading your writing, ask them what they would be interested in reading. This might even add to your list of topics. Forbes does a great job of articulating some questions for you to answer about your audience.
4. Find your “content crush”
Who is the personal or professional person who you admire? You love their website, their social media, their blog, or whatever they create. Read, write, research everything that they’ve made or done that you really like. When you’ve done your background work, create a list of the reasons that you’re inspired by them. Maybe one of those reasons is something that you’ve been striving for, and this could kickstart your creativity too! Here are some #artgoals from visual artists that might help you get started on your content crush list.
5. Start writing
Content creation starts with just that—creating content. Nothing helps more than putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Some inspiration might ease your mind. The easiest way to keep writing is to start writing, so if you follow these steps (or create your own), you will feel empowered when you sit down to employ your creativity. We want to see those words published! The more opportunities you take to write, the more you open yourself up to people reading and enjoying your content. Five steps later, and now you’re off to write (or walk) your way to a better, more creative feed.
The lowdown: Since December, Tangible Strategies has moved from its office space in the Village of West Greenville, launched its brand new website, and undergone a good bit of internal restructuring. Needless to say, it’s been a crazy few weeks, and we want to make sure you’re caught up on all things Tangible as we ring in the New Year. So here are a few thoughts from our Founder and Creative Director:
Laying the Groundwork
We seem to be talking a lot lately at the Tangible office about the idea of settling—settling for just three cups of coffee in the morning because we’re trying to avoid caffeine overload (seriously, guys, turns out this is a real thing), settling for a tiny desktop Christmas tree because we were too busy with the move to fully decorate the office, settling for a presidential candi—wait, no, we’re not getting into that again. I think it’s safe to say that 2016 was a more-than-hectic year (for us, it marked our first full January-to-December succession in good ol’ Greenville). But honestly, for all its craziness, the last month of a rather long year was one of the most exciting and encouraging 31 days we’ve ever had. Which has got us thinking, maybe settling isn’t such a bad thing.
As many of you know, Tangible Strategies has been around since 2011, but for most of its existence, the business was a simple husband-and-wife venture with big dreams of far-off grandiose. In July of 2015, we moved the business to Greenville, SC from Western North Carolina and quickly realized that the demand for small business marketing in the Upstate was much larger than the two of us could handle on our own. So in January, we began building out our team, getting settled into an office space in the Village, and building a reputation as a true-to-its-name agency in a marketplace still entirely foreign to us.
A Year in Review
We’ve learned a lot since then, as you might imagine. In particular, we’ve learned that doing business in Greenville is all about who you know—and getting to know the right people is no easy task (in fact, this realization has been the primary inspiration behind our networking series GVL Connect). We’ve learned that project workflow for a team of two people looks nothing like project workflow for a team of three people. Or four people. Or five people. We’ve learned that possessing the capability to do everything does not mean one should actually try to do everything. We’ve learned that following through on promises really is as impactful as we always knew it was. And we’ve learned that partnership and collaboration are two things we simply cannot live without. Which is one of the many realizations that persuaded us to rethink our processes—and our work setting—a bit.
In case you’ve missed the details, Tangible Strategies now lives inside The Wheelhouse, Greenville’s newest cowork space along the Swamp Rabbit Trail. The Wheelhouse is a collective office space specifically created for marketing professionals and agencies, where freelancers and creative teams alike can work together on projects while maintaining their own brands and unique identities. A rather unique business model as cowork spaces normally go, The Wheelhouse acts as an agency itself, bringing in a steady stream of marketing projects and then turning to its tenants for executing the work on those projects. At its core, The Wheelhouse is designed to support the growth and development of other businesses while sustaining the same for itself. It’s ingenious really.
Making the Move
In October, Wheelhouse co-owner Jeff White approached our team after several recommendations pointed him in our direction. I was immediately enthralled with his idea for a new kind of cowork space and, after a few conversations, realized that the business philosophy behind The Wheelhouse lined up quite nicely with what we had been building at Tangible for the past five years.
And so there we were, faced with the prospect of an opportunity that would help grow our business, allow us to work on larger scale projects, and connect us with other local marketing professionals. You can imagine how long and hard we had to think about our decision. (I’m kidding; it was a no-brainer.) I’ll admit, we had our reservations at first, as none of us are particularly keen on big change, but the more we thought about it, the more this move made sense.
Experiencing the Benefits
After more than four weeks of working in The Wheelhouse, the Christmas-morning-like excitement has worn off and the new atmosphere is beginning to feel more normal. We’ve introduced the space to a handful of our clients, and we’ve even hosted a few networking events here. In the few short weeks thus far, we’ve formed new client relationships and watched the interior of the building continue to develop (re: the new garage door behind our table). A lot has happened in 40-ish days, but most importantly, we’ve been able to experience exactly how moving into The Wheelhouse is going to benefit our business, and we are super excited to share our findings with you.
Hands down, the biggest benefit to moving into The Wheelhouse is that we are able to spend more time doing what we’re great at doing. In the Village, we operated a full-time art gallery, a passion-driven project that allowed us to support emerging and student artists in the area, something we truly loved. In moving, we closed down the art gallery, which was bittersweet in every way, but in transitioning away from our role in the arts community, we’ve only now begun to realize just how much time and energy went into maintaining that presence. Redirecting that focus toward client relationships and toward our own needs has made us better partners of the businesses we serve on a daily basis.
In addition to prioritizing our own business needs, we’re beginning a shift toward narrowing down what services we offer, focusing on the things we’re best at doing, such as websites and branding. We’re not a one-strategy-fits-all kind of agency—and we never will be—which means that our services are vastly different from client to client. This was never an accident on our part. We knew many small businesses were tired of trying to maintain relationships with half a dozen freelancers—one for their website, one for their social media, one for their graphic design, one for their email marketing, etc., etc.—and so why not offer to meet all those needs under one roof? At The Wheelhouse, we are surrounded by marketing professionals of every kind, which in essence means our team just got a lot bigger. We are able to offer the same solutions to businesses we always have, but we’re able to pass off the execution of services that we’re not as familiar with. Which means we are able to dial in on the services we do really well.
Because of the structure of our new office environment, we meet new people every day who are operating businesses of their own in the Upstate. Meeting the entrepreneurs around us leads to a bigger network, which really means a bigger community to collaborate with. A larger, more inviting office space means more opportunities to do what we love more than almost anything: connecting people. We couldn’t be more excited to see how our networking grows in 2017, and we hope you’ll be a part of it.
Looking to the Future
So in many ways, moving out of our own office that was occupied by just our team and just our ideas can be perceived to many as a downsize in business—or, like I said before, settling. We do share spaces with other business professionals now in a way we didn’t before, but to us if this new space and workflow is “settling,” we’ll take that and more in 2017. For us, settling has taken on a new meaning. It’s requiring us to focus on what we are best at, rather than trying to do it all. Our choice to narrow down who we are as a business has led to a stronger team, a more precise focus on serving clients, and a substantially larger opportunity to connect with other small businesses in Greenville.