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Is your content creation on the struggle bus? Get on easy street with content pillaring

You’re cruising along with your editorial calendar as your guide. Your writers have their headphones on and the happy hum of clacking keyboards fills the air. For some time, content creation is smooth sailing, easy going. Then… bump! Rumble! Crash!
What was a fun and easy ride to content nirvana has morphed into a nightmare jaunt on the struggle bus—and it’s not because of a lack of spending, as content marketing budgets are on the rise.
You have a front row seat on the struggle bus.

There is a silver lining to all of this: You are not alone.
According to a 2015 content marketing benchmarking survey by the CMI:

  • 65 percent of B2C marketers need help creating better quality content
  • 44 percent of B2B marketers believe consistent content production is a challenge and 40 percent of them need help producing a variety of content

Why is content creation hard?
Honestly, I think content creation is a challenge because marketers are natural overachievers and a byproduct of our drive to be the best is constant innovation. We want to create something new that’s going to capture mindshare and leads. We want to get the scoop and be the first to do so.
In addition, “unique content” is definitely a thing, if not THE thing, for content marketers. It’s our goal to add value for our readers, and that means giving them something they have never seen before. Newstex stated that in 2013, 5 exabytes (10 ^18, or 1 quintillion) of content was created each day—that’s a lot of competition… and also a lot of room for accidental duplication.
However, marketers viewing the landscape with overachieving nerd glasses tend to overlook the idea that repurposing is not the same thing as duplication.
Enter content pillars.
What are content pillars?
A content pillar is a big, important content asset that can be used to create a slew of individual assets, each different from the original. What’s cool is that each derivative can become its own pillar. When you are “pillaring content,” you have a process for creating these unique pieces.
Kapost’s infographic on content pillaring explains it really well:
 The Content Pillar
I like to think of content pillars as being similar to vampirism. From one vampire, you can breed a whole legion. However, unlike the undead, content progeny can live on even if the source is killed because each is unique and strong enough to survive on its own.
Content pillaring can be a solution to the following challenges:
Planning and creation
You don’t need to start from scratch to come up with an idea. Since your main content asset is the anchor, it sets the theme for the rest of your editorial calendar, which gives you a valuable starting point.
Documenting a strategy
Content pillaring forces you to have a documented strategy that will prove immensely beneficial given the amount of content you must produce. If this is a methodology you want to pursue and do  this well, then you must communicate your goals, formulate a plan to achieve them, and set metrics to measure success in written form.
Integrating digital marketing
To truly maximize your efforts, consider the needs of your digital marketing friends: social, digital PR, SEO, and paid advertising. Ask them what they need to be successful and then communicate what you need in return. For example, social probably has a wish list of native content your team can create, while you need social to come up with a smart syndication strategy to maximize engagement.
How do I start?
Know the goal for each asset. From awareness to loyalty, what stage of the sales funnel is this piece of content supporting? Is the aim to create awareness for the anchor or is it something else entirely? If you know the goal, this can help you determine the channel, format, and metrics to measure success, thus generating ideas for new content.
The anchor doesn’t have to be an e-book, but it does need to be an asset that provides a lot of information. For example, an infographic would make a great anchor because it typically contains a substantial store of data that can spawn individual pieces.
Here’s an infographic about free time that’s perfect for pillaring:
Content Pillaring Infographic
From this infographic, we can create blog posts about…

  • What men and women do in their spare time and how each gender is different
  • Top 7 recreational activities
  • Why Spain tops the list for European vacations
  • How Thursday is the new Friday

We could go on and on, and I won’t even go into the number of social posts (also content) we can create from this goldmine—and the social posts from the blog posts. Did I mention that we haven’t even thought about videos?
The bottom line is that content pillaring = exponential content. Watch your content multiply like rabbits.
Hopefully, I leave you in a much better place with regard to content creation. I know that content creation can be intimidating, especially when you’re faced with a blank editorial calendar. Know that from just one great idea, you can create 15 more pieces of content with a little more effort.
Do you have questions about content pillaring? Or just about content in general? Ask below or tweet @SaleAMP. Talk to you soon!

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