Consider The CREATE Method When Developing Online Content

When you’re writing for your shop’s blog or social channels, try this simple acronym to maximize your results.

Consider The CREATE Method When Developing Online Content

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In addition to writing this column, I’ve been blogging every day for 14 years. I was working for someone else at the time and I made a promise to myself to write a post a day, just to keep myself off the streets at night. After 10 months of keeping that promise, I was laid off, which turned out to be the best gift ever given to me. The short story is I decided to take the risk of striking out on my own, monetizing the blog by selling advertising. Obviously, it paid off, but I wouldn’t have been so successful if I hadn’t established a methodology which I have codified into a key word: CREATE.

Consistent: The key factor is consistency of messaging

Relevant: To your brand and customer

Engage: Followers come back if their questions are answered

Accuracy: Being wrong affects credibility

Timely: Consider what is going on and use it to increase interest in your brand

Evaluate: Check the effectiveness of your messaging

I’m not a trained journalist. Instead, I served in the intelligence field while enlisted in the Army and as a commissioned officer in the Air Force. After I retired from the military and began publishing regularly, I took stock of what I was doing and realized there was much in common between my career in the military and the job I had chosen for myself after retirement. In either pursuit, I would need to be correct, protect sources, and make sure the information I provided was on time and useful. 

While on active duty, I had several items published in The Air Force Times as well as other professional journals, but when I decided to return to writing after retirement, I turned to a topic I was passionate about: my long-term interest in military equipment. I also chose a new platform, the blog. 

Although the process I eventually developed was never spelled out for me, I learned the whole thing as part and parcel of my duties, combining the techniques I had learned to support combat forces with crucial information with my interest in tactical gear. Only later did I begin to characterize what I was doing. 

Let’s break out the CREATE method.

Consistency is crucial to success in messaging. You could ignore all of the other points in my system and still find a level of success due to consistency. Set a schedule and stick to it. I started out once a day and now post at least seven times a day on my site in addition to supporting social media efforts. 

Once you set your schedule, don’t deviate. Like Pavlov’s dog, your readers will return regularly expecting new content. Skip it and they’ll lose interest, moving on to other venues. 

Even if you’re uncomfortable writing, like anything else you do regularly, you’ll find it gets easier and takes less time. Practice makes perfect. 

Be sure to Engage your audience. If your readers have a means to ask you questions, follow up with them in a timely and accurate manner. 

I gained a respect for Relevancy in the Air Force, realizing that all the information I had at my disposal had to be distilled for my customer. Otherwise, it would be useless, drowning my customer in data. Consider using guest contributors, particularly subject-matter experts, if the material is technical or outside your purview. 

I learned to be Accurate and Timely in the Army. The first unit I served in was in Germany during the end of the Cold War, and the commander drilled it into us. If you’re wrong in the Intel business, people die. Out here, your customers will let you know, even if it’s the smallest detail. Consumers are extremely savvy and have the entire internet at their disposable for quick reference. 

Finally, regularly Evaluate your messaging to optimize effectiveness. Evaluation is part of a constant improvement process that we all should use in our business and personal lives. Embrace the lesson the dinosaurs didn’t: Evolve or perish. Your products will evolve and so should how you engage your customers. Consider what platforms they are on and whether you should have a presence there as well. Be ubiquitous. Be everywhere your customers are. 

However, of all the factors I’ve laid out, I’ll repeat that the most important is consistency. You can ignore everything else, but if you publish on a regular basis, you’ll develop a following, if for no other reason than just to see what you’ll say next. 

Over the years I’ve been asked about blogging and what makes me so prolific. What began as a pastime eventually became a drive, since my family is fed based solely upon my success. I still enjoy what I do, making it less of a job. However, you’ll find that others are drawn to write by multiple interests.

If you’re curious about what your content should consist of, you can’t go wrong with the five W’s consisting of Who, What, Where, When and Why. Start there and expand, but remember to stay on topic and keep it short and easy to read. 

Although I developed this method for blog posts, it applies to other forms of brand messaging as well. Whether you are publishing a blog to educate customers about your business or creating social media posts, consider the tenants of my CREATE methodology. 


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