3 Simple Steps for Creating Original Content

While relaxing at the pool I received a call from a frantic family member wanting me to put up a Christmas banner for their Facebook page. I had no laptop and hardly had an Internet connection; but thanks to some tips I will be sharing with you I was able to get the banner up before Christmas lunch.

Creating content on social media is a valuable way to get your audience to engage with you or your brand. Reposting content is great, but sourcing something the audience hasn’t seen before is the key to success (albeit challenging). You can only post so many photos of El Gato before your audience gets annoyed and goes somewhere else; so it becomes increasingly important to keep creating content your audience wants to share and engage with. Creating unique and sharable content from scratch can be difficult – as a freelancer your smaller clients often won’t have the budget to do big social media campaigns and it becomes hard to justify the hours you put in. Luckily for us there are easier ways to generate unique content on the fly and with minimal effort.

1. Always keep the camera rolling

Whether you are on a hike or on the bus; keep your eye out for photo or video opportunities. Not only will you be building a social media stock library; but taking photographs is a great way to improve your design skills as it teaches you about lighting, composition and more. The temptation is often to photograph your pets or family; but try to think outside the box as a photograph of a sunset could be the perfect background to that tacky quote your client wants to post on Facebook. This is also a great way to build a social following on platforms like Instagram.

You don’t necessarily have to take photographs with a DSLR, especially when considering the incredible camera you have in your pocket. Having your own photographs on your mobile device is also especially useful when considering that Adobe has made both Lightroom and Spark available on mobile. I could never have created the Christmas banner had I not taken a photograph of our Christmas tree at home the week before.

Arguably the best part about using your own photography to create content for your clients is that it is completely free. Furthermore you could even charge a mark-up for your work as you are essentially supplying them with a stock photograph for their project. If you are a really good photographer you could also eventually start selling your photographs on stock websites as a great source of passive income. Microstock websites are easy to get into and you can really coin it if your photos are good. You can register as a Shutterstock contributor here.

“Nature has no copyright protection and does not ask for royalties which makes her the perfect model.”

Lastly remember to be courteous; you cannot use photographs of people without their permission and sometimes using someone else’s brand in the wrong context could get you into trouble. Nature has no copyright protection and does not ask for royalties which makes her the perfect model, which makes her the perfect photographic subject.

2. Write your own content

Everyone has a buddy that’s hilarious and we just love to quote them. If he or she posts a funny Facebook post that relates to your work, save it for later (you can do this on the Facebook app quite easily). Or perhaps you often have some clever quips that are relevant to your clients’ business – make a note and use it. If you work with other designers you could find yourself often having intellectual or philosophical debates with your colleagues. This also makes for great content, even if you are just posing a question to your audience.

Uber is not only a cheaper means of transport in South Africa, but also allows you to be more productive while commuting. If you do not need to drive in traffic, you have an extra hour in your day to be creative or learn something new. Take out your laptop and write; write about what you see, the news, anything interesting that might be relevant to your client. As creatives we draw inspiration from our environment and daily interactions; there’s no reason we can’t apply the same mindset to generating original content.

3. Create content with Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark launched in May 2016 and  I would say it is one of Adobe’s “best kept secrets”.

Spark is the type of tool that is perfect for those clients with tighter budgets or designers who are always on the move. The Spark app is available on most mobile devices and syncs with your Creative Cloud library with ease making it available to anyone who has an Internet connection. The best part is that it is completely free to use on desktop and mobile and comes packed with Creative Cloud features.

Getting started with Spark is simple: you launch the Spark Post app, click the plus, select a solid background or photograph, pick a template and tweak. You can take a photograph on the spot or pick a photograph from your Creative Cloud or phone library. Spark also sets up the dimensions for you to ensure that you never have an oddly sizes Facebook photo again. Once you save out your photo, simply upload!

Spark has other great features too, including a simple video editor and a landing page builder. It was built with speed, accessibility and flexibility in mind making it the perfect tool for designers on the move. Similar programmes include Shutterstock editor or Canva with various free and paid for options, but let’s face it, Adobe is king when it comes to design software.

Tying it all together

If you haven’t realised it by now, we’ve just given you the perfect three step recipe for generating content. To summarise our workflow:

  • Create design assets by taking photographs or videos of your surroundings
  • Take note of interesting news or quotes that can be tied into your work
  • Use Spark to tie it all together into a post

Using this workflow you could potentially be publishing original social media posts at the very least once a week. The more time you invest in generating content, the better your return on investment will be. With that said, also remember that not all content is good content, so think before you post.

So go outside, put Pokemon Go away, and realise that the world is full of creative opportunity.