Dave Sharp advises architecture firms on social media, communication and marketing strategy. More.
Content could become a major cornerstone of your growth this year, and it’s something you don’t necessarily have to put a lot of time and energy into.
Architects struggle with writing anything that isn’t descriptive archispeak. So how do you work out what to write? I’m going to teach you how to create attention-grabbing posts about your projects in less than an hour per piece of content.
1. Setup your blog
While project descriptions normally sit on your project pages, we prefer to see extended writing about your projects on your blog. It will allow you to go into a lot more detail than you can on your project pages.
The best way to launch your blog without having to bother your web designer is on Medium or Ghost.
Let's assume you're starting with Medium while you get started as an architectural blogger. It's free.
Create a publication for your firm and create your first story. It’s so easy.
Medium will guarantee that your posts are beautiful, and readable. It will also expose you to a much wider audience, and give you very detailed data on how many people are reading your articles (and what % are making it all the way to the bottom) — which will help you to improve your topic choices with each new article.
While you won’t get an SEO benefit from publishing to medium rather than your own website, the referral traffic can be just as powerful when you’re addressing a small market.
The purpose of your content is market education and differentiation
But traffic doesn’t matter anyway. The game-plan for your new content is to use it to showcase your ideas, and processes. The What’s, Why’s and How’s.
You’ll link to it from your website, media kits, project pages, social media, and email signature as a way to give newcomers as deep of an experience as they can handle into your design process and the value you create for your clients.
2. Turn on your voice recorder
Sitting down at your computer and writing about your projects is probably not your cup of tea. But, I know from my own experience that architecture-nerds like me enjoy arguing, discussing, debating and pitching. It comes naturally.
You can use this same conversational method to produce written content quickly. It works best if you’re a team of 3 or more, where you can bounce ideas, but can also work for a sole-practitioner.
Start with your latest project. Turn on your voice recorder, and brain dump for 20-minutes.
Tell your phone everything about your most recent project. Take everything you’ve been keeping locked away in your big old brain and let it loose.
- What’s the client’s backstory?
- What’s the neighbourhood like?
- What are you testing with this new project that you haven’t tried before?
- How does this project compare to other things you’ve seen?
- Do you have any thoughts on how the rest of the industry isn’t doing this kind of project right?
- How did the process start? With a meeting, a coffee? How’d it all go down, walk your phone through it.
- How has the experience been so far? Any late nights or scary deadlines?
- What obstacles/f**ck ups came up? How did you solve them?
- Have you shown the project to any other architects? What feedback have you received?
- Does the project have any special characteristics, such as energy efficiency, footprint, public space, storage, weird rooms? Talk about those and explain how each works and why they’re good ideas.
- What stages has the project gone through so far? What’s happening right now, and what’s next?
Those prompts are just the start. Go off on tangents and rants if you feel them coming on — because I’ve found they always produce the most dynamite content.
How long did you talk for? 20-min? That should mean about 2'500 unstructured, beautifully raw words.
3. Get it transcribed
The power of using your voice, rather than writing, is that you won’t be able to edit while you write — the single biggest cause of procrastination, frustration and failure in the writing method.
The next step is to send your mp3 file off to Rev.com, who charge US$1 per minute of audio to turn your sounds into a pretty accurate transcript.
They’ll also turn the content around in about 12–24 hours.
4. Tease out the topic
Once your transcript returns, it’ll be a mess. Most likely several topics mashed together.
What I mean by topics is the major ideas and features of the project. These will be the starting point for multiple blog posts that stem from the single project.
Go over it and roughly seperate major themes, anything that has enough substance to become it’s own independent article.
Remember: Your project is the catalyst, not the topic.
When you’re discussing a project, you’ll sometimes find yourself talking about something so specific to your building that nobody else will have any interest in it.
At least, it starts that way.
If you’re struggling to overcome that problem, remove the references to your project and have a read of what’s left.
When you take away the building, all that’s left are the ideas. Suddenly, devoid of context, your articles will begin to tackle much broader, more relevant ideas that will not only bring value to the rest of the industry, but the situations that your next client will bring to the table.
Your house will turn into an article about families.
Your civic building will turn into an article about community.
Your office will turn into an article about business.
5. Final clean up
Grab the topic, dump it into Grammarly and Hemingway App to get your initital rough edit out of the way, and to make it easier to read.
Then go over the article in detail, reworking it until you’re happy with the story that it tells.
You should have many more words than is necessary, so just tighten things up. Feel free to delete entire chunks if they’re boring.
If there are gaps, you can fill them in. If what you’re reading sparks an entirely new topic idea, grab your phone and repeat the second and third steps.
Don’t freak out about making it perfect — just giving your clients something authentic and interesting to read, even if it’s just documenting the process, it will tell them so much more about your firm that what’s currently on your website.
It’s better to publish something than nothing.
With each article, you’ll get better as you get more practice.
6. Promote the article
Your website will link to your Medium publication, which will consistently bring traffic and eye balls, but you should also push it further on your social media channels.
- Create a graphic overlay using Canva and post the article on Instagram.
- Put the article in Mailchimp and send it to your subscribers/client-base.
- Drop the first few paragraphs into a Linkedin article then link to the full post.
- Share it on your Facebook page.
Finally, load your new post into a tool like MeetEdgar and queue it up to re-post on your accounts regularly to drive sustainable traffic over time.
7. Upgrade your best posts
Not all of your posts will be massive hits, but some will. So once a month, go back to the winning posts and see if there’s anything you can add to them to make them even better.
More info, more images, client testimonials, original illustrations.
By upgrading your best posts, you’ll get the most return on time invested.
Architecture is a competitive niche, and we need to experiment with new ways to differentiate ourselves that aren’t just photos, awards and magazine spots.
Writing about your projects will allow you to scale the things you teach your clients to a much wider audience, and give people a clearer picture of what you do.
By using a conversational method, you will have words flowing onto the page effortlessly and overcome any fears you have about staring at a blank page.