First, let’s get this out of the way…
Content templates are a great starting point.
The keyword being starting point.
Unfortunately, people treat them like Mad Libs and use them “as-is” – whether it’s graphic templates or writing templates (we’ll get into these in more detail below, so sit tight).
If you’re not familiar with Mad Libs, they’re a fun game for kids and can leave you in tears from laughing so hard (an adult version of Mad Libs might be “Cards Against Humanity”… sort of).
Mad Libs are fill-in-the-blanks stories where you simply ask people for a noun, adjective, verb, etc., then you read the stories as is when the page is completely filled out.
They can be super nonsensical and are pretty funny when you read them out loud.
The problem with content templates for your business is that way too many people use them as is or, make small adjustments and think they’re going to solve all their problems.
Take the Content Creators Planner.
Yes, we wanted to create a planner so you could plan out your content, but the bigger focus of the planner was to give you a framework and strategy for planning and scheduling your content.
Kind of like the old saying:
It’s the same reason we create weekly content and publish our newsletter: we want to give you the tools that help you develop your skillset so you’re not reliant on buying templates.
If you don’t develop the skillset it’s like starting at ground zero. Every…. single… time.
However, not all content templates are created equally.
Let’s look at the different types of content templates.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
There are plenty of great graphic templates available for pretty much everything you could possibly need.
- social media sharing images
- social profile images
- book covers
- presentation templates
- quote images
- podcast cover art
You get the point… that’s a small list, but you can find a graphic template for pretty much anything you could possibly need.
I’ve purchased a handful of template packs myself (Instagram templates through CreativeMarket.com), and they’re fantastic.
My specific purpose in purchasing them was so I would have a set of images that complemented each other (in other words, looked like they belonged together) to create carousel images for the newsletter.
Example: Take the different elements of the newsletter, create an image for each element, and publish it as a carousel.
Using a template makes this process much quicker, but I have to edit the colors, text, etc. so it’s representative of my brand.
We can’t all be as talented as my brilliant partner Jodi, who is a designer. So a template is a great place to start.
Here’s where graphic templates go sideways.
Take a look at this screenshot I took from an ad on Facebook:
On one hand, it’s a great image in and of itself for an ad (colorful, grabs attention, etc.).
However… the “proven to go viral” B.S. is what makes me question the integrity of the person selling them.
I am all about using language that inspires people to buy and take action, but your graphic template won’t go “viral” if your messaging sucks (that makes me feel as icky as someone who sets out to be an “influencer” with no real game plan).
Side note: your content does not need to go viral to get results. If the goal was to get things to go viral we would all be creating BuzzFeed quizzes or skateboarding to Fleetwood Mac drinking cranberry juice (although I do think what happened with that guy was pretty cool).
Graphics should be an extension of your brand. They support who you are, what you do, and the problems you solve for your audience.
You have to have your messaging and copy down in order to inspire people to take action.
If you purchase graphic templates (which again, are a great starting point), make sure you take the time to clearly communicate “what’s in it for them.”
As someone who has slowly fallen in love with writing, I can honestly tell you that I wish I had put more time and energy into writing when I first started my business.
Writing content and writing copy are two different things, but learning how to do both (i.e, practicing it and learning about what works, what doesn’t), will have a huge impact on your bottom line (probably more so than anything else).
Even if your product or service is amazing, if you can’t communicate that effectively no one is going to buy it.
Templates vs. Frameworks
“Fill in the blank” writing templates aren’t as common (fortunately). Example: you can’t really write an entire ad (headline, copy, etc.) without knowing the product.
Headline templates are easier to come by, but they’re really much more of a formula than a template.
There are however plenty of frameworks, which, when used properly can deliver amazing results as well as help you become a better writer.
When Jodi and I launched the planner we knew we were going to put money behind paid traffic right away. We decided to start with Facebook and Instagram ads.
We also decided to purchase a tool called “Funnelscripts.”
Funnelscripts has a bunch of different types of copy templates that operate very similarly to Mad Libs where you fill in the blanks and it spits out a bunch of results.
Which we did.
Then we spent time editing the results so it sounded like us and represented our brand correctly.
Did it work?
Heck yea, it did! We were profitable from day 1 with our ads then scaled down the road with the help of an agency.
Back to Templates vs. Frameworks…
When you find a framework that is solid you’re not reliant on someone else providing a solution for you.
Here’s a great example of a great framework:
This post on Copywriting Course on “How to Create an Amazing About Us” page.
This is pretty much my go-to framework anytime I write an “about” page. There are 6 elements that make up a great about page:
- A value proposition
- A daydream
- A differentiator
- A story
- An offering
- A call to action
I’m not going to explain any of that here because I’d just be copying what’s in the original post. You can see that this provides a solid framework and teaches you how to do it.
By taking the time to do this you’re already a step ahead of the competition (remember, so many people don’t want to do the actual “work”).
YOU are the differentiator
Putting your own unique spin on things is pretty much the only way you differentiate yourself in the market.
Use templates wisely and don’t cheat yourself out of doing things well.