I’m going to out myself today – I’m going to advise you to do something that I haven’t done myself, of late.

Why would I do this? So you don’t do what I’ve done for the last two weeks – fail to get your e-newsletter written, published and distributed. Ouch!

The most observant of you will have noticed that my weekly e-newsletter was missing from your inbox last week, and the week before.

I’d love to tell you all my excuses, but there is no excuse because I know the answer for this problem. It’s simple. I need a story bank.

What’s a story bank?

A story bank is a few quality stories that we content marketers keep up our sleeve for when things get busy.

Deadlines have a habit of arriving unbelievably fast, no matter whether yours is weekly (like mine), fortnightly or monthly.

When you have a tough week, you can turn to your story bank and find just the right piece to get you out of a hole. Of course, it has to be timely and relevant to your readers, so you might need to bring it up to date, or write a new intro, or tie it into a current trending debate. But that’s a big difference from having to start from scratch.

The big sin

Irregular content is a big sin. It damages your brand. Failing to deliver your e-newsletter on time says that you are unreliable, you are not focused on your readers, and/or you are disorganised.

And you know and I know that this is not true.

We are sometimes sick, frantic or caught off guard, or we have a family crisis that needs attention. And we always want to achieve a bit more than we have the resources to achieve.

How to fill your story bank with riches

Of course, getting ahead of story writing can be a bit of a hurdle. How can I get ahead when I cannot even keep up, you might say?

Here are some thoughts:

  1. Write a story list or content planner with all the dates of your publications and the stories you plan to write. If you see a log-jam approaching, invite a guest blogger to contribute, or publish some free content.
  2. Did I say free content? Yes, there is free content on the web that you can republish, with acknowledgement. One of the best sources for this is The Conversation, which has excellent daily stories across a lot of subject areas. There’s plenty of other sources of free content, but make sure you select stories that are valuable, recent and relevant.
  3. Did I say guest blogger? Yep, you can invite others to contribute to your site for free. The people who will want to do so will be those in areas allied to yours, and who see your readers as potential customers for their business.
  4. Spend to save. If you can’t get your content done, bite the bullet and brief a freelancer to write it for you. Commission well ahead, and while you are at it, commission a couple of extras for your story bank. You need “evergreen” content that won’t date, or can be easily updated for your story bank.
  5. Plunder other people’s story banks. There’s clever companies, such as Constant Content, that know we get stuck sometimes and they have a huge bank of stories sitting there for your emergencies. They keep the standards high, so you will find good quality stories if you look for them. If you’ve left it too late to commission, dig into your marketing budget for some off-the-shelf content.

I promise, here and now, to take my own good advice.