By now, you’re probably more than familiar with the idea of content marketing. You understand its value. You know that you should have an online presence, not only with a website, but a blog, newsletter, social media, maybe even podcasting or videos, and so on. But how can you keep whatever momentum you had when you first started all of that going strong?
You quite likely created a website and/or blog, with the intention of writing a new article at least once a week, and posting on social media on a daily basis. For the first few weeks you were gung-ho and proud of all the content you were getting out.
Then something happened. You got busy. All of the sudden you had a client emergency or a really tight deadline and just didn’t have time to get your article done. “I’ll do it later,” you told yourself. But you stayed busy for a while and just never got back to writing and posting, even though you felt guilty and kept telling yourself you would.
It’s not unlike working out at the gym. You go three times a week. Then you go on vacation or holiday season hits and, somehow, you just can’t get yourself to go back. I find that if you get into a routine where you don’t even give yourself the option of thinking of whether you really feel like doing something, you’re much more likely to keep doing it. Kind of like flossing.
So how do you get yourself into a regular flow of producing great content, without feeling like it’s a burden or that it’s taking you away from more direct, paying work? Here are some ideas:
1. Decide which outlets work best for you
It pretty much goes without saying that every business or organization, no matter how big or small, needs a website at the very least. It should be mobile responsive, professionally designed, and easy to navigate. Most importantly, though, is that it should offer fresh content. The most obvious way to accomplish this is by having a blog (or article repository) and posting articles on it on a regular basis. The definition of “regular” will vary, but in general, it doesn’t mean once every two years.
In addition to your regular articles, utilizing social media, in some form, is a great idea. Again, when you start out, you may want to open accounts in as many social media channels as you can. Then you realize there are just too many and you decide you want nothing to do with social media altogether. Find a happy medium, where you create accounts in a few of the more common outlets — e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn — perhaps only one or two of those. You can always sign up for others later on. But choose a few that you truly enjoy using and find valuable, for you and your potential clients, and stick with them.
Many people I know hate Facebook. Even though they understand the advantages of using it for their business, they simply can’t get over their disdain. If that’s you, don’t push it. You’ll resent using it and probably won’t stick with it. So why frustrate yourself? Perhaps Twitter or Pinterest feel more comfortable for you. Your enjoyment of those channels with come through in your usage and will get you better results in the long run.
2. Come up with a realistic schedule
If producing content were your job, then you’d have no difficulty finding the time to do it. However, most of us have other work that pays the bills, so that has to take priority. But, you need to carve out time for marketing, on a regular basis — and here’s the kicker — even when you’re busy. I know, when you’re swamped, the last thing you think you need to do is look for more work. But realize that there may come a time, in the near future or down the road, when you will need more business. It’s a good idea to plant those seeds now so that your garden will be continuously flourishing. Worst case scenario, you have to start a waiting list or refer out. But having that steady flow of business is a great and low-stress place to be.
For me, I designate Tuesday mornings as my marketing time. No matter how busy I am (okay, with exceptions, see #4 below), I make the time to do non-client work in order to directly or indirectly promote my business. Although the amount of time may vary, it’s usually just a few hours a week, which isn’t all that much in the big picture.
Perhaps you have a true 9-5, Monday-Friday type of schedule, where you can’t take off from actual client/customer work. If that’s the case, perhaps you’ll have to find time on Wednesday evenings, or early Friday mornings, or on weekends. Whatever works for you. Determine a realistic amount of time that you know you can — and will — stick to.
Now, keep in mind that your marketing schedule, in its entirety, should not be just a weekly plan. A lot of people find weekly to be a good/reasonable frequency for posting articles. However, you will also need to designate regular time for other online marketing. Social media posting should probably be a daily occurrence. It doesn’t have to be a big time consumer. You may want to start your day with 15 minutes for all channels you’ve signed up for. Or perhaps it works best for you to spend five minutes every couple hours. Again, whatever works for you.
Also set a monthly schedule for less frequent outlets, such as recording a podcast or sending out a newsletter, if you do one. You might even want to plan on annual events, such as refreshing the look of your website or updating a video on it.
Here’s a sample marketing schedule:
- Daily: 9am and 5pm, 10 minutes each, post to social media
- Weekly: Thursday evening, 2-3 hours, write blog post
- Bi-weekly: every second Saturday, record and post podcast
- Monthly: first Monday of the month, send out newsletter
- Annually: each September, re-do welcome video on website home page
Again, I can’t stress enough that, although you may need to push yourself somewhat, only do what you realistically know you can do on a regular basis.
3. Set reminders
Whatever works for you: online calendar, sticky notes, having a friend text you to remind you, paying someone to sky-write it for you. Everyone has different preferences, but find a system that works so that you don’t forget what you’ve committed to.
4. Be flexible… to a degree
Sometimes, life… happens. You have a pressing deadline. Your child comes down with the flu. You take a vacation.
Allow yourself to miss a marketing session once in a while. Either reschedule it or just skip it altogether. Without any guilt. Just make sure you get right back on the horse. This is where the reminders help. Don’t turn them off and you’ll find you’re able to get right back into your rhythm.
5. Find inspiration
A common concern when you’ve committed to coming up with new content on a regular basis is that you’ll eventually run out of ideas. This happens to the best of us.
One of the best ways to come up with ideas, particularly for blog posts, but for all marketing content, is to think of what your clients/customers would like to know about. Think about commonly asked questions. Or put yourself in their shoes and think of something that would be of interest to them (as opposed to something you just want to talk about). Feel free to even ask them directly or have them submit questions to you.
Keep up to date on the latest research and happenings in your field and think of how you can inform your audience of that news. Again, try to look at it in terms of how the information could benefit your readers, rather than just something that might fascinate you.
If you’ve simply got writer’s block, here are some helpful ways to get inspired.
6. Jot down ideas as they come to you
Often, in the middle of nowhere — when you’re immersed in a project, going for a walk, lying in bed at night — an idea will strike you for something interesting to write about. Don’t rely on your memory to hold onto that idea until your next writing session. Jot it down — whether in a notebook or in you iPhone or dictation machine (do people still use those?). Next time you’re stuck for an idea, you may have several to choose from. You’ll be glad you marked them down.
Keeping up with your online marketing doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Just determine which avenues are best for you, come up with a regular but realistic schedule and stick to it. Soon enough you’ll get into a rhythm and actually look forward to your sessions. Your audience will appreciate your efforts and, before you know it, you’ll reap the rewards.