You can’t survive content marketing without being productive. Content marketers today are under pressure to produce more content while maintaining a high quality of work. And indeed, marketers are pumping out more content: according to Content Marketing Institute, 70% of B2B marketers produced more content this year than last year.
If you’re looking for ways to become more productive, it’s critical to develop the right habits. These 7 are a good start.
1. Produce content (almost) every day.
Creating content takes discipline. To become a master at what you do, you have to do it frequently. Becoming a productive marketer takes practice and consistency.
If you produce blog posts and ebooks, for instance, writing should be a daily activity. Respected marketing guru Seth Godin has this to say about the habit of writing:
Blogging every day clarifies my thoughts — it helps me notice things. It’s one of the most important practices of my profession. (Source)
If you regularly produce content, you’ll notice that eventually, it gets easier and you become faster at it. But first, you have to commit to doing it regularly and consistently.
2. Experiment with new tech.
When used right, new apps, gadgets and other tools can help us become a lot more efficient.
Some tools can help automate things for you. For instance, IFTTT lets you automate mundane and tedious tasks like backing up your Instagram photos on Dropbox, logging your work hours or tweeting articles from an RSS feed. These tasks aren’t difficult at all, but automating them saves you time so you can focus on other things. Other tools like Trello keeps you organized, which is critical if you want to meet deadlines.
New tools have the potential to help you produce more content in less time. Make it a habit to check out new tools to see if they will work for you.
3. Consume great content every day.
If you want to step up your content game, you have to learn from the industry’s best. How do you do that? By consuming their content. By studying what they do. By analyzing what works for them.
“The best way to understand which content trends are engaging is by engaging with them,” says Michelle Killebrew, Program Director, Strategy & Solutions – Social Business at IBM. She recommends reading a lot and doing it every day, adding “I read headlines, industry publications, trade publications, consumer trends, tech trends, fiction, and non-fiction.”
As content marketers, we are a bit spoiled because there are many blogs and online resources out there. Some of my favorites include Content Marketing Institute, Ann Handley’s blog and Convince & Convert. Add your fave blogs and sites to Feedly, Pulse, or Flipboard to easily keep track of what’s new.
And as Killebrew alluded to, it’s critical to consume a variety of content. Reading fiction, for instance, can help you become a sharper storyteller by teaching you the art of creating suspense. Even TV shows can help inspire your next social media campaign.
4. Use analytics to produce better content.
Productive content marketers are obsessed with optimization. They find out what’s the best time to tweet or to send out emails. They check Google Analytics frequently to determine which type of blog posts work. They look for ways to write faster.
Analytics can help you gauge how engaging your content really is, which helps inform what you need to focus on. Say for instance that you’ve produced a whitepaper about your industry and you’ve released it to the world. How do you know that it resonated with your audience? The number of downloads provides a high overview of whether there was an appetite for the content you just produced, but it’s critical to be more granular. Which sections of the whitepaper did your audience find more useful? Which chapters barely got any eyeballs? In this case, page-by-page analytics through Orangedox can provide data on what your audience is looking for and how you can more efficiently deliver that next time.
5. Take full advantage of the cloud.
Pretty much everything is on the cloud now, and there’s no good excuse not to take advantage of it.
Cloud technologies let you work anytime, anywhere. To do work, you don’t have to be physically in the office. So if you’re at home and you suddenly feel creative, you can take advantage of that time.
Productive marketers don’t just use the cloud to store their files—they also use it to enhance collaboration and workflow with their teams and colleagues. Sending files and photos to hot prospects, for instance, can be done through a cloud-based tool like Dropbox. That way, you don’t have to worry about clogging people’s inboxes and you can easily track people’s feedback without sending files multiple times.
6. Expand your knowledge and acquire new skills.
Marketing in the digital age isn’t a static profession. New marketing tools pop up every day, and customers and prospects are always craving for new and more engaging content. You need to constantly upgrade your skills and knowledge in order to remain relevant.
Learning new skills may sound like a time suck, but it can in fact help you become more efficient. When you acquire a new skill, it could help with your current workflow, inspiring you to do things differently or to solve problems more creatively.
7. They unplug.
Many content marketers are “on” all the time. If we’re not writing, many of us are thinking about writing. Many of us constantly check Twitter to see what’s trending. And let’s face it: most of us are slaves to our emails.
But if you truly want to be productive, it’s critical to reset, and to be mindful about doing so. Stop feeling guilty about not working. It’s counterintuitive, but unplugging regularly can actually make you more productive.
Research published in the journal Psychological Science shows that we engage in what the researchers call “creative incubation” during mind-wandering. If we’re facing a challenge that needs some new ideas, we are more likely to find good solutions if we let our minds wander and then come back to the challenge. When we mentally drift to a new topic, our brains continue sorting out the tough challenge in the background. Tracking a lot of new information can interfere with that background mental work, limiting mind-wandering and blocking the incubation that leads to creative solutions.
One of the best ways to unplug is to exercise regularly. Working out keeps your mind sharp, drives creativity and boosts happiness. The last point is particularly important because studies show that happy people are more productive.
How do you keep your productivity up?
If you’re a content marketer, I want to know what you do to remain productive. Share your thoughts in the comments.