Content Marketing is a Marathon, Lesson #2: Develop a Daily Routine
Getting into a Routine
As part of my full series, 6 Marathon Lessons for Content Marketers, I’m covering how developing and maintaining a daily routine is key to sustainable success in both running and marketing.
With most goals in life, it’s easy to get hung up on the end result. As a marketer, I just want to hit my goals — I want to get the traffic I promised, I want to see our content higher up in rankings, and, by the end of the quarter, I want to see green on that reporting spreadsheet. As a runner, I want to feel good at the finish line and be pleased with my time. But as the saying goes: It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon (read the first post in my series, which is all about how only practice makes perfect).
Developing a daily routine has been invaluable for me as a runner, and while it’s important to stay agile at work, I’ve found greater efficiency and less stress by maintaining a daily rhythm.
5 Keys to a Successful Daily Content Marketing Routine
Here are five things I learned in my daily training that can improve your daily marketing routine:
1) Prepare the Night Before
The night before any run or workout is one of the most important times to me. If I don’t spend the prep time getting everything ready for my workouts, the likelihood of it actually happening decreases by about ninety percent. So every night, I lay all of my clothes out, prepare any pre-run snack, fill my water bottle, and put my running shoes by the door.
This same rule applies for work- try to spend a little time getting prepped for the next day. If you have a new piece of content the next morning, review the draft and make a list of key influencers who you’ll share it with. If there’s something bigger coming in a few weeks, try to spend a few minutes targeting key journalists or contacts to reach out to prior to launch. The relief you’ll feel when you come in the next morning will help you get more done by focusing less on prep and more on the most important part of your job — marketing.
2) Don’t Stall in the Morning
Prying myself from my warm bed to run for an hour and half before work was tough to get used to, until I just started doing it. Once I started prepping the night before, it made it much easier to suck it up and run. No stalling, no snoozing, just start running.
The same goes for my workday. I know I need to promote a lot of content every day, so instead of letting it hang over my head, I do it first thing in the morning. Tackling your most difficult or time-consuming task in the morning frees up the rest of your day to be more strategic about community building efforts, landing a guest post on a highly-ranked site, or getting to know the next day’s content. Once you start to approach your work this way, it’s more likely that you’ll be able to do everything even better the next day.
3) Take a Lunch Break
This is exactly how it sounds — and it applies to your running and marketing equally. At some point midday, take a break and have lunch. Taking a break from work and fueling your body can and will always make you better at what you do.
In this fast paced era, it’s really easy to get stuck staring at your computer in a zombie-like fashion just to get things done. I do it all the time and it’s not worth it. You will burn out and won’t impress anyone with the number of unproductive hours you spend in front of your computer. So get up, (really, stand up,) take a walk, and take a break from work. I also encourage you to take this time to check in on any content marketing or tech news that you may want to share socially. While this is still work, if you’re anything like me, you also really enjoy reading blogs and articles about anything marketing. If you’re feeling really bogged down, at least take a break from your to-do list, take a short walk, and check in on Feedly or a few of your favorite blogs.
4) Stretch in the Afternoon
To avoid getting cramped up after morning runs, I always stretch and roll out my legs in a conference at work in the afternoon. You’re right, this is weird and maybe a little extreme, but it helped! Stretching is one of those things that takes time and if I don’t push myself to do it, I won’t. The benefits are too good to miss out on. Your tired muscles feel rejuvenated and you’ll be able to run stronger the next day.
As a marketer, consider a different kind of stretching. Spend some dedicated time on more stretch goals for your content in the afternoon. For example, work on the guest post placement you’re not sure will be worth your time or the infographic you’re not sure will get picked up. Dedicate time to these things because we both know that when one of these tactics work, the return is oh so sweet.
5) Rest Before You Have To
Marathon training programs always require sleep and rest days. Rest enables your muscles to recover and helps rebuild your mental strength before your next session. If you wait until you’re overtired, you’ll need twice the recovery time.
In content marketing, you could spend all hours of your day and night editing, scheduling, and promoting content and still not be satisfied. Make sure you find ways to get some rest. Try not to be the last one in the office and give yourself a break at night and on the weekends. By following the last four steps and keeping yourself organized, you should be able to manage your time much better. You may even find yourself leaving early!
There’s no perfect daily routine for everyone. My schedule may not make sense for you and your content marketing program. That said, try and nail down a routine that you can stick to. You’ll help yourself prioritize your time and maximize efficiency.