Making things often involves a very specific setup, and a little routine that pulls you into the work.
When it comes to productivity, your surroundings, your mindset, and any number of other details might affect your output. If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you’ve managed to figure out what works for you.
If you have a setup in place that works for you and makes you productive, you want to preserve it.
Keep your core creative work front and center
In Productivity for Creative People, author Mark McGuinness talks about the idea of putting a fence around the work that only you can do, and that its place on your schedule should be protected.
It’s a way of making sure your core work is prioritized, since that’s where you create the most value.
However, that’s not all that needs to get done when your creative work is how you make your living.
Leave some time for the marketing activities that will allow you to make sales
If you make your living from that work, then your next priority is making the time to do the work that will allow you to sell what you’ve made.
You already know this, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. Recognizing the importance of online marketing is not as much of a problem as actually getting it done, since it requires showing up consistently.
That’s the whole key to online marketing: consistency and regularity.
Digital marketing is not about just one campaign at a time. It’s a long-term, ongoing effort that involves a bunch of different things happening on a regular basis.
When those things don’t get done, little by little your online presence disappears and you slowly fade away from the memories of your fans.
Without a plan, marketing tasks get done randomly whenever you have a spare ten minutes, or they get overlooked and forgotten, and you don’t even notice until your sales numbers start to dry up because you haven’t paid attention to nurturing your customers.
Either that, or you are fully aware of the neglect and it creates a constant sense of low-level anxiety.
Find the time
I really wish I could give you a quick, easy shortcut, but there just isn’t one. Finding the time for marketing is like finding the time for anything else. What gets prioritized gets done.
Plan your marketing, set aside chunks of time for it, and show up for the appointment – just like you do for your core creative work.
Otherwise, there is a very human thing that happens. In the absence of a plan that tells us what to do, we pay attention only to the most urgent things.
All those little marketing tasks don’t seem as urgent as finishing your latest project or developing new ideas.
That means the products you sell get created, but don’t sell as well as they could. Or maybe they sell really well at shows where you’re a vendor, but you’re having trouble getting traction online.
Publishing content pays off
But if you could get a steady stream of sales going online, you wouldn’t have to depend so much on your show appearances. Plus, marketing yourself online using blog posts, video, and social media helps pull people into those shows. That’s the value steady, consistent content publication brings.
That’s why it’s vital to keep online marketing going even when it’s hard.
Planning a marketing strategy for content creation and promotion, even if it feels painful in the short term, will save you a lot of mental energy and time in the long run, and it’s the only way to ensure your content gets done and in front of the people who want to see it.
How to set yourself up to get marketing done
Once you accept that planning content publication – then following through with that plan – is absolutely necessary, how do you get yourself to do it?
Get into the right mindset
Put on your planning hat. Step outside of your resistance and enjoy the process. That’s easier to do once you understand that marketing is just another word for finding and communicating with all those people who are most likely to like you and to want to buy from you. To do that, you have to be you. You don’t have to put on a whole new persona to sell your products.
Avoid the creative trap
Don’t fall into the trap of using your creativity as a distraction, of giving yourself permission to not focus on the task at hand.
When you don’t feel like doing the thing in front of you, in the name of being creative you may start thinking about something else and before you know it you’ve gone down a rabbit hole. By the time you resurface the time you’ve allotted for marketing is gone.
Actively chasing new ideas at the wrong time can actually distract you from what you’re trying to do – which is to regularly publish content that connects with the people who are most likely to want your work.
Simple is fine
Project management apps and complex tools are absolutely not necessary. Especially if you don’t already have a lot of planning set up, you want something that’s easy to understand with a very small learning curve.
There are plenty of apps out there that are free or cost very little for light users. Most have upgraded versions that let you expand the features as you’re ready.
At first, it’s fine to stick with what you already use to organize your other work, whether you like hands-on or digital.
Here’s the bare minimum
- A calendar where you can note each work session and deadline
- A document where you can flesh out the details
If you need a suggestion for a simple app, Trello lets you make a list and schedule those list items on a calendar. Each list item (called a card) can be as simple or as detailed as you’d like, including images, attachments, and labels.
Set aside time on a weekly basis
- Strategic planning time. Once every month or three, you’ll need to rope off a little bit of time within your marketing window for planning ahead of when you’ll actually create the content. This is the time to figure out what content to create and why, where it will publish, and when it is due. You can plan one month at a time or do a quarterly plan. You won’t know exactly how much time is necessary until you do it a couple of times. Maybe it’s a couple of hours every month, but possibly more or less depending on your needs.
- Content creation. The bulk of time you’ll set aside will be for content creation, whether that’s taking photos, making videos, writing blog posts, or prepping your newsletter. If you don’t have the basic content marketing foundations in place, such as your website, blog, email service provider, and social media profiles you will need to do those first as separate projects.
- Publishing, distribution and relationship building. Your business-related social media time is part of that, and so is the time spent connecting with other creators, bloggers, podcasters or anyone else who can help spread your content. These same people who might link to you because you have a similar audience may also be resources for links, interviews, and partner projects.
Set an appointment
However you usually schedule dentist appointments or meetings or other events that involve showing up on time, is how you’ll schedule your appointment to do your marketing. So whether you use a calendar app or a paper calendar, schedule it in. Think of it as an appointment apart from your core creative work.
Try to find a time where you can show up regularly, whether that’s in hour chunks here and there or a half day once or twice a week.
For example, if you already spend time on social media, can you expand that by an hour or use some of that time on creating content? If you really can’t imagine where you’ll find the time for content planning, creation, and distribution, you may need to consider finding someone to help.
Show up and do the work
Commit to not getting distracted and get as much done as you can during the time allotted.
A plan and a system help you get past excuses and distractions
When there’s a good solid system in place, you don’t have to think about what you’re going to do. Instead of dithering for half an hour over which blog to write or which product to show in your video, you already know because it’s right there in front of you. All you have to do is execute.
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