Does this sound familiar? You ramp up your marketing, you’re feeling good, and the leads are coming in hot! But then… you get busy with projects, client work comes first, and your marketing falls to the wayside. Then, as soon as those projects start wrapping up, you realize you don’t have many new leads in the pipeline. So you ramp up your marketing again — aaaand the cycle repeats.
I know this pattern all too well. Not only have countless clients told me this tale, but about once per year, I personally get buried in client projects and experience it myself… which happens at the beginning of every new year like clockwork.
I was lamenting about this to our Project Manager, Liz, just last week, and in an almost motherly tone, she said, “Do I need to add you to our client roster? Do I need to send you the same reminder emails about deadlines that we send to our clients?”
Um, YES. 😂
If you’re a client of ours, you know that Liz is a tiger when it comes to project management… because it works!
Our process helps everyone (our team, our clients, and our clients’ teams) plan ahead and stay organized and efficient. It lets us continue to create high-level content that is thoughtful, intriguing, and strategic — never rushed — that genuinely attracts new clients.
So yes, I DO need to personally adopt the same system that we’ve seen success with again and again. And if you want to, so can you.
Today, I’m sharing our 5 BEST tips and strategies for creating consistency in blogging, marketing, and of course, in your incoming stream of clients. Our secrets are out…
Not having a plan (or not having one you feel jazzed about) is the single greatest killer of productivity. Imagine this:
You finally have a spare moment to write a post… and you spend 30 minutes of that precious time trying (and sometimes failing) to decide what to write about. Or, you start a blog post that you’re not all that interested in, only to write it and rewrite it over and over until you give up or press publish on something you’re not proud of.
Yes, I’m speaking from experience. It’s not only exhausting and deflating, but it feels like a huge waste of effort that reinforces what your inner critic has been saying all along: “I don’t have time for this.”
This is exactly how one missed post snowballs into two, two becomes three, and before you know it, several marketing-less (and lead-less) months have passed in a blink. Ouch.
Other than staying on the wagon, what else does having an Editorial Calendar allow you to do?
Literally map out your Editorial Calendar, so the next 3, 6, or 12 months of blog content. To help, you can use our downloadable Content Strategy Workbook here. If you have a team, involve them in the strategizing – you never know what brilliant ideas could result!
Or, you could hire O&B for a one-on-one Content Strategy Session. We’ll deep-dive into your business and ideal clients and discuss which topics are most likely to attract them and build a positive relationship with you.
(Every new Monthly Blogging client of ours starts with a Content Strategy Session, during which we create their Editorial Calendar. Yes, we literally map out at least 6 months’ worth of blog post topics so that we have a solid foundation.)
“But Jaquilyn, what if something comes up and we need to write about it right away?”
I completely understand. I’ve seen this situation come up with clients of ours who have landed new sponsorship deals, received an exciting press feature, or have simply thought up a brilliant idea they’re excited to share.
Content creation, by nature, must be fluid and flexible. I mean, look at COVID. Do you know how many impromptu Strategy Sessions we scheduled with our clients to revamp their Editorial Calendar and address the crisis? Or pivot their businesses? OH YEAH, this happened. With at least 80% of them.
However, having an Editorial Calendar in place, even if a blog post topic or two might change, will set you up for success FAR better than just winging it every month.
Better yet, do what we do and revisit your Editorial Calendar quarterly to make sure you’re still on track or to add or schedule new topics ideas. You’ll see the difference.
If you’ve written a blog post before, then chances are you have also rushed through a blog post before. I get it. As the CEO/Principal/Creative Director of your design firm, uninterrupted writing time is hard to come by.
This is why you should start your content well in advance of when you would like to publish. Again, I know there may be timely posts that you have to write, pack up, and ship out to the internets at high speed, but trust me, those are in the minority.
Most of your content should be evergreen, meaning that they’re relevant at any time of the year, or even years from now.
As I mentioned above, this also gives you (or your team) plenty of time to assemble the necessary promotional materials: blog post graphics, social media graphics and captions, and any accompanying newsletters. But more on that in Tip #3.
At O&B, we start all of our blog posts at least 30 days in advance of when they will be published. This means that any blog post that is going to be published in the month of May is on our writers’ calendars in early April.
This also means that we request bullet points (quick notes) from our clients on each topic prior to the 1st of the month. That gives each blog post 30 days to make it through our finely tuned process writing and editing (detailed in Tip #4, if you’re curious).
Some other tips that make writing in advance possible:
Note: If you are using our blog post templates in the Socialite Vault membership, I suggest blocking off half a day to complete several templates at once. Then, get ahead by scheduling them a month or two out.
I know you know this one! Systems, systems, systems. If you’re running a design firm, you know the value of a repeatable process with the best results, especially one that has been polished until it shines.
If marketing is important to you, setting up workflows for each step of the process will keep everything running smoothly and consistently — including the new leads and clients you have coming in.
Just like your process is different from the design firm down the street, your process for content creation might be different, too. Trial and error is the only way to see what really works.
To get you started, I’ve decided to share our process. You can download a PDF of our internal workflows for writing and formatting blog posts here. I’m not even asking for your email address. You can just go grab it, print it, and use it.
Which brings me to my next point…
We all have our special skills, and you and I both know that the best team is the one that has each member working in his or her zone of genius. The same is true for content creation, whether you’re doing it in-house, outsourcing part of it, or outsourcing all of it.
Again, it depends on your working style and your team, but I’ll share what has worked for us. To make sure that every aspect of a blog post is handled by a specialist, we have different team members handling each part of the process:
(P.S. If you’re working with us, you won’t see all this going on behind-the-scenes. You’ll get to share your initial thoughts, feedback, and approval. That’s it! Easy.)
And voilà! — you have one HECK of a blog post and all the SEO juice and promotional social graphics that goes with it. AND you have it well in advance to pull together any other pieces of the puzzle: your newsletter, social media posts, etc.
Okay, your turn. You may or may not have this many people on your team, but here are a couple ideas:
Last but not least, I suggest using a project management system to organize everything even if you are outsourcing several or all of your marketing. It keeps your team on the same page, helps you remember dates at a glance, and you can use reminders to set-it-and-forget-it.
We use Asana for this. Full kudos to our PM, Liz, for getting our team and workflows organized in there, because it has made SUCH a difference to our productivity.
The internal workflows I shared with you above are all in our team’s Asana account. Our team members can pass tasks to each other as needed, and each person who takes the wheel has ALL the necessary info at their fingertips.
It also helps us set deadlines, meet them, and even give our clients more accurate time estimates for any new projects they might request of us, such as a one-off custom nurture sequence, sales page, or lead magnet.
Some helpful tips on using Asana for blogging:
There you have it — my top tips for creating consistency in your marketing. When I envisioned this blog post, I had no idea that I would be sharing this much information with you, but once I started, I realized that it is e-ssential information if I’m trying to set you up for success. And I absolutely am.
Have questions? Need help with any part of this process? Just ask! We genuinely love what we do, LOVE the results our clients are seeing in business growth, and we’re here to help.