Once upon a time, I had a bad month. In June, I had a record-breaking sales month, but by July, things had slowed to a trickle. I asked my business coach at the time what I was doing wrong.
She asked me, how much time are you spending on your marketing?
I didn’t know the answer, so I made something up. Her response was that, however many hours you put in per week, fully half of those should be spent on marketing yourself.
Now, y’all know I’m big on saving time and finding easier ways of doing things. So in the 18 months since that conversation, I’ve been trying hard to systematize some of my marketing activities so that I’m getting the most bang for the least amount of time investment.
Over time, I’ve had to loop my VA in to help me with some of these tasks, but that’s been great, because it frees me up to do other tasks I can’t as easily outsource.
Here’s how I’ve broken down many of my content marketing activities into chunks of 30 minutes or less.
Promoting Blog Posts
If you’re going to spend time creating content, you need to spend time promoting it as well. I created a checklist on Google Docs that lists all the places I want to submit and share my blog posts every week.
My VA does some of them for me, and then I have a list of Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn groups and communities that I share to on each day of the week. (Don’t want to spam people that might be in multiple groups!)
I also highly recommend emailing anyone you mention in your blog posts, letting them know about your post, and providing a link or click-to-tweet for easy sharing.
Sharing to three groups a day, on three different formats, takes 5–10 minutes a day. Submitting to the aggregate content sites (like Biz Sugar) takes a little longer, but I have outsourced that task to my VA. My VA is also in charge of emailing anyone I happen to mention in my blog posts and scheduling a few mentions of the post on all my social media channels during the week, which takes less than 10 minutes in CoSchedule.
Take Action: Create a checklist of where you want to submit and promote your blog posts each week, then divide up the work so that it only takes 5–10 minutes a day.
I needed a fast and easy way to find juicy content to share with my social media audiences, so I created my own blog post promotion group called The Network. You can submit your blog post with the idea that you will share three others’ posts in return. The group is a little different, because it’s all about making the sharing more efficient and effective, so we break sharing up into two threads, one for B2B businesses and one for B2c businesses — so that you’re always going to find something relevant to share. We also ask that people write their shares as tweetables, so you can just copy and paste.
Here’s how I do it:
- Copy the update. (Of course, adding a few words of your own will increase your engagement!)
- Paste the update into a new social post in Buffer. The Snip.ly Chrome extension automatically “snips” the link for me.
I can curate a week’s worth of updates in about 5 minutes.
Take Action: Join The Network to promote your blog post and have a ready source for curated content.
I try to read my RSS feed reader every week (or every two weeks if I get behind) and I always have my idea bank open so that I can record ideas that reading other people’s content sparks.
Just having the idea bank open and handy whenever I’m doing educational-type activities makes me much more likely to record those ideas.
I tend to skim through my RSS reader and save the articles I’d like to read in-depth, then go back and read those closely. If you want to only spend 30 minutes a week on this, you’re going to have to curate your sources very carefully, and only invest time in the ones that are really worth it.
Last Saturday I generated 8 blog post ideas from less than an hour of reading. If coming up with ideas is difficult for you, check out my Blogstorm course — that’s what it’s all about.
Take Action: Use an RSS feed reader (I use The Old Reader) to put all your favorite educational blogs in one spot. Then add my blog to your reader. 😉
Whether you’re promoting your own content, sharing others’ content to build your community, or interacting with trendsetters and thought leaders, you need a way to manage the black hole time suck that is social media.
I use CoSchedule, as I’ve mentioned before, because I love being able to schedule my social media from within WordPress, and I value the ability to see things laid out visually, and Buffer for its ease of use.
But how about the stuff you can’t schedule?
I have to admit, I’m pretty bad about spending way too much time on Facebook, but it’s also the number one traffic referrer for my site. If you have specific goals, it would be easy to add these to your blog post promotion checklist and do them a few at a time each day. Responding to a thought leader’s tweets or blog posts, for example, would not take more than 5 minutes a day. Add your goals to your list.
Take Action: Install CoSchedule if you don’t already regularly use a social media scheduler like Hootsuite or Buffer.
Research and Outreach
I once told my business coach something about my “cold” leads and she interrupted me to say — there’s no such thing as cold leads. If you’ve talked to them and they haven’t flat out told you “I will never ever work with you,” they’re still a lead. And if you’ve talked to them before, those are the hottest leads you have.
My mom, who was in sales for 20 years, would call that “working your book.”
Remember the hierarchy of audiences; we often think of content marketing as mass marketing, but that’s not always the case. Commit to reaching out to one of your old leads every week, and I can practically guarantee you’ll sign more business. And writing that email? Will probably take 10 minutes or less.
Additionally, depending on your goals, you might need to add some research to your content marketing plan. This could include:
- Researching guest posting venues and opportunities.
- Researching print publication pitch guidelines.
- Researching reporters and bloggers who might be interested in interviewing you.
- Doing SEO research.
- Polling customers and readers about the kinds of content you hope to see.
- Researching which tastemakers in your industry you want to get to know.
And so on. Broken down into 5 or 10 minute increments, these tasks are much more likely to get done than if you try to do them all at once.
Likewise, you might have an outreach campaign on your mind. That might include:
- Pitching guest posts
- Sending an existing post to tastemakers who might be interested
- Reaching out to see how you can help a thought leader (before you ever ask for their help)
- Asking past customers for testimonials.
Etc. These tasks can also be broken down into 5–10 minute increments.
Take Action: Think about your content marketing goals and add one or two research or outreach goals to your weekly list.
Promoting Blog posts: 10 min per day
Curating Content: 10 min per week
Brainstorming ideas: 30 min per week
Social media interaction: 10 min per day
Research and outreach: 10 min per day
TOTAL: 3 hours a week
Can you commit to 3 hours a week for your marketing efforts?
If you can’t, it may be time to find a team member, like a VA, to whom you can outsource some of these tasks, because marketing isn’t going away. If you want to grow your business, you have to put in the time and effort to make sure the right people know about you.
Next week, I’m going to be unveiling my new website and a SUPER CRAZY FUN way to accomplish some foundational content marketing techniques you may have been putting off in 30 minutes or less.