Weather, workload, unintended muffin top. Whatever’s got you a-stressin’, work on your mental health this April during Stress Awareness Month! For the sake of time, we’re focusing on digital marketing as a stressor. Why? because we find many clients get in a tizzy about their internal content efforts.

While we have an easy answer to take the stress out of digital marketing—hire us!—we also have seven other tips to make content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing—the works—easier on your brain and office life. So pour yourself a cup of tea, take a deep breath, and trust that by the end of this article, you’ll have the steps you need to de-stress your day-to-day marketing demands.

Take the stress out of digital marketing by following these tips…

1) Make an Annual Content Calendar

Marketing used to be simpler. Now, you need a full marketing strategy and a dedicated team for every digital channel. Nobody expects this to be easy. That’s why we recommend creating a content calendar for the year ahead.

Content calendars, also known as editorial calendars, organize your entire marketing plan in one place. Here, you can see what’s happening on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, email, your website’s blog, and anywhere else you promote your brand. A content calendar is essentially a central hub to manage, cross-promote, and schedule unique content to make management of this digital beast easier.

So how does one create a content calendar? Start with a spreadsheet—we love Google Sheets. Then, start adding important holidays and events relevant to your business. After that, create content buckets to cover unique aspects of your business like educational topics, promotions, user-generated content, etc. You can read more tips to create an effective content calendar so you’re proactive instead of reactive this year. It’s totally worth spending the time to set up this framework for your annual content.

2) Do Video and Photo Shoots in Bulk

Your audience isn’t going to stop thirsting for fresh content any time soon. That means you have a huge demand—at least five posts per week on each social media channel—to deliver lots and lots of assets. Don’t freak out! If you plan ahead to capture high-quality video and photo assets at once, you can avoid burnout and the decline of content quality, website traffic, and followings.

We like to do quarterly photo and video shoots to use for three to four months worth of content. To coordinate these bulk shoots, we start with a shot list. We determine which kind of photos and videos we need and organize the shots to make the shoot run smoother and quicker. We refer back to our content calendar to see if there are any holidays or special events coming up we need content for. If so, we make sure to capture photo and video for those posts.

Of course, social media marketing relies on real-time photo and video too, but if you plan to shoot the bulk of your assets (90 percent done ahead of time to 10 percent spur of the moment), you’ll have the time to snap these on-demand photos and videos.

3) Improve Your Internal Process

When your business and internal marketing team are small, you can get by with a shaky process. However, your issues will balloon once you try to scale. If your digital marketing is stressing you out, it’s probably a process issue.

We’ve gone back to the drawing board time-and-time-again with our process. We’ve looked at bottlenecks, missed opportunities, and ingenious tricks that make our lives easier. The result? A well-oiled machine that’s allowed us to bring on more team members and business.

To optimize your internal marketing process, start with the high-level infrastructure. Break your process down into tasks: i.e., strategy and planning, writing and production, scheduling and publishing, and optimization. Then, go through every step of that process. For strategy, create a content calendar like we discussed above. For publishing and scheduling, look into better platforms like Planoly and MailChimp to get all of your social media posts and emails ready to deploy. Also, consider hiring a project manager and using a project management software like Asana too to hone your process.

At Witty Kitty, we use Asana to track production work in every stage of development. Doing so cuts down on back-and-forth communication because we can see what every teammate is working on. And of course, we waste less time micromanaging and worrying about all the moving pieces, because the software manages this for us.

Even if you’re up to your eyeballs in deliverables and missed deadlines, hit the breaks and have a process discussion ASAP. The quicker you get your infrastructure organized, the quicker you can streamline your marketing and get more done without a headache.

4) Fire, Hire, and Delegate

Someone not cutting the mustard? Might be time for a replacement. Are you running yourself ragged as a Jack or Jill-of-all-trades? It’s probably high time to hire someone to share the workload with so you can free yourself up to do other important tasks.

Once or twice per year, we find it helpful to review job descriptions, create a roles and responsibilities Venn diagram, and trim the fat where necessary. As your company and digital marketing efforts grow, so will your staff. Ensure the right people occupy the right roles and that you maximize those efforts so talent doesn’t double up on tasks unnecessarily. We’re not saying to ax your entire team. Just make sure you allocate budget and responsibilities wisely so everyone pulls their weight.

5) Focus

You might not be able to do it all. That’s okay! It’s better to do a few things exceptionally well rather than water down your content marketing efforts. Determine your three most important marketing channels and goals for the year. Then, divvy up your annual marketing budget for each. Once you master these channels and marketing communications, you can grow into other mediums and audiences. Starting smaller will also make managing a complex process simpler, so you can scale it once you’ve mastered it.

6) Automate Your Marketing

Robots exist for a reason: to serve us humans dutifully and without sass! Use marketing automation to your advantage to make your digital marketing efforts less stressful.

Start with email drip campaigns. We love email drip campaigns because they’re a set-it-and-forget-it tactic. These emails deploy based on actions users take. For instance, you can create a welcome email to deploy automatically when someone signs up for your newsletter. Or, you can establish a drip series to send order confirmations after a purchase, or appointment reminders based on upcoming scheduled patients or clients. Automation is meant to remove mental burden from your brain and keep important marketing efforts going while you expand your reach. Use this technology!

7) Establish Brand Guidelines

Brand guidelines are essential to every business or practice. These guidelines dictate how you should talk about your brand, speak from its point of view, and design its collateral. Take time to create brand guidelines so everyone has something to refer back to—and you don’t waste time editing mismatched branding, giving the same critiques, or worse, communicating a disjointed message to your audience.

Digital marketing doesn’t have to be stressful. Not if you use these tips to streamling your workflow and workload and scale with ease. We hope you feel a bit lighter already and have actionable steps to take to remove stress from your internal process.

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