In a space as fast-paced as the Internet, you know there are many tasks you “should” perform to reach more people with your story.
You’re well-aware of other businesses with meteoric rises to fame and companies thrown into the spotlight seemingly overnight.
In order to seize opportunities, you know you have to stay ahead of the game with relentless focus.
So when it comes to creating content, there is palpable pressure and stress to get everything right.
If you feel a little frazzled by all of your content marketing duties, here are five ways to keep your cool and stay on track to meet your writing goals.
1. Don’t fret missed opportunities
Watch any TV talent show and you will always find a young contestant who tells the audience that the show is his or her “last chance” to become a superstar.
Time travel with me to the early 1960s when a 20-something Neil Diamond began his career writing songs for $50 a week.
From then on, day in and day out, he was a songwriter. He wrote hits, he wrote flops, he wrote songs that never saw the light of day.
There was no “one” chance, no “one” hit that defined his career, no “one” opportunity that would make or break him. Just a persistence that built a songwriting empire.
When I first wrote guest posts for Copyblogger, my submissions were pretty sporadic.
Months down the line, I found out one of my good business friends had been submitting posts with more frequency, roughly every six weeks, until she’d been asked to write as a regular contributor.
I berated myself for not doing the same and wished I could have gone back and submitted more content.
Sometimes this happens. You miss the deadline for submission, find out guest posts are no longer accepted, or discover the blog you wanted to write for isn’t interested in the subject of your post.
I’ve learned that nine times out of 10 you can make a comeback after not meeting deadlines. If a door closes, there might be another way in, or you might find a new opportunity somewhere else.
The key takeaway is that there is no one opportunity.
So if you miss out on something, don’t worry — keep writing, taking action, and looking out for your next chance.
2. Step away from the Internet
There is a common perception that business success online happens quickly. Even though news can spread in seconds on the Internet, business growth is a different story.
If you’ve been writing content without seeing the results you want, you may have not covered the issues and problems that are important to your readers.
But before you plow into another tutorial, consider bookmarking it and spend time away from the Internet. Find local brick-and-mortar businesses and talk to the owners.
Ask them how they got started, how quickly their businesses grew, and how they became profitable. Chances are it took a lot longer than how quickly businesses seem to grow in “Internet time.”
Studying businesses that have grown steadily over years can be a great source of comfort and inspiration.
3. Distinguish between a lesson and a distraction
While it’s important to stay current with the latest news and developments, too many distractions can impede your productivity. How do you find a balance?
A simple tip I stole from Mark Forster’s Do It Tomorrow is keeping a pad of paper by me whenever I work. If I want to learn more about a topic or have an idea I want to explore further, I write it down, forget about it, and get back to work.
When I had an idea during my workday before I adopted this method, I’d hit the Internet to investigate and fall down a rabbit hole for a good 15–20 minutes.
With this technique, you then have to review your list at the end of the day, schedule tasks that are worth your time, and scrap trivial items that are not relevant to your goals.
I found that a lot of my ideas wouldn’t actually move me closer to what I wanted. They were distractions, not lessons.
In addition to a productivity boost, you also reduce the stress from having all of those ideas swirling around in your head.
4. Stay positive despite criticism
Criticism escalates pressure. Just as talent judges can reduce contestants to tears, a social media stinger or an angry email can have you doubting yourself in no time.
At some point, someone is going to hate what you write and tell you. If you’re not careful, negative feedback can seriously dent your confidence and affect your writing. From then on, you might be tempted to play it safe.
But if this does happen, you can use it to your advantage.
Criticism is an opportunity to learn. Even if your critic has a bad attitude, consider if there is any merit to his or her claim. If so, you get to make a change and improve your content. Writer: 1, critic: 0.
Also, if the criticism sounds over-the-top angry, in my experience, it’s rarely about you. In five years, I’ve only ever had a handful of complaints about my content, but some of them have been real humdingers.
One was a lengthy email tearing me to pieces, and I’d like to say I didn’t take it to heart … but I did, and I thought about it longer than I should have.
It took a lot of patience and understanding to respond politely, but the following day I received an apology and an explanation that she’d been having a bad day and I just happened to be there.
You often remember criticism and forget kind words, which is why you should keep every testimonial, thank you note, and compliment somewhere you can access quickly.
The kind-word reminders won’t stop you from taking criticism personally, but they should be soothing antidotes to help maintain your confidence.
5. Produce one piece of content at a time
It’s easy to feel intimidated by content powerhouses that seem to have a never-ending archive of valuable materials.
But those archives weren’t created overnight; they were built one piece of high-quality content at a time.
You may have heard of the “Seinfeld productivity technique.” Comedian Jerry Seinfeld had a simple system for producing comedic content: write every day. He would place a red mark on his calendar every day he wrote, building up a chain of these marks with the one goal of not breaking the chain.
You don’t have to write a post every day — just find a way to keep showing up. Remember, even if your blog post isn’t immediately a smash hit, content you produce never goes to waste.
You can do it, and it doesn’t have to make you crazy.
Your burnout prevention routine
What habits help you prevent burnout?
Do you have ways to deal with dips in productivity?
How do you stay focused when you feel overrun by tasks?
Don’t be shy — share your tips in the discussion over on Google+ …
Editor’s note: If you enjoyed this post, we suggest you also read How to Fix the Content Marketing Problem by Brian Clark.
Flickr Creative Commons Image via C/N N/G.