As a content marketer with more than 10 years of experience, I’ve faced my fair share of deadlines. Here's what has worked for me.
Ask questions. Lots of 'em
This will ensure you understand the brief and deliver on it. It is critical that you know things like:
- a list of all deliverables. Studying it can help understand where the gaps in information are.
- audience - their age, educational background, what they like, what they don't and so on. Why? Because this will help you choose the correct tone of voice to connect with readers.
- your client’s brand identity. The company’s brand guide is a good starting point to help you shape a tone of voice.
- the intended purpose for the writing - is it to educate, inform, promote a brand or a product/service?
- the budget, so that you can plan your time investment.
- a few written examples that the client likes or does not like to align expectations.
Make a plan of action and revise it if circumstances change
I always begin with the end in mind. Looking at the deadline, I backtrack the time I have and milestones I need to achieve along the way. Using a printed calendar (digital can work well too), I mark my to-dos for a visual reminder. Calendars also allow you to set realistic deadlines around other commitments. Ticking each item off the list, you'll not only feel great but can also track progress at your fingertips.
Set yourself up for success
Choose a time to write when your mind works best and you have least distractions. Once you’re ready, start writing. If you need inspiration, try reading an online article to get some ideas flowing. But be careful not to turn your reading/research into procrastination. You can avoid this by setting a timer.
According to the author of this article, if you ask 100 different writers where they prefer to write, you would get 100 different answers. Working for a company like The Copy Collective, which is built on a remote working model, allows me to work from home, which is where I am most productive. I have a designated home office with a great chair and stunning views that help recharge my batteries.
Whether you work from home or not, it’s important that you are comfortable in your work space, so set yourself up with a good chair and desk.
Thanks to the digital age, we have many tools to improve our writing and help us meet deadlines. With platforms like slack, communicating with clients and project teams is easy, helping to limit delays.
Panicking about a deadline? Take a break
I’ve learned that staying calm under pressure helps everyone: you, your business, your client and your final product. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, simply remove yourself from your work space and take a few deep breaths. Doing easy stretching exercises can also work wonders.
Practicing mindfulness to stay in the present moment is a tried and tested tip. From the list of mindfulness apps here, Headspace is my favourite. And here’s my go-to video that I use often with my two boys.
Keep a journal of do’s and don’ts for future projects
There’s something to learn from every project, big or small. Writing down what worked and what didn't will help you develop your skills for future projects. Store this information in a reliable place where you can access it and review it regularly.
Whether you are a freelancer or are a business owner, we would love to hear about your aspirations for 2019 and beyond.