Content Marketing Tech Tool of the Week: Google Calendar

content marketing calendarGetting all those deadlines straight can be tough. Even tougher may be setting your own deadlines to weekly or reoccurring work. Either way, it all needs to be organized, remembered, and stuck to like a diet regimen. There are many ways to do it, but this week's Tech Tool of the Week is the method that I prefer: Google Calendar.

Most people probably use Google Calendar as a daily or weekly planner. I prefer a paper one for the daily and weekly stuff. I like being able to see my entire day at once with a paper planner, while with online calendars like Google Calendar, you have to do a lot of scrolling. I hate scrolling, as I see no reason why online calendars have to show the hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.. No one ever schedules anything for that time of night, except sleeping. Anyway, Google Calendar is great for things like deadlines, where there's not necessarily a certain time something is due, just a date. As include those at the top, as shown in the pic, and color code them depending on the publication or client (there are a few weeks when I feel that Google Calendar could use more colors).

I went this route originally because these deadlines clogged my planner. I had Google Calendar as part of my iGoogle home page, and figured that seeing each day's deadlines would be helpful for me. I also like that I get reminders each day via text message, just in case I forget. I also update the calendar every Friday, so I can plan for the week ahead. This helps me to spread out my work throughout, so I don't have eight things due on Tuesday, for example. It also helps me to gauge how busy my week is going to be before it even begins.

Using Google Calendar keeps me from putting certain tasks off and allows me to accomplish a certain amount of things each day. Do you use Google Calendar? If so, how? If not for deadlines, what do you do to keep track of deadlines? I'd love to hear about your thoughts and techniques.

Treating Every Minute Like the Last Minute

Just last week, I finally finished a project proposal, one that I've been putting off for almost two weeks. I put it off because I'd never completed a project proposal before, and didn't look forward to the idea of finding a template and rewriting words to fit my purposes. However, once I got it in, the potential client was immediately interested in what I had to offer his company. Just yesterday, we signed a contract and I am one-third of my way to this week's goal: three new clients. Now, imagine if I had gotten that project proposal done one week sooner, or even the day that I was asked to put together the proposal. I could have had this client sooner, meaning more work on my plate and eventually, more money in my pocket.

Even the best of us procrastinate from time to time. There are just projects and tasks that we dread doing, or simply have no motivation to do. It then occurred to me that you can really do something about procrastination if you treat every minute like the last minute. That way, you're always procrastinating, but you're always productive at the same time. It's a good tactic, especially if things actually do come up at the last minute, like a meeting or an interview.

Psychologists cite procrastination as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety of starting or completing a task, or in making a decision. Procrastination is only procrastination is the high-priority task is replaced by a task of these three criteria: counterproductive, delaying, and needless. Since procrastination is based on a sense of anxiety, treating every minute like the last minute may seem counter-intuitive. After all, who wants to spend every minute anxious and stressed? However, Psychology Today says that procrastination is the result of the mismanagement of emotions. When we procrastinate, there's difficulty in regulating our emotions today, as well as predicting our emotions for tomorrow. By treating every minute like the last minute, your at least taking control of your emotions and regulating how you feel day by day.

According to Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, real procrastinators tell themselves five lies:

• They overestimate the time they have left to perform tasks.

• They underestimate the time it takes to complete tasks.

• They overestimate how motivated they will feel the next day, the next week, the next month -- whenever they are putting things off to.

• They mistakenly think that succeeding at a task requires that they feel like doing it.

• They mistakenly believe that working when not in the mood is suboptimal.

Essentially, procrastination is a problem of self-regulation, not time-management, laziness, or ambition as it is usually thought to be. By learning how to regulate ourselves, from there, we can learn how to regulate our time and our goals. By treating every minute like the last minute, we begin that process of regulation, since we are now taking control of our emotions, instead of leaving them to the whim and possibility that "I'll be motivated to do it tomorrow." By doing this, we're saying "I feel like doing it now" instead of waiting on the motivation to come.

When It's Time to Let Go: Dropping a Content Marketing Client


Clients come and go. That's just the nature of the beast of freelance writing, and business in general. The client runs out of work, or runs out of money, or decides to switch gears with its business or marketing plan. But, there are times when you simply have to let a client go.

I don't mean turning down a client if he or she asks you to work for them again. I mean severing business ties, although politely and professionally. There are clients, no matter how green their money is and no matter how much they are willing to work with you, who simply aren't worth the time and effort.

I understand that it's a difficult notion to face. No one likes to say "no," especially when it's a "no" to paying work and valuable experience. But, if you have that gut feeling that the business relationship just isn't right, find an appropriate time to cut off relations, once and for all. Here are a few instances to help solidify that gut feeling, if you're on the fence about a client or two.

  1. Outside Your Niche or Expertise - I had a blogging gig that lasted about six months. It was for a social network for scientists and researchers called iAMscientist. The blog involved topics such as science news and science recruiting, you know, things relevant to that community. I agreed to the gig in the first place because the network was one of my first clients, and I really needed to get my feet off the ground. But, I terminated the gig because even after six months, the blogging never got any easier. I don't have any degree or background in the hard sciences. It was tough from week to week to come up with ideas, since there were topics that I didn't have the skill set to write about and very few in this area that I did. So, I quit to open up that time to gigs for which I was better suited.
  2. Disappearing Acts - I've had a few clients who promised me ongoing, regular work, assigned me a few things, and then disappeared for weeks. No work. No responses to any emails or phone calls. Nothing. After a while, I stop chasing. Why waste my time chasing when I can spend that time working with clients that actually have the time of day to respond to my emails and calls, or who trust me enough to assign responsibilities so I can work without their tutelage? After all, when you finally do hear from those magician clients, they expect you to pick up the same workload that you could afford six weeks ago. Umm... things change in six weeks. I still have to make money and pay my bills. Do they really expect you to be waiting around for them? After two disappearing acts, I call it quits, because I certainly won't wait around.
  3. The Point of Contact - Drop these clients as quickly as possible. These are the clients that appoint someone as a point of contact for them. I don't mean someone who's representative of a company or a department. I mean when Joe is the point of contact for Sally, and Sally is the true representative of the company or department. In my experience, Joe doesn't quite know what Sally wants, has little decision making power himself over the project, and often has to defer to Sally anyway for just about everything. Essentially, Joe is a middleman, and a poor one at best. These sorts of clients waste time and create headaches for a return that just isn't worth it.
  4. Pay is Too Low - Not that I only care about the money, but as freelancers we're businesspeople who need to think about the bottom line. I just terminated business with a client because the publication slashed its article rates in HALF. The full price was already a little lower than what I would like, but it provided a chance to develop a niche that I wasn't developing elsewhere. But, the new rate would put me below minimum wage for the amount of time it takes to do one article. If I can make more money working at McDonald's for the same amount of time, then it's simply not worth it anymore.
  5. Credit Where Credit is Due - Get the feeling that your client is treating you like trained monkey instead of a paid professional with ideas and expertise? Yeah, I've gotten that feeling too. This client leaves little room for your questions and input. He or she simply tells you what to do, with the expectation that you won't do anything more than that. I have a client like this (who's also a #2 by the way), who steps on the gas pedal during our Skype conversations and doesn't let up til he's done and is ready to get off the call. He doesn't ask what I think about things of if I have any ideas on the project. He rambles about his ideas, asks every now and then if I'm following along and that's it. Since he's a #2, I'm chucking him the next time he disappears. If I'm not going to be given the chance to be invested in the project by actually contributing, instead of just following orders, then I won't be invested. I'll find someone else who wants me to be invested.

It's not fun to terminate business with a client, especially if the client may not see it coming. It may be particularly hard to find a good moment to do it, and to develop an explanation that's more polite and professional than "you're a horrible client and I just don't want to deal with you no more." But, there are times when it has to be done. It's better for you in the long run, and it's probably better for the client too.