Online marketing is a tough business and being a creative marketer can be even more difficult. In an industry where we are tied to our desks by the pant leg (or at least it can sometimes feel that way), staying an inspired creative content generator can be exceptionally tiresome. How can we honestly produce the best creative work when we lack the true nature of creative inspiration?
When you take a look at the more “natural” artistically inclined career paths such as musicians, traditional artists, sculptors, poets, etc. you often see them immersed in their work but also heavily influenced by the world around them. As a creative marketer, it can be hard to have that same type of influential musings around you while you crunch out yet another graphic design for a very particular (ahem, picky) client or tip-tapping away at yet another content marketing article about residential roofing services. Ick.
As creatives, we strive in fields of flexibility, where we let our inspiration drive our work. But, nine times out of ten, being a creative marketer means we bend our inherently unique and gifted skill sets to satisfy our clients and make the oh-mighty dollar. It’s a downright compromise for some of us but at the end of the day, we have an internet bill to pay and (at the bare minimum) coffee to buy to keep us burning the midnight oil to power through and get that project done just in time.
It’s the nature of the biz, friend, but you don’t have to be a slave to it and constantly feel like your creative soul is dying inside. Fan the flames of inspiration with some of these daily habits, even if this is the 56th graphic you’ve made this week about infectious diseases for that noteworthy medical convention.
1. Plan Your Workday with The Daily 8
Okay, okay, so maybe making a list isn’t the most inspirational advice you’ve ever heard. But let’s be real, most moms make a to-do list to start their day or weekend, and have you honestly seen a more on top of it, organized, and get it done person than those go-getters, list-making moms? My point exactly. As a creative marketer, it’s important to give yourself the structure and yet the freedom to produce more creative ideas.
Structure = freedom? Sounds crazy but the science behind it stands true. Our brains naturally want to build routines, little habits throughout our day so we can focus our brain juice on the stuff that really matters. When you go to brush your teeth, you don’t have to “think” through each step. Your body naturally grabs the brush, moistens the bristles, slaps some paste on there (whether you put the cap back on is up to you), and away you brush. You go through this motion so effortlessly; your mind is often elsewhere whether it’s planning your outfit in your head or just trying to not feel so groggy because it’s 6 am on a Tuesday. This same structure applies repeatedly in your day-to-day life. Here lies the importance of applying this methodology of “natural” habits or structure into your workday.
When you build for yourself a structure for your workday, believe it or not, it allows you the freedom to focus on that creative edge you need to bring to your next pitch to your client. If you just let your day unfold without boundaries, anything and everything can happen, and poof there goes your day without a second glance and somehow barely any of it was spent in that creative “sweet spot”. Plan out your day so you don’t have to give it a second thought of how you are going to get it done, you just have to go through the motions of doing it.
So, what’s the Daily 8 and how can it change your life like it changed mine? The Daily 8 is a list you make every morning without fail (routine number 1 truly). Whether it’s during your morning cup of Joe, your commute on the train, or something you contemplate and write up before your feet hit their floor, it’s up to you, just get it done in the morning before you really start your workday.
On a workday, your Daily 8 list should include 6 career-oriented goals and 2 personal goals. This is a daily list so keep it realistic and accomplishable. If you aren’t really going to finish that 3,000-word article today or nearly all your time is going to be dedicated to it to make that possible, break the large task into the true bitesize pieces i.e. keyword research around “x” topic; informational research about the topics m, n, o; build the outline of article structure to hit on a, b, c question/answers. That 3,000-word article just became three items on your daily list that are feasibly accomplishable.
Now, not everyone does this but, on the weekends, I switch my Daily 8 structure: 6 personal items and 2 professional. Because as a freelancer, creative marketer, or entrepreneur, we honestly never stop working on our business we just slow down a little.
2. Plan to Daydream
We all have been swept away into a daydream before and as creatives, it is a natural state of mind for most of us. But often daydreaming can lead to a lack of productivity, procrastination, or simply losing track of time. Not what we need to happen during our workday. Well, yes and no.
When you’re planning out your day with your Daily 8, make sure to incorporate time for daydreaming. Yes, I’m very serious. Like I stated before, it’s a natural state of mind for us and it’s important for our workflow. Those moments that we get swept into a daydream often contain moments of true inspiration and sometimes it’s that much-needed mental break for a few moments to clear our minds differently and then refocus on the task at hand.
Artist block happens in all fields and the best way to unblock yourself is to actually switch your mental flow for a little while and let it rest. Back burning an idea is where our minds can start cramming and processing subconsciously. So, plan that daydream in. You’ll be grateful for the mental release and the creative rush once you get back into your workflow.
3. Move Your Body
Sometimes, taking a moment just “sit and think it over” can block your creative flow and energy. There is a time and place for sitting down and churning out your work in deep concentration but designating time to move your body is vital for a creative marketer.
I hope I’m not the only How I Met Your Mother fan in the room because when Ted Mosby created “Mosbius Designs” one key factor to his day-to-day was taking a walk to spark creativity. Now, he may not be the best example because in that episode he was slightly paralyzed to actually pick up the phone and land a client but once you have the projects flowing in, keep your body flowing too.
When your mind is noisy and you can’t seem to focus on the task at hand, get up and be present in your body. Often, washing some dishes by hand, taking a walk to check the mail, or scrubbing a few floor tiles releases your mind while energy flows through your body and to your hands or feet or wherever you’re exerting energy. As someone who worked as a maid for a while, that mental freedom you get from manual labor or hard work allows you to free your mind.
If you’re not a morning person, moving first thing can be crucial to get your mind ready and wired for a day of creativity ahead of you. Whether it’s some yoga poses, lifting weights, house chores, or biking to your job instead of the train, any type of physical activity allows for mental clarity.
4. Let Opinions Be Just That: Opinions
Working as a creative marketer, you have probably heard it all (and if not, just give it time). There may have been times when a client could not stop glowing about the piece you submitted for their advertising campaign. On the other hand, you have most likely had your fair share of “This is the best you can do?” or “I do not like it.” Or “How did you get this from what I said?” It can be a bit defeating, especially when you put a lot of effort, research, time, etc. into your final product for your client.
My best advice for you: desensitize yourself from opinions. Sometimes, that even means your own! Now, it’s important to keep the clients’ wants and needs to be prioritized and to complete work that they are satisfied with, however removing personal emotion from your work to a degree, will help keep your creative spirit intact and willing to march forward.
Creativity is a unique, and yet sensitive, entity that is within you. Much like a flower, you must nurture it to help it grow and bloom into its very best self. Protect it from those who attempt to squash it with their opinions. Not every artist paints a masterpiece in everyone’s eyes, but it does reach those it is intended for.
Being a creative professional is tough because you aren’t just creating for yourself and your ideal audience. You are channeling your unique gift to fit a corporate world, one that it just doesn’t reside in typically. Listen to your clients, interpret their needs, likes, and dislikes, but don’t let an opinion derail your own creative spark or drive. Make this a daily habit or reminder and see how quickly you will stay inspired when the weight of others’ opinions aren’t bringing you down.[bctt tweet=”Being a creative marketer means we bend our inherently unique and gifted skill sets to satisfy our clients and make the oh-mighty dollar. ” username=”ThatCompanycom”]
5. Break Big Projects into Mini Projects
If you have a big project lying ahead of you, it can become daunting very quickly. Sometimes it is overwhelming to even think where to start because you know all that needs to be accomplished. At other times, you know where to start but you are not sure how to get it to the finish line. This in lies the beauty of proper planning and eating an elephant sandwich one bite at a time.
I strongly suggest that as a creative marketer that you break your projects into manageable bite-sized pieces. Take the time to create an outline or a list of steps you need to take to make your finished piece of work. Create work blocks for each of these items, estimating how much time it will take for each component. Schedule in breaks, time to think, review what you have done, and feel the accomplishment of finishing each mini-project. This will help you be successful in completing your big project as well as keeping you motivated, confident in yourself, and finishing on time if not early.
If you finish one mini-project earlier than you projected for your work block, review what you have completed, and take a much-deserved mental break before moving on to the next mini-project. Now, sometimes being in the flow is a good thing and chugging from one item to the next is more your style just do so carefully so you don’t burn yourself out by doing too much in one sitting.
6. Groove To The Music
Music is often a huge inspiration to creative marketers. Listening to music is a passive way to influence your art as well as appreciate another art form. Whether you have it playing in the background while you work or you start some instrumental time during your breaks, analyze how this music is influencing your art form and how it will influence your target market.
Creating playlists for different types of work or workflow is also a good habit to include in your daily mix. Some technical tasks you may need to complete may flow easier with some Lo-Fi tunes playing or some web development tasks may go smoother with some upbeat dance tunes. Whatever your personality and tastes are, gear your music habits to best influence your productivity, downtime, and creative thinking.
7. Do What You Love
Now, this may not sound like a creative habit that will help your work, but it will. Select one or two things that you thoroughly enjoy or love to do and incorporate them into your day. Whether it’s sipping on your morning cup of joe, walking your dog, or spending some time meditating, focus 10 minutes of your day on this and focus on how good it makes you feel.
There are going to be parts of your day that you don’t always enjoy but taking those 10 minutes to be mindful and focus on the goodwill helps you through those less enjoyable moments. You will be in a good headspace; you will feel the love for your activity and that mentality will follow you into the next items at hand.
When you feel relaxed, you will often get new ideas. It helps you develop the next steps in your creative project at hand!
8. Fulfilling Food
It is easy to quickly gobble up your food whether during a lunch break or a quick snack. When you’re in the workflow it’s easy to not even notice the taste, flavor, texture, etc. of what you are eating. As a creative marketer, take the time and interest to focus on your food for a few moments.
Not only with this focused energy help you enjoy what you are eating but consider how the food was made, the steps that went into getting it in front of you. If you cooked your own meal, focus on the process of preparing your food, the gratification that comes with preparing a dish from start to finish, and the comfort that it brings.
Being mindful of your food is fulfilling in so many ways, from helping you feel fuller for longer to inspiring you in yet another unique art form that so many people gloss over three times a day and during their snacks. Let food not only feed your physical body but let it feed your mind with inspiration.
9. Speak with Intention
Mindless gossip is a part of life. Instead of being distracted by the “He did what nows?” or the “Oh, no she didn’t”s, let the art of conversation be a healthy practice for your mind. Being intentional with how you converse can not only make you a more eloquent conversationalist it will also help you improve your written communication skills. This is exceptionally helpful for creative marketers that are writers or use words consistently in marketing strategies.
The daily habit of consciously focusing on what you say, how you say it, and what conversations you dive into with colleagues can be a source of fulfillment for your work and your social balance. Many conversations can be draining as a creative type so you need to protect your flame, maintain healthy boundaries, and let yourself converse about things that matter to you.
10. Paint Your Own Story
It’s easy to let anxiety get the best of you. Especially when facing a particularly daunting project or something outside of your normal wheelhouse. Even if you are working on something you are completely comfortable with, we can often let anxiety, stress, or fear of failure/rejection influence our productivity or confidence in our abilities.
Instead of focusing on how you fear a situation will turn out, paint yourself a different story. Project different endings or solutions to your problems. Rearranging the storyline in your head will not only help alleviate your worry. But it can help you envision things that you could easily manifest.
Instead of playing the “What if it goes horribly wrong?” or “What if the client rips this to shreds?” think to yourself “What if this goes well?” or “What if the client refers me to another partner because they loved it so much?” You can’t predict the future with the what-if game. You can sike yourself out or you can build yourself up. Ultimately, the choice is yours but I know I’m going with the latter because that is what I can control.
Creative Marketer’s Daily Habits
If you can incorporate all of these daily habits, then I commend you and your intentional focus on fostering your creative drive. If you incorporate a few of these habits, I commend you and your desire to improve yourself and your career. If you only choose to incorporate one habit, I commend you for knowing what needs to be added to help your work and creativity. If all you did was read this article to shed some light on how to improve, I commend you because you may start doing a few of these things without even realizing it OR you already are doing a few of these things and this gave you a positive confidence boost.
Being a creative digital marketer is a stressful career space. It’s our responsibility to keep ourselves growing both in our career as well as individually to produce the best work. Let me just say this to you in case no has in a while: You are creating inspired work. You are doing a good job. You are powerful and moving in your art form. Keep at it, you Rockstar.