As a blogger, your time is precious. While your creativity is why your company or clients hired you in the first place, there are non-profitable tasks that you must complete on a daily basis from timesheets to invoices to promoting your posts on social media.
These tedious tasks bring down the return on investment (ROI) of your own time. Many of these tasks are non-billable, which means you’re not getting paid for the time you spend. And they take you away from high-level strategic and creative thinking.
How can you juggle all these responsibilities while still churning out top-notch content? The answer is automation.
In fact, 51 percent of companies are currently using marketing automation. Further, more than half of B2B companies (58 percent) planning to adopt this technology in the near future. Automation is the way forward, toward optimizing your profitability.
Not only will it save you time so you can focus more attention on creativity and results, but it will also improve your customer experience and reduce human errors along the way.
Let’s take a look at tasks you should absolutely automate, ones that might need a hybrid approach for, and some work that you should probably hold onto.
Five tasks you should automate right now
Let’s start with what steps you can definitely automate. There are several ways you can save yourself time and energy by letting an app do the heavy lifting for you. Here are a few examples.
If you are a freelancer or work as a consultant for multiple groups within an organization, chances are you have to submit timesheets. These can be cumbersome, and if you are using a piece of paper or even Excel, there is room for human error as you calculate your hours.
Instead, use time tracking software. There are systems today that offer ways to track your work hours spent on every single project or task. Many tools offer time-saving features like reminders to start tracking time and idle timeouts so you don’t have to worry about accuracy. The other helpful part about an automated system is that it creates detailed timesheets. Both you and your employer or clients can see exactly how you spent your time so there is total transparency.
It’s much easier to track as you go than to try to remember what you did all day or week.
Invoices are another necessary step for a blogger, but can be time-consuming and disruptive to your workflow.
Fortunately, there are many invoicing programs and some are even free to use. You can create invoicing templates for the clients you work with on a regular basis. This includes building in set fees or recurring projects.
Plus, you can link bank accounts and remind clients about outstanding payments all through one convenient system. Come tax time, it’s easy to see what work you have completed for the year, making the accounting process much faster.
3. Project management
If you have several projects going at the same time, it’s hard to recall where you are in the process for each one. For example, maybe you are drafting a blog for one client, editing an article for another, and loading content into WordPress for a third client.
With all these balls in the air, there’s a lot of opportunity for mistakes or missteps.
Try out different project management software to find one that works well for you. Using visual boards and columns, you can enter tasks and see where they are in process. This will help you remember everything you have going on, and will keep your work moving in the right direction. You can easily change steps or alert other team members of tasks to be completed.
4. Social media posting
You're doing yourself a disservice if you're not promoting everything you write via social media. If you are, you likely have multiple platforms to post on more than once a day.
Manual social media posting eats up valuable writing time. Instead, automate this task using a company who specializes in social media posting. Using a technology platform like this can keep your posting schedule organized and offer analytics so you know how well your posts are performing. That way, you'll not only save time but also adjust your strategy and boost ROI.
5. Gaining new opt-in email customers
Another way you should promote your blog posts is through email campaigns. Although you may have a list of current customers to email, you want to spread the word to gain new subscribers, as well.
If you use surveys or contests to gain new customers, an email platform can tag them and add them to your mailing list. There are even companies who can automatically input your spreadsheets of new customers to keep growing your email customer list. Email is one area to absolutely automate.
Tasks that require a hybrid approach
Now let’s talk about certain tasks that require some automation and some attention from you. While you can’t completely automate these steps, you’ll still save time and energy by taking a hybrid approach.
1. Post scheduling
After you write a blog post, you usually don’t post it immediately. Whether you read it over yourself or have an editor who makes changes, there is a process. Plus, you want to cover certain topics around company initiatives or time it according to what’s going on in the news.
So while you can use a project management system to organize yourself and to signal when a blog should be published, it’s important to think through when to time your posts.
2. Marketing campaigns
Marketing campaigns are executed in order to fulfill your overarching strategy and goals. While you can’t automate your company’s strategic vision, there is room for marketing automation.
Marketers today know the value of data, and embrace A/B testing as a way to prove an idea’s validity. You may want to know, for example, which string of emails is getting the most clicks via the main button, or which marketing campaign is generating the most new sales. A/B testing is a great way to see what’s working, and there are many companies who can help you automate this. Some of your marketing tools even have this feature built-in, so take full advantage of it when it is. These results can help you identify which buttons and copy get the conversions.
While you’ll be able to implement A/B testing and even refine the campaign through automation, someone still needs to analyze the data and bring that information back to the team. What you’ve learned in one test can provide a basis for your next campaign or messaging. Get all of the value that you can out of each marketing test.
3. Email campaigns
Personalized email campaigns send automatic messages at certain times throughout the customer life cycle. This can include:
- A welcome email to a first-time purchaser with an attached coupon
- An email to remind a customer that they never completed an order
- An email to someone who has not purchased within an expected amount of time
Email automation can organize all these emails for you and send them out to customers at the appropriate times.
However, before you sign up for new software, you do want to think through the process as your customer. This will require a certain level of human touch to craft each email message. Plus, this step will make you more authentic in your communication.
Tasks that should never be automated
On the other hand, there are some tasks that should never be automated. These tasks will come off as contrived and will turn customers off. In a world that’s embracing more transparency, your customers will appreciate you being authentic.
1. Customer engagement
If your audience engages with your blog, you should respond personally to these comments. First, you never know where your next blog idea will come from and customers or readers of your blog can provide inspiration.
Plus, in a world where current customers talk to friends and family about negative brand experiences, you want to remain on good terms with your customer base. B taking the time to craft well-written responses to comments, you will gain a rapport with customers.
2. Writing content
If you are looking to rank in Google, don’t automate your writing. There are tools available that will pull in information from various sources to populate your blog.
The issue with this is that both readers and Google are savvy. They can easily identify unique writing and spot articles that are machine-generated. There are other reasons to write your own content, too, including getting more links from other blogs, attracting more subscribers, and generating thoughtful comments.
Marketing automation should make your work better
To summarize: marketing automation helps bloggers and marketing professionals streamline their processes. It frees up valuable time to focus on the creative part of the job.
However, there are instances where a machine can’t and shouldn’t take the place of a human. We’ve given you a breakdown of when apps or outside investments make sense and when they aren’t needed. As someone in a creative field, you want to give your writing the best chance for success but not lose your personal style in the process.