- One Content Marketer’s Experience With Burnout
- A Glance at What Causes Burnout Among Content Professionals
- Practical Burnout Advice from Your Content Marketing Peers
- 5 Ways To Prevent Burnout In High-Performing Content Teams.
When meditation company Headspace surveyed more than 2500 workers in the US and UK recently it unsurprisingly confirmed what many already know: employees are stressed out. The report revealed 42 percent feel ‘burned out’ or ‘extremely burned out’ by work.
The mood isn’t all that different in marketing, media, and creative industries. Everymind, which works to reduce mental ill-health, led a 2018 survey of these industries and found:
- nearly half of employees work more than eight hours a day
- a third work weekends at least once a month
- and 75% have worked while physically or mentally unwell.
Many of you are probably reading this while thinking, “there’s no other way”.
There has to be.
Corina Leslie is the public relations manager for ZeroBounce, an email validation company. She has been with the business from the beginning. “We had to start building a brand from scratch. In my first year, I didn’t take any days off — weekends, summers, holidays, even Christmas day. I was in front of my laptop all the time.”
Tarah Darge has had a similar experience. She is the head of marketing at Time to Reply, an email analytics startup in Cape Town. “I wear many hats and often feel I have an overwhelming amount to do and mountains to climb. That’s especially true now we’re working remotely — and managing my assistant as well as a team of freelancers is tricky.”
For Corina, the constant work took a toll. “My energy and enthusiasm were tremendous,” she says, “but a year and a half into my new role, I started noticing signs of burnout. Memory problems, anxiety, poor sleep.”
Why Do Content Professionals Burn Out?
You probably have a similar story to tell.
Companies want a lot from their content marketing managers, says Nathan Sebastian, a content marketer at GoodFirms, which provides research and reviews for software buyers.
“High expectations are not limited to the quantity of work in a day. Content marketing managers are constantly expected to come up with something creative and unique to get maximum results on online platforms. More often than not, work pressure leads to burnout.”
“An evening or weekend without work won’t be detrimental to your output.” — Hung Nguyen, Smallpdf
Of course, burnout is far from unique to those who produce content.
But it’s not going away.
And I’ve written before about how more content does not necessarily mean more effective content. But some companies play a volume game, hoping it will create sales.
Here’s how content professionals are managing the risks for themselves and their teams.
How Content Marketers Like You Stay Ahead of Burnout
Let’s start with individual content professionals.
“The best tip I have for my fellow content marketers is to leave work at work, says Hung Nguyen, content marketing manager at Smallpdf. “Marketing opportunities are infinite — and it’s crucial to find a stop to your workday. I don’t check our company’s SEO analytics dashboard when it refreshes every day at 8PM if I’m no longer in the office, answer LinkedIn notifications during the weekend, or export screenshots of catchy microcopy to my backlog if I’m off the clock. These are all activities that I’d been guilty of doing in the past.”
“Bottlenecks happen for many reasons. Don’t let process ambiguity be one. With a clear roadmap, staff know what’s expected of them and when.” — Elise Moores, Fast Capital 360 / Kantaloupe
Hung believes many people don’t feel burnout until it’s too late. “The more overtime you do, the less productive you become, and the more work you end up pushing to the following day. And the cycle repeats itself,” he says.
After Corina’s burnout encounter, she started taking Sundays off and going for walks in the woods. “Then I started working less on Saturdays, too, and on the weekends, I go to sleep without setting an alarm,” she said.
Corina also swapped PR and marketing books for novels, began swimming at a pool near to her house, and started going on short trips with her husband. “I always get back to work with renewed energy and notice how much more productive I am after a break,” she says.
Tarah agrees with this approach. “I really try and take my weekends off. I sometimes feel guilty about the volume of work — but I know I function best when I’ve had a day or two of rest.”
Tarah says she now will ask teammates to pitch in ideas for blog posts or share webinar hosting responsibilities when her plate is full. Her other tips include making use of freelancers to help with content production and trimming content and newsletter subscriptions to avoid information overload.
“High-performing teams don’t have to go hand-in-hand with stress and burnout.” — Joanna Zambas, CareerAddict
5 Ways To Help Your Content Team Avoid Burnout
A great content team can make a huge difference, enabling managers and leaders to evenly spread high workloads and protect highly engaged staff from burning out.
There will always be times where the team has to put their heads down and put in the work to meet a goal or deadline, says Elise Moores, managing editor at Fast Capital 360 and senior content strategist at Kantaloupe. “But balance can’t be lost in the pursuit. Encourage your staff to take personal days when needed.”
It’s a view shared by Joanna Zambas, content and social media manager at CareerAddict. “High-performing and high-output teams don’t have to go hand-in-hand with stress and burnout,” says Joanna. “By offering a flexible schedule, you can ensure that your team has enough time to run personal errands, too.”
Here’s what other content marketing leaders suggest:
- Hire Problem-Solvers. “I hire people who are self-reliant and can carry out projects on their own from start to finish,” says Petra Odak, CMO at Better Proposals.“My writers can do content outlines, write a piece, proofread it, insert links and images, upload it to our CMS, and handle the entire process from start to finish. That way, I never worry about ongoing projects because I know one person handles one project.”
- Stockpile Good Content. That’s a tip from Maggie Jencik, marketing manager at Prosperity Consulting Group, a boutique wealth management firm.“Having anywhere from one to three months of content written and scheduled in advance prevents you from constantly being under pressure about releasing something for the following week. I like to write at least a month of blogs at once.”
- Use Scheduling Wisely. “Scheduling posts can be a great way to deal with loads of content,” says Jennifer Willy, editor of Etia.com.“In this scheduled time, you can post, check, and work on various topics. You can start with planning and scheduling a few hours of your day towards a full-day schedule.”
- Mix It Up. “Have some employees also work on SEO research, give others a chance to write copy, and others to quality assess content. There are plenty of additional responsibilities and learning opportunities you can offer to break up the monotony,” said Domantas Gudeliauskas, a marketing manager at website builder, Zyro.
- Manage Expectations. When the executive team hands a mandate down, it can be hard to push back, says Elise Moores of Fast Capital 360 and Kantaloupe. “But if the ask is unachievable, don’t set your team up for failure. Ask for more resources or counter with a goal that’s still aggressive but plausible.”
How you stave off burnout as a marketer will be unique to you. If you’re a solo content marketer doing it all at a startup, then you need to focus entirely on caring for your own wellbeing and energy levels. If you’re managing other content marketers, copywriters, editors, and designers, a good process and the right resourcing become more and more important.