The origins of the word deadline are a bit more gruesome than a date and time that something is due. Originally, deadline was spelled dead-line and the meaning was literal. If prisoners in Civil War America crossed that line the penalty was being shot. That’s intense.
Luckily, if you accidentally cross the deadline in your content marketing, you won’t get shot. But your boss might be displeased, and your audience will wonder why your content comes out so sporadically.
Those are the implications of the modern deadline. But did you know that deadlines aren’t just a random date that you either make or don’t? I did some research on deadlines and would like to present to you how to set deadlines and why you should set them.
Why Have Deadlines?
You’ve just started doing some content marketing. You have a blog and you have a few people that periodically contribute to it. But that’s the problem. People say they are going to contribute to it, then take 2 weeks to write an article. Or maybe you have a dedicated person to get out a post or two in a week. But it’s hard to say when exactly that post will come out.
Consistency is key.
If you’re building an audience, they want to see your posts coming out around the same time every week. Additionally, there are many benefits for your content itself when you impose deadlines on it. Deadlines have many benefits externally, to the company, and internally, for the writer themselves.
For the Company
Likely, the deadlines set for a writer are set by someone else. There are several keys to making this work.
Realistic and Flexible Deadlines
This is the most important thing to remember when you are setting deadlines for content. You must make sure that the deadlines that you set are realistic. I talk about this a little later (under “Time it Out”) but make sure that you allow enough time to each task involved with completing the deadline.
Additionally, it is a great idea to pad your deadlines a bit. Make sure that your set deadline is a day or two before the actual due date of the content. That leaves room for things to go wrong and will allow you time to put out fires without your boss demanding an explanation as to why your content is late.
Especially when you are a part of a team, deadlines make things work better. Content takes at least a couple of team members to get from idea to the finished product. In this post, the author compares working within a team and having deadlines to a game of “hot potato,” meaning – get the job done as quickly as you can so you can pass it on. This sort of accountability, not holding up the work of the rest of the team, is a great motivator.
Deadlines help to push your content into aiding the overall mission of your content marketing. Sporadically pushing out blog posts won’t make you a thought leader or capable of building an audience; never mind convincing someone to buy your product.
For the Writer
A lot of writers hate deadlines because it forces them to wrap up their “masterpiece” earlier than they expected. But in my experience, without deadlines, the masterpiece is never complete.
Anticipated regret is what prevents you from starting something. No matter what it is, anticipated regret makes you stick with the status quo because you are afraid of what the outcome will be otherwise.
For example, a person might not volunteer to take on a new project at work, that they might be too busy as a result. They deny themselves the opportunity to expand and grow their skillset because they were afraid of being busy.
Deadlines fix that. Especially external ones. Deadlines set by other people remove your ability to put something off forever, which I would argue is the reason many people end up not living a passionate life. And, as it turns out, quick decisions often end up being the right decisions.
Apparently, according to this study, conducted in 2015, decisions made on the fly are better decisions. Really. When we are under extreme pressure to meet tight deadlines, instead of decreasing, our decision-making improves. We get better at decision-making. It seems that external deadlines help overcome internal obstacles.
Learn what works for you when you are setting deadlines for yourself or communicating your needs to the person setting the deadlines. I know that I get the most and highest quality work done in the morning and directly after lunch. In the morning I’m fresh and things are relatively quiet. After lunch, because I’m refreshed after eating lunch and being away from my computer screen for a while.
Time It Out
Most people, while setting deadlines for themselves, will pick overly optimistic deadlines because they do not consider the amount of time that it takes to break down a multifaceted task. For example, when you are writing a blog post, you need to break it down into article topic idea generation, research, planning, writing, and editing. Figure out, in the worst-case scenario, how long each part takes you and add it up to figure out how much time you need to get the post up and out. Then add some more time, just to be safe.
Love them or hate them, deadlines are critical. They will make your content machine run smoother and make your content better and more effective than you could ever imagine.
Let us know what you think:
- Are you a fan of deadlines?
- Do you set them or does someone else?
- How do they affect your workflow?