Helpful Tips and Advice For a Content Marketer

Heather Baker is the founder and CEO of TopLine Comms, a London-based inbound marketing, PR and video agency tackling everything from SEO and copywriting right the way through to animation and live event filming. She currently lives in London, but is originally from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Despite her official title as Topline’s CEO, content management remains her first love. As she says, “I’m a word nerd, prescriptive grammarian and sucker for a good angle.”

Heather left school with dreams of becoming a psychologist and duly headed off to the University of Cape Town to do just that. She graduated five years later with an MA in Psychology and the realization that the last thing she wanted to do was spend her days in a room with only one other person. The MBA from London Business School, on the other hand, was a little more well thought through.

She enjoys reading, travelling all over the world, and pretty much anything to do with fitness (yoga, weight lifting, running and skiing). Heather also loves to learn new things and has ambitions of one day starting a citrus farm. In this following interview you’ll gain some tips and advice and learn ‘How She Works’.

What does your daily routine consist of?

I usually wake up at six. On a good day I’ll go for a run in Regents Park or head to the gym. On a not so good day I’ll hit the snooze button a couple more times than I should. I try to meditate for at least five minutes every morning, and I keep a gratitude journal that I write in on a daily basis.

I’m fortunate enough to live within walking distance of the office, so as soon as I’m ready I’ll head there with Devon. Usually via the park so that she can catch up with her friends. My work days are very varied and can include anything from new business meetings and strategy to marketing, client work, finance and HR. Often all in the same day.

When I get home I’ll cook dinner, enjoy a long bath (if there’s time) and then read or watch TV. I like documentaries or cheesy reality shows, a guilty pleasure of mine. I try to get to bed relatively early.

What’s your favorite blog?

I’m a huge fan of the Moz Blog. It’s well-written in an engaging style and always has tons of practical stuff I can take away and apply elsewhere. I never come away from reading a post without having learnt something.

Do you blog anywhere?

In addition to TopLine’s blog, I’m also editor of B2B PR Blog and Small Business Heroes.

What’s one of your favorite books? If you’re reading a book now, what is it?

Winners: And How They Succeed by Alastair Campbell is definitely up there. It’s probably the best book I’ve ever read on strategy and has informed a lot of the changes we’ve instituted recently at TopLine.

I also just finished reading Out of Africa, which offers an interesting look at colonial Kenya. I love everything Africa and I am very interested in its history. Written by Karen Blixen, the book is her firsthand account of how she ran a farm in Africa in the 1920s, a time when a women’s place was still very much in the kitchen. While definitely inspiring, it’s also sad because she shoots everything in sight (lions are one of her favorites). The book also offers a disturbing glimpse into oppression the local Kikuyu and Maasai populations suffered at the hand of the British colonial government.

What’s your favorite advice you’ve ever received? And what’s one advice you’d give others?

Received: “Wouldn’t it be nice if we knew in advance which risks would pay off?” — It’s not advice exactly, but I like it because it reminds me why we take risks in the first place.
 Give: It helps to remember that the majority of the world’s major success stories have failed at some point along their journey.

What are your top 3 work tools/apps that you can’t live without?

  1. Asana — Our entire team uses it manage and delegate tasks.
  2. Xero accounting app — Online accounting software that every small business should avail themselves of.
  3. Gett Taxi — The quickest, easiest way to get a cab.

Who inspires and motivates you?

My mom was a good role model — she worked hard throughout my childhood and was very successful. I think it’s important for children of both genders to have successful working women in their lives.

What is the hardest challenge you’ve faced with social media and content marketing?

Learning it all — getting up to speed on all the new opportunities without getting totally distracted. Let’s face it, the space changes at such a rate of knots that it’s really hard to stay abreast without simultaneously being sucked down the ‘wormhole’.

What are some things you do to save time?

I say ‘no’ to lots of things. I would love to think of myself as an essentialist, but I’m not quite there yet. I am striving though, and for now that’s good enough for me.

I take taxis rather than public transport. It’s more expensive, but the time I save more than makes up for the additional cost.

Laundrapp is my go to resource for laundry and dry cleaning. It’s like having a washing machine in your phone (sort of). Since I discovered the app I have so much more time on my hands.

I’m also a huge proponent of processes. I write them down and teach them to the team so that any repeatable task can then be easily learned without my input.

Do you listen to music while working? If yes, what do you listen to?

Sometimes, but it’s more if I need to drown out other background noise than because I actually feel like listening to music. I have a few playlists on Spotify that I rotate according to my mood.

What’s your favorite and least favorite things about social media and content marketing?

My favorite is being really good at it for TopLine, because it means we generate lots of new business through our content efforts.

My least favorite is anything to do with HR. Finding great people is key, so I always put a lot of effort into it. But the HR admin that comes with managing people is bothersome. I do it because it’s important, but I really don’t enjoy it (I wonder if anyone does?).

Do you have one rule you try to stick to?

If it’s not “F*ck yes!” then it’s “No.”

Can you share one hack that might help other social media and content marketers?

Learn to speed read — it’s a relatively tiny investment of your time to acquire a skill that will result in massive payoffs.

What do you do when you are feeling stressed out or overwhelmed from work? How do you handle it?

I have a whole lot of reminders written down about why I am doing this — and I read them back to myself whenever the need to go AWOL overtakes me. It really helps put things in perspective.

I take my dog to the park. Devon serves as my constant reminder to stay in the moment.

I eat chocolate and then feel guilty about eating chocolate, which takes my mind off the work stresses. It’s kind of a win/lose/win situation, but it works for me. Plus, chocolate is delicious.

I go to yoga (providing the chocolate coma hasn’t set in).

Could you briefly describe what your social media and content marketing strategy is?

Our strategy could be summed up as ‘practice what you preach’. We make a point of doing for ourselves what we sell to our clients. This means:

  • Focusing on our key lead gen objectives
  • Writing content with a purpose
  • SEO for keywords we can rank for
  • PPC for those we can’t
  • PR for links
  • Events for everything that cannot be achieved via the website
  • HubSpot for managing it all

If you use Start A Fire, how has it helped with you strategy?

I have yet to dive into it myself, however one of my staff members started using it recently and she’s loving it so far. I’ll admit, I way more about content than I am social media, so when she tried to sell me on it I was skeptical. Only after she told that I could link it to my HubSpot account did I sit up and take note. Seriously, she should have led with that piece of information.


You can follow Heather on Twitter and connect via LinkedIn


Originally published at blog.startafire.com on June 25, 2016.