A Week In the Life of Karen Beattie, SPI’s Marketing Manager
Editor’s Note: This is a new series we are testing out here at SPI, and you know how much we love experiments! We’re inspired by other journal-like content we’ve seen around the web like the Money Diaries and Feel Good Diaries from Refinery29, as well as the standard format of the much loved How I Work series from Lifehacker.com. In this series we hope to capture a vast array of not only different types of work that people do in the online space, but also the different ways we all work toward our goals and positive impact with our jobs, businesses, or brands. We’re starting off this series with the members of Team SPI and, if it’s a hit, we are kicking around the idea of turning this series into an ongoing feature by expanding it to include reports from you, Team Flynn! So let’s get right to it with another “Week In the Life” with our marketing manager.
- Location: Chicago, Illinois
- Company: Smart Passive Income (Flynndustries, LLC)
- Role: Marketing Manager
- Current technology: 13″ MacBook Pro with Asus 27-Inch monitor, Magic Mouse, Magic Keyboard
- Favorite tools/resources: Slack, Airtable, Google Docs, StayFocusd, Apple Music Radio, Bear, CoSchedule
- Currently reading: An American Summer by Alex Kotlowitz, Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, I and Thou by Martin Buber
- Currently listening: The Daily, Fresh Air, On Being, Pod Save America
As the Marketing Manager, I’m responsible for all of the marketing campaigns we do here at SPI. I plan and implement email campaigns, course promotions, affiliate marketing programs, and book marketing. In addition to strategy and planning, I serve as a project manager to ensure all marketing campaigns are implemented on time, working with designers, writers, and technical support team to develop the assets needed for each campaign. I also contribute to writing emails, newsletters, landing pages, blog posts, and various other items as needed.
7:00 a.m. It’s Monday! This sounds cliche, but I used to hate Mondays. Now I look forward to them because I actually like my job. I work remotely, so I don’t have to shower, put on my “work clothes,” commute down Lake Shore Drive which was always a parking lot (one bonus, often seeing the sunrise over Lake Michigan. I DO miss that). In my previous job, it would often take me an hour to get to work. Now, I love working from my home office listening to Bach on Apple Music Radio in yoga pants. I help my husband get our nine-year-old ready for school, and by 7:30 I have a quiet house. Sometimes I start working right away. Other times, I spend time drinking my cold brew, reading the headlines, meditating, and working out. On Mondays I don’t have to take my daughter to school or pick her up, so I have an extra hour in my day. It always feels good to have that much uninterrupted work time.
9:00 a.m. Whatever happens in the morning, I’m always at my desk by 9:00 on most days. Mondays are full of meetings, so usually I start my day by preparing for them. I use a notes app called Bear to write out things I need to discuss, going through my projects and determining what needs to get done, what is blocking us from moving forward, and who I need to talk to about those blockers. Today I also spent a few hours sending out emails to our affiliates to let them know about a course launch in June. It’s fun to connect with our affiliates and make sure they have what they need. As marketing manager, I’m helping to develop a more established affiliate program, with a plan to communicate more regularly with affiliates. With the help of the solutions team, I developed an online resource center, which gives our affiliates easy access to the tools and resources they need to promote our courses. I’m looking forward to seeing how these efforts pay off this year, and how these new assets can help our affiliates earn some income.
11:30 a.m. Senior Staff meeting. This is a crucial thirty minutes in the week, because Janna, Pat, Matt and I discuss what projects need to get done and we make sure there are no blockers. Pat is busy, so having regular times to touch base with him is critical. Today Pat told me he was almost finished writing his sections for the FlynnCon Yearbook (thanks Pat!), and gave updates on some videos he’s working on. I’m always amazed at how much Pat can accomplish in the midst of his travel and other commitments. #Goals.
1:00 p.m. Staff meeting. How do my cats know when I’m going to have a meeting? Never fails: Whenever I start a video call, they’re whining for attention, or jumping on my desk. It’s hard to focus while trying to wrangle a purring cat and keep him from lying on my keyboard. In our staff meeting we all give an update on our priorities for the week. This week I’m focusing on getting the FlynnCon yearbook content done and ready for our designer, writing the Smart Digest email that we send out every Friday, making sure everything is on track for our Smart From Scratch course promotion, and other course promotion in June. I’m also working to make sure the web page for the Superfans book, which is launching August 13, is up and ready to go. After this meeting I’ll contact the designer to get source files for the web page design assets.
3:30 p.m. Every Monday I have a one-on-one with Matt, my boss. I always like chatting with him and brainstorming. Today’s discussion was around my role, and how we can refine it even more. I moved into the marketing manager role about four months ago, and it’s always good to re-evaluate and adjust when necessary. One thing I appreciate about working for SPI is that there is a genuine effort to match employees’ skills and interests with their job. In my previous jobs, it was the other way around: I always felt like I had to fit into a static job description.
4:00 p.m. I’m working at Starbucks, which is a few blocks from my house. My husband and daughter get home at 4:00 on Mondays, and so I just need a few more hours of uninterrupted time to finish work. It’s hard to do when a nine-year-old wants to show you the latest cat video on YouTube. I work at Starbucks until 6:00 or so, and then go home to eat dinner with my family.
9:00 a.m. On Tuesdays I take my daughter to school, and then work from a coworking space near her school so I don’t have to waste time driving all the way back home. I stop and get coffee on the way, and I’m settled at the coworking space by 9:00. I scroll through Facebook for fifteen minutes. Wasting time on social media can ruin my productivity, so I have to be careful not to mindlessly surf during my work day. One “quick check” of my Instagram feed can turn into thirty minutes of going down the social media rabbit hole. I use StayFocusd, which is an app that allows me to block Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for hours at a time (I usually block for eight hours at a time during the work week). I only have one meeting today, so I’m going to focus on finishing the FlynnCon yearbook, writing The Smart Digest email, answer emails, and trouble-shooting any project that is blocked. I turn off my Slack notifications so I won’t be distracted!
10:00 a.m. I take a break from writing to answer some messages. I respond to a few emails from affiliates who have questions about upcoming promotions, and I also check my Slack messages. I send a quick message to our designer to remind him to send me the source files for the FlynnCon yearbook. I’m also making sure I have everything done for our sprint review tomorrow. We work in two-week sprints. So tomorrow we report what we’ve finished in the past two weeks. It helps to keep us on track and makes it easier to meet deadlines.
4:00 p.m. This afternoon I worked on the Smart Digest email. It’s an email that goes out to all of our email subscribers on Friday afternoons, giving them a summary of what has gone on at SPI HQ during the week. We don’t want our audience to miss any of the good content we’ve posted on the blog, podcasts, or YouTube channel! In the email we also include a list of interesting articles from various sources we think our audience might enjoy, offer advice about tools that will help them work smarter, and also alert them to special deals they might want to take advantage of. It’s fun to write. We try to connect with our audience on a regular basis, and the Smart Digest is one way we do that. We like to think of our audience as a community, and we work hard to build relationships.
9:00 a.m. Finishing up the yearbook content. Sometimes projects take longer than anticipated, and this is one of those things. So I’m feeling anxious because other things are piling up, but I need to get this done!
11:30 a.m. Our bi-weekly sprint review is today. I presented the design for the Superfans book landing page, and everyone gave it a big thumbs-up. The book launches in August, but there’s a lot of work to do to get ready for the launch, such as finishing the landing page, putting a launch team together, planning a podcast book tour. It’s a lot of work, but all fun work.
1:00 p.m. This afternoon I’m working on finishing the Smart Digest email. I need to get it done so Non can format it in ConvertKit. I’m also trying to get the marketing campaigns and projects organized in CoSchedule. It seems like projects are constantly shifting, so I always need to update the calendar to keep it up-to-date. If it’s one thing I’ve learned in this job, is that flexibility is key. Mid-afternoon I pick up my daughter from school, and when we get home she practices the piano and plays video games while I finish work. Instead of finishing the Smart Digest email, I end up answering emails from affiliates, and taking care of a few other urgent items that have come up. It’s always a balance between working on things that are urgent versus working on things that are important. I have to be careful to stick to my priority list and not get distracted by taking care of things that might seem urgent, but really aren’t.
10:00 p.m. I finally have time to sit down and finish the Smart Digest email. Sometimes I do need to work late at night or early in the morning, but that’s okay, because the trade-off is that my job allows me to have a somewhat flexible schedule. I finish the email at 11:00 p.m. Now it’s time for bed.
7:30 a.m. Usually on Thursdays, I take my daughter Desta to school, and then camp out at my coworking space for the rest of the day. But today my husband did school dropoff (yay!), so I have more time this morning to finish up some projects. I’m sitting at my desk with an iced coffee (with almond milk), and a purring cat on my lap, getting to work. Looking forward to checking a lot of things off my list today.
10:00 a.m. I have a regular Thursday meeting with Mindy, our technical solutions manager. We’re the Midwesterners on Team SPI, so we talk a lot about the weather. It snowed in Minneapolis today, Mindy told me. Yikes! The marketing work I do depends a lot on our tech solutions team, for things like creating landing pages on LeadPages, using ConvertKit to plan email campaigns, and getting our courses launch-ready in Teachable. Today Mindy and I talked about an upcoming promotion for Smart From Scratch, our pre-sale landing page for Pat’s Superfans book, and a few other things. Really, Mindy and Non work super hard to find solutions to all for our marketing endeavors. They rock!
1:00 p.m. Finished the yearbook content! Whoo Hoo! Now on to other projects. I wrote another email for the Smart From Scratch email promotion sequence, and then I rewrote the subject lines for the Smart Digest email. It’s fun to figure out ways to be creative and strategic with subject lines. I remember when President Obama was running for his second term, I read somewhere that the best-performing subject line in his email campaigns was “Hey.” So don’t be surprised if you get an email from SPI that just says, “Hey.” :). We’ll see if it gets as many clicks as Obama did.
4:30 p.m. Mindy, Janna, Matt, and I had a pow-wow about how to better let the SPI audience know about our courses. We came up with some great solutions. Here at SPI, when we think about marketing we focus on how we can best help our audience. How can we do a better job of letting them know about the resources we have that can help them grow their businesses? I appreciate this approach to marketing because it’s service minded versus sales minded. This quote from Seth Godin, author of This Is Marketing, sums it up: “Marketing is the generous act of helping others become who they seek to become. It involves creating honest stories—stories that resonate and spread.” I have this quote on a Post-it note on my desk. After the meeting, I spend time organizing notes and getting started planning out how to implement some of the things we talked about.
9:00 a.m. Made it to the end of the week. It was a fun week, really, except it rained every day! Today, finally, is somewhat dry and the sun is trying to peek through the clouds. I have an office in the attic of my 1928 bungalow. It overlooks my backyard garden. It’s the small things that make me happy, but I do think environment, culture, coworkers, flexibility, common goals values, and fun work are the key to being happy in your job. I’m grateful that I’m feeling like I have all of that for the first time in a long time. Today the Smart Digest email goes out the door, so I proofread it one more time, make sure all of the links work, and then let the team know it’s ready to send out.
11:00 a.m. We have team retro on Fridays. This is a meeting where we each give a retrospective of the week, both professionally and personally. I love how our team feels safe enough to share wins and struggles. I think this is a sign of a healthy organization, that we’re able to be vulnerable and not feel judged. Brené Brown, in her book Daring Greatly, says, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” In retro, I shared that finishing the content for the FlynnCon Yearbook was a win, but my ever growing to-do list was a struggle.
2:00 p.m. Friday afternoons I usually try to finish up any urgent things that need to get done before the weekend, and try to prepare for the work I need to do next week. I still have a long to-do list, but at least I made some progress on getting a few major things done this week. I pick up Desta at 3:15, and take her to soccer practice. While Desta’s at soccer practice, I work for another hour in my car. It’s a little awkward to work in my car, but I don’t have time to go home and then come back to the soccer field and pick her up, so I make do.
4:30 p.m. After soccer practice, Desta and I get home and I work for another hour or so. I make sure that I have everything ready for our meeting with a new designer on Monday who is going to lay out the FlynnCon yearbook. I put all of the assets in a Google folder so she will have easy access, and write out some notes. I answer several messages, and then check my to-do list one more time to make sure all of the urgent items are checked off. Then I order a pizza and drink a glass of wine. Whew, it’s been a busy week!
7:00 a.m. I get up early on weekends so I can work on my own writing projects. I’m in the middle of writing a book, so I spend two hours in Starbucks working on it. It’s not going well, and sometimes I want to quit, but I keep going because I know from experience that when I stick to it through the hard parts, at some point I will see the light at the end of the tunnel and the book will start coming together and making sense. Then it will have all been worth it!
11:00 a.m. Desta has a soccer game, and today they win 3 to 1! Way to go Desta. Finally the weather is nice (in the seventies and sunny) and it is perfect for watching nine-year-old girls play soccer.
4:00 p.m. We moved to our new neighborhood a few years ago and we love it. We are getting to know our neighbors, and this afternoon we’re off to a party the next block over. Just like finding the right work environment, I think it’s important to move to a place where you feel at home and you have a sense of community. We definitely feel that here, and I’m grateful. We spent some time chatting with neighbors, drinking wine, eating Mexican food, and Desta has a blast playing with neighbor kids. It’s a perfect ending to the week.
End of Week Retrospective
Summary: It rained all week which was a huge bummer. That always affects my mood. But I got tons of writing done and the FlynnCon yearbook is ready to hand off to our layout designer (Yay!). The Smart Digest went out today, and we had some great meetings to better define the role of marketing in the SPI business. I touched base with the solutions team, the designer, and others to ensure our projects were moving forward. Overall, it was a productive week!