A Day in the Life of a Chief Content Officer

Lisa Gerber is the author of today’s guest post, the chief content officer of Spin Sucks and the soon to launch Spin Sucks Pro. She is an Idaho expat in Chicago, trying to make mountains out these molehills. They aren’t even molehills really. She also tweets for @spinsucksIt’s Tuesday night. I’m in the office wrapping up my day and creating my list for Wednesday. Here is what it looks like:Lisa Gerber

6 am: Get up

Ride bike to office – try not to be angry biker chick.

Coffee cup #1.

7:30 to 9: Spend about 90 minutes checking, commenting and responding to emails, my Google Reader, Twitter for both @lisagerber and @spinsucks, Facebook, and Google Plus.

9 am and coffee cup #2: My brain is optimally caffeinated at 1 ½ cups. It’s time to write. Close out the distractions and write content for Spin Sucks Pro.

11 am: My world revolves around a big fat spreadsheet called curriculum.xls. It’s the editorial calendar and the pivotal piece to any work for a CCO. I have several tabs set up, divided into big areas such as professional development, blogging, SEO, website, social marketing, and the last one is for random ideas – a sort of dumping ground to be sorted later. Each line has a topic, a deadline, an assigned person and it’s supposedly organized in sub-topics, steps and order of scheduled publication date.

I keep this open all day. As I go about my business, and ideas spark, I add them in the appropriate tab. Last week, I moderated a Spin Sucks Pro webinar with Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion. He is never lacking in content topics. He gets them every day from his sales team, and his customers. Every time anyone asks a question of their pool business, he asks himself, “Have I blogged about this?” He keeps a notebook in his car. I have my notebook too. and I have my spreadsheet.

Break and Reward: Facebook time!! Then, check all the networks and respond to anything that needs immediate attention.

Early afternoon: Screen queries and pitches for Spin Sucks. We typically invite guest bloggers, but still entertain pitches and queries. Our team has been working together to refine the blog guidelines and ensure we’re providing content that matters, and that provoke ideas and conversation.

Next, review the guest submissions for the following week. Edit or return to writer for requested edits. That was something that was hard for me to do at first; send it back for edits. No one has ever complained. Don’t be afraid to send guest submissions back for changes. It’s your house.

Late afternoon: Spins Sucks Pro contributions: Each week I brainstorm with the team on what subject matter experts we’d like to invite to contribute in the form of articles, videos, audio or webinars. I work with guest contributors on topics and guidelines.

4 or 5: Take a break for a run or a yoga class. I use that time to resolve any unresolved issues floating in my brain.

Evening: Wrap up loose ends, respond to emails, input Thursday’s guest post, comment on Spin Sucks, and write my list for Thursday.

That’s what the list looks like, anyway; not that the day ends up looking like that. Because, then I arrive at the office in the morning and well, the universe usually has other things in store for me. But a girl can dream, right?

I know a lot of you are chief content officers of your own businesses, whether by title or not. What would you add to the list?

Lisa Gerber is the chief content officer of Spin Sucks and the soon to launch Spin Sucks Pro. She is an Idaho expat in Chicago, trying to make mountains out these molehills. They aren’t even molehills really. She also tweets for @spinsucks


  • KenMueller says:

    I’d love to see what your spreadsheet looks like. I’ve never been a big Excel user, and would love to find a better way of organizing things…however….I tend to do things more on the fly anyway. Always looking for good examples…

  • MollyFulton says:

    This quite similar to my day – just replace biking with getting kids to school and walking dogs. I’d like to see your spreadsheet too. I get the importance of an editorial calendar and wish I was better disciplined with one, but I’ve found that when I jot down ideas and come back to them later, I don’t get the same thing as I do when I can write on demand. I have to catch the muse as she floats by because she loses some of her flavor when shelved for later. But that’s just me – I envy those I know who can produce content in a more orderly fashion.

  • Lisa Gerber says:

    @MollyFulton and @KenMueller I totally get what you mean. We are not as disciplined with the blog – you need to leave room for newsy/time-related material. However, for Spin Sucks Pro, we need to have the editorial calendar, because it is a big curriculum, with an overarching strategy, so everything has to fit into the bigger picture.

    With the blog, we are a bit more free-spirited. 🙂

    The spreadsheet outlines the sections or stages, then the topic title, along with run dates, deadline for creating, and assigned person. I have separate tabs for different categories. And then I color code based on what content is done, what is in the hopper, but not yet edited.

    Oh! and then I have a sort of receptacle for ideas as they come to mind, and I dump them there until I can categorize them. I should rename it the Muse page. 🙂

  • ginidietrich says:

    @Lisa Gerber@MollyFulton@KenMueller The really cool thing about the spreadsheet is it keeps all of us organized. She’s assigned dates for rolling out content when Spin Sucks Pro launches. That does a few things: It allows us to do really targeted email marketing, it creates themes for creating webinars and other downloadable material, and it hits people with stuff they need at the right time (i.e. planning in october/november). And it keeps content moving in a linear fashion, which allows for class-type learning vs. ad hoc-learning.

  • ginidietrich says:

    Is this your first guest post with the new photo?! I LOVE IT!

  • Lisa Gerber says:

    @ginidietrich this is the debut of my new photo!! 🙂 now, it should post in my livefyre comment too… let’s see.

  • Lisa Gerber says:

    @ginidietrich hmm. i changed it in my @livefyre profile but it’s not showing yet.

  • Marijean says:

    @ginidietrich Lisa’s purty.

  • Marijean says:

    @Lisa Gerber@ginidietrich@livefyre You know, i changed my profile pic awhile ago and it still doesn’t show up. Not sure what that’s about but haven’t thought of it in awhile.

  • Lisa Gerber says:

    @Marijean@ginidietrich awww, that made me smile. You know what’s funny? That’s my mom who “liked” this post up on the top. I keep seeing her name when I click on here to comment. She joined FB a couple weeks ago. It makes me smile too.

  • Marijean says:

    @Lisa Gerber@ginidietrich True story: my mom does not use the internet, but my father prints out every blog post I write and puts it in a binder for my mother to read. That makes ME smile.

  • KenMueller says:

    @Marijean@Lisa Gerber@ginidietrich That’s awesome. My mom gets on and reads mine everyday, and my dad, who has had several strokes, goes into the computer room every few days and catches up. They understand very little of what they are reading, but at least they read it!

  • Giovanni Hashimoto says:

    Wanna share your spreadsheet? Or at least a version without all the actual content, just the format?

  • Lisa Gerber says:

    @KenMueller@Marijean love the mom and dad stories here!! awesome!!! 🙂

  • Lisa Gerber says:

    @Giovanni Hashimoto Hi Giovanni, I can’t share my spreadsheet, but I think I’m going to blog about building an editorial calendar next Wednesday over on Spin Sucks thanks to the questions/interest here. I’d love to help!

  • EmmaofCEM says:

    I’m both impressed and flabbergasted that you actually get up at 6 to ride your bike to the office. I mean, that’s truly impressive. I don’t think I’d be an angry biker chick so much as an unconscious one, ha.

  • Michelloui says:

    What an inspiring post–I love to hear how successful people organise their day! I am another one who would love to see a post on your spreadsheet, or at least more specifics on how you organise one. I think this idea could apply to a lot of people with more than one iron in the fire, not just editors with different article topics. Mine would have blog post topics, eBook ideas, notes for the novel, other work ideas, house projects, home admin… I use the Things app on my laptop and iPhone and that works pretty well but the idea of a spreadsheet for current stuff really appeals.

    Or maybe I’m just a sucker for a new way to make lists. I love lists 😉

  • ardath421 says:

    Great post, Lisa! Thanks for sharing your day. For editorial calendars, I often use MindJet to create mind maps, instead of Excel. I find it easier to add notes and attachments without adding clutter to the things I’m tracking. And the ability to drag and drop to rearrange things as they change – they always do – is also simpler than moving things around in Excel. Plus, with MindJet Catalyst – the online version – I can collaborate with others and allow them to edit/update in the case of a client project.

  • Lisa Gerber says:

    Ha! I love my morning bike rides, except when I start yelling at people and cars for not obeying the laws. Then it becomes less peaceful.

  • Lisa Gerber says:

    @Michelloui I love lists too. I love crossing things off lists. 🙂

  • Lisa Gerber says:

    @ardath421 you know, I will have to check out MindJet, Ardath. thank you. But I’m not promising I’ll give up my excel spreadsheet. I have become attached to it, and it took awhile to set it up just so. But you never know!! 🙂 thank you for the comment.

  • ardath421 says:

    @Lisa Gerber I hear you. I move back and forth between the two of them depending on the complexity of the project I’m working on.