I go to the gym a couple times. I eat food that’s not going to kill me for a couple weeks. I start feeling healthier, and then when I look in the mirror, I convince myself that I can see my six pack developing.

Thinking that I see my beach body developing motivates me. I get excited. I start watching what I eat more closely, and I actually go to the gym. A few weeks pass, or maybe a few months if I’m serious. Soon I lose confidence that I’m getting results. I’m definitely in a little better shape, but the results are slow. I don’t like to wait.

When the reality sets in that getting a six pack is going to take some time, I’m tempted to quit. I usually give up on the six-pack, but I’ve learned a lot of things that have kept me from giving up on diet and exercise altogether.

All the frustration that we feel when it comes to diet and exercise also manifests itself in content marketing. You and I want immediate results.

You hit the ground hard with your inbound marketing efforts. You notice that a couple people are clicking on your social links. You convince yourself that something is happening. You think that pretty soon one of your posts will go viral, and then you’ll end up with more traffic than you know what to do with.

Eventually, you post, and fewer people look at your blog post than the one you posted last time. Reality sets in. You realize that everything people told you about content marketing is true. Successful inbound marketing takes hard work and dedication, and the results are slow.

It’s just as important to think about your own psychology when you’re marketing as it is to think of the psychology of your audience. Fortunately, for your web traffic and my six pack, there are some content creation tips and tricks that can help keep me going to the gym and you blogging:

1. THE WHY

Know WHY you started content marketing. “Someone told me to start a blog,” isn’t good enough. You need to be doing this for yourself.

If you’re passionate about your business, then you need to understand how your content marketing can drive your business. You need to understand why each piece of content is important.

No one wants to work on something without purpose. That’s the surest way to make sure you get demotivated.

Anyone who tries to get in shape starts with an end goal in mind. They think about how they want to feel or how they want to look.

You need to do the same thing with your content. Figure out what exactly you’re trying to achieve. Do you want to generate traffic? Are you trying to get more leads for your business? Maybe you just want to prove that you’re an authority in your field, so you have more credibility with your customers.

Once you’ve figured out why you started this inbound marketing stuff in the first place, imagine what successfully achieving your goals will look like. Use this vision to motivate you. Let the dream drive you to push towards your goals.

2. THE WHAT THE HELL EFFECT

We’ve all had that oops moment on our diet. Maybe we go to a party and eat or drink something we promised ourselves not to. Maybe we just forgot to read a label and ate something that we later figured out wasn’t as healthy as we thought. Then comes the guilt.

The guilt’s often the worst part. Instead of letting guilt do its job and drive us back to the straight and narrow, we often throw up our hands and say “what the hell!” That’s when we eat a whole box of Oreos.

If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, you’ve experienced the “what-the-hell effect.”

The what the hell effect can also manifest itself when it comes to the content you create. If you are serious about inbound marketing, you probably have established a content creation strategy and a schedule to organize your efforts. When you inevitably break from the plan, you’ll feel bad.

You didn’t post your blog post on Thursday like you planned, so you throw up your hands and say, “What the hell! I’m going to take a week off from blogging.” Then your week becomes two weeks, and before you know it, your schedule is out the window.

Chances are, even after reading this, you’ll probably still experience the what the hell effect. The important thing is to notice when it’s happening.

Don’t give up on your content creation strategy just because you feel guilty that you didn’t do one blog post. Forgive yourself, and get back on the bandwagon ASAP.

3. WHAT GETS MEASURED…

Make sure you measure your content creation results to find out what works.There are several variations of the phrase that begins with “What gets measured….” Whether you prefer “… gets done,” “…gets managed” or “…is improved,” it’s clear that measuring stuff is important.

Measurement is important both for your waistline and for creating valuable content. You also want to measure the right things.

I say it’s important that you measure the right things, but measuring anything can be a good idea. Measuring stuff makes you pay more attention.

Counting calories isn’t always a perfect strategy, both because you inevitably forget to count sometimes and because calories don’t tell you anything about what’s actually healthy for you. However, people who count calories lose weight, and they pay attention to what they’re eating.

The same thing is true of your online marketing measurements. Sure, it’s better to analyze who’s following you on twitter than to zero-in on the number of followers, but even monitoring the number of twitter followers will reinforce good behavior.

Still, what you measure matters too, because you are what you measure. If you measure something, that’s what you tend to optimize.

If you’re only measuring site traffic, you may lose sight of how your site is actually turning traffic into leads. It’s important not to lose sight of the context of the numbers you’re looking at because optimizing a number in the wrong way can potentially be counterproductive to your business objectives.

For instance, if you’re trying to optimize traffic to your site, you might create clickable links on twitter that have nothing to do with the corresponding content on your site. This will anger the people who click. Instead of turning traffic into leads, you will be alienating your audience.

The point is that measurement helps, but context is vital. Measure, but connect the measurements with your overall strategy.

4. MAKE A PLAN

Make a plan for dealing with the temptations you will face. What will you do when things go wrong? Don’t leave your answer to chance or your whims.

One way people do this with dieting and exercise is to keep healthy snacks around the house. When you get the urge to snack, and you have something on hand that satisfies you and keeps you on your diet. Sticking to your diet becomes easy.

If you do blow it? Forgive yourself and move on. Judging yourself will make you less likely to meet your goals, and more likely to give into your impulses.

You will have these same moments when you’re creating content. When you run out of ideas, you need to have a plan in place to overcome your writer’s block. Decide how you will counter your temptation to give into the thoughts that this inbound thing will never work.

If you’re working with a team to create content, agree to keep each other accountable. Have someone else look at your work, when you feel like it’s not turning out the way you want it to. Hearing a positive word about your work from someone else can give you the motivation you need to continue. A new set of eyes also produces ideas for how to make your content effective.

5. MAKE STRESS YOUR FRIEND

Avoiding or failing to cope with stress negatively affects our health. It increases our blood pressure and affects our hormones. Often we procrastinate in the face of stress. Many of us are stress eaters. If you don’t deal with your stress in a healthy way, you’ll never get your beach body.

Creating valuable content can cause stress too. It takes time and effort, and frequently we lack mental energy. Our creativity tanks often run on empty. Some have the pressure of audiences that are expecting content, but building an audience is stressful too.

Kelly McGonigal, a leading pop psychologist, talks about stress quite a bit. She used to suggest that you eliminate stress from your life, but research suggest that when you think stress is bad, it’s more harmful to your health.

Kelly McGonigal now suggests that you make stress your friend. When you use stress to motivate you, you turn fear into courage. When you accept that stress has an important role in your life, and that it can actually make you more successful at reaching your goals. Translation, stress can drive you to get fit and market better.

6. WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER

When it comes to inbound marketing and content creation, work smarter, not harder.I learned to work smarter not harder from a Scottish immigrant to America, Scrooge McDuck. Hard work is good, but if you can get the same effect with less work, do that.

When it comes to dieting, small lifestyle changes like deciding to always use the stairs instead of the elevator are more effective in controlling your waistline than going for a run now and then. Small changes are effective, because they’re easy, and you’ll keep doing them.

You can work smarter when you’re creating content too. Make the creativity and research process easy to help yourself keep it up.

When it comes to figuring out what you’re going to write about, automate the process as much as possible. Subscribe to podcasts on the topics that you write about. Set up google alerts so you know when people post new content in your field. Easy research works just as well as the kind that takes you all day.

Also don’t assume that written content is always the smartest option. Often you can make a video in a short amount of time that explains something to your audience more effectively than an article. It usually takes less time as well.

Maybe you’re a personal trainer who is trying to explain an exercise. It’s difficult to explain in writing how to do an exercise, and it’s time-consuming. Be smart, and make a video instead.

7. BE PATIENT

Weighing in every day discourages dieters because weight loss is a slow process. Daily weigh-ins are also deceptive. Our weight naturally fluctuates. Weighing one more pound today than yesterday doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong. Weighing in less often allows you to see the trend of your weight loss. The trend more accurately reflects your results.

The same goes for content creation. Don’t worry about traffic at the outset. Focus on creating valuable content and being consistent. If you’re producing excellent content, trust that an audience will find you.

Traction from search engines picks up after about six months (assuming you’re writing about things that people are searching for.) You’ll actually notice that your older posts generate most of your traffic.

If you’ve just started blogging for your business, the domain for your blog is likely new. Search engines value older domains with a reputation, so don’t expect too much until your blog has been live for a while.

According to Google, crawling and indexing your site pages can “take some time and rely on many factors.”

Each individual blog post has to be indexed by Google. This is a blessing in that people can find you from each and every post you publish. It’s also a curse because there’s not going to be any immediate gratification from search engines when you publish a great piece.

Waiting for organic traffic to find your site and your content is a lot like waiting for your six pack abs to appear. With consistency and hard work, you can get there!

Tell us about how you’ve found ways to stay consistent with your content creation in the comments.