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How To Create Content And Build Your Audience Online

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During a recent conversation about networking and cross-promotion, a colleague expressed doubt about her ability to promote my business because she had little traffic on her website and social media. She said creating content would be futile because nobody would see it. The implication was, “I need to build an audience before creating content.” She had the equation totally backwards. Create content first, and the audience will come, over time. In this article we will go over several strategies that show you how to create content and help you build your audience online!

Introduction to Content Creation

Consider this analogy. You just moved into a house and want to host a party. Are you going to invite guests over to an unfurnished home? You need couches, chairs, tables, food, music, activities, etc. Is your website or social media page an unfurnished home? Do you provide anything to entice people to stick around? If not, don’t expect many people at your party. Would you visit an online magazine without any articles? How do you feel about a website when the last entry on the Blog was 18 months ago? I get a mental image of tumbleweeds blowing through a ghost town.

People are attracted to websites and social media pages that provide engaging, valuable, current, and relevant content. We live in a time where we can create and publish our own content whenever we want! We don’t need the Yellow Pages or an advertising firm to share our message. If you want to promote yourself and build your brand, content marketing is paramount. There is no excuse for failing to create content. If you are passionate about your project, there are plenty of formats you can choose to broadcast your message, including:

Blogs 

If you enjoy writing, this is a great vehicle to share stories about your product or service, and to share yourself. You can incorporate pictures, link to other sites, and share on social media.

Social Media 

You can share your product or service on several outlets, both on your business and personal page. Share stories about the evolution and improvement of your product or service. Post pictures and show your product or service in action.

Shared Content 

Share articles relevant to your project, but it is critical that you add your own commentary. Don’t just Share, Comment and Share!

Videos 

People want to know the real you, and this is a great vehicle to share yourself while sharing your product or service. People need to know if they like and trust you before they decide to buy from you. Live videos are starting to explode on social media, so get out of your comfort zone and try it.

Cross-Promotion 

Find strategic partners and cross-promote each other. Write guest blog posts, share each other’s content on social media, shoot a video together, or even create a page on your website where you promote and link to your partners.

Regardless of your preferred medium, the following factors are critical to creating quality content: Value, Patience, Relevancy, Non-Monetization, and Storytelling.

Value

It’s all about your audience, not about you! You need to give them real value. Don’t waste people’s time talking about how great you or your product/service are. Talk about how your product/service will improve the reader/viewer’s life by filling a want or need. When I’m scanning a website, I’m looking for content that provides value to me. I’m subconsciously looking for content that makes me think, “I need to read/watch that.” I am looking for content that is conducive to my growth or appeals to my needs and wants.

Your titles and substantive content should demonstrate how the material will appeal to the reader/viewer’s self-interest. When reviewing content, I take about 15-30 seconds to decide if I’m receiving any value. Time is too precious and attention spans are too short. I’m sure cat video metrics might suggest otherwise, but I venture that most people don’t go online looking for cat videos. When I find myself sucked into trivial content online, it’s almost always by accident, and I get out of there as soon as I recognize I’m wasting my time.

Give your content real value. Don’t lure people with the promise of content as a ruse to grab personal information or even worse, hit them with a pay wall. Don’t do the bait and switch. Have you ever been tantalized by a link description, you click, and then presented with a landing page demanding your email address before revealing any content? When this happens, I know the content is just bait, and I will have to manually opt out from daily email blasts to escape the funnel. You might generate some leads that way, but you aren’t giving value or building a positive brand. Provide value on the front end, no strings attached, you will draw more people in over time, and you will build a brand that people appreciate. This leads into my next point.

Patience

It takes time to build a brand, so manage your expectations. Even if content unexpectedly goes viral, your fame will be short lived if you don’t have other content to entice people to stick around or return.

You cannot have a mindset or expectation of immediate gratification. I once shared with a friend that I boosted a blog entry on FB, and he smugly responded, “What’s your ROI on that?” I wasn’t looking for immediate ROI! I boosted a blog post I thought would resonate. It led to hundreds of clicks, dozens of likes, and new followers on my business page. Certain people didn’t know about my business before, but they knew about it after. That’s the ROI I was looking for. Immediate business would have been great, but I am patiently building a brand here.

When you are creating content for your business, whether it’s a blog post, video, or social media post, don’t expect an immediate ROI. If you’re doing paid advertising, then you certainly want to track ROI, but this article is about content creation, not advertising. Content marketing is a long game.

Don’t get discouraged if your content receives little or no engagement at first. Keep plugging away, keep improving your craft, keep putting your message out there. The mere existence of substantive content on your website improves your SEO. Some people need to see you post multiple times before they click and check you out. Some people need to review your content several times before they engage or buy. Those people never would have engaged if you decided, after posting a couple videos, that you weren’t getting enough ROI, and shut it down. There is no instant gratification or overnight success in business, and anything violating this rule is likely illegal or immoral.

Relevancy

Simply put, your content must be relevant to your business’s mission. By all means, have some variance in your content. Change it up. Be original. Push the envelope, but ensure that all of your content is somehow relevant to your business.

For example, if you own an auto body repair shop, don’t post about politics! (Avoiding politics is good advice to any business.)  If you own a nail salon, don’t post about gardening; if you’re an SEO consultant, don’t post about woodworking. You get the gist. I know someone in the printer repair business who shares random content on social media having no relation to his business, and every share includes a preamble pitch for his service. The shared content and the message have no synergy or place together. Would you prefer grapefruit with your steak, or mashed potatoes with your steak? The whole point of content marketing is to increase brand awareness. This purpose is frustrated when you post irrelevant content.

Monetization

The subtext of your content is for people to create a mental association with your brand. You want people to associate your product or service with their need, and quality content creates that connection. This is a legitimate quid pro quo. You provide valuable and engaging content, and consumers provide brand recognition and loyalty. Over time, that leads to revenue for your company. This kind of monetization is subtle, indirect and takes time, but is very powerful because the consumer ultimately initiates the sale.

People are turned off by content that is overtly monetized. Unless one is shopping or sees an ad with cute animals, people do not actively seek advertising. Remember, people view your content because they are enticed by the proposition of receiving free value. People are guarded when they feel they are being sold, especially when they did not expect a sales pitch.

I once attended a “seminar,” where the ostensible purpose was to teach about marketing, but the speaker could not stop interrupting himself to pitch his coaching service. He would tease with some marketing nuggets, then pull away saying we could hear the best parts if we signed up for his program. “Seminar” was written in quotation marks because I felt I was attending a live infomercial against my will. I got fed up and walked out. I feel the same way when I’m viewing disingenuous content online. Don’t publish thinly-veiled advertorials. The value of your content is tainted when it is overtly monetized.

Don’t get me wrong here. There is nothing wrong with selling. If you want to overtly sell your product or service, then go for it! Just don’t be deceptive.

Story Telling

Facts tell, stories sell. Couch your messages in terms of stories, and people will engage with your content on a deeper level. People remember stories that touch them emotionally, and they remember the source of the story – your business. People are attracted to stories, it’s just human nature. Most people lack the attention span to delve into dense factual material, and you’ll lose most of your audience

Do not wait for an audience to build before you start creating content for your business. Start creating and publishing content now, and you will grow a following over time. If you seamlessly weave facts about your product or service into a story, while giving value and avoiding overt monetization, you can create powerful content and a powerful brand.

Growth Hacking

Public Relations Lessons To Learn From

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When you’re new and inexperienced, the public relations world can be strange and exciting at the same time. Even if you went to school or took the appropriate courses, nothing can prepare you for the real-life experience because there are some things that cannot be taught in school. There are lessons in the PR world that is best learned from experience, trial and error and by learning from other people’s mistakes. Here are examples of PR lessons that you can learn from.

Work With Influencers

There are many novices who do not consider working with influencers when they are working on or launching a PR campaign. They undervalue influencers because it is seldom taught in school. Partnering with an influencer is a great PR campaign because they already have networks in place that you can leverage to make your campaign succeed. Nowadays people are connected not only through work but through the internet and social media too. It is normal to “follow” or be “friends” with somebody on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and influencers have their own circle of followers and friends in these platforms. Working with influencers is a great way to spread your message quickly and make your campaign succeed.

Cultivate Media Relationships

People in the media have access to a bigger audience. When you’re working in PR it is all about getting the word out and reaching the maximum number of audiences. Don’t be shy with reporters. Get to know them and build relationships so that you can call upon them when needed. Aside from reporters, you also need to cultivate a relationship with your online audience. To do this, you need to be accessible to them through social media and blogs. Respond to their queries and engage them in conversation.

Create Newsworthy Content

When you’re in school, it is easy to imagine that your clients will have newsworthy content and you will have unlimited media coverage because of it. But when you’re in the real world, this is not always the case. When you’re a PR executive, it is your job to come up with newsworthy content by capitalizing on relevant events and to find ways to position your clients so that they can engage the media. Whether it is a holiday trend or current events, it is always important to stay abreast of what’s trending to get press for your clients.

Rejection Is Not Personal

Don’t take rejection personally. Just because you think that something is newsworthy or amazing does not automatically mean that other people deem it so. In school, most students do not need to access the media to garner attention for their assignments. This is why most of them do not have first experience when their stories get rejected. Don’t take it personally. Just because the reporter is not interested in your story does not mean to say that your story next week will also get rejected.

Timing Matters

When somebody tells a joke, the narrator has to time it perfectly for maximum effect. The same applies with public relations. It is easy to get impatient because you might think that it is best to strike immediately. However, it also pays to watch and be patient. Don’t send newsletters and pitches when no one is likely to read them. Learn the right time to update your clients or company’s social media pages, the best time to send email newsletters or when your blog posts go live. Knowing the right timing to update can help maximize viewership and impact.

Re-Use Content

Many of us who frequent the internet know that fresh is always best. However, in the world of public relations, it is alright to re-use content and repeat your message. There is a difference between sounding like a broken record and repetition. You want to repeat your message because some consumers won’t remember your message the first time. Repeat the message and reuse content by referencing past blog posts, sharing old posts in your newsletter or sharing old content as #throwbackthursday.

There are many public relations lessons that you don’t learn in school. In PR you need to learn to exploit situations to your advantage. If you’re new to PR have to be brave and try things that are new to you or get ready to learn as you go along.

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5 Behaviors That Separate The Successful From The Average

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Many of us wish to be Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or even Mark Zuckerberg. These people are some of the most successful Americans today. They are worth billions of dollars and are at the helm of successful companies. Aside from wanting to be like them, many are also asking what they did to become successful. We want to know what behaviors and characteristics they have that helped them succeed. Here are behaviors of successful people you will want to emulate to help you become triumphant.

1. They Initiate

Successful people are not happy with the bare minimum. They like going the extra mile. For example, aside from knowing how much an item costs to acquire, they also want to learn about better products, discounts or how they can save. They do not wait for other people to tell them information. They initiate and ask questions because they want to learn, make recommendations, pitch ideas or offer to help. This is because success requires people to become proactive. Successful people are on the offense not defense all the time.

Initiation takes risk. By putting yourself out there you could fail. Conversely, you can also fail by not doing anything.

2. Thrift

Frugality or thrift is defined as “the quality of using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully”. They don’t live beyond their means or try to keep up with the Joneses because they know that there will always be other people who are more successful than they are. Successful people also know the value of money which is why they are not too keen on burning it quickly. They know the hard work they put in earning that money and wasting it on frivolous items is counterproductive.

Successful people like Mark Zuckerberg do not flaunt what they have. He drives a $30,000 Acura and Michelle Obama wears Target and recycles her wardrobe.

3. Persistent

Thomas A. Edison said he did not fail 10,000 times. He just found 10,000 ways it did not work. Many people are willing to accept failure, but successful people embrace these failures and learn from it. They use it as a stepping stones that can help them reach that “aha” moment. Successful people are adaptable and do not give up immediately which is a big reason for their success. These behaviors help you progress as you try to reach your goals.

The same is true for bestselling author JK Rowling. She got 12 rejection letters and was told “not to quit her day job” before the daughter of a Bloomsbury editor demanded the rest of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The series is now the fastest selling book in history and has a combined sales of $450 million.

4. Intuition

Successful people listen to their gut instinct. Even if other people told them not to do it, they did so anyway because it felt right to them. Intuition goes hand-in-hand with fearlessness and not doubting yourself which are traits that keep people in low-paying jobs. So listen to your instincts. Do what you think and feel is right.

5. Passion

Passion is believing in something that is sometimes impossible. Successful people are passionate and they use this drive to do things other people have not thought of. They love what they do and it is this drive that pushes them to become the best in their field which in turn makes them financially successful. When you don’t love what you’re doing it shows in the results of your work which in turn affects your pay.

People who are inspired and passionate create new opportunities which can open new doors that lead to success. Steve Jobs for example, was often labeled as “crazy” or “eccentric”, but there is no doubt to everybody that he is passionate in what he did which in turn made him a very successful and wealthy man.

The difference between successful people is not just old fashioned luck. Successful people have behavior that helps them tackle mediocrity and stay on top of their game while other people complain about money. Success is the result of hard work; dedication and gratitude for people who helped them achieve it. Hopefully you can nurture these behaviors and let them grow to help you become successful in your own right.

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7 Things Successful People Are Doing That You’re Not

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Success comes in many shapes, sizes, and form. When it comes to entrepreneurship or running a business, you’ll often see the ultra successful soar past all of their peers with relative easy and in a relatively short amount of time. One can’t help but wonder what exactly do these individuals possess that others don’t that allowed them to be so successful. Although it’s not fair to generalize their success into a few bullet points, these ultra successful entrepreneurs all inherently have 10 things in common that the rest of us don’t.

Know What They Want

Woman Sitting Talking To Man

Successful people know exactly what they want. They can tell you in vivid details the life they imagine for themselves and how they will get there. They rarely question their own ability or their own path. If anything, they’re more likely to tread the unknown in pursuit of what they want.

Inherent Self Confidence

Man Confidently Standing In Suite

You know confidence when you’re around it. And you also can smell arrogance and insecurities from a mile away. Successful people don’t need to be arrogant. They never flaunt or brag about things they have to make others believe they’re more successful than they really are. Being around them, you get a sense of their stability and security that’s inherent in every action and word that comes from them.

Decisiveness

Man and woman shaking hands in front of coworkers

They’re decisive individuals. In addition to knowing what they want, they also know how to get what they want, and they’re certain they will get there. They don’t procrastinate making decisions. When enough facts and evidence presents itself, they’ll make a decision to keep the ball moving instead of sitting around waiting for stars to align

High Level Of Certainty

Man drinking coffee in front of laptop confidently

They possess an intoxicating level of certainty. Whatever it is they’re doing, they’re certain it’s the right one. Whatever they’re ordering at a restaurant, they’re CERTAIN it’s the best damn thing on the menu. No matter what the decision is, they’re always certain of it and confident that they will get what they want. You’ll rarely hear these individuals utter “I think that’s a good idea.” Instead, they’re likely to command, “That’s a good idea. I like it!”

Planning Everything

Planning on white desk

Although they’re quick to make decisions, they’re not reckless. Highly successful individuals plan out everything meticulously in order to guarantee their results. But don’t confuse them with someone who plans everything, overthinks every situation, and never takes action. They’re meticulous in terms of how thorough their plans are, and how far down the thought-branch they go. But they certainly don’t overthink or over-complicates their plan.

Completing Everything

Completionist

They’re not perfectionist. They’re completionist. Whatever they start, they plan to finish. And their ability to see things through create opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Their ability to complete everything they start stems from their ability to control their enthusiasm. It’s easy to start things when you’re excited and can see the future clearly. It’s much more difficult to maintain the same level of excitement once the endorphins are gone. For the ultra successful, they don’t need the excitement to fuel their productivity.

Positive Mental Attitude

People positively celebrating

They’re incredibly positive individuals who can always see an opportunity in any situation. They’re not oblivious or blinded to obstacles or things that go wrong in their business. But more so, they have an ability to see past the negative and salvage something positive from it. This trait makes them difficult to discouraged and resilient to setbacks.

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