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 backward. 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:
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.
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.
Share articles relevant to your project, but it is critical that you add your own commentary. Don’t Just Share, Comment and Share!
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.
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.
Provide Value For Your Audience
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.
Hooking Their Attention Within 15-30 seconds
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.
Don’t Mislead Your Audience. Give Them What You Promised!
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 paywall. 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 overtime, and you will build a brand that people appreciate. This leads to my next point.
Content Takes Time
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.
Adjust Your Expectations
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. The immediate business would have been great, but I am patiently building a brand here.
Play The Long Game
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.
No Instant Gratification Here…
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 of 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.
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.
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 needs, 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.
Don’t OVER-monetize Your Content
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.
Facts tell stories to 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.
Best Unlimited Graphic Design Companies Of 2021 (+25% Promo)
Looking for an alternative to a freelance graphic designer or trying to scale your business using your existing team? A new wave of companies who call themselves “Unlimited Graphic Design Services” are disrupting the creative industry, providing a solution to what is usually an expensive and unpredictable task. Here’s what their offerings have in common:
- Monthly subscription model
- 24-48 hour turnaround time
- Work with their vetted team of designers
- Unlimited design requests
- Cancel anytime
Which Provider Should You Choose?
We’ve done the homework and curated a list of Unlimited Graphic Design providers for you and also negotiated special deals on your behalf. You can see them all below and decide which one fits your needs.
Unlimited Graphic Design Providers
What Does Unlimited Graphic Design Mean?
These unlimited graphic design services have a monthly subscription business model. That means you can sign up and cancel whenever you like. What sets them apart from your typical freelancer, agency, or in-house designer is you gain access to a workflow that is designed to be quick and to the point.
You’ll communicate with their team through Trello, email, or an online platform. The option given is dependent on the company you choose. For example, only a small selection of services provide a custom built online platform for their customers.
Once you’re connected to their workflow, you can begin submitting as many design requests as you want. Although they all claim “unlimited”, it generally means you can “create” unlimited design requests. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work on them all at once. Usually, they just work on one design at a time. When one completes, they start the next design.
The usual turnaround time is between 1 – 2 days, and that’s just for the first draft. It doesn’t mean your entire request is complete. If you don’t like it, you can request as many revisions as you want, and that will take more time. So it can take up to a week to actually get the design complete if you have a lot of revisions.
Another thing to keep in mind is content. You need to be able to have everything ready and provide all the content needed in order for their designers to get started.
Are they worth it?
If you have a lot of design needs, they’re definitely worth it. Being it’s a monthly recurring investment, you’ll need to make sure that you have the need for an ongoing graphic design service. This graphic design service model is comparable to outsourcing a designer yourself, except much of all the management work is done by the company. The quality of designs and turnaround time also tends to be significantly better when outsourcing a designer yourself.
Top 10 Black Friday Deals for Digital Marketers 2020
Rejoice, agencies and digital marketers! Black Friday deals aren’t just for flatscreen TVs and doorbusters. This year, you can also get ridiculous discounts and offers for software and services to help take your business to the next level. Here are the top 10 hottest Black Friday deals you can take advantage of right now
We’re marketers, not designers. And hiring freelancers is a time-consuming process I don’t enjoy. Meet Penji. It’s a graphic design service that lets me work with a vetted designer on as many design jobs as I want – for a flat monthly rate of $399/m.
And if that deal isn’t already good enough, here’s their Black Friday promo code to make it even sweeter.
The deal: 50% off any plan 1st month. Use promo code OMBLK50. Code is limited to the first 100 customers. Valid from now until 11/29/20.
All the SEO tools you’ll ever need under one roof. SEMRush’s comprehensive toolbox lets you manage your SEO performance, track daily rankings, analyze your competitors, research backlinks, and much more. They’re rated one of the most reliable and robust SEO tool on the market right now. Prices are usually more expensive than other software, but they’re well worth the investment.
The deal: Get 30% off on the annual SEMrush Competitive Research bundle. Valid between 11/25/20 – 12/15/20. For new users only.
Want a time + activity tracking software your team will actually want to use? Then meet Timecamp. Timecamp has just what you’re looking for. The SaaS software allows you to monitor activities and track your team’s attendance. In addition to tracking, there are over 100+ integrations to the software you’re already using.
The deal: Get 4 Months of TimeCamp for Free! Use this code at checkout: BFDEAL2020. Offer starts 11/23/20 and ends on 12/1/20.
Marketing agencies and digital marketers are probably already familiar with keyword and competition monitoring software. You’ve probably already heard of SE Ranking for that matter. SE Ranking is a densely packed SEO tool with features such as competitor monitoring, rank/keyword tracking, keyword research tools and backlink analysis.
It even has auditing tools to show you what you need to fix on your website to rank better. We actually use this ourselves and love it.
The deal: Get 30% off ANY plans. There’s also a small chance your membership benefits will double if you’re one of 3 lucky winners after their drawing. Use code BLACKFRIDAY2020 at Checkout.
Email List Validation
Email marketing is great…when the emails actually deliver. Solve your email deliverability issue with Email List Validation. The software lets you verify and clean your email database to ensure you’re only sending it to working emails.
The deal: Get 25% off all plans. No code needed, just visit link below.
Remember when everyone keeps saying email is going to go away? Yea…here we are 20 years later. And OptinMonster is proving that email marketing is here to stay. OptinMonster helps you convert and monetize your website’s traffic. Get your visitor’s attention with event-triggered popups and capture their interests with exit-intent forms.
The deal: Get 60% off all plans.
This one is for agencies and marketers managing multiple client’s social media accounts. Put all of your client’s social media accounts on SocialPilot and leave it on Auto-pilot (bad pun I know…) SocialPilot lets you create, manage, schedule, and even finetune all your posts in one place.
The deal: Get 20% off discount on all lifetime plans. No promo codes needed. Just check out link below.
LongTailPro is for marketers, bloggers, and digital marketing agencies looking for an effective tool to help research and track long-tail keywords. In addition to its robust search feature, you can also track rankings for all your keywords on major search engines.
The deal: Get 30% off all plans with BONUS access to competitor research and SERP analysis tools.
Mangools is more than just a keyword research tool. It’s actually 5 tools combined into one platform, making it an amazing deal for marketers. You get the Keyword explorer, SERP checker, SiteProfiler, SERP watcher, and Linkminer all for the price of one.
The deal: Get 25% off
For Black Friday, Mangools gives a 25% discount on its SEO tools, including KWFinder, SERP Analysis, Backlink Analysis, and Rank Tracking. The offer data starts on November 29th.
HelpCrunch is a marketer’s wet dream come true. Create chat automations and popups to guide and convert visitors. Have live chat to provide instant assistance to browsing prospects. Create a knowledge base for your customers to find answers themselves. And the list of feature goes on.
The deal: 20% off any plan
Strategies and Tools for a Growing a Pandemic-Proof Business
For the past year, businesses have been met with unrelenting challenges. Because of this, founders are more careful about where to put their time and funds. Longevity in business is desired, so thinking critically about the strategic principles of business is a must. Growing a pandemic-proof business is possible. But how are you going to make it happen? We took our questions to Facebook groups Tech Ladies and Societygal to ask women in the industry about their input on how to grow a business successfully and efficiently.
1. How important is getting your business assets right? (logo, website, branding guidelines, etc)
When it comes to the creative aspect of building a business, there was a split in what is necessary. Recently, founders and business owners have been turning to creative services like Penji for increased design output. While there are still repercussions from the pandemic, businesses are learning to adapt by discovering these new innovative solutions.
Some of our friends at Tech Ladies and Societygal believe that it is crucial, especially when it comes to setting yourself apart from competition. Others choose to focus on other aspects of the business. Here’s what they had to say:
“Hi. I think that for number 1-It doesn’t really matter. I think what people want is results. Connect with them, and show them what your products or service can do for them. How does it solve the problem that they have.” – Prerika Agarwal, Tech Ladies
“I think that these branding pieces really matter as a way that establishes how your company will move and grow. I’ve seen a lot of small businesses that kind of wing it and I think that especially in terms of social media and web, a cohesive brand can really make a business stand out.” – Charlotte Clark, Tech Ladies
“I think it’s less about getting it right and more about being consistent and looking professional. A business that visually appears fractured hurts its own credibility.” Natalie Sharma, Tech Ladies
“The first 1-2 years, really not important! I see so many starters get lost in this search for the perfect font-pairing, the perfect logo blah blah – and what they REALLY need to be focusing on is nailing down their product suite and getting good at copy. Most of us leave corporate and can’t write a blog post or sales post for shit because we sound so wooden and stuffy! 😂 You need a website to get your message out – but honestly? Nobody cares about your logo. Would you stop buying Nike/McDonalds/Pepsi tomorrow because they switched up their logo and it sucked? No, you stay because you like the product.” – Alex Sheach, Societygal
What is a common mistake that businesses make when trying to grow?
Growing a business is not easy, especially now. With the increased number of businesses shuttering their doors because of COVID, one can only benefit from avoiding common mistakes.
“I think that one mistake is that businesses don’t take advantage of how research can validate and verify your ideas going forward. There should be a certain level of confidence in what your next steps are and how they’ll fair.” – Charlotte Clark, Tech Ladies
“The main pain point of scaling I’ve seen is failure to document and inform. If one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing then you aren’t on the same page and you can’t help each other when things go wrong.” – Natalie Sharma, Tech Ladies
“Getting sucked into downloading YET ANOTHER (usually very disappointing freebie) which moves them no closer to their goals. Get your UNSUBSCRIBE vibe switched ON, tune out all that low-level noise and commit to your OWN ideas and vision.” – Alex Sheach, Societygal
What can people take advantage of now that is often overlooked?
Innovation and creative thinking is key to a pandemic-proof business. As we adapt to the current lifestyle of consumers, founders are taking advantage of what is in front of them. Here’s what members suggested.
“What’s overlooked is the human aspect of things not being perfect and just going with inspired action once you have some clarity about your business.” – Prerika Agarwal, Tech Ladies
“With staying at home still being a large part of life, I think people should take advantage of having more people online and the ability to do webinars, virtual networking, and doing research directly with your specific users or customers.” – Charlotte Clark, Tech Ladies
“Digital businesses should take this opportunity to rise to the occasion to help their local communities. As a digital business owner I can confirm we spend a lot of time virtually hustling. Show the world around you that you exist and that you care. It pays dividends for both of you.” – Natalie Sharma, Tech Ladies
“Not enough people are stepping up to lead with vision. They’re waiting for permission to release, launch & grow. JFDI!” – Alex Sheach, Societygal