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.
Unlimited Graphic Design Companies Of 2023 + Promo Codes (Updated)
Looking for an alternative to a freelance graphic designer? Are you 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
- Unlimited revisions
- Money-back guarantee
- 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 business based on 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.
How Does On-Demand Graphic Design Work?
Most graphic design services listed above offer clients a bespoke design platform. For instance, Penji’s design tool is an all-in-one platform where designers, account managers, customers, and their team members can communicate and collaborate.
Although the steps in working with a graphic design company are similar, we’ll use Penji’s design software to share the step-by-step graphic design process.
1. Log in
Once you’ve selected the subscription plan, log in to your design tool and access your dashboard. Most of these tools are user-friendly with a minimal learning curve and prioritize user experience.
This example of Penji’s dashboard shows a list and thumbnails of ongoing design projects. The menu at the top shows the Active, Completed, Drafted, and On-hold projects.
Submitting a design brief is the first step in the on-demand graphic design process. To submit, click the +New Project button at the upper right side of the dashboard.
2. Fill in the title
Think of a relevant project title that will describe the design accurately. Writing an accurate title will make browsing through ongoing projects easier once you have a long list.
For instance, if you’re creating a company logo, you can write “Logo design” and specify the company or industry beside it if you’re handling multiple brands.
3. Choose from design categories
The next step is to choose from the many design categories. Most unlimited graphic design services have around 100+ design categories. Penji has 120+ design categories. Choose one that fits your project.
4. Write a design brief
This step is crucial when working with on-demand graphic designers, as this will make or break your project outcome. Writing a thorough, clear, and well-thought-out design brief makes it easier for designers to understand exactly what you want.
Penji’s design platform has a few reminders on the left side when writing design briefs. Ensure you follow the tips for a better design outcome.
5. Attach files and images for inspiration
Some customers can’t express themselves clearly through written instructions. You can attach files and images to support your written descriptions with visuals. Attaching sample logos also helps lead designers in the right direction. Attaching your competitors’ logos is also a way to make yours better.
You’ll also need to choose the source file type in this step or let designers pick for you.
6. Choose a brand style guide
Subscribing to unlimited graphic design services means you can request any visuals for multiple brands. Penji’s design tool lets you save and categorize your brand style guides in folders. This way, you only have to choose a branding guideline for designers to follow.
Once you’ve chosen the associated brand, click the Create project button to start the process.
7. Wait 24 to 48 hours
Although most on-demand graphic design services’ turnaround is 24 to 48 hours, some companies may take more than two days.
Wait for the first draft and ask for revisions until you’re 100 percent happy with the design. Download the source file, and you’re good to go!
Why Should You Sign Up for Unlimited Graphic Design Services
Subscribing to unlimited graphic design services is more convenient than hiring freelance designers. Here’s why:
- Work with vetted designers and choose from various skill sets. There is no need to search for another designer fit for a particular project. The company will assign you the most suitable designer.
- No need to worry about additional fees as you only have to pay fixed monthly rates and get unlimited designs. Revisions also come at no extra cost.
- You don’t have to worry about graphic designers going MIA and abandoning crucial projects. Each design project is managed by an account manager who will check if deadlines are met on time.
- Signing up and canceling subscriptions with on-demand graphic design services is easy. You can sign up if you need a stream of designs while setting up shop and cancel anytime without incurring cancellation fees.
- Fast 24 to 48-hour turnaround, which prevents any bottlenecks in your marketing campaigns.
- Request to change assigned designers if you’re unhappy with their work at no additional cost.
- Organize your projects and brand style guides if you request multiple brand designs. The custom design platforms make managing projects efficient and convenient.
Are they worth it?
If you have a lot of design needs, they’re definitely worth it. Being that 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.
How a Startup Incubator Can Accelerate Your Business
In today’s fast-paced and competitive business landscape, startups often find themselves navigating a maze of challenges that can hinder their growth and potential.
This is where the concept of a startup incubator comes into play as a guiding light for emerging ventures. A startup incubator is more than just a physical space; it’s a dynamic ecosystem designed to nurture and propel early-stage ventures toward success.
In this article, we’ll tackle some of the most common questions surrounding incubators. For instance – what is the role of a startup incubator? How does it differ from an accelerator?
And most importantly, how can it optimize your business?
What is an incubator in a startup ecosystem?
In a startup ecosystem, an incubator refers to a supportive environment or program designed to help early-stage startups grow and develop.
Incubators provide a range of resources and services to entrepreneurs, typically for a fixed period of time, with the goal of nurturing and accelerating the growth of their businesses.
Here’s the usual process of how an incubator supports a startup:
Startups who applied and were accepted are welcomed into the incubator with an orientation session. During this phase, startups get an overview of the program’s structure, expectations, and available resources. They also meet their mentors, advisors, and fellow cohort members.
Mentorship and Guidance
Startups are paired with mentors who have relevant industry experience or expertise.
Regular mentorship sessions provide guidance, feedback, and insights to help startups navigate challenges and refine their strategies.
Workshops and Training
Incubators organize workshops, seminars, and training sessions on various aspects of entrepreneurship. Topics covered during the startup incubator program may include:
- Business planning
- Marketing strategies
- Product development
- Legal and regulatory matters
Access to Resources
Aside from training sessions, startups can also gain access to resources such as:
- Office space
- Co-working environments
- Internet connectivity
- Meeting rooms
Some incubators provide access to shared equipment, startup software, and other tools needed for product development.
Networking and Events
Incubators often facilitate networking events, pitch sessions, and demo days where startups can showcase their progress to potential investors, partners, and the broader community.
Startups work on refining their business models, products, and market strategies. They receive support in identifying their target audience, creating a value proposition, and developing a sustainable revenue model.
Funding and Investment
Incubators may provide introductions to potential investors, venture capitalists, and angel investors Startups also learn about different funding options and how to pitch their ideas to secure investment.
Successful completion of the incubator program results in a “graduation” for startups.
Graduated startups may continue to receive support through alumni networks, ongoing mentorship, or access to incubator resources.
Startup Incubator vs. Accelerator
A startup incubator and a startup accelerator are both support programs designed to assist early-stage startups, but they have distinct characteristics and objectives. Here’s a comparison between the two:
- Focus. Incubators typically have a broader focus and cater to startups in various stages of development. They often work with startups that are in the ideation or early development phase. Accelerators, on the other hand, are more specialized and typically work with startups that have a viable product or service and are ready to scale rapidly. They focus on accelerating growth and reaching key milestones quickly.
- Stage. Incubators are well-suited for startups that are still refining their business models, conducting market research, and building their initial product or service. Accelerators, meanwhile, are best suited for startups that have a minimum viable product (MVP) and are seeking to refine their business model, gain traction, and secure funding to scale.
- Mentorship. A startup incubator provides mentorship and guidance, often with a focus on helping founders refine their business ideas, develop prototypes, and validate their concepts. On the other hand, an accelerator’s mentorship is often geared towards specific aspects of growth, such as scaling operations, marketing, fundraising, and product-market fit.
Startup Incubator Examples
If you’re looking for the best startup incubators in the world, here are a few you of the most popular ones to consider.
1. Y Combinator
Situated in the USA, Y Combinator is considered one of the best startup incubators which has played an instrumental role in fostering the growth trajectories of some of the most renowned startups globally. The Y Combinator program spans a duration of three months, during which startups receive a funding injection of $500,000, albeit subject to certain conditions.
Subsequently, founders are immersed in a sequence of mentoring and refinement initiatives that culminate in the prestigious Demo Day. Here, founders showcase their concepts to an audience comprising investors and handpicked media representatives.
Mentees: Airbnb, Dropbox, Coinbase, Gitlab
Techstars directs its energy toward nurturing startups rooted in technology. Since its inception in 2006, Techstars has been a driving force behind the growth of numerous startups. Annually, they select more than 500 fledgling companies, providing them with up to $120,000 in investment and the invaluable chance to partake in mentorship programs.
Backed by an impressive funding sum of $21.3 billion, Techstars stands out as a reliable choice for technology-oriented startups. Within its portfolio of activities, Techstars hosts several high-profile events and initiatives, including Startup Week and Startup Weekend.
Mentees: Uber, DigitalOcean, SendGrid
3. 500 Startups
500 Startups operates as a dual-purpose platform, functioning as both an accelerator program and a seed fund dedicated to startups. Positioned primarily as a venture capital entity, they proudly proclaim a management portfolio worth $2.7 billion. Their primary interests converge on sectors where technology, innovation, and capital growth converge harmoniously.
Their extensive investment history spans more than 2,600 startups worldwide, underscoring the maturity and comprehensiveness of their accelerator program across diverse markets.
Mentees: Grab, Canva, Credit Karma
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do I need an incubator for my startup?
If you’re in the early stages, lack experience, and could benefit from structured guidance, resources, and mentorship, an incubator might be valuable. However, if you’re aiming for rapid growth and have a clear roadmap, an accelerator could be more appropriate.
Do startup incubators provide funding?
Yes, many startup incubators provide funding as part of their support package. However, the funding offered by incubators can vary widely depending on the specific program, location, and the terms of the agreement. Some incubators offer direct funding to startups, while others may connect startups with potential investors or provide resources to help them secure funding elsewhere.
10 Best Startup Software for 2023
Every new business owner wants to keep costs as minimum as possible. This will allow them to do more with the limited budget they have. If you are one of them, the following startup software can significantly help:
An online presence is a necessity for new businesses. Hootsuite can help you create content and get more followers quickly and easily. It is one of the most popular startup software, with a user-friendly interface and affordable pricing plans.
It has a free plan that allows you to schedule 30 posts across any social media platform. Not only that, Hootsuite will help you monitor the Return On Investment (ROI) of all your social media campaigns. This will let you know which works and which doesn’t. Its three other plans start at $49 per month.
2. Google Analytics
Understand your website better with Google Analytics. This startup software will let you track the traffic coming to your website. This will allow you to tweak whatever strategies you have in place as it tells you what needs improvement.
You can use Google Analytics free of charge as long as you don’t exceed 5 million impressions a month. It will help you understand your customers’ journey and improve your marketing ROI. It will provide insightful data that can aid you with your marketing strategies.
Excellent communication with your customers helps build stronger connections and build loyalty. Whatever messaging channel you choose, SendPulse is a superb startup software. It includes lead generation tools as well as promotional channels such as email, SMS, social media, and messenger chatbots. It also offers a free CRM tool and many others features.
SendPulse has a free plan ideal for startups, but if you want to upgrade, there are three premium plans to choose from. Prices start at $7 up to $11 per month.
Once your business is running, you’ll be needing an accounting and invoicing software. That’s when you’ll need FreshBooks, an app that automates invoicing, bookkeeping, payment tracking, and many other financial tasks. In just a few clicks, you can view your financial status through its Profit and Loss Statements (PLS) feature, do taxation summaries, and check expenditure reports.
FreshBooks offers four pricing plans which start at $6 per month and up to $22 for the premium plan. If you need more services, they offer a custom plan in which you’ll need to contact them for a quotation.
5. HubSpot CRM
Primarily a CRM (Customer/Contact Relationship Management ) tool, HubSpot CRM is a must-have startup software. It lets you manage contacts, sales, pipelines, lead generation, and digital marketing, among many others. It consists of multiple tools or ‘hubs’ that you can buy separately.
HubSpot CRM offers three pricing plans that start at $45 per month and can go up to $1,200 monthly. It may seem expensive, but if you consider what this startup software can do, you’ll know it’s worth every penny.
Starting your business involves advertising and marketing. And to do this effectively, you’ll be needing graphic design. It can elevate your business in ways you can’t even imagine. For this, you need Penji, an unlimited graphic design service that lets you request all your visual assets.
For as little as $499 per month, you can request logos, digital ads, social media graphics, and many other branding collaterals. They have two other plans, plus a 30-day money-back guarantee that lets you decide without making a huge commitment.
According to statistics, infographics are the fourth most-used type of content marketing. They can increase traffic to your website by 12%. To create interesting and engaging infographics, you can use Piktochart. With this startup program, you can add videos, charts, interactive maps, and many other elements to your infographic and embed them on your website or blog.
Piktochart offers a free plan that’s suitable for startups and medium-sized businesses. If you want to enjoy more of its features, you can get any of its premium plans that start at $14 a month.
Join the over 455 million websites that use WordPress, the world’s most popular website builder. It is an open-source content management system, which means it’s free to use. You can build the website of your dreams using this startup software’s plugin architecture and template system. It can help you create a website with responsive design, SEO, social sharing, and many other features.
Aside from the free plan, WordPress has four premium plans with pricing that starts at $5 per month and up to $45 a month if you pay annually.
Another CRM tool ideal for startups, Salesflare automates many repetitive tasks to make handling your business easier and faster. It can help with your email applications, social media accounts, company calendars, and many other processes. It also provides you with crucial data such as sales funnel analysis, quota management, sales funnel analysis, and many others.
Salesflare offers simple and affordable pricing. It has three pricing plans that start at $29 per month and go up to $99 a month. It also has a free trial that lets you try the software without a credit card.
If you’re thinking of strategies to add to your marketing campaigns, you need to add email marketing. It is one of the most effective but can involve a laborious process. To make it easy, use MailChimp, a marketing platform that lets you manage and communicate with your clients, customers, and prospects. With it, you can customize your emails, generate leads for your database, and perform many other email-related tasks.
MailChimp has a free plan if you want to try out the service first. However, its three premium plans offer many valuable features you won’t get from the free plan.
Growing your business can be an exciting yet arduous endeavor. There is a multitude of concerns, issues, and tasks you need to take care of. Fortunately, there are startup software that you can get to make your life easier. Whether free or paid, these are absolutely helpful and worth looking into.