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Content Creation 101: How To Create, Distribute, And Monetize Your Content

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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 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:

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.

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.

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 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.

Story Telling

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.

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Startup Central

10 Best Startup Software for 2023

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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:

1. Hootsuite

hootsuite screenshot

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

Google Analytics screenshot

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. 

3. SendPulse

sendpulse screenshot

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.

4. FreshBooks

freshbooks screenshot

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

hubspot screenshot

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. 

6. Penji

penji screenshot

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.

7. Piktochart

piktochart screenshot

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.

8. WordPress

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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. 

9. Salesflare

salesflare screenshot

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.

10. MailChimp

mailchimp screenshot

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.

Final Thoughts

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. 

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Business

How Side Startups Are Growing During the Pandemic

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Side hustles aren’t unheard of. Zapier reports that a third of Americans (34%) have a side hustle. Many individuals rely on different sources of income due to increasing prices. Plus, it can help pay off debts and earn more money. Fortunately, more people are launching side startups or businesses because of remote work and flexible working arrangements. But how do people manage their full-time work and still conduct other activities through their side startup?

The Pandemic Side Gig Boom

man riding a bicycle

Before we discuss how people manage side startups, which side gigs boomed during the pandemic?

Forbes, BBC, and Bloomberg reported that many people turned to these side gigs:

  • Selling on Etsy
  • Freelancing on Fiverr
  • Delivering groceries and food
  • Launching small businesses
  • Managing social media

How Has Remote Work Contributed to Side Startups?

man working on his computer

Due to the flexible nature of remote work, many have decided to launch their side startups. For example, one pharmaceutical company director has started a Web3 company. 

However, it’s not easy for him to manage the side startup while working for the company. He sees an unfair transaction. Although he does work eight hours, he believes that he doesn’t owe his company the extra work hours he might have after finishing his regular work. After all, he doesn’t get paid overtime for working extra.

Plus, whenever he’s up for a promotion, the company always brings up his family and how long he can take some time off after the birth of his children.

Shari Rose is another startup founder. Unlike the pharma company director, the dentist practice Rose was working for was more than okay with her startup. They have said they needed her to stay.

Should The Boss Know Or Keep It To Yourself?

For starters, many businesses aren’t too strict about their employees launching startups on top of their full-time work. However, having a side gig like a startup could contribute to their performance at their job. At the same time, it could affect their current professional relationship with their bosses. Plus, there are fears of employees being fired.

Vox interviewed a marketing director working on HR software and said he chose not to tell their boss about his side startup. Even if they searched on Google if they should or should not do it, they ended up not telling them. The marketing director says his current full-time work will help him develop his side startup because he’s not well off.

However, some bosses are open about having their employees start their business on the side. Kaitlyn Borysiewicz works at a nonprofit but is working on her startup, the Melanin Collective. She has received approval from her boss that she can work on her startup on the side but can only work on it outside the nonprofit’s operational hours.

The Employer Perspective

Some employers have voiced their opinions about the side startup arrangement. One manager, in particular, has mixed feelings about this. They don’t speak on behalf of the company, but they are 50-50 over the side startup because employee growth matters in their company. But they’re open to having their employees explore and discover what they want to do on the side.

Meanwhile, another employer, Chinwe Onyeagoro, is supportive of the side startup arrangement. What matters to her is so long as her employees are meeting their deadlines, they’re more than welcome to work on their side startup anytime.

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Startup Central

Why Having an Advisory Board Could Make or Break Your Startup

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Facing severe challenges when establishing your startup could be an inevitable route. You won’t have any way to go past the challenge without going through it. And new entrepreneurs could rack their brains thinking of the best solution but will end up futile. This is why every venture would need a startup advisory board to help fill the gaps in knowledge and experience.

Here’s why a startup advisory board is vital and how to choose the right people. 

What is an advisory board?

In a nutshell, an advisory board acts as your business mentor. These people are highly experienced and knowledgeable in business, which will immensely enhance how you operate the business. 

By giving you business advice, you will have guidance in the following aspects:

  • Inviting more investors
  • Creating a compelling company culture
  • Establishing growth techniques
  • Attracting the right talents
  • Retaining the right employees
  • Planning and executing your exit strategy when all else fails

An entrepreneur’s relationship with the advisory board representatives is often informal and personal. This means communication is done via video chat, email, or text.

Why an advisory board is vital

Some entrepreneurs take an advisory board lightly due to the costs. But is it worth paying these individuals? Here are the benefits of having an advisory board:

  • They can fill knowledge gaps that will enhance your performance as the CEO of your startup
  • They will add credibility to your startup and boost trust among customers and investors
  • They give you business advice that you might never think of due to a lack of experience 
  • You’ll become trustworthy in the eyes of external and internal stakeholders

How to choose the right members for your advisory board

Selecting the right members for your advisory board is crucial as you need people to add value to your business. Here’s how:

1. Assess your knowledge and neds

It’s crucial to determine why you’re choosing an advisory board in the first place. That said, look within yourself to find the right people. Assess your experience, knowledge, and needs. For instance, if you need someone knowledgeable about finding funding, choose someone with connections with investors. 

2. Take advantage of personal relationships

The purpose of a business mentor is to have someone you can turn to when you need them the most. They act as your confidant and trusted ally. If you already have someone in your circle whom you think can add value to your business, see if you can leverage that relationship. 

3. Do your due diligence

As responsible entrepreneurs, it’s your job to screen candidates thoroughly. Do your due diligence and perform background checks on each candidate. Do they have a proven track record? Have they garnered some positive testimonials from previous clients? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Do they have advocacies or different principles that might cloud their judgment? By aligning your values and beliefs, ensure that the candidate is the right fit. 

4. Attend entrepreneurial events

Another way to find like-minded individuals is to attend business events and conferences. These are some occasions when business-minded people come together to share ideas and experiences. It’s also an excellent way to meet others who can potentially be your business mentor. 

Conclusion

A startup advisory board is essential to your business, especially if you’re still learning the ropes. They add value to your company and improve the overall performance and operation, provided that you nurture these relationships. 

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