Writing (& More) for Small Businesses Delivers Big Opportunities

I’ve always loved to write.

While most kids were playing with blocks or dolls, I was publishing magazines or newspapers with feature articles, ads, sports box scores and all.

In college, I majored in Journalism and Mass Communication, but I took every writing class I could—business writing, media writing, creative writing, copywriting. I wanted to be well versed in nearly any writing discipline, so I could pursue numerous avenues in my career.

I Jumped at Every Opportunity to Write

As I started my career, I jumped at the opportunity to handle any writing opportunity. While I was pursuing my love of writing, I was also gaining more attention at work and building my portfolio (unknowingly at first).

Before long I was ghost writing for my manager and members of our executive team. As I continued to write, I developed a reputation throughout our company (a $350 million company with around 115 employees) as a go-to writer and editor. Eventually, I was published under my own byline in our company newsletter, which was a thrill.

You Can Pick Up a Lot By Asking Questions and Listening

As my career progressed, I started to think about my future. What did I want out of my career? A corner office and impressive title? Or something else?

I worked at the corporate headquarters of a franchising company, so my job involved interacting with and supporting small business owners around North America.

Every day, I was learning more about running a business, even subconsciously. I’m naturally curious, so I would ask questions while communicating with our franchise owners. People like to talk, especially about themselves, their businesses, and their accomplishments, so you can pick up a lot by paying attention, asking questions and listening.

Guess Who Some of My First Clients Were?

While I was helping our owners, I noticed some of them were looking for affordable marketing and writing services beyond what our company offered. They knew they needed help in these areas but couldn’t afford to hire large marketing agencies.

After nine years of honing my skills and building a professional network in corporate America, I left that company and struck out on my own. Guess who some of my first clients were? The same people I had been helping.

Starting My Own Business Seemed Like a Crazy Dream

While it was a long road, the idea to start my own business came during an aha moment 15 years in the making. (I realized I wanted to write for a living while I was in high school, although I couldn’t see myself—a country kid from an unincorporated village—as a writer.)

One day at work, I realized that so many small business owners don’t know how to market themselves and couldn’t afford traditional agency fees. With my diverse background in marketing, I could start a business offering professional marketing services and experience at affordable rates.

I could give brands a voice via marketing, writing and social media services, so business owners could focus on the reason they’re in business, and not struggle with marketing decisions, writing copy and developing social media strategies.

After I realized I could start my own business, it still seemed like a crazy dream. But I did start thinking about it a lot. The next day, I began thinking about business names and what would make my business unique. The more I thought about it and talked about it, the more it became a real possibility.

At a company event, I finally made the decision: I had to go out on my own. A year later, I left and never looked back. On May 15, 2012, Clearly Conveyed Communications (CCC) was born.

You Learn a Lot About Running a Business When You Jump Out On Your Own

When I started my business, I never dreamed of today—eight years down the road. I was just trying to get through each day. Eight years later, I’m still trying to get through each day, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.

You learn so much about running a business when you jump out on your own. (I know I did!) As much as I researched and planned (and you should research and plan), at some point you have to jump in and learn as you go. (Here’s some lessons we’ve learned over the years.)

To get started, I focused on the professional network I had spent the previous nine years building. I reached out to contacts I had made and relationships I had built over time to let them know I was in business. Not only were these people potential customers, but they were also connectors.

In addition, I worked out an extensive transition plan with my former employer. It helped them maintain their services as we hired and trained my replacement, and they were my first paying client. It was nice to have income as I was building my business and looking for more clients.

I Didn’t Foresee that Businesses Would Want to Outsource Their Social Media Management

While I planned on starting a marketing company that focused heavily on writing services, I didn’t foresee the interest in businesses outsourcing their social media management. I started receiving so much interest in this area that I added a new page to my website.

Today, social media management and content creation is a significant part of my business. In turn, they’ve led to additional writing opportunities.

Offering an array of services as a marketing company allows me to present a full-service front to my audience.

The inaugural Tweetup we organized for the firefighters.

For example: We partnered with a fellow marketing company, owned by a volunteer firefighter, to handle FDIC’s (Fire Department Instructors Conference) social media for six years. (See picture above.) We developed a year round social media presence for them, so firefighters could connect, learn and train virtually, too.

A Trend in Content Marketing: Long-Form Content

While my company creates a variety of content, we’ve noticed a trend in content marketing for long-form content, and we’ve jumped on it. It seems counterintuitive to our short attention spans and the constant state of information overload we live in today. However, quality long-form content performs well online, draws traffic and gives you a lot of content to repurpose.

The key is to make it readable (and skimmable) with appropriate visuals, short paragraphs and different sections, or headings. White space and proper formatting are your friends on screen.

SEO is important, but remember to write for people, not search engines, because they’re the ones actually reading it. You can still include keywords and appropriate tags and code while making your writing readable—by humans.

While we enjoy creating long-form content, CCC pursues all types of project-based work and programs. For example, we love writing all the copy for a new website or managing a company’s entire social media presence (as opposed to only creating content). These projects and programs pay more, so we can devote the time and resources to producing our best work. They’re also easier to schedule in advance, so we can utilize our time as effectively as possible.

Putting Our Clients First Helps Us Grow Our Business

Having said that, we will take on small programs, including minor content editing and distribution, or some one-off projects, to make more contacts and build more relationships.

Doing good work for people and helping them with their needs, however minor, can result in referrals.

We’ve been fortunate to be referred several times, resulting in new customers and opportunities.

That’s why we always put current clients first. It may seem better to focus more on business development, because small business owners usually don’t have the resources to wait for new customers.

However, we’ve found that by putting current clients first, we’re their first call—for any marketing activity. As we continue to help them with their needs, they continue to come back and refer us to their clients, business associates and friends.

In fact, we work with some businesses through our clients. They can expand the services they offer without hiring full-time employees or making a significant investment.

For example, a company who sells branded merchandise and printing services can add writing, social media and additional marketing services to their service offering to truly become a full-service marketing agency. As long as we work closely together, it’s a win for all three companies—CCC, our client and our client’s client.

Marketing: What to Consider Before Expanding Social Media Platforms

How do we market our marketing and writing services? We practice what we preach—although sometimes we’re a little slow to take our own advice.

We always advise clients to consider their resources before jumping into social media. It takes time and dedication to build an active, engaged community on a social platform. You don’t need to be on every social platform available or jump on the latest trend.

While social platforms all have their own strengths, they tend to copy each other. Has a new platform grabbed your attention? What features do you like? Wait a minute, and they may appear on a platform where you already have an engaged community.

For example, Snapchat become a darling in the social media world, and then Instagram (and later Facebook) added ephemeral content, or Stories. TikTok has exploded in popularity over the past year, but Instagram has recently announced that it’s rolling out a new TikTok-like feature, Reels, to new markets and expanding its capabilities.

This feature isn’t available in the U.S. yet, but we’ll probably see it eventually. There may be reasons you want to expand to new social platforms, but think about it first and make sure you have a strategy.

When CCC started, we jumped on numerous social media platforms and overextended our resources. Slowly, we reassessed and cut back to where we are today. That has allowed us to focus more on original content creation and distribution for ourselves instead of mainly curation.

Curation is important, because it introduces you to new people and delivers a wider range of voices to your social media communities. However, original content will help you stand out and bring on new clients.

Why Writers Should Have a Blog

If you’re a writer, you probably have a blog, or at least you should. Your blog serves as a place to showcase your writing, and it can lead to partnerships or business opportunities.

Try to set up a consistent publishing schedule based on when the most readers are stopping by your blog. While it’s important to be active, only commit to what you can do. If you’re on your own and spend a lot of time on client work, then you may only be able to publish once a week or twice a month. Don’t try to publish too often for the sake of publishing; your content will likely suffer.

House your blog on your website. It will be easy for your readers to learn more about your services, and your fresh blog content will help optimize your site’s search performance. While I’m not a big fan of consistently removing content (which is a trend today), updating older content helps boost your blog’s performance. Fix any broken links or missing videos you come across, and add any relevant, new information on the post topic to inform your readers.

Don’t Publish Your Content and Wait for People to Find It

Producing quality blog content can be time-consuming, but there’s even more work ahead after you publish. Distributing your content is important, so it’s seen by a larger number of potential readers.

Don’t publish content and wait for people to find it. You have to actively and consistently promote your content, because there’s such an overload of content today.

Don’t just blast your content across various social platforms in one format at the same time. Share each article in a format best suited for each platform. Repurpose your content so you get as much mileage as possible out of it.

Write a long-form article? Share bite-sized tidbits on Twitter, each time driving more traffic back to your article.

Record a video sharing highlights of the article, and post it on your LinkedIn profile or Page.

Share your article as a link preview post to your Facebook Page or group.

Share behind-the-scenes content while you’re writing to tease a new blog article in your Stories and to let your audience know when it will publish.

Content is king, but distribution is queen—and she rules the roost.

Meet Your Readers Where They Are

Some readers will prefer to read your content on these distribution channels instead of subscribing to your blog. We’re living in the age of assistance, so you need to meet people in the moment—where they are.

Building active, engaged communities on social media takes time, but these communities are full of potential readers and people who will share your work.

Use your social presences to interact with your audience and request their feedback. Instagram Stories has numerous stickers you can use to interact, while Twitter offers polls and the ability to have conversations with people around the world.

Facebook Groups have become increasingly popular, as you can offer a smaller part of your community first access to your projects, advice in a specific area (i.e. non-fiction writing tips) or a community of peers for fellow writers to bounce ideas off of. Depending on how you utilize Facebook Groups, you may be able to monetize them.

While CCC receives most of our work through referrals, social media and content creation are crucial in our marketing efforts. Even when you are referred for an opportunity, people will often look you up online first.

Do you have a strong presence on LinkedIn? Is your website up-to-date? What comes up when people Google you? Make sure you have a strong digital presence, so people actually contact you when you are referred to them.

What To Do When Your Writing Business Slows Down

If business has slowed down, spend more time creating and distributing content. Be even more active in your social media communities and work on growing them. Genuinely engaging with others will help you grow your community and may lead to new opportunities.

One of our larger clients watched our social efforts for some time before reaching out to us. Everything you do online is visible, so make sure you’re being your best self. Setting aside 10-15 minutes per day on a platform, including reading and commenting on other blogs, will help you make new connections and grow your communities.

We’ve had success utilizing these tactics, even though they take time. Social media is a long-term game; don’t expect success overnight. Instead of trying to create content that will go viral, focus on building and delivering value to your audience one day at a time.

This year, we’ve focused on creating more original content and distributing it more. By cutting back our overall social presence, we have more time to focus on our current communities and how we can help them.

By doing so, we’ve landed a few new, smaller clients. We’re excited to continue helping them, so we can grow these accounts into larger ones. You never know where an account or new opportunity might lead.

How Writers Can Expand Their Services

Speaking of opportunities, expanding your services or collaborating with fellow writers, editors and marketing agencies (or even fellow small or local businesses) can help you grow your business as well.

Are there additional services you can offer that make sense with your current business? Or maybe you already offer them, but people don’t realize that you do. If you see a trend in your industry or notice interest in a particular service, highlight it on your website and social channels.

Working with other companies who complement your services can help you land larger clients and opportunities. If you write copy for the web, look for a designer to partner with so you can offer complete website solutions.

Or look for companies that you can refer your clients to for related services, so they always come to you first. Building relationships with fellow business professionals and owners will make them more comfortable referring business to you, too.

This has been a stressful and trying year, so we hope everyone is pulling through it as well as you can. It may be the time to try a new idea, launch a related service or partner with another company. We wish everyone the best of luck moving forward in 2020 and beyond.

* * *

A version of this post was first published on WriterCEO.com. Thank you to Colleen M. Story for sharing our writing and marketing tips!

Mid-Year Review: How are you progressing on your business goals?

It’s nearing mid-June. How are you progressing on your business goals so far in 2019? 

Mid-Year Review: How are you progressing on your business goals?

One of our goals in 2019 was to get back to blogging on a regular basis. In January, we committed to the following in order to deliver more valuable contact to you:

  • Publishing at least two to three times per month—We’re about 50/50 on this goal right now, so we’re aiming to pick it up for the second half of the year. We published twice in January and April but missed February and March entirely. In May, we did manage to post while celebrating our 7th anniversary. 
  • Producing a variety of content types, including videos and long-form content—We’re doing a much better job of varying our content type, especially on social. We have noticed that videos perform best for us on Instagram and LinkedIn right now, while interactive polls work well in Instagram Stories. What type of blog content do you prefer? Are you looking for specific types of content on specific social platforms? 
  • Continuing to promote past content that’s still relevant—We’re doing a much better job of continuing to promote past content and repurposing content, a vital part of our content strategy this year. Are you repurposing content to maximize its value? Are you interested in tips on getting more mileage out of your original content?  
  • Sharing six guest posts to provide diverse view points—We need your help! Despite repeated requests, we haven’t published a single guest post so far this year. Are you interested in contributing? Please see below for more information, or contact us with your idea. 

Why did we commit to these goals for our blog?

 

Publishing Frequency

We’ve noticed that we receive more consistent blog traffic when we’re publishing consistently. You probably will too. While we would all love to publish valuable content daily, it’s important to be honest with yourself. What type of schedule can you commit to? How many resources can you devote to your blog and content marketing efforts?

Our clients always come first at CCC, so we’re committing to a minimum of two blog posts a month this year and hoping to publish more. That will give us time to research our posts, ask for feedback from our audience and publish content that will help you with your marketing efforts.

We’ll be publishing on Tuesdays at 10 AM ET, because the most popular day and time to visit the CCC blog is currently mid-day on Tuesdays. [UPDATE: We’re seeing more visitors and views early on Wednesday mornings, but for now we’re sticking to our scheduling time for consistency. It hasn’t moved that much from the beginning of the year, so it’s not worth changing yet.] Check your analytics to find when traffic spikes to your blog, so you can plan your publishing schedule accordingly. Note that it will change, so it’s important to check in occasionally. 

Content Variety

In the past, we’ve shared mostly traditional blog posts, so we’re looking to mix it up a bit in 2019. Over the past year, we did introduce our first vlogs (or video blog posts), and our ebook continues to be a hit. What types of content work the best for you? What types of content do you prefer to consume?

While there is no perfect blog post length (or publishing frequency), we’re also interested in creating more long-form content. While the criteria of this category continues to be debated, it does perform well overall. Some of our more recent posts were longer than normal, and they continue to draw traffic. We’ve also done a better job of continuing to promote these posts after initially publishing them.

Putting the ‘Marketing’ in Content Marketing

Promoting your content is just as important as creating it. You need a content distribution plan as part of your overall content marketing strategy. Do you have a distribution plan after publishing a blog post? Or do you just hope readers will share it?

We’ve been guilty in the past of only sharing our content shortly after we publish it and then forgetting about it. Don’t make the same mistake! You can get more use out of your content by continuing to promote it (as long as it’s still relevant), and re-purposing content in different formats for different social platforms. For example, you can share individual tips on Twitter from a long-form blog post, or you can create short marketing minute videos for Instagram from a written blog post. Then, refer your communities to your post for more helpful marketing tips.

Speaking of content distribution, how do you like to learn about new blog posts? Email notifications? RSS feeds? Social media? Let us know how you like to stay up-to-date on your favorite blogs.

What is Evergreen Content? A Guide to Long-Lasting Content That Boosts SEO

Guest Posts (This is where you come in!)

The CCC blog has benefited from an array of guest bloggers in the past, and we want to continue to add diverse voices to the mix in 2019.

We’re looking for people who want to share their experiences and ideas in marketing, writing, social media and small business/entrepreneurship. We don’t like to require a specific word count, although we are interested in publishing more long-form content this year. We’re also open to vlogs, mixed media posts and other interactive ideas you have.

Run a successful marketing campaign? We’d love to share how you did it. Want to give quick writing tips that work for you? Our audience is interested. Have you had success on a particular social platform or want to discuss ideas for a new feature? We’d be happy to publish your savvy social media marketing skills or tips for our readers. Have you achieved success as an entrepreneur or small business owner? Our audience is interested in hearing how you did it.

We realize that our guidelines aren’t highly specific. That’s because we’ve had success with a wide range of content in the aforementioned categories. The diversity of topics within marketing, writing, social media and small business/entrepreneurship keep our content fresh and readers tuned in.

We’ll be happy to discuss your idea or look over an outline before you write your post, so we can give you feedback. We realize what you put into a successful blog post, so we want to make sure you receive a return on your investment. In addition, we’ll publish your photo, company/blog name, social media handles, contact information and website along with your post.

Speak Up! Share Your Progress on Your 2019 Goals 

We’ve shared progress on one of our 2019 goals—recommitting to providing you valuable content through the CCC blog. How are you progressing on your brand’s goals this year? Comment below or share your goal progress or updates with us on social!

We wish all of our loyal readers a strong second half!

Thanks for reading,
Jaime

Let’s get social! Share your 2019 goals progress, marketing questions or favorite summer activities with us on the platforms below.

How to Create Content that Works [Twitter Chat Recap]

Creating Content that Works Twitter Chat

Recently, I joined the #VCBuzz Twitter chat to drive a conversation on Creating Content that Works. What an insightful discussion!


“Creating content just for the sake of creating content is the strategy that is doomed to failure. “

ViralContentBee, #VCBuzz Twitter Chat

The 45-minute discussion on content creation and content marketing sizzled with smart advice from a variety of digital marketing professionals.

Gail Gardner, founder of GrowMap.com, delivered outstanding advice right off the bat. Always focus on creating quality content tailored to your target audience’s interests. You should only produce enough content that allows you to maintain a high level of quality and personalization. Remember, quality beats quantity every time.

Gail also mentions interacting with other content. This is so important! You’ll build relationships with fellow professionals in your field and drive engagement on your own content when you share it. Remember to share outside content at least 80% of the time and your own content only 20% of the time. Adhering to this best practice will help you curate a mix of view points on topics relevant to your audience and keep your feed fresh.

“Promoting your content is just as important as creating it. You need a content distribution plan as part of your overall content marketing strategy. “

What are your business goals in 2019?

Aligning Your Content Marketing to Your Business Goals

Meanwhile, Goldie Chan, a LinkedIn Top Voice and personal branding strategist, brought up a great point: your content marketing efforts should be aligned with your business goals. How do you measure its effectiveness? Engagement, engagement, engagement. Keep in mind your engagement should reflect the types of Calls-to-Action (CTAs) you extend to your audience. Do you want visitors to click through to a landing page to claim a special offer? Or do you want readers to message you on Facebook to schedule a free demo? In the first example, your goal should be to drive interested traffic to your landing page while the second would be to move prospects and customers into the privacy of Messenger.

Eventually, we moved into the future of content marketing. Where are we heading?

The Future of Content Marketing

Chat participants gave insightful answers based on their experiences and expertise, including Lisa Shomo, a marketing professional who specializes in customer marketing, growth and retention.

Review the entire Creating Content that Works chat, and join future #VCBuzz marketing Twitter chats on Tuesdays at Noon EST.

Tweet Us (Or Leave Your Feedback in the Comments)

How do you measure your content marketing efforts? What metrics are important to your brand or business?

What are your favorite examples of content marketing that achieved results?

Where do you see content marketing heading in the future?

CCC’s Chief Content Marketing Officer,
Jaime

3 Big (Affordable) Marketing Ideas For Your Small Business

A San Francisco sunset captured by a drone

As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you have BIG ideas for your business. But do you have the budget to match?

A San Francisco sunset captured by a drone

Don’t let a tight budget keep you from marketing your business and showing your tremendous products or services to potential new customers. These three tips will help you market your business in a big way without blowing the budget.

Think Big on a Short-Term Scale

Would you love to shoot drone footage of your landscape projects? Rent a drone for a day and capture footage for your website, blog and social channels. If you’re interested in high-priced equipment or technology, see if you can rent it. You’ll stay on budget and test the equipment, so you’ll know what you want if you can buy one in the future.

You can also rent big-ticket items for occasional needs to keep capital free for other purchases. Looking for designer clothing for a photo shoot? Rent styles that fit your project if you don’t plan on using them regularly. There’s no need to buy them to use one or two times.

Along with renting big ticket or low use items, barter goods and services with fellow small business owners or professionals. Perhaps a graphic designer will design a marketing piece for you in exchange for you writing copy for her website. If you go this route, be honest about the value of your services, so it’s a win-win for both parties involved. You don’t want to damage your reputation by shortchanging a fellow small business owner or business professional and losing potential business.

Modify Stock Solutions to Fit Your Needs

Stock photos and other tools draw a bad rap, but they are lifesavers to small business owners everywhere. Search sites such as Pixabay or Creative Commons to find photos you can legally use in your marketing efforts. (Note any citations required and follow any stipulations mandated by the photo owner.) Then, modify these photos to fit your needs with tools such as Canva or PicMonkey. Canva offers free and low cost stock photos as well.

You can use PowerPoint to remove backgrounds from images (if you have permission to do so), add text to images and add filters. Create a visual for a specific social platform by changing your slide size to the preferred size of the platform, and then save your design as an image file (JPEG or PNG) to share. Screenshots are another visual option, depending on what you’re trying to show.

Don’t forget about social platforms when editing photos! Most platforms offer an array of filters, stickers, text options and more to add personality to your photos and make them stand out. Keep your brand in mind when modifying photos or editing visuals. Does it fit your brand image? Do you stick with a certain aesthetic on social? Have fun and show your brand’s personality, but don’t use a filter, sticker or other edit that doesn’t fit your brand.

Build a WordPress site (or pay someone to build you one) instead of having a custom website designed from scratch. WordPress offers hundreds of themes, both free and paid, that allow you to find a look that fits your business. You can customize your site extensively, even if you don’t know how to code. Build a beautiful, user-friendly site on a much smaller budget that will serve your customers and potential new customers well.

Do It Yourself But Don’t Hurt Your Brand

With the internet, there is more information and tools at your fingertips then ever before. You can handle a lot of tasks for your business yourself, but be honest about your capabilities. Don’t try to DIY something that ends up looking cheap or unprofessional and hurts your brand.

Take photos of interesting sights when you’re out and about to use for future content. It’s nice to be able to use your own photos and not have to worry about finding stock photos like we mentioned earlier. If something captures your eye, take a photo. You never know what will be a good fit for a future blog article or social post.

Can’t afford a professional video crew or photographer? Ask a friend with a steady hand to film a short video of you talking about your business or take some pictures of you in action. The cameras on most smartphones today are high tech, so you can still look professional while staying in budget.

While we’re on the subject of creating content, there are a number of free, online tools to help you create a variety of content types. Create GIFs, convert videos to GIFs and edit images with EZGIF.com. Find out what colors are on a website or in an image with Color Combos or ImageColorPicker.com. View vector art, find free fonts and much more at PRISM. Create videos with Adobe Spark or Animoto.

Know Your Tools, Capabilities and Limitations

We’re not trying to dissuade you from hiring a professional. At some point, you’ll come across a situation or project where you need professional skills and expertise. However, we understand that budgets can be tight for small businesses and startups. It may make sense to handle as much as you can internally for now until you can afford to outsource tasks and free up your time to focus on why you’re in business.

If that time has come for you or you’ve hit your limits with your marketing efforts, let’s talk. We offer professional services and experience at affordable rates, so that time may come sooner than you think. Have a question or looking for a specific tool? Ready to recommend another affordable tool? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

A small business owner thinking big (on a budget),
Jaime

Let’s connect! Say hello on social, share your favorite affordable business tools or ask us a marketing question on the platforms below.

What are your business goals in 2019?

While we don’t make New Year’s resolutions, we do set goals for our business at CCC. One of our goals in 2019 is to get back to blogging on a regular basis. In order to deliver valuable content to you, we’re committing to the following:

  • Publishing at least two to three times per month
  • Producing a variety of content types, including videos and long-form content
  • Continuing to promote past content that’s still relevant
  • Sharing six guest posts to provide diverse view points

Why?

Publishing Frequency

We’ve noticed that we receive more consistent blog traffic when we’re publishing consistently. You probably will too. While we would all love to publish valuable content daily, it’s important to be honest with yourself. What type of schedule can you commit to? How many resources can you devote to your blog and content marketing efforts?

Our clients always come first at CCC, so we’re committing to a minimum of two blog posts a month this year and hoping to publish more. That will give us time to research our posts, ask for feedback from our audience and publish content that will help you with your marketing efforts.

We’ll be publishing on Tuesdays at 10 AM ET, because the most popular day and time to visit the CCC blog is currently mid-day on Tuesdays. Check your analytics to find when traffic spikes to your blog, so you can plan your publishing schedule accordingly. Note that it will change, so it’s important to check in occasionally.

Content Variety

In the past, we’ve shared mostly traditional blog posts, so we’re looking to mix it up a bit in 2019. Over the past year, we did introduce our first vlogs (or video blog posts), and our ebook continues to be a hit. What types of content work the best for you? What types of content do you prefer to consume?

While there is no perfect blog post length (or publishing frequency), we’re also interested in creating more long-form content. While the criteria of this category continues to be debated, it does perform well overall. Some of our more recent posts were longer than normal, and they continue to draw traffic. We’ve also done a better job of continuing to promote these posts after initially publishing them.

Putting the ‘Marketing’ in Content Marketing

Promoting your content is just as important as creating it. You need a content distribution plan as part of your overall content marketing strategy. Do you have a distribution plan after publishing a blog post? Or do you just hope readers will share it?

We’ve been guilty in the past of only sharing our content shortly after we publish it and then forgetting about it. Don’t make the same mistake! You can get more use out of your content by continuing to promote it (as long as it’s still relevant), and re-purposing content in different formats for different social platforms. For example, you can share individual tips on Twitter from a long-form blog post, or you can create short marketing minute videos for Instagram from a written blog post. Then, refer your communities to your post for more helpful marketing tips.

Speaking of content distribution, how do you like to learn about new blog posts? Email notifications? RSS feeds? Social media? Let us know how you like to stay up-to-date on your favorite blogs.

What is Evergreen Content? A Guide to Long-Lasting Content That Boosts SEO

Guest Posts

The CCC blog has benefited from an array of guest bloggers in the past, and we want to continue to add diverse voices to the mix in 2019.

We’re looking for people who want to share their experiences and ideas in marketing, writing, social media and small business/entrepreneurship. We don’t like to require a specific word count, although we are interested in publishing more long-form content this year. We’re also open to vlogs, mixed media posts and other interactive ideas you have.

Run a successful marketing campaign? We’d love to share how you did it. Want to give quick writing tips that work for you? Our audience is interested. Have you had success on a particular social platform or want to discuss ideas for a new feature? We’d be happy to publish your savvy social media marketing skills or tips for our readers. Have you achieved success as an entrepreneur or small business owner? Our audience is interested in hearing how you did it.

We realize that our guidelines aren’t highly specific. That’s because we’ve had success with a wide range of content in the aforementioned categories. The diversity of topics within marketing, writing, social media and small business/entrepreneurship keep our content fresh and readers tuned in.

We’ll be happy to discuss your idea or look over an outline before you write your post, so we can give you feedback. We realize what you put into a successful blog post, so we want to make sure you receive a return on your investment. In addition, we’ll publish your photo, company/blog name, social media handles, contact information and website along with your post.

Speak Up! Share Your 2019 Goals 

We’ve shared one of our 2019 goals—recommitting to providing you valuable content through the CCC blog. What are your brand’s goals this year? Comment below or share your goals with us on social!

We wish all of our valued readers a happy, healthy and successful year!

Thanks for reading,
Jaime

Let’s get social! Share your 2019 goals, marketing questions or favorite sports teams with us on the platforms below.

50 Things I’m Grateful For, Summer 2018 Edition

The tradition continues. Each year since 2012 (the year I started CCC), I’ve published a list of 50 things I’m grateful for. This isn’t a 5-minute exercise. I create the list over the course of weeks or even months. Oftentimes, I’ll jot down an activity I’m doing or a memory triggered by a conversation or passage in a book. What are you grateful for?

Celebrating CCC's 6th anniversary in the office

My business, Clearly Conveyed Communications, turned 6 in May. That’s something to be grateful for!

 

50 Things I’m Grateful For, Summer 2018 Edition

  • Coffee shop patios on overcast, stressful days
  • My smartphone — and the mobility it provides
  • Rare moments that I can put my phone away
  • Ocean waves crashing
  • Playing with my nephew
  • Meeting fellow KSU alumni
  • Handwritten cards, letters and notes
  • Instagram Stories
  • My niece, who’s growing into another strong Shine woman
  • Stephen King

  • Lifelong friends
  • Fireworks on a summer night
  • Listening to the orchestra
  • Firetrucks in parades
  • Brands who own their voice
  • 80’s movies
  • Classic rock
  • Finishing a workout and feeling strong
  • Linda by Chuck Close
  • Rollerskating (and Roller Derby)

  • Capturing a moment — in picture or prose
  • Creating content
  • Solving problems
  • Reliable technology
  • The power of putting pen to paper
  • Traveling for pleasure
  • Experiencing different cultures
  • Taking a journey in a book
  • Donating plasma to those who need it
  • Exploring trails

 

A lake view

I love water views — while working, relaxing or contemplating life.

 

  • Water views
  • CCC’s 6th anniversary
  • Small victories
  • Eating tacos on a patio on a beautiful, summer day
  • Sipping a latte
  • Long weekends
  • Touchscreen devices
  • Solving WONDERWORD, crossword and other word puzzles
  • Different viewpoints
  • Aha moments

  • Pocket, Evernote and other productivity apps
  • Mesmerizing stories and storytellers
  • Editing and revising a rough draft into sharp content with a clear message
  • Vegetarian enfrijoladas
  • Family
  • Outdoor concerts and movies
  • A night at the ballpark
  • Food carts and street food
  • Reaping the fruits (and vegetables) of a garden
  • Strong women

That’s my list for the summer of 2018. Take a moment to think about what you’re grateful for in your life right now. Share your list, however long or short, in the comments or leave a link to your own post. Writing down what you’re grateful for is a powerful exercise to remember to count the blessings in your life.

So, what are you grateful for?

Counting my blessings,
Jaime

Let’s connect:
https://www.facebook.com/ClearlyConveyedCommunications/ LinkedIn_2013_30x30 Pinterest_2013_30x30 Twitter_2013_30x30 https://instagram.com/jaimeshine

3 Ways To Capitalize on Marketing Trends in 2018

It’s that time of year: everyone is publishing their thoughts on the next big things in marketing. We’ve been keeping an eye on a number of projected trends for 2018 and year-end reviews from 2017. Here’s our take on how your business can capitalize.

3 Ways to Capitalize on Marketing Trends in 2018

More Quality, Less Quantity  

(We’re hoping) 2018 is the year that content marketing gets real. Due to budget cuts and information overload, along with some aha moments, brands started to spend more time creating and curating valuable content last year instead of sticking to rigid, conveyor belt-like content calendars. The result? Their higher quality content performed better even though they produced less of it, often much less.

“In 2017, our team cut email volume in North America by 50% while increasing engagement by 28%. That’s wild.” -Jon Dick, Hubspot

We’ve all been there. You need to send an email out tomorrow morning, and you’re running behind due to producing so much content. So you throw something together to stay on schedule. Stop. What value does this marketing email deliver to your recipients? What should they take away from it? If you can’t answer those questions, neither can your audience. (p.s. We’re not telling you to throw away your content calendars; just have some flexibility and keep your ultimate goal in mind.)

Less time spent churning out content creates more time for testing, analyzing data and developing or fine-tuning your strategy, including distribution.

Remember the Basics (Even in Our Brave, New Digital World)

Yes, social media and digital marketing have changed the game, but marketing basics still apply. Always keep your big picture in mind. Why are you in business? What are you ultimately trying to accomplish? Every marketing action should support this goal. Keep it in mind as you review your marketing plan or recent efforts. If you’re frustrated by your results, take a fresh look at what you’re doing. Could you achieve more with less? Is your audience on another platform, or have their contact preferences changed? It may be time to take a closer look at your buyer personas (or create them in the first place).

This sentiment was the basis for an article we published last year, Understanding Social Media Etiquette with Real-World Scenarios. We understand that social media and the digital realm can seem confusing and overwhelming at times, but it helps to take a step back and consider your actions in the real world (i.e. offline).

Get Personal — With a Human Touch 

Technology has improved marketing’s capabilities by leaps and bounds, but we can’t forget to add a human touch. Automation, chat bots, facial recognition, big data and more have allowed us to personalize a customer’s experience more than ever, but there are drawbacks too.

“All the pieces are now in place: AI, individualized personalization, emotional targeting, predictive marketing, automated creative generation, cross-device identity, location tracking and facial recognition.

This can delight some consumers and freak out others. So, a key skill for the best digital marketers will be understanding when to back off.” -Barry Levine, MarTech

Remember to be human when interacting with your audience online (and remember to interact with your audience in the first place). People like to do business with people, not faceless brands or companies. This is an area where small businesses have an advantage, as they can easily put a face behind the business name.

Use automation where you can to be more efficient, but don’t automate a human touch out of your online marketing efforts. Data can point your marketing in the right direction, but it requires human analysis to get there. Personalizing a buyer’s journey is fantastic, but don’t get creepy. Where is that line? That’s where you — and your human insight — come in.

Summary

While it can be tempting to jump on every trend or new platform, take time to think about your situation. What works for others, including well-known personalities, may not work for you. Focus on producing quality content that provides value to your audience, even if takes you longer. Mix your high-quality content with valuable content you curate from other reputable sources (and give them credit). You may be amazed at what you can accomplish with less.

While you’re focusing on creating high-quality content, remember marketing basics. They still apply in today’s high-tech, digital world. Social media has taken over marketing strategies everywhere, but it’s still a form of communication. Don’t forget to get social with your audience instead of just broadcasting content.

While you’re getting social, you’re being human — and that will continue to be a major part of marketing in 2018 and beyond. Technology is fantastic, but don’t get carried away. Add a human touch wherever you can, especially when interacting with customers, prospective customers and community members.

Good luck with your marketing efforts in 2018! We love to see companies doing marketing well. Have a question or need help with your efforts? Comment below, or contact us so we can help you communicate with your target audience.

p.s. Wondering about influencer marketing? We published a guest post, Why Influencer Engagement is Important in Digital Marketing, last week, and we’ll be following it up with a closer look at influencer marketing in 2018 next week.

A marketing (and espresso) aficionado,
Jaime

Let’s get social!
https://www.facebook.com/ClearlyConveyedCommunications/ LinkedIn_2013_30x30 Pinterest_2013_30x30 Twitter_2013_30x30 https://instagram.com/jaimeshine

 

 

 

 

Why Influencer Engagement is Important in Digital Marketing

Editor’s Note: We’re excited to welcome Tanya Sen as a contributor to the CCC blog! Enjoy her article below on the importance of influencer engagement in your digital marketing strategy, and learn more about her at the end of the article. If you’d like help with your digital marketing strategy, contact us so we can discuss your needs. Thanks for your support all year long, and have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!

social media on a smartphone

To be successful, companies and businesses have to constantly innovate and come up with marketing strategies that will deliver. These days no marketing plan is complete without a digital marketing strategy. The impact of digital marketing in generating brand awareness is tremendous, especially if you can get the right people talking about your brand.

These people are called influencers, and their recommendations and reviews carry a lot of weight with their audience. Influencers are any individual or group who can sway the sentiments of their audience in a certain direction regarding a person, brand, idea, or business.

Here are few ways in which an influencer will be able to boost your digital marketing efforts.

  1. Influencers enable you to reach out to a wide and loyal audience

The biggest advantage of communicating through an influencer is that you reach out to a wide audience. More importantly, this audience follows the content that the influencer puts out. So, if an influencer mentions your brand name, talks about it or retweets or shares your posts, they are amplifying your brand communication.

  1. Influencers help you to build a good network

Influencers help you to build a good network in multiple ways. First, whenever an influencer sends out any content, it generates a lot of conversation and discussion among their followers, which can lead to more brand-building. Not just that, they share or retweet these posts which means that your audience multiplies, increasing your visibility.

Second, through these conversations you can also identify other influential people. They can in turn influence their own audience’s opinion of your brand, resulting in a snowball effect and reaching a wider audience.

  1. Influencers deliver engaging content

In a survey conducted by Vocus and Brian Solis, 62% of the respondents said that they follow an influencer because of the content they create. Quality content is crucial to any marketing campaign. When you collaborate with influencers, they can create unique content to spread the message about your brand or product. And the best part is the audience is much more likely to engage with this content!

  1.  Influencers have established credibility with their audience

Another important factor that contributes to the large following of influencers is credibility. The expertise these individuals hold in a particular field combined with the good relations they maintain with their audience makes them reliable to people. Their opinion of your brand will most likely become the general opinion among their audience. A positive word from an influencer can do wonders for your brand.

  1.   Influencers are up to date with the latest trends and insights in their fields

Influencers are usually aware of the latest trends of the evolving social media platforms. They tend to be among the first to try these new trends, to discover new platforms to reach and engage with their audience. Through them, you too can get acquainted with such new ideas and employ them to interest prospective customers.

 

Author bio

Tanya Sen, Freelance Blogger

Tanya Sen

Tanya Sen quit her well-paying job to follow her dreams and become a writer. She is now creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals. Tanya is an avid traveler, having visited more than 40 countries. She loves to cook and try different cuisines. She now lives in Goa, India.

Get the Party Started: 5 Ways to Revamp Your Blogging Techniques

CCC is excited to welcome guest contributor, Katrina Manning! You can learn more about Katrina at the end of her article. 

When it comes to marketing your business, one of your most critical tools is blogging. For starters, it gives you an effective way to communicate with your customers. Secondly, it can help boost the SEO of your website. Yet, is your blog still having trouble getting noticed? There isn’t any question that blogs have a lot of competition. In order to get people to read your blog, you need to make it easy to find, produce high-quality and relevant content and have a design aesthetic that appeals to the contemporary viewer.

Revamp your blogging techniques to invite more readers to the party!

Revamp your blogging techniques to invite more readers to the party!

Here are five tips for revamping your blogging techniques:

Keep your content original and interesting

It should be common sense to understand that people only want to read articles that are original and interesting. Yet, you may be surprised to see that there are thousands of blogs with copied and illogical articles that cause most viewers to shake their heads and never return to those spammy sites again. When it comes to revamping your blogging techniques, you might want to take inventory of your current article cache. Do they provide relevant and informative content? Are they original? If not, it may be time to do some housekeeping. You don’t want search engines to pass over your blog. Use keyword searches to look for fresh ideas, or offer a different angle on a popular topic. Just make sure you are not writing the same types of articles found on almost every other blog within your niche.

 

Put mobile first

In 2015, Google announced that more searches were performed on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries. In fact, U.S. web designers always advise building sites that are mobile-first, then creating desktop versions. Smartphone screens are getting larger, and tablets continue to increase in popularity. Many users enjoy the card-style layouts, made trendy by Pinterest. This might be something to consider with regard to revamping the overall look of your blog.

 

Think of video

When it comes to external communication strategies, brands are increasingly focusing on video and — the buzzword for 2016 — virtual reality. Although video is helping to strengthen messages many brands are trying to convey, content isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Think of the stories that videos tell, different formats and even videos with no sound. If you can successfully integrate video with content and perhaps start dabbling in virtual reality, you’ll have something superior on your hands.

 

Work on your social media profiles

One of the most cost-efficient methods of advertising is through social media. With that being said, you should make sure you cross-link your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn with your blog. In addition, you need a voice of your brand to promote your blog posts throughout your social media platforms. Do this on a consistent basis to get the word out and drive more traffic.

 

Connect with readers

One thing that readers will value is a personal connection. Other than your content, there isn’t anything to keep your readers coming back to your blog. On the other hand, if they have an outlet to share their thoughts and get the sense that a response will be made, they might be more inclined to revisit. Compare this to your personal Facebook page. When you post about something you like, do you not go back to see if any of your friends liked or commented on your post? When one of your readers has the opportunity to comment on your articles, they may come back to see if you’ve responded or if anyone else has responded.

On top of that, you can create an email list of willing subscribers by placing an optional subscription link on your blog. You can make it non-optional, but people don’t like to feel they were forced into doing things. If you make it optional, you have a higher likelihood that the people who signed up will be more receptive to your messages. When you email your subscribers with your updates, you can use your real voice to give it a more personal touch. You can be a subject matter expert and still appeal to the human trait of desiring companionship. People don’t want to feel like a number, they want to feel important.

As markets and personal preferences change, so should your blog. Performing a revamp every several years isn’t just good for you, it’s also good for business.

Katrina Manning is a web writer and editor with over six years of experience penning content for a wide variety of sites and publications, such as Yahoo! Small Business Advisor, IBM, The Purple Cow Agency blog, Sweet Lemon Magazine, Udemy, Business 2 Community, Personal Finance Hub, The Iowa City Owl, Newsiosity and Seven12 Magazine.