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!

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

Vlog: Showcase Your Event in a Show Daily

Last week, CCC was in Indianapolis creating content and getting social with over 34,000 firefighters from around the world at FDIC International 2018. In addition to impressive signage and booth displays, we picked up another cool idea — a Show Daily.

This tabloid-sized publication shared highlights from the previous day’s events. It’s also a great way to feature sponsors, hot/new products and actionable takeaways for attendees to follow up on during or after the show.

A practical piece that also serves as a memento from your event! How can you utilize a Show Daily?

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. 

Are Company Blogs (As We Know Them) Nearing Their End?

At the end of last year, a local icon in our community closed its doors. While it’s the end of an era, it’s not the end of West Point Market. The legendary gourmet specialty food store is reinventing itself to thrive against increased competition by reopening a smaller flagship store and eventually opening satellite stores in suburbs surrounding Akron.

Blogging by Carla Arena via CC BY-NC 2.0

Are centralized company blogs moving to a multitude of satellite locations? (Image courtesy of Carla Arena: http://bit.ly/2h3GzIx)

What’s that have to do with blogging you ask?

The future of blogging is starting to take shape, and we’re questioning whether it will revolve around centralized blogs at all.

First, LinkedIn opened its publishing platform to everyone. Earlier this year, Facebook expanded its Instant Articles program to all publishers. If Twitter ever decides to abolish its 140-character limit, its own publishing platform will be quick to follow. Of course, we also have SlideShare, Periscope, SnapChat and so on.

What do all of the previously mentioned platforms have in common? You publish content directly on them instead of sharing articles or links from other locations, like your company blog.

Of course, the company blog has become popular due to several factors, including:

  • drawing regular traffic to your company’s website
  • improving your site’s SEO with fresh, organic content
  • hosting your thoughts on owned real estate, not rented
  • positioning members of your company as thought leaders in your industry

We’re not pushing for the end of the company blog; it just seems inevitable at some point. Or will companies keep blogs on their websites but reduce the number of posts or switch to more of a micro-blogging format (i.e. short videos, pictures, fewer words)?

As we move further into an era of satellite publishing, how will you adapt? Hire more content writers? Kill the company blog and divvy up platforms between contributors? Ask your employees to shoulder more of the load?

The future of blogging is closer than it appears. Will centralized company blogs still exist?

Looking forward to your thoughts,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about blogging, your writing needs or otherwise):
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Social Media Isn’t Free: 5 Ways To Maximize Your Time & Money

Social media isn’t free. There, we said it. It’s been said before, but no one seems to believe it. Even if you’re not advertising or boosting posts, someone (or multiple someones) is spending time strategizing, creating content, posting and engaging with community members. Or at least we hope they are.

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

Social Media Isn’t Free

Time is money, something that entrepreneurs and small business owners say often but don’t usually take to heart. We try to race full speed ahead doing everything ourselves, trying to fit 30 hours of activity into a 24-hour day. That’s a poor long-term strategy that leads to burnout and failure.

How can you maximize your time (i.e. money) on social media?

  • Think before you post. In other words, spend time putting together a strategy before you rush into creating a presence on a social platform. Think about the resources that you have (time, money, staffing), and factor that into your decision. Research your buyer personas to see which platforms prospective buyers are on, and talk to your current clients about which platforms they connect with brands on. Focus on platforms that fit your business niche the best.
  • Take advantage of holidays, special events and trends. We’re NOT telling you to use unrelated hashtags or run a special on an inappropriate holiday. However, you can reach new audiences by tapping into the marketing power of Small Business Saturday or jumping on the popularity of a trending hashtag. Just make sure that it’s applicable to what you do like the example below.

  • Get mileage out of your content. Repurpose content to fit other platforms, and continue to keep popular content in the rotation. It’s OK (and a good idea) to share a hot blog post multiple times, depending on the platform. For example, Twitter is a higher volume platform than Facebook, so it makes sense to share the same content at different times in different ways (i.e. a quote from the post vs. a picture tweet). Track your results, so you can see what works best with your audience.
  • Curate, don’t create. While original content targeted to your audience reigns supreme, it’s difficult to produce enough quality content to satisfy your audience all the time. That’s where content curation comes in. Find resources who are creating quality content that delivers value to your communities, and share it with them. There are a number of tools available to help with content curation, including Pocket, Buffer and Flipboard.

Related Reading: 11 Content Curation Tools Every Marketer Needs

  • Spend your advertising dollars wisely. If you decide to advertise, put together a strategy first and review your options. What are you trying to achieve? For example, it may make more sense to boost a specific post showcasing what you do than advertising your Facebook Page in general. A Twitter Card may work better for you than a Promoted Tweet, depending on your objectives.

Social media isn’t free, but it is worth doing if you do it right. Figuring out your objectives first will help you determine how to proceed in the social landscape. If you have questions, let us know. From strategy to management, we’d love to help your brand get social — and see the results.

Get Social on Social Media

What social platform have you seen the best results on?

What’s your favorite content curation or social media management tool?

What holiday, event or trending hashtag have you tapped into with success?

Feel free to leave your social handles and/or URLs in the comments below, so we can connect.

Let’s get social,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, content marketing or otherwise):
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4 Digital Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2016

I know, I know; 2015 isn’t even over yet, and we’re already talking about 2016. Digital marketing trends move fast, so you always have to look at what’s next to stay ahead of the game and start adapting your strategy early. If you can pinpoint the major marketing trends of the next twelve months, you can begin budgeting for the change, and subtly change direction now. Take a look at these four new trends, and think about how you can move towards them.

United Nations of smartphone operating systems by Jon Fingas via CC BY-ND 2.0

1) Mobile and location-based marketing

Mobile growth had an important year in 2015. At the start of the year, mobile browsing finally overtook desktop and laptop browsing. More people are using mobile devices to get online than any other technology, a trend that is expected to continue to grow in 2016. We’ll also start to see wearable technology find its feet and establish itself, which means coming up with unique location-based marketing strategies. How can your company harness your customer’s location to its benefit? Finally, it’s time to start thinking seriously about developing an app.

2) Long-term relationship building

Until now, digital marketing has focused on short-term success. It’s been all about hitting certain numbers of Facebook fans or Twitter followers, and making quick, easy sales online. After all, the Internet provides a forum for real-time conversations with customers and prospects 24/7. The most successful marketers are slowly realizing that a more traditional approach might actually be more cost effective. By nurturing customers for longer, they can double or even triple their sales over time. Start thinking about a way to retain customers, and make the second, third, and fourth sale.

3) SEO is more important than ever

It’s no secret that Google is always updating its algorithm. Every year, the search giant introduces a new change, and every year, it gets smarter. That means your SEO strategy needs to change and adapt alongside it. We asked the experts at Pay On Performance about what SEO will look like in 2016, and here’s what they told us. First, we’ll need to be more careful and targeted with our keywords. Don’t add redundant or unrelated keywords to pages and posts, and focus on long-tail keywords for more traffic. We’ll also need more organic and natural back links to bring more visitors to our sites and blogs. Finally, we’ll need to focus even more on producing quality content and new metrics like ‘time-on-site’ and engagement. That’s what Google is looking for in 2016.

4) Social media is expanding

If 2015 proves anything, it’s that social media isn’t going anywhere. Many predicted that Facebook’s bubble would eventually burst, but it shows no signs of slowing down (although Twitter has hit a stumbling block). In 2016, Facebook will integrate itself even further into our lives, but it doesn’t end there. Instagram and Pinterest have posted enormous growth figures in 2015. Statistics also show they have much higher rates of engagement and drive more sales. These two platforms will be critical for you next year, so start building a strategy now.

Taking note of these trends now will help you get a head start on next year! Where do you think digital marketing is heading? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Are you thinking about adding new platforms into your social media mix? Does your digital marketing strategy need an overhaul? Let’s talk, so we can put together a plan for you.

p.s. Wednesday, October 21st is ‘Back to the Future’ Day. What technology from the 80s blockbuster do you wish we had today?

Riding my hoverboard to 2016,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about digital marketing, flying cars or otherwise):
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The Key Elements To Running A Successful Blog

Good Blog Design

The success of your blog begins with good design. Why? The average attention span in 2015 is 8.25 seconds, continuing a downward trend. In other words, visitors won’t stick around if their first impression is negative. Make sure the design of your blog is user-friendly and easy to navigate. There should always be a search bar for people to look for posts on specific topics quickly. Also, you should have menus displaying your categories (and tags, if applicable). Ensure that the overall design is easy on the eyes too. You don’t want there to be too much going on, distracting visitors from consuming your content. It should be simple, but classy, and reflect your brand. It’s not that hard to come up with a good blog design with a little help. And, if you do, you’re on your way to a successful blog.

Image via CC0 Public Domain

Post Regularly

One key to all popular blogs is regular posting. If you have a blog that you like to read, you prefer that they post regularly. It’s hard for people to get involved with a blog if you’re posting once a month. Viewers want regular content, and frequent posts will only see your view count increase. Naturally, you should make sure that all your posts are of a high standard. Don’t post any old thing just for the sake of posting. You have to post good content on a regular basis to run a successful blog.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a clever way for your blog to make some extra money. You will work in tandem with another company and promote something for them. You could write a blog post reviewing one of their products or services and link back to their website. You’ll then receive financial payment depending on how many of your viewers click on the link and visit the affiliate’s site. If your blog is generating a lot of traffic, you’re likely to make more money! First, you need to find some affiliate marketing platforms, and sign up with one that you like. The company will add your blog to its database and contact you if they find an affiliate that’s a good match for your blog. It can be a great way to earn some money and help make your blog successful.

Image via CC0 Public Domain

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Social Media

You want your blog to get a lot of views, earn money and be a success, but you’ll only get views if you market it properly. The best ways to market a blog are by improving SEO and using social media. If you improve the SEO of your site, it will rank higher in search engine rankings. Work on improving your ranking for relevant keywords, and focus on long-tail keywords, which are easier to rank for. For example, shoes (or even running shoes) is a short-tail keyword. Women’s trail running shoes for flat feet is a long-tail keyword.

Related Reading: Log File Analysis for SEO — Working with data visually

Similarly, social media is the perfect place to promote your blog to millions of people. Make sure you post links to your latest articles across various social media platforms, formatted appropriately to maximize exposure on each platform. Use hashtags to increase the the eyeballs on your posts and strong calls-to-action (CTAs) to drive potential customers to click through to consume your content.

Are you interested in blogging or improving your blog? Check out our previous blog-related posts or contact us with your questions. We love supporting fellow bloggers, so drop your blog link in the comments below or suggest your favorite blog to read.

Happy blogging!
Jaime

Let’s chat (about blogging, SEO or otherwise):
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How Flexible Should Your Blog Schedule Be?

Blogging. As a small business owner, writer or business professional today, you understand its benefits (and may even enjoy it). But some days it becomes a four letter word in your vocabulary.

Computer Problems by CollegeDegrees360 via CC BY-SA 2.0

Computer Problems by CollegeDegrees360 via CC BY-SA 2.0

Recently I read a post from a fellow blogger who was asking her readers about her new posting frequency. She had committed to posting more often, so she had set up a schedule. However, sticking to the much-increased schedule was wearing on her and killing her spontaneity and creativity. In other words, she felt like it was making her writing worse.

Quality over Quantity

If your current posting schedule is overwhelming, cut back the number of posts. Quantity is never a substitute for quality, and we remind ourselves that at CCC every day. As I tell clients, commit to a schedule that you can keep, and don’t create a schedule in your fantasy world. Yes, blogging is hard work and a time commitment, but it shouldn’t keep you from running your business, working with clients or whatever else it is that you do (unless you’re a full-time, professional blogger, of course.)

Consistency is more important than frequency. Set up a schedule that you can handle — perhaps once or twice a week or even less often at first. Then stick to it and post quality content on your publishing days. That doesn’t mean that you should be afraid to test out different days if you notice your analytics suggesting you do so. If you find yourself posting anything just to stick to your schedule, stop!

Consistency is important because search engines send crawlers around the Internet to find content. If they know when to look for your new content, they’ll find it faster and make it available to people searching for those topics.

Work Ahead for Flexibility

That doesn’t mean you have to sit down and blog on set days or at set times. If you come up with ideas on a whim, jot them down. Sit down and blog when the mood strikes and schedule the post to publish on one of your scheduled days. You don’t have to write a full post; get a draft down with all its imperfections and smooth it out for publishing later.

With consistent publishing, you can let your readers (and search engines) know when to expect new content. However, you can still write or blog when you’re in the mood by working ahead. I keep a dry erase board in my office and a notebook on my phone to jot down ideas for posts and descriptions. If a trending topic catches your eye, adjust any scheduled posts you have so you can blog about the topic while it’s still hot.

Related Reading on Blogging

Let’s Talk About Blogging

Do you follow a blogging schedule?

How often do you post new content?

Have you adjusted your schedule over the past two years?

Is your schedule purely data-driven or a good fit for you?

Happy blogging!
Jaime

Let’s chat (about blogging, a new project or otherwise):
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