Creating an effective content strategy is fundamental to your marketing efforts, but it’s usually about creating new content. Yet, your existing content may be even more important than creating new content because existing pages already have unique data, including rankings and on-page engagement. It’s much more effective to use your own data than relying on third-party numbers that your competitors have the same access to as you.
On March 15th, I was honored to be the guest host of the #VCBuzz marketing Twitter chat for the second time! Our discussion was focused on the benefits of updating your existing or older content and how to go about doing it. So, how do you create a content updating strategy or include updating your current content in your content strategy? Let’s discuss!
Why Updating Existing Content Is So Important
Q2 Why is updating old content so important and why do so many brands fail to do that?
Creating quality content is challenging and time-consuming, so you want to extract as much value out of it as you can. Your older content is a gold mine of benefits, which you’ve already spent time, energy and resources on, so don’t forget about it.
Updating your older content delivers a better user experience, so visitors find value on your site or blog, stay longer and show interest in your products and services. This includes visitors referred by backlinks, which will help boost your site’s SEO.
Updating older content and fixing broken links will also strengthen your site’s SEO by welcoming search engine crawlers and helping them index your site, boosting your rankings. Dead links stop search engine crawlers in their tracks.
Our society tends to focus on what’s new, which is why brands often fail to update older content. Once content is published and initially distributed, it’s put on a back shelf and forgotten about. Don’t do this and lose so many benefits!
Updating older content will also give you fresh ideas for new content! Approach a topic you previously blogged about from a different perspective, or explore a previous topic more in-depth by creating a series.
How To Identify Content That Needs Updating
Q3 How to identify content that needs updating? How to get better organized with content updates to turn it into an on-going process?
Use a tool like DeadLinkChecker to find broken links that may be damaging your rankings and usability. There’s a free tool, Multi Check (for multiple websites) and Auto Check (which runs on a regular basis and emails you reports).
Also, visit your website regularly! Before you create new content, look at older content you’ve already published on the same topic. Check popular posts to see if they need updated or can be enhanced with fresh information. Check pages before sharing!
Moving forward, include your older content in your content strategy. Dedicate time and resources to updating older content, refreshing your blog/site and cleaning up broken links on a regular basis. Make it an equal priority with creating new content!
Key Elements of a Successful Content Update
Q4 How to update content? What are the key elements of a good content update?
First, check for broken links, missing videos, corrupt images or loading issues. Are your images optimized or are they slowing down the page from loading? Have you used images without permission? Get permission, or replace them with appropriate ones.
Next, look at the copy. Is the headline drawing traffic, or can it be improved? Reread the article and captions. Is the content still relevant or does it need to be refreshed? Add any new information that will bring the content up-to-date.
Make sure your content is readable (and skimmable) with appropriate visuals, short paragraphs and different sections, or headings. White space and proper formatting are your friends on screen. Add relevant videos, GIFs, polls or other media!
Most importantly, you can communicate candidly and directly with people through your podcast. A podcast allows people access to your business’s core values and gives a glimpse into its personality.
Plus, go ahead and showcase thought leadership while helping listeners with information and resources. Sharing a mix of what you know and what you are learning means you have an eternal field of possible topics to explore.
Podcasts help humanize your company, adding brand flavor while amplifying your voice.
Awareness of your business happens in phases when you add an audio component to your digital content mix. These phases represent a path to gain awareness and attention for your business. And by creating valuable audio content touchpoints for new audiences, you increase your content reach and drive newly engaged traffic to your website.
Remember as you go, however, all roads are geared to make deeper connections between your business and potential customers.
Working the awareness stage with your audio content is as simple as recording quick audio clips. Create mini audio content campaigns to introduce content to invite people to check out your newest blog posts, for example, or promote an upcoming event.
Borrow immediate content by using your existing written content repurposed into audio episodes. Or, create batches of episodes around one or more of the core topics pertaining to your business. Further, answering most-asked questions around your business makes a good starter series to quickly get your audio message off the ground.
Using the content suggestions above on your way to creating awareness allows you to understand yourself, too. Pinpointing your business focus to produce the appropriate podcast content helps you gain insight into developing a more advanced audio strategy.
And, you can start now.
By creating valuable audio content touchpoints for new audiences, you increase your content reach and drive newly engaged traffic to your website.
Platforms like anchor.fm are user-oriented and more straightforward than you imagine. I love the Anchor App and have been introducing it as a free-to-use solution to many businesses and bloggers over the years. Try it out to experiment and dip your feet into podcasting to see if it’s a good fit before investing more.
The most established and highly recommended professional audio platform is Libsyn.
Notably, most platforms connect your podcast feed to the likes of Apple Podcasts* and Google Play, along with a slew of others. The availability of this RSS feed sharing system gives you a big step up for reaching new listeners. Again, like most content assets you create, gaining reach and finding new audiences through awareness requires amplification and distribution. (*Note: this is currently changing with Anchor and will be up to you to set this up for yourself.)
So, in addition to getting reach via these podcasting platforms, implement a social media marketing component into your audio strategy. Listeners turn into followers, and followers turn into sales.
You can also work on reach by promoting your shows, paying close attention to creating enticing titles and descriptions, for example. And don’t forget to promote to your email list, letting people know when a new episode is published.
Further, collaboration offers a chance to reach new audiences simply by “borrowing” them from your collaborators. Of course, at the same time, you share your audience right back. As an added bonus, you get to meet and make new friends and business connections in the process.
Networking is always part of meeting new people and making business connections. Your podcast is another doorway to networking. Plus, audience reach grows when you interact with listeners. Make sure to reply to comments and thank people who share your podcasts on social.
Because podcast listeners enjoy the ability to listen on their terms—anytime and anywhere they like—audio content is one of the most user-friendly types of media. On top of that, podcast listenership continues to grow, as illustrated in the infographic below by musinoomph.com.
One way to stand out in your field is to interview interesting people for your podcast; select guests to talk about your key topics or topics related to what you do. Try to find guests offering new information or a unique spin to add to the discussion. Remember, it’s all about your audience, so it doesn’t hurt if you find guests with a bit of sparkling personality to go along with the first-rate info.
If you want to stand out in your local community, pair up your content with local happenings. Get creative and discover cross-over subject matter to enrich content, and participate in local events. Cross-promotions are often good business drivers, and the addition of an audio asset gives you a new level of reach.
Think about a way to “go live” with your podcast and involve your customers in some way, or interview people attending a local event giving you networking opportunities onsite and off. Invite your neighborhood businesses to your podcast to talk about what they do or how you work together. Maybe each one can share their history of operating in the local community.
The more visible you are in a community, and the more you are willing to network and promote, the more people get to know you and want to do business with you. Your podcast is a great talking point and a way to invite collaborators into your community.
Your podcast is a great talking point and a way to invite collaborators into your community.
When you’re the one initiating things and stirring up interest, promoting others, and staying visible, your reputation and authority grow. People look to you to participate, solve problems, and come up with new ideas. Helping in this way works in the digital space as well as in your local community.
Keeping your word and acting on it proves you’re honest and reliable, a trusted business member and resource, solidifying your reputation, and continuing to grow your authority. Just remember, everything you do in business reflects on you and your reputation and builds (or destroys) trustworthiness.
Podcasting helps you show people who you are as a business—your core values, company culture, and attitudes toward business—and listeners get to know you and learn your beliefs about doing good business.
Establish and Grow Credibility in Your Industry
Another part of growing your authority is also the key to gaining credibility. And the question is, of course, do you know your stuff? Not only is it great to be a go-to resource in your community, but you also need to go a step further and prove you’re the best-in-the-business for whatever it is you do!
Taking your credibility higher in your industry requires you to stay updated and on top of exciting new developments and any changes. Go ahead and take a leadership role working towards innovation while staying on the cutting-edge. You can’t rest on your laurels as you strive to improve continually. I want to be the best in the world at whatever I am doing, so I just keep striving to improve. For business purposes, this attitude works, helping to propel you forward.
Psst, this article is starting to feel like a podcast!
Growing your credibility means finding teachable moments all around you and applying them to developing thoughtful and high-quality content for podcasting. The best kind of credibility comes after you are a proven entity backed by successes, wins and happy customers galore. You’ll know when you’ve built credibility from your podcast and your actions when customers refer business to you. The goal is to never have to sell again. How? By consistently receiving referrals because you’re already in demand!
Yes, your podcast is part of your content and inbound marketing plan.
Repurpose Top Content to Communicate Your Core Values
The core values you provide in business need to be a common thread skillfully woven throughout your communications consistently. On top of that, your business needs to offer multiple touchpoints for people to notice you, and repurposing your content does the trick.
Repurposing allows you to share the same or similar content via various formats to satisfy the different ways people like to consume content. Soooo repurposing content helps you extend content to new audiences while allowing you to communicate a message in more than one way.
Repurposing content helps you extend content to new audiences while allowing you to communicate a message in more than one way.
Initiate New Relationships and Nurture Your Community Towards Sales
There’s no doubt, creating and maintaining good business relationships lead to sales and growth for your business. But building and fostering those relationships starts with connecting with the people who are interested in your services. It’s about reaching people who resonate with your core communications and need precisely the things you do.
Podcasting is a content and media form consumers enjoy and, at the same time, cuts layers away from nurturing the know/like/trust formula over time. Lending an actual voice to your content gives you a shortcut to impact your audience. Allowing listener input for show topics offers you another opportunity to shorten connection time and build genuine relationships.
Like all marketing now, two-way communications rule. Listening to and including the people you interact with or who interact with your audio content matters. You’ll find podcasting interactions organically spread across your channels, so engaging with comments, shares, and feedback is vital to your growth. Although you may think of audio as a one-to-many format, it’s the one-to-one interactions that help you grow your brand and reputation.
Produce Unique, Creative Audio Content in Simpler or Complex Varieties
Everyone likes to talk about short attention spans. Instead, why not focus on producing valuable content assets spotlighting important information, updates, tips, and more that clients need to know. You see, people have selective attention spans and all you need to do is captivate them with your sparkling audio content. Therefore, the message—and not its length—is what makes a difference and where your best efforts belong. Of course, that’s easier said than done, right?
As I mentioned earlier, there’re a lot of ways to get started quickly for producing valuable audio content. Still, making some decisions in advance helps to clarify what you want to communicate and how, who it’s for, and more. Naming, branding, tagline, and design considerations including logo, colors, and thumbnails are items to pre-plan for a smoother start.
But the richness in your audio productions lies in the content you create. Its uniqueness, relevance, point-of-view, and helpfulness are all factors, among others. Delivering audio clearly is the most important measure for your listeners, so focus on the quality of your sound first. But after you master the technical component for quality sound and have the administrative and overarching show theme design in place, your original content takes center stage.
Remember, the content you create remains in the spotlight for successful podcasting. However, just as you recreate written and other content forms into audio presentations, audio content easily transforms into written content for blog posts, guest posts, and web copy, for example. How-to’s, product reviews, and adding your two cents to trending topics work for on-the-fly audio subjects that reboot well in other formats to repurpose and extend visibility for audio.
The ability to reach new or extended audiences, increase visibility, awareness, traffic, and most importantly, to directly connect with people, makes audio content attractive. Ready to podcast?
The ability to reach new or extended audiences, increase visibility, awareness, traffic, and most importantly, to directly connect with people, makes audio content attractive. Ready to podcast?
What do you think? Are you ready to podcast? Already host a podcast? Drop your feedback, questions or podcast link(s) in the comments below, or share your thoughts with us on social! (Sue-Ann’s social media links are below.)
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.
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.
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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 does inbound marketing work? Watch a coneflower.
On a recent visit to the Akron Art Museum and its beautiful garden, I stopped to watch some butterflies flying around a coneflower. Coneflowers attract butterflies with their sweet nectar, so people love to plant them in their gardens. Plus, they don’t require much attention, withstand colder temperatures and can be divided every few years to attract even more butterflies to your garden.
So, let’s compare this process to your inbound marketing efforts. You can attract butterflies (your target audience) to your coneflower (product or service) with sweet nectar (compelling content). While your inbound marketing efforts do require attention, they’re worth the effort—and help is available. Plus, these efforts can help you withstand a cold spell in your business and can be replicated to help you grow your business.
Create and share content your target audience wants. Are you a lawn care company? Share lawn maintenance tips, including seasonal activities people should be doing throughout the year (i.e. applying fertilizer, weeding). Help people care for their lawnmower and other yard maintenance tools. When they’re ready to buy, they’ll turn to you—because you’ve built trust by giving them the information they need when they needed it.
When you do mention your products or services, educate your target audience on how you’ll improve their lives. Go beyond listing features to share benefits your customers will receive from your product or service. What pain point(s) does it address? How will it make their lives better?
No matter what you do for a living, you’re probably looking for customers. That’s where Inbound marketing comes in. It helps you attract the right customers, not more empty leads. The Inbound methodology turns strangers into promoters or evangelists for your brand. It takes time but produces results.
Ready to see how Inbound marketing can help you? Let’s talk. As an Inbound Certified company, we’re positioned to help you navigate the ins and outs of the Buyer’s Journey.
This week, Clearly Conveyed Communications turns seven! It’s hard to believe my little venture is hitting the 7-year milestone on May 15th, but I’m so grateful to so many people who I’ve met and worked with along the way.
As we celebrate our seventh anniversary, I want to share seven tips I’ve learned during our seven years in business.
You can be a small business owner. Entrepreneurship isn’t only for people with extensive resources, a trust fund or a Harvard MBA. It’s hard work to build a business, but it is possible to do it from scratch. Have an idea?
Remember your why. The day-to-day grind of running and growing your business can be overwhelming at times. Remember why you started your business, and keep a prominent reminder in your office or close at hand, so you can see it when you need a boost.
Celebrate the little (and big) victories. Small business owners have big dreams, so remember to take the time to celebrate victories, large or small. These successes will keep you going during tough times and losses, which will happen. What are you celebrating?
Be ethical always. Some people say there are no ethics in business today, but I disagree. In the digital age, trust is more important than ever. As we spend more time online and on social media, it’s imperative that you’re honest with customers, partners and yourself. Don’t promise results you can’t achieve, or work with people who use unethical business practices.
Your time is your most important asset. As a small business owner, you have to weigh every request on your time, and learn to say no to opportunities that aren’t a good fit for your business. It’s hard to turn down a potential project or client, but it may help you grow in the long run.
Focus on paid work. As a small business owner, you need to focus on revenue-generating activity as much as possible. If you can’t bill for an activity, can you delegate it or stop doing it? That may not be possible, but you need to regularly review how you’re spending your time to make sure your cash flow remains strong. Too much non-revenue work can put you out of business.
Put your current customers first. We all want to grow, but remember to put your current customers first. You’ve probably heard that it’s much less expensive to do more business with current customers than to find new ones. By spending time on (and with) your customers, you can find new opportunities to grow your business with them, and you’ll deliver an impressive customer experience that will encourage referrals.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us along the way. What an incredible journey it’s been, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds!
I recorded this video the day after a massive Facebook and Instagram outage, but its message is relevant whenever you’re watching it. Social media is a powerful marketing tool for your business, but you still need a website today.
Your website is the hub of all your digital marketing activities.
Your website is your home on the internet, your front door to customers and prospects everywhere. It helps visitors learn more about your company and how you can help them. They can find your website via search engines, social media platforms, advertising campaigns and even offline marketing efforts.
A well-designed, updated website improves your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and works with social media to enhance your online presence and give your business credibility.
As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you have BIG ideas for your business. But do you have the budget to match?
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.
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.
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.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Vizaca, an online magazine for global entrepreneurs and small business owners, for interviewing me about my small business journey. It was a pleasure to discover this resource and share my experience with others.
Tell us about yourself?
I’m Jaime Shine, founder of Clearly Conveyed Communications. I’m a writer, marketing professional and social media strategist helping brands communicate with their target audiences.
While most kids were playing with blocks or dolls, I was publishing magazines and newspapers – feature articles, ads, sports box scores, the whole nine yards. From promotions director to advertising roles to branding projects, I’ve always been interested in all forms of marketing. That interest blossomed into a career path and led me to open my own business in 2012.
It’s been a crazy ride, but it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. Growing up in an unincorporated village, owning a business isn’t something you do. I’ve learned so much about business – and myself – along the way.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
It was an aha moment 15 years in the making. One day at work, I realized that so many small business owners don’t know how to market themselves and can’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, their sweet spot, and not struggle with marketing decisions, writing copy and developing social media strategies. While I work with brands of all sizes, I do have a soft spot for fellow small businesses and startups.
“It was an aha moment 15 years in the making.”
How much potential market share can you achieve in next 3 years?
I’m not focused on market share, because I realize I’m a small fish in a big pond. My focus is on finding the right mix of clients that generate enough revenue while still allowing me to deliver the personal service they expect.
What was the best book or series that you’ve ever read?
Three books have impacted my life the most.
A Big Life in Advertising by Mary Wells Lawrence gave me big ideas about my future (in marketing and advertising) when I read it in college. Lawrence left her mark in a male-dominated space and encouraged me to do the same.
On Writing by Stephen King is a memoir by my favorite author and a straightforward, practical guide to help writers perfect their craft. This book (and a professor) inspired me to pursue writing as a career.
Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking felt like it was written for me. There’s value in listening to all voices – not only the loudest – in business and in life.
What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?
My home makes me smile every time I walk in the door. Even though I bought it at the worst possible time (right before the Great Recession), it was a smart decision. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here for 10 ½ years!
Owning a home can be frustrating and expensive, so my worst purchase has probably been a service company who failed to live up to my expectations (or even show up).
What takes up too much of your time?
Owning a business takes a lot of time. I’ve implemented processes to handle administrative work more efficiently and am starting to outsource some activities, such as IT, but there’s still room to improve. The more I can focus on my clients and revenue-generating activity, the more my business will succeed.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students/new startup business owners who want to become entrepreneurs?
Learn from every opportunity. Pay attention and make yourself useful in every situation, from the classroom to volunteer work to your current job. It may not seem related to what you want to do, but there’s insight to be had if you’re looking for it.
Network, network, network. Your professional network can be a big boost to your career or business, but it’s up to you to build and maintain it. Get to know professionals in your industry, offer your help when appropriate and listen when they speak.
Plan and adapt. Starting a business is a big risk, but you can mitigate your risk by planning as much as possible. Why do you want to start a business? What market need are you satisfying? Who is your target audience or ideal customer? How will you pay for your business? Despite all your planning, you’ll need to adapt – to changing consumer tastes, market conditions and life occurrences. The ability to adapt is one of the biggest advantages of startups and small businesses, and you’ll need it to succeed.
Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
I’m impressed by Richard Branson, both his accomplishments and his outlook on life. He’s experienced successes and failures but learns from every situation, even today. He’s an innovative thinker, calculated risk taker and genuine human being.
Tell us about something you are proud of – about your greatest challenge.
This spring, my business celebrated its sixth anniversary. Most small businesses fail, so I’m proud that Clearly Conveyed Communications is still giving brands a voice. It’s been a long, winding road, but what a feeling of accomplishment!
How should people connect with you?
Visit my website for my full contact information, so we can connect via your preferred channel. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
Are you an entrepreneur or small business owner? Vizaca can help you showcase your business, connect you with the right audience and promote your products and services worldwide.