You have a creative business, which means, most days, you feel like you’re on top of the world. You can work when you want to, with whom you choose, and take vacations on a whim because hey, you are boss like that, right?
Unless, of course, you’re not feeling confident with your income. That changes things a bit.
The feast-or-famine mindset is real, and can leave you convinced that searching job boards may be a better choice than trying to keep at this ‘“own-my-own-business” thing. We get these feelings in months where we have way less clients, our course sales dip or our Creative Market income has been dryer than Schweppes ginger ale.
Yet many service-based businesses are leaving a ton of money on the table, solely focusing on services, courses and product creation that they ignore affiliate marketing and how it can complement their small biz income.
1 – Some solopreneurs I’ve spoke with tell me the earnings don’t amount to enough to spend their time on it.
2 – Other say that affiliate marketing is dead.
Neither of these could be further from the truth. Think about all of the products and services you use every single day while running your business. Now, consider all of the frequent purchases and investments (the online courses, ebooks, business tools). And how about that one “thing” you always recommend for every single one of your clients to help them get from ABC to XYZ?
If you do the math, you’ll probably feel a bit queasy at how much money you could have been making, just by simply adding an affiliate link to the products and services you love and trust to people who already love and trust you.
Where to start with affiliate marketing
The next greatest hesitation I hear is that people simply don’t know where to start without feeling like a car salesman. Fret not; there are so many great ways to not be cheesy OR greasy.
Without further ado, here are five authentic ways to add a bit of padding to your service-based business by using on-brand affiliate marketing…minus the ick factor.
1. Create a resources page
A resources, or tools, page is an effective way to help your visitors help themselves to the tools, courses and services you rely on to run your business. Get creative by adding images and banners, or simply use shortcodes and columns to create categories and embed your affiliate link into each resource.
Link to your resources page from your blog posts, include it in your email footers, and write social posts highlighting each resource on the page.
2. Make recommendations to your clients
You may be a web designer, virtual assistant or accountant who’s always getting asked what you recommend for solving your clients’ problems. You may also have certain things your client must purchase before you can start working with them (such as a theme or hosting, if you are a web designer).
When you onboard your clients, include a list of your favorite tools with your affiliate links in your welcome packet. Alternatively, if you send your clients a goodbye package, include a list of resources that will be helpful on an ongoing basis.
More than anything, they will appreciate that they can trust your recommendations and that they aren’t stuck having to Google for answers.
3. Build affiliate mentions into your editorial calendar
If you have a blog that complements your business, I imagine you are already sharing high-quality posts that position you as an expert in your niche, so why not turn these posts into money-generating machines?
Some of my best performing blog posts that have affiliate links are resource roundups and tutorials on how to do something that others often struggle with. Review posts of products you have tried and compared are also a good way to introduce your audience to amazing assets while helping you earn more money.
Pro tip: Content is key, but don’t ignore your images. Include high quality, pinnable images for people to share. Add keyword-rich descriptions in your images’ alt text if you want to tap into Pinterest for referral traffic.
4. Complement your newsletters
Dedicated emails about products you love can make you feel like you’re always trying to sell your audience something.
To avoid that, try sharing your experience with them. For example, if you took a totally ah-mazing course that skyrocketed your website traffic and you’re now an affiliate of, share the story of how your stats increased.
You can also write your newsletter content as usual and include links to some of your most recent affiliate-rich posts. Likewise, if you know your affiliates are having a sale and you genuinely don’t want your peeps to miss out, use a PS note at the bottom of the newsletter or within the content itself if it’s relevant.
An example: If you’re writing to your audience about how they can choose the best theme for their business and you happen to know that Bluchic* is having a sale, share it. Don’t be random. Weave it naturally into what your readers know you for.
5. Enhance your infoproducts
You may already have some great infoproducts (ebooks; worksheets; email courses) in place that help you grow your list or populate your shop. What if I told you that there is a way to monetize your free goodies and help you earn more with your paid offerings? Hold the phone, sista!
With on-brand affiliate marketing, it’s totally possible. When crafting your offering, you’re likely linking to tools and resources that are helpful for those who are downloading or signing up for your product.
By using affiliate links, you can make more money while continuing to deliver your high-quality content for free or increase your earnings with your paid products. For example, I have an email course that helps new bloggers or businesses set up their very first blog on WordPress. Even though it took a ton of hours and energy, I was able to justify giving it away for free because there were so many opportunities to earn money from the free course by mentioning amazing affiliates for WordPress hosting, themes, styled-stock memberships, and more.
But FIRST, here’s what else you need to know about doing affiliate marketing right
When adding a slew of affiliate links to your site, you can consider adding “no follow” links in place so that you aren’t oops-ed by Google (though there is a debate on whether it’s necessary or not). You also want to make your links cleaner with a plugin like Pretty Link Lite, or bit.ly.
Most importantly, and I can’t stress this enough: DO IT LEGALLY. (Caps + bold, necessary.)
You have to have disclaimers on your site that let your visitors know that they may be clicking on affiliate links. You have to share in your newsletter that links are indeed, affiliate links. You have to give a heads up about affiliate links even if you are just recommending a product to someone in a Facebook Group. Recommending something to a client? Gently let them know that they are clicking on an affiliate link.
When in doubt, remember this: Any time you drop a link, drop a hint!
Evaluate your current affiliate strategy and choose one of these methods to start or improve upon today. Need more of a nudge? Sign up for Affiliate Crush, my free, 5-day email course that helps you get started in choosing the right affiliates and helps you create a strategy, track your earnings and lots more.
*Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links. (See what we did there?) As always, we only promote products and services we trust and believe in.
We live in a world where our days are filled with email newsletters, social media updates, how-to blog posts and Facebook groups. And as a business owner, you’re probably using many of these channels — if not all of them — to get the word out about your product or service.
But what if there was an even more effective way to use these channels to build awareness of your brand?
There is, and it’s called storytelling.
Storytelling is at the heart of every successful public relations and communications strategy. And when it’s done well, you can cut through the clutter using channels like blogging, social media and press releases to tell your story and make a connection with your audience.
So now you’re probably wondering, “What kind of story do I tell?” Well, I have you covered! Here are five unique story angles to tell about your business in your next blog post, press release, or social media update:
1. Share your journey to entrepreneurship
One of the best, most interesting stories you can tell about your business is how you got started. Everyone’s entrepreneurship journey is unique, which is why it presents a great opportunity to tell the story of how your business came to be.
The best part of telling your entrepreneurship journey is that it doesn’t matter where you’re at in your business. Whether it’s talking about how your started an apparel brand in your basement or left your comfy corporate job to freelance full-time, your entrepreneurship story is an opportunity to share with the world what inspires you most, your mission, and the lessons learned along the way.
2. Talk about a unique partnership or collaboration
Have you recently partnered with another brand or company to launch an exciting project, such as a Facebook group or e-course? This is a great opportunity to share a story about the power of collaboration.
Give your audience a behind-the-scenes look at this partnership by writing a blog post or creating a video describing the process behind your collaboration. In your story, talk about why the partnership was successful or what brought the two of you together. This is a fun way to show your audience how you successfully work with other brands. And who knows, maybe it can spark more opportunities for future collaborations and partnerships!
Stories about philanthropy or social responsibility can help you tug on your audience’s heartstrings and make an emotional connection. From volunteering to charitable giving to different ways your business is good for the environment and your employees, tell a story about how you’re making an impact in your community or touching the lives of others.
For example, did you donate a percentage of your profits to a nonprofit organization during the last holiday season? Share how much you raised in a recap blog post and explain what the funding will do. This is a great way to look back on the holiday season while showing your audience that you care deeply about your community.
4. Tell a story about overcoming a challenge
Did you ever go a Christmas without a paycheck because you had to pay your employees first? Was there a time when your product didn’t ship on time? While these aren’t the most glamorous stories to share with your audience, these are stories that will help you connect with your audience on an intimate level.
Sharing a lesson learned is a powerful way to highlight the ups and downs of running a business. They can illustrate how you’ve transformed your business into the success it is today, how you’ve grown as an entrepreneur and ultimately, make your brand more “human.” Plus, you will build more trust with your audience by being open and transparent and even inspire others to share their stories of success and failure.
5. Highlight a unique or quirky client project
Want to make your audience feel good? Make a list of your recent projects and determine which ones seem a little quirky or stand out from the norm. For example, if you just completed a branding project for a new unicorn-inspired cafe, you could turn this quirky project into an entertaining and interesting case study or press release. This is an opportunity to make people connect with your brand in a lighthearted way while also illustrating the success of your work.
When a story is emotional and authentic, it’s much easier to make a connection with your audience. By taking your own unique approach to these story ideas and staying true to your brand’s voice, you will have no problem cutting through the clutter and getting your story heard, no matter the channel you choose.
What type of stories have you shared about your business? Share your stories in the comments below!
Here’s an important lesson that we seem to learn and relearn here at One Woman Shop: Just because we don’t behave in a certain way doesn’t mean others don’t.
(Did that sentence confuse you? Us too. Keep reading, it gets better.)
We’ve been working hard to run Facebook Ads more strategically lately — which means running multiple versions of each ad to see which performs best. (This could mean mixing up the graphic, the copy, or the audience — but only one at a time in order to have a control. Hello, #highschoolscience.)
We started by testing three different graphics for our Road to Solopreneur Success ebook. One explained what the ebook is, one used the term “free ebook,” and one said “free download.”
This test stood out to us for a reason: We were both hesitant to include the word “free” on the graphics, because those aren’t the kinds of ads we tend to click on ourselves.
Of course, that’s why we experiment: The two ads with “free” on them far outperformed the other one.
Lightbulb moment: We never would have known this if we had only acted in accordance with our own biases. The lesson here? Just because you behave one way as a consumer doesn’t mean all other consumers behave the same way.
Case in point:
Just because we might not use the “Pin it” buttons on websites we hang out on doesn’t mean we shouldn’t install a Pinterest plugin and then optimize our images for maximum pinning — because other people do use these buttons.
Just because we might not follow brands on Instagram doesn’t mean others don’t — so we should consider actively updating our Instagram account and mentioning our latest product and service launches.
Just because we might not watch videos doesn’t mean others don’t love them. So we might host regular shows for those in our community who do love video.
We have found that this trap is especially tricky when you’re in the target market that you’re serving — it’s easy to feel like you speak for your whole audience, but often you don’t.
As usual, a caveat: We’re not encouraging you to do anything that you feel uneasy or icky about. If you have a strong opposition to something, go with your gut. But if you have a sneaking suspicion that your personal preferences may be hindering your potential reach, it might be time to think outside of that box.
Do some market research. Ask your solopreneur friends about their experiences. Heck, ask your community what they like and dislike. Go forth, friend, and get creative.
Welcome to Business Myths. Here’s the deal: We often hear business “truths” and accept them as true without stopping to question them. We’re chatting with solopreneurs and freelancers who have learned the hard way that these commonly accepted facts may not, in fact, always be true. In this case, Rachel Allen shares her (expert) take on why your client avatar is useless, and what you need to know to really resonate with your readers, instead.
Every industry has its must-have tools. And while those change pretty frequently in the fast-paced, online, small business world — “Webinars are the future! No, Periscope! No, Facebook Live!” — one that’s held steady since the beginning is the client avatar.
You know how it works: You sit down, sketch a stick figure, and write out whether they’re a cat person or a dog person, what they like to do on the weekends, and of course, what their favorite breakfast cereal is.
Just one problem…
When it comes down to it, you still have no idea what to say or how to sell to this person. Funny enough, knowing someone’s cereal preferences doesn’t help you communicate with them in a way that really resonates. Because, just like you, your business, and your brand, your clients are complicated. Multi-layered. And very, very human.
The truth is, most client avatars are absolutely useless.
They’re intended to give you a clear idea of who you’re working for, but they almost always give you a sanitized, surface-level, pod-person version of your audience. And you’re not working with pod people, you’re working with people people, those contradictory, irrational, gloriously-difficult-to-pin-down beings.
It was never about the breakfast cereal.
Client avatar exercises ask you questions about the surface level things in a person’s life as a way of getting at the deeper things about them. But somewhere along the way, the search for that soul-level stuff became conflated with the surface-level stuff — and we started thinking that knowing whether someone owns a cat or a dog can somehow give you insight into what they want, when very often people don’t even really consciously know it themselves.
Why client avatars don’t work
When you do a classic client avatar exercise, you’re primarily focusing on demographics — those quantifiable, external things about a person. But when people fall in love with branding, become a fan of your business, or make a decision to buy, they’re doing that from a place of identity, not logic, and certainly not demographic indicators.
…and that’s why you need psychographics
If you really want to get someone’s attention, develop a relationship with them, and make them want to buy from you, you need to approach them in a way that confirms their perception of their identity. (Which is such a powerful force that people will actually act against their self-interests rather than do something that goes against their identity. Homo economicus, you’re out.)
And to tap into a person’s identity, you need to get a sense of their psychographics — their beliefs, feelings, and assumptions, and why they have them.
Sounds great! So how do I figure all that stuff out?
It’s not as easy as going through a checklist, and there’s no foolproof, six-step template for it (see: “not pod people”).
But that doesn’t mean that you have to fly blind, trying out thing after thing until you finally hit on that magic combination of words and ideas that light your people up…because they’ll tell you, if you know how to listen.
Start with some empirical research
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in trying to figure your target market out is doing it in a vacuum — this guarantees that whatever you come up with is going to be biased towards your own perceptions. Instead of working from the inside out, starting with your own guesses about your clients and learning the hard way whether they’re right or not, start with some objectively verifiable data.
Find out where your people hang out, both online and offline, go there, and <em<listen
And by this, I mean where they actually spend their time. Not relatively general Facebook groups, not generic Twitter chats. Find places that are going to be incredibly specific to them because of their industry, their problems, or where their clients hang out — because chances are, you’ll find them there too, pitching.
Once you’re there, don’t fish for business, or post things like “Hey XYZ-type people, I’m doing some research on my client avatar, what are your problems?” Just listen to what’s being said both explicitly and implicitly, and track any topics you see coming up again and again. This is not a one afternoon thing — you want to do this for at least two weeks to gather enough data.
Once you have an idea of the lay of the land, analyze your repeat topics through three questions:
1. What is this really about?
Try to get below the surface and figure out what this topic is really about for your people. For instance, if you’re constantly seeing people post about wanting a VA, is it because they feel overwhelmed, or because all their business friends are getting one, or because they think they need a VA, when really they need an accountant? What’s the bottom line of both the reality and the belief behind this issue?
Knowing this will help you figure out the language you need to use to share your message and services with them, and makes a great starting point for an about page.
2. Where does it come from?
What beliefs, assumptions, and needs underlie these issues? Are they actually true? If so, where do those needs overlap with your message and your services?
This gives you insight into their beliefs, the chance to debunk false assumptions (and show off your expertise), and guidance on how to tap into your clients’ aspirations.
3. What are the stakes?
What happens to your people if they solve this issue? What happens if they don’t? What do their life and business look like next month if this issue persists? What about next year? And how do you fit into that equation?
Knowing this not only helps you focus on the things your people really need help with, it also gives you a starting point for talking about these issues in sales copy.
It takes time. It’s not a simple process I can upsell you in a 45-minute webinar. But it’s worth it. Because ultimately, you don’t need a client avatar. You need a human-to-human relationship — and there’s just no way to get that from a stick-figure sketch.
There are a lot of things you could be doing when it comes to your email marketing.
You could be setting up multiple lists for each and every product or service you offer.
You could be manually moving your customers from one list to another after they buy.
You could be spending hours each week combining lists, setting up segments, and testing to make sure you’re getting the right messages to the right people at the right time.
But then, that would leave less time for wine, popcorn, and Gilmore Girls…and that’s just not cool. (Feel free to fill in your own guilty pleasures there.)
We want you to have all the time in the world for your guilty pleasures.
That’s why we’re especially excited for our workshop happening today, 11/17 at 3pm EST with Darrell from ConvertKit, where we’re going to be jamming on connecting with your audience — and saving time and money while doing so. (Heck yes!)
Here’s what he’ll be sharing in today’s (free!) webinar:
How to use simple automation tools and strategies that’ll save you multiple hours each week
One simple trick to segment, teach and pitch your customers automatically (and without coming across like a weird used car salesman)
Exclusive behind-the-scenes access to learn how to automate your sales funnels like Pat Flynn (in fact, Darrell is going to show you Pat’s exact funnel)
Can’t make it live? No worries — there will be a replay!
As a solopreneur, stress is just a natural part of our day-to-day. That’s what makes this topic — solopreneur sanity — so very important. Because we all need a little help managing that stress and getting closer to more and more days filled with moments of solopreneur sanity.
Especially when the coming weeks often bring the highest stress in both your work and personal lives (which, we know, are pretty much one and the same).
So, starting on Tuesday, November 1st, we’re going to be challenging you to seven days of #SolopreneurSanity prompts on Instagram: from sharing wise words to showing us how you move your body, and giving your brain a break to being picky about the food on your plate. As you take an inward look and experiment with new things, snap a pic and share with us during the challenge!
Here’s what’s included over the next seven days:
Tuesday, November 1st – Words of wisdom: Share your favorite sanity-focused quote, advice, or book — something that changed your perspective or has stuck with you over time. Wednesday, November 2nd – Get shit done: Show us your favorite procrastination-busting, get-shit-done strategy. Thursday, November 3rd – Brain breaks: Choose the best way for you to unplug and enjoy some time digitally detoxing. Friday, November 4th – Your body is a wonderland: Focus on your body by exercising, eating something that makes you feel great, or committing to adding some extra zzz’s to your schedule. Saturday, November 5th – Let it go: Tell us one thing you’re going to stop doing or let go of in order to introduce more sanity into your days. Sunday, November 6th – Pay it forward: Give in some way — your time, money, services, or gratitude. Monday, November 7th – Happy endings (+ beginnings): Set your priorities and schedule for tomorrow.
Here’s how to participate:
1. Upload a photo to your Instagram account that corresponds to the day’s theme. So, on Tuesday, November 1st, post a photo of your favorite self-care quote, on Thursday, November 3rd, snap a pic of what you did during your time disconnected (oh, the irony — we know), on Monday, November 7th, share a photo of how you’re paying it forward, and so on! Miss a day? Jump right back in when you can!
2. Include the hashtag #SolopreneurSanity when you upload your photo for the day. It’s the only way we’ll be able to follow along — and we’ll be re-gramming a few each day from the @OneWomanShop account! (Bonus points for fun captions!)
3. Remember, Instagram is a social network. Be sure to explore the #SolopreneurSanity hashtag and interact with others participating in the challenge. (You might even grow your following in the process!)
Let’s have fun interacting on Instagram while working to improve our #SolopreneurSanity (something we most likely all need).
As we enter the last weeks of the year (eeeks!), we want to band together to stress less and appreciate our #SolopreneurSanity more. Who’s with us?
If you’re anything like me, the first time you heard the term “sales funnels,” you envisioned a big Willy Wonka-esque contraption that takes random scrollers off the internet, works some magic as they move through the various whizzing parts of the machine, and churns out raving fans.
When you use sales funnels in your business, you’re sending your ideal audience on a journey through a series of carefully-curated pieces of content that eventually leads them to buy your product or service.
And since sales funnels are entirely dependent on content, you better believe you need to build a content plan with a solid framework if you want to see those dollars roll in.
Begin at the end and look at your goals
Like many things in life and business, starting at the end is the best way to plot out all the action steps you need to take to achieve your goal.
Here are a few questions to ask when beginning at the end as you build a content plan:
Am I selling a product or a service?
What is the price point of what I’m selling?
Is this something that will always be available for sale or will it be for a limited time only?
The answers to these questions will help you determine:
1. How many funnels you should create
If you answered the first question by listing multiple products or services that are not inextricably intertwined, you’ll need to create multiple funnels that lead your readers down the path to the offer that will be the best fit for them.
If you find that you have multiple funnels you need to create, start by focusing on one to test out what works and what you’ll need to change before creating all the content for your next funnel.
2. How much content you need
The higher the price point of your offer, the more content and lead time you’ll need in your funnel to communicate the value your offer holds in solving your audience’s problem or eliminating their frustrations. Being able to identify which stage of the buying cycle they’re at is helpful as you build a content plan — both in determining the volume of content as well as the type of content you need.
3. How much lead time you should allow for creating, scheduling, and publishing content
Having products or services that are only available for a limited time or have a specific number of spots available is a popular way to create scarcity around what you’re selling. However, the doesn’t mean every offer should be structured this way.
If you choose to create a funnel that supports a product or service that’s always for sale, you’ll be creating an always existing or “evergreen” funnel, which naturally triggers an automated system whenever your reader enters the funnel.
While a limited-time offer can also have automated elements, such as pre-scheduled emails and social media posts, it takes careful calendar plotting to make sure you’re giving your potential buyers enough time to learn about your offer, why they need it, and to make a decision before the doors close. Again, this factor will also depend on your price point.
Decide how you’re going to get people into your funnel
The initial goal for the first piece(s) of content your readers encounter in your funnel is to capture their email address. (Already have a list of subscribers you’re working with? You’re off to a great start!)
You’ve got your end goal in mind. You know your funnel’s “why.” You now know the time frame of your funnel and how in-depth it needs to go to adequately communicate your value to your ideal customer. Plus, you have some solid ideas for how to get the funnel party started, and all the tools ready to make it happen.
I’d say you’re ready to not only build a content plan, but to put your plan into motion and start selling. What do you say?
About a year ago now, we first learned about a new email marketing platform: ConvertKit.
In an effort to be an unbiased resource hub, we had a member write a review of the new software on our blog, but in an equal effort to curb shiny object syndrome, we didn’t yet explore it ourselves — because hey, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it — right?
Right…to a certain extent. You see, as the months wore on, we saw even more and more reason to check out this not-just-shiny but incredibly logical solution to email marketing. One that would…
be subscriber-based instead of list-based so we weren’t throwing money out the window
allow us to segment intuitively based on multiple criteria
make content upgrades a cinch as we produced more and more bonus resources
Fast forward to today, and we’re sold. Not only do we love the simplicity of ConvertKit; we were able to fully leverage it during our 5-day Solopreneur Success Bundle launch to discover just how robust it can be.
Now, we want to share our love of the tool with you in a free webinar that’ll teach you how to get your first (or next!) 1,000 subscribers, whether you use ConvertKit or not.
Email marketing isn’t just a trend; it’s a strategy. Yet there are so many pieces that make up “successful” email marketing, it’s easy to end up overwhelmed.
That’s why we’re teaming up with ConvertKit’s own Darrell Vesterfelt, who works day-in and day-out helping bloggers and entrepreneurs who are serious about making money online.
For one hour this afternoon, he’s going to break advanced email marketing strategies down into actionable steps, just for the OWS community.
Here’s what Darrell is going to be teaching you in the webinar:
How to get your first 100 subscribers
One tactic that could get you your next 1,000 email subscribers in no time
How to automate your funnels to put your sales on autopilot
You’ll also see how easy all of this is with ConvertKit, and how fast you can get started. Oh — and if you’re on live, you’ll also get access to some pretty spectacular bonuses (worth well over $200). Not too shabby!
Whether you are a ConvertKit user or not, this webinar’s going to give you actionable advice + kickass bonuses for list-building that you can implement right away.
Content marketing isn’t easy. Even spending a lot of time and effort on something that you think will be compelling can fizzle out like a dud. Sometimes it’s best just to face the facts and say this one thing out loud — “my content sucks.”
It’s a hard thing to say, and it’s definitely a downer when you first admit it. However, it’s not a putdown or a sign that everything you’re doing is wrong.
Instead, admitting this little fact is the opportunity to take a step back and examine why your content is failing to resonate with an audience. This introspection will improve your future content greatly. At the very least, the content you’re producing will no longer suck.
Here are some reasons why your content isn’t hitting the mark and how to make the improvements needed to grow:
You’re going at content marketing without a game plan
Knowing the audience helps guide your content strategies, but you still need a good plan in order to consistently deliver relevant content. This plan needs to include everything from how to approach each social media service to planning out an editorial calendar.
Just winging your content strategy is no way to build an audience. One great blog post followed by a bunch of filler posts won’t bring readers back to your site. The perfect tweet doesn’t mean much if it’s followed by dull, promotional messages.
This planning strategy is the blueprint to your future success. On paper, it might not look like much, but it leads to great things if it’s well-conceived and then reliably followed.
How many great writers go completely unnoticed on the internet? Your guess is as good as mine, but odds are the number is remarkably high. (The very nature of the question makes it impossible to measure, really.)
Good writing is an incredible asset that will never go out of style. However, the web is a visual medium. Sharp writing is enhanced by compelling visuals.
If you’re writing articles or blog posts that aren’t taking off as expected, then consider rethinking your approach to visuals. Studies show information seen visually is remembered much better than hearing or reading the same info. Knowing that, you need to put as much importance into choosing the right visuals as you would into writing a sentence.
If you’re already using images, then seek out better ones. Boring stock photos stick out like a sore thumb. Go for something more memorable — and perhaps even less polished — to catch the eye of your audience.
All the content you produce needs to be done with the audience in mind. If you don’t have a great idea of what your audience is like, then your content won’t go anywhere. Abandon your preconceived notions of who you think your audience is. With your mind clear, you can get a good idea of who you’re trying to reach and what they’re interested in seeing.
Not only is it important to keep your audience in mind when creating your content; it’s important to know what stage of the buyer’s journey they’re at. A labor-intensive white paper might look spectacular but may not be relevant to the audience if they’re only at the awareness stage. Instead, a short but catchy blog post could work.
Alternatively, pithy social media posts might not resonate with a more serious audience in the research phase. To know what will work and what doesn’t, you need to learn the ins-and-outs of your audience through analytics, surveys or possibly some outside perspectives.
And please, no matter what you do, don’t post SpongeBob memes if you’re trying to reach a professional audience.
You’re lacking authenticity
Beware the buzzword — but don’t ignore it. Sometimes all your content needs is a personal touch. Many marketers overlook authenticity, yet audiences are craving something genuine after being bombarded by all kinds of impersonal media throughout the day.
It’s a bit of a cliché to say this, but be yourself. A unique and personal voice can help reach an audience in a way that polished, overproduced content could never do.
This doesn’t mean speaking with a faux-folksy tone or adding a conversational tone to where it doesn’t belong. Play it smart and see what works with some experimentation. (Here are a few places to start.)
Taking your content from good to great
Let’s put it bluntly: Everyone sucks from time to time. Even the most well-staffed and deep-pocketed companies consistently fail at what they do. The smart people, however, learn from their mistakes and improve upon what they do. Take that message to heart — and to your content — and you’ll see a marked improvement on your content marketing.
It happens to the best of us. We’re going through our day, when a great idea for a blog post pops into our head. And that’s when we tell ourselves the biggest fib of our blogging careers…“I’ll remember that later.”
Ladies, don’t do it.
Write down all of your magical ideas in a notebook as soon as you think of them, whether it’s a physical notebook, a bullet journal, or something digital like Evernote.
Even better than getting them in a notebook? Putting them down directly in your editorial calendar. When you assign a date for your idea (even if you change it later), it suddenly takes on a whole new level of importance. It becomes less of a scrawled thought, and more like you’re writing an article for your very own magazine.
But what to use for an editorial calendar? Like anything else in life, this is a super personal decision. Ask a dozen bloggers, and you could get a dozen answers…it’ll vary by personality, work style, and a million other variables. But just to kickstart your thoughts, I’ll go over some of the ones I’ve tried:
1. Simple notebook
I’ve done this by just assigning a notebook page for each month, and writing 1, 2, 3, 4…or however many posts I wanted to do that month. You can use fun notebooks from makers like Erin Condren and May Designs, or hit up the $1 section at your local office supply store to get a basic pad.
2. Post-It calendar
You can buy this from several places, but I picked mine up at Target. There are a few limitations: each page is only for a week, and there are less than 52 pages, but it’ll get you a decent way. And because each page is for a week, the squares are a great size for writing in. Plus, you can easily rearrange the Post-It notes.
3. Door full of Post-Its
Speaking of easy rearranging, in the early brainstorming phases, I have been known to paper the back of my door with all of my ideas on Post-Its. I’m a visual person, so it makes it easy to look at all of my ideas in just a few moments, and figure out which one is really grabbing me.
I know I’m on a Post-It kick, but really this works quite well with the smaller Post-Its. You can scribble down an idea, slap it on the calendar and rearrange it to suit your needs. It makes it easy to to figure out where your posts need to fit in coordination with holidays, launches, and other major events in your business.
5. WordPress plugin
Tada! This one has nothing to do with Post-Its at all. And, it’s digital! There’s a WordPress plugin that’s simply called “Editorial Calendar.” It lets you create draft posts and schedule them out, so you can see what you’ve got coming up that you’ve finished writing, or still need to work on. They even set it up to enable you to drag and drop the posts, so if you realize that something is trending, or you accept an interview, you can easily reschedule one of your upcoming posts by scooting it to a different date. Cool, huh?
Of course these aren’t the only options, and some people use a combination of these and/or other methods. But with a plethora of easy options, there’s no excuse for not getting started.
Tell us: What’s your favorite way of organizing your editorial calendar?