You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again — content is king. Online content creation and marketing was once just a way to set yourself apart, but nowadays it’s pretty much a necessity. And if you’re a small business or solo-preneur, your online content can make or break a successful marketing campaign.
Over the years I’ve worked with a ton of brands (both new and old) to develop meaningful online content strategies. Here’s what I can tell you — everyone, from a dog-walker to a CEO who writes bestselling books, can create valuable and relevant online content that will connect with potential customers.
And it’s not too late to get in on the action! But it can certainly feel overwhelming. Do you make YouTube videos, start a podcast, write a weekly newsletter? What should you share? And how often? While there’s no one-size-fits-all formula, I’ve put together a list of my top 10 tips:
1. Have fun!
This one may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how often I find myself offering this simple piece of advice. In terms of building and maintaining your audience, personality matters. Nobody wants to hang out with the person who isn’t having a good time. And they’ll probably be able to tell if you’re faking it, too. But more than audience, you have to consider sustainability. Can you keep something up if you don’t enjoy it? Create the content you enjoy making, at the rate you enjoy making it.
2. Invest in ways to make it easier and more fun.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create online content. Work with what you have to start out. But when you’re ready to invest, consider spending your money on things that will make the process easier and more fun. If the aspect you enjoy most about is photography, maybe you spring for some camera gear. Whereas if drafting written content to accompany those photos is taking up too much of your time, consider outsourcing to a freelancer.
3. Provide value within your niche.
People aren’t going to care about your brand or your products right away. Until you’ve developed a bit of a fan base or a sense of community within your audience, they’re going to scroll right past that blog post about your company vision or the video covering your life story. That’s not to say there won’t be a place for those things eventually! But you’ve got to start by providing value. This can be as simple as a blog post with relevant tips & tricks or an infographic with useful information. But could also include things like printable PDFs, detailed templates, or an inspiring podcast.
4. Have patience!
Organic growth and ROI will come, but it won’t come over night. It takes time. Building up your online presence or brand is dependent upon also building up that community of followers. So, you might hook them with valuable content but now you have to give them time to get to know you. Put out the the content that lets them do so. (And take time to get to know them, too! ) This also means you have to be consistent. You have to tell them when content is coming and then follow through.
5. Track your analytics.
Yes, this is a creative endeavor. But you can have a little more method to your madness than throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Look at the numbers. Create a spreadsheet to chart growth in key areas and keep track of what worked and what didn’t so you can modify as needed.
6. Develop a relationship with your audience.
I’ll say it again — you’re building a community FIRST. The brand will blossom from there. One very simple way to do this within online content is online COMMUNICATION. Reply to comments, answer emails, tag people, reach out to other brands and people when you feature them in your content. Folks love recognition, whether that be clicking the heart next to their Instagram content or writing a LinkedIn article about how much you love their business. Another way to build relationships is by engaging with other creators in your niche. Your voice is amplified when it’s in a chorus of others!
7. Be authentic!
It’s going to be hard to develop lasting relationships with a community of loyal customers if you keep changing who you are and what you stand for based on passing whims (or paychecks). Be yourself. Only communicate what you believe and stand for. Again, people can tell when you’re faking it. You’re interesting and enough just as you are!
8. Don’t be afraid of the ask.
Yes, you want to consistently provide your audience with value when it comes to your online content. But here’s the thing. You got bills to pay! You can’t give everything away for free! So, now that you’ve built up that community that loves and trusts you, you’ve shown time and time again that you’re a reliable source of [information, advice, inspiration], someone out there is probably going to want to actually pay for one of your goods or services. Probably a LOT of someones. But…not if you don’t ask!!! So many of my clients over the years have expressed hesitation when it comes to the sales aspect of their online content strategy because they, “Don’t want to sound sales-y.” And I get where they’re coming from. You don’t have to shove sales pitches down peoples throats 24-7. But you won’t get a sale if no one knows you’re selling. My advice? 1) Keep your content diverse — a fun post here, a value add there, this product, that service, etc, etc. 2) If you think of your overall online content strategy as a novel, make sure you’ve written your audience as the protagonist.
9. Start now.
There’s no “right” time to begin incorporating online content into your marketing plan. You could wait for that new camera, website redesign, or social media intern — but those things may never happen. And you’re missing out in the mean time.
10. Keep learning as you go.
Need inspiration? Look to other content creators. See what YOU enjoy watching and reading, what resonates with YOU, who is providing value in YOUR life. What are they doing that you can incorporate in your content? Without copying them, of course! Need more resources? There are a plethora of educational materials available about online content creation, many of them completely free.
Keep trying new things. Keep creating. Keep seeking out additional knowledge and strategies. You got this!
If you ever want to talk strategy, my inbox is open! Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org ❤ Let’s work together to make some internet magic!