What could your business look like, a year from now or 10 years from now, if you were finally able to expand your reach, help more people, and increase your profits? In today’s episode, I want to help you beat that feeling of overwhelm when it comes to content marketing.
We’re going to do this first by creating more structure.
The more structure and planning that goes into your business, the more freedom you actually have in your business.
So, if you want to launch something new, great. You want to have a warm audience. You cannot just go dark between your product launches. By going dark, I mean you stop posting on social media every day, you stop engaging with people, and you just avoid showing up online.
You have to stay out there, in front of your potential customers. That’s why content marketing is the perfect solution to nurturing and building your audience, so we need to create structure so you can show up consistently online. And let me guess, before we dive in, you feel like you don’t even know what to say, or you think, “Why would anyone care what I have to say?” But done right and done consistently, content marketing can bring in a steady stream of leads, and you don’t have to spend money to run ads.
Over 35% of my client inquiries last year found me by searching for answers online and finding my blog or videos.
Another 20% found me because of the content I was posting on social media, which means over 50% of my leads from 2018 came from content marketing on my website, on YouTube, or on social media. And honestly, it’s not surprising, because a recent study showed that 85% of users ignore paid ads and focus on organic search results. And I will say, I am one of those people.
Before you turn off this episode thinking, “Okay, Jess, but you probably have like tens of thousands of followers and subscribers, and all those people share your content for you, so it’s no wonder that those are the results from your content.” Nope. As I’m recording this episode, I have less than 3,000 Instagram followers and less than 4,000 YouTube subscribers, and that’s part of why I even started creating content in the first place. I was a nobody, and I’m not saying I’m a somebody now, but people wouldn’t even have me as a guest on their podcast, because I was a nobody. It took convincing to get my inquiries to hire me sometimes, because they didn’t see me as an authority. I was just a freelancer.
I wanted to increase my visibility. I wanted to get more clients. And I’m betting you want the same, so if you are ready to get started, you need to take the first step. Commit. As Craig Groeschel says, “The difference between successful people and normal people is that successful people do consistently what normal people do occasionally.” Now, that is a quote worth writing down.
You need to make this a non-negotiable in your book. It’s easy to make promises to our clients and our family, but we always break promises to ourselves first. If you want to be successful, if you want to see results from your content, you have to be consistent. That’s all there is to it. I did not get featured in Glamour Magazine or Buzzfeed by occasionally posting a blog every three months, and no, consistency does not mean that you have to post a blog or video every single day, or even twice a week. It can be once a week or even every other week.
So, here is your homework. Make a plan and write it down. Write it in your planner. Tape a sticky note to your computer screen. Turn your phone off. Whatever you need to do, the key to preventing overwhelm is knowing you don’t have to be perfect, and knowing you don’t have to go from zero to 100 tomorrow. I want you to remember that you built your business to solve a problem, so just move your ego out of the way and dive in.
Your content marketing can help solve problems.
Now, maybe you’re wondering, “But, like how do I know if content marketing really is the right solution for my business? Like, how do I know if I should actually move forward with this?” Well, I want you to answer a few questions honestly. Do you have time and energy to invest into creating and promoting your content? Are you ready to embrace a growth mindset and put yourself out there more online? And are you okay with potentially making some changes to how you market your business online? If you answered yes to these, you can probably guess that means creating content could be the key to changing your business.
Now that you know you are ready to start content marketing, it’s time to look at the three main phases: strategy, creation, and promotion. You might be thinking, “Well, I don’t have any writing experience, and I don’t really want to sound like a dummy online.” This is totally fine, and honestly, it’s actually a good thing. You do not need to sound like anyone else. You need to sound like yourself. When your writing sounds like you, your audience connects with you on a much higher level. They can tell if you are trying to sound like someone else or if you’re just trying to sound all fancy schmancy, and yes, schmancy is a word.
Or maybe you’re thinking, “This won’t work for me, because I don’t have a big list, or a big following.” It’s not true. In fact, it doesn’t matter how many followers you have right now on any platform. As I already shared, I don’t have a huge following either. With the help of Instagram hashtags and Pinterest group boards out there for you to utilize, you don’t need a huge audience. That’s why I love helping business owners like you transform their business and increase their visibility online.
Content marketing doesn’t require a huge audience or a budget for buying ads.
Here are the first two steps to execute to start creating content. The first step is to figure out where your potential clients are at in their journey. Are they aware of their own struggles and problems, and what’s causing them, or are they struggling and not sure what to do to fix it, because they don’t even know what’s wrong? This will influence how you position your content, and can help you theme your content from month to month as you move them from awareness to solution.
A lot of people say, “Just create content that solves your audience’s problems,” which is accurate to an extent. You need to really understand how aware they are of their problems. This might mean you need to do some discovery calls with people, some Instagram polls, or even a reader survey. You can see what people want in their own words, but be sure that you are not just asking what people are struggling with, but how that is affecting them.
The second step is to decide what you will be promoting in connection to your content marketing. Will you be sending people to an opt-in freebie and then a nurture email sequence, or will it prompt people to book a call with you? The content can’t just have a dead end, so you’ll need to know where you want to send people next.
Now, when I started blogging several years ago, I did not have a plan or a strategy.
I was blogging about my thoughts on the Diet Dr. Pepper logo. Yes, I really did have a blog about that, and then, you know, social media for churches the next week. I was all over the place in terms of content and who I was talking to. Then, at one point, I decided to try creating a course for people to create their own website. I spent months and months recording videos, and building the course, while also working with clients, and blogging, and nothing. I got zero sales when I launched.
Now, when I look back at the time spent in that course and watching it fail, I know I did two major things wrong. The biggest mistake is that even though I was creating content every week, it really wasn’t helping lead people to the course. I was not optimizing that content to get people interested in the course that was about to launch. The other big mistake I made was not telling enough people about it online. I wasn’t warming up my audience or putting teasers out about my course. I just kind of showed up one day and was like, “Ta-da. I have a course,” which clearly did not work.
With online marketing, you have two options: push or pull. Push marketing is just pushing your own product or services online. It’s just a straight-up announcement that, “Hey, I have this new program, this new course, this new blog post. Here’s where to find it.” This is where most people focus their time and energy. But today, I want to remind you about pull marketing, which is just what it sounds like. You pull people in. They need to know, like, and trust you. they need to know you’re an authority in your industry before they buy from you.
But when we’re pulling people in, we need to make sure that we’re pulling them to something great. You need a solid foundation for your online marketing to stand on, and that solid foundation should be your website.
Now, your website is so much more than just good design, as I have mentioned many, many times on this podcast. It’s also about being aware of your clients’ personalities and their level of awareness of their problems. You don’t just need good colors and nice photos. You need good copy and a good strategy. Once your website is perfected, you’re ready to start driving traffic.
This is where content marketing comes in again. This is how we get people to our website, but we have to be creating the right kind of content, and maybe explore even different types of content as well. And with millions and millions of websites out there, we need to be optimizing it for search, to pull those potential clients in.
Now, when it comes to promoting your content, whether it’s blogs, videos, or podcasts, we need to remember RAP, and not that kind of rap. RAP stands for repetitive, automated, and personal. Now, repetitive doesn’t mean that you just hop on Instagram Stories every day for a solid week to promote this new content every single day, but you need to show up on different platforms several times. Not all 512 of your followers are going to see every single Instagram post or tweet.
Now, this is where the automation part comes in. You need to automate your sharing on social media with the many tools and programs out there. Some are free and some do cost. Most, if not all of your content, should be evergreen, which means someone can read it today, a month from today, or six months from today, and it still be valuable.
And lastly, the personal part. This is, again, where we are pulling people in. You don’t have to air every single detail of your life, but people want to know the person behind the brand. You build relationships based on common interest, so when you’re promoting that newest blog post, you need to tie in a personal story as well, to make it more engaging.
Now, if I had to guess, you’re probably thinking, “Excuse me? How am I supposed to do all this? I don’t have a team of people.” Well, I don’t either. I am a one-woman show. That’s where the automation and processes come into play. There are free tools available to help you automate. Not every single tool that I recommend will cost. I spend less than $100 a month to automate different things in my business, and that includes even the things I use for my clients, not just content. Processes actually allow you to be more creative, because you’re not spending all your time restarting from scratch, month after month, with all your different tasks.
Creating content for a podcast vs YouTube channel
I know some of you are wondering, well… should I be creating content for a podcast or YouTube? And what content do I put on my YouTube channel vs my podcast? This is something I have to handle in my own business, since I’m active on both platforms. So, I’m going to talk about what content you should be putting on what platform, and how I decide this in my own business.
So, if you’re sitting there wondering if you should start a YouTube channel or a podcast, I want you to first know that it’s not going to be easy. You probably see a lot of business owners out there who blog and podcast, or like me, have a YouTube channel and a podcast… and so you’re thinking, well if they can create content for more than one platform, then I can, too! But to be honest, a lot of those influencers you see doing all of that have a whole team handling the editing and the posting, and the promotion.
I am an exception, I don’t have a team. I have a VA who helps me about an hour a month, but all she does is upload my transcript to my website. I do my own podcast and video editing and the uploading. It takes a lot of work, and there’s no major secret trick to making it happen except just being efficient as I can.
But back to making the actual decision, I would actually start to list out, your first ten podcast episodes. What would they be about? Who would you interview? Then do the first ten videos, and outline those. Doing just this exercise could help you understand which ones you are more excited about, or you might be able to see that maybe one just is better suited for your niche.
You’ve probably heard a lot of stats online that talk about video content being king, and how next year 80% of the content we’re going to consume will be video. And while I tend to agree with this, I also think podcasting is continuing to gain popularity and is an amazing avenue to take.
It also doesn’t hurt that podcasting is a little easier… it’s easier for people to consume as they are going for a walk or working at their desk. There’s only one piece of equipment you need for podcasting: a microphone. (And really, all you need for YouTube is your phone, but I know often people invest in more.) The editing can also be a little easier, in terms of not having to worry about adding graphics or special effects and whatnot.
So, what type of content should you be creating for a podcast? Whenever you record a podcast episode, it’s important to ask yourself if it’s right for your audience. Will it add value to their life? Will it make them a better person in some way? Your content should focus on your listeners’ needs, not your own.
YouTube is a whole search engine in itself, so step-by-step tutorials and how to content perform so well, whereas thought leadership content and strategies perform well on podcasts. So, here are a few podcast topic ideas just to get your creative juices flowing…
- How to shop for organic groceries (and I know we just talked about how-to content performing best on YouTube, but this is a great example that there are still how to topics that can work on a podcast)
- How to do XYZ on a budget
- Things you would change
- Things to consider before XYZ
- How to keep track of XYZ
- How to take control of your life
- Recommended tools to accomplish XYZ
- The future of XYZ
- People and brands worth knowing
- Materials worth reading (like how I did a book review in episode 74)
Now, the last thing I want to talk about as it pertains to YouTube and podcast content is NOT publishing your podcast episodes as YouTube videos. For some reason, this has become something that podcasters like to do.
Usually, podcasters say something like, well they want to make their content discoverable on Google and YouTube. Well first of all, for a YouTube video to be more likely to rank in Google, it has to be well-performing, with lots of views and engagement. A still image with only audio playing is probably not going to be that type of video. Also, Google is now officially showcasing podcast episodes in search results, so YouTube videos aren’t the only thing that can show in search.
Utilizing YouTube for your business is going to require posting engaging content. If you want to leverage the platform and actually see results from YouTube, you’re going to have to actually show up. Here’s the thing when it comes to YouTube vs podcasting: there’s not one absolute best method of content creation. Ask your audience how they like to consume content, ask yourself what you would prefer based on budget and time, and honestly, just stop overthinking it, and stop making excuses. Try it out, and if you don’t like podcasting after three months, then switch to something else that is sustainable and enjoyable.
At the beginning of this episode, I mentioned that personally, I run both a YouTube channel and this podcast, without a team. And no, I do not post my video audio as a podcast episode, and I don’t post my podcast episodes on my YouTube channel. I create the content specifically for each platform. There are times that the content or the topics will be the same on each platform, like this month, the topic has been the same each week on both platforms. This saves time because I only have to outline one topic. So, you could always take that approach with your content, too.
Showing up consistently online is what makes a difference. I know plenty of people, actually, two clients of my own that I can think of right off the top of my head, who started a YouTube channel, did it for several months, maybe even a year… and finally realized that it really wasn’t enjoyable. So, they took a break, and then decided to try podcasting. I also know people who have started a podcast and quit after five episodes. All of these people, I know for a fact, are still standing, and have super successful businesses. It. is. okay. to try, and fail. Or to try, and quit. Every month that you sit there and continue to only THINK about doing something instead of doing it, is another month of missed opportunities.
How to promote your content online
Promote on Pinterest with a tool called Tailwind
With Tailwind, you can schedule your pins to your boards and group boards, but they also have a new feature that loops your pins. The way Tailwind works is that you set up time slots for each day. You could have five time slots or 100 time slots or even more than that if you really want. These time slots tell Tailwind how many times you want to pin each day, and this basically acts as your queue.
Promote content on Instagram
And it’s not just a, “Hey, I have a new video,” because, honestly, that doesn’t connect with people. It just seems like another ad. The most effective way to promote anything on Instagram and really, honestly, anywhere is to first connect with people. One of the ways you can do that is to use language that your clients or your followers have used in conversation with you. This is one of the things I did when I was promoting my programs. Instead of just saying, “Hey, join my program if you want to create content,” I looked at the more emotional or mental side of it, so instead, I would say, “Are you tired of not seeing results? Are you frustrated by your content process?” Again, this is language that people have used specifically when talking to me.
Instagram is much more of a story-telling platform and less of a place to just shout out announcements. Every time I have gotten new clients, it has been because I engaged with someone in their comments or their stories, and several times. Not just one interaction. It wasn’t me engaging and being like, “Yeah, I can help with that. Oh, I do that.” It was usually something silly like someone doing gymnastics, and me replying and be like, “That’s awesome. I can’t even do a cartwheel.”
Promote it on your email list
Your list is people who are most engaged and most interested in you. More importantly, it’s a list that you own. Instagram could shut down tomorrow and all those thousands of followers that you have are gone. They have no way to remember you. Now I’m sure that some would be like, “Oh, who’s that girl? I need to go find her blog so I can stay connected,” but I follow 700-some-odd people, and I’m not going to remember all 700 of them if Instagram shuts down.
Collaborate and do a giveaway
This could look like doing a joint giveaway with one person or a few people, it could look like co-producing a masterclass with someone, or really any other way you could think of to work with a colleague or someone in your industry. A giveaway might send a lot of people to your website but those visitors are most likely just going to visit the giveaway page and that’s it. Since this is a really targeted landing page, it’s not wise to have links to your podcast or blog posts also available on this page, because you want them to enter the giveaway. You could always add them to an email sequence after they’ve joined the giveaway to introduce yourself and link to some of your content on your website.
Utilize HARO (Help a Reporter Out)
Help a Reporter Out is a free service that connects journalists with sources for their upcoming articles. Anyone can subscribe to the emails, read the journalists’ queries, and respond with their expertise/advice. Tons of media outlets use HARO to find sources, including TIME, Refinery29, New York Times, and so many more. The goal is to have a media outlet use you as a source so that your name and business name are included in the article with a link to your small business’s website.
Run ads on social media
Now before you groan and feel like you don’t have $500 to spend, just hang on… because it’s not going to require $500. And I want to be upfront and say that I’m not a Facebook ad expert, but I do know some basics that I want to share with you. From what I’ve learned, some of the best ways to run Facebook ads is to actually run an ad to a free download or your most recent blog post. This obviously, is going to help drive traffic right to your site.
So, one of the best ways to go about doing this is to first install a Facebook pixel on your website so you can track who visits your website – installing the Facebook pixel is not hard, but it’s a process that won’t make sense to explain on a podcast because you really need to see the screen. Also If you’re on WordPress, you can even use a plugin to embed your pixel on your site. So then, when you setup your ad, you can retarget those same people who came to your site, or even target what’s called a lookalike audience. And since Instagram and Facebook are basically the same company, you can also run Instagram ads to those same people, if you think more of them are on Instagram instead of Facebook.
How to save time when creating content
This is harder to resolve, but not impossible. At the end of the day, we all still only have 24 hours and only so much money to spend, so I’m going to share some tips that may help, but everything still takes time.
The first thing is one of the most common suggestions: content creating in batches. Instead of trying to sit down every week and write a blog post, just set aside one day each month to write out all of your blog posts. Again, this may not be feasible because you have kids at home all summer, and it’s hard to write when you have them at home.
So the next thing I would suggest for content creation is some multi-tasking. Did you know you can voice record your content and then have it transcribed? So, while you’re getting ready in the morning or driving in the car, pull up the voice memos app and talk away! Then, export the file, and use Rev.com to get it transcribed. You can do some tweaking to the transcript once it’s done, and boom, you have a blog post! And to be clear, I would not recommend doing this to record a podcast episode, because of background noise, only to do a blog post.
If you wanted to create video content, the easiest way to do this is to go live. You don’t have to setup much, no editing, just go live and share your content. You can do this on YouTube easily, and still optimize the title and description. By the way, if you’ve been thinking about diving into YouTube, I’ll be talking more about it in the next few weeks, so be sure to stay tuned.
The last thing I want to say about lacking time to create content is that it’s a matter of priorities. And that is not a bad thing. I have a friend who is a mom to two boys, has a podcast, and a coaching program, and ya know, a life. It took time, and some re-shuffling of her schedule to make it happen. She has chosen to outsource her editing, and right now doesn’t post her episodes on her website or get it transcribed – which is fine. It doesn’t have to be perfect right out of the gate. Content doesn’t have to be an all or nothing game.
So, I would encourage you to think about what could be changed in your business or life to make content happen. Do you need to wake up an hour earlier? Do you need to outsource something? Do you need to create a different type of content that would be easier? If creating content is really something you want to make happen in your business, you can find a way to start. Content helps my business so much, it’s make it possible to take three weeks off!
Hopefully this post has helped you get your bearings and get an idea of how to start producing content for your business! Be sure to check out the other posts on my blog for more strategies.