Doing the Freelance Thing, Writing Amazing Content, and nailing social media strategy
Doing the Freelance Thing, Writing Amazing Content, and nailing social media strategy
Every single person who has ever lived has been a failure at some point or another. It's a necessary part of the human condition, and that's a good thing. Not only is failure the subject of many inspirational Pinterest quotes, it brings us together and connects us with other people.
Sure, no one wants to BE a failure. We all want to be successful at life, at our passions, in our careers. But as your Pinterest board already told you: success is built on failure.
Failure Drives Success
I've been freelancing in some capacity for ten years, starting in my dorm room at college. I was fresh-faced, eager, and unbelievably optimistic about the way the world would turn for me. I had a lot of hard times yet to come, but I knew I would be able to launch a successful career as a writer.
Boy was I wrong. I studied creative writing and philosophy, not marketing and business. In those early years, I lost clients for very silly reasons because I didn't have a complete grasp on how business processes should run. I was clueless about how to direct my own productivity and worse, I didn't understand what my customers needed. I wrote part time, silly assignments for people trying to make a quick buck on the Internet. I felt like a complete failure but I kept earning tiny little paychecks for the crap assignments I could find.
When my full-time job because a marketing job, I began soaking up information like a sponge. I had the space and resources to learn best practices and figure out marketing concepts. Suddenly, it was obvious what my customers had needed, what I had failed to deliver. I began to understand what had really gone wrong with my previous attempts at launching a business.
By the time I left my marketing job, I built up a small client base of people and companies who needed help executing their marketing plans. Each project in my portfolio represents skill building. Today, the longest relationship I have with a client is five years. I owe it all to that A HA moment that allowed me to connect my failure to the path of growth ahead of me. Failure drives success, and it might be a Pinterest-worthy cliche, but you need to learn to embrace it.
Fail Until You Can't Lose
In a creative field, failure can impact productivity. Especially when ou work like I do, essentially by yourself and directing your own work. Failing makes it difficult to keep creating new ideas and moving forward towards your goals.
"That last blog post you wrote really sucked," says that shitty little voice in my head. "You don't have enough work booked ahead of schedule. Maybe you should give this up and go find a nice office job, like most everybody else."
When I graduated from college, I had no job prospects. 2009 was not a great year to be fresh out of college with a philosophy degree, and I was brokitty-broke-broke. I had to give up writing and get a job as a hostess in a cafe so I could eat. But I wasn't satisfied, and something kept telling me to write.
I quit my job and tried again. I had a baby by then and staying home was the perfect plan. But I failed. I failed because I lacked self-discipline and because I had no idea what I was doing. I took another job and had money for food again, which was cool. But I wasn't satisified, and something kept telling me to write.
Late nights and early mornings, that something told me to build my business and to do it right this time. But I had failed so often and for what felt like an eternity to a 25 year old. I tried to run away from writing, but found myself quoting prices and pitching ideas to anyone who would stop to listen.
I failed until failure wasn't scary any more. My business collapsed twice and I had to go get another job. I started a blog and failed. I started another, and failed. I tried to write a novel, and failed. Three times. But for some insane reason, I kept picking the pen back up and trying again.
I had nothing to lose. If I failed again, I could throw it on the pile of failures I'd stacked up already. What was one more anyways?
That's when the fires lit up. That's when it became so easy to see what steps to take with my career. Not every day is filled with confidence, but I'm not up all night wondering if people will love my work anymore. I'm up trying to make my work the best it can be, and delivering it to an audience that might not hate it. After that, all I can do is move on and keep trying my best. I've harnessed the power of failure, owned it, and I burn it as fuel for creativity.
Other People Are Failing
For so long I've been so focused on overcoming my own failures that I'm only recently realizing the third part of failure: everybody does it. Everyone fails, and sometimes that means people walk away and stop trying. But there are plenty of crazy people out there who, like me, find themselves doing what they love anyways.
I've learned, after nine years of working towards this moment, that my job is to connect with other people who have falied the way I have. They love what they do, they love their company or business, but they keep failing to market themselves. They aren't getting the customer base they want or they don't know how to take it to the next level. Something isn't working, but they can't walk away from their idea. My job is to help them decide what they really want as a result of their marketing efforts. Then, I help them make an action list of what it will take to accomplish those wants. Part strategy, part coaching, and a big part writing and designing the assets they'll need along the way.
By focusing on how your customers are failing, you are identifying the spaces where your product or service can make the most impact. Find the gap and fill the gap to build a customer base who love what you offer.
If you need help explaining to customers exactly how you can solve all their problems, shoot me an email for a brainstorming session.
Over time, customers connect on a deeply emotional level to the branding of the products they love. Crafting that connection is at the core of why we take the time to develop our brand identity and carefully present it to our audience. This week, we’ve been given a fantastic example of the way that customers connect to brand identity with the announcement that Coach is changing its corporate name to Tapestry.
Writing can be intimidating. There’s a blank space, and you need to fill it with words. Ideas might buzz around in your head, but when it’s time to put it on paper, you freeze. What should the first sentence say? How should you introduce your idea, let alone spit out a 500-word blog post?
Comprehensive content marketing strategies require you to have lots of pieces of content. You’ll need content for your website, blog, and social media. You might need an opt-in email series or a guide to your services. Eventually, you need text to advertise your content and cross-publish it. If you get intimidated by the empty text box, content marketing might seem like something that’s for other companies with full-time marketing departments.
You already know that the keywords in your content help it get discovered when people run to Google. Once they make it to your content, you can transform the experience potential customers have if you harness the power of free resources.
Outsource the tasks that are bogging down your in-house marketing department with a freelance writer. When you assemble a marketing team, you want to focus on the applicants with the most experience in your industry, the most insight into what your customers are looking for, and the most effective plan to bring results to your team.
A simple fact of running a business in 2017 is that you need to have a presence online. Companies run the gamut between operating exclusively online and simply maintaining a website for potential customers to learn more about their business, but an online presence is not an optional part of marketing today.
You know that you have to optimize your content for SEO; that is to say, make your content more likely to be displayed on a search engine results page. Choosing keywords for SEO purposes is a delicate balance between picking strategic terms that will generate traffic and picking natural terms that fit into your content easily. You want keywords that will produce results, but they need to be buried in relevant information and insightful blog writing that readers will have a reason to connect to.
Blogging is one of the most effective tools that a content marketer has at their fingertips, but coming up with new, engaging, and keyword rich blog material is just plain frustrating. A lot of the small business owners that I work with are competent business professionals who can manage their companies effectively and are successful in general. But putting pen to paper to compose a short blog post stops them in their tracks and becomes a hurdle of will every week. What I hear from my clients is that there appears to be so much material to write about, but when it comes time to articulate those thoughts, the page simply remains blank.
With any developed digital marketing plan, your website acts as a home base for all your marketing efforts. Any other digital marketing that you perform, such as social media, blogs, or e-mail newsletters, all direct back to your website. New customers who are seeking information on your company for the very first time will look for your website. First impressions are a huge part of creating the customer experience of your dreams, and dynamic website copy gives you the professionalism and expertise your company needs.
You establish your brand identity, bit by bit, every time you do anything that markets your business. From every passed out business card featuring your logo to email signatures, marketing leave behinds, and even product packaging, your brand is what sticks in your potential customer's mind as a representation of who you are or what your business does.