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How to Create Content If You’re Not a Writer

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As an entrepreneur, you need to be a jack of all trades—developing business ideas, marketing, public speaking, mastering finances and cash flow, and much more. But there’s one area that often leaves business owners paralyzed with fear: Writing. How do you create content if you’re not a writer?!

As we all know, these days being a “content creator” is a requirement for building your online business. Providing value through creating useful content helps to grow your audience, builds trust with your audience, establishes you as an authority in your industry, and invites people into your ecosystem. 

This type of content, also called content marketing, is all about creating content that will invite people to come to you because of the value you offer, instead of just pushing out a message through advertising or traditional marketing. 

Content marketing includes blog posts, email newsletters, social media, podcasts, YouTube videos, and other content that people actually want to consume. This content doesn’t involve the “hard sell” you put in your marketing and advertising efforts. Content marketing is more about offering help, building relationships, building trust, and building your community of superfans

Content marketing is great, but it also requires a lot of writing, even if you’re creating a YouTube video or podcast.

So . . . what if you’re not a writer? What if you’re just not good at it, or don’t like doing it? What if you just don’t have the time?

Don’t despair! Here are some hacks that you can employ that will help you create great written content that will help you build your business. 

Hire a Writer

This is a no-brainer, right? If you have the means to hire someone else to do your writing for you, then, by all means, hire away! This will allow you to focus on what you do best.  

So how do you go about hiring a freelance writer? Ask around and see if anyone in your network can recommend a writer. Post a message on LinkedIn, or visit one of these platforms that can match you with a freelance writer.

Fiverr is a great website where you can find writers who have experience with just about any kind of writing, whether it’s articles/blog posts, white papers, sales and marketing copy, or ebooks. You can also hire editors and proofreaders.

An example of some of the help you can find through hiring a freelancer on Fivver.

On Fiverr, you can browse the profiles of freelance writers available for hire, and see which one may be a good fit for your needs. UpWork is a similar website. 

Don’t be afraid to hire someone to help, even if it’s for only a few hours a week, or one project at a time. If the writer is a good fit, you may even eventually want to ask them to come onto your team full-time. Hiring freelancers is a great way to get to know someone before you hire them. 

But what if you don’t have the money to hire someone?

Tap Your Team

If you have a team, even if they’re not in an official “writing” role, tap them to see if they will contribute. 

You might be surprised that there are good writers out there who aren’t in an official writing role. So see if team members can focus on a specific topic they have expertise in, and ask them to contribute on a regular basis.

At SPI, we have several people on our team who write content, including me; our senior writer, Ray Sylvester; our co-CEO Matt Gartland; Sara Jane Hess, and David Grabowski from our podcasting team; and Jillian Benbow and Jay Clouse, from our CX team. 

If you have someone on your team who is good at editing, you can also record an audio “brain dump.” This is where you record your thoughts and ideas for a blog post, and then have someone else edit the content into a cohesive article.

Repurpose Existing Content

You probably already have content that you can repurpose to make blog posts, email content, and even social media posts. 

Do you have an online course? If so, take one module, or chapter, of that course and edit it down to create a blog post. At SPI, we recently did that with this blog post on how to nail your business idea. 

We took one chapter from the Smart From Scratch course, and we turned it into an article. 

You might think, “What if people know the blog post is taken from course content? That’s cheating!” 

No, it’s not. It’s providing your audience with valuable information through more than one medium. Blog content is free. So offering free content from a paid course is adding value. Just be careful not to give away too much content for free, or that will devalue your paid content. But a slice here and there is a smart way to reuse content and serve your audience.

You can also reuse content from your podcast, if you have one, and YouTube videos. Take the transcripts, evaluate them to see what content will work best in a blog format, and edit them down. 

Strategically reusing content is smart and efficient.

Invite Guest Bloggers to Contribute

Is there someone in your network who can write valuable content on topics that will benefit your audience? Reach out to them and see if they would be interested in writing guest posts. Ideally, these would be people who have a somewhat substantial audience, so you’re killing two birds with one stone—you’re providing content for your audience, and when a guest blogger promotes the post to their own audience, you’ll get some new eyes reading your content. 

Make sure the guests know your audience and the types of topics you cover on your blog. Suggest topics they can write about, or collaborate to come up with topics. When their post is published, suggest ways the guest can promote the post to their own audience so you can get more traffic to your website.

At SPI Media, we frequently invite guests to write for our blog, including this one from our friend Heather Osgood, founder of True Native Media, on how to turn your podcast into a profitable business.

Curate Content

Whether it’s for a blog post or your weekly newsletter, curating content is another option for providing value to your audience without having to personally churn out a 2,500-word original article. 

Curating content is simply putting together several pieces of content that you have found interesting and think your audience will like. For instance, a blog post could consist of a list of articles (with links) from other publications that you’ve found helpful on topics related to your industry. 

Again, this may seem like a cop-out. But it’s not! People like convenience, and having links to several articles all in one place saves them time and effort.

Survey Your Audience

Enlist your audience to help you write content! You can do this by surveying them and using their answers to create blog posts. At SPI Media, we typically use a Typeform survey to ask our audience a question. Then we gather the answers and put them together in a blog post. This is a great way to provide interesting information, and also connect with your audience. 

Last May, early in the COVID pandemic, we surveyed our audience and asked them, “What’s giving you hope?” Several people responded to our survey, and we compiled their answers in this powerful blog post

Leverage the Power of Lists

A list of tips or recommendations is an easy way to pull together content that doesn’t require a lot of research and writing. 

About once a month, our podcasting team puts together a list of their favorite podcasts. They write a paragraph about each one, and tell readers why the podcast is good. Sounds easy-peasy, right? 

You could do this for anything. What are your top ten recommended online business tools? What are the best business books you’re reading right now, and what do you like about them? What are the top five things that helped you start your business? Giving people advice through a list is a great way to create valuable content.

Interview Experts

If you’re good at asking questions and being curious, then you will probably be good at interviewing. 

  • Interview an expert on a topic that you think will help your audience. At SPI Media, we regularly interview entrepreneurs who are doing amazing things.
  • Interview people in your audience who have found success, and write a success story for your blog. People love to read about people just like them who are succeeding.
  • Interview a mentor or someone you look up to. Ask them for advice, and create a blog post with the answers.

If you record a video of your interviews, it can be used in many different ways: for a podcast, a video for your Tube channel, as a blog post. You can get a lot of mileage from just one interview!

If you want to learn more about creating content, here are some tips from Pat about how to create content when you’re a busy, beginning entrepreneur.

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Marketing

The Benefits of LinkedIn Ads

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LinkedIn wouldn’t necessarily be the first platform that comes to mind when considering social media advertising. However, if you are a B2B organisation, the platform can allow you to reach professionals across the globe. LinkedIn allows you to generate brand awareness across targeted professional sectors and reach out to decision makers directly.

Advertising is all about targeting the right people. Users of LinkedIn tend to be older, professional and have a higher income than the average user of other social media platforms. So if that is your target market, LinkedIn offers a great opportunity to reach them. Professionals use LinkedIn for business networking purposes so users are generally in work mode so engaging with them should be easier than on other platforms.

Here we outline the six main advantages that LinkedIn Ads have over other social media platforms.

1. Variety of ad formats

LinkedIn offers a number of options for advertising:

  • Sponsored content – this type of ad appears in people’s feeds, it is the least personal form but good for promoting content from your business page and encouraging people onto it.
  • Text ads – these are only viewable by people using a desktop. With these you can choose the audience you want to target and you only pay per click.
  • Message ads – these appear in users’ inboxes and are proven to be good for conversion.
  • Video ads – great for storytelling, you can also retarget users who have watched the video, aiding conversion rates.
  • Dynamic ads – these allow you to fully personalise your ad by showing user’s photo, name and title within the advert.

2. Generate high quality leads

The ability to target professionals and gain good quality leads is the primary benefit of LinkedIn ads. Users are looking at work-related content so will be more open to solutions for their business needs.

With more than 800 million users in over 220 countries and territories, LinkedIn is the biggest social network for professionals and businesses alike. 4 out of 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions and the platform has been rated the best for lead generation by marketers.

By using LinkedIn advertising, you can access their Lead Accelerator feature. This feature allows businesses to follow their best prospects and offer more targeted ads directly to them. This includes remarketing to website visitors, which helps nurture leads, making them more likely to become customers.

3. Targeting

LinkedIn allows you to target specific demographics, enabling you to create much more personal advertising campaigns. Facebook lets you target interest and behaviour based factors however LinkedIn is the right medium to use if you want to target individuals based on their industry and job. You can filter your audience by:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Company name
  • Company size
  • Degree subject
  • Job title
  • Seniority
  • Industry
  • Member skills

These variables make the platform the ideal choice for B2B organisations wanting to target decision-makers.

Entrepreneurs executing on a business idea
photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator / Unsplash

4. Remarketing

LinkedIn allows you to specifically target people who have shown an interest in your products. Matched audiences show you which users have visited your website and the pages that they went on. This allows you to target them with specific ads in the hope that they will return to your website and convert to a customer.

Matched audiences can be created with:

  • Account Targeting – Uploading a CSV of company names to LinkedIn allows you to target decision-makers.
  • Website Retargeting – Target the users who have visited your website and re-engage them to aid conversions.
  • Contact Targeting – Uploading a CSV of email addresses of your contacts to LinkedIn enables you to nurture your leads and prospects even further.

5. Increased conversion rates

The ability to target specific groups, nurture them and remarket to them will increase your conversion rates.

A year-long study by HubSpot found that on average, LinkedIn ads convert users to leads at a 6.1 per cent conversion rate. This compares to 2.58 per cent for Google search ads.

MD of exhibition stand contractor Black Robin Exhibits, Alan Jenkins, managed to achieve a conversion rate of 8.2% with a LinkedIn campaign earlier this year, he said “We were delighted with the results, it wasn’t a huge investment, we could set the budget and the conversion rate was fantastic”.

6. High control

A big benefit of LinkedIn advertising is the high degree of control that you can have. You can set a specific start time for your advert and specify when it will end. As well as this, you can set daily budgets to ensure your advertising costs are kept at the right level for your business.

Businessman using LinkedIn app

Conclusion

Setting up a LinkedIn campaign is not straight-forward due to the variety of advert types and different ways of targeting. But the platform has a number of advantages over other social media sites if your target market is professional businesspeople.

B2B organisations will be able to target specific demographics with personal ads, nurture and remarket to them. All this will increase conversion rates, making LinkedIn a valuable marketing tool.

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Beginners’ guide to Instagram Reels

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Get ‘Reel’ results

If you haven’t already heard the news, according to Instagram, they’re no longer a photo-sharing app. Shocking, right? The company announced they want to start focusing more on video content, like that offered through Instagram Reels, as opposed to being the original square photo-sharing app they’re known for being.

“At Instagram, we’re always trying to build new features that help you get the most out of your experience. Right now we’re focused on four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging.” — Adam Mosseri, Instagram CEO

This makes total sense because short, engaging videos (shown to us by hyper-accurate algorithms) have proven to keep our attention more effectively than ever before. So effectively that 93% of marketers who use video say it’s an important part of their marketing strategy. Additionally, users are twice as likely to share video content with their friends and family than any other type of content, including social media posts, blog posts/articles and product pages.

So if you’ve been hesitant to start making Instagram Reels or just needed a little encouragement, we’ll cover the basics, give you some ideas on what content to create for your business or brand, and help you understand the data behind it all.

But, before we do, let’s talk about why Instagram Reels needs to be included in your marketing strategy.
What are Reels and why should you start using them?

Person recording elephants on smartphone

Instagram Reels rolled out in late 2020 and the feature has continued to increase in popularity. Reels provide creators with a way to produce and share short, engaging videos using a collection of mainstream music and user-generated audio.

With more advanced editing tools, such as speed controls, filters and transitions, you can effortlessly edit multi-clip Reels up to 30 seconds long, entirely within the Instagram app, which is amazing if you don’t want to use multiple apps and extra equipment to film, edit and post to social media.

Reels are definitely a useful feature of the platform as a whole that is worth exploring. When it comes to metrics, Reels receive 22% more engagement than videos posted directly to a feed. In addition to IGTV, Live and Stories, Instagram Reels are another great tool for you to use to get noticed on the platform and reach potential customers.

Nearly two-thirds of Instagram users are between 18 and 29, with 18- to 34-year-olds the most active age group. That means there’s a ton of opportunity for businesses to be discovered by your target audience on this platform. So, if your Instagram strategy needs a boost to stay top-of-mind and ahead of the competition, Reels could be your solution.

Related: How to plan an Instagram marketing strategy to attract business

Instagram Reels small business content ideas

If your business is active on Instagram but hasn’t posted a Reel just yet, don’t worry, it’s not too late to start. Accounts that don’t follow you can find your content while scrolling on the Explore page, which is why it’s so important for brands to be active where their target audience is.

Don’t let lack of inspiration hold you back, here are some simple and effective video ideas:

Educational content‍

The best way to increase your reach and engagement is to give your viewers value. If you can create something that is helpful, users are more likely to like it, share it with their friends and follow you for more. That ultimately, tells the algorithm your content is worth being promoted to others on the app.

For example, you can create shareable workout, cooking or crafting videos just by showing your step-by-step process.

Showcase your products‍ or services

Highlight what makes your business unique with Reels dedicated to each product or service you offer. This could be a tutorial on how to best use your products or a way to update customers on new offerings.

Create original content‍

Easier said than done, but I know that behind-the-scenes content, user-generated content and FAQs are always a big hit with loyal audiences.

You also have a few different ways to get trending and possibly even viral. You can use trending hashtags, popular audio clips or filters and get discovered among other videos with those elements.

Re-creating a popular trend while highlighting your brand is one of the quickest (but not the easiest) ways for business growth with Instagram Reels.

How to optimize your Instagram Reels

Improvised video recording setup

Improvised video recording setup

Like with any social media platform, there are always hidden steps you can take to increase the likelihood your content gets seen and please the almighty algorithm.

For example, many users who create content for TikTok have started uploading those same videos as Reels. Seems like a logical time saver, right? Well, Instagram has not only clearly advised against re-posting content that’s “visibly recycled from other apps,” it has also updated its algorithm to recognize and prevent it from performing well on their platform.

That being said, here are some tips on how to optimize your Reels for the best results:

  1. Try to record (vertically), edit and add effects to your reels from within the app, rather than uploading a video you’ve created elsewhere.
  2. It’s also important to use text overlays, hashtags, audio, and descriptive captions to let Instagram add you to an algorithm relevant to the content.
  3. @ other accounts, when appropriate. Just like hashtags, you’ll get more reach by including their name in your content.
  4. Use custom thumbnails. Doing so will make it easier for users to find videos they want to watch when scrolling on your account. It’s also a great way to incorporate your branding and help your feed look cohesive.
  5. Sharing your Reels to your Stories and even on your feed will get more people to see it. You can share it when you post it or, if you have posted enough that day, share on a day when you don’t have anything else to post.

Algorithms are constantly changing, and not always for the better. Doing just a little bit of research to stay on top of current trends and best practices will pay off in the long run.

Related: 3 ways to use Instagram Stories for digital storytelling

Understanding Instagram Reels Insights

Bodybuilder recording workout

Bodybuilder recording workout

Finally, you’ll need a way of knowing if your hard work is paying off.

Instagram has included a dedicated tab, which is similar to the Insights tab on your static posts and videos, that details the metrics relating to your Reels. With the Instagram Reels Insights, business owners can see important metrics like accounts reached, plays, likes, comments, saves and shares.

By knowing what type of accounts you’re reaching with your Reels and which content formats are most engaging with your audience, you’ll be able to adjust your content to better serve your target audience and grow your account.

Measuring these stats is the best way to make sure all the efforts you’re putting in to engage your fans is actually working.

Once you have a good idea of where your metrics are on average, try experimenting with the time of day, type of content and hashtags you use when posting your Reels. Start thinking of ways to get in front of new users with videos like tutorials, bloopers or more user-generated content. You could even share customer testimonials or success stories for added social proof.

Final thoughts on Instagram Reels

I know I personally struggled with the idea of including yet another item on my content creation checklist, but I’ve found that even just repurposing a few old clips from videos on my YouTube channel into Reels has proved effective in increasing my engagement and reach on Instagram.

Exploring a new feature of social media can be intimidating and overwhelming at times, but Reels seems to be a fun new way to expand your social media presence through the use of short videos. I recommend testing it out and seeing how well it works for you and your audience. You might find it to be your new favorite tool in your social media strategy.



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5 Strategies to Drive Customer Engagement

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Engaging with your customers is the key to driving sales and growing your company. However, some businesses are not sure how to do this effectively. It means that when they finally manage to engage with their customers, they are not entirely sure what worked. Knowing how to drive customer engagement is all about knowing your customers.

Here are 5 strategies that you can use to drive customer engagement.

Customer engagement
photo credit: Edmond Dantès / Pexels

Communication is the Key

Communication between your company and your customers is fundamental to engagement. If your customers are trying to talk to you about your products or services, then you should listen to them. Avoiding contact will simply drive them to another company.

Here are some tips you should follow.

1. Listen to Your Customers and Never Assume

If you have a customer that approaches you on social media or any other channel, it is vital that you engage them in a conversation. Their initial message might not be the complete story, so you need to work with them to find the right answer.

Once you have found out what the customer wants, go through your products with them and pinpoint what works for them. Your sales team must never assume that they know what their customers want, or they might find the customer goes elsewhere.

2. Seek Help with Engagement

Sometimes no matter what you try, you are unable to engage with your customers or retain them. It may be that there are strategies that you haven’t considered or lack the knowledge to implement.

This is where companies such as TCC Global can help. By helping you and your marketing team to engage with your customers and create brand loyalty, you can start to grow your business.

3. Respond Quickly to Questions

There is nothing more frustrating for customers than asking a question on social media and not getting a reply. Even a delay of a few hours can be enough to cause someone to look elsewhere.

If your business has a presence on social media, then it is vital that it is monitored at least during business hours.

Selling to existing customers

4. Chat to Your Customers

There is a temptation to use your means of communication to just sell products. While this is an important part, there should also be more customer engagement through conversation.

If you find something interesting, tell your customers on social media. Reply to them if they answer you and keep the conversation going.

5. Blog About the Popular Questions

If you are seeing a trend in questions your customers are asking, then it may be a good idea to write a blog post about it.

Blog posts will drive visitors and potential customers to your website and from there they may go to your products. Answering these popular questions will also save time for your customers and build loyalty.

Conclusion

So, there you have it – 5 strategies to drive customer engagement. These are just a few of the ways your company can build a relationship with its customers and build a loyal following.

It is important to remember to stay engaged with your customers even after they make a purchase.

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