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Author Archive for Hazel Butler

Why Failing To Plan Your Blog For The Year Will Cost You Money

There’s a reason the market is flooded with planners every winter. Successful entrepreneurs are planners and goal setters.

So if you spent the Christmas break and/or January busily deciding what you’re going to do to grow your business this year, I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and suggest you’ve included at least one of the following:

  • Build your list
  • Sign new clients
  • Increase your income
  • Raise your prices
  • Grow your social media platforms
  • Increase your website traffic
  • Get on the first page of Google
  • Blog more
  • Start a vlog or podcast
  • Be consistent in your email and social media marketing
  • Launch a new product, service or eCourse
  • Write a book

If any of these are on your To Do List for the year there’s one other thing you should be doing right now: planning your content marketing strategy.

Without an effective and well-planned content schedule you might achieve your goals, but you might not. And even if you do, the success you achieve can be greatly increased by adding a comprehensive content strategy to your marketing.

How Planning Your Content Makes You More Money

Last year I achieved every single goal on that list, and I didn’t use expensive advertising, complicated marketing tactics, or time-consuming networking and social media methods.

I did it all with one thing: a killer content marketing strategy that was very well planned at the end of 2016.

It was so successful I’ve redoubled my efforts and commitment to it this year, and took three weeks off from client work to batch all that lovely content and get super organised.

If you’re not already intending to use great content to grow your business this year, you’re missing the best and most effective weapon in the entrepreneurial marketing arsenal. And if you’re already hip to the content marketing revolution, but haven’t actually sat down and planned your content for the year yet, you’re firing a gun before you’ve loaded it. Properly planning your content will help you ensure consistency in your marketing efforts, clarity in your marketing message, and properly support all those lovely goals to maximise your success.

Simply put, a proper content marketing plan will:

  • Build your list fast (like my client, Robyn, who more than tripled her list in the first 90 days of using The Divine Blogging Design).
  • Convert more clients with creator ease (all but one new client I signed this year came from content).
  • Increase your income (more clients and conversions means more moolah – I tripled my income in 2017 with nothing but content).
  • Enable you to raise your prices (because effective content demonstrates your expertise and the value of your offerings, allowing you to command higher prices).
  • Grow your social media presence at an astonishing rate (I attracted over 1000 new (and highly relevant!) Twitter followers in the first MONTH of using the plan, without any advertising and less than 10 minutes a day spent on Twitter).
  • Give your website traffic a huge boost (I’ve ****** my traffic in the last year, while Robyn boosted hers by 156% after just four posts!).
  • Boost your Google ranking and get you on the first page of Google (search ‘start a vlog for your business’ and you’ll find me!)
  • Ensure you have consistent and regular content on your blog, vlog or podcast.
  • Make your email and social media marketing ridiculously simple and consistent.
  • Support the launch of new products, services and eCourses by raising awareness of your launch, driving traffic, demonstrating the value of your offer, maximising signups, and helping you nurture leads and convert them into paying clients.
  • Enable you to write the perfect book for your tribe, which not only establishes you as a thought-leader in your niche, but effortlessly leads into your core offering and gives you an uber-powerful lead magnet.

How A Killer Content Schedule Will Create Additional Income Streams

The bottom line of every single point on this list is making you more money. Well-planned content not only increases your sales of products and services, it’s also capable of providing additional income streams that make you money in your sleep, in the form of:

  1. Passive income
  2. Affiliate income
  3. Advertising fees

Multiple income streams are the key to creating stability in your business, while passive income is vital to scaling it, especially if you have a service-based business model.

There are only so many hours in a day. Even working every waking hour, there is a limit to how much you can earn offering services. Charging premium rates for your time helps with this, but here’s another goal you’re likely hoping to achieve at some point:

Build a £100K business.

If you offer services alone it will be incredibly difficult to achieve that goal without either passive income or billing c. hours per day, every single day, and charging at least £40/hour for every one of those hours.

Why on earth wouldn’t you want to make some of that cash while you slept, or spent time with friends and family, or lounged about on the beach drinking mai tais?

How To Plan Your Blog For The Year In 5 Steps

So now that you’re onboard with planning your content for the year properly and maximising your income, how exactly are you supposed to do it?

The more content I created for my clients as a ghostwriter, the more I dug into figuring out exactly how to get the most out of the humble blog post in terms of marketing impact and ROI. This eventually led to the creation of The Divine Blogging Design (my signature content marketing service), the system that achieved such amazing result for me and my clients last year.

I realised three things about content marketing very early on:

  1. You have to create content that is perfectly tailored to your ideal client’s needs and wants. This is the part most people get wrong, even if they know who their ideal client is!
  2. You must be perfectly consistent in the content you put out, both in terms of the quality and the frequency of your posts, and post as often as possible.
  3. The amount of content you need to create on a consistent basis is phenomenal. Which means it’s vital for you to repurpose it as much as humanly possible to get the most mileage out of every single piece.

And all of that requires a hell of a lot of planning! I named my system very carefully to reflect these three core requirements:

Divine – is a reference to the archetypes I use to identify and understand your ideal client, and perfectly tailor your schedule to their psychological makeup.

Blogging  – reflects the fact your blog is the heart of your content strategy, and the focus of your creation efforts (even if it’s in video or audio form!), with every blog post repurposed to create the additional content needed for effective social media and email marketing.

Design – acknowledges that none of this happens by accident and in order to achieve total consistency you need to plan everything meticulously, and stick to that plan.

While I’m perfectly happy to plan and create your content for you, I’m well aware that a lot of entrepreneurs prefer to do it themselves, or can’t afford to outsource it. So here’s a rundown of the five steps you need to take in order to effectively plan your content for the next year.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter when you’re reading this, you can start any time, and don’t have to stick to a calendar year! To help you totally nail this process, I’ve put together a completely FREE five day video challenge, which also gives you access to the Divine Blogging Facebook group and a great community of other entrepreneurs working on their content marketing.

But for now, let’s dig into those steps…

Step 1: Create Content For Your Ideal Client, Not Yourself

It’s natural to write about what you’re trying to achieve. You want people to buy your stuff, so you write about how amazing your stuff is. You’re trying to get people to signup to your newsletter, so you ask them to signup using the handy box you’ve provided.

You’re not doing anything wrong: you need to create great content, and take every opportunity to convince people to signup to your list. The problem is, you’re making it about you, and it’s really not.

When you’re running a business the need to convert clients is endless.

That’s what you need; it pays the bills.

But the key to growing a healthy tribe for your business is understanding that you are, first and foremost, here to serve.

Your tribe will only hand over their hard earned cash if you can convince them that you’re going to meet their needs. You may need them to signup to your list or buy, but your content needs to solve their needs, not yours.

If it effectively solves their problems, they will happily solve yours.

So when you plan your blog your content needs to be created with your ideal client in mind, which means you need to have a really deep and thorough understanding of who they are, what they need, what they want, where they hang out, how they speak, what entertains them, what inspires them, which motivates and drives them.

In short, you need to crawl inside your ideal clients’ head and create exactly the kind of content they need most, precisely when they need it.

Step 2: Plan Your Blog Posts To Support Your Goals

As much as your content should be created for your ideal clients, it is still intended to market your business, which means it needs to support your goals. It’s not enough to brainstorm stuff your ideal clients would like to read about.

People are complex beings, they’re interested in a lot of stuff! The trick is to find the point where their needs and wants directly overlap with your goals.

For example, I know a lot of entrepreneurs are desperate to rock their content marketing, I also know they can’t all afford to outsource it, which is why I have a book and eCourse version of my paid-service in the works. But I also know that one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is planning their content. So while one of my goals for the year is to launch my Divine Blogging book, and the Divine Blogging Academy, you don’t want to read a post about that!

You do, however, need practical and actionable help planning your content.

That’s the crossover between your needs and my goals, which led to me writing this post, and creating a free mini-course that goes into even greater detail.

I’m still writing a blog post that touches on the products I’m hoping you will eventually buy, but I’ve done it in a way that provides you with great value and a solution to your need, even if you never buy either!

So where’s the overlap between what your ideal clients need/want, what your skills allow you to offer, and your marketing objectives?

This can be a tough one to visualise, so here’s a handy Venn diagram:

Why Failing To Plan Your Blog For The Year Will Cost You Money - Plan Your Blog Schedule To Support Your Business Goals

Step 3: Work In Your SEO While Showing Your Value

Now you know what you’re writing about it’s time to work in the SEO that’s going to get your content found. SEO is, hands down, one of the biggest benefits to content marketing. It’s also a huge part of making all the other benefits happen. The whole process hinges on driving traffic and conversions. You can do that in several ways, networking, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising, but the most effective of all of them is SEO.

Working your SEO into your content shouldn’t be an afterthought. Do your research, find the best keywords for the topics you have decided on (based on the needs of your ideal client, your skills and goals), and plan content that hits all those keywords. I’ll be doing a really in-depth post on SEO for blogging really soon, but in the interim make sure you’re hitting all these key things while you’re brainstorming post headlines:

  • Create enticing and clickable headlines that happen to include your keywords – don’t stuff the in, include them in your headlines naturally.
  • Plan out topic clusters; a series of posts each optimised for related but distinct keywords, all of which can be linked to from a single ‘pillar post’.
  • Vary your headline types to keep things interesting, and vary the subjects you post about from week to week.
  • Use CoSchedule’s free headline analyser to optimise every single post on your schedule.
  • Think of ways to link your SEO to the questions your ideal clients have about your products, services and offerings, in a way that fully demonstrates their value.

Step 4: Include Regular Content Upgrades And Lead Magnets

Just as your SEO is essential to driving traffic to all your lovely content, it’s equally important to ensure you there are ample ways to entice your readers onto your list. List-building should be a huge focus, over and above social media, because you don’t own your contacts on social media, and it can cost you a fortune (in time or money) to get them to see your stuff.

Your email list is always available to you, allowing you to nurture leads, send them offers and sales pitches, and completely demonstrate your expertise.

Once they’re on your list, you can convince them to buy, but you need to get them to signup.

As I said at the start, simply asking them to optin to your list isn’t going to work.

Not even if you assure them it will mean they never miss a post from you.

It’s not enough, people need more.

They are giving you something hugely valuable (their contact information and permission to market to them directly), and they expect something in return.

Something more valuable than the free content available on your blog.

There are two types of freebies you should be using:

  1. Content Upgrades
  2. Lead Magnets

What’s the difference? Content upgrades are basically an extension of your blog posts. You write a high-value post, but reserve a little of the value and package it up in a pretty download (a PDF checklist, workbook, guide, cheat sheet etc.). A content upgrade is really effective because it offers people more of what you know they’re already interested in.

They wouldn’t be reading your post if they weren’t!

It’s an easy yes for them, because they’ve read your post, know you have great value to offer, and want more.

Lead Magnets are a lot more comprehensive. Rather than simple freebies that are relatively quick and easy to put together (not to mention cheap!), Lead Magnets require a bigger investment from you. The most popular ones are:

  • A mini-course (usually four of five videos).
  • An eBook (not to be confused with a guide or workbook which are only a few pages long – eBooks are more substantial, c.10K+ words).
  • A quiz (this should offer tangible value, something practical and useful).
  • A chapter or two of a paid book.

Your content upgrades will naturally be relevant to your offering, because they’re an extension of your core content, all of which you’ve planned to support your goals. But it may be tangentially related – something your ideal clients are interested in, which crosses over with the offer you want them to accept, but isn’t a direct lead-in. Your lead magnets, on the other hand, should offer a ‘lite’ version of the offer you will eventually make.

Take a look at my lead magnets. The mini-courses teaches you the beginning of The Divine Blogging Design, the first stage in the process (planning your content). The quiz helps you do one thing that is fundamentally necessary to make Divine Blogging work – figuring out your ideal client’s archetype so you can tailor your content to them – that is also valuable information that can be applied to other areas (your ideal client affects all areas of your business!). The free chapter is a ‘try before you buy’ for the full Divine Blogging book. The free blog post is in the same vein, allowing you to sample my service before signing up.

They were all very carefully planned to provide a massive amount of value while directly leading into the offers I’d like to make.

Lead Magnets are big investments and tend to take a lot of time and/or resources to create. Don’t skimp on them, they should be as good as you can possibly make them, even though you’re giving them away for free.

This seems really counter-intuitive, but I promise you they are phenomenally powerful and well worth it!

Step 5: Batch It!

This is the hardest part to plan but in many ways it’s the most useful. Consistency is a really difficult thing to achieve. Life is busy and distracting, and as entrepreneurs we always have a million things to do. Friends, family, clients, health all take priority over creating content, despite the fact it’s our content that gets us our clients and ensures we have the money to pay for everything else!

This is where I really fell down last year.  Everything would have worked a lot better had I been able to completely batch all of my 2017 content at the start of the year. I got three months of content done over Christmas and New Year, and it all worked like clockwork. But then I was busy and dealing with health issues and it was really difficult to find the time to batch any more. I did one or two posts at a time and struggled to keep that up throughout the year, before finally being forced to take a break. I got back to writing content but was forced to stop recording videos completely for the last couple of the year.

I just didn’t have time.

This is the their major obstacle people have (other than failing to plan), they create content one piece at a time, as and when it’s needed.

Part of your plan should be how you’re going to efficiently batch your content, ensuring you get everything done in the most time-efficient, resource-efficient way possible, and ensure perfect consistently.

I took three full weeks off from client work at the end of 2017 and batched everything I possibly could for 2018. There are some things I couldn’t do, as they need doing at the time, and other elements that I would ideally like to include in my content schedule, but are stretch goals – extra posts that will help boost my SEO and support my main launches for the year, but that I can cope without if it turns out I don’t have time to do them.

Batching takes time and planning. Get super organised. And if the thought of creating a whole year of content in one go is too much for you, aim for six months at a time, or do what the amazing Marie Forleo does and have one batching session every quarter.

If you follow these five steps you’ll have an absolutely killer content schedule that fully supports your goals, and ensure you’re not leaving any money on the table! To really dig deep into each step, sign up to my FREE Divine Blogging Challenge now, and let me walk you through creating your content marketing plan in detail…

How To Make A Business Book Part Of Your Content Marketing Plan

If content marketing is part of your business (or you want it to be) you probably already have a content marketing plan. You’ve probably already read a great deal about the concepts behind content marketing as a business strategy and the types of content you can (and should) use. You know you need to blog a lot, vlog a lot, tweet a lot, and generally spend an insane amount of time, effort, energy, and resources, creating content.

What you probably haven’t heard as much about is the use of books as part of your content marketing plan. Short freebies and guides, yes, but full length books? They tend to get overlooked. When you do think of them, there are a few things that will immediately put you off the idea:

I could never write a book.

It would take far too long to write a book.

Releasing a book would cost way too much money.

I don’t know how to find a publisher.

I’d never make my money back!

Sound familiar? These are all very common and perfectly understandable questions/concerns that I hear from clients all the time. Over the next few weeks in the run up to National Novel Writing Month in November, I will be blogging a lot about business books, how and why you should write one, and why November is the perfect time to do it.

How To Make A Business Book Part Of Your Content Marketing Plan

To kick everything off, here’s my ten step guide to making a business book part of your content marketing plan. Take a look, you’ll be surprised by the benefits!

Step One: Plan A Book

It’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking your book can’t actually be part of your marketing strategy until it’s published.

This is wrong.

Very wrong.

Your new business book will form part of your content marketing plan from the moment you decide to do it. Scratch that, from the moment you think it might be a good idea. One of the key concepts that you have to wrap your head around very early on here is that you’re not writing the book you want to write. You can, but the odds are it won’t help your business. 

In order to do this, you need to find out what kind of business book your tribe needs. This means market research and planning. Take a look at other business books in your niche. Ask your tribe which business books they love, which authors they devour. Consider the topics that are very popular, and the topics that could be the next big thing. Ideally, you want to combine the two.

Try to find a subject you can write on with great authority, that your tribe have told you they would love, that straddles one extremely popular subject, and one little-known subject that could be the next big thing. If you’ve really niched down in your business, the odds are you’re already doing something that’s little-known but could be the next big thing.

Once you have your subject, test it. Survey your tribe and potential ideal clients. Find out if it’s something they really would be interested in. Get their opinions on titles, chapter topics, themes.

For example, the original title of my current WIP was When the Phoenix Dances, and the cover was one of the illustrations. I was very attached to both, but I surveyed my tribe and potential clients and they didn’t get it: they thought it looked more like a novel that a business book, and didn’t immediately understand what it was about.

In hindsight I should have realised this, but this is why you need an outside perspective! I changed the title and cover, based on feedback from my tribe.

When The Phoenix Dances: Soulful Selling for Female Entrepreneurs by Hazel Butler How To Make A Business Book Part Of Your Content Marketing Plan

The Tao of Corporate Storytelling: A Guide to Copywriting and Business Narrative by Hazel Butler How To Make A Business Book Part Of Your Content Marketing Plan

The final working title reached – with a lot of help from my tribe – is The Tao of Corporate Storytelling.

Rather different.

One was about me, and what I wanted the book to be, the other was about them, and what they needed the book to be. 

You should always work to what your readers need from your book, and not what you want from it.

Now plan your book according to that data (don’t worry, I’ll be doing a post on how to plan your book very soon!). 

Step Two: Take Your Readers On Your Writing Journey

Once you have your book planned, you need to start writing it. Whether you’re writing it as part of National Novel Writing Month over the course of November, or doing it in fits and starts as you’re able, keep your tribe updated. If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter you will regularly see photos of me out and about with a notebook/laptop. Sometimes with a coffee in a café, other times down the pub with a pint, or at the beach. If you’re writing, your tribe needs to know about it!

  • Which bit are you working on?
  • Are you finding it easy or are you really struggling?
  • Do you have block? If so, how are you addressing it?
  • Are you really exacted to share a particular part of it with them?
  • Have you hit any mile stones – finished a chapter, reached the half way mark, finally figured out why a particular section wasn’t working?

Don’t forget to use the relevant hashtags when posting updates to drawn in new readers and grow your tribe even further. #AmWriting and #WritersRoad are good, but you need some specific to your ideal clients!

Step Three: Give Bits Of Your Book Away For Free

The sooner you start teasing your book, the better. There are many ways you can do this. The most effective are to pull quotes from your new book, create lovely, branded memes (like mine below), and share them on social media. 

HOW TO MAKE A BUSINESS BOOK PART OF YOUR CONTENT MARKETING PLAN Quotes From 'The Tao of Corporate Storytelling: A Guide to Copywriting and Business Narrative, by Hazel Butler

Quotes From ‘The Tao of Corporate Storytelling: A Guide to Copywriting and Business Narrative, by Hazel Butler

Share your little heart out. Use the literal writing process:

  • Your computer screen open on the document
  • Pages from your notebook
  • Index cards detailing sections and chapters of the book, laid out on the floor

And then shots of the later stages of the book’s progress:

  • The cover design and/or illustrations
  • The first draft, printed out and awaiting reading
  • Scribbles of red pen all over pages you’re editing
  • The proof copy once it arrives from the printers

The idea is to give your followers a sense of the book and what it is about long before it’s available. The real trick here is to prove the book’s value, and show them why the need to read the whole thing.

Hands down the best way to do this is to let them read the first chapter for free. You can very easily share a PDF of the draft of your first chapter as soon as you have it. 

Step Four: Build A Book List

Just as you build an email list for your business as a whole, you should be building a list of people interested in your new book. Start doing this as soon as you announce you are writing the book, don’t wait! There will always be people immediately interested. There will always be people who read the quotes you are sharing freely and want more. Make it easy for them! Include a description with each meme you share including the quote, details of the book it’s from (title, publication date if you know it yet) and a link to sign up to receive the first chapter for free as soon as it’s available.

You don’t have to have the first chapter ready to go when you start getting people on the list to receive it! At the time of penning this blog post, my first chapter of The Tao of Corporate Storytelling isn’t finalised yet. There’s still a very prominent page on the site where people can sign up, with buttons and links to it everywhere. By the time you publish you should have a list of people ready and waiting to BUY! 

Your book list should also be a section of your MAIN EMAIL LIST – a book is the biggest list builder you will EVER create, make sure you’re taking advantage of it from the start. Everyone signing up to your book list automatically gets added to your main list, to start receiving your newsletter.

Step Five: Write The BEST Book Possible

Many people make the mistake of thinking a business book doesn’t need to be earth shattering. That it can be a perfunctory thing created as a marketing tool and then forgotten about. That it doesn’t need to matter. While it’s true that your book will be an amazing marketing tool, it won’t work unless it’s a good book.

By ‘good’, I mean well planned, well structured, well written, thoroughly edited and proofread by a skilled professional, professionally formatted, has a top-notch, gorgeous cover and/or illustrations, and is published in a high-quality format. If you’re only publishing in electronic form, the latter part isn’t relevant, but if you’re publishing a paperback/hardback version you need to make sure the printing is first rate.

The reason for this is really simple: your book is a reflection of your business. If your book is crap, people will assume you are crap, your business is crap, and your other products and services are crap too. Conversely if your book is professional and fulfills a need, they will assume you are professional and can fulfill their needs, and that your business, products, and services, are something the NEED.

Your book is an investment. Don’t skimp on ANYTHING.

Step Six: Offer Advanced Reader Copies

Once you have your book in its final stages, when there is nothing left to do but the last proofread and checking the format for the final version, you can made advanced reader copies (ARCs) available. You can offer them exclusively to people already on your book list, or you can offer them to anyone interested and thus grow your book list still further. There are merits to both approaches: one rewards those who have already shown interest, and gives you an extra hook to get people to sign up to the list from the start; the other gives you a massive competition to run across all your platforms ahead of the book launch, raising the profile of the launch. 

Don’t give away the farm. Decide on a set number of copies. It’s easy to stick to a small number to make them even more valuable, but bear in mind that one of the main reasons for giving away ARCs is to get REVIEWS of your book ahead of your launch. Only about one in ten people who read your book will actually review it (excluding friends and family, who generally feel compelled). If you want lots of reviews ahead of time, you need to get the book out to a reasonable number of people. Hard copies will cost you money to print and post. You need to factor in the costs when you’re deciding how many you will offer.

If you’re offering them to your list exclusively, select names at random until all copies are allocated. If you’re running a competition, make sure you promote it everywhere for a reasonable length of time.

You should also approach professionals in your field and specifically request that they review your book in advance of the launch. This will give you exposure to a wider audience who are likely to be interested in your book, and give you quotes to use on the cover, in the front matter, on any promotional materials, and during the launch.

Step Seven: Launch Like You Mean It

Launch your book with as much passion and fanfare as you can muster. If you have kept your costs very low, and have a huge following, you might break even. If you don’t, don’t let it get you down. It doesn’t mean the project will never break even, it’s just the nature of publishing. 

Your eventual goal for the book should be that it provides you with consistent passive income. But that’s your end game. Your main goal here is to make your book a part of your content marketing plan, and use it to market your business.

Consider how much money you would spend on an advertising campaign to generate the amount of attention and leads your book has already created. And that’s before it has even been published! A few key things you will experience leading up to and during the launch of your book (if you’ve followed this plan!):

  • A surge in your social media following
  • A massive increase in your list
  • Increased traffic to your website
  • An uptake in inquiries and sales 

And that’s before you’ve sold a single copy. So buck up, this isn’t about making green – that’s the gravy, baby!

Pour your heart and soul into launching your book and make the most you can out of it from a marketing perspective. This is a HUGE opportunity massively to grow your tribe with a single campaign. Don’t waste it!

Step Eight: Quote, Reference, Mention, Repeat

Now you’re a bona fide author, for the love of god, milk it! Quote your book, reference your book, mention your book at every available opportunity and in every relevant blog post. Don’t shove it down people’s throats when they’re not looking at something directly related. If you’ve chosen the right topic, you will be able to talk about lots in a natural way.

Step Nine: Give Your Book Away

You already ran one competition to give away ARCs. Wait six months to a year and run another, this time with the final copies available. This works well if you’ve sold lots of eBooks but few hard copies (which is totally normal!). People who love the eBook will want the hard copy, people who’ve never read it will just want a copy.

Also, take advantage of that wonderful boon every author embraces: SWAG!

Bookmarks, key chains, post cards, posters, business cards, mugs, notebooks… Even cushions and other home wear items can all bear elements of your book. Whether it’s quotes, the cover, or the illustrations, it doesn’t matter. Sell the high-end items, give away the cheap options in spades. Imagine pens with your name, business logo, and a quote from your book, nestling in the handbag of every woman in your tribe.

How many of those women do you think will turn into paying clients one day?

Step Ten: Write Another Book

I know, I know, you hate me for saying it. It’s so much work, stressful, expensive and so rewarding. Better, it will give your business a massive boost, not just now but for years to come.

Do it all again…

Advanced List Buiding: The Cake Construction And How To Use It

A while ago I wrote an introductory post to List Building, list building 101 if you will. This week I’m doing a follow-up on that post, in the form of Advanced List Building, essentially list building 202 – an advanced post about how to use Email List Building for marketing. I’ll be explaining my own signature method of using blogging to build your list. It’s called The Cake Construction, and was mentioned briefly in How to Grow Your Tribe and Market Like A Ninja. I’m going to go into it in more detail for you know, as this is a core concept I use in my content marketing strategy, and in planning blog schedules, both for myself and my clients.

Imagine for a moment a giant cake. Like a wedding cake, with four big fat tiers of cakey goodness. The bottom tier is very large, the next one up is smaller, but still quite large, the third tier is a medium size, and the top most tier is small. Each tier of The Cake represents a form of content in your business. When combined to form The Cake Construction, this content is a marketing machine that will grow your list at a phenomenal rate.

If for some reason you don’t like cake, you can think of it as a pyramid, but I like cake, so…

Advanced List Buiding: The Cake Construction And How To Use It

Tier Four: Free Content

The lowest tier in your cake is tier four, and it consists entirely of FREE CONTENT. Free content can be just about anything but the main forms you should definitely be using are:

  • Blog posts
  • Guest Posts (blog posts on other people’s sites)
  • Interviews
  • Newsletters
  • Social Media Posts – tweets, status updates, memes, videos etc.
  • SWAG – bookmarks, pens, postcards and other very cheap marketing materials featuring your business name, logo, website, and/or quotes and images by you.
  • Tasters & Testers – a mini version of one of your products or services
  • Tutorials (short and sweet)
  • Vlogs
  • Webinars

The reason this tier is so big is because you need to produce free content in swathes. It must be high quality, despite the fact its free. It must showcase your Zone of Genius and just how awesome you are. It must tease all your knowledge, but not give away the farm – keep the best bits back. It needs to be SERIOUSLY TASTY free content – entertaining, helping, informing, or a combination of the three. It has to make your ideal clients fill their bellies and purr like a kitten. Then it has to make them rub up against your legs begging for more. You need a LOT of free content so you can keep that kitty happy and get it used to eating your delicious cake.

Tier Three: Freebies & Upgrades

The content in this tier is still 100% free, but they do come with a very small, non monetary ‘price tag’, in the form of an email address. This is where your list building starts, but don’t be fooled – you can’t have this tier without the tier below it. Tier four is your base, it’s the foundation of the construction, without it everything else falls down. Your free content is what shores up everything else and makes the whole magical machine possible…

But how does it work?

Freebies

Freebies should only be available for download in exchange for an email address and the agreement that it will be added to your list. It should be abundantly clear that people can unsubscribe from this list at will, and yes, you WILL get people signing up, nabbing your free stuff, and immediately unsubscribing, just like you will have an unsubscribe rate of about 1% every time you send out a newsletter.

Them’s the breaks, kid, suck it up.

Some great ideas for freebies:

  • Cheat sheets
  • Worksheets
  • Guides
  • Short eBooks
  • Desktop backgrounds
  • Planners

Content Upgrades

Any piece of 100% free content from tier four has the potential to be UPGRADED. For example, you have a totally free post (just like this one) that provides oddles of quality content, and then you add something to it. Something extra. You UPGRADE the blog post, or the vlog, or the guest post, or the interview, or the webinar, so that there is an extra awesome thing, directly related to the piece of content, that will either help readers action what they have been reading, further their understanding of the subject, or simply provide them with something pleasant but useful. You will very soon be able to download a nice poster version of The Cake Construction, as a content upgrade for this post (it was supposed to be available today, but the site is glitching so you’ll have to bear with me!).

You will notice I refer to this tier as the ‘low price’ tier. This is not because people are paying you MONEY. They’re not. But they are still GIVING YOU SOMETHING. They’re giving you an email address, which is worth a lot more than you think. Because once you have their email, once they’re on your newsletter list, once they’re on this level, getting them to graduate to the next level up, and the one after, gets a LOT easier!

Content upgrades are the very essence of The Cake Construction. You start by getting people hooked on something totally free of charge, you then offer them something BETTER, that requires a tiny bit more of a commitment – an email address. This steps them up a notch on your client ladder. They’re on your list. The next step after this is to get them to pay you cashy money for something…

Tier Two: Medium Priced Products & Services

Your next tier up is tier two, and it’s a reasonably large wedge of cake, but nowhere near as big as tiers three and four. Tier two products and services don’t have to be related to what was on offer in your third and fourth tier, but it really helps if they are. It’s a lot easier to convince the cat it’s worth paying for a larger slice of a cake they already love, than it is to convince them to buy a cake they haven’t tasted yet. Linking your content across tiers relies on the established relationship and experience the cat has had with you, the other requires them to take a leap of faith and trust everything you do is as good as the cake they’ve already eaten. Once your cat has been chowing down on your free content for a while, they will be addicted to the yummy cakey goodness of you and gladly hand over their email for more cake, taking them up to your third tier. Once they’re there, you can offer that happy little cat something EVEN BETTER in exchange for a SMALL amount of money. The cake on this tier is far superior to the free content, freebies, and upgrades. Your kitty cat will happily hand over a bit of cash to try it.

Here are some good second tier cakes:

  • Full Length Book (eBook and/or print), rather than a free guide or short eBook (< £15)
  • Full Versions of Your Tasters & Testers (<£15)
  • Masterclasses – in-depth tutorials that last c. 1 hour (Membership Club Content @ c. £10/Month)
  • Low Price Products/Services (<£30)
  • Short Courses (£20-£30)

You’ll notice I’ve assigned a numerical value to each suggestion. These are rough guides, and the exact price you charge will depend on your overall prices, but you should think of these items as The Cheap Seats. They’re introductory level products and services and you should have a range of them – different items, for different prices, from about £5 up to around £30. Books are great at this level, especially if you can link them to a high-priced product or service (see below). Short courses are also brilliant, especially if they follow on from free and full tasters and testers.

The idea is really very simple: create content that can incrementally increase in value and skill level. You can do the same thing with blog posts. Just as I did a basic ‘list building 101’ blog before I wrote this one, and will go on to blog about list building in more detail in the future. You build a catalogue of posts on a single subject that get progressively more and more advanced. If they become advanced enough you can make them exclusive newsletter content, only available to people on your list. The next step after that is setting up a paid membership club with a monthly fee, which gives members access to your best blog posts and some really high quality exclusive content, like master classes and webinars.

Tier One: High Priced Products & Services

Here we are at the top of your cake, and despite the fact this is the elite tier, the crème de la crème of your cake, it functions in much the same way the previous tiers did. This level of products and services is better than the last – more valuable, more advanced, more highly priced (and prized!). You can actually have five versions of one eCourse if you’re smart about it: an elite bells and whistles edition that’s top-tier, a full but not elite edition that’s tier two, an advanced edition and a full but basic edition for tier three, and an introductory and totally free edition for tier four. For example, you will soon be seeing this develop on The Write Copy Girl, as I will soon be launching The Divine Blogging Challenge, a free course to help you plan your blog schedule using my signature method. Some time after that I’ll be launching a low price (c.£15) Tool Kit to walk you through building a 12 month blog schedule, and a an advanced version of the Tool Kit including additional guidance on how to monetise your blog. The next step after that will be a full-blown eCourse, followed (at some point) by a live version. The trick is to ensure that each version has a lot more value than the last, while simultaneously covering what was included in the less advanced versions for anyone who’s not done them.

Designing Your Cake

You will notice I’ve described each tier in terms of price but that I’ve also marked tiers one to three with ‘Master’, ‘Journeyman’, and ‘Apprentice’. This is because there are two ways to ensure your offerings are more valuable the higher up the cake they go: one is to do it by price, from free to high, the other is to do it by skill level. When you’re first learning a new trade you are an apprentice. Once you’ve been at it for a while you become a journeyman, and when you really know your stuff you take the title of master.

Your paid-for content should be divided according to price or skillset. Many products don’t require different levels of skill to use, so you must divide them by price. Supermarkets are brilliant at this – they have a cheap Value range, the everyday brand range, and a Premium range. Tesco, for example, have Tesco Value, Tesco, and Tesco Finest. Sainsbury’s has Sainsbury’s Basics, Sainsbury’s, and Taste the Difference.

Think of your first tier as the free tasters you get at the supermarket. As you’re walking around doing your weekly shop you can sample cheeses, breads, crisps, all sorts of yummy treats. If you like them, you’ll find the product right next to the sample stand, ready to be picked up and put in your trolley. It doesn’t matter which range the sample is from – value, normal, or finest – if you like it you’re likely to buy it. If you’re using the low, medium, and high price model, determining what goes in each tier is simple, you just need to decide a price bracket for each and ensure you have SOMETHING in every tier.

For other products and services, you need to consider things from the point of view of the client and their skill set or current level of need.

Skill

Are they totally new to the concept, craft, or subject you’re selling? If so, they’re an apprentice, and need easing in. They will have to start on tier three because they don’t yet know enough to handle the higher tiers. Once they have some experience and are more of a journeyman, they can try the next level up. Once they’ve got a lot more experience and are getting really good, they’re a master, ready for the top-level you offer. Your free content is there to get them hooked to begin with, to convince them that, yes, they really are interested in learning about this.

Need

Dividing based on level of need is similar to skill, in that a person doesn’t need the tools of a master while still an apprentice. It goes beyond this, however, as you can have clients who are at master level in terms of knowledge, but don’t currently require the top-level materials or services. A good example of this is when you’re just setting up a new StartUp. You can have extensive knowledge when it comes to business etc. but because your business is brand spanking new, you don’t yet have an email list. You still need the software though, so you choose a provider and signup for a plan. You will select the lowest tier plan on offer, because you don’t currently have a lot of subscribers on your list. As your list grows, your need grows, and you will have to upgrade to higher priced packages to accommodate your growing list and business. Here, the level you are at is determined by need, not skill. In all other respects, however, the manner in which you allocate products and services to tiers is the same as that used for skill sets, so I include them in the same model to save confusion.

If you’re dividing your products and services using the apprentice, journeyman, and master model, price isn’t the point, skill level is. You might charge more for your apprentice course, products, or services, because they need to be broad in range, time consuming, and/or high in volume to get people started. You might charge more for your master course than anything else because once people reach that level, courses that can teach them new information are scarce. Price, in this instance, is irrelevant to determining what goes in each tier. Base it on skill level and/or need, not pricing. As with the price-based model you MUST have SOMETHING in each tier, but beyond that which tier things fall into is determined entirely by the skill level, or requirement of the client.

One final thing: free content (level one) should vary so that all your clients get good value free content, regardless of their level of experience, needs, or whether they’re already paying clients or not.

How To Grow A Dedicated Tribe And Build A Successful Business

Divine Blogging: Divine Blogging: The Kick-Ass Content Marketing Strategy To Grow A Dedicated Tribe Of Raving Fans, And Build A Wildly Successful BusinessThere have been rumblings and rumours for a while now, but this week I’m beyond delighted to confirm that Divine Blogging: The Book will be released very soon.

As those of you who follow me on social media, and several of my existing clients already know, I’ve been working on this bad boy for a while now. November last year (National Novel Writing Month) was spent working on nothing else. This was highly unusual for me, as I usually spend NaNo on fiction – it’s my treat for spending so much of my time writing for work the rest of the year. But my fantasy stories had to take a back seat last year while I got this (mostly finished).

After numerous marathon writing sessions throughout November, I won NaNo (for those of you who don’t know, that means writing 50K words on a single book in the 30 days of November), but hadn’t quite finished the book.

It’s had a bit of work done on it since then here and there, but there are still chunks I’m refining. Even so, I’m happy enough with it to have set a publication date, and the first chapter is now complete and available for download.

If you’re wondering what it’s all about, simply put the book is my way of helping all the lovely members of my tribe who have been clamouring for a DIY version of my signature Content Marketing system, The Divine Blogging Design. Here’s everything you need to know…

What’s Included In Divine Blogging: The Book?

The book is divided into four parts:

Part One

Delves into the 12 psychological archetypes I use to create a detailed ideal client profile, and tailor content so that it speak directly to your perfect audience. Each archetype is represented by a God and Goddess from mythology to help you visualise their attributes and personalities. It looks at what makes each of the archetypes tick, what motivates them, and the effect that has on your business.

Part Two

Is all about structure, beginning with constructing the archetypal profile of your ideal client, planning your blog schedule, and the various components that go into a successful content marketing strategy. It covers the concepts underpinning core strategies that support your blogging efforts, including:

  • Social Media Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • List-Building
  • Nurture Sequences

It also covers how to repurpose your blog content and use it in all of these contexts to promote your business, and drive signups and sales.

Part Three

Covers the nitty gritty of writing, from planning and research, to composing compelling headlines and calls to action, and penning the perfect blog posts, content upgrades, and lead magnets. Workflows and templates are included to really help you nail your writing.

Part Four

Looks at the final element involved in building a successful blog and using it to market a business: attitude. This dives a bit deeper into mindset issues to creativity, staying motivated, avoiding writer’s block, and self-care.

Release Date: 1st May 2018

Paperback: £9.99

Kindle: £7.99

Fancy a sneak peek? Download chapter one now FOR FREE. No catch, no tricks, just signup for your free copy and I’ll send you a reminder when the full version is available…

The God Off: How To Use Free SEO Plugins Properly

On Monday I posted about five easy ways to market your blog posts, and an interesting point came up in the comments. Today, I thought I’d address that issue instead of my planned post, which I’ll get to later in the year.

One of the methods I outlined in Monday’s post was the use of SEO to drive traffic to your content. This prompted a comment from Kevin Arrow over at SarkeMedia, the fabulous people behind the equally awesome 30 Day Blogging Challenge (if you’ve not tried this yet, you’re missing one the blogging boosts out there!):

The God Off How To Use Free SEO Plugins Properly

The Problem With Free SEO Plugins

Simply put, where SEO is concerned there’s a bit of a God Off going on. The likes of Google, Yahoo, Bing! and other search-based sites form a pantheon of Search Engine Gods.

You will often hear me talk about things which please and displease the Search Engine Gods. They all have algorithms that respond to particular things. By tailoring your content to provide them with the things they want, you are paying homage to the gods and this pleases them.

They will reward you with a higher ranking on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

But there are other gods in the SEO sphere, newer gods, lesser gods, who were born out of a rising need among bloggers to please the Search Engine Gods.

And if you have a free SEO plugin installed on your site, you’re already worshipping them.

I referenced Yoast SEO in my response to Kevin specifically for two reasons:

  1. It’s the most widely used of these plugins
  2. It has a distinctive ‘traffic light’ system to tell you when your posts are SEO friendly, and when they need work. A green light means good, a red means bad, an amber means you’re middling and there’s room for improvement.

Why It’s A Mistake To Worship The Green Light

As Kevin pointed out, these plugins have been getting a lot better in recent years, and people have come to rely on them. There is the widely held belief that all one needs to do in order to optimise a blog posts for SEO is make that damn light turn green.

It’s a bit of an obsession.

But the result of this is that all your hard work goes to making the Yoast Gods happy.

And the Yoast Gods (or the gods of whatever plugin you have) are not the Search Engine Gods.

Two completely different pantheons.

Why is this a problem?

Turning that light green makes your posts perfectly optimised in theory, but not in practice.

The plugins may have got extremely good, but they still run on a couple of fundamental principles that are, by modern SEO standards, incredibly out-dated:

Keyword Stuffing

This is the notion that repeating the same keyword as many times as humanly possible in a post will make it rank better on SERPs.

Nope, WRONG!

You will actually be PENALISED by the Search Engine Gods for Keywords Stuffing!

You see, the gods have learned to recognise keywords that are similar, phrases that are related, and judge a post based on the overall quality of the content, not the number of times a single word or phrase appears. It’s called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) and it’s the way forward where SEO is concerned.

There are certain places it’s important to include your keyword(s), such as the metadata, the URL, and the introduction of your post (which is often used by SERPs in place of the metadata), along with the occasional heading and the file names and alt-text on images.

These are good places to include your keyword.

Here are a few bad ones:

  • Every single header you use throughout the whole post, even when it makes no sense and is repetitive and irritating.
  • Tagging it onto the beginning and end of sentences just for the sake of including it more often.
  • Not using abbreviations after the introduction of the phrase and instead using the full thing every time you mention it. Every. Damn. Time. (If you’re wondering why this would be annoying consider how tedious it would be to read ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ every time someone wrote SEO!)
  • Finding ‘ingenious’ ways to work it into sentences, not because it adds to the sentence or is necessary to convey your meaning, but simply because it’s another instance it appears in the post.
  • Using it as the entirety of your title when it’s insufficient, or including it to the detriment of the title. Writing compelling and clickable headlines that actually get people to read your posts is an art form. Sometimes, it’s better to write a great headline than it is to include the keyword you optimised the post for in the headline. If the sole reason you’re writing a post is to create a piece of content that will attract people searching for that keyword, then go for it, but if your objective goes beyond SEO alone (i.e. creating high-value content, list building, demonstrating your expertise, etc.) you write the best title you possible can, regardless of the keyword.
  • The opening sentence of your post. Not because it fits, makes sense, or is in any way relevant to what you’re saying there, but because the Yoast Gods demand it!

Simplistic Language

A lot of what determines a post’s ‘readability’ (at least as far as the Yoast Gods are concerned) is based on how clear and simple the language you use is. Short sentences (leaving no room for complex evaluation or deep thoughts), short words (severely limiting you vocabulary), no complex phrases (giving the impression you’re speaking to a child), no strings of sentences starting with the same word of phrase (frequently ruining any cadence you’re trying to build).

While some of this is genuinely useful stuff (keeping paragraphs short and using regular subheadings, for example, are both genuinely good pieces of advice), the majority of it is just dumbing down your content to the lowest common denominator.

You aren’t making your posts a better read by conforming to all this crap. You are sacrificing the genuine readability of your post, and a lot of its value to the Yoast Gods, and neither the Search Engine Gods nor your audience will appreciate it.

There are certain contexts in which simple language is beneficial. Product descriptions and website copy, for example, frequently benefit from keeping things short and simple.

But this is more for the sake of clarity and scannability than it is a reflection of your audience’s desire to read simple language, or anything relating to SEO algorithms.

Those algorithms get smarter and smarter every single year, they know quality writing when they see it. Dumb it down too much and they will actually value it less, just as your audience will value it less.

Here’s What Free SEO Plugins Are Good For…

Despite my criticism, there are some great benefits to using an SEO plugin, provided you understand their limitations and don’t sacrifice the quality of your posts for the sake of making that damn light go green.

I actually have Yoast SEO installed on my own sites. It’s a helpful plugin. But I am not, and never will be, a slave to the green light. Here’s how they are actually helpful:

  • They remind you to include your keyword in the URL (which usually needs simplifying and setting, and is easily forgotten).
  • They’re also great at reminding you that you should have alt-text set on any images you’ve used, which is something else it’s easy to forget.
  • They remind you to set a meta description, also easily overlooked.
  • They’re helpful at flagging sections that are too long and need to be broken up with more subheadings.

In short, they’re great at putting the finishing touches on your SEO, but you should not be sitting re-writing your post, after you have painstakingly crafted, edited, and proofread it, just so the light goes green.

The only thing you’re achieving by doing that is making the Yoast Gods happy. And in the great God Off, the Search Engine Gods still rule supreme.

Are You Being Authentic Or Fauxthentic In Your Business?

Authenticity has been a big buzz word in the biz world for a while now. But how can you ensure authenticity in business, what does authenticity even mean? And are you truly being authentic, or do you just think you are?

Are you, actually, being fauxthentic?

What Does It Mean To Be Authentic In Business? 

Authenticity can be easily defined as being genuine, real, and not false or copied. At face value it would seem easy to apply this to business: don’t lie, don’t copy other people or their ideas, be true to yourself. But authenticity in business isn’t as easy as it sounds. Our lives are increasingly virtual. We exist more and more in the online world and less and less in reality. All this virtual existence makes us crave something real, especially in the virtual world. The digital age has made the world small. It’s also flooded the world with women, just like you, trying to be authentic in business. 

While we now happily spend a fortune online, in both time and money, business in the online world is very different to business in the real world. In the real world when we want something we walk into a shop, pick it up, pay, and leave. No muss, no fuss. We may ask a sales assistant where to find what we want, or which of the available products is best, but it’s a very simple process.

Reality is straightforward.

The virtual world is very different. Anything can exist in a virtual reality. It’s the world of make-believe, of fantasy, and people online regularly expect more than a straightforward buy, especially from a small business.

They expect an experience. An adventure. An Odyssey.

They also expect that experience to be as honest as possible, as authentic as possible. Online businesses have to keep up with consumer demand for authenticity in a way seldom seen in the real world. In the real world we don’t scrutinise every word a company says on an individual basis. The press may poke about occasionally. There may be rumours and stories flying about.

This not only means what YOU write about your business, but what everyone else writes about it too. And when you run a business online you use a lot of words. If content marketing is the core of your business, every single thing you release will be scrutinised.

In order to survive in online business you MUST give people what they want, and expect, from an online business in the virtual age: total authenticity.

Does Authenticity In Business REALLY Work?

 Being genuinely authentic in business genuinely works for several reasons:

  1. It infuses your brand image and identity with something vibrant that allows you to become truly influential.
  2. It demonstrates you are trustworthy, both as a business and as an individual.
  3. It encourages people to engage with you and your business, join your tribe, and become eager supporters of you and what you do.
  4. It boosts your business profile to something beyond ‘corporate’. This is very appealing to the modern mentality which is increasingly mistrustful of big business.
  5. It makes you and your business relateable, allowing people to more easily understand what you are offering and how it will be of benefit to them.
  6. It makes your services, products, and business more substantive and demonstrates they are high quality.

Fauxthenticity

Fauxthenticity comes into play when you underestimate your audience. When you think you can get away with shit because they won’t know any better. Or when you think that to be authentic you must present a squeaky clean image. You shy away from your real, genuine self. It can also happen when you underestimate the meaning of authenticity

At face value it is a very simple concept. It boils down to being honest and nice in the way you practice business. But if this were all it was about, true authenticity would be easy. It’s a no-brainer: in order to be successful a business has to be nice and honest.

It’s a given.

But that is only the surface meaning of authenticity in business. Failing to dig deeper, to really infuse your whole business and brand with authenticity and a ‘true to you’ feel, is where you enter the murky waters of fauxthenticty. You can end up there by accident, or because you know you need to seem to be something you’re not. Either way, it’s bad, and you need to shut that shit down. 

There are a few things to bear in mind about your readers that easily lead to fauxthenticity when they are misunderstood or ignored:

  • Your readers know far more than you presume.
  • This isn’t a ‘you verses your readers’ thing. You aren’t trying to con them, trick them, or get them to fall in line. You’re not out to brainwash them, fool them, or convince them you’re the second coming. You are trying to build a TRIBE. You may be the leader of that tribe, but all members should be equal in your eyes. Equal to each other and to you. This is a difficult concept for many to grasp. Surely if you’re the leader, you’re ‘in charge’. You’re ‘the boss’. You may be the boss of your business, but you are not the boss of your tribe. Your tribe are the only reason you HAVE a business, without them you would have nothing. RESPECT THAT!
  • Your readers are socially very well-connected, and that connection empowers them to expect extremely high standards in an unprecedented way.
  • They’ve got spunk – like, serious attitude and backbones made of diamond encrusted steel.
  • Your niche is usually their niche, which means they know enough to spot a poser at a thousand paces.
  • Duels are commonplace in the virtual world. Your readers will not be afraid to slap you in the face with a pair of gloves, call you out, and shoot you down the second they get a whiff of rodenty musk. That musk may mean you’re a rat, or is may mean you’re trying too hard and it’s showing. Either way, by the time you’ve defended yourself it will be too late, your reputation will be ruined.
  • Which leads me to this big one – THEY ALL LOVE A SCANDAL! The virtual world is generally as gossip-hungry as a desperate housewife, and often just as vindictive. If someone feels wronged, they will not hesitate to air YOUR dirty laundry in public. And the second there is even a HINT of a scandal, you will be scrutinised.
  • If part of your brand identity is that you are ‘authentic’ and the scrutiny of your readers turns up anything, ANYTHING that is not 100% genuine, you’re lost. The domino effect in your business will be difficult to halt. One false step can break your business. Online marketing is incredibly powerful, but with great power comes great responsibility… 

So Are You Being Authentic of Fauxthentic In Your Business?

The key isn’t authenticity, it’s convincing authenticity. 

To be clear, I’m not saying you need to trick people into believing you’re authentic, when you’re not. I’m saying there are a lot of people doing their best to appear authentic. They do this to the point their whole brand is about ‘authenticity’. Yet in reality there is nothing truly authentic about them. They may be purposefully deceiving, or they may simply be missing the mark. Not because they are ingenuine, but because the world got small.

People are suspicious by nature.

They’ve also heard it all before.

We’re trained to read between the lines. Look for the lie in things. Assume that if something sounds too good to be true, it is. It’s easier than ever to set yourself up as an entrepreneur, but it’s also easier than ever to scam people. And there is a FEAR that the ‘authenticity’ people project online is nothing but a mask to hide the SCAM.

This is an understandable fear. There are real people out there, really scamming and using their fauxthenticity to do it.

But there are also people being fauxthentic without realising it. It’s not because they are ingenuine. They simply don’t understand what authenticity in business means and how to truly be authentic.

Now that you have a full and complete understanding of what authenticity in business really means, you’re golden! Off with you and be genuine, and don’t forget to tell me how you’re doing!

 

Are you struggling to nail that authentic brand you crave?

Have you come across fauxthentic people in business? What did you learn from them?

I’d love to know your thoughts on this, comment bellow, or head on over to the Facebook discussion!

5 Simple Blog Marketing Strategies You Need In Your Life

Getting in the habit of writing a consistent blog is tough enough, but the biggest trap most entrepreneurs fall into once they’re nailed that part is what I call The Cornfield Paradox. Succinctly put, The Cornfield Paradox is the long-held marketing belief that ‘if you build it, they will come’.

This is utter bullshit.

Why You Need Marketing Strategies For Your Blog

Blogging alone isn’t enough, you need to actually market your blog to ensure people find it.

Now, you might be sat there thinking, “Hang about, I thought the whole point of Content Marketing was that you didn’t have to bother with all the other marketing nonsense!”

Don’t worry.

To some extent that is true. Using complementary forms of marketing, like paid advertising, is always a good idea if you can afford them. But content marketing affords you a complete marketing strategy that can be done without expending any money at all if you’re DIYing it, rather than outsourcing it to an expert.

What you will need to put in, is time.

Time to write, but also time to market. Here are five really simple blog marketing strategies that you need in your life (which don’t require paid advertising!):

Vlogging

Video is an insanely powerful marketing tool. The best way to ensure people not only find but engage with your content is to record it. You can do this in audio and release it as a Podcast, but you will get a lot more mileage out of video blogs, or vlogging.

Starting a vlog for your business isn’t as complicated as it might sound. And while there are some technical requirements you can keep these very basic.

SEO

When you’re writing your blog posts it’s hugely important  to make them as SEO-friendly as possible. This means researching and including keywords, including metadata and other formatting tricks, and learning more advanced tactics like topic clusters.

You’re going to notice video is a recurring theme here, because having a video version of your blog embedded in your post, along with the written version, does wonders for your SEO.

The Search Engine Gods like to show people multiple formats. If you have a post on the same topic as someone else, and yours is in video while they only have a written version, you have an edge.

The gods are far more likely to favour you.

Social Media Marketing

Sharing your blog posts on social media is a no-brainer. But there are ways of doing it to ensure it’s as effective as possible. Experiment with scheduling things in advance (just be aware that some sites, like Facebook, will penalise you for using any scheduling too other than their own…Facebook really sucks), repurpose the content in your blog post to create social media content, and don’t be afraid to share your social posts more than once.

Live Video

Social Media Marketing is extremely powerful but engagement can be an absolute bitch. Vlogging helps with this, but if you really want to rock your engagement on social media (and particularly Facebook) you need to experiment with Live Video (like I said, video is a recurring theme).

On days when you’re publishing a new post, hop on your favourite platform, go Live, and chat about something related to the topic. Tell a story, relate the subject of your blog to yourself and your audience. Don’t simply regurgitate what’s in the post. People can already read or watch that for themselves.

Give them something more.

I find it helpful to write a prompt for Live videos when I’m writing posts, and often hold little nuggets back from the main post so I have something relevant to say beyond the scope of the post.

Live is all about juicy little extras and conversation starters, so don’t be afraid to ask direct questions and be a little controversial.

Networking

All the fancy marketing tricks in the world can’t beat good old-fashioned networking. Find some key groups on social media where your ideal clients like to hang out, and share your posts in them whenever you have a chance. You will often find such groups have a designated ‘share your posts’ thread once a week or so. If the group rules state you only post on that thread, make sure you abide by it.

Visit the posts of other members of these groups and, if you find them genuinely interesting, post a thoughtful comment. It doesn’t have to be long, but it does need to be genuine. You will often find people return the favour. Some of my best leads have come from nothing but sharing a blog post in a social group, so it’s well worth doing!

If you’re really looking to nail your blogging efforts and transform your blog in the complete marketing solution your business needs, download the first chapter of my book, Divine Blogging now – IT’S FREE!

What’s The Most Effective Content Marketing Strategy For Me?

There are two questions I get asked more than anything else in my line of work. ‘What’s the most effective Content Marketing Strategy for me?’ and ‘Why isn’t my content marketing working?’. I’ve addressed the latter elsewhere, so today I thought I’d help you figure out exactly how you’re supposed to decide on the right strategy for your content marketing efforts.

Using Content Marketing is a lot like falling down a rabbit hole and finding yourself in Wonderland; it’s a fabulous journey, but it’s so confusing when you first get down there!

Fortunately there’s a Trinity when it comes to content marketing that helps you easily figure out the best strategy for you.

And just like Neo before you, it’s time to follow the white rabbit…

What's The Most Effective Content Marketing Strategy For Me Follow The White Rabbit

What’s The Most Effective Content Marketing Strategy For Me?

Broadly speaking there are only three types of content marketing strategy. I say broadly, because there are subtypes within those types, and slightly different ways of doing each depending on your business model. But generally speaking it boils down to three:

  1. Hobby Bloggers
  2. SEO Bloggers
  3. Content Marketing

You’ll notice that only the last one is called ‘content marketing’. That’s because there’s a lot more to a good content marketing strategy that simply blogging (or vlogging, or releasing podcasts). In the first two models it’s unusual for people to have much more going on than a blog, vlog, or podcast, but it isn’t required – the strategy will work perfectly even if you have nothing but a blog. There might be an optin or two, or social media marketing, but it’s nowhere near the level required for the third model.

The mistake most people ask when trying to figure out the best content marketing strategy for them is thinking that all three of these models are content marketing.

They’re not.

The first two are blogging strategies, which can be developed into content marketing strategies over time, but are not content marketing in their own right. The question should more accurately be:

‘Should I be blogging or content marketing?’

Here’s the difference between these three strategies…

Hobby Blogging

Hobby bloggers generally don’t have a desire for profit. Their strategy (if they have one at all) is basically: fuck it and have fun.

Whatever they’re blogging about the point is not business or making money.

If you’re a hobby blogger, the point is writing about something you love. You may be in it for the joy of writing alone, or to build a community around the topic you love, raise awareness, share your amazing skills and methods, or make a name for yourself as a kick-ass whatever-the-hell-you-blog-about.

You don’t need a content marketing strategy because your goal is simply to have fun. You’re not trying to make money. This isn’t your livelihood. If you have more going on than your blog, it’s likely social media to help grow a following. You may even have an email list. But you don’t leverage your following for anything, and your intent is not to profit from it in any way. If you earn any money at all, you likely use it to cover the costs of your hobby!

SEO Blogging

Unlike the hobby blogger the SEO blogger is in it for profit. Their goal is to promote their business (or hobby!) by getting ranked on Google and other search engines, so people find them. There’s nothing precluding hobby bloggers from using SEO to get found more easily, but the primary motivation of the SEO blogger is to drive as much traffic as possible specifically for the sake of converting readers into paying clients or customers.

SEO blogging is geared towards raising the profile and visibility of your business. It’s a perfectly viable content marketing strategy for any business, but the reason it’s still ‘only’ a blogging strategy and not a content marketing strategy is that it is confined to your blog.

The posts on your blog drive traffic to your site. You may have those posts in multiple formats (video, audio, etc.) but this is only because that is actually beneficial for your SEO.

Search Engine Optimisation is your core goal.

An SEO strategy forms a part of your overall marketing plan, but it isn’t usually the whole of it. You might have advertising and other promtional and marketing efforts going on. But where content is concerned, your blog posts are valuable purely for their SEO benefits and raising awareness and understanding of who you are and what you do.

You don’t use them in any other capacity.

The content strategy to use when SEO is your core goal is ‘little and often’, with a focus on optimising all content for relevant keywords, and updating your site as regularly as possible.

This is how you please the Search Engine Gods.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is all about the creation of extremely rich, high-value content. This is the main distinction between it and blogging. Blog posts can be any length, and are often quite short – SEO blogging generally uses posts of c.500 because they get the best ROI for the objective.

When you’re creating content as the core (or even the whole) of your marketing strategy (rather than as one of several SEO tactics which collectively form a part of your strategy), it needs to be much longer.

Ideally c.2500 words per post.

If you’re recording video or audio (vlogs and podcasts) rather than writing, the length still applies, you’re just speaking rather than writing!

You need more because you have more objectives:

  1. You want to build a dedicated tribe of ideal clients
  2. You need to nurture that tribe and convert them into clients
  3. And you probably also want to create some passive income

And you need a lot more to do all of that than simply banging out blog posts when you feel like it, or on a semi-regular or infrequent basis.

You need to be consistent and regular in your content, you have to hustle to promote it, and you have to have a system in place to capture your readers’ email addresses and nurture them so they buy.

Content marketing only works if all these elements are in place.

So Which Strategy Is Right For Me?

As with most areas of business it’s vital that you align your objective(s) with the strategy you choose. Once you’ve figure out which method is best for you, you’ll be able to dig deeper into the subtypes I mentioned and figure out how to tailor it to your specific needs. But the first step is finding the right model. To help you out I’ve created a FREE Cheat Sheet, download it now and follow the white rabbit to the perfect content marketing strategy for you…

What The Hell Is Content Marketing And Why Do I Need It?

If you have a business, you already use content marketing, whether you realise it or not. But what the hell is content marketing, and why exactly do you need to be using it in your business?

The truth is, all marketing runs on content; it’s not possible to market a business without it. From advertising copy to product description, website copy to sales pages, your entire marketing strategy would grind to a halt without content.

What The Hell Is Content Marketing?

Content Marketing takes this notion and expands on it, placing your focus on the production and distribution of incredibly high-quality, interesting, useful, and entertaining content.

Rather than content forming a useful part of your sales and marketing machine, content becomes the beating heart at the core of your business. The nexus around which everything turns. Any other elements of your marketing strategy are merely a means of promoting or delivering your content effectively.

Why You Need Content Marketing

The rise of the digital age is leaving traditional forms of marketing in the dust. Every year, marketing tactics that have been tried, tested, and used for generations are becoming increasingly less effective in the face of a world ever-more-obsessed with the Internet and technology.

The Internet of Things is the ultimate culmination of these two global obsessions.

If you’re new to entrepreneurship, you need to hit the ground running with a marketing strategy geared to the digital era. If you’re an established business owner venturing more and more into the online world, you’re probably coming to understand that there has to be a better way to market your business than the methods you’re currently using. And if you’re already hip to the content marketing revolution you probably figured out pretty quickly that creating all that content takes a lot of work, and a lot of planning – banging out a blog post every now and then isn’t going to cut it.

Digital Marketing is the way forward in business. And because content already forms at least part of every marketing strategy, Content Marketing is the perfect strategy to employ in a modern business.

You’re already doing (or should be doing!) most of it anyway.

You just need to know how to do it strategically. Fortunately, help is at hand! Download your FREE chapter of Divine Blogging and unlock the secret to my own signature content marketing strategy…

10 Tips To Ensure You’re Always Writing For Your Ideal Client

We all know how important it is to connect with your ideal customer, your perfect client. Between market research, surveys, questionnaires, avatars and imaginary profiles, as business women we go to extraordinary lengths to ensure we know EVERYTHING about our ideal client. We know how old they are, the type of area they live in, the shops they like, the clothes they like, the magazines, books, and blogs they read. We have a perfectly drawn image of them in our minds and we know EVERYTHING must be channeled directly to them. But when it comes to writing copy, it can be tricky to find the words to attract, hook, and enthrall the real-world versions of the ideal client that lives in your mind. Here are ten simple tips to ensure you’re always writing for your ideal client!

Tip #1 Learn Their Language

Language is a powerful thing. It’s also a diverse and changeable thing. Speaking your clients’ language is the most important thing to nail when writing copy. I’m not referring to the general language they speak, like English, or French, I’m talking about the subtleties of language that are shared by particular groups.

For example, my ideal clients are exclusively female entrepreneurs and there are certain terms used in that particular niche, such as (ironically) ‘ideal client’, ‘list building’, ‘uplevel’, ‘upsell’, ‘resonate’, ‘abundance’, ‘zone of genius’, and a whole host of marketing and business terms that I wouldn’t necessarily use normally, even if I was discussing the same subject.

‘Resonate’, for example, is not a word I would ever, ever use to describe hearing something that really hit me deeply, that struck me to my core, that I could wholeheartedly relate to. To me, ‘resonate’ means ‘to be filled with a deep, full, reverberating sound‘ not ‘to be filled with a deep, full, reverberating emotion‘. I actually find the use of the word resonate very annoying in that context, because I’m an extremely literal person and I love wordology. Yet it is a commonly used term among female entrepreneurs that is widely understood to mean something has struck a chord with you. In order to ensure that you’re writing for your ideal clients, that you’re speaking their language, you must learn the words and terms that they collectively use and understand, even if you don’t like them!

Tip #2 Be True To You

While it’s important to speak your ideal clients’ language, it’s equally important to remain authentic in your writing. Write like yourself, not someone you think they would want to work with. Keeping up that level of pretense is not only dishonest, it won’t do you any favours. People are surprisingly savvy when it comes to things like this, if you’re putting on a show, they will know. So write like yourself.

If you’re partial to the occasional F Bomb, drop it.

If you like to call people ‘love’ or ‘hon’ or ‘sweetie darling’ do it.

If you’re a Northern lass (like me) retain your authentic dialect (even if it means explaining a phrase every now and then!).

If you’re a grammar Nazi and a real stickler for details embrace that. Likewise if you have a more relaxed, informal manner when it comes to grammar, embrace it.

Nobody will think any less of you because you prefer not to end sentences with prepositions, and nobody will judge you if you don’t really care that the correct form of who following a preposition is whom. If you’re at all unsure, ask yourself one question: Would I say this if I were speaking out loud? If the answer is a resounding ‘No!’, change it for something you would say. Read your words aloud if it helps, see if they feel right, or if they make you uncomfortable.

Not everyone will like you. That’s a fact of life. But the people who do like you will love you, because you are sharing yourself authentically and holding nothing back.

Tip #3 Be Professional Not Formal

There is a time and a place for formal writing and it is almost never on a blog. It’s a common misconception that ‘professional’ means ‘formal’. My clients frequently struggle to create blog posts that read like university essays or text books. The majority of the time there is no need for this level of formality, certainly not while blogging. If you’re writing a longer piece that is designed to inform on a high intellectual level, then formal writing is your friend, but the rest of the time it’s very off-putting to people – even people accustomed to reading formal language.

The question of how to write professional necessitates a blog post all of its own, but always remember that to write professionally you should keep things of, relating to, or connected with your profession, your zone of genius, whereas to write formally is to take on a much more academic and less conversational style. You can write professionally and remain conversational, friendly, and authentic, you cannot do this in formal writing.

Tip #4 Don’t Underestimate Your Readers

Don’t dumb things down because you’re worried not everyone will get it. If you get the urge to dumb something down, resist it and instead offer a simple, succinct explanation for the benefit of anyone unfamiliar with the topic or term. Brackets, asides, and text boxes for fun facts, top tips, or definitions are all great ways of working in simple explanations without sounding patronising or over simplifying.

Tip #5 Never Forget The Burden Of Knowledge

Right up alongside underestimating readers is assuming they know as much about something as you do. If you’re blogging about a topic, chances are you know it well. You will have read about it yourself, have practical experience of it, or at the very least have developed and interest and started learning about it. The burden of knowledge is a particular state of mind we all get in occasionally when we know so much about something or are so familiar with a topic or problem that we assume everyone knows as much as we do.

We forget there was a time we didn’t know this stuff. It all seems so painfully obvious that it goes without saying. This is a sure fire way to lose readers because they have usually come to you to learn something. How many times have you read a blog post that tells you everything about a subject you’re already intimately familiar with? Why would you bother? You would only read that post if it covered something very new in your zone of genius, or offered a new perspective of something you were already very familiar with. You may have some readers who have this level of knowledge, but the likelihood is most of them won’t know as much about your subject as you do. Take the time to catch them up.

Tip #6 Pitch To All Levels

Closely tied to the last two tips, pitching to all levels ensures your writing always hits home for your ideal client no matter how much they already know about a subject. Your ideal clients will likely all be interested in the same subject or subjects, but they almost certainly won’t have the same level of knowledge about those subjects. Some will come to you as total noobs, others will already know a fair bit, and some will be long-standing clients you’ve been working with for a while, who have already learned quite a lot from you. Your posts cannot possibly appeal universally to all levels.

There will always be some people who have read what you’re writing about before – possibly even from you! – and there will always be some people who don’t even understand the basics yet and struggle to keep up. The secret is not to try and cram something for everyone in every post, but rather to pitch different posts to different levels. If you’re blogging regularly (and you should be) you will have ample time to cover the same topic in more than one post. Start off with a basic post on the topic, follow it up with one for the old hats, and round it off with a couple to bridge the gap.

Make it obvious who the posts are for – for example, Copywriting 101 is clearly an basic level post about copywriting. Use easily recognised phrases like 101, For Dummies, Basics, and Idiot’s Guide to clearly indicate a post is for noobs. I prefer 101 and basics as it feels less derogatory, but use whatever will appeal most to your ideal client. For high flying posts use terms like Pro Tips, Advanced Guide, and Extreme (as in ‘A Guide To Extreme Blogging’).

Tip #7 Reference Their Popular Culture

This one is a little like learning to speak their language. It’s very common to use examples or quotations in our writing, but bear in mind at all times that you’re writing for your ideal client. You need to use references they will understand. You need to quote people they will not only recognise, but will like and respect. For example, I’m a HUGE Sci-Fi and Fantasy buff, so much so that I’m actually an editor over on Sci-Fi Fantasy Network. Yet female entrepreneurs as a collective are not known for liking SFF. I’m certain there are some, just like me, who love the genres and would know exactly what I meant if I referenced Firefly, Labyrinth, Star Trek, or Lord of the Rings, but I know my ideal client, I know what she likes to watch and read, and SFF is not up there at the top of the list! At least, not for the majority.

It would be completely inappropriate – not to mention counterproductive – for me to use SFF references on a regular basis, especially more obscure ones. Sure, you might know who the really famous characters are, like Captain Kirk, but would you know who Jareth is?

Would you care?

Would you think it an appropriate example in the context of a blog about writing to win business?

References and quotes are used to reinforce what you’re saying, to demonstrate that there are real world examples of it, to back it up with facts, science, and research, or to lend more credence to your argument by showing that high profile individuals agree with you. As a female entrepreneur, you’re far more likely to take me seriously if I quote Marie Forleo, Seth Godin, and Brene Brown, than you are if I quote Elrond, Mal Reynolds, and Amy Pond!

That’s not to say I’ll never throw is a SFF reference – it’s something I love after all – but keeping the quirks of your own preferences to a minimum while using stuff that is most relevant and relatable  to your idea client is a good balance.

Do a little research and find out who the leading experts are in your niche, and who your ideal clients’ favourite writers/speakers are. If you’re struggling, you can always fall back on the Classics (classic works of literature, history, science etc.), and universally recognised figures like celebrities, politicians, and well-known historical figures.

Tip #8 Stay Relevant

The key to a really good blog (unless you’re a Kit and Caboodle blog that cover anything and everything) is to focus on one topic that you are truly passionate about. You will need to know a lot about this topic, and you will need to love it. As you grow your tribe you will find that the people who gravitate to you and your blog are the people who share your passion, who want to learn more about your subject, who can’t get enough of whatever it is you’re talking about.

Which means you have to keep talking about it.

Yes, you might make the odd personal post about your new baby, or buying your dream house, or something else that you really want to share with your tribe – especially if it has affected your work in some way – but be careful. People have very short attention spans, and they like what they like.

If you religiously follow a blog about vegetarian cooking and one week there’s recipe for the perfect beef burger, you’re going to get a little pissed – you don’t want to know about beef burgers, you want to know about veggie burgers! You might forgive it one week, but if it’s more than a very occasional blip, you will quickly lose interest and look elsewhere.

Make sure you stay relevant. Don’t deviate too much from your chosen topic, and if you do, try to relate it back to your chosen topic – so rather than writing about how amazing babies are, write about your experience becoming a mother as a female entrepreneur, or having another child and juggling your home/work balance. Instead of writing about the awesomeness of your dream home, talk about what you had to achieve in your business in order to afford that dream house, or show off your new home office.

Tip #9 Tell Stories

This may seem counter intuitive given the previous tip, but stories are the most effective way to connect to your ideal clients. As long as they’re relevant, personal stories or instructional tales are a great way to demonstrate a point, illustrate a problem, or inspire and encourage your readers.

Tip #10 Like, Reply, Repeat

A huge mistake I see people making all the time is failing to respond when their readers engage with their content. If someone comments on your post – be it a blog post, Facebook post, video, or Tweet, take the time to hit LIKE. Then take the time to REPLY, and do so in a meaningful manner rather than a bog standard response that you copy and past for every comment. If someone sends you an email or a message, REPLY.

The more traffic you get and the more followers and responses you get the less you will be able to do this for everyone, but initially when comments are few, do it for everyone. Even when you have a large following make sure you respond directly to a reasonable proportion of comments, and always, ALWAYS reply to emails, even if it means hiring an assistant of VA to help you cope with the volume of mail. Your content should actively build relationships with your tribe, it should simply be read. Writing the post is only half the work, getting your readers to actively engage with it is the tricky part, so if you manage it, take FULL advantage of it!

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