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How To Easily Find Your Tribe And Kill The Vampire Hoard

A client of mine recently shared a common problem. “My blog posts are amazing,” she said, “but they’re just not selling anything.” The problem was deceptively simple. My client has a business selling local services in and around London. A lot of people face the same issue when they sell locally based products and services, that can only be obtained in a particular area or region. It comes down to the fact that it’s difficult for you to find your tribe when you run a local business. And even when you successfully pull it off, there are a limited number of them.

My client has a lot of followers on her social media, so her content was reaching people. They were reading it, loving it, and responding really well to it, but the majority of them weren’t actually in a position to buy anything from her, because they weren’t living in London.

Does this sound familiar?

You’ve got plenty of followers, people love your stuff, and read your stuff, but you’re just not selling anything. The problem isn’t that you don’t have people following you. The problem, is that they’re the wrong people.

They’re not your tribe. Sure, they look, talk, and act like they are, but they’re never going to convert. They’ll keep sucking up your content, but they’ll never give you anything in return.

Yes, they’re vampires.

It can be tricky to recognise vampires in your midst, because they look very much like regular ideal clients. Here’s how to easily find your tribe and kill all those time-sucking vampires.

Lots Of Followers Does Not A Tribe Make

Having lots of followers on social media makes you feel great. It’s a really good ego boost. But if those followers aren’t ever going to be in a position to pay you money, they’re not going to do your business any good.

If you have a business that sells local services that require people to be in a specific location, or products that can only be shipped to certain areas of the world, this is a real problem.

Your content marketing needs to reach the very specific people who are capable of buying from you. Because as much as that content will bring value to people outside your catchment area or delivery capabilities, you’re not going to get anything out of it.

No matter how lovely and wonderful these people are, and no matter how much you would love them to become clients, they’re just sucking the life out of you.

They will take, take, take, are never giving anything back.

Which is why I call them (rather unfairly I suppose), vampires.

They gobble up all your content, and greedily take anything you’ll give them, but they will never, ever buy from you.

Not because they don’t love you and your stuff, not because they aren’t perfectly happy to invest in you and your business, but because (for whatever reason), they can’t.

The Vampires In Your Tribe

Vampires might be people who are outside your catchment area. They might be people who live in countries to which you can’t deliver products. But they could equally be people who simply cannot afford your prices, or could afford your prices but are never going to pay your prices because they don’t believe your product/service is worth investing money in.

They will happily read free content, but they will never, ever stump up the cash for a paid version of that content.

Say that you offer an online course or a book on exactly the same subject as the free content they love. these vampires will happily read the free stuff, but don’t care enough, or don’t value it enough, to pay money to learn more.

Not even if the amount they would need to pay is small, like the price of a £10 book. They’re never going to pay it; it’s not something they prioritise or place any kind of monetary value on.

The Nature Of Vampires (In Business)

Vampire are not (generally) malicious people. They don’t mean you any harm. They’re not unpleasant or being purposefully nasty. It’s just that they get as much as they can from you in the form of your free content.

And it’s okay to have a few vampires loitering in your tribe.

Some of them (if you do a stellar job with your content marketing), will eventually turn into people who are happy to invest in you. Just because they’re not willing to invest in you now, doesn’t meal they never will be. But that kind of conversion takes a really long time.

If you’re converting readers who are actively looking for your product or service, it already takes time and a lot of effort on your part to convince them that you’re worth buying into. And they are people who already want what you’re selling.

The likelihood of converting people who don’t want what you’re selling is a lot lower, and if they do convert it will take an awful lot longer.

So for your business to work, for your business to prosper, you need to have a tribe of people who are very likely to invest in you, and capable of investing in you.

They need to check both those boxes. They need to be within your catchment area, or within the area that you are capable of delivering to, and they also need to be the kind of person who are both willing and able to pay you money for your products and services. Anybody else, and as much as they might fit into your model for an ideal client in other ways, they are not part of your tribe.

They are just time-sucking vampires.

You Need To Target The Right People To Find Your Tribe

There are three really important things that you have to do to combat this issue. The first is to make sure that you are targeting people very specifically online. So when you’re finding your tribe and growing your following there are a lot of ways to gain organic reach. But that’s quite a slow process, it takes time. It’s also difficult (though not impossible! See below) to get really targeted with it.

Consider the difference between being able to target female entrepreneurs, using #fempreneur or #FemaleEntrepreneur, and then compare that with the ability to setup an advert that specifically targets people who are interested in female entrepreneurship, and live in a certain area, and are a particular age and gender, and spend a certain minimum threshold online.

If you do that, then you not only know the people that you’re targeting are female entrepreneurs, that they are also definitely in whatever parameters you’ve set for your ideal client. They’re capable of buying into your products and services, and they’re likely to do it.

While there is an awful lot you can do with your content that will gain you organic reach and organic likes, to be really specific in who you end up gathering into your tribe on social media, it is a very good idea to advertise some of your content to that extremely specific audience. To ensure that as many people as possible following you are the exact people that you want to be viewing your content; the people who are most likely to be able to buy from you.

Sell Digital Products To Welcome More People Into A Limited Tribe

The next thing that you can do to help deal with this is to help setup digital products. If you’re limited in your business to people who live in the specific location that you are in (for example, you can only cater to people within a 15 mile radius of your base), that’s a very small area to focus on.

It can work very well for a particular businesses. But if you want to expand beyond that, cater to a wider range of people and take advantage of all the followers that you’ve established online, you can create digital products.

Then you’ve suddenly opened yourself up to a much wider audience.

The Importance Of Slaying Vampires

The final thing that you have to do is slay those pesky vampires. It sounds cruel, and in many ways it is a bit mean, but you have to remember that you are running a business here.

The bottom line is your bottom line.

So if you have a tribe but they’re not supporting your business, if they’re not bringing in any income, if they’re not actually going to give you what you need to sustain the business they love, they’re a really bad tribe.

It’s so worth you taking the time to filter your tribe a little to make sure the people you’re attracting are genuinely going to enrich your business, and to be the kind of people that you want following it.

The Trap Of Thinking You Have A Truly International Business

So you might be sitting there thinking that this doesn’t apply to you, especially if you do offer digital products and services already.

It’s easy to fall into this sort of comfort zone of thinking that because you’re digital, you don’t have to worry about vampires creeping into your tribe and sucking the life out of you.

I’m here to tell you, you do have to worry.

Everybody has to worry about vampires.

For example, I offer exclusively digital products at the moment. I will have books coming out next year, but at the moment that’s not happened. So everything I sell, I sell purely online, all of it’s digital. It would easy for me to think it didn’t matter who I targeted in my marketing in terms of location, because I’m online and anybody with an internet connection can buy from me.

But while my services are available internationally, they’re not actually suitable for an international audience.

They are only suitable for English speakers. Because I’m a writer, I write in English. I’m not capable of writing in any other language. So anyone who doesn’t want their content in English is screwed coming to me. There’s just no way that they’re ever going to buy from me. So even if they speak English, if the content that they need creating is not in the English language, they’re never, ever going to buy my services.

So when I’m targeting my content at people, I’m always sure to target it at specific areas.

The UK is a no brainer for me, I’m based in the UK, I’m English, I write in English, that’s the end of it.

But I also target people in America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Beyond that, I don’t actively target anywhere else in the world.

I have people who follow me from elsewhere in the world, but they’re people who’ve found me organically.

The majority of my tribe are British or American, with a few from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

That is by design, I did that very purposefully.

Why You Should Be Selective About Finding Your Tribe

If you don’t sell digital products but you do sell products on an international level, you might again think that it doesn’t matter where your audience is based, because you can ship anywhere.

But can you really ship anywhere?

Think about that for a minute. Think about the postal costs involved with shipping to certain countries. Think about import charges, export charges, airmail charges, all these other things. If you are genuinely capable of shipping to absolutely anywhere in the world for the same price, okay? So for the same cost to you, then absolutely go for it. You can advertise to anybody as long as they can understand your adverts.

If you’re based in the UK, you may find it preferable to ship to people in the UK, because that is a lot easier and a lot less expensive.

You may find that you are happy to ship elsewhere, but you prefer to only ship to people in Europe or the US, because again, those are the places that we can most easily ship to in the most economical way possible.

If you’re shipping physical products, there are a lot of factors to take into account when you’re costing the amount of postage.

People often fall into the trap of offering free postage because that’s a really good offer to give people. Or they offer a flat rate of postage. If you’re going to do that, it’s a very good marketing tactic. But you can run into real trouble if you do it without thinking through who may take advantage of that.

I have had this problem before in my publishing house where I’ve been selling books. I had a flat international rate that was very reasonable for certain countries, but for other countries that cost four, five, six times as much money to actually post things.

I had people ordering and paying for the product and the flat rate, and by the time I’d actually posted the item to them, I’d spent money sending it to them. Rather than earning anything from the sale, it actually cost me money.

That was one of the earliest lessons that I learnt when I was first starting out running my publishing house (long before I started a writing business): was you have to be really careful when you’re posting physical things to people, that you calculate the shipping rates properly and that you target the people in areas that you are best able to cater to.

I could have simply changed the shipping rates to reflect a realistic rate that wouldn’t cause a problem, but doing so would have meant charging clients a small fortune. Instead, I now only ship to people in the UK. Anyone else I direct to Amazon so that they can buy off their local Amazon site, because it’s just the only logistical way I can do it without costing myself a fortune. I don’t make as much money per sale I would selling direct and charging proper postage, but my clients are better served (they save a lot on P&P), and I am in an area I can comfortably handle.

Sometimes it’s not about what you are capable of doing, but what you want to do most.

Why It’s Hard To Find Your Tribe When You Have A Local Businesses

Businesses that deliver services in person are the most obvious people to run into this problem.

You have a local business that’s based in a specific location and you can only cater to people within a 10 or 15 mile radius of that location. For example, you offer cleaning services and you can only clean the houses of people that are within a certain travelling distance.

It’s no good having people in your tribe who are outside of that catchment area. It doesn’t matter how much they love your content, it doesn’t matter how much they love the sounds of your business and your services, you can’t physically get to them to give them those services.

They’re never going to pay you to come to their house; you can’t go to their house.

So how exactly do you fix this problem? That’s what you all want to know.

The biggest step in dealing with this situation is to realise that you have vampires in your midst in the first place. They can be difficult to recognise. So it’s important to actually look at your tribe and the people who are engaging most with your content, and figure out whether they are the type of person who is ever likely to pay for your stuff.

If they are not, then you have a problem, you have vampires among you.

Why Are You Beset By Vampires?

The next thing you need to do is figure out why they are not going to buy from you.

Are they in the wrong place physically?

Are they in the wrong age or gender group?

Are they outside the scope of your business from a cultural perspective, so are they speaking literally a different language to you?

Or are they just the type of person who is quite happy to learn about what you’re offering for free, but is never, ever going to be willing to invest any money in getting any more?

Once you’ve figured all of that out, you should be able to work it back and figure out exactly how to define the people who will be perfect for your tribe. People who are in the right area, in the right business, who will value what you have to offer, and will be willing to invest in it.

You need to specify that as much as possible, with tangible, quantifiable factors that you can put on it. So a geographical location is quantifiable, it’s tangible. You can literally put a pin in a map and say that is exactly where people need to be.

Target Your Tribe With Pay Per Click Advertising

Once you’ve got it all worked out, there are a few different things that you can do. The first one is using very, very targeted pay per click advertising. So there are loads of platforms that offer PPC advertising, like Facebook, Google AdWords, Twitter, various other social media accounts. It’s usually possible to get really, really specific with who you want to see your advert. So this can be basic, like saying that you want them to speak English, or you can specify age, gender, but you can also specify things like geographical location down to miles, okay? So it doesn’t have to be England. You can put in your exact postcode and say that you want people within X number of miles of that postcode, okay? So that’s how you get people in your catchment area. You can say, “I want people within 15 miles of my home postcode.” Or, “I want people in this specific city or town.”

More than that, you can target people based on their interests. So I mentioned female entrepreneurs before, that’s a way of targeting people based on their interests. So you might target people who were interested in entrepreneurship, in blogging, in digital marketing, in yoga, in healthy eating, in whatever it is that your business does. If you find the right way of putting it into the parameters of your advertising system, you should be able to target people who have a specific interest in your specific niche. The more parameters that you put in to your pay per click targeting, the more specific it will get, the fewer people you will be able to reach with your advert, okay?

So it gets a bit scary for people. They look at it and they see the number of people, the estimated number of people that their adverts will reach, shrinking. They think, “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, I have to stop. Because before it was going to reach 15 million people and now it’s only going to reach 500,000. That’s stupid. I need to reach as many people as possible.” But that’s wrong, okay? That’s very, very, very wrong. It’s no good reaching 5 million people or 500 million people, or however many people there are if they’re the wrong people, okay? So if you’re paying for an advert that is going out to loads and loads of people, who are not very specifically targeted, that is called spray and pray advertising, when you basically spray your advert at anybody and everybody and pray that some of them buy.

Targeted advertising, on the other hand, you will reach far fewer people, but the people you do reach are going to be the very, very specific type of people who are most likely to buy from you. So even though your advert will be seen by fewer people, it will be far more successful.

Find Your Tribe With Localised SEO

You can also use localised SEO, that’s search engine optimization, to target your content at people. This is a great way to do this organically. So if you don’t want to pay for an advertising campaign, but you still want to make sure that your content is targeted at your specific niche audience, you can use SEO to do that.

So you would include keywords that were localised. So for example, if I was going to do this, my keywords that I would be optimising my blog posts for wouldn’t just be copywriting services, for example, they would be, copywriting services in Manchester, or copywriting services near Chester, things like that. So you could get really, really specific with the keywords that you use, and you localise them, so that when somebody who is in your area is searching for your specific service or product, they’re not just going to type in ‘copywriting services’. They’re going to type in things like ‘copywriting services near me’.

So when people are searching for a local product or service, they’re not going to do it by putting in the generic search term for that. So for example, somebody searching for a local copywriter is not just going to type in, ‘copywriting services’. They’re going to type in, ‘copywriting services near me’, or ‘copywriting services in …’ and then their specific town. So by localising your SEO, you will catch the people who are very, very specifically searching for what you do, where you do it.

Direct Mail Marketing

Now, another great way to make sure that people are within the right geographical area for you, is to actually use direct mail. So rather than email marketing, use good old fashioned postal marketing. So you print up some flyers, leaflets, brochures, whatever you like, and you send it out to people via the post. Now, this does require you obviously to have their addresses. So it can get a little bit more complicated. But it’s actually quite easy to fix. Every time somebody inquires about your business via your website, if you have a form setup, make sure that the form they have to fill in in order to send their inquiry includes their postal address.

You can do this really politely. So for example, on my website the field on the form that asks people for this information doesn’t just say ‘address’, it says ‘postal address, so I can send you cool stuff’, okay? So you can let them know that the reason you’re asking for it is so that you can send things to them for free, not so that you can turn up on their door and accost them in their homes.

You may find that people don’t want to hand over their address. So you might not want to make it a required field. If you make it a required field, you will put people off. But if you put it there and give people the option of giving you that information, then you’ll find a lot of people actually do happily give it to you, because they want you to send them free stuff. They’re not stupid, they understand that when you say free stuff, you mean offers, okay? So when you send direct marketing out to people, you don’t just send them a price list and expect them to buy. You send them an incentive. So you send them 10% off voucher, a coupon for buy one get one free, or something that makes it worth their while to actually buy from you.

Local Ads And Hangouts

You can also take advantage of local areas and put adverts in physical locations, so you might put them in the post office, in the window of local shops, café houses, or anywhere that you know your ideal client is likely to be. So I recently went and had a massage at my favourite beauty spa in town. So I came out ready to pay, and on the counter was a stack of leaflets for a mindfulness class that was being run locally.

Now, it had absolutely nothing to do with the beauty spa whatsoever, it wasn’t a product or service that they sold, they just let the people running the workshop put them in there because they knew that a lot of their clients were interested in finding ways of calming themselves down and being a little bit more mindful, and it worked really well. I picked up a leaflet, I bought the seminar, I paid money for it, I went, I attended, it was great. So that’s a really good example of using the places that you know your idea clients will be, to put things in front of them that get them to notice you as well. So the lady that was running that mindfulness workshop hadn’t paid the beauty salon anything to include the flyers on the counter, they’d done a swap. So when I went to the mindfulness course, there were flyers there from my beauty salon as well. So it goes both ways, it’s a reciprocal relationship that can work really, really well.

Find Where Your Tribe Are Online

Another great way of targeting people digitally is to identify places that they will be online. Facebook groups are a really good way of doing this, or groups on LinkedIn, and other social platforms that offer group functions. If you can find groups that are filled with people you know are your ideal client and you get involved in those groups, join in the conversations, and share your knowledge, your understanding of things, and when appropriate, your products and services, that’s a great way of making sure that the people who come to know who you are and start following you are people who are likely to actually buy from you.

Following Through With Your Tribe

Of course, once you have started building your tribe of ideal clients and getting rid of all of those pesky vampires, you need to make sure that you have a really effective way of getting in touch with them to tell them about your amazing stuff. So you need to gear as much of your efforts as possible towards building an email list. Now, when you’re putting that much effort into growing your online platforms, so your social media and various other things, or if you’re putting loads of effort into attracting people to come to your bricks and mortar business and actually be there physically, it’s really easy to forget that you need an emailing list.

So you know, you can post on Facebook and your Facebook followers will see. You can tell people in person when they come in and see your shop, about various offers and services that you have. But the problem with that is, what happens if nobody comes into your shop? What happens if Facebook crashes and you lose all your followers? So you need to have a way of contacting your list that is just yours, that is exclusively your own, that they have willingly opted into, that you can use to get in touch with them whenever you like.

Need a little help creating a Content Marketing strategy that works for you and your business? If you’re beset by vampires and looking to use your content to find your tribe, The Divine Blogging Design is perfect for your needs. Book a free discovery call now…

How To Spark, Nurture And Manage Your Creativity

Creativity is one of those things that’s really difficult to quantify. We all know it when we see it, but we’re never sure exactly how to describe it, and it’s different from one person to the next. Creativity is the thing that keeps you motivated, innovative. It keeps you moving forwards, constantly finding new and better ways of doing things.

If you’re an entrepreneur, creativity is vitally important to your business. Whether you have a creative business or a corporate business, it doesn’t matter.

The creative spark you have, the thing that made you want to start a business in the first place, is key to keeping everything going.

But creativity can be really difficult to find. Some days, it’s gone; your muse is rebelling. Others, it’s bubbling over; there’s so much you don’t have enough time to get all your ideas down.

As a writer, I rely on creativity an awful lot. Probably quite a lot more than the majority of other business owners, because my work is inherently creative.

Everything I write requires creativity.

How Do You Stay Consistently Creative?

One of the questions I’m asked most frequently is, “How do you keep those creative juices flowing?” Or. “How do you to write so much?”

I do write a ridiculous amount.

I spend all my time writing, and not just in work: in my spare time I write fiction.

So, creativity is something that I interact with on a daily basis.

I know for a lot of people, that daily flow of creativity can be really difficult to create. So I wanted to give you a few tips, from my own experience, on how to spark your creativity when it’s not flowing, and how to nurture it, to ensure flows in abundance, as much as possible.

Finding The Creative Balance

I aim always aim to find a good balance. The aim is to create daily inspiration, daily creative energy, and daily outlets for that creativity, but to maintain it at a manageable level.

I’m not sure whether this is a creative person’s ‘thing’ or whether it’s more to do with my bipolar, and the nature of my brain in general, but for years I really struggled with creativity.

It was either a flash flood of wild abundance, or it was just gone.

One extreme to the other.

That’s incredibly difficult to manage when you’re trying to turn turn your creativity into a viable business. You need regular income. To do set jobs on a regular basis. And you need to work on and in your business regularly and consistently.

Creativity comes in these big, huge bursts and flashes, that allow you to get loads done. But then it’s suddenly gone and you can’t do a thing for days, weeks, sometimes even months.

That’s just not conducive to running a business at all. Since I became and entrepreneur, I’ve worked hard to manage that swinging pendulum of creativity. I’ve created a few excellent habits that keep my creativity flowing consistently and steadily. Now, it’s usually there when I need it.

I say usually, because (as previously discussed) the Muses are fickle, feckless creatures.

There are still days when it’s just gone. They are normally days when I’m not feeling well. The rest of the time I manage to keep my creativity quite consistent and regular.

Daily Habits For Developing Creativity

These are some of the habits I’ve developed, which helped me create that consistency, and which spark my creativity when it’s missing, and I need to get to back!

Deep Thought Massage

One of the main habits that I’ve developed on a daily basis is what I like to call Deep Thought Massage. That may sound like a peculiar thing, but if you stop and, erm, think about it, how often do you actually think deep thoughts?

By which I mean, how do you take the time to pause and think about normal, mundane, everyday issues, situations, things you do, things you want? How often do you stop and really think about them in a way that goes far beyond a surface level?

And how often do you dig deeper and figure out exactly why? Why are you doing something, why do you want something? Or why are other people doing things? And how it is that certain situations arise?

This is a really useful technique to use if you are working on mindfulness, either trying to improve your mindfulness or just improve your self awareness.

Deep thought massage can be very useful for a lot of things, but I find it extremely useful for sparking my creativity. Simply taking the time to relax and think, helps me to tap into whatever part of my brain considers things in a peculiar way. The way that makes my ideas different way, that makes me creative, and causes my creativity to work in the way it does.

My creativity will not be the same as yours.

Nobodies is.

So it’s no good me telling you exactly what I think about.

But think about the time you spend in a day working, and doing various other things you have to do: running errands, doing the housework, etc. and how much time you spend relaxing.

Do you try really hard to avoid thinking when you are trying to relax?

The Avoidance Of Thought

Most people, when trying to relax, like to just switch off. You stick the tele on, read a mindless book, go out with your friends and have a few drinks. You have a nice conversation but you don’t really talk about anything important.

You try to keep things light and easy, nice and relaxing, because you’re trying to relax.

Thinking often isn’t conducive to relaxation. The more you think, the more stressed you get, the more anxious you become, the more worries creep up on you, the more upset you get about various things bothering you. And that makes existing take more effort, because you’re actually think about things properly.

That’s not really conducive to relaxing.

So most of us, when we’re trying to relax, don’t really think.

We actively avoid thinking.

If we catch ourselves thinking too much, we try and distract ourselves. We try to take ourselves out of the thought process and do something that makes us feel better. Because for a lot of people, thinking too much is not good.

Certainly, in the past, it’s been very bad for me (and anybody else suffering from depression or other mental health issues).

Spending too much time dwelling on your own thoughts can be really negative.

But you can turn it to a positive advantage if you start to purposefully direct your deep thinking process at things that are going to help you get creative.

Manage Your Creativity By Thinking Deep Thought

Deep thinking can do wonders for your creativity, not only in your work but in life generally. Say you’ve been wrestling with a problem:

  • A work issue.
  • A new situation, task or issue (personally or professionally), that you’re unsure how to handle.
  • A daily task (personally or professionally) you feel isn’t quite working right.
  • A problem (personally or professionally) someone else has told you isn’t working, or you’re doing wrong.

These area all scenarios that greatly benefit from a little deep thought massage. Sit down and really thinking them through. Doing this has real advantages, especially in business.

The process of giving yourself permission to really dig deep into things in empowering. Spend quite a bit of time thinking through all the variables involved, the possible solutions, the things you’ve tried in the past, things that you might try in the future, and the things that are most likely to work. That level of thought is something we don’t often give ourselves permission to do in business, because we always have so much to do.

You have a list of things a mile long. Half of them are problems that need solutions. Really, the only thing in your head, is to find a solution for each problem as quickly as possible.

Cross it off the list and move on to the next thing.

You have to, because there’s so much to do.

You will almost certainly find it very rare that you devote some truly deep thinking to your work. You give them enough thought to solve the problem, keep yourself moving, and keep your momentum going, but you never dig deeper than is necessary.

It’s time to start.

Give Yourself A Daily Deep Thought Massage

I found that picking one thing every day and actively thinking about it in a lot more depth than usual does wonders for my creative process. It’s also a great way of training your brain to think creatively on a regular basis.

Choose something to think about. It could be a problem or issue, but it could also be something positive – a goal, something you’re trying to achieve, or want to create. When I’m relaxing, or sitting watching tele, I’ll have a notebook handy, or my laptop out. I’ll decide what I’m going to focus on, and make notes as and when things occur to me.

I don’t sit there forcing myself to concentrate (I am trying to relax!), but I let it percolate in my mind. When a thought comes to me, I write it down.

This is a process I use for business work, fiction writing, and general ‘life stuff’. Everything from stuff I want to write about a particular topic (which usually ends up on the blog), to products and services I’m thinking of creating, to character profiles and blog outlines for my stories, and even outfits I want to get, or how I’d like to redecorate a room in the house.

This is all stuff you think about daily anyway, you’re just pushing yourself to go a little deeper than normal. Even if you’re already a generally deep thinker, dive deeper!

I find myself just scribbling ideas down on a particular topic for a couple of days, even a week. At some point, I realise I’ve actually got a quite a lot of thoughts on this. I’ll then sit down and go through them all systematically, making some kind of sense out of them. Then I do spend time focusing on it, working through it all and seeing what ideas I’ve produced. Seeing what comes up.

Do this on a daily basis. Always let your mind drift and think about things a little more deeply then you would normally. Get into the habit of constantly letting your head go where it will. And make a note of where it ends up, rather than letting it drift off into the ether. Do this regularly enough, and you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to do. It develops into a natural habit your brain just does that of it’s own accord.

Like autopilot.

Having that autopilot deep thought process in place makes it an awful lot easier to maintain creativity on a daily basis, because your brain is naturally doing half the work for you.

You don’t have to force yourself to think about things creatively. It’s just how you think.

It’s like getting up and brushing your teeth, or having a shower, or any of the things that you do every single day without even thinking about it. No longer a chore, just second nature.

Develop A Voracious Reading Habit

One absolutely brilliant way to spark your creativity is cultivate a voracious reading habit. This is something I did years ago, and many people do for the love of reading, rather than a need to be creative. Certainly when I first got into the habit it was for love of literature. But more than anything else, when people ask me how I came to be a writer, how I came to write the way I do, and how I know about so many subjects. There’s no trick to it, I just read a phenomenal amount.

Now, I research many different subjects for my clients. Before becoming an entrepreneur I spent a decade at uni, researching in academia. As well as all of that, I’m just generally interested in a lot of things. I’ve read an awful lot.

People will often hear me say something and they get this look on their face and I know the question is coming: “How do you know that?”

The answer I always give is quite simple: “I read.”

It makes me laugh, because a lot of people get quite offended by this. It’s not my intention to offend them, but the comment can sound like a criticism – as if I’m suggesting they’re illiterate! But it’s really not that at all. I do just read a ridiculous amount on an incredibly broad range of subjects. So, I don’t just read things that interest me. I read things that are important, but not necessarily interesting. I’ll read things related to my client work, which is extremely varied. From business coaches, to recruitment executives, jewellery makers, accountants, holistic healers, nutritionists, wooden floor specialists, bulldozer hire, digital marketers, techy types, lingerie designers, sex shops, I work with some fascinating people, all doing very different things.

And I read about all those subjects, as well as business in general. There’s also a slew of books in my house relating to the fiction that I write, including books on writing, books in the same genre, and research books I use to build my worlds.

Read What You Love, Read What You Hate

I read a lot of fiction the genres I write in (Fantasy and its various off-shoots). But I also read an awful lot of fiction in all the other genres even the genres I don’t like.

This is difficult for a lot of people. They’re like “Why are you reading a book you hate?”

Here’s the thing…In order to be a good writer, you need to know how to write. You also need to know how not to write.

It’s important to understand what other writers do that make you dislike their writing. Exactly what it is about different genres that you don’t like? It’s need to understand different styles of writing, and see different ways of doing things.

As a fiction writer, as well as a copywriter, reading a very broad spectrum was instrumental in getting me where I am today.

It helps me to stay on top of things creatively, keep the juices flowing, and keep myself trying out new techniques, or looking at things slightly differently.

And that doesn’t just apply to writers!

Cultivating a voracious reading habit. And by voracious I mean read every day.

Read a lot every day.

You’ll get through a book or two a week, if not more. I sometimes get through three of four.

Read anything. Everything. Read about things that relate to your work, your business and niche, but also read about other things that relate to business. Other industries that aren’t yours, but could perhaps help you with yours.

Read things that annoy you.

And particularly, read things that make you really angry. Things that make you think “God, that’s a terrible way of doing this.”

Don’t just read people you like. Read people you actively dislike.

You don’t have to do it a lot but make sure you do it. Read subjects that you wouldn’t normally pick up. Every now and again I’ll go into a bookshop, head straight for the fantasy section, choose something and head to the checkout when I pass Chick Lit, or True Crime, or something I normally don’t read.

I’ll think, “I should try something.” And I’ll find something that I think actually sounds as interesting as possible.

You don’t have to look for the most boring book imaginable and force yourself to read it. Find things you might actually like, but in a genre or subject area you wouldn’t normally read.

Do it in an area of business that you wouldn’t normally think about.

Read authors you would normally avoid, because you don’t like them personally, or you’ve read something of theirs before and you didn’t enjoy it. Writers are constantly evolving, changing, and growing. If you read something and absolutely love it, track down every single thing the person has written and read all of it, you will find things you hate.

Why I Read Shit Books

The best example I can give of this that I am quite famous among my friends for detesting certain books.

There are books I really hate. The Twilight saga? Don’t get me started! Fifty Shades of Grey? Don’t even mention it.

A lot of my friends like these books. They are always, to a fault, shocked to discover I’ve actually read them.

“Why have you read them when you hate them?”

But really, how could I know I hate them, if I hadn’t read them?

How can I know that I don’t like a book, or judge it to be bad, before I’ve read it and formed an opinion?

It’s not uncommon for people to really dislike certain authors, entrepreneurs, celebrities, actors, singers…for whatever reason they’re just not your cup of tea.

If you’ve never heard somebody sing, you might not like them as a person, but you can’t comment on their singing. And if you’ve never read a writer’s books, you might think you don’t like them, but you don’t actually know.

You’ve formed an opinion based on them as a person, rather than as a professional. You may find them annoying, you may disagree with their position or options, and therefore don’t want to read their stuff, but unless you’ve actually read them, you really can’t say that you don’t like their writing.

You’ve never read their writing.

Read their writing. It might make you angry, but you will learn a hell of a lot in the process. Sometimes the best way to spark your own creative genius is to get seriously pissed off about someone else’s.

Make Like A Tree

One great piece of advice for nurturing your creativity is this: make like a tree.

It’s really easy to become stagnant in your thinking, your business, and your day to day life. When you do the same things day in, day out, or you’re so focused on building one particular aspect of your business that you neglect other areas, it’s so easy to get stuck. It’s important to keep pushing yourself (personally and professionally) to grow. To constantly push the boundaries, constantly push yourself outside your comfort zone, make yourself try new things and do new things.

Even if you do them and discover you hate doing them and never want to do them again.

Just the act of doing them will teach you an awful lot, giving you a new perspective on the things you already do, and things you might want to try in the future.

Growth is so important. It’s doesn’t have to be about always pushing for the next income bracket, always trying to make more money, or always trying to bring out new products and services. You don’t have to constantly change or increase what you have in order to consistently grow.

You can take what you already have and make it better.

Consider business growth from a personal development perspective. Personal development is all about taking what you already have and improving it. I like to think of my business in that sense. It’s good to get in the habit of thinking about what is working in your business (and life in general), and how you can make that even better.

Also, how you can replicate that success in other areas that aren’t working quite so well?

Release Your Inner Rebel

Another really useful thing to do to manage your creativity and boost your creative spirit is to rebel a little.

Go against the grain.

Shake things up a bit.

Take things you have and see how you can do them differently.

How you can look at them in a new way? How you can just revolutionise them?

That might mean looking at something that you’re already doing, that you know works, and works well, and seeing if there’s a different way you can do it. Not because it’s not working, just because a different way might work even better. People have a lot of resistance to this – the whole ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ thing.

But just because something isn’t broken, doesn’t mean it’s working as well as it possibly could.

Constantly challenging yourself to think of new ways of doing things, which could work better, is a great way to not nurture your creativity, and get yourself thinking about things more creatively. It’s a great way to constantly push yourself and your business forward, and do that wonderful growth we were talking about.

Indulge Your Inner Seeker

Following on from that, you need to indulge your inner seeker.

Both this point and the last tie into the archetypes I use in my signature service, The Divine Blogging Design. If you’re not sure about what the different archetypes are and mean, check out this post and pay particular attention to the Rebel and the Seeker.

The seeker is a really important element of yourself to nurture when it comes to creativity. Because the seeker is always (as evidenced by the name), seeking new things and experiences.

Just find new things to do.

They can be small things, like changing the way you walk to your friend’s house, or huge things like skydiving or something adventurous you’ve never tried before.

The more you try new things, the bigger your mind gets, and the more scope you have to think about things and form ideas. It nurtures your creativity, because trying new things gives you new perspectives. It gives you new ideas. It breeds creativity. The more you try (even if you just try it and discover you really don’t like it) the more you’ve added to your internal world, and your understanding of the external world.

Like reading outside your favourite genres or specialist subjects, trying new stuff does wonders for creativity.

Find Your Creative Medium

One thing that I love to do to spark my creativity is listen to music. I know a lot of people don’t like listening to music when they’re working, because the find it distracting. I’m often the opposite: I can’t actually get any work done at all if I don’t have music on.

This is what I call my creative medium. For me, it’s music. I listen to and play music every day. Not a particularly proficient musician, but I do play the piano. I love singing (again, not good at it!). But I love doing it.

Music, for me, is a way to tap into my creativity. Whether I’m listening to it, playing it, or singing, it helps me to open up creatively, let in the creativity and channel it into something productive, rather that a mess of incoherent noise.

Music might not be your thing, but most people have a creative medium of some description.

Most people have something they do that, for whatever reason, helps them get those juices flowing. It puts them in that creative mindset. It might be something you can do while you’re working, like listening to music, or something that you need to do before you work, or as a break during your work, like going for a walk or run.

That’s another thing I love to do. Getting outside and just wandering about in nature is very good for creativity.

Find whatever helps you feel more creative and get in that open and creative zone. Do that thing every day, without fail.

Stream Of Consciousness

If you’re really stuck and need to get creative fast, this is a great exercise for ‘on demand’ creative spark. It just gets you in the right head space. There’s a nifty little writing exercise called Stream of Consciousness that works wonders.

Sit down with a blank piece of paper and write whatever is in your head.

Don’t think about it.

You don’t have to think at all for this one, it’s the totally opposite of a Deep Thought Massage! You literally write down whatever pops into your head. Then keep writing.

Let whatever is in your head fall out onto the page.

The goal is not to create anything during the exercise. The goal is not for this exercise to produce something. You’re not trying to write a story or a journal entry, you’re not brainstorming stuff to write late, or jotting down notes on anything specific.

You’re really not trying to write anything at all.

Just get everything that’s in your head out.

So there is something about having a totally open channel between your internal thoughts, and what you’re putting out into the real world. Something about having that complete freedom to just let it all flow, that really opens you up and gets you in that creative space. I find this particularly useful to do first thing in the morning, before I start work.

I’ve just sat down at my desk and I’m still half asleep. I’m thinking “Ugh, I really don’t have it in me to write today”, or “I don’t know where to start with this!”, or “I don’t know what to do!”.

I pull out a piece of paper and write for five, ten minutes. Just whatever is in my head. It gets me in that creative space, which lets me get on with my work.

Start An Ideas Book

Another useful trick that you can use from the writing tool bag is an ideas book, which is exactly what it sounds like.

A notebook (I tend to make them very pretty notebooks, because that helps), that you have somewhere close at hand.

You might have it in your handbag, on your desk, in the kitchen, wherever. If you’re like me, you’ll and have one in every room in the house (including the bathroom!).

Whenever something occurs to you, write it down. You don’t have to go into massive detail, or do anything with it, but just make sure you always have a means of recording the things that occur to you.

Because you will always think, “Ahh, that’s a great idea! I have to remember that.”

Then instantly forget.

Just get in the habit of keeping an ideas book. You will soon find you have a new abundance of creative ideas and inspiration just sitting there.

If you get stuck, you can just flip through and read your various ideas. Reminding yourself of your own creative ideas can energise that part of your brain.

Have A Creative Hobby

Another thing that I find to be a great habit for creativity is having a creative hobby. It sounds like the most obvious thing in the world, but loads of people don’t really have a creative outlet outside of work. They get really creative when they’re working, but lack creative stimulation when they’re not.

If you’re a creativity junkie this quickly leads to burnout, because you end up doing nothing but work in order to get your creative fix.

This is very bad. If you’re a creative individual (or trying to become one) you need a creative hobby.

I write even when I’m not working, I play the piano, I draw, paint. and occasionally knit. Over the years I have amassed a vast collection of hobbies from jewellery making, to soap making, to candle making, to … I can’t even list how many things I’ve tried over the years. I’m currently in the middle of making a dream catcher.

Just indulge yourself with something that is purely recreational and yet still creative. It’s the perfect way to manage your creativity.

If you are the creative sort, you do this already. But if you don’t, you should definitely start. Even if you do, try and broaden it a little bit. Try new creative hobbies (because we’re indulging our inner Seeker, remember?).

Indulge Your Imagination

Finally, perhaps the best think you can do to help your creativity is to seriously indulge your imagination.

I have a very active inner world. So much so that I occasionally get lost in it, and prefer to spend time living in my own head then I do in the real world. It’s perhaps not the healthiest thing in the world, but it does make me a lot more creative, especially in my writing.

It’s extremely helpful because I’m at the point where I can literally put myself in my story world, or any situation in the real world, and imagine it in intricate detail. If it’s a fictional scenario, I become the character. I see the whole world, learn its sounds, smells, tastes, and appearance. Feeling what your character would feel makes you a better writer.

Picturing your business and the various elements related to it in that level of detail is similarly helpful. It’s a lot easier to create the success you want, and drive your business in the direction you want to god, when you know exactly what you’re aiming for.

It’s a great way of achieving goals. If you can imagine yourself having already achieved your goal, in as much detail as possible, it’s a done deal. It’s a lot easier to figure out exactly how to get there when you’re crystal clear on what ‘there’ looks like, and the various paths that lead to it.

I’m not a massive law of attraction fan. I know the basics of it and I do follow Denise Duffield Thomas, who is a money mindset coach. But that’s really the extent of my knowledge of it.

What I do know is that if you really want something, and you imagine yourself having already achieved it, getting there is a hell of a lot easier.

10 Epic Forms Of Content Marketing

“What are the best forms of Content Marketing?” is a question I get asked almost as much as, “What is Content Marketing?“.

A Content Marketing strategy is like a character in a novel (bear with me). The best books are the ones that have truly compelling characters. The kind of characters with depth, who seem to breathe life into the pages, come alive in your mind, and really stick with you.

The trick to writing such characters is ensuring they are thoroughly well-rounded and completely three-dimensional. They need to have many facets, many different elements to their personality, thoughts, words and actions, all working in harmony to form a cohesive whole that’s impossible to ignore.

A character who is impossible to ignore makes a book impossible to put down.

That’s the kind of effect you want your content marketing to elicit in your ideal client: your business needs to become unputdownable…

How To Make Your Business Irresistible…

Regular blogging or social media posts are a great start to this, but they are only two facets of content marketing, two characteristics if you will. To flesh out your strategy and ensure it’s as strong as possible, you need to avoid the faux pas of thinking they are enough.

Blogging is a phenomenally powerful marketing tool, but it’s only as successful as the number of people who read your blog.

Social media can ensure you drive traffic to your blog posts and boost the level of engagement with your content, but not everyone has time to trawl through Twitter or get lost in the Bermuda Triangle that is a Facebook feed. And not everyone has the time or inclination to read a 2,000-word blog post, no matter how informative, useful, entertaining, or amusing it may be.

Video and audio both provide easy solutions to this problem, giving people a user-friendly means of absorbing content with minimal effort. Videos are fun to watch and astonishingly powerful forms of content, while audio is versatile enough that your readers can listen to your content anytime, anywhere, and with any device capable of playing it.

If all your content is on your blog, you’re missing out on a whole circus of tricks that would help you reach more people, and gain a much higher ROI on your content marketing efforts.

But a lot of entrepreneurs are very uncertain when it comes to content marketing. Exactly what forms of content are best? How they should be used? And how many different forms do you need to include in your strategy to create that coveted unputdownable status?

To answer these questions I’ve put together a brand new Content Marketing Masterclass covering the top ten forms of content. From blogging and vlogging to the best types of social media posts to use, and how to use webinars, courses, and even books, this class will help you create a phenomenally powerful strategy that will catapult your business to success.

Whether you’re just starting out with content marketing and are unsure where to host your blog, or you’ve already nailed a solid blog plan and are looking to really up your game, you’ll find everything you need in this masterclass….

Content marketing has loads of fantastic business benefits. The one type of content marketing most people are familiar with is blogging. Beyond that people seem to get a bit stuck. They’re not sure exactly what is and isn’t content marketing, or how to expand past their blog to create a really strong content marketing strategy. Having that in place is essential to marketing your business and attracting new clients, so today I’m going to run through the top 10 forms of content marketing that will do wonders for your business…

Forms Of Content Marketing #1: Blogging

If you have a website, you almost certainly already have a blog (even if you’re not using it). Most websites come with them built-in. If you don’t have a website, it’s extremely easy to set one up. You can do it completely free on a site like WordPress and other sites that allow you to host your own blog on their domain. You can also set one up very cheaply by buying your own domain name and using something like WordPress, Wix or any other website-building software or portal.

While some social media accounts like Twitter and Instagram limit the number of characters per post, other platforms will happily let you host blog posts on your social media site.

LinkedIn is a great example of this. They have a really user-friendly portal for uploading blog posts and promoting them on your profile.

Facebook is another one that you can very easily use to publish longer written posts. While it doesn’t exactly host it, as you would expect a blog to be hosted, with separate posts you can click through to, there are ways of ensuring they end up as articles, accessible when you click on a particular link on your profile.

Other sites, like Goodreads have dedicated blogs available to members.

If you are planning to use blogging as a form of content marketing, I really recommend you do it primarily through a website.

 

I talk a lot about blogging in my other posts, so I’m not going to dwell too much on the ins and outs of exactly what you should do in order to blog for content marketing. Instead I’m going to refer you to The Golden Trident, which covers exactly what you need to do to maximise your blogging efforts. You should also check out the Halloween Special I did on Secrets of Blogging That Are Actually Witchcraft.

A Note On Where You’re Sending Your Traffic…

If you have an existing website, start blogging right now. It will do wonders for your website in terms of SEO and visibility, and enable you to start drawing people in and promoting your products and services through your content.

The whole point of content marketing is getting people where you need them to be. The reason it’s so useful to host your blog on your website is because most of the time, when you have a website, getting people on your site is the key to selling your stuff.

If you don’t sell your stuff through a website, then it can work quite well using a social media platform to blog.

That being said, in today’s world of online marketing if you are running a business and seriously trying to market a product or service, having a website really is a no-brainer.

There are loads of different ways you can use content marketing to help you promote and grow your business, but they all have to lead somewhere.

Whatever form of content you use it has to send people to something, or it’s not serving its true purpose.

If you have a bricks and mortar business you can do this through social media alone, without the use of a website. I’m not sure I’d necessarily recommend it, but it’s certainly possible.

There are businesses that don’t bother with a website at all, they just have very active social media accounts. Generally speaking though, it is a very good idea to have a website.

Forms Of Content Marketing #2: Vlogging

Blogging is the type of content marketing pretty much everybody’s heard of. If you’re not doing it already, you’re likely aware you should be doing it (and you really should). But there are several other kinds of content marketing you should be taking advantage of, that you may have heard about didn’t realise they counted as content marketing. If you did, you may have discounted them as being ‘not for you’.

This will be for one of two reasons:

You’re unaware of the potential they have, and how powerful they can be in marketing your business.

You have a personal issue with doing them.

Vlogging is one that most people avoid due to a personal issue. If that isn’t the case, and you’re still not vlogging, it’s because you’re not fully aware of the super awesome power of video marketing.

What Is Vlogging?

A vlog is literally a video blog; basically a video version of a blog post.

A blog post is a written post you have on your website (or a social media platform) that hosts written content and can take many different forms. A vlog can also take different forms, but the most common in business marketing and content marketing especially is the ‘Talking Head’ format used in the video above. A static video of a person speaking directly into the camera, often with only their head and shoulders visible. The words are the same as if you were writing a blog post.

Some people write their blog post, stick it on an auto-cue and read it into a camera.

Other people do what I’m (currently) doing and speak off the cuff, without a script. This is either because they don’t have an auto-cue (at the time of writing this I don’t, which is the only reason I don’t use one), or because they prefer that natural flow that comes with an off-the-cuff style.

It doesn’t matter how you record your videos. It doesn’t even matter if your videos take a different form. If you put content in a video format and use it as you would a blog post, it’s a vlog.

Some people also like to record themselves as they’re going about their daily tasks. To give people a behind the scenes look at their life and their business. They take the camera around with them everywhere and show themselves getting in the car, going to the shops, going to meetings, doing work, doing yoga, doing whatever else it is that they do in the day.

A lot of people when they hear the word ‘vlog’ think of this kind of fly-on-the-wall video. It’s almost like a diary, a journal entry of personal stuff you’ve been doing and behind the scenes business stuff. This perception leads to some confusion over what a vlog is, as people discount the possibility of it simply being a video version of your blog. This is why a lot of people who have weekly Talking Head videos they release every week. without fail, have separate videos they label as ‘vlogs’, which take a totally different format.

This is a candid camera format that is essentially them titting about with a camera recording random shots which they cut together and call a vlog.

Marie Forleo is a great example of this. Marie TV is a weekly, Talking Head vlog she releases, but she’s recently a behind the scenes video entitled ‘The Dangers Of Vlogging’, in which she discusses recording the fly-on-the-wall stuff as being totally separate to her usual weekly video. The weekly video is Marie TV, candid camera is ‘vlogging’.

It’s not wrong to call candid camera videos a vlog! But it’s important to understand they are not the only format a vlog can take.

Anything that you want to record as a video is essentially a vlog. You can write a blog post about anything, format it however you like, and it’s still a blog post. Vlogs are no different.

How To Vlog For Business

When it comes to vlogging there are a few things that you will definitely need, and other things you may want. You will need some form of camera to record your videos. You will need a way of uploading those onto a computer, and editing them (at least a little bit). And you will need somewhere to host them.

The easiest place to do that is on YouTube, where you can upload your videos and embed them anywhere else that you need to put them.

You can add them to your website, share links to them on your social media, and basically get them anywhere they need to be once they’re on YouTube. In addition, it’s definitely worth uploading your videos to certain platforms separately.

If you want to share your vlogs on Facebook, you should upload your videos directly to Facebook. Host them on Facebook, rather than sharing links from YouTube on your Facebook page. This will ensure you maximise the positive effect they have on your Facebook page in terms of building reach, likes, engagement and loads of other great benefits. It will also increase your searchability.

The main reason for this is simple: Facebook is incredibly biased.

If you have a video hosted on Facebook and you share it, Facebook will show it to more people than they would do if you shared a link to exactly the same video, hosted on YouTube.

It’s that simple.

To get the most out of your videos on Facebook you need to upload them to Facebook.

The other great benefit of doing that is that there is a video tab on your Facebook page which is very easily found. If your followers want to watch your videos, they know exactly where they are. our vlogs are easily found. If you share a link to a YouTube video, unless it happens to be your pineed post (and remember you can only pin one post at a time), your audience will have to scroll through your whole newsfeed to find your videos. To do that, they need to already know you posted them and actively look for them again.

It’s not likely they will remembered a video, then taken the time and effort to scroll all the way back through your Facebook page to find it. If you want to get the maximum engagement possible you want to upload it onto Facebook so it appears in your video tab and you really make the most of it.

As with blogging, I’ve done loads of other posts on vlogging so do make sure you check those out for more details…

Why Vlogging Is The Smart Choice For Those Who Hate Blogging

How To Start A Powerful Vlog For Your Business

Masterclass: How To Start A Vlog – All Of The Technical Needs

Forms Of Content Marketing #3: Podcasts

The next type of content marketing that is really, really popular and can do absolute wonders for your business is podcasting. Now this is not one that I have any personal experience with. I am not a huge fan of podcasts. I don’t listen to them myself and I don’t have one. I may start one at some point, but at this point I’m just not focused on that and that is purely down to personal preference on my part. Like I said before, when there is a type of content that you’re not using it’s usually for one of two reasons. Either you don’t understand how effective it can be or you have a personal hangup with it that just makes you not want to do it. For me, that is podcasting.

It’s important for you to find the type of content that works best for you. Just because there are lots of different kinds of content marketing that you can use, it doesn’t mean that you should or have to use all of them. If you love blogging, and you are really just interested in doing anything else, then stick to your blog. You can absolutely make a content marketing strategy work brilliantly with just one kind of content. It just happens to be that it usually works a lot better if you add in some extras. Promoting your blog post is an awful lot easier if you also have social media posts that you sue to promote your blog content, which is two separate kinds of content marketing working together to create an overall strategy that’s a lot stronger.

If you then add extra kinds of content in like videos or a podcast you can make that stronger still, but content really only works as well as it should do when you’re thoroughly invested in it and when you’re confident in it and when you’re comfortable with it, so if you really, really hate the notion of sitting down in front of a video camera and recording videos like I’m doing now, if you just can’t stand the thought of it there is absolutely no point in making yourself do it because there are other ways to use content marketing to promote your business that don’t give you that awful ick that make you feel bad.

Is there any kinds of content on this list that you get that icky “Ugh, I really don’t want to do that” feeling? Don’t worry about it at all, you can just skip those. Don’t force yourself to do something that you’re not comfortable doing. Your audience can tell. They know when you’re not really happy with something. They know when you’re not really into doing something and when you’re not really invested in it. The other option is obviously to outsource it and to get somebody else to do it for you. The problem with both videos and podcasts is that even if you get somebody to write them for you, which you can absolutely do, it’s a service that I provide for my clients is to write the scripts for them and they record them, but that’s the issue. They still have to actually record.

The big benefit of podcasting and using other audio content is that you can get the multimedia benefit that comes with video without people actually having to see you. I know a lot of people, the reason they don’t like the idea of recording videos of themselves is because they’re self-conscious about the way they look. To be perfectly honest, I put off starting a vlog for a very long time for that exact reason. I was very self-conscious about the fact that people would be able to see me all the time. Recording audio content is a brilliant way of getting around that. If you’re camera-shy but you don’t mind people hearing your voice, it’s the perfect medium to use.

It also depends on your ideal client and your audience and how they’re going to be absorbing your content. If your ideal client is really busy and constantly rushed off their feet, maybe they’re parents, maybe they’re already working another job and they’re trying to start a business on the side or maybe they just have an awful lot of commitments and they enjoy absorbing their content while they’re in the car or while they’re out on their morning job or while they’re doing the dishes, cleaning the house, whatever. If they just like being able to listen without having to read anything, without having to watch anything, then the audio version is the perfect medium for them because it makes it really, really easy for them to access your content and they can listen to it as much as they like when they’re driving the kids to school or doing whatever household chores they have to do, when they’re walking the dog. It doesn’t matter where they are or what they’re doing, they can always listen.

When you’re considering what kind of content to use, that is one really, really important thing to bear in mind. Not just what you are most comfortable with creating but also what your ideal client will be most comfortable absorbing and the manner in which they will find it easiest to absorb your content because the easier you make it for them, the more effective it will be.

Forms Of Content Marketing #4: Webinars

Now another kind of video marketing that you can use that’s really, really beneficial for your business are webinars. These are fantastic list-builders. They are one of the best lead magnets you can use, are running free webinars online. You can also record them when you do them live and then have them available later as recorded content that you can either give away for free as part of an opt-in, as part of a auto-responder sequence, or you can actually charge for them. Package them up in a course and make some passive income from them. Webinars are possibly one of the most multi-functional types of content that you can create.

Video in general is really, really versatile. You create a blog post, all you have is a written blog. If you create a video, whether it’s a vlog or a webinar, you can have that transcribed. You’ll end up with both the video content and the written content. You can convert it into an audio format, so you can use it as a podcast. You can use it as an audio file or an MP3 download. You can take the written version, chop it up into little bits and use it as social media posts or various other pieces of content, but webinars go one step beyond that and say you’re not just going to have the benefit of having it in video content that you can convert into every other type of content, you’re going to record it in the first instance live rather than pre-recording it, which gives you a lot more options in terms of growing your list, attracting interest. People can ask you questions on a live webinar, they can talk to you, they can interact with you, they can really get to know you, interest you a lot more when you’re live.

In addition to that you still get all the great benefits of having video content. One thing I will say if you are going to create webinars, make the most of them. Make sure you advertise them as much as you can beforehand whether that’s paid advertising or just networking and spreading out the word as much as you can on your own. Get as many people pre-registered for it as you can before you go live. When you do go live, make sure you have additional content that you can give people on the webinar. Free downloads that you give at various points throughout the webinar are really useful and just extra bonuses for people that will keep them watching to the end.

At the beginning of the webinar you can say, “Stick around because I have this great offer” or “I have a great discount” or “I have this wonderful free course” or whatever your offer is. Make sure you mention it at the start but don’t give it to them until the end so they actually have to stick around and watch for the whole thing. That’s really, really important and of course at the end of your webinar, take the opportunity to pitch something. A paid product or a paid service or something that’s actually going to earn you some money because people expect that of webinars. They’re quite hip to this format now. They understand that they get an hour of your time for free if you teach them something on a webinar, that that can expect at the end of that that you will pitch them something. You will say to them, “I hope you enjoyed what I’ve taught you today. If you’d like more of that then you can get it this way.”

Most people, they don’t mind that and if they do mind that, they’ll tune out before you get to that point, so you’ll never have people sitting there listening to you pitch something to them who are getting annoyed with you for pitching it because if they don’t want to listen to it they will literally just stop listening, but a lot of people will be interested and they will want more and the fact that they’ve already had an amazing webinar with you and they’ve had the opportunity to understand how good the content you have to offer is. By the time they get to the end of the webinar, they’ll be sat there thinking, “Wow. If this is your free stuff then I want more and also, how much better must your pay stuff be if this is how good the stuff you’re giving away for free is?” Don’t be afraid to stick that pitch at the end. A lot of people get gun-shy when it gets to that point and they feel like they shouldn’t so they don’t and it’s just a huge opportunity that you’ve missed.

Other opportunities that you will very likely miss with webinars either because you don’t think about it or because you feel a bit icky about doing it, have an auto-responder sequence set up long before you actually do the webinar to make sure that everybody that pre-registers for the webinar is reminded about it so they get as much opportunity as possible to actually jump on the webinar live. Then make sure that they have reminders sent out to them with a replay so that the ones that couldn’t make it to the live event, because we’re all very busy people, so some people won’t be able to make it to the live event can still watch it. Then after that don’t be afraid of having a nice strong sequence in place that will promote the pitch that you have at the end of the webinar.

Whatever it is you’re promoting, whether it’s a service or a programme that you’re selling or a particular product, whatever it is, your auto-responder sequence should include several sales emails that build up to offer them this product or service and really, really sell it to them. Make sure you don’t skip any of those steps. When you’re done with all of that, you can take the recorded version of your webinar and you can do one of two things with it. You can keep it as free content that you offer that’s freely available that you then set up basically an automated version of everything that you did live. Rather than it being a live webinar that you do again and again, you have the pre-recorded version of it that people sign up for and then they can watch it pretty much as soon as they sign up for it, and they still get the auto-responder sequence, they still get all the great content. The only difference is it’s not live so they can’t actually ask you questions while you’re on it.

The other option is to use it as part of a paid product or service that you then later give away fro free. You do it once as a free webinar, as free content and when you’re advertising it, you’ll say, “This is all my best stuff on this. This is a one time only thing. It’s the only time I’m going to do it for free. After this, this is going to be a paid product that you’re going to have £15 to watch or £50 to watch” or £100 or £500 or however much it is. You can package it up as a single low-cost thing that you can use as part of your sales flow, or you can put it in a larger course and use it as one video in a series that you put together and sell as a larger course. It doesn’t matter. There’s so many things that you can do.

Don’t forget that you can get it transcribed and you can use that written content everywhere else as well.

Forms Of Content Marketing #5: Live Social Media

While we’re on the subject of video, social media posts and there are lots and lots of different forms of social media posts. Written ones in the forms of tweets and status updates and then you have photographs and you have videos and you have loads and loads of different things. Basically any kind of content that you can think of, you can put on social media in one form or another. I’m not going to go into the minutiae of all the types of social media posts that you can use in this.

There are a couple that I want to highlight as being particularly powerful when it comes to content marketing and the first one is live posts. We’ve just talked about how powerful live webinars can be. Live Facebook posts can be just as effective. You can even do webinars live on some of your social media platforms. Facebook Live is particularly good for longer ones like that. You can do a Facebook Live for … You could do a full hour webinar on Facebook Live if you wanted to. You can also record live stories on Snapchat and on Instagram. Exactly which social media platform that you use for your live-streaming is entirely up to you. It’s again, a matter of your personal preference, so which one you’re comfortable with but possibly more important than that is which platform your ideal client are on.

It’s no good doing Facebook Lives if all your ideal clients are on Instagram. It’s no good doing Instagram stories if all your ideal clients are on Twitter. You need to make sure you’re putting your content out on the platform that your ideal client is most likely to see it on and in the format that they are most likely to absorb it in.

Forms Of Content Marketing #6: Memes

While we’re on the subject of social media, memes are another absolutely brilliant form of content marketing. Some of the really popular social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are all about images. You actually can’t post anything on them without including an image on it.

A meme isn’t just an image. A meme is an image plus, shall we say. It’s an image with text on it basically, so images alone can be really, really powerful and you can post images with written content attached to them, but when I say meme, what I mean is, an image which has written content on the actual image. It’s the kind of posts that you see that go viral really, really quickly and really, really easily. They tend to be very eye-catching and very simple. They’re not bogged down with lots of words, they’re not really, really busy, they’re not confusing. Or if they are confusing, they’re confusing in a enigmatic way that makes you pause and go “What the hell is that?” They’re meant to gran your attention really, really quickly and get across something important that’s going to make people actually stop and pay attention.

They’re great for your engagement, they’re great for reach because they’re very easily shared and they’re also very, very good for establishing what you do and how good you are at it really, really quickly. You can create memes of your own quotes. One of the popular options to do with memes is to make a really, really pretty visual representations of famous quotes. Quotes by your favourite celebrities, quotes by relevant experts in your niche, things of that nature. They go down really, really well and they’re great, but the better thing to do is to create the same kind of thing, so lovely, beautiful images with text on when you are quoting yourself.

Every time you write a blog post or record a vlog, every time you create any kind of content you want to be pulling little bits out of it. Just short sentences and little snappy things and turning them into memes that you can then share because it’s just another way for you to repurpose that content that you’ve already created. You’re not having to reinvent the wheel. You’re not having to create a whole new information, things to give people. It’s the same content, you’re just putting it in a different format and you’re making it really, really easy for people to see it, to share it, and to digest what you’re saying.

Forms Of Content Marketing #7: Questions

The final one I wanted to mention for social media are questions. Now questions are, I think, perhaps the best way of getting people engaged in your posts and actually having a conversation. You might want to say something really controversial and ask a question at the end of it. You might want to pick a particular pain point that all your ideal clients are struggling with and ask them firstly whether they’re having problems with it, and secondly how they deal with it. Or you might want to play Devil’s advocate and pick something that you know is going to really, really irritate them. Ask them a question that you know is going to make them go a bit like, “Oh. I don’t like that” and make them actually answer. You can then make it clear that obviously you don’t agree with the position that you took initially, you just wanted to know why everybody else thought about it, but it’s a really, really good way of getting people talking.

Forms Of Content Marketing #8: Email Marketing

Another great form of content that you should definitely be using is email marketing. Now I mentioned this very briefly when I was discussing webinars and I mentioned also response sequences and that is one way that you can use email marketing is to set up a series of emails that go out to people when they take certain actions. If they sign up to your newsletter list, you might send them a series of emails welcoming them. If they sign up for a freebie you might send them a series introducing them to that freebie and then upselling them something else.

Beyond that, once you have people on your list, once you’ve got them on your emailing list, you need to be emailing them regularly. You want to send out a weekly newsletter and in that weekly newsletter you should have a round-up of all the content you’ve put out that week. If you only put out content once every two weeks, then you’ll only do this once every two weeks, but I really do recommend that you try and publish content once a week. A blog post a week, a vlog a week, both a week. Make sure you’ve got one or the other or a podcast once a week so that you can send out your weekly newsletter and say “This is my new post, here’s the link to it” and you can include a snippet from the beginning to get people interested. You can include the whole thing in written form if you want, but just make sure you send it out because it helps with your engagement, it helps with your reach, it keeps you front of mind for everybody on your list.

It reminds them why they signed up to you in the first place and what you do and it makes sure then that you can really get your content out to as many people as possible. Of course you’re not limited to only sending out email marketing for existing content that you have, you can send out emails whenever you feel like it. If you’ve got something that you particularly wanted to say but you maybe didn’t want to blog about it and something that you wanted to share only with the people on your list, so exclusive content that you have just for them, and of course sale emails. If you want to sell something or promote a particular offer that you have or a service or something new that you’re doing, email marketing is a great way of doing it.

If you’re struggling to build your email marketing list, check out The Cake Construction, which breaks down exactly how you can use content marketing you grow your list.

Forms Of Content Marketing #9: Books

One kind of content that people often don’t think of as content marketing and one that they definitely don’t see the huge potential in as a possible form of content marketing are books.

Books are the dark horse of content marketing; the one nobody really thinks about with astonishing potential.

Now I love books. That’s no secret. I write them, I read them, I’m a voracious reader. I absolutely love books, but as far as content marketing goes, you can actually use books as a really, really strong form of content marketing. I think probably the best example I can think of with this and I use her all the time as an example because she’s brilliant at content marketing, is Denise Duffield-Thomas who has to date got two books published and she’s just signed a deal for the third, if I’m not mistaken and she really has used her books as content marketing.

Rather than creating them as paid products that she wants to sell, she created them as a form of marketing and the fact that she earned money off them as well was a happy bonus. That’s the way of looking at it. That’s not to say that you can’t earn money from books. You’re right, you absolutely can, but if you’re trying to use them as a marketing tools it’s useful to approach it thinking of them as something that you’re going to use to market your business and that your focus is on making sure you get as much mileage out of them as possible in terms of marketing rather than trying to make as much money out of them as possible.

The two goals aren’t mutually exclusive. You can use them as a marketing tool and make money off them at the same time, but normally your approach to selling them is very different depending on which you’re trying to do. You want to use them as passive income and that’s your focus is to create a passive income stream. That’s a brilliant way of creating passive income. By the way, that’s a great thing to do for your business but your strategy in marketing your book is going to be quite different to how it would be if your primary goal was to use your book as a form of content to market other products and services in your business.

If you’re sat there thinking, “Oh god, I can’t possibly write a whole book” the funny thing about content marketing is once you start doing it, once you start regularly producing content, you can end up with a book a lot quicker than you think. If you write a weekly blog post, if you publish your blog every single week, after a year you’ll have 56 posts. If you’re blogging properly, if you’re really using a good blogging strategy, they will be on relatively similar topics. You’ll have a core subject that you stick to, and really all a book is a series of blog posts when you think about it. If you equate a blog post with a chapter or if you’re writing 2000-odd word blog posts, that’s a chapter. Every time you post a blog, you’ve essentially posted a chapter. After you’ve got quite a bit of content amassed you can go through all the content you’ve got and you can turn it into a book.

Now I really don’t suggest that people just cut and paste. I have seen people that do this. They literally get their blog posts, they shove them together and they publish them as a book without doing anything else with them and I do not recommend you do that because it will really irritate the people reading the book, especially if they’ve already followed your posts. They’ve already read the posts, they want something more than that. You need to put a bit of effort into it. You need to find a coherent theme. You need to put them together in an order that makes sense, you need to edit them.

When you come to edit them, you’ll probably find that you have more to say than you did when you first wrote them, so that’s especially true if quite a bit of time has passed since you first wrote the post or first created the post. You’ll have had people commenting on your content, you’ll have had people engaging with it on social media, you’ll have maybe had clients that you’ve spoken to about similar topics before or you’ll just have learned more or thought more about it yourself. You will naturally find when you come to put all your content together and try and make a book out of it that you have more to say and you should definitely, definitely say it.

Don’t just take the easy option, cut and paste all the posts, stick them together and think it makes a book. It doesn’t. It does take a bit of effort but it is well, well worth it and it gives you a form of content that is just super, super versatile and so valuable. You can take the first chapter or two of your book, you can put it in a nice PDF, you can use it as an opt-in freebie. You have an absolutely massive list-builder there, giving away the first few chapters of your book for free. Does wonders for building your list, and you have a built-in upsell just right there. You give the first couple of chapters away for free, people read them and it’s natural for them to then want to buy the book. That is the easiest upsell you will ever do in your entire life and if you do it right, you’re smart about it, you’ll make the subject of your book something that naturally leads into, promotes, or explains something else that you’re trying to sell that’s worth an awful lot more.

This works really, really well if you have a course that you’re trying to promote, that you’re trying to sell. A paid programme that’s quite expensive. Programmes, they’re normally at least a few hundred pounds if not even more and you’re creating by writing this book as your introduction to it, you are creating the perfect funnel because you have, by creating the book, got the opt-in that will get people on your list, you have the email sequence that you need to upsell them to the programme with an easy upsell for them to take one step up and go from the free chapter to the paid book and then from the paid book to the paid product or service. This works really, really well.

Books as content marketing it a total no-brainier. It is the simplest thing in the world. It is so effective. The only reason that everybody isn’t doing it is because, I will not lie, writing and producing a book is tough. If you’re creating one completely from scratch and writing about a very specific subject, it’s really, really hard to do. Even if you’re essentially collating content that you’ve already created and turning it into a coherent book, that takes time. It takes effort and if you want to do a really, really professional job you’ll need to have it edited, you’ll need to have it proofread. You’ll need to have it professionally formatted. If you want to create physical copies of it rather than just selling it as an ebook, you’ll need to find a printer. There’s a lot to think about when it comes to creating books. It’s not a quick process and if you don’t already know what you’re doing it’s not an easy process, but the good news is I’ve already done it many times, so if I can do it, anybody can.

Forms Of Content Marketing #10: Mini-Courses

The final kind of content marketing that I want to talk to you about is a mashup of all the others that I’ve talked about so far and that is the mini-course. Now I’ve mentioned webinars, I’ve mentioned paid courses, and I’ve mentioned video marketing. This is basically all of those things rolled into one. What you want to do is create a short series of videos or webinars that form a mini-course that people can have as part of an auto-responder sequence over the course of three or four, maybe five days. I wouldn’t go any longer than that.

If you want to do a webinar, do a webinar. If you want to do a mini-course, do a mini-course. The mini-course itself is one of the best kinds of lead magnets that you can ever create. You don’t need to create a lead magnet to get people to sign up to the lead magnet. The mini-course is the lead magnet. If you want to do a webinar then great but you don’t need to a webinar in order to promote the mini-course. Unless of course you want to charge for your mini-course, in which case go for it.

A mini-course really is a combination of so many different kinds of content marketing. You will want to create it in video format, ideally. You can just do it as a written sequence of emails though that you send out but ideally you will want to create four or possibly five videos. You will want to send them out in a series of marketing emails and have them available on your website for people to watch on your website. Ideally also with extra things for them to download that go with it. One of the best things you can do is create a workbook for people to download at the beginning of the first video and then write in right through as they watch the mini-course. Other kinds of content that you can use are checklists or workflows, anything that helps people action what you’re teaching them in the mini-course.

A lot of people get really nervous at the notion of giving away a whole course for free. It feels like you’re giving away all your best stuff, you’re wasting an opportunity to make money. It takes quite a lot of work to create one and it can take a bit of money to set it up, especially if you’re not very good at doing the technical stuff yourself and you have to outsource that to somebody, so you may have to pay someone to do that for you. When you go to all that effort of creating it, possibly the expense of getting it set up as well, it can feel quite counterproductive to then just give it away for free, but if you are trying to promote anything of substance, if you’re trying to promote a big course that’s costing a few hundred pounds or more, if you’re trying to promote a premium service that you offer that’s worth hundreds and hundreds of pounds or more, anything that’s quite tough to get people to buy into because you need to be able to really, really clearly demonstrate the value that they’re going to get out of something.

You need to be able to make them see and feel and understand exactly how good this thing that you’re asking them to pay that much money for is going to be and exactly what it’s going to do for them, and this is what you use the mini-course for because it’s your opportunity to really, really show your stuff and to really make people understand that although it’s an investment that it’s an investment that they should absolutely be making because it’s going to be so, so worth it.

Content Marketing Masterclass 10 Epic Forms Of Content Marketing Blogging, Vlogging, Podcasts, Webinars, Live Social Media, Memes Questions, Email Marketing, Books and Mini Courses

How To Craft The Perfect Copy For Your Business

When you’re running a business and have a million things to do, writing copy for your business is often overlooked. You know you need it, but everything else seems to be more urgent, or more likely to start bringing in the money.

Many new businesses (and even established ones) whack up copy that will ‘do for now’, and resolve to do something about it when they have time.

The trouble is, they never have time.

Having great copy for your business is vital for its success. It tells people who you are, what you do, and why they should work with you or buy from you. It allows people to come to know, like and trust you, establishes your expertise, raises your profile, and ensures customers find you to begin with.

Great copy is the backbone of any wildly successful business.

But it’s a lot to think about. You’re never quite sure what you need, how to write it, exactly what it’s supposed to achieve or how it will do it.

The Elements Of Copy For Your Business

There are a lot of components to business copy, from the sales copy that sells your products, to the information explaining who you are and what you do, and the content that builds your audience and draws people to you. Add to that product and service names and descriptions, email marketing, social media posts, and the way you verbally describe your business and you have a glimpse of what you need to create to ensure your business has rock solid copy.

It’s a lot.

It’s a little overwhelming.

To help you out, here’s a breakdown of the main elements of your business copy, what they do, how they work, and some tips on crafting them. Before you get started, make sure you have completely nailed two things: your brand identity and voice, and your ideal client.

About Me Page…

Here’s the thing… You don’t need an ‘About Me’ page.

You need several.

Your website should contain complete details of your business as well as your biography, but that is a lot of information. You don’t want it front and centre, and you don’t want it all in the same place.

Have a dedicated ‘About Me’ page that includes everything there is to know about your business. You can go to town on this, or you can keep it quite simple and straightforward. Exactly how long it is will depend on you and the complexity of your business model. The most important thing to remember is that absolutely everything in the main section of your About Me page needs to be 100% relevant to your business, brand, and purpose. Don’t talk about all your experience, only the experience that is directly related to your work.

Business Journey

This is an excellent opportunity to include your business journey: how did you come to be doing this particular thing, why is it so important to you, what makes you uniquely qualified to do this one thing better than everyone else?

Message

Always write your About Me page first. It will help you refine your brand message. Ensure you have an absolutely rock solid brand identity, voice and message before you write anything else.

The Seemingly Irrelevant

Include a nice short section at the end of six to eight completely irrelevant but intriguing facts about you personally. This is the place to tell people things that aren’t relevant to your business but are interesting facts. For example, mine include the fact I have a Fire Hand and enjoy getting my tarot read.

Pro Tip: There is an excellent narrative archetype known as The Hero’s Journey that can help you craft a powerful business journey for your brand.

Descriptions…

Just because visitors to your site don’t want all the details right away, doesn’t mean they don’t need to know something. A CliffsNotes version of your full bio should appear on your homepage and in other relevant locations, such as sales pages, the end of blog posts, and any content that will be appearing off your site (i.e. queries, guest posts, adverts, PR pieces etc.). But even here, you need variety. Some locations will require you to be ridiculously brief (like your Twitter bio), others will give you the freedom to be a little more detailed.

All of your descriptions should be based on the core information given on your About Me page, but depending on where you’re sharing them and how long they are, you will want to focus on different things. Break it down and chunk it out to ensure you also have the perfect copy for the various places you will need to talk about yourself and your business.

Elevator Pitch Bio

This is the super-short, pithy way you introduce yourself and tell people what you do. Imagine you step into an elevator, and someone asks what you do. You have the time it takes to get to the next floor to tell them, in such a way they are interested enough to ask for your card.

You may never actually be in that scenario, but it’s a good barometer for how long this should be. Aim for a single sentence that’s succinct and svelte. Use two sentences at the most, and only if they’re very short! Get the most important elements in there: how do you help people? What need do you fulfil?

Here’s mine…

I help entrepreneurs and small businesses market themselves with kick-ass content and copy.

Tagline (<140 Characters)

The rise of Twitter has finally put a number on exactly how long your company tag line should be: 140 characters or less. Your tagline is the most useful element of all your descriptive copy. It will appear in the main metadata of your whole website, one every social media platform you use, and so much more. You can use it on your newsletters, product packaging, business cards, adverts, multimedia marketing materials (from pens and mugs to t-shirts and mouse mats).

Nailing your tagline is seriously tough.

It has to be perfect. But when it comes to our business babies we always have so much to say. Condensing it into 140 characters or less is damn near impossible, but it’s seriously important.

You won’t have space to do everything you want to do. You just won’t. Don’t try to be intriguing and mysterious and amusing and empathetic all at the same time. You don’t have space. Pick the tone that is most crucial to your brand and ideal client. Make it memorable, but keep it as simple as possible.

Here’s mine: The kick-ass copywriting service every ambitious female entrepreneur needs to grow a dedicated tribe addicted to their passion and products.

Short Description

It’s useful to have another abridged version of your bio ready to go. This should be longer than your elevator pitch, but still no more than a few sentences. Focus on your ideal client’s main pain points and how your products and services solve them.

Long Description

This is your opportunity to paint a beautiful picture. Go back to those pain points, flesh them out, demonstrate that you completely understand where your ideal client is coming from, and what their pain points are. Draw a vivid, visceral picture of the reason they need you, then a bright, shining image of what their lives will look like after they have whatever you’re selling.

Pro Tip: When crafting your elevator pitch and tagline, say them out loud and test each out on real people. Rope in a few friends or family members, shake their hand and deliver your one liner. Listen to their feedback. If you can try it on people who don’t already know what you do, all the better!

Blogging…

Your blog is the core of your content marketing strategy. It will raise the profile of your business, establish your expertise, build the know, like and trust factor with your audience and introduce them to the details of your products and services.

It’s your chance to create something of value that will ensure people find you, and fall in love with you.

The key to blogging is consistency. Decide how frequently you will blog, and stick to it. The more often you can post the better, and you should aim for at least one post a week. That being said, quality always trumps quantity, so if you only have time for one post a month, make it a corker.

Choose a specific day and time to post that is going to have the most impact with your audience. You can go with the data in your analytics about what days and times get the most response from your audience, or you can do with a time that is statistically proven to be the most effective (this is currently Tuesdays at 10 am).

Pro Tip: If you struggle to find time to blog, really hate blogging, or are unsure of what or how to write outsource your blog to a professional who can take care of it for you. I offer a free blog post to all new prospects to give them a taste of what my content marketing services can do for their business. Grab yours here…

Product Descriptions…

Product descriptions are the nuts and bolts of copy for your business if you have a product-based business model. They are a lot like your business descriptions. You need one that’s complete and detailed, but you also need one that’s shorter and more easily digested and one that is laser focused and utterly succinct. Use language your clients would use. Stay on brand and true to your message.

The key questions to ask before you start writing are:

What problem/pain point does this solve?
What desire does this fulfil?
How will this make someone’s life better/easier/more meaningful?
What feeling/emotion will owning this bring?
What aspect of this product will my ideal client care about most (i.e. physical appearance, technical specifications, value etc.)

Once you’ve answered, all these questions write a description that focuses on covering those points. You may find they are not all relevant to your particular product, but if they are you should include them.

Prioritize.

For example, people buy jewellery for its appearance and the feeling that comes with it. You should emphasise these elements by describing the materials used, colours, shapes, and any other relevant properties of those materials (e.g. the fact copper is used to treat arthritis, or amethyst is believed to cure headaches). On the other hand, people buy technology because it makes their lives easier. Depending on your ideal client, they may care more about the exact technical specifications and genius of the product, or they may simply care that it is easy to use and very effective. If it’s the former, you should focus on the specs and keep the physical description brief. If it’s the latter, you should emphasise how effortless and useful it is.

Test your descriptions out by sharing them with people who would be genuinely interested in your products. Facebook groups are great for getting feedback on descriptions if you’re at all unsure you’re getting it right.

Pro Tip: For every product you have, create the following: a tag line (<10 words); a one paragraph summary (<150 words); a detailed description.

Sales Pages…

There’s a marked difference between a creating copy for your business in the form of product description and a in the form of sales page. The former is relatively short and accompanies products, while the latter is considerably longer and accompanies services, and products that are very high end (like a luxury car or Rolex) or of a complex nature (like an eCourse).

Think of a sales page as a slow seduction.

The core questions you need to ask are the same as for a product description, but you need to emphasise a few additional factors, including who you are and why your/your business is the best person to come to for this particular thing. Draw on the work you did writing your About Me page for this, but tweak it to focus on the elements that are most relevant to the specific thing you are selling. Leave the rest out.

A sales page is also formatted differently. Frame the information you need to put across in the form of questions or statements your ideal clients will immediately relate to. Make them feel you are describing them and their exact situation. You will also want to design your page to be a little more viewer-friendly. The amount of information you need to convey is usually a lot more extensive. Make sure you do the following:

  • Break it up as much as possible.
  • Include plenty of space around it to give your readers’ eyes a rest.
  • Make use of headers, banners, and tables.
  • Ensure you have the price very clearly visible.
  • Provide buttons enabling people to instantly purchase or take the desired action (for example you may need to drive people to a discovery call in order to ultimately convince them).

Pro Tip: Include social proof on sales pages and product descriptions wherever possible. They can be discreet on product descriptions, coming at the bottom of the page or only appearing if you click on a link to reveal them. On sales pages, however, they should be prominent and preferably include photographs of the reviewers. Don’t be shy about quoting clients, asking for testimonials, and seeking recommendations from other professionals.

And Finally…

Always be true to yourself and your brand vision/message in everything you write (even if you have a copywriter crafting your words for you!). If you’re looking for a little help with the copy for your business, look no further. The Write Copy Girl offers comprehensive blogging, content marketing and sales copy services…

Top 10 Plugins For Epic List Building

When it comes to content marketing, the key objective of almost all the entrepreneurs I work with is to grow their email list. Whenever I ask clients what they want their blog and content marketing to achieve the number one answer is simple: build my list.

Your email list is the key to getting everything else in your business working. Building a list of absolutely perfectly ideal clients is really important for any business. It’s a massive help to have a tribe of perfect people to work with, to whom you can directly market your stuff, as it means you’re not relying on ‘spray and pray’ marketing. It helps you generate leads. It helps you convert people from readers and prospects into paying clients. But growing your list, the physical act of getting people to hand over their email address and put themselves on your list, is something that a lot of my clients find quite problematic.

The Importance Of Infrastructure When List Building

One of the main things that I say to all my clients (particularly those on The Divine Blogging Design, which is really geared towards list building and using your content to grow your list as much as possible) is that I can create as much content as you like, and we can get your content marketing working perfectly, but if you don’t have the infrastructure in place to actually capture leads on your website your list building efforts will fail.

You need a website that was built with list building in mind. If it’s difficult for people to sign up in your list, you can have the best content in the world and you’re still going to struggle to get traction where list building is concerned.

When I point this out, I’m invariably asked, “What do I need on my website to grow my list?”

List Building Infrastructure

I am currently in the process of outsourcing, upgrading my website. I took it as far as I could on my own and still needed it to perform better. I needed some professional help with that. But if you’re not yet at a point where you can afford to pay for somebody else to design a professional website for you, or if you’re quite handy with WordPress and simply need to know what plugins to install, then these are the plugins for you.

NOTE: You don’t need all of them. I’m not giving you this list and saying go out and install all 10 of these on your website immediately.

I suggest you take a look at these suggestions and decide which ones sound like will work best for you, and your business. As a general rule the more plugins you install on your website, the slower it will be, and the more chance there is of conflicts. So when I say don’t install them all, I really do mean it. There is a good reason for that. If you suddenly start installing a massive load of plugins on your site you might completely screw it up.

I’ve used all of these plugins at some point. I have many clients who have used them/are still using them and have achieved great results with them. So, without further ado…

My Plugins: Thrive Leads

Thrive Leads is a really comprehensive lead generation plugin. It comes with a lot of templates making it really easy to use. You just install it, upload any of the templates and use them as you see fit. It is a paid plugin. Last time I checked it was about $70, which is good for a high-quality lead generation plugin. Thrive Leads is extremely good and one I use, so you should definitely check it out. It’s incredibly functional with a lot of great popups that you can customise to make them as user-friendly as possible. This means they’re not in your face and annoying people, but they’re still capturing visitors’ email addresses while they’re on the site, and making sure people are aware of the fact you have an email list and giving them the nudge to just sign up for it.

OptinMonster

OptinMonster is quite similar to Thrive Leads. Before I upgraded my website, this is the one that I was using, and I got great results from it. It’s extremely easy to use. It’s about $20 for a monthly subscription, or you can get an annual subscription that cuts it down to $9. OptinMonster has lots of popup options and some really cool functions like locking content. It’s really useful because it gives you more levels to work with. By now you’re probably familiar with using optin freebies to get people to sign up – having a free e-book or a mini video course or whatever that’s available on your site in exchange for an email address email address. But not everybody can be bothered reading a free e-book or watching a free course.

They’re not that interested, but they may come across one of your blog posts and really want to read it.

Locking content allows you to make certain posts inaccessible without the visitor signing up to your email list. The odds are they’ve come across your blog post because they’ve been looking for something specific, or because they know you and they’ve seen you share it, and they’ve clicked on it because they want to read it right now.

They already want to read what you’re offering. It’s not a case of convincing them that your optin is going to be really useful to them. You don’t need to convince them of anything. They’re already there. They already want to be read it. They want to read it right now. You just put a really simple step in place that says, “You can read this, it’s just a click away, pop your email address in!”

This is a great way of getting signups. The only caution I would make is that you shouldn’t use it excessively. Save it for premium posts, the majority of your posts should still be freely available (if you want to know why, check out The Cake Construction).

My Plugins: Landing Pages for WordPress

Thrive Landing Pages is made by the same people as Thrive Leads. They work together very well. Even if you don’t have Thrive Leads, you can still use Thrive Landing Pages, which enables you to create really beautiful landing pages extremely easily. It comes with a lot of templates which makes it very simple to use, and it’s also got a drag and drop interface that makes building your own customised landing pages ridiculously easy.

I still use this on my site. I’ve used it for all my main sales pages (here’s an example!) as well my option landing pages. It’s possibly the most useful thing on my whole website as it lets me DIY the major pages rather than paying a small fortune for my tech guy to do it. In fact, it’s so good that the website overhaul isn’t including the big sales page for The Divine Blogging Design, because I’m happy with the one I created myself for now!

Bloom

Another great plugin for optins is Bloom. I haven’t used this for a while, but I have a lot of clients that still use it, and they get really good results. It’s easy to use. It’s customizable. It’s got a lot of options when it comes to colours, and settings, and things like that, but the feature that I really like about this one is the fact that you can track things very easily. You can track your results and see how your conversion rates are going. You can split test. You can also target specific content, which makes it a really versatile plugin that does a lot of things in a very easy to use way.

PopupAlly Pro The Best List Building Plugin For Polite PopupsMy Plugins: PopupAlly Pro

I use PopupAlly Pro on my own site. It’s just the most useful thing in the world. I absolutely love it. It creates really good little popups. They are not even remotely intrusive, which is the thing that I really like about them. Natalie Lussier, who created PopupAlly Pro, actually refers to it as the ‘polite popup’ specifically because it was designed with this in mind: a lot of site visitors find popups really irritating and intrusive. It’s been designed in such a way that the popups are as unobtrusive as possible, so they don’t really bother you while you’re reading. They don’t interrupt visitors, yet they still grab their attention at the optimal moments and help them sign up really easily.

I have to admit I do find this a little fiddly to setup. It’s not the easiest one in the world, but once you figure out how you do it (and there are videos and tutorials that will help you do that) it is easy to do. It just take me a little while to get the hang of it. That being said, it is hands down the best lead generation plugin I’ve ever. Even though the Write Copy Girl is currently being redeveloped, we are not getting rid of PopupAlly. We’re keeping that because it’s so useful. Where popup plugins are concerned, I would definitely recommend this as my favourite.

Ninja Popups

A really good budget option if you’re not really looking to invest a lot, but you want something that will help you grow your list, is Ninja Popups. You can get that about $21. That’s just a one off payment, that’s all you have to pay, making it cheap and very cheerful. It’s extremely functional. It’s very easy to use. It comes with 40 different themes, loads of different designs, and it’s extremely responsive.

If you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful budget option, Ninja Popups is definitely the one to go for.

Lead Pages

Lead Pages is quite similar to Thrive Landing Pages in that it helps you build really great landing pages that are very effective. I used Lead Pages for a while before I got Thrive. To be perfectly honest, I found it a bit expensive, which is why I switched to Thrive and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve been quite happy with Thrive, but if you don’t mind paying extra, Lead Pages is probably the industry leader for this particular thing. I think it’s the most widely used landing page plugin and one of the most popular. It’s certainly one that a lot of my clients use, and they all get great results out of it.

I personally have managed to achieve exactly the same results with Thrive Landing Pages, and Thrive is an awful lot cheaper, but it’s just going to be a matter of preference for you.

OptimizePress

If you’re looking for a complete bells and whistles option that gives you absolutely everything you need, OptimizePress is perhaps the best one to go far. It is quite expensive, but it is the most comprehensive option currently available. You can use OptimizePress to create marketing sites, landing pages, sales pages, and option forms. You can use it to do anything that you need to do when it comes to growing your list, and you can do it all in one place. That is incredibly useful.

It is a little expensive, and it’s not necessarily the best at doing all of the things that it does.

It’s useful because it’s so comprehensive, but it is quite expensive, and it’s not necessarily the best way of doing it.

SumoMe

Another incredibly useful tool to use is SumoMe, which is a great list building plugin. It also has a lot of ways of building and boosting your traffic as well as growing your list. It’s very easy to integrate with Google analytic. You can create heat maps and use the highlighter, which are really useful for growing both your traffic and list.

Big bonus for this one: it’s free!

There are paid elements that you can add on, but you don’t have to and the free version works perfectly well.

Optin Forms

Finally, if you’re looking for an option to build your list that doesn’t involve popups (because I know a lot of people hate popups), Optin Forms is a fabulous alternative. It doesn’t involve any popups whatsoever. Instead, it uses really discrete and very well-placed option forms across your website to entice people to sign up to your list at the best opportunity. You can put them in side bars, menus, blog posts, etc. There’s so many ways you can integrate these forms into your site that make it really easy for people to sign up to your list, but doesn’t bother them with constant popups.

Looking To Supercharge Your List Building Efforts?

Check out The Divine Blogging Design, my signature Content Marketing service designed with list building in mind. This monthly service provides you with regular content for your blog and social media, as well as optin freebies and content upgrades.

How To Avoid Burnout And Why We All Need Minions

You may have noticed there was no Vlog/Blog last week. There is no vlog this week either, although I am blogging. The reason for this is incredibly simple…

I lost my voice.

Totally.

I’ve been battling a nasty cough for about a month now. Last week I had to rearrange client calls because I wasn’t audible over the phone. I was so bad by the end of the week, I caved in and took Thursday and Friday off completely. Thankfully after two days followed by a weekend off to recover I’m feeling better. Unfortunately, my voice isn’t quite back to normal yet, the upshot of which is that the day I was planning to spend batching new content a week and a half ago never happened.

Which means there are currently no vlogs scheduled.

I could have avoided this sorry state of affairs were it not for one painful and seemingly unavoidable element of entrepreneurship: burnout.

Why We Burnout..

When you run your own business, everything rests on your shoulders. There are a million things to do and, if you are anything like me (i.e. a total control freak), you will dislike handing off most everything to people who could help you with it.

You do everything yourself.

Because it’s easier to do it yourself than try to explain what you want to someone else. This always seems to be true. Even when they already do the same thing for other clients. You’ll do a better job of it than they ever could (even if they’re a pro at that particular thing and you are not).

And there’s never enough time.

So taking time off (especially unplanned time off due to illness) isn’t an option.

Time is finite, and you already have too much work to fit into your days. If you take a day off – just one day off – that’s a whole day of work you somehow have to shoehorn into another day. A day overburdened with work of its own.

Besides, time off is for pussies and slackers, and you’re neither.

You’re a total boss.

Until of course you lose your voice, can’t record your content, can’t speak to your clients, and suddenly find yourself incapable of sitting upright at your desk without passing out on your keyboard, (which melts due to the waves of feverish heat rolling off you).

True story (keyboard melting aside).

How To Avoid Burnout…

Avoiding burnout would seem to be very simple: don’t work too hard.

It’s easier said than done.

For years I have struggled to spend weekends doing anything other than work. The fact I’m a workaholic, and I don’t have a family – no spouse, no children – doesn’t help. There’s nobody to claim my time, drag me away from my work, or give me something I want to be doing more than work.

It’s just me, Dexter (happy as long as he gets a walk and fed regularly) the Cat Mafia (a small army of cats who live in my neighbourhood and visit regularly).

I have friends and family I see, but I’m a terrible hermit and most of my friends live far away, so I’m lucky if I spend a day out every week with other people.

I also have the nasty habit of working every waking hour. I go from my bed to my desk, pause only to eat, walk and feed the aforementioned dog, before going back to the desk and from there directly to bed.

If I pause to watch TV, it’s while I’m eating my meals (my nutritionist tells me this is not good for me).

The only time I ever actually stop working and switch off completely is when I’ve been at it so long I burnout, and there’s no other choice.

I have to stop.

By that stage, I feel like hell, and it takes me several days, sometimes weeks, to recover.

I know how to avoid this: have set working hours and don’t exceed them; rest rather than work during my off hours; take weekends off; go on holiday occasionally and have a whole week (shock, horror!) away from the business.

I haven’t had a week off all year. In fact, until last week when I took Thursday and Friday off, I hadn’t had more than two days off in a row all year.

The times I’ve taken two consecutive days off I can count on one hand.

Christmas was the last time I had a week off. I took two full weeks over Christmas and New Year, but I spent the second week batching content, so that doesn’t count.

Throughout the year I’ve been conscious that burnout was inevitable. It was looming. It was the unavoidable darkness on the horizon.

It’s not like I wanted it to happen, and did, in fact, make progress in staving it off, but it wasn’t enough.

I still work most weekends. I still work through the evenings on weekdays. Yesterday (Monday) was my first day back after being ill.

I was at my desk working until 11.30pm.

Why?

Because I took two days off last week, and I have client deadlines.

Why We All Need Minions…

I’ve spent the majority of this year trying to put in place the right people to support me in my business and ensure I’m not carrying the burden of everything. I started with all my technical stuff at the very beginning of the year.

The website and anything related to optin setup, sales funnels, etc. are now handled by the fabulous Simon Jennings and co. over at Roots Creative.

A couple of months later I hired a cleaner. They worked for an agency and turned out to be crap, so I sacked them and hired a BETTER CLEANER, her name is Nicola, and she’s often accompanied by Katie. These ladies are the bomb; I love them both to death. My house is spotless, my stress levels have plummeted as a result, and I never have to do anything to achieve this zen-like state of domestic bliss.

After months of searching for a good VA to handle my newsletter, I finally found Faye, of Faye PA, at the end of May.

I’m in the process of deciding who should be dealing with my social media and exactly what I want my focus there to be.

There’s a lot of work in my business that I have to do myself. The writing I do for my clients is all on me. But the other elements (admin, accounting, technical stuff, etc.) that I don’t need to do myself. There are other aspects of client work beyond writing (i.e. graphic design work, scheduling, etc.) that I can (and plan to!) delegate.

The key point here is really very simple: if you run a business, as an entrepreneur, solopreneur, mumpreneur, papapreneur, or the leader of a small empire, you need minions.

No, not the film.

I’ve never seen the film, I really should.

I mean actual living, breathing, excellent-at-their-zone-of-genius minions. And I use the term ‘minions’ with love. It’s not a derogatory statement; I view my minions as invaluable members of my team with demi-god-like status. I’m not talking slave labour here. In fact, I strongly advise you avoid the cheap options (like Fiverr) to fill positions that require regular work.
Get someone who is as good at their Zone of Genius as you are at yours. Someone who will do a bang up job, rather than a mediocre, just-about-passable job.

The aim here is to entirely hand off as much as possible to other people who will ideally do it better than you could. Expect to pay them appropriately. I have no qualms about paying all my minions the rates they ask for because I know they’re worth it. The time, stress and worry they save me make them worth it.
Avoiding burnout is worth it!

So, How Come I Burned Out, Even With Minions?

Simple: I don’t have enough minions yet.

It’s taken me seven solid months to find the right people and get them in the right positions. I’m now utterly delighted with my cleaners, but they’ve only been working with me six weeks. Before that, I had several frustrating months trying to find someone, hiring someone, realising they weren’t right, and starting the search all over again.

A similar thing happened with my VA. I’ve been trying to find someone to handle my newsletter for two years. I’ve hired four people to date. The first three didn’t work out. There were various reason for this, but I finally have someone who is reliable and does a good job, but that has also only happened in the last six weeks.

At present, I’m still carrying the burden of all the writing that needs doing in the business. Not only client work, but my own content marketing creation. When I’ve hit a particular milestone, I’ll be hiring another writer, to take over some of the writing for The Write Copy Girl itself, and also some of my client work.

I don’t intend to work a 60+ hour week indefinitely!That’s still a way off, but it’s part of the plan. I’ve realised that if you genuinely want to avoid burnout altogether, to never have to endure it again, you need to build to the point where one of two things happens:

  1. You have talented minions that relieve you of as much of that massive burden as they can.
  2. You structure your business in such a way that the majority of your income is passive and the actual work you have to do is limited to a manageable amount (i.e. you are not exclusively trading your time for money).

If you are exclusively selling your time for money (as I currently am), you will naturally end up working every hour available because it’s the only way to earn enough to live comfortably.

The only entrepreneurs I know who are an exception to this, are those with additional income sources – other jobs that provide a salary, spouses in full-time employment (who earn the bulk of the revenue for the family), trust funds, etc.

Money Matters, Burnout, And The Issue Of Troublesome Clients

An additional problem I’ve faced this year has come from the customer side of my business. I had two major clients vanish on me at the start of the year without paying their bills. I’d done the work (and in both cases, it was a lot of work), they’d paid a deposit initially and were due to pay in full on completion.

They completely disappeared.

Had they been small clients it wouldn’t have been a problem, but between them, they represented over £5K of lost income.

I did the work, but I never got paid for it.

That threw my cashflow into crisis, left me scrabbling to take on a lot of extra work on short notice to cover it, and also meant I had to postpone some work I was having done on the website while I sorted it out.

All of this added up to a lot of stress, a lot of extra work, and inevitably, burnout.

Since then, I’ve overhauled my payment system to ensure this never happens again. I have made up the missing money elsewhere. I’ve reached a point where that rather significant bump in the road is in the rear view. But it took its toll. It’s only in the last month that I’ve been able to breathe easier and slow down a bit.

And of course, the second I slowed down, I was hit with the mother of all coughs that stubbornly refused to go away.

Why Slowing Down Makes You Feel Worse

If you’ve been powering through for a while and you finally find a way to slow down, by cutting your workload, being stricter with yourself when it comes to taking time off, or hiring some much-needed minions, expect to crash and burn.
I know for a fact I actively perpetuate the problem by stubbornly refusing to slow down for as long as physically possible. I keep on powering through because as tired as I am, I know the second I stop (or even slow down) I’ll feel a lot worse.

The least I can expect is a severe migraine that lasts several days. The worst is a cold/flu that knocks me off my feet for a week or more. If I’m really unfortunate, I get depressed. None of these outcomes is desirable. In fact, I’d do anything to avoid them. So I just keep working.

My warped logic tells me that stopping will make me ill, therefore, I shouldn’t stop.

The reality, of course, is that if I managed to stop for short periods on a regular basis, I’d never have the problem to begin with.

In the long run putting such measures in place will ensure you avoid burnout. It will ensure you are much healthier and happier. This, in turn, will help your business prosper.
But if there’s one lesson this year has taught me well, it’s that getting to that point isn’t easy. You need to be willing to rethink how you do things. To try new ways and, if they don’t work, try, try again.

Burnout is an absolute bitch, and it’s no way to live. Endlessly swinging from the seemingly endless grind of the hustle to the exhausted catatonia of burnout, and back again, is exhausting. It’s terrible for your health (mental and physical), your wealth (it undermines your earning potential) and the growth of your business (you can’t do your best work if you’re constantly stressed or suffering burnout).

My mission in life has become discovering the perfect system of managing a flourishing service-based business without having to pay the price every few months.
I’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, if you have any tips or advice for avoiding or managing burnout, I’d LOVE to hear them!

5 Mindset Issues That Are Giving You Genuine Writer’s Block

In addition to being a content writer, I am also a fiction writer. And when it comes to fiction writing, I actually don’t believe in writer’s block. Before you jump down my throat and tell me that block is ‘totes a thing’, a distinction that needs to be made between a situation that renders you incapable of writing (i.e. block), and a situation that renders you unwilling to write (i.e. stress, exhaustion, procrastination etc.).

Most of the time when people say they have writer’s block, they mean there’s something else going on, that’s keeping them from writing. Either that, or they just don’t want to write right now. The latter are using writer’s block as an excuse. It isn’t always a conscious excuse, it is often completely unconscious. They might genuinely believe they can’t write, for whatever reason, but the real reason, the crux of the issue, is that they just don’t want to right then.

But that’s fiction writing.

In business, when it comes to copyrighting, I have a quite different opinion. There are certain things that cause genuine writer’s block when you’re trying to write copy. And, by copy, I mean blog posts, website copy, social media posts; anything that requires you to write written content for your business. There are five main things that can give you genuine block, keep you from writing, and really hold you back in your business…

 

Whatever it is you need to write copy for (work or play related), there will always be times when you don’t want to do it. You’re always going to have to draw that distinction between the times you can’t write, and the times you don’t want to write.

If the situation is that you don’t want to write, and there’s something you’ve simply got to write, whether it’s a blog post you have to get out, a sales page you have to finish, or a magazine article you have to write, and you really don’t want to do it, the best advice I can give to you is to just eat the damn frog.

That expression comes from a brilliant book by Byron Tracy called Eat That Frog. The concept is basically this: when you have a long To Do list, with one or several things on it that you really, really don’t want to do, you always leave the stuff you’re dreading until last.

You always put it off for as long as you can.

The trouble is, the longer you leave it, the worse it gets. It goes from being a tiny, little frog that wouldn’t have tasted great, but you could’ve got down quite easily, to being this huge, monstrous toad that’s just kind of sliming around in the background, looming over your shoulder. It’s grown horrific and is even more unpleasant to deal with when you finally have no other choice. Knowing you have to tackle it preys on your mind and leaves you feeling icky, so you’re really just prolonging the inevitable, and making it even worse.

So, if there is something that you don’t want to write, and you have to get it done, there’s no choice but write it, you can’t outsource it, or delegate, you absolutely must write it yourself… eat the damn frog.

Get it over with as quickly as possible.

That being said, there will be other times when it’s not a case of you not wanting to write (although that may play a part in it), but rather that there is something genuinely preventing you from getting the words down.

You really can’t.

It doesn’t matter how much you try, it’s just not happening.

In my experience there are five things that cause genuine writer’s block, that actually prevents you from writing and means you cannot physically write…

Writer’s Block Mindset #1 Overwhelm

When you’re completely overwhelmed, with so many things on your mind, so many things to do, and so much stress going on, your head just becomes too full. Your mind is buzzing, just going round in circles with all the tasks you have to get done, and the various other things you need to deal with in life.

Overwhelm makes it incredibly hard to focus on one thing.

It makes getting anything done ridiculously difficult.

When you’re suffering from overwhelm, writing a blog post can seem like the most impossible task in the world.

Even writing an email can seem impossible, because your head is too full of all the other things that you have to do. It feels like, no matter what you do, no matter how much you work, or how hard you try, you’re never ever going to get to the end everything, because there’s just too much. Everything becomes insurmountable.

The world is impossible to deal with it.

Now, the truth of the matter is, if you can focus on one thing at a time, and work your way through everything on your To Do List, you will get there eventually. But because are so many things on that list, or the things on it are so huge, it doesn’t feel like that. In the time it takes you to get one thing done (whether it takes an hour, an afternoon, a day, or a whole week) and crossing that one thing off your list, you realise that, while you were doing that one thing, five other things had to be added to the list.

That’s when overwhelm kicks in and you realise that you can’t physically get through the things you have to do fast enough, because there are more things constantly piling on, and your workload is just getting exponentially bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and there’s no way to get to the end of it.

And your brain kind of short circuits when it realises this, because it’s a bit of a paradox; it’s an impossible situation. You find yourself thinking, “I have to keep working, even though I’m unimaginably tired and really don’t have it in me to work anymore, and not only will it never end, it’s going to keep getting worse…

Your brain just kind of short circuits when it realises this and basically says, “Fuck that, for a laugh. If I’m never going to get anywhere, I’m not doing it.”

Overwhelm gives you genuine block. It will stop you in your tracks. It will keep you from getting anything done, not just writing. And the only thing you can do is to find a way to deal with that overwhelm, to make it so that you no longer having an insurmountable amount of things to do. That you are no longer trying to deal with the impossible.

When your brain once again believes that it is capable of achieving what you’re trying to achieve, it will co-operate again.

There are many wonderful experts out there that can help you deal with overwhelm, so I’m not going to dwell too much on that. But, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, and you’re finding yourself incapable of writing as a result, don’t worry.

It’s not you, it’s not ‘in your head’, you’re not imagining it, and you’re not making excuses.

Overwhelm is a real thing that really happens, and it genuinely gives you writer’s block. Practice a little forgiveness: it’s not your fault, you just find a way to deal with the overwhelm.

Top Tip…

Running a business is inherently overwhelming. It took me a long time to figure out the only way to effectively deal with my own overwhelm in the long term was to find reliable people to outsource all the stuff I didn’t have to do myself. I now have an assistant who handles my newsletters, a great SEO guy who deals with my website and AdWords campaigns, and an accountant all working for me on a regular basis. I also have a core group of trusted experts who handle other things (like proofreading, art work, editing and even writing and research) as and when I need extra help in those areas.

You don’t need to spend a fortune on outsourcing to get some key things off your desk. Not only does it free up your time to focus on your own Zone of Genius, it drastically reduces overwhelm because you no longer have to do everything yourself. If you’re looking for someone to outsource your writing to, I offer blog writing, content marketing, and sales copy service for entrepreneurs…

Writer’s Block Mindset #2 Lil’ Old Me” Syndrome

You know that feeling you get, you’re sat there writing, and you suddenly think, “Wait a minute, who cares what I think? Who am I to be giving an opinion on this subject? Who am I to be giving advice on this subject? I know nothing! Nobody wants to hear what I have to say. Nobody cares about my opinions; not little old me!”

Lil’ Old Me syndrome is very much a confidence thing. It’s also a perspective thing. From your perspective, no matter how good you are, no matter how big your audience is, no matter how many followers you have, no matter how much praise you get, no matter how successful you become, you will always feel the rest of the world is somehow better. There are other people who are better than you. Nobody cares what you think, because you’re one of ‘the little people’, and nobody gives a crap about the little people.

It’s a completely understandable thing to think.

But what you have to remember is, it doesn’t matter how many people are talking about a subject. It doesn’t matter how many people are producing a particular type of product, or providing a particular service. It doesn’t matter how many people are offering something that is similar to what you’re doing, or writing about similar topics.

You have a very unique gift: your own personal perspective.

The thing about people is, we are all so beautifully unique. We’ve all had different life experiences, different emotional experiences, different career experiences, different personal experiences. And every experience we have shapes the way we view the world. So, the way you see your niche is unlike the way anybody else is the world sees it. Even if they know exactly the same things that you know. Even if they went to the same university, and studied the same course, worked at the same organisation as you, and had the same work experience. They’ve written about the same topics. They’ve done all the same things.

They’re still not going to see things like you do, because you are unique.

You are you.

And it doesn’t matter how little you think of yourself, compared to everybody else, or how ‘small’ you think you are. Your uniqueness, your viewpoint, that is the thing that makes you worth listening to. It’s not how successful you are, how big your audience is, or how big you are that’s important. What’s important is your unique perspective. And that has nothing to do with size. In this instance, size really does not matter.

Writer’s Block Mindset #3 Impostor Syndrome

This is related to Lil’ Old Me syndrome. “Impostor” syndrome happens when you feel like you are faking it. You aren’t really what you’re claiming to be. You’re presenting yourself as an expert in writing, or publicity, or marketing, or social media, or anything you can think of (whatever your niche is). By speaking about it, writing about it, talking about it, offering an opinion on it, offering products and services relating to it, you’re presenting yourself as an expert in that field.

Whether or not you use the word “expert” or not is irrelevant.

You are presenting yourself as somebody who is ‘in the know’.

And it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed by the burden of your own expertise (or the perception that you are an expert). You end up thinking, “Wait a minute. I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m not an expert! I’m not really meant to be here. I don’t really have a clue what I’m doing!”

Impostor syndrome is a difficult confidence issue.

It’s tricky to get over.

And it doesn’t matter how long you do something for, or how successful you become. It can hit you at any time, this realisation that, actually, you don’t know enough.

There’s always going to be a wealth of knowledge out there that you do not posses. Even if you spent your whole life learning, you still wouldn’t know everything. And that is a peculiar quirk of the human condition: the more self-aware we are, the more aware we are of our own place in the world, and exactly how vast the universe is. Once you realise how small you, your knowledge and abilities are compared to the total sum of knowledge and abilities out there in the world, you feel like an impostor.

In comparison to the total pool of knowledge that is available on a particular subject, you are Jon Snow: you know nothing.

That level of self-awareness is good. It keeps you grounded, realistic, and encourages you to constantly learn and grow.

That is something everyone needs, especially in business: the drive to move forward.

But, it can also stop you dead in your tracks.

It can completely short-circuit everything, making you feel like it doesn’t matter how much you learn, you’re never going to know enough.

This is a really hard mindset to get out of, because once you get stuck there, nobody will be able to convince you you’re wrong. You believe you’re not an impostor. And impostors are subtle. They’re shifty. They’re not always obvious. The very word suggests subterfuge and trickery.

You don’t feel like you’re gate-crashing a party and everybody knows you’re on the guest list; you feel that you’re masquerading as a person who has every right to be there, and you’re the only person who knows it’s a lie.

People telling you you’re wrong, and you really do belong at the party, has absolutely no effect. In fact, it only confirms your worst fear: you’ve conned everyone into believing the lie.

It’s a really tricky mindset to get out of, because no external force can convince you that you’re wrong. It’s an internal struggle that you’re going to have to deal with. You need to find ways of proving to yourself that you are not an impostor, and you actually have every right to be at the party.

Writer’s Block Mindset #4 Perfectionism

I did a whole post on perfectionism, and how it stopped me from starting my vlog for nearly a year. But, basically, perfectionism causes block due to the fear that, no matter what you write, it’s never going to be good enough.

And you want it to be absolutely perfect.

So you start writing, and you realise what you’ve written isn’t as good as you want it to be.

And you stop.

You go back, and you try to rewrite it to make it perfect.

But, perfectionism is not an achievable goal. It’s not something that you can ever actually reach. It doesn’t matter how good you make it; it’s never going to be perfect. Especially not in your eyes.

What you end up doing is perpetually rewriting, rather than writing all the way to the end of something, and then editing it from start to finish.

Perfectionism doesn’t just give you writer’s block, it can give you block in all areas of business (and life). It’s a real problem in a lot of things, and it can happen to fiction writers too. You get to a point where you realise that what you’ve written is (from your perspective at least), crap. And, rather than finishing a draft of the blog post, or sales page, or whatever you’re writing, you get stuck.

It’s really important to just finish a draft, no matter how bad you think it’s going to be, so that you can take a step back, look at it objectively, see what needs improving, and slowly work through it until your reach a stage where you feel it’s as good as you want it to be (or at least, good enough).

This is something that really gets in the way of writing a lot: the concept that the first draft of anything should be good.

Because it really shouldn’t.

First drafts of anything are shit.

That is a virtually unbreakable law of writing: the first draft is never going to be any good. Because your first draft is not for finding the words you’re actually going to use in the end.

Your first draft is for telling yourself what you’re writing about.

In fiction, your first draft is all about telling yourself the story, so you know the story backwards and can then write it well.

Blogging is very similar.

You need to tell yourself what the blog post you are writing is about, before you can write it properly. In order to get to know it, you need to write a draft of it. You can’t write the first paragraph, panic because you don’t think that paragraph is any good. If you do, you’ll do one of two things: keep rewriting that one paragraph repeatedly, or abandon it completely. You might tell yourself you can’t concentrate, you have other things to do, that you’re too tired, or hungry, or hot, or any number of excuses, but the real reason is a voice, in the back of your head, or even buried deep, deep down in your subconscious, saying: “Well, that’s crap. The rest of it’s going to be crap.”

You forget you can rewrite things when you get to the end of them.

You think that, to get to the end of them, you must have the beginning perfect.

That’s the surest, fastest way to give yourself writer’s block.

Just write until the end, then go back and make it better.

Writer’s Block Mindset #5 The Tumbleweed Conundrum

The Tumbleweed Conundrum especially problematic when you’re blogging, vlogging, or doing any kind of content marketing.

You’re writing, but you don’t yet have an audience.

You’re posting blog posts and nobody’s really reading them.

You don’t have any traffic to speak of on your website yet.

You publish your blog post, get one or two, or maybe five or ten views, and you sit there thinking, “All that effort, all that time, all that blood, sweat, tears, crying, screaming, and so many crumpled up pieces of paper on the floor; what the hell was the point? Nobody’s even reading it.

You’re suddenly overwhelmed by the feeling that your writing efforts are pointless, nobody’s ever going to read what you’re writing, it’s never going to have any impact on your marketing, it’s not going to help your business. That feeling that nothing you’re doing is going to do any good, can really stop you.

Because writing is hard.

It’s really hard. It’s especially difficult to do it consistently, on a regular basis.

Writing is extremely difficult. And if you have an inherent belief (even a subconscious belief) that everything you’re doing, and all the effort, is just totally pointless, it’s extremely difficult to make yourself do it anyway.

But, the thing with The Tumbleweed Conundrum, is that you are never going to have an audience unless you have content. Nobody has a tonne of people visiting the site every day until there is regular, brilliant content on the site for them to read or watch.

You always start with the tumbleweed.

Everybody does.

The only difference is that some people are in a position to advertise and grow their audience more quickly. The tumbleweed doesn’t stay around for very long.

But, some of us don’t have the option to do that.

We might not have the funding available for advertising. Or we might want to spend money on it even if we do. There are various reasons we might not be paying to draw people in. And when that’s the case we have to rely on word of mouth, and networking. Getting the word out there ourselves, and that takes time.

It doesn’t happen overnight.

It’s a very, very slow process.

The tumbleweed can stick around for a while, I’ll be honest with you.

When you start blogging or vlogging, you are going to spend the first few weeks talking to nobody. You may even spend the first few months talking to nobody.

You just have to keep going.

Blog, or vlog, or post on social media as if you already have the audience that you’re craving. As if you already have all those followers. And as if the number of people you want to be reading your words are already reading them. That is the only way you will ever reach that number. It’s the only way you will ever find your audience.

Content draws people in.

Quality content draws people in a lot faster. And quality content is essential for keeping people once they find you. You can churn out crap, and loads of people will eventually see it. But, they’ll never come back for more, because it’s crap.

So, it doesn’t matter how difficult it is to get past the whole tumbleweed issue. It doesn’t matter how much you might be thinking, “Ugh. Nobody’s going to read it anyway! I’m just going to write anything and put it out there.”

It doesn’t work like that. You have to put out high quality, consistent content, even when nobody is reading it.

What’s giving you writer’s block? Are you struggling to write something right now? Tell me what you’re working on and the problems you’re having with it – I’d love to help get you unstuck!

5 Mindset Issues That Are Giving You Genuine Writer's Block

How To Use Content Marketing To Start A Business When You Have No Experience

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who was suffering a real low point after a lot of work-related stress. She was really struggling with the 9-to-5 grind, looking for a way to break free and find a healthier work-life balance. She asked how I’d ended up starting my business, whether I enjoyed it, and whether it had given me the freedom she craved. My answer?

Absofreakinglutely.

When I started my business it was for very similar reasons. Creating my own business has enabled me to manage the stresses of life and work far more easily. Life is a lot freer and a lot more enjoyable, because I spend all my work time doing something I absolutely love, and I’m in total control.

I work when I want, where I want, doing what I want.

Really, it’s just been an incredibly rewarding and wonderful experience.

That being said, it has been a lot of hard work. When I told my friend this she said,

“Oh, well, it’s not something that I’m thinking of doing now. I want to do it in the future, but I need to wait for 10 years until I’ve got enough experience.”

She genuinely didn’t think that it was possible to start a business unless you had a lot of experience doing exactly what your business demanded.

My question to her was simple: “When did I spend a decade working in a 9-to-5 job as a freelance writer before I set up a business as a freelance writer?”

That confused her for a minute until she realised that you can’t be a freelance writer until you ARE a freelance writer.

You can work as a writer, in various roles, in 9-to-5 jobs and corporate settings, but you can’t work as a freelance ANYTHING without first become a freelancer.

It’s physically impossible to start as a freelancer saying you have X years of experience working as a freelancer.

Entrepreneurship is much the same. Running your own business is a completely unique experience, and the majority of us start out without any idea what we’re getting into. We have life experience and work experience, but nothing prepares you for the challenge, thrill and slight insanity of running a business of your very own.

And if nothing can prepare you for it, how can you possibly have a decade’s worth of experience?

The question that grew from this was really simply: how exactly do you start a business when you have no ‘official’ experience, or the experience you do have is ‘unrelated’ to the business you want to create?

The answer is ridiculously simple: content marketing.

Let me explain…

When I Started My Business…

When I started my business it was just after I finished my PhD scholarship. My entire career up to that point had been in archaeology. I’d gone to university, done an undergraduate degree, and a master’s degree, then spent two years working in corporate archaeology. I’d dug all over the country, and in Europe. I’d gone back to uni to study for my PhD. Throughout my post-graduate studies I taught at University, so there was nothing in my background that screamed, “writer”.

My official experience was as an archaeologist, teacher and student. When I started my writing business my ‘official’ writing experience was nonexistent.

Despite having no official experience I had been writing in various capacities at a high level for years. Just going to university teaches you write to a very high standard. I’d had papers published. I’d been writing fiction. I’d had fiction published. So I had been writing for a very long time, but I had no official experience.

I’d had papers published in international archaeology journals.

And I’d had fiction published and self-published.

But despite years of writing, I had no ‘official experience’.

Why Seemingly Irrelevant Experience Is Never Irrelevant…

A lot of people find when they start their businesses (or find themselves thinking they want to start a business) and they can’t don’t have any official experience. And it holds people back. Like my friend, it’s often the thing that prevents people from ever getting started.

If you actually stop and think about the experience that you do have, you will usually discover something quite remarkable. Because the ‘thing’ you want to build your business around is likely something you are passionate about, something that you love, something you know you’re good at, your background will reflect it in one way or another.

Even if it’s not in an obvious way.

My friend’s background is in anthropology. The study of anthropology is really just the study of people. Branding is all about people: understanding how people think, what people want, what people like or need. It’s all about crafting individual brands that are unique to a specific person while appealing to a wider group of people.

So my friend actually understands the theoretical side of things and the mechanics behind how brands work extremely well because she spent so long learning about people and what makes them tick. It may not be a formal education or a decade’s worth of experience in graphic design or branding, but it gives her a unique perspective.

There are various other elements to her background that actually inform her new purpose, the career path that she now wants to take, and the businesses she wants to start. The problem was, she was looking at it from the perspective of, “I have no experience”, rather than asking,”How is my experience relevant to what I want to do?”

How To Turn Your Experience Into Your Unique Selling Point…

We can’t live our lives, move through the world, age and grow without gaining experience.

We all have experience in something.

You may have only ever worked a part-time job, or worked in a job that you consider to be dead-end, or horrible, or a generic office job. Perhaps you’ve been a cubicle monkey or a checkout clerk. Whatever you’ve done, you felt your job lacked meaning. Perhaps you had a very rewarding, very good job, but you’re now looking to shift careers and you feel you lack tangible experince for what you want to do moving forward.

You feel your experiences haven’t given you anything you could use to start a business. They were either meaningless or meaningless in the context of the new business reality you are trying to create.

Nothing Is Meaningless…

It’s insane that people think that their experiences are meaningless. Nothing in life is meaningless.

All of our experiences have meaning. Everything that you have done in your life, everything that you have seen, felt and thought, every single thing has led you to your present situation, to this moment in time, all of it had meaning. Something along the way drew you to want to start your business in your specific field, your specific niche, doing one particular thing.

You would never have got to that point of thinking, “Yes, I want to start a business doing this!” if your experiences hadn’t driven you to it.

For that reason alone, everything you have ever experienced has meaning.

So no matter what your official experience might be, you do have experience in your field. You just don’t know it yet.

Starting a business when you’re not able to say (for example), “I have 10 years of experience working as a professional writer”, or “I have 10 years experience working as a professional branding expert”, or “I have 20 years experience working as a marketing specialist”, can be tough. It’s be difficult to find a way to establish your business and yourself as trustworthy and knowledgeable in your field. Citing X number of years working in a particular job or field is an incredibly quick and easy way of establishing you know what you’re talking about.

It’s one line in a mini-bio that immediately tells people that you know your stuff.

It’s Not All About The One Liner…

The thing is, people are not convinced by a line in a bio.

They are convinced by what you say, what you do, and the presence you have as a business owner.

That’s where content marketing comes in.

Content marketing immediately helps you establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field. It allows you to demonstrate your expertise by providing informative, interesting, funny, or just plain invaluable content.

If you are giving people things that are of value to them, that (far more than a line in a bio) will convince them that you are worth investing in. Your content will convince potential clients that you knowledgeable, capable of fulfilling your promises.

How To Use Content Marketing To Start A Business When You Have No Experience…

So how exactly do you use content marketing to start your own business? It’s actually a lot easier than you might think, but there are several key things that you have to do.

Find Your Niche…

The first thing I suggest you do is to niche down as much as possible. Really define your business niche. One mistake I made when I was first starting out in business was failing to clearly define what I was doing.

I started out happily doing editing, proofreading, writing, illustrations, helping people with their books, design elements…so many different things!

They were related to each other within a general sphere of ‘writing and books’. I loved doing them, and was capable of doing them, but result, unfortunately, was that nobody really knew what I did.

My business message was all over the place because I was talking about so many different things.

When I niched down, and really focused on the one thing that I wanted to do more than anything else (writing) things started falling into place really quickly. When I niched it down even further I realised I could get incredibly specific:

The one thing I do is create/teach the creation of blogs/vlogs to help business owners and entrepreneurs harness the awesome power of content marketing.

When I got that specific, suddenly everything fell into place.

My business started growing astonishingly quickly.

So finding your niche is the first thing you need to do in order to establish a business using the Content Marketing Business Model.

One thing I will say is this: when you think you’ve niched down, take a while to think about it. Come back to it later and look at it again. Because I can almost guarantee you that you will not have found a niche. You will have found a broad subject area, like ‘writing’, and thought, “Yes! That’s my niche!”

When you actually stop to think about it, you realise that what you’ve come up with isn’t really a niche, and it encompasses loads of different things. You want to drill down as far as you can to get ridiculously specific.

Exactly what are you’re going to be doing? How are you going to be doing it?

 

Find Your Ideal Client…

The next thing you need to do is figure out exactly who you want to work with. I know a lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of saying, “I’ll work with everybody. I’ll work with everybody. I don’t mind who I work with, I just want clients!”

I can understand that impulse, especially when you’re first starting out. I did it myself! At that stage in your business, you really just need to get money coming in. You’re quite happy to take on any work, with any client, anytime, anyhow, anywhere. Just to get money coming in.

But if you can be really specific about the exact type of person you ideally want to work with, and target all of your content to that specific person, so that’s most appealing to them, you will find that the overwhelming majority of the audience you grow will naturally be the people you want to work with most.

It’s really important to know who your ideal client is so that you aren’t writing content that’s aimed at just anybody. If you do that, you will end up with an audience made up of anybody and everybody. Tailoring your content to a very specific type of client allows you to build an audience that’s predominately made up of people you really want to work with, who will be the most interested in what you have to offer, who will find the most value in what you have to offer, and who are most likely to buy from you.

For example, my niche is writing content for entrepreneurs and small business owners. I could have simply left it at that and said, “I’ll write for any entrepreneur or small business owner.” To some extent, that is true. I do take on clients from all walks of life. But I got a lot more specific than that and decided that my ideal clients are female entrepreneurs/small business owners in their 20s and 30s who are:

  • Building a business based on something they’re truly passionate about.
  • Looking to use content marketing as the heart of their marketing strategy.
  • Want to ensure they’re always selling in a soulful manner.

They are my ideal clients, and all my content is tailored for them. Your ideal client might be very different.

RECOMMENDED READING ON FINDING YOUR IDEAL CLIENT: DID YOU KNOW YOUR BUSINESS IS BELOVED BY THE GODS

Tailoring Your Content To Target Your Ideal Clients…

Niche down to a very specific audience, for your very specific niche, allows you to target your content at a particular sector of a particular industry. Not only that, it allows you to target a particular subset of the people interested in that particular sector of that particular industry.

You get very targeted.

The more targeted you are in your content creation the more obvious it is that you know exactly what you’re doing, who you’re doing it for, and how you can help those specific people.

Imagine trying to explain to somebody how you can help them, but you’re not addressing them as an individual, you’re words are generic, and seem to be designed to convince anyone that you’re right for them.

How can you be a good fit for everyone?

This is exactly what happens when you’re writing a blog post or recording a video, and you’re trying to explain exactly what you can do for the person watching, but you have no idea who they are.

They could be anybody. You end up saying a message that is very generic. It has to be generic because it has to appeal to everybody.

If, however, your message is directed at a very specific person, you can get really detailed on exactly what it is that you’re going to be able to do to help that person. You can be really clear on the exact way your product or service can fix the problems in their lives, make their lives better, help them in their business/personal lives.

The more specific you get in your marketing messages, the more effective your marketing will be.

RECOMMENDED READING ON WRITING FOR YOUR IDEAL CLIENT: 10 TIPS TO ENSURE YOU’RE ALWAYS WRITING FOR YOUR IDEAL CLIENT

How Specificity Demonstrates Experience…

Not only does content marketing allow you to target a really specific audience/niche and deliver a really specific message, all of that specificity demonstrates your knowledge, expertise, and experience. It proves that you are the person who is most capable of helping that group of people in that particular niche do that one specific thing.

Being specific proves you are the person most capable of helping your ideal client when it comes to that one thing in that one niche.

Content marketing is a way for you to demonstrate your experience in a tangible way. People can hear it, watch it, and read it. You can provide them with solid evidence of your experience and your ability follow through on your promises.

That is something that a bio can never do.

So if you’re worried that you don’t have anything to put in your bio to prove your expertise, there’s nothing to worry about.

All you need to do is put together a really solid content marketing plan that proves your value, worth, and knowledge.

The more effectively you can do this, the easier you will find it to build your business.

Why Giving Away Free Content Is The Key To Building Your Business…

It may seem like a contradiction to offer free content to people. You may be thinking, “I’m running a business, not a charity! Why am I giving this stuff away?”

But the thing is, creating valuable free content in turn creates a place that your ideal clients naturally want to be. It enables you to create a space they will naturally gravitate towards. People will learn that you are the person to come to for this specific type of advice/method or form of amusement/entertainment – whatever it is you’re offering.

They’ll learn that you’re where it’s at.

They will come to you.

They’ll spread the word.

More people will come to you based on their recommendations.

You will naturally grow a brilliant audience.

Once you have a core audience of ideal clients who are in love with your free content, they will naturally ask for more.

They will be saying, “Wow! If your free stuff is this good, how good much your paid products/services be? I want more of this amazing stuff and I’m quite happy to pay for it, because you’ve given me so much value for free – I know that you’re worth it. I know that you can do it. Here, take my money, just give me more!

RECOMMENDED READING ON THE POWER OF FREE CONTENT: The Cake Construction And How To Use It

That’s a very simplified version of how content marketing works. It takes an awful lot of work (I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t). Content marketing isn’t an easy or a quick fix. But it is a very effective way of building a business.

So if you’re looking to set up your own business, doing something that you love, and you’re holding yourself back because you believe you are lacking the experience required to do it, don’t worry. The experience that you have had in your life will feed into what you are doing in some way, because your experience is what led you to where you are.

Where you are, is at a point where you want to start this business.

You can start a business when you have no experience. You don’t need experience. You just need cracking content.

The Cornfield Paradox: How To Fix The Biggest Lie In Marketing

When I started out in business, I followed a few coaches and business/marketing experts. One of the things I came across more often than anything else was the notion that ‘If you build it, they will come!’

If you’ve ever seen Field of Dreams, you’ll understand why I call this The Cornfield Paradox. In the film, Kevin Costner plays the title role. He hears a mysterious voice talking to him in his cornfield one night, telling him, “If you build it, they will come.”

Deciding the voice is onto something, he builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield, and the Chicago White Sox appear, magically solving all his problems…

The basic gist of this (and its relevance to marketing) is the notion that by creating something wonderful, you will automatically attract people.

If you create fabulous products or services, people will naturally want to buy them.

And if you create wonderful content, people will automatically find it and read/watch it.

 

It’s a brilliant and wonderfully inspiring thought when you’re a fledgling business owner, just getting to grips with the myriad things required to get a business up and running. You pull yourself along with this belief that all you have to do is create your business, and customers will magically find you.

The problem with this concept, and why The Cornfield Paradox is the biggest lie in marketing, is that it doesn’t work.

Do any of these instructions sound familiar:

Blog regularly – preferably weekly.

Consistency is key – decide on a schedule and stick to it!

You need to blog for SEO, that’s how people will find you.

High-quality content is the secret to a good Google ranking.

This is all good advice, but when it’s coupled with an ‘If you build it, they will come’ mentality, it is fundamentally flawed.

Why?

Nothing good ever happens in a cornfield!

As many of you know, I’m a fiction writer. I’m a fan of fantasy, horror and various other genres, and I can tell you categorically that every time a cornfield appears, in any context, bad things happen.

Field of Dreams itself is a terrible film.

Cornfields are not where you will find the magical solution to all of your problems.

Cornfields are where you will find axe-murderers, aliens, cannibals, deranged lunatics, paedophiles, and innumerable other unsavoury characters and problems.

Nothing good ever happens in a cornfield, and this often-toted piece of advice coaches are so fond of is no different. THE BIGGEST LIE IN MARKETING is the notion that all you have to do is build it and they will magically come.

Here’s a truth bomb:

You can create the most fabulous content imaginable, but if nobody knows it’s there, nobody will read/watch it.

You can regularly produce blogs or vlogs week after week, be utterly consistent, optimise everything for SEO, and have a phenomenal Google ranking, and you’ll still get nowhere fast, because your content marketing method is based on a fundamental lie.

But don’t worry, all is not lost, there’s an easy fix… 

The Origins Of The Biggest Lie In Marketing…

I believe this mega myth of marketing originated in the early days of online marketing when the ‘If you build it, they will come’ model actually worked.

It’s not even that long ago since this wasn’t a lie, but a marketing true. When the internet was still relatively young, if you created a blog, and filled it with quality content, people would naturally find it, because there wasn’t the insane amount of content and information in the modern-day.

If you go back as little as ten years, Google something (especially something in a niche market) wouldn’t get that many results.

Now, you can Google exactly the same thing and end up with endless pages of results. Consequentlyt, even if you’re writing about a very niche subject, the likelihood of your specific blog post being the post that a large number of people find – enough to grow an audience organically – is slim. Simply writing good content just isn’t enough to get you discovered anymore.

There’s too much information on the internet, too many competing sites, too many posts discussing the same topics you are, and until people have actually read or watched your content and got to know you a bit, they won’t have any reason to favour your website other all the others on the same subject. Your Google search ranking helps with this – getting on the first page of Google will make it a lot more likely you will be found, but this isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s not a simple case of optimising everything with keywords because everyone is optimising everything with the same keywords.

SEO Isn’t Enough…

You’re not doing anything unique with your SEO, what is unique about your content is YOU.

SEO can’t convey your ideas and prove they are better (or at least different) to everybody else’s; why your methods are superior; why your products are unique or better than everybody else’s; why your services are better than everybody else’s; why your take on the world is worth them coming back and reading/watching over and again. It’s only once they’ve experienced you, come to know, like, and trust you, and bookmarked your site, that they’re going to automatically come to you when they see you’ve written about a subject.

Your Google ranking is important, I’m not saying SEO is not important, it is.

It helps you get visible, it helps you get found, but the problem with SEO is that there is a perception that all you have to do to create a successful business is have a website and create good content that’s SEO-optimised, so people find you on Google.

Just build it, and they will magically come…

It does not work.

There are three things that you have to do to make sure that your blog is successful (check out my post on The Golden Trident: Three Magic Steps For Kick-Ass, Killer Blogging for more info).

The third step for kick-ass, killer blogging is that you have to HUSTLE!

It’s not enough to write good content, you have to get out there and tell people about your content. Share your content, spread it to the four winds, so that as many people as possible become aware of your content.

If you do that, then they will come, but they won’t just magically come wondering out of the cornfield and find you simply because you’ve written something.

The Cornfield Paradox…

The paradox occurs because so many people who decide they want to start a business buy into the biggest lie in marketing. They get interested in business, they get invested, they start learning about marketing, and they come across all these coaches telling them that all they have to do is ‘build it’, and people will find them.

So they build it, and they wait.

And they wait, and wait, and wait, and…TUMBLEWEED!

Nothing happens. And a great many people in this situation, when they reach this point, conclude that the reason blogging isn’t working because content marketing doesn’t work.

They reach this conclusion fairly quickly.

They start blogging. They keep it up for a few weeks, maybe even a couple of months. At the end of that couple of months, they’ve poured their heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into a weekly blog post. They’ve published at the right time, consistently, and sent out a newsletter to their list.

Nothing is happening.

The reason nothing is happening is that they’ve just started out. Their list consists of their friends (who aren’t really interested in their business), and a couple of people they know who genuinely are interested in business, but aren’t necessarily interested in the specific part of business that these blog posts are discussing.

Becuase they’re so new, they basically have no list. The few people on it aren’t their ideal clients, and they aren’t reaching anyone new.

They’re writing great content, but they’re just writing it and leaving it there. They’re expecting people to find their content, because they built it, and when nobody does, they conclude that blogging doesn’t work.

It’s not a viable marketing option, so they stop blogging.

I understand why this happens, but the mistake (and the paradox) is that if you’re not blogging, nobody will find you, but blogging, on its own, is not enough to make people find you., okay? So, if you stop blogging, nobody will find you. If you blog, but don’t do anything to promote your blog post, nobody will find you. So, you’re missing a key part of the puzzle here, in that if you build it, and tell people about it, they will come, okay?

If you stop blogging, nobody will find you.

If you blog, but don’t do anything to promote your blog post, nobody will find you. So, you’re missing a key part of the puzzle here, in that if you build it, and tell people about it, they will come, okay?

If you’ve bought into the ‘If you build it, they will come’ mentality, you’re missing a key part of the puzzle: if you build it, and tell people about it, they will come!

How To Fix The Biggest Lie In Marketing…

You have to get out there, share your content on social media, build your online networks, advertise your content when needed, and comment on other people’s blogs. Take the time to read their posts and leave a genuine comment; let them get to know you. Get them interested enough in you and what you’re saying that they click through to read your own blogs, and comment in return. Tweet out your posts, share them on Facebook, Instagram, and any other platforms you have.

And here’s the important part: you don’t just need to share your blog posts specifically.

You need to spend an awful lot of time simply building an online presence.

Whether you do it yourself or pay somebody else to do it for you, you need to be an active online presence. You need to be a person who more than just their blog posts.

At the time of writing this, I am personally failing in this regard and have been for a couple of months. I’m sharing my posts, but nothing else. Why? I don’t have time. Business suddenly got a lot busier this year, my workload has more than doubled and I had to let a few things go for the sake of my sanity. I’m in the process of outsourcing everything I no longer have time for, but in the interim, my social media marketing is next to non-existent.

And it shows.

The massive growth I saw in the first quarter of this year stalled in the second. And it’s all because of a very simple question I guarantee your audience is asking…

But What Else…?

You can’t constantly say, “I wrote a blog, read it. I wrote a blog, read it. I wrote a blog, read it,” because people get bored.

Even if your content is absolutely fabulous if you never say anything other than, “Read my blog post!” at some point they’re going to stop because they are over-saturated.

This is especially true in business.

If you have a personal blog, it’s a bit different. The very nature of your blog posts means the information you’re sharing differs vastly; you’re sharing an insight into your life, sharing quite a lot about yourself. Your topics will change from week to week, and it will always be of interest to your followers because that’s why they’re following you. You might have a lifestyle blog, and they’re interested in your specific lifestyle, or a hobby blog and they’re interested in your latest creations, or it could be a photography blog and they’re dying to see your new photographs.

If you’ve got a blog that constantly has completely fresh content, this it isn’t quite as true. But if you’re writing a business blog and blogging about a specific niche subject in business, or you’re a coach blogging about business in general, and all you’re doing is telling people to read your blog posts, they’re going to hit a wall. They’re going to shut off and stop reading, because they’re thinking, “I’ve read five posts about this, and they’re great and everything, but what else?

This is the awful truth about the nature of our consumerist society.

People are always thinking, “Great, but what else?”

It’s the buy one, get one free mentality. You buy into something and expect to get something else as well for free.

You say, “Read my blog post!”

They say, “Sure! Great! I’ve read it. What else do I get?

This is how we evolved into a system in which list-building hinges on giving away freebies and opt-ins, because it’s not enough to write a post and at the end of it, say, “If you want to read more of my blog posts, sign up for my newsletter!”

Because the response will always be, “Great, I’d love to read more of your blog posts, but what else?”

There will always be a “but what else?”

The Golden Ratio…

The “but what else” where the cornfield paradox is concerned is telling people about you, and your business, and your blog, in such a way that you’re only expecting them to ‘buy’ into it a small part of the time.

The golden ration is 80/20.

80% of the time, you should let them get to know you, seeing what you do, and gain insights into your daily life.

You might ask them questions, share behind the scenes snaps, useful information beyond your own blog, inspirational quote or memes. You want to build engagement and get a conversation going. Craft a living, vibrant relationship with your online followers, so that they actually know you quite well outside of what you write in your blog.

If you can build that kind of relationship with your audience, and grow an engaged audience, they will happily read your posts week after week and you’ll reach a point where you don’t need to tell them you have new posts for them to read. They will learn what day you post on and go looking for them.

For example, there is a blog I read religiously, The Bloggess, and she doesn’t have to email me to tell me that she’s got a new blog post, because I automatically check her site weekly. I know new posts will be there and I know they’ll always be funny.

There’s a video reviewer that I follow, who puts out three or four videos a week. I’m not even on his newsletter list, because all his newsletter does is send me a link to his new videos, and I know what days he posts them, so when I’m sitting having my lunch on those days, I automatically go to his site to watch the videos while I’m eating my lunch.

The same is true for my favourite channels on YouTube: I know what days Denise Duffield-Thomas, and Marie Forleo‘s videos come out every week, so I go and look for them.

Why The Biggest Lie In Marketing Is A Paradox…

The Cornfield Paradox is paradoxical because it does and doesn’t work.

If you create content, if you’ build it’, people will come and you will develop an audience, but only if you go the extra mile and tell people you have built it. Tell people enough about yourself and what you have built to ensure they are interested enough to keep coming back and remain engaged, interested and reading/watching the content that you’ve put out.

Are You Struggling With Your Content Marketing?

If (like me) you find there simply isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done, and you’re at the point where you need to delegate some essential elements of your business, don’t worry, I totally get it. Content Marketing isn’t for everyone. It’s time-consuming, often tedious, and requires a phenomenal amount of time, effort, and expertise.

Why not let me do it for you?

Unsure about hiring a copywriter? I totally get that too. That’s why I offer all new clients a totally free blog post to test run my services before they decide whether to invest. Grab your free post (no string attached!) now!

Why Vlogging Is The Smart Choice For Those Who Hate Blogging

I was talking to a friend of mine recently and she said something that really gave me pause. She was really beating herself up over this and there was just no need. We were talking about my business, and the fact I spend all my time writing other people’s blogs for them. She commented that she hated blogging, absolutely hated it, and that she’d stopped blogging and started vlogging instead.

Before I could say what I was thinking, “That’s the smart thing to do if you hate blogging.” She said, “I’m just too lazy, so I make videos instead of blogging.”

That really made me stop and go, “Wait, what?

Lazy?

Of all the things she could have said about her wonderful video content, telling me that creating it made her lazy was the last thing I was expecting to hear. Her content is awesome, it gives her audience real value and very clearly positions herself as an expert in her niche. It does everything that good content marketing should do, yet she felt guilty for doing it.

As entrepreneurs, we carry a LOT of guilt. As female entrepreneurs, I think this is often even more evident, especially if we’re also mothers. We have guilt for not spending enough time with our friends, family, children. We work and work yet always feel guilty for not working more.

When we aren’t earning enough money we feel guilty for failing to support ourselves and our loved ones. When we do earn enough money we feel guilty because it doesn’t feel like we ‘earned’ it.

We have guilt for not having a ‘proper’ job, for getting to work from home, for spending our time doing something we love and calling it work, for working in our pyjamas, or on the sofa, or in the garden.

The guilt of being an entrepreneur is seemingly endless, and most of it is totally misplaced. Feeling guilty for choosing to vlog rather than blog is a shining example of this.

Vlogging isn’t the lazy option, it’s the smart option. Here’s why…

 

Why Vlogging Isn’t The Lazy Option…

Anybody that’s ever vlogged will know that it’s not an easy thing to do. Vlogging takes time. It takes effort, planning, and preparation. You still have to think about what topics you’re going to talk about, and exactly what you’re going to say. In reality, vlogging isn’t that much different to blogging. There’s only one difference: if you’re not working off a script and just do everything off the cuff, straight into the camera (as I currently record my videos), then you don’t have to take the time to sit down and write your posts.

That really is the crux of the difference.

When you blog, you have to write a blog post.

But when you vlog, you can sit and talk at a camera until you get the words out, in a way that expresses what you’re trying to say, in a way that you’re happy with.

You can edit your videos after the fact, and add pretty little bells and whistles (intros, music, animations etc), but it’s essentially the same process as blogging.

If you’re writing a blog post, you write it, then edit until you’re happy with it.

And if you’re recording a vlog, you record a video and edit until you’re happy with it.

I found it really quite upsetting that my friend was doing herself down and thinking of herself as ‘lazy’ for choosing to vlog rather than blog.

“That’s not being lazy,” I told her. “That’s playing to your strengths.”

She sounded so relieved to hear me say that. To realise that she no longer had to think of herself as a lazy person for choosing to vlog rather than blog.

If you’re vlogging rather than blogging, you’re not being lazy.

If you hate blogging, and if you’re forcing yourself to write blog post after blog post, week after week, and you really cannot stand it, you have two choices.

  1. Hire me to do it for you…
  2. Start a vlog.

If you find it easier to talk into a camera, and express your thoughts, opinions and expertise straight down the lens, rather than trying to find the time and energy to pour it all onto a page, go for it.

That’s not being lazy, that is playing to your strengths.

That is the smart way of running your business.

The Realities Of Content Marketing…

Content marketing takes an alarming amount of time, energy, and effort. It takes a lot of creative juices.

The key to good content marketing is to make sure that you do it in the way that best suits you. That may mean paying somebody else to do it for you – that’s fine! But it may mean doing it yourself. If that’s the case, you should be doing it in a way that you are most comfortable with. For my friend (and for a lot of other people), videos are the best medium. They are more comfortable talking into a camera than they are sitting down and trying to write. There are loads of great reasons to start a vlog. I’ve said it before and I will say it again…

Creating video content will give you so much more value than just creating written content alone.

If you’re recording your videos off scripts, then you already have a written version. If you’re not using scripts, you can simply get your videos transcribed, and you’ll end up with both a written and video version. Your video can be turned into podcasts, blog posts, social media posts, memes, Snapchat stories, Instagram stories, the list goes on…

Vlogging is the smart form of content marketing hands down: it’s so much more versatile and powerful than blogging alone.

Starting a vlog for your business is a great idea, even if you love writing. I ADORE writing, and I still record my main content in video format.

Play To Your Strengths…

Just to be absolutely clear, even if your sole reason for vlogging is that you hate blogging, that is one of the best reasons to start a vlog.

If you are happy recording videos and you hate writing blog posts, which one do you think you’re going to be better at?

Which one do you think you’re going to do more frequently and more consistently?

If you are comfortable recording videos you are far more likely to do it. Your content creation will be more consistent, you will create higher quality content than you would if you were trying to write when you’re uncomfortable with writing, don’t like writing, bored with writing, or you just don’t have time to write.

You will end up with stronger content if you create it in the format you are most comfortable with than if you try to force yourself to create it in the format you think you should be using.

The Blogging Trap…

So many people get caught in the trap of thinking that they have to blog. There is a common belief in business that if you’re not physically writing a blog every week, you are somehow failing. In marketing that is what we are constantly told, “You have to be blogging. You have to be blogging. You have to be blogging.”

I’m not going to disagree with that sentiment. You should have regular content coming out on your blog.

But how you choose to create that content is entirely up to you.

The smart thing to do is to create your content in the way that suits you best. So if recording a video is easy for you and writing a blog post is a nightmare, record videos. If paying somebody else to do it for you, and totally take it off your hands, is what is going to make you most comfortable with content marketing, do it.

Do whatever makes you feel like you are in control, and that you can actually use content marketing successfully without breaking your brain…

The Smart Choice For People Who Hate Blogging…

Please, please do not think you are being lazy if you are recording video content. Video content is not the easy option, it’s not the lazy option, it is the smart option for so many reasons.

There are a million things in life that you can use to do yourself down, and make yourself feel crappy. We’re very self-critical, and nit-picking the way that you choose to do things, the way you live your life, the way you run your business is all too easy. There are so many reasons to be self-critical.

This is not one of them, I promise you.

Vlogging, not the lazy choice.

Vlogging is the smart choice.

Looking to start your own vlog? Download my free Vlogging Workflows now and get super productive in your video marketing efforts…

How To Build A Powerful Vlog For Your Business Vlogging Workflows

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