Content Marketing & Strategy

Entrepreneur, JS

The best way to increase sales and boost your business is to make your company the go-to experts in your area. By having a solid marketing strategy that includes content marketing, you are increasing your value to customers, establishing yourself as a leader in the industry, and creating a more loyal customer base. Content marketing focuses on ways to engage you audience, and uses content to drive profitable behaviors in customers.

 
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing can be defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

 
The key words here are valuable, relevant, and consistent. Unique content will drive up your rankings and put you in the position of offering them a direct benefit of even just visiting your website. Once you have potential clients on your site, you can get to converting them! Getting people to your site is over half the battle.

 
Strong content is not just blog posts, but also the copy on your website, your ads, and your social media. As opposed to spam, when you are providing free relevant and valuable information, customers are more likely to trust you, and continue to remain loyal to you. Great quality content is a key part of any marketing strategy, including social media, SEO rankings, inbound marketing, email campaigns, and more.

 

 

There are four steps to an effective content marketing strategy, though every company is different and you will want to adapt to what works best for your business and your goals. The first step is figuring out what you want to accomplish and the risks associated, secondly you create a business plan for your goals and the value you want to provide, which includes what message you want to send and keeping your branding consistent. Next you need to figure out your target audience and their wants and needs, and what content and engagement specific to them would look like. Fourth, you develop a channel plan; what channels are you using for this content marketing? These are the platforms you’ll use to put out your content and tell your story, and should also include your criteria and objectives of each platform.

 
Your content marketing strategy will grow and change as your business does. A fantastic way to move your business forward, attract new customers, and increase sales is to offer valuable, relevant and consistent new content in a smart, engaging way that matches your goals and your branding.

Pricing: Don’t Undervalue Yourself!

Entrepreneur, JS

I have always, always, wanted to be a writer.

 

When I was a kid, I filled journals with the ramblings of being a tortured little sister, and then the angsty poetry of my teenage Myspace years. It progressed to song lyrics, poems, book and story ideas, and the occasional update about my life. I have a whole shelf of notebooks, composition books, and journals from over the years.

 

I am now a writer, and in another post, I will go into excruciating detail about how that came to be, the steps I took, and how it all worked to become a success for me.

 

I am a freelance writer. In my process to becoming an entrepreneur, I did a lot of research and asked other entrepreneurs for advice, for help with things like invoicing, portfolios, small business tools, contracts, and the big one: pricing.

 

I have met a lot of young entrepreneurs over the years and they all have one thing in common: big dreams and a bad estimation of their value. Watching Shark Tank is also a great example of people with crazy valuations! They either completely overvalue or undervalue their companies and themselves.

 

The truth is that your time and your skills are valuable. If it were easy to be a writer, everyone would do it. Just because YOU find it relatively easy to write blogs or create a website or make a logo, certainly doesn’t mean it is.

 

When starting freelancing, most people tend to undervalue themselves. They might say it is because they are so new, or are trying to prove themselves, or they don’t have a portfolio. No matter what they say, it is normal to try to undercharge when starting out.

 

I did it, too! For my first couple of clients, I researched average pricing for the specific types of writing projects I was working on, and I put my pricing just below the average.

 

But those prices didn’t account for the actual time it took me to research and put together the writing, the posting, edits, and client communication. In the end, for my first project, I ended up only getting about $7 per hour, even though the overall price for the article was around “average.”

 

As time went on, I made sure to increase my prices to the point where I am able to make a good wage for the work that I’m doing. Even for my longer-term or repeat clients. This is something I see a lot of questions about in online freelance forums. You can increase your prices, you just have to be honest. Try something like “I have enjoyed working with you, and as of XX date, my prices will be increasing to XY price. Because of our prior relationship, I am going to extend your current discounted price for one more project/month/etc.”

 

I had a phone conversation with one of my bigger clients, and we agreed to almost double my price, plus a nominal fee for research time! You really just have to ask. Your clients already like you and see value in your work, and they will understand that you need to be fairly compensated. This is very similar to how you might handle a salary negotiation in a corporate position.

 

Another thing I see a lot of is questions about sites like Upwork.com and Constant Content, which are sites that take a heavy fee to allow you to bid on work from paying clients, but highly encourage very low prices. Be careful when using these sites, especially about severely undervaluing yourself. Do research on these types of sites before jumping on, and manage your expectations reasonably. Some people do extensive filtering and careful proposals and do well on these sites. I tried it briefly and was very frustrated by the low prices and the amount of proposals on things like “write me 5 blog posts for $6.” For me, these types of sites were not worth my time.

 

Side note: no matter how much you want new clients, don’t give your work away for free. Legitimate companies that want you to do trial work will pay you for it.
Your work, your time, and your expertise are all valuable. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to undervalue yourself to potential clients. Research average prices for your specific work and your location, and take a cue from that. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to raise your prices as you get more experience. You are here to make money. Just because you love it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be profitable!

First

JS

Hello! I am proud and excited to have started my own business, to be chasing my dream of being a writer for a living. I am excited, terrified, and freefalling into this newest adventure.

 

Who am I?

Well, I am the youngest of 5 kids, including step-siblings, and the only girl. Yes, I have 4 older brothers. I had a very fun childhood, which involved a lot of playing outside, climbing trees, reading in the sunshine, rollerblading, baseball in the cul-de-sac, and being beat up on by big brothers. I was protected, teased, a little sheltered, and happy. Thank goodness I eventually got a big sister when the oldest brother got married. She is the best, and they made me an aunt, one of the best titles I’ve ever had.

I left home for college and never went back to live in that smaller suburban Florida town. My parents, a couple brothers, and my best friend in the world are still there, and I do visit now and then. I did my Bachelor’s degree, and at 20 years old, I graduated and then fell into a sales job at a publishing company.

After the worst of the recession passed, I moved to the big city in 2010. New York City was not an easy place to live, not at first. It was lonely and I was broke as a joke, and not sure that I would make it here. But later that same year, I met the man who later became my husband, and luckily his whole friend group adopted me.

I am now thoroughly a Brooklynite. I love Brooklyn and we are living in our co-op happily with our fat, fluffy kitty named after the singer of our shared favorite band (it’s the Offspring, duh)! We both work in the city. Me, still in sales, him in a tech startup. We could so easily be the hipsters you’re imagining, but we aren’t. We’re nerds who read the book and then see the movie and debate it, board and card game players who argue the merits of Dominion vs. Ascension or play a rousing game of Settlers of Catan on a Saturday night. We live in a very Russian and orthodox Jewish area, and are neither of those things. We’re redditors and imgurians, and we take a lot of pictures of our cat. We go ice skating every December, and every year he forgets that even though I’m from Florida, I know how to skate really fast.

 

I have always been a writer. I have journals from as young as 4, and I have written poems and song lyrics for so long that I literally can’t remember not writing them. Sometimes I accidentally think in A-B-C-B format. I find Shakespeare tedious, but read sci-fi like it’s going out of style. I have 2 partially finished novels. One is a really interesting dystopian future novel with a twist, and the other is a self-help book about getting, keeping, and projecting confidence in part of your life. I read a whole book every other day or so, and my Kindle Paperwhite is my favorite thing ever. I used to have the second generation Kindle and refused to upgrade, but my husband kept insisting I needed a better newer one and bought it for me for Hanukkah. I got him stock in Nintendo that year for Christmas.

I write stories and dream vividly. I have been maintained a personal blog for 5 and a half years with everything from How To posts, fun facts, rants, silly poems, political posts, research-based posts, recipes I created, things I find funny, and more.

I woke up at 30 and realized I was 10 years into a sales career. I like sales, and I’m good at it; I’ve been successful in my sales and marketing career, and I appreciate where it has afforded me to go.

But I needed more. I am a creative type. I sing. And I don’t mean I just sing in the shower. I sang competitively when I was younger, and also did private lessons, chorus, ensemble, musical theater, and was the only alto from my county to go to state level competition one year. I SING. I write music, I have recorded songs that I’ve written, I sing at my desk, when I’m walking to the train, and as loud as I can in the car. I write, I sing, I even played violin for 7 years! Blogging was a good way to get some creativity out, but I have so much in me, and the blog didn’t provide enough of an outlet.

I branched out into contributing articles here and there to other websites, gaining exposure and putting myself further out there. I kept doing that, adding my biggest fish, Huffington Post, to my roster.

I just finally realized that the worst that could happen is that I got to keep my blog and my writing and the sites I already wrote for, so I put up a small ad, I reached out to a few contacts, and I put some feelers out. Within 48 hours I had 4 paying clients, and interesting diverse writing projects. Copywriting, content creations, marketing and sales emails, even doing a Google ad campaign!

 

Of course it’s scary when you try something new and put yourself out there. But being scared is a terrible excuse to quit. If being scared was a valid excuse, we would have no innovation, no revolution, and no skydiving.

 

I am a writer. I am a rollercoaster-riding, skydiving, cat-owning, singing weirdo who writes. And I am so happy and proud to be able to do it for others, and to someday (soon!) make it my full time occupation.