February 20, 2015 at 4:24 pm #1508
1. Mindmap/brainstorm content topics for the next 6 months. Share your topics with us in an outline/calendar.
POTENTIAL CONTENT TOPICS:
Creating systems – job searching, biz planning, writing, etc.
Working with contractors
Job application blunders
Resume hall of shame
The Biggest Douche Awards: Bosses
The Biggest Douche Awards: Employees
Workflow and accountability
Clients from Hell
Service Providers from Hell
Co-workers from Hell
Tips for Micromangagers
Are you a mutant? Take this quiz!
Professional Highs and Lows
The business of being self-employed
Holy HR Flags! How to avoid getting sued in the workplace
Team Building Makes Me Gag
Do you play well with others?
Damn the Man – Professionalism for Rebels
Office Sin of the Week: Refusing to sing the birthday song to a co-worker, Not getting into the “spirit” of the ugly Christmas sweater themed party your boss held in his parents’ attic.
2. Indicate how these topics support your biz/revenue goals.
My content strategy is far from comprehensive and nowhere near complete, but one of my ongoing goals to stop allowing perfectionism to paralyze me. I realized that it was starting to seriously impede my productivity, which in turn affected my bottom line (not to mention my mental state). I am extremely neurotic about the quality of my work, which I don’t think will ever change, but there’s a big difference between attention to detail and analyzing yourself into impotence. No one wants that! So this year, I’m all about ACTION! #gettingshitdone
A little background . . . up until now, I struggled to clearly identify my writing niche. My clients come from all different industries and I’ve taken on a variety of writing and editing projects over the years. I enjoy the variety, but I’m also well aware that you can’t be everything to everyone. For example, I was very annoyed when Dunkin Donuts started offering flatbread sandwiches now. They totally suck and making them slows down the line. Why don’t they just stick to what they’re good at? Booo!
Anyway, not being able to clearly define my ideal client and the types of services I wanted to focus on made it sort of impossible to make any headway with my own marketing. It’s completely embarrassing. This is literally what I do for a living – I conduct market research, I write sick content for business owners, I help them devise and execute content strategies. I do these things for other people all day long, yet my own marketing blows!! Actually, it’s nonexistent, which is even worse. Although things have been great for the last six months, I’m terrified of returning to the feast or famine cycle I was trapped in for so long. I’m just starting to make some headway financially and I want to keep the momentum going, which mean I need to get on point with my own marketing.
My idea for a potential niche has been percolating for some time now, so I finally approached my former colleague about the possibility of collaborating with me. We’ve only had a couple meetings to date (this literally happened two weeks ago), but my new marketing focus is based around the idea of personal/professional branding and topics surrounding careers and the workplace. My colleague has a background in HR and we’re both former educators, so we are thinking about putting together services that would combine our skills and knowledge (consulting, content development, training, skills assessment, branding, etc.) There is also a possibility of teaming up with a graphic designer – we’ve worked together on several other projects and refer each other whenever possible, so we’re discussing the possibility of packaging our services.
Moving forward with this new niche and/or incorporating web development and design into my services will obviously require some significant rebranding. Since we’re currently conducting market research and trying to identify our ideal client, my topics are still in the brainstorming phase. If I move forward in this direction, I want to provide content that’s educational as well as engaging. Since I tend to do everything ass backwards, I like to read content that provides advice from the failure standpoint. I’m seeing a lot of humorous “do’s and don’ts” in addition to stories of triumph, rebellion, and insight into the belly of the beast (HR) in the future.
3. Indicate what format you’ll use and why.
Blogs – I do this for other people all day long, so it seems like a good place to start. However, I HATE the word “blog” and “blogger” is even worse – a blogger sounds like the type of person who’s not allowed within 30 feet of a school zone. Blog sounds like a synonym for vomit. “I don’t feel so well. I think I’m going to BLOOGGGGGG!!” Gross! So if I’m going to start blogging in my own name, I need to figure out how to replace blog with something that sounds less deviant/disgusting AND convince the rest of the world to get on board. Who’s with me?
Whitepapers: I like how whitepapers educate consumers and use research to drive sales (rather than standard sales pitch). I want to market this service for clients as well as write my own.
Case Studies – When I write professional biographies for individuals and companies, I love interviewing them and learning about their journey. Like whitepapers, case studies require more research than other types of marketing content, which is perfect since I have a compulsion to learn everything about the client and their industry regardless of whether the assignment requires it. Again, this is a service I want to start promoting more in addition to writing one for my own marketing purposes.
E-book – This would be a freebie, downloadable on my site. The topic will be email etiquette and include many real-life examples of proper usage. This seems to be an issue that affects everyone, regardless of their industry or position. I hear email horror stories all the time from friends, family, clients, people standing in line at the grocery store. People get seriously pissed over emails they perceive as being curt, condescending, threatening, apathetic, dismissive, (insert your negative morale-crushing adjective of choice). They lose sleep, they plot revenge, it’s a real problem that I plan to address in my email etiquette e-book.
5. Indicate what you’ll repurpose, if anything. I’m not exactly sure what I’m creating yet so it’s a little difficult to say, but I’m all about working smarter this year and have a few ideas. I totally missed the boat on email marketing, but I’d definitely like to repurpose my blogs in email newsletters and use the research from my case study and white paper for blog topics. I’d also like to find a way to use the insane amount of content I’ve amassed in Evernote to help our readers and put together a library of relevant resource on the site. I can’t resist a free e-book if there’s even a hint of relevancy and I’m always researching for my writing projects, so you can only imagine the volume. I’ve always myself as a weird hoarder, except I stockpile knowledge and ideas instead of garbage. However, it recently came to my attention that the PC term is “content curator,” and this kind of hoarding can be a very effective marketing technique. Whoo! whoo!
– New website and/or logo – obviously the cost will be affected by whether the graphic designer wants to come on board, but she may be willing to work out some kind of trade with me to help offset the cost.
– I’m excited at the prospect of collaborating with other professionals who will bring THEIR unique skill sets to the party and allow me to provide my clients with more comprehensive marketing and consulting services.
I’m sure other costs will come up – business cards, tradeshows, etc., but other than the website and the time it will take to rebrand, this strategic alliance might actually save me money in the long run if I can split the cost of biz programs like invoicing and proposal software, CRMs, and so on with at least one other person.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I know my content strategy is pretty weak sauce (definitely NOT the secret sauce!) right now, but I since I’m a woman of action these days I decided to share it anyway. I welcome any ideas or suggestions from you beautiful Digital Diners out there! Any thoughts on professional collaborations, strategic alliances, or rebranding would also be appreciated.
February 23, 2015 at 8:00 am #1513
I don’t think your content strategy is weak at all! It’s broad and rich. I think the problem may be how you feel about your niche and your sense of perfectionism.
From what I see, you work with small business owners who are successful and good at what they do and don’t have a writing / designing bone in their body:-) Being a successful business owner professional means being able to invest your energy and creativity in what you do best and delegate the rest. It takes a village.
I think you’re on the right track . . . maybe narrow down the focus a bit, pick the top three action items and go from there. You have some great ideas but given how obsessed with the quality of your work you are, the wider your focus the more you’ll stop yourself from taking meaningful action.
By the way . . . I love your rebel attitude towards bloggers. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.
Go Shannon! :-))
February 23, 2015 at 9:33 am #1516
First off – KUDOS to you for noticing and committing to taking action. Even when you feel anxious about whether or not things are perfect. That’s really the only way you’re going to make progress.
I had to laugh about your opinion of the word “blogger.” I think there are folks out there who get equally crazy about the words “marketing” and/or “sales.” If it helps, just call yourself a business writer. Someone who writes articles, books, and whitepapers. Reframing works.
In terms of a content strategy, it looks/sounds like you’re considering a big shift — away from biz owners and toward employees. But maybe I misunderstood?
I’m hoping you can give me some clarity about how the new Ideal Client is shaping up for you. (I want to give you more feedback, but want to be sure I’ve got a handle on who you’re wanting to write for now.)
February 24, 2015 at 7:31 pm #1535
Thank you so much for your kind words and helpful feedback! I appreciate your insight! I like your idea about narrowing my focus and picking three action items to focus on, as I definitely have a tendency to overwhelm myself out of taking action. Now I just need to pick those three action items! 🙂
February 24, 2015 at 7:32 pm #1536
Hi Word Chef,
Thank you for the kudos! I learn a great deal just by listening to the webinars and reading other DDR members’ assignments, but I know I need to take action in order to make real progress.
I like the idea of reframing – I usually refer to myself as a biz writer, but I feel compelled to include “blogger” on my website and social profiles for SEO purposes.
I want to continue targeting biz owners; however, I still see myself working with individuals who are trying to make a career transition. Still trying to hammer out what this new Ideal Client looks like, but I think it will be pretty similar to who I’ve been targeting, except that in addition to the types of services I’ve been providing (content marketing/strategy, website content, business articles/blogs, press releases, newsletters, etc.) they might ALSO have the need for HR consulting and related services (skills assessments, training, onboarding expectations, evaluations, job descriptions, curriculum development, social media outreach, workshop training, etc.), some of which my potential partner would provide. My primary role would still be content development/editing. Does that make sense?
As far as our own marketing content, I’m thinking about a range of workplace topics that would be of interest to any professional, but especially biz owners. I love the content on The Muse, but perhaps I’m not narrowing my focus enough?
Thank you again for all your help!
February 27, 2015 at 8:38 am #1539
It definitely sounds like two distinct audiences. My only hesitation to give you a solid YES on this is the addition of the partner and HR consulting stuff. It’s one thing if the partnership turns out to be fabulous. But if it goes sideways, all that new content you add to your site about HR consulting, etc. could be kind of weird to deal with. Have you considered creating a separate site just for this partnership? If not, who will host the HR stuff? Is HR stuff in your wheelhouse (and I just didn’t know this about you)? Lots of questions for sure, but feel free to keep expanding on your thought process here and I’ll keep giving feedback.
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