Content Marketing: It’s Not Just Blogging Anymore

Content Marketing Comes in Many Forms | Learn more via @HighleyDesigned

I recently started hosting a podcast with Lancaster Podcast Studio called Open Chat and my guests this week were local marketing professionals. We had a great talk about digital marketing and social media but the topic we kept coming back to was content marketing – what it is and how to provide value to your online audience. (To listen to the full show click here.)

I think one of the biggest challenges we face as marketers is defining our audience and creating a variety of media for them to consume. With the numerous social media platforms we have to post on, content marketing isn’t just blogging anymore. And Google is getting smarter – you cannot just blog to add keywords to your website – they want to see that you are providing valuable content that’s user friendly.

So regardless of what industry you’re in, if content marketing isn’t just blogging anymore, what is it? Well, content marketing can be a free eBook, a standout visual, a video or tutorial, an infographic or a free download. There are various tools to create this kind of media and most of them are FREE so it’s easy to incorporate video, GIFs and tutorials into your marketing mix. To learn more about free tools for creating video and standout graphics see my previous blog.

Now that you know what content marketing is, let’s talk about adding value. Something is not valuable if it’s been written about and talked about a million times already. If you are going to write or create a video about something that’s yesterday’s news, you better have a fresh perspective to keep your audience interested. Another tip – if you can’t explain a process in a few simple steps then leave it to someone else. Adding value means providing your audience with something that’s fresh, easy to follow, entertaining to watch and useful to learn about.

With all of that in mind, think about the various social platforms your brand is using. After you write a great blog you can repurpose that content over time to each of your social platforms as a different form of media. For example, I recently blogged about working from home. I then created a graphic for Instagram and shared a link to the article on Facebook and Twitter. Before writing this blog I decided I’d take that content a step further and create a video to share my 3 favorite tips for work from home success.

The key to content marketing success is simple:

A. Define Your Audience
B. Keep Your Content Fresh
C. Use a Variety of Media – Blogging, Video, Graphics, Downloads, GIFs, etc.
D. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

If you’re a work from home entrepreneur, blogger or freelancer, enjoy my video! And be sure to checkout the Open Chat podcast – It’s available each Wednesday on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

 

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3 Tips to Be More Productive Working from Home

3 Tips to be MORE productive working from home via HighleyDesigned.

Most people think working from home is a breeze. No schedule, no rules, no boss to check in on you and no annoying coworkers… But the truth is, as great as it can be to set your own schedule and get your creative juices flowing, working from home can be hard. It requires a ton of self motivation, organization and planning! I’ve been working from home running my freelance marketing business for nearly two years now and I’ve learned a lot about what works for me so I thought I’d pass along some tips this week.

  1. Plan Plan Plan. 
    When you’re managing numerous projects and accounts, planning is essential. Whether you use a detailed spreadsheet or a good old fashioned to-do list, make sure you have a plan for the week. Set realistic expectations of what you can complete each day and plan for unexpected things to pop up. Don’t fill your schedule to the brim so that an impromptu phone call throws you for a loop – give yourself some wiggle room. If you know it’s going to be really nice out one day, plan to finish early so you can enjoy the park!

    I use an Excel spreadsheet to manage all of my tasks and keep track of deadlines. A color system lets me know if things are HOT, WARM or COLD, and I work from red to blue. The goal is to keep all of my tasks in the blue – meaning I have plenty of time to finish them. Occasionally I’ll have a day full of red tasks that need to be done asap, but if I manage my time effectively, that’s not often, saving me time and stress.

  2. Develop a Routine.
    As nice as it is to “wing it” sometimes, working from home is a commitment that requires routine. If you’re not a morning person, that’s fine. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty because you enjoy your sleep. Maybe you do your best work from 4pm-11pm, find what works for you and stick to it! If you work from home so that you can take care of your kids, you’ll probably need to work around nap time or school pick-up etc. When you find what works for you, make it a habit!

    My daughter is 9 months old and requires a lot of attention, so my mornings are typically dedicated to her and keeping our home in one piece. I can count on getting back to emails and responding to any “red hot” tasks when she takes her morning nap. In the afternoon, I do the rest of my work. Not only does a routine help keep me organized, it helps me set boundaries so I can decide what I can commit to or decide if I’m too busy. As a freelancer it’s easy to take on a ton of projects so it’s always important to think ahead so you don’t bite off more than you can chew.

  3. Take Time for YOU.
    It’s easy to get lost in a project when you’re working from home. I know I’ve had those sweatpants and crusty t-shirt kind of days when I can’t seem to pull myself away from the computer until I finish ONE more thing! But the truth is, nothing good comes from overworking yourself (or wearing sweatpants all day.) If this sounds like you, put the laptop down, take a shower and eat a good meal! You can’t produce your best work if you’re not feeling good about yourself. There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable while you work from home, but I find getting myself together in the morning, eating breakfast and just taking time to be human is a huge benefit to my work life.

 

Work From Home Mom, Tip #22: Take Advantage of Nap Time

Work from home tips: Take advantage of naptime by HighleyDesigned, Mommy blogger and social media marketer

Ah… the sound of… quiet. As a mom to a little one this is a rare treat! My six month old can’t speak words yet but she has certainly found her voice.

I’ve learned that instead of stressing when it seems like the morning has been chaotic, sometimes it’s best to simply put work aside and make my baby girl #1 for a while. Maybe that’s an impromptu walk or reading some books – whatever keeps her happy. When work seems overwhelming it’s important to realize how lucky I am to be able to stay at home and have those little moments with Reagan.

Working from home requires serious time management. I don’t plan my day by the hour, I plan it by what Reagan is up to and how long things will keep her busy. The bouncer and the walker are usually good for a half hour so I can get some Facebook posts scheduled. A bottle might last for 10 minutes which is perfect for switching laundry over or vacuuming the living area. Do any moms actually have a set schedule? I am amazed at those who do! Don’t get me wrong, I know Reagan has a routine at this point – she eats twice before we start our day, again after her nap, she usually poops somewhere in the middle etc. and that’s good enough for me.

When nap time finally rolls around, I take full advantage of however long that may be. I try saving all of my tedious work for nap time – any writing, blogging, phone calls or post planning. Things that can be interrupted like designing new graphics or checking email can be done anytime. Nap time is for the important stuff.

I keep a serious to-do list and I try to prioritize things into categories. Things are either urgent / not urgent, or important / not important. The goal is to stay in the urgent and important categories and not to get stuck working on not urgent, not important items. For example, checking email feels urgent but it’s not – it’s important. Something urgent can be done first, like making a phone call or tackling something else that has an approaching deadline.

Some days nap time is cut short and as frustrating as it can be, I’ve learned to appreciate the time I get with my little one, because there will always be time for work.

Quotes we love

The Fantastic 4 Tools for Social Media Marketers

The Fantastic 4 Tools for Social Media Markters by HighleyDesigned

 

1. Hootsuite

If you’re not using it yet, your life is about to change. Hootsuite allows you to schedule all of your posts for almost every platform in one place. You can also view your newsfeeds and Twitter streams from one place so that you don’t have to login and logout of every account you manage just to comment, like or RT. There are a handful of new sites like Hootsuite, but from my experience none of these new sites offer the sophistication and ease of their predecessor. Hootsuite has everything you need to effectively schedule posts and interact as your brand – all in one place. And it’s less than $10 per month.

2. Evernote

Evernote is a free app you can download on your phone and your computer. It syncs automatically so if you think of an awesome idea or make a note while you’re out and about, it will be on your desktop when you get back to your office. I use this ALL the time. It’s also a great place to save reminders, grocery lists… anything really. When you still have “baby brain” it is truly a life saver!

3. Canva

Canva is an amazing design site that lets you create professional looking social media graphics. It’s perfect for making FB cover photos, Twitter cards, question posts and more. You can choose from pre-made templates or design your own. If you use any of their “paid” elements like a stock photo or a custom design – they only cost $1.00 each. I love using Canva for branded posts. I start with a fun background then do some kind of text overlay – usually a question. These are great for engagement!

4. Unfollowers

If you’re not sure why your Twitter following is stagnant, this is an awesome tool. Unfollowers allows you to see exactly who’s following you, who followed you but unfollowed you and more. It also allows you to schedule Tweets and auto DMs. I don’t like super fake sounding auto DMs, or auto DMs that are trying to sell you something, but a friendly “thanks for following me, etc.” is a great way to start a networking conversation. Using Unfollowers you can track what works and what isn’t as effective so that you can grow your network in a smart way. Most plans start at $5-$10 per month!

 

~ Rachel

Work From Home Mom, Tip #21: Get Outside

 

Getting Outside for a Walk

Tip #21 – Make time to get outside

It’s easy to get wrapped up in what you’re working on or to feel bogged down with laundry, dirty dishes, a fussy baby etc. There are days I feel overwhelmed and realize I’ve hardly accomplished anything on my to-do list and I just need a “reset” so I can clear my head and focus. On days like those  (and today was one of them) it’s so helpful to get outside and take a mental break.

Not only is the fresh air good for you, but studies show Vitamin D can also be a mood booster. I know this is true for me, especially this time of year when it’s getting dark by 5 pm. If I don’t have time for a walk I’ll check the mail and play fetch with our 100 lb labradoodle for a few minutes – he loves the attention and I love the way a little time spent outdoors can help me clear my thoughts and refocus on writing or design, whatever it is I’m working on.

If you’re struggling to build a routine or stay motivated working from home, try getting outside on a daily basis and see how much better you feel – and how much more focused you can be. It’s worth it!

-Rachel