Influencer vs Influence

Even if your dream isn’t to be a social media influencer you may wish your online following was stronger. But does stronger mean bigger? Not always. If you have the right followers numbers aren’t as important.

Influencer vs Influence: How to Build an Authentic Brand

Influencer vs influence

Last summer I had a string of clients who hired me launch and maintain their Instagram profile. These small businesses wanted to add social media marketing but didn’t know much about it. Since I love both social media and marketing this is pretty much a dream project. I worked hard to create a strategy that reflected the brand and would attract their ideal customer. I chose or created images, wrote captions, and scheduled posts based on best practices.

And then we launched

After two or three months of social media posts my clients complained that they weren’t happy with the amount of followers they had, wasn’t that the point of the work I was doing?

The first time this came up I was surprised. We had talked about the long game, how gaining authentic followers doesn’t happen overnight. I thought we were on the same page. So why were we so far off base?

Expectations.

These clients were new to social media. Their businesses were also new. They had little to no online presence and had heard from a few people that if they went on social media they’d find success. So imagine their disappointment when they realized building an authentic brand on social media doesn’t happen overnight and also is a lot of work.

It was a tough lesson for both of us. I learned I needed to be a lot more blunt about how much time and energy needs to be devoted to building a legitimate social media presence. Now when I begin working with a client I put in writing what is within my control (posting frequency, content) and what is not (sales, growing followers). And I believe these clients also learned that becoming and influencer on social media isn’t something you can automate and expect return from. It involves relationship-building, listening, and connecting with your ideal customer.

What you can and can’t buy

The influencer role is somewhat new so it makes sense that people don’t quite understand what an influencer is. In general, an influencer is someone who has an engaged following of people who pay close attention to their thoughts and opinions.

A true influencer can post about a great new product they’ve discovered and they have built so much trust with their audience that they rush out to also purchase the same product.

I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love this kind of influence. I mean, duh! It’s amazing! But where people get confused is they see an influencer and they equate the number of followers they have with influence. But numbers don’t equal influence. You can purchase social media followers and engagement. You cannot purchase influence.

How to become an influencer on social media

There is no silver bullet when it comes to becoming an influencer. If you can build a community of people who want to hear what you have to say and trust your judgment then you’re an influencer. And your message is amplified the more followers you have.

If you Google “how to become an influencer” you’ll see many, many articles dedicated to giving you the answer. But no matter what you won’t find a secret tip to getting away from putting the time and work into building your platform, branding yourself, and showing up with authenticity and something to say.

If you want to be a social media influencer and work with brands then you do need at least some sort of a following. To improve, choose one platform to focus on and become an expert at it. Learn the rules and how people engage. Figure out how you fit into the picture and then create a strategy based on finding your ideal followers and connecting with them. It will take time and energy. It will not happen overnight. But if you can make authentic connections and continue offering value to your followers, you will become an influencer.

For more, here are the three things brands look for when hiring influencers from the Spark Society.

Even if your dream isn't to be a social media influencer you may wish your online following was stronger. But does stronger mean bigger? Not always. If you have the right followers numbers aren't as important.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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Building Your Brand as a Freelancer

Building your brand as a freelancer is key in order to both keep clients coming back and bring in new clients. For my freelance business, branding has both brought in more paying work and the kind of writing I love to do.

Building Your Brand as a Freelancer

If you want to read my personal branding story check out Branding Yourself: Choosing a Niche.

From this experience I’ve learned a lot about how branding yourself on your website or blog is good for search engine optimization as well as for attracting your ideal clients. But more than that, branding yourself is important for growing your business in the direction you want it to go.

Branding Yourself: Choosing a Niche

Building your brand as a freelancer

Here are a few ways you can start building your brand as a freelancer right now.

Establish Yourself As An Expert

Positioning yourself as an expert isn’t as intimidating or difficult as it first sounds. You do this by sharing helpful information with your audience. Figure out the questions they’re asking and the problems they’re trying to solve and then provide the answers/solutions. This is a fabulous opportunity to help people take the next step on their journey as well as share your unique knowledge and expertise. Don’t worry too much about sharing free information. You build trust with your audience by helping people and establishing yourself as an expert doesn’t hurt either. People hire people they trust.

Focus On Your Digital Footprint

Whether you’re building a website or setting up your social media profiles for business, make sure your digital presence is easy to discover and communicates clearly. Here’s what a solid digital footprint includes: strong branding, unique personality and clear services. This is also a good time to invest in professional headshots (and don’t feel like you have to stick to stuff corporate—consider lifestyle photos!) and graphics. Think of your various bios and about pages as an opportunity to let your ideal client know how you can help them and why you’re the right choice. Don’t underestimate the power of a great about page!

Create an On-Brand Marketing Strategy

I don’t care if you’re too busy or you just plain hate it, building your brand includes marketing. Unless you love the feast-and-famine cycle of freelancing, that is. Solid content marketing strategies can keep your prospect funnel full all year long. When creating your marketing strategy make sure to build something sustainable otherwise you’ll quit before you start.

Bonus tip: Check out How To Write For Print Media from Ultimate Banners.

Show Off Your Personality

A big part about building your brand is growing your platform. Figure out what makes you stand out in your market and find ways to weave it into your business. Your personality is part of your brand, so be sure to highlight it. The first step is to find your unique voice and which aspects of your personality and experiences are best to convey. Focus on the positive, exciting and engaging aspects of your brand personality.

Building Your Brand? Invest in Relationships

Referrals are a gold mine, which is why networking with other freelancers is so important. Word of mouth is also extremely powerful, so make a point to invest in your relationships. You never know which clients might suggest you to a new anchor client or introduce you an amazing career opportunity. Take time to go the extra mile, giving excellent service and ensuring both your colleagues and clients are taken care of.

Building your brand as a freelancer is key in order to both keep clients coming back and bring in new clients. For my freelance business, branding has both brought in more paying work and the kind of writing I love to do.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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Small Business Marketing Ideas for the Real World

In order to be profitable you need to make sales, so you’re always looking for new and improved small business marketing ideas. Or at least you should be. Today we’re talking about real-world strategies you can use to promote your online business.

Small Business Marketing Ideas for the Real World

Small business marketing ideas for the real world

Having a strong digital presence is important but don’t discount traditional tactics. I’ll be the first to admit I’m biased because I spend most of my time working with traditional media and dealing with people who don’t have a digital-first approach. That said, there are a LOT of people who don’t live in the Internet bubble and they like buying things too.

Here are a few small business marketing ideas to consider.

In-Person Networking

Networking is super important in business. Even if you’re introverted. People are often shy to talk about their business because they don’t want people to think they’re bragging or pressuring them to buy something. But trust me, there’s a way to talk about your business in a non-threatening way. You do need to find creative ways to sprinkle it into your conversations but the point is, mention it. If you’re hoping people discover you online so you don’t have to do the scary marketing thing I’m sorry to say this is going to be a slow venture. Find a natural way to integrate your business into your every-day life and then when it fits, mention it. Networking is an art and there are many people who don’t do it right. If you can learn strong networking skills, it is effective. SUPER effective.

Local Events

Attending or sponsoring local events doesn’t fit every type of business but make sure to go if you find one where your ideal customers will be hanging out. If you have a physical product make sure to bring those and hand out samples or have a booth. If you sell digital products or services you can have some sort of swag that makes sense to pass out. I’ve found great results from attending events and participating in them as a speaker or vendor. This small business marketing idea can be a great business booster if you apply a little creativity to it.

Vehicle Branding

You may be running your business online, but you still have to leave the house. Car wrapping is an effective marketing tool. No matter if you’re driving to a meeting or dropping your kid off at soccer practice, you’re promoting your business. If you’re not ready for the full-scale wrap there are other options like vinyl logos. Think about it.

Local Media

Don’t discount local newspapers or radio stations. They work hard to produce relevant local content and are an excellent way to get the word out about your business. If you don’t have an advertising budget think about other ways you can get media coverage. Can you contribute a weekly column about your area of expertise? Are you able to provide an interesting point of view on a subject they’re asking for community input on? Call the outlet and see how you can help them. Another way to get local media coverage is to join local boards and campaigns. Make yourself available for interviews to talk about the great work your volunteer group is doing when the journalists call to cover the event. It’s a win-win-win.

In order to be profitable you need to make sales, so you're always looking for new and improved small business marketing ideas. Or at least you should be. Today we're talking about real-world strategies you can use to promote your online business.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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Small Business Website Tips

You’re probably here because you heard that you need a small business website. And you’re like, OK, great. But what does that mean? Here’s a quick look at seven key pieces of information to include on your website.

Small Business Website Tips

Small Business Website Tips

No matter how small your business is, a website is par for the course these days. It’s the one place where you have complete control over your message and branding. Your website is the hub for your marketing strategy. Another amazing benefit? It’s open 24/7, allowing you to generate leads while you sleep. In order for your website to do its job well, there are a few key elements to include on your small business website.

1. Simple Website Name

When it comes to your small business website URL, keep it simple. You want visitors to by able to type your domain name from memory as well as tell their network about it. Don’t be clever and avoid made-up words, dashes and numbers. This is confusing for people and it also causes SEO problems. And whenever possible, use the dot com domain, as this is the one people are used to typing.

2. About Page

When a prospect or potential customer is browsing one of the first things they’ll do is look for your business profile in order to see what your business is about. You want them to learn about you! Make this page accessible and the content compelling. This is another opportunity to build trust. If you’re stuck on what to write, here are some great tips for an about us page. And if you need more evidence, here’s a case study where we tweaked the content of an about page, which resulted in transforming a small business.

This page could also be called something similar like bio, the company, meet your expert, experience, who I am, my story, profile, etc. I’ve called my about page “Why Me.”

3. Relevant Contact Information

No matter what type of business you run, you should include a way for people to contact you. Think about how you want customers to get in touch with you and list those methods on your website. Make it easy. When you seem like a real person online it builds trust and community.

4. Links To Social Platforms

Give your prospects and loyal customers a way to connect with you socially. You don’t need to list EVERY platform you’re on, but try and link to the ones where you’re the most active. Social media offers a great opportunity for your business to stay top-of-mind in an organic way. Just make sure you’re posting valuable content consistently.

5. High-Quality Articles

Nothing allows your sparkling personality to come through like a blog. Oh wait you don’t want a blog. OK how about thought-leadership articles? Can you post some of those? I don’t know what it is about the medium, but it WORKS! It both drives traffic to your site plus gives people a reason to come back to your site, even after they’ve read your about page.

6. Reviews and Recommendations

Reviews, recommendations and endorsements from previous clients and customers matter. I know you know this. If you’re browsing a site and are wondering if you should hire someone/purchase from someone you check out the reviews. It’s what we do. You can ask for reviews (on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever) from clients as part of your marketing strategy. However, if you’re feeling awkward you can also offer some sort of an incentive to get reviews.

7. Clear Calls To Action

One of the easiest ways to convert visitors into leads is to tell them what you want them to do. This could be encouraging a sale, subscribing to an email list or asking for a review. Whatever the desired action is, make it clear and your ask direct. Some small business websites use buttons saying “Buy Now” or “Sign Up Here,” while others use pop-ups and pop-overs. Test different calls to action to see which ones work best for you.

Bonus tip: By the way, if you’re getting traffic but they’re bouncing without taking action, you can learn more about why this may be happening.

You're probably here because you heard that you need a small business website. And you're like, OK, great. But what does that mean? Here's a quick look at seven key pieces of information to include on your website.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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How to Set Up Your Google Maps Location

Here’s how to set up your Google Maps location and take control over your search results!

How to set up your Google Maps Location

How to Set Up Your Google Maps Location

Have you ever Googled yourself?

Google yourself.

Are you happy with what you see? Are you surprised? Or are you wondering if there’s a way to add that cool map thingy to the results? Then you’re in the right place. Today we’ll set up your Google Maps location and start taking back control of your Google search results. Thanks to Katt Stearns for walking me through how to set up your Google Maps location—I had no idea!

But first, why would you care about a Google Maps location if you’re a freelance-work-from-home-writer-person-who-works-in-her-pyjamas? Here’s why: Google search results. When you verify your location (and no, you don’t have to display your home address for the world to see) you control your Googleability. Want to show up when someone searches “business writers in Winnipeg”? THIS is how you do it. Or how about “social media consultant Alberta”? Yup, you can show up there too. OK, let’s do this.

What you need to set up your Google Maps Location

  • You need a Gmail account, so if you don’t have one go get one. I’ll wait
  • You need a street address. A real one, somewhere you receive mail. This is because in order to add information into your Google listing they send you a verification code in the mail so yes, you have to do this

What you do to set up your Google Maps Location

  1. Go to google.ca/business (assuming you’re Canadian, adjust the dot ca for your country as needed)
  2. Click “start now”
  3. Fill all in the business information but select “no” to “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location” (we’ll come back to this)
  4. Click “continue”
  5. Add any additional details you feel necessary and select “yes” to “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location” (coming back to this)
  6. Enter the region and radius of your services. Yes you can choose “the world” but if you want to show up in specific location searches or areas this is how you do it so get specific
  7. If you want your address to display in search and on your business location map then also check “I also serve customers at my business address.” If you don’t want your address displayed then leave this unchecked (told you we’d come back to this)
  8. Click “verify now” (top right-hand corner)
  9. Enter your details so Google can mail you a verification post card (see why you need a real address?)
  10. Once you receive your post card (up to 10 days) start back at step one and click “verify.” Here you can enter your five-digit code and get yourself discoverable, listed, and HIRED thanks to Google search

Nice, right?

Have you ever Googled yourself? Google yourself. Here's how to set up your Google Maps Location and take control of your search results!

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One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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