If I Had To Do Content Creation, Blogging, and Organic Marketing for My Own Small Business All Over Again…

I kid you not, I’d make fewer graphics. 

Just as I was thinking about writing a post about this, a milestone alert arrived in my inbox from Canva.

I’m proud of this achievement as a content creator. But…¬†

If you are just starting out and writing your first blog posts, you don’t need to worry about graphics! 

Unsplash is built into most sites for free now. Use that. Or use nothing. Here’s why. 

If I had it to do all over again, I’d start out even leaner than I did before. I originally began with the free Canva plan and spent years there. But what I did spend? A ton of time on creating graphics when my time as a sole proprietor could have been spent elsewhere. 

(Now I pay $13/mo for Canva and can’t imagine my life without it because it saves me time with resizing and background remover!) 

I think it’s easy to get into all the shiny objects when you start out. 

I started Destiny Architecture Life Coaching & Reiki in the summer of 2016 as I was working two jobs and completing my life coaching certification. I thought creating the perfect blog was my ticket to future business success. I had no idea what I was doing. 

So I spent a ton of time writing blogs that didn’t work, which I’ve since either deleted or edited. I also made sure to create my very own graphics. They had my personal stamp on them! They were special. They were pieces of me, just like those early blog posts that I’ve since realized weren’t helping me at all. 

I hope you’re rolling your eyes reading that last paragraph just as much as I was while writing it ūüėČ 

What I should have done? I should have: 

  • Spent time editing blogs for readability, content, spelling, and grammar mistakes.
  • Spent time studying what successful bloggers in my niche were doing.
  • Spent time learning to harness SEO. For real, it counts. 
  • Spent time community building both on and offline. 
  • Trading links and guest posts‚ÄĒbut that’s also part of optimizing for SEO. It’s also a vital part of business networking.
  • Been consistent in delivering content. 

What I’m glad I did: 

  • I hit social media from the start.
  • I also built my email list from day one. 
  • I created a mix of working online as a coach while also continuing to work within my local community. 
  • I never, ever gave up. 

Now, it’s time for yet another pivot.

I recently explored what happens when a writer and online content creator (me) makes the effort to be consistent. I wrote and published my work online daily for 190 days straight. I called the first 90 days of it “#ContentStorm” on Twitter. 

But it went so well, I didn’t stop until day 190! 

My break from daily shipping has lasted a few weeks now, but I’ve still been writing online nearly every day. I am a professional writer, after all. I write for my sites and newsletter. I write for the social media marketing agency where I work. 

It was easy to get into this discipline and lose sight of other business priorities.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been delving into my coaching and Reiki business again as I simultaneously work to complete my yoga teacher and meditation teacher trainings concurrently. I’ll soon hold my RYT-200 along with a 100-hour meditation teaching certification. 

Now is the time to lean out my processes, settle up on prices, and make my offerings easier for clients to navigate. 

That’s what I have devoted my energy to lately, rather than take up 30-60 minutes daily because, “I have to write and hit this quota.” The writing also was taking a backseat to the reason I started consistent shipping in the first place. That was so that I could use my online content as an organic means of attracting an audience to my work as a transformational life coach and Usui Reiki Master. 

In pursuing the goal of daily shipping for six months, I lost sight of what I was writing about.

Which brings me to the original story on how my online content marketing journey began. I knew I could write because I was a working journalist and content creator before it was cool. Before the word “content” was thrown around so often and casually that it became the trendy thing it is now, I was low-key creating content online. 

I’m talking about when the Internet was young, in the pre-9/11 times. 

Because I knew I had this skill‚ÄĒand because I was that absolutely broke journalist/social worker‚ÄĒI knew that if I was going to make it as an online life coach, I had to do it without paying for ads. 

So I spent the past six years learning how to reach my clients organically. 

What to do if you’re just starting out as a content creator: 

  • Define your core audience and write to that person. Niche down hard. Then, go even harder. 
  • Use Typeshare + Twitter/Medium/LinkedIn to test and validate your ideas. 
  • Have a website, blog, and/or podcast if you must. But don’t expect anything to come of it. 
  • Invest in where people are right now. I see that in this moment to be TikTok and YouTube Shorts. 
  • Spend time on creating writing your readers find valuable, not on creating graphics. 
  • Keep your tech stack simple and lean. Find tech that works together. Look for freeware and free starter plans as much as you can. But don’t forget you will be charged more as you grow. Plan to scale over time! 
  • Find a mentor. 
  • Take risks.
  • Create a system in which you can plan, track progress, and self-reflect. 
  • Find ways to go paperless. Get and stay organized from day one. 
  • Realize you’re going to have to learn, grow, and change constantly. 
  • Know what the trends are, but be objective enough to know when not to follow them. 

I could go on all day, but I think there are a couple things worth noting. 

  1. Your mileage may vary. My niche and my audience may be very different from yours. 
  2. All of this is subject to change quickly in the world of digital content. 

My philosophy is to put yourself out there, test content, and then study analytics. Metrics are often my boss, but I never lose sight of the human beings I serve. 

Need help getting started? Seeking a content coach? Book a quick meeting with me on my calendar!

A little book-spiration…

I checked out “The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published” from my local library.

I didn’t have the intention of reading the whole thing. I’m hardly at a point where I am ready to get a book published. I’ve got at least three fiction novel ideas swimming around my head. I am actively working on three and allowing the cream to rise. I feel like one will want to be written more than the others, so I am giving my work the time and space to emerge.

Without my own book even close to ready to be shopped around, this book had to come home with me from my local library. I read through some of it and came away with two things:

  • According to the authors, I have one solid habit of a good writer. I read. I visit the library at least every other week (gotta get those 14-day loans). I also download books on my library’s e-reads system. I make good use of the library too, always getting put on the best-seller hold list. Hopefully, I’ll get to read “Nest” before Christmas… I scour what’s hot on iBooks as well as the New York Times‘ Best Seller list. I have a very good writer’s reading habit according to “The Book Doctors,” which is comforting, maybe since my coworkers love to tease me for my overzealous library habits.
  • I’m not worried about my social media game. A lot of writer’s books preach the importance of social media, creating a platform, strategy, promotion, SEO, how to tweet — the works. I’ve been on Twitter forever, though it’s not the same platform it used to be. I’ve been an early adapter of all social media. Perhaps it’s ¬†my years of radio broadcasting and journalism.

But there is something I need to do. I need to blog about writing more. Like most writers, I like to write in the shadows. I write privately, all alone. I hate to share what I am up to with my writing, although I do let a friend read what I’ve got once in a while.

That may be a habit I should let go of in order to promote my work. So I’ll have to work on that.

IMG_1019

Such the book fiend I am, my friend brought me this flyer so I took a photo of it to put it in my phone as a reminder… I’m trying to cut back on buying books! I swear! I keep giving them to friends and trading them in. But we all know…there will always be more books!

If you love books and writing too, follow me on Twitter, @heatherlarson

 

My first freelance writing gig is in!

I am once again writing SEO copy as well as social media updates. The last time I wrote SEO copy, we didn’t have social media to contend with, so that’s one change. I started working on this type of writing in 2006 when I took a job at SEO firm Submitawebsite.com. Back then, we could write any kind of horrific copy as long as it was keyword heavy. That’s changed. Now too many keywords are spammy (you think?) and the “articles” I am writing actually need to be compelling so as not to be penalized by the search engines. That’s so much better for clients’ websites, so that’s awesome. Plus, it allows me to be more creative in the content I create.

When I worked my last job at Entercom Communications, I was a morning radio personality. I’ve been on the air since 1998, which means two things:

1. I am a survivor.

2. I have witnessed and endured many changes in traditional broadcast media over this span of time.

When social media burst into the “old media” scene years ago, I jumped into it. I’d gotten into Twitter and Facebook the last time I was a freelance writer between 2006-2008. I incorporated my social media skills into my on-air shifts at 98.7 The Peak in Phoenix and then at KDGS-Wichita for the past four years. I am one of those “old school” jocks who chose to embrace social media.

I am looking forward to embracing more change in social media and SEO — two industries that live and die by algorithm changes. I’m happy to be a part of both!

This is not Heather Larson. This is, however, her cat. His name is Alcatraz and he is pretending to be useful. Or perhaps he's dreaming of being a writer when he grows up. Which will never happen (on both counts).
This is not Heather Larson. This is, however, her cat. His name is Alcatraz and he is pretending to be useful. Or perhaps he’s dreaming of being a writer when he grows up. Which will never happen (on both counts).

The power of blogging

I have this friend who has the ultimate slash career. ¬†He’s a teacher/radio DJ/wrestling ring announcer/wedding DJ/comedian/actor/small business owner/entrepreneur. ¬†He’s doing pretty well with his businesses but he has a new one he wants to spread the word about. ¬†But he says he doesn’t know how. ¬†I told him he needs to go online to market this new business, called Arizona Top Secret Chefs. ¬†I explained to him that a good blog with a few SEO tricks thrown in could help drive traffic to his site. ¬†I told him to get on Twitter and Facebook.

I also told him that blogging opens up a whole world of fun. ¬†You blog and people find you. ¬†You can blog about something obscure like CJD as I do. ¬†My Cure CJD blog has helped quite a few people get in touch with me as they lost someone to the disease or afterwards. ¬†Sometimes people comment on the blog, other times they email me privately. ¬†It makes me feel good that I can help someone else find answers and that I can share my experience. ¬†I shouldn’t have had to suffer through watching my mom die of that horrific disease for no reason; my words can help others. ¬†Emailing with complete strangers about the disease still helps me heal to this day.

Promoting my blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn helps get some page views. ¬†But I find on my blogs that people come across them because they’re looking for a certain topic I have written about. ¬†It always amazes me what gets the most page views over a period of time. ¬†The analytics WordPress provides on each of my blogs are fascinating.

So I encourage anyone to blog about their business, passion in life, or just the life they live. ¬†One of my friends has a blog about expat life in Germany that I love to read because of her stories about adjusting to German life. ¬†She posts tons of travel information and great photos. ¬†You really get the feel for what her new life in the country is like. ¬†The blog also helps her to keep in touch with family and friends back home. ¬†Sure, you could post the same stuff on Facebook. ¬†But at the end of the experience, will Facebook provide you with the same kind of “scrapbook” a blog will? ¬†Probably not. ¬†Your photos and experiences will be buried in everyone’s Farmville and Mafia Wards updates.

I use my blogs to show that I can blog, that I do blog, and though it should be obvious — I know how to blog. Journalism pays the rent, but it’s not all I know how to do. ¬†I began blogging in my SEO content writing days with my first blog about CJD. ¬†I’m not just a journalist or a radio on-air personality. ¬†I’m a journalist and DJ who can blog too! But it doesn’t matter what line of work you’re in. ¬†You’ll probably find yourself blogging at some point. ¬†Maybe you’ll have to be the public, expert face your company puts on a blog. ¬†Maybe you’re like my friend who wants a new way to promote his business. ¬†But give it a try. ¬†It can’t hurt and you don’t need any prior experience to do it. ¬†Do you have ideas to share? ¬†Can you write and use spellcheck? ¬†Go for it!