If you are a small business owner or solo practitioner, producing relevant content materials about your products or services with engaging content online and in print is a very important part of your marketing efforts.
Two weeks ago, I participated in a two-day global virtual (online) conference for freelancers called “International Freelancers Day 2010“. It consisted of 24 different presentations from some of the top speakers and mentors for freelancers and very small SOHO (Small Office Home Office) owners.
Ann Handley made a presentation called “Content Rules” about how important it is for to small business owners to create and publish their own content. Lexi Rodrigo, a blogger on Freelance Folder, wrote a great summary of Ann’s presentation.
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Lexi’s summary is below:
At the recent International Freelancers Day virtual conference, one theme that struck me was the importance of creating and publishing content. Many of the experts discussed, in various angles, why getting published would be good for freelancers.
Anne Handley’s presentation, Content Rules, was in fact all about content and how to create it well. Day Poynter talked about writing a book and getting published. Other speakers such as Michael Martine and David Garland spoke about other forms of content that can do well for freelancers, such as blogs and web TV. Almost all the other speakers mentioned, in one way or another, the benefits of having your own content.
Why You Need To Create and Publish Content
If you’re a writer, it’s obvious that you should be writing and publishing your own stuff–not only content for your clients. But, what about graphic designers, programmers and other non-writers? Should they become content producers as well?
The short answer: Yes.
The benefits of being publishing content includes:
- You’re searchable online. When you publish content, it becomes so much easier for prospects to find you online. This makes it easier for you to find leads or, rather, for leads to come and find you. Google and other search engines are particularly fond of WordPress blogs and online videos. Plus, the more you publish, the easier it gets to find you.
- You’re more shareable. This is particularly true for digital content. With social media, it’s so much easier for your content to get passed around and shared. If you create something particularly good, you can gain instant notoriety.
- You get instant credibility. Being the author of a blog, special report, white paper or book, or the creator of some other content makes you an instant expert. You’re right up there with your favorite author. It’s like having initials for degrees after your name. It shows you’ve accomplished something the majority haven’t.
- Build your prospects list. It’s much easier to build your list of prospects when you have valuable content you can give away. At the same time, blogs, podcasts and web TV can attract prospects round the clock.
- Leverage your expertise and efforts. Having a published piece of content is an excellent way to leverage your unique approach to things. You can literally create something once and have it working for you over and over again.
- Feeling of accomplishment. It plain feels good to finish a piece of content. Even if you’re a writer you know it isn’t easy to finish a special report or white paper… especially if you’re writing it for yourself and not a client.
- Passive income. There are ways to monetize your content so it brings you passive income, which is a necessity for everyone. You can create several pieces of content and think of each one as a separate stream of passive income. Who knows? Maybe someday you can actually fire all your clients and simply work for yourself alone.
Ways to Create and Publish Content
The phrase “get published” conjures images of printed books on a shelf. Thanks to the Internet, there are many more ways to get published, and it’s easier than ever to get self-published. Here are some examples:
- Ebook. This is a book, but in digital format. Aside from the common PDF, you can also publish your ebook as an electronic book downloadable through Kindle or an iPad. Other formats include the Vook. Print-on-demand services are also available online, for readers who prefer to hold something in their hands.
- Special Report/White Paper. A special report or white paper is often shorter than a book. As with an ebook, a special report or white paper can be published in both digital and non-digital formats.
- Blog. A blog is an indispensable tool for writers and copywriters. However, even freelancers in the non-writing field can get good results from a blog. It’s great for showcasing your expertise, and it serves as your central hub on the Internet. The many functionalities of a blog make it easy to promote, get search engine traffic, and be shared around in social networks and bookmarking sites.
- Podcast. Hate writing but love to talk? Consider a podcast. It’s more involved than the earlier types of content, because you may have to buy additional equipment and software. However, it can be done on a shoestring. The content is more important than the equipment! If you’re shy, you could easily build a podcast around interviewing different people and pretend to be a reporter. Even if you do that, your credibility and status will be perceived to be as good as the experts you interview.
- Video Blog or Web TV. A video blog or web TV is another possible format for non-writers. You will have to write at least a paragraph or two to introduce the video and feed the search engines–they can’t crawl video and audio content yet, only words. Internet users seem to love online video, as evidenced by the popularity of YouTube and other video sharing sites. As with podcasting, creating and publishing video will have more technical requirements than the other formats.
Still Not Convinced?
Imagine meeting a prospect for a meeting and as you shake hands, you give him a print copy of your special report (you could have printed it on your home office printer; it doesn’t matter). His eyes widen as he realizes that you’re some sort of expert who has actually written a book.
Or, imagine one of your clients recommending you to her friend. She tells her friend, “You can check out his blog at his URL. He’s great!”
Or, how about getting invited to guest post in a blog with thousands of readers every single day… and those readers happen to fit your Ideal Client?
If you want it, then create content. You can do it!