The online world is utterly obsessed with content. This takes a number of forms, from articles and blogs to photos, graphics of any kind, videos, podcasts, and any re-mix thereof. It is an attention economy and if you can get your customers and visitors to focus on JUST YOU for a bit, you have achieved something pretty impressive.
However, this is only getting harder to do well. If you have the goal of creating or highlighting something of real value and relevance to your audience (as opposed to distraction or “click-bait”…) you have to be thoughtful, intentional and resourceful while balancing the other needs of your business and life. While the standing approach can still be called “Fail Fast” or “Do It Wrong Quickly“, you still need to cultivate an acute awareness of the real value of what you publish to your audience. There are numerous articles, sites, books and courses about content marketing available. Still, navigating it all as a solopreneur or small business owner can seem like panning for gold, and you just don’t feel like you’ve got the time or resources. You’ve got a business to create and run.
I’ll keep this to the point to save you time: here are three views of content that can help you use the resources you have more effectively. Frame your efforts with these in mind and you will find you come closer to “hitting the mark.”
- Make it interesting – There’s the stuff you’re interested in and there’s the stuff your audience is interested in. Drive laser focus on the latter, include the former and do your best to leave ‘overt selling’ out of it. Don’t be a pimp. Remember, only roughly 1 out of every 20 pieces published should be considered selling.
- Make it relevant and useful – Jay Baer says to publish stuff your audience would be willing to pay for. The greater the utility and relevance of what you publish, the more valuable you are to your audience, which will bring them back to you frequently….and when you DO sell, they will listen.
- Be truly “value add“ – Don’t just shove articles and links onto your stream and let your audience figure it out. Comment….give them a clue or a question or a contrarian point of view. Provide a reason to care and click through.
Do you have any views of content you feel are foundational? Share in the comments and make your case.
Simple things can have enormous impact. I come across profiles on LinkedIn that are very well thought out, complete, updated regularly, provide a view into the person’s professional credentials and experience, showcase recommendations that are pertinent and have well-designed headlines and summaries that make it easier for anyone who is looking for someone with a particular skill (recruiter, prospective customer, whomever…) to find what they are looking for.
I also come across profiles that barely qualify as blank pages. If you are going to use LinkedIn as a social channel, there are several things you need to do to improve that first impression. Here are 3 pointers that can help you get to a better profile from the beginning:
- Upload a good, professional picture – No squirrel pictures allowed. There are people who wish to present an edgier first impression for a number of reasons, but generally you don’t want a visitor to your profile to wonder what you look like. If the goal for your use of LinkedIn is to get a job or attract new customers, you want to look the part, only better. There are any number of good professional photographers who can deliver a great head shot, so splurge a little. As a side note, selfies tend to actually look like selfies, so avoid them. One example I saw was a selfie of someone who was averagely dressed, but I couldn’t help noticing the six pack of beer in the background….
- Use pertinent key phrases in your headline – “I Rock!” is not a headline, by the way. LinkedIn has reworked their Edit Your Profile page to give you suggestions, which can be quite helpful. If you’re unsure what to use, consider the role you are looking for (if you’re looking for a job) or concise phrases describing your experience that you may then expand upon in the summary. You have 120 characters available in the headline and 2,000 in the summary. Use them wisely and don’t be afraid to edit and re-edit to get it right.
- Get some well-written recommendations – “She was great to work with!” is a sentiment, not a recommendation. When you ask others to write you a recommendation, you can help them out by suggesting a couple of projects for which you really did the “heavy lifting”. A vague request for a recommendation often results in something relatively vague, which doesn’t really make the case for you. The more specific the recommender is about the value of your work, the easier it is for the visitor to your profile to make the judgment call on how valuable your contributions would be to their project and business. If your recommender sends you a recommendation that is too vague or isn’t really as helpful as it could be, you have the option of sending it back to them and asking (very kindly, of course…) if they might make a few edits. Don’t feel like you have to take the first draft. Once again, a visitor to your profile is looking at the recommendations for a reason, so they need to reflect your value as accurately as possible. Get them right and get them solid.
While there are many more actions you can take to ensure you have the best profile possible, these are a good start. Here are some other resources you can check out that will help:
If you come across others that you find particularly useful, please post them to the comments.