How do your clients learn about you before they hire you? How do they build the trust that is necessary for them to become a paying client? If the answer is from a couple of paragraphs on your website, that probably isn’t doing the job.

As you may know, the amount of time it takes for someone to make a decision to become your client is pretty long. Weeks, months, maybe longer. It is important for you to stay in front of those prospects during that time.

How do you do that? With content.

You must be creating content that they can take in regularly. These days, the more content you create, the more successful you will be.

The most common form of content is written articles. Articles can be posted on a blog, sent in an e-mail, linked to on social media, used for article marketing, shared on other sites, etc… There are other forms of content as well, including video and audio, which require additional skills and technology. So I’m going to focus on written content here.

Many small business owners have all kinds of excuses around why they can’t produce content regularly. “It takes too much time.” “I’m not a good writer.” “I don’t know what I would write about.”

But here's the deal: "Content writing is marketing and marketing is writing. If you want exposure, you cannot afford to limit your time, effort and budget on writing." That's a quote from Codrut Turcanu. And I agree with him! 

It’s time to get past the fear and the excuses. Here are four strategies to help you get started:

Set long-term goals
When you are just starting out creating content, it is slow. Putting out your first article is exciting, but then you have… one article. And one, or even a few articles isn’t enough to build a reputation.

Content is most effective when it has depth and consistency, and that takes time. People who focus on each individual article, often give up before they have established enough content to make a real impact.

So set a long term goal. Perhaps you want to publish 20 articles by next summer. Or 10 articles by the end of the year. Keep your eye on that long term goal, so that every time you sit down to write, you are getting one step closer.  Don’t judge your progress by any single article. If you keep at it, you will start to see results.

Write Your Ideas Down
There is nothing more frustrating than feeling like you have to write something, but you don’t have any idea what to write about. Many people wait to be inspired in order to write, but if you do that, you will most likely never do it.

To avoid this frustration, I recommend creating a “topic list.” Before you even write your first article, brainstorm ideas for topics that you could write about. Jot down a couple of sentences about each one. You don’t have to write the whole thing, just enough to capture the inspiration.

Keep your eye out for topics all the time. You will find them when you are talking to clients, when you are at events, or sometimes when you are lying in bed! Are there patterns in what people ask you? Or things that come up over and over? The more you are on the lookout, the more topics you will find.

Have a list of at least 10 topics before you sit down to write your first article. That way, you have some built-in momentum and you don’t have to stare at a blank screen ever again. When it’s time to write, pull out your list and tap into the inspiration you had when you came up with the ideas. (Then keep the list out. I find that once I start writing, I get the more ideas for other articles and add them to the list. I cross one off the list, but add three more!)

Practice
Just like everything else, creating content gets easier and better with time. Your skills will improve with practice. Your first article won’t be perfect, and for some people that is causes them to never start. But here’s the thing. This isn’t written in stone, it’s not a book that will be published (yet!). Online content does not have to be perfect.

Set aside time each week to write. I suggest at least 1-2 hours. Don’t worry about being perfect, just write about your topic for that week. Find your voice. Get into a rhythm. By the time you reach your long-term goal, you can look back and see how much progress you have made as a writer and content creator.

Get it in front of people
Lastly, get your content in front of people. A long term goal will help get past the initial inertia. But unless you feel like all your hard work is being seen and used by others, it will be difficult to maintain for the long run. It is important to build your list and send your content out to them, post your articles on directories (article marketing), link to them through social media, submit them for publication on other blogs or media sources.

A collection of good content can build you a great reputation, but only if people see it! So set your goals, create your topic list, and get started today.    
 
 
On Wednesday, December 11th I am hosting a free Teleseminar on How To Create An Awesome Free Opt-In Offer. 

Do you have specific questions about creating an Opt-In Offer that you would like me to address in the call? Have you been struggling to create an Opt-in? Or procrastinating? What is holding you back?

Please post your questions and struggles in the comments below and I will do my best to address them during our call.

If you aren't registered for the teleseminar yet, be sure to sign up here and join us on December 11th. 

Thanks so much and I'll talk to you soon!

-Sarah
 
 
Even though I believe strongly in the effectiveness and efficiency of e-mail marketing, I often hesitate before telling people what I do. I don't like using the term "e-mail marketing" because of the associations many people have with it.

In the grand scheme of things, e-mail marketing hasn't been around that long. But its short history of a few decades is tainted by SPAM from people we don't know and poor quality e-mails from people we do. Our Inboxes are overflowing with marketing e-mails, and many people hesitate to become part of that world.

But, e-mail marketing is changing again. Newsletters have been the standard for some time. But many businesses are intimidated by the commitment to creating content and sending things out regularly.

Now, technology allows us to approach it in a new way. Using automated marketing software, we can create "Digital Communications Campaigns." A campaign is a series of e-mails or other actions or forms of communication that is triggered by an event.

For example, the most common campaign that people can relate to is an Opt-In Campaign. It is triggered by someone entering their name and e-mail address into a form. When the campaign is triggered, that person will receive a series of e-mails that have been created in advance with targeted content and no effort by the business owner.

Digital Communications Campaigns can take other forms as well. A campaign can be set up to launch a product or program, to follow-up or up-sell customers who make a purchase, get more information from those who express interest, or request referrals from satisfied customers.

Campaigns can have different triggers as well, such as filling out a web form, clicking on a link, or making a purchase.

The possibilities are endless.

Setting up a campaign takes some effort up front, but it will continue to pay off in the long run rather than disappearing after a couple of days. By planning out a few campaigns each year, you can build a system that your business will benefit from for years to come.

Now I proudly tell people that I create Digital Communications Campaigns, 
 
 
You've heard you have to have a niche, and you found one. Even better, you've refined it so that your niche is laser-focused. You know exactly what person you want as your ideal client.

But if your ideal client saw your emails to them, would they know to whom you're writing?

Let me tell you a story about a mistake that I made at the beginning of my adventure of writing content for building email relationships.

When I first started up a website with a blog for people to subscribe to, I was writing to a niche of people "in transition." Not only was that about as broad as the Great Wall of China, even with that much material to work with, I was not even managing to write on topics that mattered to my niche.

Here's a sample of some of the article topics I wrote about while trying to attract “people in transition”: Really living life. Having motivation. Finding balance. Starting the life you want.

Not only are those topics super-boring in their current generic form, no one reading those blog articles in their email would know I wanted to help people in transition.

It's a very common problem: we pick a niche, but then we write something that has nothing to do with the person we want to serve. But there is help for that.

Creating content without direction, I've found, is a problem that arises not because we can't write helpful material, but because we've lost the human connection in our blog and email communication. It's really hard to write to a niche when it feels like you're sending out an article into cyberspace, without any idea of where it will land. Most of us started our own business because we were passionate about helping people with our services or products. But when you just sit down in front of a computer screen, you don't feel connected to those people you want to help.

That's why the most helpful thing you can do, then, is before you create each piece of content, remind yourself the person that will benefit from your material.

1. Give him/her a name and a face. If you have an ideal client, it's because you've worked with this person in one way or another in the past and found it satisfying. Think about one specific person you worked with who is most like the person you want to work with in the future.  Visualize chatting with them when you write your article or newsletter.

2. Picture what they are receiving as they read your work. Are they scanning your email at the end of a long workday, or saving it to read over lunch break on their phone? Is your letter designed to give them relief, hope, a kick in the pants? How is your communication making their lives better, in that exact moment?

3. Remind yourself of why they are turning to you instead of other options. What is it you give them that is unique among others who do what you do? Why do they need that from you? It is so energizing to think about solving the problem of an actual person in need, especially when you are doing it in a way that is uniquely yours.

Have you ever struggled with writing to your niche? Tell us how YOU overcame this challenge! 
Stephanie Adams, MA, is a Licensed Professional Counselor who spent two years doing things wrong in private practice before she figured out that you can't share your gift with the world if you don't know how to run a business. Now she teaches counselors and other people-centered professionals how to turn doing what they love into a client-attracting, soul-fulfilling, sustainable business. Get your free subscription to 30 Days To A More Profitable Private Practice at mbainprivatepractice.com.