It’s December, which means we’re all planning for 2017 in our businesses.
According to the latest research from the Content Marketing Institute, only 37% of B2B marketers and 40% of B2C marketers have a written content marketing plan.
This is baffling to me.
I know content marketing can feel overwhelming, especially as a small business owner or a solopreneur trying to grow your business, which is why it’s crucial to have a written plan you can follow throughout the year.
The first question I ask my clients when doing planning for the following year isn’t about their marketing strategy. The first question is “what are your business goals for 2017?” Once you have your business plan and your benchmarks set for the year, then you can create a content marketing strategy that will ladder up to those business goals.
Confession: I’m really good at executing this for my clients, but I let my own marketing fall through the cracks. I know this is a challenge a lot of solopreneurs and freelancers have. Which is why my business strategy for 2017 is to treat myself like a client.
For small business owners, one of the biggest challenges is not being sure where to begin with documenting a content strategy. How do you create an editorial calendar? What should be included on there? How do you measure success? Which dates should you be focusing on?
I’ve got the answer to the first two questions for you. While I’ll be releasing a full content marketing guide for solopreneurs and small businesses in the beginning of 2017, I’ve got a special treat for you today.
I’ve created a customizable content marketing plan template for you to get a head start on getting your content plan down in writing. It’s the same exact template I’ll be using for my own plan, and it’s the same one I’ve customized for my clients in the past.
And I’m giving it to my newsletter subscribers – for free. You’ll also be the first one to get a copy of the guide when it’s completed!
Want to be the first one to get a copy of the full content marketing guide when it’s ready? Sign up for my newsletter!
What’s your biggest struggle with content marketing?
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“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
Am I the only one who gets inspiration fatigue? Every morning, I see a new blog or article pop-up in my feed about success.
- 4.32 Things Every Successful Person Does Before Coffee
- The Road to Success is Paved with Unicorns
- Want to be successful? Well, you can’t.
OK, maybe that last one wasn’t so inspirational, but the thing is, that’s how I feel at times. It’s great to be inspired and motivated. I’ve met wonderful people who are successful in their own ways. Sometimes, it’s the obvious success and other times, their success is so unique, they just live it instead of talking about it.
But you know what we don’t hear about often?
The failures. (more…)
If you missed my Confession: I’m a Failure post, you can read it here.
If you’re going into freelancing full-time, have a plan. I know it seems like the sexy alternative to the drone of the 9-5 office life. Escaping from your cubicle, working remotely, getting to do what you love every day – it’s the dream. On the other hand, it can also seem like the best option when you’ve got a box in your hand in the back of a cab on a hot summer day. However, the nuances of freelancing are exhausting. The depression that comes with the fear and uncertainty is crippling.
If you’re not intentional with your decision to go into freelancing, it will knock you down and make you crawl up a jagged wall.
I had no plan. I had no savings. I had no safety net. I was just stubborn.
Define what success means for you. What’s your end game? What does success look like for you? Are you freelancing just to make some extra money on the side of your full-time job? Do you want to start your own business? Do you want to make a million dollars? Will you give up freelancing if the perfect full-time job fell in your lap?
If you don’t know what success looks like, it’s easy to be indecisive. If you have at least an idea of success and your path to it, you can be more selective and intentional with the opportunities you pursue. I didn’t know what success looked like for me, so I took on way too many projects, stretched myself way too thin, and ultimately sacrificed the golden opportunities for the dead-end ones.
Do a reality a check about your life. Freelancing impacts every single aspect of your life. How are your relationships? Are you in debt? What’s your working style? How do you handle adversity? What are your goals? What’s your back-up plan? Do you have a good support system?
This was the biggest contribution to my failure. I was in a new relationship I was ultimately unhappy in, I had family issues I was dealing with, on top of debt, and the ridiculous pressure I put on myself to finish school. All of this was on top of diving into freelancing full time without a plan.
Stop the comparison game. This is the worst thing you can do. Especially in the age of social media, when there are constant blog posts about the success of others. How to quit your job and travel the world. How Y made her first million before the age of 19. There are things to aspire to, sure, but that’s where defining YOUR success comes into play. If you start comparing your progress with others, you will stumble and fail. Your individual circumstances differ from others. Your success will never be identical.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to success.
Never hesitate to ask for help. It feels like a dog-eat-dog world out there, and sometimes it is. The one thing I’ve learned since the beginning of this journey is that there are people who WANT to help you succeed – but you have to ask for it. Turn down the stubbornness, turn up the vulnerability, and be honest. You cannot do it all. Despite the endless amount of information available on the web, nothing beats a 1:1 conversation over coffee with someone who has been there. Remember that everyone is busy, so when you reach out, be clear and concise.
Respect their time, their expertise, and you might be surprised at where it leads.
Know your worth. Even though I was a communications professional with experience, I still thought freelancing meant I had to start from scratch. I cannot tell you the number of articles I wrote at a penny per word. I still get stressed out when I think about the clients who called me at 10 PM to yell at me about something that wasn’t my fault, and out of my scope of work – but I let them because I thought that’s how things worked. Do a gut check. Think about your experience and the value you bring to the table.
Don’t let others dictate your worth. Define it, and stick to it – no matter how scary it may feel.
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So you’ve read my long blog post about my career path, and how I failed as a freelancer. You may be wondering why you should bother coming back to this blog, or subscribe to my email list.
“One can only read so many posts about your story, Berrak”, you might tell me.
And you would be correct.
That was my way of relaunching this blog. The site has been in the works forever and as all things go, life got in the way and I got in my own head. (more…)
That’s a line from an email I sent to a client (who was also a good friend) in the fall of 2011. I had been doing this freelance thing for about a year at that point, still stumbling – still unsure of how to really succeed. Nearly 5 years later, I’ve accepted the fact that I was an absolute failure as a freelancer.
Coming to terms with that has been pivotal in my career. Sharing the revelation with the world was a difficult decision, but one thing has been consistent in my personal and professional life: complete transparency. You could say it’s been a cornerstone of my personal brand, which is also bleeding into my professional brand.
Before diving into why I am a failure, I should go back to the beginning of this crazy journey.
Warning: This is probably the longest post I’ve ever written, but I promise it’s worth it. So buckle up. (more…)
One of the things I love are road trips, to the point people have asked me if I’m afraid of flying because I’ll take driving over flying any day. I tell them that there’s a whole side to our country that we don’t get to experience when we’re just seeing the bird’s eye view. Last fall, I went on a solo journey that took me from my home in Seattle, WA to New York, NY and back to Seattle – with a few stops in between. The entire journey took me exactly a month, and although I planned every detail, I learned a few great lessons along the way that I apply to my professional journey as well.
- Don’t forget the fundamentals. I planned out my route before hitting the road with the GPS on my phone, but I had also written down the key stops on my journey in a notebook – which paid off when my phone decided to die in Montana, leaving me without technology until I reached Chicago. Technology, SEO and websites will constantly evolve but at the root of it, the key to small business success is understanding the principles of great customer service.
- Have a great support system. Although I was driving solo, my trip would not have been possible without a great support system. From friends offering me a place to stay to sending me a back-up phone, I felt the encouragement every step of the way. Running a business is time-consuming, challenging and although the responsibility is on your shoulders, a great support system is crucial.
- Be flexible. There are literal and figurative roadblocks when driving cross-country, which require flexibility and patience. While you will need to have a solid business plan, the key to running a business is having enough flexibility to adjust the any complications – or even successes from unexpected places.
Lessons about running a business can come from unconventional places and experiences. What are some lessons you’ve learned in your personal life that you’ve applied to your business journey?