Carving out your little *profitable* corner of the interwebs means you need to make real audience connections. Just like when you have a physical store – you need to say hello to people when they walk in the door. But how do you say hello to people when they walk into your ….. website?
If you’re like me, starting an online business can be very exciting. Thinking about who you’re going to serve, how you can affect real change in their lives and how you can build a business to fully aligns with your values is … well, that’s the dream, right?
But, what happens when you’ve got the big picture vision dialed in, the website launched, and it’s time to “put yourself out there” to find your first clients and customers?
Do you get stuck?
But, then I started learning about content marketing. I started learning about the importance of being authentic and building relationships. I’m always going to advocate organic growth for your business.
What does that mean?
It means, growing a solid platform of people who trust you. And, using methods that create steady, deliberate, REAL growth. Not the vanity metrics or one-time buyers.
So, how do you do ALL of that?
The answer is … content marketing.
Content marketing is paramount in helping you find your first clients and customers.
What Is Content Marketing?
My favorite definition of content marketing is from Neil Patel, “Content marketing is a long-term strategy that focuses on building a strong relationship with your target audience by giving them high-quality content that is very relevant to them on a consistent basis”
In my opinion, the keywords to pay attention to in this definition are RELATIONSHIPS and CONSISTENT.
Whether you have a life coaching business, an Etsy shop or you’re a home decor consultant for people who love birds – showing up consistently and focusing on building relationships will always be the best way to find your first clients and customers.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you should NEVER run an ad to get your products and services in front of more people.
I’m saying that your first priority should always be consistently providing quality content to your audience.
At the end of the day, you’re trying to sell services and products to people who have (likely) never met you in real life.
Content marketing is a way for you to show them that you are the real deal, that you can be trusted, and that you will always provide them serious value whether they purchase from you or not.
This is a powerful strategy that will help you to find your first clients and customers.
How Many Types Of Content Marketing Formats Are There?
My favorite types of content formats are blog posts, content upgrades, videos, and social media posts. Some people might even throw podcasts in there. And, I would agree with that. I just have zero interest in starting a podcast hahaha!
Blog posts give you an opportunity to tell a story to your audience. And, people don’t buy products … they buy stories.
With a blog post, you’re able to share your personality and even bits of your life with your audience. Plus, you can share a blog post to pretty much errrywhere on the internet.
You could share a blog post on Craigslist if you wanted to. And, if you have an online store that resells vintage housewares you find at thrift stores, you might want to try posting on Craigslist!
Content upgrades give your audience the tool(s) they need to really take action on your content.
For instance, if you’re a virtual assistant who specializes in Pinterest, you could write a blog post about why adding one new board per week helps grow a Pinterest account.
Then, you could include a content upgrade that gives step-by-step instructions for how to add a new board, where to add SEO, and how to add new pins to it.
Just like that, your audience is able to take the strategy that you taught them in the content and actually apply it using the content upgrade.
Plus, content upgrades are an amazing way to grow your email list. So, that doesn’t suck.
Content upgrades are a powerful business growth strategy but, especially when you’re trying to find your first clients and customers.
You know how when you read a book your enjoyment of that book depends on how well the author writes? Like, how rich the descriptions are of each character and how thoroughly the author explains the setting and the storyline?
But, when you watch the movie, all of that is done for you! The characters are real, the setting is colorful and rich, and the storyline is fleshed out with body language, a tone of voice, and chemistry.
It’s the same thing for your content.
Written content is awesome and, obviously, very powerful when it comes to a solid SEO strategy.
But, there’s just that tiny layer that is always missing from written content.
And, that layer can easily be filled by simply adding video content to your strategy. When you’re trying to find your first clients and customers, it’s important to make that first impression.
In my opinion, every online business owner should always be focused on connecting with people, building trust, and sharing wildly useful content that is optimized to grow an email list.
The intent should always be to drive people to your website so that they can be helped by more of your content and are given the chance to join your email list for ongoing support.
Platforms like Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram provide you the opportunity to do all of this!
In fact, on all of these platforms, you can actually share both written and recorded content. So, it’s a no-brainer that at least one social media platform should be part of your content marketing strategy.
Here’s the thing, that’s only four types of content! (Five if you include podcast episodes)
You can have that kind of reach and get in front of that many people with just four to five types of content. When you’re trying to find your first clients and customers, getting in front of as many people as possible is crucial.
And, if none of those strike your fancy, check out this list from HubSpot
Which Types Of Content Should You Create To Attract People To You?
Here’s the thing, almost every single type of content that is on this list can be embedded, shared, and/or published on a blog.
There’s no question that a blog should be the foundation of your content strategy. In fact, according to HubSpot, blogging is the most critical content marketing tactic.
Ok, got it. Need a blog. Check.
Glad you asked.
Now you need to leverage your blog content so that it gets you your first clients and customers.
Here are the steps to take …
Decide Who Your Audience Is
Before you start writing a bunch of blog posts, it’s important to be very clear about how you’re writing them for.
This is referred to as a target audience, ideal client, avatar, and so many other names.
But, it’s all the same thing.
Essentially, you want to identify a specific person that you can help and always keep them in mind when you’re creating content.
Let’s say you are a piano instructor and you have identified your target audience as 30 to 50 year-old moms who want to learn the piano as an enrichment activity.
Your main topics of content are going to be things like reading sheet music, learning home row (is that a thing? I don’t even know), and practicing rhythm and pitch.
These are all topics that beginner piano students would be interested in. But, just because they are moms, doesn’t mean that you’re going to create content about crockpot recipes or kid-friendly YouTube channels.
Your content should appeal to the emotionality of your audience and either support, educate or inspire them.
Your ideal audience is made up of women who have children and are looking to do something for themselves. They want to enrich their lives and expand their personal growth. They have chosen the piano as a way to do all of that.
Your content should be focused on converting someone who has never touched a piano into a beginning piano player.
They need content and lessons that are going to celebrate their choice to take this step, gives them the confidence to keep trying and provides quick wins so they see progress.
Being clear and focused about who you are creating content for, helps to keep your message strong and builds your authority among your target audience.
Create Content That Helps Your Audience (this is where the real audience connections form)
You’re going to hear from a lot of people (including myself) that you need to layer video content into your strategy. It’s true. Video is where it’s at these days.
You can create an incredible connection with your audience through video. It gives them a chance to see and hear you, which expands their experience of your brand.
But, written content i.e., blog posts, is still an extremely powerful medium for sharing your message and building relationships.
The SEO impact that a well-written, fully-optimized blog post has for years to come.
You can’t go wrong with using blog posts as the foundation of your content marketing strategy.
The key is really to identify a publishing schedule that you can stick to on a consistent basis. If you decide that you’re going to do one blog post each week and two videos each month – make sure that you stick to that.
Don’t commit to a publishing schedule that you can’t stick to. Again, the theme here is CONSISTENT = RELATIONSHIPS.
You want to make sure that you show up consistently for your ideal audience so they learn they can count on you and that relationship is nurtured.
Optimize Your Content
My general process is to build out my content calendar quarterly. I take a 13-week chunk and create topics & titles for each week.
But, first I identify my main business drivers for that quarter. These are the ways that I’m going to make money that quarter.
And, my number one business driver for every quarter (and I think everyone’s should be) is ALWAYS email list building.
I have been using this strategy from the start of my business. And, I know it will help you to find your first clients and customers.
Now, regardless of which medium I use for my content (written, recorded, or social), I make sure that I am always focused on providing my target audience with content that they are going to find highly valuable.
I’m never going to create content that is watered down with the sole intention of making money.
That is completely heartless to me and I never want to build a business that doesn’t fully align with my values of freedom, authenticity and strength.
But, I am going to optimize that content with my business drivers in mind to ensure that my business stays profitable.
How do I do that?
Content upgrades are a great way to optimize already valuable content to build your email list while providing your audience with next-level support. They’re also a great way to make a first impression.
And, when you’re trying to find your first clients and customers, a positive first impression is crucial.
A content upgrade is something like a downloadable checklist, workbook, cheat sheet, etc.
Essentially, the reader provides you with their email address and you deliver them the content upgrade.
The key to making this extremely powerful is that the content upgrade MUST be hyper-relevant to the content of the blog post.
In other words, the content upgrade should literally be a tool that enables the reader to apply the concepts discussed in the blog post.
I make sure that every one of my blog posts has a content upgrade that not only gives my reader that next-level support but, also helps me reach my business driver goal of email list building.
It’s a win-win.
According to my most favorite email service provider, Convertkit – some of the best converting content upgrades are:
Landing pages are another powerful strategy that I use to optimize my content.
A landing page is a single page on your website that is designed only for you to provide next-level support to your readers in exchange for their email address.
Landing pages might sound intimidating but, if you’re using an email service provider like ConvertKit – they have landing pages built right into your account.
The reason that landing pages are so great for delivering your content upgrade is because of the data you can capture.
You can actually add your Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics to each landing page and get an idea of how well each of your content upgrades is converting.
That data is essential to the growth of your business. Especially with a business driver like email list building. When you are trying to find your first clients and customers – you need landing pages that are spot-on.
If you’ve got a landing page that is performing poorly, then you might want to try and change the content upgrade to something that appeals to your audience a little more.
The idea is to provide people with a tool or resource that they can use to apply the information or strategy that you’ve taught them.
If they’re not downloading the tool then, they’re not going to get results and that, my friend is a HUGE missed opportunity.
Any content that you create should always be written with SEO in mind. Blog posts and YouTube videos are such a powerful medium for you to find your first clients.
Blog posts written with SEO in mind show up in Google search results for years. Make sure to monetize those blog posts using business drivers. And, those Google search results could literally make you money for years to come.
YouTube is a search engine the same way that Google is. YouTube videos optimized and showing up in YouTube search results is a double power play.
And, don’t forget Pinterest. It’s also a search engine like Google. Having search results show up on Google, YouTube, and Pinterest (the TOP THREE search engines on the entire internet) can have a huge impact on how quickly you are able to find your first clients and customers.
Share it on Social
So, now you’ve got this amazing landing strip for your readers. There are blog posts (and, hopefully, some videos) published on your website. Each post has been optimized to support your business driver goals (which should include email list building).
Now, you just need to invite people to your party!
This is where social media comes in really handy. In fact, it’s my opinion, that the only way that social media really should be used is to drive people to your website and get them opted into your email list.
Your email list is really where all of your first clients and customers are going to come from.
Now, obviously in order to get people to click out of their precious feed, you’ve got to charm them.
And, that is where building a specific brand for each social media platform is important.
But, no matter what content you share on social – be it video, blog post, memes, quotes, questions, quizzes, etc
YOU MUST BE AUTHENTIC.
You’re never going to charm people into leaving their feed to check out your website. Much less opt into your email list if you’re a liar or trying to pretend to be something you’re not.
This is where knowing your target audience will fuel your business machine. When you care about your audience you can’t help but share your message authentically and consistently.
And, that will ensure that when you do find your first clients and customers, they are ideal for your business.
If you’re not sure how a blog can help you grow a business or if you just want to feel inspired – click here and read this huge list of success stories.
These are women who know how hard it is to find your first clients and customers. But, used blogging to it and are now making a full-time income as online business owners.