Before launching, almost every new business owner has tons of ideas to market themselves—including ideas for what to post online, whether the content be images, blog articles, clever tweets, or #hashtags.
Then the day comes to start posting, and what happens? The brain goes completely static. All those brilliant ideas are nowhere to be found.
So what does Almost Every New Business Owner do? Start looking at what other people are posting, of course! And doing a lot of research.
From there it’s a treacherous road of trial and error; spurts of consistent posting followed by long stretches of virtually no posting at all (but tons of guilt); and lots of ambition that’s only countered by even more ambitious hair-pulling. It can feel like online presence is luck of the draw, unless you’re willing to dedicate 60 hours a week to it, which of course, you’re not.
For me, it’s been a long road. After lots of flailing and failing, I finally got serious and narrowed down the scope of what I wanted to put out there, what would impact my audience, and what was feasible. Here are a few of my strategic moves, and why they were right for me.
1 - I limited my platforms.
As my business coach often says, “I’d rather be a rockstar at a few things than mediocre at everything.” Social media would take up all my time if I concerned myself with blogging, tweeting, pinning, Instagramming, Facebook posting, SnapChatting, and every other form of social interacting available. It would burn me out, and make me hate the internet. And I love the internet!
I stick to the two platforms that suit my business best: my blog, and Instagram. Blogging is writing, and writing is my Zone of Genius—it’s where I get the most joy and make my highest contribution, so I do that. And because it’s easy to share links to every new blogpost on Facebook, I hop over there and do that; but I know Facebook’s algorithm for businesses is brutal, so I don’t do a whole lot on Facebook beyond posting a few links.
Instagram is where my ideal client hangs out, so to supplement my blogging, I also figured out when most of my tribe is scrolling through their feed on Instagram (between 8 and 9 a.m., EST), and as many as 5 days a week, I’m over there, posting inspirational images, and captions, as well.
What works for your business might be different. But if you’re hoping for my two cents, I highly recommend keeping it manageable and sticking to 1-3 platforms where it brings you both joy and engagement to be active.
2 - I decided to stay positive.
When I was in high school, a lot of my friends said I should pursue a career in comedy. I was a storyteller and I loved to say shocking things—that was my personal brand. I easily could have gone that way when I built my business and started writing content to publish online.
Two things inhibited me from making that move: First, I had grown up a bit, and was tuned in to what my ideal clients (who are a lot like me) responded to online. They weren’t interested in crass, or frankly in anyone who used individuals or people groups for a punchline. My ideal clients responded warmly to positivity, encouragement, and hope. So I figured I’d be wise to go that route instead.
Second, I had an experience myself when one of my role models online publicly shamed first one individual on Instagram, and then basically half her client list in a blog post. It left a sour flavor in my mouth after that every time I saw one of her posts online. I decided I didn’t want to alienate anyone the way this role model alienated me. So as I started building content for my platforms, I asked myself, “Will this make anyone feel stupid?” and I made any necessary changes accordingly.
3 - I set up a schedule.
This is something I heard over and over from the experts was vital to the online entrepreneur’s ultimate success—planning posts in advance, and knowing exactly when and where they’d go up. When I first started publishing content online, planning that far in advance just didn’t seem feasible. Ideas came when they came, and I figured I just needed to write when the inspiration struck, without procrastinating. But this was not sustainable.
One of the biggest indicators of long-term success for online entrepreneurs is consistency. And in order to post consistently on my blog and on Instagram, I needed to have a plan. Both platforms require both images and text, and often, in my old way of approaching things, I would have one, but not the other, and very often I had neither.
My current system is to publish blog posts twice a week—Monday posts on business, and Thursday posts on lifestyle. I publish on Instagram Tuesday through Saturday at the same time every day, deviating only when I want to do extra ‘gramming. What I do post often preps my tribe for a product launch or upcoming challenge, so that I’m always generating or maintaining excitement.
My schedule is just the one that fits my personal workflow and tends to coincide with what I perceive as optimal for my audience. Your audience may be more active on Sundays, or may only want to hear from you on your blog once a month. But I recommend choosing a feasible pattern, planning ahead for it, and sticking to it.
4 - I opted to share my personal life on my business profiles and accounts.
I had a lightbulb moment one day as I was working on blogpost-editing for my social subscription client, Holly. Both of us sell products and services to people who have similar values and concerns to our own. But what people are really interested in when they buy what we sell is the lifestyle we’re helping them to believe is possible.
This changed the way I thought about the content I shared online. While I totally, 100% believe in the services I provide and the products I offer, there are plenty of other people out there offering similar products and services. But the lifestyle I left my day job to build when I started offering them is wildly different—and I want to work with people who have similar dreams to mine.
So I started sharing my “Enjoying Life” moments, because that’s what I left my day job to do: Enjoy life more. Lots of times the things I do to enjoy life are highly personal—they include the exact locations of places I visit, or photos of my friends and family. So while my business is financially built on a foundation of online presence materials, I post a variety of business and personal adventures in order to relate better to my ideal client.
5 - I focus on inspiration and motivation more than education.
This change came from another lightbulb moment. I was watching an interview with J.P. Sears, where he said the key to his success—the reason people share his comedy videos without even thinking about it—is that he focuses on connecting with his audience through entertainment, and showing them something about themselves that they didn’t realize before… but he never tells them outright the thing they didn’t know before, and he never tells them they should change.
I’m currently consulting and coordinating with a craft tools company on their online presence. In my first pitch meeting for the best way I saw to improve their content, one of the head-honchos kept insisting that what we needed to do was Defend the Product—keep preaching how great it is. Because it really is a great product, maybe in many ways the best in the market.
But no one who uses craft tools is especially interested in the engineering process, or the chemical breakdown of the materials that go into the final tool, or anything else like that. They just want to know that it’s easy to use, and will help them get where they want to go. So if we’re going to educate them in anything, I said, it’s going to be in all the ways they can use it to make the lives they want, easier.
It's a common temptation when we believe passionately in our product or service to explain constantly all the reasons it is amazing. But since consumers usually spend their money to feel better or to solve problems, it is generally a more effective marketing strategy to help the right buyer picture how they will feel better or be relieved of some problem when they do business with you. I'm still learning how to do this!
What about you? Do you use a strategy to determine what and when you post for your business? What has worked, and what hasn't? I'd love to hear below or over on Instagram, @alexisthegreek! Leave your comment there, and I can't wait to talk.
What do you think? Leave a comment over on Instagram @alexisthegreek! As always, if this information was helpful, share it with a fellow business person and stop by my tip jar to let me know you appreciated it. And if there's a topic you'd like me to cover in a future blog post, let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.