The solopreneur’s guide to content marketing

If there’s anyone who despises the word “content marketing” more than I do, let me know. Because I don’t think anyone else on this planet has reasons to hate one of the most popular forms of marketing.

Here’s one of the reasons — despite being a “certified” content marketing professional, I couldn’t build a business case strong enough for my employer to explore (not pivot) providing content marketing services to our existing and potential clients. I tried for like five years before giving up. As a company, we weren’t ready to move away from our core vision — staffing, recruiting, and marketing services. Respect.

I didn’t quit my job to form my content marketing agency (as ordinary people with a passion, vision, and desire would do) because I have polymathic tendencies and a stronger passion for leading and developing organisations and people. Being an obsessed “content marketer” was a phase that I went through.

After giving up at my workplace, I decided to apply content marketing principles for Polymathea, my coaching and consulting practice and bombed big time. I was trying everything I had learned, which became a whole lot overwhelming quickly.

I reached out to other fellow marketers, solopreneurs, freelancers, and small businesses to learn how they were marketing their services. And it appeared everyone was busy playing their own “content game.” Trying to do it all and observing what sticks and what doesn’t. The agenda being — eliminate the ones that aren’t working and keep doing the things that are. The focus, however, was on the wrong metrics, which didn’t make any sense to me ROI-wise.

Content marketing is exciting but can get overwhelming at the same time. Particularly for solopreneurs. And if you are one, here are a few things you must focus on right now:

  1. Creating content is a long game. You have to think in terms of years instead of days, weeks, or months. What you create today has the potential to be found 5,7,10, or even 20 years from now and make an impact.
  2. Content isn’t a commodity. It’s your body of work. A lot of sweat equity goes into creating content that resonates with the ideal audience. While it may eventually become easy, it takes years of work to get to that level.
  3. Focus on the one or two content creation strategies — it could be a blog (yes, they’re still as valuable, if you want to commit to maintaining one), podcast, YouTube, ebooks, or a combination thereof. Remember, pick one or two because you’re not a machine, nor do you have a team to create all that content to feed a full-fledged content machine.
  4. Start with the most accessible medium for you. Not what’s the most popular. Focusing on one’s strengths is a no-brainer, yet very few do it. There’s fear of missing out, of course, but what’s the worst that could happen? You might not be hot and happening on Twitter (where you didn’t stand a chance anyway) but are pretty active and resonating with your audience on LinkedIn.
  5. If you can write, start a blog and supplement that with writing natively on one of your preferred social platforms (the one where your audience resides, not everywhere).
  6. If it’s video, start a YouTube channel, do vlogs every other day at a minimum. You can always strip out the audio and put it in podcast form.
  7. If it’s a podcast, ensure that you’re recording the interviews or your solo presentations. The videos should go in natively into YouTube, Facebook, Linkedin, or anywhere else you should be.
  8. Start with one of the mediums before expanding into others. You don’t have to start a blog, podcast, YouTube channel while actively posting on all social media channels 174 times a day.
  9. Remember, there are only 24 hours in a day. If all you do is content marketing, you don’t have any time to do what you do. So, if all I do is content marketing when the hell am I going to coach and consult with my clients?
  10. There’s a reason why every career expert suggest that people should start working on their brand and marketing when they have a job. That gives everyone just about enough time to build their social presence and authority over time.
  11. It takes anywhere between 2 and 5 years of consistent content marketing (blogging, podcasting, YouTubing or a combination thereof) before it starts to work its magic. Keep that in mind if you’re bootstrapping your business.
  12. What the hell are you going to do for five years then? Well, focus your time and attention on growing your business the traditional way — knocking the (digital) doors, speaking to people, collaborating with them (even for content marketing purposes), leveraging your network, and getting in front of your audience in person or online more often.
  13. Things will be slow for the first few years, and that’s okay. All businesses go through the same phase. You know that content marketing is a strategy and should be used as a tool. Likewise, social media is an outlet and should be used as one. Going big on social media and content marketing is a small part of the actual work that you will be doing. Don’t ever forget that.
  14. Remember to keep things simple. Always. The more you try to do, the faster you will burn out. That’s the story of every other entrepreneur you will meet.
  15. If you aren’t sure what content to create — follow Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice of documenting vs creating. I’ve also written about it in this blog.

Being a solopreneur is a mindset. And if you are one, there are many other things you need to deal with besides content marketing. I know I had to and still am. Thankfully, I have a coach (Yes, all good coaches have a coach, too!) to bank on. What about you? Get one; it’s worth the investment*.

Note: I, unfortunately, do not work with solopreneurs, but some of my colleagues do. If you’re having a hard time finding a coach, please do reach out; I will be happy to put you in touch with one of my connections.

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