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How to be a content king/ queen on a budget

Content in king. Surely, we have all heard this one. But when you look at posting content to social media daily (and you are a freak like me who doesn’t take holidays), you are looking at 261 posts and pieces of content. That’s overwhelming.

On top of that, you either love social media or you hate it. The possibility of hating it, turns a platform like social media into a communication divide. Rather than using it what it was meant for – communication – the divide becomes larger, and one finds it increasingly difficult to communicate with possible leads.

If we are unable to communicate, and post relevant and valuable content, how do we get the engagement on posts necessary to build a marketing platform and a platform to generate leads from?

The point is that you need to be active and you need to produce content. Doesn’t a world, where you collect leads from your website and social media, easily, sound enticing? This would be a world with fewer networking events, where you don’t have to be salesy, or a world where you don’t solely rely on word-of-mouth referrals to survive (and thrive).

Most of us don’t know how to pull content from the air. It’s not oxygen, after all. But it might be the oxygen to futureproof your business in an increasingly digital world.

Here is what businesses tend to do with their digital presence:

There are 3 pigs. They build houses. A wolf comes by and destroys 2 pigs houses, but leaves 1 pigs house untouched. And that’s your digital presence.

The moral of the story is completely missing. The plot isn’t clear. The motive behind these characters actions are unclear.

When you delve deeper and know the fable, the message is clear. One pig builds a house of straw. One pig builds a house of sticks. One pig builds a house of bricks. The brick house a strong foundation. When the wolf comes by, huffing and puffing, he blows down the straw and stick house. With frustration, he blows and blows at the brick house, but because it has a strong foundation, he cannot get to the pig.

Instead of just adding a profile and cover image, adding your logo and services and posting occasional content that you find interesting, you might be missing the plot. And you are likely not communicating a moral of a story OR a brand message.

The solution is to look at your business foundation. That’s the answer to your content nightmare. You can flesh out your content with your business foundation. What is a business foundation you might ask? Your business foundation is your business vision and mission, your brand message, your personal reflections (you are the person behind your brand), daily business behaviours and business reflections and industry specific advice.

The key is to flesh out a story that is authentic to you as a storyteller. Your personal brand is a story waiting to be told. It’s about building that personal brand for your business, and relating to your audience authentically.

This might give you an indication of how to start with themes for your content, but that 261 number still sounds daunting. Throughout the years of working with small businesses and individuals I came up with 3 approaches to content creation: creativity, quality and consistency.

 

Let’s start with creativity:

Breaking down the 261 days to weeks is easier. When you look at a year as 56 weeks and 56 themes, the number becomes more easily digestible. As the industry expert in your field, you would be able to have 56 industry specific themes or subthemes within the 56-number available. You are the expert after all. And taking it further, you would be able to do 5 posts per week on 1 theme. And voila! You are filling your content schedule with content that is authentic to you.

When considering themes think about:

  • Days of observance and international days
  • Themes that fit your business concept
  • Personal reflections – you are your business and that will humanise you to your audience
  • Business beliefs
  • Industry specific advice

It’s all about thinking creatively about your business, and delving into your own mind. It’s not about grabbing inspiration from thin air, but acknowledging that as industry expert, you have knowledge to share.

Secondly, let’s talk about quality.

The problem with low quality content is that it might not attract a high-quality client. You ideally want to attract clients that value you.

Quality starts with identifying your target audience and identifying what type of content they enjoy. That way you have a measuring stick to measure your content against.

Another way to introduce quality, is to have brand identifiers or a brand guide to ensure that your visuals all fit the brand’s look and feel.

Quality is all about looking amazing and professional.

And thirdly, consistency.

To see engagement and beat the algorithm nightmare (whether it is Facebook or Google or whatever), you need to post regularly. It adds to your brand awareness. You have the opportunity to engage with customers and thus gain leads. That’s benefit enough to put the hard work in and post regularly.

Potential clients need to see that you are active. It shows them that you exist, that you are professional, and that you care. A brand that is active, must care right?

Consistency will also show up in the brand look and feel as well. Your content needs to have a cohesive style.

Blogging – the content where you can offer large chunks of your thoughts, as blog readers like to read. Let your readers get to know you.

A client asked me the other day: “How do you find the time to create the content for your blogs?”

My answer is simple. Just as creativity is hard work, blogging is also hard work. I dedicate time to blogging.

I roughly post one blog per week. And I follow my own advice: the 56 themes approach is also the 56 blogs approach 😉

If you take that to monthly numbers, that’s 4-5 blogs per months. You can write those blogs at the start of each month. For a measuring guide, I take about 30 minutes per blog. I don’t write long essays, but try and keep to 500-800 words per blog (this one is slightly more detailed). That’s 2 to 2 and a half hours at the start of my month.

However, that’s not how I prefer to do it. I prefer to approach my content on a weekly basis. Friday afternoons are often dead times for me. Thus, I prefer to make it a productive fun time; from 14h00 until 17h00, I create my posts for the upcoming week. These posts include my graphics, collections of photographs, scheduling my posts with scheduling software, and the writing of my blog. I like to keep my weekly themes fresh. This is another helpful solution to forcing the writing of your blogs.

But then, you might say, not all people are authors. I agree. But blogging is not about amazing storytelling. Sit down and start to write. Again, you are the industry expert in your field. Writing your thoughts on topics that you understand should come easily. Just sit down, and write. Let it flow out, even if it is completely unfiltered. When you revise it, you can even things out.

The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

When you are ready, you can start on structure. Two simple techniques: beginning, body and summary; OR, write it in story structure with a plot, a climax and a payoff, the payoff being the solution.

And voila! That’s how you write blogs.

Video/ vlogging – the ultimate 3 second attention grab for content

We live in a time where digital media is overwhelming us. Heck, all media is overwhelming at this stage. We have mountains of content to choose from.

With shortened attention spans, reading might not be everyone’s choice. And photos and graphics are glimpsed, but need to be quite impactful for someone to stop, hover and take in. Videos are the answer.

Videos offer face-to-face without the horrid social interaction 😉 Additionally videos offer the personalisation that a graphic or image can’t offer. Videos can be informative, juicy, personal – it’s a space where your personality can really shine. It’s also a space where authenticity can shine. You become more approachable and trusted and possibly likeable (or unlikeable) through video.

But video content can be expensive.

Yet, most of us have access to HD cameras on our phones. Why aren’t we using these?

Not all of us are born with a talent for creativity and artistry. But understanding a few basics, can greatly assist your business.

Live videos on Facebook and Instagram do not have to be of prime quality. These types of videos are used for behind the scenes content, and self-reflections. They are short. There is no need for quality.

However, when stepping into a space where content quality matters, like YouTube or course content, footage does need to be of quality. The question is, how to get quality with your HD camera on your phone?

There are a few basic principles to consider when taking footage. Photography and video are all about lighting and angles. How light falls is a storytelling technique. But for the purposes of this article, the most basic lighting setup will be required.

To have a clear image with good colour, the right amount of light is to fall onto the subject. If the subject is you, the most common and most flattering angle of light is from slightly above your head pointed at an angle towards you. The light should always fall onto you.

Lighting to avoid:

  • Harsh sunlight
  • Lighting from behind the subject (this silhouettes the subject, and thus there is no detail or crystal quality)
  • Lighting from directly above a person’s head – ever wonder why this lighting is predominant in horror films and used for most villains?
  • Don’t film during dark times light night time or late afternoon.

Rather attempt softer lighting like lighting from a window, or a soft tungsten or LED light placed a bit further from the subject.

When it comes to angles, it’s not just the positioning of the light that matters, but also positioning of the subject.

Don’t be afraid to explore angles. Find out what your best angle is. Position the camera differently. It’s selfie time! PS, the same can be done for products.

There are extra steps to take towards good video. If you explore YouTube, and identify a few YouTubers who are phenomenal at producing good quality films, what are the common dominators between these YouTubers? Each one is for the most part unique in storytelling or in offer educational tips. What makes the footage good?

Firstly, the footage is stable. The camera isn’t jumpy. It doesn’t look like a horror film. Secondly, the sound is of a certain standard. In most cases the sound is crystal clear, with little other interference.

In my own videos, I strive for that standard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9So5XpUfFwc. Clear, stable footage and decent sound.

I may use professional equipment from my business, and have the background to produce a decent film. But when I started to explore the medium of film, I used my smartphone camera to produce the greatest quality I could with the resources on hand.

All you need to do is to keep your camera still and place it on a shelf, or invest in an affordable tripod that holds your smartphone. That investment will be worth it.

As to sound, another small investment will take your sound to the next level. A simple lapel mic or lavaliere mic that plugs into the sound jack of your phone will allow for good sound. Your smartphone is already a recording device, and can record from that jack. The reason your phone’s own microphone might not suffice, is because of the quality of the mic. It will likely pick up other noises, whereas a lapel mic is more “focusses.”

Your next concern might be surrounding professional editing. If you have a PC or Apple machine within your business, you have access to user friendly editing software: Windows Movie Maker (PC) and iMovie (Mac). These softwares are like PowerPoint – it’s a drag and drop, cut, copy and paste experience. You can add text. It’s basic enough for the beginner’s needs.

If you are in the industry where you would like to invest in a kit that is a little bit better at handling video capability, there is a entry level kit I would recommend: a small DSLR with a good lens (like a Canon 800D with a kit lens) and lapel mic that will plug into the camera (Boya Lapel Mic).

And that’s that.

In summary, ensure that you post consistently, that you post relevant content that is valuable and relevant to your client. It’s not always about it being relevant to you, so make it easy to understand, and make them fall in love with your brand’s personality. It’s easier for people to talk to people. They don’t want to talk to a brand. It can be cold. Use your business foundation to bridge that divide of communication. Video and blogging are wonderful pieces of content that can humanise your business.

And remember, simpler is always better. Master simplicity. No one likes crowded frames that are difficult to read or take in. They enjoy time to think, and time to take in the information, easily.

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