You’re busy. Time starved, even. As an entrepreneur, you don’t have massive piles of cash to throw around to launch a full-blown content marketing campaign.
In this situation, one of two things usually happens:
You do nothing, because it’s too expensive and time consuming, or
You fly by the seat of your pants, creating content when you have the time and energy – hoping something, anything might get you some traction.
Neither one of those seems particularly effective. And yet, how are entrepreneurs supposed to do any better, given their restraints on time and budget?
It’s possible. But it means thinking differently– something entrepreneurs ought to be good at!
New Attitude: Less Can Be More
In her book, “Content Strategy for the Web,” Kristna Halvorson reveals a simple kernel of truth: less content is often better than more.
While there are studies out there that loudly preach hyper-frequent publishing, the reality is that if you adjust your focus from getting as large as possible (we must publish three times a week! We must make 100 help videos! etc.) to doing an amazing job at what you do have capacity for, you’re far more likely to avoid problems like:
Producing a bunch of banal, poorly performing content
Suddenly exhausting your budget
Content burnout (running out of idea, energy and enthusiasm)
Making a terrible impression with content that compromises your brand
Everything else we discuss is going to hinge on the idea of doing things better – not more.
There are a lot of things you can cut back, trim from your budget or wait to invest in. Strategy is not one of those things. You can’t afford to skip this step. If this area isn’t your expertise, this is one place to pay for a little help.
A common trap for entrepreneurs in content marketing is that they create content about the things THEY care about. Yet while you may be very interested in blogging about lean startup ideas, coffee machines or even SEO (for example), those topics may not captivate the market you’re trying to reach.
Here’s the good news: As an entrepreneur, chances are you’ve spent at least some time researching your customers, so you should have everything you need to build some true-to-life (or as close to true as possible) personas to base your strategy on. When you know your personas, you know their needs and pain points. These are the things to devote your limited budget to addressing.
Prioritize: Because You Can’t Do it All
Equally important is knowing your own
Namely, at the stage of business you’re in, what do you need content to do for you most? Focus your limited budget on creating content that can support that goal – content lives in the apex of what your customers need to know and what you need to accomplish.
If you’re just getting started, you may need to focus your content on building awareness and explaining what makes your business different. That might be explainer videos, product guides, blog posts, or any other format that allows you to showcase who you are.
If you’ve already got a bit of an audience, it may be time to shift your focus on to turning them into leads with content like eBooks, whitepapers, comparison studies and so on.
When budget and time constrain what you can do, do what will have the greatest impact.
This is where you’ve got to take a hard look in the mirror. Do you have the talent and the time to produce content people actually want to consume?
Don’t rule yourself out right away. If you’re not a strong writer, you might feel better in front of a camera. Perhaps you could you leverage video content instead? But if neither option appeals, it’s time to think about outsourcing.
Hiring outside help needn’t break the bank, especially if you’ve adopted the “produce less, but better” attitude. A few pointers to help you:
Do NOT resort to hiring overseas writers to produce your content. The results are never convincing, and you’re effectively handing control of your brand over to the lowest bidder.
If you have time to write and want to keep things cost-effective, you might consider paying an editor instead of hiring a writer. Not only will they clean up your mistakes, but you’ll learn where your flaws are and improve your own writing over time!
If your industry is especially technical, you can save the cash it would cost to hire an industry expert by hiring a writer to interview you on a subject and turn it into attractive content.
Curation can be a cost-effective way of creating content without devouring much of your time. Compile the information your audience wants to know, and spend a few moments adding your own spin on it.
Avoid all-or-nothing content schemes, like pumping your entire budget into just one massive resource. That’s a gamble that has devastating consequences if it doesn’t pay off. Less can be more, but don’t put all your eggs in just one basket.
To make content planning easy, consider easily repeatable “series” instead of one-off posts and videos. For example, you might choose to showcase a different feature of your product every Friday. This kind of predictable formatting also gives your audience something to latch on to.
This is a tough one for entrepreneurs –but it’s absolutely critical if you hope to get traction with what you’re creating.
A couple of thoughts here:
Make friends and allies. As an entrepreneur, there are thousands of others in similar positions, all trying to build a business. Play nice, and cross-promote. Combined, your networks are bigger than you might imagine.
Look for content hubs with already established audiences, especially if you don’t have your own. Make pitching something hyper-relevant to these hubs a priority.
Focus on one-to-one relationships instead of one-to-many. Too many entrepreneurs gun for massive exposure instead of building a following organically. Who already likes and supports you? How can you delight them, and inspire them to pass your content on to others?
It’s not impossible.
Taking on content as an entrepreneur might be challenging, but it’s certainly within your grasp so long as you think a little differently, manage your priorities and identify where you might need a helping hand.
Doing nothing is not an option. And now, you have no excuse!