I must have read literally hundreds, possibly even thousands, of online articles about marketing, social media, lead generation and the whole spectrum of other related subjects. But then I realised: I hadn’t learned a thing!
Some I’d just skimmed, some I had read in detail – some I’d even got handwritten notes from, but still I hadn’t (consciously) put a single thing into practice from all the nuggets of wisdom I thought I had absorbed. My bad…!
There I was with a blog I was hoping I to launch my online consulting business from, and barely a visitor was showing up, let alone subscribing for email updates. But I wasn’t panicking…
Many of the articles I have read – and still subscribe to now, and still read – give advice on how to gain results by following certain practices or operating in certain ways. A lot of them address themselves to the reader that is just starting out on their blogging/social media/online business journey. If you were able to implement everything prescribed from the get-go I’m sure you would be well on your way to early retirement within a matter of months.
There is another unspoken presumption to the majority of these articles: that is, that you have a reasonable – or at least some kind of – budget to enable you to pay for advertising, subscriptions, online services, marketing tools and the like.
But sadly, this is not true for a lot of us; and that included me.
Putting the money question aside for a moment, if you have little or no experience with online marketing or social media then it is going to be near-on impossible to understand and visualise the practices being expounded – how they work, mesh together, the results they produce, and the next link in the chain, unless you are actually putting it into practise and seeing real time results.
Whenever I am needed to write a complex piece of editorial or an intricate business document and wonder where on earth to begin I have always been of the ‘let’s just get something down on paper and then we’ll have something to work on‘ school.
This strategy has served me very well to date, and continues to do so. Translate this into launching a platform for a potential new business, and this was how I arrived at my traffic-less blog. Not a good thing, I can hear you thinking – and part of me would have to agree. Why waste time and resources setting up a website, and having a Twitter stream if they are not doing anything for me?
But let me get to the nub of it…
All the website design and SEO strategies, the social marketing, the networking, the lead generation tactics are nothing if you do not have a website to optimise, or a social account to attract more followers. Are people going to sign up to a sparsely populated, half-baked site with one good Hello World! post and an About page? Are you going to look credible when your Twitter profile tells people you are following 872 users, but only have 34 followers and have tweeted only 13 tweets?
If you are a well financed startup with a payroll of employees and a finished product ready to market then this scenario will not be at all relevant to you.
But if you are a blogger or solopreneur with little time, money or resources and even less experience, you will value the necessity of a softly-softly approach. You just can’t do everything at once! What you need is to work out what the least is that you need to get started, how to maximise those activities, and then what to do next – and of course, why.
In my humble opinion, this is what you should be doing:
- Start your blog/website – go for basic functionality that works and looks neat, forget about fancy bells and whistles.
- Start just on social media account – preferably one you already know something about.
- Write a few articles for your site – concentrate on quality rather than quantity, strive for consistency and regularity rather than frequency, even if it is just one new post a month.
- Build a solid foundation on your chosen social channel – follow and follow back, share high quality, relevant content from the leaders and influencers in your niche – cultivate a core following and a credibility for being someone who knows about their chosen subject.
- Pepper your own web articles through your shared content – don’t be afraid to post them time and again over an extended period, recycle those that gain the most attention, and if you don’t have time for new in-depth articles think about updating older posts, refreshing their relevance, adding a new angle or posting a follow up.
Now you have something to work on.
But you can’t do any of this until you have something established to work with.
So, what are you waiting for? A lottery win to fund your start-up? Someone to randomly approach you and ask for your expertise? Your pet pig to make it’s maiden flight?
By all means keep subscribing to influencer and industry leader blogs – keep reading, keep learning, keep filing that knowledge away for when you are going to really need it – but in the meantime?