Grow your creative business with content marketing

Jun 5, 2017 | Focus Fast

Growth strategy for freelancers and small agencies

Are you a freelancer or other creative business? If so, you’re part of a large segment of the business landscape that’s been labeled “the gig economy.”

According to a survey by Freelancers Union, there were 53 million people doing freelance work in the US in late 2014. That’s 34% of the national workforce. And this independent group contributed a whopping $715 billion to our economy.

Want to give your creative business a bigger piece of that pie? Consider content marketing.

Whether you’re solo or part of a small agency, you’re in a perfect position to take advantage of content marketing as a business growth strategy.

Promote your business

At its core, content marketing is a powerful way to promote your existing business. From driving website traffic to generating qualified leads, you’ll gain business-building benefits that can bring you more clients and increase billings from your current services.

Add content creation services

Content marketing also represents a natural way to expand and up-cycle your business by delivering new, complementary services for clients. Think of it as the next logical step along the way toward a more full-service agency.

By widening the scope of your services to embrace content marketing, your business will be able to win bigger projects at higher fees.

Content marketing services might also help you become a more strategic part of your clients’ own planning and growth. That in turn can drive more engagements.

Gear up for content creation

Moving from a focused trade to inter-disciplinary content marketing isn’t as difficult as you might think.

To begin with, you already have at least one content creator skill.

You can add to that by taking courses in another creative discipline. Online teaching has exploded in recent years so there’s almost no limit to what you can learn, or when, or where.

Beyond that, a good way to broaden your capabilities is to partner with others who have skills complementary to yours. Such a partnership could be done on a project-by-project basis or formalized into an ongoing working relationship.

The skills you’ll need

Writing is at the core of almost all content. If you’re a decent writer you’re in good shape. If not, consider partnering with someone who is (because writing well is not an easy skill to learn quickly).

Graphic design is essential to present content visually. But with today’s easy visual tools you don’t need to become a professional designer to make your content stand out.

Photography fits naturally into many content marketing topics. But if cameras aren’t your strength, you can draw from stock photography sources at surprisingly low cost.

Videography can be great at getting complex ideas across in a hurry, making videos some of the most impactful content out there. Simple video tools like Animoto, Spark and PowToon might be all you need. If you’d like to take this skill farther, consider breaking it down into smaller tasks – script writing, storyboarding, filming, editing – and getting help only where you need it.

Social media is a fundamental part of a complete content marketing strategy. If you’re not already a social media guru, you can get started with a few simple steps.

Digital technology is needed to deliver content via the web, emails and other online platforms. My readers tell me that this is the area they struggle with the most. If you’re technically inclined these skills can be fun to learn and very rewarding even beyond content marketing. But if bits and bytes leave you bewildered you might want to consider finding a digital technology partner or sub-contractor.

Content that promotes your business

Once you’ve beefed up your content marketing skills you can use them to both offer more services to clients and promote your own business.

So what kind of content topics would attract more customers? Here are some ideas:

  • Your process – why it works, how it solves customer challenges
  • Case studies that outline a client’s business problem, your solution and the results delivered
  • Advice for your clients about typical problems, roadblocks and mistakes
  • What makes a good (logo, design, web site, photo, video, etc.)
  • How to work with a freelancer in a particular discipline to save costs, get better results, avoid conflicts, speed up delivery
  • Common misconceptions about your area of expertise
  • Freelance versus a full-service agency from a client’s perspective

Whatever topics you settle on for your business, make sure you always present them from the perspective of solving your customers’ problems. Remember: Helpfulness is attractive; selling isn’t.

Get growing with content marketing

As a creative, independent freelancer you might be comfortable with jumping into new things on your own. “Learning by doing” can indeed be a great teacher!

But if you’d like to take a more disciplined approach to growing your creative business with content marketing, consider these steps:

  • Decide if your primary purpose is to promote your own business or develop new service offerings
  • Make an inventory of your skills and decide how you’ll expand them to meet the needs of content marketing: DIY, partner or a combination
  • Define your unique value proposition and your ideal prospects
  • Make sure you have a basic content delivery system in place: a website, blog, email service provider (I recommend ConvertKit) and social presence
  • Learn and apply a content marketing framework such as that from CMS

You have an opportunity to transform today’s nearly insatiable need for content into a growth engine for your creative business. Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way!

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