This is a guest post by the amazingly talented Celia Lockley. Defining your brand strategy as a business or person of influence is a crucial activity to help you start off on the right path. A solid brand direction and identity truly sets the agenda for the rest of your business to prosper, and reassures you that you’re heading exactly where you want to go!
Most phones made in the past few years have very high quality cameras. When giving the right conditions my iPhone gives my big camera a run for its money.
Here are a few tips to help you get better photos with an iPhone:
This one is key! Get as much diffused light on your subject as you can. Most phone cameras don’t perform at their best if you’re relying on indoor lighting, and tend to be much more grainy and blurry. I always shoot near an open window or in a shady spot outside whenever possible.
Tap the screen where you want it to focus. That will adjust where the camera is calibrating all the settings for exposure too.
On a similar note: you can slide the little sun that shows up next to the focus box when you tap it to adjust the exposure. When you move it up and down it will adjust the picture to be brighter or darker.
Turn on the HDR setting. This captures multiple exposures of the same photo. Then it mashes them together to make one photo where everything is more evenly lit.
Don’t forget to edit your images. There are lots of photo editing apps available to download, and many of them have a free option. They also have filters/presets you can use, so all of your images are edited consistently (this is great for creating a more cohesive Instagram feed, too). I prefer using Lightroom by Adobe.
Want to get even more tips and trick to take better photos with your iPhone? Check out my iPhone Photography eCourse!
Creating a marketing plan can seem very overwhelming. There are so many techniques to consider and data to collect before you can make a truly great marketing plan. However, when you get to the core of your a marketing plan, it can be summed up in three stages - Analyze, Budget, and Convert. By focusing on these parts, it's easier to digest the data and create an impactful plan. Now let's take a closer look at each part.
I strongly believe in using data to drive a marketing plan. This means you should understand who your target market is and where they go. That's the best way you will to get your message out in front of them. Let's be honest, I'm going to choose different places and messages if I'm selling something to me and my husband verses my parents. This is why it pays off to be very deliberate and specific about your target market, and taking the time to understand them.
To help you start analyzing your business and target audience, I made some free printable worksheets. You can download them at the link below!
Download My Free Market Analysis Worksheets
One thing I like to do is create personas. In a nutshell, this means you give a face, name and background to someone who fits in your target audience. Then, you can create a brand, message, website, social media presence, advertising, etc. by taking a step back and looking at your brand through their eyes. Most businesses' target audiences vary, so you should create a persona for each type of person you want to attract. Then, you use that persona to make the best marketing decision for each contact point you have for them.
You also need to analyze the types of places you can advertise, and who uses them. For example, you typically see younger people on Instagram while Facebook skews older. Also, there are different interactions and content layout on each. So, what you create and use for each one should be slightly different. Using the personas you made for the demographics who normally use those sites and your call to action should drive your choices for creative. Then, in the end, you can have a better, more sincere connection to the target audience on those sites.
Now, on a slightly different note, with the ever-changing options to get your message in front of people using the internet, you might not have a lot of data to go off of. However, knowing you have little to no data to use, is also a way to gage risk. Then you can decide if you want to pursue that option with the understanding that there is a potential for a huge payoff or giant loss. So, don't be afraid to do something, just because there's not data for it. Who knows?! You might be the next Zuckerberg.
This section is dependent on the type of business you have and what you're financially willing to put toward marketing. To completely serious and honest here... I will give someone with zero dollars for marketing much different advice than someone who has a million dollars. Some of it will overlap, but at the end of the day you can reach more people, much easier if you have more coin... as with most things in life: cash is king.
Don't feel discouraged if you don't have money to put toward marketing. You're lucky to be in business during the age of the internet! You can put a your own time and energy into creating ads, and still reach people. It will definitely take longer to garner a following and you need to have a greater understanding of content marketing. But! It's not impossible. I don't pay to advertise my website and blog, but somehow you found this article. By (cough, cough) analyzing my market and understanding their online habits through data, I'm able to place my content in places they already were perusing the internet.
Turning lookers into buyers is what makes marketing such a valuable investment. This is the part of a marketing plan I feel like gets lost by those who are less experienced in creating them. After you know who your market is and how you're going to get in front of them, you need to determine how you're going to get them to buy your product. As a business owner, this is something you have to be hyperaware of. Getting likes and comments on your social media is great and all. But! If you don't have a call-to-action that pushes them to the next step in the buying process, then you're not truly marketing.
You need to continuously foster relationships and build trust with current and potential consumers, whether it be online or in person. This is how you'll turn someone who is "just looking" into someone who is a loyal customer. For my website, I use social media to funnel people to site. While on my site, I offer multiple ways for someone to sign up for my newsletter (I'll leave a link for that below :) ). Once someone has signed up for my newsletter, I share helpful tips that relate to recent blog posts and new products, which I link in that newsletter if someone wants more information on the topic. This means my subscribers can stay updated on what I have on my site, and I can build good rapport as a trusted source for marketing, social media, branding, blogging, and planning/organization. So, as my website grows along with my product and service offerings, my newsletter followers will be the first to know.
As you can see, converting a consumer to a customer isn't as scary or sleazy as it sounds. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it!
Using social media to market your business seems like a no-brainer. It’s free, easy to set up, and it seems like anyone can figure out how to use it. So why do businesses struggle to get followers and engagement on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc? A lot of them don’t have a strategy in place to get the most out of their platforms, and to stay on task. Below are a few reasons why I’m a firm believer that every business needs a social media strategy.
Provides a Roadmap
Creating a social media strategy gives you time to think about what you want your social media presence say about your business. A social media strategy helps you decide on your tone of voice, graphic look, posting schedule, key words, hashtags, and much more. Then you know what your content should be, and it becomes easier to determine what to and what not to post.
Sets Expectations For Followers
People will follow accounts they believe provide some kind of benefit including aesthetically pleasing, educational, helpful, inspirational or aspirational. When people who are new to your profile, they tend to peruse your recent posts to see if it’s something relevant to them. If your posts are all over the place, someone may hesitate to or all together forgo hitting the follow button. However, if you are constantly providing content they like, then they are more likely to follow you. Because of this, it is key to understand your target market and build a strategy around them.
Keeps Your Posting Consistent
One key component to any great social media plan is a posting schedule for your content. You need to pick broad categories, and determine how frequently you will post each one. Maybe every Monday you post something motivational, Tuesdays you post a new blog post, Wednesdays you host a webinar or live video, Thursdays you share your sales, and so on.
Luckily it is very easy to schedule social media posts, which also makes fitting social media posting into a busy schedule a little bit easier. You can schedule posts days, weeks, or months in advance. However, scheduling posts doesn’t mean you should avoid checking the pages you manage. You still need to include your audience in the conversation and promptly reply to any questions, comments or concerns raised on your pages.
Helps You Find Your Audience
You need to engage with your audience on social media. This means that in your social media strategy, you should be outlining those who make up your target audience. These are the people who share the same values as your business. By defining and connecting with these people, you will have a more effortless and genuine connection with them. In the long run, these are the people you want following your business on social media. They will provide you will valuable feedback, be excited about the new things you offer, as well as be more willing to like, comment, and share you posts.
Need help creating your social media strategy? Contact me today!
Understanding how to get your blog or website to show up in search engine results can be very overwhelming at first. It can be difficult to decide where to even start. So on today's post I'm sharing some SEO tips and tricks that have helped my blog.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which in a nutshell means that your site is search engine friendly. In broader terms, this means that the code for and content on your site is fashioned in a manner that makes it easy for search engines to understand what each page is about. This is extremely important if you're trying to increase your organic search traffic, because search engines are looking for sites that ensure it's providing relevant results for each search.
Write About Content People Are Searching
Now I'm not saying never write about what you enjoy. BUT! You should make sure to write content that people are searching for that's within your blog's genre. Because, let's be honest here, if your content isn't about what people search for, then you're not going to get any organic search engine traffic. For example, my product review posts get more organic search traffic then anything else. Now those types of posts make up a small portion of my blog's content. Because I'm very selective about the products I review on here, I only write about products I love or was honestly curious about myself before I even got it. However, because I know this helps my blog's overall SEO, I keep an eye out for products I personally would search for more information about to review on my blog.
Choose Titles That Work Well as Search Results
This is key! When you write the titles for blog posts and webpages, you need to make sure it's something your reader would click on in their search. For example, I picked the title for this post, because someone who is trying to learn more about SEO would be likely to click on it. I wouldn't want to name it "Search Tips" because that name is too vague for someone who's quickly skimming through search results to think, "That post seems relevant, and they must know what they're talking about. I should read that one." So make sure you choose your titles wisely if you're trying to improve SEO.
Now you're probably wondering, "How often should I post?" Sadly there is no perfect answer for this one, because it depends on your site. For example, if you're posting about news, you'll need to update your site on an hourly basis, while I can get away with only posting new content a couple times a week. However the more stale your site becomes, the more likely it is that it will dip in the search rankings. So, try to set a schedule you can maintain, so you have some new content on your site regularly. Even if that schedule is only once or twice a month.
Give Your Photos Descriptions (and use Alt Text)
When you look at a photo of flowers, you know it's flowers. However, when search engines see a photo of flowers, they only see the information in the code. So, you need to tell it what's in the image. This is when adding photo descriptions is important to increasing the odds of your photos and website coming up in search results. Wordpress also gives you the opportunity to add Alternative Text to your image that can also help search engines better understand what's in your photos. This is the perfect place to add keywords that might be searched related to your post's topic.
Use Google WebMaster Tools
This is an extremely helpful tool when you're trying to improve your SEO. The one feature I use most is Fetch as Google to have it Request Indexing. This is one way for you to tell Google that your site is there, and it has content to crawl and read. You can chose to have it fetch your site as mobile or desktop, and you can even give it a specific URL on your site to fetch. Once you click the "Fetch" or "Fetch and Render" button, it will give you the option to select a "Request Indexing" button for the new fetch. After click on the "Request Indexing" button, you can chose for it to crawl only that URL or that URL and all direct links (I typically do the latter). This process can take a few days to complete, but once it's done it will also give you a report of any errors it found on your site. Some of these errors are minor that you don't need to fix, while some are major and need to be fixed before Google will trust your site enough to use it in search results.
Also!!! Make sure you add every version of your site to this tool. This includes http and https, with and without www., and all sub-domains you have. This will help better direct Google to your site. Plus, it will help you understand what is being pulled up in organic searches, and any errors that occurred when your site was crawled.
Give it time!
Last, bust certainly not least: SEO doesn't just magically work overnight. It takes weeks, even months, to really take full effect. So, do not get discouraged if you're not getting the organic search results you were hoping for right away. Just keep implementing these tips and tricks, and eventually you should see results.