One of the best ways to build credibility for your business is to begin writing so your customers and prospects can begin reading about you.
One of the first things people do when they consider working with you is Google your name. In fact, Google your name before you read any further. What pops up on the screen? Are there articles, stories, or newsletters? If not, read on as you will discover easy and effective ways to get yourself published online.
You, the Expert Author
Most people don’t necessarily think of themselves as an expert, but as a business owner, you need to begin believing that you are. You are an expert in your industry. You are the expert in what you do—whether you are an architect, realtor, coach, actor, financial planner, artist, speaker, chef, mom, lawyer, interior designer, consultant, or salesperson.
People want someone they can rely on. That is why they pay you for what you do. More importantly, from a business development standpoint, the more people who read about your expertise, the more they’ll be attracted to your business. This leads to your website, subscribing to your blog or newsletter, and perhaps ultimately hiring you.
One way to build instant credibility is to get an article or two published. If you write an article, it could potentially be read by hundreds—if not thousands—of readers. And it’s easier than you might think.
If you are not sure what you could write about for your first few articles, let’s do a little brainstorming. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What three tips can you share about your industry?
- What three things can you share with people to help them avoid something in their lives? Can you help them with financial, job, health, home, car, travel, business, or real estate issues?
- What three questions should people consider before hiring someone like you? In other words, what are prospects looking for? Are they interested in credentials, testimonials, or examples of your work?
- What are the latest trends in your industry?
- What are the five biggest mistakes people make when hiring the wrong ___________ (fill in the blank with your industry/title)?
- What experience have you had that would benefit others if you shared it? Share a big learning experience.
- Five ways to ___________ (you fill in the blank). Examples: five ways to change your home, five ways to have better fitness, five ways to a better job, five ways to a better vacation, and so on.
These are just some examples of what you can write about to highlight your expertise in your subject or industry. Smaller articles of 300 to 600 words are easy for readers to quickly digest, so that might be a good starting point.
Okay, let’s get your article online. This way, when people Google your name, your article will pop up as an “expert author” in your industry. One site I’d like to direct you to that will do this for you is EzineArticles (ezinearticles.com). Through their website, you can submit up to 10 articles for free, then upgrade to a Platinum member status.
To create your account, click on either “Join Now” or “Submit Articles.” You can click on the audio links to get detailed instructions. After you’re done, you will get a confirmation e-mail. If you have questions, review the editorial guidelines. They also have a good video tutorial and provide newsletters to assist you.
Be sure you select a category that is closest to your article content versus your business. The title is key, so make the first three words in your article title very strong. Search engines love the first three words and the keywords. Your article content is where you share and give information. There’s no selling here.
After your article has been accepted (and it will only be accepted if you are giving information to help people, not shameless self-promotion), try to submit another. Remember, you have up to 10 to submit before you can be upgraded to a platinum member. You can also go back into the site, click on your article stats, and see how many people viewed your article and how many people clicked on your website.
Another way to get an article published online is to be a guest contributor person’s blog or newsletter. This is a great strategic marketing strategy. Let’s say you own a dog-walking business. You could approach a local veterinarian and see if he or she has a newsletter; if so, ask if you can be a contributing writer. Chances are the answer will be yes.
Another option is to check with a neighborhood newsletter or even a small-town magazine. In exchange for submitting an article, ask if you can put your name, website and e-mail address at the end of the article—and don’t forget to add your Twitter username as well.
Newsletters, E-Newsletters, and E-Zines
There was a time when print newsletters were all the rage; now it seems everything has gone online. But the counter viewpoint is also true: Because there’s so much online, if you did mail a newsletter, chances are pretty high that it will at least get looked at…and maybe even be read.
What many entrepreneurs are doing now is publishing their own print newsletter quarterly to save a bit of money. If you can do one monthly, that is great. But printing a newsletter and mailing it can get expensive, so let’s examine some additional options.
E-Newsletters and E-Zines
An e-newsletter is an electronic or digital newsletter. An e-zine is really the same thing. The “e” stands for electronic and the “zine” is last syllable of magazine. Many define it as an electronic magazine because an e-zine should have a more visual component, such as color, art, and photographs. In contrast, an e-newsletter is more like a newspaper with more words and fewer graphics. The line can be easily blurred for some, but it’s important to know the two terms and how they differ.
As you get into social media marketing, you might get asked if you have an e-zine or e-newsletter. Building your list is important. One of the reasons is that you will want to stay in touch with your customers, clients, and fans from your social media sites by publishing a regular e-zine.
By regularly communicating with your followers, you continue to build credibility by sharing your expertise. Another big bonus is that if your e-zine is good and you truly give great information, over time you are not only building credibility but you are creating loyalty. There is nothing like a loyal fan of your business: They’ll stick with you.
When you offer a 30-percent-off special, provide a two-for-one promotion, or want to promote your book, chances are loyal readers of your e-zine will either buy it or at least tell everyone in their network that they should buy it. It’s better for you to keep your name in front of people and stay on the top of their minds. If you don’t, your competition will.
Resources to Help You Create Your E-Zine
These are not all the resources that are out there, of course. Reputable e-mail marketing solution providers will help distribute your e-zine or e-newsletter. Most will also provide you with amazing analytics so you can see how many people opened the e-mail, how many opted out, how many forwarded your e-zine, and so on.
Constant Contact and Vertical Response
Founded in 1998, Constant Contact (constantcontact.com) has thousands of devoted subscribers. It provides great templates, wonderful training, and powerful customer service. Free customer support is another benefit that comes with this site.
Vertical Response (verticalresponse.com) calls itself the “self-service direct marketing” program. You get your first 500 e-mails free; there are no contracts or commitments. You pay for only what you send. It also has a great tracking component to its system.
MailChimp and iContact
MailChimp (mailchimp.com) has a lot of features, including great e-mail design templates, free usage for up to 100 receivers, and great reporting. An interesting feature with its reports is that you can find out not only who received your e-mail (as you most likely will not know everyone who is receiving your marketing piece), but where the recipient is located geographically.
With low monthly fees and more than 560,794 users as of January 2010, iContact (icontact.com) is a powerhouse, working with small business owners as well as Fortune 500 companies. It has more than 250 template designs for you to choose from. This site is worth a look.
Tips for a Successful E-Zine
Keep the tone of the e-zine conversational and write as if you were talking. How often you want to send your e-zine to people is up to you. Some people send e-zines quarterly, monthly, bimonthly, or weekly. It builds loyalty and people look forward to it. An e-zine, whether weekly or monthly, allows you another forum in which to communicate with your friends, fans, and followers. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Promote it everywhere—in your e-mail signature, blog, website, letters, and business cards. The point of the e-zine is to build or enhance your subscriber base.
- Whichever service you use to deliver your e-zine, make sure you have a good thank-you message that is automatically sent to them when they sign up.
- Write as if you are speaking to them. Keep it conversational and less formal, and use real-world scenarios. Include photos and color, if you can. Put a copyright notice at the end of each issue.
- More and more e-zines are including video in them, so put a video in your e-zine.
- Look at your stats. What you can analyze, though, will depend on the service you’re using. If possible, find out if people are subscribing regularly. Are they unsubscribing? Remind readers that your e-zine is subscription-based only.
- Include your social media links and sites in your e-zine, such as follow me on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn, and join my group on Facebook. Remember, everything is circling back around to each other.
- Look at other e-zines that you receive. What do you like most about them? Dislike? Try to deliver something you would read and the followers will come.
- Have a great subject line in your e-mail so recipients will open it! Keep it short yet strong, and include the name of your e-zine in the subject line as well.
- End your e-zine with an author’s box describing who you are. Include the name of your business and a short bio.
One cardinal rule about sending your e-zine: it should be sent only to people who subscribe. You should not be a spammer and send your e-zine to people who have not asked for it. Send it to people who want the e-zine, not to those whom you happen to sign up only because you have their business card.
Ways to Build Your E-Zine List
Now that you have a terrific e-zine, you want to get it out there and grow your subscriber list. Here are a few ideas for you to consider:
- On your website, put your e-zine/e-newsletter sign-up box preferably at the top of the page.
- When first starting out, ask colleagues and friends to subscribe. Ask them if they’d like to forward to people whom they think will benefit from reading it.
- Tell all of your new customers and clients that they will get a complimentary subscription to your e-zine.
- Offer new subscribers a free gift, such as a CD of tips, a discount on one of your products, a free report of some kind, and advanced news on new releases or products.
- Look at online forums where people who are similar to your subscriber base hang out. Participate in the forum and list your website and e-zine information.
- If you are an independent professional, put your e-zine info on everything. Put it on cards, invoices, and promotional material.
- Get with other business alliance partners and agree to cross-promote each other’s e-zines. You can recommend their e-zines in your e-zine, and then they can return the favor.
- If you do any speaking, offer a giveaway when you are done speaking. Tell everyone in the audience as they pass around the card for the drawing that they will also get a complimentary subscription to your e-zine.
- If you have a reception area or a checkout counter, put out a bowl or a booklet out that reads “We want to stay in touch with you. Sign up for our monthly e-zine for specials and great information.”
- Mention it in your blog and YouTube videos, and tweet about it from time to time. Also, remember your Facebook page? Remind people about your e-zine in that box below your photo or in your information summary page. Invite people to become subscribers on your LinkedIn page as well.
Self-Publishing a Book
Want to take your writing to another level? How about considering self-publishing? Of course, if the big publishing houses come calling along with an interested literary agent, that’s great. However, many entrepreneurs don’t know that they can still get a book published without an agent or by signing a six-figure book deal.
You can self-publish your own book. This means that you write it, get it published or printed on your own, and then market it yourself. There are many publishing resources out there to help you. Although this isn’t an article on becoming an author, it might be good to share this information because writing is a big part of social media marketing. If you have a book, you can promote it on all of your social media sites.
Now imagine that you have all of these great vehicles to share your expertise. What would it be like to capture your expertise in your very own book? By self-publishing a book, chances are you will gain expert status in the eyes of your clients and prospects. You will also establish greater credibility and generate a lot of publicity for yourself and your business.
You might be thinking that you could never write a book. Well, did you ever think you could write a blog? What many self-published authors are doing is taking their blog posts and turning them into chapters in their self-published book. Another idea is to take articles that are in your e-zine or newsletter and use those as chapter guides for your book.
If you are a dentist, doctor, lawyer, artist, fitness coach, chef, business coach, speaker, photographer, or decorator, imagine how great it would be to hand your book to new or prospective clients who are looking to work with you. Book Coach Sam Horn, who’s also the 17-time Maui-Hawaii Writers Conference emcee and author, has helped thousands of entrepreneurs become authors. Donna Kozik, who helps professionals write and self-publish their first book through her business, says, “Self-publishing a book is a great way to capitalize on your message and business or life philosophy.” It’s also one of the best business cards you will ever have. So consider self-publishing, especially as more and more businesses are emerging to help you get your book published.