Thanks for Reading! And a Farewell

Farewell

My time with Shari’s Ink has come to an end this week. Thank you so much for reading the blog!

I learned A LOT during my internship. The biggest things I learned?

Content marketing was completely new to me when I began and, honestly, I was a little intimidated at first. Now, I feel confident in my ability with everything I’ve learned, from blogging to reading analytics. I am so grateful to have had the experience and can’t wait to be able to apply my new skills in my next endeavor. Many thanks to Shari’s Ink and all followers! Happy Holidays and best wishes this New Year!

A Step-By-Step on Creating Mindblowing Original Content for Your Blog

Original Blog Content

If you haven’t blogged before, you’re probably wondering how to create awesome, original content.

When I first started my internship with Shari’s Ink, I was intimidated by the idea of creating original blog content because it was something I had never done before. However, after learning the basics, it’s a breeze. Below are my three tips for creating original blog content that’ll get your audience’s toes tapping.

See What’s Trending

Use an RSS feed and manage your Twitter lists to follow trending topics in your industry. What topics make frequent appearances? If you’re seeing a consistent topic in article after article, it’s worth a blog post.

Brainstorm Original Topics

Based on what you see trending in your lists, you can begin brainstorming topics you’d like to feature on your blog. Although your ideas can echo trending topics, always consider different angles. For example, you might notice that lists of social media tips are constantly appearing in your feed. From there, you could come up with ideas for your own social media tips such as, “Our Top 5 Social Tips to Increase Engagement” or “3 Tips for Your Best Social Marketing Plan.” Once you’ve generated enough topics, populate your editorial calendar to manage them.

Use Your Expertise

To create original content that’ll make people want to read YOU, use your own knowledge and experience. Personal expertise is what makes your content uniquely yours. Take inspiration from trending topics, but don’t just copy what everyone else is saying. Choose your own angle and use your own knowledge.

Sometimes, you won’t have the expertise it takes to write a blog post. If this happens, turn to your contacts for their professional insight. As an intern for Shari’s Ink, I don’t know everything there is to know about content marketing. When I’m writing a blog post that calls for information I don’t have, I interview Shari to get it.

If you need help managing or writing for a blog, see our post on blogging for business or feel free to contact Shari’s Ink.

3 Social Media Tips for the Holiday Season

Holiday s.m.

The holiday season is upon us! Social media is important for your growing business, so you should take advantage of the holiday opportunities. Below, we’ve shared our top three tips for resonating with your audience during the holidays.

1) Acknowledge the Holidays

Don’t ignore the holidays. You may be worried about offending people by addressing the holidays in a certain way. We’re here to tell you it probably won’t happen, so do whatever’s comfortable for you.

  • Happy Holidays! It’s all-inclusive and a safe bet if you’re still worried about offending anyone.
  • Merry Christmas! Don’t worry about getting a backlash with this one, because we’ve never witnessed one.
  • Acknowledge every holiday! Feel free to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah and everything in between.

2) You Don’t Have to Post as Frequently

Around the holidays, most people aren’t paying as much attention to social media. They’re preparing and spending time with their families. If you’re doing the same and taking time off from social media, be sure to let your followers know. For instance, you could say something like, “We’re going to be offline for the next few days to spend time with our families. Happy Holidays!” Acknowledge your reasoning and encourage them to do the same.

3) Integrate Holiday Messaging into What You’re Selling

If you’re having sales or deals, don’t fall into commercializing your brand. Incorporate your holiday message into what you’re selling. If you’re promoting a service, does your holiday message fit with your brand messaging? For example, a company in the healthcare industry may choose to focus on avoiding weight gain during the holidays. However, this wouldn’t be a good focus for a company like Shari’s Ink, which operates in the creative services industry. Base your holiday messaging around your values and what you do.

Use These Top Tips to Achieve Work-Life Balance

work-life

Here at Shari’s Ink, we’re all about work-life balance. In fact, it’s why the company was created.

Work-life balance is a hot topic lately. We’d like to offer some insight on how to achieve it through your career and personal choices.

Jobs Ranked the Best for Work-Life Balance

I recently read an article over at CNN Money detailing a study that ranked the best jobs for work-life balance. SEO manager, social media manager, digital marketing manager, marketing assistant, marketing analyst, web designer and content manager all made the list of top 25 jobs.

The following are the top five jobs for work-life balance and their salaries, according to the article:

  1. Data scientist: $114,808
  2. SEO manager: $45,720
  3. Talent acquisition specialist: $63,504
  4. Social media manager: $40,000
  5. Substitute teacher: $24,380

The study found no connection between salary and work-life balance. I’ve only provided them so you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Also, if you’re looking for a job with work-life balance, opportunities for SEO managers and social media managers are on the rise, as even the smallest of businesses continue to establish an online presence.

Ways to Achieve Work-Life Balance

Another recent article from Huff Post Business says that having friends at work can help increase your chances of reaching work-life balance. According to the article, employee engagement is directly related to work-life balance and having friends at work boosts engagement. So, having work friends ultimately leads to better work-life balance!

Not interested in having friends at work? Here are some other suggestions for achieving work-life balance:

  • Choose one of the careers mentioned above and try it for yourself. One of them may have the schedule or flexibility you’re looking for.
  • Schedule your free time so you don’t feel like it’s being wasted. Having a productive life outside of work may make you feel more fulfilled.
  • Find a way to work from home, even if it’s one day per week. Not possible in your current position? You can always try launching your own business! If it’s within your means, go for it.

How I SUCCESSFULLY Integrated Social Media into Content Marketing

Integrating social

Social media plays an important role in supporting your content marketing plan.

Today, I’m sharing some of the things I’ve personally learned about implementing a social media plan as an intern for Shari’s Ink.

Choosing the Right Platforms for Your Business

We can’t stress enough that if you’re just starting out and don’t have the funds to hire a social media manager, you should start with a maximum of three platforms. Make the most of your social media plan by choosing the social sites that are best suited for your business.

  • You can never go wrong with Facebook and Twitter; they’re user-friendly and make it easy to promote your message.
  • LinkedIn is good if you’re trying to market yourself to other businesses.
  • If your business is more visual or active, consider going with Instagram, Snapchat or Periscope.

If you need more help deciding on your three social platforms, see our breakdown of each one in our Social Media Series.

Managing Social Media

Just like a blog or any other part of your business, you need to plan to write and manage your social media posts.

  • Use your editorial calendar to plan upcoming social posts.
  • Post to your social sites two to five times per week.
  • Write your posts a week in advance.
  • Schedule your posts a couple of days in advance. You can use a scheduling tool like Hootsuite to make this process easier.

On average, you should look at investing about five hours per week into your social media plan.

Growing Your Following and Driving Traffic to Your Website

To get more followers and website traffic, try applying some of these pro tips to your social plan:

  • Create and share engaging content. Engage your audience by asking questions, inviting them to interact with your brand and writing posts around shared values. You should also share links to your quality blog posts to increase clicks to your own website.
  • Be relevant to your business goals. Your followers want to know what’s in it for them. If you’re not being clear about what your business does, they aren’t going to care about your posts. Let people know how they can benefit from your services.

For more information on how to grow your following, see our “8 Tips for a Successful Social Media Plan.”

Our 4 Best SEO Tips

SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is really important for driving traffic to your website. But you probably knew that already.

What you may not know is HOW to increase your website’s SEO. To help, we’re revealing our four top tips to build a crazy awesome SEO strategy. Good luck!

1. Use the Keyword Planner

You can use the Google Keyword Planner to find keywords in your industry that are most searched. Target areas of opportunity by choosing three to five phrases or keywords to focus on and create content around that relates to your business.  Just be sure not to get too repetitive with your keywords.  If you need more information on the Keyword Planner, feel free to contact Shari’s Ink.

2. Strategically Place Keywords in Your Website

Placing keywords in headlines or headers/subheads will rank higher than body text. Use keywords in your headlines in as many creative ways as possible. Be sure to change it up to avoid constantly repeating yourself. Also, use your targeted keywords in your meta tags and properly tag your blog posts.

3. Link Building

You can improve your SEO by simply linking within your own website! Link back to your services page or your blog posts when mentioning them (like we’re doing here).  Your rankings can also be boosted when other websites link back to you. The more traffic those websites get, the better. This gives you credibility in the eyes of Google; it says the information you offer is relevant. Social media shares are starting to contribute to SEO as well, so be sure to share content that will engage your followers and encourage others to share your stuff.

4. Google+

Using Google+ can increase your website’s SEO since it’s Google’s own social platform. Google counts every Google+ page as another website linking back to yours, rather than just a social media page. Stay active on all of your Google+ pages, personal and professional, to increase your chances of being found in a Google search.

How to Use Email Marketing to Reach Your Audience

Email

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your intended audience.

A case study done by Reach Mail discovered that 90 percent of your audience sees your emails, as opposed to the 2 percent that see your Facebook posts. If you aren’t already, you should be integrating email marketing into your overall content marketing plan.

Successfully Integrating Emails into Content Marketing

The best way to integrate your emails with the rest of your content marketing is through e-newsletters. Use your blog posts in your newsletters, but don’t simply cut and paste.  Use a headline, a teaser sentence or question and a link to read more. This tactic should increase traffic to your website.

Using the Right Content

The kind of content and topics you include in your emails depend on two things:

  1. What you do. To draw potential customers, your e-newsletter should relate to your business, product, service, or code of values. If you’re a public relations firm and your emails are about cats, the reader probably won’t pay much attention to your services.
  2. Your audience. Chances are, you generally know who you’re writing for. Who is receiving your emails? Address them and why you’re writing to them. Emails to prospects are going to be different than emails to clients.

Getting People to Subscribe

Here are a few effective ideas to build your email list:

  • When you speak or present at a conference, hold a raffle. Have the members of the audience drop business cards in a bucket for a chance to win. In those business cards, you now have a collection of prospects.
  • Offer something of value in exchange for email addresses. For example, you could create a whitepaper that fulfills a need among your prospective clients.
  • Encourage your followers to subscribe on all of your channels. Your website, blog and social media (Facebook makes it especially easy with the “call to action” menu item) are all good places to ask people to subscribe.

With these tips, email marketing can extend the reach of your content beyond social media and blogging.

Millennials: Give ‘Em a Chance

millennials

We’ve all heard concerns about millennials entering the job market—they’re entitled, lazy and social media obsessed.

As a millennial myself, I must insist this is a sweeping accusation that can’t possibly be true for everyone. Sure, millennials are more dependent on technology than past generations. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 83 percent of millennials reported sleeping with their phones. However, a more recent study shows that one-third of them have four-year degrees, making millennials the most educated group of young adults in history.

So, what can a tech-savvy, educated person bring to your business?  Here are a few good reasons to give millennials a chance:

1. Tech and social media

Millennials can make huge contributions to your business, especially in marketing and media.  Because they grew up in the tech age, they have a deep understanding of how technology works.

2. Your company will be up-to-date

More seasoned professionals shouldn’t be intimidated by millennials. In fact, they should welcome these new hires. Millennials can bring older generations up-to-date on technology.  They can also consult on social media and new trends.

3. Fresh ideas, new perspectives

Millennials will bring new ideas to any field.  Fresh ways of thinking ensure your brand doesn’t grow stale. When it’s time to hire, don’t turn away less experienced applicants. They could bring a new way of thinking to the table.

4. The younger market

Millennials can help target the younger market because they are the younger market. They understand how to reach them and what tactics work best. They’ll know what the younger market wants to see from brands, both in the real world and online.

How are millennials making a difference at your business?

How to Budget for Your Content Marketing Plan

Budget

When budgeting for your content marketing plan, it’s important to consider all of your resources.

A content marketing plan requires a time commitment.  If you don’t have that time, think about how much money you’re willing to spend for someone else’s time.

How Much Time?

How much time should you invest into your content marketing plan?  Here’s our breakdown:

  • Social media: 5 hours a week
  • Blog: 2 hours per post
  • Total content marketing: 7-10 hours a week

Use this estimate to figure what you’re able to manage on your own.  The more time you have, the less money you’ll have to spend on hiring someone.

How Much Money?

If you decide there’s not enough time for something, you should consider hiring someone to do it for you.  Just keep in mind, the more experience someone has, the more money you’re going to pay for his or her services.

The following are examples of what you may pay, depending on experience and even location:

  • Independent contractor: $50-100 an hour
  • Agency: $120-150 an hour
  • Salaried social media manager (manages all content marketing): $55,000-70,000 a year

What Does It All Mean?

Let’s pretend you need help managing some aspects of your content marketing plan. You decide to hire an independent contractor to manage your social media, which could cost you up to $500 a week.  If that’s not doable, you have two options:

  1. You could hire someone with less experience.
  2. You could reconsider what you might be able to manage on your own.

If you go with option two, you might decide that you can, in fact, manage your own social media. Then, you may decide to delegate one blog post a week to your independent contractor, which could cost up to $200 a week.

If something isn’t within your monetary budget, always reconsider what you might be able to manage on your own time.

Content Marketing: The New Way to Advertise

Your new way to advertise

Content marketing is becoming an integral part of the modern business’s marketing strategy.

If the term is new to you, content marketing consists of the content you create and share—typically a blog, social media and e-newsletters.  It is different than traditional marketing strategies, like print and broadcast ads, because it is self-created and free to publish.

In this post, we’re going to address some questions you may have about implementing a content marketing plan.

Can content marketing replace traditional marketing practices?

No! A content marketing plan should never replace traditional marketing strategies.  Instead, the two should be integrated.

Content marketing is a good place to start if you don’t have a large marketing budget.  Once you have a bigger budget, you should continue to use your content to strengthen your overall marketing strategy.

What if I have a brick and mortar business and am not interested in selling online?

Content marketing, though online, isn’t just for online businesses. Your content marketing strategy should be used to build relationships.  A good way to do this?  Be consistent, responsive and stay in touch.

You will gain loyalty by intertwining separate strategies.  Engage with your followers on social media and invite clients to join an email list.

What’s the most important thing when it comes to content marketing?

PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.  If you don’t, your content marketing plan will quickly become overwhelming.

Create, edit and utilize an editorial calendar to help stay organized.

Plan everything in advance.  Write your blog and social media posts a week in advance and schedule them a few days in advance.

You’ll soon develop a rhythm that will help you manage your time wisely.

Is it a mistake not to have a content marketing plan?

We wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a mistake, but we would highly caution against brushing it aside.  Content marketing is very important for building relationships and you could miss out if you’re not online.

Chances are, your audience is online.  We live in an online world where we’re all connected most of the time.  You need to show up on Google when someone searches for you.  A content marketing plan will help to make this happen.

Have any more questions about implementing a content marketing plan?  Contact Shari’s Ink for a free quote today!