If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, a musician, an artist, or a creative of any kind, you need to master the art of promoting yourself online. It’s not a luxury, It’s a must. If you don’t promote yourself, no one else will do it for you.
Marketing skills are what differentiate those who make it from those who don’t. The problem is, everyone pretends to know what they’re doing. But in reality, only a few people have identified a clear strategy to navigate the online world and cut through the noise.
In this blog post, I’ll focus on the most critical elements of online marketing for creative entrepreneurs that will help you promote yourself effectively. I will give you a simple framework that you can implement right away and get solid results.
Before we jump into it, I would like to mention that if you’re not dedicated to your craft, no amount of marketing in the world is going to get you anywhere. With that in mind, if you’re looking for a quick fix, this isn’t for you.
On the other hand, if you’re passionate about what you do, believe in yourself and your work, and dedicated to promoting yourself, then you’re in the right place. Let’s get started.
Step 1: Identify Your Target Audience
1) Who are they?
To identify your target audience, you need to first identify exactly what you do and what you offer. Then, ask yourself who is most likely to be interested in what you do? More importantly, who is most likely to benefit from it?
Then, you need to narrow down your audience to those who are the most ideal target for you. The best way to do this is by creating a Buyer Persona that describes your ideal customer and addresses the most relevant information about them in a way that ties to your product or service.
2) Where are they?
After you’ve identified who your target audience is and created your ideal customer profile, you need to find where they hangout. Which platforms do they use and how do they engage with those platforms?
For example, if they’re on Facebook, which groups are they in? Which pages do they follow? What kind of content they engage with the most? How active are they? When is the best time to catch their attention?
Step 2: Choose Your Platform
First, you need to understand that you can’t be everywhere at once, it’s a recipe for failure. You’ll burn out in the process and disappoint yourself and your audience. Focus on building an audience on one platform first, and then you can branch out as you grow.
There are a few variables that come into play when choosing your ideal platform. To keep it simple, focus on the intersection of your audience’s preferences without ignoring your own.
1) What’s Your Audience’s Preference?
Where does the majority of your audience hang out? You should’ve already answered this question while creating your buyer persona. If you’re targeting Justin Bieber fans, they’re probably not on Medium reading blogs. In this case, the majority of your audience is more likely to be on Instagram.
Having said that, don’t take anything for granted or make decisions based on fleeting assumptions. Do your research and find where your audience congregates online. It’s critical to validate your assumptions with real data before deciding to invest your time in a chosen platform.
2) What’s Your Personal Preference?
I don’t mean what’s your favorite platform for consuming content. I mean what’s your preferred medium for communicating your thoughts and promoting your work? To answer that, you need to ask yourself what are you naturally good at? Seriously, what’s your preference?
If you’re good at writing, start a blog and use Twitter as your main social media channel. Or maybe you’re a good photographer and like to create visual content, then build an audience on Instagram. If you’re a good conversationalist and love to talk, start a podcast.
Promoting yourself online is simple but not easy. If you choose to do what you’re naturally good at, you’re more likely to succeed. You’ll be able to sustain the effort until you start reaping the benefits. Don’t frustrate yourself by choosing something you won’t enjoy.
Step 3: Create Valuable Content
Now that you know who your audience is and where to find them, you have to grab their attention by contributing and adding value. You do that by creating content that your audience values, cares about, and likely to engage with.
If you have done your due diligence in creating your buyer persona, then you already have the information you need to create content that resonates with your audience and grabs their attention.
There are three kinds of content that work best on the internet:
1) Educational Content
Educational content is one of the best ways to add value to your audience. You can create tutorials and show people how you do what you do and help them learn to do it themselves. Teaching others is not only a valuable contribution to your audience, but also positions you as authority in your industry.
2) Entertaining Content
Whatever you do, don’t be boring. Find a way to keep your audience entertained in a way that ties in to your brand. Don’t take yourself too seriously and share your humorous side with your audience. Never become too predictable, recreate and reinvent.
3) Inspirational Content
What inspires you to do what you do? Sharing inspiring stories, personal experiences, quotes, and ideas, can help you create an emotional connection with your audience. This will show different layers of your personality and helps you build rapport with your audience.
Create your own theme and stick to it, don’t let your content sway too far from your brand. Every piece of content should be highly targeted, optimized to for sharing, and platform-specific. It should achieve its intention without risking your brand value.
The best content is a combination of two or more of the above categories. If you can educate, entertain, and inspire at the same time, you’re more likely to create a stronger connection with your audience. If you can sustain this over a long period of time, your success is inevitable.
Step 4: Find Your Groove
How often should you post? Your average marketing guru will tell you to dash out as much content as possible. The truth is, there’s no simple answer. It depends on what you do, the platform, the preferences of your audience, your resources, and your ability to produce valuable content in a timely manner.
1) Quality Vs. Quantity
There’s a ridiculous amount of content on the web and the competition for attention is fierce. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to be creative and produce compelling content at a high velocity. It’s not a matter of this or the other, you need both quality and quantity.
When it comes to quality, I mean value. You can film a video with a 4K camera, but if the content is weak, the production quality isn’t going to save you. The value is in the content itself not just in the quality of its production.
When it comes to quantity, more isn’t always better. You need to understand how the algorithm of your chosen platform works and test it over a period of time to find your sweet spot. Avoid the law of diminishing returns and don’t waste away your content by posting more than needed.
2) Consistency Vs. Frequency
Consistency is what separates the amateurs from the pros. If you post sporadically, you’re setting up yourself for failure. It doesn’t matter how good your content is, you need to be consistent and find your groove.
Consistency could be achieved by posting 10 times a week or only 3 times a week. Don’t post 10 times a week and then post only twice the week after or take a week off before you post again. You’re better off posting 3 times a week every week rather than confusing your audience with an unpredictable schedule.
Frequency helps increase visibility. On YouTube for example, posting 2 to 3 videos a week should keep you in the good books with both your audience and the algorithm. On Twitter you should tweet at least 3 times a day for optimal results.
In conclusion, Your success on the internet depends on how quickly and easily you can move content that resonates with your audience. But it’s not the same for everyone, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own groove.
Step 5: Build A Relationship with Your Audience
While great content is the most important piece of the puzzle, you will need to go beyond that to make sure you’re building a good relationship with your audience. The following three ways will help you do that:
1) Share Your Story
Story telling is key in creating a strong emotional connection with your audience. You have to open up and share your personal stories and experience. As a result, It gets your audience to know you better and relate to you. and believe in you as an experienced individual who can contribute to their journey.
2) Be A Conversation Starter
At the end of the day, it’s not about you it’s about your audience. So, ask questions and let them share their stories too. Allow them to voice their opinion. Let them give you feedback and have a say in what you’re doing. Listen closely and be compassionate.
3) Engage and Respond
Your audience wants your attention as much as you want theirs. Do your best to reply to every comment, answer every question, and make conversation. Not only will it boost your engagement rate, but it’ll strengthen the relationship with your audience by making them feel seen and appreciated.
The main thing to keep in mind here, is to keep the human element alive. People want to interact with people who they like and admire. It shouldn’t be a one-sided relationship; we all know those ones don’t work.
Step 6: Build Relationships with Influencers
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this step. It’s by far the most effective way to reach a large and highly targeted audience and promote yourself online.
1) Identify Key Influencers
Who are the key influencers in your industry? Do your research and make a list of all the influencers in your industry that could help you distribute your content to your audience and spread your message.
2) Qualify Key Influencers
Distill your list of influencers into those who are more likely to work with you based on your current audience size and marketing budget. Aim for those who are slightly ahead of you and work your way up as you grow.
3) Work Your Way In
Follow the qualified influencers and engage with them consistently. Share their content, help them spread their ideas, and find ways to add value. At some point, they will start noticing you and maybe even engaging with you.
After you’ve been actively engaging with them for a while, you can message them privately and start building a relationship. Don’t ask for favors, instead, look for opportunities to create win-win situations where you help them promote their content and they help you promote yours.
Step 7: Measure Your Results and Make Changes
You can’t grow what you can’t measure. Therefore, you can’t promote yourself online without analyzing what’s working and what’s not. How else would you know what changes you should make? So, If you want to keep growing, keep measuring and improving.
1) Identify Key Metrics
Not all metrics are born equal. Your key metrics should be directly derived from your key objectives. What are you trying to accomplish? The trick is to marry the right metrics to the right objectives and track them closely. The numbers will tell you a story so you can make the necessary changes.
2) Avoid Vanity Metrics
Some metrics can elude you into thinking that you’re making progress. For example, if you’re trying to increase revenue generated from social media ads, an increase in follower count is not an indicator of success. If you focus on the wrong metrics, you’ll make the wrong changes and get poor results.
The online space is becoming more competitive by the minute. So, if you want to promote yourself online and build an engaged audience, you have to be willing to put in the time and the effort. You must be patient, because your hard work might be ignored for a while. Don’t give up too soon, it’s meant to be a continuous learning process. If you follow the steps above and stay consistent, soon enough the world will start taking notice.