How To Write Compelling Content For Your Small Business

marciehillEvery week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Marci Hill. Marcie Hill, M.S., is a freelance writer, blogger, author, and speaker who left her job and 12-year career in human resources to pursue her dream of writing. Her written successes can be found in international, national, and local print and online publications. She has written over 3,000 blog posts; self-published seven books; and presented at national and local blogging and social media conferences. For more information, visit: www.marciewrites.com.

SmallBizLady: HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED IN FORBES?

Marcie Hill: It was not easy. I found the name of an editor on Google who provided tips on how to get published in Forbes. I sent her at least five topic pitches over a period of several months before she finally said yes to my bio article. Also, I followed her instructions on how to pitch to her.

SmallBizLady: HOW DO YOU RECOMMEND A PERSON TO GET THEIR ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN A PREMIER PUBLICATION?

Marcie Hill: Read and research publications before pitching. You want to find out if the topic of the article you want to write has been written. If it has, what’s missing from what’s been published and how can you add to it? You also want to find the writers guidelines by conducting a web search on “Writers Guidelines for (name of publication). Find the editor of the department you want to write for so you can pitch directly to him or her and not the general mailbox. Finally, write and edit your query letter/story pitch according to the writers guidelines and then send it to the editor.

SmallBizLady: SHOULD YOU EXPECT TO GET PAID FOR THE ARTICLE?

Marcie Hill: Typically, you won’t get paid for this article. Especially, if it is your first time writing for them. The publication will usually consdier your contribution a “guest post”. But having Forbes or something similar in your portfolio, along with a published book, can generate a ton of business!

Try to make sure your article is linked to something you are selling. Readers will look for you and can be ready to buy.

SmallBizLady: HOW DO YOU GENERATE INCOME FROM THIS ARTICLE?

Marcie Hill: Before you pitch the article, you can publish an eBooklet with a similar title and sell it on your site and on Amazon. This eBooklet will generate sales for you as people read the article both when it is published and in the future. You are also far more likely to get requests for your services when people find your article. Finally, you can point prospective customers to your article. It gives you extra credibility and prestige!

SmallBizLady: HOW WOULD YOU PITCH AN ARTICLE TO A POPULAR BLOG?

Marcie Hill: The process for pitching publications and blogs is similar, depending on the size of the site. For larger blog sites, the process is the same. It’s sometimes easier to get your articles published on smaller blogs because the owner is usually the editor. So when you contact the editor, you’re reaching the person directly.

SmallBizLady: SO, WE’VE LEARNED HOW TO PITCH CONTENT, WHAT KINDS OF CONTENT CAN YOU USE TO GROW YOUR #SMALLBIZ?

Marcie Hill: First, I want to remind business owners that content comes in all flavors: written, images, video, audio, infographics, slides, memes, animated gifs and webinars. Even this #SmallBizChat is a form of content.

SmallBizLady: WHAT MAKES CONTENT COMPELLING?

Marcie Hill: There are several things that make content compelling regardless of the format.

  1. You need to answer a question; solve a problem; or entertain your audience.
  2. Use stories to capture and keep your audience’s attention.
  3. Your results can be successes and lessons learned.
  4. Visuals – photos, graphics, charts, infographics, memes – add impact to your message.

Originality = Your content + your personality + your creativity

SmallBizLady: WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS FOR WRITING AND CONTENT CREATION?

Marcie Hill: There are lot of things that need to be written for your small business: letters, emails, newsletters, press releases, business proposals, blog posts and social media content. Here is a general content creation process for all projects:

  1. Brainstorm your topic idea
  2. Outline your topics
  3. Decide on a format – audio, video, images, text
  4. Create the content
  5. Edit and revise the content
  6. Promote your content, if applicable

SmallBizLady: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO CREATE CONTENT?

Marcie Hill: It depends on the project and the project goals. A blog post can take an hour to write and edit but a business proposal can take weeks.

SmallBizLady: WHY IS CONTENT CREATION IMPORTANT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES?

Marcie Hill:

  1. It boosts your credibility as a subject matter expert.
  2. It helps promote your brand and your projects
  3. It enhances communication with your clients, employees, vendors and other stakeholders

It’s important to remember that small business owners have to promote online and offline.

SmallBizLady: WHAT SHOULD A #SMALLBIZ OWNER DO IF THEY NEED HELP CREATING CONTENT?

Marcie Hill:

  1. Start with the end in mind. What is your goal for the message?
  2. Be realistic about your schedule and the time you have to create
  3. Editing is crucial
  4. Hire a writer if you’re not good at writing. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for
  5. Be patient and creative
  6. Depending on the project, you need to promote your content

SmallBizLady: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE AN ENTREPRENEUR WHO WANTS TO GENERATE AN INCOME FROM A GUEST POST?

Marcie Hill: First, write about a topic that you want to create products and services around. Second, be strategic about which publication you post it in. It doesn’t have to be huge like Forbes; it could be a trade publication that caters to your ideal audience. Third, keep pitching if you’re rejected. 

SmallBizLady: ANY OTHER ADVICE?

Marcie Hill: Be patient and creative. In the event you publish an article and it doesn’t generate an income, repurpose that article and pitch somewhere else. Also, create workshops and other products around that topic.

If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.

Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz

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