4 Effective Ways to Ensure You Post on Your Business Blog Consistently

If you are a small business owner who uses inbound marketing in their marketing strategy, you know how important it is to have a business blog. However; at the same time, it can be hard to post on the blog consistently. As a start up entrepreneur, you may have so many responsibilities that you may neglect some important tasks such as blogging.
I used to feel overwhelmed with the amount of tasks I had to accomplish, especially since I write for two blogs. At one point, one blog was suffering since I could only manage to post for one blog and then I would find that I don’t have enough time to post on the other one. I realized that I had to find ways of posting on both blogs consistently and effectively or decide to shut one down and concentrate on the one I could manage. Since I didn’t want to give up any of them (I love sharing information about baking on my Bakery blog and I love sharing about business as well ^_^), I decided to find ways to solve my problem. I want to share four ways that I guarantee have helped me manage to post consistently on my blogs and still manage to run a small bakery business as well. I hope they help you out as well.

Amari Bakery Blog - a business blog is very important

Amari Bakery Blog – a business blog is very important

1. Create a content calendar for your blog every month
The same way you create a calendar of daily and monthly tasks to complete in your business or personal life; you can apply the same for all your social media and blogging activities. This is also very effective since you get a big picture of your blog posts for the month and therefore; you are able to create goals for the month for your inbound marketing strategies, come up with topics for your blog for the month and prepare to write them. I have found it’s best to create your monthly content calendar a week before the beginning of the month you’re planning for. Allocate at least two hours of your time to sit down and plan your blog. State your goals for the upcoming month for both social media pages and the blog, and then brainstorm on the post topics you will be writing about. Take it another step further, write bulletin points for your topics, and come up with a suitable headline for your blog post. Using your calendar, schedule the days when you’ll post each of the posts – at least twice a week or more. If you have extra time (or you can allocate another two hours the next day), write your blog posts out, ready for posting. At least get enough posts for two weeks ready to go, so that you’re always ahead of the game.

Have a content calendar to plan your posts (Image: amazon)

Have a content calendar to plan your posts (Image: amazon)

2. Create reminders on your phone calendar or daily planner about the blog posts
You might have your calendar well planned and even written out, but you’ll find that maybe you got busy and forgot to post on your blog. Since entrepreneurs can have very hectic days, it’s best to schedule alarms that will remind you to post the blog on a specific day and time. If you’re often online at specific times daily, like during the morning hours (maybe between 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.), make sure you schedule a reminder for that time so as not to forget. That way, you’ll just take five minutes to post on your blog and move on to other tasks. I have found it quite effective to set reminders, they work.

Set reminders for when you'll post on your blog

Set reminders for when you’ll post on your blog

3. Choose one person to hold you accountable
You may plan your calendar and posts very well, but find that you are so busy that you’re not able to post on your business blog. You might even postpone your posts every time telling yourself that you’re too tired, you’ll post tomorrow – tomorrow never actually comes. I know how it feels like; trust me I’ve been there. I found that when I asked someone to hold me accountable, I was making sure to post weekly without fail. The person who holds me accountable is my sister (even to this day), she’s my business partner and she blogs as well; therefore I found that she was up to the task. If a week goes by and she doesn’t see more than one post on a blog, she asks me what’s happening. You should make sure you do the same; find one person who you either work with, or live with; maybe your significant other or any family member who fits the bill. This will motivate you to post weekly for sure.

4. Make sure you write down monthly marketing goals to achieve for your business
If you don’t do this for your business, you should start doing it. Some entrepreneurs write down monthly goals they want to achieve for their businesses in respect to sales or income. You should also write down marketing goals, they are just as important. This is because effective marketing leads to sales in your business, therefore; if you make effective marketing goals and achieve them, your sales will increase. It also comes in handy if you don’t achieve your monthly goals since you will be able to sit down and find out where the problem lies and solve it before it grows into a crisis. This is one way to prevent closing your business if it’s suffering and finding a way out or a solution. I can personally attest to this method having almost closed my business, but I re-strategized and found a solution before having to close my bakery. When you have clear marketing goals every month, you realize that you have to post on your blog and social media pages to assist you in reaching your sales goals. Therefore, when you see your reminder to post on your blog, you are more likely to do it since it ties to your sales goals and with that, achieving success.

Write down your marketing goals

Write down your marketing goals

Those are a few effective ways that I’ve found to assist me in posting on my blog consistently. Do you have any other ways you would like to share?
Please feel free to do so below.

Remember keep on the hustle, keep grinding and you’ll get there for sure ^_^

Blog of the Month for July 2014

As a female entrepreneur in Kenya, I find that time management, efficiency and effectiveness are necessary in my life. Running a start-up in any industry or country is not an easy task. Therefore; start-up entrepreneurs such as myself have to find ways in which one has to be very productive in everyday life in order to run a successful business and have a well-rounded life ( or at least as well-rounded as you can manage ^_^). To do this, I’m constantly looking for apps, websites, blogs e-books and other resources that can help me be better and more efficient at what I do. This is in every aspect of my life as well as my bakery business

Topics that I research and work on vary from being a better blogger, more effective marketing strategies, creating great visual content, being a better baker among other things. When I find good content and resources, I love to share so that many other entrepreneurs, especially in Kenya, can benefit just as I do. I have therefore decided I will start a ‘Blog of the month feature’ to share and highlight the blogs that offer effective resources on different topics and are very helpful to fellow entrepreneurs. Suggestions and comments are very welcome as well ^_^.

For the month of July my feature blog is the Hubspot Blog. I can say that a lot of what I know and implement in inbound marketing is based on what I have learned while reading the Hubspot blog. Not only do they have great content, they are very helpful and share up to date and effective advice on inbound marketing. They also offer numerous e-books you can download in different topics and templates to help you with content planning for your business. If you’re an entrepreneur in Kenya, you need to subscribe to this blog and start reading it at least five times a week (and that’s my minimum recommendation – I read their content daily!)

Hubspot provides advice on Inbound marketing

Hubspot provides advice on Inbound marketing

7 Ways to Create Marketing that People will Love

Marketing has evolved drastically in the last decade. Traditional marketing consisted of TV, Radio and newspaper advertisements, billboards, spreading flyers and brochures outside to passer-bys, sending e-mails to random lists of people, calling random people in their home phones to sell them services, among other types of outbound marketing. This kind of marketing does not talk with people, it talks at people. This kind of marketing does not engage with its target customers and with time, people stopped listening. Businesses realized that this kind of marketing was not really effective so they turned to a different kind of marketing – inbound marketing. This kind of marketing focuses on attracting the right kind of customers and engaging with them. Inbound marketing asks for permission to engage with its target customers and to send them e-mails and texts. This kind of marketing has the potential to make your target customers love your brand marketing. It gives you the platform to create marketing that will have your customers loving your brand and wanting to engage with it. So how can one create marketing that people will love you wonder?

Well, it’s not very easy, but with a healthy dose of commitment, a scoop of research and testing, a handful of hard work and a pinch of working smart; you’ll have a perfect recipe for loveable marketing ^_^.

Create loveable marketing!

Create loveable marketing!

Select your target market/customers

Whether you’re a business selling products and services, an NGO, a school organization or a community; you cannot market to everyone. It’s like trying to please everyone out there; we all know that is not possible. Therefore, the best thing to do is to determine who you are marketing to, who your audience is and then create a strategy that has that target market in mind. You could be a young adult fiction writer; therefore your target would obviously be young adults. You could be a community based youth group based in Riruta, therefore your target audience would be youth between the ages of 18 to 35 years old who reside in Riruta, Nairobi. If it helps, you can even create target personas; that is, a person who is a dream customer for your brand marketing. A great example is if an online bakery in Nairobi is creating a marketing strategy; one of the target customer personas would be:

Online bakery customer persona

Online bakery customer persona

Jane, a 29 year old, Project coordinator for a company based on Ngong road, loves online shopping for utmost convenience, works 6 full-time days a week, accesses the internet at least 5 – 6 hours a day, bakes at home when she has time, has a sweet tooth.

With that persona in mind, the online bakery is able to create content for Jane that she will love. Every brand or organization that is marketing should make sure it defines it’s target market in order to attract the right audience and then create marketing that will resonate with that audience.

Create content that resonates with your target audience

After you have defined your target audience, you should then create content that will appeal to your audience. The best way to create content is by creating a blog for your brand or organization. You should post on the blog consistently and frequently to stay relevant. The blog should have content that is geared towards your target audience. Using the example above; the bakery blog would contain home-baking tips for Jane to use while she’s baking at home. It can also contain updates on important events, sales or tips that will help or involve customers of the bakery e.g. discounts on certain baked goods, improved payment or delivery systems or any events that are upcoming.

Content does not only include blog posts, it also includes pictures to be shared on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram pages, quotes to be shared on Twitter, short videos to be shared on Instagram and/or YouTube. Whatever the content you are creating, you should always have your target audience in mind.

Connect and engage with your audience

After attracting your target audience; whether they have already purchased products or services from you or not, you should make sure you engage with them. It is not enough to post and share your content on your social media pages; you should also talk to your audience and get feedback from them. Using the above example of Jane; the online bakery owner should not only post pictures of baked goods, tips on baking at home and recipes. The owner should also ask Jane what kind of recipes she would like posted on the bakery blog and her opinion of the products she has tasted from the bakery. When you engage with your audience, they feel listened to and important to your brand; they are likely to become brand ambassadors and may promote your business offline.

Make your audience smile or laugh

If you see a funny picture or a hilarious joke on your Facebook timeline or Twitter handle; you are more likely to share it to your friends, than a plain post about facts. As much as sharing factual content on your page is good, it’s also important to evoke positive emotion from your audience by posting posts, quotes, pictures or videos that will make your target audience smile or laugh. It also shows your audience that you are capable of having fun and that is definitely loveable. Make sure the content you share is not harmful or hurtful; don’t have a laugh at the expense of anyone.

Make your audience laugh ^_^

Make your audience laugh ^_^

Research and change your marketing strategy often

Whether you are a community-based organization or a business brand, it’s very important to know that the market changes often. What was popular or convenient last year has possible lost popularity this year or isn’t as convenient. Audiences change their preferences often in this day and age and your marketing strategy has to adapt appropriately. For a brand to keep up, you have to make sure you are constantly researching. Research should be on various things; current trends your target audience is following, new technology e.g. apps or websites, new inbound marketing trends and methods, to name a few. You should carry out this research periodically to ensure that your marketing activities are effective; if they have stopped being as effective as they were six months ago, change them.

Don’t oversell

If you’re a business that sells products or services, don’t start sounding like a salesperson. Find a balance, especially on social media; or use the 20 – 80 rule. Post content that is helpful and engages with your audience 80% of the time and post 20% content about your products and/or services. If you seem like your selling too much to your audience; they will not engage with you and they might stop following your brand. They will stop listening to you.

Give away free stuff once in a while

Who doesn’t love free stuff? I do! Sometimes people just love getting free products or services. Offer free items to your target audience in form of contests, raffles or trivia. This increases engagement on your pages and your target audience will just love you for it! This will increase your reach and popularity as well.

These are just a few ways of ensuring marketing love from your audience and we can all use a little love for sure!

If you have any other suggestions on spreading marketing love please share below.

* This post appeared originally on the Storymoja Blog.

4 Easy Ways to Start Using Inbound Marketing for Your Start-Up in Kenya

As an entrepreneur who has started a small business in Kenya, I know that small businesses have a very small marketing budget. Therefore, a small business in Kenya has to find the most effective ways to attract customers. The conclusion is obvious, running a small business in Kenya in this day and age, requires the use of inbound marketing which focuses on attracting your customers instead of going out to find them (which requires quite a budget). If you have recently been introduced to inbound marketing, you may wonder how to get started on using inbound in your small business.

Here are four easy ways to get started.

1. Research

Research is necessary in any business marketing strategy, especially inbound marketing. If you’re not sure how to start using inbound marketing, it is necessary to research on the basics of what it is and how it is implemented. You should also make sure you find out if other businesses in your industry are using inbound marketing and how. A great way to start is by visiting Hubspot’s website, they are leaders in inbound marketing strategies and very helpful on how to get started.

Hubspot provides advice on Inbound marketing

Hubspot provides advice on Inbound marketing

Before I first started my business, I found out what inbound marketing was, then I read about it and collected as many resources as I could on how to implement inbound in my business (I download Hubspot e-books and templates almost everyday ^_^). I also make sure that to this day I never stop learning and researching on inbound marketing as it evolves. Make sure you keep up with the necessary practices and effective inbound marketing activities.

Research is necessary in your business (Courtesy: iserotope.com)

Research is necessary in your business (Courtesy: iserotope.com)

2. Get a website

The first step towards inbound is setting up a website for your small business and making sure it’s search engine optimized (SEO) to attract your target customers. In Kenya there are many companies to choose as domain providers to host your website. For a simple start, you can visit kbo.co.ke, they give you options of companies to host your website, but most importantly you can get started on your website for free at first (your website name will however have a .kbo tag on it). After you set up and get cash, you can then pay for your own domain name. Safaricom also offers a domain provider based on size you can choose to start up. There are many options on getting your website up and running. I started my website using kbo to set-up, since it’s a Google site builder website, this is preferable if you cannot afford a website designer when starting. With this kind of website, you can set up the website yourself and design it as you wish. 

Google Business Sitebuilder is easy to use to set-up your website

Google Business Sitebuilder is easy to use to set-up your website

3. Start at least two social media pages

A second step towards an effective inbound marketing strategy in Kenya is social media. After you attract your target customers or leads (potential customers), you should engage with them; to get feedback, keep in touch with them, among many other things. Most people these days are on social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn, to name a few. It’s best to start with the two most popular networks, Facebook and Twitter; this will be simpler for you as you decide if you want to add pages on other networks. It’s also simpler to start with two networks that you can observe, keep track of and analyze your progress as you’re starting. When you can manage it, you can extend your brand to other networks as well. 

Amari Facebook Page

Amari Facebook Page

I started with Facebook and Twitter for my business as well since I can use Facebook insights and Hootsuite for Twitter analytics to keep track of my progress and reach.

Amari Twitter Page

Amari Twitter Page

4. Start a business blog

It is imperative for a successful inbound marketing strategy to start a business blog. A blog allows you to create content that will attract the right kind of leads for your business. By creating content on a weekly (or even daily) basis, you stay relevant on search engines and have a higher chance of getting more customers – which leads to higher sales for your small business. You can use blogging platforms such as WordPress or Google Blogger to get started on your blog. However, if possible; if you can get a blogging platform on your website when it’s being designed, it’s a better option. It means that you will be getting direct traffic to your website because of your blog. 

Amari Bakery Blog

Amari Bakery Blog

For my bakery business, I used Google blogger to get my bakery blog started and to this day at least 50% of my monthly sales are from leads through the business blog. 

I hope the above steps are helpful on your journey to effective inbound marketing for your small business in Kenya. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to state them below.

Remember to work hard and work smart ^_^

5 Ways to Market Your Business Online

In this day and age, any business person or any company that would like to conduct business would be wise to use online marketing as part of their marketing plan. This is because it is highly likely that your target customers are online. This applies to any industry in business; whether you are a writer, photographer, film-maker, blogger, baker, lawyer etc. You can market your business online through various channels; here are five effective ways that a business person can use online.

 

Social Media

Most people who go online everyday visit their social media pages at least 80% of the time. So it makes sense for a business person to set up business pages on social media sites to attract their customers. You can start with popular sites such as; Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google +, among others. You can choose to focus on two or three of these sites depending on your industry and where your target customers mainly visit. An example is a restaurant owner, he or she should focus on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest due to the visual nature of their products. A lawyer can focus on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn because he/she is looking for networking opportunities in his/her business. After you set up your pages, make sure you post daily to keep your audience engaged.

Your customers are engaging on Facebook (Courtesy: wikihow.com)

Your customers are engaging on Facebook (Courtesy: wikihow.com)

Blogging

Any business that is online should start a business blog. This is a great way of attracting your target market online. This applies to any industry as well; writers, photographers, chefs, bakers, lawyers etc. To attract visitors to your blog, you should post information or visual content relating to your industry, thus attracting an appropriate audience for your products or services. You can start a blog using different blog servers such as Wordpess, Google’s Blogger, if you have visual content, you can start a blog using Flickr or Tumblr. Make sure you post on your blog frequently and consistently, e.g. 2 or 3 times every week.

Bakery Blog

Bakery Blog

Website

As a business online, you should make sure you have a website for your business to post your products, services, prices and pictures. A website is like your online physical location, it represents your business when you’re not there. You can use different domain providers to get a website for your business that they can host for you. Most websites have a annual fee that is quite economical. You can use blogging sites to turn your website into a domain e.g. WordPress or Blogger. You can also use providers such as Google (i.e. Google site builder), KENIC, Safaricom and many more companies that offer the service.

E-Mail

You can use e-mail marketing as well in your business. An easy way is to offer monthly e-mail newsletters to your target audience in which you could offer industry information and coupons or sale discounts as well. A great idea is when an interested audience member chooses to get e-mail notifications for your blog posts; therefore they receive an e-mail every time you post on your blog. You can have pages on your website or post on social media, inviting your target audience to sign up for e-mail newsletters. This is a great way to turn a lead or prospect into an actual customer.

Online Marketing Sites

You can get an account on online marketing sites to sell your products or services. Examples are; Olx, E-Bay, Amazon, Mzoori and many others. You can also choose industry relates sites such as Smashwords for fiction writers that sell e-books. Others such as Cheki for automobile sellers or Jumia for online shoppers. These sites give your business other portals to attract target customers online. Now that you know you can market your business, products or services online in these five effective ways; go and start the necessary business pages you require and start engaging with your target market. Whether you’re a fiction e-book writer, or a chef, a baker, a blogger or even a lawyer, I guarantee you that online marketing is very effective.

This post appeared originally in the Storymoja Hay Festival Blog