In the early 2010s, bloggers were queens. I was a mommy blogger (although I hated that phrase) for many years around this time. I made some money, some friends, and discovered so much about marketing and how to start a blog to get leads. Plus, I got to write. What’s better than that?
Back then, I didn’t have anything to sell but my stories, and the currency was my readers’ attention. Y’all, my first post was about my new stove — I mean, really now. Blogging has since gone out of style for me and the blogging crew I ran with (ran as in, Tweeted with in all hours of the night), but I still think knowing how to start a blog to get leads is essential for many small and networking marketing businesses. While blogging for business isn’t “make or break”, it can provide a substantial lift to a business brand and provide great custom content for social. And also? It’s a great way to sell a product. Yep, I said it.
If you have a small business or networking marketing company, you may wonder why you should bother to start a blog to get leads. After all, you’re already having trouble juggling allthethings without adding blogging to the mix. Before I hop into the nitty gritty of starting your blog, I want to share three reasons you should register your URL and get started.
- Blogging can set you apart from others in your industry, networking marketing company or direct sales company. Shockingly few people are going this route, and the ones who are can potentially reach thousands of additional “cold” leads.
- Having a blog helps you sell without being salsey. When you make your blog about your life or your industry — or a combination of both — you will include products or services that you also sell.
- Your blogs can provide content that will serve your community and your ideal customers. That builds trust in you and your product.
How to Start a Blog to Get Leads
Before you begin, assess your comfort level. Blogging can feel a little intimidating when you start it up. How much time do you have to commit to launching your blog? How much money could you spend on monthly packages or hosting? Remember: You don’t have to spend anything on a blog. It’s a myth that you have to spend thousands of dollars for a simple blog! There are platforms out there that give you a nice, simple look and cost zero dollars.
Choose your Platform
Some of the most common platforms out there include:
- Wix (drag-and-drop interface and no tech skills needed; $8 per month when you pay for a year)
- SquareSpace (drag-and-drop interface and can be a bit complicated depending on what design you choose; around $12 per month)
- WordPress.com (free version gives you lots of bells and whistles, but includes ads; the professional version is $4 per month and includes your own .com)
- Strinkingly – This is a brand new one to me, but I’ll be building one for a lucky DIY Digital student and doing a tutorial on their Forever Free plan!
- WordPress.org (requires much more setup, including the purchase of hosting and a domain name but is incredibly powerful once set up) — I use Namecheap; they have a WordPress hosting package for only $22 for the whole year.
- Tumblr.com (quick and free, and a great solution for those who just want to blog and share their products; technically a social media platform, so it’s simple to use)
Plan your Content and Goal
Because your blog will be one part of your lead generation strategy, commit to your writing schedule, and then brainstorm 20 topics you could integrate with your product or service. After you do that, write 20 more topics that are related to your brand or industry. For instance, let’s use essential oils (since I’m helping a client with her Young Living website right now):
Topics with Product
- Essential oil blends for sleep
- Essential oil blends for energy
- Cooking with essential oils
- DIY recipes
Topics with Personality
- Mom life
- Healthy living journey
- Recap of a recent make-and-take event
- Traveling with kids
See how these work together to promote her product and her brand?
Include the type of product or service you want to link to in each article so it’s top of mind while you’re writing your thoughts.
Your next planning step deciding how often you’d like to publish. This is completely dependent on you and your time, and should be able to fit in with your other marketing scheduling without overwhelming you.
Can you commit to one new post per month? GREAT!Will you post three times each week? INCREDIBLE! Feeling the quarterly publication schedule vibe? Friend, that’s FANTASTIC!
Approach your blog from a place of service. What’s on your mind that could uplift, encourage, help, inspire or entertain your customers? What would they enjoy? That’s what you should write.
Next Steps: Tech
IT’S NOT SCARY…COME BACK! Seriously, learning how to start a blog for leads is not nearly as complicated as it seems — specially when I walk you through each step.
Next week, I’ll get into the specifics of starting your blog and beginning to generate leads!
What is a Lead Magnet?
In marketing terms, a lead magnet is a valuable resource that your leads — potential customers — can download or access in exchange for their contact information. If email addresses were currency, lead magnets would be the product your leads buy with their currency. The best lead magnets for direct sales have a high percieved value to your potential audience, giving them plenty of incentive to provide their email to you, as well as an invitation for you to contact them with information about your company, products or services.
You can find thousands of lead magnets online, and most likely, you’ve downloaded some yourself. Coupons, free gifts, samples, e-books, training guides, video access; these are all considered lead magnets. Lead magnets for direct sales can be a game changer for your business, as it can provide exceptional value to your customers, establish you as the go-to person, help you brand yourself, and so much more. If it can work for millions of brick-and-mortar and online retailers, it can work for your small business and direct sales business!
Lead Magnets for Direct Sellers
Of course, as a direct sellers or small business owner on a budget, freebies or complicated and time consuming e-books may be off the table. Additionally, you may be limited to what you can provide to an external audience according to your company’s policies and procedures. As you’re planning your lead mangets for direct sales, consider these factors: How much time can I commit to creating this? How much money can I allocate to a lead magnet? Does this adhere to my company’s rules? You might flex your creative muscles a bit when choosing your lead magnet, but it will pay off in spades, and can help you generate new leads on autopilot.
Gift with Purchase
One most-utilized lead magnets in the retail industry is the gift with purchase, and for good reason. It not only gives an added value to your customer, but also sales for your business. Gift with purchase can be anything with percieved value, from a handful of samples to a full-sized free product. For direct sellers, you may consider something complimentary to your product you can send for free — a small makeup bag if you sell makeup , a glass roller container for essential oils affiliates or deluxe samples of a full sized product for skincare consultants. In all three of these examples, the free gift is very inexpensive or complimentary to you. Makeup bags, glass rollers and small jars to distribute samples are all available for less than $1 per item. Each provide a personalized touch to your sales.
Video has exploded on social media, with live video being top of the list. In fact, more than 95% of brands in a recent survey said live video would be a part of their marketing plan. Video can help showcase your personality and solidify your personal branding for your direct sales business. It can also be used as a lead magnet! A video series can include tutorials on your products, DIY follow-along videos, demos and more. Once you decide on your video series topic, take some quick videos ( less than 2 minutes per video) and upload them to YouTube as unlisted videos. After your new lead signs up, send them the video links via email each day for the legnth of the series (p.s. email automation can help tremendlously with this!)
Your video series should have a percieved value to your potential customers. What can they learn from you that they can’t get elsewhere? How can you simplify their lives or meet a need? How can your video series solve their problems or address their pain points? Videos should address at least one of these questions. Remember: a video series is designed to show YOUR expertise with your product or service, so don’t stress about how it looks! A short smart phone video is all you need to get started.
If you’re the creative type, this lead magnets for direct sales idea is perfect for you. This category of lead magnets includes:
- Guide to..
- How to..
- Cheat Sheet
And so so SOOOO many more. Seriously, the list could go on and on with ulimited topics. A great digital download 1) solves a problem or addresses a your potential customers have and 2) compliments a paid product or service you offer. It has to fit both parts of this equation to work for your business. One of the most creative I’ve seen is from Young Living essential oils. I could mark off all the products I used, and the guide told me which YL products I could use instead. Brilliant!
Digital downloads are usually created in a design program like Canva, uploaded to a cloud store site (like a website, Google Drive or Dropbox, or email marketing platform), and emailed to the lead upon request. Again, automation can help this, but as you start, you can send them individually through your personal or business email address along with a personal note. Encourage your leads to engage with you by prompting questions or feedback about the digital download.
Don’t think you have design chops to knock out something like this? Think again! Canva has tons of pre-made templates in the platform and even more for purchase on other websites, like Etsy and Creative Market. It’s worth the investment!
“Answer some questions and we’ll tell you what kind of cheese you are!” Buzzfeed is basically the king of the quiz.
But they are definitely doing something right. Judging by my Facebook feed, people love to take quizes and share their results, which means the companies who created the quizes are getting traffic and leads while they sleep. Quizes can work for any type of company, and aren’t difficult to create. Your quiz should focus on the benefits of your product or service in a fun way, and each question should lead users to an outcome that compliments one of your products. For example, if you sell organizational tools, you may develop questions about your potential customers degrees of disorganization (“You’re a neat freak!” or “You’re a total pack rat!”) (but nicer, because who wants to be called a pack rat??) Your quiz results will provide: 1) an email address 2) valuable information about your customer 3) a ready-made sales tool for you to follow up with the specific product to meet their needs.
Quizes can be set up easily with almost no tech knowledge on Quiz Monkey.
Once you’re settled on the ideal lead magnet, get ready to find even more customers to nurture and serve!
My son was in Kindergarten when I started my business. His class was the K5 Beehive and I was simply delighted by all the themes in their classroom, called the k5 Beehive. I didn’t need much in the way of a simple mood board for my new company — from the get-go, in embraced the Honeycomb lifestyle.
I’m a huge proponent of brand consistency, but for me, it’s always been simple. Take my own personal “brand” for instance: I’m a southern girl who loves the color pink, cats, iced coffee, Disney, makeup and the beach. I bet you already have an idea of what a face-to-face meeting with me would be like. Knowing how I communicate — and as a result, the type of people I’m most likely to attract — helped me tremendously when I was running my direct sales business. My personal branding helped me attract the people who were most likely to buy from me, because I could tap into their pain points, likes and desires.
Simple Mood Board Tutorial
One part is knowing your idea customer persona, but another is knowing your own brand and the brand your company reflects, especially when you’re a direct sales pro or a solo-preneur — because in these cases, they are tied very closely together. A simple mood board — known in design circles as a collection of colors, fonts, textures, compositions and ideas that represent an overall brand — can help you establish your business brand and keep you consistent.
If you’re not sure where to start, follow these three simple steps to create a small business mood board that will help you capture the essense of you and your business.
Step 1: Make A Favorites List
Sometimes we’re so busy managing our lives and our day-to-day business that we don’t stop and think about what makes us (and our business) tick. Take a pad of paper and write down everything you love the most. Dig deep with this activity, and make sure you add in elements of your business “why”. Start with these questions:
- What’s your favorite color?
- What’s your favorite season?
- In what part of the country did you grow up?
- What’s your favorite TV show? Why?
- What’s your favorite music? Why?
- Why did you start your business?
- Who is your best customer?
- What is does your home look like?
- In what clothing do you feel most comfortable?
- Where do you like to travel?
- What is your most defining trait?
- What is your top product?
- How do your products or services make you feel?
These probing questions are just the start for building on small business branding ideas. The above activity not only helps you define what you want from your business, but how you want it reflected to your customers. There is an in-depth workbook exercise for my DIY Digital Member site students.
Step 2: Pin What Makes You Happy
I love using Pinterest to help me establish a mood board or a look for my brand, as well as find other small business branding ideas. Start fresh with a Pinterest board, type in something you love (a food, color, activity) in the search bar, and then pin to the newly created board. Don’t put too much thought into it — just search, pin, search. Don’t worry about where the pins lead; right now, we’re focusing on a look. Click and pin what catches your eye, and take advantage of suggested pins and search keywords provided by Pinterest.
Try this activity for three minutes a day for three days. After some supercharged pinning, you’ll be ready to step back and take a look at your board from a birds-eye view. Can you see patterns? Are there certain colors or fonts that stand out? We’re not reinventing branding here; you’re using established elements as a building block for your brand. This board is your simple mood board.
Step 3: Make an Image
Take a screenshot of your board for reference, and then load up Canva, PicMonkey or Word Swag (or any other app or program you use for photography and design). Snap a selfie and upload it to the site. Finally, pick a color and font that’s is similar to others on your board and type in a quote (or make one up!) that sums up what you see on the board.
Examples of font combinations via PicMonkey
It’s important to not think too much about what you’re doing during these initial exercises. Your brand will likely morph and change as you grow. Once you’ve completed the image, you can use it to gather feedback from your customers, build and tweak or start making templates based on the colors and themes (i.e. decide on one to three coordinating colors and one or two fonts).
Branding is essential to a small business, so it’s better to start with something than grow without any type of brand direction!
Hot dogs are on sale, fireworks booths are peppering parking lots across the nation, and corporate America is looking longingly at the calendar in anticipation of a day off: that can only mean one thing — Independence Day is almost here. If you’re working your business, you’re liking browing for fourth of july social post ideas, and that’s a good thing: it means you’re being intentional in your business.
Here’s the thing: hundreds of thousands of others are also posting their fourth of july social post ideas, too. It’s easy for your post to get lost in the chaos of brand posts and shares from friends and family. Here are some do’s and don’ts for your July Fourth social posts to help you stand out in the crowd and celebrate this uniquely USA holiday.
Fourth of July Social Post Ideas
- Do put thought into your post. Make it a reflection of you and your brand.
- Do keep your post subtle. I call it the “essense of holiday”, with just enough red, white, and blue to let your customers know it is, indeed, a July 4th post, but not so much that it fades into the background of all the other flag pictures on Facebook. Here are a few for inspiration from top brands.
- Do share products you use during Fourth of July celebrations. For instance, if you’re a direct seller for a cooking company, share a demo for a festive food using your product. It isn’t a sales post, but what I call a “positioning post”.
- Do engage with your customers! Post a poll or quiz about their own activities, ask them to choose their choice two of your favorite foods, post trivia about the holiday, or create your own meme.
- Don’t post your own videos from a fireworks display. Seriously, nobody wants to see those. They don’t photograph or video well, and if they wanted to see fireworks, they already saw them.
- Don’t share generic “Happy July 4th!”clip art, stock pictures of flags and fireworks, or branded posts from your company.
- Don’t post a spur of the moment image just to say you posted on July 4th. Last minute posts usually feel rushed, and in addition, it takes you out of your own celebrations. Plan ahead and be present.
- Don’t make your Fourth of July social post about sales. Although many brands have amazing holiday specials — including yours — your customers are probably not pulling out their wallets on July 4th. Post sales before the holiday or save them till the weekend after.
With these do’s and don’ts, you’ll have the tools to celebrate the holiday with your customers while enjoying time with your loved ones.
When you start a business, the first thing you need is a product or service. Then a website. Then a Facebook group. Then Facebook group engagement.
Ok, maybe that’s a little simplified — there are a few more steps in the process. But to jump start your digital marketing efforts, my first reccomendation is not a Facebook page, but rather a Facebook group. Groups are especially important if you are a representative of a company (i.e., a seller for a direct sales company) or have a business in a crowded industry (like design or photography). A group can give you more visibility than a Facebook page because you’re relying on more two-way communication between you and your group members. The more they engage, the more likely they are to see posts in the group. Additionally, a group is one of the two best ways to establish your brand, unique selling point and trust.
Facebook Group Engagement Ideas For a Thriving Group
The daily grind of posting to a Facebook group can be daunting , and I’m not going to lie: there are times when you want to just stop posting because nobody is paying attention anyway. The key is to make the group about community over sales. When your group participants feel valued, heard and appreciated, they will be more likely to not only buy your product, but to recommend you and your group to their friends. Stay the course, and try some of these Facebook group engagement ideas to get your group running on autopilot.
Make your group the go-to spot for your product or service by providing exclusive content just for your group. Sure, you may be tempted to open up the offer to everyone, but sticking with your group can build incredible raport. Here are some ideas:
- Write a blog post shared only with your group
- Create educational opportunities
- Share a tutorial or other video in your group
- Post the latest news first
Your group members are your VIPs – even if they haven’t purchased a thing. They have opted in to your group and business, so reward them with incentives to buy from you.
- Provide additional discounts or bonus offers
- Give out freebies or samples
- Open up pre-orders to your group first
- Create sample sales of merchandise selected for your group only
Group Votes or Polls
People love sharing their opinion, especially on Facebook (for better or for worse, y’all…) Voting is a simple way to get your group members involved so they will be more likely to see your content later, and when you tailor the questions and potential answers as part of your product or service (i.e. asking if they use foundation when you sell foundation) can be a form of market research to find out what your potential customers are seeking. Group votes can include photos and captions as well as the voting feature on Facebook. Try some of these prompts:
- Chocolate or vanilla?
- Cats or dogs?
- Beach vacation or camping vacation?
- Comedy or drama?
- Cooking dinner or eating out?
- Choose your favorite restaurant
- Flop flops or tennis shoes?
- What type of facial products do you use?
- What best represents your personal style?
Ask For Ideas
We shouldn’t presume our group members know what to do with our posts. When you ask specifically how they should respond, you’ll find a new level of engagement and community. Here are a few Facebook group engagement idea prompts to get you started.
- Selfie thread
- Animal thread/Pet thread
- Show your nails
- Show your jewelry
- Show your outfit
- Share your favorite gif
- Share a screenshot of your favorite movie/movie quote
- Type in your favorite color in the Gif bar and share what comes up
- Weekly “win”
With many industries, especially direct sales and creative businesses, your customers or ideal customers also provide a product or service for their own company. Give back to your community by offering one thread per week for them to share their offers, products, or services. Not only will you build a sense of community, you will also build goodwill with your group members.
There may be dozens of other groups out there, but there’s only ONE you. Stay consistent and true to your brand, and you’ll build a group that will help you sell in your sleep.
I spent the first week of 2019 on the Disney Fantasy, cruising the Carribbean, soaking up rays and eating my weight in pineapple and watermelon. It was a blissful 7 days at sea, as we opted out of any type of data plan. My phone wouldn’t load a text message even if I tried my hardest — and believe me, I tried. The social media notification withdraw is rough, y’all.
But after a few days, I learned to love the peace and quiet and gradually ignore the inner monologue that begged me to refresh just one. more. time.
As soon as I stepped foot back into port, I instinctively reached for my phone to check Facebook, and found nothing of interest. Literally 90 seconds later, I grabbed my phone again and started the scroll. Something clicked at that moment, and I decided to delete Facebook from my phone all together.
The constant crush of flashing red badges, rings and beeps can, at their best, be an annoying distraction for reaching your daily goals, and at their worst, a contributing factor to anxiety. Although my business is almost entirely online, and I coach others whose businesses are almost entirely online, I’ve found that switching off the constant stream of notifications not only focus on what I need to do, but also to keep my mind balanced and calm.
Focus on What’s Important
When we’re constantly connected to social media, everything becomes the most important thing. Each new like or comment or mention becomes your top priority. Here’s what’s up: none of it is that important. What are you missing out on when you’re checking notifications? It could be time with your family, time you could spend being creative, or time you could be spending on other income producing activities.
Take a few days and commit to being more intentional with your social media activity. It will take some extra awareness on your part, but will help you see what notifications you need to cut.
Turn Off Notifications
This one is a classic case of out of sight, out of mind. Once I disabled notifications, things started changing for my business. I disabled Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook Messanger, and Twitter, and moved other things into a folder on the second or third page of my phone. I kept only the essentials for managing my business on my smartphone on the homescreen so I wouldn’t have to search for something and accidently see a notification. I was simply breaking a bad habit, and after a few days, I noticed I was able to focus more on the tasks at hand while getting more done during my work time.
I’ve realized another culprit is email. We live in a world where email feels urgent, and for most issues, that’s not the case. If you can’t break the social media habits just yet, start wtih your email: turn off those alerts and close your email app while you’re focusing.
Multitasking is one of the biggest roadblocks to true productivity. Bottom line: it simply isn’t feasible. Our brains are not wired at all for multitasking. A speaker I heard recently explained our brains while multitasking like a lightbulb. We think we can work with both lights on, but in reality, our brain is turning each individual light on and off and on and off hundreds of times. This type of thinking not only depletes your energy, but it also makes you less efficient — and helps you retain less information.
Start small. Start a timer for 15 minutes and work on one income producing activity at a time. Don’t check your phone, email, or messages until you’re done. When you’re ready for longer stretches of “tasking”, try listening to some soft instrumental music (Spotify Focus playlists are my favorite!) Slowly but surely, you’ll start retraining your brain to ignore the distractions ( especially those flashing, dinging distractions) and be more productive than ever.
None of this is easy, especially when you feel like ignoring what’s happening on social medica can negatively effect your business. However, ignoring the fluff and committing to what can help your business thrive will change the game. It’s not easy, but it’s so, so worth it.