Contents is king!

Fiona Pullen, author of Craft a Creative Business and founder of The Sewing Directory, shares why quality website content is so important to your business

INTRODUCTION TO CONTENT MARKETING
You've probably heard people saying that 'content is king' and that content marketing is really important to your business. However, you may be wondering what exactly content marketing is and why you should do it.

WHAT IS CONTENT MARKETING?
Content marketing is the process of creating useful content to draw people to your website with a specific end goal in mind. That end goal could be getting visitors to buy your products, book your services, join your mailing list or share your site with others.

You should know the purpose of your content marketing before you start planning to write, so you can make sure it directs people towards this ultimate goal. So what classes as content and how can it be useful?

Content is anything that will attract and retain the interest of your target audience from a written article, video, podcast to an info-graphic or images. All content should be useful and valuable to your site visitors. It could solve a problem, save them time, teach them a new skill. It's important to know who your target audience is so your content can benefit them in some way. The more helpful and useful that content is, the more likely you are to attract people to it, and the more inclined they'll be to share it. When done correctly it should lead to more traffic to your website, improved search engine rankings, more social shares and more sales. So in a nutshell, content marketing is offering useful information that will attract people to your website which directs them towards your goal.

Looking at a practical example, I've a huge list of really useful sewing links on my site. There are around 100 links to useful articles which includes information on how to use a sewing machine, how to handle different fabrics, how to use commercial sewing patterns and much more. This is convenient to sewers because I've drawn together useful information into one place, so saving my visitors hours trawling the internet to find the most practical guides and placing it on one single page on my site saving them time and effort (if you want to take a look: www.thesewingdirectory.co.uk/learn-to-sew-useful-links).

My ultimate goal with this piece of content was to get people sharing my site, expanding my reach and attracting more site visitors and more links back to my site. I've also reminded people in the post that if they find it useful they can use the social share buttons to share it with other people. This post has now become my most shared article on the site, reaching tens of thousands of people.

POPULAR TYPES OF CONTENT
Here's three types of content that are commonly used that you can consider including on your site:

1. Evergreen posts An evergreen post is a post that will always be popular and obtain lots of traffic, such as my useful sewing links post. These are normally problem-solving posts. Think about what sort of things people tend to Google time and time again. Not just current trends but questions that people will still be searching in three, five, or ten years' time such as "How can I do x?" "Where can I find x?" and "How can I use y?"

These can also be the kind of posts that also save people time. If you sell linen fabric for example and you create a post with links to fifty great projects using linen, then that saves people having to trawl through hundreds of blogs, or several pages of Google to find what they want. They can go straight to your website and click through to the project that sounds most like what they're looking for. Always remind people in that post that they can buy the linen for any of the projects from your site too. Directing them towards your end goal of increasing sales. This type of post is likely to be bookmarked and shared on social media.

2. Linkable assets Linkable assets are similar to evergreen posts, they will include information that visitors will want to link back to, and will generate many natural back links over time. However, they don't just have to be a post or article; they can be a video, free download, software program, free tool or an e-course.

You may not know when writing content or creating something for your site that it will become an evergreen post or linkable asset. Keep an eye on your analytics to see if anything is attracting a large amount of traffic, and then make sure you keep it updated and well-promoted. Why not build on it and make it even better and more appealing? Also don't forget to link from your killer content to your end goal - for instance linking to your shop if you're selling products, or to your workshops timetable if you teach by adding a sentence to the bottom. You may be able to squeeze it into the article somewhere, or put a box on the side of the page or banner across the top.

3. On-trend and event-led content This type of content may not have long-term advantage but can have excellent short-term benefits. It can be content related to a seasonal event such as Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter. Obviously there's only a limited amount of time each year that these will be relevant but they can attract a whole host of traffic during that time. You can, of course, update it and re-promote it the following year so it will continue to pay dividends. You can also make use of trend-led content based upon current events such as a big industry show, a hot new product or a new TV series. I did a series of posts when The Great British Sewing Bee was on TV, featuring the supplies used in the episodes. I wrote them while watching the series and put them live within an hour after. These four posts trebled my site traffic that month! Even after the show had ended, my stats only dropped slightly, and not back to where I started resulting in an extra 15-20,000 visitors per month long-term.

The key to event-led content is doing it fast! You want to be ahead of everyone else and as soon as possible after the event has taken place. With the Sewing Bee posts, I'd get as much information as I could while the show was on, put it live within minutes of the episode finishing and then added to it afterwards. That meant I had something up there to promote and for people to read, and I could build on it later when I had more time.

If you have an innovative new product coming out, find out as much as possible about it and get a post live before it even hits the shop. Then when people hear about it and start searching for details, your post will be one of few for them to choose from. You don't need to know everything, just some basics details and perhaps some speculation (so long as you make it clear it's speculation). You can let people know there's only limited information available at the moment but that you'll update the post when more information is available. Of course, if you'll be stocking the product, make sure to link to them in the post.

Keeping on top of things like this is important. Follow manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors on social media to be one of the first to find out what's coming out. Industry trade shows and publications are also very good for this as well.

ALWAYS ASK YOURSELF A FEW QUESTIONS BEFORE CREATING CONTENT:
What content could you put on your site to help attract visitors? What is the end goal for your content?
Are there any common questions asked that you could answer?
Is there a time saving article you could write?
Do you have useful tips you can share? It's time to get brainstorming and content creating!

Fiona Pullen's book Craft a Creative Business is published by Search Press and is an essential business guide for creative entrepreneurs. Find more business guides on her new business website: www.craftacreativebusiness.co.uk. Craft a Creative Business, ISBN 9781782210528, retails at £12.99 and is available from the Search Press, www.searchpress.com.

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