Content marketing is one of the most common approaches to building a business today—in part because it's so successful! The basic idea of content marketing is that a company provides "content" free of charge to its customers. That content can be anything from funny videos featuring new products to helpful how-to guides. They type of content you create will depend on your brand, but it all has one goal in common: to build relationships. The more value you offer your customers, the more brand loyal they become. But in a handmade business, creating enough content for effective content marketing can really cut into your time to actually work on your products! Here are some tips and tricks to putting together a marketing plan that will help you build your business without taking over your life.
Identify your audience
You want your content to be as useful as possible, so make sure you're creating content for the right audience. If you primarily create kids' clothes, make sure that your content is useful for parents and their kids—things like Halloween costume guides, how to measure kids for custom clothes, and fun images from customers wearing or using your creations. These are great for kid-centric companies, but don't make sense for, say, a company focused on raw denim jeans. Knowing who you're talking to shapes what you say, so take the time to research who your customers are and what they might want.
Assess your strengths
Are you a stellar photographer? Prefer to write posts? Maybe you're a master of memes. Whatever your strengths are, play to them. There's no sense in struggling through lots of photo-based posts if photography is a challenge. Though you do want to have a variety of content available, focusing on your strengths will keep you from wasting time and let you know what areas you should seek help with.
Plan it out
One of the biggest issues with content marketing is trying to wing it. With so many platforms all requiring more content all the time, it's easy to get overwhelmed just trying to keep up, and you can lose sight of why you're creating all this content in the first place. You need to have a plan. That's not to say you can never do anything spontaneous. In fact, having a plan makes it easier to pivot and change things up, because you know exactly how much time you have to devote to it at any given point.
Emails are one of the strongest tools you have when it comes to content marketing. On social media platforms or your company website, you're relying on people coming across your content. With email, you can go straight to your customers. No one likes spam, though, so make sure that when you email, you're providing real value. Give your customers the ability to opt in or out of certain types of emails so you can give them just what they're looking for. If possible, track your customers' buying habits, and use that to show them more content they're most interested in, rather than sending general emails to your entire audience. Targeted mailing campaigns are much more effective at getting your customers to engage and make purchases.
When it comes to marketing, never assume saying something once is enough. Say you're launching a new product. Hype it up before the big launch date, celebrate on the day, and then don't stop talking about it. Not only does this make sure that it stays front-of-mind with your customers, but it makes it much easier for you to keep up with the constant grind of generating new content.
Recycle and repackage
Clever content marketers get good at using the same piece of content—or at least the idea behind it—in as many ways as possible. For example, you've created a blog post on your website, including a fun tutorial and some great pictures. You can share the images on your Instagram feed, directing visitors to check out the tutorial on your site. You can tweet about the new blog post, tweet about the helpful tutorial, tweet about the cute new sewing project and how you made it, tweet about learning a new technique—all using the same link to direct users back to the original content. So even though it's important to keep creating new content all the time, it's also important to make sure that you're putting your existing content to work in as many ways as possible.
Work with partners
There are lots of us out here in the handmade community, and we love nothing more than the opportunity to talk one another up! Each of us has a unique voice and audience, so it's easy to think of each other as collaborators rather than competitors. To use our kids' clothes example from earlier, maybe you want to partner with a sewist who makes stuffed toys and custom dolls to cross-promote your items. Maybe it's just a matter of appearing as a guest blogger on another site, and inviting other bloggers onto yours. Not only does this kind of outreach increase your audience, but it can help provide you with valuable content that you don't have to create!
Don't be afraid to work with the pros
So you hate blogging more than anything in the world, but everyone keeps saying you need to have a blog. Here's a secret. You don't have to be the one writing it! If you work with a team, maybe someone else is dying for a chance to write blog posts for you. If you're totally solo, you can reach out to freelance writers and see if they can help you create some additional content. The same goes for hiring in a photographer if your photos aren't cutting it, or getting someone with great equipment to record your video or podcasts. It's important to budget for these kinds of expenses, and not every business can afford it right away, but if the price is right, let the pros take some of the work off your hands!