How to Start a Freelance Business When You’re Broke

Are you a broke mom, frantically searching for legitimate ways to earn money online? Learn how to start a freelance writing business (and grow it) without any money to spare.

If you’re struggling financially today, I want you to know that I understand! I know how it feels to be so broke you can’t just “give up your daily latte” to save money to make a purchase you want.

And I know it can get better. You are not stuck in broke mode forever. You can pull yourself out. I’ve done it and so can you.

Freelance writing changed my life! Four years after starting, we became completely debt free and I officially replaced my teacher salary – without having to spend anything on daycare, or putting in 8 hours a day.

Being broke isn’t fun! When I left the classroom a few years ago, our income took a massive cut.

Well below the poverty line, we struggled to make ends meet. We slashed our expenses and watched ever penny. It was hard!

We knew something had to change, but I didn’t want to go back to teaching because day care for our large family would eat up my entire pay check. Literally.

Since working outside the home wasn’t a viable option, so I started looking into ways to earn money from home, praying that the Lord would help me avoid scams and find something legit.

And not long after, He answered!

Freelance Writing

I stumbled upon a post written by Gina Horkey, and learned that people were getting paid to write content for the web.

I’d been blogging for fun over on my Maggie’s Milk blog, so the wheels in my brain started turning. Could I really earn money writing online?

I started reading all the free material on freelancing that I could. After scouring the job boards, I sent my first pitch within a couple of days.

I got the gig!

It didn’t pay well (only $20), but that money made me realize that I could do this. I could help our household financially, without having to give up on homeschooling or put the kids in daycare.

That first gig back in 2015 was my first baby step into the world of freelance writing. And the money has been coming in ever since. And not just in $20 increments…

If you’re ready to work hard to improve your family’s situation, keep reading.

I dish out all the steps I took to launch my freelance business, without spending any of our household budget.

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

1. Decide to Act

Until you decide that it’s time to actually start your freelance business, no amount of reading, learning, or thinking will count.

You can take course after course and never actually earn any money if you don’t implement anything. You have to do something!

Make a proclamation that you are going to do this. Commit to spend time each day growing your business.

Because if you don’t decide to act, you’ll probably still be broke a few months down the road.

Action truly is key to getting this done. Stop planning. Don’t wait until you “know everything.” Actually do something.

2. Start Small

Do you know what I had for my business when I launched?

A cheap laptop computer, really slow satellite internet, and a freebie blog over on Blogger.

I didn’t have a dedicated freelance website, or money to start one.

Freelance writing courses were on my “someday” list, but I couldn’t afford to purchase any at the time. There was literally no money for that.

And it could have been the excuse I used to never get started. But I decided not to. I just started with what I had.

There is nothing wrong with starting small. 

You don’t need a lot to make it as a freelance writer. Too often, I hear excuses like these:

  • “I don’t have a website.”
  • “No one knows who I am.”
  • “I don’t know where to go to look for gigs.”

You know what? I didn’t either! My online presence (other than my freebie blog) was extremely limited. I didn’t even have a personal Facebook profile or other social media presence prior to launching!

And while perhaps my progress has been slower compared to others who started with more, I didn’t take time to stop and make comparisons.

I started small, with what I had, leveraging my skills.

So once you’ve decided to start a business, take stock of what you have. That’s all you need to get started.

No internet? Go someplace with Wi-Fi.

No computer? Our library has several, and I live in the middle of nowhere, so I’m pretty sure yours will too.

Stop making excuses and find a way to make it happen. It will be hard. But, it will get easier if you keep taking these steps.

3. Start Pitching & Build Your Portfolio

Remember how I said my first paid gig was for $20. That was for a 1200 word post.

Today, I charge at least $120 for the same length. Big difference.

But, when I was first starting I didn’t have the luxury of being picky. I needed money and samples.

So if you’re broke and just starting out, take what you can. Remember you won’t be at that rate forever!

Start getting your name out there, and pitch away!

No matter what you are being paid, always do your best work! Seriously, I don’t care if you’re getting less than a penny a word. If you agreed to write a post for a rate, do it to the very best of your ability.

Wondering where to pitch? Check out these ideas:

Craigslist – the “Gigs” section. Check the big cities (New York, LA, etc.)

ProBlogger Job Board (free, and where I found my first gig!)

You can also create an account on a site like Hubstaff Talent and look for clients who may be a good fit.

Also, here’s a more in-depth post on how to find freelance writing gigs.

Worried about being scammed?

There are scams out there, hiding as legitimate freelance writing gigs. Most are very obvious. Others are more carefully constructed.

The good news? There are almost always red flags. I wrote a post warning you what to look for:

Read this: Red Flags for Freelance Writing Gigs

How to Write a Freelance Writing Pitch

The goal of a freelance writing pitch is to briefly explain why you’re the best person to create the content the company is looking for. You need to show that you’re knowledgeable about the content area, and able to write well.

Here is a sample pitch template you can use. You’ll notice it’s short. Hiring managers get tons of responses. Be kind to them by succinctly sharing the info they need and don’t bog them down with details.

Hi [insert the name of the editor – AN ACTUAL NAME (you may need to research],

Your ad/posting on [site where you learned about it] caught my eye. I’m a freelance writer who knows a lot about [topic/niche.]  I’m also [share two quick reasons you’d be a great fit, using the language/word choice from the ad].

To help you make your hiring decision, here’s a bit more information about myself:

  • [two bullet points sharing quick connections between your education/background/experience and the role]
  • [one connection to the company – i.e. a shared value or mission]
  • [Link to your portfolio]

Please let me know if you need any additional information. I’m looking forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

How to Build Your Freelance Writing Portfolio

When you’re just start your freelance writing business, you probably don’t have a lot of samples created that you can use to build a portfolio. That means sample writing must be high on your prioritized to-do list.

Here are three quick ideas for how to get published samples:

  • Write a guest post for a blogger in the niche you’re hoping to write for
  • Start a free blog (better than nothing and you can move later)
  • Write on Medium (or a similar platform)

Once you have live samples, you need to collect the links in a sharable format. If you don’t have a website of your own yet, you can:

  • Make a shareable Google Doc
  • Create a Pinterest board and save all of your posts to it (this means you’ll need to create a pinnable image for each post, but you can do that for free on Canva or something similar)
  • Build a portfolio on a platform like Contently

Right now, don’t worry about making your portfolio “perfect.” You want it sharable and you want each link to lead to a great piece of writing. That’s it.

You can (and should) update it later.

4. Reinvest in Your Business

Look, I know how tempting it is to go spend that money you just earned. You’re broke, and really could use the money on X,Y, or Z.

But you can’t.

At least, not right now.

First, you have to invest in your business. Otherwise you’ll be stuck writing $20 posts forever. And no one wants to be there.

So save all of your money (at first!)

When you’ve saved enough, take an entry-level course to learn even more. My first freelancing investment was 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success (aff. link).

The course helped me learn:

  • How to improve my pitch
  • Ways to leverage my past experience and education as a freelancer
  • Confidence in my ability
  • And loads more

I’ve never regretted investing in this course, and have easily made back WAY more than I spent.

But until you’re there, don’t give up on improving yourself.

Keep reading all the free material you can. Subscribe to helpful blogs and read about areas you’re struggling with.

Remember to implement what you’re learning too! Keep saving, and then you’ll be able to take a course.

The course I took gave me the confidence I needed to pitch more. I landed a higher paying job on Craigslist in the education niche, which was perfect with my teaching background.

I took that money, and bought my domain and hosting. This website was born in September of 2015, just a few months after starting my business.

It really does take some money to grow your business, but you don’t have to have that money all at once. So keep working on your savings and you will get there!

5. Slowly Scale Back on What You Save

Once I had more knowledge and a functioning website (it doesn’t have to be perfect!), it was time to start taking some of my business income and applying it to the household budget.

Being able to actually do something with this money was motivating.

When you’re saving everything to get your site up, or purchase a course, it’s really hard. The tangible benefit isn’t there to the same extent.

My first step back was to save 50% of my income for my business and pour 50% of it into the household budget.

After investing in a few more essentials, I reduced that percentage to 25%. But, I ended up spending the money I saved for taxes (oops!) so I’m back up to 35%.

Note: You really do need a budget for your business!

6. Watch for Amazing Deals

I’ve learned the hard way that you really do have to invest in your business to keep growing. So now I’m always watching for amazing deals that align with my freelance writing goals.

I’ve subscribed to several “waiting lists” to be notified of any flash sales for courses I particularly want to take.

Pay attention to the amazing bundle deals that become available, and sign up to be notified. Then tuck some funds away so when they appear you can make the purchase guilt-free.

Watch for Black Friday sales. Often companies will have Anniversary sales as well.

If you find something you want, have patience and try to get it at the lowest price possible.

7. Make Time to Grow Your Freelance Writing Business

Wondering how you’ll make time to grow a freelance writing business from home? You’ll have to make it a priority.

And you need to do it as a team. Your family won’t understand why you’re suddenly spending more time on the computer unless you tell them. So get your family onboard!

8. Continue Pitching to Avoid Freelance Famine

Once you’ve landed a client or two, it can be easy to forget to pitch. After all, you’ve got more client work to keep you busy.

But, eventually that gig might dry up. Then you’ll be left without that income.

So make pitching a permanent part of your game plan, at least for the foreseeable future. Otherwise, you’ll be right back to where you started with no money.

Pitch even if you are busy. Not every pitch will land a client, but it will help you gain confidence. And some of them will give you work!

Freelance famine is a roller coaster cycle you don’t want to get started with!

There are so many ways to find time, even if it means getting a bit creative.

You can do a lot with a part-time freelance business, so don’t let a lack of 40 hours a week stop you8. Continue Pitching to Avoid Freelance Famine

Once you’ve landed a client or two, it can be easy to forget to pitch. After all, you’ve got more client work to keep you busy.

But, eventually that gig might dry up. Then you’ll be left without that income.

So make pitching a permanent part of your game plan, at least for the foreseeable future. Otherwise, you’ll be right back to where you started with no money.

Pitch even if you are busy. Not every pitch will land a client, but it will help you gain confidence. And some of them will give you work!

Freelance famine is a roller coaster cycle you don’t want to get started with!

9. Make Connections

Do you know where most of my leads come from now?

From other freelancers.

That’s part of the reason I love the mastermind group I was a part of for a couple of years. I’ve also gotten leads from different Facebook groups.

Take time to make connections and build genuine relationships. Give more than you take, and be willing to help others. You won’t regret it. Or at least, I haven’t!

Other freelancers are not your enemy! Learn all you can from them and help them out too. Be genuine and patient!

Here’s a post giving you ideas on how to network with others, even as a busy mom without much time.

10. Be Willing to Try Something New

I never planned on being a virtual assistant when I launched my freelance writing business.

But, the door opened and I walked through it. Now I have a couple of VA clients, and I personally love the variety!

I also didn’t plan on this website turning into a monetized blog. But, that just made sense as a logical step on my online business journey.

So as you’re working, don’t get so focused on what you’re doing that you completely miss a good opportunity. Say yes to new things when you can, because you never know where they’ll lead.

Don’t be afraid to pivot if it makes sense.

On the other hand, don’t get so focused on chasing the next “new thing” that you forget about what is currently working. There’s a balance. You’ll have to figure out what that looks like for you.

11. Don’t Give Up

Bootstrapping your freelance business is challenging. But, it’s also rewarding, and can help you move past broke.

Don’t give up when things get tough. You can do this!

Take time to think about your why. Why did you start a business in the first place? When you think about your why, it’s motivating.

Here’s more inspiration when you’re feeling like you’re ready to quit:

What to Do When You’re Ready to Quit Your Online Business

How to Start a Freelance Writing Business: Recap

Starting a freelance writing business doesn’t require a lot of capital. In fact, if you already have a computer and internet access, you can get started today.

Remember to save your money, and invest it back into yourself. Watch for deals so you can still save money while investing! 😀

Be willing to work for less at first, because you won’t be at that rate forever.

Find a community and get involved.

And when you’re ready to take an awesome course on freelance writing, I highly recommend Gina’s 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success!

By: Lisa Turner

Lisa Tanner loves helping busy moms find time to grow their own business. As a homeschooling mom to nine, she knows a thing or two about balancing diapers and deadlines.

Source: How to Start a Freelance Business When You’re Broke – Lisa Tanner Writing

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Related Contents:

The Unrealized Benefits of Supply Chain Serialization

Through the use of sophisticated enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, companies can view the aggregate shipping locations of each distributor, wholesaler, and in some cases large resellers. Most of the time, though, the tracking of products ends there.

By serializing products at the primary package, case and pallet levels, companies can capitalize on enormous opportunities to boost supply and demand management, reduce product loss, prevent counterfeiting, and enhance brand protection. 

Enabling the tracking of items down to the unit level, serialization results in simplified returns processing and recall management, more accurate demand management, and the opportunity for more advanced loyalty programs.

Serialization allows each partner in the supply chain to track product at every step, from point of manufacture to the moment it’s in the consumer’s hands. In addition, when the product is returned, the serial number can be used on all shipping documents to provide information on status and the reason for the return. The information can be of great value in determining whether the product has any quality problems.

With certain recalls, such as children’s products and food and beverage items, the consumer is highly motivated to enter specific serialized information on a website about the purchased product.

Imagine the benefits this would have provided during the romaine lettuce recalls that surfaced last year. Consumers could have determined whether the item was at risk simply by entering a serial number into a website. Stores could have understood which products were safe to keep on shelves, and which needed to be pulled. Manufacturers would have better understood where the contaminated products were shipped, and communicated directly with those specific locations.

With serialization, as each product is returned by consumers and members of the supply chain, easily read serial numbers on each level of packaging are communicated to the brand owner as the products are passed back up the supply chain. Today, products that aren’t serialized bog down the return process, lacking proper and timely information for consumers, supply-chain employees and company executives.

Serialization allows demand management to be optimized. As each product is shipped through the supply chain, the brand owner has access to a timely and accurate tracking history. Shortages can be detected, and replacements shipped, more quickly.

Imagine how useful this would be in the retail industry. Using the power of serialization, one can ensure that the right products are being ordered and available for customers, rather than having a moment of bare shelves and lost sales.

Likewise, disappointing sales in wholesale channels and retail outlets can be detected and handled very quickly. This increase in brand owners’ knowledge can provide for much faster availability of key information regarding the performance of products or their retail outlets, and serve as a guide for making distribution decisions much faster and accurately.

From a brand integrity and anti-counterfeiting perspective, by tracking to the unit level, consumers can validate that the product they are purchasing is authentic. This is a major opportunity for the luxury goods industry.

Aside from the clear supply-chain benefits, opportunities for improvements in marketing are enormous. Marketing teams will be better equipped with timely information regarding sales of their products, allowing them to adjust marketing tactics as needed.

If supply of a specific product is high and sales are low, the company can run a special to promote the product. Demand-side information will be obtained faster and more completely than ever before, allowing for subtle changes to the way products are marketed. For example, communications from purchasers can provide invaluable feedback about product characteristics, which can be used in future advertising campaigns. Any changes in product design or advertising can be detected and altered much faster if a serialized track and trace system is implemented.

On the consumer side, entering validation of product purchase on the company’s website provides the opportunity for a targeted loyalty/rewards program that more closely aligns with that consumer’s needs. In the process, the consumer gets more relevant information and rewards, and the company gets the opportunity to create brand loyalty and increase targeted sales opportunities.

Supply chains have become much more efficient, and products are shipped through these channels much faster than before. Yet even with this increased efficiency, there are still many unrealized benefits of serialization in the supply chain. As more advanced labeling and serialization systems become available at lower price points, companies have the opportunity to embrace the next step in supply-chain management to create a game-changing differentiator through serialization.

Steve Wood is president and CEO of Covectra, Inc.

By: Steve Wood, SCB Contributor

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Case Studies

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Retailers selling over the internet can’t hope to compete without a reliable and effective direct-to-consumer (DTC) model for fulfillment. But setting one up is anything but easy.
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Shopping Mall

Can a Dual-Use Strategy Save the Struggling Shopping Mall?

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Lou Conforti sees no reason why a shopping mall can’t contain both traditional brick-and-mortar stores and last-mile fulfillment operations for online purchases.
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Is Amazon Facing ‘Shipaggeddon’ This Holiday Season?

Watch: Is Amazon Facing ‘Shipaggeddon’ This Holiday Season?

December 3, 2020 Robert J. Bowman, SupplyChainBrain

Will Amazon’s supply chain break down during peak season?
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Multi-Shipper Management Tools Help Retail Fulfillment Solution Providers Meet Their Clients' Complex Parcel Shipping Needs

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How We’ll Scale Distribution of the COVID-19 Vaccine

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A look at the challenges and prospects for distributing millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming months.
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Coping With Black Friday 2020 — and Manufacturers’ ‘Crazy Thursday’

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Clarkston Consulting

This short video was created with the intent of explaining serialization to anyone – your coworkers, your boss, your next-door neighbor, your spouse – after watching this video, anyone should have a basic understanding of what serialization is, why it was created, and which challenges it’s intended to solve. For more information, visit Clarkstonconsulting.com/serialization

Productivity Tips to Help You Work Smarter in the New Year

Here are some highlights from Amy Landino‘s appearance on Agorapulse’s weekly Facebook Live show. You can also view the entire show if you like (and which we recommend!).

Onward to the productivity tips!

1. Broaden Your Creativity

“See what you can make fly, so that you can observe the results of it and then any success that you have, duplicate that or figure out what that looks like.”

Establish a steady (not frantic) pace

“When you have a content goal, and let’s say it’s to have a weekly show on YouTube, which is industry standard. If you started weekly, you’re doing really well. As a matter of fact, YouTube would tell you to start with once a week. Don’t do more than that!”

Try new things

“I like to compare it to carpool karaoke on the set. On these night shows that we start to see on YouTube that work, it’s because you test them on the show. That’s their testing ground, and then what ends up flying ends up being their huge success online.

“That could also be true for the actual show itself, like what they become known for …

“Maybe you become known for a segment, but you have to build that segment out.”

2. Write Out Everything  

“The procedure for that for me is we have to write everything.

Embrace documentation

“Obviously, everything has to be documented, from all the talking points that we need and any other basis we have to cover it or sponsor it or stuff like that.

Establish deadlines

“And then we’re reverse-engineering what the deadlines are. When is the video to go out? When does it need to go to certain approvals? What days are those approvals? When do you film? When do you edit?

“Everything is just a reverse-engineering of a deadline.”

3. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

Reverse engineer deadlines to avoid feeling overwhelmed

“And so I do like to look at what are all the deadlines for a month and then reverse engineer the filming. If I can do at least two videos in one day to make the most of hair and makeup, it pays off for me because I don’t have to go crazy and get ready to film so many times in a month.

“That takes a lot of careful planning and making sure that you’re covering your bases and making the time.

free trial of agorapulse social media management tool

Use your time wisely

“Scheduling is a very big passion in my life. I believe we can all make better use of the time that we have.

“And so if you want the content to be good, I do think it needs to be timely.

“It’s amazing how even a video that’s very well-planned, sometimes just when it’s made too far in advance, even on my channel, it just doesn’t fly the same way as it would if it was like this idea that we came up with and got out like traditional YouTube culture.

Give yourself enough time

“But you do need to give yourself enough time to create it.

“So maybe not looking too far in advance but looking at a monthly level or from a monthly viewpoint of what are we trying to get done and when are we going to do it, especially if you’re hiring people to get this kind of stuff done for you.

“You’re definitely going to want to schedule that as well. So it’s pretty obvious that you would then have to schedule whatever you have to do as it pertains to that content.

“But going on a week to week basis with those videos would be really difficult if you’re thinking, we’re going to do this again, I gotta do this, again, I gotta do this.

“Again, if you can kind of knock out for marketing and content creation, just a certain period of time in that month, and then all the other logistics to follow, just have to get done in time for the deadline, you’re in pretty good shape.

“So I do a lot of batching whenever possible.”

Bonus Materials: Free SMART Goals Guide

4. Take Notes and Outline

“The places I spend my time are Evernote for a lot of outlining and note-taking.

Amy Landino productivity tips for social media managers

“But Instagram and Twitter and YouTube are like my main situations because absolutely everything that I’m doing has to do with the feedback that I’ve been getting from my community.

“There’s no reason to write a book unless people want it. There’s no reason to create a video unless there’s some way to convey a message or a tool or a tactic that people wanted.

Practice the art of listening

“And so I have to be listening to all the time. Otherwise, I’m just creatively dead because I specifically make my videos for a specific person and for a specific community, so I need to go to them a lot, especially when a video goes out.

“You watch and see, like, what spawned from this conversation like, Where do we go from here? What follow up questions are to be had? Because that’s probably a great follow-up to this video.”

5. Embrace Talking About the Same Thing a Lot

“I think one of the hardest things for people when they’re creating content is getting out of their head about talking about the same thing all the time.

“I actually love getting that comment from like the random troll every once in a while, like, Oh, my gosh, you talk about the same thing all the time.

“My answer to that is: Yeah because I’m an expert.”

Cultivate your expertise

“So if you are feeling that you’re talking about the same thing a lot, you’re an expert.

“And people usually need to hear what you’re saying a lot for you to make a change if that’s the type of content that you create.

“No matter how many times I feel like I’ve said something, there’s always another way to put it. Because I still get the same types of questions all the time.

“The reality is everybody thinks that their problems are different from everybody. We all think our problems are special and different. But when you really break it down, we’re all talking about the same issues.”

source

6. Give Yourself at Least 15 Minutes Every Morning

“At least allocate 15 minutes to start your day on your terms. You’re going to be better off for the rest of the world because they’re going to be pulling at you for the rest of the day.

“So I’m unbelievably passionate about having my ‘me time’ in the morning. I’m an introvert; I just need that moment because I know that I have to be on the rest of the day. It’s just a part of the gig. And so I take that for myself.

You just have to find what works for you and that was probably the final passion behind this book was everything online is really outlining what you should be doing in the morning. I don’t like the word ‘should.’ I shut down when people save them.

“And so to me, it’s what works for you, and just covering the bases.

“Get that little bit of time it might just take for you to feel like you’re up for that day, and make the work around what your season of life is at that moment.”

By: Veronica Jarski

In Conclusion

Social Pulse Weekly brings you incredible marketing experts and today’s latest social media news and developments. Tune in every Friday at 2PM ET to keep your finger on the pulse of social media.

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Want more helpful, actionable content like this? Subscribe to the Agorapulse newsletter, and get the most recent blog posts and news about the social media channels you use most.

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Brian Tracy

The most successful and wealthiest people all practice the habits I am about to share with you on a daily basis. Adding these daily success habits to your own routine will contribute greatly to your achievement. http://bit.ly/2wHVsEs If you want to set yourself up for success, you must create an effective to-do list. Use my ABCDE Method Checklist to plan your days and weeks more efficiently than ever before. Click the link above to download my ultimate prioritization tool for free. “There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.” @BrianTracy (Click to Tweet: http://ctt.ec/9bdah) ___________________ Learn more: Subscribe to my channel for free offers, tips and more! YouTube: http://ow.ly/ScHSb Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BrianTracyPage Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/BrianTracy Google+: +BrianTracyOfficialPage Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/BrianTracy Instagram: @TheBrianTracy Blog: http://bit.ly/1rc4hlg

5 Product Marketing Strategies to Get Customers to Take Action

1

When it comes to , has a significant impact on individual purchasing decisions, but ultimately it is the products that create an overall impression. Brand marketing is an important component in raising your brand’s prestige and overall favorable perception, but customers want to be part of the picture and feel that is as much about them as it is about the brand. Smart product marketing engages consumers and focuses on products or services that will be useful to them. Your brand will only be as strong as the customers who feel a strong connection to what you are offering. These five strategies will help you revamp your product marketing strategy.

1. Research new products with existing data

A product launch can be as exciting as the announcement of a personal milestone, but the sad fact is that most will fall short of their expected goals. You can save yourself and your company from disappointment by leveraging the data you already have about your customers and visitors to refine the products and features you are offering. Existing data will tell you your leads’ buying and browsing habits, what they click on and which emails they open. This data should give you significant clues on creating products and features that will get a response and create a successful product launch.

Related: 4 Strategies That Drive Brand Loyalty

2. Increase demand with existing customers

It is important not to underestimate the value of repeat . Not only are people more likely to take action and purchase a product if someone they know is using it, but drumming up repeat business is easier on your marketing budget. According to the Harvard Business Review, marketers spend between five and 25 times less to secure purchases from repeat customers than from new customers. Providing excellent customer service is one of the keys to keeping customers long-term. Another strategy is to offer them special promotions and deals to reward their loyalty.

3. Spy on your existing competitors

Although it is crucial to focus mainly on your customers, to keep an edge and stay on your customers’ radars, it is imperative to know what your competitor is doing and how they are performing. This is not difficult to do and can be as intuitive as paying attention to their performance on , how many likes they are getting and what strategies they are using. Using to track what happens after a click can help give you more information on how to update your own strategies. Ensure the sample size you are evaluating is large enough to give you a full picture of what actions to take in closing the gap between you and your competitors.

 

Related: 3 Reasons You Should Spy on Your Competition

4. Improve your existing listings

Your listings don’t just convey information about the product. A good listing lets your customer know why he or she needs the product. Revise product listings to emphasize convenience, time savings, reliability and . In addition, incorporating valuable keywords in the listings can make sure your they are seen by those who are most likely to make purchases — the people who are searching and ready to buy. Keywords can also drive traffic from those who are just browsing the web looking for more information about a product, and an attractive and catchy listing can transform an inquiry into a purchase.

5. Dare to take huge risks

It is worthwhile to achieve a balance between obeying the data and knowing when to take risks. If you are knowledgeable about the risks, you can go out on a limb now and again, especially if your intuitive move is in line with the kind of thing your customers respond to. Past failures, such as lackluster product launches, can be a strong indication of where you can go with future efforts. “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking any risks,” says none other than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Related: 5 Brand Marketing Tips Every Brand Can Learn From the NBA

If your product listings aren’t getting the response expected, there are many ways you can fine-tune your approach. involves the big picture, but getting specific and offering customers things they clearly value can move the needle more quickly. Updating data on a constant basis is essential, but using data you already have provides a valuable roadmap to developing and improving your products and features. Leveraging success with your existing customers is an effective way to get repeat business, especially if you encourage them to refer your product to others.

Gathering information about competitors on social media and by using AdWords can give you pointers on how to update your offerings and enrich your marketing strategies. Even the phrasing of your listings can be dry and uninspiring or can create an immediate desire to acquire your product or service. In addition, using keywords has the ability to automatically attract potential customers to your listing. Finally, don’t be afraid to follow your intuition and take educated risks when you feel you have a clear picture of what your customers want.

By: Alon Ghelber Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

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What Product Managers Do And How To Become One

User focus rather than technical skills matter most for great product managers

Product management is becoming increasingly popular as a profession. Not only is this a career path at Big Tech companies, it is also an important part of traditional businesses that choose to embrace technology. If a business has an app or a website, then there is probably somebody doing the product manager’s job.

Product management in its current form is a fairly new profession, which is why there is a lot of confusion about what it really is. While many product managers start with a technical background and have computer science degrees, this is not at all necessary to succeed.

Focus on the user’s problem

Rags Vadali, who currently works as Product Manager at Facebook, says “product management is sometimes art and sometimes science of building products.” According to Vadali, the product does not have to be an app or a website, and in fact he argues that this it the wrong focus.

“A product is a clearly identified solution to a people problem.” That solution could take many forms, but the main focus is always the user and the problem that they need to solve.

Diverse teams

Product managers work with a diverse set of professionals including engineers, designers, user researchers and data scientists. This list expands depending on the type of product they are building.

For example, product managers working on Facebook’s Instagram adverts will also work with marketers and business development teams. Product managers who help create apps for newspapers work with journalists.

All carrot and no stick

Product managers do not have the expertise to tell their colleagues how to design an app or write code, but nevertheless have to make sure that a great product is created. This potentially puts them into a very tricky position of ultimate responsibility and zero control.

Unlike a typical boss, product managers cannot mix the carrot and stick approach of incentives and admonition. Instead, they have to be collaborative and persuasive, because all they have is the carrot.

How to get started

The best way to get started in product management is to build a product. This is why startup founders often go on to roles in product management after they leave their business.

Another way to get relevant experience it to help a startup in your spare time. While you would not be driving the product, you will be seeing how it is made and taking part in building it.

You could also get involved in your existing employer’s product. I recently met a product manager at a major U.K. newspaper who began her career as a journalist. While working as a reporter, she often shared her ideas with the product team on how to improve the interface journalists use. As she got more and more involved, she made the transition from reporting the news to creating a product to help reporters. This example shows that understanding the user’s problems is far more important than having technical skills.

Vadali says he looks for user focus when interviewing candidates. He asks candidates what their favorite products are and why. If they only talk about app features without saying how they help solve a problem or create a positive fun experience, then they do not have the right mindset.

The skills product managers learn can be helpful for careers in senior leadership or investing. In fact, this is how Marissa Mayer former CEO of Yahoo, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent Alphabet and venture capitalist Ben Horowitz all started their careers. This is also why product management is becoming one of the most sought after careers for MBAs, displacing consulting and banking.

Good product managers understand the target user and have the influence skills to bring the best out of their colleagues. None of this requires technical knowledge, which means that it is one of the best options for non-technical professionals to join the tech boom.

Are you a product manager? How did you transition into this career? Tweet your thoughts to me @sophiamatveeva

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I’m an entrepreneur and advisor. I run Enty, a retail tech platform, and Tech For Non-Techies, a training community. This journey has taken me through top accelerators, exposed me to investors, taught me how to build a product, lead a team and grow revenues. On Forbes, I write about the entrepreneurial journey as it really is, rather than as I wish it would be. Find me on http://www.sophiamatveeva.com

Source: What Product Managers Do And How To Become One

A Five-Step Approach To Creating Stellar Product E-Content

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My team and I have been working in product e-content for several years now. After working with many of the biggest FMCG companies globally, we’ve developed a comprehensive yet streamlined process for product e-content, which I’d like to share with you here.

What is product e-content?

Brands selling products online — be it on their own e-commerce website or the likes of Amazon or Alibaba — are facing a real challenge: replicating the buying experience from a physical store and translating it to the online world.

In a physical store, we can clearly see a product on the shelf, touch it and smell it. We can pick it up and read the ingredients on the label and understand why — if the product marketers have done their job properly — we should buy it. How do you recreate those aspects of the shopping experience in a virtual store?

The answer is highly optimized product e-content, which refers to all product information that facilitates the online shopper experience on digital platforms. Product e-content starts at product detail pages and extends to brand and category assets.

So, what kind of content would you need to create to improve shopper engagement with your product? Ultimately, content that helps conjure a more enjoyable and complete online shopping experience and that helps shoppers overcome their barriers to purchase.

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Before you throw yourself into creating a whole host of shiny new content, you’ll need to traverse five stepping stones:

1. Assess your current content needs.

Do you currently have product content in place, and is it really telling the story behind the brand and products in the best possible way? Are there gaps that need filling?

What are the strengths and weaknesses of your product in comparison with competitors? Have you benchmarked against them to see if their e-content is doing a better job of selling?

When working with brands, we recommend running a gap analysis. Analyze all aspects of your product page — from the title to hero images, and from product descriptions to advanced images or videos. Score each aspect in order to assess the level of readiness and to spot gaps vs. competition, thereby only implementing changes where needed, saving time and costs.

2. Get strategic.

Once you know your content needs, establish a specific action plan by brand. Set out what elements of product e-content need to be created and by when.

Action plans are best established with all stakeholders around the same table. We recommend including brand managers, trade marketing managers, e-commerce or e-business leaders and agencies. Under the leadership of an expert, such training sessions help the project owner to understand what type of content is already available, what can be repurposed, and what needs to be created from scratch, identifying clear roles and responsibilities for all parties.

3. Create.

This is where you start putting the strategy into action. Create specific actionable briefs by workstream (i.e., images, video, copywriting, etc.) that allows your respective agency or in-house team to develop content with your goals in mind.

Make sure product titles are specific, focused and searchable through SEO or internal search keywords. You’ll want to create basic high-quality images with CGI technology, allowing mobile users to clearly see essential product information (like quantity or flavor variants). Your written product descriptions should use the brand’s tone of voice, focus on key features and benefits, use local search keywords and be consistent with your advanced images, which are usually used to show the product in use or to demonstrate how it should be used. This is an opportunity to overcome shopper barriers. With food products, for example, you might want to include recipes. For appliances, you could show the product within a home environment.

Make it easy for would-be purchasers to ask questions about your product and to see ratings and recommendations from other users. And forward-thinking brand managers should think outside the box, like producing short, punchy videos or incorporating AR.

Don’t go thinking these are mainly nice-to-haves. Far from it. They are all must-haves that we’ve found directly impact conversions.

4. Deliver the assets.

Once you’ve created your product e-content assets, make sure all key stakeholders across your organization know how to access and use them to their best effect. From our experience, in addition to uploading all assets onto a Digital Asset Repository (DAM), what really works well is the creation of a “playbook” document containing not only the assets but also implementation guidelines that explain the best ways to use each of those assets.

Playbooks can also ensure continuity in circumstances, such as when a new manager takes over. Think of it as a “book” that contains all your key product e-content information with mockups and real examples.

5. Measure.

You’ll now need to measure the success of your new product e-content. How will you report back the results within your organization? What metrics and insights can you gather to help improve and tweak future iterations of the content?

When it comes to metrics, a simple framework will go a long way.

We recommend monitoring your sales progressions through your “sales per product” page as you implement new product e-content. Besides that, product e-content drives improvement in most retailers’ search algorithms, so be sure to monitor the ranking of your products against specific keywords. Last but not least, work on your rating and reviews to make sure you can achieve a 4.2-4.5-star rating, and establish a routine to read consumer feedback.

In Conclusion

As you can see from the five stepping stones I’ve briefly described above, there is considerably more that goes into creating product e-content than getting your creatives to chuck a few ideas around to see if they stick.

But if you take a best practice approach to each step and the process as a whole, you will be in a brilliant position to create exciting content that can help increase online sales of your products.

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

CEO of eBusiness Institute. We help companies invent their own tomorrow. Business transformation experts creating value for all stakeholders. Read Luigi Matrone’s full executive profile here.

Source: A Five-Step Approach To Creating Stellar Product E-Content

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Rebrands Can Be Tricky and Expensive. Here’s How to Get It Right the First Time

About a year after its 2016 launch, Pencil realized its name was bad for business. Co-founder Sydney Liu would talk about the online storytelling platform to enthusiastic listeners at events–but would-be users, thwarted by a second-rate domain name (usepencil.com) and a barrage of unrelated search results, couldn’t find its website.

So, in 2017, the company, based in Menlo Park, California, decided to redo its logo, site design, and color scheme before ultimately relaunching as Commaful. The overhaul worked almost immediately. “Within a week, we were number one on Google for our name,” Liu says, and organic sign-ups began to increase.

Rebrands are fairly common for startups and small businesses that don’t spend the time (or money) in the early stages to get their messaging, logos, or even monikers just right, says Douglas Spencer, president and chief brand strategist at marketing consultancy Spencer Brenneman. Besides discoverability issues, “they can run into legal challenges,” he says, or “find themselves with a logo that just looks amateur.”

But change is expensive: Most small companies (with less than $30 million in annual revenue) can expect to invest $90,000 to $180,000 on a rebrand, according to marketing agency Ignyte.

Fortunately, there are ways to cut down on costs–and make sure your investment pays off.

1. Do your homework.

Serial entrepreneur Dan Demsky once had to throw away thousands of dollars of packaging because of trademark infringement issues, so when it came time to brand his latest venture (men’s travel-apparel site Unbound Merino), he started with the basics. “Memorability and ease of spelling,” Demsky says, plus “having the domain name.” He also hired a good trademark attorney.

You’ll pay $2,000 to $2,500 for a comprehensive trademark search and around $1,000 for the application, says Marc Misthal, a lawyer with intellectual property firm Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman. Expect added costs, including extension fees, if the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejects your application.

2. Solicit, but limit, feedback.

Opinions are a dime a dozen, so while you’ll want to run your brand plans past some employees and clients, you’ll also need to drown out the noise. When content marketing software company PathFactory–formerly known as LookBookHQ–started considering a change to its name and logo in 2017, it limited the internal brand committee to five people.

“Keeping the decision-making committee as small as possible really helped, because everyone will have their own idea of what [the brand] should be,” Cassandra Jowett, PathFactory’s senior director of marketing, says. “Changing your company’s name is not necessarily a democratic decision. Not everyone should get a vote.”

Conduct customer research, but avoid simply asking people whether they like a potential new name, logo, or color scheme, says Emily Brackett, founder of Branding Compass, a web-based branding app for small businesses. Instead, focus on the value prop you would like your name, logo, or design aesthetic to convey.

“You could say, ‘We really want to come across as caring and compassionate,’ ” Brackett suggests. “Does this logo look caring and compassionate, or does this [other] logo look caring and compassionate?”

3. Have a rollout plan.

PathFactory officially announced its new name and logo at the 2018 SiriusDecisions Summit, a major event for the B2B marketing industry. “We tied it together with a product announcement to explain the need for a change in our image,” Jowett says. “The two together got a good reception”–and a lot of much-needed media coverage.

Prior to the official announcement, the company sent swag bags to select customers, and for months after the rebrand, PathFactory left messaging about the change on all its digital channels. Even then, “not everyone realized it was the same company,” Jowett admits.

Smaller-scale rebrands won’t require so many bells and whistles. But you should still communicate why you’re making a certain change, Brackett says. Messaging can come in the form of a press release, blog post, or email to your customers.

“You want to control the narrative,” agrees Bo Bothe, CEO of Brand­Extract, a brand strategy consultancy. “If you just throw it out there to the wolves, they’re going to tear it apart.”

4. Avoid second-guessing.

Once you’ve unveiled your redesign, expect some resistance to your changes. So don’t rush to backtrack if you receive immediate negative feedback. Chances are, the blowback will blow over. (See Slack’s early-­2019 logo redesign, below. The barrage of bad press ultimately dissi­pated.) Commaful had several users threaten to leave once it unveiled the new name and logo, though they ultimately stuck with the platform, Liu says.

“Keep in mind, the product is what matters,” Bothe says. “If the product is badass, the logo will become less relevant. As long as you’re not offending anybody, you’re probably fine.”

 If It Ain’t Broke…

When Nicolas Vandenberghe relaunched his software startup as Chili Piper in 2016, his wife and co-founder, Alina Vandenberghe, quickly designed a new logo and stuck it on the website. “It was meant to be temporary,” Nicolas recalls, but customers took to the little red pepper so much, it survived the company’s formal brand refresh last year.

Chili Piper hired a design agency to draft alternatives, but ultimately the New York City-based company realized “if we change the logo, our customers will go crazy,” Nicolas explains. “They love the logo.”

There are many reasons startups or small businesses rebrand, including copyright infringement issues and the lack of a competitive differentiator, says Brackett of Branding Compass. But founders should take a cue from Chili Piper and make sure they’re not trying to fix something that’s working.

For fledgling and cash-strapped businesses in particular, “there are so many people who haven’t fully learned about your brand,” Brackett says. “Don’t change it because you’re bored.”

 

Jeanine Skowronski Senior editor, Policygenius Magazine

 

Source: Rebrands Can Be Tricky and Expensive. Here’s How to Get It Right the First Time

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Rebranding your business can mean a complete overhaul of all of your visual marketing materials. This video can help you decide if your company is ready for this project or not. If you’re thinking about a rebrand, Visme can help you recreate all of your graphics. Try it free now: https://visme.co — There are many instances when your company might decide it’s time to start rebranding your business. The idea of a rebrand can be scary, but sometimes things happen and a rebrand just makes sense. In this video, Mike with Visme dives into a few of the reasons your company might be considering rebranding. Let’s take a look at what they are. Watch the video to see a few real life examples for each reason. 1. When your company merges with another brand. 2. When your company is bought by another. 3. When your company appoints a new CEO. 4. When your brand has acquired the wrong image. 5. When you want to reach a different audience. 6. When you’ve grown out of your initial mission. 7. When your brand needs to stay relevant. Does your company or brand fall into any of these categories? If so, it might be time to start thinking rebranding your business. However, you never want to take a project like that lightly. A rebrand is almost like a relaunch of your company in a more modern or different light, so you want to follow a rebrand strategy to a T. Learn more about our 12 step process for a successful rebrand in our detailed blog post: https://visme.co/blog/rebranding-stra… — The logos in the videos are trademarks of United Airlines, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Verizon, Huffington Post, Instagram, Burberry, MTV, TNT, airBNB, and Apple. Visme claims no ownership rights in any of these logos, and has no affiliation with these companies. All use is intended to be informative the significance of brand design details. Sources: https://logos.fandom.com/wiki/United_… https://www.verizon.com/about/our-com… https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/a… https://www.theverge.com/2015/9/2/924… https://www.fastcompany.com/1724731/a… https://www.huffpost.com/entry/huffpo… https://www.forbes.com/sites/fruzsina… https://www.huffpost.com/entry/huffpo… https://www.fastcompany.com/1673210/a… https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/compre… https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1469… https://www.wired.com/2016/02/mtv-wan… https://www.underconsideration.com/br… https://logos.fandom.com/wiki/TNT_(Un…) http://fortune.com/airbnb-travel-miss… https://www.underconsideration.com/br…

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