If you’re following along, we start with a working content strategy and check all of the boxes there when it comes to how we create our content.
But if we don’t take the next step and work on distributing that content properly, we’ll be frustrated with the results that our content gets.
Let’s quickly look at three ways to increase the distribution of your content so that not just more people see it, but more of the right people see it.
By that, I mean people who will engage with your content, and take the next step in that journey to subscribe, follow, or even become a customer or a client.
Publish To Existing Channels
Important to start with what you have, and get it working as much as possible. Most people encourage posting three to four times per day to try and reach as many people as possible.
That doesn’t mean that you should be posting calls to action or asking for things in each of these posts. But onec per day or so it totally within reason.
Look at the profiles that you follow and engage with online and see what they do. What do they post, how often, what do you click on and comment on?
Reach Out To Potential Partners
Whenever you post, are there people that you can reach out to who might be able to help you share it with their audiences? Whether it be on their profiles, or in groups or forums, who else would benefit from sharing your content?
If you’re sharing their work, it helps them look good to re-share your content with theri audience.
If you have a big launch or a piece of content you really want to get out there, you can reach out to people who have a similar audience to you to help promote it at a specific time, right as you launch.
In marketing circles this is called a “joint venture”, and often there’s a financial incentive for partners to help promote content.
These partners, or affiliates, are incentivized to share your product or company by getting a percentage of any sales that come from their referral or link.
Giveaways is another form of this – using people who you may not even know to share your work with their audiences.
Who do you know that might help you share your content with their audiences and can benefit from doing so? It’s rare that people will share your stuff without any direct reward or incentive, so think about that when you reach out and ask them to share.
Pay For Reach
There are also ways that you can pay to get more views on your content. You can boost a post on Facebook, or run a post as an ad. You can drive traffic to your work using ads on Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit – any number of platforms.
It can be expensive, but it is an option that can work, and is often used in conjunction with other strategies.
Think about how many people need to see your work in order to get the results you’re after. For example:
You sell an online course for $99. You want to make $10,000 per month from your work. In this case, you need 101 people per month to clear that threshold. One of out every 50 people that visits your website will purchase a course, so you need a little over 5,000 visitors per month to your site.
Working backwards, you can determine what your needs are, and measure what is currently working or not working.
If you’re only getting 500 visitors per month, you know that you’ve got to do something to get 10 times the traffic in order to get the sales you want for your business.
How are you going to do it? Get resourceful, work with what you have, and make sure to measure what works and what doesn’t.
It is also important to be patient – many of these distribution efforts can take months to start working. SEO, for example, can take 6-8 months to start showing signs of the work you’re doing at the beginning. Don’t give up too early.
The results in your business are completely within your control, if you take the responsibility seriously. Figure out what your business needs, and get to work.
I recently had one of the weirdest emotional moments.
In the span of one month, I felt the high of doing $10,000 in a single week just six weeks after launching my company Craftsman Creative, quickly followed by the low of getting furloughed for the summer from the TV show I was a senior producer on.
Recently, though, I had a moment of such extreme clarity that it just overwhelmed me.
I was simultaneously excited and completely terrified…
When you own your own business – as an artist, a creative, a startup, a freelancer – in the early months you’re really doing everything.
You’re not just the CEO, but the Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Technical Officer, VP of Sales, Content Manager, and the face of the company, the one who has every single interaction with every single person your company comes in contact with.
I have been studying and learning about generating awareness for my company for the last few months. I realized early on that my audience wasn’t large enough to generate the kind of revenue I was aiming for with this new business.
I started doing whatever I could. I added partnerships (a HUGE win), took a dive into Facebook ads, Google ads, SEO, content marketing, and more.
Leading up to this breakthrough yesterday, it seemed like I was putting in all of this work with very little results to show for it.
That feeling is just terrible. It can eat at you and cause you to quit before things start to work.
I’m a firm believer that there aren’t any shortcuts in creative industries. Audiences, revenue, traffic, sales – everything takes time.
If we’re not continually putting in the work for a long enough period of time, we could give up before it starts working.
I could see, yesterday, the incredible amount of things that a company has to do in order to be successful. The difference between those companies and mine is that they have people to help with every single one of those jobs, whereas I’m responsible not just for the work, but the results of every single one…
Marketing, clients, sales, product, finances, growth, partnerships, etc – any two of those jobs would be enough to need another employee to hand off part of the work.
We solo-creatives don’t have that option.
This is especially hard when every part of our business is on the left side of “this is pointless” from that image.
That’s what it feels like to be doing all the work and not yet seeing the results.
The overwhelming feeling yesterday came from the clarity of seeing everything that still needed to be done while at the same time seeing the signs of success for the things I’d been doing for the last six months.
the email list has been growing day over day, independent of me publishing or sharing a link to sign up.
sales of the courses are occurring more per week than 4 months ago
partnerships are easier to create since I have more clout now than when I started back in April.
I’m not saying it’s all a breeze from here on out, but it’s nice to finally get a sign that things are headed in the right direction, rather than the feeling like “I’m working so hard, but for what?”
Two important takeaways:
Don’t avoid doing the important things you need to do in your business. Your business won’t grow on it’s own in the early months (maybe even years) without action on your part. No one else is going to do it for you.
Don’t give up. Most things work if you do the work. If you work on your marketing, improving your product or service, get better at sales calls, improve your website, create a budget – these things can take time to go from being a constraint to a strength in your business. Don’t give up before things start working. Keep going.
What’s one thing you can do today to improve your business?
If you need help answering that question you can work with me on getting your business to the next level.
The Goal is a fictional story written by Eli Goldratt & Jeff Cox. I didn’t really know what I was getting into, but boy am I glad I had the newly-found free time to read it this week.
What follows are some of my favorite ideas and principles of the book and how you and I can apply them to our creative businesses:
In the book, a fictional company is up against the wall and has three months to save their plant from being shut down. Hundreds of workers, a multi-million dollar company, all gone if they can’t turn things around.
The plant manager runs into his old physics professor who starts asking him about the business and starts to ask questions that reveal he knows a lot about businesses and organizations.
The professor lands this one on the plant manager:
Your problem is you don’t know what the goal is. And, by the way, there is only one goal, no matter what the company.
This was a bit of an eye-opener. It makes sense now that I read it back having the context of the whole book now, but when I read it it hit hard.
It’s surprisingly easy for us creatives to have many goals with our business:
create amazing work
reach lots of people
make a good living
But the truth of the matter is that we can only ever have one goal.
One outcome that we’re looking for.
The trick, however, is to have that goal be multi-faceted.
For example, in the book, this fictional company UniCo decides this:
So this is the goal: To make money by increasing net profit, while simultaneously increasing return on investment, and simultaneously increasing cash flow
That word by is helping them a ton. The goal is to make money, but they get there by increasing net profit, increasing return on investment, and increasing cash flow.
The fictional “guru” who is helping the company through all of this helps them to get even more specific by focusing on three measurements — Throughput (sales), Inventory, and Operational Expense (the money the business spends in order to turn inventory into throughput.
I realized I had the same problem with my businesses. Too many goals, not enough clarity.
I needed to focus on the one outcome that mattered most, that all of the other efforts could be measured against.
Knowing that would allow me to be not only more productive but more certain that I would reach the outcomes that I was after.
What did I come up with?
The goal of Craftsman Creative is to help as many creatives as possible to start, fix, and grow their businesses.
Everything else is measured against that. Does my marketing help reach that goal? Does the content I’m creating — courses, newsletters, podcasts — help reach that goal?
Notice that I didn’t have any mention of money in that goal. That’s not the goal of this business.
My belief is that the money will come the more people I am able to truly help. If there isn’t any money coming in, then it is a sign that I’m not doing a good job helping people in a valuable and tangible way.
There’s one other takeaway that I want to shine a light on from the book:
You have to learn how to run your plant by its constraints
In this book, the author introduces the theory of constraints — that your business can only operate as well as the weakest link, or bottleneck, is able to keep up with the demand on it.
In the example in the book, the plant had two machines that had more demand on them than they were able to keep up with. That was causing all SORTS of problems, and because of those problems, the business was on the verge of being shut down.
Instead, though, by identifying the bottlenecks in the organization the plant manager was not only able to save the plant but turn it into the most profitable in the entire company.
Step one is to identify the core problem or constraint in your business and then to adjust the rest of the system around it.
Meaning — if the constraint is the fact that you cannot create enough work because there are so many hours in the day, then you need to adjust your business accordingly.
If you’re making enough money, then you can hire some other people to help you create more work.
If you’re not making enough to do that, then increase your prices.
You can quickly see that by identifying the weak links in the business, everything else becomes that much clearer.
One other example. What if you sell digital products that don’t require any extra time or effort to sell once they’re created?
If you aren’t making enough money, then your issue isn’t with inventory or anything like that, it’s with getting enough traffic and awareness to the company so that you can sell enough product to make the money you need to support your lifestyle.
The constraint in this business is awareness. Focus your effort there and everything else will start working better.
These two concepts — out of many in the book — were well worth the tradeoff of doomscrolling social media for a few hours of reading every day.
What is the one goal for your business? Remember, you can only have one.
Identify the biggest constraint and then adjust your business around it to see the biggest results in the least amount of time.
The difference between someone with a lot of followers and not much money, and someone with a lot of revenue but fewer followers comes down to the way they each use their content.Use this content strategy to reach the goals in your business faster.
This post is part of the 60 Day Project – one post a day to help you prepare your business for success in 2021. Subscribe using the button below to get new posts sent straight to your email.
Today I want to share basically everything I know about creating content with a purpose.
What’s that purpose? To reach the specific goals we have for our business.
Whether your goal is more sales, more freedom, more control, more followers, it doesn’t matter. Content marketing is a free way to get the outcomes you want for your business and your life.
The common story that I come across is a creative or artist who has spent years building up their social media following, with nothing tangible to show for it.
10,000 or even 100,000 followers on a social platform has no inherent meaning other than people are interested in what you post.
The number itself doesn’t equal sales, or revenue, or freedom, or any of those things.
So the disconnect between followers and results is where we need to put our focus today.
How do we use content to get the results we want in our business?
Let’s dive in:
Creating Content With A Purpose
Most creatives approach social media with the idea that they need to post as much as possible, get more followers, and somehow the results take care of themselves.
I have rarely seen this to be true. Every so often there’s an outlier that creates a new social profile or YouTube channel or blog and it becomes a massive hit and they can start to monetize off of all of the awareness they’re getting.
We can’t build a system around outliers. Rather, we have to look at what works across industries and people who have figured out how to turn content into results.
Years ago, I was taught the 4 Cs from Jeffrey and Daniel Harmon, collectively known as the Harmon Brothers.
This is a team that has made a business out of creating content that gets results for their clients. Just look at their home page.
Here’s the 4 Cs they taught me and my business partner years ago:
Call to Action
Let’s walk through them one by one, because it’s likely that you’re doing one or two of these quite well, and just need to add the rest to get the results you’re after.
When we talk about content, we’re not only referring to the video, image, tweet, or post. The content refers to everything – your title, your thumbnail, your hashtags, your profile.
What I’ve found to be most important when it comes to content is to make it as “native” to the platform as possible.
The most recent example of this in 2020 is the recent battle between TikTok and Instagram Reels. You see plenty of people trying to copy/paste their tiktoks over to Instagram, but Instagram isn’t promoting those as much as their native version (*cough* copy *cough*) of that short-form content.
Similarly, if you post a YouTube video to Facebook, it will get much less distribution from the platform than a native video you upload directly to Facebook.
One of the videos I produced has over 18 million views on YouTube:
But when they added the video to Facebook, they uploaded it natively and it added another 340 thousand views:
The same thing goes for blog posts. Whenever I paste the content of a blog post into a new Facebook post, rather than just linking to the post on my site, there are 10x the views.
The platforms want to keep people on their platforms. The more you can post natively, the more they will share your content with your audience.
You’ve got to give the platforms what they want – native content.
Collaboration & Cross Promotion
The size of your audience is what it is at any given moment. When you’ve got a big piece of content that you’re going to publish – a new album, a sale on your products, etc – you’re limited in your reach.
The fastest way to exponentially reach more people is through collaboration and cross promotion.
I’ve used this principle over the last month to grow my newsletter faster than I have been over the summer. I started reaching out to other newsletter publishers with a similar audience to mine and asking if we could each promote the other’s newsletter to our audiences.
The results speak for themselves:
Some other ways people use this principle are in collaborations on YouTube – inviting another channel of a similar size or greater than you to be in a video on your channel.
Podcasts are built on this principle – you invite a guest on to be interviewed and get their audience to consume your content when the guest shares it with them.
Instagram giveaways often include products or services from multiple vendors, and they all benefit from each other posting and requiring that you follow all of the accounts in order to be eligible.
Who else out there has an audience of the people you’re trying to reach and how can you work with them to collaborate or cross promote each other’s work?
I remember years and years ago when Devin Graham (aka DevinSupertramp) spoke to a bunch of us YouTubers here in Utah at a meetup. One of the things he mentioned that has stuck with me is the concept of consistency.
It was around the same time we had this chat with the Harmon brothers, and so it was really reinforced over a short period of time.
If you have an online following, you need to be consistent with how you release your content.
Whether it’s once a month, or once a week, or four times a day, the consistency is key.
People want to know that if they follow you or subscribe that they know what they’re getting into.
Whether it’s explicit – “new episodes every Tuesday!” – or not, decide on a publishing schedule and stick to it. You can scale it up or down over time – look at this 60 Days Project for an example of scaling it up – but be clear with your audience and bring them on the journey with you.
How many of you have a favorite podcast that you listen to on the same day every week? That’s the power of consistency. They associate an entire day with your content.
Oh, and before I forget my own call to action – I’ve added a “work with me” page on the site, so that you can easily take the next step, if you enjoy posts like this one and want to take things to the next level with your business.
In the last few weeks I started a podcast for a new app that I’ve been building with my brother.
In the podcast, I have conversations with other creatives who are working on their own creative businesses. Many are artists, writers, comedians, actors, filmmakers, and other types of creatives. They own their own businesses, often without any other employees or partners.
One thing has already become clear in the first five conversations: focus matters.
Here’s what I mean:
Where You Put Your Focus Determines The Outcome
There are seemingly infinite places you could focus your thoughts, time, money, and effort in your business.
Social media platforms, followers, engagement, emails, conversion rates, profit margin, employees, contractors, finances, software, project management… it’s overwhelming just trying to list them all.
The question then arises, “where should I put my focus?”
Here’s a three step process you can use, right now, to help focus your efforts:
Ask, “do I have control?”
Ask, “does this help me reach my bigger goals?”
Ask, “is this currently a constraint in my business?”
Do I Have Control?
If you look at something like a client who hasn’t paid you and it’s now 90 days late, you have very limited – if any – control over that situation.
Sure, you could start legal action, or call or email them to try and get that money, but ultimately, the client paying you is out of your control.
Why? Because it’s someone else’s choice.
Instead, it would be better to focus your time on the system that gets clients to pay you on time and in full.
Can you tweak your contract? Can you get money in different installments over time? Can you have them pay up-front?
While there may be “industry standard” payment terms, you’ve got to control what you can control.
Another example: your followers. While you can influence the success rate of getting people to follow you, you don’t have any control over each individual follower or subscriber’s decision-making ability to do so.
So rather than trying to convince people to follow you, focus on ways that you can make it easier for the right people to find you, follow you, and engage with your work.
Does This Help Me Reach My Bigger Goals?
Each of us do what we do for a reason. Maybe multiple reasons, but it often stems down to one or two main reasons that drive everything we do.
For example – the need for fame, or fortune, or control, or adventure, or contribution, or growth, or connection.
These deep needs that we all share in some amount drive everything in our creative lives.
If you’re motivated by contribution but find yourself focusing on something that’s motivated by fame or fortune, you’re not helping yourself reach the bigger, primary goal.
There are plenty of people who led lives of immense contribution and made very little money doing so, but were incredibly happy and fulfilled. They knew they were living up to their life’s mission.
On the flip side, there are countless people who are insanely wealthy, yet continue to pursue more, more, more. The will never have “enough”, because they can always look around to find someone who has something they don’t.
You’ve got to figure out what is really driving YOU in your work, and align your actions and your focus to serve that greater purpose.
Is It A Constraint?
If you’re trying to focus your efforts to fix or grow your business, you need to not only ensure that it’s something you can control, and serves the greater purpose, but to get the biggest “wins” in the shortest amount of time, you need to identify the constraints.
A constraint is something that is holding your business back from being what it could be.
Perhaps you’re an incredibly talented songwriter and musician, yet your albums only sell a few hundred copies, and you haven’t yet started making a full-time income from your art.
The constraint could be any number of things. Marketing, awareness, pricing… there’s no one answer that is true for everyone.
What you need to do is look at your business objectively and figure out where the weak links are. Then you can focus on one at a time, strengthening them so they’re now a strong part of your business.
Pick one constraint at a time, and your business will grow much faster than if you just tried to improve on your strengths.
The Superpower Is Being Able To Know The Right Place To Put Your Focus
In this whole process, there’s a superpower in being able to see what’s true. Being able to look objectively at your business, rather than just going with your gut on what to work on from day to day.
Part of this 60 Day Project was to solve one of my biggest weaknesses – awareness. Not enough people know that I exist, that I’m trying to help creatives with their businesses, and that I have the ability to do so.
So, I took action on something I can control. I can write and publish content and share it with people who might benefit from it.
I can improve each new post so that more people share it with others.
I can point people in the right direction through the posts to help them on their creative journey.
All of these things serve the greater goal of contribution and growth that drives my businesses. And by focusing on the biggest constraint, I’m taking conscious action to change the results I’m getting from my business.