Field Notes Blog
News and thoughts on UI/UX, web design, and more.
The best way to make the most of your online marketing channels - whether it's your website, blog, email newsletter or social media feed - is to develop a habit of keeping them fresh. For small businesses and nonprofits though, this can be a real challenge. As small business owners, we wear a lot of hats and marketing often ends up on a back burner. To remedy this, consider scheduling in a 7 step monthly update. Here’s a step-by-step guide to doing your first one and setting it up as an easy task each month.
1. Choose a theme. It can be something seasonal (Happy Spring!) a promotion (Spring Sale!) or anything you like that’s relevant to your business or industry. I decided that I wanted to find a lush green image for my March update and look for a high quality image that matches the naturalistic branding of my website.
2. Update your website home page: Depending on how your website is set up, chose a photo or make an image that represents your theme and place it in the hero area or add it as an image below that. If possible, include a catchy, relevant title. For links to great free and low-cost image websites see my Resources page or hire someone (hint hint!) to create something unique. Here's my very simple approach, just a photo with some simple text below it (no Photoshopping even!):
3. Add a new article to your blog. Write a brief story (can be just two paragraphs even!) about something related to your customers, community, business, or industry. You can highlight a special client, share an interesting article you found (be sure to credit the original author and add your own comments about why it's interesting) or promote an upcoming event. There is always something you can write about for two or three paragraphs. Next chose a photo for it. Posts with images are much more likely to be read and clicked. For my update I wrote an announcement about an updated product that's now available and used a product photo.
4. Add a blog summary to your home page. If your site doesn't do so automatically, create a one paragraph summary for your post and add it to your home page with a thumbnail of the graphic. Be sure to link to the full article on your blog. This was simple, I just used the product update.
5. Add a post to your social media feed(s). Now it starts to get really easy because you can re-use what you've already created. Copy the blog summary from your home page into a social media post on your favorite network. Add the blog graphic and voila, instant social media post, no extra writing required! Be sure to link back to the blog post on your website or your home page so you're driving viewers to your site (which is the point, really). Here's mind on my Facebook Business page:
6. Last step: send out an email newsletter. Again, you can just use what you've already made. If you use an email marketing service like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp, simply copy a previous promo to get started. You can often use the catchy phrase you created in Step 1 as the newsletter title and the graphic as the newsletter featured image. Next add the blog post summary and thumbnail from your home page and voila! Instant newsletter. For extra credit add a promotion like "Celebrate Spring with $10 off any xyz". Be creative, but keep it VERY simple. Hit send and celebrate!
7. Plan for next month and set an appointment for yourself. Before you close your email program, copy your promo and change the title to the next month's name. Next, jot down any ideas you got along the way for next month. Doing an update always gives me new ideas so take advantage of that before they slip away. Finally, and most importantly, set an appointment on your calendar for when you'll repeat this process next time. It can be any day, just pick one roughly 30 days from now. Be sure to set a reminder the day beforehand too, so it doesn't sneak up on you. Now you can close up everything, your'e done!
Cultivating a monthly update provides a strong foundation to build your online marketing. If you get faster at it and can post things more often - terrific! But most folks struggle with consistency so starting with the goal of updating once a month is a great place to begin. The key is to budget the time. You may find that you hate doing the updates. If so, make it very simple so it's fast and easy to knock off or look into outsourcing the task. You may find, however, that giving yourself permission to work on your site in this way helps you reconnect to your viewers and nurture your business. My goal is to help you stop seeing a monthly update as a dreaded task and change it into an appointment with yourself to cultivate your online presence so you can grow and thrive. Isn't that the real point?
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About the author
As the owner of Pixel Lava Interactive I've helped hundreds of small businesses and nonprofits with websites, graphic design and more. I hope you'll find this blog full of useful information.
~ Ame Stanko