There are no shortcuts when it comes to building or scaling anything in this life. Once you finally accept that realization I invite you to continue reading.
Finding your purpose was never meant to be doing all the things you dread and can’t stand.
“You weren’t born to work, pay bills, and die”
That quote is always in the back of my mind when trying to build my own business. When times got tough or stress started to overcome me I had to remind myself that it could be much worse. That reminder gave and continues to give me the inspiration to press forward. If you love what you do, you’ll do anything you can to continue to find ways to keep doing it.
Now, realistically, we all need to find a means to survive. Doing so typically means earning money in some fashion. I believe if you know you have to work towards something it might as well be something you love doing.
I love to create. It comes in many forms but I chose to create digital experiences and content for the web. I obsess over good user experience and find comfort in creating content that helps others. Getting noticed isn’t so much that important but it does help me hear from others about what is and isn’t working.
Getting noticed isn’t just about numbers
Our current society lives and breathes numbers. While obviously the more people that view, visit, or make an impression on something you have created is good, it doesn’t guarantee success.
Take Instagram for example. I recently posted an image announcing a new screencast series called “How to design and code a product landing page” on my blogging side project called Web-Crunch. The image I chose was a feature image I created for of the first part of the series of screencasts. The post got 55 likes and 5 comments. Not bad. Not great.
What does this mean to me? Nothing, other than It feels good to get noticed by a few people for doing something you love. I don’t have to share how I work or even take all the extra time to edit video, write a blog post, and reply to any followers but I do it because I want to and to me, that’s the key to truly getting noticed.
Be real. It’s what people appreciate the most.
Numbers are a metric. You shouldn’t base your entire brand or offering around them but rather use them to “listen” to your users.
The users are the most important part of the equation.
Empathize with them. Talk to them. Reply to them when it counts.
What works for others doesn’t always work for you
Your mentors and competitors didn’t get to where they are without getting noticed. Someone, somewhere, gave them the time of day to state their case and finally earn their trust. With time and a lot of work, you too can get noticed but your approach needs to be genuine and not just a measly attempt to appear popular.
Our society is littered with fakeness (People/Causes/Businesses that appear to be in some state of mind or power but really are just hiding behind their social presence). Magazine ads, profile images, selfies, touched up magazine spreads, and more are far from realistic by anyone’s standards, yet we as a society are conditioned to believe so. It’s kind of sick, to be honest. This is the dark side of marketing where greed and power consume too many.
Always Strive for Innovation
True innovators are those that take chances and learn to accept both defeat and failure. After many rounds of upset, a handful of innovators seems to always find the light at the end of the tunnel. Those that find the light are those you’ve likely heard about in the past.
Henry Ford may not have invented the automobile (my history book says he did but I can’t say I buy it) but he made damn sure most people thought so. During the industrial revolution, Ford introduced the assembly line to scale production of vehicles in a more efficient and timely manner. His idea was responsible for the way mass production of products and services will forever be produced from here on out. He became a legacy that will forever be in our world’s history because he was an innovator.
Following in someone’s footsteps who is better than you at something is a great way to learn but it’s not a great way to be original. You can copy techniques, patterns, styles, and more but still not get the same results. This is a good thing.
Absorb what others are doing around you and brainstorm of ways you can improve something to help people. Find your own method to make something better or even completely new. Your goals should be about the purpose and not the money. If you set out to only make money you will eventually hate what you are doing and want to quit. I know from experience having quit my last job to start my own business.
Content and Consistency are King
To get noticed you need to give back in many mediums. We live in a fast-paced world so your content needs to be geared for those on the go but also be diverse.
Below are the techniques we use currently:
- Posting updates to all social media regularly
- E-mail newsletters and marketing
- Posting our design work to sites like Dribbble
- Engaging in comments and forums
- Networking locally and online
- Building fun side projects to give back
- Writing e-Books and downloadable content
You may look at this list and be worried about finding the time to create/do so much for your own business. Believe me, it does take time but if you develop a consistent schedule and stick to it I can tell you it’s achievable.
Create Really Good Content
Posting random thoughts is great for a personal blog or social media account but for your business, your content needs to be geared towards your target market. Niching out a select market offers you a way to target those people more directly. As a result, those people could potentially become customers and loyal followers which are the entire point.
On top of creating really good content, you need to be prepared to set some time aside to put this content in front of people. The easiest and cheapest method today is through social media. You can also take out ad spaces if you’re serious enough. The number one thing to remember is that your content needs to relate to your users. Attract them with a good headline and actually deliver good content, unlike a lot of blogs that are famously known for “click bait” titles on their articles.
Content comes in many forms as I stated before. Use as many as possible. Right now video is your best bet. If you can post video regularly you get noticed that much faster.
Be Consistent or Stop While You Are Ahead
If you already know you won’t author content in a consistent fashion I’d invite you to either rethink your business model or stop while you’re ahead. If you can afford it, hire a writer/editor/marketer (like us) to handle this for you. These folks understand the who, what, where, when, and whys to content marketing.
Getting noticed is hard. You can do it the right way, which is to give back and be a part of your community. Become a mentor for those looking to solve the problems you already have and let them inside your process for free. From there they will become loyal followers and tell their friends and colleagues.
Be innovative wherever possible. If you can’t create from scratch, find ways to make something that already exists better. Listen to your users and customers.
Producing content people want + Producing content consistently = More Followers and Supporters
I’ll leave you with some inspiration from Gary Vaynerchuk on Building a Personal Brand within Social Media