When I started my business, I read hundreds of articles about how to build my following. As a longtime marketer, I knew what I needed to do. Still, somehow when it came to writing and marketing my services, I sat paralyzed, staring at a blinking cursor.
In the end, I launched my website and social channels, but I didn’t really do it.
Let me explain.
I spent tons of time writing and designing my site. I put in countless hours posting to Instagram and LinkedIn, with thoughtful captions and timely content. But I didn’t see much of a bump in site visits, followers or engagement. To say I was frustrated is an understatement. It took me a while to realize that the most powerful marketing tool I possessed was missing: me.
So, if you’re struggling to build your following and strike up engagement, this post is for you. I’m going to share the three ways I showed up for my audience and how it drastically improved my marketing results.
After reading this post, you’ll feel inspired and motivated because you learned how to show up, and grow your following.
HIDING IN THE BACKGROUND
Have you ever watched a fashion show online? If so, did you notice the people running around in the background wearing headsets and clutching iPads? No? I didn’t think so. But they’re there; I know because I was one of them.
As a former PR Director for some pretty big designers, it was my job to do the work behind-the-scenes. So, I naturally feel most comfortable back there. But guess what?
I quickly realized that in my new role as an entrepreneur, I will never thrive by staying in the background no matter how good my work is.
I had to force myself to be out there. I had to believe that to build a strong following, people needed to get to know me to trust me enough to hire me.
It was a bit of an aha moment. And since I’ve committed to showing up for myself, I’ve transformed my business.
So, here’s how I’m telling my story to build my following – with me as the main character.
Commitment #1 – SHOWING UP ON MY WEBSITE
Deep down, I knew what was missing. After all, I tell my client’s stories through words every day.
Forget the technical challenges of setting up my website (Hello WordPress, how am I supposed to know the CSS code for that?), the hard part was overcoming the very real fear of actually putting myself out there.
Once I got over that fear, I wrote myself into the story. On my homepage and about page, I injected my personality and wrote as if I was speaking to an actual person. Passions, inspiration, personal and professional goals – it’s all out there.
And guess what happened?
I began to see higher engagement on my social channels, more likes on blog posts, an increase in blog subscribers and eventually, paying work.
Fear is a natural part of the entrepreneurial journey. But by putting yourself front and centre, you will overcome the unease and find your people. It’s working for me, and I am a one-woman show who takes my own photos and designs my own posts!
I know you can do it, too.
Do you know where your people spend their time online? Once you find out, tell your story there as well.
Commitment #2 – SHOWING UP ON SOCIAL MEDIA
When I say social media channels, I refer to the ones I have chosen to use, namely Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. As my marketing plan is evolving, I prioritize these platforms based on where my people hang out.
Before I committed to being front and centre on these platforms, I posted links to my writing, reposts of inspiring quotes and other’s people’s content (yes, you read that right … hand to forehead), and just about everything BUT myself.
But as I started to divulge more of me – candid (unprofessional!) photos, personal anecdotes, interests, fears, family, etc., my engagement and following started to grow.
Crazy right? The power of the human connection, even via a screen, is incredible.
Slowly, as I started opening up more in captions, people engaged with me through likes, DMs, and follows.
I began to build my following by responding to their comments and questions.
So, try it out for yourself. Go to the Instagram account you use for your business (if you combine business and pleasure in one account, cool) and view it in the grid format. Do you, as in your face, show up in at least one of five photos? If not, start with that goal.
People engage and buy in when they feel connected to the person behind the company. They’ll be more to open that email you’re about to send them, too.
Commitment #3 – SHOWING UP IN THEIR INBOX
Does the idea of emailing a potential client with your services in the subject line strike fear like nothing else?
Terrifying, I know! But also necessary to build your business.
A cold email is the most effective way to get in front of the companies you want to work with, especially when it’s crafted in a way that offers you as the solution to their problems.
Ever hear of an elevator pitch? It’s a brief, persuasive synopsis that sparks interest in what you do. It’s useful to have one when for when you start networking, although it should sound natural versus a canned speel.
You can use your elevator pitch to start off your email.
Hi, my name is Laura. I’ve been working in the content writing space for over 10 years, mostly in the lifestyle sector. I help entrepreneurs by writing compelling blog content that turns followers into clients.
In that brief paragraph, I’ve informed them of who I am, what I do, and how I bring value to their business.
I’ve told my (brief) story and put myself on their radar. Then you can include a line directing them to your website, where you’ve delved a little deeper into your background.
If the recipient is in need of your services, chances are they’ll visit your website to learn more about you.
Otherwise, you’ve set the stage for them to come back to you when they are looking for a standout writer.
Another way to show up in their inbox is by building a subscriber list. This is something you can start a few months into your career when you have a library of content to share.
Emails are an excellent way to stay top-of-mind with current and potential clients, as well as gain new followers.
And don’t forget to sprinkle a bit of yourself into every email, whether it’s directing them to your site or offering a freebie with a big ol’ picture of your face on it!
I was so comfortable sitting at my computer planning, writing and reading. I’m a writer, after all! But I soon learned that if I want to build a following of clients, they need to know I exist.
So everyday, I try to show up for myself and my audience in a way that’s honest and true to my story.
What’s your story? Share it with me in the comments below; I’d love to hear it!