I have a love hate relationship with marketing.
I feel like it takes away from my time creating and posting on my site.
And at the same time, there’s always something to learn.
Things are constantly changing and that keeps things interesting.
I believe marketing is something I need to do to grow my following.
Otherwise, how are people going to find me?
Something I hear all the time is that you should spend 80% of your time marketing and 20% of your time making content.
I definitely don’t spend anywhere near 80% of my time marketing.
And it’s probably something I should pay more attention to.
Marketing Strategies I’ve tried so far
Earlier this year I spent some money on a Facebook ad.
I got a few clicks and a few likes, but the ROI? Pennies for my dollars!
I even paid for an ad on Google Adwords.
Same thing, I got a few clicks and email subscriptions.
I think I just wanted to build a following as fast as possible.
And moral of the story is that these things take time.
As much as I didn’t want to believe it, there is no fast route to gaining a large legitimate following.
Especially with regard to social media.
Social Media Marketing
I share my posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
The WordPress Jetpack plugin does some of that automatically, for Facebook, Twitter, and Google plus.
But I think to really be effective you need to tailor each post specifically for each channel.
For example, if I let the Jetpack plugin syndicate or send out my WordPress post to Facebook.
Only so many people will see it.
If, on the other hand, I take that link and post in Facebook in Facebook post, I’ll get a little more ‘views’ on that post than the other way around.
Consistency is Key
You have to be consistent.
And that is a challenge!
Especially while working full-time, traveling, cooking and all other life activities on top of that.
You know, like the saying goes, out of sight out of mind?
It especially applies to marketing and Google too! (We’ll save Google for another time)
I think the rate at which the internet and information moves, it’s easy to get lost and forgotten about.
There was a point where I stopped posting/marketing because things got too busy.
There was also a point where I had technical issues with my web server, that took a lot of time to fix.
The negative effect on my website traffic during each of those periods was the noticeable dip you see below.
Going into the analytics is a little off topic, but here are two periods – March/April and July-September of this year, where I really didn’t post or market much:
It’s called social media for a reason.
And I’ll be honest I haven’t been as social as I should be.
I think it helps when you are more interactive and engage people.
But again, that takes time.
It’s a struggle, trying to find the balance between creating content and marketing.
I think I know how to balance the two, so we’ll see how it goes in year two!
Looking back here are some lessons I learned on marketing this past year.
Lesson 1: Don’t hire a virtual assistant/social media marketer in your first year
I hired someone off Upwork.com to help manage my social media accounts.
I gave them a trial period of two weeks since I wasn’t sure how well they’d do.
So how’d they do?
They were terrible.
Even though they sounded good via Skype (we had short phone call), they didn’t deliver.
This was maybe 4 months after starting this site, so I definitely had only so much to share, but it was wayyy to early to hire someone to do social media for me.
Even now, I’d still be on the fence about hiring someone for that.
I still don’t think I have enough content to share. Maybe next year I will reconsider.
And when I do, ask a lot more questions and be very selective!!
Lesson 2: Focus on one social media platform
Advice that I had often heard on various podcasts, but easy to ignore.
I think there is some truth to that and I’ve realized that I get more traction when I focus on one social media platform.
(This is based on my website data in Google Analytics.)
If I post more often on one platform, like Facebook for example, I’ll notice an increase in traffic from that platform compared to other platforms.
Which makes sense.
If you’re more active, you’re more visible and thus more effective in bringing traffic to your site (assuming you are posting interesting, valuable things :)).
I feel too spread out trying to be visible on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
I already cut out Google+ because it was too much.
I think I will focus on one or two platforms going forward.
To be determined.
Lesson 3: Spend less time on social media.
It’s a time suck and easy to lose focus when clicking or scrolling around on Facebook or Instagram.
I realized I need to be more diligent and strict on limiting my time on social media.
Can’t be clicking on every little thing that seems interesting and stuff.
Instagram, for me, is not very effective of a traffic driver so I’ve already cut back significantly on sharing there.
At the same time, I need to find the right balance between use and promotion, and leveraging that as much as possible.
Lesson 4: Don’t take cash out of my wallet and throw in the air while driving on the freeway (in other words, don’t pay for ads until you have something to sell)
I bought ads on Facebook and Google Adwords.
But I didn’t have anything to sell. Uff!! What was I thinking!?
I know what I was thinking was that they might drive a lot of traffic.
And they drove some, but not close to the amount of value that they could have provided had I had something to sell.
And when I am ready, I will revisit paid ads as part of my marketing strategies for my products.
Marketing Related Books Worth Reading
I’ve tried to learn all I can about marketing and a lot of was done through podcasts and reading.
I’ll get into podcasts in another post, but for now, here are some books that I’ve found very helpful.
I don’t have as much time as I’d like to read, but as an alternative I listen to audiobooks mostly via Audible.
That way I can still get my ‘reading’ in and learn while doing other things like driving, exercise, traveling, or cooking!
These books are in no particular order –
This book is one of my favorites and I’ve listened to it twice (audiobook version).
The content and topics covered in this book are some of the most important I’ve come across these past year as I’ve listened to over 30 + books on business and entrepreneurship.
I would rank this as one of my number one reads for someone who is just getting started with a side hustle / business or entrepreneurship.
Seth Godin has a ton of books and a blog. Many of them on marketing and related topics. I’d love to list them all, but if since I don’t want to overwhelm you, we can start with this one.
Permission Marketing will give you a good feel for his style.
All of his material is easy to read/listen to and straight to the point.
This is one of the first books I ever read by him and I thought it was very educational and practical.
This isn’t as marketing oriented as the above book, but slightly more focused on business and how your relationships with people can really drive progress.
Gary Vaynerchuk really communicates his energy/passion and his rationale for how you can approach working with different types of people and how to succeed in business.
Okay. So I think we’ll end this lessons learned topic for now.
Let me know what you think or if you have any questions/comments!
Next, I’ll be talking about the content management system (CMS) – WordPress.