Since I started being involved with blogs back in 2006, a lot of people ask me questions about how their startup can add one to their website. When I was involved with a blog in the early days it was pretty easy to rank for a topic in Google if you had lots of keywords in your post. Whilst some of the concepts remain the same, it’s a lot harder in 2015.
The difficulties you now have are a blessing if you see it that way. It means that businesses that are not committed, and posting content for the sake of it won’t make it. Google will not look upon your blog favourably if it has out of date content with no sort of consistency – your customers won’t be interested either.
There is lots of competition for eyeballs in the online space nowadays so you have to stand out, be different and master your niche!
1. Tell your startups story
As they will teach you in sales, the thing that sells more than anything is your story. Decide what your startups story is and then tell it to the world via your blog. Don’t shy away from the failures either, make sure you tell them to because that shows your human and you have done the hard yards.
One of the best things you can do is talk about real life experiences that your startup faced with a particular product or service and how you overcame it. In some posts you could refer to why you started your business in the first place and why you want to continue to solve the problem that your business solves.
“When telling your story make sure to always be humble and don’t brag. No one likes a show-off!”
2. Write articles that have great content
Many blogs that I have seen just create content for the sake of creating it. Your startups blog should be a place to educate your customers and to give them hints to what your products and services are about. The content should compliment what your product or service does and be an extension of it. If your startup sells computers then your blog should talk about all the accessories you can buy for your computer and how to set it up.
Great content is usually written by someone who loves what they’re doing. The person that is writing the content would ideally be the founders (some of the time) because it’s their passion that helped them to create the startup in the first place. You want this to bleed through the content so it draws people in.
“Your blog is your startups identity and your place to make a mark.”
3. Add rich media
When you write articles for you startups blog make sure you include rich media. Things like photos can be really good especially if they are shot by you and include real life things that have happened in your startup. For example, if you meet the CEO of Walmart ask him if you can take a picture with him and then feature it in an upcoming article. This makes your blog feel genuine and not generic like a lot of startups blogs that are just trying to smash out keywords to rank in Google.
Whenever you’re posting images on your site keep in mind that Google is very sensitive to a blog’s page load time and so are users, yet 90% of websites (even the famous ones) put up rich media that is massive in file size. If you’re putting up images you need to crunch them down without making them look pixelated. If you just did this right you would be ahead of most of your competition.
The other thing to do is look at your blog on a smartphone. Does it look good? How quickly does it load? When sharing videos just use embedded Youtube videos because then they will be a good size and have the option of HD for those that want it. Videos are another obvious way to enhance your posts but remember that the words in a video can’t be searched by Google, so it’s always good to pull the best points from the video and include them in text form below the video.
4. Make your content social
What will help you rank in search engines the most is how shareable your content is on social media. There is no magic trick to this you just have to create the best content you can. Don’t worry about trying to post every day as long as you have a few updates a week that are really good quality.
When posting your content on different platforms remember that each one has a different method of consumption. If you post on LinkedIn make sure it has a business theme, if you post on Instagram then it’s all about the photo and if you post on Twitter it needs to be short, captivating and make people want to click the link and read the full article.
Don’t try and be on every social platform all at once otherwise you will risk becoming a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Whilst it’s good to be represented on the main ones you should focus your efforts on one or two. Keep in mind where your customers hang out and their age group, before you decide which ones to focus on.
When your blog is new, build up the content first before you tell everyone about your blog. There is nothing worse that when someone asks you to go to their blog and there are 3 articles on there that were written 6 months ago.
5. Make the layout clean and sexy
When you are writing your content make sure that it’s laid out nicely and your blog is not too busy. If you don’t have a great eye then get someone who does, to give you their opinion. Consider the colors of your photos, text and template, and make sure they match as much as possible. Avoid big chunks of text and remember to highlight great quotes or phrases. Don’t bombard Google with lots of tags either, pick the ones that are most relevant to the content and what you do and then mention those. Ten tags and ten keywords is more than enough. If you like clean layouts then I suggest using something like WordPress. You can pickup some great themes from sites like Envato’s ThemeForest.
We all know that subscribers to your startups blog is very important, but my advice to you would be to avoid putting pop up boxes that block the page. Anything that’s annoying like this will see users clicking away from your blog. You can encourage them by mentioning in your articles for users to subscribe, in your Youtube Videos, tweeting a subscribe request and by creating a subscribe form that is prominently featured on your blog.
6. Seek assistance from your raving fans
One person that knows your business as well as you (and sometimes better than you do) is your customers, more specifically, the ones that are raving fans. They are a great contact to have and could be useful to get as authors on your blog. If you approach them in this way you will probably find that they will be humbled and dying to contribute content to your startups blog.
The other raving fans are your employees who have given up their time to come and work for you and believe in the vision of your business. Each one of them has their own job function, which brings a different perspective to your product or service that could help prospective customers engage with your business. Consider interviewing them for a 3-minute video and posting that on your blog.
The other cool thing you could do is allow your customers or prospects to send in a question and then feature them on your blog with the answer. If you get a client that wants to give you a testimonial, ask them to write an article for your blog instead.
Whenever you get your raving fans or employees to write for your site you have to place one caveat and that is, they can only do it if they agree to share it on all their social media channels. The best way to find more customers is to find more who are just like the ones you have. Posting the article on the customer or employees social media is the best way to do this.
If you want to supercharge this, go one step further; tell them that they must also comment on any replies that are written on their content both on the blog and on social media. It’s the actual engagement with the content that helps to build the audience further. People will only engage if they see other people engaging. If your blog is new, ask your employees or friends to comment initially (it must be genuine though) until your audience builds.
You can even take it a step further, once you have established your startups blog, get your authors to guest write on other people’s blogs, just make sure they have a Gravatar account so that when people click their name they find your website. Obviously you need to choose other blogs who are in the same field as you and where there can be a sharing of value. This means that their audience will then have access to your vision and message, and hopefully your businesses solution as well.
A great example
All of this talk means nothing unless I can actually show you. Pixc were a startup just like you and they had another business that had issues removing backgrounds from product images. This then spawned the idea to start a business and solve this. As part of this they created a blog.
Their blog is simple, clean, sexy and has some great how-tos. If I was building an online store and needed their product, their how-tos would tell me exactly how to use their service. Their articles are short, sharp and to the point so you don’t need a lot of time to consume them either which is very important. The only area they are currently lacking in is having enough white space on their site.
Neil Patel, an SEO genius, often talks about the importance of creating white space on your site and that you should consider putting paragraphs in your words, even if it’s not technically a paragraph, to make it easy on the eye. Sometimes you just have to defy the rules, I know it’s hard considering the rules of the English language have been around for a very long time, but just do it!
Finally, I want to hear your tips. There are a lot of bloggers in the Addicted2Success community, who wants to share their ideas to help startups?
How to Create a Winning Startup Culture
Some time back, in my infographic on 51 Business Mistakes that most Entrepreneurs Make, I had outlined that one of the biggest mistakes is that you do not give any thought as to what you consider would be a great startup culture. And, without good policies or HR to keep things in check, the startup begins to develop a toxic business culture. (more…)
51 Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Dream Startup
So you’ve got an idea. You know it will work. And, it means the world to you.
You are an entrepreneur and you think you can rock the world with this one idea that matters to you the most. And, you set out to form the idea into a startup that you are going to nurture and develop into a blooming business in the upcoming years.
However, I don’t want to throw water over your dreams but, I do need to bring this “optimist” you into the hard and cold reality…….. the reality which says that 90% of all startups fail.
Of course, this can bring a great deal of uncertainty into your life and you got to be prepared to deal with it. You are also going to face a ton of challenges in your life which will force you to grow as an entrepreneur. But, the important thing is that you stick with it.
Of course, as Charlie Munger (Warren Buffett’s friend) once said, “All I Want to Know is Where I’m Going to Die So I’ll Never Go There”. No entrepreneurs want their startups to fail after putting in days and weeks of effort into it.
So, a lot of research has been put forward into knowing what does actually sabotage a startup?
Fortune reported that the single biggest reason startups fail was because they do not identify what the market wants before setting up their startup.
However, it isn’t as simple as that. An entrepreneur needs to perform a comprehensive business plan before he sets out with his business idea. Also, you have to know whether your business idea actually suits you or not. If it doesn’t then, you either you need to fine-tune yourself with your business idea or you need to change the business plan so that it suits you.
And, it is only after that, should you venture upon your startup.
Now, is that all? Of course not. The problem most entrepreneurs face when they first begin their entrepreneurial journey is that they don’t know what they don’t know.
That’s where they tend to make a series of mistakes that may cause great harm to their startup.
That’s why I scoured for successful entrepreneurs to provide me with information on what they think were the most common mistakes that startups do. Plus, I also got tips on how to avoid these mistakes.
You can check out the original article here: 70 Mistakes Startups Make And Tips On How You Can Avoid Them
Now, it’s your turn to do some work. Let me know what you thought of these mistakes and tips that entrepreneurs commit. Do you know of any other mistakes that entrepreneurs do? Comment below!
8 Key Factors That Discourage Investors From Putting Money Into Your Startup
Today’s ideas are tomorrow’s winning businesses. Ideas executed brilliantly and with proper investment bring your business success. That is how the world of business got the likes of Apple, Google, McDonald’s, Amazon and so on.
But why in spite of the brilliant and promising ideas at the core of their business, many startups fail to attract investors? Why do investors hesitate to put their money into some startups? Well, investors have reasons and only by deciphering these reasons we could get hold of some deterrent factors that hold them back.
Let us explain some of the vital factors that prevent investors from putting their money in the startups below:
1. Inefficiency or Absence of Leadership Qualities
Inefficiency is the most significant deterrent factor for pulling the success of most startups. This can also be referred to as the lack of leadership qualities. Investors always want to make sure that they don’t lose their money through a company that has an extraordinary business model but no efficient and skilled business leader to make it successful. When fetching investment from investors, you need to offer a clear prospect and detailed plan of how you are going to achieve the goals.
2. Lack of Trustworthiness
An investor puts his money on a venture purely on the basis of the credibility and trustworthiness of the business. This is why besides having a sound business plan with clear objectives, you need to establish the integrity in terms of the security of the investor’s money and how the fund is going to be invested to give results as per business plan.
If an investor has a feeling that the startup may not have enough customers to fulfil its financial liabilities or if it finds that the business is hiding some information, it may further push the trust of the investors down. Total transparency and establishing the faith of the business brand are crucial for finding investors in favor.
3. Lacking Experience in Business Management
You have a great business idea backed up by a sound business plan and solid trustworthiness based on your background, but you have zero experience in managing a business. This is a serious reason for an investor to deny making any investment in your business. An investor cannot put his money just to allow you trying and learning your management skills the harder and riskier way. Uncertainty is the single biggest turn-off factor for any investor and lack of managerial experience is synonymous to that.
4. Business Model is Not Sound Enough
You have a business idea, some efficient, competent and experienced professionals as leaders, the great stamp of trust and pretty much everything that make a company look promising. But what about your business strategy and business model? Are they sound enough to take on the market competition and challenges for business growth? Well, this is what investors are most interested in.
In most cases, a business model is what makes an investor think twice and even take a backward step from investing in a startup. After all, your business model and strategy will decide how your business and products will be able to withstand competition and become victorious.
5. Taking Investors for Granted
This is a big mistake on the part of many startups. Just by becoming confident in the potential and the soundness of the business model and prospect, a business can consider getting investors on board requires just a little effort and time. But in reality, getting investors on board is the toughest thing a business can think of.
This is why without proper and meticulous preparation, it would be foolish to approach investors for your business. Most investors receive hundreds of such emails and a similar number of approaches through other means and they coldly just let them pass. This is why you need to send them very detailed proposals backed by strong recommendations and referrals.
6. Targeting the Wrong Investor
Every business has a target customer base, right? Not all customers are interested in every product in the market. Similarly, not all investors are interested in your business. Investors based on their prior experience and industry exposure, put their money in businesses that they know like their own palm of their hand.
So, targeting an investor who has no interest in your business will only drain your energy and bring you unnecessary frustration. When you are seeking investors for your software startup, don’t approach someone investing in real estate business.
7. Non-Realistic Proposal for Funds
Investors normally come with huge experience of your industry and so they have a clear idea about the fund requirements for your business startup. Moreover, they already have invested in other ventures or have gone through many proposals. Naturally, they have every bit of estimate already in their mind. So, any proposal claiming a lofty and unrealistic amount will only face rejection.
This is why it would be wise to become meticulous about your estimation of the required fund and calculation of various cost factors. Have meticulous details about every facet of investment backed up by breakup of the costs. Only when you can convince them with correct estimation, investors can take interest in discussing the matter further.
8. Make Sure Your Product Solves a Customer Problem
Will any investor put money in building a simple calendar app now? No, simply because such an app idea has no value for the end users now. Will an investor put money in a product that has already been outdated and has no use? No, no investor has to even go through such a proposal for dismissing them.
Well, to fetch investment, your product must be thoroughly customer-centric. It not only has to solve a problem but has to deliver some competitive value in comparison to similar products in the market.
Obviously, finding an investor for a new business is not an easy task, considering the huge competition that businesses need to deal with. But, if your business idea is unique and you fill all those requirements correctly as mentioned above, finding investors may not be as tough as it sounds.
5 Must Have Branding Tools for Your Startup
Your brand is more than just the colors on your website. And for startups, it’s important to create a strong and memorable brand from the beginning if you want to stand out from the competition, scale your company, and find your ideal customers faster.
Here are 5 simple tools that will help your company avoid branding mistakes, take charge of your visual identity, and set a solid foundation for future growth:
1. Graphic Design Software
The word “design” doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Before deciding on your startup’s logo, colors, designs, and overall tone, consider working with a brand strategist who can translate the core ingredients of your startup into a visual identity that speaks to your target market.
Brand strategists have expertise in the psychology of colors, shapes, textures, and words, and they will work with you to make sure that your branding appeals to your target audience. Once you have those basics of your brand established, there are several tools that can help your company refresh and maintain your visual identity.
The absolute best graphic design tool for non-designers is Canva. While the free version has a lot of functionality, the paid plans offer more customization such as the ability to import your exact brand fonts and colors.
But if your company handles all of your design in-house, you will need something more advanced than Canva. In that situation, I would recommend Adobe Creative Cloud to startups who work on their designs in-house, as it includes top-notch design software like Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, InDesign, and more.
“Branding is what people say about you when you are not in the room – Jeff Bezos
2. Visuals & Creative Imagery
Have you ever wondered where your competitors get those beautiful branded photographs that end up on their website? While it’s possible that they worked with a photographer, it’s also likely that much of their imagery comes from stock photos.
Here are my recommendations on the exact places to purchase stock imagery to improve your company’s branding:
- Creative Market – A treasure trove of quality visual imagery where you can buy anything from stock photos, to branding mockups, to social media templates (Facebook cover photo, anyone?), to custom fonts… the options are nearly endless.
- Adobe Stock – Beloved by designers, and the platform offers tiered pricing plans based on your image needs and download quantity.
- Pixels – If you’re on a tight budget and just need to grab an image or two for a blog post, you may be able to find what you need on Pixels – which is great because all of the photos and videos on Pixels are free!
3. Social Media Scheduler
You’re a leader. You’re an entrepreneur. Your staff, board, funders, and admirers depend on you to make big decisions, lead the ship, and plot the vision towards your company’s future. You don’t have time to stare at a blank screen every day wondering what to post on Facebook.
By using a social media scheduling tool, you can sit down for a few hours, schedule batches of content, and schedule the dates and times when it will post to your accounts over the next couple of months. Then, once the content is posted, you only need to worry about responding to comments and engaging with your customers. 21st century efficiency at its finest.
Popular social media schedulers include Buffer and Hootsuite, both of which include free and paid plans. Not sure what exactly to post? Check out these social media ideas from influential businesses. And if the idea of writing and planning months of content still overwhelms you, our next tool will help you stay organized and on-brand.
4. Editorial Calendar
When it comes to your content, it’s time to step it up a notch and start thinking like a media outlet. Every piece of content that you put out as a company, whether it’s an e-mail blast, blog post, social media post, podcast, or video, needs to be aligned with your brand.
Each major magazine maintains an editorial calendar which outlines the overarching theme for each of the upcoming 12+ months. By establishing a monthly content theme in advance, they create a framework to generate and organize their ideas.
Consider creating an internal editorial calendar that will guide your startup’s content over the next 6-12 months. The software tool you use to maintain your editorial calendar isn’t that important — I like to use Trello, but you can also create a simple numbered list in Google Docs or Microsoft Excel. You may be surprised at how quickly the creative juices flow once you have an editorial calendar in place.
“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” – Paul Rand
5. In-Person Networking
Offline efforts count towards your branding too! And if you run your entire startup from behind your laptop screen, you miss out on ample opportunities to build your business offline and gain local referral partners.
If you’re new to in-person networking, start by visiting Meetup.com or Eventbrite.com where you can browse for events in your area. Think outside the box when it comes to selecting events to attend. For example: If you’re a chiropractor, it makes sense to attend local holistic health meetups. But you could also attend a travel event and meet digital nomads who don’t yet realize that a chiropractor can help them recover after long plane rides.
Remember that you’re not at the networking event to make instant sales, you’re looking for referral partners and connections. Don’t be the person who tries to shove your sales pitch down everyone’s throat upon meeting them.
As you can see, there are many simple online and offline resources that can help you spruce up your branding, reach new customers, and pique the interest of your target market. If you take branding one step at a time and start with the tools above, you will be well on your way to creating a brand that your customers will cherish and remember.
Have you used any of these branding tools before? Are there any additional tools that have helped your startup’s branding shine? Share your thoughts below!
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