Category Archives: Entrepreneurs

My Post-Mat Leave Plan

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Going on mat leave for the second time this past winter was bitter sweet for me. On the one hand, I was very excited to meet my new daughter and looked forward to spending time getting to know this brand new person. On the other, I was anxious to leave a business and job/clients with whom I loved to work.

Would my clients be angry that I was going on leave? Would they be willing to take me back after almost a year off? How would I cope with two kids this time around? All of these questions were swirling around in my head.

Well, it’s been almost 8 months since my daughter was born and I am so thankful that self-employed women in Canada are able to contribute to EI (employment insurance) and take mat leave just like women who work for someone else. I have truly enjoyed this time with her and with my son who is so proud to be a big brother.

So, now I’m facing another bitter sweet moment. I am planning to start working again in a few months and have a million more questions about how things will change for her and for me.

To prepare my family and my brain (which I feel like I haven’t used in a while) for what’s to come, I’ve devised a strategy to make the transition smooth for everyone.

Here it is for other self-employed moms to see:

  1. Make a plan with my child care provider for how I’d like the transition to go with my kids as I build my business back up.
  2. Reach out to clients a few months in advance of my return to work — so they have time to figure out if, how and when they’d like to begin working with me again. I’m happy to say that one of them has already confirmed that we’ll be working together again. I want to give them enough time to get budgets approved so I can hit the ground running as soon as my mat leave is over.
  3. Develop a new marketing strategy to get my name “out there” again.
  4. Work with my accountant to plan for the year ahead and develop a budget for future expenses.
  5. Build out a schedule for how I’d like my workdays to flow — knowing that things need to remain flexible because, let’s face it, life is unpredictable when you have kids.

Since this is the second time I’ve built my business back up after a mat leave, I feel more confidant this time around that I can make it work. The biggest challenge is always managing my time wisely and ensuring I build in enough of it to spend with my family and integrate my home life with my work life.

Do you have any tips for transitioning from mat leave back to work — especially as a small business owner? If so, I’d love to hear it. Please share your sage advice below.

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What 5 Years of Content Marketing Has Taught Me

I can’t believe that 5 years ago, I started this little blog in the hopes of cms-265127_640promoting myself (back then) as a digital ad sales consultant.

Fast-forward to the present and I am now a full-time B2B content marketer who has worked with brands like the Canadian Digital Media Network, TELUS, Influitive and Shopify.

And I’m proud to say that they are all Canadian brands that I am thrilled to support.

Never in a million years did I think this is what I’d be doing when I started by own business.

But I am so glad that I am exactly where I am today.

So, to celebrate my love of writing and working with customers to tell their brand story, I thought I’d share a few of the hard lessons on blogging and content marketing that I have learned over the years.

  1. Never stop writing and never stop learning

    Even if I am not constantly writing on my own blog, I write at least 3 posts a week (in addition to working on ebooks, case studies, etc.).

    So, I keep trying to perfect my craft. Likewise, I read at least 10 blog posts a day from other writers who I admire.

    There is always room to improve, so I want to see what the pros are doing try to incorporate it into my own writing style.

  2. Only write for brands that you believe in

    Although I also do a lot of ghost writing for companies, I choose to only write for industries and brands that I am passionate about.

    That’s because I only want to put my name on something that I am proud of and I believe that passion is a huge motivator.

    Why bother writing about something you aren’t passionate about? If you aren’t passionate, it will certainly show through in your writing.

  3. Case studies: The customer is always the hero in the story

    This is something I’ve learned over the past few years in writing case studies for clients.

    It’s not the client/software solution that needs to be the protagonist in a story, it’s the customer who has been through some sort of struggle, which led them to that solution, that needs to shine as the hero.

    Basically, the customer is the rock star and the software solution is the roady or sound technician behind the scenes who makes them shine on stage.

  4. Have coffee with your target audience

    Ok, so it doesn’t have to be coffee, but you need to speak (in person) with the people who are likely to read the blog, ebook, whitepaper, etc. for which you are writing.

    You need to understand their pain points and what messages might resonate with them or get them to move from the awareness phase to the consideration phase of the purchase funnel. And that takes some time and experimentation with your content as well.

  5. Let the trolls keep on trolling

    I think I’ve said this before but you can’t please everyone with your writing. Ultimately, if you get more positive comments than negative ones, you are doing just fine.

    That being said, you can always learn something from what the haters are hating on – even if it’s just how to be the opposite of what they are as a human being.

    But sometimes there is a shred of truth to what is being said and you can always use that information to improve for the next piece that you write. Just don’t let the negativity get you down for too long.

    Thanks for continuing to follow my blog and I look forward to share more of what I have learned in the years to come.

    Have a question about blogging or content marketing? Please share in the comments below.

Image via Pixabay

A Content Marketing Spokesperson (or Influencer) Can Help Legitimize Your Business

A lot of business-to-business (B2B) startups and small businesses use content marketing as a 2legit2quitstrategy to generate new business leads and to increase search engine optimization (SEO) rankings. But it’s important to remember that achieving those goals can take a lot of time. And it can be frustrating if you aren’t reaching your desired results fast enough.

What’s important to keep in mind is that while emails may not be flooding your inbox just yet, you are still contributing to an important part of the purchase funnel – the consideration stage. So, even if most of your leads are still coming in through word of mouth, you can bet your sweet aunt Susan that businesses are evaluating your services through your website, blog, social media following and other content channels.

The key is to produce content that provides valuable insights and advice on how businesses can achieve greater results by tapping into your services. This does not mean directly selling your product. Instead, you should sell your vision and tips on best practices related to your industry.

Content marketing is also an opportunity to show prospective clients who you are as a person (if you are a solopreneur) or leader of a service provider. That’s why some of the most successful companies that use content marketing as a strategy have a person, or group of people, lending their voice and perspectives via a blog, social media or other content channels on behalf of the business.

After all, people want to work with others whom they like and trust. And if you come across as friendly, competent and trustworthy in your content, new clients who are evaluating your services will achieve peace of mind – knowing that their investment in you will pay off.

To give you an idea of how to do this effectively, I’ve put together a list of Canadian spokespeople and social media influencers who have successfully helped to legitimize their business to prospective clients through content marketing. Their storytelling skills, expertise and charisma help to showcase what it would be like to work with or buy services from their company. Check them out below.

  1. Peter Aceto, CEO of Tangerine (blogger, speaker, author, and social media influencer)
  2. Erin Bury, Managing Director of 88 Creative (blogger, speaker, TV personality and newspaper columnist)
  3. Tony Chapman, former founder and CEO of Capital C (now a motivational speaker, TV personality, columnist and consultant).
  4. Tara Hunt, Director of Audience Development at Totem (author, blogger, and speaker)
  5. Mitch Joel, President of Mirum (blogger, speaker, author, podcaster, radio personality and newspaper columnist)

Have a name that should be added to the list? Please share it in the comments section below. Or, send an email to andrea [at] therunningstart [dot] ca.

Image source: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/