One of the questions that comes up within 5 minutes of telling someone that I have an online business is - "How did you initially get people to notice your work?!" And understandably so.That is one of the first things I am always curious to know when I meet a fellow business owner as well. And, trust me, I've spoken to lots of business owners online and in conferences - each of us has a different story.You may be thinking of starting a new business, maybe you’ve just started one or you already run a thriving online business - either way today’s blog post talks about all the different strategies you can use to stand out and get noticed online. Let’s get started!
Abraham Lincoln said - "Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first 4 sharpening my axe".I absolutely love this quote. The best thing you can do to get noticed is to get super good at what you do. Whatever your craft may be - painting, design, photography, marketing - anything - work on making it the best it can be every single day. Producing your best work takes time, effort and patience but it gives you immense confidence to share it with the world.And when you are confident about your work, it’s far easier to get people to stand up and notice you. So before sharing anything - ask yourself - Is this the best this can be? It doesn’t have to be the best thing ever in the world, but it has to be your best, sincerely.
Once you are ready to share your work, you will need to build a brand that represents you and your work online.So what exactly is a brand?
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer. - Seth Godin
In other words, a brand is the end-to-end experience you provide to anyone who comes in contact with your work. Now there are many aspects to branding - brand mission, brand strategy, brand styling, brand story..But when it comes to getting noticed online, your brand styling becomes extremely important. Especially with visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, having a consistent visual strategy for your brand is extremely important now than ever before. Starting from your brand identity (the type, colors, patterns, illustrations) to your brand graphics to brand photography - everything needs to be consistent so it helps people notice and identify your brand easily and instantly. Even from a mile away.
Here are some resources to help you build a beautiful visual strategy for your brand:
Here are some of my blog post graphics that have got a high number of pins on Pinterest. See how the styling, both in the photography as well as the graphics is consistent throughout? Consistency creates brand awareness and helps people recognize your brand.
Okay the big question - what are the best social media platforms to get noticed? My quick and favorite answer would be: Pinterest and Instagram! But guess what? That may not be the right answer for your business. So first it's important to explore what social media platforms are right for your business. Honestly, my answer would be to pick one and run with it. Once you decide on one - now it’s important to go out there and get noticed. How?When I started my blog, Twitter was my go-to platform. I endlessly participated in Twitter chats and shared my work to get the word out there. This was 3 years ago. Now things maybe different. Now as I see it - Instagram and Pinterest are the ones that seem to be really working. But to get noticed, whatever the platform maybe it's important to show up frequently and consistently. Especially if you are at the beginning stages of your business, you may need to show up more frequently to get some momentum in growing your social media presence.For me personally, Pinterest has made all the difference. I struggled initially to build an audience on Pinterest, but once it took off - it worked wonders for me! If Pinterest is your jam too, below are some posts on how I use Pinterest and Instagram to grow my business.Here’s how I grew my Pinterest from 0 - 20000 followersHere’s how to use Instagram to grow your businessHere's how to grow your blog with social media
Now as much as social media is awesome, it's also true that it's not yours. Let me explain: Let’s say you put a ton of effort into growing your Instagram audience and it works - you have a 10000 Instagram followers. But these followers are not yours. So if Instagram plans to shut down or change its algorithm entirely - your ability reach your 10000 followers will not be under your control anymore. Yes or no?So it's important to build your audience around something that’s your own. And that something is your website + email list. Nobody can take these away from you - they are yours forever. Now that doesn’t mean you need not use social media. You definitely do, it's a very essential part of running an online business. But use social media as a way to channel your audience to your website - social media should not be the end-all-be-all.Why should people come to your website? Good question! You need to make your website valuable for people to come and read what you have to say. So share great and valuable content. Looking back, I feel my blog had the biggest role to play in the growth of my business. Content marketing has been my best growth strategy. For the first two years, I consistently put effort into creating content for my blog that was useful for the audience I wanted to attract. I wrote in-depth tutorials, shared the ups and downs of my business transparently and wrote about everything I learned along the way of starting my own business.Still not convinced?Here’s why you should use content marketing for your business.So based on your niche, come up with a set of topics that you would like to write about. And start creating quality content that attracts.Here's how to create an editorial calendar for your blogHere’s how to generate new content ideas for your blogHere are 6 content writing hacks for bloggers
Most importantly, build meaningful, genuine relationships. I cannot emphasize this point enough. This is the basis of everything in the world and works similarly in your online business as well. Whether its on social media or your blog - interact genuinely with your peers and audience. Make friends. Encourage them. Share their work. Ask them if you can help them in anyway. Collaborate (most fun!) on projects. And just be present for them. Then watch the magic unfold.When you are genuine and authentic, people will sit up and notice your work. Word of mouth travels faster than any social media. It is just the way it is. Humans are social beings. Everybody is intrinsically looking for meaningful connections and nothing can ever beat the power of human connection.So don’t be a robot :) Share your feelings. Reach out for a Skype date. Write an email to someone that you admire.
And lastly, don’t be afraid put yourself out there. Be bold, be you. You have unique gifts and sharing it with the world helps your work get noticed. Bring your voice and personality into your art, your Instagram captions, your blog posts and even your emails.Do Facebook live, webinars and share bits and pieces of your personal life too. Honestly, I was so scared to be on video - for some reason I felt insecure putting myself on webinars and LIVE video. But once I moved past my fear and insecurity - it was only bliss. People connect with people not with computers. If you are hiding behind a computer all the time - it’s hard for people to relate and connect with you. I am speaking from my own experience here, Ha! So get out there. You are beautiful the way you are and the world needs your voice.Here's a screenshot of me from my first webinar. I made a ton of mistakes, in fact I forgot to turn on the microphone for the first minute or two of the webinar. But like they - "When you stumble, make it a part of the dance!" Isn't it?
Phew, that was a long post! And sure, all of this takes time. And it should. Getting noticed in a saturated world of online businesses takes time. So be patient and keep putting in the work. Honestly it never ends, we need to show up every day if we want to get noticed and make a difference. And that’s what makes this whole online thing so exciting. It couldn't get more fun!