As a graphic designer, you already have the skill set needed to launch a brand. But what about your content marketing? This is a major area of brand promotion, and not everyone is equipped to do it themselves. Are you?
Before you decide, there are a few things you should understand about content marketing, including the skills and time commitment needed to make it work.
You’re not an island
Freelancers and entrepreneurs tend to operate with the mindset that they should be a one-person show – as the sole proprietor, you’re fully responsible for your risks and rewards, right?
While you’ll always dabble in a little bit of everything, it can be hard to know when you should leave it in better hands. This is especially true of copywriting and PR, mostly given the misconception that once you’ve put up your website content, you’re done.
Content is dynamic, and prospective clients will hold it against your credibility to see that yours is out of date, even though you’re a graphic designer. Plus, updating content in different ways opens you up to new connections and shows that you’re keeping up with trends.
Of course, we are all limited by the same thing – resources. Whether it’s time, money or a network, you probably feel stretched one way or the other.
If you’re not sure which route you should choose, get educated first. Here are some things you should know about content marketing that will help you decide
Yes, grammar and spelling are very important aspects of content marketing, but they are definitely not the only skills you need to succeed with your writing.
Check out the sub-sections of how-to guides on Content Marketing Institute, and you’ll start to form a picture of the work involved with content production. Of course, you should already have a good understanding of your audience, but a content marketer should also be a planner, storyteller, PR advocate, project manager and conversationalist.
What you need to understand about yourself and your brand is how many of these things you can do yourself. Maybe graphic design is only one type of storytelling that you love, or you’re a fabulous people-person, but planning is just not your jam and what the hell are distribution channels?
Let’s break it down a little more:
Your plan should outline how you want to project yourself, how often, how you’ll interact and the goals you hope to accomplish in a given range of time.
Your story is who you are, what your brand identity is and how you’re both growing and developing over time. You’re the protagonist, so make us cheer for you!
Distribution channels will be the best outlets for your content, from social media to graphic design websites to fellow freelancers in your network.
The process is how you (or your content marketing helper) make sure that everything gets done when and how it should, from concept to feedback.
The conversation is every interaction you have with your audience, including comments, “likes,” retweets and reviews.
Measurement tells you if all this is working! It’s easiest if you have access to some form of analytics platform, like Google Analytics.
Yup, these are all parts of content marketing. Some more involved than others, but all significant to promoting your business.
Still not sure if outsourcing is the best route for you? Check out this article to get a sense of what you should expect from a writer if you should outsource.
The time commitment
There are countless types of content that you can produce on your behalf, but you certainly don’t need all of them. As a graphic designer, you’re pretty lucky – you have easy access to visual content that doesn’t need any help on outlets like Pinterest or Instagram. But even here, you should be interacting with followers who give you feedback. Not a huge time commitment, but let’s look at some other platforms, too.
This is the first area you should keep on top of and consistently update with any changes you need. Have your rates changed? Did you get experience in a unique industry? Do you need to update the keywords on your site to get found more easily?
It’s up to you how frequently you write articles for followers, but it should be at least once per month. No matter what you write, it should be valuable to your reader and on-track with your brand strategy.
Twitter and Facebook are great platforms for visual and written content, as well as instantaneous feedback. This is incredibly valuable for building a network and a following, so you should be active on at least one of them.
It may be as simple as commenting on someone else’s post/tweet, or as involved as pitching a press release to a publication. Either way, you should be making an effort to put yourself out there. As you build your network, you might even try guest-blogging on a friend’s site and have them do the same for you.
It’s not just about producing – listening to the feedback your brand receives through social media, comments and chats is incredibly valuable to you and your brand. Knowing what to do with it and how to adjust your brand strategy will help you grow and adapt to your environment.
Now you have a sense for the timeframe you can/should build for your content. So how much time do you have to commit to it? Do you have a day job that pays the bills but limits your freelance time? Be honest, and consider the cost associated with spending time on your content.
Do the math
There’s a reason that full-service marketing agencies will have distinguished graphic design and PR departments – specializing in a skill is more efficient than doing it all. That’s just economics.
But this is where we remember our discussion on limited resources.
So, when considering your needs, think in terms of opportunity cost. With the time that you spend copywriting, could you be taking on more clients? Working more hours? Taking personal time to care for yourself? Compare the “rates” associated with the things you could be doing to the cost of hiring a content marketer. Be as objective as possible, and you should have your answer!