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Content Marketing

Content Marketing, Social Media

Party blogging with work-life balance: How a love for parties helped Jessica Lighter (@Celebrationsty) find her calling

Brands like Pier 1 and Target regularly find Jessica Lighter, of The Celebration Stylist, through her Instagram posts. In fact, despite her accomplishments as a party planner and blogger, she says the community she’s made on Instagram is what she’s proudest of. Here she talks about how she built a following of thirty-thousand highly engaged followers.

“I always had all these fun business ideas but I never had an audience for them. I knew if only people saw the things I could create, they would appreciate them and support them, but finding an audience was the hardest part. And what’s a business without buyers right?”

Jessica Lighter has always been a woman of many talents. Creativity isn’t something she does, it’s who she is. Trying to find a job that encompassed her many talents wasn’t easy; as she says “They don’t offer ‘party throwing’ as a college major.” But in high school she worked at a mall store that specialized in children’s birthday parties, and while she didn’t expect that to become her career path, it sort of did.

She went on to open her own party store, but when she and her husband decided to have children, her focus changed. She closed the store and planned occasional parties for families around the neighborhood, working events around the schedule of a stay-at-home mother. Then she began posting pictures of these parties on Instagram.

“I had a personal (but not private) Instagram account, like most people do, and one day I got a couple of random strangers following me. It dawned on me almost instantly that somehow I needed to grow my Instagram account and THAT would be my audience.”

Growing her Instagram following became her focus. She knew she could find an audience there and maybe even people to buy her products. Not only that, but “People that were interested and invested in my journey and what I would create.”

She says it was the exact solution she needed.

“No matter what I decided to do, I needed people to know about it if I was going to make it work on my own.”

Instagram fascinated Jessica. She saw businesses and brands using it as practically their only medium for growth. Jessica has devoted a lot of time to studying how to build a business through Instagram, and along the way, she discovered that she also enjoyed writing, which made blogging about her parties a natural evolution.

“There have definitely been points where I felt I was failing at life, but it all sort of funneled into this. And this lets me stay home with my daughter, write, create – all of which I like to do. A lot of people think they can’t make a career out of what they love to do, but I’m here to tell you, you can. You might just not know how yet.”

Jessica says she had no idea before she started that there were companies, big ones, that would pay other people to create images for them.

Today, Jessica as The Celebration Stylist works with brands like Target, Shutterfly and Pier 1 to create styled party shoots for her blog and Instagram, in addition to planning parties for local clients. It’s a system that’s working so well for her that she says she isn’t accepting new clients at this point – she’s earning enough and is able to give her two-year-old all the attention she needs (which, being a two-year-old, is a lot!).

Unlike so many entrepreneurs, Jessica Lighter isn’t all about the hustle. Her priorities are her daughter, work-life balance, and spending what time she has (while her daughter is napping) doing what she loves. Not a bad way to do business, if you ask me.

In this interview, Jessica Lighter shares how she built an Instagram following of more than 30,000 highly engaged followers, works with big-name brands, and is starting a community of party-loving creatives all on social media.

Read More on Canva


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Content Marketing, Growth Hacking

Rise above the noise and get your startup noticed with Rocket Fuel! 🚀

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Announcing a new package for startups!

Competition is fierce, and loud, and… everywhere. To get noticed by early adopters, evangelical customers, tech enthusiasts, investors, thought leaders and Silicon Valley insiders, you need a way to reach them that isn’t over-saturated. Something that pushes you into their radar so you can finally reach the great heights your product deserves.

In my Rocket Fuel Package, I offer a way you can get:

  • Brand recognition – among your ideal audience
  • In front of an engaged audience of thousands of startup enthusiasts
  • Your content shared on cutting-edge tech communities like Growth Hackers, Product Hunt, Inbound.org, SaaS.Community and more
  • Not just more traffic, but qualified traffic who are more likely to convert to leads
  • A quickly growing reputation as a thought leader in your industry

Think of me as an extension of your content marketing team.

Learn More + Fill Out a Form if You’re Interested 


“The value Nichole is offering for this price is unbelievable—the Rocket Fuel Package is a steal!”

– Kiki Schirr, CEO of WeKiki 

Content Marketing

10 Extremely Effective, Totally Free Content Promotion Strategies by @NikkiElizDemere

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Good content isn’t cheap, and it’s certainly not easy – even if you’re doing it yourself, or trying to save a buck and tasking your non-writerly employees with the job. Time or cash, either way, you’re going to invest to do it right*.

* What’s the point in doing it wrong? Nobody is going to pay attention to bad content, including Google’s web crawler algorithms.

But to make that content work for you, you have to promote it. This is why content promotion is a vital step in your content marketing process.

Producing content alone it isn’t enough to get you noticed, read and shared.

Yet, many companies drop the ball with their content. They put it up on the company blog and sit and wait for people to come – but nobody knows it’s there.

Or, almost as bad, they’ll quit after posting the link on social media for all of their 27 followers to ignore.

Because those followers have been given no reason to pay attention in the first place.

Now – content marketing does work. When you do it right, it can establish your company as a thought leader, increase trust and brand awareness, and nurture leads through your sales funnel.

Content can also provide customer success support for existing customers, helping answer questions and learn to derive more value from your product.

In addition to all of these benefits, good content is a sustainable way to climb Google’s rankings and ensure your website’s place among the firmament (i.e. the top slots of the search engine results page).

Good content doesn’t get dinged or demoted. It builds a following. And the longer you have it up, the better it works as more people see it, read it, love it and share it. For many businesses, quality content marketing is the long but steady path up the mountain to search engine supremacy.

For all of this to work though, you have to get your content out there. And if you’re a startup or relatively new business, your funds are likely allocated elsewhere.

I’ve got you covered – because you don’t need a marketing budget for any of these content promotion strategies. Fair warning: If you’re not investing money, you will need to invest some time. Nothing happens by magic — at least not yet.

Read More on ThoughtFlame


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Content Marketing, Conversion Rate Optimization, Visual Communication

How to Effectively Use Images For Better Conversion by @NikkiElizDeMere

howtouseimages

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

There’s a boring definition of conversion, but I prefer to simplify it down to monkeys.

Monkey see. Monkey do.

The “do” is the conversion. But the magic is in the “see.” What does a monkey — or person — see that spurs them into doing? And what gets in the way between the “see” and the “do” that makes “doing” less likely?

Using images to improve conversion rates requires answering those two questions. Essentially, you need an image that creates a desire to take action and reduces any friction.

Read More on Convert.com


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Content Marketing, Conversion Rate Optimization, Visual Communication

​How to Create Images That Attract & Convince Your Target Niche ft. @VisageCo

how-to-create-images

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Any old picture might be worth a thousand words. But your target niche doesn’t need or want a thousand words. Your ideal audience needs the right words, paired with the right images, to tell a story that uniquely appeals to their deepest desires.

Studies show that people understand images faster than words, remember them longer, and if there’s a discrepancy between what we see and what we hear, our brains will choose to believe what they see. Our brains prioritize visual information over any other kind, which makes images the fast-track to connection all marketers are looking for.

So don’t just slap some text on a stock photo and call it good. You can do better. Much better. And I’ll show you how.

Read More on Moz


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Content Marketing, Tools, Visual Communication

10 Creative Visual Tools & Where to Share Your Visual Content by @NikkiElizDeMere

Visual-Content-Tools

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Gone are the days when a simple infographic would cut the mustard. Today’s content marketers have to be agile, ready to take on everything from photo editing, to video editing, to creating memes guaranteed to go viral. Considering that many content marketers aren’t designers (or even former film majors) – that’s a considerable challenge. I’ve compiled my favorite tools that make visual content marketing easy for everyone, in nearly every medium. No expertise required.

But wait – there’s more. Creating visual content is only half the battle for marketers – I get that! So at the end of this post is a list of 10 Places to Share Your Designs That Will Bring You Way More Traffic Than Twitter or Facebook.

Happy visualizing!

10 Visual Marketing Design Tools for Non-Designers

1. PicMonkey (for collages & basic photo editing)

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Picmonkey is a free, web-based photo editor and graphic design tool with a surprising number of ever-changing fonts, trendy color schemes and fun designs to choose from.

2. Placeit (for product mockups)

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Placeit makes it easy to generate product mockups without Photoshop, and costs far less (one download costs $8, and monthly plans start from $12).

3. Visage (for data visualization)

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Visage makes it easy to bring great design to data by making it simple to create charts and graphs, and visually design them with colors, fonts, clipart and high-res image backgrounds. You can also use it to super-impose words on background images (many of which are included in the freemium version), or to create infographics.

4. Free Stock Photos (for all of your royalty-free photo needs)

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Free stock photo sites:

  • Unsplash – Adds 10 new royalty-free photos every 10 days, best for breathtaking landscapes, cityscapes and still-lives.
  • Picjumbo – High-res photos, no attribution required for almost all images, best for food pictures.
  • Gratisography – Quirky, fun, provocative images by Ryan McGuire.
  • NewOldStock – A random assortment of vintage photos ranging from the Sphinx to the Rolling Stones, and everything in between.

5. Awesome Screenshot (for annotated screenshots)

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Awesome Screenshot, available on Mozilla, Chrome and Safari, allows you to take screenshots of whole pages or parts of pages and annotate them with shapes – exceptionally useful for critiquing pages and images.

6. Social Image Resizer Tool (easy resizing for those who don’t think in pixels)

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Social Image Resizer Tool makes it extremely easy to resize your images according to where you want to use them. Just upload your image and choose where it’s going – no need to know the pixel count.

7. Dissolve (a resource for video stock footage for commercial use)

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Dissolve has HD quality, royalty-free stock footage available for commercial use, making it easy to create a jaw-dropping video. Footage isn’t free, so expect to pay a few hundred for a 10-20 second clip.

8. Stencil (basic words on image generator for social media)

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Stencil is a Chrome extension that lets you quickly put words on images that are pre-sized for social sharing. $9/month.

9. Imgflip (for making memes)

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ImgFlip is a meme-creating tool that lets you customize font and text, and make GIFs from images or videos.

10. Qzzr (for creating quizzes)

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Qzzr is an app for creating interactive quizzes for free (with basic customization) or $299/year for Pro-level options.

10 Places to Share Your Designs That Will Bring You Way More Traffic Than Twitter or Facebook

As a content marketer, you likely spend as much or more time promoting your content than creating it (or you should be). But with so many content marketers flooding the main arteries of social media, it’s getting harder to get your content noticed, which is why many of us have found much better results from sharing our visual content via these networks.

  1. Pinterest – Some bloggers have cultivated followings of thousands just by using Pinterest, or a combo of Pinterest and Instagram (see The Dabblist). Sharing is free, but there is a science to which kinds of posts do best. They’re image-heavy, informative, and list-centric.
  2. Instagram – Instagram is a powerful tool for visual content marketers, especially for sharing customer-centric photos (pictures about your customers), employee-centric photos (pictures about your employees or CEO) and contest photos.
  3. com/oggl/ – If you use Hipstamatic’s photo effects to stylize your photos, you can share them on Hipstamatic’s community via their app. No one is as likely to appreciate your creative efforts as other creatives, and you might just up your game by getting ideas from your peers.
  4. com – Describing itself for “show and tell for designers,” Dribbble is where you come to really strut your stuff, or get ideas from the best. Top designs get thousands of page views and hundreds of likes.
  5. net – Another showcase site for creative work, Behance also allows you to get peer kudos in the form of thousands of views and hundreds of likes. You can submit your work to several categories, including Branding, Graphic Design, UI/UX and Web Design.
  6. Tumblr – Incredibly sticky with a hip, young audience, Tumblr can be a great resource for marketing to millennials, especially if you’re marketing to a tight niche and have an amusing image.
  7. org – If your design skills are ready to turn pro (and freelance), you might want to check out Designers Couch. It’s like a collection of portfolios for designers, illustrators, web designers, and other visual creatives.
  8. Slideshare – For B2B marketing, Slideshare is a happening place for sharing slides, infographics, and other informative visual materials. Don’t use it for blatant ads, but do use it for publishing exceptional original high-value content.
  9. Vine – With channels like “DIY” and “Gaming,” and a young, tech-savvy demographic, Vine is practically made to foster viral videos. If you’re trying to reach younger millennials, this is where they are. Prepare to entertain them within 6 seconds.
  10. Sub-Reddits & Reddit-Infographics – Finding the best Sub-Reddit for your niche is the hard part (there are so many). Uploading your infographic, meme, GIF or image is the easy part. But watch out for Mod rules like “no more self-promotion.”

Each social media outlet has its own style and its own user demographic, but that just makes them better tools for finding and attracting your target market. But one characteristic rings true for all of them: These are users who love good humor, great visuals, and truly innovative creativity.


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Content Marketing, Visual Communication

The Power of Visual Storytelling: 15 Stunning Examples to Inspire You by @NikkiElizDeMere

the-power-of-visual-story-telling

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Before the days of neon lights and marquee signs, business owners had to get creative when it came to advertising their establishments. In fact, wine bars in ancient Rome used to hang bunches of vine leaves outside their door as a nod to the God of Wine, Bacchus. And when weather conditions left them with a short supply of vine leaves, barkeeps turned to bushes — inns called Bush, or Bull & Bush, still exist today.

But others didn’t even have that. They had to get artistic. And with a largely illiterate population, pictorial signs were the only logical advertising choice.

Visual storytelling — or passing on a lot of information through a relatively simple visual aid — has been a cornerstone of marketing for thousands of years. I’d like to say we’ve come a long way, but really? What worked then works now: We see what we want and we’re driven to buy it.

Perhaps, if anything has changed, it’s what we want from life. That’s where today’s visual storytellers have a chance to not only say “Hey, you can get this here!” but also lead the consumer into a whole new world of possibilities.

Below you’ll find 15 of the very best examples of visual storytelling from B2C, B2B, crowdfunding, and SaaS. These companies know how to tell a brand story that seeds desire, starts relationships, and inspires nothing short of love. Check ’em out.

Read More on HubSpot


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Content Marketing, Visual Communication

How to Support Your Copy with Images (Instead of Just Dropping Pics on a Page) ft. @CopyHackers

how-to-support-your-copy

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

“I want to go to there,” says Liz Lemon.

She’s just watched a sexily rumpled John Hamm walk out of the kitchen only to tell her:

Now that’s an image that inspires action, amiright?

We see.

We want.

We make happen.

The connection between sight and longing is visceral, primal – not to be ignored.

Except here’s the thing: most of us content creators do ignore it. In an effort to draw a prospect in with our words, copywriters may dismiss the power of images. Or, at best, we may find ourselves using them as meek supporting characters to the textual stars of our shows.

But images are far too powerful to be relegated to the backgrounds.

And words with images? You put the right ones together and you not only get momentum – you could start a movement. Says science.

Read More on CopyHackers


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Content Marketing, Diversity

Influencer Marketing: I’ve got a bone to pick with you – wanna meet me outside? by @NikkiElizDeMere

influencermarketing

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Joanna Wiebe has this great formula for writing compelling posts. As she puts it, “pick a fight.” Well, there’s been a battle brewing between me and one marketing idea for a very long time: Influencer marketing. It’s hotter than a June bug in July right now. Everyone’s talking about it, and almost everyone’s doing it.

The idea behind influencer marketing isn’t a bad one altogether.

Some have described it as “the opposite of authority marketing” – instead of you being the one drawing people in with your charm and expertise, you’re instead courting others who have already built up their authorities in your niche (or related niche) and asking them to introduce you to their audiences (preferably with a glowing review, or an anchor-text heavy guest post).

A more succinct definition from VisionCritical: Influencer marketing is the practice of “engaging and partnering with people deemed to have online clout.” Bloggers, internet personalities, celebrities and industry experts are all fair game.

The promise?

“Companies expect that influencer marketing will drive sales because bloggers are able to expose the brand to a captive audience and increase brand awareness.” – Elspeth Shek, “Influencer marketing’s big, bad problem, and what companies can do about it,” VisionCritical

So, best case scenario: Your influencer has a large, highly engaged, niche-specific audience that will listen to *anything* s/he says, and buy whatever s/he recommends.

Some influencers have that much power. If you’re a new perfumer and you get Dita Von Teese’s public endorsement? You’ve got it made in the shade. Why? Because her audience is devoted to the point of being fanatical, and she has won their trust through her own integrity of only supporting brands (and scents) she genuinely loves.

But, most influencers don’t have that much sway. They may have large followings, but maybe half are active, and the other half are “lurkers” (and at least one technology researcher and strategist, Alexandra Samuel, contends that “lurkers” are not only less likely to comment and engage, but also less likely to follow recommendations).

Still, the potential benefits of winning an influencer over to your cause are big, juicy, and understandably tempting, spawning a million-and-one articles about how to do influencer marketing. This article  isn’t one of them.

This article is about whether you should use influencer marketing at all, and if you do, how you can benefit other people in addition to your brand. Yes, I could have titled this article “How you can use influencer marketing to make the world a better place,” but I’m not running for Miss America anytime soon.

Big Picture: How Ethical – not to mention effective – is Influencer Marketing?

“The voice of the customer has always been one of the most powerful concepts in marketing, and today’s social media platforms act as one giant megaphone for that voice.” – Kyle Wong, “The Explosive Growth of Influence Marketing and What it Means for You,” Forbes

The theory is that by choosing the right influencers with whom to partner, you’ll get an all-access pass into the minds and hearts of their audience (who is also your target audience). But first, you have to choose your influencer, and there’s a scientific approach to this called “influencer targeting.”

According to Forbes, the winning influencer targeting equation is:

“Influencer = Audience Reach (# of followers) X Brand Affinity (expertise and credibility) X Strength of Relationship with Followers”

I’ve written about The Problem with Influencer Marketing before. My biggest beef is that because of the way influencers are chosen, only the voices that are already the loudest get amplified. Brands who pick influencers based solely on numbers ensure the people who already dominate the conversations continue to do so.

This is problematic when, as I found:

Of the “50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch in 2016,” published by Entrepreneur magazine, you’ll find that:

74% are male

86% are white

This isn’t only an issue of diversity in sex and ethnicity; it’s an issue of differentiation. When the same voices are retweeted by every brand’s social media, every brand starts to sound the same. And that means that, pretty soon, your brand’s social media will have all the impact of white noise. (Get it? White noise? Ha!)

But what if brands chose their influencers differently, and with a weather eye towards diversity?

What if we could change the way brands and influencers and audiences interact altogether?

Mirror, mirror on the wall – who’s the cloutiest of them all?

My theory: Truly effective and impactful influencer marketing can only be built on a foundation of trust, mutual respect, and mutual benefit. And, if you’re building your influencer “network” based on a formula, rather than making genuine person-to-person connections, you won’t have that.

Here are my new and improved formulas for your consideration:

influencer

influencer2The only kind of brand/influencer relationship that works in the long-term is one that is not just mutually beneficial, but mutually supportive. I’d like to see brands, marketers and entrepreneurs create circles of authentic relationships that support each other – which is actually far easier than cold-Tweeting influencers with variations on “Hey, can I use you to sell our product to your audience? KThanks!”

In short, Building trust with influencers requires not having the attitude of “What can you do for me?”

Let me share with you one of the nicer requests I’ve received. She starts out great, with lots of compliments (compliments will get you almost anywhere), but her message missed a vital component. Can you guess what it is?

Hi Nichole,

I’ve read your article on “Truly Awesome Tactics to Gain Traffic from Twitter” on Moz and found it very interesting and inspiring.

I especially like your point about storytelling and writing clickbait headlines.
We operate in the Tech/Business space as well, so I’m sure we’ll be able to collaborate.

We’re currently looking to increase our brand awareness, and I really like the quality of your article, I thought I’d reach out to you personally.  Do you think it would be possible to mention [company] on one of your articles on Moz?

We’re a business software directory specializing in the software reviews and deals. You can check out blog to get an idea about the type of topics we cover, here.

I’d be happy to hop on a call for a quick introduction. 🙂

Thank you so much in advance!

Honestly, I get so many similar requests that my responses have become downright terse.

Hi [Marketer], thanks for reaching out, but that doesn’t really sound like a collaboration, and I can’t think of any articles that I’m writing soon for Moz in which “software reviews and deals” fit.

Regards,

Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

I love to collaborate with great brands, but let’s check that dictionary definition: “to work jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something. Synonyms: Join forces, band together, ally.”

Essentially, help each other. This marketer had a firm grasp on how I could help her, but had nothing more meaningful to offer me that a little sweet talk. I like compliments as much as the next human being, but c’mon. And I’m not talking about financial remuneration, though offers are always appreciated. I’m much more interested in forming real partnerships with genuinely good, customer-centric businesses.

And that typically doesn’t result from an unsolicited private message from a marketing department.

Yet this is what influencer marketing encourages: People reach out to influencers without building real relationships, without any real connection, and asking for a one-way exchange.

“The best way to approach someone in demand is to not approach them! In general, this feels like a shortcut, but it’s not. The opportunity is to create your own sphere of influence, curate your own content, lead your own tribe… it might take longer, but it doesn’t put you at the mercy of the delete key.” – Seth Godin

What I would like to see instead is this:

Brands increasing their brand awareness the right way, by practicing customer success, creating delight, and building an army of brand advocates who will spread the message for them.

Essentially, we’re turning the idea of an influencer on its head.

Instead of reaching out to an established “influencer” – brands can make their own through empowering their most enthusiastic users. Then it’s not based on numbers; it’s based on passion, existing trust, and an existing relationship that will only continue to strengthen and grow.

And if you must have influencers, I recommend this:

  • Choose people based on who you, personally, would love to get to know;
  • Look for voices that are outside of the mainstream (but who still have passionate, engaged audiences);
  • And forge a genuine relationship with them.

Their audience and yours will respond far more positively to authentic relationship-building than a clearly transactional plug. Trust me on this.


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Content Marketing, Customer Development, Customer Success, Product Management, SaaS

Free E-Book by @NikkiElizDeMere: How to Align SaaS Content Marketing and Product Management

success

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

You’ve seen the studies – companies that retain customers grow bigger and faster than companies focused solely on customer acquisition. You can fill your funnel to the brim, but if your onboarding process acts like a leaky sieve, you’ll never have enough revenue to build and grow sustainably.

The good news? You have everything you need, right now, to create a sustainable system for acquiring and retaining your ideal customers.

It’s not a magic formula. It’s just two people: Your content marketer and your product manager. Working together.

We hear you. We understand every objection rattling off in your head about the crazy – COMPLETELY CRACKERS! – notion that content marketers could actually help your product development department:

  • Do better work, more efficiently
  • Be less distracted by support tickets
  • Align behind a single, shining vision of your ideal customer
  • Produce products, features, and updates that result in retention and growth
  • And have more fun

These are wild claims to be sure, so allow us to present you with a 3-part paper that will show you how your content creators and product developers can join forces to build the kind of business you’ve envisioned all along: A business with the right products, successful customers, and zero limits.

Read More on Inturact


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