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As a small business owner, you only have so many hours in the day to promote and market your products and services, and social media and pay-per-click advertising will likely be the first avenues you choose to go down. But launching and maintaining a blog for your business is one of the most rewarding methods of marketing; below, we round up some of the reasons why.

Positions you as an authority

Perhaps one of the greatest reasons why content marketing is so important for small businesses is that it can position you as an authority figure in your niche. Think of it like this: if you’re writing high-quality material that helps potential customers find answers to their questions, they’ll naturally think of you as a valuable source of information, and be more likely to recommend your website (and therefore your products and services) to their friends. As such, the more content you write, and the more value you give away for free, the more authoritative you’ll become.

Drives organic traffic to your website

One of the biggest benefits of content marketing is driving free, organic traffic to your website. If you write a blockbuster post and hit rank one on Google for it, then you can expect to receive hundreds, if not thousands, of organic hits to your website – and every person is a potential customer. The key to getting rank one on Google is to write material that’s much better than everything else that’s out there (see also the skyscraper content technique) and building links through guest blogging, blogger outreach and search engine optimisation (SEO).

Gives you material to share

As a small business owner, it can be hard to find new material to share on social media, particularly if you don’t want to share content from one of your competitors. By writing lots of content for your website, you’ll quickly be able to create a pool of valuable material that you can share on social media as and when you like. And there are even greater benefits to this; posting your own content on social media will increase referral traffic back to your website, and you can add calls to action and lead generation techniques to persuade visitors to become customers.

Encourages you to learn more

Writing quality, original material every week for your blog is harder than you might think. Sure, you will likely to be able to round off 100 blog post ideas from the top of your head, but when it gets to the nitty-gritty of writing a post for your audience, you’ll soon see the work involved. You should start every blog post by reading and researching the topic so that you have the most accurate and up-to-date information. Doing this will not only ensure your blog posts are topical and accurate, but it will help you learn more about your industry and become a better leader.

Wrapping up

There’s no denying that writing blog posts is hard work, but the key is to stay motivated and think of the bigger picture. By sticking to a content marketing strategy, you’ll quickly build up a loyal audience of readers and convert some of your followers into customers. Good luck!

 

About the Author

Max Greene is the Managing Director of Muffin Marketing, a UK-based marketing agency specialising in content marketing, social media and search engine optimisation. When he isn’t working on campaigns for clients, he loves binge-watching Netflix shows and walking his dog.

HowNow got the pleasure and the joy of being able to interview  Robert Caruso. He has been recognised  on the Forbes top 40 list of social media marketers. He is an incredibly successful digital marketer and was named the 57th top digital marketer in 2016. 

Robert is a partner at Engage and helps small and medium sized businesses deliver effective digital marketing and make a lasting impression as well as achieving fantastic results online. If you want to hear some of his great advice for your business and discover more about his journey, then keep reading!

So, tell us a bit about you and what you do?

We design and execute integrated digital marketing programs for clients around the world. We take a combined approach for our clients marketing online to ensure that they have a presence everywhere that they need to be, consistently developed and distributed content and are found by their target audience.

How did your journey start in becoming a successful a social media and digital marketing advisor?

Well, that’s an interesting question because I wouldn’t call what we do being advisors. What I mean is that we don’t advise clients on what and how they need to do their marketing; we professionally do their marketing for them. Along with that of course we advise on connected business elements that impact how well the marketing will integrate into their business practices though.

So changing the question just a bit, we became successful managing clients complete online presence by doing it and doing it a lot. Over decades of building effective digital strategies for various B2B and B2C industries and executing them, you tend to get good at it. Because our approach focuses on research and a lot of it, we get to the root questions and answers that our clients customers have and need. Knowing that data can make everything you do online much more effective.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced on your journey and how did you overcome it?

The one word answer is “change”. Digital marketing is constantly changing and evolving. So, just as we do a lot of research for our clients, we are constantly researching and learning to keep up with the continual changes that affect the various components, platforms and tactics that we deploy.

To be effective in integrated digital marketing you have stay on top of the latest trends and changes. That requires a considerable amount of reading and learning. What worked last week may not work tomorrow, so you need to know why. That can be an incredible struggle at times.

What advice would you give to a small business wanting to grow its social media presence and engagement on twitter?

My advice would be; “know what you are doing and why you are doing it”. If you don’t, you’re going to be on a treadmill and getting nowhere fast. Most businesses didn’t start because they wanted to become experts at social media or digital marketing. They started because they have a passion for something and wanted to stop working for someone else in order to pursue it.

So, if you are going to be successful with marketing, you either have to learn to be a professional at every component of it, or you are going to have to hire professionals to execute it for you. There’s no in between anymore.

What 3 things would you say are important for a digital marketing strategy?

  • Know the problem you solve for your customer, and that is truly a big enough problem.
  • Know exactly WHO your target customer is in detail.
  • Know what drives that target customer online.

Is there any key metrics that companies should be measuring on twitter?

Twitter is one tiny piece of a huge 3,000 piece puzzle. So this question is different for every single business, depending on their target audience, how long they’ve been on Twitter, how targeted their following is and many other factors. There is no one size fits all for everyone on Twitter, search or any other part of digital marketing component. You can’t cookie cutter digital marketing and be successful.

But if you had to pick one single metric, focus on driving action. Things like clicks to your content, landing pages and website.

What is the most common mistake small businesses make when marketing to B2B?

Messaging. If your message isn’t clear and it doesn’t resonate with the issues and needs of your target audience, everything else you do will struggle.

 

If you want to follow more fantastic advice and inspiration from Robert then follow these channels:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week. We want to show you what employers can do to help improve the mental health of people in your work environment. Looking at research from both the Mental Health Foundation and other sources as well as personal experiences. The aim of this is to bring you some ideas to implement in your work place to support staff with existing mental health issues. As well as helping create a positive environment for discussing and addressing general mental health. It’s fantastic there has been so much focus on mental health in the last couple of years from the likes of the royal family discussing their own issues. Key figures in the spotlight have also draw attention to the issue. Thankfully, there has also been much attention brought to the workplace and how we can help those struggling with mental health issues. 

 

How can Workplace stress affect mental Health?

We all get stressed, infact I was stressed about writing this article and making sure I conveyed the messages correctly. Stress affects everyone, it affects people in different ways. There can be many various factors that bring on stress in our life. Mental Health Foundation “Stress is are body’s response to pressures from a situation or life event”. Work related stress can be the cause for some mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression and while it may not always cause this, it can affect many individuals short and long term. Half a million people are living in the UK experience work related stress.

Stress can have many effects on the body . A change in eating habits to struggle sleeping are just some physical effects. We know this is an issue and  wrote an article on how to reduce stress and get a better nights sleep.

So what can employers do to help? Below are 3 steps they can take.

 

1. Manage the work environment out of office hours

38% of people admit feeling stressed as a result of work. Over 50% of people saying that they take calls and check emails out of working hours. This results out of pressures and expectations from a high pressured work environment. Employers should establish a culture of where employees are not expected to work out of office hours. The best practice for this, is for management teams to demonstrate by example. Such as : stop sending emails at 11pm and on Sunday evenings.

UK employees work an average of 7.7 hours of unpaid overtime each week. Although management might not explicitly say they want staff to work weekends and evenings, there is often a feeling by employees that they are expected too. In order to get more productive happier staff, management needs to take action and set an example of working culture.

2. Facilitate the time for exercise or mindfulness sessions

It’s good to get away from the desk. Research has shown that leading a healthy lifestyle through diet, exercise and mental care and lead to overall happier and healthier person. Facilitate the time in the week for staff to do exercise or attend mindfulness sessions. Maybe create a social sport team the employees can participate in such as netball, softball and football. Give your staff discounts to the gym and give the ability to arrive 20 mins later or leave 20 minutes early if they are going to attend the gym before or after work.

This will encourage participation and won’t make staff guilty for leaving bang on time. Or if exercise is not a popular option why don’t you have mindfulness sessions you run monthly, where you hire someone externally to come in have sessions with staff. Or encourage lunchtimes walks – maybe a mindful lunchtime walk every other week. You could also have a staff subscription to Headspace.

Walking

3. Remove the barrier of Mental Health Communication

Talking about how you are struggling and admitting the difficulties you are facing at work or personally is one of the biggest challenges. People fear being judged and being seen by peers and managers as unable to cope. Managers need to remove the barrier of communication for talking about these issues. They need to have regular catch ups with staff to check in. Find out how they are coping with the work and any other concerns. The space for this talk needs to be a relaxing environment away from the hustle of desks.

In order to help managers facilitate these conversations, HR departments should train staff on how to have these conversations and perhaps teach them about the look out signs for mental health issues or high levels of stress. Managers should have a set of resources they can give to staff about managing stress, getting more sleep and eating habits that staff can have access too if they need, as a form of self help.

Mental Health

Mental Health issues need to be understood more by workplaces and better supported, these steps above are not all the things you should be doing, but some ideas to get you on the road to creating a more supportive environment for your staff.

 

 

If you’re an entrepreneur, side hustler or someone thinking of starting a business then I am sure you will be keeping an eye on those pennies. Those pennies, pounds, and notes will all aid you in your ventures of getting your business off the ground. So while you’re getting started what are some easy ways you can save money? From the suggestions below you could put the money you would of spent away as an extra source of funding for your business.

Make a packed Lunch

Now this is super easy and no I am not talking about taking a little Tupperware in with square jam sandwiches and carrot sticks and a chocolate bar. I mean you could do this if you wanted too- I’m not judging. Packed lunch doesn’t have to involve all the effort you think it does – it could be leftovers that can be warmed up in the microwave at work. The only work this involves is maybe cooking larger portions at dinner. Equally you could easily rustle up a salad or tasty sandwich the night before and throw in some fruit and maybe a 3pm treat in there. I’m guessing the average lunch cost is about £4.50 that’s a weekly saving of £22.50

Lunchbox
Save those pennies – bring your lunch in

Don’t buy a coffee everyday

Simple but true – many people  will buy a coffee at least once a day some maybe 3 times! I believe a lot of people buy a morning coffee if they are going to buy one at an average cost of £2.50. Which if you can imagine if at least one coffee is brought everyday that acquits to £12.50 a week. So save this money buy making a better quality coffee at home and taking it in a portable cup such as the keep cups! They’re so cute- check them out.  If you most drink coffee out- then purchase a reusable cup as many coffee chains are now offering discount of as much as 50p for bringing a reusable cup.  By Cutting back on buying coffee out or using there cups you will not only start to see savings but you will do the environment a whole host of good as we tackle plastic pollution. ( there is hidden plastic in coffee cups which makes them very hard to be fully recyclable).

Coffee Cup
Save Money Bring Your Own Coffee In

Be clever with your nights out

Now you’re noticing a trend aren’t you? Its all about purchases and behavior patterns. So Thursday or Friday drinks might be a regular fun night out for you with work.  But it can cost you a lot, weekly drinking and nights out are not just expensive but they are bad for your health with all the extra calories and the other effects of alcohol. Now I am not saying you should or shouldn’t drink but if you want to save money make sure you drink smart. Maybe try and find the best local happy hours and be the driving force in getting your work colleagues and friends to drink there. Alternatively you can still go out with everyone, just have more soft drinks and you will see the cash remain in your pocket longer. The average weekly spending on alcoholic drinks in 2015/16 was £7.80.

How much do you spend? Do a little Maths and see  if cutting back on a couple of drinks could amount up to a nice saving sum for you.

Notes in a hand- save money
Save a lot of money on nights out

Save money on experiences and days out

We all love a day out so you don’t need to stop discovering the world and enjoying life. But be smart about it to have the greatest experience with the greatest savings. Have you used sites like Groupon and Wowcher? They are great for grabbing experiences with a bargain. I have used them many times myself.  Rather than picking a nice restaurant for your friends birthday that will cost you an arm and a leg.  Check out their restaurant deals where you may only be paying half an arm. Bargains to be had!

 

Save Money on experiences
Could you be saving money on your weekly yoga class?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Stress awareness month and I think it’s important if we just stop for a second and take note of the horrible impact stress has on our lives. Right, ready to continue? Good, stress can be important for change and drive but when it reaches a level that is not manageable then, that’s when you need to stop for a minute and evaluate things. So what small changes can you make that will really help?

 

1.Mange your own expectations

 

Expectations is often what drives our stress levels up. This could be us expecting to get a job promotion by a certain date.  It could be expectations to deliver vast quantities of work by a certain deadline or it could even be hitting personal targets you have set.  Take a moment and step back to evaluate what is making you stressed. Ask yourself how much of this, is really in my control? Ask yourself, what can I realistically achieve in this time period?  Once you have established that then begin to manage your own personal expectations better. After that manage the expectations of those around you. Talk to those who are affected by the outcome of your goal and let them know how things are going and how you feel.

 

2. Learn how to relax

 

This may sound relatively simple but you would be surprised how many people struggle to relax when they are stressed. You have probably heard alot about meditation and mindfulness? It’s not just a fad that is on trend, it actually has scientific evidence behind it. So give it a go.

Also find other things that relax you which allow you focus on that activity alone and allow you to be free from intrusive stressful thoughts This could be playing sport, painting, playing an instrument. Try a few things out.

3. Look after your body

 

Now when I say this I mean think about the food you are eating when you are stressed and the level of sleep you get. So when we are stressed we tend to stress eat. Popping out for a muffin from M&S at lunch? or maybe it’s shoving down a galaxy bar and a packet of crisp for dinner because you’re going to be home to late to cook.  Get on those quick health meals – make your lunch the night before. Develop a sleep schedule and stick to it. Make sure you’re going to bed at the same each night and have a relaxing routine before bed. Sleep is often the thing that is most affected when we are stressed but the thing we most need when we are stressed to help us operate.

 

 

 

Webinars are a great learning tool, as you can feel like your attending a lecture that you can interact with. There are many free webinars out there that people should really take advantage of. They are a source of wisdom and expertise for areas within your business. What’s great about webinars these days is that you can also participate – asking questions or voting on answers the speaker sends out to the audience.  We have gathered 5 free Webinars you should attend to grow your business.

 

1. Nail Customer Experience

Business Growth with Human to Human Customer Experience by Biz Launch and Oracle

Biz Launch are offering a great free webinar on how to grow your business with a human customer experience despite being an online business.  This webinar will cover how to execute a human to human customer service strategy online to stop your customers being lost to competitors in a few clicks.

 

Date for the Diary:  10th April.

 

2.Facebook Ad Success

How to measure Facebook ad success: key metrics everyone gets wrong- by Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a fantastic tool to use for scheduling social media posts, and anyalsing social media performance.  Facebook can be a tricky playing field for brands as it’s difficult to understand the metrics on your ads.  This webinar will take you through  the key metrics you need to watch and how to interrupt them.

Date for the Diary: sign up and access the video on demand

 

3. Smart Selling Through Live Chat 

How sales people can turn  intelligent live chat into smart selling tool by sales power with Intercom

Live chat is popping up (literally) on all sort of business websites at the minute. However, are you really using it to it’s full potential. I have experienced many live chat’s which will have a very long response time or could have captured more data. Intercom will be running the webinar which will show you how to use it as a strong sales tool for developing leads.

Date for your Diary:  May 2nd

 

4.Perfect Picture Posts For Instagram

Create Perfect picture posts for Instagram by Sproutsocial and Peg Fitspatrick

Instagram is a great place a brand can grow it’s business but it’s a tricky market to operate. If you don’t have great content and beautiful pictures then you will never grow properly on this platform. In this webinar they take you through how to create those beautiful pictures to really get your audience’s attention.

Date for Diary: Unknown – so sign up now and I am sure they will share the date with you

 

5.Get Email Marketing On Auto Pilot

Get new and repeat business on autopilot with email marketing by Score

Email Marketing is still one of the most effective ways to market your business and generate new leads and encourage existing ones to come back for more business.   In this webinar they will take you through how to get your email game on auto pilot so you can have repeat and new business coming to you.

Date for your Diary: May 1st

Side hustle described by Entrepreneur as ‘a way to make some extra cash that allows you the flexibility to pursue what you’re most interested in’. A lot of people take up a side hustle at some point in their life whether it is to pursue a passion or maybe looking for some ways to make some extra cash. We’ve looked at the most common Side Hustles people do that are easier enough to take up this weekend.

 

1.Buying things and selling things on eBay

So you may see those people on your street who seem to get a lot of deliveries or who are always popping to the post office.  Ebay is a great marketplace for Side Hustles. There are many ways to get involved :

  • Buy something cheap and add custom designs to it such as T-shirts or coasters then sell it for a premium.
  • You could bulk buy something from a supplier in another country, then sell it to your country as you know the product isn’t easily accessible in the UK e.g American sports fashion.
  • Find collectible items/antiques at car boot sales or from suppliers and sell them to collectors online.

Packing a box

 

 

 

2. Teaching online

This is by far the easiest way to make large amounts of money without having to spend much.  As long as you know something more than someone else, then you can start teaching. If you are a grade 3 pianist then you can teach people the skills for grade 1 and 2. Or do you speak another language you can start teaching that! So how would you get started?

  • Decide what you want to teach and where you might know some people who want to learn
  • Sign up to HowNow (so obviously I am going to suggest HowNow but it is truly awesome.) You can book a demo if you don’t believe me and sign up for a two week free trial!
  • As long as you have some content you can get up and running in a day and start teaching straight away

HowNow School

 

 

3.  Share your services

Do you have a car? Can you carpool or sign up for a delivery service or taxi service.  Handy around the house? Sign up to task rabbit to become a helping hand and help people with all sorts of tasks from building IKEA furniture to putting up shelves. So many Side Hustles you could do with sharing your services.

Carpooling

 

 

 

4. Become a photographer

If you have a phone with a decent camera or an actual camera you could do this. Take amazing pictures, capture great moments and start uploading them to stock imagery sites that may buy your photos.

Someones you should check out:

  • Foap– great to use on your phone and see challenges that brands and companies put out with a large cash prize for best picture.
  • Shutterstock
  • 123RF

Northern Lights

 

 

5. Become a freelancer on the side

Are you really good at your job or maybe your really good at something which you can’t use in your job? Start freelancing on the side- hire out your skills and expertise to work with people in your downtime. You could be a graphic designer and maybe you want to freelance yourself to a small business to produce some graphics for them.  Investigate where your expertise might be needed for great Side Hustles.

Freelance designer

 

 

Starting a business is hard enough but then marketing it can be harder if you don’t have someone to produce beautiful Social Graphics for you. Don’t worry if you can’t afford a graphic designer just yet; there are some great free tools you can use to create amazing graphics for your social channels and business. Here are our top picks

 

 

1.Canva

Canva is a fantastic Social Graphic tool, they offer a range of preset dimensions, for social graphics, website, infographics, Instagram posts and much more. They also allow you to customise existing templates, so you can adjust the colours, font and change the setup. You can also import images from elsewhere and then add text and icons to it. Canva is what we use and we love it. You can pay for this if you wish to upgrade to unlock more features.

Image of canva and the image examples made on it

 

2. Stencil

Is a great tool for creating marketing promotions and content. Stencil is a bit more limited than Canva, you can not make the most of free access and will have to pay for it if you wish to make more than 10 images a month. However, it has a very extensive range of icons, images and templates for you to use making sure you never run out of options or inspiration. If you visit this site you can get a discount code: 10%

image of stencil tool

 

3. Piktochart

Picktochart is your go-to tool for infographic creation. You have seen infographics before I am sure? They perform so well in displaying complex information or an idea to your audience. If you got numbers and stats you want to share then use this tool to build a fantastic infographic for your business.

image of infographic

 

4. Snappa

A Social Graphic tool that you can use to make beautiful graphics. It has an extensive library of assets for you to use but you need to pay monthly to download more than 5 images a month and to have more than 1 user. You can publish directly to social media accounts which could be handy. Give this platform a trial you might love it so much you are fine with paying $10 a month for unlimited downloads. I mean $10 isn’t much if you end up downloading a considerable amount of graphics.

image of platform

 

 

It’s National Nutrition and Hydration week. So we thought what would be better than sharing some of the best 5 nutritional breakfast recipes we can find. Here are 5 nutritional Instagrammers you need to check out. These recipes are an Instagrammers dream- taking food porn to a whole new level. If you want to up your Nutritional Breakfast game then check these out.

1. Scrambled Egg Toast with Roasted Asparagus by Well Plated

Instagram: @Wellplated

Asparagus on toast with Eggs

Look at this Yummy breakfast. And So instagramable but also easy! None of this fumbling around with 10 ingredients that you need to buy at some super health store that is going to cost you as much as your weekly shop. Simple and cheerful and nutritional.  If you cook eggs for breakfast anyway then this is just taking it a little step further and making it even greater on the Nutritional Breakfast scale. A great way to get you on your way to your 5 a day. Recipe here.

 

 

 

2. Blueberry Coconut Protein Smoothie by Natural Chow

Instagram: @NaturalChowBeautiful picture of a berry smoothie

For those of you that want a liquid breakfast and are all about that early morning protein hit this nutritional breakfast option is for you.  A very simple recipe you can whizz up in no time and still have enough time to Instagram it before you leave the house. Recipe here.

 

3. Simple Breakfast Burritos for Two by Edible Perspective

Instagram: @edible_perspective

Open burrito picture

 

Who says burritos are just for lunch and dinner! Check out this fab recipe for a breakfast burrito. This recipe is for two so if you’re feeling extra nice you can make your partner or housemate one. If not just pack it up and stick in the fridge for another morning. A Nutritional Breakfast with beans and eggs. Recipe here.

 

4. Peanut Butter Cookie Energy Bars by Get Inspired Everyday

Instagram: @get.inspired.everyday

Stack of protein breakfast bars

Some people are all about that sweet hit early in the morning, myself included. If things really are hectic in the morning and you want to eat breakfast but once you’ve left the house then these will do just fine. Full of sweet flavours but naturally sourced from fruit and peanuts, this will certainly give you a breakfast boost on the move. A great Nutrional Breakfast alternative.Recipe here.

 

5. 5 Sweet Spins on Yoghurt Bowls by the Food Network

Instagram:@foodnetwork

Yogurt Bowls

 

At number 5 we have 5 sweet spins on yoghurt bowls. Not that this list is in order of greatness. They are all fab- Great to have variety in your diet. So Yoghurt bowls- don’t really need a recipe for this as it’s just yoghurt with toppings. However, what you may be looking for is inspirations on how you can jazz up your yoghurt bowl so you are not having granola and blueberries every day. Inspiration here.