Today is Lightning Media Partners’ fourth business anniversary. As we look back on the last four years, it’s hard to recognize the company that we started out as.
When we registered our LLC on January 25, 2018, Sean and I were two freelancers working in tandem on writing and SEO gigs until we could replace our corporate salaries. Just last month, we earned our millionth dollar in lifetime revenue, thanks to our steady clients and our incredible team of employees and freelancers (which has more than doubled over the course of 2021).
As our business has grown, so has our content marketing expertise. Here are some lessons that we’ve learned along the way, as well as ones that have been reinforced throughout the years.
1. Lean into your strengths
In 2018, we thought of ourselves as a one-shop stop for small businesses’ marketing needs. In addition to our editorial services, we provided content calendars, graphic design, social media services, and website design. And while we were proficient in providing all those services, as our client pool grew and we began taking on a larger team, we realized that content marketing was where our specialty is.
We transitioned our services to be focused on editorial content marketing strategies. Not every client was pleased that we were discontinuing certain services; however, with our minds solely focused on editorial contracts, our work began to improve in quality.
As entrepreneurs, we learned that just because you can do everything, doesn’t mean you should. Our collective background is in journalism and SEO, so that’s where we decided to dedicate our business. Now that we exclusively focus on the SEO, writing, and editing of content, we’re able to create and publish higher quality content at a quicker rate.
The same can go for any marketers who are looking to expand their audience’s reach. While it’s incredibly important to have a robust marketing output, for those with limited resources, meet your customers where they are. If you find you have a lot of web traffic, but not social media engagement, focus on writing in-depth, SEO-friendly blogs as opposed to posting on Instagram. If your team has experience in creating video content, use that as a way to get more attention. There is no one right way to market yourself, but what always works is playing to your strengths.
2. Know your audience
When you’re juggling a diverse client pool, it can be difficult to know how to write for all of their audiences. We’re constantly assessing where in the marketing funnel our clients are, so we can provide them with the best content for their audience. Knowing their goals and intentions gives us an idea of how to set a tone that will engage their audience and not just be a wall of text SEO play.
When we sign a new client, we meet with them and have multiple conversations to ensure we have their tone and voice down pat before we start writing for them. Evaluating the audience and setting different tones for our clients can be a challenge. On any given day, one of our writers may be writing articles on small business growth, home improvement, and local community news.
To ensure that our writers are using the right tone, sentence structure, and word choice, we talk to our team about what our clients want to achieve with their content. This gets all of our writers and editors on the same page and provides us with an opportunity to have a collaborative discussion.
Once you know who your audience is and how to reach them, it makes finding the intention of each piece of content much easier. The more specific your intention is, the easier it is to achieve your desired outcome and connect with your reader.
3. Create a great culture for your content marketing business
Leading a fully remote team and building a cohesive culture with a growing team of employees across multiple states isn’t easy. On top of balancing client work and internal operations, we try to make sure to talk to every employee on a personal level each day, and encourage them to do the same.
Initiatives such as daily Slack check-ins, weekly video calls, virtual happy hours, and an annual company retreat has helped us build and reinforce our own internal culture. We found that when we prioritize amplifying our employee’s voices, their professional output is of the highest quality and consistency. And it’s that consistency that allows us to reach new clients and build their audience.
Every business should attempt to have its culture shine through its content. When you encourage your employees, you foster a better work environment. Don’t be afraid to share that side of your business with your customers. When your audience gets to know you on a more human level, your products and services may resonate more readily with them.
4. Be patient
Over the last four years, we’ve certainly been ambitious in our goals for LMP. Some of them took time, like focusing on our own internal marketing efforts. Other ambitions happened quicker than we ever could have imagined, like going from having three employees to having eight in just under a year.
It’s human nature to crave instant gratification and want the fruits of our efforts as soon as we plant the seeds. However, anything truly worth having needs to be earned. And we can honestly say that if we didn’t keep our heads down, focus on our goals, and be patient, we would not be in the position we currently are.
Being patient is key for any marketing strategy as well. We’ve seen countless times businesses that get overzealous with their marketing ambitions and publish a large number of new blogs and social media content, only to get discouraged and abandon their strategies when they don’t have instant results. Building up your SEO ranking and following through with content marketing takes a lot of time. Your views and engagement should increase steadily over time, not spike instantly. Just like achieving business success, you have to keep working at it consistently — it’s never a one-and-done endeavor.
Learn more about Lightning Media Partners and our journey on our blog.