Content planDoes content marketing have any relevance to you as a self-employed professional? When you hear or read conversations about using free content to attract and persuade clients, the type of marketing being discussed may often seem out of your league. After all, you don’t have a marketing department down the hall that you can ask to produce a video documentary or customer magazine.

But creating content for prospective clients that is useful and relevant to them doesn’t have to be out of reach for a solo professional or small partnership. Much of the best content for professionals to use in their marketing is based on the written word. Consider these forms of content that you may already be producing, and that others like you frequently create:

  • Blog posts
  • Newsletter/magazine articles
  • Tip sheets
  • White papers/case studies
  • Ebooks

In fact, creating original content that freely shares some of your expertise has become an essential tool for marketing in the 21st century. Some professionals go beyond written content to create videos or podcasts, or add images to their words to create slide decks or infographics. Regardless of the form your content may take, without it, many of the most powerful marketing approaches available to you will be much less effective.

Here are five ways in which producing relevant, useful content for your target clients will supercharge your marketing.

1. Social media. Using social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google + to attract clients absolutely requires that you have original content to share. Without your own content to post, you’ll be limited to posting a) purely promotional items – which won’t keep your followers interested, or b) other people’s content – which will promote their brand and not yours.

2. Search engine optimization. Google chooses which websites to rank highest based on the relative quality and authority of each site. This ranking system rewards sites which have relevant, useful non-promotional content which is frequently updated, and that other sites link to. The more quality content you have on your website, the higher your site is likely to rank.

3. Credibility. Prospective clients for your services need to believe you are credible before they’ll choose to do business with you. When you make some of your expertise freely available, it allows prospects to taste what they’ll be getting before they make a purchase. If all you give prospects access to before they hire you is promotional material, they have much less basis on which to judge your credibility.

4. Competitive edge. If you were trying to decide between two professionals you found online, would you be more likely to choose the one who had a five-page website describing his services and qualifications, or the one who also had a blog with a dozen posts on the topic you were seeking help with? Quality content helps you stand out with prospective clients who may know nothing about you.

5. Know, like, and trust factor. We all know that clients prefer to do business with people they know, like, and trust. When a prospective client can review content that you have created, they begin to feel as if they know you better. Consuming your content gives clients a path to begin liking and trusting you more before they ever contact you directly.

For all these reasons, creating and publishing quality content is a marketing approach that self-employed professionals should pay attention to. If you’re not already producing content, consider whether it would be a good idea to start. If you’ve published content in the past, but not lately (or not consistently), it may now be the time to make content marketing a more prominent part of your marketing plan.

C.J. Hayden

C.J. Hayden, MCC, CPCC, is the author of the bestseller Get Clients Now!: A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches, Since 1992, she's been helping self-employed professionals survive and thrive. C.J. is the author of five other business how-to-books, and has taught marketing at Mills College and John F. Kennedy University. Find out how you can work with C.J. as your business coach or attend one of her upcoming programs.

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