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Making the Shift from Web Pro to Publisher

You’re not a marketing guru. It’s not what you’re good at—and besides, between trying to land deals and actually implementing projects, you’ve got enough on your plate.

But you are a businessperson, which means you know that without clients it doesn’t matter what you know or how good you are. If you don’t have a steady flow of new business coming in the door, you’re flirting with bankruptcy. With apologies to Bob Dylan, he not busy building sites is busy dying.

So maybe you’ve tried spending money on advertising, brochures, and business cards. And you’ve probably discovered by now that none of it really works like it used to.

First, your prospects are now so familiar with websites that they think they know more about what they need than you do. And second, they also know they can find a handful of other willing web pros to build their site if you start to get picky about what they’re willing to pay.

So how do you distinguish your company from all the rest when web design has become a commodity?

Stop selling websites. Start teaching about web design.

That’s a critical distinction. One approach has you throwing proposals at whoever you think might catch them. The other method uses the principles of content marketing to educate potential buyers and, in the process, get them to know, like, and trust you.

As hard as it might be to make time for more work, you need to stop being “just” a web pro and start publishing a steady stream of truly awesome content that inspires, engages, and educates. (And sells, yes, but in a non-threatening way that’s more about helping people buy.)

Here’s how to use content marketing to make the shift from web pro to publisher.

  • Think value. Focus on sharing your knowledge to demonstrate the benefits of a relationship with your enterprise. Offer advice, bits of information, insights, and opinions that are relevant to your prospects.
  • Don’t be afraid. You need to put your best ideas out there and trust that your work will pay off in sales. (Don’t worry. It will.)
  • Plan with the sale in mind. Develop and publish content for every stage of the sales process, from “How to tell if it’s time for a new website” to “6 things to do now that your new website is live.”
  • Switch it up. People consume content in lots of ways. Offer as many types as you can—blog posts, emails, videos, downloads, and even audio.
  • Commit to excellence. The quality of your stuff will determine its credibility. (Not surprising when you remember that content marketing is all about…content.) Pay for help if you can’t bring your A-game.

Above all, remember that you’re writing for them, not for you. Potential clients will respond to your knowledge about their industry, their competition, and their business needs. If you strive to show that you understand all of that, instead of bragging about how great you think you are, you’ll soon be building more sites than you can handle.

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