Guest blog by Angelo Spiler from Grafischecursussen.nl
It's not surprising if you ended up on this site in a similar way to me. And that you recognize yourself in my own search in the field of SEO and link building. That is why I would like to take you on the basis of a personal story because the following steps have now been taken. If you, as a self-employed person, ended up on this website with little or no online marketing experience, read with me to avoid the (painful) bumps I encountered myself ...
To introduce myself briefly: I am self-employed and have been leading a course institute in adult education for three and a half years. Like most self-employed people, I think I master my own profession and accounting is already a reasonable task that I outsource in part. Bringing myself and my company to the man (customer) was still in the first year under the motto: “My professional knowledge and beautiful website will provide enough customers…”
How could I ever be so self-righteous and blind! At the moment I am convinced that 95% of all freelancers will not get further off the ground due to the same limited look and attitude! Professional knowledge and a beautiful website are extremely important, but without a good and clear marketing strategy just as barren as the Gobi Desert. They are conditions for success, but they do not guarantee success!
Online marketing as a third condition
My institute only started to get started when I took the advertising path by advertising on Facebook and Google. I hired a smooth company that helped me with keywords and Adwords campaigns. Not bothered by any knowledge, I threw a lot of money at it and occasionally found myself in the first three (paid) search results in Google. But what I noticed was that these 'third parties' had no understanding of my own courses and therefore were wrong ad copy came up or with wrong teaching locations. They were actually just as blind in my field as I was in online marketing!
Nevertheless, the efforts of this smooth company were quite successful, but I lost so much money that I stopped after setting up the Adwords campaigns. After all, the foundation of the house was laid and I couldn't and didn't want to put more money in it at the time.
"Nobody knows your market as well as you do"
Thomas enriches the experiences of Angelo from Bloeise for enrichment and addition.
"One entrepreneur keeps all his costs as low as possible (as I did in the beginning) and the other entrepreneur immediately has the space to invest. Advertising is ideal to get your business started. You are sure of attention for your product or service and you can focus on interacting with your ad, clicks and conversion on your landing page. What Angelo cites is the translation to your market. Most online marketing agencies are not specialized in your industry and therefore do not know how exactly your market works. You will have to pay the tuition fees of that agency, unless you are very active in the details and implementation. After all, you know your own market best: which advantages count heavily for your target group, the purchase objections and determining emotions."
Again blind and self-righteous
I think my company could survive just by following this paid strategy. You may know it: Almost 2000 euros per month in the deep Adwords (now: Google Ads) pockets of Google for such a small self-employed person like me! I knew that my website was nowhere to be found in organic search results, but wouldn't everyone just click on the paid ads at the top like me? So no! Once again I had taken myself as a starting point and not looked at the statistics. It was sour to learn that over 50 percent of the clicks go to the organic results. The track of SEO, DA, backlinks, affiliates, (sponsored) blogs and influencers! What did I know about it? Nothing! It takes a lot of effort to also focus on this second track of online marketing.
Dare to invest
The matter was again too difficult for me, so I wrote a vacancy for three months on LinkedIn: “SEO man / woman wanted (16 hours a week) ”. My main goal was to generate backlinks, so not only home pages but also platforms like Hulc and LinkPizza passed by. There you can find bloggers who write a sponsored article for a fee with a link to your website. After two months of struggling I was 10,000 euros poorer and ± 20 valuable backlinks richer. The bad thing was that 8,000 euros was intended for the SEO man / woman, while I wrote all the sponsored articles and also communicated with the bloggers about the delivery, conditions etc. A day job! Considering these large amounts for me and my gut feeling that the SEO guy didn't share my view of efficiency, I stopped the outsourcing prematurely. And do you know what is so special? It is not those few backlinks that have helped me much further, but the learning process! Those two months have passed priceless, new knowledge to get started yourself! And that is why I now and then hire an (other) SEO man as a trainer / coach / beacon if I run into something again.
'Focus on your learning process'
"When I started doing business myself, I thought I knew it all in terms of marketing. After all, I had previously been head of marketing & communication. But in the practice of your own company, it all works very differently. You have to learn to bend your knowledge and experience to a different target group with a different need. This requires a different approach and you have to experience it yourself and learn it in practice. I think Angelo's approach is very strong: strengthening your own learning process with the knowledge and experience of a specialist. I also do this myself: for really heavy link building, for example, I sometimes ask my cousin Sjoerd for his insights. He is doing this 100% of his time, for me it is one of the many tasks as an entrepreneur.- Thomas
And so I progress step by step. Sometimes two steps forward, one back. Slowly but surely you discover resources, tools, platforms and new partners that help you further. It is the same as with business partners or personnel. One just fits better with your way of working, feels better what you want, what you need. Or is just a harder worker. Let me close this guest blog with a few resources, tools, platforms and new partners that have come my way over the last three months. Hopefully it will help you too.
Write blogs or have them written. Look for websites that are open to blogs of yours or who want to write about your topic. Think broadly. For example, I have blogged or have blogged on lifestyle websites, mom websites, technical websites, marketing websites and art websites. Because on all these websites it was possible to connect to my own field: graphic design. Examples:
- blog on mom websites: "How to make a fun birthday invitation for your child?"
- blog on technical website: "Graphic tips to make your website more beautiful."
- artistic website: “Enjoying graphic design as an art form”.
Tools & Platforms
Ahrefs (or MOZ or SEMrush), IMU, Hulc, LinkPizza. I used Ahrefs to investigate where my competitors have placed backlinks and what their authority is. A world opened up to me. On some of those backlink websites you can also place a link, an entry, a blog.
- IMU, this marketing platform provides free e-books that will help you further your knowledge of online marketing and much more.
- Hulc and LinkPizza put you in touch with bloggers and affiliates. This can go a long way, but of course they provide quality backlinks that can also generate new contacts.
- An SEO man who pays me 4 hours a month with knowledge about all the roadblocks and obstacles I encounter in the field of online marketing.
- Many bloggers who have posted a sponsored article of my hand or have written a piece with a link to our website. These are probably not long-term contacts, but they are a good basis for doing business again soon.
- A single website or blogger who is interested in content and where the collaboration therefore takes place (initially) with a closed fair. This is also pleasant to experience, because it creates confidence that can ultimately yield much more than someone who somewhat sells their soul (namely a backlink or affiliate link). For example, I agreed with Thomas to write a guest blog without promoting my company because my experience with online marketing is much more interesting for his target group and therefore for him. What will it bring me? In this case, have fun writing (because different from normal) and a backlink! Handshake!
Go for the long term
"Angelo shares very practical SEO tips here that everyone with a website can benefit from. I think working together is very important. Especially when you start with SEO, you will notice that it can be quite a fast world. Google changes regularly and with gray or black hat methods you can quickly have an effect. Most contacts are one-off. However, if you go for long-term success, certain things will automatically disappear. Bad content, for example, written for Google but not for the reader. With that you still get SEO traffic, but really no conversion. Pleasant cooperation means that you can also call on someone later, and he or she on you. For that you have to focus on a win-win situation. As far as I am concerned, that is the basis for a successful company. ” - Thomas
Let me close with a tip: as a self-employed person, do not hire external expertise too quickly, do not outsource it too quickly. Because you will notice that such an expert does not understand your own field. Bummer. Of course this also depends on the available time. As an alternative, choose a coach or professional who suits you and regularly transfers his knowledge to you. Plan sessions to brush up. And yes, you will also have to invest in time and money for this knowledge. But outsourcing the work completely can cost you much more, while you have no grip or a good view of the matter. And I can tell you from my own experience: not having a grip on the matter usually produces a very unpleasant feeling! And once learned, marketing turns out to be largely repetitive work such as: finding and making new contacts, writing articles and keeping statistics. Well you can do that as a self-employed person, right? Good luck!
Guest blog by Angelo Spiler from Grafischecursussen.nl