When the opportunity came up to do a two-day digital marketing workshop before I go on maternity leave I jumped at the chance. Nine months is a long time to be out of the game and I’m always eager to stay up-to-date – or even get ahead of the game. Plus any marketing training I go on for the day job inevitably helps me with the blog – it’s a win win!
The course overview we were given beforehand was intriguing: This workshop is for business professionals who would like a clearer understanding of the strategic, design and cultural shifts that are happening as a result of our rapidly changing digital world; and the opportunities these trends present for business growth. The sessions will be informative, interactive and practical; allowing participants to apply their learning to real business challenges. Participants will leave feeling more confident in how to integrate digital into their business and open up new opportunities.
The night before the first session I agonised over which of my blank notebooks I would take with me before picking one of my beautiful Green Gables notebooks. Look how pretty! I love the feeling of cracking open a new notebook and seeing where it will take me. That’s normal, right?
Having recently completed a course called Making the Most of Marketing, I already felt pretty clued up on how to use digital marketing to market my business – both to help grow the company I work for and this blog. What I like about these kind of workshops is it gives me the opportunity to really thinking about the research, planning and evaluation stages, as well as network with other local businesses and bounce ideas off each other. Within an hour I was already thinking about the steps I’d need to take to make blogging a full-time job. I thought about the small steps I can be taking in my own time while I’m on maternity leave:
- Catch up on my 22,000+ unread emails
- Update my social media accounts/branding
- Schedule posts ahead of time when baby breaks allow (when we’re not both napping!)
- Build connections (both with other bloggers and businesses)
- Go self-hosted
- Register a proper domain
- Develop the blog layout
- Add my full portfolio to the blog
- Update my LinkedIn account
- Create a media pack and advertising plan
Hopefully, by the time I’m back at work I’ll have gone self-hosted, started taking paid advertising, have regular blog collaborations, grown my readership and have an incredibly sexy blog layout. After all, “you mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling!
Early in the workshop we were asked to consider our digital lives, thinking about how we use digital media both at work and at home. It was interesting to look at what elements cross over and realise how much I rely on my iPhone and the internet. Like my picture? We were asked to draw a picture of ourselves in the middle of our diagram – check out the happy, sleeping baby in my belly!
In pretty much every training session I’ve attended over the last three years, whether or not there has been a focus on marketing, I’ve been asked to do a SWOT analysis. While I’ve been in my current role, I’ve used these opportunities to carry out one for the day job and another for the blog. Here’s what I came up with for the blog
The course leader told us afterwards to focus on the opportunities and to build an action plan around these. I’ll definitely be making the most of the free marketing opportunities that social media provides, as well as the potential for more time to dedicate to growing the blog while I’m on maternity leave. YouTube is still a bit of a mystery to me. I don’t like having my photo taken or appearing in videos so I think if it becomes a part of this blog it will be more of a show and tell rather than a video diary.
An idea we were introduced to was the ‘zero moment of truth’, which means looking at the moments where people first read/hear about your business/service and make that instant decision whether or not to find out more/click on your website.
For the blog, those moments are:
- The #lbloggers chat
- LinkedIn endorsements
- RTs on Twitter
- When people share my Pinterest boards
- When I comment on other blogs (link left with the comment)
- Appearing in recommendations on Instagram
- Bloglovin recommendations
- Follow Fridays
I know I’m thinking with my belly at the moment but I have to say the first session was really well catered – caramel shortbread with the morning tea break, yummy lunch and a cream tea mid-afternoon. I was so full I didn’t need a proper meal when I got home!
The second session was a lot more hands-on, with opportunities to work on creating our own action plans and applying ideas to real life. I run a monthly report on various stats for the blog (Facebook page, Twitter account, Pinterest, blog page views, etc) and it wasn’t until we spent some time thinking about key words and phrases that I realised I’ve been looking at it from completely the wrong perspective. I thought that it was important that I rank highly for ‘Cornish lifestyle blog’ but that’s not what people are actually searching for when they come across my blog.
I was also reminded of how important it is to have a responsive design – as of yesterday, Google searches on a mobile device will favour a mobile friendly site. And from September 2014, the number of unique mobile users exceeded 50% of the world’s population. Woah!
And, given that there’s so much you can do with social media for free, we were shown an infographic with some of the benefits of the main platforms. I think it’s safe to say that most bloggers are using all of these.
One of the things I found most helpful on the last day was the web audit, where we were given a copy of the worksheet that the course leaders use in their own business. It’s a great way of analysing how your blog measures up against your competitors to see what you can do better, looking at such areas as brand representation, navigation, search engine visibility and community. I’ll definitely be having a proper go at this in the next few weeks.
Lastly, we looked at strategy – our business objective, communications objective, how we’ll make it happen and we need to do to make it happen. As with all SMART objectives, this is completely measurable so it will be interesting to see how I implement this over the next year. Take a look at my plan below
As you can see, lots of things to be thinking about!