Donna Maria Cole Johnson writes a terrific blog called the Indie Business Blog, and never runs out of ideas for what to write. She says,
"…it’s not about me. It’s about my audience, my listeners. I love them
and I am here to serve them. I think they sense that and it keeps them
Featuring stories about the people in her network, her readers say "…it reminds them that they are not alone and lets them see real
life details of how other Indies handle the same problems they have."
What a terrific way to develop content that attracts like minded people and to build a huge community of fans. I recently interviewed Donna Maria about her use of content for marketing, and her responses are enlightening. She maintains an active participation online through Twitter and Facebook besides her blog and radio show. Here’s her interview:
1. Tell us what your profession is, and who your typical clients are.
I am the CEO of Indie Business Media, LLC, parent company of the Indie Beauty Network (IBN). I also host the weekly Indie Business Radio Show. The two are related but different in that IBN is a trade organization and the radio is set up to empower members in business, but is also available for non-members to enjoy as well.
My typical client is a mom or a mom and dad working from home or together in a very small office environment that’s close to home so they can be available to their families. These are people who are typically bootstrapping their businesses, sometimes with a small business loan but mostly with credit cards and what’s left from a full or part-time job at the end of the month.
Most but not all of my clients are in the cosmetics industry. They want to know how to maximize efficiencies using technology and social media and I empower them to do that in a cost effective manner.
I offer one-on-one coaching services to anyone and group coaching mostly to IBN members. The radio show airs weekly at www.indiebusinessradio.com and streams and download links are at the website as you can see.
2. What marketing tools do you use on the Web?
Indie Business Forum
Indie Experience Newsletter (weekly since 2000; here’s the link to this week’s issue)
Other people’s blogs
3. What kinds of content do you write or use to market your business?
Lots and lots and LOTS of stories! They are the best. For example, when I help a client launch a new business, I write a blog post with her Indie Story. Recent example, a featured client on my blog.
I’d like to use more stats, but it’s hard to collect them. My audience raves about the stories though. They say it reminds them that they are not alone and lets them see real life details of how other Indies handle the same problems they have.
I also use stories very effectively in the newsletter. People tell me it’s the best part – each week, I feature a different member. With 700+ to choose from, I never run out of things to share. Here’s a recent member feature.
I always try to spice things up by sharing with my readers a personal note about why I think the featured person is worth reading about or in some way interesting.
Another fun thing I recently added that people like (but it’s a lot of work) is the Twindie of the Week. Example from this week’s newsletter. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Gets people to follow me on Twitter and lets them see how effective Twitter can be when used correctly as a promotional tool.
4. What sources, besides your own, do you use to find content?
I think this is answered above. I have hundreds of members who email me constantly. I always have content by default!
Plus I read a lot of books, newspapers and magazines so when I see someone who might be a good radio show guest, I contact them. 9 times out of 10, they appear as a guest on my show. I’m going into my 4th season now and I just love it!
Would the Blog Squad like to be a guest? I have some openings in November? See? Always thinking about new content!!
5. How much of yourself, your personality, your own experiences do you include?
As much as my husband lets me get away with. (He’s more private by nature than me.) I laugh at myself a lot. I’m a serious businesswoman, but I like to have fun so I poke a lot of it in my direction.
I’ve got about 40 more hears here on earth I guess. Not enough time to do anything that’s not fun and I have a lot of fun with myself. It keeps me humble and it reminds me that it’s not about me. It’s about my audience, my listeners. I love them and I am here to serve them. I think they sense that and it keeps them coming back.
When I feature someone, I share how I know them, how much fun they are. For example, my Getting To Know You posts.
I have a blast sharing what fun other people are while also promoting their business.
I also share funny things about my never ending weight loss exploits or how crazy it is to run a business with your husband while raising kids. Lots of funny fodder there – or sad fodder depending on the day. It is a hard juggle sometimes!
6. What kinds of results do you see from your online content? And which media bring best results?
When I do stories, I always get feedback. I don’t know how to describe it any other way. People like to see what other people are doing.
Having a network of members make it easy and fun to share their stories with the world. I could stand on my head and give out money – people would still want stories.
7. How much time do you spend daily writing or posting content on your blogs or sites?
Now that’s a funny question and the only way I can answer is it like this:
• If I’m not sleeping, I’m thinking about good content.
• When I’m doing my nails and feeling like a princess, I’m still thinking about whether that moment would make a good story in my newsletter.
• Bathing my kids? Should be thinking about getting them clean. Instead, thinking about getting them clean and whether there’s a cosmetics or soap story there.
8. What advice would you give to others in your profession about using content for marketing?
That if the content is not good, consistent and fun, it will not engage an audience in the long term. And when your audience is not engaged, business cannot thrive.
Be original. It’s fine to quote others and borrow ideas, but lack of originality is such a bore.
So that’s it! Let me know how else I can help.
Donna Maria Coles Johnson