What does January mean to you? Detox diets, booze-free Fridays and penny pinching? Cold nights (and days), grey skies and wishing spring to arrive?
Well, for me and every other freelancer out there, it means all these things and more, because January is famously known as the month of the freelance famine.
What is the freelance famine?
I started Natasha Al-Atassi Copywriting Services properly in January 2015, so I naively thought the quiet month was simply the result of getting the company up and running and trying to a make a name for myself. What I didn’t realise was that the silence I experienced last year would, most likely, repeat itself year-in-year-out.
And I’m not alone – after a quick search online, I found hundreds of freelancers united over their complaints about January, dry for them in so many ways. It seems this month is simply a slow-go for all freelancers, whether you’re a copywriter like me, a musician, a videographer, a beautician or whatever.
If there’s anything more depressing than the end of Christmas, it’s knowing the famine is on its way as well.
Why is January so slow?
It turns out there are many reasons why January is so slow, which is why it shouldn’t really have come as a surprise when the emails stopped rolling in.
- Tax deadline
The first is it’s tax deadline month. The loom of January 31st hangs over bigger businesses just as much as it does freelancers, and companies try to conserve their spending to pay for their large annual tax bill at the end of the month.
That means anything unnecessary is ditched – and this includes us freelancers, at least until after tax day.
- Post-Christmas saving
Everyone overspends in December, whether it’s because of too many nights out and costly presents, or you’re a big business that purged a fortune on expensive Christmas parties and prize-giving ceremonies.
Come January, therefore, everyone is tightening their belts, and this has a knock-on effect for you and me. If your clients’ customers aren’t spending, your client won’t have the money coming in and, subsequently, they can’t afford to pay freelancers.
This is all part of the financial food chain, and how much consumers are spending at any given time directly impacts how much work you will receive. While spending drops, so will your work.
- No-one holidays in January
Do you find yourself getting busier at popular holiday times, such as during the summer or over Christmas? Well, there’s a reason for this. It’s because companies have fewer staff during these periods and that’s why they outsource copywriting freelancers.
However, unless you’re Simon Cowell who needs a month-long break in the Bahamas after The X Factor has finished, you’ll probably find most people stay at home during January, fighting the rubbish weather and post-Christmas diet without a hint of sunshine or a rum cocktail in sight.
And because of this, businesses don’t need to outsource their content as all their staff are in the office.
There’s not much you can do about this except wait it out and hope ski season and the half-term holiday give your famine a much-needed break.
Although, next year I think I’ll go on holiday.
Your jeans are too tight, you’re still finding pine needles everywhere, and the chocolates have been locked away for a few weeks (or hours, if your willpower is anything like mine). It can only mean one thing – it’s the new year.
And if you have a business, this is the perfect time to start implementing some exciting new content marketing campaigns, so your 2016 is as profitable and successful as possible.
That’s why I’ve come up with some great new year’s resolutions you have to keep this year to boost your content strategy.
1) Don’t neglect your blog
It can be easy to get distracted with other more obviously pressing tasks, but it’s important for companies to not neglect their blogs. While they might appear to simply be a way for readers to find out a little more about the firm, they are fantastic at boosting your profile, awareness and web traffic.
Here are just a few things blogs are great at doing:
You never know which blog post is going to be the ‘hit of the year’ so put as much effort as possible into each one, and don’t let missing a few entries become a bad habit.
2) Don’t forget to promote
Set aside enough time to promote your blog posts and help them gain interest. There’s no point writing a fantastic piece, putting a token message about it on Facebook and then forgetting its existence.
Getting a few likes might seem good at first, but not if the post is worth hundreds or thousands of shares.
Spend time plugging it on social media, adding the right share and like buttons to your blog page, and creating content that is so engaging it will entice readers to spread it around online.
3) Only write what you’d want to read
It can be easy to fall into the trap of writing content that simply hits all your keyword targets. However, if you or anyone you know wouldn’t realistically find it thought-provoking, funny or informative to read, why expect potential customers to do so?
4) Don’t be a victim of false headlines
Obviously, you want to attract attention to your stories, but don’t use click-bait headlines to do so. As soon as someone clicks on your headline to read the piece and realises the rest of the content has very little to do with the attractive header, they’ll stop reading and leave the site. What’s more, they’ll probably never return, distrusting the way you promote yourself.
The answer is simple – create great content that creates great headlines. And you’ll see the visitors come.
5) Have a plan and stick with it
The most important resolution to keep this year is to have an editorial calendar and stick to it. Having a plan of what content you should push and when will definitely help you target audiences at the right time – whether in the lead up to Mother’s Day, during mid-season sales or when everyone’s going on a diet and getting fit (hint hint, that’s now).
Create great content that creates great headlines.
Having a plan is a great way of really targeting your audience and giving them what they want and need.
Be warned though, editorial calendars often have a way of getting neglected by springtime, so make an effort to stick with them. If you do, you’ll be reaping the rewards by the time next January rolls round!
And if you failed to commit to your 2015 New Year’s Resolutions (you know who you are), take a look at them again for some great tips on how to improve the success of your content marketing campaigns this year.
For extra help with your content strategy, give us a bell by contacting us here. Natasha Al-Atassi Copywriting Services can provide a huge variety of content for your website, from blogs and landing pages to newsletters.
Christmas is perhaps the best time of the year to employ all your marketing know-how and really go in for the kill when it comes to your advertisement campaigns. Everyone is already on the search for presents, beauty treatments, dresses, hotel stays, spa days and the latest gizmos, so all you have to do is make sure what you’re offering catches their eye before anyone else.
- Get found on Google
More and more people are heading online for their Christmas shopping, and Brits spent as much as £968 million on Cyber Monday alone this year, an increase from £720 million in 2014.
That’s why it’s important your business is the first they find when they Google what they’re looking for. Preparation for this takes months, with careful SEO techniques employed to ensure you rank highly in online searches.
Tricks such as the right use of keywords, regular blog posts, and having a strong social media presence all help boost your rankings so start thinking about introducing these into 2016’s marketing campaign to capitalise on next year’s online shop.
- Produce Christmas content
As well as looking up gifts, people will be searching for Christmas-related videos, stories, images, recipes and so on. So make sure you have all the relevant copy on your site in time.
You might want to encourage your readers to bake something new for Christmas Day or remind them to book their fake tans for their festive parties. Whatever it is you want to sell this season, have blog copy, Facebook ads, landing pages with tips and hints, banners, and social media chat at the ready so you can give your potential customers what they want.
Christmastime isn’t just about gifts and cards, and consumers spend a lot on all the frills over the holidays. That’s why it’s a good idea to have content that reminds them what they may need or want to make their Christmas stand out.
- Don’t oversell
People spend a fortune at Christmas, with M&S revealing the average cost of Crimbo is £623, more than a third of which (£236) is on food and drink alone. Therefore, you can expect to receive a higher level of interest in your products and services than at other times during the year – because of this, it’s worth easing up on the hard sell.
Consumers will come to you – especially if they have children and several expensive presents to buy – and they’re more likely to take you seriously if you aren’t pressurising them with one-time offers and guilt-ridden soundbites about treating their loved ones.
- Don’t forget your mobile content
I know I can spend hours running around shops only to find myself clicking on my phone on the way home to find the presents I missed. Mobile-commerce is huge during the festive season, so if you have a site that crashes on mobile phones or content that cannot be easily seen on handheld devices, you are putting yourself at a huge disadvantage.
An IMRG report from February 2015 revealed 45% of e-commerce traffic in the UK is through smart phones and tablets, and this is sure to increase during Christmas as people (like me) panic search for gifts while they’re out and about.
Not only should your site be easily viewed, but you should also produce mobile-friendly content – short blogs, articles with bullet points and headings, and features that don’t have too many videos or images that will take a wile to download.
- Prepare for the new year
You might be getting into a Christmas frenzy as December gets underway, but don’t forget the new year is just around the corner. That means you need to think about Boxing Day sales, New Year’s resolutions, gym memberships and healthy eating plans (for your readers, not you).
The start of the year is when people cut back on their spending, so if you want them to sign up to your services or products, you need to really produce content that will encourage them to buy. January deals and prizes are therefore always popular, while your content should focus on things that consumers will be looking at – essentially, articles that give them tips on how to detox, get fitter and healthier, look better and younger, and save money for the next year.
- Think about Christmas 2016
You might not be buying your 2016 gifts just yet (although, I have to admit I do get a few bargains in the New Year sales!), but it’s not a bad idea to write down ideas you may have for next Christmas' campaign.
There’s always so much to do around the festive season, so making sure you’re organised, you start your strategy early, and introduce Yuletide stories in drips will mean your marketing for Christmas 2016 could be your best yet.
If you want help with your Christmas 2015 or 2016 campaign and need a copywriter to produce top-quality blogs, features, landing pages, e-letters, social media outreach or print literature, get in touch with us today. It's not too late!
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