Building this small web design studio from the ground up has been one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives.
Creating values, influencing culture, and fostering growth inside our company is a gratifying experience. We can’t help but feel a little proud (and extremely fortunate). But damn if it isn’t a shit load of hard work.
Phone calls. Meetings. Client deadlines. Design and development expectations. Invoices. Employees. Contractors. Keeping up with all this stuff is a full time job in and of itself. At the end of the day, we’re drained.
And you know what’s worse? We’re so heads down and consumed with our work that we become disconnected from the web community. The Atlanta tech scene is growing at a rapid rate and we feel left out. We aren’t doing enough to contribute and that’s a problem for us.
Before we go any further, we think it’s important to point out that we know we’re not alone. As a small business owner it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day minutia. In fact, adding anything else to a day full of hat juggling seems borderline insane.
But we have to get past that. We knew starting a web design company wouldn’t be a walk in the park. At the end of the day, it’s more important for us to educate and contribute rather than make excuses.
We’re willing to make sacrifices if it means finding a way to get more involved. Keep reading and we’ll tell you how we think we can make that happen. After all, if you want to succeed at anything, you need a plan. But before you have a plan, you have to set goals. So what goals have we set for ourselves? After some internal discussion, here are the two most important goals for us:
Goal 1: Scheduling content
Let’s face it, it’s hard to write useful and informative content. It’s even harder to write said content if you don’t have a plan for topics and publishing. We think we found a way that helps us do both.
It’s called a content calendar. Shocking right? Hardly. This is not a new concept. We’ve been aware of the need for a content calendar for some time, we just haven’t taken the time to put it together.
So last week we took an hour and created a dedicated calendar that everyone in the company can contribute to. We take a look at upcoming industry events, happenings, or trends and plan our attack. We’re currently planning two months out, but we feel that three months out would be better.
What type of content can you expect from our new calendar system? Let’s break it down. We’ve committed to at least one long-form article and two “quickie” articles per month. The “quickie” posts will be a little bit more casual and off the cuff. The long-form articles will be industry specific, heavily researched, and informative.
Now that we have a game plan for publishing, we’ll be doing a better job of creating in the coming months. Now it’s time to turn our attention to another neglected medium: the newsletter.
Goal 2: Send out our newsletter every Friday
We’ve done this successfully for going on two years now and the response has been positive. Sure, we’ve had some people unsubscribe, but we expected that. After all, when you go from sending an email twice a year to once a week, some folks won’t like that.
So instead of worrying about numbers, our main focus is on curating and creating content that we love (and we think you’ll love too).
But changing up the format required a bit more organization. We decided to create a simple Google Sheet to capture the interesting things we come across on a daily basis. Everyone on the team has access to the doc and can add, categorize, and summarize their findings.
We’ve also set a modest goal of two new subscribers a week. We’re working on getting the word out and making it easier to share the newsletter with a friend.
If you haven’t subscribed to our newsletter yet, you should. Every week we hand-pick quality content for designers, developers, business types, app lovers, and geeks. And to top it all off, we give away a free t-shirt to one lucky subscriber each month.
Execute all the things
Now that we have our goals, it’s time to double down and produce. The entire team is now empowered and encouraged to add articles, explore interesting topics, and find the best weekly links to share. We put systems in place to make this easy and fun, and we are all contributing at a rate we never thought possible. We hope this increased activity will help bring us closer to our community and start a lot of conversations.
Do you feel disconnected and need to shake things up? If so, we’d love to hear more about your plan, the goals you’re setting, and how you’ll execute on your ideas.
Luke Thompson November 17, 2015
Great article! You’ve inspired me to “shake things up” as you say and get my goals in order. Looking forward to more content from you guys in the coming weeks/months.
Matt Downey November 20, 2015
Thanks Luke! Keep us posted on your success, would love to hear how things go for you.
Joel November 20, 2015
Enjoying the newsletter guys, keep up the good work!
Totally feel the pain of trying to schedule in time for important things like writing in between all the client work.
Matt Downey November 20, 2015
Happy to hear you’re enjoying the newsletter, Joel!
We have an article we’re putting together for next week about reposting so that you can get maximum exposure for your hard work. Stay tuned!
Chris January 23, 2016
I just had a question about the focus or target of your articles and newsletter.
You seem to be mostly aiming at fellow web professionals, do you focus any content on potential or existing clients?
Writing and scheduling can take some time and effort to maintain, where do you see the worth to your business in targeting fellow web professionals rather that potential clients?
Curious to hear your thoughts on this!
Matt Downey January 26, 2016
Great observations, Chris. In fact, we asked ourselves these exact questions when we first started thinking about sending our newsletter out each week.
We see our newsletter as one part of a two-part marketing effort (our blog being the second part). Our main goal with the newsletter is to support and promote growth within the design and development communities while being seen as a thought leader in the space. We want to make sure we’re associated with offering informative and useful resources that improve their day-to-day work.
The blog, as I mentioned, is the second part of a more comprehensive endeavor. We purposely write more content here based on our daily work and client experiences as a way to influence and reach potential and existing clients. Google rankings and sound SEO aside, we think this is a better approach because we can expand on ideas a bit more and encourage further dialogue—much like what’s happening right here. :)
Thanks again for the questions, please let me know if this spurs any further thoughts or comments!