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How thinking about seasonal marketing can help you plan your content

Seasonal marketing leaves in a line.
Photo by Designecologist: https://www.pexels.com/photo/leaves-hang-on-rope-1389460/

If I told you to think about the seasons when you plan your marketing content, a whole host of obvious ideas might spring to mind. Or they might not. Maybe your business doesn’t have obvious seasons or perhaps you’ve done every topic you can think of to death. Seasonal marketing doesn’t have to be about Christmas or encouraging your customers to book their summer holiday. Here are some obvious seasonal marketing ideas along with a few that take a sideways view.

Special occasions

A special occasion like Christmas or Easter gives you a great focus for your marketing if you offer related products or gifts. In a broader sense, you could treat the whole wedding season as one big special occasion. It’s always worth thinking about how you can relate your product or service to a special occasion in a less obvious way. You could offer financial advice for the school holidays or promote noise-cancelling headphones before your relatives descend for Christmas (or is that too harsh?).

Spring

Seasonal marketing for spring might feel like an easy job if you’re a garden centre or if you can help people with their spring cleaning as you can share hints and tips that will help your audience even if they don’t buy from you. You can also find ways to talk about outdoor activities, particularly if your business is related to travel. Talk about what’s available in different areas, even if you don’t earn anything by promoting them. You can also share stories about environmental issues and how you’re doing your bit.

Summer

If I’m being optimistic, summer could equal sunshine but it’s also weddings and school holidays. You can talk about fun in the sun, wedding fashion and last-minute holiday deals but think about taking a different approach too. Lots of working parents struggle with school holiday juggling every year. You might be able to offer activities but what if you could support them with getting a better work-life balance?

Could your content include screen-free ways to entertain children or what to do if you hate hot weather?

Autumn

I love Autumn because it’s the start of the rugby season and it becomes socially acceptable to stay indoors.  It’s about finding the balance between being cosy inside and getting outdoors. Autumn also brings Hallowe’en and bonfire night, two of my favourite festivals. You can use scary stories in your marketing without talking about ghosts. Share the things that could go wrong if your customers don’t ask the right questions when they’re choosing a service provider. Fireworks are about light triumphing over darkness – how do you help people overcome adversity?

All this and I haven’t even mentioned how you could educate your audience to channel that back-to-school energy.

Winter

Have you ever read ‘The Lion, the witch and the Wardrobe’ where the witch made sure that it was always winter but never Christmas? Christmas makes winter bearable because it’s all about fairy lights and family time. Then you’re into January and a diet of broccoli and water. The symbolism of a new year is great, but I reckon that good winter marketing needs to acknowledge the fact that people need cheering up. It’s freezing outside and dark by teatime. Offer your audience a new start if they want it but give them something to alleviate the gloom too.

Do you need some new ideas for your blog and seasonal marketing? I can help with that. Book a call here and let’s have a chat. You can also get 50 blog topic ideas you can use in your business today by snaffling a copy of my book here.

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Resources to help you come up with new blog topic ideas

Image shows a woman at her desk trying to think of new blog topic ideas

It doesn’t matter if you’re thinking about starting a blog or have been doing it for ages, we all dry up sometimes. You think you’ve said everything you could possibly say that would interest your audience or every topic that comes to mind seems too obvious. (The truth is, it’s only obvious to you because you work in your business all day, every day and you know it all.) How can you come up with new blog topic ideas? Even more importantly, how can you come up with them without spending hours doing it? Here are some great resources that will give you lots of new blog topic ideas fast.

Do the groundwork

Think about your business and the main topics you’re going to talk about. Mine are content marketing, blogging, content writing and copywriting. Yours might be different products or services. Start with the big topics then break them down. For me, that would look something like breaking blogging down into topic ideas, writing style and structure… you get the idea. Then think about what’s going to interest your customer. This is the longest part of the process, but it will help to tune your brain into the kind of topics your audience will enjoy so you’ll come up with ideas more easily in the future. If you want an easy way to come up with topics that will appeal to your audience, my book ’50 blog topic ideas for your business’ has fifty of them (in case that wasn’t obvious).

Use Google

There are technical ways that you can use Google to come up with ideas, particularly if you’re getting into finding keywords for ads. However, there is a quick and simple way to do it too. When you start typing a search into Google it gives you suggestions for ways to complete your search. I did a search for ‘blog writing for…’ and this is what it looked like:

You can do the same thing. Start your search with one of your key phrases and see what comes up. It’s a bit of a blunt instrument but it could give you some quick inspiration when you need it.

A useful website

Enter a keyword or phrase into Answer the Public and it will show you what searches people have made which include that word. It includes a whole host of things including questions and even an alphabetical list of terms. It doesn’t show you which ones are frequently asked questions and which ones have only been asked once, but you could find an interesting question that you can answer in a blog post.

Here’s what it gave me when I searched for blog writing:

Ubersuggest

Neil Patel is a content marketing god. Virtually any search you make about marketing will give you something from him on the first page of Google so it’s fair to say he knows his SEO. Ubersuggest is a free tool (there is also a paid version) that lets you see what people are searching for. It also gives you the numbers on search frequency and how easy it would be to rank for that phrase if you’re trying to improve your SEO. I searched for blog writing and here are the results:

Even if you aren’t getting deeply into SEO just now, it’s a good way of seeing what phrases your audience is searching for.

Do you need some new ideas for your blog and content marketing? I can help with that. Book a call here and let’s have a chat. You can also get 50 blog topic ideas you can use in your business today by snaffling a copy of my book here.

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The power of letting things slide

A woman on a balcony letting things slide.

When I first started my business, one of the main reasons was the flexibility it gave me. When I was a solicitor there was a flexi-time policy and I changed to part-time working to give me more time with the kids but I was still basically working a 9-5. I couldn’t take an afternoon off on a whim or disappear early because it was sports day at school. Flexibility had to be planned. I was able to plan and prioritise my work but I wasn’t high enough up the food chain to decide that some things weren’t essential. Still, as a business owner, it’s taken me a while to truly embrace letting things slide. Here’s how it happened.

I took part in a challenge

Does anyone else feel as if we’re constantly batting away advice about the new thing we must do if we want our business to succeed? This is particularly true in marketing. There’s always something about why you need to add another social media platform or what kind of content you should be producing this week.

It used to make my head hurt. Then I did two things. I subscribed to emails from Anita Popat, who only tells you the social media stuff you need to know. Then I did a 3-day Facebook challenge with Libby Langley designed to help you make marketing decisions based on your personality and values. It taught me what I already knew. Stop listening to people who say ‘should’ and do what feels right for you.

The family holiday

Then came the Easter holidays. You know the drill. I’m a business-owning mum so the school holidays are always a balancing act. The first few days after the kids broke up were fine because I was still in work mode. I had a plan and there was work I’d promised to do. Then I went on an actual holiday. We got on a ferry and went to Holland for a long weekend. It was glorious (the weather and the place) and I realised how much I’d needed some time out. A chance to play with my kids, go swimming every day and drink lager on a weeknight. I hadn’t realised how tired I’d been. I told myself that I’d have a day off when we got back from Holland then I’d start working again.

The reframe

We got back from holiday and I didn’t get back to work. My brain didn’t want to. I read some emails but mainly I wanted to have days out with my boys before they went back to school. At first, I thought I was being lazy. I told myself I should have been working. Then I remembered that I don’t listen to people who tell me what I should do and gave myself a break. I didn’t post a single thing on social media for a whole week. The world didn’t end. No one forgot I exist. All the work that pays my bills is still getting done. Those extra few days gave me the headspace I needed to decide what was important in my life. I realised that letting things slide was the best thing I could have done.

Why am I telling you all this? It’s because sharing our stories is important. When you’re a business owner people sometimes forget you’re a human being as well. I hope that by giving you a glimpse behind the scenes I’ll encourage you to do the same. If you’d like to have a chat about it, you can book one here.

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Are you setting boundaries between your personal life and business marketing?

The image shows a laptop, book and phone wrapped in chains. This is setting boundaries at its least technical and most extreme.
Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-android-smartphone-on-top-of-white-book-39584/

I’m a big believer in sharing some of your life in your marketing. Here’s why. The question is, how much do you share? It’s one thing to give your audience a glimpse behind the scenes, but that doesn’t mean giving them access to your entire private life. Everyone is different; what’s right for you may be inappropriate for someone else. Here are some of the things I thought about when I was setting boundaries between my marketing and life behind the scenes. I hope they help you too.

Can you talk about work?

I ran a blogging workshop at a business retreat a few years ago and one of the attendees told me that she couldn’t talk about her day job. At all. She’d signed a non-disclosure agreement. She was building a business on the side and could talk about that but couldn’t share any anecdotes about her work history or experience. It’s an extreme example, but if you work with sensitive information or have a duty of confidentiality towards your clients this could be an issue for you. The problem is that case studies are a great way of showing future customers the kind of challenges you deal with. I often share an anonymised version of a case study in these circumstances. If it’s something distinctive or highly personal I’d still recommend contacting the client in case they recognise themselves.

What do you want to protect?

Your family might support you in your business but that doesn’t mean they want to feature in your marketing. My husband has appeared in the background of a few Zoom calls, but he’d be deeply uncomfortable if I put him on Instagram. I talk about my children because it helps me to connect with other business-owning mums, but I never share images of them or mention their names. This is the kind of boundary that it’s best to set by having a conversation with the people closest to you. My kids aren’t old enough to consent to be on social media, so I don’t put them on there. That’s why I acknowledge their existence but don’t share details.

You might think this is a small issue, but it can cause rifts if you make assumptions. (Google ‘why don’t we see Aimee Osbourne’ if you don’t believe me.)

Setting boundaries around personal details

Setting boundaries isn’t just about protecting your family members and throwing caution to the wind when it comes to your privacy. On a practical level, sharing too much personal information puts you at risk of identity theft or being scammed.

You might have started your business because of something you went through and want to help others with. Connecting with your audience might mean sharing some incredibly personal details. You might be talking about your experience of baby loss, medical treatment or mental health issues. Your audience might read about your experience and emotions and be relieved that they’re not alone. At the same time, you might feel that some details are too personal. Remember, it’s your decision. If it feels like too much, leave it out. I know you want to help your audience but think about what’s right for you too.

Do you need some help creating marketing with the right boundaries? I can help with that. Book a call here and let’s have a chat. Or, sign up to my mailing list for blogging and marketing hints and tips straight to your inbox every month.

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Why you need to show your life in your marketing

A woman celebrating - you can put life into your marketing too.

You’ve probably seen loads of marketing advice telling you that you need to share your knowledge and establish yourself as an expert in your field. That’s all true. When you have a small business, you need to go one step further and share a bit of your life with your customers. The big brands can build a corporate image around their values, but you need to show your audience who you are as a person. Here’s why you need to put some of your life into your marketing.

It makes your audience feel part of something

Content marketing is designed to help you build a relationship with your audience so that they’ll buy from you. When your marketing creates a community, it helps your audience feel as if they’re part of something amazing. That might happen because of chats in the comments on your posts or what you share in your Facebook group.

The easiest way to make your audience feel included is by giving them a glimpse behind the scenes. If you create products, you can share videos or posts of you making something. Someone might see the work in progress and decide they must have the finished product! Case studies are brilliant if you’re like me and offer a less visual service. You can show prospective customers the process so they know how you work and can read about the results.

Shared experience connects you with your customers

Maybe you started your business because you came through a challenge and wanted to help other people do the same. Your story needs to be central to your marketing. It shows your customers that you understand what they’re going through because you’ve been in their shoes. You can build trust by talking about your experiences. This is particularly good for business or health coaches, personal trainers and parenting experts.

Showing your life and the experiences you share with your customers can also work in another way. Whilst it might not be directly relevant to your business, sometimes you just want to work with someone who’s on the same wavelength as you or support their business. I work with lots of business-owning mums and it gives you a shorthand that makes communication easy and fun.

Sharing your life shows people you’re human

When you spend time running a business online, you’ll inevitably come across people who forget you’re a human being with feelings. They think that those nasty comments will bounce off (if they even think before they type). Sharing posts that show people what your life is like when you’re not at work helps to remind people that you’re a real person. It could also help to distinguish you from another, similar, business. I haven’t had anyone tell me they want to work with me because I’m a rugby fan so far, but you never know!

One word of caution; use posts like this sparingly. Every so often is fine but your customers aren’t your friends. They don’t need 500 pictures of your baby, cute puppy or to hear about how hungover you are. Just an occasional reminder that you have a life outside business.

Are you ready to put some of your life into your marketing? I can help with that. Book a call here and let’s have a chat.

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Why you need to start using emotional marketing

A woman experiencing emotional marketing.
Photo by Ekaterina Bolsova via Pexels

Does your marketing get in touch with your customers’ emotions? I don’t expect you to have them sobbing into their cornflakes all the time, but emotional marketing can be incredibly powerful. The adverts that you remember are the ones that made you feel something. Think of that McDonalds Christmas ad that made every mum wish her children would stop growing up so fast and you’ll get what I mean. Emotional marketing doesn’t have to be hysterically funny or make your audience cry to be effective. Here’s why you need to start thinking about your customers’ emotions when you create your marketing content.

Know like and trust

You may have heard this one before, but the know, like and trust factor is one of the key things you need to build if you want a successful business. People are learning to trust their local small businesses, but they can still be wary of handing their money over to someone who might disappear into the night. If you regularly share marketing content that shows your audience you’re a real person they’ll start to trust you. Make it something human and relatable and they’ll start to like you.

The great thing about emotional marketing is that you can be yourself. That might be terrifying, but it helps you to attract your kind of people. Your marketing makes them feel seen and understood. We’ve all learned the value of community over the past two years; emotional marketing can help you to build a community around your business.

Decisions come from the heart as well as the head

Have you ever made a logical decision then hesitated because it didn’t feel right? Or had a gut feeling about something that eventually proved to be correct? Our brains process emotional information far more quickly than facts. In fact, emotions bypass the logical part of the brain altogether. It means that emotional marketing helps you to create a great first impression before your customers know anything else about your business. They might still make a list of pros and cons, but it’ll probably come later. Or be completely irrelevant if they don’t like you.

That doesn’t mean that your marketing has to be ‘likeable’ as long as you make your audience feel something. Creating a connection is the most important bit.

Emotional marketing can be used in different ways

As you might expect, different emotions get different results. Negative emotions are more likely to encourage people to take action. Content that makes them laugh or feel happy is more likely to be shared. Your business will influence the kinds of emotions you want to evoke, but it’s important to include a mixture. You might help people with a challenge that makes them feel stressed or anxious. Maybe you want them to think about something difficult that they didn’t know about. It doesn’t mean that your marketing needs to be relentlessly depressing. You can still share the positives. This is particularly true if you’re showing your audience the before and after – more on that in a future post.

Are you ready to get some emotion into your marketing? I can help with that. Book a call here and let’s have a chat about how I can help you.

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Case study – creating flexible packaged services for Fishers Solicitors

Flexible packaged service case study

My work with Fishers Solicitors’ started thanks to a conversation about my packaged services at a networking event. If you’re at all familiar with my work, you’ll know that’s a common occurrence. I’m usually involved in the conversation in question, but this time I wasn’t. That’s the beauty of networking with people who remember what you do. One of the partners at Fishers was talking about marketing and the fact that their marketing manager often needed members of the team to write blogs. The trouble is that busy solicitors generally have more pressing demands on their time. It was proving to be a struggle. I was swiftly introduced for a chat with Chloe, who co-ordinates their marketing.

The challenge

When I spoke with Chloe it soon became clear that they needed more than blogs. Like a lot of professional service businesses, they had access to a bank of articles that they could share but they also needed content that was unique to them. The practice covers a range of different services so they have plenty to talk about. Chloe told me that she gets lots of content ideas from the different teams but that execution is an issue. They struggle with formatting and getting their message across in the right way. She wanted to create a discussion-based blog that is topical and pushes their strategy. They’re also regular contributors to a magazine where they answer a legal question each month and want to add new content to their website too.

The solution

My packaged services are built around creating a set number of blogs each month. However, they can also include other types of content too. While Chloe wants to build an effective blog to build Fishers’ reputation and position them as thought leaders there’s more to it than that. Since we started working together, I’ve written blogs, a new page for their website, a magazine Q&A and a news item that can also go out as a press release. Chloe and I speak once a month and she introduces me to other members of the team so we can have a chat. That means they can just tell me what I need to know in a few minutes, rather than trying to write content in a way that’s completely new to them.

Does your business need flexible content at a predictable cost? I can help with that. Just email me or book a chat here.

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Do you ever feel you’re pulling yourself in different directions?

A woman going in different directions.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

I don’t think I’m alone in having a lot of different things in my life. We’ve all got those metaphorical balls (the ones we juggle, but occasionally the other kind too). There’s all the life stuff; the home, partner, kids, family and friends. Delete or add as applicable. I keep finding myself saying ‘let’s have a catch up soon’, then organising a coffee takes about a year. That’s even before I get to the bit where I run a business too. You’ve heard all this before, I know. The only reason I’m talking about it now is because I seem to have had an influx recently. There’s been more paying work, which is extremely lovely. Conversations about self-care seem to have become a thing too. As I write this the words of a wise woman telling me I’m hearing it for a reason are floating at the front of my brain. There have been new ideas that I can’t seem to make a decision on. Then there have been people asking about my book. Have I told you about the book? Maybe I haven’t, so let’s start there.

It’s always been about the book

Before I had the faintest idea that I might write content marketing for businesses, I wrote stories. I know that we all did that at school, but I carried on. Ideas for crime novels pop into my head at regular intervals. The one I’m working on now existed as an idea for a few years before I started making some notes, writing random scenes as they occurred to me. When I was a commuter I wrote on the train. Now I’m editing; it feels as if I’ve rewritten the thing about eleven billion times but I could be exaggerating. It’s a murder mystery, set in Leicester and I’m almost ready to send it out into the world.

I think I might be scared

There’s the problem, you see. I feel as if everything has been pushing me towards this point. Even the self-care conversations, because I know I need to look after myself to deal with whatever different thing comes next. It’s also why I keep getting new shiny ideas. A bit of me wants to get on with it. A much bigger bit is utterly terrified. What if it’s rubbish? (Apparently most first novels are.) There are characters inspired by people I love and tiny snippets of my life in those pages. It feels personal. The other nagging feeling is the fact that being a published novelist is my dream. I don’t know what happens next if the dream comes true. Will my life still be my own if I take it in a different direction? Will I become a magnet for trolls on Twitter? No idea.

What shall I do next?

This is a silly question, isn’t it? I need to finish the two little edits that are bugging me and send my manuscript out for someone else to read. I’ve got friends who’ve offered and I know where to get a reader’s report. An author friend (yes, I have one of those) even got me an email address for a published crime writer who’s happy to look at a couple of chapters for me. So, I know the answer to my own question. I just need to get on and do it.

Why am I telling you this story? It’s because I’m a writer and that’s what I do. I can help you find the right story to tell in your marketing so you can attract wonderful new customers. If I can help you with that, let’s have a chat.

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5 ways to turn your blog into digital products

Digital products - creation in progress.
Photo by ANTONI SHKRABA from Pexels

I resisted creating digital products for ages, mainly because I’m a service-based business and I love working with people one to one. There are many business gurus who will tell me it’s inefficient, but it makes me happy. At the same time, I realise that there are people who need something different. Who aren’t ready to work with me yet but might be one day. Lockdown changed my view too. I realised that there was very little point in me talking about staying visible if I didn’t give people tools to help them. It prompted me to create an eBook that people could buy, even if money was tight, that would help them to DIY their content.

If you’re ready to create some digital products but don’t know where to start, here’s my quick rundown of some products you can create from information that’s already hanging around in your blog.

Turn it into an eBook

Your blog posts share your expertise and helps your audience and an eBook does the same. You might wonder why anyone would pay for an eBook when they can read your blog for free. The answer is that it’s more convenient; all the information is in one place. I created my blog topics eBook using several different posts and adding new content. I’m turning a series of blogging tips into a book too – sign up for my email list and I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

Create a course

I know everyone seems to have a course these days, but your audience will buy from you because they know you. They’ll also pay for the benefit of being able to ask you questions (without feeling silly) and get guidance that’s tailored to them. It’s just like an eBook except you can help them put the knowledge into practice. You can create an online version, offer face to face training or both, it’s up to you.

Make some checklists

You might feel awkward about charging people for these, but they can be helpful. Turn a blog post with a step-by-step process into a checklist, then people can follow the steps and tick them off as they go. It’ll help them to stay organised and avoid overwhelm. You could sell them alongside other products, like a course or eBook, or even use them as a freebie for your email list and make them paid later.

Put together a template

Templates are brilliant for people who are trying something new and want a bit of help. Sometimes turning a blog post into a template is easy. If you’re talking about what to put in an email newsletter you can create a template that shows people how that might look. You might need to be more creative; if you’re talking about creating something decorative, could you make a template or pattern to give other crafters a guide?

Create a bundle

You might end up creating several products that help your customers to achieve one result, in different ways. People could sign up for a course and get a checklist and template as part of their materials. You could add them to an eBook as a bonus or a thank you to VIP customers. Alternatively, you could just advertise them as one big bundle; you only have to make one sale, but you earn more from it.

Are you ready to create digital products or start a blog? I can help with that. Take a look at my blog writing packages or book a call here and let’s have a chat about how I can help you.

Would you love to get more content writing and marketing tips like these straight to your inbox? Would you like to know when my book for blogging beginners is ready? You would? Then sign up to my mailing list using the form below. I hate spam and you can unsubscribe any time. You’ll even get a free copy of my eBook ‘Stop hiding your business’ as a thank you from me.

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Need some new ways to repurpose your blog?

Repurpose your blog for fresh new content
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

When you repurpose your blog, you take it from being a series of lovely informative posts on your website to a content generating machine. No, I’m not exaggerating. When you’ve gone to the effort of writing a blog post (or getting someone like me to write it for you – https://www.kirstyfrancewrites.co.uk/packages/) why not make it go as far as you can? I’ve written about this before but, as with all things in marketing land, there are other methods that you might not have considered yet. Here are my top 5 favourites.

Create Reels

You don’t have to dance or point to create a good Reel. They can just be good fun. Using your blog as a starting point makes it easier to come up with content ideas. I’ve done a few myself and follow Virginia Kerr for inspiration. You can do tips to camera but if you absolutely don’t want to show your face you can use images too. They’re being rolled out on Facebook as we speak so it could be a good time to give it a go.

Inspire your podcast

If you’re pushed for time the idea of starting a podcast can feel a bit overwhelming. On the other hand, if you’ve already started one you can repurpose your blog and use it for topic ideas. A lot of people who don’t have much time to sit and read will listen to podcasts or audiobooks while they’re out walking or folding laundry. (That’s me if you couldn’t tell.) Do a solo chat about your subject or invite a guest to offer their perspective.

Write a new blog

If your audience really loves reading blogs or you just need new ideas, look to your old blogs for inspiration. If you’ve written a post with 5 tips, choose one and go more in-depth. For example, if you’re a florist with a blog post about choosing flowers for your wedding, one of the tips might be about seasonality. That could be a whole post by itself. I’ve mentioned headline writing in loads of blogs but I’ve never written one that’s just about headlines. I’ll get round to it eventually…

Repurpose your blog into a presentation

A blog post is designed to educate and entertain your audience, as well as building your authority. If you wanted you could turn it into a training session. I’ve written a series of blog posts about how to start writing a blog and delivered training on it too. If you’d rather hide under a rock than deliver training, you can still repurpose your blog into a shareable presentation. I’ve just started investigating using SlideShare for LinkedIn – if you have any tips, please let me know!

Create an infographic

This is one of my favourites because it appeals to the visual learners. It means that you could attract a whole new audience who love graphics and won’t necessarily read a blog post. Take the main points from your blog post and use them as headings. You can add a bit of extra information too. The best part is that you can use it as an image within the blog post itself as well as sharing it on social media.

Would you love to use some of these tips to repurpose your blog but don’t have a blog to do it with? I can help with that. Take a look at my blog writing packages or book a call here and let’s have a chat about how I can help you.