Last week, I kicked off Craft Web Solutions' monthly blog feature – Women Entrepreneurs in Digital Media – with Chief Inpsiration Officer, Melanie Spring of Washington, DC's Sisarina, a branding company. Read Part 1 of my Q&A with Melanie.
This week, I continue my conversation with Melanie, where she and I discuss business challenges, website creation, blogging and more.
Q: Is there a number one challenge that your clients face on a regular basis?
MELANIE: I believe it’s a marketing strategy. Everyone thinks it’s this really big thing floating out in the ether. Many clients think, “Oh, I don’t know. I know I need a marketing strategy and I know I’m supposed to be doing it but we’ll just put this out there and hope that it works.” Big companies and little companies have a problem where they don’t understand how the brands they have are built need to work together with the marketing team. We don’t have to force marketing. Marketing is in the simple things. “What’s the secret?” There’s actually no secret. It’s about just living your brand and being who you really are and letting that come through. That’s how it works.
Q: In terms of website creation, what are some common bells and whistles that your clients always request that they probably don’t need and will never use?
MELANIE: Well, a couple of things: Their newsletters. Most people have have a newsletter signup added to their site and they never use it. People sign up for one that doesn’t exist. Everyone wants to have a newsletter but when it comes time to write it, they don’t know what to say. And the other thing is a blog. Everyone’s wants to be blogging but few actually do it. These are the two most underutilized pieces of website that everyone has to have but few understand the potential.
Q: How often does Sisarina generally blog? Is it a team effort or is it one or two people including yourself that blog?
MELANIE: So much is going on that we don’t have time to create content because we’re just trying to keep up with the stuff that we’re doing. But normally, for the last five years, it’s been consistent. It’s good to be consistent at least once a week and when we do, it’s been a team effort. Everybody writes different things as we have different experience and different backgrounds and we can all give a different perspective on the same thing. If you don’t have a team, create a team. Go find partners that are a similar brand to you and have a similar style to you and have them blog for you. You can blog for them and you can swap content so you’re not always doing it all by yourself.
Q: In your opinion, what are some key qualities to look for when partnering up with someone who will contribute blog posts to your website?
MELANIE: I think making sure that everything’s in alignment in who you are and what you’re doing. I can teach my clients about marketing but they can’t always do what I know how to do. I want to teach them how to do those things so they can do it themselves and come to me for the things they can’t do. When it comes to partners, pick people that are strategically aligned. Make sure that they have the same brand and a similar voice.
Q: What are some common website creation misconceptions that you’ve run into? For instance, if a client comes to you and they say, “I want to build a website using wordpress.com” or “I want to build a website but I’m not even quite sure where to go” or “Why can’t I just build it on wordpress.com or wix.com or squarespace.com versus using you,” what do you generally tell them?
MELANIE: If you don’t own your website, if you’re building it in something like wix.com or a platform where you don’t own the whole thing (i.e. Squarespace) and they ever go out of business, you’re screwed because it is not your website. They basically own your website and you’re paying for it monthly. If your hosting is like Network Solutions or another hosting company, you still own your whole website. You have it forever. It’s yours 100 percent.
Also, a lot of the website platforms (Wix, Squarespace) are template-based, so you don’t really own your brand inside of it because other people can have very similar websites to you. Having something custom designed is a better idea because of the fact that it’s all yours. No one else can have a website like yours unless they copy you.
We (Sisarina) actually built a system called Simply Branded (www.simplybranded.co) because we realize a lot of people don’t have a ton of money to build a new website. We built a custom, very simple system that allows you to fully own it (your website) but also be able to keep it up-to-date.
That brings my Q&A with Melanie Spring to a close. A big thank you to Melanie, for taking the time to answer my questions and share her experience and passion for digital media.