Mark Glucki on Blogging and Small Business
What he does now
I am MTS’s content editor for their business hub, and the project got going in the spring of 2015. I came onboard to get the editorial calendar in place and to coordinate all their freelance writers, and to bring together all of their internal SMEs to create this holistic environment for writers and thought leadership.
We wanted to create a genuine hub of unique content for the Manitoba audience in particular, that pulled information from all different industries and aspects of small, medium, and enterprise level business from across Canada and into North America.
What’s interesting for me is that I have this view being a hometown Manitoban, and also working in other cities throughout Canada, to be able to pull that point of view altogether. We deal primarily with writers from within the province of Manitoba. But we also have a couple of writers who are external, and we bring in industry experts from different places to bring in a bigger picture point of view, because business is well within a local geography and also extends across the world.
Basically, you can’t look too deep into one’s own neighborhood, and you also don’t want to only look outside of your own neck of the woods.
How he got started blogging
I worked with MTS Allstream for seven years and ran their digital and social strategy primarily for their small business group. Then I took over the social strategy for the entire organization, and we launched a couple of different blog platforms during that time. One was small business focused in the one-to-one-hundred sized segment in B to B.
We called that blog My Own Boss. My Own Boss featured stories from small businesses and medium-sized businesses across Canada on what made their business successful. What made them a successful business professional, a business owner, or a decision maker?
The whole idea was to not talk about our brand, but to talk about their brands. That was about six, seven years ago when this whole idea of content marketing was really in its infancy and social media was just growing up. We had some interesting challenges where we had to prove that we had an effective strategy in place that could connect with our customers and our prospects, and that we could use new methods like Twitter and LinkedIn and prospecting via web 2.0 methods like using interactive video or chat in order to connect in new ways. We did that very successfully, so that was fantastic.
How blogging grew his business
The My Own Boss blog ended up growing our traffic exponentially. We created a product-focused microsite that included Twitter and a chat function on it to promote one new product in particular. Then we ended up having Allstream’s small business roll into the bigger side of the company. So, what that meant is we needed to create a new asset. That’s when I worked on the project to create the blog for the Allstream site which is called expertIP and it’s like more of a medium to enterprise-level-focused blog. Again, we took the best practices from My Own Boss and we created a team of great freelance writers combined with internal SMEs and made it a thought leadership piece centered around the IT and networking space. Everybody has their acronym. I guess some people call it S-M-Es.
That blog ended up being wildly successful and again, we grew our readership. We grew our online traffic. We helped support digital campaigns through the blog and it published really frequently once a day on the English side. We actually had an entire unique French side to the site, which was publishing at least three times a week.
We were winning awards, getting great readership, and getting a lot of attention in the right space in B to B, which is a hard thing to do when you’re creating unique content, especially for the IT tech sector.
Then I ended up moving over and working on my freelance business.
Now, I have a variety of clients and MTS is one of my clients. I provide the content editing service for them, as well as all of the management of the writing team and publishing calendar. I help with some social copy and social strategy to connect and drive traffic back to the business hub.
So really what we’re trying to do is raise awareness of digital and social online awareness of the business hub and the thought leaders that write content for it.
The problems he sees with small businesses (1 to 25 employees), and the solutions he suggests
The number one issue is probably the admin side of a small business. Having to keep up with all of the day to day, weekly, or yearly administrative tasks that are outside of the realm of what you’re actually passionate about. For example, it might be a restaurateur having to do HR paperwork.
It could also be getting your taxes together, or getting all of your forms together for your corporate reports or your annual returns. There could be additional concerns and pile-ups on the admin side when you have to deal with all of that. I hear this concern commonly from colleagues who are also running their own businesses.
I would say that the second most common problem would be the marketing side of things. Many people who are marketers have a really good understanding of how to market someone else’s brand. But when you own your own company, the challenges seem almost insurmountable at times, because now you’re thinking about how to first of all market yourself personally, and then how to market your brand and extend beyond just a logo. And then how to take the next step when you’re actually growing your company and market with the right funds and in the right geographies to capitalize on your audience.
When you’re looking at spending your own money versus spending a corporation’s money, you really double and triple check everything you’re doing because the stakes are really high at that point.
The type of entrepreneur he deals with
Entrepreneurship is such a diverse topic. I don’t think that there’s a make or model of entrepreneur, other than to say they’re someone who is a risk-taker.
I think right now what we’re seeing as a potentially risky time to step out on your own or to not have a standard paycheck, an entrepreneur is someone who is willing to make some sacrifices in their life if that comes up. Sacrifices beyond that income, that standard income that’s coming in. But they have to be passionate about their idea, their product, their service, their solution, and they have to have a very strong vision. I see that not necessarily as a gender or any description of the person, but rather as their mental state.
Probably somebody who has had enough experience in the past to know that they can do this, that they’ve got a good support system, and if they don’t know the answer, they know where to find it.
As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to be savvy. You’ve got to know your online world and your traditional world as well. If you’ve got enough gusto, then you can make it happen.
How he markets his blogs
I think it comes down to figuring out who your audience is first. I always like to think of it as like going to a conference. When I go to, for example, a two or three-day conference and there’s a keynote speaker each day, there are breakout sessions, and there’s hundreds of people there — I’m not going to talk to every person there. I’m not going to see every session. I might not hear your keynote. I might not go to every booth or see everything that there is to see. But as long as I come out of that conference, with a couple of really great actionable items that I can implement into my business, or that I’ve met a couple of really great people that I can use for networking opportunities in the future, or to help each other out or collaborate, then I’ve been successful.
So let’s say there are 500 people at that conference. I may only need to connect with two or three people to find success there. So you can almost see it in the same way when you have a publication online.
We have a defined audience already geographically that we want to speak to. We want to speak to industry experts and influencers outside of that geographic area as well. But we know that we’re up against two million posts a day or whatever it may be. We know that so many people are out there and there’s so much noise and clutter in the social ecosystem. So, we want to make sure that we’re pushing the needle in the right direction and having quality conversations with the people that we’re connected to already, and that we’re slowly building in the right direction every day with every article, every post.
We’ve been very successful with finding the right audience and publishing great pieces, rather than trying to blast out all of our content every day on every channel. We try to be a little bit selective and push the right content through our brand channels and through our author channels as well.
If the authors are on Twitter, then they’re going to tweet about it. If I’ve published a great post, then I know my LinkedIn audience is going to appreciate it, and I’m going to post it on LinkedIn. But we also know that a lot of the content will be relevant well beyond the day that we publish it. So, we can publish again in different ways with different images or new updates on different social channels in the future as well. As long as there’s no expiry date to that content, such as it being connected to an event or a time of year, then we can republish it in the future, and that’s where you get a lot more leverage out of one piece of content, by republishing almost as evergreen content.
How he maintains balance between work and personal
I’ve heard a lot of people who start their own business talk about the fact that they don’t have a division between their personal and professional life anymore.
But what I’ve experienced as personally fulfilling for me, it is to have a division between personal and professional life. You need to be able to turn off that switch at some point and just let yourself be yourself and not worry about what deadline you have, or what you have on the agenda for tomorrow, or what stresses you may have all the time. That’s where you can drive yourself crazy.
As a small business owner, you have one of the most amazing opportunities to control your own schedule and your own stress level. I know there are a lot of extraneous factors that come into play that you can’t help. But I take an opportunity every day to kind of shut down. At a certain time, whether it be 5 o’clock one day, 8 o’clock another, or maybe it’s well beyond midnight another, at some point, I consciously say: “That’s it. I’m shutting this professional side down and it’s personal time.”
I have used guided, calming meditation during a period of time when I was very stressed out and I had a lot going on with both my personal and professional life. When I started using it, I realized, “Oh! I am in control of my own calm.” It sounds so crazy. But it really, really worked.
I also do my own version of mind mapping when I get really overwhelmed or stressed, or I feel like I just have too much on the go mentally.
I will sit down at a coffee shop, get rid of my devices and just go with pieces of paper and a pen. I just start writing down what I’m thinking: What’s worrying me? What’s bothering me? But there’s no rhyme or reason to it. I can end up with a lot of pieces of paper. I probably look a little crazy to outsiders.
If, say, I have to get my taxes done, I will write it down. I keep writing it over and over until my mind is clear and I might have written down “get your taxes done” 10 or 12 times in the end. But what happens is I feel a complete release, like everything is out of my mind and my system, and I know my mind map is now all on paper.
Then I take that crazy clutter and I start organizing it. You can then take all of this chaos in your mind and create a very organized prioritization list from it, and that’s where you can assign calendar schedules to it, tasks to yourself, and all that great stuff. Now you’ve created a project plan for your life out of this crazy clutter.
His favorite book on business
Good to Great is fantastic and everyone should read it.
But what I really think is most effective with my life right now hasn’t been the book format. It has been the blog format and other bloggers.
Favorite business software
I’ve worked with a lot of freelance writers who use FreshBooks. They have a fantastic product for freelance billing.
FreshBooks keeps that administrative task on check when you’re a freelancer, and also takes the guesswork out of creating your quotes or invoices, and also following up on them. One of the big challenges I find as a freelancer is how to bill people, and the challenge of when you don’t receive a payment on time. What do you say back to that person?
Because nine times out of ten they just forgot, or it’s outside of their billing period. But you want to be careful with what you say.
I know as a receiver of FreshBooks on the editor side, it’s really easy because you just get a notification, and it’s hassle-free. I really appreciate it.
And internally, when you’re working with teams, Slack has been one of the best pieces of software I’ve used in a couple of years.
It’s worked so well for sharing documents quickly, and being able to access them and search for them quickly, because when you’re dealing with teams, you share a lot of information. Then a week later here, you’re thinking, “Where did I put that? Who sent that to me?”
With Slack, you can search really quickly in such an efficient way that wasn’t ever accessible through the other basic IM tools from the past. You can also use fun features such as different types of emojis, and you can add GIFs into them, to make it a fun environment when you’re working with teams.
Another tool I’ve used recently is Trello. It’s kind of managing project to-dos with groups.
On the social side of things, I still use Hootsuite and love it. I think it’s a great way of monitoring and listening for keywords and brand reference, as well as scheduling posts.
Employee advocacy tools and software are on the rise and I think that they’re amazing ways of getting your teams to connect, with your content and to promote content externally. I feel strongly that employee advocacy is huge and is going to be a big movement over the next couple of years with corporations especially.
I use so much software all the time. I use Any.do, a task tool that is available on desktop and mobile and it syncs across devices. But what I like about it is the simplification. It’s just a task list. But it’s kind of like all the other task type of lists, like Wunderlist.
I use Any.do every day, all the time. If I have something that pops up, that I need to do and it’s not something I put in my calendar, I add it into Any.do and you can organize it by today, tomorrow, upcoming, or someday.
Another one is called simply “Do“. You basically sync it with your calendars and then anytime you have a meeting it’s automatically there. You just click into your meeting and you take all your notes from your meeting.
What’s cool about “Do” is that if you’re synced with your teams, all of your teams can collaborate on those exact same meeting notes. You can create action items for either yourself privately, make it a group action item, or assign it to somebody. It’s really simple to use and then you can export it into any other software you want. It’s really cool because now, when I am in a meeting with a new client or a follow-up meeting with a client, I will go into “Do” and just search for the client name, and all my meeting notes are there from last time.