Category Archives: Marketing During COVID-19

Build Your Own Audience with a Blog and Newsletter

Build Your Own Audience, Not Social Media’s: Newsletters and Blogs

We all publish content for our audiences in print, on our websites, in e-mails, and on social media. We all contact our clients by e-mail, phone calls, and until recently in-person meetings. Now, with these stay-at-home times, digital media is a higher priority than it was a few months ago.

First, let me bash social media a little: a major disadvantage of social media is that when you build your audience there, your’e mostly building the audience for Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. For instance, when you post on a business page on Facebook, estimates are that it is shown to less than 20% of your page followers, some say as low as 6%. You can pay to show it to more people, of course.

Second, here’s a better idea: build your own audience.

Newsletters and blogs go hand-in-hand to publish content and contact clients. They are a cost-effect way to build and reach your audience.

Two Strategies for your Content

Content Marketing

The goal of content marketing (CM) is to bring people back for more content. As your audience builds, you can advertise your company or sell sponsorships to other companies who want to advertise to your audience. With CM, getting a large audience is critical, and it takes time to build that audience. It also takes content the audience wants to see.

Touchpoint Marketing

One goal of touchpoint marketing (TM) is to keep your company or products in the recent memory of your audience. Lots of media can be part of the mix: social media, phone calls, and newsletters. Until COVID-19, trade shows and events were a part of it. These days I’m suggesting clients consider a blog and newsletter.

Blog and Newsletter Combined

A blog and newsletter can be part of content marketing or touchpoint marking or both. Content you publish can be used on both. You can

  • publish blog posts and then send a newsletter with links to those blog posts
  • publish a newsletter and use the same content as a blog post.
  • both of the above–whichever suits the moment

Once you have a blog post, you should publish it on social media.

BTW: You can call your blog anything like News, or Updates, or Newsletter. You don’t have to call it a blog.

Wait, There’s More – SEO

Website content is important to SEO, so adding relevant blog posts to your site can help you get found on Google and other sites.


Have something to say. If a newsletter is to be worth anything, you have to regularly create content. It could be sales information, product announcements, technical support articles, how-to tips, or links to articles you find online. You can find general guidelines all over the internet. The exact content for you depends on your business, your goals, and your audience.

One way or another, at least once a quarter and maybe more, you need content.

Where to Create Newsletters

I always recommend a newsletter service instead of managing your list on your computer; good services make sign up and list management easy, and they keep you within the law. For starters, I recommend MailChimp. They offer a free level that’s perfect for starting out. Others include Contact Contact and iContact. Search Google, you’ll find plenty of reviews.

IMPORTANT BIT: Make sure you can export your list from the service. That way you can keep a local back up and move to another service when you want. 

A Word About Opt-In Only

You should add people to your newsletter list only after they explicitly opt in. By law, you can add customers, but reputable newsletter services go further requiring permission from each recipient. It’s the right way to handle it. Please, be kind, go with opt-in only.

How do you get somebody to opt-in? You ask. Make it part of getting information from new clients. Send an e-mail to existing clients. Put a sign-up form on your website.

Where to Create Blog Posts

Blogs are done on your website. WordPress has a built-in blog, so if you’re site is built with WordPress, you’re almost ready. It’s just a matter of changing some settings, checking the design, and turning it on. Oh, and you have to come up with content.

Check with your webmaster about what’s available for your site.

Building Your Audience

At first, it’s a slow process. If you’re lucky enough to create a viral video, you might build an audience quickly. Most likely, you’ll build your audience over a few months and longer. Even if your list isn’t big, a small list of existing clients can be effective. Keep at it. Ask new and existing clients for permission to add them to your list.

Plan and execute for the long term. In a year you’ll have a bigger newsletter list and a year’s worth of relevant content on your site.

Call or E-mail Your Questions

With COVID-19 keeping everybody at home, digital marketing is a priority. A newsletter and blog are cost-effective ways to keep in contact with customers, build your own audience, and improve your website’s SEO.

As always, call or e-mail me your questions.

One-Light Lighting for Webcams & Online Meetings

Six Examples of Lighting for Webcams and Online Meetings Using One Light

Here’s a general rule in lighting: The light source should be big. Bright is important, too. (Really, there are no “rules”, but this is bullet-point advice, not artistic training.) To create a big light source, you can bounce light off a wall or ceiling.

When it comes to equipment, you can get basic lighting kits starting at $150 or use what’s on-hand and available at hardware stores. See below for more about lighting  options.

Bounce Light off Walls and Ceilings for Soft Shadows

Bouncing light off a wall or ceiling is often better than the same light source aimed directly at you. The wall or ceiling becomes the big light source. You lose some brightness, but you can make up for that with a brighter light or adjustments on your computer. 

In the examples below, look at the shadows and bright reflections on the skin. With the bounced light, the shadows are softer.

 The first two are the “good” examples. The rest are not so good.

See below for more about the light used here.

Bounce Light off Wall and Ceiling from 10 Feet

Here’s this set up viewed from above. The wall is about 10 feet away. The light is about six feet high aimed up and toward the top of the wall and ceiling corner.

Set Up of Light Bouncing off Wall and CeilingResult of Light Bouncing off Wall and Ceiling

Starting here, the diagrams are from the side. The light is centered in front of the desk.

Bounce Light Off Ceiling from 8 Feet

Here’s the set up with the light centered about 8 feet in front. This is the second “good” set up. 

Bounce Light off Ceiling In Front

Bounce Light Off Ceiling Almost Directly Above

The “not so good” options start here.

Lighting from above can cause raccoon eyes and increase bags and the appearance of a double chin. This light might be great for a young, lean person with a sharp jaw light. Generally, light coming more from the front is better.

Set Up Bounce Off Ceiling from 3 FeetResult of Bounce Off Ceiling from 3

Direct Light from 3 Feet, 6 Feet High

This creates sharper, deeper shadows, and that’s usually not flattering. Again, this light might be great for a young, lean person with a sharp jaw light.

Set Up Direct Light with Diffuser 6  Feet High

Result Direct Light with Diffuser 6  Feet High

Direct Light from 3 Feet, 4.5 Feet High

This creates even sharper shadows. And with the light this low, the glasses really show a reflection.

Set Up Direct Light from 3 Feet, 4.5 Feet Hight

Result Direct Light from 3 Feet, 4.5 Feet Hight

Direct Light from 8 Feet, 6 Feet High

The Good: The light is coming from the front filling raccoon eyes and wrinkles.

The Bad: The shadows are really sharp and deep. Highlights on the skin are unflattering. Sharp reflections in the glasses.

If you can bounce light to create a bigger light source (first two examples above), you can have the good without the bad. This lighting could work for some people..

Lighting Direct from 8 Feet with Diffuser

Result Lighting Direct from 8 Feet with Diffuser

Light Used for this TutorialWestcott uLite with diffuser

The light used here is a Westcott uLite, 20-inch square with a removable diffuser. It has four daylight LED bulbs, 100-watt-equivalent, the kind of bulbs available at the grocery store or hardware store. To fit four bulbs, I also used an Impact 4 Socket Fluorescent Adapter.

Basic Lighting Kits and Accessories

This kind of equipment is available starting at around $150. The kits have 2 or more lights and stands, so one kit could equip multiple people with one light. You can also experiment with two lights.

Here are links to a few options.

Lights You Find Around the House or at the Hardware Store

Directional lighting is essential to bounce lighting. You need to block the direct light and create a big spot of light coming off the wall. Work lights could suffice, and you can improvise with what you have.

Be mindful of the color of the light source. The lights below could have a significant color cast; they’re not made for photography or natural lighting. If color is a problem, look in you camera software for “white balance” or “color correction”; settings there might fix that.

If you already have these lights, you can start experimenting.

Work Lights

Work lights available at hardware stores are often directional. Some are very bright. Here are a few available at Lowes.

If your computer faces a wall three feet away, you might be able to bounce a light off that wall using a small clamp light.

Home-Made Flags

A bare bulb near a wall in front of you could work. Position a piece of poster board between you and the bulb. Aluminum foil could work as a temporary flag and reflector. Don’t worry about what it looks like to you. Nobody else will see it. Get creative and play around with what you have.

OBS Studio Screen Capture

Get Ready for Online Meetings

Here’s the new reality: businesses need to participate in online meetings.

So prepare to be on camera at your desk.

  • Get a decent web camera and microphone.
  • Tidy up your background that will show up behind you.
  • Add or move lights for better on-camera lighting.
  • Start learning to use the software and hardware.
  • Preview what you’ll look like and sound like and make adjustments.
  • Do a few tests.

Online Test Meetings Hosted by Pacesetter Media

I’ll host some online meetings so my clients and others can test their setups and learn how to connect. These will be public meetings, but if you want a meeting just for you or your company, let me know. We’ll get it set up.

Send me an e-mail if you’d like to join in these meeting tests.

Online Meeting Service

I know and trust A Better Choice Network Solutions here in Tampa. They offer an online meeting service. Contact David Thornton for help setting up the service. In Central Florida they can come to your office to set up your hardware (taking proper precautions, of course).

Refine Your Skills on Camera

I met Larry Becker 25 years ago when we worked together on video and website projects. His experience includes teaching people to be on camera, on-camera talent, photography, video, podcasts and more.

He’s currently working to launch his new site that goes with his new book “Being Great on Camera.” By the way, he’s been doing this kind of work for years. He’s not jumping onto the band wagon now.

If you want to refine your skills in front of a camera, he can help you and your staff up your game.

Software to Look Like a Professional Production – OBS Studio

OBS Studio is FREE open source software to create live streaming video. You can add your name, title or scrolling text to your live video. And lots more—pictures, video, graphics. (See the screen capture above.) It’s more than adequate for small businesses, and it’s used by many streamers.

I can help you work with OBS Studio, and I can create the right graphics and settings you can import into your system.

For starters, try OBS Studio.

More Tips Coming

Do you have any questions?

I’ll send more tips and ideas in the coming weeks.

Do you have any questions? I’ll answer questions about:

  • online meetings
  • streaming video
  • newsletters
  • using your website for customer and employee support
  • website updates
  • e-commerce
  • YouTube, Zoom, Facebook Live