There are those who create small businesses and then there are those who create a full fledged companies. Lynn Swords, has done just that: create a thriving company dedicated to an art form she loves and with people who believe's in building quality brands. She's the founder of Ink & Key , a Branding Firm based out of Irmo, South Carolina by day and a doting mother and wife by night. She is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to marketing, branding, and content creation, which is evident by her client testimonials and the overall success of Ink & Key. I was able to pick her brain about marketing, being an entrepreneur, and more!
For my readers who don’t know what long form content is, Can you explain?
Sure! Long- form content is a term that is used to refer to informative writing that may be in the form of an e-book, a magazine article, a pamphlet, a white paper, or even a longer than average blog post. Many business owners will use long-form content to capture leads by offering their readership a download of their latest e-book or white paper in exchange for an email address. Long-form content has a long shelf-life and can be re-purposed in many different ways. It’s a great way to provide valuable content to your readership while building up your email list.
Long-form content is designed to educate and inform the target audience on a topic that has value, as well as to directly or indirectly lead the reader to the goods or services that the business provides.
As a content creator, how important do you think it is for entrepreneurs to grasp content creation or to at least value it’s role it plays in their business?
Content creation is vital for entrepreneurs. One factor that plays a major role in Google ranking is whether a site is stagnant or if it is being refreshed on a regular basis with new content. Having an onsite blog is one effective way to continually change up your content. Make no mistake - your target audience is smart and technically savvy. Most people aren’t impressed anymore by a flashy sales pitch. Your clients will be drawn into a relationship with you if they learn that you are a reliable, valuable resource. Learn the pain points of your target audience. What are they struggling with? What are they confused about? What skills are they hungry to learn? Address these issues in your content, and your target audience will continue to come back for more.
You are the founder of Ink & Key and you have quite a team that helps your business run. At what point did you know that it was time to bring on other experts?
I initially created Ink & Key as a place to promote my writing services, but I soon expanded as I began learning about the issues small business owners run into when outsourcing to multiple businesses and freelancers. I realized that I need to “stay in my lane” and focus on what I do best – writing. I knew then that I needed to create a team where everyone works together by utilizing their unique skillsets to support our clients.
Your company uses crowd sourcing as a way to develop content, is this a method that you recommend to new or aspiring entrepreneurs who may not have the budget to hire a marketing & branding firm?
We actually don’t use crowdsourcing to develop content. I have a team of writers who develop different types of content for clients. I connect my clients with the writer who is the best match or their needs.
We do, however, offer a “mini-crowdsourcing experience” for clients who need a name and/or tagline for their startup or business. We also work with companies who are rebranding. Clients fill out a questionnaire and make their payment, and then my team of branding experts interacts and collaborates with the client in a fun, relaxed online platform to create the perfect name and tagline for them. Our unique process opens up the lines of communication between client and creative and solves a lot of issues that often come up with traditional crowdsourcing.
When it comes to content marketing, what has been your best vehicle to get your message across to really draw in your audience? Social media, blogging, speaking engagements…
I have gotten some good responses from social media. Blogging on my site as well as on Medium has also been a great tool. I do as much local networking as I can, reaching out to small businesses nearby. However, the biggest surprise to me has been that Quora has actually been the #1 way clients are finding us. I answer questions on Quora that my target audience is asking, and they end up reading my answers and contacting me through my website.
You describe what you do as your “dream job” why is that?
I am still able to work from home, which means that I’m available to my family, which is extremely important to me. I love to take care of people, and through Ink & Key, I have been able to create a virtual place for clients where they know that they will be well taken care of. I actually pray for my clients and for the success of their businesses. Once they get to know me, they find that I truly do care for them, and want to help. I actually bake homemade cinnamon bread and mail it to clients who use three or more of my services. It’s a fun way for me to celebrate my clients and their hard work. I also love my team – I am blessed to have such an amazing, talented group of people who are willing to work under the Ink & Key umbrella. I work hard to ensure they are being well taken care of as well. Being the owner of Ink & Key is a dream job for me because I get the opportunity to meet new people from all over the world, form long-term relationships with them, and get paid to be creative and use my gifts.
What advice would you give to a new or aspiring entrepreneur who is getting ready to start their business?
We are all bombarded on a regular basis with blogs, articles and emails like “The 5 Best Ways to Do Everything Perfectly.” Everyone is telling us how to be uber-successful with messages of “Do it like I do it and CRUSH the competition,” or “Get 75 gazillion Instagram followers just like me if you’ll only sign up for my webinar!” I’m not knocking the folks who are gifted at training entrepreneurs, but please don’t spend too much time attempting to do what other people are doing to be successful, since that often leads to feeling like you’ll never measure up.
Read a few articles, gain wisdom where you can, but please don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison rarely leads to encouragement. Instead, learn through your successes and failures what works best for you and your unique situation, and then create and practice habits to support that. In a nutshell, prioritize and give yourself grace. If I go to one of my best friends and moan about a complete flub-up (there are lots), she’ll say, “There’s grace for that.” What a relief.
What are your future goals for your brand and how can people support your movement?
I definitely want to continue to grow Ink & Key through long-term relationships with business owners. I am very careful to only add people to my team who have a heart for startups and small businesses like I do. I hope to eventually keep the Ink & Key family so busy that I will need to add additional team members. The best way to support us is to spread the word and tell others about the unique services we offer. Like a client recently said to me in an email, “When I heard about you, I had to find out if you were for real. I’m glad you are.” Thanks so much, Brandy, for the fun opportunity to share with your readers!