No matter your hustle, whether you’re starting a small business, selling your creative talent, or creating a new product for the market, you need a platform. You need a base from which to both make your living and make your mark with the products and services you provide as well as the information and advice that you can share. If your business is ready for success, then you need and deserve a platform. Here’s how you start building one.

Define your core message

You and your business are not going to be everything to everyone. We’ve seen it time and time again: if you try to cast to broad a net, you catch nothing. Instead, focus on your niche and create a brand that helps you catch the part of the market you are most relevant to as well as most likely to be able to grow from. For this reason, you need to find a brand story that is relevant not just to the truth of the brand and what you do, but one that communicates that as effectively as possible to your audience. It might be a lifestyle you can help them create or a problem that your services or product can help them solve. Once you find that brand story, make sure it’s reflected in every piece of copy on every page of the website.

Invest in the website

A story is only as good as how it’s presented, and this goes for the story that your website tells, as well. We live in a world where there are tons of tools, from WordPress to Squarespace, that make it easy to create a functional, good-looking website in no time. If you want to improve its marketing potential, however, you should look into investing in unique assets for it. From visual themes to photography and imagery, it is going to stand out all the more if it has elements that are unique to it alone and can’t be found elsewhere.

Write regularly

Content is king, as you may have heard. The internet is a content machine and the most active users are ever looking for the next piece of information, advice, or news most relevant to them. You should build a pipeline of ideas that encourage you to keep researching and writing new content that’s relevant and valuable to your audience. This page from Search Engine Journal also shows you how to use that content as a marketing and brand building tool. Finding the best places to share that content helps you grow the name and platform beyond the confines of your own website but also encourages more users to visit it, which improves your chances of winning new customers and supporters.

Join the community

Sharing your content far and wide is also an example of how you can find your place in the community of businesses allied both within and beyond the industry. There are lots of webinars and conferences on this list from Small Biz Trends that can show you how to connect with like minded entrepreneurs. Your potential partners can help signal boost your content, share referrals, and potentially even join you in marketing efforts in the future. Don’t look at other businesses as competitors alone. There’s a lot of mutual gain to be made from finding those that you can ally with. You may even find some more experienced figures to serve as mentors that can help you maximize your chances of success.

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Stay in tune with your base

Your community isn’t just the businesses, of course. It’s also the customers and supporters who are most likely to be the backbone of your future success. It’s much easier to keep customers engaged and returning than it is to win new ones. Social media could play the central role in that. This blog from Hootsuite shows how to get your business started on social media, how to create more engaging posts, how to truly interact with the crowd, and how to build a following over time. Constant communication with your base doesn’t just help you keep profiting off them, either. It helps you stay true to them by listening to and incorporating their feedback.

Capitalize on opportunity

Let’s not forget what you have your platform in the first place, of course. Building a personal or business brand might be one of the key motivations behind it, but it is a tool for the business. Learn how to use it for the benefit of the business by taking a closer look at the journey the average visitor to your website takes. This review of Clickfunnels shows how you can strategically use funnels to turn more interested web users into visitors, and how you can convert visitors into customers. Your website is a marketing tool at least in part if not first and foremost. By eliminating the inefficient pages and navigation elements that get in the way of their journey to becoming a customer, you can make it a more effective converting tool.

Use your success

With the focus on the platform, the community, and the services you provide, success will come. When it does, you can make use of it, too. Getting customers to share their stories and building case studies helps you provide positive social proof that you and your business do exactly what the website claims you do. People are much more inclined other customer customers than they are to believe the promises of any brand. Not only do customer success stories add credibility, it also shows that you are focused on customer success. This makes your community more inclined to believe that you are truly on their side (as you should be) and increases your chance of winning their support in the long-term.

Your business idea might be the best the market has ever seen. You might have the creative talents that can help you find a truly lucrative niche. That’s only the first step to success, however. The marketing, sales, and thought leadership that your platform can provide is just as much a contributor to your success.

If blogging is one of your side hustles or career-boosting strategies, you might be reeling from the news that BoardBooster is shutting down. It’s sad because BoardBooster generated awesome traffic with unique tools you just can’t find anywhere else.

I won’t lie—in the first three days we turned off BoardBooster after receiving Pinterest’s nasty-gram about how using it would get our account shut down, we had a 39% drop in Pinterest views.

Then something magical happened—yesterday, our traffic hit a record high without BoardBooster! Today’s numbers are rapidly climbing, too (the screenshot was taken at noon, with 12 hours left to go for today’s count).

So, take a quick moment to mourn BoardBooster’s loss, then pick yourself up and start strategizing how you’re going to make up for the lost traffic. I’ll tell you what we’re doing, and where to get help if you need it.

1. Step up Your Tailwind Game

Here’s another of my deep confessions: I don’t like Tailwind. Other bloggers write about all this fantastic traffic they get from Tailwind tribes, but we’ve had next to no traffic from Tailwind’s tribes. But, Tailwind does have its purposes, and if you don’t already have an account, you can get a free month trial here: Tailwind Signup.

Tailwind’s Tribes are Not Even Slightly Comparable to BoardBooster’s Tribes

BoardBooster’s Tribes were awesome. You pasted your pin URLs and had an even, reciprocal exchange with the other tribe members. It was guaranteed extra traffic—most of the time, assuming the other people in your tribe had a decent amount of Pinterest views and followers.

However, Tailwind’s tribe members are fickle, so nothing is guaranteed. You can post 1000 tribe members’ pins, and they might post 5 of yours. For example, here’s the tribe repost count for two of my pins from last week. It’s enough to make me want to whip out a voodoo doll to summon BoardBooster back from the grave.

You have no control over what pins tribe members choose, and they don’t scroll far enough to see member contributions more than a day or two old. So, you have to spend time strategizing when the perfect time is to post to your tribes, and that can vary by tribe. It’s annoying.

The other thing that annoys me about Tailwind tribes is that if you want to post a couple of different images as pins to a single post, you can’t. You’ll get a warning message that you’ve already posted a pin for that post to the tribe. So how exactly are you supposed to get a lot of traffic from tribes??

I even bought one of the tribe power-ups last month—and saw less traffic than when I just had the five free tribes. My guess is tribes work better for some niches than others. If you’re a food blogger, you can probably do great with the tribes. Party on.

Use the Publisher to Promote Your Own Pins

The best feature from Tailwind is their scheduling tool which they call the “publisher.” I use it the most for our own posts, because it allows me to set an interval of how often and when a new blog post will appear on my boards—including the group boards.

The first thing I did after I realized BoardBooster was done for is I set all of the posts we posted last week to trickle through our group boards at a steady stream for the next week. That’s right—I have 8 of our posts set to post every hour during peak times for the next 8 days. We saw a HUGE traffic increase the second day of this strategy.

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Use the Scheduler to Plan SOME Other Bloggers’ Pins

I read all the time about bloggers who set “a whole month’s worth of pins in 30 minutes” using Tailwind. I call BS.

To get good, solid traffic from Pinterest, you have to pin a lot, and not just your own stuff. You have to pin high-quality pins from other pinners/bloggers, too. You have to pin to multiple boards. You have to have multiple pin sessions per day. Want to know how we went from 3,000 Pinterest views in early May to 167,000+ Pinterest views by mid-June on a 3-month old blog? We pinned a lot. In fact, I’m pinning in the background right now as I write this post.

There is no magic number, but if you want to drive a steady stream of traffic to your blog from Pinterest, we’ve found it takes pinning about 50-70 pins per day between our own stuff and stuff from other bloggers. This was a lot easier with BoardBooster’s pin sourcing campaigns, but now, to get the same (or better) results, you will need to schedule 30-40 pins using the Tailwind scheduler, and manually pin a few times per day to reach the rest.

Try Tailwind’s Smart Loop

First, the truth: Tailwind’s Smart Loop doesn’t work as seamlessly as BoardBooster’s looping did. There’s a reason this feature is still in beta. But, some bloggers are finding success with it, and if you want to learn more about it, try Vanessa Kyne’s tutorial on Smart Looping.

2. Step up Your Group Board Game

Group boards can help grow your Pinterest views quickly, if you join the right group boards. We struggled at first to figure out what the “right” group boards are. The basic idea is that you find group boards that have more followers than you do, but not an insane amount of contributors.

For example, if you have about 1,000 followers, look for a group board that has 5,000 or more followers, but less than 100 contributors. The bigger the number followers, the more chances you have of having your pins seen.

Finding group boards has been a royal pain. Sure, we’ve looked through Pingroupie and found ourselves largely ignored by the bigger bloggers in our career advice niche. The best luck we’ve had in finding group boards is scrolling through other bloggers’ boards and looking for group boards to join.

If you’re reeling from BoardBooster’s loss, this is one of the first things you should do after you’ve set up a new scheduling tool. Find a dozen or so group boards in your niche, and then add a couple of broader-audience boards, too. You’ll see a traffic boost within a couple of days.

3. Try the Pinterest Strategy Master Plan

To get your head back in the game and salvage your traffic, you should consider taking Caroline Vencil’s Pinterest Strategy Master Plan. Caroline’s advice has helped us grow at a much more rapid pace than I anticipated when we started this blog in mid-March 2018. I look forward to receiving her encouraging and timely emails, and her course will make a big difference in how you think about pinning.

Seriously, before Caroline, I was taking the “five pins per day is all that matters” advice from other bloggers and getting NOWHERE with my traffic. Now, our numbers are growing faster than I could have ever imagined. The course costs next to nothing, and it’s well worth the investment: Pinterest Strategy Master Plan

4. Post Like Crazy

I know you’ve probably read that you only have to post 1-2 times per week to sustain your blog. You’ve probably also read that “content is king” from those same bloggers. Here’s the truth: Yes, you can post just 1-2 times per week, but only after you have a huge library of content for your audience to read! 

If you’re a relatively new blogger, you may not have a ton of content yet, which means you also don’t have a ton of pins to hedge your bets on traffic. The more content you have out there, the more likely you’ll be found on Pinterest and elsewhere. So, if you see a traffic dip from Boardbooster’s shutdown, start writing and don’t stop for at least a month.

Give yourself a content-creation challenge. Can you post 5 posts per week? If you’re already posting 5 times, can you post 15? What would happen if you posted every day for a month? I’ll tell you what: More traffic.

I’m not saying you should post mediocre, get-you-by content, but instead, make a commitment to drive your traffic by posting and pinning more for a few weeks. It will pay off, I assure you.

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5. Diversify Your Traffic Funnels

If you’re heavily mourning the BoardBooster shut down, you might be relying solely on Pinterest to draw traffic to your website. If so, you’re missing out on traffic.

We are finding success with Reddit for increased traffic, but we don’t leave it to just that platform either. Twitter, LinkedIN, Facebook, Google+, and StumbleUpon/Mix help too.

You can automate a lot of posting to Facebook and Twitter, but you’ll get more traffic if you are socially engaged on those networks. That means you have to actually comment on other people’s posts and have meaningful conversations—not just post your own stuff. It’s that whole social part of social networks, and participation is expected.

We also use Instagram, but we haven’t had a lot of luck converting our followers into traffic. It’s a work in progress, just like everything else in the small business world.

The BoardBooster Shutdown is Not the End of your Blog

The biggest thing to remember is not to give up. BoardBooster was just one of many ways to automate a function and drive traffic. We loved them, but the internet keeps buzzing, all the same. Don’t let your momentary traffic setback derail your side hustle!

RIP Boardbooster. We miss you already.

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