Digital marketing for SME’s, start-ups and freelancers

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Most entrepreneurs from top startups will tell you the hardest thing for them to do in the early days was to delegate tasks for fear that they would lose control of their business. As any growing SME will attest, it’s very important to delegate to those with the right expertise, leaving you with the important task of running your business. Outsourcing to freelancers has already become the accepted way of working and with startups outsourcing everything from web design to accountancy, there’s never been a better time to get your startup off the ground in record time.

The biggest challenge most startups face in the early days is funding, that is a lack of. If you aren’t fortunate enough to receive millions in investment from some uber celebrity backer, chances are money is tight and the last thing on your mind is spending a small fortune you don’t have on employees. Outsourcing work to freelancers is a practical and cost effective way to enjoy all the benefits of a workforce without all the red tape. Unlike employees, freelancers are effectively self employed which means you don’t have to worry about the usual employee benefits like sickness, maternity and holiday pay not to mention all the other bureaucracy that comes with employing staff. By hiring a freelancer on a short term contract for a reasonable fee, you can be confident that there are no real commitments on your part as most freelancers work on a short term basis anyway. Most importantly, unlike staff you only need to pay freelancers once the work agreed is complete, as per the terms of any contract or invoice. With freelance marketplaces like People Per Hour, you can be even more secure in the knowledge that your funds are held in escrow until you are 100% satisfied with the work.

Show me an entrepreneur who has time to do their own accounting, marketing and administration and I’ll show you a workaholic suffering from severe bouts of insomnia. As your startup is getting off the ground, you’ll be tempted to take on all the work yourself in a desperate bid to save money, but for the sake of your sanity consider delegating some tasks to those with the time, skill and expertise to get the job done effectively. Often in the early days, startups are both cash and time poor, but eventually something has to give in order for the business to flourish. Outsourcing the odd task to a freelancer takes the legwork out of the tedious or more technical tasks you don’t have time for, particularly when you have more pressing business concerns to worry about.With many freelancers available on an ad hoc basis, you can get several tasks completed quickly and efficiently, ideal if you’re working to short deadlines.


Often startups can struggle in the early stages when attracting the right talent to work them for them. Potential applicants with extensive experience may be anxious about job security and stability in a new business and with statistics showing many small businesses fail in their first year, these anxieties are certainly not unfounded. Freelancers on the other hand understand the struggles of startups, as being self employed offers similar insecurities. They also share the same entrepreneurial spirit and vision, traits that not all employees can sympathise with. There is no pride for the freelancer who has worked on massive contracts for globally known clients who now wants to work for your startup. Freelancers, like everyone else have bills to pay so it’s unlikely they will turn down the opportunity of paid work because it comes from some unknown startup. You will find the more seasoned freelancer has an extensive portfolio with a body of work that in ordinary circumstances would see you forking out for a director salary. Hiring freelancers with a specific expertise and strong client references, ensures your startup will benefit from the brightest minds who are just as passionate as you are about your business succeeding, as success often guarantees more work.


With most entrepreneurs professing to have launched their businesses from their bedroom, the old barriers to enterprise have been removed and there is little reason not to follow your startup dreams when the overheads can be quite low. If like many startups you’re struggling to finance shared workspace, let alone your own office space, then outsourcing is a no brainer. Most freelancers are happy to work remotely and with Skype or Google Hangouts, there’s no reason why you can’t arrange a quick impromptu chat for more pressing queries. When your startup does begin to experience growth, you may choose to hire a small army of freelancers and outsource all types of tasks from design to social media, and with freelancers often available to work unsociable hours, you can relax in the knowledge that you have a team you can rely on pretty much 24 hours. Growing at scale is vital for the success of your startup, and working with freelancers across the UK or even the globe will help your startup appear bigger than it actually is, allowing you to compete with the big boys in your sector.


A good content marketer knows there’s no such thing as a ‘boring client’, a great marketer sees such clients as an opportunity to get much more creative with their content marketing and think outside of the box when it comes to link earning campaigns. Freelance marketers especially don’t have the luxury of turning down work from ‘boring clients’ in favour of more glamourous ones, often we are just grateful for the work! If you are faced with creating some engaging campaigns for corporate or ‘dry’ brands, don’t despair, there are plenty of fantastic ways to make your brand more appealing to their target audience and get you those all important links at the same time.

Check out the below tried and tested content ideas with real life examples you can apply to your own content strategies.


Blogger outreach is a crucial part of content marketing and when done right can elevate a campaign from mediocre to downright awesome. In order to increase the success rate of your link building, you'll want to invest considerable time and effort into developing a practical outreach strategy with a clear proposal that includes objectives, strategy and link targets. If you're just dipping your toe into blogger outreach, check out these tips from my LinkedIn post to ensure your content campaigns get the links they deserve.


OBJECTIVES: Promotion of SXSW Twitter Tracker and infographic and subsequent lead generation for Musicmetric, a music analytics firm.

Ahead of Musicmetric’s attendance at SXSW, we created a Twitter Tracker which monitored in real time social media chatter surrounding the most popular artists performing during the high profile Texan festival. An integrated digital, PR and social campaign was launched to announce our arrival at the festival as well as encouraging delegates to engage with the tracker and infographic.

Using MailChimp we created an email campaign targeting the SXSW delegates in the weeks leading up to the festival and ensured there was plenty of content about the tracker and infographic with a prominent call to action to visit the Musicmetric stand when they attended SXSW. The newsletter had a significantly high open rate in the final days leading up to the festival with a favourable CTR to the tracker content in particular.

To accompany the email campaign and to target the wider public, we ensured the tracker and infographic was outreached to influential bloggers, publishers and press who were likely to be covering SXSW. On social media, music fans and delegates were targeted and encouraged to share their opinions on the artists featured. With the tracker constantly updating in real time, fans were able to see their favourite artists receive a higher share of the social chatter as they performed at the festival or spoke on a panel for example.

During the festival, the tracker was a major talking points amongst delegates, industry experts and journalists both online and offline and the newsletter continued to grow its open rate as curiosity about Musicmetric’s involvement in the tracker intensified. This lead to an increase in footfall to the Musicmetric stand and ultimately drove interest in the music analytics software on offer.

The popularity and success of the tracker generated an unexpected uplift in lead generation with at least two high profile meetings with major record labels in the States. Musicians who were featured in the tracker engaged actively with it culminating in rapper Snoop Dogg retweeting it to his millions of followers. The tracker and infographic also received favourable press coverage from the likes of Billboard, Music Week and Forbes driving significant amount of traffic to the Musicmetric website. Following the success of the Twitter Tracker campaign, we rolled it out to similar high profile music events such as the NME Awards and Glastonbury.



As a relatively savvy digital marketer I have a fairly decent idea of when a brand is trying too hard to sell me something and I have developed a built in resistance to most forms of email marketing. Somehow one company has carefully managed to penetrate my firewall with consistently witty and engaging subject lines that I find myself struggling to ignore.

Damn you Contently, you have by far the highest email open rate in my inbox and I can do nothing but salute you! As a fellow content marketer I have nothing but praise for your beautifully designed email newsletters, your broad range of topics and your irresistible subject lines.
With a cleverly crafted balance of how to guides, case studies and topical trend led analysis, Contently are pushing all the right buttons without giving me the hard sell.

Subject line topics are as broad as pop culture, topical news and politics so it's little wonder they have managed to appeal to the celebrity fanatic in me when they sent an email with a random yet funny subject line about none other than the dreamy Ryan Gosling.

Still the question remains, have Contently converted me from a mere subscriber into a paying customer yet? Well it's still early days and although they have reached out to me on a personal level, I won’t be that easily swayed. I am however a relatively warm lead, and this is good news for marketing and sales teams as I am much more likely to convert at a later stage in the buying process.

So how can small businesses replicate the success of Contently and create engaging email subject lines that drive higher conversion rates? One doesn’t need to be an expert marketer, simply have an understanding of the type of content your customer engages with most actively. I tend to consume most of my content via websites and blogs and even if I actively subscribe to to a newsletter, they more often than not end up forgotten and ignored languishing in my bulging junk folder.

If your customers exhibits the same behaviour, then the only chance you have to grab their attention is through your subject line so its needs to be hot!

You have to sell your goods or services in one snappy line, much like a journalist has to sell a story through a headline so think of persuasive words and phrases that will resonate with your customers.

“What Taylor Swift teaches us about brand building” is a much sexier subject line than “The ultimate guide to brand building”. Why? Because you’ve hooked your reader with a topical and relevant public figure and whether you love or loathe her, your curiosity is more likely to get the better of you.

Trial different subject lines to see which ones drive higher conversions amongst your peers and actively seek out their feedback. What did they like? What didn’t they like? More importantly did the subject line encourage them to open the newsletter?

Take your cue from journalism and treat your subject lines like headlines; put yourself in the shoes of a newspaper reader who often doesn’t always make it past the headline. Do you use enough persuasive words and phrases? Perhaps you aren’t always using enough call to actions convincing people to make a decision? If they do eventually open the newsletter is there enough strong content to drive a healthy click through rate?

All these and more must be taken into account when creating your e-newsletter in order to craft enticing subject lines your customers won’t be able to ignore. For some useful tips on email subject lines and some great real life examples check out the links below:


Popular photo sharing platform Instagram have scored a major coup hiring popular fashion editor Eva Chen as their new Head of Fashion Partnerships.The self confessed Instagram addict will leave her high profile editorial role at Lucky Magazine to join the social media platform in late July to further forge its relationships with the creme of the fashion industry.

For the uninitiated, Instagram is by far the social network of choice for the rich and famous to flaunt their enviously fabulous lifestyles and shamelessly plug their favourite fashion brands, all through a sepia tinted filter of course. So who better to head up Instagram’s Head of Fashion Partnerships than a uber glamourous and well connected fashion editor with nearly 400,000 Instagram followers herself?

Eva Chen has already gone so far as to describe herself as the “unofficial ambassador of Instagram”, providing practical tutorials to her equally fabulous designer and model friends over dinner, so she’s certainly well suited for a career shift into social.


The move is a serious power play from Instagram and indicates just how serious they are about building lucrative fashion partnerships with brands of all sizes who often rely on the social network to promote their products. With Eva Chen at the helm, fashion brands will have an ally on the inside who will remain editorially objective whilst being commercially mindful of what brands must do to engage effectively with customers on the social platform.

With Instagram already the go to social media platform of choice for the fashion elite, Chen will be able to use her power and influence to actively reach out to models, stylists, designers and influencers who are constantly looking for more creative ways to communicate an aspirational lifestyle online.

As Instagram also prepare to open its platform to all advertisers later this year, the fashion industry will benefit from more targeted opportunities to reach customers and create relevant visual content that transcends traditional forms of advertising.

Several fashion brands have already taken advantage of Instagram’s easy interface with designer labels such as Balmain, Moschino and Ellie Saab showcasing their latest collections in a series of glossy shots. The luxury fashion marketing sector in particular, has long benefited from the unstoppable success of Instagram, and with Chen tasked with curating content that not only engages but sells, fashion powerhouses can rest easy in the knowledge that their best interests are being seen to.