My name is Hilary Young and I run a Content and Brand Marketing business. I also coach female entrepreneurs and business owners. Ask Me Anything!

Hilary Young
May 11, 2018

Content is a vital component to any business these days; it serves as a lead generation tool, it defines the user experience on your website, and it helps boost your organic SEO efforts. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from investing in content, as long as you have a cohesive strategy behind it.

In addition to being a content expert, I am also a female small business owner and a mom. So anyone who wants to talk about the myth of having it all or the struggle for work/life balance--you've come to the right place!

Web: www.hilaryyoungcreative.com/

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Have you outsourced any portion of your business? Has that worked for your business?
May 18, 12:10AM EDT0

I have dabbled in hiring junior copywriters to help me with big projects, but have found that it ends up being more work for me in the longrun. Between editing their work, staying on top of their deadlines and trying to mentor them in order to help them become stronger writers, it proved to be a waste of time and money for me. So, in short, no, outsourcing business has not worked for me in the past. 

May 18, 9:46AM EDT0
Are there specific advantages, disadvantages to being a women business owner?
May 17, 2:26PM EDT0

Let's talk about the disadvantages first...Misogyny is pervasive in the business world, whether you run your own business or not. I have run into both men AND women who come in with preconceived ideas about working with a woman. I've been talked down to in meetings with clients. I've been the only women in the room for presentations and brainstorms. I've also had a female client bring in a man for a "second opinion" because I knew she didn't like what I was telling her (shocking: he agreed with everything I had to say!). This is a challenge for women in general, but especially as a business owner because when a client is paying you, you have to find constructive ways to deal with it.

On the flip side, being a business owner means that I have the freedom and flexibility to choose my clients wisely. I have parted ways with the three clients I described above, because, for me, the juice just wasn't worth the squeeze. There are also major advantages to being a woman business owner who is also a mom, because I can manage my own schedule and give myself more flexibility when I need it. It's allowed me to spend countless hours with my daughter that I otherwise would have spent commuting, stuck at meetings, or at a happy hour to try to advance my career. 

May 17, 8:49PM EDT0
How did you move from idea to actual business?
May 17, 10:03AM EDT0

The original iteration of my business was solely focused on serving non-profits. I was trying to make a career change from TV to Marketing and had been working part-time in the marketing department for two different non-profits.  I saw firsthand how much creative help they needed, how lacking their resources were and how expensive traditional agencies were given their meager budgets (even with a discount). I had never run a business before and was not super confident in myself when it came to the business/management side of it. So I signed up to go through a course at Wharton's Small Business Development Center, which is a non-profit organization that is part of an initiative the Small Business Administration runs to help entrepreneurs and small business owners. It was through that program that I finally gained the confidence to pull the trigger and go for it. I hired a friend to design a logo and brand elements for me, as well as build me a website. I printed up business cards and that's really when the whole thing started to feel legit.

I ended up reworking my entire brand strategy about 3 years later because it had proven too difficult to solely cater to non-profits and my original business had collapsed. But that failure turned into one of my greatest successes! And when I was ready to relaunch my company, all of my branding was already in place, so all I had to do was rework the content on my website, print out new business cards and start spreading the word. 

May 17, 2:23PM EDT0
For women entrepreneurs, what specific advice would you have for young women who would like to become an entrepreneur?
May 17, 6:55AM EDT0

I have spoken to a variety of women who have launched businesses and some were very prepared and others were not, choosing to figure things out as they went along. So my advice is to go for it, but to honor the type of person you are.

I was someone who needed to do a lot of prep work before going out on my own. I took a course through my local Small Business Development Center (Wharton's SBDC here in Philly was fabulous!) and I would suggest looking into a similar program in your area. Not only did it help me put a business plan together, it gave me the confidence I needed to keep moving forward. I was able to troubleshoot issues that arose with consultants within the SBDC, as well as Wharton business students, and they really encouraged me to keep going. 

Even if you choose to wing it, I think having some sort of mentor, networking group, or support system to bounce ideas off of and help keep you moving forward is an integral component to launching your own business. There are always going to be obstacles in the road--whether you are a planner or not--and having people around you who can help you work through it is so important to your success.

Last edited @ May 17, 2:01PM EDT.
May 17, 2:00PM EDT0
What are you KNOWN for? If someone was to ask your current team members about you, what common themes or word would they use to describe you?
May 14, 6:53AM EDT0

I would probably say that I'm known for my authenticity when it comes to client interactions and my creativity when it comes to the actual work that I do for them. 

May 15, 12:49PM EDT0
Can you describe a time when you had to teach someone and how you creatively helped them understand a new concept?
May 14, 6:04AM EDT0

I help teach people new concepts all the time. Especially when it comes to the basics of SEO. I have a power point presentation that I like to use, but I encourage Q&A to make the experience more conversational rather than a lecture. I'm a pretty interactive learner, so being able to provide that to others is really wonderful and rewarding.

May 14, 9:23PM EDT0
How do you know when a branding strategy isn’t working?
May 14, 1:34AM EDT0

If a branding strategy isn't working, then you've totally misinterpreted your audience. Building out a demographic profile about your target audience is an essential part of building a sustainable brand, but not everyone does that. Many people build brands based on assumptions rather than data points, which is also not ideal. You can start by building on assumptions, but as you collect more data from your audience, you need to tweak your branding and brand messaging accordingly. Essentially, a branding strategy should either be a success out of the gate or an evolution based on trial and error. A flat out failure means you've hired the wrong people to help you!

May 14, 9:18PM EDT0
Do you prefer operating with a proven process or figuring out a process as you go?
May 14, 1:24AM EDT0

I would say it's a little but of both. I have a proven process that works until it doesn't and then it's up to me to improvise in order to troubleshoot issues that arise. Since I work in a creative field, approaching everything with a formula isn't really ideal and can stifle the creative process.

May 14, 12:51PM EDT0
What are the biggest challenges you foresee in your line of business?
May 13, 7:55PM EDT0

So far the biggest challenge I've faced is convincing business owners that content is a worthy investment. Many of them simply still do not see the value in it, or try to do it themselves. And some of them try to micromanage the process. I don't foresee this problem going away any time soon!

May 14, 12:50PM EDT0
When coming up with a content strategy, where do you go for inspiration?
May 12, 11:19AM EDT0

Hmm, I'm not sure I've ever really thought about that before. I really tailor all of my content strategies for clients to their specific brand goals and needs, so it's different and unique every time. In general, though, I read a lot (for pleasure) and stay up-to-date on what's trending in the content/marketing world via social media. The more you keep learning, the more inspired you'll be!

May 12, 11:58AM EDT0
If you had to explain Marketing in one line what would it be?
May 12, 9:35AM EDT0

Wow, that is a tough one!! I guess for me, it would be this: "Marketing is your ability to listen and then communicate effectively with your target audience in order to create a connection."

May 12, 11:20AM EDT0

How does branding fit into a local or start-up business?  Isn't branding something big businesses do because it's verty difficult to measure?  Hw does branding succeed if people dn;t know your brand becsuse you're new?  NAd how is it measured in ROI / ROE? 

Also how do you manage the problem of 'results based' working.  being on the clock is a dying business model - what's the answer going forward into 2019 and beyond? 

(can you tell I want to work with a branding agency lol)

May 12, 6:04AM EDT1

Hi Ed! Thanks for the great question! Branding is something that ALL businesses, big or small, should be doing and can be doing. Branding is the all-encompassing term for what defines your business and what differentiates you from the competition. Branding can be visual (think logo and website design), it can be written (developing a consistent brand voice, or "brand personality," for all of your written communications, including onsite content and email content), and it can even come into play as you think about the hiring process and work culture for your business.

As for measuring branding efforts, the metrics can vary based on your goals. So, for instance, if you're a new business or a business that isn't really on someone's radar yet, brand awareness would be a great metric to track. You can do this through various content marketing efforts and social media campaigns. Your branding would tie in directly to any ads you would run on social media--the main piece of advice I can give you is to have consistent messaging across the board. People will start to take notice!

And I'm not sure I totally understand your question about results-based working. Can you elaborate on that?

May 12, 11:13AM EDT0
What are some issues that women entrepreneurs specifically have to deal with?
May 12, 3:14AM EDT0

Women entrepreneurs have much less support than male counterparts. Whether it's networking, financing opportunities, mentorships, etc., there are less resources available for women than men. Because of this, women entrepreneurs suffer from a crisis of confidence and they have to battle a lot of self-doubt to overcome all these obstacles.

May 12, 10:04AM EDT0

This is the story of my life!  I am a mom and small business owner struggling to make it all work.  I really need to boost the SEO of my medical practice so that patients can find me, without spending a fortune.  Please help!

May 11, 7:57PM EDT0

Resham, you sound like my ideal client!! Contact me and let's talk about how I might be able to help you: www.hilaryyoungcreative.com/contact-us

May 11, 10:13PM EDT0
What do you think is the biggest metric(s) in terms of content marketing?
May 11, 7:26PM EDT0

I think it really depends. When it comes to content marketing your important metrics will depend on your goals. Is your goal brand awareness? If so, you might find the number of impressions and CTR to be important. Is your goal lead generation? Then you'd benefit from tracking those leads (usually through email capture). 

May 11, 10:12PM EDT0
What do you think has changed in Content Marketing since you first started? How widely has it evolved?
May 11, 5:12PM EDT0

Content Marketing was a little bit of an outlier when I first got into the industry, with marketing teams being hesitant to bring someone on to solely focus on content marketing efforts. Now, especially with the algorithm changes that Google has made regarding organic SEO, content is held in the highest regard and marketing teams are aware of this. It's been great for me!

May 11, 9:55PM EDT0

Hi Hilary, I am one of the co-founders at a social enterprise, Mother Erth which restores the earth and empowers moms through making cute handbags and accessories. I was wondering if you could look at our website and give me a few things that stood out to you (as either missing or not on point) that you feel would help with our branding and having people sold on our products.

May 11, 5:04PM EDT0

Hi! First of all, I love your mission and your product! Second, I don't think this is a great forum for me to assess these things for you, but if you want to contact me through my website I would be happy to talk to you about a free consultation, which I provide to all new or potential clients! www.hilaryyoungcreative.com/contact-us 

May 11, 7:24PM EDT0
What are your tips for a content writer trying to produce a lot of branding/marketing content at high volume on a tight schedule?
May 11, 4:42PM EDT0

Well, first I would ask you to examine what your goals are in producing such a high volume of content in such a short period of time. It's been proven that when it comes to content, quality is much more effective than quantity. So my advice to you would be to make sure that you are not sacrificing quality in order to produce so much content. Try not to burn out, which is easy to do when you're under the gun, and enlist people to help you whenever possible. Whether that means hiring a freelancer, finding guest bloggers who can take some of the writing off your plate or even finding people within your organization who can contribute--doing what you can to stay motivated and not burn out will help you so much!

May 11, 7:35PM EDT0
How important do you think Content Marketing is, in the entire marketing landscape?
May 11, 4:30PM EDT0

Well, I think content and content marketing are actually two separate things. Content is one of the most important things that a brand or a business could invest in. The way in which you communicate to your audience will make or break a relationship in terms of a buying decision. Finding the right words to speak with your audience can provide them with a sense of trust and clarity, not only about your brand but about why they should be loyal to your brand. Content marketing is a component of that. It's a way to get your message out to your audience and try to convince them to take some form of action depending on what your goals are.

May 11, 7:20PM EDT0
What do you think will be the future of the Content marketing agency? In structure, in client perception, in service offering, & role in the overall brand marketing mix?
May 11, 3:50PM EDT0

I think the future of content marketing is going to be more integrated into UX design and SEO, so agencies are going to have to broaden their scopes to include all of these services as a package rather than having them stand alone as silos. This is where the industry is going and it's also what clients need the most, so in order to succeed, an agency will have to cover all these bases for them.

May 11, 7:13PM EDT0