Despite my expertise and experience in professional services and copywriting, I have often felt overwhelmed by the task of building a strong online presence.

So, if you’re feeling hesitant about content marketing, I get it.

However, social media platforms and the internet have developed massively over the last 20 years. And therefore, so have the opportunities available for professionals. In fact, the notion that professional service providers can succeed without a robust online presence is outdated and potentially detrimental to your growth.

At the very least, people you meet face-to-face are likely to check out your website, look you up on LinkedIn or type your name into a search engine.

And when they do this, they’re mostly looking for three key things:

a. Credibility: You are who you say you are…

b. Authority: You are as good as you say you are…

c. Social proof: … And everyone else thinks so, too.

So, what can you do to build a strong online presence as a professional service provider?

1. Define your target audience and identify their online channels and platforms

I’ll be frank: not defining your target audience and where they hang out online can lead to wasted marketing efforts.

By knowing who your audience is and where they are, you can speak to them directly. If you’re a health practitioner, how you speak about nutrition to an 18-year-old farm worker with acne differs from how you speak to a corporate woman on the verge of burnout. Not only that, but these two types of people hang out in totally different places online.

Fortunately, an array of tools can show you how and where your potential clients are spending their time online.

So, create or revisit your client avatars to ensure they reflect who you want to target. In addition to key demographics like age and location, consider their psychographics such as:

    • What keeps them up at night?
    • What are their goals and dreams?
    • What obstacles are getting in their way?

2. Develop a content strategy that aligns with your target audience’s needs and interests

While there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to content creation, the following key steps can help you create content that reaches your target audience where ever they are online.

    • Determine what you want your content to achieve and tailor it to deliver on those requirements.
    • Identify key topics your target audience cares about.
    • Create high-quality content that is interesting, engaging and informative.
    • Establish a (manageable) consistent process so your audience knows when they’ll hear from you.
    • Actively promote your content rather than letting all your hard work languish because no one knows about it.

Content creation is a delicate balance between doing what is manageable for your business and what is timely, relevant and interesting for your audience.

3. Optimise your website and social media profiles for search engines and user experience

Yes, both these areas require attention to build a great online presence. Optimisation of your website and your social media profiles go hand in hand.

Key things to check on your website each time you put up new content include:

    • Using relevant keywords that your audience is likely to use when searching online.
    • Creating professional-standard content, including no grammar glitches (yes, as a professional services provider, it does matter). Grammarly has a free grammar and punctation checker which is very useful.
    • Completing all the metadata such as the meta-descriptions and meta-tags around the images and pages of your content.
    • Making it mobile friendly—notice how you’re checking webpages on your phone more and more these days?
    • Ensuring pages have fast-loading speeds. This helps both your audience and how you rank on search engines.
    • Simplifying the design and layout so your audience and search engines quickly see what you do and can easily move around your site.

Key things to consider for your social media profiles include:

    • Completing your profiles correctly and completely, especially your contact details, and including links to your website, so potential customers can get in touch and find out more about you.
    • Optimising your use of hashtags and keywords, not only in your posts but also in your static profile information so that the right people can find you.
    • Responding promptly to engagement with your content so that you build relationships, leads and sales.
    • Branding your profile cohesively with your website and elsewhere.

4. Build relationships and engage with your audience online and offline

If you’re only now looking to create or build your online presence, you likely already have a proven offline process you’ve been using for building your business.

Going forward, the two are no longer separate activities. They’re a two-way street for each other. For instance:

    • If you’re a speaker at an event, talk about it on social media.
    • If you’re running workshops or conferences, your online presence is now an ideal place to further talk about these, in addition to the newsletters, in-practice updates or any traditional media you use.
    • If you have an online presence, share it at face-to-face meetings, whether through business cards, QR codes or on marketing collateral such as t-shirts and water bottles.

Most importantly, acknowledge and get to know the people who engage with your content online.

If they follow you and comment on your content, respond and reply to their questions. Get to know them. Not only might they become a client, they’ll provide useful insights about what is important to your audience, and can be a great source of ideas, inspiration and insights for the future.

And as you hopefully know by now, online interactions lead to real-life business relationships.

Your online and offline presence can complement and enhance the other, creating a halo effect when your message and branding is cohesive across both.

5. Monitor and analyse your online performance to make improvements

I know how tempting it is to ‘set and forget’ when it comes to content creation.

After all, content marketing is not the core purpose of your business. It’s not what you spent all those years and dollars training for. It’s easier to set aside two hours on a Friday afternoon to bash something out or to leave it all to the marketing department.

However, rather than ‘set and forget’, consider how you’re better off if you ‘track and iterate’.

This is where it’s especially useful to use data to measure your results and make tangible improvements.

The following steps and tools can all provide useful information you can act upon to become more efficient or get greater reach and engagement:

    • Define key performance indicators that are important to your business.
    • Use the web analytic tools you have access to. At a minimum, I recommend setting up Google Analytics so it tracks the audience activity that defines what success is for you. Having set up and optimised for SEO, now track that it is working as it should.
    • Get insights from your social media platform’s analytical dashboards.
    • Seek client feedback using things like surveys, forms and reviews.
    • Experiment with your online campaigns. Test variations of headlines, timing, designs, copy and call-to-action buttons and see what changes deliver the best outcomes.
    • Look at what your competitors are doing—especially what they are doing well. Then do better or do different!
    • Track your results over time. A static, single data point means little without context, so monitor trends to see whether your outcomes are heading in the right direction.

You will now be able to iterate your content marketing approach by making data-driven improvements instead of relying on the spaghetti-against-the-wall method which is hit and miss and, frankly, a bit messy.

Where do you start with your online marketing?

These five pretty hefty steps comprise multiple components and choices.

Whether you’re just getting started, or are just looking for the next leap forward, work through the steps one by one. Ensure you know who your target audience is first, otherwise you really will waste needless effort, because only once you know who you are talking to, can you develop your content strategy.

This content strategy is one that is manageable and reaches the right people.

To make it even better, optimise your website and your social media profiles. If you haven’t already started to build leads, connections and conversations, now is the time to engage with your audience to form relationships and grow awareness.

And finally, using data to drive improvements is great when you’ve got consistent momentum and you’re ready to step it up a level.

If you’re interested in understanding what an excellent content strategy looks like for your professional services business, get in touch for a no-obligation 30-minute discussion to discuss what’s next for you in growing a strong online presence.

In the meantime, you can learn more about different content marketing strategies and other online promotional tips by signing up to receive my fortnightly newsletter—it’s filled with lessons I learned the hard way, so you don’t have to!

About Me

About Me


I’m Rananda, a Sydney-based writer and editor

With 25-plus years in corporate life, a financial background, a science education, and a lifetime of writing, I know there is more to starting and growing a loyal following than just the words on your website or saving that draft manuscript in a folder.

I bring comprehensive practical experience to supporting your writing needs.