Growth Hacking Interview Series #95: Fabrizio Van Marciano
Fabrizio Van Marciano is a passionate website designer, graphic designer and professional blogger.
He blogs at Magnet4Blogging.net where he loves to share tips, strategies, ideas and advice on blogging, web design, conversion optimisation and marketing.
How did you start out as a marketer?
I started doing ‘online marketing' when I decided to take my business online in 2006. Back then the online world was a completely different realm, I can tell you.
I knew plenty enough about marketing and promoting stuff offline, but marketing on the internet was a totally new ball game for me. The first thing I did was the obvious, create a website and then started to learn about SEO, on-page and off-page stuff.
Then I learned a little bit about social media which was still fairly fresh coming out of the woodwork back then, Facebook was only a few years old.
So to answer the question, I guess I started out as a marketer when I decided to get my art business online, which was doing very well offline in any case.
Looking back, what is your hardest struggle when it came to delivering results?
The learning curve was definitely the hardest struggle. From a complete newbie to the online world, there was just so much to learn and grasp.
I was also so busy running my business, that I found it a struggle to find the time to invest in learning new things.
Running an eCommerce business takes a lot time and energy, it's not just sitting down in front of a computer and watching sales come through.
In addition to that, my time management and organisation was all over the place, and that’s me being honest.
How did you get your first client back then, and what kind of service did you do for them?
Here’s the story that lead me to my first ever web design client.
Back in 2006 I wasn’t really blogging or doing web design as a business. I was totally in ecommerce and creating and selling arts and crafts online, through a website that I’d built.
Marketing actually lead me to start blogging for my business in 2009.
In 2010 I launched my first real blog (Magnet4Marketing), and at the same time I was also learning to code, and discovering WordPress in a whole new way.
Combining my passion for art, I also began showing an interest graphic design, and I started working with a variety of tools, Photoshop and Adobe Illustrate which it was at the time.
I started to combine my graphic design work with website design, and began offering this as a service on my blog properly in 2013.
So my first real web design client came about at the start of 2013, and the rest as they say was pretty much history.
What do you find most rewarding about what you do?
Wow, that’s a great question. For the most part it’s being able to design my lifestyle around my work.
Being my own boss, working my own hours, structuring family life and things that I enjoy doing, around my work is the biggest reward that I get.
I wake up in the mornings, take my kids to school and begin working on my client’s projects, or writing my next blog post, and it really doesn’t feel like work at all, because I love what I do so much.
We have a lot of readers who are bent on becoming freelancers, aside from freelancing how else can someone earn online, and what is your advice?
OK, so I would consider myself to be a freelance web designer and graphic designer right now.
But I think it’s important to have multiple income streams online, and that’s one of the many reasons why I got into blogging in the first place.
So my advice to anyone totally bent on just doing freelancing, you’ve got to have a backup plan for those days when you’re not going to have much freelancing work to do.
I think it’s important to try and create some form of passive income online, especially if you have a website or blog.
I review a lot of the products, apps, tools and technologies that I use in my business today, and so this helps me to create passive income through my blog, videos and other forms of content marketing.
This means when I’m having a quiet spell, with not so many clients, my business is still making me money in other ways.
I also believe that marketers should attempt to create their own products.
I know this is much harder to do than promoting third party products and services. And yes, it takes time to figure out what kind of product you want to create that would best serve your audience.
But it’s definitely something folks in marketing, freelancers and bloggers should consider doing to earn money online.
If you were given the chance to build your career all over again, what would you do differently so that you will achieve your dreams faster?
I’ve thought about this many times over, and I think if I had the chance to start over, I would put a lot more time and effort into working on my business so that I could reach my goals faster.
When I started, I didn’t have a small family as I do now. But I didn’t make the most of the free time that I had to focus 100% on building up my business either.
I was so consumed with having a lifestyle, going out on the weekends, surfing and having a great time, when I should have been focusing more on using my time more effectively.
I was always passionate and driven, but I feel I definitely lacked time management and organisation skills.
How is your typical work day structured?
OK, so I have my own office at home, and that’s where most of the magic happens and where most of my time is spent five days a week.
After dropping off my kids to school, which is literally across the road less than 50 yards away from our home, I begin creating my to-do list over some coffee.
So I divide my day into 4 parts. The first part usually consists of checking and responding to emails, doing Skype calls, updating social platforms etc.
The second part is spent working on my blog, writing posts, or working with other freelancers that I’ve hired to do a particular job.
The third part is working on my client projects, website rebuilds and graphic design work.
The fourth part of my working day, which is usually assigned to the evenings, I will focus on doing marketing and promotional work for my website, doing videos, podcasts and other fun stuff.
I would say at the most I spend 12 hours a day working on my business, and when you’re working from home and not commuting, this is totally possible.
You’ve been tasked with redesigning the company’s brand strategy from the ground up. Walk us through your process.
OK, this is something I get asked a lot as a web designer. What’s my process?
For me, the most critical elements of redesigning a brand strategy, is to have a 100% clear-cut understanding of a company’s vision.
So if this was your company for instance, I would need to know and really understand your company’s marketing message. I would also need to know about your company's core value proposition.
It’s OK coming up with a snazzy cool brand image or identity that stands out like a lit-up Christmas tree in the middle of July, but if it doesn’t communicate with your audience, your company’s message, visions, goals, objectives then it isn’t worth anything.
I think I see it that way because of my background and experience as a marketer, and not just as a website designer.
Understanding the “values and core message”, a company wants to send out to it’s customers, will assist me better in redesigning a brand strategy that will communicate this over to it's prospects more effectively.
I hope that made some sense.
Can you tell us about a past situation where you had to juggle multiple projects with competing deadlines?
Yes sure, how about right now!
I’m dealing with deadlines every single week. Sometimes juggling 3 or 4 projects competing with deadlines can be an overwhelming challenge.
There’s not a single situation that I can recall that was a greater challenge than any other, because it's happening right now and on a weekly, monthly basis.
Personally, I love those kinds of challenges, and the ultimate solution is simply great communication.
Communicating with clients and keeping them in the loop takes a lot of weight off the shoulders for sure, and more often than not, we can come up with a solution that will go beyond meeting client’s expectations.
What recently-developed marketing strategy, technique or tool interests you the most right now?
I’m always learning about new marketing strategies, and trying to make them fit into my business plans somehow.
But here’s the thing, the problem I see a lot of entrepreneurs, bloggers, freelancers doing is that they try and make every single, latest or recently developed strategy work for them, and that’s absolutely ludicrous in my opinion.
Right now, video and live-video streaming is picking up a lot of momentum. YouTube, Periscope, Google Hangouts On Air, and eventually Facebook Live Stream, are just a few of the tools that really interest me the most right now.
I have Periscope all set up, it’s just a case of finding some great content or topic to discuss using those tools.
There’s no doubt about it, that at some point mobile is going to dominate over desktop, which is why tools like Periscope, Meerkat, Facebook Live or Zapstream I think will really open doors to greater opportunities in 2016 and beyond.
What do you do to stay up to date with new marketing techniques?
There’s a few great websites and blogs that I’m subscribed to, so that I can stay up to date with latest online marketing trends. Entrepreneur.com and Forbes are a few of those.
Which one book/blog post would you recommend every Marketer should read?
The One Thing by Garry Keller, I can’t begin to describe to you how much of an impact this book has had on the way I do business online, and indeed how I go about my personal life as well, in terms of goals, ambitions, time management, productivity etc.
What advice would you share with other Marketer's who want to become more productive?
Stop multitasking altogether and focus on ‘one thing at one time'. Make every effort to complete that one thing and move onto the next thing immediately. Something I picked up from reading the book I recommended above.
We’re all caught up in trying to do everything all at once, that’s when productivity suffers.
If there's one Marketing Guru you'd recommend who and why.
Marketing Guru? Hmmmm not too sure about that one, but there’s one professional marketer I would really recommend and that’s Don Purdum from UnveilTheWeb.com.
Don’s a great friend and a great giver on crystal clear advice to bloggers, entrepreneurs, freelancers and small businesses who are interested in increasing their bottom line, through ultimately learning how to identify what business they're really in, and through powerful messaging.