In a recent article I answered this question: What is content? The post lays a foundation for effective content marketing:
- Every brand is a publisher.
- Content is simply teaching what you know.
- You only have to be one lesson ahead, which means that everybody has something (and someone) to teach.
- Your goal is to out-teach and out-help your competition—or, in a word, to care more.
Consistently producing and promoting unique content will build your audience—especially if you capture email addresses—and that audience, in turn, will produce leads for your business.
Case Study #1 – $100,000+ in Revenues
Let me share a story to illustrate content marketing in action.
Back in 2013 I published a blog post about project management.
(You can find the original post on my old Bright Newt blog here.)
After I published the post, I tweeted the link and posted it on my Facebook page. A Facebook friend later saw the post and either messaged or emailed me. When we met, she told me that she needed the type of project management that I had described in the post.
She had upcoming deadlines, and she was strapped for time. Could she hire me to help her manage several projects?
One tenet of strong writing is to show, not tell. In the same sense, telling people, “I can manage your projects effectively” is less powerful, less persuasive, than pulling back the veil on my project management process: “Here is exactly how I do what I do.”
Amy hired me to manage several marketing projects, and to date, she has sent me over $100,000 directly or through referrals.
Fulfilling her projects also required several skillsets that I don’t have, and I was in a position to refer a significant amount of work to my designer, developer, and videographer friends.
Case Study #2 – $10,000+ in Revenues
Fast forward three years.
In April 2016, I published an update of the original post on my new blog: 7 Ingredients for Profitable, Effective Project Management.
I again did the most basic promotion imaginable: I tweeted the link to the post and shared it on my Facebook page. And again, a Facebook friend saw the post and got in touch with me. To date, he has referred $10,375 in new business.
Now you have a sense of why content marketing is valuable.
It can do these three jobs:
- Strengthen your positioning as an expert and thought leader
- Generate leads and new business
- Get organic traffic from search engine searches
Content marketing offers these corollary benefits as well:
- Top-of-mind awareness with past clients and prospects (“We’re still here.)
- Reinforce the relevance of your company and brand (“We can help you”)
- Create new revenue streams in the form of infoproducts (“If you liked this blog posts, then you’ll really love this paid guide that goes into greater depth.”)
What do you need to get started?
The first thing you must do is set a publishing schedule.
If you want to get your blog and web presence in shape, you’ve got to go to the content gym on a regular basis. You cannot expect to burn fat and add muscle mass by spending sixty minutes in the gym every ninety days, and neither can you expect for your content marketing to “work” if you only publish a new blog post once per quarter.
Spend any time online, and you’ll eventually hear someone say that content is king. Content isn’t king. Content is prince, and consistency is king. Consistency trumps everything in marketing.
Most of my clients saw the importance of content marketing long before they hired me. They have the ability to create content. They can sit down and write. They may have even gotten a few new clients from the odd blog post in the past. But after repeated failures to stay consistent with content creation, publishing, and promotion, they gave up.
Here are some common reasons people give:
- I don’t have time to write.
- I don’t enjoy writing.
- I have the time but prefer to do other things with it.
- I don’t know what to write about.
- I want to delegate content marketing to an expert.
Most of us know what to do. We just don’t do it. If you want to lose weight, you can go for a walk. You can job several laps around your neighborhood. You can eat less bread and more salad.
Knowledge isn’t the problem. Action is the problem.
Draft three blog posts—not one, not seven, but three. Here are three blogging prompts to get you started:
- Write out your company story with dates and details.
- What five questions related to your business do people ask you most often?
- What are the four most common mistakes that people make when they try to do what you do for your customers?
Now, if the words really start flowing, then you can write four more:
- What are your biggest frustrations with your industry?
- What are the biggest frustrations that customers or end users have with companies in your industry?
- What are the hidden benefits of working with you?
- What is your business philosophy? What three to five things are non-negotiable for you? (For example: I’d rather lose a client than lie to a client.)
Each of these high-quality flagship blog posts can be worth $10,000s for your business.
Keep in mind that high-paying clients read results-focused topics, such as case studies and strategy breakdowns. To attract higher-paying clients, you must write about topics that appeal to that audience.
They typically will know cheap tactics for what they are, so you’d do well to focus on case studies and industry-specific business advice that creates long-term wins.
What if you’re too busy to write?
The challenge is staying consistent with your content marketing without creating a huge time suck for yourself.
The good news is that you can hack the “drafting” phase of the blogging process for very little money out of pocket:
- Open a new Voice Memo on your phone.
- Tap record.
- Riff on one of the topics or ideas above.
- Title and save the voice memo.
- Save the file to Dropbox (if you’ve got Dropbox) or email it to yourself.
- Hop over to the iOS Dropbox app and copy the Dropbox link.
- Email the Dropbox link or the audio file itself to your transcriptionist with a simple message: “Here’s a new one….” Your transcriptionist will know what to do next.
Note: If you don’t already have a transcriptionist, hire one on Upwork. It’s easy. In fact, you can watch this step-by-step video that shows how I find great talent.
That’s all for now, and you’ve got homework.
Content marketing is using your unique content to generate leads for your business. It’s not hard, but it does require consistent effort.
If you don’t like writing or if you don’t have enough time to sit down and write—which is probably a big, fat excuse—then use the process outlined above to hack the writing phase.
I can attribute over $100,000 in revenue to a single blog post, and I’d love for you to produce a similar case study.
Do you want to build a profitable business you love?
Duh. Pony up that email address, and you can learn from my failures. You can laugh at my mistakes. You can envy my success at croquet, slow running, and modest bank accounts. Let’s make good money and leave the world better than we found it.
No-nonsense business advice for content writers and freelancers. Served warm with a side of dad jokes.
Also published on Medium.