I don’t know about you but I spend a LOT of time and energy on the content marketing strategy for GetUplift. The amount of work that goes into research, writing and publishing a piece of content that converts is huge and there’s nothing more frustrating than doing all that work and getting nothing, crickets.
There’s an art to writing content that converts, unfortunately it’s not just about pushing out great content that you think will work, it’s about knowing what to write and how to promote it.
Fortunately, we know just the guy who can teach us to do exactly that – Sujan Patel.
I met Sujan for the first time last year at a conference I was speaking at and we immediately clicked (obviously – he’s a fellow skydiver). Sujan is hands-down one the most talented marketers I know.
Sujan is also the one who drove 8.5 MILLION pageviews to a website in 2016. That’s right, 8.5 million pageviews and in the webinar below he teaches us the EXACT 8 step process for doing it ourselves.
In this webinar Sujan covers everything from ideation to the team, tools and promotion processes used to generate traffic and backlinks.
Content Marketing that Converts
Sujan: Today I’m going to talk to you about content marketing, and specifically, my eight-step content marketing and content creation process. It’s the most important part of content marketing, because if you get this right, everything else works well. If you get this wrong, nothing you can do can actually work. And so, I’ll walk you through the process I use. We use this for our agency, or internal, as well as for all of our clients.
Talia introduced me already, but I run a marketing agency called Web Profits. We focus very much on growth, multiple channels, as well optimizing different parts of the funnel. I also have a handful of SaaS businesses under the company Ramp Ventures. So you might have heard of things like Mailshake, Narrow.io, Quuu and a few others that we’ve built and acquired, again, just growing them, all around marketing and sales. So, essentially these tools came about because we needed them for ourselves. And so some of them we built, some of them we bought, but either way we are sharing them and growing them.
So, before I jump into, the long-winded approach to content marketing, there’s really, really one simple rule to follow, and It’s:
Stop creating mediocre content and start creating epic content. Something that’s truly unique, something that’s not been done before.
Now, what I mean by this is it doesn’t necessarily need to be 100% unique, but it needs to be better than what’s out there. And that’s what I mean by epic content, and I’ll explain this. The reason being is that there’s just so much content right now. There’s content fatigue, and there’s probably an article on almost every single topic you can think of. So that means you have to be better than that.
[easy-tweet tweet=”Stop creating mediocre content and start creating epic content. ” user=”@sujanpatel” template=”qlite”]
And that’s what I’m gonna walk you through today. And as an example, you know, I practice what I preach. This is all…everything here I’m showing you is actually the process we use, and we’ve gotten some serious results from it.
Last year we got:
- Around 8.5 million page views.
- A little more than 2,600 backlinks
- Our agency got around a little under 400 leads.
- Our SaaS businesses got a little under 8,000 trials. We drove 8,000 trials using predominantly, content.
- And a book deal, a potential book deal.
So here’s the thing though, that’s not the case for most people. Most blogs are ghost towns, and there’s really a couple reasons for that. The first and foremost reason is, your content is just crap. What I mean by this is, you didn’t put enough time into it. It’s not meaty enough, or maybe too focused on you. And the number two reason is: It’s boring. Nobody cares. It’s about you.
First of all, don’t write content about you.
Like if you’re starting a blog or you’re starting to build up content marketing, or your marketing efforts, don’t focus about you. Focus about the value for your audience.
[easy-tweet tweet=”#Content: If you make it about them, they will want to know more about you.” user=”sujanpatel” template=”qlite”]
So, in the previous couple slides I talked about myself and the results I’ve gotten. But the reason I share those results is to show you that what I’m about to share is impactful. So it’s all about, essentially, the audience, and your visitors, and so make sure whatever content you write is better than something that’s out there before. If it’s gonna be on the same topic or the same idea, make sure you have a unique approach, or take, a unique voice. So you can produce the exact same information, but if you did it in a satire way, or if you did it in a hilarious way, or you, let’s just say, you had examples for every single point you’re trying to make, or case studies, or influencer quotes or something different, that’s gonna help you drastically stand out, and it’s gonna help you prevent these sad little ghost towns that most blogs are.
So here’s the process:
It’s eight steps: from idea, outline, and I’ll go through each one of these in the next 30 minutes all the way to promotion. Now, what’s funny is what’s missing here: Below is actually a screenshot of a whiteboard at Web Profits that we used when we were hiring a few content marketers and editors, and I did a team meeting, I said, “Guys, here’s our process. Here’s the exact thing we use.” And, you know, halfway through the meeting, as I was on like step seven, somebody raised their hand and was like, “Hey, where is the actual writing of the content? Where is that part?” And it’s funny because that’s how much these steps mean. This is how important these other steps are, that they trump the actual writing. Now, the writing happens between four and five. But at the end of the day, that’s not the only part that’s important, these other eight steps. Technically, would be nine if you include writing the actual article.
At the end of the day, make sure you’re going through your own eight steps. Our is to hopefully inspire you, so you can take some of these action items and apply them to your process. Take one or two or three, and make your own process out of this. And at the end of the day it should be more than just, you have an idea, and you write the article and you hit publish, because those are the easy parts. The other things are very, very difficult.
The next thing is, is to spend most of your time on marketing your content. That’s right. So a lot of people are like, “Oh, I created this content, it’s not going well, what do I do? Help me, I’m stuck.” And I ask them, “What do you do to promote it?” And they’re like, “Well, I shared it on social media, and I shared on my Facebook. I emailed my list.” I’m like, “No, you did the bare minimum to publish an article. You didn’t do content marketing. You published a blog post. You published an article. You did the content part of content marketing.” So make sure you spend enough time on the marketing part.
[easy-tweet tweet=”Sharing your #content on social, isn’t promotion, that’s publishing a blog post.” user=”sujanpatel” template=”qlite”]
And, again, I’ll walk you through this in the ideation phase and the outline, how to do promotion, it comes down to spending time. If you don’t spend the time on this, you don’t have the emphasis on this, it’s not gonna work.
Assembling your Content Marketing Team
So here’s how my team is structured:
- Content strategist – Their job is to essentially come up with all the ideas. They’re the ones who are driving the content vehicle.
- Researcher & editor: Their job is essentially help when the outline is done to provide facts, and find information, find maybe, quotes, cases studies, examples, essentially, making sure the article has enough meat to it. And then at the end when the article is done, an editor.
- A copy and paster: Yes, most of their job is to actually just copy and paste. But it’s a little bit more than that because when you upload a blog post to a CMS, so wherever you’re putting it, it could get choppy, you might need to know a little bit of HTML, you might need to edit some images, but, ultimately, their job is to essentially upload the content. And this way, the content strategist or the researcher is not wasting their time doing these things. Once it’s handed off we know it can be scheduled and whatnot.
- Content Promotion: We have a full time person dedicated to content promotion. Their job is to simply, when the article is about to go live, they know what’s on their plate that week, and all those things they’re gonna do, and I’m gonna walk you through some of those things.
- We have an outsourced design and development team: You should be making beautiful images to go along with your content. If you can customize subheadings, the more you can put into design the better the article is gonna come across. To be honest, when you have a mediocre article, and you add design elements to it, it appears like it’s well done. At the end of the day, when a human being is reading this, or comes through a blog, or potentially comes to your site, it’s gonna pass the 10 seconds sniff test, right? You’re gonna get their attention, you’re gonna keep their attention, and then they can keep reading on. And let’s just say it does well, you can expand to it.
- Lastly, advertising: This is a core part of our team, even though it’s not a physical person, we spend some money on advertising each one of our articles to help get the ball rolling.
Content Marketing Tools
Content marketing is broken into three parts:
- Ideation & Research
Ideation and research
- Buzzsumo – check how popular something has been, or what has been popular and specific topic
- ahrefs & MOZ – checking out what articles have good links, where can we can we go reach out to those people.
- Semrush – keyword research to make sure whatever topic we’re writing on has potential to rank, or gain evergreen traffic.
- Trello & Google docs
- My phone: I use my phone audio recording to start some blog posts. Many blog posts are recorded on my car drive to and from work. I have an outline in front of me and I record it, then I have somebody transcribe it, and then I edit it. This is just because I suck at writing something from scratch with a blank screen, a blinkering cursor, and I just got stuck. So I started with audio, transcribed it. And then when I had something to edit, it was easier for me to do it.
[easy-tweet tweet=”Pro Tip: Save time by recording your blog posts on your commute to and back from work.” user=”sujanpatel” template=”qlite”]
- Wordable. Wordable replaces that copy and pasting. It can upload a Google doc or doc to your WordPress. So it saves you some time.
- Quuu Promote: To get submitted to relevant categories and get, you know, gets it in front of tens of thousands of people, and, essentially, ends up getting anywhere between 50 to a couple of hundred shares, pretty instantaneously. Full disclaimer, both of those are my tools. And, again, we made both Quuu and Mailshake because we wanted to use them ourselves.
- Mailshake: for outreach
- Facebook Ads. Again, just to get the ball rolling
All these things is to help spark the momentum.
So let’s jump into it, because I’ve talked a lot about the process, the backend. I’m sure you’re dying to hear about what the actual ideation to promotion process is.
The Content Marketing Process
Step one, ideation.
Remember that rule I shared earlier? There’s one rule that goes along with it:
Focus on creating something significantly better or different than your best competitor.
If you do this, you’re gonna consistently be the leader. This is the bar we try to set. Now, remember, this is the bar you set for yourself. It’s not necessarily what you’re gonna hit every single time, I can say, probably 30%, 40% of our articles that we start out was gonna be awesome, that we wanna be this bar, actually end up being as good as we think they are.
So, it’s not that every single post is gonna be that way and be the best, but if you aim high, at least you have a better chance of hitting that. In order to come up with ideas, we do research:
Step 1: Content Marketing Research
What I like to do is study my competition.
- Who are they?
- What are they writing?
- What content are they creating?
- How often are they doing it?
- What has worked for them?
I like to find the top keywords in the industry, in my industry, or that industry. I’m looking for what keywords are people searching for that are transactional. What are all the keywords around that specific space? And then what I try to do is validate demand for something.So I use Buzzsumo.
So let’s just say, we’re gonna talk about pencils. Well, I find all the keywords related to pencils, maybe even pens because it might compare to pencils. Then, I go into Buzzsumo and I type some of my keywords, I try to find what has done well around pencils, right? What are content pieces that have done well? If there’s nothing, there’s a good chance that whatever you’re gonna write about pencils may not do well.
Validate on social platforms
Another thing I do is I look in forums, Facebook groups and Quora, to find common questions, or common conversations that are happening. Why? Because I can literally take that conversation and create an article around it. If I have a common question on Quora, that might be the validation of demand I need, and, essentially, I can write about it.
Look for content gaps
The last thing I do, is look for content gaps. And what I mean by this is like, with all competitors out there, all the content out there in this space:
- What topics aren’t being talked about?
- What’s something that hasn’t been really been discussed?
- Or, what’s something that’s been discussed, but it was a long, long time ago. What do I mean by long, long time ago? Is Internet years, so two, three years? Because, frankly, if it’s been done, if it ranks, it’s been done a while ago, generally means there’s some demand. And that means if you do something better than that, it could work.
At the end of the day if you find those gaps, find people talking about conversations, and study your competition, you’re gonna get a good idea of what to do, or where to get started. It might not give you all the ideas, but then it gives you the right amount of detail or research, and information, to come up with good ideas. And I have five ways I use to brainstorming.
[easy-tweet tweet=”5 Steps for doing #content marketing research the right way:” user=”getuplift_” template=”qlite”]
Step 2: Content Marketing Ideation
- Freestorming: I start with the word and I just see what comes to my mind. Before I being I’ve made sure I’ve done the research because if you have the research, the word is in your head. Don’t worry about it being formalized, or written next to you, or looking at it when you do this freestorming of ideation. Just make sure you understand it. Freestorming is what comes to your head when you write a word or a phrase, and then that phrase brings another idea. So it’s just brainstorming, but you’re allowing your mind to roam freely around that thought or idea or that topic.
- Associative brainstorming: Another word for this is Content circles. I start with a whiteboard or a piece of paper, and I write the main keyword- the main topic. So let’s just say it’s pencils, right? Pencils is a fairly broad topic. So pencil stays in the middle, and I’m gonna think of what comes around. What comes to mind when I think of pencils? So I got pens, I got stationery, I got office supply, I got writing. You know, and these are all little thought bubbles that kind of are all circling around pencils. So all these things or topics that circle your main industry. So what this means is go back with those topics, those keywords into the research phase, and see if there’s any gaps or things you can find there. Why? Because, you might be selling a pencil, but the person buying the pencil might be a calligrapher, an artist or it might be an office manager buying office parts. So, you might as well write content around those people, and their pain points, and what they’re trying to do, not what you’re trying to sell. [easy-tweet tweet=”Write content around your prospect’s pain points, not what you’re trying to sell.” user=”sujanpatel” template=”qlite”]
- Customer Problems: If you don’t know what to write about, literally, email your audience. If you have an email list of people, if you have 100 sales or transactions or customers or more, email them and say, “Hey, what’s your biggest problem?” Let them email you back open-ended, or create a Google form or something of that nature, and get feedback. I did this the other day with my email list at Mailshake. I was like, “Hey, guys.” I emailed my top 500 most active customers and I said, “Hey, look, I want you to beta test this, PS, anything you wanna hear about?” And, you know, we got probably a couple of dozen people asking for feedback, or asking for content topics. Not necessarily suggesting topics, but they were asking for me to write about this, and that, the other. And then I validated it with that research phase, with validating demand and looking at the top keywords and seeing if there’s anything written on it. And I’m gonna move forward on some of them.
- Zoom in or out of a popular article: Let’s say an article has been written on, “The hundred different types of pencils,” A really boring topic, however when you zoom in, it might be zooming in on like one specific pencil, and talking about why it’s the most popular, or the most common, or maybe the evolution of that one specific pencil. You zoom out, it might just be like,”Here’s all the most common things at an office,” or in your desk, or like, again, zooming in or out of the article, of a popular article, you have automatically validated demand, you know people have been interested in this. And then you can be unique by essentially jumping deeper into the topic, or broader.
Organizing your ideas
I use, and you can use, this link to actually load up this template. This is the exact Trello board we use at Web Profits. So in assign, we call them a bunch of ideas, and we literally assign it to a writer. And when it’s in progress, it will have all the notes within each card. We have comments, maybe there’s feedback and whatnot, and then there’s also different tags for different clients we use, or different blogs it’s for, and what not. And when it’s complete and reviewed, or completed, again, more comments to prove. And then, again, we’re dragging that same card from start to finish. So it keeps your ideas a little organized. It allows us to know what’s happening, what’s in the works, and what’s been done.
All right, here’s the very most important part of the content creation process: the outline.
Step 3: Content Marketing Outline
So you have your idea, and I urge everybody creating content to create an outline before they write. Because every idea that you come up with at the time sounds great. Take those ideas, and outline them. Come up with three to five main points and think about this, if those points aren’t the best, or they’re not as strong as what you thought they were when you came up with the idea, kill the article. That’s when you wanna kill the ideas.
Outlining will, oftentimes, weed out those bad ideas, because when you write those three to five points, you may realize, “Oh, well, it’s not meaty enough.” Or, maybe it’s similar to what’s been out there. You have to be really be honest with yourself here because the worst thing you can do is create content nobody cares about or create content that doesn’t go anywhere. You might as well just have not done it.
So I recommend going through a more rigorous process, and reducing the amount of content you create, until you’ve figured out the process, and then scaling it.
Step 4: The Writing Process
Let’s talk about the writing process. I like to add promotional elements into the article while I’m writing it. This is important because these are the very things you’ll use to promote the article later. These are the very basic things you can do to ensure the article does something. I’m not saying with these three things your article is gonna be huge, but it has the best chance of being successful.
- First things first, ”Three to five influencers.” Now, you can reach out to them. I do this most of the time. I reach out to influencers in the space, and ask them for a quote related to the topic. Now, if you can’t do that, or, let’s say you’re just getting started, you don’t have a brand, or your blog is new it’s unlikely influencers are going to give you a quote. So grab a quote from what they said before. Some content or whatever they’ve sent, a topic they’ve written about, and just grab one sentence, and just reference them, quote them. When you make people look good, they will notice. The other thing is you’re borrowing authority from these influencers so it will help you actually get the content doing a little better.
- Include some sort of data, reference, stat or survey, any sort of research. It doesn’t have to be yours, if you do a survey and it’s yours even better, but I found this significantly improves the odds and chances of you getting referenced in the future. I wrote an article years ago, I think it was 2014, on the 80, 20 of content marketing. I did a ton of research, I did some stats, and I talked about the importance of content promotion. 80% of your effort should be focused on content promotion. That article, because of the nano depth into the article on that one specific topic, has been referenced dozens of times and it’s continuing to grow. In fact, it’s one of my best articles that’s done well for traffic, and leads, and what not. [easy-tweet tweet=”80% of your #content strategy effort should be focused on content #promotion.” user=”sujanpatel”]
- Lastly, click to tweet. People might not share your article, but as they’re scrolling, they might click the tweet because that one quote resonates with them. Now, the cool thing you can do is you can add number one and two as the click to tweets, right? So your click to tweet could literally be a statistic, or could be a quote from the influencers, you can tag them. And so, again, it’ll help you. These basic things will ensure your content has some life.
- Create a custom image. One of my favorite examples of this is CoSchedule. They have custom images for every single one of their articles, they have a couple of them laid out and even if their article is mediocre, these images really help resonate with the brand, what they’re doing, and it’s actually pictures of them and whatnot. So, again, they don’t talk about themselves much but they tell their story. They use images to kind of talk about themselves. But images and design will really help your content stand out. It’ll help the content look like it’s a million bucks. Even if it always isn’t, I’m not saying you shouldn’t make it the best article possible, but for those of you who want a shortcut, and I know I always want a shortcut, just make sure you have custom images.
- Mixed Media – Just as you add images and custom images, to your article, a good design will help your article go further, same with mixed media. A mixed media is something you can essentially grab from what’s out there:
- Embed videos: from YouTube or Wistia, to help prove your point.
- Embed Instagram images: People don’t use them enough – You can literally embed Instagram images, and it helps you, soften up the article, prove your point, and there’s literally Instagram images on almost anything. A e-commerce client of ours leverages this on their sales pages, on their actual product pages. They sell portraits of nature in all these different places so they grab all these images from Yosemite, Yellowstone National Park, and all these other different national parks, and they’re real-life images of what it looks like. It changes the narrative a little bit.
- Embed SlideShares
- Add Infographics and micrographics: And I’m not saying you have to make your own, you could always grab a part of someone else’s infographic, or you can make your own using Venngage, easy to build, they have lots of templates and they’re fairly low cost, so essentially you can do it yourself, or a non-designer can create it.
- Use gifs: One of our competitors and actually a good friend of mine Jonathan Dane, runs a company called KlientBoost. They are the best example of using mixed media, they have all these, for example a GIF of Homer Simpson, so they’re talking about PPC, something that’s a fairly serious and boring marketing topic and adding some humor throughout the article. It actually mirrors their personality, so it is helps them as a company, that’s how they work with people, they’re kind of goofy and whatnot. Mixed media helps them stand out. It’s funny, it’s different, it’s unique. There’s probably hundreds of articles on PPC ad copy tips to get more conversions but this one’s different because there’s this humor satire, there’s entertainment value here.
All right. Lastly the writing process, Wordable is a great tool to use to upload your content. It saves you a bunch of time. I recommend not doing it yourself because you need to have time to focus on the other more important parts, which is the last part I wanna talk about. The promotion.
Step 5: Content Marketing Promotion
- So the very least you need to do when you publish an article is write 5 or 10 social media updates. This is important because you don’t want the social media updates to be the exact same. As you can see in this spreadsheet each part has a different emphasis. We have different quotes and whatnot. Now, it’s funny. There is a competitor of ours in the spreadsheet, this specific tweet, this is an article from late last year and it actually got re-tweeted by them. So, you know, we get them, we quoted them, we referenced them, I personally don’t mind including competitors as long as it’s good content. And, again, I’m not talking about myself in this tweets, I’m talking about the value that each of these people have contributed, Stelli, F.D., Litmus and whatnot. So it’s all about those people, not me. Same thing with Facebook and LinkedIn. Again, sharing different parts of the article, and highlights and facts. Advertise your content.
- Advertise your content. Again, I launched Facebook ads, I take my email list and upload it and create a custom audience, I also create a lookalike audience based off of that. And so, I’m targeting those people, people that are already on my email list, or a similar criteria to my email list, which would be a lookalike audience, and I’m spending a few bucks. I typically spend like \$5, \$10 dollars a day, for 5 or 10 days at a time, just to get the ball rolling on the article. Because the more traffic I get, the more shares I’m gonna get you because I’m gonna have those mix medias, and the tweets that will have influencer quotes. All this is part of the cycle. It’s the minimum thing you need to do. Quick tip, use the Mobile Audience Network in Facebook to get you really low cost per clicks. I’ve seen things like 5, 10 cents. [easy-tweet tweet=”Pro Tip: Use #Mobile Audience Network in FB to get really low cost per clicks.” user=”getuplift_”]
- Outbrain and Quuu Promote. Outbrain is another place you can advertise, you’ll advertise essentially on relevant articles at the very bottom, even large publications like CNN, Time, and a lot of these places have outgoing ads. So you can get seen on these places and Quuu promote. Again, it usually just ensures if your article’s good enough, as a manual review, it will get you probably anywhere between 50 to a few hundred shares. And a few, again, depending on the topic and how good your copy is, a few hundred clicks as well.
- Email. Another thing is email. First and foremost, please send an email to your list. This is the bare minimum you can do. Number two is email everyone that you’ve included in the article. Just let them know. Say, “Hey, big fan of your work, I just referenced you in this article, hope you like it. Any feedback, or if you wanna add anything feel free to let me know.” Now, that’s just my nice way of saying, “Hey, can you please share this?” Don’t ever say, “Can you please share this.” Because it’s the underlying picture. If you ask for feedback or if you ask them if they wanna add anything more, they’ll likely share it anyways because you’ve made them look good.
- Pitch your email: Pitch your content to email newsletters. You’d be surprised how many newsletters there are in your industry. You can always give suggestions for content, to the newsletters with tips. That whole freestorming that we talked about, there might be a lot of calligraphy newsletters, there might be a lot of art newsletters, there might be all those things that are ancillary to your topic, or to your industry. So make sure you look at that, and, again, it will take some time to build relationships, but it does work well.
- And that leads me to the next thing, build relationships. I no longer have to do much content promotion. Why? Because I’ve built, over the last three, four years, ons of relationships with smart, awesome marketers and content writers. This is a screenshot of a group I’m in with Syed and Aaron Orendorff, both of these guys write for large organizations, Aaron writes for Mashable, Syed writes for the Entrepreneur Inc., and a couple other places. But they’re looking for content. Everybody is usually looking for concert. You just have to be in these inner circles, and you don’t get on these inner circles by asking for help. You get on these inner circles by providing help, building relationships. You know, it might take a while but there’s all these, Slack groups, Facebook groups, that are behind the scenes, that are people helping each other out. So make sure to focus on building relationship with people in your industry.
- And just to squeeze out as much value as you can from your content, re-purpose your best content. YouTube, SlideShare, iTunes, Medium, LinkedIn. Why these places? Because all these places have 100 million plus users. So if you can just get a fraction of that penetration in YouTube, or LinkedIn, or Medium, or even SlideShare, or create a podcast, it’s just another way to maximize that. You’re gonna get more value to your content. And what I often do, you might notice this on my YouTube channel is that it’s very much similar content to what I’ve created in the past. It’s usually my best concept, so I’ve validated that it works, so I put more effort into it. And it’s usually shortened versions of it or I’m giving the upgraded version. Or I’m zooming in on one or two points. But, essentially, the idea comes from an article.
Well, thank you guys. We’ll open up for some questions, and we’ll go from there.
“What advice would you give someone who’s just starting off, who wants to build influencer connections?”
Answer: Think about this, first and foremost, make a list of all the influencers in your space. Most people try to go and connect with the big guys up front, it’s just not gonna work. Go with the middle guys, the people who have some following, that are new, that are not necessarily new, but they’re working their way up, and offer help.
Recently somebody that’s new in this space offered help. He liked my YouTube videos, he said, “I think you’re missing a step on the YouTube SEO space, like you need to have more tags, you can optimize this and that and the other.” And he’s like, “Mind if I just help you with a couple of videos?” And I’m sure, and now he doesn’t know this, but he’s helped me a couple times now. I definitely owe him a lot of favors. So if he ever asked for anything, I’m likely gonna say, yes. So, the simple answers is, help people. Figure out how you can help people. Volunteer at conferences, so I’m not sure what space you’re in, but you can…conferences are always looking for volunteers. You volunteer there. Most of the time you’re volunteering for tickets, or, you know, again, something like you’re providing the badges or even helping speakers. So it’s a way to build relations.
What about the critical value of analytics?
Answer: It’s really important to have, essentially, a good pulse on what’s happening. What I talked about a lot today is a lot of the qualitative, side of things about the process and creating content. What I look at in high level in terms of analytics for my content marketing is:
- First and foremost, traffic.
- Second, shares.
- And shares per article, or traffic per article but also overall for that month.
- I’m looking at backlinks.
That’s the things that I look at for the first six months. I didn’t mention lead sales ROI-related stuff, because that doesn’t happen early on. It usually happens the second six months. The first six months, especially if you’re just starting off, you have to build the base. Nobody is gonna buy from you because you haven’t really made it yet, right? Content marketing is very much a long-term plan. But if you can buy on other channels, it can be faster.
So the next thing is, once that next six months is, I’m looking at:
- The number of leads
- Email opt-ins
And those are the high-level things I look at. Now, I’m gonna get more granular…but it then becomes very specific to essentially your situation and whatnot. So I like to look at those metrics and if those are headed in the right direction it generally works.
I’ll tell you this, content marketing I’ve been doing this consecutively, consistently for the last, since almost three and half years, or this is my fourth year doing it consistently. I’ve been doing this much, much longer 13 years but three years in a row, and the ROI has become compounding. And so, I’ve added more metrics to it. I’ve seen like, “Oh, well, email opt-ins have changed.” And we’ve tweaked, reduce, so I have to kind of adjust the metrics and we had to optimize for that and whatnot. But that’s how you help people get started.
Any tips for speeding up the writing phase?
Answer: What do I use? Honestly, I write when I have the most creative juices. I’ve found to me that it’s early morning or late night, usually after dinner and on Saturdays or Sundays, I spend, essentially, writing a couple articles. A couple of tips that will help you speed up is, never write on the idea you come up with today. So always have a couple ideas loaded up. What I do is then outline them. I very much think of this as a production line. So I’ve all these ideas in my head, I put them in Trello, then what I do is when I have some more time, throughout the week, I will spend 5, 10 minutes and create a small, simple outline. And then in the nights, and on the weekend, I will actually go and write an article based off the outline.
Or sometimes what I do is I get my research person to help me find points and details for each part of the outline, the points I wanna hit, and then I go write it. So, essentially, my time to write is actually somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes, because the details I provided earlier, and, again, like, that outline I wrote, you know, let’s say two weeks ago, I kind of can think back to it because it’s something I did a while ago. And it’s not like I have this, again, this idea with no details on there. So that’s the approach I use.
Fast track your writing process:
- Choose 4-5 ideas from your content ideas
- Take 5-10 minutes to outline them
- Get the research person to help find points and details for each part of the outline
- Write it.
“How do you train writing better content, or even improving your writing?”
Answer: At the end the day, it’s tough if you’re not a strong writer. There’s lots of different kind of courses you can take, I recommend Copy Hackers by Joanna Wiebe, to learn about copywriting. But I’ll say start with that, and then kind of go from there. It’s all about experience and the amount of time you put into it. I used to suck as a writer. I still suck at spelling and grammar, like you look at my unedited work, it can be improved. So what do I do? I focus on improving it. Or I hire people to help me edit. So I don’t have to worry about the spelling and grammar.
Any advice for an individual freelancer to apply these steps?”
Answer: Yes. So, look, if you’re a one-man show, it’s important that you write the very best things, right? So, in this process, this whole presentation I described is like a long process that you should be hitting each part of, but at the end of the day, one, apply the parts. You don’t need to go from what you do now to all eight. Try to apply one or two and add that to the mix.
Number two is, don’t worry about the volume of content you create. Now, if you do this for a living or whatnot, you may need to increase your rates of which you charge for, for this you know, higher quality content. But what I would do is, I would create a couple articles that are more in-depth using this process, and it may take you more time. Give it to your clients, show them, they’re gonna see the value of it. Give them the tweets, the shares, all that stuff. I’m talking about the promotion side. And now you’ll have success that you can use to charge more and prove that you can use like, “hey, these content pieces actually do better”. You should definitely try to outsource the research part or like get help for stats and editing, because that is something that, while that’s happening, you can go do, get the media. And, again, like if you’re a one-man show and you’re not a designer, I use tools like Snapp, or Devio, or Canva to actually create my images. So, I myself who’s not a designer as well, can do this stuff. I can create nice looking images in minutes, because there’s all these templates, and, again, like WYSIWYG editor style photo editing apps. Even Pablo from buffer, to make well-designed images.
Now, if that starts to work well for you, get a person to help you with design. Again, you can expand it, you can increase the price you charge to buffer to include all these things. And, again, if you have a person editing, you can do the design, or if you’re writing, you can have somebody write it, load it to edit, and upload or design image at the same time. So it’s not gonna actually increase the amount of time it’ll take.
“What type of content should be right if we’re focusing more on offline business owners, think like wholesalers, distributors, and whatnot?”
Answer: That’s a good question. It’s tough to say, I don’t know your industry, so I don’t know the customer exactly. Because a lot of people are on the offline world.
So, first and foremost, if you’re targeting people who are not looking online as much, your keyword volume is not as high, you might not wanna create a lot of volume of content. It might be focusing on eBooks or something very meaty, one or two kind of downloadable PDFs, that you can send people. But you really have to understand who your customer is, and their pain points. If you don’t know, ask them. Ask your wholesalers, distributors, what would you be interested in reading? One of the companies I worked with before, they were targeting small business owners that are brick and mortar, like restaurant owners and whatnot. And those people, restaurant owners, I don’t know of any of you guys have worked at a restaurant or have owned one, it’s a lot of work.
You’re usually not online, you’re usually doing all the things related to running your business. So those people are mostly, predominantly offline. So what we did to target them was, first and foremost, they’re on Facebook, everybody’s on Facebook at some point. We started targeting their pain points, right? Like the specific product was all around managing employees and whatnot. So we’re like, “Wanna reduce the time to manage employees?” We talked about helpful information that will level them up to manage your employees. You know, to getting templates, we created templates for hiring, kind of firing all those different pieces of HR that people had.
So think about all these different tools and put yourself in the shoes of your customer, or your audience. And see, what things in their day can be improved, or where they need help. And start writing about those. And start with, more meaty content like eBooks because, generally, they’re easier to promote.
If you guys have any more questions, feel free to tweet at me @Sujanpatel.
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