Getting Started with Content Marketing
Content marketing is no get rich quick scheme. It takes a lot of consistent work over a very long period of time to see real results. It is because of this that a lot of sites end up giving up—it can take at least a year to see any real headway, sometimes longer to make significant strides. It is, however, very worth it.
To be clear, content marketing does not replace SEO—they go hand in hand together. Each one helps the other succeed more. It does not automatically replace any of your other marketing efforts, like those promoting sales. Content marketing does enhance and multiply the results you’ll get from all these separate campaigns, however, as well as helping you to build your brand, your reputation, and often your client base.
The Idea Behind Content Marketing and Why it Works
For those new to the concept marketing, it’s a pretty straightforward one: by producing content that members of your target audience will want to consume and share, and distributing this content online for free, you will increase traffic to your site, which increases sales.
Content marketing has changed our business, and we’ve seen massive increases. It offers a large number of benefits:
- Some of the best benefits you’ll receive from successful content marketing:
- Your Audience (and often client base) increases
- You can build your brand, and have more control in what it represents
- You build a reputation as an expert in your field
- People come to your site every week (or even more frequently, depending on the number of blog posts)
- This is a marketing platform that is either free, cheap, or relatively inexpensive compared to traditional ad campaigns (even if you hire a writer like myself to do it for you)
Content marketing works because you’re offering something of value for free to an interested audience. Even if it takes time to find the audience and to build their trust in you, it does work.
How to Start Content Marketing
Blogging is one of the most popular and effective methods of content marketing, and a great way to start. You also have the option to provide recurring content on platforms like YouTube; we use YouTube in conjunction with our blog posts. For this post, we’ll focus on getting started with content marketing through blogging.
When it comes to creating a content marketing strategy, you shouldn’t necessarily just get started blogging right away. There’s some planning you should do to make sure that you do, in fact, have a content marketing strategy and you aren’t just shooting blind.
The reason why is important: without a long term strategy in place, it will be hard to keep up and expand on your content marketing—a lack of focus can be dangerous, and it’s too easy to be discouraged or distracted. Content marketing is a long-term, long-commitment form of marketing. It’s almost always worth it, but you need a strategy to get there.
When you’re planning out your content marketing strategy, there are a few steps you want to take and things to consider:
- Check out the competition. The first thing you need to do when you’re planning your content marketing strategy is to look at your competition. You need to see what they’re doing and what’s working for them.
You can also learn two important things from this: what questions your target audience is asking them in comments, and what you can offer that is different. Different will get you those followers.
- Choose a Niche. This is particularly true when you first get started. Within every industry, there are niches and sub-niches. Finding and truly understanding yours will give you a solid start. You’ll be able to focus in on that audience.. Once successful you can expand later, but always starting focused is a good rule of thumb to follow.
For example, our blog covers everything having to do with online and social media marketing, but our main niche focus has been for Facebook Ads. This has helped us gain traffic and footing, and now we are able to expand more into other areas of online marketing while still focusing on Facebook Ads
- Plan out a List of Topics. There’s nothing like getting stuck with writer’s blog two weeks into having a new blog going, and realizing that your niche or your blog might not have started in the right direction. This can cause a delay or a complete halt in the posts, and before you know it, your content marketing efforts have already died.
Before you ever get started, come up with a list of posts in the niche. Make sure you have enough to write about and say for longer than the forseeable future. If not, it may be time to reconsider the topics and niche you were thinking about focusing on.
It can be incredible difficult to come up with topics—especially so frequently—when you first get started. The best thing to do is to think about what questions people ask—the things you now take for granted, even, but didn’t know when you first got into the industry. A grocer could write a series of posts on how to find ripe fruit; a jeweler could write about how to identify repairs; a boutique could write about maintenance of different fabrics. There are always topics for each field—you just have to get used to finding them.
- Know Your Tools. This is one of the most important things you can do for your content marketing long term—knowing and using the right tools. Having plug-ins to help boost SEO, programs to protect against spam, free stock photos to make things beautiful, and—of course—Google Analytics to track traffic (including where it’s coming from, how often, and how long it stays) will all help you with your content marketing strategy.
Google Analytics (which we talk about using with Facebook Ads here) is probably the most important tool I use—I see where traffic is coming from, which posts do best, which have higher bounce rates, which get more visits. Having this kind of information helps me learn more about my target audience and better plan future posts that will be most relevant to them. It keeps me going on the right track.I also highly recommend using Rignite, a social media collaboration software. We use it to schedule all blog posts to be re-posted to Facebook twice a week for six months after they’re written (so long as they’re still relevant). It has made my job so much easier.
How Content Marketing Works With SEO
I’ve seen new marketers ask the question “which is better, SEO or content marketing?” The answer to that is you can’t much success with content marketing without SEO, and your SEO will certainly be better due to your content marketing efforts.
Overtime, the better your blog gets, the more visits your site overall gets, and the higher web authority ranking it’s given. This means it starts popping up first in the search engines—this is good because it means there’s more eyes on your blog (starting a great upwards cycle) as well as more eyes on your site, potentially leading casual users to become clients.
The two work hand in hand together—they work best together, and choosing one or the other isn’t the productive way to go about things.
Why You Need Social Media
It’s hard enough to get started on social media; the same is true for getting people to your blog. We’ve used a combination of e-mail marketing and a heavy dose of social media promotions to advertise every blog post we’ve published, and this has helped get a lot of eyes on our site while our SEO ranking was crawling up inch by inch.
SEO won’t be enough when you get started—you’re not even a blip on Google’s radar yet (even though you technically are). Getting ranked on highly on a search engine takes a significant amount of time and hard work—your blog won’t likely won’t hit it even within the first few months. It took us about a year to start ranking, and we’re hoping to see this continue to increase.
Social media is also so important to content marketing because it increases shares and engagement. Both of these are so, so important.
Now, even though organic search traffic has surpassed all other traffic to our site (which is the goal), our social media campaigns still send a large number of users to our site. You can read more about this in our post here.
When to Start Guest Blogging
Guest blogging, as many of you likely know, is a great way to boost your content marketing and SEO efforts. You get to continue to establish yourself as an expert, you build rapport with your peers and their already-established audiences, you build valuable links back to your site, and you get some of that traffic to hopefully come take a look at your site, too.
While some marketers with blogs start trying to guest post right away, and I do see the benefit of jumping at every opportunity, I personally prefer to wait to start guest blogging for at least a few months. There’s a few reasons for this.
The first is that one of the biggest benefits of guest blogging is that it sends users to your own blog and website. Whether this is done through links in the guest blog post that send them there or by a link in your bio following the post, the whole point is that it gets users to your site while building your reputation.
If you send users back to your blog too soon and you only have a few ok posts, they might not be back. If you wait a few months until you’ve gained some momentum and have a few pages of high quality posts, new visitors will be much more inclined to come back for more.
Waiting to guest blog until you’ve got your own site (and reputation) established gives you one more distinct benefit: there’s a good chance this will help you be able to write guest posts for higher quality blogs than you would have before. This was certainly the case for me.
This is important because while almost all links are good, you want to make sure your name is associated with other high quality, credible, expert sites. While everyone needs to start somewhere, you want to make sure your business is posting on those high quality sites so that it represents your brand in the way that you want.
Content marketing can take a lot longer than running some ad campaigns (as if that was ever really easy), but the overall pay off can bring in large numbers of clients and sales. It can build a loyal following, and help establish you and your business as an authority in your industry.
No matter what, it’s important to remember that consistency in quality and frequency are the most important factors in content marketing: without this, you’ll lose readers faster than you can blink.
What questions do you have regarding content marketing? What strategies do you implement now? How has it affected your business?
To see more about our current content marketing strategy, click here.