It’s truly incredible how quickly content marketing has grown from an unknown term to a complete must-do marketing activity. In fact, these days, 90 percent of all organizations use content marketing in their marketing efforts.
How’s that for market adoption?
What’s even more interesting is the reason why businesses take part in it. As it turns out, content marketing generates about three times more leads and costs around 62 percent less than traditional marketing.
However, is the story the same for solopreneurs? In other words, if you’re the only person in your business, can you still use content marketing to your benefit and to find more clients/customers/business?
Let’s find out and get through the individual tactics and methods that solopreneurs can use to build a good content marketing strategy.
To help myself get to the bottom of this issue, I invited six experts to take part in this resource. I asked them two direct questions:
- How important is content marketing for your business?
- Do you have any content marketing advice for solopreneurs who would like to maximize their results by focusing on doing the high-impact work (since we all have limited time)?
Here’s what they had to say and what you can do to emulate them and use content marketing effectively.
1. Showing up is half the battle
Content marketing is the fuel for our online business. Once we saw the amazing benefits of all our content marketing efforts, we didn’t look back and it is now where we focus. These efforts help myself and my company stay relevant and resourceful across the web and give us a boost over big-name competitors!
As a solopreneur starting out, you are the best type of advertising for your product and service. I would recommend spending a portion of your time every day by putting content out there on as many mediums as possible – social channels for yourself and your business as well as your personal blog and guest posts. Start small and grow into larger publications and you’ll soon reap benefits.
-Nellie Akalp, CEO, CorpNet.com
Being out there, in the wild (so to speak), is the first step to content marketing. And although the landscape can be intimidating, we all have to get started somewhere.
As Nellie Akalp advises, sharing valuable content on your own blog is a great start (just a note; 82 percent of marketers who blog, get positive ROI).
Soon after that, you can experiment with guest blogging and get your message in front of your target audience directly where they already are (more on that later).
2. Content is king, consistency is … queen
Content is 100% of my business, so it is very important for what I do. My advice it to do high quality work and do it consistently and often. I’ve been publishing a travel photo every day for 7 years and it is a large part of the success I’ve had.
-Gary Arndt, Everything-Everywhere.com
Content marketing is very important. It’s the cornerstone of how we create value for our readers and followers, which then makes them interested in purchasing products and services. We do this through our website (howtoquitworking.com) and major media outlets such as Huffington Post, Elite Daily and Lifehack.org.
Content marketing is a long-term strategy. It doesn’t work overnight. It requires sticking with it even when it doesn’t appear to be generating any results. This is, by far, the hardest part for folks and the reason why most people give up.
-Jeff Steinmann, Author & Entrepreneur
We’ve all heard that the only way to make any sort of content marketing work is to do it by only putting out quality content, instead of trying to trick our audiences with sub par publications. But what also seems to be equally as important is consistency.
This can be hard when it’s just you in the business, but you should find time to release at least a couple of pieces of content every month, and do it for six months up to a year straight, before you can evaluate your results.
If you want to go hardcore about this, you can do what 60 percent of other marketers are doing, which is creating at least one piece of content each week.
3. Post what the audience really wants to see
Content marketing is very important to Villa Cappelli’s business. We aren’t just an Italian food products business or a villa vacation rental business, we are a lifestyle. With content marketing, we are able to give customers a taste of the Italian lifestyle, sharing our moments that make our brand special. It also allows us to develop relationships with fans, and share information back and forth. For us, especially as a small business, all of this is vital to creating lifelong fans and customers who are passionate about us. It also continually inspires us to be passionate about our business to give these fans the very best.
Also, think of your fans as friends. What would they want to see from you that is interesting and intriguing. A behind the scenes look? A picture of a future product? When you post something that sparks engagement, then you don’t have to do much heavy lifting to have the content spread.
-Paul Cappelli, Villa Cappelli
One of the main challenges for people getting into content marketing – myself included – is finding the right type of content and the right topics to tackle.
When you’re starting out, it’s hard to know for sure what’s going to become a true hit with your audience. For that reason, you just need to experiment and test a load of things before you can reach any conclusions about your campaign’s effectiveness.
Like Paul Cappelli is saying, the audience wants what’s interesting and intriguing. And you won’t find out what that might be without testing and experimentation.
4. Create unique kinds of content
Standard blog posts are not the end of the game here. To truly reap the benefits of content marketing, you should invest your time in other, more advanced types of content.
For instance, 63 percent of marketers go the extra mile by creating white-papers, while 34 percent publish full-length e-books.
Audiences appreciate this extra efforts, as e-books are perceived to deliver more value than blog posts or even highly visual infographics (more on them in a minute).
For example, let’s take a look at what Bidsketch is doing – the client proposal software. Ruben Gamez – the creator of Bidsketch – uses custom-made proposal resources for professionals in various niches, which he offers through individual landing pages on the site.
There are resources for web designers, writers, programmers, etc. All of them featuring templates, advice, complete e-books. Such an approach is highly specialized to offer the audience a great solution to the real struggles they’re facing in their businesses.
The content is unique, and in simple terms, it just goes the extra step above what the competition is doing.
5. Get out there
Content marketing is extremely important for my business. In fact, I have built my coaching business strictly doing content marketing. We don’t run any ads. Because my business focuses on education and learning, my strategy has been to attract people to our site through the quality of our content. For example, for the past two and half years, I’ve been publishing an article a week on Entrepreneur.com. I started writing for Inc.com weekly about six months ago. It’s a commitment, for sure, but I think it’s been paying off enormously. I’m seeing a lot more activity on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook as a result, which drive a lot of our leads. Although I do post high-quality content to my own website on topics that I think prospective students need and are looking for, I focus more of my efforts on writing for other publications for two reasons. For one, doing so establishes me as an expert. And second, I piggyback on the power of their SEO.
Only publish excellent content. If that means you publish far less content, so be it. Consider hiring a former journalist to help you. I’ve found mine to be an invaluable asset. Hone in on content that meets the needs of your clients. Don’t be afraid to give away a lot of your content for free.
-Stephen Key, Stephen Key Media
It’s actually kind of unfortunate, but when you’re just starting out, you will have a lot more impact with your content if you post it somewhere else rather than on your own site.
This is all about the number of eyeballs in certain places vs. on your relatively new website.
Even though you might not be able to land guest posts on sites like Entrepreneur.com like Stephen Key, getting started somewhere smaller is still a great method. A general rule is to focus more on finding the right audience (people who would be a good lead for your business), rather than on finding the biggest audience.
It’s reported that 50 percent of consumer time online is spent engaging with custom content. But it’s your job to put your content up exactly where those audiences are.
6. Use visual content
Visuals get noticed. In fact, content with images receives 94 percent more views.
But this is not only about the images themselves – using images just for the sake of it. Images only work if they’re an integral part of your content. For instance, this can be achieved by using infographics, or adding custom-made visual elements that illustrate the message you’re trying to convey.
Just to make this easier, and more budget-efficient, you can try experimenting with this yourself. For various graphs and charts, you can use Google Charts. For elements that are a bit more visual, you can go with Visme – a purpose-built tool for creating presentations, infographics, and animations.
Having visual content will also allow you to share it across more platforms that depend on the visuals more heavily – like Pinterest.
7. Share to inspire
I’m a strong supporter of content marketing because the reward is two-fold. Of course we want to drive potential clients to our business and doing so with the hottest and most effective marketing strategy (content marketing) is great. And…I’m a guy who likes to be of service. Giving content away for the highest good of all concerned is simply a nice thing to do and can change lives. As a speaker, I know that the only reason to give a speech is to move people to action and change lives. Powerful content does the same thing. If anything I put out into the virtual or physical universe can inspire someone to take a step in a proactive direction, I have not only created a client, but made a friend!
-Mark Schulman, MarkSchulman.com
The true power of content marketing is to associate something great with your brand.
This is completely different from the traditional ways of advertising, where we used to try to capitalize on the customer’s temporary need or desire to have something. With content marketing, we can inspire them to take action, change something about their lives, and essentially better themselves in some areas.
This will pay off in the long run and build the authority of your brand more than any piece of PR publicity you can release. After all, brand awareness is one of the most popular content marketing goals for most organizations (82 percent of them, to be exact).
In the nutshell
Bringing this all together, here’s the in-the-nutshell strategy you can use:
- Start small on your own site, publishing a couple of pieces of content a month.
- Do so consistently for at least six months.
- Research and experiment to find the type of content that really resonates with your audience.
- Start guest blogging and try to get your message across on other platforms.
- Take the next step, release something unique, like an e-book.
- Make sure to use visual content.
- Always try to inspire, not just sell.
What’s your experience with content marketing? Have you tested it as part of your marketing efforts yet?