I started out six years ago with nothing. No website to my name, no connections in the industry, and absolutely no experience.
I coded my own website, launched on a $75 budget, and went from there.
Today, we have 40 handpicked writers that work entirely from home, a staff of team leaders and quality assistants, and we serve over 5,000 clients.
How did we get here?
The content marketing I’ve strategized and created with my team, since the beginning, has set us strategically apart from every competitor in Google.
Right now, on our site, we’re just about to hit the “1,000 published” blog mark.
In organic rankings, we currently outperform our competitors by an entire 2-5 percent in visibility in Google.
And to date, as of writing this post, we’ve earned over 11,100 organic keyword rankings in Google (not including my guest blog content on other publications – this is just on our site), many of which included coveted featured snippet spots, Knowledge Graph positions, and organic top 3 rankings for a slew of synonymous keywords.
To date, I’ve never paid a dime in AdWords. Ninety-nine percent of the clients we’ve brought in to earn our six-figure annual numbers come in through content marketing.
Here’s the essence of what I focused on to make this happen, and how to apply it to your own content marketing for similar, mind-blowingly powerful results.
Content marketing works exceptionally well (Kraft has said their content marketing is worth 4x more than their most targeted ad.)
You just have to know a few rules of thumb on how to go about it best.
Your Content Marketing Must Have Focus
Ever heard the term “jack of all trades, master of none”?
I’m a firm believer in the fact that you need to focus on one channel for several years, to see best returns. I think this applies significantly to content marketing.
I had the honor to talk to Mark Schaefer on my podcast last year, who is one of the top five business bloggers of all-time.
He said it best:
“Pick one platform and do it well for a period of time before moving onto something else.”
Back in 2011 and 2012, when I was just starting out, the first articles I wrote to market my fledging content agency were strategically set around long-tail keywords, with extremely low competition. I published them on high-ranking sites (back then, learning through experience, I was publishing on EzineArticles.com). I was able see my content ranking within a matter of just a few weeks for the long-tail keyword that I’d researched.
It would rank in the top 3-5 spots of Google, too, where rankings really count and users would actually click through and contact you if your content spoke to them.
From there, I’ve gone to write over 500 long-tail focused blogs across the last six years, at much higher quality levels, and on much better platforms. I don’t publish on EzineArticles any more: instead, you can find me creating content for this platform you’re reading right now, as well as Content Marketing Institute, SiteProNews, the Huffington Post, and a few other one-time guest spot appearances on platforms like Grammarly, KissMetrics, Business.com, Inbound.org, Unbounce, etc.
My heaviest focus was on my own “real estate” – my blog.
This meant that I didn’t have to worry if the site was ever taken down (remember Blab, anyone?), and my content gone.
I also could control everything about the site and point visitors to my services.
Here’s a good look at my content creation focus:
Focus on the Creation, Not the Traction
This can be difficult knowledge to translate into practice, especially at the C and VP-level in large corporations.
But this has been my motto from the start.
I focus on the quality of the creation in my content, all the way from topic discovery to SEO keyword research, to how much the topic will matter to my ideal reader, to the quality of the visuals and the in-depth value I share (I’m typically over 2,000 words with each post).
Traction comes next — and sometimes I don’t study the traction of one post till 12 months down the line.
I create the best content piece on the topic after I’ve researched my topic, and then move on and keep creating.
There are some that definitely won’t agree on this style — and biweekly, I use SEMrush to track my rankings, so they definitely don’t go ignored — but my heavy focus is on the quality of the content that I create.
One Hubspot study showed that content traction actually happens the most at month 12 after you create, so I’m not far off here.
Focusing on the quality of creation, first and foremost, has paid off. I’ve heard from many blog readers that “this is the most practical advice I’ve had on the subject.”
For example, here’s what someone in my Facebook group said:
SEJ’s new “Illustrated Guide to Link Building”
Get the results you need from link building. Learn why, when, and how to execute tactics that deliver.
When you hear comments like that from your readers, your content creation is working.
3 Takeaways for Better Focus in Your Content Marketing
1. Pick a Core Platform
I highly suggest that you own the platform you publish on. There’s no second-guessing if your content will ever disappear, and you control every facet of the user experience. However, you know the answer to this best.
Once you have your core platform, write it down – in large letters on your whiteboard, in a memo for any content creators you hire, etc.
Make this your focus.
Hack: Spice Up a Business Blog with a Creative Name
For me, my core content platform is on my site. I’ve branded the blog I consistently publish to that’s on our agency site, “the Write Blog.”
We have 6,000+ devoted followers to our blog that read each post.
You can still have creative license with your blog, even if it’s attached to a less “fun” business site. A great way to do this is to come up with a creative, memorable name for your business blog.
Great examples of this are: NewsCred Insights, JetBlue’s Out of the Blue.
2. Commit to a Schedule
There’s no simplifying this, getting around this, or hacking this step. It is as straight up as it sounds.
You must commit to a writing schedule, and never take time off from consistency. Otherwise, you could lose momentum and results.
As far as the amount to publish, commit to what works for your schedule. There are studies that show that volume really does directly equate to more site traffic. Hubspot has reported that if you publish over 16 blogs per month, you’ll get 3.5x more traffic than brands that publish less than 4 blogs/month.
Take that with a grain of salt, and don’t overcommit — because one per week is still better than none, and I know how quickly you can feel overwhelmed when blogging.
3. Get Support
I rely on writers to help me create the amount of content that I do.
For many of my keyword-focused business blog pieces, I skeleton out the topic, write in personal experiences in the field, include research points — and two writers in my team that I’ve personally trained, work right next to me to flesh everything out.
I run a Twitter chat, but the daily work of creating all the questions, graphics, scheduling, etc. is left up to my social media manager. And I have a manager in the team that assists me with scheduling out emails to our list.
I still write many of my posts from start to finish – but the surrounding work around content creation, technicalities of posting the content, I hand off to my team.
In order to not submerge under the waters of creating content, you must get support.
There’s no ifs, ands, or buts around this.
Find your writer, and work closely with them to create much more content that will power up your brand presence online.
Final Secret: Find Your Marketing Edge & Use It
To end, I’d add that in my industry, my agency has many competitors that are, basically, a conundrum to our core values.
That has added an edge to the marketing we’re able to do around our business.
Why is that?
Our core motto is being a close, tight-knit team of writers which I personally mentor.
I have personally interviewed at least 5,000-6,000 candidates since we launched our company site: today, we have a strong team of 40 individual creators, which covers a variety of skills and talents, from technical, IT-oriented copywriters to SEO bloggers, strategists, and quality assistants.
These people have, literally, been handpicked out of thousands.
Having “40 writers” – to blanket statement the talented creators in my team that I know and work with, personally – is the polar opposite of the majority of writing firms that ring in the Inc. 5000 spots in our industry. Their teams look like 10,000-50,000 writers. That’s their marketing base: “you wouldn’t want to hire from a team without a variety of skillsets, would you?”
We go against the grain because, in our team of writers, less is more when it comes to the valuable, talented, handpicked creators we choose to train and maintain in our team. And, time and time again, we hear words like these from a new client: “wow, the writer you picked for me is SO much better than [insert Inc. 5000 firm name].”
So, our standout point is actually what our competitors would consider a “weakness,” but we use that to our advantage when sharing our values with new clients and customers and in our content marketing.
It works and speaks to our ideal client.
Go Forward, Young Padawan
Get on a consistent content schedule, and bring on a few core content creators to help you out: and stay ahead in your industry by identifying your marketing edge.
Use your edge in your content when you speak to your ideal audience. Be confident that you can do it. And, invest in your education constantly.
If I could add yet another bonus secret, it would be that one. Always stay ahead in your knowledge.
Finally, take inspiration from my story. If I can start from nothing, I believe that you can, too!