Want to grow business revenue a thousandfold in one year? Commit yoursef to writing more and invest in content marketing. Here's how to do it:
I came up with the idea of starting a blog before blog was even a word. When blogging software came out, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it and started keeping track of my experiences as an entrepreneur. I wrote because I enjoyed writing. I also hoped to gain some business from blogging. But even though my blog attracted traffic, I could never track any revenue to it. Things went on this way for 10 years.
Then I got the chance to write an article for a major financial publication, which led to another business editor's invitation to contribute articles. As a result of this regular writing, I have since written for scores of publications, including Entrepreneur.
Most of my writing has not focused on what I do for my business. (I’m a partner in a firm that provides SEO and content-marketing services). When I first started writing for publications I purposely stayed away from writing about anything even remotely related to what I do, for fear of appearing self-promotional. I mostly wrote about entrepreneurship and doing business in Hong Kong, where I’m now based. As time went on, I realized I had experience that could benefit readers and started sharing it, being sure to impart valuable, actionable information and not engage in a sales pitch.
No sooner had I started writing about digital marketing, then the phone started ringing off the hook and my email inbox started overflowing with leads. My writing has led to opportunities to appear on TV, radio and give a TEDx talk. Giving away valuable advice for free, staying as far away from selling as I can has turned out be the best sales tool.
Most of my writing still focuses on entrepreneurship and business matters not directly related to the services provided by my company. But now writing or content marketing has become a core strategy of my business. Content marketing can also deliver similarly dramatic results for your business. Here are four easy ways to start producing content.
Start a company blog and post on it at least once a week, but preferably three to five times a week. This will help you develop your voice and learn the craft.
2. Become a contributor.
Major business publications use a lot of unpaid contributors for their content. While you won’t be paid for your writing, you will gain a powerful platform that will provide exposure to an audience you couldn’t reach any other way.
Identify a publication you want to write for and then contact an editor or a contributor and ask how you, too, can become a contributor. Be prepared to show them past work, which could be your blog. Hey, it worked for me. If you get turned down, don’t despair. Start out writing for a local newspaper or regional business publication, then try again in a few months.
If you're comfortable writing, you could also be speaking. Start by doing presentations for your co-workers. Then approach other groups that might be interested in your content, like chambers of commerce or networking groups. Offer to speak for free on a certain topic. Many organizations are desperate for interesting presenters. There are TEDx and other high profile events all around the world, and sometimes being able to speak at one is as easy as contacting the organizer and asking.
4. Post your presentations online.
If you’re going to use a presentation for a speaking engagement, you might as well publish that content online. The online exposure will likely be far greater than what you receive at the speaking engagement. In June I gave a presentation to a group of 40 people in Utah about doing business in Hong Kong. My Slideshare presentation has now been visited more than 4,000 times. Links on Slideshare presentations are clickable, so be sure to have a prominent link to your company.
Content is good if people want to read it and great if people will pay to read it. Look at the content you pay to read, whether it’s a book, a magazine you subscribe to or content behind a paywall. If you can figure out why you're willing to pay for that content, then you’ll know what kind of content you need to create for people read it.
To learn more about content marketing, consult the books Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi and Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt. The website Copyblogger is always great for writing tips and inspiration.
One of my favorite bloggers is Belle Beth Cooper, one of the original bloggers at Buffer. “I knew nothing about content marketing four years ago,” Cooper said on her website. “Since then I've used content to build my own personal brand, [and] increased my salary by over four times.” Perhaps this will be your story this year as well.