How We Made $10,000 Using These 5 Content Marketing Tricks The founder of iDoneThis shares his top tips for amping up your startup's content-marketing strategy.

By Walter Chen

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


I've never sold anything in my life. A lot of young entrepreneurs get their seed funding based, in part, on their experience from their days manning lemonade stands and garage sales. Not me, guess I'm a late bloomer.

When I started my company, iDoneThis, the biggest question on my mind -- and I'm guessing it's top of mind for other young founders too -- was: "Hmm… how do I sell this?" When I read up on it, the standard answer was ads, cold calling and PR. But none of those options actually worked for me.

Only one method of acquiring customers proved itself again and again: content marketing. It may sound like mumbo jumbo you read on blogs or websites like, but content marketing -- that is, the creation and sharing of content for the purpose of promoting a product or service -- is real. And it can really help.

In making my first $10,000 for iDoneThis through content marketing, I learned some valuable tricks that gave me a huge edge. Here are five:

1. Know your audience.
The first step isn't to think about an awesome idea for content, it's to think about where you can plausibly get a piece of content published. That frames what comes next: Who reads content there? Why do they consume it? What kind of content do they like?

There's no such thing as quality content without the context of who's going to read it. My rule is simple: Think distribution first.

Related: 'Always Be Publishing,' Brand Journalism and How It Can Help Your Startup

2. Don't just blog, get published.
Contribute to democratic content distribution channels instead of trying to get your content published on sites guarded by gatekeepers. On social news sites like Reddit,, and Hacker News, the votes of the people rather than an editor who sits on high determines what articles get featured.

Trust me, it's hard to get articles published on sites like Forbes and Harvard Business Review when you're a nobody. You've created awesome content, so make your case straight to the masses. When an article becomes popular on a social-news site, it can mean more than 50,000 visitors to your site. Some fraction of them may buy your product.

Related: How to Recover from a Branding Mistake? Apply Social Media, Stat

3. Draw in the big guys.
After you've had initial success with driving eyeballs to content, the most important thing is to tell the story over and over to anyone who will listen. Content publishers want nothing more than content that has been de-risked. Once I've been successful with one piece of content, I go to every content publisher I can find and tell them that I can write a guest post on their blog on a topic that I've previously written about, that more than 50,000 people have read and loved.

4. Follow up.
After the publisher has agreed to run your article, it's vital that you produce content of the highest quality and then work tooth and nail to drive traffic to the published article -- just as you would for a blog post on your own site. Making others successful will make you successful.

Related: 5 Trends Entrepreneurs Should Consider When Naming a Startup

5. Say thank you.
Content marketing isn't about publishing one article after another. It's about building a community around the interests you share with your customers. The best way to build community is to say thank you to everyone who engages with and shares your article.

It's especially important that you pay attention to any fellow bloggers who share your article. Keep an eye out for any bloggers who tweet the articles you write. I will send them an email with only one thing to say: "Thank you." Often, the conversation that develops turns into another guest post.

What are your best content-marketing tips and tricks? Let us know in the comments section.

Wavy Line
Walter Chen

CEO & Co-founder, iDoneThis

Walter Chen is the founder and CEO of iDoneThis, the easiest way to share and celebrate what you get done at work, every day. Learn the science behind how done lists help you work smarter in our free eBook: The Busy Person's Guide to the Done List. Follow him on twitter @smalter.

Editor's Pick

A Leader's Most Powerful Tool Is Executive Capital. Here's What It Is — and How to Earn It.
One Man's Casual Side Hustle Became an International Phenomenon — And It's on Track to See $15 Million in Revenue This Year
3 Reasons to Keep Posting on LinkedIn, Even If Nobody Is Engaging With You
Why a Strong Chief Financial Officer Is Crucial for Your Franchise — and What to Look for When Hiring One

Related Topics

Starting a Business

5 Tips For Launching a Business While Keeping Your Day Job

Launching a business while holding down a 9-to-5 is no small feat. It's a common path for aspiring entrepreneurs, but it's not without its challenges.


Working Remote? These Are the Biggest Dos and Don'ts of Video Conferencing

As more and more businesses go remote, these are ways to be more effective and efficient on conference calls.

Growing a Business

The Best Way to Run a Business Meeting

All too often, meetings run longer than they should and fail to keep attendees engaged. Here's how to run a meeting the right way.


Why Time Management Doesn't Work — And How My Team Doubled Their Productivity Once I Started Doing This Instead

Time management is killing your productivity – here's why and what you need to do to increase your productivity instead.

Business News

The Virgin Islands Want to Serve Elon Musk a Subpoena, But They Can't Find Him

Government officials would like to talk to Tesla's owner as part of an investigation into the Jeffrey Epstein case.