Take a Running Start
After years of working as a content marketer, some things eventually become a part of daily life. Keywords are like breathing, and content calendars are more important than daily planners. I reached this point in my career about two years ago, and since then, the basic concepts of content marketing have just been a part of who I am—not just what I do. Until this week, I had no idea I had reached this level. I believed I was simply a writer. Writing books, writing music reviews, writing marketing content—it was all just words to me.
My epiphany came when a few friends asked for some advice on starting a blog for their small businesses. With a crack of the knuckles, I set in to explain a content marketing strategy for true beginners and realized two things: One, I’m no longer just a writer, and two, everyone benefits from a trip back to the beginning once in a while. For that reason, I thought I’d share some tips for developing a content marketing strategy for those who’ve never attempted blogging for business before. Sure, there are thousands of blogs out there that cover the same topic, but perhaps I can put it in terms for those who don’t have marketing degrees.
Simply put, you need an Internet presence. A company website won’t garner you any rankings in search results, no matter how packed with keywords it may be. Google wants meat when it searches, and you need to provide it. The more pages your website has, the more likely you’ll show up in Google searches, and each blog you publish will count as a page. Inbound marketing giant Hubspot says businesses that blog more than 20 times per month get 5 times more traffic than those blogging less than 4 times per month.
Targeting the Right Audience
When you’re ready to start blogging for business, it’s important to remember that you are not your target audience. Before you commit a single word to the blogosphere, you must determine whom you want to reach and how you want to reach them. Break this down into groups according to how interested and invested they will be in your product or service. For instance, if you provide manuscript-editing services, you’ll want to identify your audience in three stages. Your first and largest group would probably include pretty much anyone who enjoys books in any way. Your second group would be writers and other editors looking for tips and tricks. Your final and smallest group would be those interested in using your services.
By identifying these members of your audience, you begin to get a better idea of your content marketing strategy. By simply stumbling into it and posting things only you find relevant, you’ll cut out a large majority of your actual target audience.
Tell Your Story
As constricting as a content calendar may seem, its true purpose is to help you structure your story. Your blog is where you tell that target audience you identified who you are, what you’re about, and how your products or services can help them. Before you start talking and selling, consider the three levels of your potential reader pool. You want your content to appeal to each of those buyers in turn, but you can’t do it all at the same time in the same post. Instead of making it harder to develop a content calendar, this should make it easier for you.
Consider a day for each level every week. For instance, your editing blog could post anything about books, movies, or storytelling. This is to bring in readers of all types, some of whom may eventually be interested in the services you’re selling. Even if they aren’t and never will be an actual customer, they may know someone who is. You’re casting your net as far and wide as possible in the hopes of catching a few fish.
Your next day should focus more on those interested in your industry. An editing blog would provide information to writers, publishers, and perhaps other editors. This is where you establish yourself as an expert in your field and build trust among potential consumers. It could be compared to a handheld fishing net used to scoop a few fish out at a time.
Finally, you’ll want a targeted post for that one writer searching for services just like yours. This is where you’ll detail the editing process, explain why your methods work, and share anything else a writer seeking an editor would need to know. This is your one fishing line and hook, destined for one particular fish.
You don’t need a fancy SEO analysis company to get you started, though these services can certainly help. You can get started on your own by deciding how you want to be found. These become your keywords, and you should use them in your titles, blogs, and alt text when publishing. Your keywords should center on your services, your location, and your audience. For instance, “editing services in San Francisco” would bring you people searching for exactly that. You can use several variations on the same keywords to strengthen your results.
Writing isn’t a strong point for everyone, and that puts many small companies in a bind. Your content marketing strategy is crucial to your success, and you can’t afford not to have one. If you’re uncomfortable with writing content, consider sharing other forms, such as video, infographics, images, and even memes. For your written content, you may consider hiring a freelance writer so you can enjoy the many benefits of written content. How you go about sharing your company with the world (while also enjoying your Google search rankings) is entirely up to you. It is only important that you do it.
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