The year was 2014.
It was the year I set up my first blog site, all about health and lifestyle.
I was completely new to the whole concept of blogging and it felt alien.
But I went ahead anyway. I wanted to share my experiences, and if I could help others as a result – bonus.
With a little help from my friend and the easy interface of WordPress, I entered into the big wide digital world – a tiny drop in the ocean.
I soon got into the swing of blogging and set about creating associated Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
A bit of publicity
A couple of months later, I received a message on Twitter from a journalist. She was writing a piece for a well-known newspaper and asked whether I’d be interested in featuring as a case study.
She interviewed me over the phone and a few months later, a photographer visited me and took some snaps. Minus the army of make-up artists or stylists, unfortunately.
Then, one drizzly and humid September morning, I was told my feature was on the shelves, so I rushed to pick up a copy. And there I was, smiling back at myself. My case study only took up a small portion of the page, but I was pleased. I’d put myself out there, which always feels a scary thing to do; a familiar feeling for business owners.
But wait – this came about because of…a blog?
Creating an online ‘buzz’
I began blogging more regularly and got into a routine of sharing my posts on social media, gradually increasing my online presence. I even delved into a bit of video.
Not much happened to begin with.
But, over time, my network began to grow. I got to know others with shared interests, people were visiting my site and sharing my content, and I was doing the same with theirs. I realised I was part of a community…which all came about because of a blog.
What happened over four years as a result of gradual content marketing?
- My blog following went from 0 to more than 140 email subscribers
- I went from 0 Twitter followers to more than 1,700
- I went from 0 Instagram followers to more than 1,700
- My Facebook page gained more ‘Likes’ – I forget the exact numbers (although I eventually decided to close it down to focus on the other two platforms)
- I became a contributor for two websites run by a nutritionist and a contributor for a health and wellness site which exposed me to their audiences, as well as guest blogging for fellow bloggers and health experts
- I got to know lots of people – and within this community, they knew me and would come to me for advice
- I’d built up an established site and recognisable brand (helped by the fact that in 2016, I moved my blog over to a hosted site with a less specific domain name, a new brand and a fresh look. I even got myself a proper logo designed which I updated across on social media)
This is the power of content marketing. And it all began with a blog.
Small stats – big content marketing steps
I know. My stats are hardly revolutionary, but not bad considering it was a hobby. Other than sharing my experiences, I didn’t have a particular goal – I was just seeing how it developed.
So, imagine the impact if I did have a goal, and even better, a strategy.
Flip that and imagine the impact if you set a goal/goals and start the content marketing ball rolling for your business.Content marketing is (more often than not) a slow process. It won’t happen overnight - you’ve got to be in it for the long run. Click To Tweet
But as you can see, it’s worth it!
The sooner you get started, the better.
How to get the content marketing ball rolling for your business
1. Create a plan in line with your business goals
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by picking out a few key goals. What do you want to achieve from your content?
- Increase brand awareness?
- More sales?
- More traffic to your website?
All goals need to be measurable – otherwise, you won’t know if you’re achieving them. The Content Marketing Institute has lots of helpful resources about content strategy and goal setting.
2. Focus on your target audience
Your product/service is very unlikely to appeal to everyone. If you have a wide audience base – who are the customers that are going to drive your business forward? You want to create the core of the content for them. To help clarify who they are, it’s a good idea to create personas. HubSpot has a really simple (and free) persona creation tool.
3. Be consistent
- Try to get into the habit of posting regularly – find a routine that works for you and your visitors (as time goes on, you’ll find out what’s working and what isn’t)
- Use the same branding across all your platforms (website, social media, etc.) – it helps to create a recognisable brand. And a recognisable brand means a more memorable one
4. Be prepared for trial and error
Try different styles of content – what turns out to be the most/least popular may surprise you.
5. Use analytics to help plan future content
Review which types of content are working so you can plan effective content more easily. Be prepared to adapt your content along the way to reflect your visitors’ wants/needs.
6. Share your content, share others’ content
It’s no use publishing a post and then hoping for the best – you’ve got to put it out there. But be careful how you go about it. If all you do is spam people with your content you won’t get very much out of it. Taking time to interact, share others’ content and build up relationships, on the other hand… It’s important to be genuine.
Invite guest bloggers to share their insight with your audience and guest blog for others. It’s a great way to build links back to your site (which helps build credibility) while exposing you to a wider audience.
8. Don’t give up!
As you can see, it can all start with a blog. It’s going to take perseverance. If you’re struggling for ideas, here are 10.5 easy ways to blog for your business to get you started.
There’s no time like the present.
And to recap…
Need help getting your content marketing ball rolling? Get in touch.