Produce badass content. Find your medium and deliver value.
I’ve blown the big reveal. You can stop reading. If you’re not quite sold, or if you’d like a little direction on how to make this marketing tactic work, come on down my rabbit hole.
I can directly point to writing as the source for half of my current clients. I’m driving five figures every month through a combination of content marketing, repeat business, and referrals.
I don’t say this to boast. It’s important to share what I’ve been able to do in one year of writing for a small but growing audience. Writing was the difference between a decent year for Special Sauce and a bit of a breakout (hold on while I pat myself on the back).
Don’t Get Me Wrong, I’m An Idiot
I should have started 15 years ago when I was running Harvest (the agency I sold last year). Imagine the wealth of content I’d have circulating the internet, but it’s hard to build a habit and pump out quality content.
There’s always a distraction that’s more pressing. You’re going to finish that post and then a fire pops up. I feel you. These frustrations lead to most of us quitting before our efforts have had time to stick.
Maybe you don’t quit, but your efforts become sporadic and unpredictable. That won’t work either. Consistency is the only path to this content marketing thing working.
Consistent quality leads to attention. Attention leads to awareness. Awareness leads to interest. Interest leads to trust. Trust leads to money.
I’m not joking when I say I feel you. I failed in both of my previous content endeavors. I launched two blogs that I let die a sad death. The first of these was over 10 years ago. Oh man, the missed possibilities in the 500 to 1,000 blog posts that I’d have driving traffic to my sites.
I see now all of the mistakes I made. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say. The only thing I can do is apply the lessons to my current efforts and stop other people from making the same mistakes. Here’s what I’ve learned from my previous failures and my current momentum.
You Must Earn Someone’s Attention
You can’t skip straight to the money in the progression I laid out above. I’d love to tell you that you’re going to write an article today and see customers flood in the door tomorrow. That’s not realistic. You must first earn someone’s attention, awareness, interest, and trust.
As Mama said, “Don’t talk to strangers.”
Make no mistake, you’re that stranger Mama warned about…at first. You have to earn the right to go from stranger to valued inbox buddy. You can’t do that without showing up every week with nuggets of value for your audience.
The relationship starts with someone dropping by for a visit on your blog. You make a good first impression and they leave happy. Great first date.
Then that person sees you pop up in their LinkedIn feed with another interesting article. You deliver on your promise with value again and they spend a few minutes looking around your site. Successful second date.
The third time they catch your content they pop over to your site and sign up for your email list. Now you’re officially dating.
You’ve won this person over and added them to your audience. Trust is building and the possibility of a sale just grew like the Grinch’s heart. That’s right, you’re three times more likely to get a sale from someone in your audience.
But Andrew…if it works so well, why isn’t everyone pumping out content? One reason is that it takes work, like a lot of work. The other reason is that most people want everything to be perfect before they’ll publish. The post has to read as if Hemingway penned it, the post image must be taken by Annie Leibovitz, and the formatting must be as beautiful as Gisele.
It’s Never Going To Be Perfect
I look at my first several articles and cringe. I’m not saying my current writing is phenomenal, but I’ve made progress. I’ve built a voice and style that is all my own. This can only happen when you push through the imperfections and publish. I wouldn’t have 50+ emails, 50+ blog/Medium posts, a growing email list that’s highly engaged, and several new clients if I had waited until everything is perfect.
My writing is, and will always be, far from perfect. It doesn’t matter. My audience is growing because I keep giving. People who resonate with my message see through any imperfections and appreciate the value I dish out.
So-called perfectionists struggle with the idea of putting out an imperfect piece. Their perfection is keeping them from actually perfecting anything. Perfection truly is the enemy of progress. It’s ironic that most perfectionists produce mediocre work. This happens because they’re too afraid to hit publish, take their knocks, and improve.
Even if I didn’t have my email list or clients that have come from writing, I’d still be pleased with the results. Writing has clarified my vision and allowed me to better vocalize my value to the world. All areas of my work have improved thanks to consistent writing. Nothing is perfect, but it’s certainly improved.
Focus On One Engine First
Putting out badass articles is hard. Maybe it’s easy for some of the fantastic writers, but it’s not for me. I know most people are like me. How do I know? I’ve worked with hundreds of businesses and seen where they struggle.
Knowing that it’s hard to be great on one platform, imagine how hard it is to be prolific on 3, 4, or 5 platforms. Your heart probably started beating a little faster just thinking about pumping out content for 5 platforms. That’s why it’s important to pick one engine that will drive your audience-building efforts.
Find one delivery vehicle you’re going to utilize. Are you going to write, use video, or maybe it’s podcasting? Find the one that fits your skills and focus your efforts. If you choose writing, don’t get distracted by the success other people are having with video. Stick with your strengths and deliver consistently.
You can use your preferred engine, let’s say writing in this case, to power multiple efforts without losing focus. Write a killer blog post, share the article to LinkedIn, and then use the article to power an email. One piece of content just powered three channels of marketing.
There’s No Rule About New Year’s Eve
Now is the perfect time to start (or revitalize) your marketing. Use the jolt of 2020 drive coursing through your veins to create a marketing habit. There’s no reason to wait until New Year’s Eve or January 1st to form a plan. Get that out of the way now so you’re ready to execute on the 1st day of 2020.
Don’t set a resolution that day, start the habit. You won’t see an immediate return. Don’t stop. As a friend of mine says, “Keep showing up.”
Compound interest will kick in and the benefits (money, cash, cheddar, business juice, crypto) will start flowing. The sooner you start making deposits with quality content, the faster you’ll see your value grow.
If you want to grow your business, put out content. If you can’t depend on yourself to show up, hire someone else to show up for you…on time…every week.
I show up every Friday with lessons from my 15 years of building brands.Andrew