Here is a unique approach to making money from content marketing.
I view content marketing as a reciprocal exchange of value between business and consumer, and the greater this reciprocal exchange of value, the more money is made and the more good is done in the world.
The direct business benefits of content marketing (leads, brand awareness, trust, customer loyalty, sales) are second to the value this practice can provide in people’s lives, as long as it is viewed by businesses the correct way.
Here’s what we’ll be discussing
In the first half of this article, we’ll discuss the concept of content marketing and delve into methods to make money directly from your content marketing campaigns.
In the second half, we’ll examine cases where people and businesses (who may not even view themselves as content marketers) have used their content to grow their businesses and change lives at the same time (including my own).
(And at the end of the article, I have prepared a special gift, just for readers of Jeff Bullas’s Blog)
These businesses are making money through their content.
They’re marketing their content to achieve business goals.
And they’re making the world a better place.
It’s a beautiful form of business, and one I work towards every day.
By the time you finish this article, I hope you will see it the same way. I also hope you’ll understand the potential impact your business can make on the world.
Are you ready?
Let’s get started.
The concept of content marketing as it stands today
Check out these companies hiring content marketers and strategists.
There’s a reason why some of the biggest companies in the world are delegating bigger budgets to content marketing and content strategy.
Content is making a massive push because number 1: Google screwed up everyone’s plans for black-hat SEO, and number 2: because content connects with people, and it’s people who end up buying our products and services, not search engine algorithms.
But I’m not going dissect SEO here. Let’s talk about business objectives.
What business objectives do we want to achieve from content marketing?
Increased email subscriptions
A wider customer base
How does content marketing achieve these objectives?
Content resonates with people.
When presented the right way, it improves their lives and helps them solve their problems.
If you’re utilizing content marketing, your content should solve the same problems your services do. Otherwise, you might not be targeting the right audience, and your potential sales will suffer.
If you’re a doctor, publish blog posts about home-remedies for the common cold, and the best ways to wrap up a sprained ankle.
If you’re an accountant, give away a free eBook that helps people get their finances under control.
Your free content should solve the same problems your paid services do.
Hold on a second.
I can hear the rebuttals now…
“Why? I mean, this seems a little counter-intuitive. Why would they pay for your services if you’re giving away this information for free?”
Because it establishes you as a trusted authority – especially over your competitors who aren’t providing any free value.
You might publish a free eBook on getting your finances under control, but you’ll still get people who download it, read it, and don’t know what to do, or don’t know which actions are best for them.
But since you gave them this information already, they’ll trust you to know what you’re doing.
They’ll seek out your services, rather than your competitor’s, because you’ve already proven you can help them.
Yes, you’ll lose out on a few potential customers who will use your free information and never need your paid services. But you’ll gain many more, simply by being a source for this information, establishing authority, and building a solid reputation in your field.
By setting up your site the right way, with email opt-in boxes, clear calls-to-action to your products and services, and with easy navigation to your most valuable free content, you’ll compel random visitors to become more emotionally invested in your business.
In their mind, they connect you with this information. They associate you with the secrets of your profession being shared with them, and how they can apply this information to their lives.
If you produce content with a genuine caring for the wants, needs, and desires of your audience, they will reciprocate this value by seeking out your services when they’re in a time of need.
They may not need your services right then. But when they do need them, you will be the first business that comes to mind.
The concept of content marketing in a nutshell:
Your customers think that if you give away this supremely valuable information for free, your paid services must be even better.
It builds the trust that breaks down a buyer’s apprehension to purchase what you offer.
Buyers always wonder if they’re going to get their money’s worth. With you, these doubts will be almost non-existent.
That’s the theory behind content marketing, and why so many people are realizing the value it has in business.
However, before you start making money, your content marketing strategy needs to accomplish some initial goals.
Let’s discuss those goals in the next section.
The first goals your content marketing campaign needs to accomplish before you start making money
Free, high value, 100% audience-focused content is a magnet for your target audience and prospective customers.
However, it’s important to make this distinction:
“It does not close sales for you!“.
Effective content marketing isn’t about writing articles and eBooks that glorify your products and services.
That’s not audience-focused.
That’s product-focused, self-serving content that resonates with only your core target audience.
It only works on the people who would buy your products and services anyway, whether they read your content or not.
These people don’t need marketing to become customers. They’re already customers in their mind before they purchase your products.
Your first goals involve attracting the audience who will become customers with the right amount of trust in your authority and exposure to your brand.
You’re a customer too. Think about the brands you’ve purchased from. Why did you choose them over the rest?
You trusted that their products and services would fulfill your needs better than their competitor’s would. Maybe you read reviews from other people. Maybe your friends told you they’re a good company to buy from. Maybe you tested out their products and services for free.
All of these factors lessened the possibility of buyer’s remorse and dissatisfaction after the purchase.
Content marketing is another way to remove the possibility of buyer’s remorse.
Your prospects see an article your business wrote being shared on their Facebook feeds, and their friends are commenting about how helpful it was.
This compels your prospects to click and read the article. They want to see for themselves.
They’re blown away by how easily they can apply your content to their lives. And guess what? It relates to an issue they’re having – an issue your products and services can solve.
They have social proof from their friend
They have test-driven your service through your content
They have a need for your services
And their potential for buyer’s remorse is minimized
This prospect has had enough exposure to your brand and has enough trust in your authority to become a happy customer.
But it wasn’t your content that made the sale. It was that first goal. Do you remember what it was?
They saw it on their Facebook feed, being shared and commented on by their friends.
That first goal was getting your content engaged with and shared on social media.
Here are some other first goals your content needs to accomplish before you can make money:
Subscriptions to your email list – where you can use effective email marketing to build stronger relationships and directly promote your products.
Increased traffic to your site through social sharing – where your content, copywriting, and site navigation can lead to greater investment in your business, which leads to sales down the road.
Creating the opportunity to guest post on related websites and blogs. This exposure leads to increased brand awareness and traffic to your site.
Building authority as a trusted resource through consistently useful content that helps define the standards of the industry.
Networking through the authority built by your content. You can share peripheral audiences with a would-be rival in your industry. This would-be rival becomes a friend who caters to slightly different needs, so you can funnel traffic to each other’s websites.
These are your “content marketing leads,” if you will. They are the first goals we need to accomplish before we can make sales and make money.
Now that we’ve got the concept of content marketing down – and which goals our content needs to achieve first – let’s move on to the really fun part.
Directly getting cash in your pockets from content marketing.
How to make money from your content marketing campaigns
You can make money from your content in many ways.
The methods you pursue will depend on your audience and your goals.
For instance, your audience may love an $8 eBook from you, but they may not be as open to affiliate promotions of other people’s products. Weigh your options, and decide which methods will resonate with your audience the best.
Here’s a list of ways to make money from your content:
General persuasive copywriting to sell your products and services
Natural links to your products and services within your content, when it’s appropriate (and as we’ll see later, directly promoting your services is not your number one way to make money through content marketing)
Affiliate promotions of other people’s products and services
Repurposing and repackaging your content
Content-based products related to your other services, using your foundational content as a funnel
Let’s discuss each in detail.
Copywriting is writing with the specific goal of getting people to take a desired action. In our case, it’s to buy your products and services.
The most famous piece of copywriting is the call to action. Sprinkle these throughout your copy.
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Check out our post on making money through content marketing
Calls-to-action are gentle commands that direct your readers to take a certain action.
What provides the best chance of getting your readers to take the action you want?
Telling them exactly what you want them to do.
When you promote your products and services within your content, do it tastefully and with a clear call to action.
Let’s say you’re writing an article on gardening in the west coast, and you sell an eBook that helps people decide which plants to plant at what times of the year.
At some point in the middle of your article, you could throw in a sidebar:
(Sidebar: If you don’t know which plants are best planted in autumn, I wrote a book that will help you out. Check it out right here.)
Then link to your book on amazon or to a landing page that provides more details.
It’s a natural way to promote your products, and it doesn’t come off sleazy.
You’re offering the reader a way to seek more information. That information just happens to be one of your products.
You should also be linking to other useful resources, both within your website and externally, to give the reader everything they need to master the topic you’re discussing.
Copywriting is my recommended route for directly monetizing your content.
But let’s check out a more subtle way to sell your products and services, in case your audience won’t appreciate direct promotions in your content.
2. Natural linking
You’ve seen me do this a few times in this article, and you’ll see it happen a few more times.
Natural linking involves taking part of a sentence that directly relates to another piece of content (or product) and simply making it the anchor text for a link to that content.
If I was linking to my own services, it would look something like this:
“If you’re struggling to rank for certain keywords, blogging is great for SEO. It’s one of the best ways to provide value to your audience and look good in Google’s eyes.”
If Jeff Bullas was linking to his services, it would look something like this:
“If you want to get noticed on the web, social media marketing is a necessity. Three of the main components include content marketing, search engine optimization, and email marketing.”
There’s no direct plug or call to action (like if we were using copywriting) so it’s less likely that our target audience will click on it.
But it sparks curiosity in the reader to find out what information lies beyond that link.
If you don’t hit your target audience, you may attract people whose friends or coworkers will want to buy your stuff, so don’t shy away from linking to your services whenever it’s appropriate.
However, don’t do it every chance you get, or even in every article. An average of 1 time per article with the best text possible should do the trick.
3. Affiliate promotions
Affiliate promotions work like this:
You promote someone else’s product on your website.
Prospects click and are taken to a landing page on that person’s website, using a link that’s unique to you.
If prospects buy the product after clicking through with your link, you receive a predetermined percentage of the price as commission.
Affiliate marketing is a huge subset of online business. It works great for some websites, but for others, it would completely alienate the audience.
Some people see affiliate marketing as scammy and distasteful.
They see it as an immoral way to make money online, because there’s incentive for the marketer to promote products that suck, just for the commission.
If you’re thinking about taking the affiliate marketing route, here are my suggestions:
First, predict how your audience will react to affiliate promotions. Will they welcome them as a way to support the valuable information you give away? Will they be indifferent? Will it alienate them? This is important, because without your audience, you have no business.
Be completely and utterly honest about your affiliation. Don’t hide it (and these days, it can be illegal to hide it. Check out this FTC report for more info). If you hide it and people find out (and don’t like it) you will look worse than if you were open about your affiliation from the beginning. Here’s a good article on Copyblogger about doing this tastefully.
Only promote products you have used yourself and would recommend to other people, even if you weren’t getting a commission. Let your audience know this is your criteria for affiliate promotions. And if they decide to purchase, they will be helping you continue to provide a valuable service. There’s nothing immoral about that. Immorality comes into play when you have no experience with the product, and you’re vouching for its value simply for the commission. Don’t do this.
Check out Smart Passive Income, Pat Flynn’s blog for helping people earn passive income online. He’s doing it right, so I would follow his lead. Jeff’s blog is also a great example of open, honest, and effective affiliate marketing.
Incorporating affiliate links and promotions can make your content marketing campaigns very lucrative.
For more information on how to take advantage of affiliate marketing with your blog, I would check out this post by Sean Ogle.
4. Repurposing and repackaging your content
This is a fun one (for me, at least).
Repurposing means taking your existing content and repackaging it into a paid product.
I’ve seen people do this many ways:
Taking a large number of blog posts and packaging them into an eBook
Transcribing the dialogue of a webinar and packaging it into an eBook
Using an eBook as the foundation for a paid video course
Taking some of your best blog posts and creating a paid email autoresponder course
Taking your best content, creating a membership area of your site, and allowing only paying members to access this content
The possibilities are boundless, and it’s fun to see how many ways you can repurpose existing content and stick a price tag on it.
It’s a way to receive extra revenue without putting in extra work creating new content.
5. Content-based products related to your other services
This is similar to the part on natural linking, but I want to devote a section to it.
No matter your industry, you can create content-based products to sell on your website that will be of value to your audience.
You can then funnel people to these products through the valuable content you’re churning out (i.e. from blog posts, videos, webinars, infographics, slideshows, presentations, audio, interviews, etc.)
If you’re a plumber, you can write an eBook on simple home-plumbing fixes, charge $6.99 for it, and make some extra income.
In your blog, you could then write articles based on home-plumbing and naturally link to your eBook if people want more detailed instructions.
If you’re a painter, you can offer a beginner’s video painting course for $30, and give out the first two videos for free to entice people to join.
Then, you could create videos showing how you paint your masterpieces, and link to your course that teaches people how to start doing the same thing.
You’re always providing value, but using your content as a magnet to help people trust the value inherent in your products.
5 ways to make money with your content
Copywriting that gets people to take action,
Naturally linking to your products and services with anchor text
Tasteful affiliate promotions of other people’s products to earn a commission
Repurposing and repackaging your content
Content-based products related to other services, using your foundational content as a funnel
Great! Now you have 5 different ideas to implement. (You can also download your free gift in the byline below this article — the “Make Money and Change Lives Content Marketing Checklist,” filled with all of the key methods to focus on, plus what we’ll be discussing in the next half of the article.)
But that’s all well and good. You know how you CAN make money through your content marketing campaigns. The true question is, will you?
Let’s find out.
I’ve determined one crucial aspect that if your content lacks this, or doesn’t provide enough of it, you won’t achieve more than a marginal amount of success.
Without this one CRUCIAL aspect, your content is doomed to fail
This aspect is value, but not just any old value.
It’s value that comes from a genuine caring for your audience and the issues that plague their lives.
I know you’ve heard it all before.
“Content is King!”
“All you need is valuable content and Google will love you!”
“Want to build trust in your brand? Valuable content!”
There’s a difference between valuable content, and content that is valuable to your audience.
You may publish an epic article on how to get high paying clients, but if the purpose of your content marketing is to attract clients, you’ve missed your market entirely.
Don’t write for other professionals in your industry. Write for the people your industry serves, because it’s them who decide whether you’re an authority or not.
In my case, I could publish the greatest article ever on becoming a better content strategist, but it wouldn’t lead to any new clients.
Content strategists don’t need my services. The article may be supremely valuable, but not for my audience, and not for my business.
It comes back to creating content that solves the same problems your products solve.
Your products solve problems for your target audience, so your valuable content should solve the same problems. Otherwise, it’s not valuable. It’s just content.
The second point I want to make about valuable content is about being empathetic to your audience.
For your content to have any impact, you have to genuinely care about the issues that plague their lives.
Talk to them. Find out what those issues are. Do some market research and identify their pain points.
It’s even better if you are, or were, a part of your target audience. Don’t shy away from letting your experiences come out in your writing. That’s how you’re going to build real relationships and foster connections with the people who support your business.
If your content isn’t getting any engagement right now, or social shares, or comments, this could be the reason why. You might not be writing for the right people, and you might be missing their strongest pain points.
But that’s alright, because the rest of this article will help you fix that.
We’re going for deep dive into the sea of value, breaking down what it means, who’s succeeding at it right now, and what we, as content marketers, entrepreneurs, and business owners, can do to infuse this value into our content.
Business works best when it serves the people who need it. Because in business, when you serve, you receive.
Your business, big or small, can change the world.
I wholeheartedly believe this, and you’ll soon see why.
Content Marketing as an exchange of value
Content marketing is about facilitating an exchange of value between business and consumer.
The greater this exchange of value, the more good is done in the world.
Why do I say that?
Because the more value the business provides, the more it improves their customer’s lives.
The more it improves their customer’s lives, the more fulfillment their audience gets out of life.
The more fulfillment they get, the more they attribute this fulfillment to the business that provided this value.
By attributing this fulfillment to the business, they build trust and establish a connection with that brand.
As they trust and connect with this brand more and more, they see it as their number one choice to seek those specific services.
In their customer’s eyes, this business may even far outweigh their other options.
This business becomes their number one choice, over and over again. They’re loyal customers, providing recurring value back to the business that provided this value in the first place.
The business grows, its owner and staff get bigger paychecks, they get more time to spend doing the things they love, and they make the world a better place by improving people’s lives at the same time.
Granted, the business has to be the initiator. That’s why you see a significant lag between the start of a content marketing campaign and measurable results from that campaign, which can be a hard sell for content marketers.
But once those results are in, they tend to stay, because that connection between business and consumer stays strong.
The exchange of value makes content marketing a sustainable inbound marketing strategy.
That’s why it’s so powerful.
How to produce supreme and valuable content “and” make the big bucks
Riding our exchange of value wave, how do we harness it to make some serious cash?
It starts with your business.
You have to make the first move. You have to provide an initial surge of value to get the ball rolling.
Ramit Sethi calls it “remarkable content.”
Copyblogger calls it your “cornerstone content.”
I usually refer to it more generally as “supremely valuable content.”
It doesn’t matter what you call it. This content goes above and beyond everything out there, it provides a new perspective people haven’t seen before, and it changes a part of someone’s life that matters to them. It’s also the content that defines what you do and who you do it for.
This content is crucial to your success, and therefore, how much money you make.
Before you write a single word, you need to know your audience in and out. You need to take what you provide and tailor it to what they want, what their needs are, and what they desire.
If you’re a lawyer, your audience’s biggest concern is having piece of mind they’ll be okay once their legal debacle is over.
If you’re a psychiatrist, your audience’s biggest concern is making sense of what they’re feeling, so they can live a normal life again.
If you provide SEO services, your audience’s biggest concern is rising the ranks in Google’s results and bringing in more targeted traffic to increase conversions, get sales, and live a more fulfilling life through the success of their business. Especially for local businesses, this is an important service.
Once you nail this down, you’re ready to write (or to shoot your video, record your audio, etc. I’ll be using writing as an example throughout, but it applies to every type of content.)
Supremely valuable content combines multiple forms of media to give the reader a full sensory experience.
You should include as much as, if not all of, the following to enhance your content:
Images that relate to what you’re discussing
Videos that further dissect the topic
Infographics to organize information into a nice visual format
Screenshots to not only tell the reader what to do, but show them
Links to other sources of valuable content that will deepen the reader’s understanding
Here’s a great study that iAcquire did on what determines “share-worthy” content.
Share-worthy content is usually supremely valuable, so the guidelines in this study are good to follow as well.
Copyblogger says this content is the content that educates your reader to do business with you. Your paid services are one level higher than your cornerstone content.
You’re providing your readers enough valuable content to improve their lives, while giving them a chance to get “more where that came from” through your paid services.
But it’s your supremely valuable content that entices them to want more information, to deepen their understanding, in the first place.
You make the big bucks once you have taught them so much, their only logical next step is to seek your services. Copyblogger does this beautifully.
And they’ve got me entranced in their content spell, as well.
I’m not ready for their services yet, but when I am, I know exactly where to go.
I’m invested in their company. I know what I’ll get from their software and how it will propel my business. And I’m talking about them in this article – right now.
That’s effective content marketing, and one of the reasons they’re so successful.
Some guidelines for your supremely valuable content:
Know your audience through and through. If you can, become one of them.
Combine multiple forms of media to give your reader a full sensory experience.
Educate the reader to do business with you, right up to the level just below your paid services.
Teach them so much that their only logical next step is to seek your services.
The more you can provide, the better. Copyblogger gives away 16 eBooks that are 40-80 pages each. That’s 3-6 full-length book’s worth of free, valuable content.
And they’re a thriving internet business.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll be following their lead.
I’ll also be following the leads of the following companies, some of which are not only making money, but changing lives at the same time (including my own).
How successful content marketers are making money
Let’s check out some companies that are doing content marketing the right way, and have gotten massive returns from it.
Content marketing case study 1: Mint.com’s MintLife Blog
According to investigative research done by Zach Bulygo of KISSmetrics, it only took Mint 2 years to grow from zero to 1.5 million users and to be sold for $170 million.
How did they do it? And what are they still doing today that worked in 2007 when they launched?
Besides creating superior personal finance software, the Mint team launched a content marketing strategy that involved quality blogging, networking with other personal finance blogs, and multiple PR campaigns per year.
Here’s some of what they did…
They took an area of people’s lives that is generally frustrating (managing finances) and churned out content that catered to these needs.
These are the same needs their product fulfills, but first, they had to use their content as a way to funnel people to their software.
They created weekly features, such as “Trainwreck Tuesday,” to highlight key pain points.
Readers could even submit their own stories to be featured on the blog, heightening engagement (and as you can imagine, I’m sure everyone who got featured told all of their friends and family, spreading the Mint brand through word of mouth).
They interviewed top finance professionals, including CEOs, and featured these “Minterviews” on the blog.
Personal finance bloggers got to guest post on MintLife, giving them a link back to their website and giving Mint exposure to influential writers.
Their most viral content was glaringly informative infographics, highlighting key issues in people’s lives in a turbulent economy. (The financial crisis was well underway.)
These infographics hit the front page of Digg and Reddit. They resonated. They were share-worthy.
But most of all, they got people’s attention.
Today, MintLife features similar content.
Categories on the Mintlife blog
Here is a sample of content on “Trends”
Here is a sample of content on “Everyday Triumphs”
Here is a sample of content on “saving”
If you Google “personal finance,” their home page is on page two.
If you Google “personal finance tips,” they’re the fourth link down.
If you Google “personal finance budgeting,” their home page is number three.
If you Google “how to manage your money,” they’re on the first page as well.
Their content marketing worked. It did everything it was supposed to.
It got people’s attention
It grew their waiting list to between 20,000 and 30,000 email subscribers – before launching
It got them in the press
It got bloggers talking and writing about them
It got them to the first (or second) page of Google for almost every competitive personal finance keyword
And their content went viral, exploding across the internet by influencing a key pain point in people’s lives
What can we learn from Mint.com’s success?
That radical growth is possible.
But more importantly, that content marketing works when it influences lives. It works when it’s tailored to the needs of your audience, and when it’s backed by a superior product.
Let’s move on to another some content marketing superhero.
Content marketing case study 2: Costco’s Magazine – “The Costco Connection”
“The Costco Connection magazine builds community among Costco members by combining information about what’s new at Costco with a mix of lifestyle and small business articles.” – The Costco Connection website
My mom loves the Costco Connection, and so do Costco’s 72 million members.
What I appreciate is, they don’t shy away from promoting their products.
You know you’re going to find deals when you open up the magazine, but you’ll also find helpful articles. It’s in every issue.
And they don’t pretend to be a non-commercial magazine and then stick promotions in there as if readers won’t notice. They make it plain and simple right in their mission statement.
“…combining information about what’s new at Costco with a mix of lifestyle and small business articles.”
If people expect it, they won’t care. But if you try to sneak your products in, they will care. Your readers aren’t stupid. Don’t try to fool them.
So, what are they doing well?
Costco Connection has monthly contributors, so readers can get accustomed to reading their columns and seeing their faces.
They get quality writers to create their content, and industry leaders, such as Suze Orman, to give expert advice.
They feature personal finance, tax tips, human interest stories, travel advice, the latest tech news; everything you would expect out of an everyday lifestyle publication – except it’s coming from your local Costco superstore.
And you get not one, but four different ways to access their free content – print, online, phone, or tablet – so no matter where you are, you have no excuse not to read it.
To shop at Costco, you have to be a member, and the magazine is free to all its members.
Costco’s smooth content marketing seduction
The following scenario explains the effectiveness of their content marketing perfectly:
People get it once a month. They leave that month’s issue on their coffee table.
Non-member friends (read: crazy people) come over and see the magazine laying there.
They pick it up, wondering what in the world Costco could teach them about managing their expenses.
Unexpectedly, they get some great advice. Once naysayers now have a more positive impression of the bulk shopping chain.
Down the line, an opportunity for a discounted membership arises. They sign up, thinking they can opt-out anytime they want.
One week later, they get their own, personal copy of the Costco Connection in their mailbox.
They read it cover to cover, find some splendid deals for their first Costco shopping experience, and now they’re happy, delighted Costco customers.
“The Costco Connection – A lifestyle magazine for Costco members”
Content marketing at its finest.
How value-oriented content marketers are building their businesses and changing lives at the same time
Many professional bloggers influenced my decision to start an online business.
I now realize it was their content that got me invested in them in the first place.
Even if they may not identify as such, I believe they are content marketers.
As far as I can see, their content is the driving force behind their current success and in how they attain new business. It’s also what keeps their fans glued to their every move.
Why are their fans so devoted? Because their content is 100% devoted to their fans.
It’s value-oriented, it services the reader, and it changes lives
Let’s find out how.
Content marketer case study: Sean Ogle – Location 180
Sean Ogle runs Location 180, a blog that documents Sean’s quest to build a location independent business. It also shows readers how to do the same thing.
His paid service is a membership area called Location Rebel, where people who really want to get their hands dirty and build a serious business can find all the tools they need.
Sean’s free content is top-notch. It’s what got me started, and what gave me a direction to take. Without Sean’s writing, I’d probably still be a lost puppy running around the Internet trying to find my home.
Location 180 and Sean’s Location Rebel program have helped hundreds of people build location independent businesses.
This service changes lives. It helps people who are stuck in dead-end jobs, which they hate, build businesses they can run from anywhere, which they love.
They can spend more time with their families, travel to new countries, sleep-in late, and have a beer at 11 AM on a Tuesday, all while earning a living from their computers.
Sean’s content, both free and paid, helps people do all of it.
From what I gather, his free content is just the tip of the iceberg.
Although I have not indulged in his program, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to build an online business, simply from the level of free content he churns out on a weekly basis (and of course, because of my experience with that content).
This is powerful stuff. It’s life-altering.
And your content can do the exact same thing.
Your business can change lives. It can build an army of loyal fans. It can turn those fans into customers, and you can run a thriving business, while making the world a better place at the same time.
It takes content that is hell-bent on changing the lives of your readers, even if it only changes a certain aspect.
You don’t need to be Tony Robbins, but you should be the Tony Robbins of your niche.
Content marketer case study 2: Mark Manson – MarkManson.net
Mark Manson is an author and former dating coach. He got me into personal development, and changed the course of my life.
He’s one of the top ten personal development bloggers, and his self-published book sold tens of thousands of copies with little to no marketing on his part.
I’ve recommended his articles to countless people, because they address issues a majority of us deal with.
In his most recent site makeover, he introduced a membership area as well.
Based on the description, it’s a treasure trove of courses, videos, and articles that expand on his research-driven self-help material.
As a dating coach, he helped thousands of men achieve happiness in their dating lives.
As his about page says, he has “talked people down from suicides, inspired marriages, and helped build first business.”
His writing hits a deep part of people’s lives. It encapsulates our culture — the good and the bad.
He inspires you to think, and to analyze your life and its direction so you can make adjustments before it’s too late.
His writing speaks to you, and it’s what has made him such a well-known and influential figure.
These aren’t tactics, gimmicks, or tricks.
Of course, there are marketing principles at play throughout his website. He is still running a business.
But at the heart of it all is how his content affects the lives of those who consume it.
The reciprocal exchange of value is alive and well in his content, as with other people who have learned to harness its power to make the world a better place.
The way we need to view content marketing to become truly successful in our businesses
Many people see content marketing as something similar to this timeline:
Business = free content = traffic = trust = subscriptions = conversions = sales = analyze KPIs = determine ROI = rinse and repeat.
I like to see it as:
By now, I’m sure you’re not surprised I view it this way.
But THAT’s content marketing that changes lives. It also happens to be content marketing that builds your business.
I’m not saying the analytical aspects of content marketing aren’t important, such as determining your ROI and optimizing your strategy. It’s important to promote your content in the right channels and gauge its effectiveness, so you can tweak and optimize your results.
But when it comes down to it, we’re dealing with people.
Your ROI is people.
Your social shares are people.
Your sales, your subscriptions, your comments; it’s all people.
Who are the people you can help out the most? Who needs and craves your services in their lives? What content do they need from you to trust you and love what you’re doing enough to devote themselves to your cause?
That’s what this is all about.
That’s business that makes the world a better place.
What all of this means for your business
It’s time to ask yourself some tough questions.
What is the purpose of your business?
Why does your business exist?
What is the supreme value you’re providing?
Who will get the most out of this value?
How are you going to provide it to them?
Are you hitting the right pain points with your audience? Will your content resonate?
Once you can honestly and completely answer these questions, you will have a framework laid out for a content marketing strategy that grows your business.
Not only that, you will produce content that readers look forward to.
You will produce content that influences their lives, while taking casual readers and developing them into brand ambassadors.
And they will reciprocate the service you’re providing by investing in your business’s success.
So what does it all come down to?
It comes down to how much you genuinely care about your audience – about the people you serve.
Don’t neglect the process of building a viable content strategy. Don’t neglect your market research, or choosing the right KPIs, or calculating your return on investment so you can optimize your campaign.
But don’t forget that you’re dealing with people, and it’s ultimately a deep understanding of our humanistic characteristics that leads to success.
If you’re struggling to find your ultimate purpose, I urge you to watch this TED talk by Simon Sinek.
Figure out why you’re in business and what you’re providing.
Then, how you’re going to make it a reality will naturally fall into place.
A disclaimer you never saw coming
I haven’t chosen this profession just to be a “content marketer.”
I’m doing this to help other people live better and more fulfilling lives through the success of their businesses.
And as this article harps on, it will help me do the same as well.
Here’s the disclaimer:
I haven’t had a full-fledged content marketing client yet. You could say this doesn’t make me an “official” content marketer.
But does it make this article any less true? Are my points about content marketing as a tool to succeed in business and change lives any less valid?
I don’t think so.
And since I haven’t done any of this for a client yet, does it mean I won’t do this for my first client, right up until my last?
No. It doesn’t.
Here’s why I know these things to be true:
Even if 99% of the business owners who visit my site don’t want to work with me, I still want Copytactics to be the number one resource for businesses, from all industries and sizes, to seek help in using content to grow their businesses and lead more fulfilling lives.
I also want them to realize they can do it while providing a meaningful service to their customers.
This is simply for the sheer joy and satisfaction that comes from changing lives for the better.
And hopefully, maybe, I’ll inspire other people to do the same thing.
These are my views. This is the purpose of my business, and how I view the impact of content marketing in the foreseeable future.
And I guarantee this is the impact your business can make.
Guest Author: Michael Karp is a content marketing strategist and copywriter. He runs Copytactics, a site where people can learn how to utilize content to grow their businesses and make the world a better place at the same time. As a gift to Jeff Bullas’s readers, you can download Michael’s free “Make Money and Change Lives” Content Marketing Checklist right here.
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