Content marketing and solopreneurs are an unbeatable combination. Content marketing is the action part of the Inbound marketing principle. What is “Inbound marketing”? It is the method by which marketers keep track of the places online where their audiences congregate, and where they then offer valuable “content” (i.e. topic-specific information, and not sales-y advertising!) to target audiences in order to build audience trust and interest in themselves. You strategically place pieces of content to draw people to know you better. That’s Inbound.
Frequent contact of this kind, using “content” as a marketing and audience magnetizing method, is “content marketing”. Your content helps woo audiences towards you, and eventually helps convert casual audiences into loyal followers, who will buy whatever you recommend. Since content marketing is so cost-effective, and almost anyone can start doing it, at any moment, as a method of online business marketing, it’s the first choice of solopreneurs who start on shoestring budgets. Content Marketing Basics are easy to grasp even for an absolute newbie solopreneur. Although content marketing takes a bit of time to gain traction, it simultaneously builds strength into solopreneur brands – which is a big benefit widely coveted by solo-person businesses.
What is “content marketing” – how do you define it for solopreneurs?
Joe Pulizzi, Founder of The Content Marketing Institute, which is the apex body for all things related to “content marketing”, defines the concept of content marketing in this way:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Josh Steimle, in his article titled “What Is Content Marketing?” in Forbes.com, further explains the definition given by the Content Marketing Institute with a little more detail.
The key word here is “valuable.” It’s what changes this definition from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing. You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a Content Marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it, rather than avoiding it. Of course, the goal is to provide as much value from your Content Marketing to as much of your target audience as possible.”
Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs, has a great definition too:
Content marketing is anything an individual or an organization creates and/or shares to tell their story. What it isn’t: A warmed-over press release served as a blog post.”
Brian Clark, Founder & CEO, Rainmaker Digital, explains not just the “what” but also the “why” of content marketing:
It means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.”
Robert Rose of the Content Marketing Institute has, what he calls, an elevator pitch definition of what content marketing is:
Traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content marketing is showing the world that you are one.”
I like the last definition the best, don’t you?
How to do content marketing if you’re a streetsmart solopreneur …
Content marketing obviously contains a lot of workload, to be done consistently over a long time, if the method has to succeed. Online consumers cannot be hurried. You may find you have to make many touches to reach them with content marketing, before you can gradually build their trust and veer them towards making the purchases you want them to.
The smart way to succeed as a solopreneur would be to build a system for pro-active content marketing, instead of letting content marketing activity become reactive or haphazard. Make sure you have these four elements in place:
Start with a good content strategy. Define the goals you’d like to achieve, and align the content you produce with your goals. It will help to periodically review your existing channels of communication, and make an audit on everything you’ve been publishing on those channels. Course-correct when you want different results.
Streamline your content marketing process. To constantly produce engaging content that your customers will enjoy, you have to be systematic and calendarized. Plan your content topics well ahead, fill them into a calendar – and then, most importantly, work to your schedule. Plans don’t produce results, action does.
Aim to build a reputation. Your guiding principle should to to establish a thought-leadership status and reputation. Publishing high-quality content regularly shows your customers that you can be considered as a trusted authority in your industry, and that leads to loyal followers you can influence.
Always keep analyzing your progress. This allows you to identify how well your content marketing efforts are performing in terms of growing your brand. You will need to gather various key metrics from your content marketing to get insights into factors such as your referrer sources, audiences’ onsite behavior, and the relative efficacies of the different types of content you produce.
What are some examples of content marketing solopreneurs can begin with?
There are very many types of “content” that can be offered to target audiences as part of your solopreneur content marketing campaign. The most common three types of content, that expert marketers believe work best for starter-solopreneurs, are these:
Blog posts: When you write fresh articles frequently and post them on your blog – and if all these articles are interesting and engaging pieces of information tightly related to your area or topic of expertise – then you can say you are “content marketing” with your blog. A lot of solopreneurs use their blogs as their main content marketing platform. The key here is to optimize your blog post for search engines, so people searching for topics on Google and Bing can come across your blog posts.
Social media updates: The way to use the social media to get traffic towards your blog, is to post excepts of your blog articles on the social media channels (like Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn). You have to make sure to provide a link to your corresponding blog post in each social update. People who see or share your social update can thus reach your blog to read the post, if they wish. If you are regular in posting updates to the social media, you become more visible – and you can continually invite audiences to read your blog posts and get a great impression of you.
Emails messages: When visitors visit your blog, you have to place some enticing free downloadable material (like say, an exciting ebook) to attract their interest further, after they have scoured your blog post. You can provide a form for people to give you their email addresses in return for the free download. By doing this you can get people onto your emailing list, and you can then maintain your content marketing via periodic email messages to them. This is important because people may not return to your blog after they’ve read the one or two blog posts that initially interest them. But if you want to keep them revisiting your blog, or hearing from you again and again, capturing their emails to stay in touch with them is a crucial part of your “content marketing”.
Other forms of content: Apart from these three types of content, you can have videos, images, podcasts, infographics, slidedecks, ebooks, white papers, pdf guides, and a whole host of other forms of “content”. Although you need to start with a simple plan, your content marketing can include many other formats later, to touch your audiences in a variety of different ways – or even to touch a variety of different audiences!
Remember always: the key to successful content marketing is to offer “valuable, interesting, engaging information” and not “advertising-type hardsell material”. People online hate being sold to. They want to stay informed, and buy things they need at their own pace, from authoritative people they have learnt to trust. As a content-marketing-solopreneur, your role therefore is to provide them information of value that fosters belief in you, so you can subtly aid and shape their own purchasing journeys.
What are the biggest gains from content marketing for solopreneur businesses?
Jayson Demers, writing in Forbes.com, counts up to ten great benefits of content marketing for online businesses. I’ve tried to condense his excellent article into 6 main benefit areas that solopreneurs cannot afford to sneeze at:
1. You get high visibility in search engines. Every time you publish new posts to your blog, Google is going to index these, and that means you are creating that many more opportunities to rank for more search queries. You will become more and more visible to the searching audiences.
2. You get more traffic from social media. If you excerpt your blog posts, and post these as updates on your social media platforms, more users will see and read your material. They will also share these updates with their circle of friends and followers, greatly increasing your audience networks.
Over time, you’ll earn wider reach for your brand on social media, and more traffic from social media will stream into your blog and website as a result.
3. You can convert more prospects into leads. Don’t just write generally on your topic of expertise. Instead, target your content cleverly to engage site visitors through the main steps (or progress-points) of their information-to-purchase journeys. This is the way to see if you can aid their conversion from casual prospects into active leads who may give you sales.
4. You can improve your brand reputation. As people read your material, they’ll keep building a favorable impression of your brand. If they find what they read helpful, informative, or enlightening, your brand will gain even more equity.
Further, if they see your content published on external sources (like guest posts on popular and renowned magazines), they’ll perceive you as seriously trustworthy and reciprocate your interest in building a deeper relationship with them.
5. You can increase audience loyalty. You can aim your content marketing towards increasing the loyalty and bonding of your customer relationships. When your audiences start relying on you as a primary source of information – their go-to expert – their loyalty will become something you can rely on.
6. You can really decrease your marketing costs. Content marketing only costs a lot of your time, but it doesn’t take away a lot of your money. It’s incredibly cost-effective. Although your initial months of content marketing will seem sluggish, you will soon see traction and momentum build as you keep on at it. The secret is to persist and not give up. Success may be just around the next corner.
According to Julia McCoy of the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing costs at least 62% less than other marketing forms, while delivering at least 3X customer leads.
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of content-marketer solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
Other articles in our series “Content Marketing Basics”:
- Content Marketing Definitions: 15 Smart, Thought-Provoking Angles!
- What Is Valuable Content? Well, It Depends On Who Is Reading It!
- Your Content Marketing Business Model … The Choices You Have!
- 10 Skills You Need To Become A Top Solopreneur Content Marketer!
- 4 Classic Mistakes Most Content Marketers Make – And Their Fixes!
- How To 16X Your Content Marketing Goals – And Your Business Results!