6-Step Blogging Strategy To Drive Sales From Your Content

Check out Interact’s 6-step blogging strategy to drive sales from content!

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Interact hit the $1 Million revenue mark without spending anything on sales or marketing (outside of salaries for people who run our initiatives).

It’s not even that we’re against spending money on paid marketing or sales, those things just don’t work for us, and we’ve wasted $300,000 pursuing outside sales.

As co-founder at interact, I’m prepping to give a talk this coming week on how we became a $1 Million company without spending on sales and marketing, and in the run-up to that I thought it’d be worthwhile (and on brand) to do a blog post on our exact process for running content marketing.

Our process breaks down into 5 pieces, and I’ll go super in-depth on each of them, but before we go crazy on that, here’s a nice friendly graphic with color-coding so it’s easier to visualize what the heck I’m talking about.

Part 1: Core Content

Pieces that cover the exact processes your company helps with

Part 2: Industry-Specific Content

Articles that cover the exact processes your company helps with in every industry you could possibly be useful for

Part 3: Breaking Down Areas of Core Content

Dividing your core content into pieces and elaborating on each part

Part 4: Example Lists

Putting together lists of industry examples for your product or service

Part 5: Partner Blog Posts

Bartering with influencers and bloggers to have them write core content on your behalf

Part 6: Guest Blogging

Spreading the word on other blogs

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Part 1: Core Content

core content

What is this?

Core content is content built around the very core of what your company has to offer. You can think of it as a detailed product booklet turned into internet blog posts. The best analogy I have is an owner’s manual for your product or service. An owner’s manual goes into massive detail on every aspect of a product, just like your core content should go into every single aspect of what you do and how you help your clients.

As an example, interact is a quiz building software and some of our most important core content pieces are:

1. How to Make a Personality Quiz

2. How to Make a Trivia Quiz

3. How to Make a Multiple Choice Quiz

Step 1: Outline your user’s manual

The simplest way to build core content is to think of it as an owner’s manual for your products or services. An owner’s manual answers all the questions that someone might have about what you are offering, and that’s how you want to create your core content. Listen to the questions your customers are asking you and include the answers in your core content. The most important lesson I’ve learned when finding ideas for core content is that if someone asks you a question there are probably hundreds or thousands of others who have the same question but just haven’t thought to ask it.

For example, when we were in the early days at interact a lot of people would ask me how to actually put together a personality quiz, and I always brushed it off, thinking that our product helped with that exact thing so there was no need for a blog post on it.

Then I finally caved and wrote “How to Make a Personality Quiz” which has now driven over 100,000 visits to our blog and is the #1 driver of new signups out of all our content. The thing to keep in mind when creating core content that asks questions is that you work in your industry every single day, you work on your product every single day, so you might think a question is simple to answer, but to someone who is new to your industry and company that question might need a 1,000 word blog post explanation.

So to recap:

1. Write an owner’s manual for your product

2. Answer the questions everyone asks you about what you do

Step 2: Write Core Content

Every type of content we’re going to talk about should be in a different format because each has its own purpose. Core content is designed to be informative and should act like a step-by-step instruction booklet, with enough creativity built in to the writing so it resonates with the reader. Here’s the 3-step process for creating core content.

Step 1. Outline. I always start by figuring out what I want to accomplish with each core content piece. This is especially important with these foundational pieces because they often involve quite a few steps and you want to make sure you don’t miss anything. Outlining is the best way to ensure the piece will cover everything it needs to.

Step 2. Add images and graphics for each step. Since this will read like a manual, you want to include a picture or graphic for every step. I’ll often use photoshop to add arrows on top of screenshots to illustrate exactly what I’m referring to in each step.

Step 3. Fill in the outline with anecdotes to illustrate points being made. I recommend having an explanation of each piece and an anecdote for every 3rd or 4th step. So that means you’ll have a couple of sentences to give advice on each step and enough stories sprinkled throughout to make the piece memorable and interesting.

Step 3: Logistics

1. Post length: Shoot for at least 1,500 words per post. The average length of results in the top ten for Google is 1,890 words. Google really likes detailed explanations on topics so you should be the most in-depth post on every core content topic you cover.

2. Number of Core Content pieces: Ideally between 5 and 20, depending on how many products you offer. I’ve taken this one too far and done over 100 core content pieces, and not only did the posts after #20 not really deliver results, but they actually detracted from some of the original posts and I had to walk it back and undo some of the later posts.

Part 2: Industry-Specific Content

industry specific

What is this?

These are guides for each industry your company is able to work with.

For example, one of our core content pieces is “How to Make a Personality Quiz”

And the related industry-specific piece is “How to Use Personality Quizzes for Non-Profit Marketing”

These articles convert a super high rate because they can be personalized down to very niche industries. They can get as specific as “How to Make Quizzes for Vegan Mom Blogs” and the actual articles can be drilled down into actionable guides for every possible industry.

Step 1: Finding Ideas for Industry-Specific Content

1. Customers you work with (analyze by industry)

The best place to start with this is by analyzing your customers. If you have an easily accessible list of people who already use your services and can download the raw data to sort by industry that’s the best place to start. Then you will run down the list of industries starting with the most common and working down the list.

If this data isn’t available or you don’t have a lot (or any) customers, you can start with the customers or potential customers you speak with and create a guide for each one you have a talk with.

*Important caveat, these articles should be hyper-specific to the industries they are designed for, so if you are writing them after having only one conversation with someone you should loop them in on the writing process and write the guide specifically for that person to ensure a piece that is genuinely helpful to others in the industry and not just your best guess at what they might want.

2. Case studies

3. Google Keyword Planner

What’s my process for writing industry-specific content?

Industry-Specific Content Logistics

1. Length of posts: 2,000 words. Use as many industry stories as you can in each piece to establish credibility and trust with the audience.

2. Number of posts: 50-100. You can get insanely specific with these and it’s a great opportunity to make your customers feel right at home using your product when you have a guide for the exact specific niche they operate in.

*Warning* There is only so much core content you can cover, and if you try to make too many articles covering core content you’ll be wasting time. For example, if I already have a core content piece called “How to use quizzes for list building” and then I create one called “How to use quizzes for marketing” those are way too similar and the second one is essentially a waste of time.

Part 3: Breaking Down Areas of Core Content

areas

What is this?

Each of your core content pieces has different elements wrapped up in it.

How do you find ideas for breaking down ares of core content?

I keep a note on my computer desktop with all the questions I get about quizzes. When someone asks the same question I simply put a (2) next to it, and that number changes with every request. Then I prioritize the blog posts to write based on how big that number is.

What’s my process for writing broken-down areas of core content?

Step 1: Choose an area to write on

When considering ideas for writing broken-down content it always begins with the questions people are asking. I keep my note with the questions about various parts of quizzes and attempt to knock out the top asked-about piece first, and then work down the list.

Pro Tip: Before investing a ton of time in writing a guide on a specific area I like to check Google Keyword Planner to make sure that at least some people are searching for the term I’m targeting.

google keyword

Step 2: Create an outline of all the ideas in that area (typically in list format)

By writing everything out first, it helps me to do all my research ahead of time and be fully prepared for each part of the post before I write anything.

Step 3: Fill in each idea with 2-3 sentences of description and an image

quiz questions

Part 4: Partner Blog Posts

partner

What is this?

Partner blog posts have the potential to be your biggest channel for content marketing. Here’s what I mean when I say partner blog posts. I mean that you trade something to bloggers or influencers in return for them writing an article about your industry which links to you as the source.

For example: We trade bloggers a license to our software in return for them writing a “How to make a quiz for marketing” blog post, which they have creative freedom over and can write however they’d like.

These blog posts should be as close to your core content as possible because that’s the type of article that converts the highest into customers for your company. The beauty of having your partners publish these posts on their blogs is that you can reach a new audience every time a new one goes up, so even though the posts are very similar to your core content they’re reaching people who have never seen them before so it’s new to every audience that sees it.

How do you barter for these blog posts to be written?

Step 1: Identify who you want to have write about you

This is the most important part of partner blog posts. If you pick the wrong people you’ll get in front of the wrong audiences and these posts will do you no good, or even worse you’ll waste your time reaching out to people who just aren’t interested in using your services.

Step 2: Reach out to potential partners

I send a very simple and to-the-point email to our potential partners about working with us. In this email I don’t mention the blog post we’re asking them to write because I don’t want it to seem to sales-y. I leave that to a the phone call portion of the partner on-boarding process.

quiz partnership

Step 3: Have a short phone call with each new partner

This is important! We found that when you talk with a new blogging partner, even for a few minutes, they are much more likely to follow through and actually publish a blog post than if you just talk over email. There is something very key about a quick chat to make sure it’s a good mutual fit.

The phone call is also super important to my process because we don’t ask people to write blog posts over email, so on the phone call that’s where I mention that part of the partnership and get their reaction to see if they’re interested. It’s much easier to bring it up in a non-aggressive way over the phone by saying “Some of our partners also write blog posts about using quizzes because it’s a hot topic right now, and if you choose to join our affiliate program you can put your affiliate link in your blog post as well.”

Step 4: Stay in contact until the posts get published

Once someone has accepted your partnership request and agreed to write a blog post on your behalf, you should stay in touch with them until the post actually goes live. What I usually do is set two calendar reminders to check in. The first one is to get the partners’ feedback on how they liked using our product, and the second is on the day they agreed to publish the blog post as a check-in to make sure it went through.

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Part 5: Example Lists

example lists

What is this?

These are lists of examples from the industries or product categories you work with.

Step 1: Choose an area to make a round-up post on

Step 2: Create an outline with all of the examples and an image for each

Step 3: Write a short blurb (2-3) sentences to explain each example, and link to each if relevant

quiz examples

Part 6: Guest Blogging

guest posting

What is this?

Once you’ve established yourself as an authority on your industry by writing on your own blog, you can spread the word about your approach on other related websites. Guest posting is an awesome distribution strategy because you can adapt your core content to the audiences of all sorts of blogs and do 100’s of guest posts without deviating too far from your core content topics.

The purpose of these is to get your idea in front of a new audience by being the guest expert on another blog. There are three steps to this process.

1. Identify blogs in your industry that accept guests.

The best way to find these is straight through Google. For us, we want to write for marketing blogs, so I’ll just start by searching “marketing blogs” then I’ll go through them and see who is writing the posts. If they all have one author then it’s not a good site, but if there are lots of authors for different places then I’ll check to see if those authors come from other companies, and if so then it’s a good site to guest post on.

2. Pitch the editor

Identify who the editor of the publication is and draft up an email pitch for your guest post. The thing to focus on here is making sure your post is going to actually be useful to the site you’re writing for. I typically use Buzzsumo to find the most-shared articles on a blog and then tie my pitch back to those in some way so I can say “I saw article x, y, and z were popular on your site, and my pitch is similar.” If your topic isn’t related to the most shared articles on the blog, then explain how your piece will be beneficial to the readers in its own right.

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3. Write the post (and be patient with feedback)

If there’s ever a reason to go all-out on a post, it’s for a guest blog placement. These sites get pitched all the time, and if your piece got chosen then you should give it your best effort. Also keep in mind that these editors are probably dealing with a lot of posts at the same time, so be patient with their feedback, it can take up to 2 weeks for revisions to be requested, and there might be 3-4 rounds or revisions before your article is published.

Pro Tip: Most publications are not going to want to link directly to your company’s website home page. This is why having your other content built out is going to be important before guest posting. That way you can link to your other blog posts to get people back on your website. For example, if my guest post is about quizzes, and I’m talking about questions, I can say “Make sure to write questions that ask personal things, but not too personal, here are some examples” (where “some examples” links to my “50 Quiz Questions” blog post).

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