I get asked a lot “What the f*** do you even do?” when I mention inbound marketing and content creation at Interact. I didn’t ever have that great of an answer, until the company started to grow and I really had to nail down what exactly content marketing is because I could no longer afford the time to figure it out.
As a disclaimer, I didn’t actually “come up with” any of this stuff. It’s derived from influencers like Rand Fishkin, Kevan Lee, and Ginny Sosky at Hubspot. That’s why you know it’s going to be good.
Here’s what the day looks like.
1. Follow-up on outstanding drafts (30 minutes)
- Simple and direct. No one wants to read your essay about why the draft you sent means so much to you and the editor must publish it. Instead just send a reminder, people will appreciate it and often they just forgot about you (remember you’re not that special 🙂
- No means no. The latest buzz in content promotion and sales is “follow up forever” or something like that. Let’s set the record straight here and say that this does not mean email me 5 times in one day (see example below). Following up on posts that are under review or to new writing opportunities is acceptable for sure, but for the love of all that’s holy don’t email five times in a day, or even five times in a week.
2. Outline post for the day (2 hours)
- Sub-headings and bullet points. Effective outlining saves you time and makes writing better because it offers two different times to think through your article. By separating outlining and writing you can give yourself a mental break to re-group as well. I just do simple outlines with bullet points.
- Think through links/stories. Write every blog post in your mind, think about which points you want to cover fully and which ones you’d prefer to provide a link for so you can let someone else explain in detail. Go in-depth on what you really care about and just link to good resources on other parts. Also think through stories you want to include in the post. Thinking these things through when you’re not pounding the keyboard will help make your writing better and faster when it comes time to sit down and write.
3. Outreach (2 hours)
- Personalized Post Promotion. The most well-kept secret on content marketing is that it’s really much more like sales than any of us want to admit. Yes, there’s the hard work of researching, formulating, and writing great pieces, but that’s realistically only half the battle. The other half is getting people to give a shit about what you write and build a community around your idea. This takes constant outreach to maintain, but when done right it can bring in massive results. The example below is from Brian Dean, who invented the Skyscraper Technique (which I am a huge fan of). He personally sends emails to people for every new post just letting them know that new pieces have gone up. These aren’t email blasts, he’s not cutting corners, instead he actually takes the time to address people by name and provide a valuable piece of content.
- Guest Writing Opportunities. The other “selling” part of creating content is outreach for guest articles. I got this idea form Leo Widrich, who used guest writing to build the initial momentum for Buffer. Let me take a second and explain why I say Guest Writing instead of Guest Blogging. I do it to make a clear distinction between the two methods. Guest writing is done with the intention of creating amazing articles that will act as pillars for a very long time and provide value to the host site. The intention is to use that Guest Writing as a source of lead generation. Guest blogging on the other hand is a link-building scheme designed to get your links up on hundreds of sites with no real intention of providing value – which is ridiculous, don’t do it.
4. Write post for the day (2 hours)
- Write first. Just sit down and write out all your content on a subject. Don’t get distracted and look for references on every single fact you cite or go searching for images. Do those things while writing and nothing will ever get done. Make notes in text where you need to add images and references.
- Then add images and references. After you write all the content, go back in and add images where you made notes and link out to the appropriate references.
- Edit by reading out loud. Some articles just sound awkward, and that’s probably because the writer didn’t read it out loud while editing. It’s possible to write effectively but not sound natural, by writing in a way that can be read aloud normally, you can make yourself sound much more readable and therefore share-able.
5. Outreach/follow-up (1 hour)
- Answer responses before leaving each day. If editors at guest sites get back to you it’s ideal to respond immediately, but make sure to have an empty inbox at the end of each day. That way you ensure things move along at a solid clip instead of days going between versions of articles you write.
The big question is how to measure whether your work is successful. There are all kinds of metrics you can track around views and engagement, but I like to cut to the chase and just focus on actual new leads generated (in our case trials or demos requested).
4 posts per week
The basic test to know if you are getting a good start with creating content is to write four posts a week at 1,500 words each. When you bring in new people and they are building up a base of leads from their content, this is a good way to see if someone is going to be able to handle the work load.
Some amount of trials/demos started (tracked using UTM)
Once a new content marketer is ramped up (3 months in), they should hit a certain number of new trials/demos each month as a quota. There should be a bonus for making quota and exceeding it (just like sales), and the quota should continually rise because content has a very long half-life and in an ideal scenario old content actually produces more leads than new.