What is Content Marketing
Content marketing is sharing answers to your customers’ most burning questions in the form of content. For the purpose of this article and the research behind it, we’ve narrowed the scope down to three types of content. Blogs, podcasts, and video.
In story form, you can think of content marketing in this way. If you own a small business and people ask you questions day-to-day, then the content you create is the answers to those questions, put in whatever format your customers want to have it in.
Why Content Marketing Important for Coaches
When people are looking for answers to their problems, which your business may be able to solve, they may look by searching on Google, searching through podcast hosting services like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or other platforms, or they may search through YouTube to find an answer to their question via a video.
By creating content that answers questions people have, you can show up when your potential customer is searching, and they may want to work with you after finding your helpful answer to their question on the platform they are searching on.
Content also has a long life-span, pieces you create today can bring in customers for many years, it is like compounding interest where the more you have the more it grows.
To answer the question of how coaches are using content marketing in their businesses, we analyzed 30 coaches across a variety of industries to determine how they are successfully implementing a content strategy in order to grow their businesses.
What type of content are coaches creating?
Right from the start of our research it became clear that podcasts were the most popular form of content marketing for coaches. The reason being that most coaches found it easy to have conversations with people, which makes sense since that’s what they do for a living.
Coming in a close second was blogging, and the reason on that one is many coaches enjoy the process of distilling thoughts into writing. One coach we interviewed said her life dream is to have a tiny house in a beautiful place and just get to write all day, that sentiment was shared amongst many of our participant coaches.
Video was a distant third, principally because most coaches we interviewed did not have a setup or editing capabilities for creating video. If you enjoy creating video content this is a potential opportunity for you.
How Many Types of Content do Coaches Create?
70% of coaches we interviewed for this study only create one type of content. To caveat, that number does change for coaches who are making more money and can afford teams to help scale different types of content. So there is a correlation between income and types of content.
For this study we chose coaches who are working for themselves with a team of contractors and sometimes 1-2 employees, but not fully scaled companies. What that means for you is it’s totally normal to create one type of content, and from the coaches we spoke with, they went with the format that felt most natural to them, be it writing, talking, or video.
How often are coaches creating content?
2.5 times per month.
Across all content formats and participants in the study, the average frequency of posting content is 2.5 times per month. Once you factor in vacation, holidays, and business breaks, this comes out to roughly once per week, which is the frequency most coaches said they aim for when creating content.
What types of podcasts are coaches making?
It’s logical that coaches enjoy creating podcasts because that’s what we do for a living. We talk to people, so hitting “record” every once in a while doesn’t feel like work. Also, there is less competition amongst podcasts, with only 2 million indexed podcasts versus 500 million blogs. Here are the most popular topics for coaches recording podcast episodes.
Interview (37%): Podcast interviews probably feel familiar at this point, and it is by far the most popular type of episode, but in digging deeper on what these interviews entail, it turns out that the interviews are used for a variety of purposes.
How to: 57%: Often an expert is brought on to talk about a specific topic. For example this episode titled “Building a Business with a Romantic Partner” is an interview with a couple who created a company together. Doing how to’s this way is super smart because the experts you bring on will come with their own research and data, so you don’t have to go out and find statistics to back up your claims.
Story: 22%: Second most common amongst podcast episode formats for coaches is the personal story, when a coach hits “record” and shares a personal story, life update, or learning.
Industry Topic: 18%: Covering industry topics almost like a news anchor is a great way to not only provide useful information, but also get found as people search for content to fill them in on the latest industry insights.
Live Coaching: 2%: This is a very cool and new concept only a few coaches are utilizing so far. It makes total sense if you think about it, your clients want to work with you for coaching, so give a free sample. Here’s an example of live coaching to get a sense of how it works.
How to episode, solo (23%): If you’re a blogger looking to start a podcast, look no further than the solo “How to” episode. Because podcasts and blogs live in different worlds, you can take your blog content and record a podcast episode on the same subject to get a two-for-one.
Personal Story (22%): Life updates, business learnings, successes and failures. These types of content play really well and help to connect with your audience on a more personal level, on average coaches do this one out of five episodes.
Industry Topic: (18%): Think of yourself as a news anchor or a history teller, these are two of the personas you can take on when recording an industry topic episode. Informing your customers and potential customers on the topics they are thinking about is a great way to connect and build trust.
What types of blog posts are coaches writing?
How to (58%): These articles make up a huge market share in what type of content coaches create. The simple concept here is that your potential clients have questions that they will ask you frequently. You pay attention to these questions and then write blog posts to answer the questions. Then, when your potential client is searching for answers to their questions, your answers come up as blog posts and then they work with you.
A great example is from Val Marlene, she’s a coach for creative entrepreneurs, and made this how-to post on using Google Sheets to understand your numbers as a creative entrepreneur, which is a pressing question for any entrepreneur who is running their own numbers. By listening in on what your customers’ questions are, you can create content to help them and win their business.
The ideal length for How-to style posts is 1,000 to 4,000 words, completely dependent on the subject, which basically means however long you need to provide a detailed guide is how long the post should be.
Industry Topic (18%): Think of this content type like a proliferated dictionary entry, if dictionary entries went in-depth on a subject. A good example is this post from Heal Your Living about sustainable minimalist clothing brands. The format is to first define the subject, then go into more detail and provide examples with links. That way when your customers are searching for information on subjects within your industry, your site will come up.
Personal Story (18%): Many of the coaches in this study would write personal stories, often on a subject they wanted to teach about. For example, in this post from Joi Knows How, she talks about writing an ebook, but instead of making it a direct “how to” post, she talks about it through her personal experience writing an ebook.
Stories are a powerful tool to connect with your audience, NPR recently did a study and found this.
As you hear a story unfold, your brain waves actually start to synchronize with those of the storyteller, says Uri Hasson, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton University. When he and his research team recorded the brain activity in two people as one person told a story and the other listened, they found that the greater the listener’s comprehension, the more closely the brain wave patterns mirrored those of the storyteller.
As you begin to think about connecting with your audience and eventually you’ll need them to pay for your products and services, story can be a great part of nurturing that audience towards taking an action because they are more connected with your brand.
Interview (3.3%): Blog post interviews are a small percentage of overall written content, which is logical because it’s not the most intuitive format for many people. However, there are great examples of written interviews, and if you’re a writer who wants to do interviews but doesn’t want to talk on a podcast or video it can make great written content.
Case Study (1.7%): Of all written content types, case studies are most directly tied to sales. Often they are a short story about a customer and their results using your products or services, and they are focused primarily on giving an example of what it’s like to work with you. For most coaches this is an infrequent occurrence, and for every 100 blog posts they’ll have 1-2 case studies.
What types of videos are coaches producing?
How to Video (30%): Just like blogs and podcasts, the “How to” format ranks first for video production. Here’s an example of How to Become a Social Media Manager that does a great job of putting a guide into video format.
Personal Story: (26%): Video is a strong tool for sharing stories since people can see you and associate you with your story. Many people will let their audience in on their lives through video.
Industry Topic (20%): Using a mix of on-screen time and graphical illustrations to cover a story makes you a one-person reporting team that can take on the likes of any large organization that comes to mind.
Interview (13%): Video interviews are not as common, but still make up one out of 10 videos coaches create.
Q&A (10%): This one is exclusive to video in our study. It’s when you turn the camera on and answer customer questions.
How to start content marketing for your coaching business
Content marketing is anchored on answering the questions your costumers have. From our research, the best way to start creating content for your coaching business is by answering your customers’ questions in the format you find most gratifying for yourself. If you like writing, then write the answers, if you like talking, then record podcasts, if you enjoy being on video then create video.
From our study, the optimal frequency is once per week, so you can start making content for your business right away and produce once per week answering questions.
Appendix: Who did we interview for this research study?
For this research we interviewed 28 coaches from a variety of industries: brand strategy, business, career, creativity, health, leadership. Legal, life, mindest, money, pinterest marketing, self care, visibility, web design, wellness. The average estimated income is $75,000, putting these coaches firmly in the category of replacing their previous jobs’ salary and in most cases exceeding, but not building out a team yet.