If you’re in your start-up phase, it’s likely that there are certain limitations you’ll be prone to. For example, investing a large chunk of your money into marketing activities or purchasing SEO tools might be a big no-no. And while small-businesses may only be tight on budget, solo entrepreneurs are likely to be tight on budget and other resources such as time and staff.
Firstly, for the people going at it alone, kudos to you. Secondly, are practices like content marketing completely out of your reach? Yes, and no. Mostly, no. It’s all dependent on how well you nurture your inner Dr Seuss for writing and your outer Jordan Belfort for marketing. So, the result lies somewhere in the middle. Let’s try to strike this perfect balance between the two.
1. Gun at the outreach
When you’re climbing to be an awesome content marketer, you’re aiming for two specific apples from the top of the tree. Brand recognition and SEO benefits via backlinks. The more thoroughly you market your content, the more brand exposure will follow. The SEO side of content marketing however doesn’t always promise backlinks. For those scratching their heads over this SEO lingo already, a backlink is a URL pointing to your site that’s placed on another site. For example, if you’re mentioned in an article for ‘best businesses in your area’ and that mention has a hyperlink to it which points to your site, congratulations you have one backlink. But that doesn’t mean much, because the aim is to acquire more backlinks from higher quality sites (measured in domain authority); the more backlinks you acquire from higher quality sites, the higher your domain authority climbs too. A domain authority score is Google’s way of placing a value for your site, making it scale up those SERPs. All-in-all if you liked Pokémon growing up, you’ll enjoy collecting backlinks.
Now that you know the goals, just how do we get other sites to link to us? Threatening? Pleading? Hacking-in-and-covertly-placing-a-link? Close, but not really.
To get some backlinks with article placements, the first step is to hop on Google and source some industry publications. Ones that accept third-party guest-post contributions will usually have an editorial contributor’s guide. Tip: try Googling for contributor guidelines and see which resulting sites you could write for.
Once you have these sites, it’s time to contact them. If you’re a bit lazy, the e-mail-only option might seem attractive at first. However, a phone call can give that personal touch which bumps up your chances significantly.
Some may choose to write something first and then contact these sites. I say that’s a time-waster. You’re better off spending some time going through the site’s articles, coming up with a few topics you think they’re missing, and proposing a few different ones. Once they come back to you with the one they like, then feel free to start writing.
2. Content creative is king
A lot of people who try to write will usually stress that they’re not ‘writers’. The truth is, if you’ve written something as small as an epiphany-filled, late-night, Facebook status – you’re a writer. Writing killer content means not to put the emphasis on ‘writing’. Just pretend you’re having a conversation with the reader and empty your thoughts. Be yourself. If you were brave enough to become a solo entrepreneur, I’m sure you can engage people with your authentic ideas.
Once your ideas are splat down in raw form, spend a little bit of time going through the placement site’s contributor guidelines. Match the word count, article tonality and chuck in a few relevant statistics and quotes. Be sure to add in that backlink to your site before sending it back for publishing.
3. Start early for the long-run
So, you have your article placed, a backlink included and a pat on the back received. But before you dust your hands and turn your back away from the publication forever – don’t.
As a solo entrepreneur you understand the importance of industry networking and business connections. Similarly, content marketing has a PR side to it which will only come to help you in the future.
After your content is placed, do some follow-ups to check in and nurture the relationship. These publications are usually industry influencers and therefore valuable connections. They have the power to endorse your brand without making it seem like a sell or advertisement.
Additionally, because you’ve started on establishing these relationships at an earlier stage, you’re likely to have a sturdier relationship with them by a later stage. Therefore, if you ever require anything outside of content marketing in the future, you’ll both have each other in mind. Never too early to plant the competitive advantage seed.
4. More than just articles
Keep in mind that our content marketing effort rewards should revolve around brand exposure and link-building. Articles and guest-posting on blogs can be great for that. However, it’s also good to keep other forms of content in mind for link-acquisition.
A few popular choices are infographics and e-books. Source some sites which accept infographic or e-book submissions and once you’ve decided on a content type, get to researching. Just like articles, spend a few hours on sites like Statista to gather quantitative research and analyse interesting trends from your industry. For example, if you’re a start-up in the mobile-tech space you could analyse different mobile data consumption trends over the years and present it as an infographic. Be sure to add in research from other articles and publications so it’s not just a rip-off from your data source.
When it comes to digital content creation tools, you’ll come across a variety of effective free options such as Canva’s Infographic generator and e-book creator. Depending on the type of content you’ve selected to create, some may require more effort and time. However, ending up with a variety of content types under your belt will help you reach out to more viewers.
5. Gift-wrap it with a process
Now that you have the ideas in place and your content marketing strategy ready to go, the only thing you need is to have a process in place. From the moment you start sourcing the publication sites to the score of your backlink, it’s important to have a set process in place.
What systems do you want to use for sourcing the potential guest-posting sites? Are you just scraping Google for these blogs? How are you keeping a track of these article placements and PR/blogging relationships? Maybe a Google spreadsheet? Maybe a blue pen and the palm of your hand? Have a set process in place with email and phone call outreach templates and tools on-hand.
Find a rhythm that works for you.