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by Stephen Logan on 2nd August 2012
For some, Content Marketing offered a chance of redemption following years of low grade articles and spinning text. However, for others, it is simply a more time-consuming alternative. None of the techniques have changed and the quality remains much the same. However, this is not how you get the most out modern Content Marketing.
So, first of all, how do you know if your Content Marketing isn’t up to scratch?
Essentially, if you’ve not even taken the time to review how you write and distribute content in the last few years, there’s a good chance that you’re no longer hitting the high notes. As mentioned, the world has moved on since the bad old days of mass distribution. The content you create today is reflective of who you are as an individual or the brand you’re representing. Links may still be a primary goal, but that doesn’t mean that you can roll out second rate articles to achieve them.
Where your work ends up can be just as important as how well it is written; in fact one will often be reliant on the other. While you always want to produce content that is of the highest possible standard, you also want to ensure that it is featured on a site that will provide the exposure it deserves. So find the best blogs, news sites and other platforms for your words – don’t hide them away where nobody will find them.
This brings us quite neatly along to guest blogging.
Like me, many of you will probably be sick to the back teeth of hearing people extolling the virtues of guest blogging. Let’s be clear, it’s nothing new and it isn’t particularly scientific. However, done correctly, it can really do the business.
It’s a win-win. The blog owner gets free content, you get a free link. Or at least that’s how it should be. Unfortunately, in the age of manic monetisation, some people are charging guest bloggers for the privilege of having their work featured. Ethically, I don’t see anything wrong with this. You’ve built a blog, you want to make money and somebody approaches you with content – why not charge a small fee?
However, the issue that I do have with this is more of a personal thing. Firstly, if I wanted to write and publish an advertorial, then I’d probably choose to fork out a four figure sum on a national newspaper slot or a major blog (actually, I wouldn’t). Secondly, if your pages are full of adverts, then why should I risk effectively buying a link only to allow an anonymous blog owner to make more money?
This is all part of the risk of low-end guest blogging. If the blog isn’t well-established and publishing regular, high quality content, how do you know if it isn’t going to be hit by the next update or be pulled by the owner? You might pay £100 today only to watch that investment disappear within a matter of months. This is why you have to be realistic about who you target, what you write and whether you’re prepared to pay or not.
Improving the quality of your content
If you want to escape the title of ‘bottom feeder’, then you have to be prepared to do what it takes to match the quality of the top writers in your field. The first step to achieving this is to forget everything you were doing in the past.
The quality of an article can be judged by two distinct factors; the standard of the writing and the level of understanding being demonstrated. Just because you are the leading expert in a field, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can write in flowing prose. Equally, a fantastic wordsmith can craft a compelling argument in almost any area – given enough guidance. So as long as you are able to fulfil one of these qualities, you should already be on course to Content Marketing success – both, of course, would be the dream ticket.
So what does this involve in real terms? Well, as Google are always at pains to point out, they are looking for academic standards to be met, work within that model. Provide citations (links), build unique arguments and develop a unique, persuasive tone. It doesn’t need to be a dissertation, but your content should offer something that can’t be found anywhere else.
The more examples you can include to support your assertions, the more valid they become. Sadly, I’m undermining my own point with this particular post, but it’s important that you don’t become blinded by the fear of linking to other sources. There are plenty of bad habits that need to be left in academic institutions, but this certainly isn’t one of them.
Making your content stand out
Again, we return to the idea of individuality and playing to your strengths. A great writer should be able to spin a decent yarn, just like an expert can provide a completely new insight into their area of expertise – even if it is a path well trodden (like, well, Content Marketing). Find something that nobody else has spoken about or look at new ways of presenting ideas. Write a white paper, create an Infographic, maybe even market your own ebook. We might well be deviating from conventional Content Marketing, but if you’re looking to grow your reputation, then you have to develop your techniques accordingly.
There’s no need to head down the path of controversy, unless it’s something that you truly believe of course. Content Marketing is about attracting attention but also building your reputation. Sensationalist writing or skewing of statistical data should be left to tabloid journalists; remember, you’re not trying to shift newspapers, you’re trying to attract an engaged and responsive audience. Of course, if you can turn them into customers or find another host for future content, then that’s a nice little bonus.
Building a portfolio
From a personal perspective, developing a strong body of work will help to boost your reputation in your area of expertise (or that of your client). However, having quality content in all corners of the Internet provides you with an ongoing source of visits and links.
Each piece of content is essentially its own little hub, sometimes quite literally. Therefore, it has the opportunity to gain strength and rankings in its own right. Just because it’s a few years old, it doesn’t mean that your article is redundant. You can link back to it or share the content at a later date, particularly if it becomes a talking point. Having this portfolio of work to fall back on and reference is extremely important, which is why it’s always worth investing time in developing quality work – not just filling a void.
Developing a recognisable style
Every writer has a style. Some are fairly orthodox, others, less so. By developing your own voice, the content that you produce will always be recognisable. When looking to develop a reputation within a particular industry or field, this will be extremely useful.
Remember, if you don’t want to spend all your time seeking new opportunities, then you have to give people a reason to approach you. Successful Content Marketers, like those that we often feature on the Koozai blog, are able to demonstrate knowledge through their existing work. In many ways, this is exactly what Google is looking for with the rel=”author” tag. The more you write on a particular subject and the number of interactions this generates (followers, shares and comments), the better your chances of earning decent rankings in future (possibly, at least).
You don’t want content to be formulaic, stodgy or limp, so put your back into it. Choose titles to target your audience or that answer common questions, then make sure your article fulfils that promise. Eradicate any silly errors and create a plan of action. Remember, if there is an opportunity to link to previous articles and posts, you can revive their fortunes and pass on more visits/strength at the same time.
Don’t fall into old traps
Article marketing is now dead; forget about it, move on and do something interesting with your copy. Content is, or at least should be an intrinsic part of any online marketing effort. On-site or off, putting words together in a logical formation has never been so valuable. In an online world dominated by social shares and industry notoriety, there is no better way of achieving either.
However, Content Marketing isn’t just about cobbling together articles, copying and pasting a badly worded email and plaguing blog owners. Whatever question is being asked in Online Marketing, harassment is rarely the answer. Create work and share it with the community, if the rewards don’t come instantly, keep looking to improve. The more you do, the better you will become and the more opportunities will become available to you.
But keep looking for those opportunities. Find blogs that accept posts, build your social circles to give you a better chance of being invited or successfully requesting a guest slot. Outreach is now the name of the game. This might all sound like hard work, but if you want the results then you have to be prepared to do a little legwork first. As mentioned at the outset, it’s important to develop the quality of both the content and the host sites. Falling short in one or the other will always limit its impact.
For more information view the services we offer as a Content Marketing Agency.