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By now, you’ve heard about all the amazing benefits of content marketing. You know that with the right strategy, you can earn more traffic, build a better reputation and see compound growth in both areas over time without greatly increasing your budget.
In fact, content marketing is truly one of the most cost-efficient marketing strategies around, but its rewards are proportional to the quality of your strategy and execution. That’s why more experienced writers and marketing agencies charge more, and why long-running strategies perform better.
So, what if you have no xperience with content marketing at all? It would seem that someone totally unfamiliar with this strategy stands no chance of success at all. But, at the same time, everyone has to start somewhere, right?
The truth is, you can enter the content-marketing game with no experience. You might not live up to your full potential right off the bat, but if you follow the approach described below, you’ll be publishing with the best of them in no time. Here’s how:
1. Get a briefer.
Your first job is to get a briefer on what content marketing involves. Yes, as you’re reading this, you probably have a grasp of the basic concept, but you need to dig deeper into the details. Familiarize yourself with the beginning, middle and end of a piece of content’s life, how you’re going to measure your results and your ROI and the process you’ll use to build your empire.
Also, get a high-level perspective on the strategy before you start mastering those details — you’ll be glad you did. If you need help getting started, I presented a webinar about a year ago on this subject, which will teach you the basics of content marketing and how those basics relate to search engines.
2. Research your competitors.
Next, before you start typing, take a moment to research some of your competitors. Look at businesses like yours, and see what they’re doing in terms of content marketing. What types of articles seem to be the most popular? How often are they publishing? Whom are they targeting?
Even if your businesses are nearly identical, don’t be tempted to copy others’ strategy, exactly. Instead, learn from them, and take inspiration to form your own.
3. Draw up an editorial calendar.
Once you’ve spent some time brainstorming and reviewing the competition, it’s time to make an editorial calendar. Don’t worry about this being perfect — you can always make adjustments later on. If you’re concerned about formatting, use an online template to help guide your ideas.
Start breaking your content down into different categories, and sketch out titles for potential pieces (including what type of content each piece would be, such as an article, infographic or video). Set publication dates.
4. Set goals and keep them.
With an editorial calendar in place, you can start setting goals for your publication — and determine what results you want to see. For example, how often do you want to publish? How many impressions do you hope to achieve with your first publication efforts, and how fast and high do you want them to grow? Where do you expect to be in six months? In a year?
Finally, how do you want to improve yourself as a marketer? Again, these goals need not be perfect; and you can adjust them later, but you need to set a vision for yourself.
5. Treat your first posts as experiments.
Now it’s time to do the work. Your first couple of posts will likely be challenging, but don’t let that stop you from completing them. If you need some title ideas to get started, check out 101 Title Ideas For Your Next Blog Post.
Take some time after the draft is complete to revise and edit your work, following the best practices you learned when you briefed yourself; then put them into practice. Treat these articles as an experiment, watching carefully to see how people react to your work and taking notes about what you could do better.
You’ll also want to be careful that you aren’t letting confirmation bias dictate your impressions of your results. Remain neutral, and don’t be surprised if some of your original ideas don’t work the way you thought they would.
6. Publish, syndicate and follow up.
By this point, you’ll have mastered the basics and can begin harnessing the true power of content marketing. Take what you’ve learned and keep publishing new posts that appeal to your target demographics, measuring the performance of each one carefully.
After publishing, promote and syndicate those posts to your social media channels (both as a brand and as an individual), and follow up by engaging anyone who chooses to comment or share your material. Though the process may seem intimidating at first, you’ll get the swing of it in a matter of weeks.
7. Never stop improving.
Your final task is the most important, and it’s the one you can never cross off your list. The reason experienced content marketers do better than inexperienced ones is because they’ve had more time to learn new things. If you commit to constantly learning and improving, you’ll make better content and see better results — with no upper limit to your potential.
This is also important because the trends and norms of content marketing change frequently, so keep reading the news every day, experimenting with new techniques and striving to improve your abilities in general.
As you can see, there’s nothing stopping you from launching a content-marketing strategy or building the skills necessary to enter the business. It takes time and discipline, of course, but anyone with dedication and a reasonable path forward can get there.