If you own a business and don’t live under a rock, there’s a chance you’ve heard that blogging can be an excellent way to grow the bottom line and create more awareness for your work.
And this is absolutely true!
However, like with most new ideas, there are many pit falls and rabbit trails to go down that threaten to make your effort ineffective and wasteful.
In this post, we’re going to explore the tremendous benefits a blog, podcast, YouTube channel, or social media presence can bring to your business, and help you watch out for some pitfalls along the way.
Done right, this will take a lot of work—but will also bring tremendous reward.
Why You Should Create a Content Machine
I hesitate to use the word “machine” because it doesn’t sound very friendly; it’s important to note, however, that this is what you will be building.
While your content should be a well of valuable material for your potential clients or customers, for you, it should be a meticulous process that is repeatable, measurable, and iterative.
This will allow you to build something that is the envy of every business owner: A line of hungry customers.
When qualified prospects are attracted to you, instead of you chasing them, it changes everything about the way you do business.
Sure, it still takes work to convert them into customers.
But at least they found you.
Organic traffic is the most valuable traffic because you did not directly exchange money for it.
Even though it costs money (in the form of time or employees) to create content, once a piece of content is created, it becomes an asset that can work forever.
We’ll talk more about how to leverage that asset later; suffice it to say for now that paid advertising – while it has a place and provides a quick fix – does not have the staying power that a piece of organic content does.
That brings me to a very important decision you need to make before you begin putting this together: Should you pay to play, or work to win?
Two Ways to Make it in Business
One of my early business mentors said something that’s always stuck with me:
The only two ways to market your business are to roll up you sleeves or pull out your wallet.
There are many “tactics,” but only a couple strategies. You need to be prepared to invest. And there are only two assets to draw from: Your muscles or your pocketbook.
This might sound daunting or less than ideal, but can you think of any alternatives? I can’t.
Dealing with reality, we’re forced to conclude that we must invest either time or money in creating success for our business.
So, which do you have more of—time, or money? Think through that and then you are prepared to…well, start preparing!
Preparing to Create a Content Machine
Fail to plan, plan to fail.
It won’t always be easy to sit down and write or record, but it will always be worth it in the long run.
Here are a few things you need to get squared away:
1. An Investment Mindset
Content creation is not a get rich quick scheme. Sure, there are many who peddle it as such.
I’m here to tell you that you’ll see very few immediate results from content creation. There are ways to leverage your content such as social media posts, repurposing, driving ads, building links, and more.
But the primary business reason you create content is discoverability. Content allows your expertise to surface on the Internet at the right time for someone who needs what you offer.
In order for that to work, though, “The Internet” needs to know who you are, what you have to say, and how to connect you with the people who need your voice.
And that takes time. The content you create today will build your future for 2, 5, and 10+ years down the road.
2. A Lot of Patience
It’s worth underscoring this. While #1 was intellectual, this is emotional.
You will want to quit. You’ll feel it’s not worth it. You’ll question whether or not it works. You won’t want to keep waiting.
Let me encourage you to stay the course when those feelings arise. You’re a business owner—you know things take time.
Whether it’s you creating content or someone else on your company’s behalf, don’t quit too soon. Keep going for at least a year and then re-evaluate.
But I’ll warn you — when you first get started, it could take 18 months or more to see the organic discoverability you want. Also, some posts may never get there, while others seem to fast track it.
Again, there are advanced strategies that can help with some of these things, but in my experience it’s a numbers game more than anything else.
3. An Obsession with Your Customer
Who’s your target customer? What do they like and dislike? How do they talk about their problems? What are their problems?
This is one of the hardest skills to master in business, but if you master it and then create content to answer your target customer’s deepest desires and problems, they will find you and work with you.
What questions do customers have about working with you? About your industry? About your process? About the products or services you sell?
What do they really want? What keeps them up at night? What are they actively searching for? What would keep them from doing business with you?
If you made a list of everything that comes to mind from the above questions, you could probably make a year or two’s worth of content right there.
You’ll be addressing the exact struggles they face. And for free. Why wouldn’t they want to work with you?
4. A Content Owner
This one is more practical. You need someone who is focused on installing the content habit and equally focused on seeing the program be successful.
Often times, this person will be the one creating the content itself. Over time, they might evolve into editorial and supervisory roles.
Hear me: Your content creation efforts will fail without this role being defined.
This person might be you to start with. And that’s fine.
Whoever does the job, though, needs to make it part of their identity and create daily responsibilities to ensure the work is getting done and the results are being achieved.
The more knowledgeable this person is about how SEO and discoverability algorithms work on the Internet, the better.
For example, writers should have an awareness of how to leverage search intent and keyword research to get their articles found. Video producers should know what effects titles and thumbnails have on the success of their videos.
Yes, it will take a lot of time and hard work. But it will pay off.
Creating Business Assets with Your Content Machine
The longer I am in business, the more the word “Asset” sounds like music to my ears.
Here’s the thing about an asset: You buy or create it once, but can leverage its value forever.
Here’s a tangible example. I have written four books. The first one was a collection of blog posts compiled together. Assets.
Anyone could go to my blog and find the scattered, unrefined version of that book. Or, they could buy the book, which tightened up the content and organized it for readers.
The blog is free; the book isn’t. It’s an asset. Also, some of those original posts still lead people to my blog years later. I did the work to create them once and leveraged them many times over after the fact.
This is the power of organic content creation over advertising. Look, I’m a fan of advertising in the appropriate contexts.
But it’s simply nowhere near as powerful.
An organic content asset is almost invaluable. At any time, one blog post you write—if it gets popular—could draw thousands or even millions of people to your website.
What’s more, your free content can help determine what topics you should write about and can even shape your marketing efforts. Heck, it can even help you determine what products or services to sell next!
Let’s say you have a blog post that answers a specific question in detail. You also have a product that serves customers and accomplishes their needs for them.
There’s a huge gap between free content and a purchase.
So, you can use that content asset to help develop further assets (like eBooks and webinars) that allow you to collect email addresses and nurture potential buyers.
Your Content Customer Experience Machine
Content assets also provide a great way to get more time back. How? Because once you have an asset created, you don’t have to answer that question again.
This is one of my favorite strategies, which I learned from Marcus Sheridan in his book They Ask, You Answer.
Marcus suggests that, while you’re waiting for the discoverability of your content to kick in, there are other ways it can be leveraged, such as assisting in the sales process.
If you want highly qualified customers, why not require that they read specific pieces of content you have created that explain your process for working together?
When they ask a question, why not point them to a specific piece of content that allows them to research and make sure they’ve considered every factor?
By the way, I’m not suggesting you remove yourself from the sales process or customer service. There is more value than ever in simply talking to a person.
However, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve needed to answer a question that I did a far better job explaining in a blog or a podcast than I did in person.
Politely inform your customer that you will happily answer any questions they have, but if they would be so kind as to read your quick guide or watch your guide video that gives a more thoroughly defined answer, it would aid in their decision.
So while discoverability is huge, you can begin leveraging your content as sales tools, social media posts, and more the moment a piece gets published.
How to Start Your Content Machine
At this point you may be wondering how to get this started.
There are so many options available that I could not possibly detail the specific steps of actually creating the content in this piece.
What I will do, however, is provide a four-step process—the FAST Content Method—for deciding what you should do.
First up, let’s think through what format your content will be. Here, you only have three options: Audio, video, or written.
The way you’ll decide which path to follow will depend on two factors:
- Your ability
- Your audience
We’ll talk about audience below. Ability is key because if you are not at least somewhat comfortable creating in the format you desire, you won’t stick with it.
One of the biggest marketing podcasts ever, Marketing Secrets with Russell Brunson, started out being recorded in the host’s car on his iPhone microphone.
His episodes for 6 or 7 years were mostly in that format. Only recently has he changed it up and started doing some more advanced production, but even so, he still does iPhone recording episodes quite often.
And why? Because he knew he would actually do it.
That is absolutely key.
Second, though, you need to make sure your intended audience is consuming the format that you have chosen.
If your audience primarily watches short TikTok videos, and you’re blogging, it’s going to take a very long time to see traction. It might never happen.
Finding the balance between what you are able and willing to do and how your customers want to consume is paramount.
If you can’t find the balance and are not willing to try, your only alternative is to hire someone who is an expert (or is willing to become an expert) in the kind of content your audience is consuming.
Note that, most audiences are omnipresent. Meaning, at some level, they’re all consuming videos, articles, podcasts, etc. Eventually, you should be omnipresent as well.
In the beginning, though, you should really consider aiming your efforts in the direction of success. And that means going where your audience already is.
The next item is to determine what you will say. Does your audience need primarily motivational content? Or How To content?
Note those are very, very different things.
It’s also worth mentioning that some formats are not very good for certain types of content. How To’s are very hard to accomplish on a podcast because they normally require a visual.
Beyond the “type” of the content, you’ll need to know the “topics” of your content. And the good news is, there’s a very formula for this, developed by Sean Cannell and Think Media:
- Answer Specific Questions
- Review Specific Products
- React to a Trend
This advice was given in the content of a YouTube channel but is just as pertinent to other forms of content creation.
These ideas “borrow influence,” meaning they don’t rely on your having a name or brand that people are attracted to. That takes a very long time to build.
However, specific questions, products, and trends have innate influence. They also help with something called “the long tail.”
For example, there will be fewer searches for “website cost in Charlotte NC” than “cost of a website.” However, the latter is an obscure keyword that would be very difficult to rank for.
The former is a very specific keyword that shows buying intent and is perfect for a web designer living in Charlotte. Which do you think makes more sense to target?
By borrowing the influence of questions, products, and trends, you are doing what legendary copywriter Robert Collier called “entering the conversation already happening in your customers’ mind” which gives your content machine a head start.
Last—but certainly not least—you must decide on an appropriate schedule for posting content.
While your audience affects this somewhat, it is far more dependent upon what you are willing to commit to and do consistently.
I sound like a broken record saying this in 2023, but algorithms—pretty much all of them—factor in consistency, and usually to a high degree.
Are you going to create content daily, weekly, or monthly? Bi-weekly or bi-monthly? Commit to something you can stick to and start creating today.
If You Need Help
I hope you enjoyed this post, and I hope you see the possibilities.
This should be everything you need to get started on your own. If you need help getting started, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
We would like to help you craft a content plan that makes sense for your business and creates results for the long haul.