Lately, I’ve been helping several of my friends with their marketing plans and digital marketing efforts.
As I was going back and forth with one of my friends today, she encouraged me to turn the following rules into a blog post. So, here we are.
These are the five cardinal rules of content marketing, at least as I see it.
Rule #1 – Don’t Overthink it
Analysis paralysis can attach itself to the smartest of folks, like a Headcrab from Half-Life.
Image Source: Geek Alerts
What’s going to work? What should I talk about? Where should I film my videos? What gear do I use? What time should I post?
I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll say it again – even your heroes sometimes make it up as they go.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t study your audience. The research process is critical. But at some point, you’ve got to start forming your best guesses, and start throwing your hooks in the pond to test your instincts.
I have thousands of published blog posts and articles across the internet. I’m not saying everyone should do that. But it works for me. I have the stats.
Even then, I don’t always know what works, and the stats can be deceptive, because I’ve written plenty of great works based on prior winners that should have gotten more attention and for whatever reason didn’t catch fire as they should have.
That’s content marketing. Sorry to say, it’s not all within your control. If in doubt, start publishing. You’re probably oversaturated with information already, like a drenched sponge. Soaking in more water isn’t going to make you any damper. You can figure out the best automation tools later.
Rule #2 – Be Consistent
Look, things sometimes slip through the cracks. We all miss deadlines, drop balls, or mess up from time to time. It’s human, and it’s okay.
But without consistency, you don’t have a content marketing strategy. It just doesn’t work (also see Rule #5).
You want to generate and publish a specific number of content pieces that doll out at predictable times – especially as applied to bigger pieces of content like blog posts, podcast episodes, and videos. Basically, you want your content to roll out programmatically.
Generally, that means multiple times per week, weekly, once every two weeks, or once per month. Any less than that and you must be a genius like Brian Dean, but I think the odds are slim… If genius isn’t on your side, make up for it with frequency.
I blog daily. That’s something people can count on.
What’s your plan? Whatever it is, it needs to be consistent to be trackable.
Rule #3 – Always Include a Call to Action
Marketing guru Dan Kennedy says don’t do anything you can’t tie directly to profit.
Dan is the man…
Image Source: ForbesBooks
Correct – but you can’t measure the effectiveness of anything you haven’t done! So, are we talking about the chicken or the egg? I’m not even clear…
You need to get your vehicle in motion and catch a bit of momentum before you worry too much about the payoff. So, fire up that Pinto and let’s get to cruisin’ speeds…
Before you do anything else, do this:
Include a call to action on all of your posts to sign up for your email list. And it doesn’t need to be salesy or in your face. Honestly, it might hurt your chances if it is.
If you’re committed to the regular publishing of content, and want to generate tangible business value from the activity, prioritize growing your email list. Your list is too small right now, and it needs to be bigger before you worry about starting another new marketing initiative.
Rule #4 – Model, Model, Model
In other words, don’t reinvent the wheel. Instead, next time you catch yourself scrolling through Instagram (which I reckon is often) pay attention to what catches your eye. If it worked on you, chances are it’s going to work on others too, right? So, take the idea and make it your own.
Learn the essentials of copywriting, especially headline writing. The clues are everywhere – magazine covers, popular blogs, the emails you open every day… You’re no Steve Jobs, and you don’t need to invent a product people don’t know they want yet.
Whenever I’m making new graphics for my content, I don’t come up with original designs. I’m not that great of a designer to begin with. My daily work requires I spend time inside Photoshop, though, so, I go and find designs I like and model them. Let someone else worry about color theory.
Keep in mind, though – modeling is not stealing. You can get in trouble for plagiarism, so don’t do it! You’ve got to put your own spin on it to make it yours.
Rule #5 – Track
Content marketing can feel like an uphill battle when you’re doing it sporadically, expecting specific results, and not even tracking what you’re doing!
I’m not asking you to invest in complicated analytics software. Go back to the first rule – keep it simple! We don’t need enterprise level solutions to get results as content-preneurs.
No, but if, for example, you made three social media videos per week, and posted them to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, over the course of the next six to 12 months, you would see your following increase, even if only by a small margin. No arguments.
If you don’t track, you won’t know. And you’ll be discouraged for no reason. So, no matter where you might be starting from, document where you are now, and return to those numbers in six months (in the meantime, don’t obsess over the stats). Again, you will see results!
Bonus Rule – Read Content Inc.
Joe Pulizzi’s Content Inc. is the best book on the subject, and it kicks off with a direct to bloodstream injection of espresso-based inspiration. Guaranteed or your money back (no, sorry, I can’t make such guarantees – but hey, it’s really, really, good).
Buy it. Devour it. Take notes. Then commit to implementing everything you learn. Return to the well for watering as needed.
Digital marketing tools are a dime a dozen, especially nowadays…
Digital marketing, content marketing, and SEO are fast evolving fields, and the best solutions of the yesteryear aren’t always suited to battles on the new frontiers of Web3.
While this will surely be a moving target, I was recently asked, so my favorite digital marketing tools (that I currently use or used to use) are as follows:
These digital marketing tools don’t just let you syndicate and distribute your content (we’ll get to that a little later – under the heading of “Social Media Automation”). They also let you repurpose existing content in meaningful ways. For example, turning an audio podcast into a video snippet with your podcast artwork and progress bar.
Repurpose.io is the ideal solution for those who are regularly live streaming and want to turn their content into snippets and distribute it across a wide array of social networks.
You can easily take your content from YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Zoom, Google Drive, Dropbox, or your podcast and share it out on YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.
I primarily use Repurpose.io to distribute my podcast to YouTube, but I have also used it to create clips I share across a broader range of social platforms.
Campaigns & Funnels
So, you want to set up a multi-step landing page / sales page offer just like the pros. What tool should you use?
My campaign / funnel builder of choice is 10XPro (not to be confused with Grant Cardone, 10X Growth Conference, 10X Rule, or anything of the sort).
I built the entirety of Content Marketing Musician and all associated products and programs on 10XPro. It was fun and easy, and the customer experience is great, both on the creator and the user side.
Besides, 10XPro is versatile, whether you want to set up memberships, fan clubs, courses, members forums, or otherwise. You can even build out your own affiliate army with their software.
You can read my full review of 10XPro here.
Data & Analytics
You need a way to measure everything you do. Sure, you can do some of this manually. But given that there are near enterprise level solutions available for free, you probably won’t need to become a spreadsheet fiend to stay on top of your metrics.
Google Analytics is free. It’s comprehensive and powerful. It’s the ideal solution for tracking your website’s traffic.
The downside? You need to be an engineer to understand how some of it works. I recently started diving deeper into the world of conversion tracking (related to analytics), and I don’t get it. But I will keep learning until I do. You’ve got to keep challenging yourself.
Collecting emails and sending campaigns needs to be at the top of your marketing totem pole. And you need the right digital marketing tools to make this happen.
There are many Email Service Providers (ESPs) out there, and they’re all quite good. In a manner of speaking, they all do the same thing too. But are they all comparable in terms of functionality and pricing? No.
My favorite solution is ConvertKit. It’s an excellent option for creators because it’s easy to use, it allows you to sell infoproducts and paid newsletters, and it’s free for up to 1,000 subscribers.
Plus, they produce some excellent content showing you how to grow your list, build your social media following, sell your art, and more.
When it comes to growing an email list, I swore by Leadpages for years. I don’t use them anymore because the basic functionality is all built into 10XPro (which obviously does a lot of other things), but that doesn’t mean I love them any less.
From setting up popups to landing pages, Leadpages gives you all the tools you need to capture your traffic and increase your email list by leaps and bounds.
Link in Bio
Who knew the “link in bio” trend would catch fire? Well, apparently those watching the creator economy movement did, because now there are several viable competitors to Linktree.
Koji is not an improvement on what’s available. As I see it, it’s a category creator.
Yes, it’s a link in bio. But it’s more than that. It’s free, it gives you access to your analytics, and you can take advantage of a variety of mini apps that let you:
- Collect tips and donations
- Crowdfund your next project
- Create Cameo style videos
- Sell locked content and NFTs
- Set up an eCommerce storefront
- Embed your media content
- And more, all from your link in bio
Here’s my Koji link in bio in case you want to have a look.
Going live is a popular way of attracting an audience. But if you want to put a bit of production value behind it, you’ve got to take advantage of the right digital marketing tools.
Most content creators probably know about StreamYard by now. It’s a popular solution for live streamers of all types, whether it’s podcasters, entrepreneurs, YouTubers, or otherwise.
I made a whole $5.55 live streaming last year. That apparently wasn’t enough to keep me going with it. But whenever I’m thinking about live streaming, StreamYard is what immediately comes to mind.
I especially love the ability to multi-stream to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitch, Twitter, YouTube, and other destinations.
If you’ve got a website, naturally, you want to drive as much targeted traffic to it as you possibly can. Search Engine Optimization is key to your success.
Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest is the most cost-efficient SEO solution out there, and it’s undergirded by Neil’s own desire to help entrepreneurs succeed. His main way of paying it forward is with detailed articles and videos that answer every question you can think of.
Patel’s team seems to be adding new features on a regular basis too, so Ubersuggest will only get more powerful over time, and is unlikely to increase in price.
I have personal experience with Ahrefs. I even got to contribute a few articles to their blog in the past.
Their software is admittedly awesome. Finding keywords opportunities for your website is a cinch with Ahrefs, and that means you can get results fast.
And while not astronomical, they are expensive enough to be priced out of reach for many creators and independent entrepreneurs who already have multiple SaaS subscriptions. It generally takes six to 12 months for you to see any benefit from your optimization efforts. So, $100+ per month seems kind of a steep price to pay while waiting for your efforts to pay off.
Social Media Automation
You aren’t posting everything manually, are you? That’s just silly. Of course, you do need to automate intelligently, or your posts probably won’t be seen. Here are some digital marketing tools that help.
Facebook / Instagram Creator Studio lets you schedule and manage your posts (for Facebook and Instagram) natively for free.
TweetDeck is a free tweet scheduler for Twitter that also lets you monitor engagement activity and hashtags or other interests.
Jetpack is like a Swiss Army knife for WordPress. I especially like the “Publicize” function which lets you post to social media automatically the moment a new post is published – Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and multiple Twitter destinations.
OnlyWire might be a little old school, but it’s one of those digital marketing tools that has stood the test of time. It lets you automate posting to 20+ social networks. I especially like that it connects to destinations like Blogger, Medium, and LiveJoural.
I have not used it in a while, but it is very cost effective, and I have been thinking about it again recently.
Meet Edgar (or Edgar, or whatever, I don’t care, sorry OCD people) is bar none one of the best solutions for automating your social media. You can store every post you create into a library and have Meet Edgar continually draw from it without you having to add anything new (though you will still want to keep adding periodically). It works great if you already have a big repository of content to work with.
Meet Edgar connects to Facebook Pages and Groups, Instagram Feed and Stories, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and LinkedIn Company Pages.
They do have a free trial, and their pricing seems to have come down a bit, but in my experience, you basically need the most expensive plan for it to be worthwhile.
Final Thoughts, Digital Marketing Tools
The above should be a good starting point for the average creator, independent entrepreneur, or solopreneur. You don’t necessarily need to use all of them, and you probably won’t. But depending on your focus, and which area of your career or business you’re looking to enhance right now, it would be worth looking into relevant options.
Most tools here are still modest in cost, even though those pesky enterprise solutions can look mighty sexy at times. Start humble, and in time, you’ll be able to grow into bigger shoes. And don’t forget to replace tools as needed. The best teams are always on the lookout for the next thing that might enhance their workflow.
Oftentimes, the only person stopping you from becoming everything you can become is you.
Your greatness is already inside of you. You don’t need to go looking for it.
So, what is the greatest enemy to unlocking all that you already are? Why do you spend so much time spinning your wheels? The answer is eye opening.
What’s preventing you from embracing what’s already available to you is the familiar.
The familiar is comfortable. It’s expected. It’s highly dependable.
At the end of a long, hard day, there’s always a warm, comfortable, inviting bed called “familiar” waiting for you. You can return to it whenever it feels like you’re so far outside of your comfort zone you’re living in a horror film.
But it’s that tendency to avoid and escape the scary that holds us back from having everything we desire. Because we are already worthy of it.
Life demands expansion. And it will take us there rather naturally if we let it.
The problem is we resist change. The new is always more uncomfortable than the familiar.
Examine closely your daily routine. When is the last time you felt like you were doing something new? When is the last time you felt the discomfort of the unfamiliar?
There is nothing wrong with anything unfamiliar. Only our thinking makes it so.
The familiar isn’t to be loathed. And although I used the term “enemy” earlier, the familiar doesn’t need to be made the enemy. That’s just another form of resistance, and whatever you resist persists.
But it would be wise to recognize the familiar. If you’re doing the same thing the same way expecting different results, you’re stuck in an insanity loop that’s preventing the fullness that you are from emerging.
Getting what you want will require that you step outside of the familiar. That’s where it lies. It does not exist in doing more of what you already know to do. How are you expanding today?
👉 Friendly reminder… Your week is what you make of it. It doesn’t matter what you’ve encountered this past week, you can get something from everything if you have the right mindset. And I’m here to support you on your journey.
🎙️In the latest episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I invited Monica Strut onto the show to talk about the five layers of independent success and music distribution.
📝 I was asked to share my cardinal rules of content marketing. Follow these for best results.
🎥 I made a new video for you, and in it I share my #1 tip for podcast hosts.
🌸 Loving the cherry blossoms…
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And there’s always more where this came from…
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On July 28, 2021, I made the commitment to publish daily for a full year.
Tomorrow, I will have fulfilled on that promise.
And if I’m being perfectly honest, I published as many as four times on some days. That may not be evident from the archives, but if you go looking across Music Entrepreneur HQ, Music Industry How To, MIDINation, Medium, News Break, and Steemit, you’ll see what I’m referring to.
I seriously considered whether to continue for another year. That’s how rewarding this process has been. But I’ve come to see it’s not in full alignment with what I’m up to creating in the world right now.
First and foremost, it’s time for a bit of a break. Though publishing daily, on average, only takes about an hour per day, in some ways it has basically consumed my attention and mind space.
Aside from that, it’s time to get into action concerning key endeavors – especially the leadership and management program I’m currently taking, musical projects, books, and my new membership (to be added to Content Marketing Musician).
This is all basically just a teaser, though, because I’ll be bringing the full scoop to you tomorrow. Keep an eye out for it!
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