This may not sit well with you, but one time in a MarketingProfs article, I might have (accidentally) said that “back in the day, content marketing was simply called blogging.”
I said it as a way of voicing my concern that content marketing has been with us for years and that there’s basically nothing new about using it as a way to grow your brand online. Some people didn’t enjoy this point of view (judging by the comments).
However, even though I said what I said, the fact is that I still love content marketing. In this day and age, content marketing is simply the new black of online marketing. In other words, if you have a website and you want to promote it (and feel all hip about it), you need yourself some of them content marketing magic!
But there’s a problem here. We all know that content marketing is effective for brands in tech, app and software development, media companies, and even for your local brick-and-mortar businesses (at least for the coffee shop close to where I live it is). But what about freelancers working online? What about writers, designers, bloggers, freelance software developers?
Without further ado, here’s a look at what they can do to make content marketing effective for the freelance business model.
1. Guest posting (but not where you think)
Guest posting is one of the more popular content marketing methods out there. Basically, the way it’s done, is that you reach out to a blog editor where you want to publish your work, offer them a free post linking back to your site, and if everything goes well, after a short while you get a nice mention on a popular website.
Now, here’s a riddle for you. Where do you post if you’re a freelance writer/blogger, for example?
The obvious answer is to aim for a site like ProBlogger, or some other popular resource for writers and bloggers – your peers. The reasoning behind this is that it allows you to gain recognition among other bloggers – that you’re “joining the team,” so to speak.
Well, unfortunately, this isn’t that effective as a marketing method. In short, a freelance blogger shouldn’t attempt to guest post on a site for other bloggers if they want to reach potential clients. Just like a freelance designer shouldn’t guest post on a site for other designers. And so on.
To make guest blogging an effective content marketing method, you should only post on sites that your prospective clients read, not those that your peers read.
- Start by listing all the niches and all the possible types of clients that could be interested in hiring you.
- Then, create a list of sites that those people read.
- And finally, reach out to these sites and try to get published there.
To improve the impact of your guest post, you can make an effort to promote it even before it goes live. These 13 experts will help you figure out how to do this.
Don’t forget to build your bio box in a way that promotes your services and makes it clear what it is that you do. The simplest recipe is to answer the three “Ws” (what? why? who?).
Also, the goal with the actual guest posts isn’t to just talk about a topic that’s popular at the moment in your niche. Instead, you want to focus on an evergreen topic that’s important to the reader, and do it in a way that solves a specific problem. Present your expertise as a freelance writer/designer/someone and invite the reader – prospective client – to check out what you have to offer on your site (that’s what the bio box is for).
Then, once they’ve paid you a visit, utilize the little time you have to sell them on your services and convince them that you’re exactly the person they need. For instance, you can learn a lot on how to propose clients in an effective way from these resources, especially if you’re a writer, designer, marketer, SEO expert, programmer, or do any other type of freelancing that involves the world wide web.
Getting your proposals in place is actually the most important piece of the puzzle when you’re a freelancer. In short, as a freelancer, you don’t make money when you deliver the work. You make money much earlier – when the client says yes to your initial offer.
2. Engaging in collaboration projects
Producing and promoting content on your own site can be tough at times, and especially when you’re just getting started.
Let’s face it, the 80/20 rule is true for content marketing just like it is for anything else. Quite recently, Steve shared a detailed article on how effective content marketing actually is in relation to content marketing articles themselves. In that case study, Steve points out that increased competition means that fewer articles go viral. And even more interestingly, the place where your content gets published has a profound impact on how popular it can potentially get.
For once, that is the main reason why I encourage you to guest post, but apart from that, that’s also why you should look for potential collaborations on various content-related projects, rather than only work on individual blog posts on your own.
If you manage to strike a partnership with a popular site – preferably in a niche that your clients are a part of – and release a piece of content together with them, you will be immediately perceived as someone of value and someone worth paying attention to.
This is about going the extra step. So in a scenario where other people have managed to guest post on a given site, you go further and strike a partnership to provide something bigger.
What could be this piece of content? Some popular solutions are e-books, case studies, video series, series of posts, etc. Basically, anything that’s larger in scale than a standard guest post.
3. Offering insights on social media (tricky)
No one likes the sleazy guy who’s just blasting tweets left and right, basically screaming, “Hey, you! Buy my stuff!” Or how Gary Vaynerchuk calls it, throwing too many right hooks.
A much better way is to look for prospective clients and reach out to them with a piece of advice at precisely the right moment. The only difficulty here is to, (a) find the right person and time, (b) do it in 140 characters or less.
Therefore, one method that’s very common is to keep monitoring the social space and jump in should anyone ask the right question – question that you can answer. So the difficult part isn’t necessarily finding the answer, but rather inserting a plug for your business.
I was struggling with this for a long time until I came across Snip.ly. It’s a very interesting platform that allows you to share any article on social media (it doesn’t have to be your own article) and attach a nice-looking message to the article page itself. This way you can share other people’s content, and at the same time reap the benefits for your own business. If this doesn’t sound clear then please go to Snip.ly and watch the demo video.
So the way you can take advantage of this platform is:
- Monitor the social space looking for relevant conversations.
- When someone asks a question that’s relevant, find the answer in the form of an article on the web.
- Put that article through Snip.ly and add your own message to it – inviting the person back to your own site.
- Send/tweet it out to the person.
The last missing piece here is paying attention to the metrics and assessing your performance. Once you start doing content marketing at a (reasonable) scale, it can become difficult to track everything, analyze what’s working well and what needs adjusting.
For that, you can try a platform like Oktopost. It’s a social media management tool that gives you detailed metrics regarding your social media posts. It tracks the leads you generate and lets you know what posts and audiences are the most effective. Something that can be very useful once you start growing your business to the next level.
Even though there are just three methods on this list, they certainly have the potential to keep you occupied for weeks if not months.
Granted, they aren’t all that scalable, but with content marketing – and especially if you’re a one-person freelance business – you really have a much better chance of generating worthwhile results if you focus more on the quality of each piece of content you produce, rather than on the overall quantity.
What’s your current approach? Do you use content marketing as an active promotion method for your freelance business?
About the author: Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a blogger and writer, published author, and a team member at Bidsketch – bringing you the best client proposals that can be designed, managed and sent out in minutes.