Want to know the #1 way I grew Express Writers?
Two words, five syllables:
Or, more specifically, consistent, strategic content marketing.
Online content strategy, a real, firm strategy, became my best friend to get to the “serious growth” phase.
The thing is, it took YEARS to figure out and perfect.
All the pieces had to come together, and I had to test, re-test, and test again to find out what worked (and, what didn’t).
When I figured it out, things snowballed.
Our income from Express Writers boomed to six-figures, and then to seven-figures ARR, inside just two years.
Here’s the story, and how I used my experience to get clear on EXACTLY what I needed to reach bigger, better, bolder success.
After that, I’m going to share the 6 steps I used to hone my online content strategy to a razor-sharp edge: the exact same system you can use to get crystal-clear on your own content and start seeing real results.
Online Content Strategy Clarity Equals Success: From Near-Failure to Six-Figures after Getting Strategic
I started my business, Express Writers, from basically nothing – I was a college dropout with a dream and a mere $75 of pocket cash.
The beginning was hard. Here’s what that looked like, 2 years into the game:
By that time I had published 215 blogs, had 141 keywords ranking on Google, about 500 visitors/day to my site from organic traffic, and was earning around $29K/month.
I was creating content, but the results were lackluster.
I was doing a few things wrong:
- My content quality wasn’t consistently high
- I often published content just to “get it out there”
- I was trying to push out TOO MUCH content (at least one blog post a day)
- I was doing cold outreach to get more clients – and not earning any ROI for my time spent (read: the cold emails I sent out turned up nothing but crickets chirping)
- I was trying to boost growth on every channel possible
In short, growth from content marketing was slow. I was hustling every day, snatching at leads wherever I could. And, the leads I did get from my content weren’t that good.
And, all of this was happening while I was a wife, a mom of a two-year-old, and had an understandably busy family life.
Bottom line: I was overworked and not seeing the results I dreamed of from my content.
The Turning Point: Enter Content Strategy
The turning point came in 2016. Our low-profit, high-expense months were not sustainable. We were making an average of $65K/month, but were lucky to take home 35% of that total.
Then, in May 2016, I discovered my two managers had been embezzling from the company for months.
I fired them. After that, some reassessing happened. I had to rebuild my business and my team.
It wasn’t until a few months later, while we were still slowly recovering, that I finally started implementing a content strategy.
With the combination of that strategy and better members on the EW team, we started seeing returns, slowly but surely.
We even started setting records for our monthly gross income.
- Before using content strategy, I was publishing an average of 4 blogs/week. We had about 3,900 keywords indexed on Google, and we were making $65K/month, with some lower months after the embezzling fiasco.
- One year later, and only a few months after implementing a content strategy, we hit our first $71K month in income. We also reached 6,000 keywords indexed on Google, which was nearly double the amount from the previous year.
And that momentum kept building as I refined my content strategy.
We continued having record months. Our Google presence kept building, and our online visibility skyrocketed. We started ranking #1 for hot keywords, and our traffic jumped to thousands of visitors per day.
Today, our content marketing continues to work and build on itself.
Without the strategy, though, none of it would be possible.
By now, you’re probably dying to know what that strategy looks like.
Listen up, because I’m sharing the 6 steps to my content strategy framework next. These steps build out the foundation of a rock-solid strategy.
6 Steps to Build an Unstoppable Content Strategy Framework
This is how you do content marketing that wins.
1. Understand the Basic Fundamentals of a Content Strategy
Content strategy defines as:
If you don’t understand what a content strategy is, go back and get clear on this. It’s the only way you’ll also understand how content strategy fits into content marketing, and why the two cannot exist without each other.
Think of it this way: It’s impossible to succeed at any activity without a thorough base knowledge to guide you. Content strategy is no different.
You should also know what you’re talking about, and how to branch out into topics your audience wants to hear about. Finding your topic area is a fundamental first step in a content strategy.
Along with that, know your CDF – your Content Differentiation Factor. What makes you different than all the other content voices out there?
2. Know Your Audience and How to Lead Them to a Sale (Bridge the Gap)
Knowing your audience is one thing, but knowing how to turn your audience into customers is another.
If you don’t understand how to bridge that gap, you’re missing out on one of the biggest first steps involved in putting your content strategy in place.
Of course, before you can connect the dots, you must know who your REAL audience is – not your imagined audience (only research and having actual conversations can tell you this!).
Once you know your persona, you can create content that matches the lifecycle stages of awareness, in the sales cycle. Example:
3. Use SEO (and Understand Its Importance)
Want to get found online? Including SEO in your content strategy is a foolproof way to do it organically, without paying a cent for ads.
Using SEO to get all its associated benefits means:
- Knowing how to find keywords that will bring you profitable traffic (people with buying intent)
- Knowing which tools to use to do keyword research
- Understanding Google’s ranking factors and making sure your content hits them
You need to know the right tools and methodologies to use when you’re working on improving your search engine rankings. Keyword research plays a big part in this.
4. Build Your Gravitas Online (Be an Authority)
Building your authority online can have a few different meanings.
It can mean:
- Building your brand as a trusted source of information
- Building your brand as an authority website by Google’s standards
Both are valuable to your content strategy, and you should do things that help boost your gravitas in both scenarios.
Just one way to build your domain as an authority in Google’s eyes is to focus on publishing content on YOUR platform, i.e. a domain that YOU own – not proprietary ones like Facebook, Instagram, or HuffingtonPost (which sadly discontinued their guest blogging platform not too long ago–I, along with many others, lost my content profile and login).Focus on your 'content house' to get better online results, says @JuliaEMcCoy. #ContentMarketing #SEOContent Click To Tweet
5. Create Content Strategically
When the times comes to create content, guess what?
This is what your content strategy is FOR.
Every previous step should lead you in the right direction for creating the right kind of content for your audience and brand.
Of course, there are a few extra steps involved, like putting a workable process in place for content creation (research, writing, editing, publishing); understanding what kind of formatting, tone of voice, and topics lead to high-ROI; and placing quality above quantity.
6. Maintain + Build Your Content Momentum (Budget, Audit, and Promote)
To maintain your forward progress with content marketing and strategy, you must budget wisely, audit strategically, and promote faithfully.
These three activities will keep your content marketing going. Instead of drifting aimlessly in a boat with no paddles, you’ll be riding the next wave with a motor at your back.
- Budgeting content is about planning your expenses wisely and knowing where your dollars are going. I.e., know how much outsourcing content costs, and budget for high-quality.
- Google loves fresh content. Do content audits of old posts and update anything outdated or thin.
- Content promotion gets more eyes on your content assets, which can result in more leads + sales. Promotion doesn’t have to cost much, either.
Remember, a content strategy needs constant work to keep moving. Update, budget, plan, and promote so your content marketing never goes stale.
This 6-Step Content Strategy Framework Is Just the Beginning (Join My In-Depth 60-Minute Class for More)
Once you have the 6 steps down for building a profitable content strategy framework, your content marketing can grow, and grow, and grow…
But only because you’ve taken the time to lay a rock-solid foundation to stand on.
If you rush these steps or skip one or two, you’ll find yourself back at square one. The whole thing will collapse.
Don’t let that happen.
Know the framework inside-out, build your strategy with steel instead of straw, and you’ll be far more likely to succeed.
In short, make sure you have this stuff down!
Get a deeper explanation of each step, plus tips and advice, when you join my 60-minute 6-Step Framework to a Profitable Content Strategy masterclass that covers this framework from front-to-back. This is a FREE, on-demand webinar that dives into each step to a profitable content strategy in one, information-packed hour. Choose a time that fits your busy schedule, and ask your burning questions live. Don’t miss it!
(And, grab a copy of my book on this topic (each chapter is an in-depth look at the six steps in this framework): Practical Content Strategy & Marketing.)