Why Content Marketing is an Entrepreneur's Best Friend

Why Content Marketing is an Entrepreneur’s Best Friend

Today, we’re living in a time when entrepreneurs are everywhere, and it’s exciting. As we head into 2017, the rise of entrepreneurs is seriously growing.
While starting a business used to be something reserved for those with extensive training or excess family money, just laying around and waiting to be spent, entrepreneurship has become something that everyone can access.
As a result, companies like Facebook, Snapchat, Dollar Shave Club, StitchFix and – hey – Express Writers! – has popped up as a result.
Today, however, people who are trying to get startups off the ground are struggling to figure out where to best invest their efforts, and which type of work will pay off most seriously down the road. Fortunately, the answer is straightforward: content marketing.
Those doing the “side hustle” will SERIOUSLY benefit from a blog and a web presence (and social media), aka, content marketing. Think about it for a moment: content marketing is low-cost compared to traditional advertising, it’s meant for the social media age, it performs well with customers who want to develop honest and long-lasting relationships with the companies they frequent, and some of it can even be done yourself, within reason.
Today, we’re here to talk about why content marketing is an entrepreneur’s best bet in terms of marketing, and how it can help new businesses grow from the ground up. Read on!
content marketing for the entrepreneur

Content: The Entrepreneur’s Lifeboat

Content is the one thing that will work when virtually nothing else does for the entrepreneur. Think about it: most forms of traditional marketing are expensive and time-consuming. While large enterprises might have the budget and the in-house staff to accommodate that, entrepreneurs seldom do, and content marketing can be much more accessible.
Although content marketing costs 62% less than traditional advertising, it generates triple the leads, which makes it an astoundingly perfect option for marketers who want to spread the word about their startups online. What’s more, since breaking into content marketing doesn’t require a huge staff, it’s easy to DIY some of it on your own, saving yourself money and learning something new in the process.
By developing an online presence, entrepreneurs can build their brand story, connect with their customers, and set themselves apart from their competitors. A social media presence can also serve to expand your reach and make it easier for you to connect with your followers – both online and in person.

7 Ways Content Marketing is Perfect Marketing for the Entrepreneur

Regardless of whether your startup sells tangible goods or services, here are seven incredibly strong benefits content marketing has to offer for entrepreneurs.

1. Content Marketing is Amazingly Cost Effective

Entrepreneurs rarely have a ton of money to start out with–unless they walked into inheritances like the Rich Kids of Beverly Hills did. 😛
But truly: self-startups don’t usually have an unlimited reservoir of funds. It’s usually the opposite. Funds are low, time is tight, resources slim. I began Express Writers with $75–trust me! I know what it’s like to start with nothing.
Enter content marketing as an effective way at building a brand and starting out when you’re doing the side hustle, trying to build your dream biz while you work on leaving your 9-5 that pays the bills.
Check this out. From one blog post (roughly a $50 investment, between resources and my time), I gained $5000 back – a 100x return on investment. A warm lead walked in from my blog, and converted on our content services at that amount. Proof that content marketing can be a strong endeavor for startups and those trying to brand themselves with limited finances.
life cycle of content
To repeat the cycle that I created, you want to focus on these three things:

  • Building your presence online (your website, starting a blog). Getting off the ground is key here!
  • Consistency. Build up that presence, don’t just start it. Blogging at least 2x/week, minimum, and pairing up social media to your content presence, is a good consistency to start with. (We blog up to 5x/week for maximum outreach and SEO results.)
  • Guest blog. Outreach and start putting together a list of key sites you’d like to blog on. Presence there is a tremendous key to the ROI of your content marketing. (My 100x ROI featured in the graphic above came from my column on SiteProNews.)

2. Content marketing helps you develop your unique brand voice

Today, the startups that make it big are the ones who know how to talk to their audiences like nobody else does – in their content, bleeding all the way through social media posts, pulsing through video marketing, shining through blog posts. The voice you establish in your content marketing is key to helping you stand out online.
Take, for example, Dollar Shave Club. Witty, a little edgy, and funny through and through, this is a startup that’s achieved billion-dollar valuation because of its content marketing.
dollar shave club
Without content marketing, it’s tough to spread your voice the way Dollar Shave Club has done. In fact, it’s tough to be heard at all. Content is the one central factor that allows marketers to be heard in various places across the web, and it’s the one guaranteed way for small business owners and founders to showcase their unique brand voice to all the critical customers out there who want to listen.
To succeed with content marketing, founders must first have an idea of their overarching brand message and how best to leverage it. This will help people connect with the message and will make it easier for readers and customers to connect with online information. It will also help produce continuity in brand messaging, which will make it easier for a startup to grow in the coming years.

3. Content marketing can welcome people into your world

As a founder, you live a life that people are interested in being a part of. Even if you’ve never met many of your customers personally, they want to know who you are, how you come up with your products, where you work, and who you work with. By giving them these details in the form of content marketing materials or social media updates, you can help develop bonds between your company and its customers, and build ongoing relationships that will serve to uplift both your employees and your clients now and in the future.
To leverage your content marketing to make the most of this, use platforms like Periscope to share live-stream, behind-the-scenes videos or to provide exclusive glimpses into products or launches. Your customer will thank you, and you’ll develop a devoted following.

4. Content marketing can enhance engagement

Every entrepreneur wants a more engaged audience, and content marketing can help. Critical to building ongoing relationships with your audience, engagement is one of the necessary offshoots of content marketing. To boost engagement, post frequent blog posts on topics relevant to your audience and engage with your social accounts regularly. In addition to increasing your SEO (more on this in a second) and building your online presence, this will also render you better prepared to reach your customers in the ways they want to be reached. Finally, you’ll succeed in creating organic attention and publicity for your products, goods, or services by simply pushing out valuable content to your readers.

5. Use content marketing to bounce ideas off your readers

Ever wish you could poll your readers and ask what they think about something? Now you can! Social media is a fantastic place to poll your readers. When it’s done correctly, this approach can help you develop a solid strategy for your products, goods, and services, and enjoy an ongoing connection with the people who help you stay in business.
To use social media to boost your engagement, use Facebook or Twitter to ask your readers’ questions regarding the type of content they prefer and where they want to interact with it. Start a group, or a Twitter chat! Social activity, especially leading a group or new hashtag cause, can go a long way toward enhancing your content strategy and even help you become a more successful business owner.

6. Content marketing is critical for SEO

Part of the battle of being a founder is positioning yourself in a way that allows people to discover you online. Fortunately, content marketing helps with this by providing a fantastic SEO boost. Every time you publish a new post on your blog, for example, you give Google a new page to index. Every time you reach out on social media, you give your audience something to share and engage with, all of which boosts your SEO and helps people find and share your brand.
This is essential for your business and can be one of the major factors that determine whether your brand succeeds or fails in the long run.

7. Content marketing is an excellent way to build trust

Want to build confidence in your customers? Look no further than content marketing. Too many entrepreneurs and small business owners make the mistake of going right in for the kill with a new prospect. This, in turn, makes it difficult for prospects to trust your company because they feel as if they’re always being sold, and people don’t like that. To prevent this from happening and ensure that your brand remains trustworthy and exciting for your customers, turn your attention to content marketing.
In addition to branding you as a customer-focused brand that cares more about providing value than you do about making sales, content marketing can also help give your readers a reason to trust you. When you provide valuable, educational, informative content for free before you try to “sell” your readers anything, you succeed in creating a dynamic and symbiotic relationship in which your customers want you around as much as you need them around.

Content Marketing: The Marketing of Choice for Entrepreneurs

For entrepreneurs, content marketing is the way of the future. Designed to help new marketers enjoy the marketing ROI not typically associated with traditional advertising, content marketing is an effective way to build attention online, gain new readers, and develop trust with customers. What’s more, it’s also a great way for you as a founder to build your voice and uncover your unique brand identity – both of which are central to successful startups everywhere!
With this in mind, develop your content marketing focus by doing simple things like establishing a blog, developing a social media presence, and becoming active in various online communities. In addition to engaging your current readers, you’ll gain new ones in the process.

Looking for a team of writers with small-business experience to help you get your new venture off the ground? Contact Express Writers about your needs! We LOVE writing great copy for startups and entrepreneurs. 

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How Entrepreneurs Can Lead Awesome & Healthy Lives with Chris Nadeau

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How Entrepreneurs Can Lead Awesome & Healthy Lives with Chris Nadeau

Do you want to get caught up on the latest #ContentWritingChat? Well, you’re in luck! We have a recap of this Tuesday’s chat ready for you to dive into. It’s filled with great tips you won’t want to miss!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How Entrepreneurs Can Lead Awesome & Healthy Lives with Chris Nadeau

Our guest host this week was Chris Nadeau. Chris is the co-founder of Evolving Solutions. He is also the blogger behind Eat Greens Every Day, which is all about helping you lead a healthier life. That just so happens to be the inspiration behind this chat! Chris shared a ton of helpful suggestions so you can lead and awesome and healthy life.

Q1: What are your key tips to balancing happiness and health with running and owning a successful business?

Entrepreneurs lead very busy, and sometimes hectic, lives. It can make it hard to find a balance between work and staying happy and healthy. To create more of a balance in your life, keep these tips in mind:

Chris suggests scheduling time for yourself each day. After all, sometimes you need to make that appointment with yourself in order to fit self-care into that busy schedule of yours. He said to block off 30-60 minutes each day to focus on your health.

Jamie from HeyOrca! agrees. Sometimes you just have to schedule in that time in order to actually make it happen. Find at least 30 minutes in your daily schedule to block off for a little self-care.

Sarah from ThinkSEM is right! You have to know when to shut down. You can’t always pull those all nighters. Decide when you’re going to quit working each day and actually log off and shut down. Don’t fall into the trap of answering emails late at night.

Set boundaries for yourself and for your clients. If you are running a service-based business, it can be tempting to stay up all night responding to client emails. Don’t give in! You need to set boundaries so you don’t bring work over into your dedicated personal time. We also love this tip of scheduling time to learn new skills. That’s very important!

Because our cell phones and smart watches are basically glued to us, it can be hard to truly unplug. When you finish work for the day, log out of social media and your inbox. Silence the notifications and leave your phone in another room. Focus on the moment and be with family or take the time to enjoy your personal hobbies.

Zachary knows time management is vital when it comes to balancing your personal life and your business. If you don’t manage your time wisely, you might find yourself working late nights more often than you’d like. Instead, make the most of your day by managing your time better.

The truth is, we sometimes get so wrapped up in the hustle that we forget to look up from our computers! Julia suggests stopping to give yourself a break throughout the day. Block off time for a proper lunch away from your desk. Take 30 minutes to do some exercise, have a yoga session, or do a little meditation. This can truly make a huge difference in how you feel and how the rest of your day goes.

Q2: How can a morning routine help you start the day off right? Tell us about yours.

Having a set morning routine that you stick to every day is essential for starting things off on the right foot. Check out what some of our chat participants had to say about the importance of morning routines and what they like to do to start the day:

Chris said your morning routine can have an impact on your entire day. How you spend your morning can influence your productivity, energy levels, and how successful you are. So, don’t you want to make sure you’re spending the morning in the best way possible?

It sounds like Chris has a pretty great morning routine as well! He drinks lemon water (this aids in digestion), wakes up early enough to allow time for himself, exercises, meditates, and has a green smoothie.

Laura knows she’s most productive in the morning, so she takes advantage of that time. She eats a good breakfast and then dives into her writing. By utilizing your most productive times, you’re bound to get even more work done!

Mornings are great for Mike as well, so he also knows to take full advantage of this time.

For the caffeine addicts of the world, no morning routine is complete without a cup of coffee.

For Asiya, she likes to have brainstorming sessions over a cup of coffee when she wakes up. It’s all about doing what works best for you! If you get your best ideas in the morning, try a brainstorming session early in the day like Asiya does.

Q3: How can diets impact our lives for the better? Describe your style of eating + how it helps you stay productive.

It’s no secret that the foods you eat can have a great impact on your life. They can change how you feel, can give you an energy boost (or deplete you of energy), and so much more. Check out these tips and keep them in mind the next time you head to the kitchen:

Chris said that what you eat can impact how your brain functions. As a result, some of the foods you eat could make it easier or harder for you to hit the goals you’re trying to reach. When it comes to your diet, he said to focus on greens, veggies, and lean proteins. Skip the processed foots and drink lots of water.

This is a great answer from Sarah! Good nutrition leads to a healthy life, which can equal success. Just be sure to throw in a little hard work, too!

Julia knows clean eating is the way to go! She switched to eating organic and has cut out the junk food. She surely feels much better eating healthy!

Sandi said to stay hydrated by drinking water. Keep a glass of water on your desk throughout the day and remember to actually drink it up. It’s also helpful to avoid a lot of sugar, junk food, and a caffeine overload.

It’s safe to say that if you’re trying to stay motivated, a greasy meal isn’t the way to go! Go for some fresh fruit instead!

Mike knows just how important probiotics can be as part of your diet. Make sure you’re incorporating them daily to ensure you feel great. You can get a good serving of probiotics for many yogurts or you can also take a daily supplement.

Q4: What are your best tips for leading a healthy, balanced life?

If you want to live a healthy and balanced life, these are the tips you need to know! Check out what some of the participants in Tuesday’s chat had to say about this:

First, Chris recommends starting your day off right. This goes back to that question on your morning routine. Develop a routine that works for you and makes you feel great. You’ll notice a huge difference when you do. He also said to eat real food, focus on personal develop, do a digital detox, get some sleep, and hold yourself accountable.

Prioritize your tasks, create a list of everything you need to do, and then execute it. Great advice! This works for business plans, meal plans, workout routines, and more. When you plan and block off time in your schedule, you’re more likely to make it happen.

Don’t forget to get out there and have some fun! Doing something you genuinely enjoy can reduce stress and even boost your creativity. It’s absolutely okay to embrace those geeky hobbies!

Don’t fall into the habit of pulling all nighters all the time. As Sandi said, sleep is essential if you want to function well during the day. Set a bedtime routine and hit the hay around the same time every night. It helps you develop a routine that you can stick to.

Andy suggests laughing and spending time with family. Make time for regular exercise, while eating the foods you like every now and then. And don’t forget to get plenty of sleep!

Jeremy has just about summed it up with his answer! He said to exercise daily, get some sleep, and eat healthy and nutritious foods. And remember that being positive makes a huge difference as well.

Q5: Discuss how to plan your day to ensure you stay happy, healthy, and productive throughout.

Do you want to make sure you always have a great day? To ensure you’re feeling happy, healthy, and productive, keep these tips in mind:

Chris likes to break his days into chunks. The first chunk is where he focuses on his morning routine and his health. It’s a great way to make sure your day starts off on the right foot.
He wakes up at 5:45 AM, completes his morning routine, begins to tackle his work, has lunch, then gets back to work.

This is advice everyone needs to keep in mind! You should plan your day according to YOU. So, when are you most productive? Morning, midday, or in the afternoon? You can plan your day around your productivity zones to get more work done.

Becky creates a to-do list of all the things she needs to do during the day. Not only does a list keep you on track, but she’s right about it being satisfying to cross tasks off as the day goes on.

Kathleen knows taking work breaks is essential to success throughout the day. Take a break from your desk to do some stretches. It’ll help you feel refreshed when you sit back down.

Julia also suggests taking breaks throughout the day. Her other advice is to time your work, create a to-do list, and drink green/clean juices. Who wouldn’t want to a refreshing green juice to get through the day?

It’s also important to recognize how you feel so you can realize when you need to take a break. If you’re starting to feel stressed out, overwhelmed, or run down, take a break!

It may seem overwhelming to make a lot of big changes in your life, so don’t be afraid to start small. As Zachary said, even one good habit is a start. So, what one thing can you change today to make a difference in how you feel?

Q6: Describe a good work-life balance when it comes to your business.

What does a good work-life balance look like when it comes to your business? Here’s what some of our chat participants had to say:

Chris tries to work five to seven hours on business tasks during the day. He uses the rest of the day to focus on other things he wants to do.

As Andy said, don’t get stuck in a job you hate. While sometimes this is hard to avoid, it’s important to love what you do. You don’t want to wake up every single day dreading work. You should look forward to it and feel passionate about what you do.

Just because you work for yourself and your office is in your own home, it doesn’t mean you have to work until 1 AM all the time. Set office hours for yourself and get in the habit of shutting down at the same time every day.
And here’s a tip: If you are working late and responding to emails, no one has to know. You can use Boomerang with Gmail to schedule your emails to go out a reasonable time. You don’t want clients thinking they can reach you at all hours.

Q7: Do you use any tools in your daily life to help you live better?

The great thing is, there are a ton of helpful tools available to us today that can make our lives even better. Check out these suggestions and give them a try for yourself!

Chris has a few tools he relies on regularly to ensure he stays happy and healthy. Have you tried any of these suggestions?

Who doesn’t love a great playlist? Andy likes to use Spotify when listening to music. It’s a great way to get you in a better mood and energized to take on the day.

Sarah’s advice is to get outside. There’s nothing like a little fresh air to reinvigorate you. Plus, going for a quick walk can get you energy up and is great for helping you stay healthy. She likes to take her dogs for two walks every day, which is great exercise.

For Jamie, she relies on her Keurig to provide that morning cup of coffee, Spotify for great tunes, Slack for staying connected with others, and a treadmill for a stress-busting source of exercise.

Julia likes to read books that will help her learn and grow. After all, you should never stop learning! As a writer, she also knows it’s important to write daily to sharpen her skills. And she also loves some motivational playlists.

As for Lex, she enjoys taking a nap. If you’re feeling tired, a quick cat nap could do the trick to get you back on track for the rest of the day.

These are all great tools to help you better manage your work every day!

We like Lauren’s “no excuses” thinking. She streams her workouts on her phone, which means she can take them anywhere she goes. There’s no excuse for not hitting the gym because you can work out anywhere with the amount of exercise routines online today.

Q8: Which entrepreneurs do you look up to/follow when it comes to lifestyle?

There are a ton of entrepreneurs out there and many of them can provide a great source of inspiration for your daily life. Here are some awesome ones you can look to:

This is a great answer from Chris! He looks up to his parents. And as he said, this is a great reminder for those with children. Your kids are looking up to you and watching your every move. Make sure you’re setting a good example for them. Chris also looks up to Richard Branson and Kris Carr.

Gary Vaynerchuk certainly has an inspiring hustle, but don’t forget to take time for yourself and taking a break at the end of each day.

Kristi looks up to other entrepreneurs who are mothers. After all, they juggle a lot and can be a great source of inspiration!

Debi looks up to those who are successful, balanced, kind, and intelligent. These are all great qualities to be admired!
We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

The Write Podcast, Episode 15: Tips on Balancing Entrepreneurship, Parenting, & Staying Productive with Business Coach Holly Diederich

The Write Podcast, Episode 15: Tips on Balancing Entrepreneurship, Parenting, & Staying Productive with Business Coach Holly Diederich

I had so much fun connecting with Holly Diederich, a business coach I connected with a while back, in a podcast today! We met in mutual Facebook groups, and she quickly became a business friend who was there for me early on with solid advice on my big-ticket questions about publicizing the crazy embezzlement story.
We’d been trying to schedule this episode for weeks–well, it finally happened! In today’s episode, we talk about a lot of real-life stuff: the fun and busy world of parenthood while balancing being an entrepreneur, and Holly’s entire story, from leaving a comfortable corporate job to follow her dreams and how she made five figures fast (without a website)!
Before she started her current business, Holly was enjoying a managerial role at a publicly-traded Fortune 1000 company. She thought she was on top of the world, fulfilling her goals for herself, traveling and making big decisions.
Then she had her first child, and she, like so many moms, realized that her priorities had shifted.
In this episode, we dig into how Holly made the leap from what she thought she should be doing, to what she wanted to do, and how she made a great life in the process. Listen on Spreaker or in iTunes.
write podcast episode 15

The Write Podcast Episode 15 with Holly Diederich, Talking Life, Entrepreneurship, Parenthood, and Staying Productive: Highlights

Ideal for anyone who struggles to juggle family life with entrepreneurship, this episode offers a wide selection of great tips on productivity, efficiency, and caring for yourself, first. Here are a few highlights:

  • How Holly left the corporate world to start a coaching business, and what influenced her decision.
  • How she started her first company (an online boutique) and grew it from an idea to $4,000 of revenue in just 3 months
  • When she realized that she could allocate her time and energy more effectively by outsourcing key responsibilities, and how you can, too
  • How her coaching business grew up out of her own entrepreneurial pursuit
  • How her coaching business reached $10,000 in revenue in five weeks, without a website, and how she used LeadPages to do it
  • What types of content she publishes to attract leads in her wildly successful Facebook group (more than 1,400 members!)
  • Which tricks Holly has learned to care for herself and avoid burnout
  • Why all entrepreneurs can benefit from putting themselves first
  • How she finds the best courses to continue her learning and growth
  • How the biggest gains come from intentionally relinquishing responsibility (and outsourcing!)

Relevant Links:

And don’t forget…


For great content creation, from ebook writing & design to original blogs and more, visit our Content Shop!

The Write Podcast, Episode 6: Talking Life, Entrepreneurship, Guest Blogging, & Content Marketing With Sujan Patel

The Write Podcast, Episode 6: Talking Life, Entrepreneurship, Guest Blogging, & Content Marketing With Sujan Patel

In today’s episode, I’m thrilled to be interviewing Sujan Patel. This guy is super cool, because, well a) he’s writing the foreword to my upcoming book and b) he’s an entrepreneur who has started multiple companies and has been an Internet marketer for over 12 years now. He’s known for being the co-founder of co-founder of Content Marketer & Narrow.io, and he’s appeared on Forbes, Inc, and many other high-caliber content sites. I can’t wait to launch my book, featuring his foreword – stay alerted when it’s out here!
Sujan shares his down-to-earth, super-useful advice in this insightful episode on lots of things: entrepreneurship, how to be a star guest blogger like himself (it’s not overnight), and content marketing practices in general. Enjoy!
sujan patel episode 6

In Episode 6 of The Write Podcast, Sujan Patel covers a lot of things, including:

  • How he went from college dropout who loved to surf to a multi-company founder and startup entrepreneur
  • How he only creates tools that he feels personally invested in…and how the hardest part is simply doing the work
  • Tips on guest blogging from the guru: why getting on Forbes and Inc isn’t an overnight job
  • How Sujan Patel is actually related to Neil Patel, a leader in content marketing
  • Why Sujan feels live-streaming and recording videos of yourself is essential in content marketing
  • How to easily figure out if you have a viable business idea with a napkin marketing plan
  • What are some of the craziest risks Sujan has taken, to uphold his “risk-taker reputation”
  • If you’re new to content marketing, don’t expect immediate results
  • How that one payment might not matter as much as relationships, if you’re subscription-based
  • ….& more

As always, the full transcription is provided below. Enjoy! 
If you like what you hear, I’d love it if you would leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show and it’s ranking in iTunes. I appreciate it—enjoy the show!

Transcript: Episode 6 Talking Life, Entrepreneurship, Guest Blogging, & Content Marketing With Sujan Patel

Julia: Hello and welcome to The Write Podcast. This is your host Julia McCoy, and I’m here today with Sujan Patel, the co-founder of Content Marketer and Narrow.io. He’s an entrepreneur and startup guy that has led content strategy for companies like Salesforce and Intuit.
Sujan is also writing the foreword for my upcoming book, So You Think You Can Write. It’s great to have you here today Sujan.
Sujan: Yes thanks for having me excited to be on your podcast and I’m excited to write your foreword too.
Julia: It’s great to have you do both, I’m excited too. So I saw we have something in common, you are a college dropout and I am too. So I started nursing school and I actually failed it in the second semester, and then I decided to try to pick up what I really liked doing which was not nursing school, and it was writing.
So tell me a little about your story when you went from college dropout to what you are today.
Sujan: Yeah, so I went to college because that is what I thought I was supposed to do, and that was just the next logical step. But I really had no clue what I wanted to do I mean I was studying in the business and computer science, but I didn’t really know why I was doing that just figured out that I’ll get developer a job or IT job or something like that.
And then I realized in kind of like my freshman year, sophomore year I started doing some consulting work, I stumbled on to SEO, during college I had a e-commerce website that I was building, actually a car park business I was trying to build into an e-commerce website.
And so I was in the wonderful world of Internet in general and then I spent tons of money on my site, and then I had a rude awakening when holy crap no one is coming to my website. So I stumbled on SEO and it kind of started this series of events that led to me dropping out of school. One was, I was able to optimize the website and actually gain a bunch of traffic but I stopped that business because I had to go and do drop shipping, customer support, like I was just an 18 year old kid. I didn’t have any clue what I was doing, let alone I was going to school which really meant waking up and going surfing in the mornings.
I grew up in Cali so I would go surfing in the mornings and then snowboarding in the winters and I would adjust my class schedule around that, but anyway that is another story. So I stumble on SEO I ended up getting a lot of traffic, but it didn’t actually grow the business it just got a lot of traffic, and realized that holy crap I can actually do this as a consultant or maybe even a career at this time.
This was early 2000s, right when I was getting at this, the dot com bust happened and I was a little too naive to even know it happened. So I kept going and I ended up doing consulting gigs on like Elance and Odesk and actually Odesk didn’t even exist at the time. So it was Elance. And I was like one of the only Indians in America doing [LAUGH] consulting work on Elance.
Julia: Wow.
Sujan: And I think that helped me get some clients and what not, but when I did that I was actually making more money than what I wanted to make as a career out of college, why am I doing this and so I ended up going into work for an agency when I decided to call the quits, and that really what kickstarted my career as marketer.
Julia: That’s really awesome and the same thing happened to me in the case that I’m making more now than I would have as a nurse.
So in our industry I’m sure you’ve heard of the name Neil Patel, and when I first heard of you I actually thought you were related. So tell me do you get that question a lot?
Sujan: Yeah I get, that’s the question I get a lot we obviously have very similar names.
So we are related. So Neil is my cousin actually.
Julia: Oh really?
Sujan: So we grew up together there, we spent our childhood together then we went very different paths. He went entrepreneur initially and then I went kind of employee route and started working kinda raising within the kind of corporate world.
And then I ended up going down that entrepreneur route anyways. And so Neil and I have always stayed in touch and things like that, but it was funny because I’m always saying like man I wanna meet people that don’t know you.
Julia: [LAUGH]
Sujan: And I want to get out of your shadow and what not or whatever that might be and so it’s a question I get asked a lot but it is what it is.
Julia: I didn’t know you’re actually related. So that’s kind of cool.
Sujan: Yeah we do a lot. Our family is a lot of business guys are kind of entrepreneurs, whether they’re very small business owners to guys like Neil who are super successful.
Julia: So it just seems you need to have a story online about the Patel family.
Sujan: [LAUGH]
Julia: Tell me a little bit about the tools you’ve created, Content Marketer and Narrow.io. Tell me a little bit about what they do and how you created them.
Sujan: With content marketer.io, that was the first one I got into, that was the idea came about early last year or the idea came to life. Earlier last year I’ve had this idea in my pocket for a long time. So the short version was that I started this prior to what I’m doing now, I ran a marketing agency, a digital marketing agency and we did a lot of SEO, content marketing and before it was even called content marketing and link building, we did sales, and we did outbound sales for ourselves. We’d be sending a lot of emails, we’d be doing pitching people, saying, hey we looked at your site, here’s a few improvements. That was kinda of one of our go to, sorry, our acquisition channels for our customers acquiring clients, and so we did a lot of outbound emails. And I found a lot of tools and went through a lot of tools, and they all kinda suck but they don’t really work for me.
Then we ended up building a lot of these small tools. At the time they’re really built for link building, outreach for content promoting, and then for sales. We had all these real tools and those are really the essence of what ContentMarketer.io is today except those tools were very, very bad UX. A lot of them were just, literally you’re running in terminal and so I had to have a person who actually knew how to write code to actually run these tools. They had no like user interface and ContentMarketer is really the web vector family version of that using a lot of what we’ve learned over the past.
So I’ve sent over a million outbound emails for again various reasons, and learned a lot like I just learned the right things to do, built a lot of relations, made a lot of mistakes and so that is what the initial ContentMarketer.io Chrome plug-in was built off of, and then from there we get a lot of customers, we get a lot of people using it.
To date we’ve seen at least about six thousand, seven thousand people through the door and in early days we had a beta launch so a lot of it was free. And what we’ve learned is how to make our tool even better and so we created two free tools, one that launched just yesterday called Connector which is just for email outreach.
Julia: Oh wow.
Sujan: It’s kind of like a middle ground between the Yesware, what’s in your box and Outreach.io or Close.io where you need a full grown CRM, you’re doing that much outreach. So ours is right in the middle, we have a lot of templates. And then the other tool is Notifier, and Notifier is Twitter outreach. So you scan a URL and scan an article you’ve written. If you’ve mentioned anybody in there we’ll find the twitter handles and then bam, you can send a tweet with those twitter handles included and if you’ve mentioned four, five people you can split it up into multiple tweets and both tools from the basic features are free and my goal was essentially to take what we’ve learned and users get the most value out of, and try to make it as free or as cheap as possible. And give people a quick win because our end game with ContentMarketer.io, like our big goal, is to create a suite of content marketing tools or tools to help content marketers specifically.
Julia: That’s a great aim and that sounds like fantastic tools that you are creating.
Sujan: Yeah, it’s been fun. I’ve been in the SAAS kind of space for some time now and I’m taking everything I’ve learned, I’ve known and again, I’m an avid marketer so I’m really making these tools for myself first. And then that’s how I value, is that I actually build some basic functionality for myself, I explore to or I expand to my marketing network which I have a few Slack groups and, I’m very active in the marketing space so I just let people kinda explore it and it’s kinda, I ask these guys, hey I’m I missing something? Am I in the right direction? They all get it then I know there’s something there that could be good.
Julia: That sounds like what I do with content marketing, whenever I publish or create something. I always ask myself, would I actually read this, would I actually share this and learn from it. And you’re doing that with your tools, and I think that’s just great. If all marketers thought like that, we’d probably see a lot of great tools on the web.
So I also noticed that you are a really fantastic guest blogger. You’re on Forbes, Inc and Entrepreneur. So how did you get on those guest blogs? How did you approach them?
Sujan: Yeah so I actually have a whole lengthy kind of like 30, 40 minute talk on how I went through the process. But I’ll kinda give the short version. It’s if you want to work your way to the top. These guys, these publications are really the cream of the crop, these are where everybody wants to go after, I’m sure you as a content marketer, writer you totally understand that. You’re not gonna go from I’ve never blogged before to I’m gonna blog on Forbes or write on Forbes.
Julia: Exactly.
Sujan: You have to work your way up and what I did is it took me about five years, but then because I didn’t really have that [INAUDIBLE AUDIO]. I was trying and failing and succeeding at certain points, but then after I did it I was like holy crap, here’s the thing that I did that actually works.
So the short version is first you got a blog on your site. So that you can get into any credible company blogs or kind of blogs that have some reputation, but they aren’t like the biggest blogs in the space. Get your name out there somewhere and from there you have now your blog, and another site to validate your reason for going after the next site, and just kind of go after a slightly bigger site.
Make sure you knock it out of the park and then when you do it with those three sites, go after industry publications. So in my space, sites like Search Engine Journal, Content Marketing Institute, who else? Search Engine Lab. There’s so many industry sites that are talking about SEO, marketing or something like Social Media Examiner would be another one. And you work your way and fish that side. You have that site you can pitch maybe in sites like Small Business Trends, Entrepreneur and you pretty much going broader and broader and then you have a couple wins there, and your pitching Forbes what not. Now when I say pitching, you can find the contact information of the editor and reach out to them and you do a cold email, that’s how I did it. I’ve also, some of them I’ve got intros, so I’ve made friends with other writers that are writing there, and you got to keep in mind don’t do this is that don’t ask for an introduction to an editor. That is the number one question every writer that writes for Inc, Forbes or whatever gets asked all the time.
So make friends, pay your dues, I mean don’t use that person but make friends with them and I guarantee you, if you’re doing a good job and you’re truly providing value to, and it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Doors are gonna open and this whole process is a year, 18 months, two years not overnight.
You know it’s kind of just knowing your place and making sure you are always inching forward, but not reaching beyond kind of like your brand, and so having a personal brand and building that up really, really helps.
And Julia I’ll give you a quick shortcut: video. Video is amazing way to show that you are a great writer. What I actually write.
Julia: Interesting.
Sujan: Take your content and show like your personality because that’s something that people can see. And like when you see someone smile or charisma like you’re hand movements. That’s something that you don’t get when you’re reading or listening it’s like this emotional trigger that happens and I’ve tested this out like that last October, November. I did like a 60 day spread of where I was creating a ton of video and I was doing a lot on Periscope, and oh man engagement rates and the amount of people that like connected with me was crazy. It was with less than a 100 people were viewing each video, but the engagement I got was equivalent to like 10, 20,000 people visiting a blog post.
Julia: So you do live stream and then you just do the YouTube videos?
Sujan: Yeah so I’ve been doing that. So I tested it now as my MVP to getting in there. I bought a few thousand dollars of equipment, proper lighting is essentially the biggest key, and then what is it called? Just a stand for your phone. I record all my videos iPhone 6 nothing too fancy, but it’s a pretty powerful camera. Sure. It’s pretty cheap. I’m looking at the blog and Lead Pages blogs, they do a lot of videos. I’m just kind of looked up their resources, and then repeated it and saw some traction and now this year.
I’m going heavy into video. I started the year with like a 2015 recap for me and I did like a 30-minute video. And the content was good, it was kind of very personal and I was very transparent. But really that video it triggered a lot of emotional things and connections. So I’ve gotten like 50 emails already from just that video.
Julia: That’s amazing, that’s a big engagement thing.
Sujan: I feel like people just connect with me with me as a person, more than I’m just another person blogging.
Julia: Right.
As you know, you’re known for taking risks and I wanted to ask what are some of the craziest risks you’ve taken, either an entrepreneur or just in general.
Sujan: Yeah so for those of you that don’t know me I am an avid sky-diver.
I race cars and motorcycles by the racetrack all the time. I don’t think you know this I have actually broken 17 bones.
Julia: Oh ouch.
Sujan: I see how many bones I’ve broken just to remind myself, I haven’t broken any bone, since that I’ve gotten the tattoo of the broken bones.
Julia: [LAUGH] Nice.
Sujan: But the biggest risk I’ve taken as an entrepreneur, is really talking.
So there’s two, one is talking a lot about what I wanna do, and not taking the action. It’s so easy it’s so fun to talk about what you gonna do this amazing idea of whatever like you’re super passionate about. But then when you sit down you have this piece of paper in your hand or like you have this piece of paper you need to write down what you actually need to do or like you are in front of a computer.
Like you have an idea within your head of what do you do and biggest risks. These were talking about and not doing it, like with ContentMarketer.io, I had this idea in my back pocket for two years maybe even longer and…
Julia: Wow.
Sujan: I just didn’t take action and it’s okay I don’t blame myself.
Julia: Sure.
Sujan: Taking action and even failure is better than continuing to talk about something.
For those of you who don’t know in addition to ContentMarketer now I’m acquired by other company QUU.com, I always spell it out. I work full time for wheniwork.com, so I’m quite busy. I’m leaving the company to go pursue fulltime but to do this exit which is a slow kind of thing I’m looking for my replacement.
I’ve come up with four, five, six business ideas and I validated them I took action and guess what four of them sucked, they were horrible but financially there would be bad things to get into. All I did instead of talking further about it was just to think, okay let’s go do the financial modeling. And that sounds complicated? No, its like how much does it take to get off the ground and then fit every basic financial modeling.
Julia: MM-hm.
Sujan: And I look at what’s called a napkin marketing plan so it’s, take a napkin like this, wherever napkin you having in front of you, around you get a pen and if you can’t come up with like five or ten ways then draw that napkin up with what you are gonna do to market this company, you probably shouldn’t do it. You work on that.
Julia: I haven’t heard of that before, it’s so simple, I love it.
Sujan: Yeah I mean because a lot of people always focus on like I gotta do this right, I gotta have a business plan, like the traditional way. Like Microsoft is if you think about all of these companies, they were launched in the garage, they were one of this have an idea and then have the idea execute it and unlock the other halves, pieces of it.
So I always think what’s the minimal thing you need to do to start to get action.
Julia: That’s a great tip.
So just to wrap this up, I know you shared some really good things already but what would be some tips you give, let’s say a startup just delving into content marketing?
Sujan: Yes, first and foremost don’t expect return in short term.
Talking six month, a year when you started to really see the value, don’t expect anything until first six months. It’s constantly working in the compound and gates, one thing you do today helps you do something better two weeks ago, and then those two things helps you do the next third thing and those three things are what maybe give you that value, so that’s the act.
And then the second thing is guest posts, think about not guest blogs or link building or SEO but really think about how to build your network the best way to go through your network you can. We talk to nobody and go through networks from scratch or you can talk and follow at other people’s audience, and what I mean is you’re blogging on Content Marketing Institute or any other industry site there are audiences listening to you, and so some of that can go back to you.
And if you do that enough you’re gonna build the audience back to your site and so you need to do both sides but really heavily emphasis the guest posts and building out your network and reaching at other people’s audience before you really worry about yours.
And then the last thing is don’t regurgitate. What’s been done like I always see these articles that are like little articles they give us something unique like the biggest part where people fail, there’s two parts: one is they fail at creating the right content and the content strategies so they are either they are not putting enough time and thinking what to write about and how that’s gonna help them whether it’s for long time SEO or to bring traffic, promotion, wherever, and the second thing is not doing content promotions.
So if you are creating content, and not actually doing anything to get the word up then you are not doing content marking. You are just creating content. So are the two kind of biggest mistakes I see people do, and so I recommend really doing research, and you don’t have to start from scratch you could follow the leader, follow what like Neil Patel or what successful content marketers are doing today.
And follow them and then try to repeat and mimic what they’re doing and then you’re gonna eventually, after doing that a few times, you’re gonna find a voice of your own.
Julia: That’s a great tip. Just don’t copy them right? [LAUGH]
Sujan: Yeah, don’t copy. Take what they’re doing and try to apply it for what you’re doing, right? That’s a big difference. Just copy what they are doing and be aware that what guys like Neil or I can pull off, Gary B can pull off, that’s not what a new blogger can pull off. You can’t go and email 50 people and they’re gonna automatically promote your content. You have to give something of value, if I email 50 people I likely gonna email 50 people out of which 30 I’ve talked to before or have helped me.
So there’s a different perception there and unlike my last tip in the content marketing world is to always focus on giving. People are always like can you do this for me. Can I get this from you. Like can you share this? If you just focus on giving so much value away, the value I guarantee you is just gonna come back to you.
And I can tell you that today. I gave somebody early access to ContentMarketer.io. A year and a half ago, have to go back and actually a year ago in March of 2015, and I didn’t ask for anything. Case was closed, he didn’t even have a blog. He said, I really want this, and then he’s been using it for a year and he said holy crap I want to write an article about you, and he just sent me a link of an article he wrote about how he’s using ContentMarketer.io. and Narrow.io, and he became a customer of Narrow.io, so like I didn’t ask for anything, I didn’t, I just gave him value and I got a lot in return.
Julia: That is so smart. That is the way to do it. There are actually companies we partner with and we don’t pay them for like they’re biggest subscription, we just tell we’re gonna write about you and the companies are starting to see the value of that, more so than years ago.
Sujan: Exactly and its that relationship that’s more, the relationship is more important than asking for that one thing you are looking for. I guarantee it.
Julia: Thank you very much for being here Sujan and sharing your thoughts.
Sujan: My pleasure.
[MUSIC] For more online content, tips, and strategies visit expresswriters.com/blog. [MUSIC]
Julia: You can follow Sujan on Twitter @sujanpatel. He and I are actually collaborating on a few things coming up. Sujan will be a guest on one of our upcoming Twitter chats, join it at #contentwritingchat. You can keep an eye out for the date that Sujan will be joining us as a guest host, by following our Twitter chat account @writingchat on Twitter.
Also as I mentioned, Sujan is writing the foreword to my upcoming book, So You Think You Can Write, The Definitive Guide To Successful Online Writing. My book is for anyone who wants to take their writing skills online and make a career out of it, or for the business, or marketer who wants to create great content for their own website. Keep an eye out for my book with Sujan’s foreword coming out the end of this March on Amazon.
Thanks for joining today’s episode of the Write Podcast. For more episodes go to expresswriters.com/write-podcast.