What do triathlons and running a successful content marketing campaign have in common?

They’re both hard.

With each part being just as important as the first, content marketing is a three pronged discipline, each of which you must master to truly make the most of your online business.

In this guide I share my hints and tricks to help you get better at writing, sharing, and recycling your content. These should get you on the right track to winning content gold.

Write

With a bang of the gun you’re off and dashing towards the water like your life depended on it. But slow down before you hurt yourself. You may feel like you’re ready to dive into the ocean of content writing, but you’ve got to warm up first.

Before sitting down to create some stellar content, find out what your audience actually want and are already actively seeking. Use tools such as Answer the Public: a resource that lets you search your keywords and discover what questions people are asking about any given topic or theme.

For instance, a search for “silver earrings” brings up questions about how to properly clean silver and questions about what kind of jewelry should be worn on a wedding day. Here is where your audience research actually has the ability to lead your content strategy. If your audience want to know about how to clean their jewelry and you have the answer — write a blog about it.

You could also check out what your competitors are putting out. You may have a different viewpoint on a topic, or can add something further to a point they’ve already made. Write a follow up blog and link to the original source. This technique is taking advantage of the ‘sky scraper’ method — a process that helps to improve the ranking signals being sent out to Google, and is a really good habit to get into when writing blogs.

Now you’re all warmed up, it’s time to get into the water.

Good content writing is a lot like any other good writing. It follows the same basic principles as any other form of creative work. Think about why your audience read, think about why you read: to learn something new, to be entertained, and if you’re really lucky — both.

Think of a unique area of expertise: something you know more than anyone, preferably surrounding your business that you can share with the world. Then start writing. Keep it short. Do it regularly.

You may not be the strongest writer, but these things grow with time and practice. There are thousands of great tools, resources and ‘how to’ blogs to help you bloom as a writer, so keep it up.  A regular blogging strategy is a fantastic way to wake up your audience and it sends those brilliant signals to Google telling them your site is being regularly updated. Get help for blogging from big sites like Copyblogger, HubSpot, CoSchedule etc — they regularly share their expert content insights (for free).

For ecommerce brands, investing in an online store that allows for blogging is a must-have — without a fully-featured blogging platform, your content strategy will suffer. WooCommerce is an obvious blogging choice, but Shopify also has a great content and store builder.

Feel exhausted? Switch to your strongest stroke

If you’re really not a writer, don’t write. Perhaps you have some great design skills, can edit video, or have an especially velvety voice instead? All of these skills can be used to create great content your users will enjoy. Try creating infographics, recording short ‘how to’ videos or even setting up a monthly podcast. As long as the content is regular and of a high quality, it doesn’t matter what form it’s in.

swimming

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Share

Finally we’re out of the water: we’ve created our content and we’re ready to unleash it to the world. But why is no one viewing it? Where are the thousands of new customers I have been promised?

Don’t keep your content all to yourself. Build some momentum and get the wheels turning by sharing it.

Digital marketing can be a tricky job. There are hundreds of right and wrong ways to go about it. If you have the budget, I highly recommend hiring a social media marketing consultant  on a freelance or even full time basis depending on the size of your company. Marketing managers can lead the way on your social media journey — they can use their expertise and tricks of the trade to up your views and find your audience.

However, if you are part of a small company, or you are the company, there are plenty of things you can do yourself:

Get some help by going tandem

Sticking with the silver jewelry example, let’s say you’ve written the blog about keeping your jewelry clean and want to make sure the right people see it. You could reach out to a social influencer, one who is preferably known as an authority in the jewelry industry, and ask them for a quote on the subject. Then, add the quote into the content and tag the influencer’s social media profiles.

To find relevant influencers, use influencer platforms to search through thousands at speed.

Keep pedaling

It’s hugely important to keep your social channels updated and live. Actively tweet, post on Facebook, and add high resolution images to Instagram on a daily basis. Use popular hashtags and follow relevant people.

The goal is to build up a quality following of people who engage with your content and like what you do as a business. This can take time — it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. But once you have built up a loyal fanbase, and if your content is good enough, these people will be the ones sharing what you do, helping bring in new customers.

cycling

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Recycle

You’ve made it so far — well done! You’ve swum through the tough tides of content creation, struggled along on the road to social media glory, and now you’ve reached the final stretch.

Recycling content can mean a host of different things and though the name may suggest a quick win — it’s no walk in the park.

Get a piggy back

Some days we are brimming to the top with things to say, ideas to share, and words upon words to feed to our customers — other days, we just aren’t up to it. Feeling stumped for new ideas is no excuse not to put out regular content: instead, try searching the web to see what everyone else is blogging about to help bring out your own unique view.

You should never copy another person’s hard work, but flicking through other blogs and forming your own opinion is a fine way to generate content. You could reduce a long 2000 word essay into a short social post, or take some great facts and figures from a traditional blog and turn it into an easy to digest infographic. As long as the words are yours and you give credit where credit is due, it’s OK.

Take a load off

Just because we’re tired now, doesn’t mean we’ve always been. If your schedule’s tight or you just can’t focus, why not repurpose one of your own blogs and recycle your own ideas?

As time goes on your content archive will build, and certain blogs, videos, and graphics will become more popular than others. Before long you’ll know your greatest hits: the posts that were shared, drew in unique page views, and got plenty of comments. Instead of keeping these posts in the back of your cupboard, breathe new life into them by repurposing them.

Writer, CEO and founder of iDoneThis, Walter Chen, writes a great blog about his mantra for reusing his own content and how republishing his articles gained him notoriety and enabled him to get out more valuable stuff really quickly. Content marketing enabled him to quickly grow his sphere of influence and rack up product sales.

Perhaps you don’t want to re-post the old blog as is because, as time goes by, opinions can change. Instead, why not write a rebuttal to your old content, or update the content to include what you know now? As you already know what it is popular with your audience, it’s a low risk post that takes a fraction of the time needed to create a written piece from scratch.

Sounds like a winner to me.

And how content marketing isn’t like a Triathlon…

It’s a long process, it’s exhausting, it can take months to prepare for. There are endless reasons why content marketing can feel like a triathlon. But there’s one big difference.

It’s not a race

Creating high quality, shareable content takes time, and building up a loyal social media fanbase takes even longer. Don’t rush. Google will always favor well written, well researched content to content written for content’s sake. It’s a much better use of your time to put in the hours to craft blogs, videos, and images your customers will actually want to engage with, than churning out badly written content that adds no value to your site.

Though tough at times, one thing’s for sure: just like with each triathlon you do, the more you do, the more you train, the stronger you’ll get, and the better you’ll do.

Write it well, put the work in, and remember: slow and steady wins the race.