How a New Blogger Can Master Content Marketing [EP 19 The Blog Chronicles]
Pamela Wilson understands content marketing like few others do.
She’s a former Executive VP of Educational Content for Rainmaker Digital, the company that owns Copyblogger.com (one of the world’s most popular online marketing blogs.)
She also owns Big Brand System, a business that helps online companies big or small create memorable brands that get results.
And she just published her first book titled Master Content Marketing: A Simple Strategy to Cure the Blank Page Blues and Attract a Profitable Audience
On this episode of The Blog Chronicles, we focus on You the blogger and how content marketing can be implemented into your blogging routine so you can reach MORE people, grow a wider audience and ultimately boost your sales (if you are monetized.)
Here are some things you’ll discover in this episode:
–What the term “content marketing” means to the new blogger
–How content marketing works
–The skills needed to succeed at content marketing
–Why you shouldn’t dread doing it
–Why “I don’t have time for content marketing” is a lame excuse
–A lazy approach to content marketing
–What is a “customer journey” and why a blogger should create content that fosters their journey
–7 Essential Elements to Successful Content
If you have any questions for Pamela, leave us a comment here on the blog and I’ll make sure Pamela see’s your question or comment.
Pamela Wilson Interview Transcript
( For those who like to read.)
Matthew Loomis: Hi Pamela.
Welcome to the Show!
Pamela Wilson: I am so happy to be here!
I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks.
Matthew Loomis: Congratulations on the recent publication of your first book.
That’s very exciting!
Pamela Wilson: Thank you.
It has been exciting.
It’s been quite the process but I’ve loved it.
I’m working on book two. I loved book one so much.
Matthew Loomis: Oh wow!
Okay, you’re already starting book two.
This first book is called – Master Content Marketing
A simple strategy to cure the blank page blues and attract a profitable audience.
I think finding solutions for writer’s block and picking up new strategies for growing a profitable audience are topics on the mind of many bloggers, beginners and long time bloggers.
I’m looking forward to talking with you about this subject considering your expertise and experience.
Pamela Wilson: Thank you.
I’m excited to share.
And I think I have a feeling that your audience will be interested in the process that I laid out.
Matthew Loomis: Okay cool.
Let’s dive right into it.
Are you ready?
Pamela Wilson: Yes, let’s do it!
For All the Solopreneurs and Small Business Owners Out There, Could You Clarify the Term ”Content Marketing?”
Matthew Loomis: First of all.
You and I know what content marketing is.
But the new solopreneur small business owner or freelancer may not fully grasp what this lingo means.
I’d like to start by asking you to define the term – CONTENT MARKETING.
Pamela Wilson: I have a feeling for most of the people listening to this.
Content marketing is going to be a lot like what they consider to be blogging.
It does have that word MARKETING in the name.
So let’s talk about what it is and also what it is replacing basically.
Marketing the way that it used to be done was this somewhat intrusive and annoying process where you would send out these what were basically advertising messages.
To an audience who did not ask for them who was feeling a little bit bombarded by them. In their mailboxes in their newspaper on the radio and television.
Marketing messages were coming at them from all corners. What has changed is that now with what we call content marketing. We are able to put out information that ends up attracting people to our businesses rather than just pushing out messages.
And wearing them down before they finally become our customers.
The difference is that content marketing comes from a place of serving the prospects who you eventually want to make your customers.
With helpful information. Engaging information. Information that builds trust in your business over time.
Content marketing can be written. It can be a podcast. What you and I are doing right now is content marketing. Or it could be a video the media itself does not matter.
The reason I wrote Master Content Marketing is that most content marketing starts out in written form. Even if it becomes a video down the line it usually starts out as written outline.
Knowing how to structure that content so that it does the job that it needs to do is super important.
How Would You Recognize Blogging From Content Marketing?
Matthew Loomis: How do you distinguish blogging from content marketing?
Pamela Wilson: Within the blogging community.
There is a certain sector who blogs at a passion.
And then on top of that, they have turned it into something that becomes a business.
As an example, I was asked to attend a ProBlogger event in Australia by Darren Rowse of ProBlogger in Australia a couple of years ago.
What I saw in that community were a lot of people who had started blogs because they had a passion and later on they figured out ways to monetize that blog.
That’s definitely one approach.
Once those bloggers got to a point where they wanted to monetize, I’m guessing that they shifted over to more of a content marketing model.
The content marketing model really looks at a piece of content and says, ”How can I be helpful?”
But how can I be helpful in a way that will attract the prospects who I want to attract then move them to take some kind of action that will basically benefit my business that will grow my business.
So it’s a slightly more deliberate approach to your writing than may be straight out sort of passion blogging would be.
Matthew Loomis: I see.
Helpful and attractive.
Why should a small business owner or freelancer consider content marketing as a strategy to generate more sales?
Pamela Wilson: Content marketing works great.
Because from the very beginning when you are setting up what you’re going to write. You’re basically thinking about the effect that you want to have in the long term.
So you are structuring your content so that you are delivering information but you are also structuring it in a way that is compelling. And that will draw people in and then move them toward taking that action.
Why Do You Advocate So Strongly For Content Marketing Above Standard Advertising?
Matthew Loomis: Why are you such a big proponent of content marketing.
Over conventional advertising?
I mean, conventional advertising is still there, right?
Pamela Wilson: Conventional advertising is still there.
What I have found with content marketing is that it allows you to approach your relationship with your audience from a place of building trust and building an on-going long-term trust-based relationship.
That just seems like better business to me.
With advertising the attitude is more like, ”I’m going to go in and see how much I can extract from these people!” Right?
Whereas content marketing approaches the relationship with more of a long-term thing. Where you want to develop trust. You want to be a resource for those people.
You want them to buy from you once but then you want them to come back and buy from you again and hopefully go out and advocate for your business.
Content marketing is less pushy less intrusive and more helpful.
What Expertise Does One Need To Become a Content Marketer?
Matthew Loomis: That sounds good.
Pamela, what skills do you need to succeed at content marketing.
Are these skills that you are born with or how do you get started with content marketing?
Pamela Wilson: I actually do not think that you have to be born with these skills.
I am an example of someone that was not born with the writing gene as I said in my book.
I do not consider myself to be a natural born writer but I became a writer by basically learning how to do it and then doing a lot of it. I’m self-taught so I never went to school for writing.
It’s not something that I majored in college.
I have a design background. So that was my approach to marketing was always the visual approach. So that’s kind of the promise of my book that you don’t have to be a born writer in order to create content marketing.
You have to be able to formulate your ideas using some kind of a process that makes them easy to understand and that’s what I laid out.
You need to be persistent so you need to do it over and over so that you get better at it. And you need to be willing to take a look at what’s actually working and make adjustments.
So you need to be flexible as well.
What Advice Do You Have For Someone That Would Anticipate Content Marketing to Promote Their Business Skills?
Matthew Loomis: For many who are just starting with business blogging.
Content marketing can look like an endless task. Something that you have to feed time and energy into continuously.
It feels like you just got a big dog and now you have to take care of it every single day.
For the next fifteen years or so.
As a business coach which is another part of your background. If you were working with someone who was dreading content marketing to further their business.
What would you say or do to change their mindset?
Pamela Wilson: It’s funny that you should say mindset.
I think that’s where the whole thing starts.
I think if you dial back to your mindset and think about how you might be able to approach this.
Not necessarily a big fat to do at the top of your to-do list but rather something that you do that is a creative act. So it feels more like a creative process rather than just a big business to do.
And I think the way to do that is to have a process and a system where you have a bank of ideas where you pull from when it’s time to create content.
You have a process that you use that works very reliably for you.
And that’s really looking to see what time of the day you feel most creative. What physical environment you feel most creative in. And try to reproduce those things every time you go to create content because that supports the process.
And then approaching it like I said as a creative act.
Most creators just like most great athletes have a warm up period that they do just before they get ready to create.
They don’t just sit down and look at that blank page and start sweating, right? They warm themselves up and then ease themselves into it.
It’s the same thing with content marketing you really need to have a little bit of a warm-up even if it’s just five minutes.
Where you are answering a random question you’re dumping thoughts that are rattling around in your brain. You are riffing on some kind of a writing prompt that you may have come across.
You’re just kind of getting your fingers moving and your creative mind woken-up.
If we approach it that way then it becomes something that we look forward to.
Matthew Loomis: It’s good to know that there’s not just one right way to do content marketing.
It sounds like something that you can adapt to your own personality and to your own schedule.
Pamela Wilson: I think it’s really important to do that actually.
We’re all different and we all have different ways in which we work more effectively.
When we get in touch with those ways then we sort of honor our own needs and we set ourselves up so that we could be at our best. That is how we can get the most output out of our own creative brains really.
How Would You Advise Solopreneurs Who Don’t Find the Time For Content Marketing?
Matthew Loomis: Right.
Now, many businesses owners are saying to themselves right now Pamela, ”I don’t have time to write and create blog posts” I know as a freelancer back in the day when clients got hot and heavy.
Sometimes my blogging had to be prioritized down the list a little bit.
What do you say to solopreneurs who tell you, ”I don’t have time for content marketing.”
Pamela Wilson: I hear that most often from people.
That think that they need to blog for four to five hours to get a blog post written.
And they think that they need to sit down and do it all in one session.
One of the things that I found interesting and it’s part of the book that I wrote in this section at the back where I talk to well-known content marketers who were at the top of their fields.
I asked them a series of questions and one of the questions was something like, ”What is one weird tip that you can pass along?” And so many of them mentioned this same concept which is that content marketing works best when you don’t try to produce a piece of content in one sitting.
In other words, you spread the work out over several days so that you have a chance to revisit it several times.
That is what I have found works best for me and I actually created a system that I call – The Four Day Content Creation System that I talk about in the book.
It’s basically taking the content creation process in breaking it down so that you can spread it out and when you do it that way it never seems overwhelming.
That’s the beauty of it.
Matthew Loomis: Absolutely.
Another process that you describe in your new book – Master Content Marketing, is what you call – The lazy Approach to Content Marketing.
Which sounds so appealing 🙂
Pamela Wilson: I have to tell you.
I almost named the book – The Lazy Approach to Content Marketing 🙂
It was a very polarizing title and I actually tested that title and a lot of people were like, ”I hate that word lazy, I would never aspire to be lazy.”
But honestly, between you and me I think most of us aspire to be lazy at some level.
What I did in the book is I took that word lazy, and I replaced it with the word efficient and honestly I think that is what we are all striving for is how to work efficiently.
What I said in the book is that what we can do is look at the way lazy people do things and take our inspiration for efficiency from them.
Lazy people seem to tend to find the easiest way of getting something done and once they figure that out they stick with that. They don’t go off and look for new tools or new methods.
They figure out what works and what takes the least amount of effort and they just repeat the process every time.
Matthew Loomis: Right.
And like you said in your book they look like they’re not working as much but they’re actually smarter and better than we are.
Pamela Wilson: They’re being more efficient.
And that’s the great thing.
I don’t know about you but I have met so many people that have that shiny object syndrome problem.
Where they see a new tool and they go off in pursuit of this new tool with this idea, ”Ah, this new tools going to change EVERYTHING!” And then they go through the whole learning curve of learning the new tool.
In the end, they are producing the same amount that they were producing before but they’ve wasted time learning a new tool.
So what I recommend in the book is find what works for you and just do it the same way every time so that you can be efficient. And find the least number of steps that you can take between where you are now and where you want to be and do it that way.
What is a ”Customer Journey” and Why Corresponding Our Content to Their Journey is so Significant?
Matthew Loomis: Absolutely.
Of course, if our content is going to work it has to resonate with a target audience.
Now in chapter four of your book, this is all about how to do this. The chapter is called – Matching Your Content To Your Customer Journey.
What exactly is a customer journey and why is matching our content to their journey so important to the success of our blog?
Pamela Wilson: Think about a new prospect coming to your website.
For the first time.
And maybe one of the reasons like let’s use your site as an example; They’ve landed on your site because they’ve heard of this thing called blogging and they want to know more about it.
So the first question that they have is, ”What exactly is a blog?”
And I have met people who still don’t really know what a blog is. I tell them that it’s kind of like a magazine and each page of the magazine is published on the web. It’s hard to explain but typically those beginners have questions like, ”What is your topic?”
We’re trying to figure it out.
Like I said in the book a lot of people are doing those web searches because they have these questions that they would be embarrased to say out loud.
Matthew Loomis: Yeah, exactly.
Pamela Wilson: It’s kind of like this question.
”What’s a blog?”
They don’t want to admit to someone that they don’t know what a blog is.
So they’re on Google trying to find the answer there and they end up on your website. So having content for those people, for those beginners who were really at the very beginning of understanding.
Your topic is super helpful you’re basically giving them a way to start a trust-based relationship with you.
You’re giving them content that meets their needs right where they are right then.
So that’s the beginner. That’s the beginner on the content marketing journey. You have to create content for them.
What tends to happen is when people put together websites that are about specific topics they become more knowledgeable about the topic.
One of the best ways to become more knowledgeable about a topic is to teach it.
Over time they start to become more knowledgeable.
They create more content for more advanced users and sometimes they forget about those beginners.
So what I recommend is just make sure that you are always serving up something for people who are really at the beginning of the process.
- That’s the beginners.
That’s probably the biggest group of the three groups that I talk about.
- The next group is intermediate.
And the intermediate reader or user on this customer journey is they’re at this point where they sort of understand what your topic is but now they want to know how to do it.
They are saying things on your site like, ”Okay, I get what blogging is I know why it can be amazing for my business but how do I do it I don’t know how to start?”
They are at that point in the journey where they want to start using and really putting into action this topic that you talked about.
- Then you have the advanced reader.
And that is someone who understands your topic. Who has started doing what you teach but they really want to achieve mastery. They really want to get good at it.
They know what blogging is they’ve started blogging but now they’re at the point where they want to start monetizing their website.
They want to be considered a thought leader so they want to take it to a completely different level.
That’s the advanced reader.
We really have to serve all of these three groups.
They are at a different place on their journey but we really need to make sure we have content for each one of them.
How Would You Distribute Your Content To Serve Each Group Appropriately?
Matthew Loomis: When you’re serving those three groups.
How do you know what percentage of your content should go to which one?
Pamela Wilson: It’s going to be different for every website.
That’s really the final answer.
I usually just remind people that the largest group is likely your beginners.
Not everyone who wants to know what blogging is is going to move to the place where they actually start blogging. There will be some drop-off.
So the intermediate group is going to be smaller.
Then the people who get to the point where they really want to master your topic those people tend to be very good prospects for a paid product for example.
That group is going to be even smaller.
So I can’t give exact percentages. It’s like I said it’s going to be different for every website but the largest group is beginners then the next smaller group is intermediate.
Then the smallest group is advanced.
You have to have enough for all of them. It’s important for example if you write a fairly advanced post it’s important that you talk about specific topics that might be a little bit like jargon.
In other words, those vocabulary words that beginner users don’t understand.
It’s important that you link back to that beginning content so that they can get up to speed and understand what you’re writing about.
Is It Possible That These Three Groups Could Integrate with Each Other?
Matthew Loomis: Pamela.
Do you think that those three groups can ebb and flow.
Or grow and shrink back and forth in time as the business goes on their journey?
Pamela Wilson: I think that there’s a very good chance of that.
It’s a good idea to watch the comments that come in.
Talk to your audience and interact with them so that you get a feel who is really reading. Even occasional surveys I have done focus groups focus. Focus groups which have really been a series of phone calls, with a select group of readers.
It helps you take the temperature of who’s reading at any given time.
Matthew Loomis: That’s good stuff.
Now the majority of your book – Master Content Marketing breaks down your – Seven Essential Elements To Successful Content.
Can you give us a rundown of the Seven Elements and share a little bit about how each one contributes toward a successful blog post?
Pamela Wilson: I absolutely can.
Want I want people to do is.
First, before we dive in I want you to imagine a piece of content marketing.
I want you to imagine that you’re looking at a piece of content marketing in front of you. From top to bottom what you are seeing is:
- A headline.
- A first sentence.
- An introduction section.
- What I call the main copy which is basically everything that’s underneath those subheads.
- A summary.
- A call to action.
So that’s what we’re going to be talking about from top to bottom.
The first thing is the headline that’s at the very top. The headline is likely what people clicked on to get to your piece of content. So it’s a very important element in your content marketing because it is like the little advertisement for your content that goes out into the world.
It’s like what you see on Twitter. It’s what you see on Facebook. That headline is the main information that people will absorb about your content before they click.
It’s what will help them make the decision whether or not they even want to click.
As I say in the book, you want to spend a lot of time on that headline. Probably even more than you want to or even think you need to spend.
You need to spend on that headline.
Matthew Loomis: Have you ever used.
Pamela Wilson: When people sign up for the bonus content.
That’s in my book.
It’s one of the things that I link to as a tool, it’s awesome and what I have found with that headline analyzer (I have recommended it and mentioned it many times) they give you very high points when you write a how-to headline.
But not everyone can be a how-to headline.
Matthew Loomis: I’ve noticed that.
Pamela Wilson: I have really noticed that.
And you can’t make every headline a – ”How-to” headline.
Or how to do this or how to do that.
What I think is really magical about that tool is that they have managed to gamify the headline writing process. So you plug in these headlines you check the score.
Of course, you want to bump up your score so you write another headline and you write another headline and that is actually the trick. You write a lot of headlines you get the cliché silly ones out of your head in the first ten or twelve.
And then the really good ones start coming. To me the magical thing about that tool which you can basically reproduce in a text document on your computer or with a piece of paper and a pen.
Is this idea that you are going to write a lot of headlines.
You’ll get the dumb ones out of the way first and then the good ones will come and that is really the secret to writing good headlines just having a lot to choose from.
I do choose headline templates in the book so I came up with fifty headline templates.
That can be a great way if you are new to writing headlines. That’s a great way to get started. Having these templates where you can plug in your own information just gives you some practice in how great headlines are structured.
I tend not to use templates at this point because I think my brain kind of thinks in headlines. At the very beginning, I did use them and they can be very helpful.
I offered some in the book. I link to some of them in the bonus content.
Headlines are super important and then I wrote this full chapter about one sentence. It’s kind of crazy but I wrote a full chapter about the first sentence of your content.
I believe that first sentence has such an important job to do.
People click on your headline they go to your piece of content and then they are hovering over the back button deciding or not whether they want to read.
That first sentence is kind of a make-or-break moment.
They are either going to continue and read on and absorb all of the content or they’re going to click away.
So the first sentence is super important and there are somethings that you can do to get it written right. There are some techniques that you can use to draw people in and keep them on your page.
Then there’s the introduction section that happens right after the headline. If you have a content management system you likely have some kind of a more tag. So this is what goes after your introduction and before the rest of your piece of content.
Often times if you have a blog homepage everything before that more tag is what’s displaying underneath your headline.
If somebody comes to your blog homepage they might be seeing your headlines and a couple of paragraphs of introduction text and they’re deciding which of these pieces do I want to read.
Again it’s an advertisement for your post.
It’s a very important section. It’s a section where people are still not fully committed to reading. So it’s important to draw them in and keep them on the page and make some promises about what they’ll get from spending time with your content.
So the introduction section is also important.
Can You Tell Us Why CopyBlogger Has a ”Short and Sweet” Ideology of That Opening Sentence?
Matthew Loomis: I’ve also noticed that CopyBlogger.
Has a philosophy of that opening sentence to be pretty concise.
Can you talk a little bit about why you guys do that?
Pamela Wilson: The thing about the opening sentence is.
You want your piece to seem like people will get a lot of bang for their buck.
If they are going to spend two or three minutes reading your content you want them to feel like in those two or three minutes you’re going to get a lot of information.
When you make first a sentence that is too long and too dense. What happens is people will look at it and go, ”Ag, I don’t have time for this now I’m just going to save it on a tab and I’ll come back to it later.” Right?
So when you keep your first sentence concise before they know it they’re reading the second sentence.
And then the third. It’s a way of opening the door and getting them to step inside and then stick around.
Does that make sense?
Matthew Loomis: Yeah.
This is good stuff.
I feel we could do a whole show on the first sentence.
Pamela Wilson: Yeah.
Well, I wrote a whole chapter.
At the time it seemed ridiculous to write a whole chapter about a first sentence.
Matthew Loomis: No I got it!
For a geek like me. I think it’s great.
Pamela Wilson: That hold the first three items.
The headline, the first sentence, and the introduction.
The aim of all three of those elements is to keep people on the page so they’re super important.
Is There A Particular Sequence to the Way That the Seven Essential Elements Need to Be Laid Out?
Matthew Loomis: Right.
Pamela, on these Seven Essential Elements, do they have to be done in order?
Pamela Wilson: You mean when you’re writing them?
Matthew Loomis: When you’re creating the content, yes.
Pamela Wilson: I don’t think so.
In that – Four Day Content Creation System that I shared.
What I recommended is that people come up with what I call – A Working Headline. So a headline that you think will work for your final piece with the caveat that there’s always a chance that that headline may change down the road because you might have a better idea.
Or by the time you finish writing, there might be something else that you decide to emphasis in the headline. So a working headline to start.
The I recommend that people actually work out there subheads as the next step.
Because what happens and the subheads are the fourth element of these seven elements. So if you can work out your headline and your subheads you have what I call a backbone. And you are able to hang the rest of your words on that backbone.
You have a basic structure for your post.
You know what it’s going to be about. You know what topic you’re going to cover and the angle you’re going to use because that should all be in your headline.
The by writing out the subheads, you have sort of like sign posts that are taking you through the content and are showing how you’re going to develop the premise of the post or the argument of the post.
You’ve worked out step-by-step, okay I’m going to talk about this first and then I’ll move on to this and this and this…That’s what your subheads do.
So I do recommend that if people don’t want to choose if they want to write from top to bottom. Which most of us do not, they focus on writing a headline and subheads first.
How Rapidly Would One See Results From Using Your Book – Master Content Marketing as a Hand Guide?
Matthew Loomis: Good stuff.
So much good material in your book.
Now if someone reads your book – Master Content Marketing and then puts your tips into action and then keeps your book on hand as a guide.
How quickly can they see improvements in their results?
Pamela Wilson: It’s funny that you should say that.
That is exactly the effect that I was hoping that book would have.
I want it to be a guide that people would use.
People have already told me that they are keeping it on their desk and they’re writing in the margins of the print version. That’s very gratifying.
I wrote it so you could flip to a section very easily and figure out okay, what do I need to do to my call for action. And yu could just flip there and see the recommendations.
It all depends on how much time someone wants to spend on it but honestly I think it’s a read and absorb the information in the book. I think they could see results with the next piece of content they create.
Absolutely. There are a lot of tips in there that you could implement right away.
Some of it is very simple stuff. It’s not necessarily more effort it’s just may be a slightly different effort that what you’ve been doing. So they could see a difference right away and the more they implement over time the more they practice the better they’ll get.
Where Would We Find Your Book – Master Content Marketing?
Matthew Loomis: Pamela.
Where could people get a copy of this book?
Pamela Wilson: The best way to find the book is to go to;
Master Content Marketing Dot Com
There are landing pages there with links. I mean you could get the book almost anywhere.
I have it set up so that you could walk into an independent bookstore on the corner and order a copy and they’ll be able to get it.
You can get it on Amazon. Barnes and Noble. I have it on audio version of the book available. It’s available on Kindle. The iBooks Store has it for iPad.
However, you like your books you can get it in that format.
Matthew Loomis: Sweet!
There is a link in the Show Notes to Master Content Marketing Dot Com
And Pamela, where can people follow you on Social Media?
Pamela Wilson: The best place to find me is on Twitter.
They can find me @pamelaiwilson
I’m probably more active on Twitter that I am on Facebook. I have an Instagram account I can send that to you as well that’s a lot of fun too.
Matthew Loomis: Sound good.
The book is called – Master Content Marketing written by my guest Pamela Wilson of Rainmaker Digital and CopyBlogger fame.
It’s a fantastic book and one that I’m going to be keeping by my side for a long time.
Thank you so much, Pamela, for coming on The Blog Chronicles today!
Pamela Wilson: Thank you!
This was a lot of fun.
I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to your audience about this topic. I think it’s a perfect match for the kinds of things I’m loving talking about right now.
Matthew Loomis: I agree and I can’t wait to share it with them.
Show Note Links
Thank’s For Tuning Into This Episode of – The Blog Chronicles.
I’ll see you next time!