Julia McCoy dropped out of college at 19. By 21, she started her own content creation agency.
Now, five years later at 26 years old, McCoy’s agency, Express Writers, just broke $4 million in sales.
All of McCoy’s new client acquisition is done through content marketing. That’s right: every paying client behind that $4 million in sales has come in through her content.
Revenue-generating content marketing is not a myth or some secret recipe.
McCoy’s story is a walking case study.
When applied correctly, content marketing works (Kraft has said their content marketing is worth 4x more than their most targeted ad.)
But “how” to do content marketing in a way that equals ROI is the major question.
Here are McCoy’s five major tips to setting up your content marketing in a way that attracts real results.
1. Create Content Consistently on Your Brand Site, & Attract Your Target Audience
First, have a key site that you’re going to devote the majority of your best content creation to. This should be a branded domain you own. McCoy says that it’s worth it in the long run to invest in the domain that reflects your brand, even if it’s several thousand dollars.
Then, create content consistently: think about a schedule you can commit to every single week. For McCoy, that’s one long-form content piece (2,500 word) per week.
Be sure you’re not just writing anything. Inbound content must be targeted to your buyer. What does your ideal audience want to hear from you about? Know your audience in and out: build a customer persona. Think of them every time you sit down to write a topic.
2. Never Publish Content Without Researching a Low-Competition Keyword to Use
For McCoy, getting her content to rank organically in SEO has meant everything in terms of the $4 million in sales her company has generated.
McCoy’s recommended formula:
- Qualify your topics by what your audience wants to hear.
- Then, use an SEO tool to research and find a low-hanging (low-competition) keyword to use. McCoy recommends KWFinder and SEMrush.
- Create the most valuable, in-depth, long-form blog/content piece on the topic and keyword. Over 1,800 words is “long-form,” according to studies. One of the best ways to know you’re creating the right content is by studying the top results in Google for your keyword, and then write better (more comprehensive, up-to-date, and valuable) content than what’s there. If you can’t, pick another keyword.
You’ll need a keyword research tool. McCoy’s top favorite go-to keyword discovery tool is KWFinder.
To create SEO content that works, find a topic your audience wants to hear about, then optimize it for low-hanging keyword fruit. Most importantly, be comprehensive, long-form (remember, that’s the 1,800-word minimum benchmark described above) and valuable.
McCoy and her team repeat this process over and over, and it’s the reason she now has over 11,000 keywords organically indexed in the SERPs. What’s more important, McCoy’s site consistently earns leads that are qualified and ready to buy (almost immediately), daily.
3. Stay On Top of Your Ranking Content, & Update Consistently
McCoy uses SEMrush to track her rankings. She also uses Google Analytics to track content on her site that starts to rank. Every so often (once every few months), McCoy checks all of her high-ranking content (what’s in the top five organic spots) and updates those pieces. Updating content can mean the difference of 1-2 more leads.
4. Reach Other Audiences Than Your Own Through a Low-Cost Avenue: Guest Blogging
Guest blogging has probably accounted for 25% of the $4 million McCoy has earned in sales.
It’s a huge opportunity for every brand and content marketer. And it costs nothing but your time.
McCoy guest blogs on a few highly-targeted, relevant sites that her persona already reads and shares content from.
McCoy says that when you go to write and pitch, remember that less is more, when you’re pitching high-caliber pieces to outside blogs and publications that your ideal customer persona enjoys reading. Try to contribute on an ongoing basis, since one piece won’t stand out as much as an ongoing column will.
5. Remember that Content Marketing is Long-Term, Not a Short-End Game
McCoy recommends that it’s important to think of content marketing like a relationship.
You only get out what you put in, and you’re not going to achieve content marketing success by only putting in a few weeks or just a few months of effort. Joe Pulizzi, leading content marketing influencer and expert, has said: “Time and again, we see that it takes 12 to 24 months to get results — which is why commitment is so important. It’s a critical piece in building your subscriber base.”
McCoy and her team put in all the upfront investments, which are sometimes tremendous if she’s publishing a 2,000+ blog with an infographic. McCoy maintains Pulizzi’s timeline expectations of 12-24 months for return on a blog and sometimes, she sees it much sooner.
Remember, the more you create great content, the more you can increase the chances of seeing more results happen in a year’s time.
Stay the content marketing path and the results will pay off.
Joe Escobedo (www.forbes.com)