The Great Content Marketing Experiment

Since starting Holler Box, I’ve decided to make content marketing my #1 channel for customer acquisition.

I’m considering it a big experiment, and a way to learn about content marketing. My goal is to build traffic to 5 figures per month in one year.

It’s a lot of work for no money, and I don’t expect to see any organic rankings at all for 3-6 months. I’m fairly confident it will work if I stick with it, but it’s not gonna be easy.

I’ve seen some modest results so far, which I’ll share later in this post.

Content marketing as my main strategy accomplishes a few things:

  1. I can build an audience that doesn’t rely on anyone else. If changes their rules, I won’t have my legs cut out from under me.
  2. If my product fails, I will still have an audience. I can build another product. If I build my audience around a product instead, I don’t have this option.
  3. It’s easier to build an audience around content than a product. People share great articles all the time, but they only share a link to your product when there is a major update.

I’ve written a lot of content before, and some of it has seen incredible results. My problem is that I haven’t ever been consistent. My goal is to write one amazing post each week. I’d love to do more, but I just don’t have the bandwidth right now.

I’m confident because I’ve written a couple posts in the past that have over 5,000 visits per month, even a year after the post was written. Creating content like that is definitely worth it over the long term, it’s just a lot of work.

Early Results

It’s way too early to be looking at analytics, but I need a baseline.

I’ve published 3-4 posts that I really put in a lot of effort on. The first couple fell flat, because I didn’t really have a strategy yet.

I’ve learned that creating a post I think will be useful is not enough. I need a full strategy with each piece of content, from keyword to influencer sharing.

A brief overview of my current strategy looks like this:

  1. Find a subject that will be useful for influencers I know to share.
  2. Find a keyword related to that subject I want to rank for.
  3. Write an incredible post that has quotes, data, outgoing links, examples, and actionable steps.
  4. After publishing, share with people in the post, and people who I was thinking of in step 1.
  5. Do some manual outreach to get more shares and backlinks.

I have a very small email list (60 people) and about the same amount of Twitter followers for Holler Box, so the only way for me to get exposure is by other people sharing my content. Since I realized that, I’ve written every post with sharing in mind, and it’s made a big difference.

I executed this strategy on these two posts, and the hard work paid off. I was mainly hoping for social shares from influencers, and both posts saw lots of shares.

WooCommerce Stats Post

Discounts post

The first post flopped, but I got a modest traffic bump for the next two.

It’s amazing how much work it takes to get 12 shares and 120 views when you are starting from scratch!

To make a post worth sharing, it takes me 10 hours or more, plus more time for promotion. I do a lot of manual outreach for promotion, and while it works, it takes a ton of time. I realize this is not sustainable for me, so I plan on hiring help as soon as it makes sense.

I figure that I will pick up some organic rankings in the next several months, and my traffic will grow. I will also be doing some manual link building that should help.

So far I’ve learned a few things about content marketing on a site with very little public recognition:

  1. Writing mediocre posts is a waste of my time. It makes more sense to write one mega post per week than 3 shorter ones.
  2. If I don’t know who will share the post in advance, no one will share it. I mean names of people that will share it, not general groups of people.
  3. Creating great content is hard. Really hard. That’s why I know it will work if I can stick with it.

I will be expanding on my strategy and a couple other things I’ve learned in a post on the Holler Box blog in the next week or two.

I plan on sharing my progress as I go on this site, so stay tuned. Sign up to get my emails if you want to follow along.

I’d love to hear your experience with content marketing in the comments.

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