Freelance writing and blogging are terms you know and probably identify pretty strongly with.
But there’s another term you should feel equally close to, even if it sounds somewhat foreign and unrelated to your writing work. Content marketing could save our writing careers, yet far too many of us don’t really know what it is. Here’s what, and why, you need to know.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing style that uses content (blog posts, infographics, e-books, videos, magazines, etc.) to engage potential customers, rather than directly sell a product or service to them.
If this sounds foreign to you, it shouldn’t. You’re more familiar with content marketing than you might think, and one of its earliest forms is something you certainly recognize: soap operas.
In the 1930s Procter and Gamble wanted to find a way to reach their target audience of housewives. So they hired a team of writers to create a radio drama series that stay-at-home women would tune into every week. Then they added commercials during the show to feature the products.
This may sound like advertising, but there is a difference between this and the traditional advertising you’re familiar with. In advertising, Procter and Gamble would pay a network to air their ad during a soap opera produced by a separate production company. Proctor and Gamble would only create the ad — not the content the audience is tuned into.
In content marketing, Proctor and Gamble would create the content that the audiences have chosen to watch.
What Does Content Marketing Have to Do with Blogging?
The point of the story is: companies that engage in content marketing need writers able to create content that audiences want to see.
And the demand for this type of writer is growing.
Content marketing is a major buzzword, and more and more companies are either incorporating or planning to incorporate this into their marketing plans.
Many of these companies are using online content, blogs, long-form content, infographics, and videos as major assets in their content marketing plans. So if you’re a blogger, you’re already halfway there. If you have or can learn other writing skills (such as infographic writing and script writing), you are even farther ahead of the game.
And you don’t need to be a marketer to get involved; you just need to be a good writer.
Content marketing is simply creating content that audiences want, so you don’t necessarily need to know anything about marketing to get into the content creation side of the process.
So How Do You Get Involved?
As I mentioned, content marketing could be the saving grace for writers, and I really believe it.
Following the demise of print, many writers were staring down a bleak future. First, there were a million online writing jobs that involved nothing more than cramming keywords onto a page.
Then came freelance blogging, a welcomed relief to keyword cramming and a return to the quality that was lost with print. But too often this was missing the payout that writers really needed.
And now there is online content marketing — an arena where writers can start to get the quality they lost with keywords and the payouts that used to accompany print work. Here’s how to break into this market:
- Find a niche or industry and become an expert in it. While any good writer should be able to write about anything, it’s better to have a specialty and build your main portfolio and presence around a specific industry.
- Start building up a social following in that space. This will give you added value as clients that purchase your work will also be paying for your influence. (Plus, it could help you score paid assignments down the road.)
- Get your name out there. Start contributing to big blogs and publishers in your industry. Do this for free at first so you can start to build a following.
- Start marketing your work to brands in your industry. If you are a fashion blogger, reach out to companies that offer products or services related to fashion. Ask to write a paid post for their blog and ask if they have any products that you could feature on your blog.
- Start marketing your content to publishers in your industry, and offer your premium content for a cost.
- Put yourself in a place to connect with clients and publishers. Find communities designed to connect creatives with marketers so they can collaborate to create awesome content marketing projects.
The most important thing for writers to remember is you are not just a blogger or a writer; you are a media company. Market yourself, not just your words.
Stop thinking like a blogger and start thinking like an entrepreneur. That’s how you’ll find bigger success in your blogging career.