There is an interesting study that says we’d rather make $30k a year knowing that everyone else makes $28k than make $36k knowing everyone else makes $38k.
This seems crazy to me because in the second scenario we are making $6k a year more. But the research doesn’t lie. It’s been done over and over to support that same idea. We’d rather be doing worse off overall if that means we’re doing better than people we know.
We easily do this with a blog as well. My weekly average views is somewhere around 2k. I have no idea what your views are but usually people realize that my views are lower than they expected. And I don’t care at all because I only care about one thing with me content, well two.
First, I want to write content I care about. Content I think is useful. That’s why you don’t see a bunch of random app reviews. Sure I do them from time to time, but it’s not the focus even though it would mean huge traffic for me.
Second, the only real metric that matters is people that buy my stuff. Customer and conversions matter because that keeps my kids playing in a fridge box not looking at them as a viable shelter from the rain.
I’ve been on those sites that are all about a big pitch. All they do is give you a bit of content and then say “buy all my stuff because ... content”. This is one of the things I stand against. If you ever think I’m doing that, let me know because it’s not what I want.
But, I still have to tell people about my products or I’ll never make sales and I’ll never earn enough to keep a roof over our heads.
Knowing this, you must provide real “how to value” for your content. Like this section I’m writing. It’s not going to just be “write content that helps” it’s going tell you how to do it.
If you’re a service company, which I am as well, then you provide helpful content and pitch customers on why you can help them as well. I do this in my Membership Site videos. I offer two packages for membership site people. First a setup for $3000 and second a customer connection package for $3000. All my content should be telling prospects how to do something themselves and then a bit about how I can help them do it better.
That means you need to not write stuff that’s simply circling your products. This is where I could write a bunch about application reviews and get lots of traffic, but I don’t have an OmniFocus course to sell or anything like that so there is nothing for anyone to purchase from me at the same time. The closest thing I have is my book on Analogue Productivity and for that I’ve been writing about how I choose productivity tools and I’ll be writing a bit about what I do with my notebook. All of that content points back to my book for people to purchase.
One of the best ways to shape this content I’ve found I is by writing a user “story” before I start writing. For this blog post the story is:
By the end of this post readers will understand why they need to focus on content marketing they should be providing value and not just writing adjacent content without anything to sell.
I know the post is done when I can read it and know that the story is true. Until then I’m reading, rewriting, editing, and working on the content.
I use Ulysses to accomplish this by using the note field in the sidebar.
I don’t care about length of the content so much as making sure that the user story is true.
If you’re writing content that provides value. Content that your users can walk away with and improve their business and you’re still not getting qualified leads, then you have one of three problems.
So let’s see how we can start to fix those things.
We’ve already been talking about content, so I hope you have a bit of an idea about what type of content will help your customers. The biggest issue I see for developers is that they write mainly for other developers. It’s all code, and sure it’s interesting, but your clients don’t care so much. They don’t understand the code, that’s why they want to pay you.
If your market isn’t other developers, then don’t write for your peers. At most if you’re putting out once piece of content a week you can make every fourth piece more for your peers. The rest of your content should be firmly for your customers.
One of the other things I see with content is that so much of it is lame. I get it, you write code not words so much. You think in code, that’s why you are a developer. The thing is, if you run your own business, you’re also a marketer. If you’re not selling your services than no one is.
I’ve talked a bunch about generating content and your niche marketing in my book Finding and Marketing to Your Niche.
Instead of spending time learning the craft of marketing your business and building good content, you just write the same reviews of plugins and basic things that everyone else does. You see them getting “views” so you chase views as well.
I hope you see that last sentence and realize that views is not what we’re going for at all. We want paying customers.
Another big issue I see is that you’re not writing content long enough to provide any value. You don’t look at your reader story and write until it’s fully true. You stop when you hit 1000 words because that’s what you’ve heard is enough for good search engine traffic.
Remember, your content is only done when your user story is true.
Finally, test your post heading and all your sub-headings. Make sure you’re using ones that people are looking for or searching for. A great way to do this is to look at Quora. Look specifically at the questions people are asking and use those questions as your titles and headings. Those are already questions that people are asking and they’ll be searching them as well.
The second great way to make sure you have good headings is to use the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. I test every heading and sub-heading through this as well to make sure that I’m getting the best chance to come up in the search traffic that people could be sending my way.
Finally, make sure you link between your content. I’ve linked to at least 10 things here. Some of it is products, some is other blog posts I’ve written. I regularly look at my content as well and go back to old posts making changes in them to link to newer resources as well that have relevant content. I don’t rely on the “related posts” features of any plugin and if you are, you’re shortchanging your content.
Those related posts don’t show up in your RSS feed or in Instapaper or Pocket. If you’re not linking to other content you’ve written then you’re loosing so much traffic to other posts.
The second possible issue is that you’re not offering anything that your prospects want to purchase. When was the last time you talked to your customers to see what it is that they need?
What is the biggest problem your customers have?
Have you surveyed them? Could you name them? Do you have any client persona’s? You need to know who you’re marketing to.
Earlier this year I did a survey to find out what my customers want me to write about. The biggest topic was finding a niche and marketing to it. The least asked for content from my email list was app reviews. If I went based on traffic then that would be entirely flipped because the most traffic is almost always some comparison of task managers that I’m not linking to because it’s a waste of your time.
Make sure you survey your prospects and readers at least once a year to find out what type of content they want. To find out what is their biggest problem. Then build products and services that fit those needs and solve those problems.
You should also be getting on the phone with as many people that follow you as you can. I used to (and I’ll be starting this up again) send everyone that opened enough emails an invitation to talk to me. I’d add it in to emails randomly and even a blog post. Heck, if you want to talk to me for free about the problems in your business then click this link to see when I have time to talk.
I want to talk to my customers to know what bugs you most and how I can help you. That is going to help me build the things you want and write the content that you need to help your business kick ass.
Finally, are you framing your products and services properly? You need to learn how to write decent marketing copy. You need to know how to speak to the pains that your customers have and then convince them that you can solve those issues.
If you can’t do that, then you’re not going to be making sales. Good copy looks very similar to a good proposal. Start by digging into the problem that your customers have. Let them feel the pain a bit.
Tell them about the brighter future that they can get by working with you. Sell them on that dream.
Then tell them about the service and it’s cost. Don’t hide it 12 feet below the fold after 300 testimonials1 and 32 additional things they get. Tell them about the problem, sell them on the dream, and then tell them how much it costs for you to solve it. Put the extra stuff under that and then restate the pricing and have a strong pitch on your product.
If learning to write marketing copy sounds like something from a torture chamber, then shut your business down. Go find a job because you’re not a developer, you’re in sales. You must make sales and that means you need to know how to write good marketing copy.
That’s it. If you can dig into this and start doing good content then you’re going to start making sales. Now content is not a one and done proposition. Content scales, but it takes a while to get the ball rolling. Commit to it for a year an in the mean time, make cold calls. Go to meet ups. Get as close as possible to shaking hands with people so that you can build their trust. The more someone trusts you the more likely it is that they’ll make a purchase from you.
Photo by: levork