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How successful content marketers generate a ton of free traffic

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Imagine having 100s of thousands of blog readers, email subscribers, and social media followers. Imagine creating content that continues to deliver results months or even years after you press “publish”. In this post we’ll take a look at some of the world’s most successful and innovative content marketers, and how they manage to generate so much traffic to their websites through their blog and social media content. 

If you want to stand out in the competitive field of content marketing, especially if you are running one of the world’s ~600 million blogs, you need to develop a content strategy that works for your niche. Ultimately this will come down to a lot of trial and error, and you’ll need to forge your own way ahead. But this process of trial and error is made less painful, and you’ll make less elementary mistakes, if you learn from the people who excel at the art of content marketing.

Learning by doing

I set up my freelance blog and web content writing business in 2016. I was up for pretty much any writing job that came my way. That’s why I’ve written content on automotive repair (I can’t even drive), gentleman’s fashion (I’m a girl), and interior design (don’t even go there).

Most of these niches were one-off clients. For a while it seemed I’d never develop a specialism. But the clients who stuck around were the ones in the marketing niche… from outdoor and out-of-home marketing to digital marketing and business and startup advice and strategy. Much like automotive repair, I didn’t really know anything about marketing when I started, although I had been a political activist for a number of years so had a lot of experience in promoting events… and helping spread ideas.

The world of corporate marketing was new to me, and I was thrown in at the deep end. My solution? Read the content of the best marketers and try and emulate their writing. In the process of doing this I learned a ton about content marketing through osmosis. I even wrote an in-depth look at the history of content marketing.

In the process of learning about content marketing I was writing content that was helping clients increase organic traffic by as much as 287% in 8 months.

Whilst I think it’s crucial to develop your own content marketing style, I also think you should take the time to ‘model’ the work of the experts. Just familiarising yourself with how the best content marketers operate will make you more savvy as you subconsciously learn how to make the most of the digital tools we have at our disposal to generate a ton of content whilst building authority as a thought leader in your niche.

So let’s take a look at some of the content marketers that have pretty much nailed the art.

Neil Patel

Neil Patel is an award winning digital marketer and entrepreneur.

Telling quote: “The key with blogging is to lay it all out there because sooner or later, people are going to know what you know – so you might as well be the first one to share the information and get credit for it.”

Digital marketer Neil Patel personally writes 4 or 5 in-depth blog posts per month. There’s no substitute for churning out content. But, he has a team of people who update 90 blogs per month. That means going back into those blogs and adding new content. They do this by looking at what search terms each article is ranking for and, where relevant, adding in new content to address those keywords. This is because an article doesn’t necessarily rank for the keywords it generates, so re-working those keywords back in leads to better rankings for the article. Using techniques like these, Neil was able to grow his organic traffic by 238% in 2019. 

Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk, also known as Gary Vee, is the CEO of VaynerMedia and content marketer behind the success of Wine Library.

Telling quote: “Put out quality content every day and engage around it.”

To generate a ton of blog content Gary Vee uses the power of talking. His team ask him a series of interview style questions on the topic he’s “writing” about and then turn it into blog content. Often the topics are generated from yet more pieces of content like vlogs or keynotes speeches. By relentlessly riffing off of the different content strands that he produces across a bewildering range of channels Gary is able to keep his blog full of content that pushes traffic to his site. Take a look at it, you’ll quickly get pulled into a bunch of content on a range of topics, it’s very seductive. He also urges us to think of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram as a form of blogging in themselves, pointing out that you need to go to where people are currently focussing their attention if you want to get them to visit your site. 

Ryan Robinson

Ryan Robinson is a content marketer who works with nearly 200k bloggers to help them build their businesses.

Characteristic quote: “If you can improve people’s lives, you have a business.”

Ryan Robinson started his blog in 2014. Fast forward 6 years and he makes over $50,000 per month from it. He broke the $100k per year mark in 2017. In 2019 he had over 4.4million people read his blog. Ryan is good enough to list the ways he makes tens of thousands of dollars per month from his blog:

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Ryan drives traffic to his blog by having a highly specialised niche that he writes about (how to grow your blog), pushing content out to his email list (120k+ subscribers), and creating regular blogs with which he can leverage the audience of his guests.

He suggests you publish at least 2-3 large (1500+ word) blog posts each month. He urges us not to neglect the power of SEO. Each post should be based on a key terms that people are actually searching for online, he advises. Makes sense when you think about it.

Seth Godin

Seth Godin pioneered the concept of “permission marketing” in the 1990s and to many is the godfather of modern marketing.

Characteristic quote: “Marketing is about spreading ideas, and spreading ideas is the single most important output of our civilization.”

Seth Godin is the only person to have effectively “won” Google. Type in his first name and it’s the first hit on Google. 

He’s famous for publishing very short (often just a handful of words) posts every single day of the year. He always has a bunch of articles queued up for each day and he switches them up as good ideas replace other ideas.

Ironically, given his success with shortform blogs, he advocates people to grow blog traffic by writing long, “definitive” blog posts. 

Unlike practically everyone else trying to drive traffic to their blog, Seth doesn’t have a presence on other social media sites. He has a Facebook and Twitter account but they simply serve to post links to his latest blog post. Instead he has built word of mouth brand recognition for his name through many bestseller books on marketing, plus high profile speaking slots, as well as through his various training programmes. 

Brian Dean

Brian Dean is the founder of Backlinko, a website and newsletter that coaches over 110k subscribers on off-page SEO techniques, including marketers from Apple, Disney, IBM, and Amazon.

Most content marketing practice involves regularly producing articles, at least one per week. Brian Dean does things a bit differently. In fact, a lot differently. Instead of regularly posting articles he invests often weeks of time creating definitive guides in the SEO niche. These are lovingly designed by a team of graphic designers and coders. 

Brian pioneered the “Skyscraper” technique of taking popular content in your niche and going the extra mile (or several miles) to create an even better piece of content competing for the same keywords. This technique then requires the content marketer to reach out to blogs and social media users who linked to the original content, gently encouraging them to link to the new, supercharged guide.

As the name of his site implies, the aim here is to build up a healthy amount of backlinks from relevant, authoritative sites which are seen by search engines like Google to be a sign of quality content, and therefor helps boost your content up the search rankings.

Make, make, make…

So now these expert content marketers should hopefully be on your radar.

It’s worth following their content and having their approaches in the back of your mind when you create your own content. Over time you will almost hear their voices in your head as you write, design, and promote your content.

Gary Vee said recently that marketing is now exclusively a “making” game. It’s all about the creation and distribution of contextual content at scale. Scale can refer to regularly posting content like Seth Godin or Gary Vee, but it can also mean investing a lot of time into creating definitive content, like Brian Dean. But the point is, to make it you have to make content, and above all you need to go out there and promote that content in a methodical way. Now, happy making!

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