You’ve been developing your blog or website for a few years now and, slowly but surely, an audience has gathered around your work.
Now’s the time to scale. Now’s the time to take what you’ve developed, and take it to a larger market.
How do you get your work syndicated through major publications?
How do you reinvigorate the content you’ve already created to keep it engaging and relevant?
And how can strategic promotion support larger projects within your business?
Gregory Ciotti has a few interesting ideas about how to help you there. The Content Marketing Lead at Shopify, and former Marketing Manager for Help Scout, Ciotti has first-hand experience in developing significant audiences for brands in need.
In a recent post to his blog, Ciotti laments the popularity of “low-effort promotional tips and tricks”, and so offers some alternative advice, much of which we emulate here at The 8 Percent.
Here are the three we think will be of most help to you:
Increase Your Chances of Syndication
Most of the entrepreneurs and thought leaders we work with tend not to think too highly of their writing skills.
That can prove a problem. Finding the confidence and discipline to publish routinely on your own site is important, but getting that same content syndicated takes it to a whole other level.
Syndication is not just a way of proving that you’re a capable writer, but an acknowledgement that the ideas you’re sharing are valuable to those outside of your immediate tribe.
More important though is the simple fact that syndication through a major publication is promotion that requires nothing from you but the content which you were already going to produce. The hard part is convincing the gatekeeper that your content is what they need on their site.
That can certainly be difficult. They’re looking for their next viral hit, and unless you are able to tease the possibility that you’re it, it’s unlike you’ll get the ‘yes’ you’re looking for.
Ciotti has a suggestion to make the process easier:
Appeal to their audience, while positioning yourself against what they publish.
Find gaps in their content, and demonstrate succinctly how you can fill them.
That works well when pitching to publications in your field, and even better to those outside it.
Ciotti uses an example from his time at Help Scout. As a customer support business, they might not have looked like a perfect fit for a tech news site like The Next Web. However, by submitting an article about onboarding clients, they “focused on what (The Next Web’s) audience would naturally amplify”.
I wouldn’t be surprised if that turned out to be one of their most popular articles ever. It’s certainly proved that way for us when syndicating content. Nearly four years since one of our most popular articles made the rounds, it still brings traffic to our site on a daily basis.
Reinvigorate Your Content
It might seem lazy to pull up a piece of content from a year or two ago and tweak it. You might feel like you’re avoiding doing the ‘real’ work.
Here’s the thing to remember: perspectives change. A year of education, of experience, of research; that can result in a tremendous new approach to ideas and discussions. So when you realise that an old article doesn’t hold as true as it once did, don’t delete it. Not every piece will prove evergreen. Instead, renew it.
Make it more concise. More accurate. Add references. Keep it fresh.
Looking at Help Scout’s figures, such changes prove highly beneficial. 92% of leads came off the back of ‘old’ content, and were responsible for 76% of views.
If you’re worried about what your existing audience will think, don’t be. As Ciotti notes, “every content team vastly overestimates the percentage of their total readership that has read, applied, or even remembered any individual article.”
Structure Content Promotion to Benefit Big Projects
“Content blurs the line between customer acquisition and education”, says Ciotti, and he’s absolutely right.
Content should act as an introduction to the broader product. It’s not the product itself.
For instance, say you are developing a book.
Feeling the pressure to both write in your blog and develop content for the book, many look for the easy way out. They write a bunch of articles on the topics they want to cover, pull a few more from the archives, and bind them together.
And so they’ve produced a book, right?
Where’s the flow? Where’s the structure? Each of those articles was designed as an individual entity. They can’t just be bunched together!
As Ciotti proves, there’s an easier way of combining the two.
“…outline a new handbook you’re going to publish for readers, decide you need six chapters (or sections) to give the topic fair coverage, work on said chapters one at a time in the upcoming quarter, and release a few of them as blog posts.
You can then take the posts you’ve published, edit them together in a cohesive fashion with the material you kept unpublished, and launch the whole project as a full-length guide.”
We take a similar, yet different approach.
Throughout 2017, our CEO, Leela Cosgrove, posted a range of articles on concepts and values that make up the core of The 8 Percent.
These serve as previews of what The 8 Percent book will offer when it is published.
Readers who engaged with the articles will therefore definitely engage with the book, because they have been provided an introduction to it.
Through out articles we develop an audience for our book, and when the book is finished the reader will return to the articles and await the next one. It’s a circular process and the circle grows bigger through every rotation.
These are just three of the fantastic insights Gregory Ciotti shares in his article Content Promotion is About Meeting Your Readers Where They Live.
If you’re interested in more tips, be sure to check it out.