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Practical
Content Strategy
& Marketing
THE
STUDENT GUIDEBOOK
ACCESS THE COURSE TRAINING CURRICULUM AT
www.contentstrategycourses.com
Julia McCoy
Foreword by Mark Schaefer
Praise for Practical Content Strategy & Marketing
“I have read many books on marketing and content marketing specifically, but
I have never seen a book be so comprehensive on every detail from start
to finish. You have your strategy books, your content production books, your
social media books etc... but you don’t have a book out there that walks you
through from strategy to implementation in such detail, until now! Furthermore,
Julia hits on big picture elements that are paramount, but also digs into the
minutia that is also so very important. Content marketing does need to start
with your focus on overall messaging and audience building, but I have seen
many companies and marketers miss out on all the little details that give you
just a little bit more of a competitive advantage and therefore do not take full
advantage of all their efforts and Practical Content Strategy & Marketing pretty
much covers it all. If you are going to only have time to read one book on
content marketing, this is the one.”
—David Reimherr, Founder, Magnificent Marketing
www.Magnificent.com
“Most content marketing books that cover high-level theories, frameworks,
and case studies are entertaining, but ultimately forgettable reads. This book
includes all of the above, and most importantly is interspersed with prompting
questions, actual examples of copy, and fill-in-the-blank exercises that leave
you not just with a comprehensive overview, but with a mastery of all things
content marketing.”
—Pawan Deshpande, CEO & Founder, Curata
www.curata.com
“There are a lot of little details in content marketing. Julia covers them all.
Practical advice on every page. Onsite and off-site content. Search and social.
Strategy and execution. You’re holding in your hands a complete guide by an
expert who has done it all.”
—Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer of Orbit Media Studios
www.orbitmedia.com
“Content is king—or so they say. It might even be queen and prince, too. Which
is great if you’re a content marketer or focused on developing content for your
business, but with so much already out there, how do you compete? How do
you stand out from the masses? How do you get anyone to pay attention?
Never fear! Practical Content Strategy & Marketing to the rescue. This isn’t just
another content marketing book full of theory and fun ideas you can’t execute
because you’re limited on time and resources. Quite the contrary. It’s full of
worksheets, prompts, logs, resources, ideas, and more. You definitely want
to have a hard copy of this book so you can write in it, take notes, highlight,
and plan. By the end, you will have a content strategy designed to help you
succeed.
Julia McCoy provides actionable, smart, and fun ways to get you going. No
matter where you are in your content journey, there is something for you.”
—Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich and founder and author of Spin Sucks
“This book is packed with great advice. It follows up by teaching you how
to literally implement it. I’ve always admired the work Julia has put out, and
this book is by far and away among the best I’ve read to actually generate
and execute your marketing more effectively. For a guy who loves actionable
content but rarely sees it, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing is a breath of
fresh air the industry desperately needs.”
—Nathan Ellering, Head of Marketing Demand Generation at CoSchedule
www.coschedule.com
“Practical Content Strategy and Marketing is practical all right, but that word
vastly undersells its value to content creators and the businesses and audiences
they serve. I will be coming back to Julia’s book again and again for unique and
actionable insights into how to solve real customer problems with that magic
storytelling stuff known as content. If you’re looking to build a successful and
meaningful content strategy from the ground up or take an existing one to the
next level, this book will be your secret weapon.”
—Dan J. Levy, Content Director & Journalist
www.linkedin.com/in/danjlevy/
“My mind is blown! Julia McCoy has mastered content marketing and lays it
all out in this perennial book. It’s an incredible, comprehensive, hand-holding
guide that shows you everything under the sun. It should be required reading
for anyone pursuing a career in the field. An incredible amount of research has
gone into crafting this masterpiece. It’s filled with endless takeaways. After
reading this book, you will be empowered to take action with everything you’ve
learned in these pages.”
—Madalyn Sklar, Twitter Marketing Expert
www.MadalynSklar.com
“If you are looking for a detailed primer on content strategy and how it ties
into SEO, this is it. Julia breaks down the concepts and pillars of content and
SEO seperately, then explains how they work together to create a cohesive
approach. I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants a primer on content
marketing or those of us that simply want a refresher on the most current
strategies.”
—Kelsey Jones, Digital Marketing Strategist, Six Stories
www.sixstories.com
“I can’t tell you if content marketing is what you or your business needs, but
I can tell you that it absolutely was what my business needed. In 2013 my
marketing agency was on the verge of bankruptcy when I invested heavily in
content marketing and over the next year we shot past all our revenue records.
It’s no exaggeration to say that content marketing saved my business. Today we
have offices in the UK, US, and Asia and continue growing. Practical Content
Strategy & Marketing is valuable because it is practical—it includes the steps
I took to make my own business successful. I’m especially pleased to see the
focus in the book on defining yourself and your audience, two keys that were
instrumental in my success and that of my company.”
—Josh Steimle, Founder, MWI
www.joshsteimle.com
“In Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, Julia McCoy has compiled an
incredibly helpful introduction to content marketing that anyone can use. Chock
full of templates and tools, this book answers and simplifies thorny questions
about how to create personas, approach SEO, focus content on relevant
topics, and more. I’m certain I’ll be returning to this valuable resource again
and again.”
—Melanie Seibert, Digital Content Strategist
www.ProseKiln.com
“No matter your maturity level in content marketing, you stand to benefit
from Julia McCoy’s book, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing. Julia built
her business via content marketing, so she’s teaching you not based on
opinion, but from direct experience. Julia covers everything you need to know
about content marketing: budgeting, SEO, strategy, creation, re-purposing,
distribution and more. With advice, modules, worksheets and more, this book
is worth its weight in gold.”
—Dennis Shiao, Director of Content Marketing, DNN Software
@dshiao
“Kiss the eventual overwhelm that comes from content marketing GOODBYE!
Julia McCoy’s Practical Content Strategy and Marketing is the perfect
companion to any small business owner or marketer who is sick and tired
of trial-and-error inbound marketing tactics. This book is NOT for thinkers as
much as it is for DOERS. Have a pen ready and don’t be afraid to write inside
its pages! If you start now, you’ll have a killer content marketing strategy and
new prospects in six weeks!”
—Ivana S. Taylor, Small Business Influencer
www.diymarketers.com
“Content marketing has many coaches, mentors and even gurus... but
surprisingly few teachers. Julia McCoy is definitely of the latter type.
Practical Content Strategy & Marketing provides a sound, comprehensive
and well articulated curriculum for a proven content marketing methodology.
Her teaching builds on her own fantastic skills and experience but also on
a network she built with the best practitioners in the field. Make no mistake:
content marketing is hard and the failure rate has been high. But in this book,
Julia will guide you very concretely through every step required to start and
grow content marketing into a successful strategy.”
—Guillaume Decugis, Founder of Scoop.it
“I am a college professor, consultant, blogger, and a Facebook Live show host.
An underlying theme that underpins everything I do is content creation. I have
long struggled to find training materials that are timely, relevant, and most
importantly, practical. Julia’s book and course, with a strong emphasis on being
practical, has finally offered me the solutions that I had long been searching
for. Now, armed with a wealth of practical advice from Julia, I am ready to
bring my content creation to a new level through strategic and effective content
strategies.”
—Ai Addyson-Zhang, College Professor and Consultant
www.aiaddysonzhang.com
“Practical Content Strategy and Marketing is more than just a book and
reaches beyond a course - it serves as an essential roadmap for navigating
content creation and marketing strategy. From the start, McCoy positions it as
a knowledge journey, providing models, statistics and assessment tools. This
is an absolute must have to fully focus on expertise and maximize ROI.”
—Chetachi A. Egwu, Ph.D.
@tachiada
Practical
Content Strategy
& Marketing
THE
STUDENT GUIDEBOOK
Authored by Julia McCoy
Foreword by Mark Schaefer
with Guest Appearances from Michele Linn (Content Marketing Institute), Su-
jan Patel, Steve Rayson (BuzzSumo), Dan Levy, Ryan West (SEMrush), and
Shani Taylor (Airtable)
Copyright © 2017 Julia McCoy
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form
or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical
methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of
brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses
permitted by copyright law.
For permission requests, email the author:
julia@contentstrategycourse.com
Enroll in the accompanying course at www.contentstrategycourses.com.
Use code CONTENTSTRATEGYBOOK25 to save 25% at enrollment!
Cover image: Flaticons 
Cover design: Josh McCoy & Antonella Urriza
Legal Disclaimer
The author makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or
completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaims all warranties,
including without limitation warranties for a particular purpose. No warranty may be
created or extended by sales or promotional materials. The advice and strategies
contained herein may not be suitable for every situation. The author shall not be liable
for damages arising herefrom. The fact that an organization or website is referred
to in this work as a citation and/or a potential source of further information does not
mean that the author or the publisher endorses all the information the organization or
website may provide or every recommendation it may make. Further, readers should
be aware that internet websites or web pages listed in this work may have changed or
disappeared between when this work was written and when it is read.
ix
Contents
Foreword xv
Preface xvii
Guest Experts Featured In the Practical Content Strategy
Certification Course xxi
Course Students Personal Log xxiii
Introduction: Welcome to Content Strategy 25
1. Introducing An ROI-Driven Content Strategy Teaching & the Skills You’re About to
Learn 27
2. Set Your Professional & Personal Goals 28
3. Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing: The Big Picture 29
4. Why Does Content Fail? Protecting Against Content Catastrophe With 4 Keys 30
5. Where Content Marketing Is Headed: A Disclaimer & Inspiration 33
6. The Reality & Budget of Many Businesses When It Comes to Content Creation 36
7. Content Strategy vs. Everything Else: What You’ll Learn 38
8. How Planning & Executing Great Content Is a Multi-Person, Expert Job (Content
Team Structure) 40
9. 6 Cores of a Profitable Brand Strategy 42
Module 1: Core Foundations of a Practical, ROI-Focused Content
Strategy 45
1. Your Expertise: Defining Your Topic Areas for an Authoritative, High-ROI Online
Presence 47
2. Tying Your Content Expertise to Your Content Differentiation Factor (CDF) 51
3. Your Content Creation: Three Goals for Repeated Content Success 58
4. Setting A High-ROI “Net” of Content Marketing: Tracking vs. Reality 60
5. An Example of ROI Content: High-Ranking SEO Content 63
6. An Example of ROI Content: Brand Awareness & Customer Engagement Content
64
7. Bonus: Guest Speaker Michele Linn Presents: How CMI Was Built Through
Content & Practical Content Marketing Strategy Tips 65
Module 2: A Beginner’s Guide to Audience Persona, Sales Funnel
Content Mapping, & Brand Content Style Guidelines 69
1. Are Personas Worth Creating? 4 Keys to Keep in Mind 71
2. Where Creating Great Content Begins: Your Audience & an ROI Perspective 74
3. A Beginner’s Guide to Mapping Out a Content Audience Persona: New Audiences
77
x
4. Bonus: A Low-Budget, High-Quality Alternative to New Audience Persona Building:
Facebook Insights 83
5. A Beginner’s Guide to Mapping Out a Content Audience Persona: Existing
Audiences 86
7. How to Map Your Buyer Persona to Life Cycle Stages to Create Sales Awareness
Content 95
8. How to Discover Sales Awareness Questions: Key Questions to Ask Your Persona
[New & Existing Audience] 101
9. Brand Strategy Part I: Create a Brand Content Style Guidebook (Content
Guidelines & Persona) for Your Content Creation Team 105
Module 3: Understanding Keywords, Researching SEO
Opportunities, & Creating Keyword Reports 117
1. Outlining Your Three Goals for Setting Keyword Research & Online Content
Success (Exercise) 119
2. Why Does Organic Search Hold Higher ROI Than Paid Search? Google’s Written
Standards for Quality 123
3. The Blueprint to Discovering a High-ROI Keyword (Core Keyword Types &
Defining the Sweet Spot) 127
4. Keyword Research: Biggest Common Problems/Mistakes (The Don’ts) Checklist
Chart 134
5. The Content Strategist’s Keyword Toolbox: Favorite Tools & Major Differences 136
6. How to Choose a Tool for Both Keyword Research & Position Tracking 138
10. Geo-Targeted Keyword Guide: How to Find High-ROI, Long-Tail Local Keywords
140
11. Addendum: A Few Tips on Finding the Right Balance When Creating Your Geo-
Targeted SEO Content 142
12. How to Check for DA (Domain Authority), a Moz Ranking Factor, & How It
Impacts Creating Content 145
13. Brand Strategy Part 2: Create a Comprehensive Keyword Report (Exercise) 147
14. 15 On-Site Ranking Factors: What Works Besides Good Content? 150
Module 4: How to Build Content Cores for an Authority Presence
Online 161
1. Building Your “House” Online: How to Have Content Focus for Better Results &
Where Your Focus Should Be 163
2. How to Win Every Time With a Core Content Commitment Approach to the Online
Content Presence You Build 167
3. Defining the 3 Commitments to Core Content Creation 169
4. Core Focus Circle: Identifying the Key Integral Commitment & Who to Trust for
Content Production 172
5. Proving the Key Integral Commitment With Case Studies: I. How Unbounce Built
Authority Solely Through Blogging 175
xi
6. Proving the Key Integral Commitment With Case Studies: II. What Happened
When My Agency Doubled Our Budget 176
7. Site Structure: A Map of a Strong Content House 177
8. What Is Cornerstone Content & Why Does It Matter? 182
9. A Nutshell Guide on Internal Linking in Your Content & How to Judge Link Quality
with Alexa 185
10. The ROI of Blogging (AKA, 2 Reasons Why You Should Have Started Blogging
Yesterday) 190
11. Brand Strategy Part 3A: Building Roads to Your House With Outside Channels:
Guest Blogging Column Discovery 192
Lesson 11. Brand Strategy Part 3A: Guest Blogging Column Discovery (Exercise)197
12. Brand Strategy Part 3B: Building Roads to Your House With Outside Channels:
Social Media (Exercise) 198
13. Building Roads to Your House With Outside Channels: Guest Solo Appearances
206
14. Guest Speaker Michele Linn Presents: You Need a Blog: Ground Rules of a
Tangible Blogging Plan 208
Module 5: Practical Content Creation (Your Site & Guest
Platforms) 213
1. Simplifying the Content Ideation and Creation Process 215
2. Live Demo of Pulling Strong Brand Awareness Topics From a Web Crawl 219
Module 5. Lesson 2, Brand Strategy Exercise: Brand Awareness Topics Inspired
From a Web Crawl 220
3. How to Find Hot Topics Using BuzzSumo 221
4. Buyer-Focused Content: An Overall Look at Creating Content for the Stages of
Your Funnel (Exercise) 223
5. Best of Both Worlds: SEO Content That Achieves Sales Awareness Content Goals
229
6. SEO Optimization Checklist: 8 Steps to Help You Accurately Optimize Your
Content 231
7. Creating SEO Content That Ranks: The 2 Super Simple Steps & Why They’re
Missed Most of the Time 237
8. Anatomy of a High-ROI, Optimized Blog Post 239
9. Anatomy of a High-ROI, Optimized Landing Page 241
10. Repurposing Core Format Into Other Formats 243
11. The Art & Habit of Comprehensive “10x Content:” Creating Your Best Content,
Each Time (5-Step Checklist) 245
12. Guest Blogging: How to Approach & Get on The Publications You Want 251
13. Guest Blogging: How to Pitch Irresistible Topic Ideas (BuzzSumo Demo) 252
14. CTAs: The Importance of List Building and Tying an “Ask” Into Your Content
Pieces 253
xii
15. Optimize Your Headline and Your Hook: Key Content Cores for Conversion 258
16. Brand Strategy Part 3C: Formulate High-ROI Content Topics & Hooks 262
17. Guest Speaker Steve Rayson From BuzzSumo Presents: Headline & Topic
Discovery 263
Module 6: Content Promotion Techniques, Setting a Budget,
Preparing Your Editorial Calendar, & Maintenance 267
1. Guest Speaker Sujan Patel Presents: Content Promotion Strategies [Tools and
Tactics] 269
2. A Beginner’s Guide to Content Promotion & Key Fundamentals for Boosting
Exposure 272
3. Social Media Platform Posting Velocity, Length, Best Practices, & Social Media
Management Apps 279
4. Email Marketing: Best Practices for Email Writing & Scheduling 283
5. Costs, Budget Setting, & Expectations to Associate With Content Creation 291
6. Guest Speaker Dan Levy (Content Director at Unbounce) Presents: The Cost &
Return of 10x Blogging 306
7. A Short Guide on How to Hire Amazing Writers to Support Your Content Creation
308
8. Getting All Your Moving Parts in Place: How Do I Start Creating a Content Plan?
313
9. Editorial Calendar Planning: A Tool That’ll Take You 5 Minutes 318
10. Guest Expert Shani Taylor from Airtable Presents: Advanced Editorial Calendar
Building Tutorial 318
11. Old Content Is Your Money Content: Why & How to Set a Plan for Auditing,
Maintaining, & Updating Content 319
12. Guest Speaker Ryan West Presents: How to Track Your Rankings, Set Up
Competitor Research, & Maintain Positions in SEMrush 323
13. Tracking & Updating Your Ranking Content for a Serious Content ROI Boost [Live
Tutorial] 322
14. Conducting a Content Audit: A Step-by-Step Guide 325
15. Brand Strategy Exercise Part 4B: Create an Editorial Calendar 331
16. Why Content Marketing & Strategy Knowledge Doesn’t End Here (& How to Stay
Up on Your Skills) 334
Appendix A: Curriculum Brand Strategy Exercises 339
Appendix B: Top Resources to Follow, Read & Learn From to Help
You Stay Current as a Content Expert 341
Appendix C: Recommended Tools & Platforms for Content
Marketers 345
xiii
Appendix D: Express Writers Official Writers’ Guidelines 347
About the Author 365
xv
FOREWORD
You are holding an important book.
Why? Allow me to tell you about advertising for a moment.
I watch more TV than I have ever watched in my life, but I almost never see
ads. Unless it is the news or a sports program, I consume my content (usually
in binge mode) on ad-free services like Netflix and Amazon.
I subscribe to Sirius XM satellite radio. On long car drives, I’ll listen to the radio
for hours … and never hear an ad. Maybe I’ll stream music from my iPod,
Spotify, or Apple music. No ads.
In my home, I might ask Alexa to play some music or read the news for me. I
never hear an ad.
I subscribe to four online newspapers. You guessed it. I never see ads in that
format.
Nearly one-third of Americans have ad blockers on their phones. They’re not
even seeing most digital ads. In countries like Germany and Korea, the rate of
ad-blocking is even higher.
In summary, my personal advertising consumption has dropped by 95 percent
in the last five years. And of course, I’m not alone.
Inexorably, we are moving toward an ad-free world, or nearly so.
Companies big and small have noticed and reacted to this trend. The
opportunities to connect to customers through traditional marketing channels
are drying up. Consumers may not see and react to ads like they used to, but
they will see and share great content. And this is how the content marketing
movement was born, and why it is a critical component to any digital marketing
strategy.
Which is what Julia’s book is about. How do you actually do this stuff?
Blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics, Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn … This
new content world might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. There
are simple tried-and-true paths up the learning curve, and Julia is absolutely
the best Sherpa for your journey up the content marketing mountain.
xvi
Like I said … this is an important book. Congratulations for finding it and best
of luck with your content marketing journey.
—Mark W. Schaefer
Consultant, college educator, and author of “The Content Code”
@markwschaefer
xvii
PREFACE
Hello, fellow content creator and marketer!
Welcome to Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, an in-depth, published
accompaniment to my new Practical Content Strategy Certification Course.
The following written side of the course curriculum, intensive exercises, and
lessons that you’re about to embark on is the result of 500 hours and seven
months of work on my part. Along the way, I was honored to have industry guest
experts, including Sujan Patel, Michele Linn from Content Marketing Institute,
Steve Rayson from BuzzSumo, to name a few, contribute a few lessons with
me by request for the course curriculum.
Six years ago, I started carving my path in this industry when I dropped out
of college to follow an inner passion to learn how to make money by writing
online.
That led me straight into a self-taught, full-time career in content marketing.
Three months into teaching myself freelance writing, I had more freelance work
than I could personally handle, and I decided to open my own content creation
agency, Express Writers, with nothing but a pocket cash investment of $75. It
was a five-minute business idea. Since then, we’ve grown and expanded on
a bootstrapped, self-funded budget year after year, and we’re on track to hit
$800k in 2017 with a staff of more than 40 people. In 2016, I published my first
book (So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online
Writing), an Amazon bestseller. I also started the Write Podcast, and launched
a Twitter chat, #ContentWritingChat.
My success in the field is 100% due to the practical content marketing methods
I execute, tweak, and continue to put into action day in, day out. At my agency,
more than 95% of our new leads and overall marketing presence is sustained
by the content I create and produce. I’ve written more than a thousand pieces
of content, and have guest blogged on top networks. I have more than 11,000
keywords for my agency website, expresswriters.com, now indexed organically
in high rankings in Google through my content (hundreds of these pages are
ranking in the top 10 of Google). I worked my way to become a top content
marketer (named #33 in 2016), and was even invited to lead the MarketingProfs
2017 Marketing Writing Bootcamp summer class after they found a guest blog
I wrote. I know, firsthand, how much content marketing pays off if you do it
strategically.
xviii
Before I created my course and wrote this book, I spent a month to research the
industry and map out cutting-edge education. What I found is that the practical
knowledge of what it takes to create, build, implement, and maintain a high-ROI
brand strategy is often missing. I am continually faced with it everywhere I turn,
whether in hiring writers for my content creation team or strategizing services
for new clients. It’s such a dire pain point that only 4% of B2B companies feel
extremely confident about their content marketing strategy, out of the 91% of
B2Bs that are already creating content. (Stats from CMI’s 2018 Benchmarks,
Budgets, and Trends—North America Report.)
Seeing this pain point always presenting itself in front of me as I worked daily
in my agency—not just statistically but in reality—I decided to do something
about it. I undertook the creation of training curriculum that could become
a practical solution for the content strategy pain points in this industry. This
training was what I needed, and should have had when I started out in content
marketing to achieve success faster. It was quite an undertaking, and I almost
buckled halfway through the 500 hours and seven months of creation time.
Luckily, I had a great support network along the way. I’m most grateful to my
CTO and husband, Joshua McCoy, for supporting me at every difficult point in
the curriculum.
My key word in this book and my training is “practical,” if you haven’t noticed
already. Of course, that means that it’s fully hands-on. This book and the practice
lessons are full of paced examples and exercises to help you stay above water,
practicing what you learn, and able to fully retain all of the information.
It’s important to stay engaged and enjoy learning. I personally like hands-on
learning where I’m writing, creating and doing, led by the educator: It helps
me retain the information better. So, I’ve adapted a thoroughly hands-on style
for the course you’re about to take. For each module and every lesson in my
course, I’ve developed a written, verbal matching page, and practical exercise
in this book where you can write—with a real pen (yay!).
When you see notes like this throughout this book:
ONLINE CURRICULUM: If you’re enrolled in the all-access pass at
www.contentstrategycourses.com, watch the corresponding video
demo for this lesson.
This refers to the all-access pass in my course, which you can get at www.
contentstrategycourses.com/content-strategy-certification-course. The all-
access enrollment seat follows every chapter of this book with more than
75 recorded videos, individual workbooks, templates, and, best of all, live
feedback and support from my team and me. The all-access login is set up for
your best success. I strongly suggest purchasing it, if you’re holding this book
in your hands. You’ll need the visual tutorials and videos there to fully learn
xix
PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING
and implement the concepts I teach. Within this book, you’ll see me refer a few
times to the online course curriculum and video training.
Along the way, you’ll build the parts of a working content strategy that will
comprise your final brand strategy, which I call Brand Strategy Exercises, or
BSEs.
And, as you go through this book with pen and highlighter, remember that each
lesson builds on each other. So, don’t skip around, and in the end, you’ll be
rewarded with a working content strategy and newfound skills that will enable
you to strategize high-ROI content for any brand. In the lessons ahead, we’ll
create this strategy together, for your brand or a fictional client brand. If you’re
enrolled in the All-Access pass of the Content Strategy Certification Course,
you’ll be able to access live feedback from me on the final content strategy
plan you create from the exercises throughout the course.
Here’s to staying motivated, positive, and focused as you move through
my content strategy training, and here’s to building incredible skills for your
personal arsenal of knowledge in our amazing industry!
Happy learning & creating,
Julia
xxi
GUEST EXPERTS FEATURED IN THE PRACTICAL
CONTENT STRATEGY CERTIFICATION COURSE
Sujan Patel
Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Web Profits, Digital Marketer
Sharing: Content Promotion
Michele Linn
VP of Content, Content Marketing Institute
Sharing: How CMI Was Built Through Content, Practical Strategy Tips, &
Ground Rules of a Blogging Plan
Steve Rayson
Co-Founder, BuzzSumo
Sharing: Topic Discovery
Ryan West
Customer Success Lead, SEMrush
Sharing: Keyword Research in SEMrush, Rank/Position Tracking
Shani Taylor
Customer Success Manager, Airtable
Sharing: Advanced Editorial Calendar Creation
Dan Levy
Content Director, Unbounce
Sharing: 10x Blogging
(Notes from the course video sessions with guest experts included in this book.)
xxiii
COURSE STUDENTS PERSONAL LOG
YOUR NAME:
DATE:
BRAND STRATEGY (CO. NAME & WEBSITE) YOU CREATED WITH THIS
TRAINING:
Introduction: Welcome to Content Strategy
27
PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING
1. Introducing An ROI-Driven Content Strategy
Teaching & the Skills You’re About to Learn
Content marketing, without a solid content strategy, is nothing.
A great strategy drives the content behind successful content marketing.
The only way to stand out and win in your content strategy is to create content
that your people want to read. Content marketing is the anti-interruptive
marketing of today and tomorrow. But to be heard and not treated like an
interruptive marketer, you must create content that people are interested in.
And you can’t do that without a plan of action outlying your audience’s desires
or your content goals.
Enter content strategy.
In this training, I’m going to be taking a more practical, sleeves-rolled-up
approach than many content strategy approaches I’ve seen out there. The
reason for that is if you just know how to develop brand style guidelines and
identify solid topics, but not how or what kinds of content to create or how to
track ROI, you won’t be able to clearly go from zero all the way to creating,
executing, and watching your content work for you.
This education will help you become an extremely valuable team member
at any agency, because you’ll know almost everything when it comes to the
setup, planning, execution and tracking of content. It will help you run your
own content marketing effectively, if you’re a business owner or freelancer. It
will give you a ground-floor level view of how to create content that works for
your brand.
If you can master content creation, remember, it ranks as the single most
effective SEO technique (Marketing Sherpa).
What’s more:
• Websites with a blog tend to have 434% more indexed pages (Tech
Client)
• Today, 47% of buyers look at 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with
a sales rep (Demand Gen Report)
• B2B companies with strategic content marketing generate 67% more
leads than companies that don’t (HubSpot)
Knowing how to create the right online content will result in big dividends.
Let’s get started.
28
INTRO MODULE
2. Set Your Professional & Personal Goals
What motivates you to finish this training? Why learn content strategy? Write in
the boxes. Professional and personal goals can overlap.
I want to…
Professional goals (a desired career position, or freelance skillset growth, i.e.
learn how to serve my clients with higher knowledge and increase my rates,
learn industry skills, become an expert content strategist, etc.)
Personal goals (salary or wealth goal, new personal skillsets i.e. create
keyword reports, write successful SEO content, create a budget, maintain an
editorial calendar for my agency or client, etc.)
29
PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING
3. Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing: The Big
Picture
Wikipedia defines content strategy as:
“The planning, development, and management of content—written or in
other media. The term is particularly common in web development since
the late 1990s.”
How does content strategy fit into content marketing? Is it a part, the whole,
or what?
Think of content strategy as the underlying drive, the engine of your content
marketing. It governs, manages, and guides the principles of your overall
content marketing.
Remember that content marketing itself is the actual form of marketing that
involves creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience
online.
The strategy of creating all the content for your content marketing is specifically
content marketing strategy.
In this guide and in my course, you’ll learn a full-circle, actionable content
strategy.
More specifically: You’ll get training in content strategy as it drives your content
marketing, and a content marketing strategy as it drives your content creation.
If that doesn’t make sense right now, that’s okay. It’s an overarching way to
look at how content strategy is defined today.
30
INTRO MODULE
4. Why Does Content Fail? Protecting Against
Content Catastrophe With 4 Keys
According to the CMI’s 2018 B2B content marketing report, many content
marketers aren’t sure if their content is worth the investment.
91% of B2B marketers are investing in content—yet only 4% of B2B companies
feel extremely confident about the success of their content marketing strategy,
a huge decrease from those that are creating content.
CMI’s 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America Report
How do you guarantee achieving success with your content?
What are the key points your content must fulfill to protect against failure?
It’s easy—to say the least—to get completely overwhelmed with the content
you should/would/could be creating.
However, if you stray too far from the core of what your content strategy needs
to be successful, you might be wasting your time, spinning your wheels, and in
the end, even producing zero ROI for your content efforts.
Scary grounds.
To protect against that, it’s best to start with the basics when it comes to building
a strong foundation in your content strategy.
31
PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING
Here are four keys of a content strategy that you must fulfill with your content:
4 Keys of a Base Content Strategy
1. Discover WHO you’re helping, reaching, and impacting
Not knowing who you are educating and helping with your content will mean
that you end up targeting randomly, and not achieving clear content results.
This will help you if you’re not sure of your customer’s pain points, or what you
should be doing to help them (solve their problem).
2. Discover HOW to help them better than your competitor
You must have a chance in breaking through the noise that exists in your space.
If you don’t have a unique angle to present to your audience that stands out
above all the competitors you have out there, you won’t reach them powerfully.
3. Learn HOW to create content that reaches them
Do you know how to research and find long-tail keywords that will result in
serious return for your brand presence online? Do you know how to focus on
only creating content that gets found, and what types of content are worth your
32
INTRO MODULE
money? Do you know base strategies for promotion? This is the core action
delivery system of your content marketing.
4. Know WHY you create content by analyzing, auditing, updating, and
measuring
Why create content that’s not worthwhile? Define your goals in content
marketing and always analyze, audit, and measure the effectiveness of your
content—you’ll know “why” you create content that is worthwhile when you
analyze and see results, and thus have a solid reason to keep investing in your
content marketing.
33
PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING
5. Where Content Marketing Is Headed: A Disclaimer
& Inspiration
This training wouldn’t be complete without a “disclaimer” of sorts about the
industry we’re in, with a few insights into the struggles content creators face—
struggles that only grow with time. On the flip side, there’s plenty to inspire you
to carve your own path as a creator in this industry.
I’m going to share both sides with you. First, let’s dive into the disclaimer.
The Negation of Content Marketing Today
Legendary blogger Seth Godin said in 2008 that “content marketing is the only
marketing that’s left.”
Back when Seth Godin was saying this, content marketing was rising in
popularity because it was a non-interruptive, human-friendly form of marketing
that shook cold, traditional, interruptive advertising off its feet.
Content marketing warmed people’s hearts. It was a new form of marketing
that catered to them, not at them (and their wallets).
What Seth Godin said is still true today—with one caveat.
The sheer amount of content out there poses a big problem for us content
marketers. And the worst part? The volume is just getting worse.
For example, I pitch articles to Content Marketing Institute all the time— not
simply ideas for stories, but fully developed, well-written pieces that I researched
and created from scratch. Half of the time, they reject my pitches—even the
pieces I thought were my personal best. Why? “We have enough content on
this topic,” they say.
Part of Content Marketing Institute’s strategy is also to go and update older
existing content, which they do with the original author (and have done with
me). That’s an effective strategy on their end, but it poses a real problem for
the new author coming on the scene that wants to contribute something.
There’s a term for this, which Mark Schaefer originally coined in 2014: “content
shock.” He said that the amount of available web-based content (the supply) is
doubling every 9–24 months. Yet our ability to consume this content is limited
and finite.
You can predict where this is going: As content supply explodes, our own ability
to consume (content demand) stays at a limited level. Not good. Our work as
content marketers is getting harder than ever.
34
INTRO MODULE
RESOURCE: Read Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable
strategy, by Mark Schaefer: https://www.businessesgrow.com/2014/01/06/
content-shock/
The problem in the industry is that we must work exceptionally hard now
to stand out. We have to be more intuitive, more creative, more audience-
attuned, and more capable of creating our best content than ever before. The
best content marketers create new levels that we now have to rise above to
compete. Niche subject areas get saturated as content marketers get better.
We have to deep-dive to find our competitive advantages, and an angle to use
that no one has picked up on yet.
This means spending more time and resources on our content strategy, and in
the end, more than what my course and training can give you.
My final thought as we end this disclaimer is just that: Do not let my training
be the be-all, end-all of content marketing and strategy for you. This industry
demands so much of those that are successful, and the amount of content is
increasing so rapidly that you do yourself a disservice by stopping with just
my training. So, continually maintain your skills. Seek to stay up on the latest
trends—from character limits, all the way to best practices and new tools or
platform features.
As we end the disclaimer, remember to look inside yourself for creativity. Think
outside the box, and strive to find and be yourself—don’t just copy the gurus.
Turn to your clients and customer base, your staff and team members, and
your own gut intuition for ideas. And to stay up on your skills, check out the
Appendix at the end of this book with top recommended authors, bloggers, and
publications in the industry to read and learn from. But always remember not to
blindly follow the experts. Your best ideas for your own content creation could
be waiting inside you.
So, why is content marketing still such a great industry to learn, work in, and
devote time to getting better at?
Why It’s Still Worth It—and Better than Ever—to Carve Your
Own Path in Content Marketing
Here’s a crazy (but true) prediction: Content marketing is going to be an
industry worth $313 billion by 2019!
91% of all businesses are already adopting it for their own marketing (PQ
Media’s Global Content Marketing Forecast 2015-19, CMI’s 2018 Benchmarks,
Budgets, and Trends—North America Report).
35
PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING
The good news is that it is easier than ever to convince and convert B2Bs to
invest in content marketing, because so many are adopting it. And the salaries
of content strategists are on the rise.
“Content marketing continues to gain traction as a lead generation tool among
companies of all sizes,” says Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative
Group. “Agencies and in-house teams seek experienced content strategists
who can create, curate, and syndicate content to increase brand awareness
and conversation rates.”
RESOURCE: Read Hot Job, Content Strategist: https://www.roberthalf.com/
blog/salaries-and-skills/hot-job-content-strategist
I remember when I started out and it wasn’t so easy to convince clients on
“why they needed a blog”—and that was just back in 2011! Since then, our
annual income rose 200% in the next few years, and as of 2017, we’re slated
to outperform all previous years. Today, my content creation agency staff
barely have to convince or do a hard “sell” to our new leads. We simply put
together custom content packages that work for what our clients need, and
they buy ‘em.
Content marketing is the industry to be in for freelancers, marketers, and
agencies—there is a real demand in hiring specialists that know the ins and
outs of content strategy and marketing. Remember, content strategy is a major
weak point for businesses!
According to the CMI’s 2018 B2B content marketing report, many content
marketers aren’t sure if their content is worth the investment.
91% of B2B marketers are investing in content—yet only 4% of B2B
companies feel extremely confident about their content marketing strategy,
a huge decrease from those that are creating content.
If you know practical content strategy skills, you’re well on your way to being
an in-demand marketer or freelancer at any agency, and embark on an exciting
career in a dynamic, growing industry.
36
INTRO MODULE
6. The Reality & Budget of Many Businesses When It
Comes to Content Creation
Kristina Halvorson’s book, Content Strategy for the Web, addresses a real
problem that I’ve personally faced selling content to a variety of businesses in
the past six years.
She says that one of the most common obstacles that keeps us from turning
bad content into better content is the fact that content is still being treated like
a commodity.
Not a necessity.
But a commodity.
It’s treated like “stuff that needs to be done,” or stuff that can be done by
anyone—and when that happens, many times, the monetary value attached
to it is also low.
In reality, great content requires expert content creators and real resources to
get done correctly. If businesses sacrifice quality for money, they don’t value or
see the ROI that good content can bring them.
TIP: Good content can return 10x what you invested into it. Example: through
the organic rankings you can get from one long-form piece, or sales that
resulted from the trust you built up through brand awareness content
But none of that can be done without an expert or authority level writer. You
have to invest to differentiate yourself online through great content. Your
content must reach your audience, and help them.
Content that works for your business and your end user is not a commodity. It’s
a necessity to your presence, brand authority, and engagement level online.
Check out the life cycle of one piece of content where I’ve been able to map
out a $5,000 sale from a $50 piece of content.
37
PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING
I’m happy to report that the budget reality of many businesses in terms of
creating content is much better than it was years ago. 85% of B2B marketers
attribute their content marketing success over 2016 to higher-quality, higher-
volume content creation output—so marketers are seeing—and investing—in
the value.
Here’s something else to consider. If businesses are not investing today in a
skilled writer when it comes to their customer-facing online content, and trying
to go for cheaper writers and cheaper rates, they may end up paying double
in the end. Readers know more than ever what cheap, poor, and thin content
looks like—and so does Google. Pay for quality once, and you’ll never have to
pay twice. Cheap content is not worth it today, and the idea of it is phasing out
of marketers’ minds.
38
INTRO MODULE
7. Content Strategy vs. Everything Else: What You’ll
Learn
In this education, we’re focused on learning (and teaching) the meat of what
goes into an actionable content strategy: online content itself.
78% of B2Bs say that content creation itself matters the most to the success of
their content marketing (2018)!
CMI’s 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America Report
(Check out how right under content creation, content strategy—developing or
adjusting it—was the next greatest factor to B2B content marketing success.)
Remember, a Marketing Sherpa study proved that content creation ranks as
the single most effective SEO technique.
To add to that: knowing how to create a consistent plan for content creation
on your own website is one of the most powerful ways to build an organic,
authoritative presence online.
You can live stream, you can host webinars, you can start a podcast, you can
blog, you can tweet, guest blog. That list goes on and on.
But if you don’t have written content put together in the right formats on your
site, you aren’t going to build an authority presence with Google, and produce
and publish content that will stand the tests of time online.
39
PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING
The sooner you get on a regular schedule with the right content on your site,
the better.
The act of content creation, which you’re going to learn how to do in this
education, is one of the most powerful ways to build a presence online and in
SEO.
In this training, you’ll learn a lot of content creation techniques, fundamentals,
and the ground-floor level of everything that goes into that. We’ll also touch on
email marketing, social media, and more key formats and how they should fit
into your content strategy.
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Practical Content Strategy & Marketing [Read a Sample]

  • 1.
  • 2.
  • 3. Practical Content Strategy & Marketing THE STUDENT GUIDEBOOK ACCESS THE COURSE TRAINING CURRICULUM AT www.contentstrategycourses.com Julia McCoy Foreword by Mark Schaefer
  • 4. Praise for Practical Content Strategy & Marketing “I have read many books on marketing and content marketing specifically, but I have never seen a book be so comprehensive on every detail from start to finish. You have your strategy books, your content production books, your social media books etc... but you don’t have a book out there that walks you through from strategy to implementation in such detail, until now! Furthermore, Julia hits on big picture elements that are paramount, but also digs into the minutia that is also so very important. Content marketing does need to start with your focus on overall messaging and audience building, but I have seen many companies and marketers miss out on all the little details that give you just a little bit more of a competitive advantage and therefore do not take full advantage of all their efforts and Practical Content Strategy & Marketing pretty much covers it all. If you are going to only have time to read one book on content marketing, this is the one.” —David Reimherr, Founder, Magnificent Marketing www.Magnificent.com “Most content marketing books that cover high-level theories, frameworks, and case studies are entertaining, but ultimately forgettable reads. This book includes all of the above, and most importantly is interspersed with prompting questions, actual examples of copy, and fill-in-the-blank exercises that leave you not just with a comprehensive overview, but with a mastery of all things content marketing.” —Pawan Deshpande, CEO & Founder, Curata www.curata.com “There are a lot of little details in content marketing. Julia covers them all. Practical advice on every page. Onsite and off-site content. Search and social. Strategy and execution. You’re holding in your hands a complete guide by an expert who has done it all.” —Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer of Orbit Media Studios www.orbitmedia.com “Content is king—or so they say. It might even be queen and prince, too. Which is great if you’re a content marketer or focused on developing content for your business, but with so much already out there, how do you compete? How do you stand out from the masses? How do you get anyone to pay attention? Never fear! Practical Content Strategy & Marketing to the rescue. This isn’t just
  • 5. another content marketing book full of theory and fun ideas you can’t execute because you’re limited on time and resources. Quite the contrary. It’s full of worksheets, prompts, logs, resources, ideas, and more. You definitely want to have a hard copy of this book so you can write in it, take notes, highlight, and plan. By the end, you will have a content strategy designed to help you succeed. Julia McCoy provides actionable, smart, and fun ways to get you going. No matter where you are in your content journey, there is something for you.” —Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich and founder and author of Spin Sucks “This book is packed with great advice. It follows up by teaching you how to literally implement it. I’ve always admired the work Julia has put out, and this book is by far and away among the best I’ve read to actually generate and execute your marketing more effectively. For a guy who loves actionable content but rarely sees it, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing is a breath of fresh air the industry desperately needs.” —Nathan Ellering, Head of Marketing Demand Generation at CoSchedule www.coschedule.com “Practical Content Strategy and Marketing is practical all right, but that word vastly undersells its value to content creators and the businesses and audiences they serve. I will be coming back to Julia’s book again and again for unique and actionable insights into how to solve real customer problems with that magic storytelling stuff known as content. If you’re looking to build a successful and meaningful content strategy from the ground up or take an existing one to the next level, this book will be your secret weapon.” —Dan J. Levy, Content Director & Journalist www.linkedin.com/in/danjlevy/ “My mind is blown! Julia McCoy has mastered content marketing and lays it all out in this perennial book. It’s an incredible, comprehensive, hand-holding guide that shows you everything under the sun. It should be required reading for anyone pursuing a career in the field. An incredible amount of research has gone into crafting this masterpiece. It’s filled with endless takeaways. After reading this book, you will be empowered to take action with everything you’ve learned in these pages.” —Madalyn Sklar, Twitter Marketing Expert www.MadalynSklar.com
  • 6. “If you are looking for a detailed primer on content strategy and how it ties into SEO, this is it. Julia breaks down the concepts and pillars of content and SEO seperately, then explains how they work together to create a cohesive approach. I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants a primer on content marketing or those of us that simply want a refresher on the most current strategies.” —Kelsey Jones, Digital Marketing Strategist, Six Stories www.sixstories.com “I can’t tell you if content marketing is what you or your business needs, but I can tell you that it absolutely was what my business needed. In 2013 my marketing agency was on the verge of bankruptcy when I invested heavily in content marketing and over the next year we shot past all our revenue records. It’s no exaggeration to say that content marketing saved my business. Today we have offices in the UK, US, and Asia and continue growing. Practical Content Strategy & Marketing is valuable because it is practical—it includes the steps I took to make my own business successful. I’m especially pleased to see the focus in the book on defining yourself and your audience, two keys that were instrumental in my success and that of my company.” —Josh Steimle, Founder, MWI www.joshsteimle.com “In Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, Julia McCoy has compiled an incredibly helpful introduction to content marketing that anyone can use. Chock full of templates and tools, this book answers and simplifies thorny questions about how to create personas, approach SEO, focus content on relevant topics, and more. I’m certain I’ll be returning to this valuable resource again and again.” —Melanie Seibert, Digital Content Strategist www.ProseKiln.com “No matter your maturity level in content marketing, you stand to benefit from Julia McCoy’s book, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing. Julia built her business via content marketing, so she’s teaching you not based on opinion, but from direct experience. Julia covers everything you need to know about content marketing: budgeting, SEO, strategy, creation, re-purposing, distribution and more. With advice, modules, worksheets and more, this book is worth its weight in gold.” —Dennis Shiao, Director of Content Marketing, DNN Software @dshiao
  • 7. “Kiss the eventual overwhelm that comes from content marketing GOODBYE! Julia McCoy’s Practical Content Strategy and Marketing is the perfect companion to any small business owner or marketer who is sick and tired of trial-and-error inbound marketing tactics. This book is NOT for thinkers as much as it is for DOERS. Have a pen ready and don’t be afraid to write inside its pages! If you start now, you’ll have a killer content marketing strategy and new prospects in six weeks!” —Ivana S. Taylor, Small Business Influencer www.diymarketers.com “Content marketing has many coaches, mentors and even gurus... but surprisingly few teachers. Julia McCoy is definitely of the latter type. Practical Content Strategy & Marketing provides a sound, comprehensive and well articulated curriculum for a proven content marketing methodology. Her teaching builds on her own fantastic skills and experience but also on a network she built with the best practitioners in the field. Make no mistake: content marketing is hard and the failure rate has been high. But in this book, Julia will guide you very concretely through every step required to start and grow content marketing into a successful strategy.” —Guillaume Decugis, Founder of Scoop.it “I am a college professor, consultant, blogger, and a Facebook Live show host. An underlying theme that underpins everything I do is content creation. I have long struggled to find training materials that are timely, relevant, and most importantly, practical. Julia’s book and course, with a strong emphasis on being practical, has finally offered me the solutions that I had long been searching for. Now, armed with a wealth of practical advice from Julia, I am ready to bring my content creation to a new level through strategic and effective content strategies.” —Ai Addyson-Zhang, College Professor and Consultant www.aiaddysonzhang.com “Practical Content Strategy and Marketing is more than just a book and reaches beyond a course - it serves as an essential roadmap for navigating content creation and marketing strategy. From the start, McCoy positions it as a knowledge journey, providing models, statistics and assessment tools. This is an absolute must have to fully focus on expertise and maximize ROI.” —Chetachi A. Egwu, Ph.D. @tachiada
  • 8.
  • 9. Practical Content Strategy & Marketing THE STUDENT GUIDEBOOK Authored by Julia McCoy Foreword by Mark Schaefer with Guest Appearances from Michele Linn (Content Marketing Institute), Su- jan Patel, Steve Rayson (BuzzSumo), Dan Levy, Ryan West (SEMrush), and Shani Taylor (Airtable)
  • 10. Copyright © 2017 Julia McCoy All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, email the author: julia@contentstrategycourse.com Enroll in the accompanying course at www.contentstrategycourses.com. Use code CONTENTSTRATEGYBOOK25 to save 25% at enrollment! Cover image: Flaticons 
Cover design: Josh McCoy & Antonella Urriza Legal Disclaimer The author makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaims all warranties, including without limitation warranties for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales or promotional materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every situation. The author shall not be liable for damages arising herefrom. The fact that an organization or website is referred to in this work as a citation and/or a potential source of further information does not mean that the author or the publisher endorses all the information the organization or website may provide or every recommendation it may make. Further, readers should be aware that internet websites or web pages listed in this work may have changed or disappeared between when this work was written and when it is read.
  • 11. ix Contents Foreword xv Preface xvii Guest Experts Featured In the Practical Content Strategy Certification Course xxi Course Students Personal Log xxiii Introduction: Welcome to Content Strategy 25 1. Introducing An ROI-Driven Content Strategy Teaching & the Skills You’re About to Learn 27 2. Set Your Professional & Personal Goals 28 3. Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing: The Big Picture 29 4. Why Does Content Fail? Protecting Against Content Catastrophe With 4 Keys 30 5. Where Content Marketing Is Headed: A Disclaimer & Inspiration 33 6. The Reality & Budget of Many Businesses When It Comes to Content Creation 36 7. Content Strategy vs. Everything Else: What You’ll Learn 38 8. How Planning & Executing Great Content Is a Multi-Person, Expert Job (Content Team Structure) 40 9. 6 Cores of a Profitable Brand Strategy 42 Module 1: Core Foundations of a Practical, ROI-Focused Content Strategy 45 1. Your Expertise: Defining Your Topic Areas for an Authoritative, High-ROI Online Presence 47 2. Tying Your Content Expertise to Your Content Differentiation Factor (CDF) 51 3. Your Content Creation: Three Goals for Repeated Content Success 58 4. Setting A High-ROI “Net” of Content Marketing: Tracking vs. Reality 60 5. An Example of ROI Content: High-Ranking SEO Content 63 6. An Example of ROI Content: Brand Awareness & Customer Engagement Content 64 7. Bonus: Guest Speaker Michele Linn Presents: How CMI Was Built Through Content & Practical Content Marketing Strategy Tips 65 Module 2: A Beginner’s Guide to Audience Persona, Sales Funnel Content Mapping, & Brand Content Style Guidelines 69 1. Are Personas Worth Creating? 4 Keys to Keep in Mind 71 2. Where Creating Great Content Begins: Your Audience & an ROI Perspective 74 3. A Beginner’s Guide to Mapping Out a Content Audience Persona: New Audiences 77
  • 12. x 4. Bonus: A Low-Budget, High-Quality Alternative to New Audience Persona Building: Facebook Insights 83 5. A Beginner’s Guide to Mapping Out a Content Audience Persona: Existing Audiences 86 7. How to Map Your Buyer Persona to Life Cycle Stages to Create Sales Awareness Content 95 8. How to Discover Sales Awareness Questions: Key Questions to Ask Your Persona [New & Existing Audience] 101 9. Brand Strategy Part I: Create a Brand Content Style Guidebook (Content Guidelines & Persona) for Your Content Creation Team 105 Module 3: Understanding Keywords, Researching SEO Opportunities, & Creating Keyword Reports 117 1. Outlining Your Three Goals for Setting Keyword Research & Online Content Success (Exercise) 119 2. Why Does Organic Search Hold Higher ROI Than Paid Search? Google’s Written Standards for Quality 123 3. The Blueprint to Discovering a High-ROI Keyword (Core Keyword Types & Defining the Sweet Spot) 127 4. Keyword Research: Biggest Common Problems/Mistakes (The Don’ts) Checklist Chart 134 5. The Content Strategist’s Keyword Toolbox: Favorite Tools & Major Differences 136 6. How to Choose a Tool for Both Keyword Research & Position Tracking 138 10. Geo-Targeted Keyword Guide: How to Find High-ROI, Long-Tail Local Keywords 140 11. Addendum: A Few Tips on Finding the Right Balance When Creating Your Geo- Targeted SEO Content 142 12. How to Check for DA (Domain Authority), a Moz Ranking Factor, & How It Impacts Creating Content 145 13. Brand Strategy Part 2: Create a Comprehensive Keyword Report (Exercise) 147 14. 15 On-Site Ranking Factors: What Works Besides Good Content? 150 Module 4: How to Build Content Cores for an Authority Presence Online 161 1. Building Your “House” Online: How to Have Content Focus for Better Results & Where Your Focus Should Be 163 2. How to Win Every Time With a Core Content Commitment Approach to the Online Content Presence You Build 167 3. Defining the 3 Commitments to Core Content Creation 169 4. Core Focus Circle: Identifying the Key Integral Commitment & Who to Trust for Content Production 172 5. Proving the Key Integral Commitment With Case Studies: I. How Unbounce Built Authority Solely Through Blogging 175
  • 13. xi 6. Proving the Key Integral Commitment With Case Studies: II. What Happened When My Agency Doubled Our Budget 176 7. Site Structure: A Map of a Strong Content House 177 8. What Is Cornerstone Content & Why Does It Matter? 182 9. A Nutshell Guide on Internal Linking in Your Content & How to Judge Link Quality with Alexa 185 10. The ROI of Blogging (AKA, 2 Reasons Why You Should Have Started Blogging Yesterday) 190 11. Brand Strategy Part 3A: Building Roads to Your House With Outside Channels: Guest Blogging Column Discovery 192 Lesson 11. Brand Strategy Part 3A: Guest Blogging Column Discovery (Exercise)197 12. Brand Strategy Part 3B: Building Roads to Your House With Outside Channels: Social Media (Exercise) 198 13. Building Roads to Your House With Outside Channels: Guest Solo Appearances 206 14. Guest Speaker Michele Linn Presents: You Need a Blog: Ground Rules of a Tangible Blogging Plan 208 Module 5: Practical Content Creation (Your Site & Guest Platforms) 213 1. Simplifying the Content Ideation and Creation Process 215 2. Live Demo of Pulling Strong Brand Awareness Topics From a Web Crawl 219 Module 5. Lesson 2, Brand Strategy Exercise: Brand Awareness Topics Inspired From a Web Crawl 220 3. How to Find Hot Topics Using BuzzSumo 221 4. Buyer-Focused Content: An Overall Look at Creating Content for the Stages of Your Funnel (Exercise) 223 5. Best of Both Worlds: SEO Content That Achieves Sales Awareness Content Goals 229 6. SEO Optimization Checklist: 8 Steps to Help You Accurately Optimize Your Content 231 7. Creating SEO Content That Ranks: The 2 Super Simple Steps & Why They’re Missed Most of the Time 237 8. Anatomy of a High-ROI, Optimized Blog Post 239 9. Anatomy of a High-ROI, Optimized Landing Page 241 10. Repurposing Core Format Into Other Formats 243 11. The Art & Habit of Comprehensive “10x Content:” Creating Your Best Content, Each Time (5-Step Checklist) 245 12. Guest Blogging: How to Approach & Get on The Publications You Want 251 13. Guest Blogging: How to Pitch Irresistible Topic Ideas (BuzzSumo Demo) 252 14. CTAs: The Importance of List Building and Tying an “Ask” Into Your Content Pieces 253
  • 14. xii 15. Optimize Your Headline and Your Hook: Key Content Cores for Conversion 258 16. Brand Strategy Part 3C: Formulate High-ROI Content Topics & Hooks 262 17. Guest Speaker Steve Rayson From BuzzSumo Presents: Headline & Topic Discovery 263 Module 6: Content Promotion Techniques, Setting a Budget, Preparing Your Editorial Calendar, & Maintenance 267 1. Guest Speaker Sujan Patel Presents: Content Promotion Strategies [Tools and Tactics] 269 2. A Beginner’s Guide to Content Promotion & Key Fundamentals for Boosting Exposure 272 3. Social Media Platform Posting Velocity, Length, Best Practices, & Social Media Management Apps 279 4. Email Marketing: Best Practices for Email Writing & Scheduling 283 5. Costs, Budget Setting, & Expectations to Associate With Content Creation 291 6. Guest Speaker Dan Levy (Content Director at Unbounce) Presents: The Cost & Return of 10x Blogging 306 7. A Short Guide on How to Hire Amazing Writers to Support Your Content Creation 308 8. Getting All Your Moving Parts in Place: How Do I Start Creating a Content Plan? 313 9. Editorial Calendar Planning: A Tool That’ll Take You 5 Minutes 318 10. Guest Expert Shani Taylor from Airtable Presents: Advanced Editorial Calendar Building Tutorial 318 11. Old Content Is Your Money Content: Why & How to Set a Plan for Auditing, Maintaining, & Updating Content 319 12. Guest Speaker Ryan West Presents: How to Track Your Rankings, Set Up Competitor Research, & Maintain Positions in SEMrush 323 13. Tracking & Updating Your Ranking Content for a Serious Content ROI Boost [Live Tutorial] 322 14. Conducting a Content Audit: A Step-by-Step Guide 325 15. Brand Strategy Exercise Part 4B: Create an Editorial Calendar 331 16. Why Content Marketing & Strategy Knowledge Doesn’t End Here (& How to Stay Up on Your Skills) 334 Appendix A: Curriculum Brand Strategy Exercises 339 Appendix B: Top Resources to Follow, Read & Learn From to Help You Stay Current as a Content Expert 341 Appendix C: Recommended Tools & Platforms for Content Marketers 345
  • 15. xiii Appendix D: Express Writers Official Writers’ Guidelines 347 About the Author 365
  • 16.
  • 17. xv FOREWORD You are holding an important book. Why? Allow me to tell you about advertising for a moment. I watch more TV than I have ever watched in my life, but I almost never see ads. Unless it is the news or a sports program, I consume my content (usually in binge mode) on ad-free services like Netflix and Amazon. I subscribe to Sirius XM satellite radio. On long car drives, I’ll listen to the radio for hours … and never hear an ad. Maybe I’ll stream music from my iPod, Spotify, or Apple music. No ads. In my home, I might ask Alexa to play some music or read the news for me. I never hear an ad. I subscribe to four online newspapers. You guessed it. I never see ads in that format. Nearly one-third of Americans have ad blockers on their phones. They’re not even seeing most digital ads. In countries like Germany and Korea, the rate of ad-blocking is even higher. In summary, my personal advertising consumption has dropped by 95 percent in the last five years. And of course, I’m not alone. Inexorably, we are moving toward an ad-free world, or nearly so. Companies big and small have noticed and reacted to this trend. The opportunities to connect to customers through traditional marketing channels are drying up. Consumers may not see and react to ads like they used to, but they will see and share great content. And this is how the content marketing movement was born, and why it is a critical component to any digital marketing strategy. Which is what Julia’s book is about. How do you actually do this stuff? Blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics, Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn … This new content world might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. There are simple tried-and-true paths up the learning curve, and Julia is absolutely the best Sherpa for your journey up the content marketing mountain.
  • 18. xvi Like I said … this is an important book. Congratulations for finding it and best of luck with your content marketing journey. —Mark W. Schaefer Consultant, college educator, and author of “The Content Code” @markwschaefer
  • 19. xvii PREFACE Hello, fellow content creator and marketer! Welcome to Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, an in-depth, published accompaniment to my new Practical Content Strategy Certification Course. The following written side of the course curriculum, intensive exercises, and lessons that you’re about to embark on is the result of 500 hours and seven months of work on my part. Along the way, I was honored to have industry guest experts, including Sujan Patel, Michele Linn from Content Marketing Institute, Steve Rayson from BuzzSumo, to name a few, contribute a few lessons with me by request for the course curriculum. Six years ago, I started carving my path in this industry when I dropped out of college to follow an inner passion to learn how to make money by writing online. That led me straight into a self-taught, full-time career in content marketing. Three months into teaching myself freelance writing, I had more freelance work than I could personally handle, and I decided to open my own content creation agency, Express Writers, with nothing but a pocket cash investment of $75. It was a five-minute business idea. Since then, we’ve grown and expanded on a bootstrapped, self-funded budget year after year, and we’re on track to hit $800k in 2017 with a staff of more than 40 people. In 2016, I published my first book (So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing), an Amazon bestseller. I also started the Write Podcast, and launched a Twitter chat, #ContentWritingChat. My success in the field is 100% due to the practical content marketing methods I execute, tweak, and continue to put into action day in, day out. At my agency, more than 95% of our new leads and overall marketing presence is sustained by the content I create and produce. I’ve written more than a thousand pieces of content, and have guest blogged on top networks. I have more than 11,000 keywords for my agency website, expresswriters.com, now indexed organically in high rankings in Google through my content (hundreds of these pages are ranking in the top 10 of Google). I worked my way to become a top content marketer (named #33 in 2016), and was even invited to lead the MarketingProfs 2017 Marketing Writing Bootcamp summer class after they found a guest blog I wrote. I know, firsthand, how much content marketing pays off if you do it strategically.
  • 20. xviii Before I created my course and wrote this book, I spent a month to research the industry and map out cutting-edge education. What I found is that the practical knowledge of what it takes to create, build, implement, and maintain a high-ROI brand strategy is often missing. I am continually faced with it everywhere I turn, whether in hiring writers for my content creation team or strategizing services for new clients. It’s such a dire pain point that only 4% of B2B companies feel extremely confident about their content marketing strategy, out of the 91% of B2Bs that are already creating content. (Stats from CMI’s 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America Report.) Seeing this pain point always presenting itself in front of me as I worked daily in my agency—not just statistically but in reality—I decided to do something about it. I undertook the creation of training curriculum that could become a practical solution for the content strategy pain points in this industry. This training was what I needed, and should have had when I started out in content marketing to achieve success faster. It was quite an undertaking, and I almost buckled halfway through the 500 hours and seven months of creation time. Luckily, I had a great support network along the way. I’m most grateful to my CTO and husband, Joshua McCoy, for supporting me at every difficult point in the curriculum. My key word in this book and my training is “practical,” if you haven’t noticed already. Of course, that means that it’s fully hands-on. This book and the practice lessons are full of paced examples and exercises to help you stay above water, practicing what you learn, and able to fully retain all of the information. It’s important to stay engaged and enjoy learning. I personally like hands-on learning where I’m writing, creating and doing, led by the educator: It helps me retain the information better. So, I’ve adapted a thoroughly hands-on style for the course you’re about to take. For each module and every lesson in my course, I’ve developed a written, verbal matching page, and practical exercise in this book where you can write—with a real pen (yay!). When you see notes like this throughout this book: ONLINE CURRICULUM: If you’re enrolled in the all-access pass at www.contentstrategycourses.com, watch the corresponding video demo for this lesson. This refers to the all-access pass in my course, which you can get at www. contentstrategycourses.com/content-strategy-certification-course. The all- access enrollment seat follows every chapter of this book with more than 75 recorded videos, individual workbooks, templates, and, best of all, live feedback and support from my team and me. The all-access login is set up for your best success. I strongly suggest purchasing it, if you’re holding this book in your hands. You’ll need the visual tutorials and videos there to fully learn
  • 21. xix PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING and implement the concepts I teach. Within this book, you’ll see me refer a few times to the online course curriculum and video training. Along the way, you’ll build the parts of a working content strategy that will comprise your final brand strategy, which I call Brand Strategy Exercises, or BSEs. And, as you go through this book with pen and highlighter, remember that each lesson builds on each other. So, don’t skip around, and in the end, you’ll be rewarded with a working content strategy and newfound skills that will enable you to strategize high-ROI content for any brand. In the lessons ahead, we’ll create this strategy together, for your brand or a fictional client brand. If you’re enrolled in the All-Access pass of the Content Strategy Certification Course, you’ll be able to access live feedback from me on the final content strategy plan you create from the exercises throughout the course. Here’s to staying motivated, positive, and focused as you move through my content strategy training, and here’s to building incredible skills for your personal arsenal of knowledge in our amazing industry! Happy learning & creating, Julia
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  • 23. xxi GUEST EXPERTS FEATURED IN THE PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY CERTIFICATION COURSE Sujan Patel Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Web Profits, Digital Marketer Sharing: Content Promotion Michele Linn VP of Content, Content Marketing Institute Sharing: How CMI Was Built Through Content, Practical Strategy Tips, & Ground Rules of a Blogging Plan Steve Rayson Co-Founder, BuzzSumo Sharing: Topic Discovery Ryan West Customer Success Lead, SEMrush Sharing: Keyword Research in SEMrush, Rank/Position Tracking Shani Taylor Customer Success Manager, Airtable Sharing: Advanced Editorial Calendar Creation Dan Levy Content Director, Unbounce Sharing: 10x Blogging (Notes from the course video sessions with guest experts included in this book.)
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  • 25. xxiii COURSE STUDENTS PERSONAL LOG YOUR NAME: DATE: BRAND STRATEGY (CO. NAME & WEBSITE) YOU CREATED WITH THIS TRAINING:
  • 26.
  • 27. Introduction: Welcome to Content Strategy
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  • 29. 27 PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING 1. Introducing An ROI-Driven Content Strategy Teaching & the Skills You’re About to Learn Content marketing, without a solid content strategy, is nothing. A great strategy drives the content behind successful content marketing. The only way to stand out and win in your content strategy is to create content that your people want to read. Content marketing is the anti-interruptive marketing of today and tomorrow. But to be heard and not treated like an interruptive marketer, you must create content that people are interested in. And you can’t do that without a plan of action outlying your audience’s desires or your content goals. Enter content strategy. In this training, I’m going to be taking a more practical, sleeves-rolled-up approach than many content strategy approaches I’ve seen out there. The reason for that is if you just know how to develop brand style guidelines and identify solid topics, but not how or what kinds of content to create or how to track ROI, you won’t be able to clearly go from zero all the way to creating, executing, and watching your content work for you. This education will help you become an extremely valuable team member at any agency, because you’ll know almost everything when it comes to the setup, planning, execution and tracking of content. It will help you run your own content marketing effectively, if you’re a business owner or freelancer. It will give you a ground-floor level view of how to create content that works for your brand. If you can master content creation, remember, it ranks as the single most effective SEO technique (Marketing Sherpa). What’s more: • Websites with a blog tend to have 434% more indexed pages (Tech Client) • Today, 47% of buyers look at 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep (Demand Gen Report) • B2B companies with strategic content marketing generate 67% more leads than companies that don’t (HubSpot) Knowing how to create the right online content will result in big dividends. Let’s get started.
  • 30. 28 INTRO MODULE 2. Set Your Professional & Personal Goals What motivates you to finish this training? Why learn content strategy? Write in the boxes. Professional and personal goals can overlap. I want to… Professional goals (a desired career position, or freelance skillset growth, i.e. learn how to serve my clients with higher knowledge and increase my rates, learn industry skills, become an expert content strategist, etc.) Personal goals (salary or wealth goal, new personal skillsets i.e. create keyword reports, write successful SEO content, create a budget, maintain an editorial calendar for my agency or client, etc.)
  • 31. 29 PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING 3. Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing: The Big Picture Wikipedia defines content strategy as: “The planning, development, and management of content—written or in other media. The term is particularly common in web development since the late 1990s.” How does content strategy fit into content marketing? Is it a part, the whole, or what? Think of content strategy as the underlying drive, the engine of your content marketing. It governs, manages, and guides the principles of your overall content marketing. Remember that content marketing itself is the actual form of marketing that involves creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience online. The strategy of creating all the content for your content marketing is specifically content marketing strategy. In this guide and in my course, you’ll learn a full-circle, actionable content strategy. More specifically: You’ll get training in content strategy as it drives your content marketing, and a content marketing strategy as it drives your content creation. If that doesn’t make sense right now, that’s okay. It’s an overarching way to look at how content strategy is defined today.
  • 32. 30 INTRO MODULE 4. Why Does Content Fail? Protecting Against Content Catastrophe With 4 Keys According to the CMI’s 2018 B2B content marketing report, many content marketers aren’t sure if their content is worth the investment. 91% of B2B marketers are investing in content—yet only 4% of B2B companies feel extremely confident about the success of their content marketing strategy, a huge decrease from those that are creating content. CMI’s 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America Report How do you guarantee achieving success with your content? What are the key points your content must fulfill to protect against failure? It’s easy—to say the least—to get completely overwhelmed with the content you should/would/could be creating. However, if you stray too far from the core of what your content strategy needs to be successful, you might be wasting your time, spinning your wheels, and in the end, even producing zero ROI for your content efforts. Scary grounds. To protect against that, it’s best to start with the basics when it comes to building a strong foundation in your content strategy.
  • 33. 31 PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING Here are four keys of a content strategy that you must fulfill with your content: 4 Keys of a Base Content Strategy 1. Discover WHO you’re helping, reaching, and impacting Not knowing who you are educating and helping with your content will mean that you end up targeting randomly, and not achieving clear content results. This will help you if you’re not sure of your customer’s pain points, or what you should be doing to help them (solve their problem). 2. Discover HOW to help them better than your competitor You must have a chance in breaking through the noise that exists in your space. If you don’t have a unique angle to present to your audience that stands out above all the competitors you have out there, you won’t reach them powerfully. 3. Learn HOW to create content that reaches them Do you know how to research and find long-tail keywords that will result in serious return for your brand presence online? Do you know how to focus on only creating content that gets found, and what types of content are worth your
  • 34. 32 INTRO MODULE money? Do you know base strategies for promotion? This is the core action delivery system of your content marketing. 4. Know WHY you create content by analyzing, auditing, updating, and measuring Why create content that’s not worthwhile? Define your goals in content marketing and always analyze, audit, and measure the effectiveness of your content—you’ll know “why” you create content that is worthwhile when you analyze and see results, and thus have a solid reason to keep investing in your content marketing.
  • 35. 33 PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING 5. Where Content Marketing Is Headed: A Disclaimer & Inspiration This training wouldn’t be complete without a “disclaimer” of sorts about the industry we’re in, with a few insights into the struggles content creators face— struggles that only grow with time. On the flip side, there’s plenty to inspire you to carve your own path as a creator in this industry. I’m going to share both sides with you. First, let’s dive into the disclaimer. The Negation of Content Marketing Today Legendary blogger Seth Godin said in 2008 that “content marketing is the only marketing that’s left.” Back when Seth Godin was saying this, content marketing was rising in popularity because it was a non-interruptive, human-friendly form of marketing that shook cold, traditional, interruptive advertising off its feet. Content marketing warmed people’s hearts. It was a new form of marketing that catered to them, not at them (and their wallets). What Seth Godin said is still true today—with one caveat. The sheer amount of content out there poses a big problem for us content marketers. And the worst part? The volume is just getting worse. For example, I pitch articles to Content Marketing Institute all the time— not simply ideas for stories, but fully developed, well-written pieces that I researched and created from scratch. Half of the time, they reject my pitches—even the pieces I thought were my personal best. Why? “We have enough content on this topic,” they say. Part of Content Marketing Institute’s strategy is also to go and update older existing content, which they do with the original author (and have done with me). That’s an effective strategy on their end, but it poses a real problem for the new author coming on the scene that wants to contribute something. There’s a term for this, which Mark Schaefer originally coined in 2014: “content shock.” He said that the amount of available web-based content (the supply) is doubling every 9–24 months. Yet our ability to consume this content is limited and finite. You can predict where this is going: As content supply explodes, our own ability to consume (content demand) stays at a limited level. Not good. Our work as content marketers is getting harder than ever.
  • 36. 34 INTRO MODULE RESOURCE: Read Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy, by Mark Schaefer: https://www.businessesgrow.com/2014/01/06/ content-shock/ The problem in the industry is that we must work exceptionally hard now to stand out. We have to be more intuitive, more creative, more audience- attuned, and more capable of creating our best content than ever before. The best content marketers create new levels that we now have to rise above to compete. Niche subject areas get saturated as content marketers get better. We have to deep-dive to find our competitive advantages, and an angle to use that no one has picked up on yet. This means spending more time and resources on our content strategy, and in the end, more than what my course and training can give you. My final thought as we end this disclaimer is just that: Do not let my training be the be-all, end-all of content marketing and strategy for you. This industry demands so much of those that are successful, and the amount of content is increasing so rapidly that you do yourself a disservice by stopping with just my training. So, continually maintain your skills. Seek to stay up on the latest trends—from character limits, all the way to best practices and new tools or platform features. As we end the disclaimer, remember to look inside yourself for creativity. Think outside the box, and strive to find and be yourself—don’t just copy the gurus. Turn to your clients and customer base, your staff and team members, and your own gut intuition for ideas. And to stay up on your skills, check out the Appendix at the end of this book with top recommended authors, bloggers, and publications in the industry to read and learn from. But always remember not to blindly follow the experts. Your best ideas for your own content creation could be waiting inside you. So, why is content marketing still such a great industry to learn, work in, and devote time to getting better at? Why It’s Still Worth It—and Better than Ever—to Carve Your Own Path in Content Marketing Here’s a crazy (but true) prediction: Content marketing is going to be an industry worth $313 billion by 2019! 91% of all businesses are already adopting it for their own marketing (PQ Media’s Global Content Marketing Forecast 2015-19, CMI’s 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America Report).
  • 37. 35 PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING The good news is that it is easier than ever to convince and convert B2Bs to invest in content marketing, because so many are adopting it. And the salaries of content strategists are on the rise. “Content marketing continues to gain traction as a lead generation tool among companies of all sizes,” says Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. “Agencies and in-house teams seek experienced content strategists who can create, curate, and syndicate content to increase brand awareness and conversation rates.” RESOURCE: Read Hot Job, Content Strategist: https://www.roberthalf.com/ blog/salaries-and-skills/hot-job-content-strategist I remember when I started out and it wasn’t so easy to convince clients on “why they needed a blog”—and that was just back in 2011! Since then, our annual income rose 200% in the next few years, and as of 2017, we’re slated to outperform all previous years. Today, my content creation agency staff barely have to convince or do a hard “sell” to our new leads. We simply put together custom content packages that work for what our clients need, and they buy ‘em. Content marketing is the industry to be in for freelancers, marketers, and agencies—there is a real demand in hiring specialists that know the ins and outs of content strategy and marketing. Remember, content strategy is a major weak point for businesses! According to the CMI’s 2018 B2B content marketing report, many content marketers aren’t sure if their content is worth the investment. 91% of B2B marketers are investing in content—yet only 4% of B2B companies feel extremely confident about their content marketing strategy, a huge decrease from those that are creating content. If you know practical content strategy skills, you’re well on your way to being an in-demand marketer or freelancer at any agency, and embark on an exciting career in a dynamic, growing industry.
  • 38. 36 INTRO MODULE 6. The Reality & Budget of Many Businesses When It Comes to Content Creation Kristina Halvorson’s book, Content Strategy for the Web, addresses a real problem that I’ve personally faced selling content to a variety of businesses in the past six years. She says that one of the most common obstacles that keeps us from turning bad content into better content is the fact that content is still being treated like a commodity. Not a necessity. But a commodity. It’s treated like “stuff that needs to be done,” or stuff that can be done by anyone—and when that happens, many times, the monetary value attached to it is also low. In reality, great content requires expert content creators and real resources to get done correctly. If businesses sacrifice quality for money, they don’t value or see the ROI that good content can bring them. TIP: Good content can return 10x what you invested into it. Example: through the organic rankings you can get from one long-form piece, or sales that resulted from the trust you built up through brand awareness content But none of that can be done without an expert or authority level writer. You have to invest to differentiate yourself online through great content. Your content must reach your audience, and help them. Content that works for your business and your end user is not a commodity. It’s a necessity to your presence, brand authority, and engagement level online. Check out the life cycle of one piece of content where I’ve been able to map out a $5,000 sale from a $50 piece of content.
  • 39. 37 PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING I’m happy to report that the budget reality of many businesses in terms of creating content is much better than it was years ago. 85% of B2B marketers attribute their content marketing success over 2016 to higher-quality, higher- volume content creation output—so marketers are seeing—and investing—in the value. Here’s something else to consider. If businesses are not investing today in a skilled writer when it comes to their customer-facing online content, and trying to go for cheaper writers and cheaper rates, they may end up paying double in the end. Readers know more than ever what cheap, poor, and thin content looks like—and so does Google. Pay for quality once, and you’ll never have to pay twice. Cheap content is not worth it today, and the idea of it is phasing out of marketers’ minds.
  • 40. 38 INTRO MODULE 7. Content Strategy vs. Everything Else: What You’ll Learn In this education, we’re focused on learning (and teaching) the meat of what goes into an actionable content strategy: online content itself. 78% of B2Bs say that content creation itself matters the most to the success of their content marketing (2018)! CMI’s 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America Report (Check out how right under content creation, content strategy—developing or adjusting it—was the next greatest factor to B2B content marketing success.) Remember, a Marketing Sherpa study proved that content creation ranks as the single most effective SEO technique. To add to that: knowing how to create a consistent plan for content creation on your own website is one of the most powerful ways to build an organic, authoritative presence online. You can live stream, you can host webinars, you can start a podcast, you can blog, you can tweet, guest blog. That list goes on and on. But if you don’t have written content put together in the right formats on your site, you aren’t going to build an authority presence with Google, and produce and publish content that will stand the tests of time online.
  • 41. 39 PRACTICAL CONTENT STRATEGY & MARKETING The sooner you get on a regular schedule with the right content on your site, the better. The act of content creation, which you’re going to learn how to do in this education, is one of the most powerful ways to build a presence online and in SEO. In this training, you’ll learn a lot of content creation techniques, fundamentals, and the ground-floor level of everything that goes into that. We’ll also touch on email marketing, social media, and more key formats and how they should fit into your content strategy.