Content Marketing - How I Used 5 Steps to Drive 25k+ Unique Visitors to this Site in 1 Month Without Spending a Dollar
I believe one the main reasons that there's a rift between communications execs and academics is because there's a stigma that academics sit high and mighty in the ivy tower and don't practice what they preach. Here's how I used to what I learned to generate the following results in 1 month for a site I started from scratch:
- I'm driving over 25,000 unique monthly visitors to my brand new site.
- My blog post about media theorist Marshall McLuhan was featured on the homepage of Reddit.com - the 10th most popular website in the United States.
- On Reddit, a link to my blog generated 7,320 UpVotes, 83.2k views, and 332 comments. This was from the /Philosophy subreddit - the world's largest online community of philosophy readers and enthusiasts.
- On Instagram, my blog (@theprprofessor) has over 2,300 followers.
- I secured an interview with Chief HR Officer of the biggest PR/Communications firm in the world (Edelman).
When I graduated college, I was bummed out about the idea that I would have to stop reading and writing about interesting things. I didn't tell any of my friends about it and invested no money into it. I only worked on it in my spare time, when I wasn't working my full-time agency job or going out on weekends. All the proof captured via screenshots is included below the text in this article.
Here's how I did it...
Content Marketing (CM), in my humble opinion, is by far the most effective way to promote whatever it is you do. The whole premise behind CM is that you take what you know and craft it into an interesting story that can add value to other people's lives. There's no catch - don't attempt to charge people, earn money, or push them to sign up for anything. These days, it's incredibly rare to find interesting information or stories without a catch, and that's exactly what catches people off guard.
Step One is to craft easily-digestible short-form content. Use lots of line breaks. Speak in plain English. Always keep in mind what value your post is going to bring to your audience. The most important skill here is creative story telling. As you see in my Reddit post below - the headline of my post is bizarre and attention grabbing. I try to make it as hard as possible for you to ignore it, even if most people may consider it boring.
Step Two is to target a niche online community that cares about what you say. The community I'm targeting (scholars and communications executives) is particularly tricky because they're an extremely critical audience. This keeps me honest to a high standard of content and writing because I know my audience will eviscerate me immediately if they catch any slip-ups. The large and most active audience of scholars and industry executives will definitely be found on Reddit - something I was able to ascertain with 2 minutes of research. I had very little experience using Reddit in the past but it's not difficult to get used to after playing around for a few minutes. Below, you can see my link made it to Reddit's homepage of the top 25 posts.
Step Three is to make sure your site is inbound-ready. Before I started posting anything, I made sure that I had an email newsletter subscription set up as an option (which has now has over 50 subscribers who will receive automatic email updates whenever I post something new) and had my Instagram handle (@theprprofessor) for people who would rather follow me from their smartphones. This isn't a novel concept - just be prepared to make the most out of inbound traffic.
Step Four is the numbers game. If you think this is some freak coincidence that my post happened to hit it big - you're wrong. It was a persistent effort that involved posting it many times in many different subreddits. Almost all of those other attempts got no attention at all. Something I learned from a summer of doing face-to-face sales in NYC is that the more attempts you make, the more you're bound to succeed. After a certain number of attempts, success becomes inevitable. Something will stick, but most things won't. That's okay.
Step Five is to have an endgame. Although it's extremely fulfilling to write things that generate attention, it's important to keep in mind how this is going to benefit you. Likes, UpVotes, views, comments, and retweets are all a digital currency in today's digital age. How are you going to capitalize from that currency? For instance, my goal is to build my personal brand in the communications space so that my value as a consultant will go up. Eventually, I'll have the credibility to provide expert commentary on the digital communications and branding industry. A personal brand is a huge edge over your competitors in whatever it is that you do.
You can apply this case study of building a digital presence to anything it is that you do. The age of traditional PR and advertising is long dead - see my article about this here. It's no longer true that the fat cats with the most money get to win the most attention. In the digital age, your creativity, persistence, and story-telling skills are all that matter. If you or anyone you know need help with their online presence or need to generate traffic, don't hesitate to reach out to me for a consultation.