A local business man was recently telling me about his marketing strategy when the talk turned toward that ever-so-sexy word “content marketing.” This guy loved the idea of writing articles that he could share to show expertise, build trust and get in front of people he hasn’t met yet. A seriously active phone dialer and networker, he was looking for some ideas about getting himself “out there” more.
What he really wanted, he confided, was to get some articles published in some established business magazines. Not their websites, but the actual hard copy, printed magazines or newspapers. Ahh, the tantalizing scent of ink!
Being featured in an reputable publication, especially one with prestige and readership, draws attention to your business, promotes the writer as an expert, and throws you into the spotlight, or so it would seem. Don’t those big magazines have thousands of subscribers? what a great way to be seen!
The idea of “being published” is tantalizing to relatively unknown people whose business is their brand. Instant exposure. What could be better? Though that accomplishment used to be something you could flaunt fro years, today content marketing is about pumping out your own content on your own channel as well as publish the occasional feature in a printed journal.
As soon as I brought up the idea of a blog, my new friend winced. “Too much work, I don’t like to write, too time consuming and not prestigious enough.”
Oh. I have to admit, that last one stumped me. He was looking for acclamation and presence in traditional trade magazines. The funny thing is, when I asked him what trade magazines he read, he couldn’t think of any. He said, “All I ever read is the shit on the internet.”
The shit on the internet. Blogs. (Hey! What an idea!) Although that’s all he was used to reading, he wanted to stand out by publishing something in some distant, exclusive land called print media.
Yeah, it is kind of cool to see yourself in print. Something you hold in your hands. If you remember life before Amazon and Kindle, the holy grail for writers was publishing.
I’m not immune. I have sitting on my shelf the 2013 edition of The Writer’s Market, the Bible of sources, guidelines, and addresses of publications in any imaginable field. (Now, of course, it’s an online subscription.)
Bought, but never used, the tome is a reminder of the change in media today. I have no real need to mark it up the way I used to, partly because I’m writing about topic which favors the internet — copywriting and content marketing — and mainly because just about everyone I want to reach is accessible online. Linked in helps you find people who know the person you want to meet. As my friend Amy Cole, a Linkedin expert, says we’re all less than six degrees away from our dream job. Or in this case, the dream agent, dream published article, dream writing gig.
For writers and other experts (and people with ghost writers), you get exposure by writing online.
Yet, still there’s still this old time-y fascination with print. If it’s difficult to get published, it must mean you really deserve to be there if some editor on high deems your writing worthy of ink.
I love paper. Magazines are still best read by physically turning pages, unmatched by reading the same content on a Kindle. I still subscribe to some, and love plopping on the sofa and opening a glossy magazine. But there’s that nagging disconnect between digital and paper. As I flip pages, I note the things I want to check out online, but I never manage to do it, in spite of the “blip this page” icon.
The hold-in-your-hands newsletter, delivered via the mail carrier and landing in your mailbox is one of culture’s uncommon objects. Introducing one to your followers would make you really stand out — but it takes commitment and money for postage and printing.
The best start you can give yourself in content marketing is to simply publish your own articles under your name in your own space, your website. Give your readers access to a blog and your live followers, all your fans in real life, will see you’re committed to getting them the best information you can about what you know to be true.
Content marketing is personal and direct. It’s not about pulling out a copy of a magazine from two seasons ago and pointing to an article with your name in it. It’s about sharing and being the same “you” — but online.
Besides being more accessible by creating your own content in a blog, you actually make it easier for those magazines to eventually publish one of your articles in the form of a guest post or a contributing author. And the beautiful thing about that is the ability to link back to your website.
For many, whose business is wrapped up in their personal efforts, your face and your name is your brand. While you gain clout to be seen in an established source, content marketing is all about become your own media, the source, that place where people go because they trust you to produce and curate content that reflects your sensibilities and distinct point of view.
This change in perspective requires some bravado on your part. That confidence is required to get your own vibe going. When you don’t fit in nicely with some established magazine’s content, you boldly declare your own.
The ironic truth behind all of this is that the more you identify your own content and your own readership and whatever it is that makes your stuff special — and that means not fitting in with the other guys — the more YOU you are, the better chance you have of being noticed by some of the websites and media sources with similar audiences. You become a more attractive possibility for a future guest post or editorial within their pages just by audaciously coming up with your own content in your own space.
So why NOT you?
Three easy steps to owning your media channel.
Start your blog… or video blog or podcast. Tell your story! No one has the right to tell it but you. Your blog is the easiest, fastest, most economical way to become that media channel you want to appear in, so start today. Buy your domain name, host it somewhere, purchase a snazzy, robust wordpress theme, and Boom! you’re up and running for less than a couple hundred dollars.
Stop thinking small. Stop figuring out a way to land on someone else’s stage. Be audacious and real and raw. Why the hell NOT you? There’s no real trick to it. You’re already swimming in the water of your own ideas, so own them and take some responsibility for getting them out there. Stop waiting and positioning yourself and hoping for someone else to do it for you.
Whatever you are doing in person, do online. There. That’s the big secret.
What a mistake NOT to.
Regarding the “shit” available online — the stuff my friend read, but didn’t think was good enough for the people he hoped to impress — I should have pointed out that a lot of that stuff wasn’t junk, but actually helpful content, written by serious authors with some style. Have you noticed that when the quality of writing on the Internet is very good…you know where to go to find it.
So seize the day. Go all in. Own your content.
I promise, you’ll never regret publishing content for your own media channel. The sooner the better.