My journey to build influence with content marketing. in the month of March, April & May 2017
From January 2017, I'm applying the skills that I preach on Contentrific, to build trust, influence and scale my business.
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Why blog about my journey?
I blog about my content marketing journey for 2 reasons:
To show you that:
It is possible to convince and convert total strangers to become your customers if you do content writing the right way
The techniques and strategies that I teach on the Contentrific blog work
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Read another month of my content marketing journey
Contentrific's Content Marketing Journey In March/April/May 2017
May 2, 2017
Thoughts On The Mindset Of A Content Marketer
Those of you who have been following my journey as a content marketer would by now know that this site has undergone a few major changes to date:
- We changed our direction about 5 times: testing and tweaking our business model as we went along
- Changed the site’s layout and design for about 3 major times, before settling in on the current site (and we’re loving it)
- Managed to get a steady stream of enquiries to Contentrific, which greatly increased our confidence as a business
I won’t lie to you - I was really overwhelmed with all the work that was going on, and the pains of dealing with all these issues was just unbearable.
Freeing Up Time As An Entreprenuer
I chanced upon an article that talked about the importance of freeing up time as an entrepreneur, and that basically you only have 2 choices to choose from - either you go for systems, or you hire someone to handle your routine tasks for you.
Well, since I wasn’t that good at executing systems as I was designing them, I decided to bring yet another person onto the team, to help me along with my content marketing journey.
I believe that at the end of the day, it’s not about how much money you make in business, but it’s a constant challenge to how efficient you can make your time to be in your business.
Content Marketing Red Tape
I don’t think anyone has ever talked about this (not directly, anyways), but content marketing is increasingly become a state of bureaucracy and red tape.
Approval lengths, editorial processes and endless discussions make it hard for any real progress to be made.
In the process, this means that very little time is actually dedicated to create quality content that makes an impact.
In a way, I really strive to become like those people who create content on their own terms - without having to ask a client or a content head.
That’s content that is true, don’t you think so?
It feels that although the entire world is placing so much emphasis on content strategies, we’ve somehow lost the plot.
We seem to have forgotten that content should sometimes be raw, uncut, and just true.
Instead, we have slowly but surely started turning it into a bunch of corporate mumbo jumbo.
Instead of exciting and wow-ing audiences with content that educates, inspires and entertains, we’ve somehow managed to turn this little niche into a huge corporate monster.
Look, I’m not talking smack about content strategy. It’s a huge and quintessential part of making content work.
But when you strategise and you plan every single day, you risk turning it into something it shouldn’t be.
Think music, but played by machines, not musicians.
Where’s the story, the emotions?
Maybe content marketing in the long run will end up becoming a fad anyways.
April 10, 2017
Wake Up Call + Contentrific Is Relaunched!
It’s been too long.
If you’ve been following this content journey of mine on Contentrific, you’ll know that my last post was on February 20th, which was almost 2 months ago.
Too long indeed.
Contrary to popular belief, no I did not jump off a cliff, nor did I decide to give up on blogging altogether.
But what I did have was a wake up call.
A Crazy Wake Up Call
There have been tons of people asking me what was up with the blog, particularly since the earlier posts that was launched on Contentrific did so well.
But as per my last post, I had a moment to think back on what I really wanted Contentrific to look, feel and be like.
I've always been a strong advocate of site design - particularly so if it's my clients' sites or my own.
That being said, Contentrific has this special place in my heart that I call home.
Naturally, I felt that the old site didn't perform quite up to scratch.
Too Many Issues, Too Little Time
If I had an email subscriber for every issue with the site in February, I'd think I'd have half a million subs by now.
Of course i'm exaggerating.
But seriously, the site was s***, to say the least.
I probably won't go in depth as I usually do on most topics here, but I'll break down every problem specifically later on in the month or so.
Ironically, Contentrific just got more content to talk about because of these issues.
Delays With The Advanced LinkedIn Marketing Guide
So today marks the official date that Contentrific officially relaunches.
Along with it came a terribly delayed Advanced LinkedIn Marketing Guide that was due to over 80 people on LinkedIn who opted in.
Yikes. Not good.
That being said, this was at the back of my mind every single day for over 1 and half months. It was torture.
How was I going to answer to them?
I had broken my promise to professionals - this was the worst thing you can do, especially when you're hoping that they'll turn into your customers some day.
Then, my worst fears came to life just before the site was ready for launch:
To be honest, I didn't quite know how I wanted to react.
And I knew that not everybody voiced it out, but they were probably expecting the guide for advice and opportunity - something I failed to deliver on.
A Note Of Apology
That's when I'd decided that a note of apology was in order, and I simply had to explain myself and the delay that had occured.
The email went something like this:
Hey there, This is John from Contentrific.
A month ago, you opted in for the Advanced LinkedIn marketing guide.
We only got it ready for release now.
I’m not going to beat around the bush, go all hyped up, and tell you that it was intentional, because it wasn’t.
In fact, I’ve lost so much sleep over this exact issue for the last 1 and a half month.
Naturally, since I’m a big believer in sharing my mistakes before I share any success, I just HAD to put this in.
If you are not interested in what happened, you can go ahead and click here to go to chapter one of the guide:
But if you are interested in what actually goes behind the scenes of a content marketing firm when s*** hits the fan, then this is as real as it gets.
You might not know this, but 1 month back, Contentrific (my site) was in an absolute mess.
Specifically, there were these things that were bothering me:
1. Lack of a solid message:
Out of the different issues that I’ve outlined, this was the one that was the biggest pain in the butt.
I’ve tried to think for the longest time about how I can package Contentrific together, but I think clarity was an issue that I took the longest time to get over.
The final verdict?
Contentrific is a site where I teach people like yourself how to write content that both search engines and humans love.
Believe me, it seems like a simple statement, but it took months to refine this idea. 🙂
2. Site design was horrible
As you will see from the site later on, we’ve redesigned the entire site experience into a fresh one, one that is the most updated.
This was because the previous site design was based off a theme (case study coming up soon), which meant that a lot of our design processes could not be executed without breaking something.
This was yet another reason why the guide took so long to be released.
Not because the content wasn’t ready, but because the platform it was going to be hosted on (Contentrific) wasn’t good enough.
3. Code was bloaty
Again, because the site was coded based on a theme the last time (because we were beta testing Contentrific’s effectiveness in the market), s*** got real when traffic started coming in, and site speed was an issue.
In case you didn’t know, Google places a high emphasis on the speed your site loads, so when our code got too messy, it naturally slows the site.
And when I say messed up, I really mean messed up.
In fact, with so many developers working on our site, we’d realised that they had placed our code all over the place, a big no-no in development.
That meant only one thing.
We had to code it all over again from scratch.
4. Over-reliance on freelance developers
This was another oversight on our part.
I had always thought that freelance developers could be trusted if:
- They were given clear instructions
- Their reviews were great
- If they were “qualified”
Once a freelancer myself, I strongly adhered to these rules, so I thought they applied to everyone.
Since our team was just STRETCHED over our projects, we’d thought that working with freelancers might lift our load a little.
It only added more to it.
Delays after delays, and one freelance developer after another failed to do what we wanted.
In fact, we had to change a total of 3 different developers before we really had no choice.
We had to cater time from our hands to get the site done in top speed.
What happened next was history.
So there you have it.
A 1 month delay because of different overlooks and oversights - all in the name of quality.
Did I think that it was tough? Very.
Did I think it was worth it? Absolutely.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, if you’ve come this far.
And now, may I present to you, Chapter 1 of the Advanced LinkedIn Marketing Guide.
With bated breath, I sent out the email.
Boy, I was so sure that I was going to get a bunch of unsubscribes from angry mobs.
The next thing I knew, later on in the day I received an invitation to connect on LinkedIn by the very same person who had left the comment earlier:
One of my subscribers also left me a rather meek encouragement.
P.S. I know about the notification popup, by the way 🙂 Bugs being squashed this very instant.
Takeaway: Be open with your situation. It works wonders when you're being honest with what you are up against.
Biggest Lessons Learnt
Like I mentioned earlier, listing everything down in this single post is next to impossible.
But if I were to quickly list down quick and easy lessons learnt from my 2 months of s***storms, it would be these:
- Failing fast is better than not trying to fail
- Always listen to your readers and subscribers - they are all you have
- There is no one size fits all solution. There is only the zig zag, fail, fail, succeed a little, fail, fail and fail approach. If anyone tells you otherwise, you should refer them to me
But perhaps the biggest lesson that I've learnt from these 2 months would be a renowned appreciation for patience and the importance of planning.
Before my wake up call, Contentrific was all over the place.
As a result, I ran into constant problems and errors.
I was all over the place.
Lesson learnt - Do your planning right, and it will pay dividends for years to come.
Or, well, in my case - for 2 months.
For all you readers, let's continue this journey!