Have you ever wondered how some bloggers and online entrepreneurs manage to crank out tons and tons of useful and exciting new content on a daily basis, and others…
…well, others can’t even crank out one useful piece of content a month!
And don’t even get me started on marketing it.
There are a number of bloggers who actually can write AMAZING content, but they are clueless marketers and can’t get any of it to go viral.
If you have struggled with any of the issues mentioned above, it’s okay: you are not alone, and there is nothing wrong with you. Every writer, digital strategist, or content marketer has struggled with the same thing!
What you need to do is learn the necessary skills to not only write killer content but also market it like a pro.
That changes today.
To make this super-organized and logical, I’ve divided it into two major sections.
- First, you have to plan and write awesome content.
- Second, you have to market it.
You must do both, and I’ll show you exactly how to do both with step-by-step instructions.
Some people think all they have to do is write content and the world will come knocking at their doors, linking to their content, and sharing their articles.
Write an article. Hit publish. Sit back and make money, right?
Nope. It doesn’t work that way.
In order to succeed at content marketing, you have to do both: the writing and the promoting of your content.
- Content never written won’t be promoted.
- And content not promoted might as well not have been written in the first place.
No matter how awesome your content is, if you’re not marketing it, sharing it, and promoting the heck out of it, nobody will read it.
With this straightforward guide, you’ll learn the process I use to make my content go viral.
Part I: Planning and Writing Viral-Worthy Content
This is where things start—planning and writing.
Most people know this much. You have to plan an editorial calendar, get your butt in a chair, and write the articles.
That’s good as a start, but it’s not quite good enough. I have six points that will help you not just create content—but create viral content.
It starts with the early stages of content ideation and planning. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Define the objective of your content
The first and most important thing you can do before your pen ever touches paper or your fingers touch the keys is to define the objective of your content.
As the old quote goes,
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
If you do not have a definite goal for your content, not only will you likely write an incoherent piece, but you will also likely have difficulty marketing it in the proper channels.
As I detail in my Advanced Guide to Content Marketing, there are several goals you need to define before you start churning out content.
- Decide how you will use this content to grow your business. (Is it to generate leads, improve sales, boost your marketing, or create a community? There is no wrong answer—it’s up to you.)
- Decide on a specific goal for the content once you have determined how it will be used.
- Develop the core message that will be congruent through all your content.
- Identify your competition and analyze them.
A content marketing Excel sheet like the ones pictured below can be a huge help.
You can find samples and templates for these spreadsheets online.
Here’s one from the Content Marketing Institute. (Careful. That link will download the spreadsheet automatically.)
Econsultancy lists a variety of these free templates. Hubspot offers a few as well. I recommend you check these out before you spend hours creating and formatting your own.
A good calendar will include not just dates but the topic, the content, and the keyword focus of the article.
The level of detail is up to you. Some campaigns are pretty simple and maybe only need a date and a title. Other campaigns can be advanced and may include details such as keyword focus, persona target, author, geotargeting, product focus, seasonal push, etc.
Keep things as simple as possible, and you’re more likely to succeed.
2. Focus on the headlines
Which would you be more likely to click on?
“How to Totally Shred Pounds of Fat and Uncover Your Dream Body in Only ONE Month!”
“Burn Fat with This Program!”
The answer is obvious.
No matter whether you are creating videos, articles, or podcasts, the headline is one of the most important aspects of successfully getting your content in front of your target audience.
Make your headlines juicy and enticing, and your conversion rates will skyrocket. Bottom line: your business will grow.
Make your headlines boring and generic, and the most you’ll get is maybe hundreds of views (if that).
You’ve seen the juicy and tantalizing headlines all over the web. Even something as mundane as a pipeline can seem exciting when pitched the right way.
You don’t need to be sensational to craft a great headline. Instead, you need to be hyper-focused on what your readers want and make a promise that earns their click.
In fact, you use a simple formula to make the process easier. Try this one, from Buffer.
3. Don’t B.S. your readers
In your quest to create epic content, you have to realize that your reputation online is everything. It takes hard work to maintain your reputation, and it can be destroyed in a matter of minutes. Lost reputation can take years to rebuild.
EVERYTHING you publish should be well-researched and fact-checked (or have a decent train of logical thought if the concept you are trying to explain is more philosophical in nature).
If you start creating clickbait content that makes promises you cannot deliver on, your reputation will be tarnished and will be nearly impossible to recover.
However, even if you are putting out less content than the others in your industry, your content will still outperform your competitors’ if it is grounded in hard data. Telling the truth through your content, even when it’s ugly, will earn you a sterling reputation and the trust of your customers.
4. Make your content super actionable
Have you ever noticed that I strive to offer advice you can take action on immediately?
There is a reason why.
When people read articles, especially informative articles, they don’t want theory or conjecture. They want concrete steps they can act on right away—actionable steps.
I’ve learned what my audience wants, and I try as hard as I can to deliver it.
Whether you include an “Action Step” at the end of each of your articles or simply write in a style that carries actionable information throughout an article, it’s up to you. But you have to make sure whatever you put out there, people can act on it and act fast.
The model I use for making my content actionable looks like this:
- Create value and fix pain: The headline I created for my article promises a solution to your pain and an offer of value. Heck, it’s free for you to read this article, and you get plenty of great advice, right?
- Build relationship: I’ve pulled you in. Now, I want to build a relationship with you. If you’ve been a reader for a while, or simply know about my success, you may already have a relationship with me. If not, you can check out my ugly mug on the sidebar or even email me.
- Earn trust: In my article, I’m proving the fact that you deserve my trust. How? By providing solid researched and experience-based information.
- Take action: You, the reader, can totally take action on this. In fact, based on these four bullets, you can develop your own plan of attack for an actionable content strategy.
5. Create engaging and original content
The Internet is full of crap, and if you want to succeed, you have to be the shiny diamond in the rough. One of my favorite examples of content that stands out is Craig Clemens’ article on “How to 10x Your Income Over the Next Four Years”.
Where most articles begin with something bland and generic about how you should wake up earlier, skip the Starbucks latte, and invest your pennies in some mutual fund, Craig comes out with a bang, offering the highly controversial, engaging, and original thought: the first step should be to cut out porn.
This is engaging. Why? Because most people have a visceral response to something like porn.
The content is also original because Craig is willing to say something that not many people can say.
Originality is engaging, so don’t be afraid to stick your neck out there. It’s worth it.
6. Always include videos and pictures
A picture is worth a thousand words.
So, what is a 3,000-word article with 6 photos worth to someone?
While I will leave the math to you, it is important to realize humans are visual creatures and we process images much faster than text. If you want to increase the amount of user response and the number of social media shares, adding images and videos can be one of the best ways to do this.
I try to include as many relevant images as possible in my articles.
It’s hard work finding those pictures and adding them into WordPress, but I’m willing to do it. Why? Because if this 2,000+ word article had zero images, you probably wouldn’t read it.
Part II: Marketing
Now, your article is written. You’re ready to level up to marketing.
I use the word marketing, but you can also think of it as promotion. You’re leveraging tactics to get your content in front of your audience.
Here’s exactly how to do it.
7. Get an awesome quote from an industry leader
We all know the power of social proof. This power is doubled when you can get it from an industry leader.
If you have created some epic content and already have built a solid platform to share it on (though this can work even if you are a total beginner), reaching out to an industry leader for their thoughts on your work is a great way to improve your content marketing through social proof and get your name associated with A+ players.
The process for reaching out to them is pretty straightforward as well.
Send them an email or message, and boom. Instant credibility.
8. Reach out to people you see sharing similar content
If you ever see people who are constantly sharing content related to your niche and who are your Facebook friends, reach out to them and ask for a friendly share.
More often than not, if your content is good, people will be more than happy to do this, and it will likely win you a regular “share buddy” you can go to whenever you create some pretty exceptional content (which, if you remember points 3-5, should be pretty much always).
Besides, a lot of social media people and content creators are always looking for high-value stuff to share. You’re doing them a favor by letting them know about your content!
9. Turn your content into a video or podcast to broaden its scope
Some people prefer to learn through watching or listening, and some through reading. If you limit your content to the written word, you are massively short-selling yourself and your audience. You are cutting out a whole portion of your audience who might love your work but might not prefer its format.
The same is true if you are a YouTuber, reading this guide. Get on Fiverr, and pay someone to transcribe notes from your informational videos so that people with different learning styles can also have access to that information.
10. Email the sources you quote in your articles
If you are writing articles that require you to cite lots of sources, you have yet another great way to improve your content marketing!
Contact the most cited sources with the article, letting them know how important their work was to you, and ask if they would be willing to share it along their various channels of influence.
Say please, ask nicely, and you’re likely to get a positive response.
Again, this can be a great way to boost your credibility and get your content out there!
11. Create content worth marketing
Sure, this point may seem a little redundant, but it is worth repeating.
If your content sucks, why are you even trying to market it? What you are creating needs to offer value to the world, and even if it isn’t 100% original, it should offer insights and present the information in a way that the audience isn’t used to seeing.
You need to create great content before you can be great at marketing it.
Content marketing can be overwhelming.
There are so many different channels to market your content on that you may feel you can’t even choose which one(s) to pursue.
But relax, content marketing shouldn’t be this scary.
What’s most important is to create good content and do what you can to share it. Once you have mastered the basics, you can worry about the hard stuff.
Until then, enjoy and start creating outstanding content today.
In your experience, what kind of content goes viral? What did you do to make it happen? Let me know about your viral content experiences! I always love a good success story.