So you’ve decided to become a content marketer. Or maybe you’ve been a content marketer for a while and you feel like you could be doing more.
Whatever your case, take these seven steps to elevate your content career:
1. Commit to your personal blog. First, know that your personal blog is going to be your central hub of operations. It’s where visitors will get their first impressions of your abilities as a writer, and it’s where you’ll have the chance to hone your skills before working on client material. Many content marketers end up neglecting their own blog because they’re so busy worrying about clients, but this is definitely a case where oxygen mask logic takes precedent — you have to help yourself before you can help anyone else. Experiment with new mediums, refine your approach, and consistently produce top-quality material. It will make you better, it will make you look better, and it will give you more ammunition to use in all your marketing endeavors.
2. Ask your clients for testimonials and portfolio contributions. If you want people to buy your services, you need to be seen as a credible source. The best way to look credible is by proving what you’ve been able to do in the past. Reach out to some of your most prominent — or some of your most satisfied — customers. Even if they aren’t household names, the mere fact that they were willing to submit a review for your services makes you seem like a credible authority. If you can, get some sample pieces of work you’ve done for them as well — your personal blog will speak volumes, but client pieces will help seal the deal.
3. Develop your personal brand. Your personal brand is highly important. It’s the thread of continuity that your prospective clients, readers, and followers will have across all your publications, and even in their working relationships with you. Develop the professional side of your personality, establishing a concrete brand voice and applying it to as many areas as possible.
4. Get your work featured on increasingly popular publications. Hopefully, by now, you’ve gotten some of your work featured on external publications. Intuitively, the bigger a publisher is, the more you stand to benefit, in terms of domain authority for your site, referral traffic for potential conversions, and the overall value of your reputation. It’s not an easy or fast process, but you’ll still need to do it — gradually work your way up the ladder, getting featured on bigger and more visible publications to promote your abilities and influence.
5. Attract new followers through engagement. Engagement is the best way to develop your personal brand in terms of both quantity and quality of followers. These can be complex, such as meeting an avid follower offline for a discussion on strategy, or simple, such as acknowledging someone’s comment with a “like” or brief response. Reaching out to new people in this way will draw them into your brand, and reaching out to existing followers will make them more likely to stick around. You can’t lose here.
6. Build relationships with existing influencers. In addition to reaching out to “normal” followers and social media users, you’ll also want to strike up relationships with major influencers in your space. These are social media users who already have tens of thousands of followers (or more), and a great deal of respect in their own circles. Creating a joint piece of content, or working with them on a mutual project, or even just getting mentioned by them can be a major boon for your personal brand. Then, if you can establish an ongoing relationship with them, they can mentor you and help you develop your own content abilities.
7. Look for opportunities to differentiate yourself. The content marketing industry is packed with professionals, so if you want to be successful, you need to find ways to differentiate yourself. You can do so in your approach, in the types of content you produce, or even in your own personality. Take bold stances on debatable issues, or go crazy with what you publish. The goal is to stand out in your users’ news feeds, which will increase your reputation and make you more visible at the same time. Just be careful not to slip up and embarrass yourself in the process.
As a content marketer myself, I sympathize with your pain in generating more visibility for you or your clients. As you know, it takes a long time to build momentum, but once that momentum is established, you’ll be in a far better position — both in terms of your skills as a content marketer, and your propensity to attract better clients.
Keep these steps in mind as you continue to develop yourself, and don’t be afraid to revisit them if you need to do some updating to your strategy.