Getting Started in Content Marketing: Making Mistakes, Creating Experiences

Delete "MISTAKE"


I’m sure I’m paraphrasing a million people when I say this, but what the heck. If you keep making mistakes, but they’re all different, they’re called experiences. With that platitude out of the way, I’ll say this:

I hate making mistakes. I’m my own worst critic and, unlike critics I might have online, I can’t just walk away from myself. I follow myself to bed and beat myself up over mistakes I’ve made. Mistakes suck.

I’m sure I’m not alone here. Getting started in content marketing for any company, mistakes are bound to happen no matter the steps we take to avoid them. So what do we do to keep having experiences while minimizing the mistakes? Basically, how do we make the kind of mistakes we learn from, not the kind that keep us awake at night?

Learn About Your Customers

The worst mistake you can commit in content marketing is not knowing your customers. The whole point of the discipline is relating to them, proving to them that you care, that you know their needs and are working to create content that meets those needs. You have to know your users before you can create the type content that will help them.

The best way I’ve found to learn about your customers is through a survey. I firmly believe that the best internet marketing is the kind that emulates traditional marketing, and the online survey essentially serves as a great focus group.

The questions in this survey should be a mixture of demographic information and product/industry-specific information. Age, sex, income, type of products purchased online, maybe a list of general information you know you could write well about, etc.  It’ll change from industry to industry, but by the time you finish your survey, you should have most of the information you need to start creating quality content for your users.

Take it a step further and see what content your competitors are utilizing to engage your potential customers. Never copy, but improve upon what they’re doing, or take it in a new direction.

Be A Carnival Barker For Your Content

When you try anything new, you’re going to make mistakes have experiences. Now that you’ve done your research, though, you’ll be making the right mistakes having the right experiences. Keep tabs on what worked and what didn’t, and ask yourself, your employees, your family and friends, whoever will pay attention, why what didn’t work fell short. Maybe it’s as simple as the addition of a photo, maybe it’s something more complex, but get some feedback and consider how you can make your next week, month, quarter, year, better.

If you’re just starting in the content marketing game, it’s going to take a while for things to get moving.  Anyone who tells you differently is probably about to try and sell you an “SEO Enhancement” package where, for $5 a month, they’ll “submit your site to Google,” or some other ridiculous scheme. Consider it this way. You’re at the biggest carnival in the world, but you’re just one person, even if you’re up on your soapbox and screaming through a megaphone.  To get people in the tent, you need to get the attention of the people near you, who, assuming they have a decent experience, will spread the word. Maybe someone with some influence hears about you and spreads the word even faster, which brings me to my last point.

If A Tree Falls In The Forest – #Timber #DidIDoThat #IFellForYou

If you’ve been reading anything about marketing for the past few years, you know that social media is only becoming more important in the overall marketing and SEO game. It factors into not only how search engines find you, but people too.  It doesn’t take a huge leap of faith, then, to figure out that the more social influence a person has, the more valuable that person’s opinion might be.

The question at this point is usually something like, “I sell sofas. Where would I find a sofa “influencer?” This is where you have to change gears a bit. The thing is, not many people care deeply about sofas, but there are thousands who care about interior design. By changing your mindset this way, your audience increases from the Twitter followers of a sofa expert to the followers of interior design magazines, television shows, popular Pinterest boards, etc.

Don’t Just Do It

In short, when asking advice on building a content marketing strategy, a lot of people say to just start writing.  You’ll learn as you go. That’s true, but that’s often used as an excuse to be lazy in the beginning. Learn who your customers are, what they want, and only then is it time to dive in. Write, assess, analyze, learn, repeat, and above all, have experiences.

Matthew Holden is the Director of Content Marketing for Online Writing Jobs, and a frequent contributor to the OWJ blog. After receiving a Master’s degree in English Education from Sage Graduate School in Troy, New York, he began writing freelance, and eventually full-time, for various companies and media outlets. After spending some time writing marketing copy, he became interested in the various ways a company can market itself online through the use of different types of content marketing.

Today, as the Director of Content Marketing, Matt oversees strategy creation, production, implementation, and promotion, of content written by experts and influencers from across the country in every vertical imaginable. When he is not overseeing the creation and promotion of thousands of pieces of content a year for OWJ clients, Matt can be found writing some for himself.

Apply Now

Share this post:
Posted in Content Marketing