Mastering Content Marketing for Authors

Strategies to Engage and Grow Your Audience
Part 2: Mastering Content Creation

You’ve learned what Content Marketing is…now let’s talk about how to master it.

The word “Mastering” in the title of this article might be a bit misleading—at least at first. I’m not sure that anyone can master Content Marketing—or very much else, for that matter—particularly in marketing.

What I want to do is help you get to the point with your content marketing where you become an expert in your field. A master, in this case, is one who knows how to follow their own curiosity and be able to ask the right questions, knowing that their own interests closely mirror that of their audience.

You know what your fans want, often even before they know it themselves. This is how you get your fans to want to follow you everywhere you go, read everything you write, and, ultimately, buy everything you produce. This is mastery of Content Marketing.

Identifying Content Your Audience Wants and Needs

Identifying content your audience—your potential True Fans—are looking for can and likely will be an exercise in experimentation. But it all starts with your Audience Blueprint.

The Audience Blueprint

The audience blueprint is, basically, a way for you to study and keep track of what your audience is doing and interacting with online. Since you might not know that at the beginning, the good thing is that the blueprint starts with you.

Understanding yourself and the books you write or want to write is core to understanding your true fans. I’ve talked about understanding yourself and your why in other articles, so I’m going to assume you’ve done that work.

The next step is following where that leads: What websites and social media accounts are you interested in? What do you search for online? Where are others leading you? The Audience Blueprint has places to input all of this wisdom so it’s accessible and actionable.

Deciding What Content to Create

The next step, simply enough, is deciding what content to create. As you go through the Audience Blueprinting process, there are probably searches you were interested in. There were probably subjects that weren’t as fully expounded on as you’d like. There were probably things that you loved and that inspired you to think about something in a different way.

These are all potential subjects for content you should create, and the more you create, the more you’ll likely discover along the way that comes either from what you created or what needs to come before it to help you audience.

Creating Content

The next thing to do is just to create some of this content. Starting by writing articles is the best way to go. It’s a good idea at this point to pay attention to things like Keywords and Phrases. These are things that you searched for or you expect others to search for. Make sure you use them prominently.

Remember, find people where they are.

You should focus on creating multiple pieces of content. If someone finds you and loves that piece of content, you want them to go deep. A reader might find you through one article but really connect with another.

There’s no perfect number to create, but something to consider would be to write one piece a day for 30 days, or one piece each weekday for a month. Creating content in a way that’s habitual is important to helping develop consistency in your work. It also helps you to pick out the 25-30 best pieces of content you could create to share. Being intentional and planning out your content creation is an important part of the Mastery of the process.

Plan Expectations

It’s important to have some expectations for your content. If you know that your keywords, for example, are popular with your target audience, it’s also important to know how popular they are. Tools like Ubersuggest can suggest how many searches per month there are for each keyword. Other tools can also tell you how you’re doing in terms of keyword placement and density.

When you’re just starting out, in particular, though, don’t worry too much about these metrics. There are others that are more important. What these tell you is a little about what you might expect, but what will happen will likely be completely different.

Becoming Intentional

Once you’ve published your first pieces of written content, it’ll probably take a while for that content to start showing up in searches. Sometimes it’s just a couple weeks, often it’s months, and sometimes it’s even years before you to start seeing significant traffic. But if you’ve researched your audience and what they like and have created some expectations and written 20-30 pieces of content, you will see some results—likely sooner than later.

But what do you do with them? I’d like to tell a brief story of some unintentional results we’ve had and how we turned them into intentional ones. Roseanna, every year, chooses a Word of The Year that hopefully guides how the next year will go. One year that word was Intentional. She talked about how she wanted to be intentional in everything she did. So how did search engines rank her page?

Well, she got lots of hits for the search phrase, “Intentional Word of the Year,” and “How to choose an intentional word of the year.” That wasn’t exactly her intention. 😉

What was intentional was the recognition that others wanted to do what she did—they wanted to choose a Word of the Year. And anyone who wants to choose a word of the year is probably interested in Words and meanings…they’re part of the audience she tries to engage with.

So what did she do? Well, coming up on the end of the year she published an article: “How To Choose An Intentional Word of the Year.” She talked about how she does it, what it means to her, and linked back to the last few years’ worth of words that talked about how they were chosen.

And guess what? She was number 1 on Google for that search and the related keywords. She gained thousands of potential fans who were interested in being intentional about their words of the year, just like her.

Being Flexible

I told that story because I wanted you to see that regardless of how well we plan or think we know our audience, they’ll always surprise us. They have as much control over how content marketing is created as you do as a creator.

If something works, lean into it. If it doesn’t it might be time to move on.

We need to be flexible enough that when we see that something we thought would work isn’t, that we can pivot and lean into what does work. This is why it’s so important to have a variety of content.

And that doesn’t mean we abandon less successful content. If you found it to be important, someone else probably will too. Don’t be afraid to continue to push or link to it or even to tweak it to make it more valuable to people who have connected with that content or others you’ve created.

Doubling Down

It’s possible that just one or even a few of your articles will be successful (IE. Find an audience through search traffic,) and that’s fine. That means you know where to focus. Hopefully you have lots of other ideas that go along with the same theme as your successful ones from your early planning.

Now is also the time you can start looking to create other kinds of content in other areas. This is where you want to start thinking about your social media strategy. This is also where you might consider focusing the theme of a podcast or YouTube channel. Once you know your reader’s interested in particular things, go all in on those.

Creating Content Consistently

Consistency is also a key to mastering Content Marketing. When you start with your month-long content creation marathon, you’ve started creating a habit of consistency. This habit gives you two very important things. First, it creates expectation with your audience. If they know that you put out content regularly—weekly, for example—then they will come back to you and your site regularly to find more of what connected them to you in the first place. Second, this habit makes it easier for you to continue engaging your audience. We all know it’s easier to continue doing a thing than to start something new, and yet authors often look at marketing as something to be done only when they want to sell something. Restarting is daunting. Consistency is easy.

I’ve found that I’m most productive and consistent when I know what I need to be doing at the beginning of each day. That means making and following a plan—and if you want to be a master of content marketing, you need a good plan.

We already started by outlining this plan with your first 30 days. After that, you take some time to look at what results you have and be ready to pivot to other content you had planned that relates to where the successes were. Now your plan might need to get more nuanced.

You could continue to write more over the next 30 days based on your successes from the first 30 and continue, week after week, month after month, to double down in this manner. It’s a pretty good plan, but it’s probably not mastery because you’re only engaging in one way. This method may serve you well for a while, so don’t discount it, and also be ready to potentially run these marathons again in the future.

Another plan is to be ready to switch to a different schedule. Keep writing but consider reducing that down to one day per week. Then look at what most interests you and your readers and also look at where they live. Do they listen to podcasts? Are they active on Instagram or YouTube?

Consider taking, then, 1 day a week to create content for these platforms.

Another part of your plan is your newsletter. I’m going to talk about that much more in depth in another article, however, your newsletter is part of your Content Marketing as much or more than your Social Media. In your new marketing schedule, knowing how to adapt your content marketing to creating a consistent, engaging newsletter is essential.

How to Create Engaging Content

Perhaps the most important part of content marketing, after understanding what your audience wants, is creating content that your audience can sink their teeth into and which engages with them on an emotional level.

When we’re talking about marketing, it becomes too easy to think about what we want. For successful content marketing, we need to focus on what the audience wants and how we can serve that want, that need they have. It also means we need to connect with them as more than just a conveyor or consumer of information. If we want to create True Fans, we need to connect with them as person-to-person.

Besides being impartial and empathetic, we also need to share a deep curiosity about the subject and the audience. We need to be willing to create content that goes deep with the questions that everyone in the audience is struggling with. We need to be willing to indulge in a childlike sense of wonder at the things we all care deeply about.

Finally, we need to be vulnerable about the fact that we do care deeply about these subjects. That we care deeply about our readers. We need to be willing to risk sharing things that we’re perhaps not 100% comfortable sharing. Vulnerability is how we create connection with others because they can see that we’re putting our hearts in their hands, giving them the opportunity to be gentle, loving, and kind.

And let’s not kid ourselves—if you’re an author, you’re already putting your heart into the hands of your readers. We fear rejection deeply because of how much value we’ve already put into our work.

If people reject us at the point of marketing, that can still hurt, but we can learn from it. We can create better content. But, also, it means that we’re also curating our audience—our true fans—so that when someone reads our books, we know they’re ready to engage with them as much as, or more than, they engage with our marketing.