7 Lessons Learned While Content Marketing for an Early-Stage Startup

quill pen and apple on podium in front of chalkboard

If you’re marketing for an early-stage startup, every second counts.

Any mistake is a massive setback.

Setbacks ultimately lose potential customers.

During our content marketing journey with Spectafy, a real-time photo sharing app, we made plenty of mistakes.

Fortunately for you, we kept track of what works and what doesn’t to help you avoid wasting time with your own content marketing efforts.

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The Prepared Writer’s Process for Creating Excellent Content Every Day

a watch and pen on a notepad with a mind map

I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately, I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning. ~ William Faulkner

Authors often claim that writing a book is like having a baby — both in effort and length of time.

Since I’ve done both myself, I would personally insist that birthing a child is, in fact, more difficult.

There is value in the comparison though.

Even when you write from a place of passion and purpose, you may still have trouble birthing your important ideas consistently.

Babies tend to come into the world when they are ready, but how do you regularly give birth to remarkable content?

You have to command it.

Rather than waiting for inspiration to strike, I take control of the content on my blog.

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Use Images (Not Just Words) to Turn Your Distracted Visitors into Engaged Readers

woman taking iPhone photo

If you have kids — or if you’ve ever been around kids — you’ve heard the sound before.

It’s a noise that’s somewhere between the cry of a lost wolf cub and the wail of a nearby car alarm. It’s one of the most annoying sounds you’ll ever hear.

It’s the ear-piercing cry of a child who has been over-stimulated.

The angelic child becomes a hot mess of whiny, clingy neediness.

If you’re the adult in charge and you manage to keep a cool head, you say something like, “Calm down. I don’t understand what you need. Use your words.”

And sometimes it works. It stops children long enough to engage their brains rather than just their emotions, and they are able to communicate what they need.

As consumers of information online, we’re a little like that over-stimulated child.

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How to Be in the Top 5% of Bloggers: New Research Results

Department of Blogging Labor Seal

We’ve said it so often you’re probably sick of it.

Content marketing doesn’t work unless the content is genuinely worth reading.

Routine, phone-it-in content won’t get you the audience, the leads, the prospects, or the conversions you need.

Andy Crestodina over at Orbit Media Studios is one of the content marketers who really gets it. When I found out that Andy had conducted a survey of more than 1,000 bloggers about the specifics of how they work, I knew that I wanted to get a post together to share our takeaways from the survey.

Good content takes time. It’s a lot of work. And it can be hard to put the time in when we have deadlines and publishing calendars to meet.

This tension is built into the lives of all content marketers. Every blogger and every content creator is looking for that balance between quality and quantity. All of us.

So how much time and how much work does it really take?

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13 Reasons to Be Pretty Damn Euphoric You Are a Freelancer

American flag

There is a good chance that by 2020 you will be self-employed.

An old Intuit report estimated that by that time nearly 40 percent of Americans will make their living as temporary workers — that is, as freelancers, business owners, or independent workers.

This could be good news.

Those who are not freelancers often look at those who are with a trace of envy. From the cubicle, the grass certainly looks greener. It is the life that you could have. And should have.

If only.

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Google Glass Offers a First-Mover Advantage You Shouldn’t Overlook

close-up of an eye wearing Google Glass

Have you ever wondered what the subreddit “ShittyBattleStations,” hammerhead sharks, and the Internet have in common?

Yeah, me neither.

But I recently discovered that the three seemingly unconnected entities all stretch my sense of nostalgia.

ShittyBattleStations is a subreddit where people share photographs of their gaming environments. Imagine bad camera angles of a bean bag chair, milk crate, high-powered computer, and a gallon of water.

It’s a place for snapshots of a subculture interested in avoiding the complex world — a subculture that reminds me of my own sad attempts as an adolescent to master Donkey Kong, since people scared the daylights out of me.

And I’ve been a fan of hammerhead sharks ever since Momaw Nadon’s cameo in the original Star Wars.

The Internet? Well, in the beginning, only a select few were entertained by slow-loading, grainy information and pixelated images. I stood aloof, fearful.

“You mean, like, I could talk to a stranger in Singapore?”

“Yes.”

“I do believe that is terrible.”

It’s safe to say I’ve gotten over that anxiety, but a recent development has caused some of it to reemerge …

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How to Spot the Weakest Part of Your Blog Post (and What to Do About It)

a close-up image of a man looking through binoculars

What does a rough draft of a blog post have in common with all the other blog posts by all the other content creators in your niche?

Too much.

I’m sure you’re aware that there are countless other writers musing about the same ideas you are, and in similar ways.

The goal of a typical first draft is to transform your scattered thoughts into a cohesive article that explains a topic to your target audience. But why should readers choose your content over another writer’s work?

If you don’t take the time to revise your rough draft in a way that shows you are an authority, and that you have a solution that isn’t available anywhere else, they won’t.

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What You Need to Know About Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law

sign saying Keep Calm and Don't Spam

There’s a new piece of legislation in Canada — known as CASL — that has some content marketers rattled.

It goes into effect on Tuesday, July 1, and it’s a wide-reaching attempt to regulate electronic communication (email, but also texts and social media conversations) that’s commercial in nature.

As usual when you’re talking about change on the web, there’s a lot of flutter and noise around the issue. But if you’ve been following email marketing best practices, it isn’t as scary as it might seem.

First things first: I am not your attorney and I can’t give you specific advice about whether your business’ particular email practices are in line with the new law.

But I can share with you what I’ve learned while researching it for our own business, and provide some general reassurance. Despite some nosebleed-steep potential fines, the law overall is very much in line with what good content marketers are already doing.

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What if Author Rank Never Happens?

Authority

Editor’s note (8/28/14): Google has completely dropped all authorship functionality from the search results and webmaster tools. Other than the authorship markup code that’s now worthless, what changes should you make to rank well in Google?

As this article from April 13, 2013 sets forth, nothing at all. The message is aimed at the mythical Author Rank, which was supposed to be the outcome of Authorship, but the point is that what would have worked under Authorship is what already works. Enjoy.

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We recently concluded an entire series of articles by our own Demian Farnworth on the topics of Authorship, Author Rank, and Google+ for the online content creator.

It was a smashing success, which indicates that writers and other online content creators are excited about these topics. And you should be.

But let’s be clear – as best as anyone can tell, Author Rank has not been implemented yet. And that means there’s some chance it may never become an algorithmic aspect of the way Google ranks web pages.

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How to Curate Knowledge, Turn it Into Wisdom, and Build Your Audience

Your audience expects a lot out of you.

As well as they should.

Which is why if you want to build a business you need an audience. But you can’t have an audience if don’t have authority. And you can’t have authority unless you have wisdom.

You need wisdom that enables you to paint the big picture while making obtuse concepts clear.

You need wisdom that inspires you to draw connections that other people in your niche don’t see.

And you need wisdom that empowers you to make connections and build relationships … so you can lead.

How do you gain this wisdom? By making a consistent habit of curating knowledge.

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