How to Get Lucky With Content Marketing

image of dice

Do you feel like you’re fighting for every page view your blog receives?

Do you wonder why you’re struggling to find readers when other bloggers seem to just hit “publish” and the world comes running?

It may be tempting to throw up your hands and say, “those other guys have all the luck,” but it won’t get you anywhere.

The truth is, those “lucky” people are doing something you’re not doing.

(Or they’re doing what you are doing, but better.)

If you want to get lucky, you’re going to have to give up the “poor me” attitude and make some changes. Here are some ideas.

Listen before you talk

Two guys walk into a bar (humor me here). The first guy walks up to a woman and says, “Hi. I make a lot of money and drive a really fast car, so you will definitely want to go out with me. Here’s my number. When you’re ready to go out, call me.”

The second guy sits down at the bar and listens. He hears the woman next to him complain to the bartender that the last Italian restaurant she tried was terrible, and that she couldn’t seem to find good Italian food nearby. When there’s a break in the conversation, he says, “Excuse me, but I couldn’t help overhearing about your bad experience with some of the local Italian restaurants. Have you tried Davio’s Cucina? It’s really excellent.”

Which guy is more likely to end up with a date?

I’m betting on guy #2. Instead of just blathering on about himself, he waited and listened for an opening. He started a conversation based on a shared interest. And because he’d been paying attention, he found a great angle to quickly capture the woman’s interest.

When you’re trying to get people to read your blog post, newsletter, or free report, the biggest mistake you can make is to assume that other people are just dying to learn about you and your product (or service). They don’t care about you.

Figure out what they do care about and start there.

Don’t try to be someone else

You know those cheesy pick-up lines you occasionally hear in bars? Lines like:

  • “Are you an angel? Cause I think I just died and went to heaven.”
  • “If I could rearrange the alphabet, I would put U and I together.”
  • “Do you have a map? I keep getting lost in your eyes.”

Each of these lines must have worked for someone, somewhere, at some point in time. But that doesn’t mean you should use them.

There’s a lot you can learn by studying successful copywriters and marketers, and you should learn as much as you can. But you can’t blindly copy what they’re doing.

Swipe files and traditional copywriting techniques are only useful if you can intelligently translate them to your market.

That means you have to figure out how to apply those techniques while still being yourself. And you have to make sure that your content is still something your audience wants to read about.

Stop talking to yourself

Let’s say you’ve just moved to a new city and want to throw a party at your place. Should you (a) sit in your condo and yell, “Hey! I’m having a party!” and then wait for people to start showing up, or (b) go to the next condo association meeting, mingle with the neighbors, and invite them to come by this Friday evening for drinks?

If you think the answer is (a), you seriously need to get out more.

If your blog is getting 20 visits a day, you can’t just keep posting stuff there and praying for more readers. You’ve got to get out and meet some new people.

How? Join a LinkedIn group in your niche and start answering questions. Write a guest post for a popular (and relevant) blog. Comment thoughtfully on other bloggers’ posts and start to make friends. Ask your Facebook friends to forward your stuff to people they think might enjoy it.

The point is, you have to go where your people already are before you can get them to come to you. Find them, talk to them and then invite them back to your place.

You might just get lucky.

About the Author: Traci Feit Love is a writer and communications consultant specializing in content marketing and smart copy. Visit her website for more information or to sign up for her free e-course, “How to Get More High-Paying Clients.”

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  1. Hey Traci,

    It’s not about you – it’s about them. You develop a relationship and gain more readers and customers by giving 10x as much as you take.

    Couldn’t agree more with your advice on listening. Just like in the real world, people care about themselves, and when you’re genuinely interested in their stories, their passions, their problems that need solving, then they develop a liking and trust of you.

    You also figure out exactly what they want, so any guesswork is eliminated when it comes to creating content for them. You find out what problems they have, then you can offer them solutions. Not only is the product exactly what the person would want, but they’ve developed a relationship with you and don’t need to be convinced: they trust that what you’re recommending is good.

    Thanks for the reminder that sometimes, we need to stop talking and just listen,
    Oleg

  2. Guy #1 tried to sell
    Guy #2 seduced

    Salesmanship is the art of seduction.

  3. Wow, talk about the right article at the right time for me. I’m going through a complete re-evaluation of my current blog (& a few products) and your advice is speaking loudly to me.

    I think, as entrepreneurs, we all need to accept that some of our “brilliant” ideas just aren’t that interesting or helpful to others. The key is to recognize what needs to be tweaked and what needs to be completely abandoned.

    Thanks again, great stuff as always!

  4. Listen to your market before you create words and programs. I wonder why that isn’t a natural approach for most coaches and consultants? It makes so much sense. And it’s reason 1001 why targeting one distinctive market is easier and more lucrative than marketing to everyone.

  5. Traci,

    I couldn’t agree more about hearing what your audience wants. Babbling about yourself is never a good way to win friends.

    I don’t totally agree with your example though. You left out two major aspects of guy 1 and guy 2. Social proof and confidence (being comfortable in your own skin).

    If guy 2 is a people pleaser with no following and no personality, chances are neither guy will get the girl.

    I think the same is true of blogging. No one wants to read a blog that come across as begging for readers.

    Neither extreme is good. You can’t lose who you are and how you write while trying to reach your audience.

    What makes your blog different from everyone else in your niche is you. It’s all about balance.

    You’re absolutely right that we as blogger, content marketers, or whatever need to stop making excuses and believing others have something we don’t.

    Good stuff!

  6. We have a steady increase in readers coming to our website and blog because we post content that people want to know about.

    How do we find what people want to know about? We listen to our readers… and use Google Keyword Tool…

  7. @Blake, You bring up an interesting point with social proof (it seems to be an even bigger topic than usual, given the new Twitter lists). But I wonder if the confidence is what comes first. If you’ve got something important to say, and you’re listening closely to what’s on people’s minds and really connecting with them like Traci mentions, it seems like that would be enough to break through the noise. Then the followers would come.

    Also, not sure what social proof would look like in a bar… the size of your entourage? Might be a little weird :)

  8. My take: the 2nd guy didn’t try to sell.

    He tried to help.

  9. Traci, I couldn’t agree more. It’s funny how it seems so simple to talk about what your customers want, but when it comes time to actually write the content, we go back to me me me.

  10. Many businesses have the “Me Monster” attitude. (Brian Regan anyone?) All they can do is talk about themselves and don’t even take a second to let anyone else get a word in edgewise. That is a huge turn off to pretty much anyone. Let them talk about themselves, then join the conversation and help them with their needs.

  11. Awesome. The golden rule – understand the market first, not stuff products (content) down people’s throats. :)

  12. Listening is important for any business. Too often, we get wrapped up in our own world and forget there is someone else in the conversation.

    I have found this incredibility important when managing people. You can learn a lot by just absorbing what people say. If you truly want to help, you need to understand the situation before giving advice. Excellent post.

  13. I’m working that issue right now. I’m revamping my blog to include more about what concerns my potential readers, like where health care reform is going, how to get better treatments, raise more money, etc. We’ll see how things go.

  14. I believe the first one makes a product and than tries to push it, the other simply knows what product will sell for itself and that develops the product.

    Same is true with the world of blogging and even copy writing in other cases. To know your audience is the most imp step you can take towards delivering something worthy…

  15. Thanks for the great advice. To me this is something that’s glaringly obvious but I’m glad people are talking about it. When working with my business partners I forget they don’t live and breath the web in the same way I do. These articles make great links to them so I can point out how we need to be doing business and how we can grow our business.

    Thanks.

  16. I think we’re talking about authentic voice here.
    If you are “copy writing” in the traditional advertising sense, you’re not authentic, you’re selling (and yes, seduction is a form of selling).
    But if you are authentic, i.e. musing on a point, and offering something useful such as advice, you will always attract the readers you want.
    It’s that last point that is important. Stop worrying about numbers and ensure that the people who read your blog are those who will hear you. It’s about quality, not quantity.

  17. Hi Traci,
    The analogies you used were great. I especially can relate to the one about throwing the big party. I try to get out as much as possible. Visiting other sites and getting involved can definitely help your blog. Thanks for a great article.

  18. I think sometimes this is a particular issue with social media, because we’re encouraged to be ourselves & be authentic, but sometimes we also need to shut up and let the other person talk. Social media can be an environment with too many microphones and not enough headphones sometimes.

  19. Sorry Sonia, what did you say? I had my headphones on! ;)

  20. @Sonia – You’ve pretty much nailed it I think. I’d be willing to bet many blogs that aren’t even seeing a little traffic are not using social media wisely.

    Even if your blog is about the readers, if your social media is all about you, how will followers know the difference?

    @Steve – In my opinion social proof is more about who you know that how many you know (both in bars and online). Just knowing the right people or being introduced by the right person makes you appear infinitely more credible.

    I think Social Proof and Confidence aren’t always linked one way or the other. You can know the right people and no be confident. If your confidence comes from social proof, it is hollow. That doesn’t mean they won’t feed each other and grow together.

  21. Malinda Johnson :

    This post fell flat for me. You all had a blogger write a very similar post earlier this year that featured two men at a bar with one woman and how the man who only talked about himself and tried to “make a sale” didn’t do so well. This post was so similar in content and message that, to be honest, I just glanced through it w/out actually reading it.
    I’ve read/seen all this before. And it is a good message for those who’ve never thought about it like this, but I would’ve appreciated a new hook, new info, a new angle, something that would have been worth my time to read.

  22. It’s true that there was a similar example used in a James Chartrand post earlier this year (it’s linked in the post, in fact), but it pointed to different conclusions. And frankly, I think it’s a point that bears repeating.

    Sorry this one didn’t work for you, Malinda. I liked it and thought it made important and useful points.

  23. Hi Sonia

    First time read for me – thought it was excellent. good work.

    Glenn

  24. Yes! I needed this message today. It’s easy to go on and on about what I’m interested in, but it’s so much better to blog about what others want and to put my focus on them.

    In Jim Loehr’s book, The Power of Story, he says, “When I lecture and converse about the ‘power of full engagement,’ I mean listening, seeing, and feeling with full force, experiencing with full force, yet that’s a kind of focus we so rarely give things now. Why is that?” (p. 154)

    Thanks!

  25. Great post.
    I particularly like the point on being yourself. So much easier if you are because then your blog becomes an extension of who you really are and has a much better chance of being authentic. You never quite know when a particular post is going to ‘make it’ but when it does you can continue simply being yourself.

  26. It’s so true that’s there’s just no magic out there…but there IS good technique. Good post. i dig it :)

  27. Social media has allowed the “shouters” to reach us in our world and try and engage us. Selling before you know me is one of the quickest way to get me not to buy from you.

    In blogging, listening is now you get your audience to come back for more as you are giving them what they want. Ignoring this and talking over them gets them to leave and never come back. The blog stats are the silent voice of your readers as you know what they like from you and what they do not.

    I have to add something that is a pet peeve: the name droppers. People who name drop frequently on their blog is no read for me. Using an article that someone wrote and pointing out why you liked it and adding your opinion is great but saying that you did this and that with this “big name” or that you hate this big name is nothing more than trying to ride the coat tails. Try working hard and listening to your audience to get new readers.

  28. Those two guys at the bar really represent the two types of bloggers there are; those that throw it on your face and expect you to lap it up because they’re the expert and those that take it from you, turn it over and give back in plenty.

  29. Great point here. Listening to customers/readers is an ongoing activity. Too bad many bloggers still don’t “get it” and continue to publish what they think is a good article rather than what is actually wanted.

  30. So Sonia, what is a goodly number of daily visitors that says you’re doing something right, but not enough of it? 100? 500? or is it counted in subscribers? If it’s the last, I will have to throw the towel in…

  31. @Kali, gosh, I have no idea. :) I would probably look more at whether or not the number is growing, whether I’m adding links over time, and whether or not I am developing good relationships with some other bloggers.

    If you’re despairing over your subscriber numbers, you might take a look at this post of Brian’s, it may give you some ideas: http://www.copyblogger.com/10-effective-ways-to-get-more-blog-subscribers/

  32. thanks, Sonia. I’ll do that–as well as several of your other excellent suggestions.

  33. Thanks for that link Sonia, the number of my subscribers hasn’t increased in the past few months. Ugh. I guess, I really need to get out and connect with others more.

    nice post Traci. :)

  34. I guess I learnt some socializing with girls too with this post. Thanks! :)

  35. Really interesting post Traci that you sum up in a short post that really makes an impact. I think what you say in the first paragraph is vital; people aren’t lucky in what they do online, they have to work at it. It’s all about the attitude and those that want it tend to achieve it.

  36. LinkedIn can certainly be helpful; I’m surprised that it isn’t recommended by more people as a way to connect with others & demonstrate what you know.

    I like the Q&A part of LinkedIn as that is a very good way for you to impart knowledge as well as to receive help for a legitimate question. On occasion I share something, enjoying the interaction with like minded professionals.

  37. Hi Traci,
    I really like this post and it makes me think of my approach to networking – which is authentic networking and treating it like a long-term strategy.

    If you just to expect to walk into a networking group and have people wanting to buy from you after a sales pitch then you’re going to be really disappointed (and it’s amazing how many people are!).

    Like you say with marketing and copy it works exactly the same way. Put the effort in, listen to what people want, build relationships and credibility and then you might get lucky! ;)

    All the best
    Alex

  38. Wow – so many great comments – thank you! A few responses…

    @Oleg – you’re exactly right; if you can figure out what your readers’ and/or customers’ problems are before offering solutions, you’ll waste less of your time and hopefully create a long-lasting relationship with them.

    @Shane – I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I think you’re right (as long as the guy doing the seducing isn’t a total sleazebag :) )

    @lonewolfentrepreneur – good luck with your blog & products. It’s never easy to view our own ideas with a critical eye, but it’s worth the effort.

  39. @Rhonda – thanks for making the point about the importance of targeting one distinctive market. It’s impossible to listen to your customers if you think everyone is your customer.

    @Blake – you’re right about the importance of social proof and confidence online. I guess my example is meant to illustrate that, all other things being equal (including social proof & self-confidence), guy #2’s chances are better.

    @Steve Haase – I agree with you, especially with respect to new bloggers and online marketers. Social proof will come in time if you’re listening and creating compelling content that really connects with people.

  40. @Michael Martine – exactly. As long as the products or services we’re providing are designed to meet our customers’ needs, the best sales pitch is not really a “pitch” at all. It’s an offer to help meet a need, solve a problem, or otherwise improve the customer’s life in some way.

    @Drew, @Elizabeth, @Kiara Designer Suites, @Jarie, @Chanda – seems like we’re all on the same page about this. The tendency to come back to “me me me” is very human and totally understandable, but the more we can push ourselves out of that mindset, the better able we’ll be to serve our customers.

    @Dan Smith – good luck with your blog revamp! Sounds like you’re on the right track.

  41. @Tyson – I know just what you mean. It can be so frustrating when something seems totally obvious to you but doesn’t seem to be sinking in for clients, business partners, etc. Good luck!

    @Tony – yes, in part this is about being authentic. Unfortunately, some people are “authentically” self-absorbed :) It’s important to both be yourself AND train yourself to pay more attention to other people. And you’re right on target about focusing on the “readers you want” rather than the number of readers you have.

    @Roschelle – glad you enjoyed the post. I think a lot of us bloggers and writers tend to be somewhat introverted, so “getting out” and meeting new people doesn’t come naturally. But it’s crucial if we want to be successful online.

  42. @Sonia – you’re right about social media (“too many microphones and not enough headphones sometimes”). I think what makes it especially difficult is that it takes a lot more time and energy to read a bunch of other people’s updates (and really listen to what they have to say) then it does to just send out a bunch of stuff about ourselves. Still, if we’re going to use social media as a way to build relationships rather than as a broadcast medium, we’ve got to put in the time to truly engage with others.

  43. This is a great analogy and I’ve found it to be completely true on my blog. I had the hardest time getting over 50 page views a day for the longest time. I finally “got” the whole idea of just helping people out, and caring about THEM succeeding. Once I made that mental switch my blog has exploded to over 1000 page views a day (in the last 2 months) and my income has grown right along with it.

    There’s something about being genuine that people can FEEL, and they like it. As soon as I made helping people succeed my genuine focus they felt it, and responded. I now have people emailing me for my link so they can buy from me specifically. (for products I haven’t even promoted on my blog lol) I never in a million years would have expected that. :)

  44. @Linda – glad this post came at the right time for you. In response to the question you raised from Jim Loehr’s book, I think “full engagement” is so difficult today because there is so much for us to absorb – so much to read, so many web pages, so many interesting people, so many social media sites, etc. It’s not easy (but it’s still worth it) to take the time to fully focus on one thing, one person, or one idea.

    @Glenn, @Andee, @Christian, @Gabe – glad to hear you enjoyed the post; thanks for sharing your feedback!

  45. @Suzanne – I’m with you. “Shouting,” cold selling, and name dropping are all symptoms of a larger problem: failure to put the reader/customer first. I wish more bloggers and internet marketers would realize that putting the reader or customer first is actually a better business strategy, not just “touchy feely” advice.

    @David Walker – yup. And despite the fact that we’d all rather read the second type of blog, some experts continue to churn out the first type and don’t understand why we’re not “lapping it up.”

    @Mighty – thanks and good luck with your blog. I think you’ll find that the “getting out and connecting” thing gets easier and more fun with time.

    @Phoenix – awesome! :)

  46. Hi, great post!

    I completely understand the importance of listening to your audience and giving them what they want. Do you recommend a formal feedback process for listening to your readers, or an informal strategy of interacting with some on other blogs, etc.?

    Thanks for all the great insight!

  47. @Jenny – thanks for the feedback! I think with anything in life, the more we focus on the things we can control (instead of attributing our disappointments to “bad luck”), the more successful we’ll be. Obviously there are certain things we can’t control and certain things that come down to luck, but success online isn’t one of those things.

    @Matt – thanks for the suggestion about LinkedIn. It can definitely be a great way to connect with people.

    @Alex – your approach (“authentic networking” as a long-term strategy) is a good one. There’s nothing “quick,” “instant,” or “easy” about creating authentic relationships, but it’s worth the effort.

  48. @Jackie – thanks so much for sharing your story. You really hit the nail on the head when you talk about being genuine. “Helping other people succeed” can’t just be a tactic (people can see through that) – it has to be something that truly matters to you.

  49. Traci first let me start by thanking you for this blog. It’s great information that I need to hear. I do have a question for you before I give you my cheesy pick up line.

    If you guest blog on a site is it okay to also post that blong on your own blog? Is there an etiquite for this?

    Now my pickup line – Honey rub my belly call me Buda and make a wish. – I promise you it worked the one time I tried it.

  50. I’ve been getting the feeling that many of the so called “SEO/traffic experts” (and the services the expound) that I have come across are just the blind leading the blind. I think that one of the main differences between a blog that gets a lot of traffic and one that receives a trickle is sincerity of voice.

    Obviously content drives the whole thing, so whatever your niche is, you must be really good at researching it, and helping your visitors find the resources that are the most helpful to them.

    Another important piece of the puzzle: be persistent. I’m still a baby in the blog world (3+ years now) but my business is approaching the threshold of web awesomeness. I’m gonna hold on.

  51. Nice article Traci,

    Your stories put across the point so eloquently.

    Maybe part of the trouble is that when you/we go out looking for information there is a lot of content that is “in your face”. We assume it must be successful so end up emulating it even if it goes against our nature. And the fact it goes against our nature makes the copy less convincing or even worse look like a scam.

    Guess it really comes back to an old saying my metalwork teacher used to say, “less haste more speed”. We need to take more time to create quality original content and our blogs will actually build more speed as our trust and brand grows.

    Pat
    Inner Beauty Photography

  52. I share the same sentiments when trying to reach my audiences. We often use “I” and it’s time to hear what “YOU” my dear audiences, are saying or wanting.

  53. @Carl – great question. I recommend both a formal feedback process (such as a survey or Q&A forum) and a more informal approach (pay attention to comments, read relevant blogs in your niche, stay connected with your audience via Twitter, etc.). Surveys are great, but not everyone in your audience will respond. Good luck!

  54. @Kevin – in most cases, when you publish a guest post, you shouldn’t post the same content on your own blog. You can, however, point your blog readers to your guest post (just let your readers know about the guest post and provide a link).
    As for your pickup line – well, I’d advise against using it :)

  55. @Jacqueline – Sounds like you’re on the right track. SEO is important, but it’s important for bloggers to understand that just getting generic “traffic” isn’t necessarily going to improve their situation. The key is to get enough of the right people to your blog and then provide content, products, and services that those people need or want. Thanks for sharing!

  56. @Pat – sounds like your metalwork teacher was a smart cookie. I think you’re right that people copy others that they assume are successful, and that it tends to backfire. If what they’re doing goes against their nature, readers can sense it.

  57. @Kiran – exactly. The more we focus on others, the more others are drawn to what we’re doing.

  58. I agree. So many of the times I even catch myself doing this…assuming that people want to hear what I say instead of speaking to them regarding their needs. Thanks for the reminder.

  59. I agree Traci … people want to know what’s in it for them. Sometimes I find too that the less you know about a subject, the easier it is to write for an audience as you write in layman’s terms, you leave out unecessary technical explanations and get to the heart of the solution to the questions they are hopefully wanting answered.

  60. Valuable Article. Thanks for sharing.

  61. Great post Traci, all I need to do now is pick one or two points and implement them. I think what I keep hearing is that its all about building genuine relationships with individuals and allowing the snowball effect to look after itself because it will when your focus is correct. I have a real problem however trying to figure out ‘what problem am I trying to solve for people’ as an artist. Maybe I’m phrasing the question wrong?
    Thanks again, Jimmy

  62. This is brilliant advice that will also help you develop ongoing topics for your blog. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in front of my computer wondering what to write about.

  63. hmmm, i am not really sure. If we would do it the way you described – wouldnt we just get all mediocre random solala bloggers? I think, the ke to success is not that easy – you also have to develop a very personal and *new* way of talking about things, otherwise you are just the “look at my fancy design stuff” blog #473 – of yourese you need to know what makes people hot in general – but if you dont develop your very special character, you have no chance.

  64. This is really helpful. Thanks

  65. This is so overlooked, not just online, but throughout daily life. As Shane Arthur wrote above, salesmanship is the art of seduction.