This is a personal story about a guy – well, it's about me – from a small country of 2 million, Slovenia, who reaps the rewards of regular blogging. My experience will show that content marketing, if done right, works. It doesn’t matter how big your company is, or if you’re an individual, it doesn’t matter where you live and work; the only thing it matters is that you do it right. There are tons of blog posts on companies and individuals who became rich or hottest experts in their field because of blogging. But these stories usually come from the USA. Can self-publishing work elsewhere? Yes, it can.
My story begins last summer when I quit an otherwise exciting job at an agency. I was simply burnt out. I left without a serious plan about my future. And let’s not forget there’s a recession all around us. Very soon I discovered that in this volatile economy I was unemployable. I sent dozens of job applications but all to no avail. If I happened to get a response it was usually, “You’re overqualified.” It took me quite some time to realize that being unemployable doesn’t mean I have to be unemployed.
I used to work at a content marketing agency. Thus, the first things I did after quitting my job was set up a blog, launch a Facebook page and become more active on Twitter and LinkedIn. Content marketing was already so much part of my life that I just jumped into it for my own individual needs. I did everything right: I set up an editorial calendar, I’ve been blogging regularly, I’ve been promoting my posts and posts by others on my social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), I’ve been writing guest posts for other distinguished blogs, including Z-Blog. As a content aficionado, I am especially careful to post relevant and high quality content. I've been positioning myself as an expert in branded content and branded media.
I knew well that content marketing may take time before it brings tangible results. Nevertheless, I was getting frustrated. There wasn’t much engagement; a final goal of content marketing is to get business, new customers and to increase the loyalty of the existing ones. You want other people to talk about your products and services - brand awareness is crucial. For months, however, virtually nothing really happened. I was getting bitter. On the other hand, I never stopped blogging and being active on social media (maybe because I had nothing else to do).
In the meantime, Google Analytics and the activity on social media implied that there was an audience out there, I just wasn’t sure what impact my content had on them. Although there was virtually no engagement on my blog, after a while I kept getting emails from readers telling me that my content is very useful, thanking me for writing something about customer media honestly. I was reminded of Marcus Sheridan’s story whose pool company grew to be one of the largest of its kind in the world due to content marketing efforts and his incredibly popular swimming pool blog. He also talks about how the first 6 months were frustrating, not getting virtually anything tangible out of his content marketing and blogging efforts. Today, he’s a millionaire who teaches other professionals how to embrace content marketing.
I can relate. After about 6 frustrating, scary months, it finally happened – I began getting phone calls and emails from potential clients. Most were direct result of my being an active blogger and active content marketer, and of my content activities on social media. Clients either contact me directly or other people, who follow me online, recommend me to people in their social and business networks. A friend told me that before when she'd recommended me for a job, she'd had hard time convincing them to hire me because they'd never heard of me. Now, she says, whenever she recommends me, they say: "Oh, yes, we know who he is." All the aforementioned activities thus help me build my brand awareness among the prospects.
Regular blogging and other content marketing activities I’ve been carrying out for almost a year paid off! I’m now swamped with projects (though always looking for new ones). I’m not out of the woods yet; however, my case clearly shows what great results business blogging can bring not only to corporations, but also to small businesses or even individuals like me. My advice to all those struggling like I was is: be persistent, genuine, and proactive! In addition, make sure your content is published regularly, it is relevant to your (potential) clients and is shared by you and others online and offline!
What is your story? How has blogging helped you and your business? Share your experience in the comments below.