How to make content marketing profitable

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Bloggers and small businesses need to be able to generate predictable and sustainable revenue from their content marketing campaigns in order for it to be profitable.

Content marketing refers to any activity that markets a blog, business, or product without resorting to sales and advertising. In other words, it offers readers information of value in return for traffic, increased authority and influence.

Building traffic volumes through written material ultimately leads to profit, as the content itself should generate revenue through advertising, affiliate marketing, or sales.

This article analyzes the costs of content marketing, as well as how to create and market great material (in particular, blog content) so that provides high conversion rates, for maximum ROI (Return On Investment).

What does content cost to create?

Creating content is expensive. You either:

  1. pay someone to do it for you
  2. spend time and effort creating it yourself

This kind of simplifies the equation a bit because it doesn't take into account the fact that the material itself must be of very high quality - if it is going to earn money for you or your business.

High quality content, unlike most online material, takes time, experience and skill to create.

It's the exception, rather than the rule, for bloggers to succeed straight away.

So creating content has additional costs associated with a learning curve. This is actually one of the main reasons many businesses fail to make money online.

Depending on how much you write, your natural ability, and how fast you learn, it can take a few months to a few years to get really good.

Check out Why businesses fail online for more info on this.

How to create great content

I have a very simple formula for producing great written material. It can be summed up as:

  • Have a clear value offering
  • Pitch early
  • Provide a call to action
  • Offer alternatives

In other words, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to tell people, and how you want them to react (with alternatives if they don't want to convert immediately). This message needs to be presented in a clear and concise manner that also provides value to the reader.

Don't write rambling posts about various loosely related topics. Online browsers don't have the time or inclination. They want concentrated value - make them laugh, give them useful information, offer a unique opinion or perspective, etc.

Good information will automatically encourage people to share it, follow you (and grow your social influence), or move to the next step in the sales funnel.

You can learn all you need to know about creating great blog posts by browsing our blogging archive.

What does it cost to market content?

Marketing content has a range of associated costs. While organic search traffic via Google and other search engines is technically free, you may incur costs by paying SEO experts to help optimize your Web platform and make it competitive.

The price of paying an SEO expert to sort out your SEO and Internet marketing strategy is negligible in terms of the amount it will save you if you fail from misdirected efforts. Read 5 reasons why hiring a top SEO consultant is crucial for small business.

Organic traffic

If your material is well written with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind, then you might generate a good portion of your traffic for free, via organic search.

Organic search traffic is the most valuable traffic to have.

This makes it crucial that your Web platform and content implement great SEO, and utilize analytics to refine and improve your marketing stategies. Check out How to get your business to the top of Google search to learn more.

Your material needs to be valuable to humans in order for it to rank well in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

Backlinks

Backlinks and referrals are also free of cost. Again, the number of backlinks your site generates over time depends entirely on how valuable the information is to human readers.

You can speed up the rate at which your site accumulates backlinks by ensuring that your content is shared in the major social networks.

Advertising

This leaves direct advertising - paying for advertising space on other websites - and, PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns.

Both forms of advertising can be very expensive, and it is important that you understand exactly how your material will drive conversions, sales, and revenue before you advertise.

Advertising costs vary from industry to industry, so it isn't possible to put an exact dollar amount on how much it will cost.

How to market content for profit

Once you are in a position to create great content that will convert for maximum ROI, it is time to market it.

Depending on the type of information you have, it's audience, and the type of conversions you are after, you might pursue the following marketing avenues:

  • Guest post: Publishing your material on another website offers value in the form of reach, social influence and authority. Not likely to generate direct revenue from this method. Good choice for showing off skills and expertise.
  • Sales pitch: Make the content about a specific product or service. This is intended to get readers to buy - to "close the deal". First time readers may not have sufficient trust to convert, so link to it from other relevant, more general pages.
  • Showcase: Internal links play an important role in bounce rate, engagement and therefore SEO and page rankings. Create blog posts intended to show off all your great content and drive traffic to important pages.
  • Body of knowledge: Building a following is a great way to spread your material using loyal readers. But, building a following is not possible without creating great, focused, niche content on a regular basis.
  • Opinion: Not everything can be measured and proved. This leaves room for opinion. Opinion articles can be powerful traffic drivers because they stir debate via social networks and comments.
  • Research: Expensive and time consuming research articles can pay off if they are unique and valuable. They also help to cement your position as a thought and knowledge leader in your industry.

In all cases, your content should be shared (where and when it is appropriate) on social media and other websites.

Content that is intended to convert readers can be advertised - provided you can generate greater profits from it than it costs to drive traffic to it in the first place. In other words, an opinion piece might be great for your authority, but it is probably not a good candidate for advertising (if it doesn't have a tangible monetary value).

That's my advice on content marketing and how to make it profitable for your blog or small business. What tips and strategies do you use? Share your tips and advice in the comments.