TAM 032: Dan Norris – Content Marketing The Right Way - The Active Marketer

TAM 032: Dan Norris – Content Marketing The Right Way

Dan Norris Content Marketing ActiveCampaign

In episode 32, I chat with return guest Dan Norris, author of “Content Machine”. If content marketing is all the rage these days, why does so much of it suck? Dan has been slugging it out with content marketing for years and he shares how to do it right and use it as a tool to grow your business..

We chat about:

  • What type of content to create
  • How to create content
  • How to scale content marketing
  • How to make sure your content gets traction
  • How not to suck at content marketing

If you would like to have a chat about how you could be using marketing automation to grow your business Book a 20 min free call with me or join us in the Automation Nation private Facebook group

Links Mentioned In The Show

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PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Barry Moore: And so you have hundreds and hundreds and thousands of people copy WP Curve, though, since you started.

Dan Norris: Well, I have, I mean, in their defence, I have also written a book that's been read by tens of thousands of people that teaches you how to copy WP Curve, so …

Announcer: Welcome to the Active Marketer Podcast. Where we talk about how to design, automate and scale your business to the next level using sales and marketing automation. You can find out all the tips, tactics and techniques you need to get more customers and sell more stuff over at the activemarketer.com. Now, here's your host, Barry Moore.

Barry: Welcome listener to the Active Marketer Podcast where we talk about all things sales, funnels and marketing automation. I'm your host Barry. Thanks for joining us today. On the show, I've got a return guest, Dan, one of my favourite guys to follow online because he puts out epic content on how to be an entrepreneur and how to build a business and he's just released a new book called Content Machine. His first book, Seven Day Startup was fantastic. I recommend it to anybody who's building their own business.

So I wanted to get him back on the show today to talk about content marketing a little bit. As you know, there's basically three ways to get traffic into your funnel. Organic, or content marketing and paid traffic and as well as joint venture traffic. So, content marketing has become all the buzz but there's lots of people out there doing it and really, really poorly.

So, we wanted to get Dan Norris on to talk about how you can do it right and how you can use content marketing to generate traffic for your sales funnels. But first, before we do that, the shameless social proof segment while I read out one of your five star reviews from my iTunes. This week we've got one from Matt Jones. He says, “It's five stars. Totally awesome podcast. This podcast has been awesome for me. I have learned a tonne and it keeps getting better. Great work, Barry.” Well thanks Matt, I appreciate you taking the time to leave a review at iTunes.

I would encourage anybody to go ahead over to Stitch or iTunes and leave us a review. It helps us drive us up in the iTunes ranking so that more people can find this great content and can start building out their businesses with marketing automation as well.

So let's get into this week's episode with Dan.

All right, we have a repeat guest on this show, one of my favourite guys to follow on online, Dan, and that's because Dan puts out killer content all the time. So, as you know, there's basically three basic ways to get traffic into your funnel: organic, paid and joint venture traffic. So, we got Dan on to talk about organic traffic because he's killer at it. Dan, welcome back.

Dan: Thanks for having me. And also, I'm not very good at the other two things, so it's good to just talk about what you're good at.

Barry: Yeah, it seems, I don't know, in recent years, content marketing has become the buzz word and there's people out there doing it everywhere and some of them are doing it really, really poorly. And some of them, like yourself, do it really really well.

Dan: Well, most people are doing it poorly if you believe the stats on whether or not it works. And I assume, if it's not working for people, it means they're doing it poorly. And I did it poorly for a long time as well. I think I wrote three or four hundred blog posts before I got any traction on those posts at all. I think it was three hundred before I got more then 10 tweets on a single piece of content. So, I've learned a lot of hard lessons and tried to put them all into something that's going to help other people do it a lot quicker than I did it.

Barry: Jesus man, you're pretty persistent. If you're banging away for three hundred with no-

Dan: Well the thing is, I didn't have any other way that I could think that I would be good at marketing a business. Like I was just not a sales guy, I tried it, I sucked at it, I hated it. I didn't know if I could have a business without being a sales guy. And this is sort of an argument that people have and I really wanted to prove that you could because I know there's a lot of people like me who want to build a business and want to just spend all of their time on what they like, not just a fraction of it.

Because if you're just spending a fraction on doing what you like, then you're only sort of a fraction better than having a job. So I wanted to spend 100% of my time on doing what I liked and I knew that was content. It was about the only thing I enjoyed from my first business. And so I set about creating a business based purely on content marketing. And, I eventually got there, but it was a bit of a struggle to start with.

Barry: All right, well maybe we can take a step back and why content marketing in the first place?

Dan: Well, I think a lot of people start it for one reason, which is the same reason that I started it, the same reason Neil Patel started, who wrote the forward to Content to Shame, which is they couldn't afford to pay advertising. You maybe couldn't afford to pay advertising because your idea's new and you have no money, which is really common. There are a crowd of people that I talked to like new entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs who are getting shit done themselves, not like funded companies. And these guys don't have any money. So they need to do marketing that doesn't cost anything. So that's a lot of the reason why people get into content marketing.

I think I got into it definitely for that reason. I've never had money to spend on advertising in my businesses or never had significant money. I probably do now, but I also don't want to do something that I'm not good at, so we're very careful about how much we spend outside of things we're good at.

But the other reason I got into was it's like a creative outlet and I'm more of a creative than a hard core sales type entrepreneur. I think entrepreneurs tend to fall somewhere on that scale and I'm a bit further down the creative end then some other people are. For that reason, content marketing was so appealing to me. Just the idea of like creating something that's gonna help other people and using that to use a business, just seems like such an epic way to spend your time, compared to sitting in coffee shops trying to sell people on WordPress websites.

Barry: You mean that doesn't work?

Dan: Didn't work for me.

Barry: All right, fair enough. All right, so most of my audience is probably familiar with content marketing, but for those of those who aren't, what is content marketing?

Dan: Well, I take a very broad definition which is really the creation of anything that's going to get attention to your brand and build trust and help the people in your community. And you can break that out in a lot of different ways. If you take that definition, you could say that Red Bull are doing content marketing by giving away free cans of Red Bull, which I'm not sure if that's true.

But I still like the definition because content marketing is a lot broader than blogging. And I don't want people to think, “If I'm going to do content marketing, then I'm just going to write blog articles.” Because I think they're going to make the biggest mistake that people make straight away, which is to just disregard their audience and disregard quality and just do what someone else is doing. And that's a theme in both of my books is like, if you're just following what someone else is doing, you're going to figure out pretty soon that it doesn't work for you. And if that's building a business or doing content marketing, you're going to get the same result, which is a bad one.

I think creating free stuff, giving it away, is what content marketing is and what that free stuff is will depend on your audience, will depend on what skills you have, depend on what you can scale, it'll depend on your business, depend on what you're prepared to give away for free. And all of those decisions that go into that will determine the quality and usefulness of that to the audience. It could be content, could be written content, it could be plug ins, it could be your time, it could be information, bigger content like books, it could be calls, it could be forms, could be really anything you're giving away for free that adds value with a goal of getting attention initially and then building trust and spreading the word of your brand.

Barry: All right, well you brought up a good point there a minute ago when you're talking about you didn't have money to do it and it doesn't cost anything. Is that really true though, because if you're taking days to come up with a great blog post or a great piece of content, that's opportunity cost you could be spending somewhere in the business. So is it really free?

Dan: Well, no I didn't say it was free, I said I didn't have the money to spend on advertising. Your time is never free, but I think when you're starting a business, you have an abundance of time and you've got no money. And even if you don't have an abundance of time, you still have no money.

Barry: Fair enough.

Dan: So even if you don't have enough time, you still have to do something to market that business and if you have no money, then that really limits your options. Which I think is a great thing, by the way, because I think paid advertising is one of the worst things you can do when you start a business.

I mention that in my first book, I talk about that a lot. Because I think the numbers that you need to make paid advertising work, you just do not understand when you're launching a business. There's so much that's going to change. You're very, very, very unlikely to make any paid advertising work. Especially for the sort of audience that I kind of make a community that I serve of entrepreneurs and self starters.

But content marketing is definitely not free. Nothing is free if it takes you time. But I think it's a good thing that you can start it yourself and if you can get to the point where you can scale it and delegate it and get some else to do it, then that's the best outcome. That puts you in a category of an entrepreneurial content marketer, which is the sort of content marketer that I want to breed out of launching this book. I think a lot of people don't get to that point, even the big influence and a lot of them, they're doing a lot of their own content and they're really struggling to going from doing their own content to be the entrepreneur that strategizes and having some else do the content. So that's what I want to achieve in this book.

Barry: Very cool. I want to loop back to something you said a minute ago about disregarding your audience. Can you kind of expand on that?

Dan: About sorry, say that again.

Barry: You said a lot of people when they get started with content marketing, they disregard their audience. What did you mean by that?

Dan: Yeah, I think people just follow what other people do. And it's a huge mistake. People see someone else having success with a business or with content or with anything, and they just blindly follow what they do. In the end, content marketing is about creating value for your community. And I call it community because audience is sort a little bit one way. But it's very much two way, content marketing, you need to figure out a way to add value to this community of people that are going to care about you enough to tell people about your business.

So just going out and writing a bunch of blog posts is totally the wrong way to go about it. You need to experiment a lot and figure out what they care about and get to the point where you really understand what they care about.

I think a lot of problems people have as well, especially when it comes to scaling, is they scale the wrong things. They might be having success with their business, but the content they might be doing might actually be all wrong and the success might be for something else and then they'll scale that wrong content. Or they're not having success but they just want to get someone else to do it, but they haven't yet really understood how to get maximum impact by creating high value content that the community really cares about. And if you don't understand that, you're going to scale something that doesn't work.

So that's at the core of every content marketer that I've seen that does things well. The success I've had in my own business and the value, it's all really come down to how good a job I've done at really tapping into that audience or community.

Barry: All right, cool. Very cool. And I guess to, if you're going to spend the time and it's early days for you, and you haven't delegated yet and you're going to spend the time creating that content yourself, it has to be in a modality that resonates with you and the audience. If you're not a great writer, then maybe blog posts aren't for you. Or maybe video or podcasting or as you said, participating in forums is better. I think you need to find something that works for you because if it doesn't work for you, you're not going to want to do it. It's kind of like-

Dan: That's definitely true. Because the quality is such a huge impact and if you don't do quality consistently, because you don't like what you're doing, then it's going to die. But the other part of that equation that a lot of people don't think about is the scale aspect. A lot of people run out and do lots of video content, lots of audio content, have this podcast, and then they get to the point where they don't want to do it anymore. And they have no choice but to just stop doing it.

And I did that as well with my podcast and my videos. The problem with that is that those two different mediums are very very hard to scale. And when I set about trying to scale our content marketing, I didn't say how do we do videos and do podcasts and do blogs, I said how do we create as much value as possible by getting someone else to do it?

And we experimented with the idea of a podcast and I just found I couldn't control the process enough. It wasn't good enough quality, it wasn't differentiated enough. To me, it wasn't great content. And so we didn't do it. So we killed the podcast and we just focused on written content. Now, there's probably exceptions to this where, okay if you're going out and building a personal brand you're just kind of having fun and you're doing an event or launching a membership, putting out a lot of personal content, as well, which is all cool to do yourself.

But if you want to build a brand and eventually take an entrepreneurial approach, which is to work on the business, not in the business, or work on the content, not in the content, then you need to choose a type of content that's going to scale. Or you need to figure out, make some tough decisions at the point of scale where you kill of some of your babies and you just focus on the stuff that does scale. And that's what we did, and it was a little bit of a transition, but I think it's worth thinking about at the start when you're thinking about what sort of content you're going to do.

Barry: Yeah, I think someone who's done that, one of the only people who's done that, well is Clay Collins at Leadpages. When he started out, he was the face, he was doing all the videos, and he was doing all the audio content. And then, basically, as you said, he's got to the point in the scale where it wasn't going to make sense for him anymore. He basically outsourced the podcast to Tim Page is the host. And that's just going from strength to strength to strength. Even though Clay is not the face of it anymore.

Dan: That's a great one. I guess what I would say to that, though, is Leadpages have multi millions of dollars in funding. And that definitely helps the ability to get someone and to pay them a lot of money to look after your content definitely helps. And there's other companies who have gotten to that level of scale, like funded companies do this all the time. Like, Helpscout, Groove, really successful business can pay a lot of people. Buffer, lots and lots of funding and a full time content team. Hubspot, massive, massive content team.

Like, funded companies can do this because they have the money to do it. And it's just second nature that that's what they can do. It doesn't make sense for the CEO to be doing Periscope calls every day and having a podcast.

Barry: Don't tell Chris Tucker that.

Dan: Well, we could talk about Chris, I think his strategy is bang on for what he does. But his big entrepreneurial successes are with his traditional businesses and he barely even talks about those things in his personal brand. And his personal brand is a totally separate entity and it gives him everything that he wants and it's incredibly well executed.

But, that's not a good strategy for everyone. Like, it's a good strategy for Chris Tucker and his stage of entrepreneurship, but, I don't think it's a good strategy for a lot of the people listening to this call.

But what they have to figure out is, how do you get the client columns resolved without the client columns funding? Depending on who your audience members are, of course, if they're going to get multi millions in funding, then that's awesome. The challenge we had was how do you create that content without really having a lot of money to get someone a whole team in to do it? And a lot of entrepreneurs really struggle with that.

Barry: All right, well let's loop back to that. So, say you're a Seven Day Startup or you're an entrepreneur or small business owner and you want to get on the content marketing train and do it the right way. How do you start?

Dan: Well, I think all the stuff we've mentioned in terms of trying a lot of things, and looking for traction, they're probably the big ones. I mean, you should start firstly with the business and if you go Seven Day Startup,
then of course your business is perfect, because you followed my process.

But a lot of people don't start there. They start with their content or more to that, they start after the content and figure out how to get attraction when all these fundamentals are wrong. So, it should mean that your business is okay, and that it's all structurally good, assuming the logic between what content you're producing and the business makes sense. Then you just need to get over the hurdle of how do you create great content for people?

And to me, I think you do that by testing a lot of things, by modelling of other people who are doing it well in other industries, ideally other industries, and figuring out a way to differentiate based on what is going to get traction in your market. The thing is with content marketing, it's a massive scale. You could start out the absolute simplest, well, probably even further from the simplest, which is just putting out crappy content, but we'll leave that out of the equation.

Let's say the simplest form of content marketing is you can do what Marcus Sheridan did with River Pools and Spas, which is simply to answer questions that customers might have. Say, how much does a pool cost? Do versus articles and best of articles, list articles, like that kind of stuff, really simple. Like a craft beer business, how much does beer cost? What's the difference between a saison and a stout? Like, that kind of stuff.

And it goes all the way up to the Red Bull level of multi million dollar feature films designed just to get the attention of an energy drink. And everything in between. And where does your market sit in that? Like, if you're filling a marketing space like I am, if I do the basics stuff, it's not going to fly. No one is going to care about that, because the market has moved on from that. If I do the transparency stuff, revealing everything we do along the way, it might get a little bit of traction, but there's so many people doing that now, if you started doing that, I think you'd really struggle getting traction from that, as well.

But when we did that with the craft beer industry, no one was doing that, and we're the only ones, and the thing just blew up out of nothing and we've only got 12 post on our site and it's led to all sorts of amazing things, including funding to build a brewery.

So, you need to look at where you are on that spectrum and how do you get ahead of the competition? And also, monitor that. Like, your market might have no idea about content marketing, so you might start out writing the Marcus Sheridan type of content of answering customer questions. But you might find that competitors clue on to that straight away and they've got older sites, more established sites, so when they start doing it, they start outranking you and start getting more attention. You need to take it to a new level and figure out a new way to differentiate.

Barry: Yeah, fair enough. And, with that modelling that you say one of the steps is to kind of go out there and model people that work, and I think, how do you avoid being same-same, and how do you avoid doing something that might work for somebody else, say Neil Patel is a great blogger, but I'm not Neil Patel, or listeners aren't Neil Patel. So, just because he blogs all the time, and he's a great blogger, doesn't mean that I should blog, if you know what I mean.

Dan: That right. And also, though, a lot of people don't consider that a lot of these guys started a long time ago. Like Neil's first blog post was years and years ago. And, like if Neil Patel releases a blog now, he's got literally hundreds of thousands of people around the world that are going to pay attention to that. So, I don't think about that, either. When I launch something now, people will pay attention to it. When I first launched something, no one gave a shit. So, you have a massive hurdle to get over with that.

And, one way you can do it is just applying this scale idea of crappy content all the way for the most amazing content just in your business. So, if no one is blogging in your industry, then Neil Patel's strategy that he's doing right now, might work really well. I mean, let's face it, if you started out in the online marketing world, and did exactly what Neil Patel is doing right now, like if you created exactly that type of content, it would probably go unnoticed. Not because it's not good content-

Barry: Yeah, no one is gonna know it's there, because there's so much.

Dan: Yeah, there's just so much competition. So you have to do things differently. So, I've got a whole quarter of the book that talks about case studies about people that have been able to do that. John Dumas is a great example that I love mentioning because everyone is doing a podcast, but no one was doing a daily podcast. And he literally just outhustled everybody.

And that's one thing you can do. You can just do a shitload more than everyone else is doing. And that's one of the options in the book I talk about. Transparency is another one. Like Pat Flynn with his income reports. At the time, no one was doing it. It seemed weird. He believed something that other people didn't believe and he executed on it and got tremendous results. If he did it now, in the online marketing world, it would probably be treated with a lot of scepticism, which ours are. And on the outside, I'm talking 2012, so I've got a bit of a head start and it's still very effective. But doing it now would be very difficult to make that work.

So the scale idea, taking something right out from another industry, applying it to yours, is a good way to do it. Copying someone is a disaster. And if you've ever read anything that I've put out, you'll know that that's my opinion on that whether you're copying someone's business or copying someone's content. Because what works for them is just not going to work for you.

Barry: You've had like hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people copy WP Curve, though, since you've started.

Dan: Well, in their defence, I have also written a book that's been read by tens of thousands of people that teaches you how to copy WP Curve. (laughs) But, the other thing is I obviously don't care because I really do believe that someone copying someone else is not going to work, because there's just too many variables. Like with entrepreneurship and with content as well. So that's a bad strategy.

But modelling off other people is something I do all the time and it really helps you raise the bar in terms of execution. Like if you're solely focused on one blogger and what they do is not very good, but what you think they do is great, then quality of what you do is not going to be very good. So, broadening your horizons, getting motivation from a bunch of different worlds, like I sort of hang out in the startup world, the design world, the blogging world, the entrepreneurship and bootstrapping world, the internet marketing world. You combine all of those things, you get exposed to a whole bunch of different types of strategies for content marketing. If you're just in one, you're not going to get the full spectrum, you're not going to really understand what good execution of content is.

So, focusing on quality, focusing on what you're good at, but keeping scale in mind, testing a bunch of things, and applying something from another industry into yours are some of the best things, I think, you can do.

Barry: Yeah, I think you have to look at the mix of your skills and the mix of what your customers need, what's been done. And if you come out with a unique way to do something, other than just doing the same thing everyone is doing. Otherwise, it's just, it's not going to work for you and it's not going to work for your customers.

Dan: The other thing with skills is don't assume all skills are equal, either. Because some skills are very hard and some things aren't actually skills. Like, if you think about Periscope of YouTube, for example, like some people just shouldn't be doing YouTube videos. Like, they're just not-

Barry: A whole lot of people who shouldn't be doing YouTube. (laughs)

Dan: Yeah. And they'll follow like the Marie Forleos and the big YouTube stars and be like, “They're doing it, I can make that work.” But maybe it's just not a good thing for you to be doing. Like, maybe you're just not going to form that connexion with people no matter what your skill level is. Maybe it's a skill thing, maybe it's something else that you just connect better over written word.

I think in mays, I'm like that, or I used to be more like that. And I just felt like, the written stuff was a much easier skill to build. And I'm not a particularly good writer. Like, my poor editor, who has to edit my books and my blog. But the skill of creating a good blog post, I think that's a relatively easy skill to gain. You can do it without being a good writer. You can do it without being good at grammar. I think you can get a beautiful blog post without being a good designer. I think you can be useful and valuable to people without knowing that much about your subject. So, I think there's a lot of things you can hack in terms of written content you can't do with other forms.

So, if you think like, “I'm not a good writer, I shouldn't do blogging.” Then, I wouldn't leave it there. I would definitely dig a bit deeper on that to see if it is something you can learn and something you can enjoy. But if it's fundamentally something you don't like, and you're not good at, then you definitely shouldn't be doing it.

Barry: Yeah, fair enough. Your content is always really, it's quality content and, ones you look forward to reading all the time when you see them. And it's epic. They're not just the like, let's put out a 600 word thing so Google will find us and index it. It's quality content. So, let's loop back to that bit about quality, because there's tonnes of people just putting out shit content. One, how do you make sure it's quality and two, everyone is probably a little bit colorblind to their own content and it's their baby so they think it's great. So how do you maintain that kind of honesty around whether you're producing quality content or not?

Dan: Well, oh man, there's so many things. I mean, let me deal with about three.

The first is if you're not getting traction on your content, it's probably not good content. And so, I mean, I've learned that consistently over the years. We still put content on the WP Curve blog that doesn't get traction, and I can tell why it doesn't get traction. It's because it's not good enough. And I think if you think it's because of something else, you're probably wrong. You might be right, because there's no black and white here, but you're probably wrong. It's probably because the content is not good enough.

I measure that in shares by the way, not likes or views, I measure it in shares. So, if we have a blog post that … And this obviously depends on the size of the community. With our blog, a blog post that gets more than 50 shares to me is a success. And often, if something gets more than 50 shares, it'll get more than 100 shares, because it'll be useful content that people like and the bigger names will start sharing it.

So paying attention to what's getting traction in terms of shares is one thing. I've got a whole bunch of quality content standards that I include in the book. People can get them up on contentmachine.com/resources, whether they read or buy the book at all and they can get there without email opt in. Just go up there and grab them, they're Google docs, a whole bunch of things. One of them is content quality standards, and they are what has worked for me. They're, again, not necessarily what's going to work for you, but it would be a very good starting point to put together your own standards about what you observe works with your market. And in the end, the quality to some extent, is in the eye of your audience. But there are some things that are pretty broadly true.

Like, I think longer, more useful, more detailed content generally is better, if you've got your own blog. Having images that are exactly the same size, perfectly formatted, not shrunk down, optimised, not crappy stock images, images that serve a purpose, all the same size on the post and look nice and neat. That's a good thing for anybody to do and a lot of bloggers don't do this, they don't about this, they don't realise that other people do care about it subconsciously. Having good design is almost universal. It's something that everyone can do if they believe it's important. And I think the reason people don't believe it's important is because bad design doesn't show up in Google analytics. And in fact a lot of this stuff doesn't show up in Google Analytics.

So, there are some of the things that you can do for quality content. But I think the best thing that you can do is to try a lot of things, work out what your audience tells you is good quality content. They do that by sharing it, and they do that by telling you in the comments that whatever you've done is something they've actually used or it's something they're deeply connected with, or it's something they deeply disagreed with. Those are the signs that I look for that tell me that my content is good.

Barry: And do you have like a minimum publishing schedule? Like, we're going to put out something at least once a week? Or do you just go, right, if it's not quality, we're just not going to do it and if it's three, four weeks between posts, as long as it's an epic piece, we're just going to be happy to live with that? I mean does that frequency matter?

Dan: Yeah, I mean, we definitely, if it's not great quality, if we don't think it can get traction, then we don't publish it. And we'll do everything to avoid publishing it, including completely rewriting guest articles that people have written for us, or co-writing it with them if we think they can't salvage it. Scrapping them, whatever we have to do, we'll do that to make sure we don't put anything on the blog that isn't good quality. So that's important. But we do have a schedule of sorts where we aim to do 10 long, detailed blog posts each month. And I think that's a, with a full-ish time content guy who's writing half the content and managing the guest authors for the other half and also focusing on calls to action, me, my marketing time for strategy for other things. I think that's a reasonable goal.

I think quality is much more important than consistency, although consistency is really important on social media. So, if you're using social media to promote your content, which you should be, then you do need a lot of fresh content coming through. So, I wouldn't put crappy content and then just to hit the consistency goal. I would figure out a way to consistently produce great content.

Barry: All right. Well, that brings us to the next. How do you scale this thing? How do you remove yourself from the picture and scale it if you're going to be a big time business owner?

Dan: Yeah, well, I think the first thing you do is you think about it differently. And this is what I want to achieve first and foremost with this book, is to achieve what the entrepreneurship, the start up business type guru world was able to achieve with entrepreneurs, which is encourage entrepreneurs to basically get good at a process and delegating it and work more on the business as opposed to in the business. Which means, you take the entrepreneurial approach to something. You go into a market, you analyse a market that exists already that is healthy, you analyse what they need, and you give them something with a point of difference. And then you build a team and scale that.

And I think you should … I want people to do the same with content marketing. In that, they look at their community, it's an existing community, the business is sound, they look for gaps, look for ways to differentiate and get attention, but they ultimately think about it from an entrepreneur's point of view, where they want to get someone else in there to actually do the legwork for that content. Or at least have the option to do that, to enable them to be truly entrepreneurial.

And so, there's 10,000 words in this book that talk about that topic. Some of the stuff is delegation, some of it is procedural. We have processes in there for content quality and for article writing guidelines. A checklist for what to do after a post is published for promotion. Ideas for hiring content managers and content writers, guest writers. All that kind of stuff is part of the delegation piece.

And then there's the automation piece, which is making sure certain jobs get done regularly, which we do through Trello and Zapier. You could use Zapier and whatever task solution you use for your team. Making sure that stuff happens without you, and without someone else having to organise it. And then, there's also the email automation piece, which I talk about a little bit, but it probably needs a whole book or ten to really go into. But, email automation is another way you can scale things that we use.

So, I talk about four or five different sequences people can use in the book. Simple things like pitch sequences for their business so that they pitch people at certain times but not too much. Sequences where you create content around problems that your business solves, so you have a dedicated sequence for people who like that type of content. That's a strategy that is something people can try. Bended cart sequences, things like that. So, there's a lot that goes into scaling. Choosing the right type of content is important as well. Choosing the right type of business, the fundamentals, is important as well. Because at the end of the day, you need to be able to pay someone to do this and you need to have excess profit to be able to do that.

So, yeah, there's a lot of things that go into the idea of scaling.

Barry: All right, great. Coming up on our time here, Dan. So, maybe just one more question, which is … So, someone's out there, they've got the new business started, they want to do content marketing, or they know they have to do content marketing and do it well. What's the first step?

Dan: Well you definitely are going to have to do it. And again, I want to make sure that people aren't doing this because someone else is having success with it. Because I think you'll be failing from the start if you think you have to do something because someone else is doing it. The first step, I think, is probably, other than read my book, of course, and join my community (laughs). Is probably really understanding what good content is, whether that's in your industry or not.

And I do that by just looking at the other people who are having success with it. And you need to be really … You need to question everything when it comes to looking at people's success. Because, it's a lot easier to be successful at something once you already are successful. So, if you can possibly, see if you can look at examples where people have been recently successful that are outliers. Or, look back to how they became successful in the first place and look at what they did and how they differentiated that one.

So, a perfect example. What I learned from Pat Flynn is not, I mean Pat Flynn executes his content very well, but what I learned from Pat Flynn is not, like, how do you write a blog post in 2015? What I learned is, how do you stand out in 20- whatever it was when he started doing his income reports, for being the first person to do something. So that's a lesson I take from that. Normal people probably get to his site and say they have to do income reports because it's working for Pat Flynn. That's the wrong way to go about it.

But really question everything and work out who's doing this really well, what you can model off of them, and really start to understand what's good content and think about your community, who your community is, what they care about, like, what they're going to share, what kind of content they're sharing, and start trying to produce some of this stuff yourself.

Barry: Cool, very cool. Dan, you are super prolific online and you've got at least three businesses that I know of. So, where's the best place for someone to reach out and find out more about you and Content Machine?

Dan: I launched another one yesterday, so four, but who's counting? (laughs) So, my community is the best place. I've got two. I've got the Facebook group, which, you just go to Facebook, put in Seven Day Startup and then I've got a private paid membership off the back of that, which I launched yesterday called the Seven Day Startup Group. Which is a slack group and paid forum and training in a lot of these concepts. But the easiest way to get started is to go to Facebook, put in Seven Day Startup and you'll find a group there with thousands of entrepreneurs who care about starting up businesses in this way and care about content marketing and were inspired by this book or the previous book. And I'm very active in there, as well. So that's probably the easiest way to get started.

Barry: All right, great Dan. Well thank you so much for coming on. Looking forward to getting my hands on the new book and Seven Day Startup was certainly instrumental in me getting my business off the ground and kick in the ass that I needed to actually make it happen.

So, always a pleasure talking to you Dan, and look forward to seeing more of your content online.

Dan: Thanks, man. Well, great to hear that. I love hearing that. I want to sort of promote some of these success stories a lot more, because people love those case studies. But yeah, thanks for having me. It's been fun.

Barry: See ya, Dan.

I'd like to thank Dan and I'd like to thank you for stopping by. This week on The Active Marketer podcast. You can find all the show notes from this week's episode at TheActiveMarketer.com/contentmachine. And you can find Dan's book over at ContentMachine.com. I would encourage you to pick it up if you're at all interested in doing content marketing to build your brand. It's a great place to start.

I also encourage you to head over to TheActiveMarketer.com/taggingguide and download our newly updated ninja guide to tagging that tells you all about how to use tags in your marketing automation. So head over there, grab that free guide, and clean up your marketing automation.

So thank you for stopping by and we'll see you on next week's show. In the meantime, get out there and design, automate and scale your business to the next level using sales and marketing automation. See you, everybody.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to the Active Marketer podcast. You can find the show notes and all the latest marketing automation news, over at theactivemarketer.com.

Barry Moore

Entrepreneur, aviator and former eCommerce and technology executive, Barry Moore is the founder of TheActiveMarketer.com. When he isn't geeking out about how sales and marketing automation can help your business, you can find him in the surf or in an airplane.