Whether you are a Fortune 500 company, a sole-entrepreneur, or a small start-up, your business can get profound results from publishing prevalent material online. When it’s something people want to read, published content can lead to improved PR (Public Relations) traction, substantially raised SEO (Search Engine Optimization) rankings, and increased page traffic bringing thousands of new visitors.
For example, in 2011, Girish, the founder of Freshdesk.com (a helpdesk software) shared an article he’d written detailing his motivation for starting the company on Ycombinator’s Hackernews site. The results of publishing his article earned the Freshdesk site over 30,000 new visitors, 175 of which signed up for the software, all in just two days’ time.
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In March, our company decided to try an easy experiment of our own. First, we published an article about Lighting Shoes, a small LED shoes eCommerce site selling Light Up Shoes we had purchased earlier in the year. Then, all we had to do was sit back and wait to see the outcome. Once the article was published and the story got traction on both reddit.com and indiehackers.com, the results started pouring in!
In all, we received 3,257 new visitors from Reddit and 951 from Indiehackers to our light up shoes site . Our SEO Google results for “LED shoes” shot up to number 12 after not even being in the top 50. We made two sales from the referral traffic and eleven from the boosted SEO ranking. As for PR, a message we received from Kim Sims said,”I saw a great article featuring you. I want a pair of your adult light up shoes PLUS I submit items for Oprah’s Favorite Things in her magazine. I will be in touch.” Although she hasn’t reached out to us yet, it’s simply amazing that our article reached someone who works for Oprah! Once published, you never know who might read your article.
As you can see, just one article had an incredible result. In this ever-changing world of online business and marketing, one thing is for certain; great content produces great results. In view of that, here are some simple steps to follow for replicating our results in any market you choose.
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#1 Research the Community
To get the type of results that our company’s article got, you have to write material that your target audience wants to read. Whether published on a social network such as Reddit, a news outlet such as Huffington Post, or a personal blog, it is all still part of an online community. Writing about what that community is interested in is a win/win situation. They want what you have to offer and you want their patronage. Just decide where you want to be published, then learn what that market wants most. One of the easiest ways to do this is by looking back at previous articles and their results. See which ones got the most interaction, such as the most up-votes or comments. This will help you determine what that particular community wants or needs. Remember: you don’t have to reinvent the wheel; if it was popular once, it will be again.
#2 Choose an Idea
Now that you know the target market, you need to narrow down a topic. I like doing what I call ”mind mapping.” I get a blank sheet of paper, label the top with ”blog post topics” and then I brainstorm. When coming up with topics, it’s a good time to review the results you found from looking at previous articles. Find something the community loved, not just liked, but loved.
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Now you can either write about a similar topic or you can expand on the existing one, adding your own experiences and lessons. Another idea is to address a problem the readers are having about the previous article. Just keep writing down ideas as they come to you. When finished, look down and see if a topic jumps out at you or if one of them would provide value to the readers. Now that you have chosen an idea for your article, you can move on to the next step.
#3 Write Impressive Content
I’ll never forget the advice I received one time from a successful entrepreneur. He told me, “Unless your start-up idea provides 5x the value than what’s already out there, don’t start it.” You can also apply this article content, as I have. Unless your content can provide 5x the value of what’s generally posted in the community, don’t write it. You need to have an impressive attribute to your content. It needs to resonate with the reader somehow. Make them rethink how they’ve done something, as was my goal for writing this article; I hope I can help you publish content effectively. Inspire them to try something new. You want the article to be a ”changer,” a business changer, a lifestyle changer, a hobby changer; in other words, it should change something for someone. Therefore, make your content impressive and it will.
#4 Make a Headline
As there are already a number of excellent blogs about how to write a catchy, effective headline, I’ll keep this to a minimum. Having the right headline is critical to getting your article read. Look at it this way: you are asking the readers to pay by investing their time in reading your article. The article needs to convince them that they are not wasting their time. When you’re writing the headline, you need to do the following:
*Be specific; don’t use broad or generic terms
*Arouse curiosity, but don’t be too hypey
*Point out the benefit the article provides
*If warranted, as a bonus, include stats or self-experience
The following is a great example about the type of effective headline I am referring to:
“How I Lost $2000 in product sales and how you can fix the issue in your own shop in 10 minutes”
Specific? Yes, it is about losing product sales in an online shop.
Arouses curiosity? Most definitely, if you also have an eCommerce shop!
Spells out the benefits? Yes, it can potentially save thousands of dollars in sales.
Uses stats? Yes, it clearly states the personal loss of $2000.
This is the power of writing a clearly effective headline that will provoke your target audience into reading your article.
#5 Be Active
Once you have accomplished the steps, you are ready to publish. Just because you have published doesn’t mean you are done. Depending on the community, there could be an expectation of continued discussion and involvement. Most communities will develop some kind of feedback and it’s best if you can remain involved. The cost of not being available for feedback can sometimes turn readers into major trolls who bash your work. Obviously, that wouldn’t be good for future articles, either. If you have published in an active social community such as Reddit, be prepared to log in every few hours to field comments and questions. My own business expose generated over 300 comments on Reddit, compared to only five on Indiehackers. I was happy to respond to both sites, as you should be, too. Take an active approach and learn from your readers. Be there for your community and they will be there for you!
I hope this article has been informative and helpful to you. Happy writing!
Melissa Stevens is a born entrepreneur and loves creating value through business. Currently she one of the owners and chief marketer at lightingshoes.net. Lighting Shoes is an online shop for Light Up LED Shoes.