It’s important to know how to start a blog correctly, and to utilize the proper content strategy to make money blogging. However, there’s little more important than having an actionable content marketing strategy. When developed correctly, it helps propel your site to rapid growth.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.
A purposeful content marketing strategy gives your site’s content a vivid life, and identifies your target audience. There’s no traffic without content marketing. Therefore, it’s the core of blogging with a business-mindset. After all, there’s also no “business” and no conversion without traffic.
The Most Important Elements
The best ways to become a quality content marketer are as follows:
Let’s take a look at each of these in detail.
Building Domain Authority (DA)
The overarching goal of any content marketing strategy is to build your site’s domain authority. All websites, regardless of topic, start with a domain authority of zero.
Sites with domain authorities of 99 – which is basically as good as it gets – include the New York Times, the Economist, and the BBC. Reaching a 99 isn’t a reasonable goal regardless of your niche or competition within the niche.
It’s extremely rarified air.
Reaching a 70 or even an 80DA, however can be with time and hard work. Moz – the site that developed the domain authority metric – considers anything over 60 excellent.
It’s important to not obsess with getting links from high DA sites out of the gate. Instead, build up slowly. More on this in a little while.
Choosing a Domain Name
One of the most important steps in building domain authority is choosing the right domain name. You want to make sure the domain is descriptive of the content you’ll be creating. If you can include your core topic – or core keyword – in the domain, even better!
We write about how to start a blog – and then how to scale that blog – so our site name and domain name make sense. Think long and hard on this one y’all! Make sure you’re satisfied with the decision. It’s something you’re going to be stuck with for the long-haul.
Creating Highly-Optimized and Linkable Content
Next, is developing content that is optimized and “linkable”. It’s vital to follow all SEO Best Practices (which we previously mentioned in our content strategy cornerstone article).
These include starting article titles with the primary keyword you’re targeting. Also, using qualifiers like best, guide or the current year. Finally, using H2, H3 and H4 tags, adding alt text to all images, and more.
Building Backlinks and Internal Linking Structure
Once your own content is “linkable”, the next important step is to earn backlinks. We’ll dive into this in much greater detail later. For now, know there’s nothing more important in the world of content strategy when it comes to increasing authority.
While backlinks are a pillar, it’s also important to ensure your own internal linking structure follows a predictable formula. Always link to other articles on your site from each article you write. This is particularly true if you have foundational or “cornerstone articles” for which you’re trying to earn attention.
When in doubt, link to another article that’s contextually-relevant or shares something in common with your focus topic. Also, constantly crawl your own site – using tools like Ahrefs, Screaming Frog, or SEMRush to make sure all internal links are in working order.
It’s damaging for a blog’s DA to have any broken links, or links that drive traffic to undesired destinations. This is especially true if a reader visits an article with a 404 Not Found Error. Just imagine how much it aggravates you when you visit someone else’s site and this happens!
Internal and external linking structure is an important way to build a professional site. Acquiring backlinks is your key to growth.
Along these lines, one clear path to starting to build domain authority – and backlinks- is to aggressively pursue guest blogging opportunities.
Securing Guest Blogging Opportunities
Securing the opportunity to guest post on high DA sites within your niche is a great way to build your own authority. As you start to publish on high DA blogs, you will organically start to build backlinks to your own site. These backlinks not only build authority but also naturally start to build your traffic base.
There are several ways to approach guest posting outreach to build backlinks. Traditional methods include cold-emailing content managers to be included on their blogs. Or maybe doing the same through a cold LinkedIn message or tweet. These methods typically fall flat if you haven’t established some type of relationship with the contact prior to outreach.
After all, consider all of the cold sales requests or other requests you get in your current job! How many of those have you ever responded to? Where do they typically end up? Yep, the trash bin (literally or figuratively).
Also it’s a very bad idea to use Google searches like [my topic] “guest posts” or [my topic] “guest article” as everyone under the sun does the same thing. As you might imagine, if everyone is searching on Google in the same way they’re all getting the same results. And you can rest assured those sites are being inundated with guest post pitches. Yours is likely to get lost in mix with all the others.
Therefore, it’s vital to try a few under-the-radar methods to identify opportunities that not everyone is chasing.
Smart Ways to Identify Guest Posting Opportunities
Ahrefs Content Explorer
Using the Ahrefs Content Explorer is a great way to identify some under-the-radar guest posting opportunities. Ahrefs has a database of billions of indexed websites to search. They offer a 7 day, $7 trial of their entire suite of products before you have to pay $99/month for their base package. During that 7-day trial, you could do a year’s worth of guest posting research easily with some dedicated time. Build up a huge spreadsheet of contacts, cancel the trial, and come back to use them later when you have the funds.
The moral of the story is to not become too fixated on high DA sites. Whether or not you use Ahrefs to do this research.
There are plenty of sites out there with a lower DA that publish quality content and are growing. Why not help them grow by providing some new content as you grow yourself? This could turn into a long-term mutually beneficial partnership that both sides could leverage.
Pursue Sites With a Mid-Range Domain Authority
Facts are that it’s going to take a while to get to a 60DA. In fact, it’s exponentially harder to move from a 50 to 60 than from a 20 to 30, for example. It’s increasingly more difficult with every ten points you move.
Fear not. A quick way to get some early wins is to start with baby steps. We all crawl before we walk when it comes to content marketing strategy. Identify some solid-looking 30-50DA sites to pitch for guest blogging opportunities, and build from there.
Factors to Consider When Evaluating Low DA Websites
A few factors to consider when evaluating these sites:
- Do they post consistently? When is the last time they published a new article?
- What is the quality of the content published?
- Does it look like they often publish guest posts?
- Do they have a reasonable social media presence? If so, do they share guest articles they publish on these mediums (especially Facebook & Twitter)?
- How many backlinks to they have to their own site? (Use the Ahrefs or Moz Google Chrome extensions to find this out.)
If you can answer yes to all of these questions, the site is definitely worth pitching for a guest post. Even if you can answer three of the five, it’s still probably worth it as you’re starting out. As time goes on and you have earned some links, you can be more particular with your content marketing strategy.
But, you know the old saying “beggars can’t be choosers.” So work with what you can, and build as you go.
Do Some Reverse Engineering
Another great way to identify potential sites to guest post is to check out where prolific guest bloggers are writing. Using Twitter to do this is really easy.
Let’s take a look at an example. If you search the phrase “content marketing guest post” in Twitter :
This is a great example of how easy it is to see where other people in your niche are guest posting. While this screenshot just shows a couple of people who are writing in our niche of content marketing, the actual list went on for pages. So, from this example, it would make sense for us to check out heidicohen.com and the site where Mr. Kathayat posted.
We would check the DA of the page. How often they post content. The quality of the content etc., and if the boxes are checked, we might even reach out to see if we can secure a guest post ourselves! It’s really that easy on Twitter. You can search any keyword imaginable + “guest post” and pull back a ton of potential opportunities.
Another method to identify guest posting opportunities is to reverse engineer links based on where your competitors are posting. First, make a list of who you consider your five primary competitors. These are the sites you should emulate, and want to work to replicate, through content marketing strategy.
Once you have these sites listed, use a tool like the ones we mentioned previously – Ahrefs or Moz, namely – to see how they are obtaining links from guest posts. Check out a few places where they have posted. It’s likely some of these sites may not actively advertise that they accept guest posts, but they’re obviously sharing them! Why not approach these sites with your own unique pitch to see if you can land your own guest post opportunity?
For some example pitch methods and techniques on guest post pitching, check out our free pitch resources here.
Outsourcing Content Creation
We’ve all heard the old saying “content is king.” Well, it exists for a reason. Content is, in fact, king. The right content, and the right process to get that content created, can make your blog an unstoppable growth machine.
While there are some folks out there who believe that content curation – or more often, constant content creation – is the way to make content work in your favor, that’s a little off base. Sure, having full control over the content you create is appealing, but also time-consuming. Why not take a different approach and outsource content creation to free up time for more calculated, business-minded efforts?
There are a few ways to go here: content marketplaces, hiring freelancers one-off, or acquiring free guest content.
Hiring writers through content marketplaces like Scripted, Upwork, Guru or Textbroker is one option. These sites have the best reputation in the space. The differences between them – including cost, turn-around time, and editorial process – can vary somewhat, but in general the content their writers produce is consistent and reliable.
These sites allow you to put together a custom proposal for articles and let potential writers pitch to that proposal, or you can select writers based on their previous work you believe would be right for the job.
Depending on the amount of time you have available to write each week, the monetary investment you’d make in these contracted writers could be well worth it. Time is money after all!
Hiring Freelance Writers One-Off
Another option is to hire freelance writers one-off based on the assignment you’re looking for them to cover. There are a few ways to identify freelancers that would be a good fit for your blog.
I would start with perusing social media and checking out sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. Search something like “freelance writer [your topic]” and see what you get. At this point, you can reach out straight to the writer via the messaging part of those platforms to pitch your article. If you find their website, instead, you can use the Hunter Google Chrome extension to pull back an email address, if one’s not clearly listed for contact.
There are plenty of freelancers that would love to help you build your blog, especially if a one-off article can turn into a long-term partanership that offers them consistent, predictable work.
Offer Guest Posting Opportunities on Your Own Blog
A final option is to clearly offer guest posts on your blog, as well. Just because you’re going to be pushing hard to acquire guest posting opportunities on other sites in your niche doesn’t mean you can’t offer the same in return to other writers. It’s an easy way to get some free content written to publish on your site, and push toward ranking for other keywords valuable to the SEO infrastructure of your blog.
Social Media Automation
Posting manually to all of the various social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tik Tok etc. – can be an exhausting slog that requires several hours a week that could be used for better purposes.
While social media is an important part of any content marketing strategy, it can be done intelligently, with minimal time consumption. The easiest way to do this? Automation. Social media automation is a great way to ensure you’re getting some impact from your social accounts without having to spend more than a couple hours of focused work on building your accounts.
It’s worth considering platforms like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer or IFTTT depending on your priorities, and your level of technological ability and knowhow. Each of these platforms allow you to schedule messages in bulk- several weeks ahead if you’d prefer. Using this type of social media automation is a great way to get your own content – and the content you publish as guest postings – scheduled out to your social channels, and also to interact with your fans and readers to build community.
I promise it’ll save you countless hours versus trying to do all of it manually.
Content marketing strategy doesn’t have to be imposing and intimidating. Just follow our suggestions step by step and use your own instinct to find opportunities to let your writing shine, both on your site and on other blogs which can help you increase authority!
Schedule a free, one-on-one consultation to learn more about how you can use our Training Academy to your advantage. You don’t have to go it alone! Learn from our expertise, and scale your blog rapidly!