What's in this article?
When I say “content marketing” what do you think of?
Let me guess: Blogging, right?
It’s a common misperception. Any more, “content marketing” has become synonymous with “blogging.” And while blogging is arguably the most common form of content marketing, and should definitely be part of your sales strategy, it’s not the only option out there. If you hate writing, or just feel like you’re not seeing the best return on investment from your business’s blogging efforts, considering using one of these other options for content marketing:
Your video options run the gamut from recording something with your smart phone to screencasting to investing in a high-end set up. Don’t be intimidated by video–the barrier to entry is actually very low. With good lighting (natural lighting is usually best), you can record a decent quality video with most smartphones.
You can also “screencast,” which means you’re recording your computer screen instead of recording yourself (or someone else). This is a great choice for reviewing apps or recording how-to videos that involve software. Reviews or how-to videos are also good options for video because they come with built-in search engine optimization (people will naturally search for “review [name of tool]”), and YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine (next to Google, of course).
Michael Richeson, a Portland based videographer, accidentally found out just how powerful video can be:
“In August of 2013, I was frustrated. I train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and I was trying to find good video reviews of new gis (the pajamas we fight in). Everything I found was terrible quality and not very helpful. I was running a small video production business so I thought, “Screw it. I’m going to make the kind of video I wish I could find.” So I made a few fancy video reviews in my studio, then I put them up on YouTube, and they exploded. Within a month, I was turning down manufacturers because so many of them wanted to send me product. A large online retailer contacted me, bought out all my content and then hired me on to produce all of their future product video. It turned into quite a few other paying gigs as well.
I lucked out a bit in that I was involved in a global sport that had a massive, unmet need that I was uniquely qualified to meet, but it also goes to show that if you’re willing to do the work and make something great, content is wildly powerful.”
Video might be a good option for you if:
- You’d rather speak about a subject than write about it. Writing just doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people, and that’s okay. Video gives you an alternative way to share useful content without spending hours beating your head against a keyboard.
- You work in an industry where it’s easier to show instead of tell. With the above example of a tutorial, it’s often easier (and preferable to the content consumer) to watch it in real-time than wade through an incredibly long blog post and compare their actions to pictures or screenshots.
- Screencast-O-Matic is a screencast recording software that has a free option and a paid option at $15/year. (This is what I use for my video reviews–it’s super easy to use and very budget friendly, plus it comes with built-in options for uploading to YouTube.)
- This video tutorial (how meta!) at Wistia covers all the basics of shooting great video with your iPhone
- HOW TO: Make a Great How-To Video and 4 Tips for Producing Quality Web Videos are two solid tutorials from Mashable to get you started.
You might not think of images as content, but they definitely are. Not only are there infographics, which break down a particular topic (or data set) in an easy-to-consume visual manner, there’s inspirational images with action steps or quotables. You’re still providing value with images (and providing value is what’s at the core of content marketing), but you might be doing it in a different way than an information-packed blog post. It’s often a matter of inspiring someone, making them laugh, or simply making them think for a moment.
These images make natural shareables for Instagram and Pinterest, as well. Those social networks are often thought of as appealing to a very specific target market and industry, but there’s definitely room for exploration. FastCompany is an example of a company doing interesting things on their Instagram feed, combining inspiring images that fall under the “quotable” category (note the subway station sign in the above) with images that are high quality and well done accompanied by interesting text in the description.
And honestly, sometimes, images are just a more fun way to promote products or services–even fairly intangible ones, like a course. Gwynne Montgomery experimented with images in marketing her first course and had great results:
“I used Canva, Pixlr, and Picmonkey to create the promo images for the first online course I decided to run, as well as another service special that I was running at the same time. I sourced high quality images of people and nature to use for my promos, and with those tools, I create engaging and shareable content. I sold out my course in four days based on Facebook sharing of my graphics alone, before even launching an official registration page.”
Images might be a good option for you if:
- You work in a visual industry. Again, the goal here is to provide value of some kind; so if you’re a photographer, you don’t want to be just sharing images you’ve taken. You should be sharing photos you’ve taken, along with value–so an inspiring quote, or an accompanying funny/interesting story about the shoot or the subject.
- It’s easier to show than tell. Videos are often the best option for “showing,” but where a video isn’t an option, an image can be quicker and easier to create than a lengthy blog post (while still providing value).
- 10 free tools for creating infographics to get you started
- A resource round-up of tools for editing pictures and adding text/effects
- 5 Ways to Make Shareable Images That Drive Traffic
Podcasting has been around for several years, and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. It makes sense–we’re all inundated with plenty of material to read. Providing an alternative way to consume information, whether the listener is walking their dog, driving, or on the bus, can give you a way to reach otherwise busy people.
Like video, there isn’t necessarily a high barrier to entry with podcasting (though of course, you can invest in a good quality microphone and audio editing). Halley Razz Gray found that out firsthand:
“I started experimenting with podcasting and I love it–my podcast helps me connect with new readers, makes people laugh and allows my brand to be experienced in a new medium! I pay for SoundCloud’s plan so that I can upload additional audios and then send it to iTunes to be published; it’s very easy. I recently bought the Blue Snowball mic and I love it, but I didn’t let not having the expensive equipment stop me from starting; I just recorded with my MacBook’s mic at first.”
SoundCloud’s unlimited plan is $15/month, so it definitely doesn’t take a lot of investment to get started!
Podcasting might be a good option for you if:
- You’d rather talk than write. Again, writing doesn’t come easily to everyone, but some people are natural speakers and can talk at length about their industry–and of course, provide value at the same time.
- Your industry or topics won’t require visual aids. Some industries or topics are just better suited for video or images than podcasts. Nobody wants to listen to thirty minutes of, “And then you do this and then you try that…”
- You have a built-in co-host or guests. For a podcast to be really interesting, you need to either be a very engaging speaker or have guests or a co-host that you have a great rapport with.
- This article is essentially a “podcasting 101” article, aimed at small business owners
- Getting meta again, here’s a podcast on Social Media Examiner, about why podcasting is something marketers should follow
- Podcasting 101: how to start a podcast (this gets more into the step-by-step than the first article does)
In the end, even if blogging is something you enjoy, you might consider expanding your content marketing efforts into other mediums. You could find that a particular medium is a much better way of reaching your audience or enticing them to take action. Or you could find out that you can create content that’s just as high quality as your written content and still gets you results, but takes less time and effort on your part. Why not pick one of the above mediums to experiment with today?
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