How to Use Content Marketing to Promote Yourself, Clients, and Projects - with C.C. Chapman20:27 with Dan Gorgone
C.C. Chapman is a blogger, photographer, and speaker at conferences around the world on the subjects of digital marketing, online media, and inspiration. He is the co-author of Content Rules, and his new book, Amazing Things Will Happen, comes out in late 2012. He recently spoke with Dan Gorgone to discuss how Treehouse members can benefit from content marketing to promote themselves, their clients, and website and app projects.
[? Music ?] 0:00 [Treehouse Friends] 0:03 Hey, everyone. Welcome back to Treehouse Friends. 0:06 [Dan Gorgone @dangorgone] I'm Dan Gorgone from Treehouse, 0:08 and when it comes to promoting your business or communicating 0:10 about yourself online content is the key. 0:13 It takes many forms. It comes in all shapes and sizes. 0:17 But at its core, you need a clear voice, and you need a strategy 0:19 to make quality content work. 0:24 Luckily, we have an expert joining us today 0:27 that knows all about content. 0:29 C.C. Chapman is a blogger, photographer, speaker at conferences around the world, 0:32 and he's the co-author of a great guide to content marketing called "Content Rules." 0:36 He joins us today from the Content Rules headquarters out in western Massachusetts. 0:41 C.C., how are you, man? 0:46 [C.C. Chapman] [Author, Content Rules] I'm doing great. Thanks for having me here today. 0:49 Thanks for joining us. I know our members are going to really appreciate it. 0:51 [Dan Gorgone @dangorgone] [C.C. Chapman @cc_chapman] 0:53 I wanted to ask you some questions about content marketing. 0:55 First up, for our members looking for a quick intro 0:57 to the topic what is content marketing exactly? 1:01 How does it differ from traditional marketing? 1:04 Well, first I think to understand content marketing 1:08 you have to understand what content is, and the way I describe content is 1:12 anything that you create and share to tell your story, 1:16 so that can be anything really, and content has been around forever. 1:19 Back before the internet we had print, radio and television. 1:24 All of that was content. 1:26 Content marketing lately has been getting a lot of attention because 1:28 everybody has woken up to the power of the internet 1:31 and the fact that no matter if you're designing 1:34 a website, starting a charity 1:37 or creating an event you've got to create stuff to share online 1:40 that people can take and share it with others 1:43 and give likes and +1s and all those other things too 1:46 in order to generate interest in whatever it is you're creating. 1:50 Well, a lot of our Treehouse members are coders. 1:55 They're designers, developers, and they're building websites, apps. 1:58 They're working on many different kinds of projects, 2:01 a lot of the projects that you've mentioned, 2:03 so where exactly does content fit in for them? 2:06 Well, I think it's really critical, and it's probably something that 2:11 a lot of coders and designers may not be thinking about 2:15 because they're so focused on getting the app or the site 2:18 or whatever it is they're building finished, and let's face it, 2:21 that's a lot of work, so you've got this great thing created. 2:24 Well, how are you going to get people to come check it out? 2:28 How are they going to know that it exists? 2:30 You've got to do some form of content marketing in order to 2:32 get people to check it out, and that might involve 2:34 doing something in the alpha stage or the beta stage 2:38 as you're building a new site or a new app. 2:40 It may be creating an interesting overview video that shares it. 2:43 It's one of those steps that I think it's forgotten about, 2:47 and yet it's really, really critical because let's face it, 2:49 the reason you're building something is you want the world to see it. 2:53 Maybe you're trying to sell it. 2:56 Maybe it's about getting users to sign up. 2:58 There's different reasons that you'd want to bring people in and check it out, 3:00 but in today's world where, let's face it, 3:03 every second there's new stuff being shared online, 3:06 you've got to create content that stands out 3:10 and is going to engage the audience that you want to bring to you. 3:13 It's not one of those everybody has to do a video 3:16 or everybody has to blog. 3:19 It's more about what's right for your audience to get them to come check out 3:21 what you've created. 3:24 Yeah, that's a good point, and a lot of our membership 3:27 are freelancers and contracts, and in addition to 3:30 marketing the products, their services that their clients 3:35 may be hiring them to build sites for 3:40 they want to market themselves and their services and bring in clients. 3:43 But they may look online or at the marketplace 3:47 and worry about the competition. 3:50 Wherever they are they may be flooded with all kinds of people 3:52 who can do the same thing, so I wonder how they can differentiate themselves? 3:54 How can they use content marketing to accomplish this? 3:59 Yeah, well, let's face it. 4:03 There are a lot of freelancers out there, especially in the space 4:05 where your audience lives and breathes. 4:08 There's a lot of people out there doing that, 4:11 but the person who is going to stand out, the person who is going to get attention 4:13 is the one that does something different. 4:17 One of the rules in the book is we talk about do something unexpected. 4:19 What could you do that's going to make you stand out? 4:23 Maybe you've got a sense of humor. 4:26 Maybe you've got a creative streak. 4:28 What makes you different, your voice? 4:30 Whenever I talk to businesses--and it applies to individuals especially. 4:34 Each of us has our own voice. 4:37 The way I say something, the way somebody else says something 4:39 is very, very different. 4:41 Well, then how could you use that voice--and I'm not just saying-- 4:43 by saying voice I'm not saying just how I sound. 4:46 It's your approach, your philosophy to life, 4:50 and always the more of yourself that you can put in your content the better. 4:53 If you've ever seen like when I share stuff 4:58 I may be talking about my kids, or I might be talking about cooking, 5:02 and somehow I tie it into what I'm doing, 5:06 and I connect with a whole bunch of new people, 5:08 and it's critical. 5:11 It's very critical that you do something that's unique to you 5:13 and that you're comfortable with doing to stand out, 5:16 and a quick little aside that fits into this. 5:20 I know when we were writing the book we were looking for an illustrator, 5:23 and there's tons of illustrators out there, 5:27 and we ended up going to Flickr, of all places, 5:29 and we had an idea of what we were looking for, 5:32 and we started looking through illustrations and ended up finding 5:35 a guy in Minneapolis, of all places, 5:38 and both me and my co-author are here in Boston. 5:41 But we found him via Flickr because he had shared 5:43 a lot of his work that he'd done for clients, 5:46 work that he had done for himself, 5:48 just doodles and stuff, but something in one of his pictures 5:51 that he had drawn had got our attention, and lo and behold, 5:54 we ended up hiring him, and I'm sure when he posted things to Flickr 5:57 he was never imagining he'd get a job that way, 6:01 and yet it worked, and I love telling that story because 6:04 sometimes you have to think beyond the obvious places to post your work, 6:08 and that goes beyond just for illustrators. 6:11 It can apply to anybody, so look for those other places where 6:13 maybe your competition is not sharing as much as you, 6:17 because then you're going to stand out even more. 6:21 Yeah, there's all kinds of formats for content, 6:24 and you mentioned many of them in the book. 6:27 You highlight a number of strategies and content rules 6:29 where you can go through and highlight 6:32 some of the best practices, strategies for yourself 6:35 to use those different formats. 6:38 It kind of brings up this question of should people be 6:42 more focused on getting their marketing in front of 6:45 as many people as possible? 6:48 Should they be worrying about the targeting aspect, 6:50 or all of the above? 6:55 I always hate this answer, but it depends. 7:00 It depends on what your goal is. 7:03 If it's the early days of something new that you've developed 7:05 maybe you're only looking for the hardcore targeted audience. 7:10 Say you're looking for beta testers for something new you've built. 7:15 Maybe you only want that target--you want those hardcore users 7:19 who aren't scared to play with a beta and will break it, 7:22 and they'll expect it, and they'll be all right with that, 7:25 but then as you go to the next step when you've actually rolled it out 7:27 and you want as many users as possible then you've got to go more widespread. 7:31 There's also reasons to say, well, maybe you should start small. 7:36 Start with a target, and they'll eventually spread it out to their communities. 7:39 What I always talk about is make sure that-- 7:43 getting the obvious audience is easy. 7:46 Getting those people that you're already connected with 7:49 or who are in your circle or that you've already identified 7:51 for your client, are into what you're talking about, those people are easy. 7:54 What you've got to think about is their audience. 7:58 What can you create that's going to get the person 8:00 that's really close and go "Oh, wow." 8:03 "I need to share this with my audience," because that's what the 8:06 whole nature of the Web was is the fact that 8:09 I can link to you, I can link to you, 8:12 and so you want your audience's community. 8:14 It's what you really always should think about, how to jump to the next one. 8:17 But who to start with? 8:19 It really depends on what you're trying to do, what your goal is, 8:21 and honestly, with any content marketing 8:24 you have to start with the why. 8:26 You have to go "How are we going to know if this is a success?" 8:28 Are we trying to get 100 signups? 8:32 Is it we're trying to get 1,000 signups? 8:34 Is it trying to get just hits to the website? 8:36 Really up front figure out what is it that we're trying to reach? 8:40 How are we going to know this is a success? 8:43 And then figure out the content marketing strategy 8:45 to reach those goals. 8:48 Yeah, I think a number of members might be 8:51 intimidated by this idea of trying to reach out to influencers, 8:54 and just the idea of becoming a content producer 8:59 because there's just so many options. 9:03 There's so many ways you could go, 9:05 and plus, they're trying to make a living or make money on the side. 9:08 They're busy working on projects, 9:11 so trying to write blog posts or create other kinds of new content 9:14 may seem like it's just too much, so what is that challenge like 9:18 trying to reach influencers, trying to do this marketing 9:24 if you don't go out and produce that content? 9:28 I mean, if you don't engage in social media 9:31 or publish on a blog what kind of challenges are you going to face? 9:34 Yeah, and it is difficult, because let's face it, 9:39 I can buy more of anything. 9:43 I don't have the money to maybe, but you can always buy more things, 9:46 but you can never buy more time. 9:48 Everybody has got the same amount of hours in a day, 9:50 and when your head is down coding away 9:54 or designing or working on something you don't have the time to go 9:57 "Oh, well, I should go write a blog post." 10:00 The trick is you've got to figure out--play to your strengths. 10:03 Figure out what it is that you can do, 10:06 what are you comfortable doing, and start there. 10:08 Figure out how you're going to do it because you know what? 10:11 You may not think that it's important or not part of 10:14 what it is you're doing, but if you want to attract more people, 10:18 whether it's to what you've built or to yourself 10:21 you've got to start sharing online, 10:25 and figure out which network is right for you and start there. 10:29 There's nothing to say that you have to set up Pinterest 10:32 and Instagram and Twitter and have all those places 10:35 because let's face it, especially if you're not comfortable with 10:38 online marketing just start with what you're most comfortable with. 10:41 Start sharing there, even if it's just "Wow, hit a milestone today on the project." 10:44 "Really excited about the UI." 10:51 Sharing stuff like that, sharing that human side 10:53 that people don't necessarily see, that's the perfect place to start. 10:56 It's not necessarily marketing, but in the social world 11:01 that sort of vulnerability that sort of showing-- 11:05 I always talk about it's looking behind the curtain at Oz. 11:08 You get to see kind of behind the scenes people connect with that stuff. 11:11 But plain and simple it's one of those things that-- 11:16 I usually am speaking to executives, and I'm like "Listen, if you don't make 11:20 the time for this you might as well close up shop because your customers are online." 11:24 And let's face it, everybody who is a potential customer, 11:29 a potential user of your product, they're online, 11:33 and so you have to do something to attract them, 11:36 and that, for better or worse, is marketing. 11:38 It's what it's really all about. 11:41 Yeah, it's a great point. 11:43 As intimidating as it can be you really do have to start somewhere. 11:45 I think a good question, though, maybe something that could set 11:49 some minds at ease is how do you-- 11:51 once you start publishing--make the decision you're going to go on Twitter 11:55 or you're going to go on Facebook. 11:59 How do you keep things going? 12:01 How do you ensure you stay on schedule, 12:03 and how do you ensure that you don't run out of ideas as you're getting that ball rolling? 12:06 Yeah, so we use the metaphor of a campfire in the book, 12:10 and it's one of those things that it was funny because I actually had to put 12:14 instructions on how to build a campfire in the book just in case 12:17 people didn't understand the metaphor. 12:19 But if you've ever built a campfire you know that you 12:21 just can't throw some wood on it and then walk away, 12:24 and the same thing goes with a content marketing strategy. 12:27 You have to be constantly adding a little bit to it to let it burn 12:29 and keep it going, and one of the things that we talk about 12:32 that helps some people is the idea of an editorial calendar, 12:35 which may be really over the top for your audience, 12:39 but it's something as simple as a spreadsheet saying 12:42 just focus for the next month. 12:46 What am I going to produce? 12:48 Is it once a week I'm going to write a blog post? 12:50 Am I going to aim to tweet once a day? 12:54 I mean, if you need to think that way you can plan it all out, 12:57 literally fill it out every day and go "This is what I'm going to do." 13:00 That may be overkill, but then again, 13:05 some people who like process and like details 13:07 may love that, so that's a best practice is to 13:10 take an editorial calendar and lay it out. 13:14 And my advice is when you're trying to figure out how to feed the beast 13:16 on a regular basis is to go back to that campfire metaphor 13:19 to think about just like when you build a campfire 13:22 you have to put little sticks in, and then you have to build them up to some bigger sticks. 13:25 Try to think if there's some bigger logs you can throw on that campfire. 13:28 Maybe you produce a video, or maybe you write a long blog post. 13:32 If you're only doing Twitter, a big log could be just a blog post, 13:38 or it could be like an overview of the code. 13:42 It can be a screencast. 13:47 You can show the code and how you're stuck on it 13:49 or the progress you've made. 13:51 There's all these sort of different things you can do, 13:53 but you're right, once you start 13:56 you've got to keep feeding it, but also don't stress over it. 13:59 I see far too many people going "Well, I have to tweet every single day," 14:02 or "I have to do this." 14:06 There are very few have to's in the world of online. 14:08 Do what you're comfortable with, but do realize that people like consistency. 14:12 They like to see you because they can forget about you. 14:16 There's so much other content out there 14:19 that if you're not in their forefront they can forget about you, 14:21 so try to find the balance, but figure out what works for you 14:25 because honestly, what's right for you isn't necessarily right for you. 14:28 It's different for everybody, and I wish there was a magic silver bullet 14:32 that said this is the way it should be done, but it's not. 14:37 There isn't, so figure out what you're comfortable with and what works for your style. 14:40 And I think that's great advice, 14:43 especially if you're a designer or developer and you're building a site for a client. 14:46 Usually, hopefully, the content for that site comes from the client, 14:51 so if so, what advice would we have 14:56 for our clients so that they can write for the Web 15:01 and create great marketing content that you can just 15:05 plug into that awesome new site that you've built for them? 15:09 Well, that's a big question. 15:13 I think the key thing, one of the things if I can give anything that would apply 15:16 to everybody is one of our rules again is to be human. 15:19 It's to speak human, and speak in the voice that you speak. 15:22 Don't get overly--acronyms. 15:27 Don't try to get all marketing and buzzwordy 15:30 because nobody likes to read that so try to make sure-- 15:33 I would say balance that whole 15:36 look at me with real world how we talk. 15:39 Don't try to pretty it up too much. 15:44 Don't try to make it too fuzzy and happy. 15:46 Make it realistic. Make it human. 15:49 And that's the type of stuff that people resonate with 15:52 and they connect with most, and I guess the biggest mistake that I see 15:55 every sort of client make where they kind of forget that 15:59 and they think it has to all be about 16:01 I've got this megaphone of the internet. 16:03 I should be screaming as loud as I can all the time, 16:05 and nobody likes that, so keep it in check. 16:08 Let's say that you make the decision to start publishing content. 16:12 How do you know when you've got something successful? 16:16 I mean, I think we all need a way 16:20 of measuring the effectiveness of the stuff that we're creating. 16:23 Are we looking for social media stats like shares 16:27 and retweets, or are we looking for blog contents, 16:30 or is it something else? 16:32 How do we know when something really works? 16:34 Yeah, it's a combination of a lot of things. 16:38 That goes back to what I was saying earlier about how up front 16:40 you should be figuring out how are we going to measure success? 16:43 Is it about the views, the subscribers? 16:46 Is it about retweets? 16:50 All that stuff is important, and you can measure all that stuff, 16:52 and you should be because if nobody is reacting, 16:54 if nobody is sharing, then something is obviously wrong. 16:57 But if something--say your goal is to drive signups. 17:01 Maybe it's to sign up for a beta of a new site. 17:06 That's the only thing you care about. 17:09 Do you really care about the retweets? 17:11 You could get 1,000 retweets, but if you only get 10 signups 17:13 is that retweet really worth it? 17:16 You've got to really stop up front and figure out how you're going to measure it, 17:18 and all that stuff is super important, but then again, 17:22 also there's certain things that you can't measure. 17:25 Brand awareness, one of the things that I-- 17:29 if you're creating a lot of content one thing I like to have people look at is 17:32 go out to Google and do a search on whatever is appropriate 17:35 for you and your project and see how many hits it gets, 17:38 and then as you create content over time that number should go up 17:42 because obviously Google loves the content. 17:46 Hopefully people are linking to it and sharing it 17:48 and writing about it, so those mentions are going to go up. 17:51 That's one that people seem to forget about, 17:53 and I think it's a crucial one, 17:55 but the key is to figure out up front what metrics you need to measure 17:57 to be a success, and then do everything 18:02 to make sure you're hitting them. 18:05 Got to figure out how to define success. That's perfect. 18:08 Lastly, I wanted to mention that you have a new book coming out at the end of the year. 18:12 "Amazing Things Will Happen" is the name of the book, 18:16 and I know it's a bit of a departure from the content marketing side of things, 18:19 but this stuff is very relevant to a lot of professionals out there, 18:22 a lot of our membership. 18:27 It tackles topics like self-improvement, 18:29 inspiration, creativity. 18:33 Tell me, what can we expect from the book? 18:35 How do you think our members can benefit from 18:38 a lot of the anecdotes that you share in the book? 18:41 Well, yeah, the subtitle for the book is "A Real World Guidebook 18:45 to Happiness and Success," and the way I work 18:49 and the way that I firmly believe, and I think your audience will appreciate it, 18:52 is that I was sick of all these self-help books 18:56 that people said "The world can be yours," 18:59 and my approach is "Yeah, but you've got to work really hard at it, 19:02 and you've got to know what you're going for," 19:06 so I think your audience will appreciate it because, 19:08 A, there's no BS. 19:12 I'm not going to sell you anything. 19:15 The fact of the matter is that I think if you're going to have a successful life 19:18 you've got to know what you want in your heart, 19:21 and then you've got to follow it, and you've got to work really hard 19:23 to get there, and I'm excited for the world to read the book 19:26 because I hope people react positively to it, 19:30 but that's my philosophy. 19:33 It's worked for me, and I think your audience is going to enjoy it. 19:35 I'm looking forward to it, man. 19:40 "Content Rules" is a great book. 19:42 I'm looking forward to amazing things that will happen. 19:44 Everyone, I want to thank C.C. Chapman for joining us today 19:46 here on Treehouse Friends. 19:49 Once again, if you're looking for a great bunch of ideas 19:51 on content marketing "Content Rules" is the book for you. 19:53 Check it out at contentrulesbook.com, 19:56 and the new book, "Amazing Things Will Happen," is coming out at the end of this year. 19:59 For complete info on everything, 20:03 including C.C. Chapman himself, check out cc-chapman.com 20:06 or follow him on Twitter at cc_chapman. 20:10 Thanks, C.C. Thank you so much for joining us, man. 20:13 Thanks for having me today. 20:16 All right, Treehouse members, thank you so much 20:18 for joining us here on Treehouse Friends. 20:20 So long. 20:22 [? Music ?] [Treehouse Friends] 20:24
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