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Content marketing is all the rage—and for good reason!

(Content marketing = creating things like blog posts, podcast episodes, and videos as a way of attracting clients and customers.)

It’s a fantastic way to build an audience and attract a loyal group of followers who will buy from you and support what you do.

But there’s a downside: it’s not a quick solution. It will take 2 to 3 years of consistent, regular publishing for the bulk of benefits from content marketing to surface.

It’s a good long-term strategy, but is it something you should be doing when you’re just starting out and trying to make money?

This was the topic of a conversation Ben and I had over coffee at our last meeting. He’s in a similar place right now, and I actually recommended he stop focusing his efforts on content marketing and do something else instead:

Build one-on-one relationships with people and give them no-strings-attached value.

Why? Tune in to today’s episode to hear the discussion.

Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
  • Don’t expect any results from content marketing for the first two years.
  • Before you do content marketing, build relationships with the people you know right now.
  • Don’t focus on content marketing if you’re just starting out—focus on working with the people you’re already connected with and creating great case studies.
  • It’s tempting to think of content marketing as “free” because you can do it yourself, but you need to see it as costly—think of it as hiring yourself.
  • Only do content marketing yourself if you’re to the point where you’d hire yourself to do it (because your time is money).
  • Figure out where your ideal clients are and go where they are.
  • To build relationships, give people value with no strings attached.
  • Talk to people you already know, go to where your customers are, and then be willing to surprise and delight your clients.
Show Notes
  • 04:53 Sean: Tribe Conference was awesome. I really loved that. It felt like my kind of people.
  • 05:01 Ben: Actually, when you described it to me, I thought, “I bet Rachel would have loved to have gone.”
  • 05:08 Sean: Oh yeah. It was really good. A lot of fiction writers were there, too. The guy who put it on, Jeff, said, “Who needs another conference? I’ve been to a lot of writing conferences that are just about writing, but they don’t talk about the business of marketing yourself. I go to a lot of business conferences that don’t really touch on writing, so I wanted one that was both. It seemed like a perfect fit.”
  • 05:36 I really enjoyed it. I met a lot of great people. It’s amazing how many people are within a few miles’ radius of Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee. It was a really good time. Then I had a couple of calls with people at the conference who I didn’t get to catch upo with during the event, so I came back and I’ve had calls all day. It’s a crazy time.
  • 06:04 Ben: Well, I’m glad that you still have enough energy left to do this show.
  • 06:09 Sean: I’m good! I can go forever, until I’m dead. That just might be sooner. I’m a little worried about today’s show, Ben, only because of the clarity of the title. Here’s where I was coming from with this. Ben, you and I had a conversation over coffee, and we were talking about getting clients. You were working on some content marketing stuff for attracting clients, which is a really good strategy, but we got to talking about the pros and cons of it.
  • 06:44 Maybe there’s an alternative way to get clients and make money. The title of the episode is Make Money Faster by Not Doing Content Marketing Right Now (And What to Do Instead). A lot of the questions we were getting were from people who were taking it from the angle of launching online courses or building relationships with other people in their industry. Really, we’re coming at this episode from a perspective of building relationships with people that you end up working with as clients.

Client Work

  • 10:04 Ben: In our listening audience, in our Community, there are people who work directly with clients, and then there are people who are building their own brand to sell products. We serve a variety of different people with the information on this show. Today, we wanted to focus the topic more on making money with clients. When we talk about the Trifecta, that’s working with clients, selling products, and teaching.
  • Client work is the fastest track to making an income with what you do.

  • 10:43 I think it’s kind of a fitting place to start in the conversation about what’s more effective in the short term and what’s going to help you make money sooner, content marketing or something else? If it’s not content marketing, what is it? I’ve been doing client work for a while, doing various things, but only relatively recently have I been just trying to focus on one thing. That’s very difficult for me to do. My long term vision is still to do as many different creative things as I can get my hands on.
  • 11:22 Sean: To give people a handle here, what have you chosen to focus on now? In getting clients, what was your strategy? Then, take us into the conversation you and I had so we can open that up.

Benefits of Content Marketing

  • 11:39 Ben: What I’ve decided to focus on is video production for marketing. That’s anything from doing a commercial for a business to helping implement a video content marketing strategy for social, helping produce the videos. I recognize that, in the current market, we’re really early in terms of the video content marketing piece of it. Most companies are more interested in doing something like a commercial or an explanation video, something that highlights their product or service.
  • 12:22 That’s what I’ve decided to focus on, and the strategy I was going to use to try and get clients was doing a weekly video. I really wanted to do daily, talking about content marketing, getting in front of a camera, how to use basic equipment, how to use more advanced equipment—running the gamut of all of those different topics and producing content regularly. I wanted to do that through video, and I also wanted to have a blog.
  • 13:06 Sean: This is where a lot of people are. What’s the thought process behind this? Why do you want to do that?
  • 13:13 Ben: My thought process was, as I put content out there, if people find value in it, it’s useful, it solves their problem, it answers their questions, certainly, people could use any of that and implement it themselves. They could be better off because of that information.
  • 13:47 There is going to be a portion of my audience who recognizes the value of my content who can’t or doesn’t want to spend the time implementing it themselves, and they will be looking for somebody that is knowledgable to do it for them. By putting that content out there, I’ve already positioned myself as someone who is knowledgable, who has experience. I’m an easy fit for bringing somebody in to do that for them.

Content marketing is a great way to attract clients, position yourself as an expert, and start getting some jobs.

  • 14:01 Sean: This is a good approach. A couple of people were asking, “Can you define content marketing and building relationships?” Content marketing is creating things like blog posts, podcasts, videos, and other forms of media. It could be guides. You create different kinds of content for the purpose of marketing what you have to sell.
  • 14:40 You could be selling products or you could be selling services, and content marketing works for both. If you’re not actually selling something, it’s just content. It’s not content marketing.

Build Relationships

  • 14:52 Sean: Content marketing is a great strategy, but it takes about two to three years of consistently publishing, I mean regularly, on a weekly basis, for you to really see the benefits of that and get a return on your investment. It just takes a while to kick in in a lot of regards.
  • 15:11 Ben: I don’t feel like we can overstate this: you should not expect any results from your content marketing efforts for the first two years, regardless of how frequently you’re doing it or how much value you’re pouring into it.
  • 15:28 Sean: It’s just a time factor. Even if what you put out there is super good, you may be questioning, “Is it not good enough? Is the quality not good?” It’s purely time and consistency.
  • 15:40 Ben: I realized that. There were some other parts of my strategy that were a little bit more immediate that had to do with getting face time with people, but I thought, “I have to have content marketing as part of my strategy.” In two years from now, I want this to be working for me.
  • 16:04 Sean: How do you balance this? It takes time to kick in, so don’t I want to be doing that now? If not, when should I start doing that?
  • Don’t focus on content marketing now.

    See content marketing as costly.

  • 16:31 A lot of people think that it’s free, because it doesn’t cost you money to do if you’re doing it yourself. It costs you time, and time is money. If you could be spending that time making money and you’re not, you’re effectively losing money. Don’t think, “I’m doing this. I’m creating this content for free. It costs me nothing.” Think of it as, “I’m hiring myself for copywriting services, design services, project management, editorial calendar, and publishing schedule services.”
  • 17:08 Imagine it’s not you, and you contract it out. It makes it much more clear that that’s a cost to you. It’s a form of expense. In the beginning, you don’t have a ton of resources to deploy against content marketing. You couldn’t hire a team, if you’re just one person starting out with client work, to crank out high quality articles and videos for you. It’s not to say that it’s a bad idea to do content marketing.
  • Before you do content marketing, build relationships with the people you know right now.

  • 17:43 Leverage those relationships to start getting jobs. Who are the people you know currently that may need your services? How can you go to them? When I say, “build relationships,” I mean that you should provide value to them. Go to the people you know. You probably have a friend who works at an agency that would be a great fit for your services. Go to them and say, “Hey, I would love to do a project with you guys.”
  • 18:14 If you notice something about how they’re currently doing things or what they’re not doing and you have advice for them, you could come to them with a strategy or a plan. “Hey, I noticed that your social media accounts are kind of stale. You’re not really posting anything. I did this research, and I’ve done something else with similar clients in the past. If you did something like this…” You don’t even have to pitch yourself. Just give them the plan that you made, tailored for them.
  • 18:39 “If you did this, I think you would see these kinds of results and drive this kind of traffic, which would get you these kinds of sales.” Put it out there, and they’ll think, “This guy is pretty cool. He’s helping us out. He knows what he’s talking about.”

Take Advantage of Your Smallness

  • 18:54 Ben: This is a really great takeaway, too. As you’re pitching your service, whether you’re putting something out there to get paid or you’re doing something pro bono, the focus of your work should be to create results. The more you can speak to the results that your work can create, the easier it’s going to be for people to assign the value they’re receiving from you to your services. It’s not some ambiguous, “Oh, it would be nice to have a video.”
  • 19:31 I want to approach a client and say, “If you have a video on your home page that describes the service that you offer and gives people a picture of what it is you do, let’s say 100 people visit your website every day, of that 100, because you don’t have a video, maybe only 5% are going to take some kind of action. If you have a video and they get to see what your service is all about, it could increase to 20%. You could have an increase of 15% in conversion on your website by implementing this video.” Focus on the results.
  • 20:09 Sean: You could even make a video of yourself saying this, pitching the strategy to this one client. Think about that. We’re all focused on scale. “How can I streamline? Systematize? Automate? Come up with a show that serves thousands of people and applies to all of them, and I become this expert?” That can happen, but it’s like a big ship moving. It’s going to be really slow at first, and you’re not going to steer it fast.
  • 20:39 You’ve got to be nimble. Get out there in your rowboat and slap the water with your paddles. You’re like a ninja rowboat warrior. You’re doing circles around this big titanic. You’re agile. Take advantage of that speed, and instead of trying to make a show that serves thousands of people where you say, “Eventually, if everyone checks this out, it will help a bunch of them, and then I’ll be the expert,” make one tailored video for this client. They’ll say, “Who does this?”
  • 21:19 Who sends a personalized video to a client? That really makes you stand apart. You could do this pro bono, which is where you do something for free. It’s not just doing free work or speck work. Pro bono work is reserved for causes you believe in or companies you think would be a really great fit, that you want to help, and that you think would make a great case study.

Pro Bono Work

  • 21:50 Sean: Pro bono work is always something that you give. If someone comes to you and says, “Hey, will you do work for free?” Never do that. It’s always something you decide to give. The nice thing here is that you may land your first project, it’s paid, and that’s great, but if you end up doing pro bono work, you go through your normal process. The Rule of Reciprocity is working in your favor, because you’re giving. When you beg a client to work with you and you don’t start with providing value, they’re going to feel like you owe them something.
  • 22:22 They’re going to mess with your process and ask for extra free work. Unlike that, you can go through your normal process, and people will be willing to go through that because you’re already giving them the service.
  • Pro bono work gives you an opportunity to create a great case study that’s built around how you normally work.

  • 22:42 You provide a service to this company. You show the results. You track what it was like before and after. Come up with this case study, put it on your website, and show other people. That’s how you can start to get more and more paid projects.
  • 22:56 Ben: I want to dissect going into your process a little bit more. If your normal process for onboarding a client is having an initial meeting to go over terms and find out what their specific needs are, you send them a proposal, and they have to accept that, you send them a contract, and so on—you should do all of those same things for a pro bono client. I had one recently that I just initiated a project with. I sent them the proposal with the price and everything, but I’m doing it for free.
  • 23:36 I sent them what the normal price would be that I would normally charge for this, and then I crossed it out and said, “Free.” I sent them the contract, and everything was the same, including the section where it lists out the payments and everything. I listed the amounts, but then I just crossed them out.
  • It’s important to keep your process the same for pro bono work so that the client understands the value of what you’re giving them.

  • 24:04 It’s not so you can shove it in their face and say, “I would have charged you this much, but I’m doing it for free.” It’s an acknowledgement of the value you’re providing, and it’s really great for you to go through the exercise of going through your process and making sure you hit all of those checkpoints along the way.
  • 24:24 Sean: Yeah, that’s why I always say, “Full price or free.” You don’t want to discount your services, because that’s all people will value them at. If you say, “This would have been $10,000 but I’ll do it for $2,000,” they only value it at $2,000. If you do it for free, pro bono, they value it at $10,000. The full amount! That means that the people they refer, which is a huge part of why you’re doing this, are going to be the people who could do the $10,000 project, because they know what your rate is.
  • 24:57 A lot of people have said, “Well, aren’t you just going to get more free projects?” It’s just not what happens. You will get that if you discount your rates and you give people cheap rates or lower your prices. If you do pro bono, almost all of the time, clients will refer you to other really great clients who could pay your normal rate. That’s what you really want to go all in on here.

Over-deliver

  • 25:25 Sean: You don’t just do this project, just get the case study, and move on. That’s great. The case study is good, but you want to press into this relationship. Over-deliver. If you’re getting paid $10,000, deliver $30,000 worth of value. Go above and beyond. This is how you want to think. They give you $10,000 and you think, “Wow, this is pretty cool.” Treat it as if they gave you $30,000. Imagine that’s the project. What else would you do? You’d pull all the stops.
  • 25:56 “I’ll give you another package of stuff! Here’s everything broken down into different pieces. You could use these over on your Instagram.”
  • Come up with different ways of giving your clients value, and they’re going to be blown away.

  • 26:10 You follow up with them. Several months later, see how they’re doing. Ask if you can help. You can ask for a testimonial or referrals. “Do you know anyone else who could use my services?” People are going to recommend you. My first business was a computer repair business. I passed around fliers in three or four different neighborhoods. I got a couple of jobs here and there. People saw the fliers.
  • 26:36 I came out, did the work, and moved on. That was pretty much it. One neighborhood in particular was mostly older people who had computers they didn’t know how to use and couldn’t fix themselves, and they were more than happy to pay a young guy to come in and fix it for them. They had a newsletter, and they had a country club, and they were connected. All they did is gossip and talk to their neighbors. Once I got in there and someone put me in the newsletter, recommending me, I kept getting more and more jobs.
  • 27:10 I got more jobs, and then they would recommend me in the newsletter. I’m talking about a physical newsletter. They printed it out. These weren’t email newsletters. I kept getting referred. I did that for several years. I worked and supported myself almost exclusively off of this one community. Pretty soon, I had serviced almost every house at least once in this community. That’s the power of word of mouth.
  • Go in with a smile, provide a great service, over-deliver, and don’t take advantage of people, and clients will be happy to recommend you.

  • 27:49 This is the fast track. That’s the quick way to get more jobs. Content marketing is good, and we’ll talk about when you should start doing that in a moment, but it’s going to take you years if you start with content marketing as the very first thing that you’re doing.

Go Where the Clients Are

  • 28:04 Sean: I would recommend going to places where the people you want to serve are. The clients you want to work with—where are they? Where do they go? What venues do they frequent? What restaurants? What conferences? What meetups? What groups? Figure out where your ideal clients are and go there. Everyone goes to conferences in their own industry. Here’s the secret hack: if you’re a video guy, go to a real estate conference.
  • 28:37 You’re the only guy, the only video guy. They need photographers. They need video guys. You’re the only one there. Why would you go to the video conference and expect to meet people you’re going to do video services for? Go to the place where you’re the only one, and everyone is going to be vying for your attention. Find out where these people are going. My good friend Caleb Wojcik is doing the video for our seanwes conference, in Austin, Texas.
  • 29:10 He does a lot. He stays completely booked and busy working for a handful of clients a year. He’s basically narrowed down his focus to big influencer type personalities—personal brands, people with audiences in the tens or hundreds of thousands. These people have money to spend. If they produce a course and they sell it, they’re going to make thousands of dollars, so they can spend thousands of dollars. He doesn’t need 100 clients a year.
  • 29:43 If he can get half a dozen clients, maybe a dozen clients at most, he’s good. He’s making great six figure money. He goes to the conferences where those people are at. Those people talk about him, like I’m doing right now. They give him exposure. If you want video, you want someone to shoot your course, your landing page video, your membership site video, your conference, go look up Caleb Wojcik.
  • 30:10 I’m giving him exposure right now because he does great work, and I’m happy to do it. We’ve worked together. I like working with him. I like him. He’s a great guy. I’m happy to do it. I don’t need a referral bonus. I don’t need a comission.
  • Go to conferences, especially ones outside of your industry.

  • 30:30 That’s why I’ve been going to so many. It’s an absolute no-brainer. I got some stuff out of the sessions, the speakers. I’m writing away, taking notes. My keyboard is smoking. It’s more about the people you meet in-between. It’s more about the lunches you go on. I went on a lunch and talked to a guy that I’ve been looking forward to meeting, and then he was like, “I have to go. I have another meeting coming up. Actually, do you want to come?”
  • 30:58 I was like, “Sure.” Then I meet another guy. What is the value of any one of us working together, just once? What is the value of someone with 80,000 newsletter subscribers just mentioning you in passing? What’s the value of them inviting you to speak at their conference and getting exposure to 400 more people who are prime candidates for what you do?
  • 31:22 It’s a no-brainer. When you meet eight or ten of those people at an event, you don’t even blink at the price. I spent a ludicrous amount, something like $800, for the flight, because it was last minute. That’s crazy. Our last flight was $300 round trip. I just spent $800 on a flight. I said, “Nathan, tell me it was a good investment. Tell me I did the right thing.” He said, “You did the right thing.”
  • 31:54 I go to this conference. That doesn’t include the hotel, food, the ticket to the conference… For the six or eight people that I met, it was an absolute no-brainer. It blows me away. You could do affiliate stuff, you could have a genuine partnership, but even if you collaborate one time and you build that rapport and get in person with someone, getting in person is so important. Get the coffee meeting. Skype is great. Video calls are great. Audio calls, that’s fine, but get in person.
  • If you’re in person with someone for 30 minutes, you accelerate that relationship the same as if you talked on Twitter on for 18 months.

  • 32:40 It’s just astonishing. Even if you don’t end up doing a legitimate partnership together, if they know you, they get to know you, they like you, and they have a relationship with you, they could put out just one tweet to their 15,000 followers when you launch your next thing. They could say, “Oh hey, my friend launched this thing. Isn’t this cool?” I switched into launching, but you could substitute a service here. “Hey, my friend is available for video work.”
  • 33:08 Or, “I just did a project with my friend,” and it could even be a free project, because you’re friends. “Hey, I noticed that you’re coming out with a thing. Can I do video for your launch?” “Sure!” Do video for them. Write a case study about him, Make him look super good. He’s going to be like, “My friend Ben just did this video project for me. It went awesome. Check it out!” Boom!
  • 33:28 Now you’ve got 400 people on your case study page. 5% of them sign up to your email list. That’s 20 people. Maybe 10% of those hire you as clients. That’s two people. But each project was $12,000.

Do What You Can

  • 33:44 Ben: This is phenomenal information, especially for someone like me. I’ve heard for a long time, from many sources, how powerful content marketing can be for your brand, for advertising your services. I put so much stock into it that I didn’t even stop to think about the places where I’ve really seen the fastest turn around, which is getting together with people, getting in person, having coffee, building relationships.
  • 34:21 It’s amazing. You sit down and talk with somebody, and you may not even think about the connections they have. You don’t think about them as a potential connector to people who could use your services. It’s surprising what happens when you get in person with people. It’s really refreshing that you said that, Sean. Nowadays, a lot of folks depend a lot on digital communication, and they feel like it’s enough.
  • 34:54 Why would I need to take a trip to another part of town, or even just down the road, to have coffee with somebody, when I can just talk with them over Skype?
  • 35:05 Sean: No excuses. If you can’t fly out, if you live in a remote area, do what you can. Use Skype. Get on a video call. It’s all good. Cory Miller said, “Is it possible to make enough connections at a single conference to last if you can only attend one a year?” Absolutely, for sure. I would also take issue with the “if you can only attend one a year” statement, because that’s thinking in terms of expenses.
  • 35:37 It’s not thinking in terms of investments. You have to trust that the investment will pay off, and then invest in yourself and go to the conference because you know.
  • Trust and know that something good will come out of your investment when you go to a conference.

  • 35:51 You can’t just go and be passive. You can’t sit on the side and not talk to people. You have to go there with purpose. You will absolutely pay for any conference you go to ten times over if you really apply yourself.
  • 36:06 Ben: Cory says, “More like in terms of two kids.”
  • 36:12 Sean: Money. What if you had a babysitter? What if you had a nanny?
  • 36:24 Ben: I want to brag on these amazing people. We’re in a little bit of a crisis, Rachel and I. I’m going to the seanwes conference, that’s a given. I wanted desperately for Rachel to be able to go with me, for us to be able to have that experience together, to meet the amazing people who are going to be there. I’m so excited. Then there came this crisis of, “Oh, there might not be childcare.” For six kids!
  • 36:55 Rachel’s parents are going out of town. My parents are over-extended with some things they’re doing. It looked like there might not be coverage for us, and that was really bumming me out. I got on the phone. I made some phone calls. There are some ladies we’ve gone to church with who live really close to us who are splitting the days we’re going to be gone, and they’re watching the kids at our house so they can still go to school and take care of them.
  • 37:27 That was difficult, to get on the phone and have those conversations. It’s uncomfortable. You don’t ever like asking somebody for something, especially watching six kids. I’m very grateful. I don’t know if they’ll ever listen, but shout out to those amazing ladies.
  • 37:53 Sean: When you go to a conference, you can go in a passive mode or you can go in an active mode. The people who don’t see the value in conferences are thinking passively. “I can just watch the videos,” or, “I’ve met those people before.” It’s about being active. It’s about going in with an investment mindset. “I want to meet some key people here. I want to build some great relationships. I know and I trust that great things will come from that in the future.”
  • 38:26 Ben: You have to expect it. Put yourself in that mindset. If you expect it, it forces you to prepare for those possibilities and opportunities. If I was going and I didn’t expect anything to happen, I wouldn’t bother to prepare myself for those conversations. But if I know I’m going to be in front of people, I know I’m going to be talking about my services, I know I’m going to be trying to develop relationships, I’m going to spend the time ahead of time preparing.
  • 38:57 I would really clarify my message, what I’m about. I would prepare myself to be a good listener. All of those things! Shifting your mindset to have that expectation is really important.

When to Start Content Marketing

  • 39:10 Sean: I want to deliver on the earlier question, when should you actually start content marketing? It is a good strategy, and it is something you should do. It’s just going to take time for it to pay off. All of this is in the context of trying to make money and get clients to hire you.
  • Start content marketing when you can justify hiring someone to help you do it.

  • 39:38 Think of it in terms of hiring yourself. What if you had to pay yourself for the services it took to create the content and you had to put the money somewhere else? You lose that money. When you’re willing to do that and that makes sense to you, that’s when I would start doing content marketing. You have to see your time as that valuable. Caleb Wojcik making a podcast probably takes several hours.
  • 40:07 Maybe something comes of that. Maybe he gets a client. Maybe we get a member as a result of this show, but maybe not.

The Value of Conferences

  • 40:19 Sean: I went to the conference. I had some conversations with people. The conference wasn’t over, but the day was over, and there was a meetup in the evening. I went to the meetup, and I had several conversations. At one, I basically gave free consulting to this lady for 30 or 40 minutes.
  • 40:40 I talked to her until she wanted to stop. She had so many questions. I went until she was like, “Thank you so much.” That was it. I gave that away for free, but she feels indebted to me. I told her about our membership, and I said, “Any time you want, normally I would charge $2,000 an hour for consulting, but I don’t do consulting right now, because I would rather give my members that attention for free.” That’s what I’m focused on right now.
  • 41:09 I’m focused on these people. I said, “Any time! I’m in there every day. If you want to join, I’m happy to help you keep going with this.” She’s got something like 10,000 people on her list. She’s wanting to start her own membership site. She has thousands in a Facebook group. I was telling her how to transition that into a paid membership while keeping the loyal people. Even if they paid $19 a month, think about the kind of clarity she would get from paying $99 a month on a membership here.
  • 41:36 It’s just a no-brainer investment. I let her know about it. I gave her a bunch of advice. She said, “Thank you,” and moved on. I didn’t make any money now, but maybe I will in the future. Okay, you’re still not sold? Then I go downstairs. This guy is like, “Hey, I wanted to talk to you. I wanted to hear your story.” I talked to him and we went back and forth a little bit. Long story short, I told him about Supercharge Your Writing, and he basically said that he wanted to take the course.
  • 42:06 I did a literal sales pitch right in front of him. We’re so, “How can I do this on a live event, record it, and have the video replay available for thousands of people to watch?”
  • You can give your sales pitch to people one-on-one, and doing that will help your business.

  • 42:22 You will double your sales if you go to SuperchargeYourWriting.com and enroll. That’s what I did. I told him about it. I got home the next day from the conference, and I had a direct message from him on Twitter. He was like, “When’s it opening back up? When’s enrollment available?” I said, “Probably later this year. I’ll let people on my list know about it. Honestly, here’s a direct link if you want to get in. I’ll throw in this other stuff as well.” He went right there and bought it, $1,000.
  • 42:54 That’s already covering most of my trip right there, ignoring the relationships I built and the future things that will come from it. That’s one example that’s hopefully tangible enough for you, because I actually got real dollars.
  • Go into a conference with an investment mindset and trust, and it’s going to come back.

  • 43:13 Don’t go to conferences passively. Conferences are the best investments you can make, second to books and courses. They are so, so, so good.

Why Use Content Marketing?

  • 43:24 Ben: As powerful as building relationships with people is, as powerful as having face time is, why would anyone do content marketing? As opposed to spending that same time building one-on-one relationships with folks?
  • 43:43 Sean: Scale. You can reach a lot more people if you build up a substantial archive of content, a following, and an audience. You can either work with more clients, you can have a greater selection to choose from and you can be really picky and work on the very best projects, or you can charge a lot more. If you have really high demand, you can charge more because you’re in demand. Or, you can build out a full-blown agency.
  • 44:13 You could have five people in your agency to do client work, or you could have 500. Content will really help with the scale of that. If you know you don’t ever want to do that, you don’t have to do content marketing. You can just do one-on-one. There are a lot of people who don’t have blogs or podcasts, and they have a steady stream of clients that supports them. They make a living that way, just from word of mouth.
  • 44:38 Ben: I want to bring in a little bonus material here that was a part of the conversation we had that morning, and I think it’s pretty significant. The question I had was related to the 30 Days to Better Writing course.

Daily Writing

  • 44:59 Sean: 30 Days to Better Writing is a course I wrote. I started writing it before I wrote the Overlap book, and then I finished it in August. We just launched it to members. It’s probably going to be a $99 course, but members get access to it for free. 30DaysToBetterWriting.com… it may not be available when you hear this, because I wanted to go through it with the members and refine it.
  • 45:28 Today, they had some really great feedback, and I revised the writing prompt. 20 people starred it, because it helped them. It gave them some more clarity. I liked being able to go through it with them and improve it, making it even better. Eventually, I’ll launch that. It will be at a price point where you can pay to get this course and it would be the same amount as paying for one month of membership, where you get access to everything and you could cancel at any time.
  • 45:55 The idea is, “You should be a member. This is one of a ton of reasons.” This course is basically helping you build a writing habit one day at a time—30 days, 30 lessons, 30 minutes a day. You go through the lesson for about 10 minutes, and then I tell you to set a 20 minute timer and just work on your writing prompt.
  • 46:17 Ben: I was wanting to participate in that, and I knew that you had the prompts pre-selected. My question to you that morning was, “What if I want to participate, but I already have in mind what I would like to write about?” You said, “That could work, too. The most important thing is keeping up with the daily writing schedule.” Not to take any attention away from the course, but it really got me thinking about the role of daily writing in content marketing.
  • 46:58 It absolutely makes sense if you’re going to be writing a blog, if you’re going to be putting out a podcast or making a video. All of those things start with writing.
  • Writing is an integral part of content marketing.

  • 47:16 Ben: I want to be careful that when people think about whether they have time to invest in content marketing, I don’t want them to consider that writing portion. Writing is equally important before you have the ability to do content marketing. You need to get into the daily rhythm of writing.
  • 47:38 Sean: To be clear, you’re saying that we want people to continue writing every day whether or not they’re actually investing in content marketing.
  • 47:45 Ben: Yes. When the question comes up, “Can I afford to invest in content marketing?” The daily writing part should not be part of that equation.
  • 47:59 Sean: I agree.
  • 48:01 Ben: Writing has so many other benefits, even when it comes to building relationships and having face time with people. It adds so much clarity to your message. There are many other things that your writing can go toward, like your case studies or your website. Know how you want to communicate. Even just write about the things you’re experiencing, journaling.
  • There are a lot of different things you can bring into your daily writing habit that are going to make your business better even before you do content marketing.

  • 48:35 Sean: In the first lesson, I talk about some of the benefits of writing. People think, “You write to do blog posts,” but there are so many more benefits to writing that are not related to content marketing. Yes, content marketing is great, and writing can help that, but writing will also help you have a clear mind. You’ll become a better speaker. You’ll become more articulate. You’ll be able to teach others, be seen as authority, make a name for yourself, build an audience, become a great story-teller, be able to sell products, build community, and get more ideas every day.

Don’t Leave Ideas in Your Head

  • 49:07 Sean: We all have the uncle who has had the same idea for 20 years, and he’s always talking about how great it’s going to be once he does it. He’s got that one idea, and it’s rattling around, bouncing around in his head, and he hasn’t done anything about it because he hasn’t ever written.Once you write, you can get things out of your head. You make more room for more ideas.
  • 49:36 James Altucher talks about how he writes down ten ideas every day. He may never do anything with them, but he always writes down ten ideas every day. Get it out and make room for new ones.
  • 49:51 Ben: I saw in the chat the other day that someone was posting a list of books, and I think the title of one of them was You’re Going to Die With Ideas Still In Your Head, How Many?
  • 50:03 Sean: This is not an actual book. Today’s lesson in 30 Days to Better Writing was on creating an editorial calendar, and I show people how to come up with five months of content in ten minutes. People are cranking it out. They’re cranking out so much that they’re like, “I need to write a book.” This lesson unlocked it for them. “Wow, now suddenly I magically have months in my queue after a few minutes. I need to write a book! This was what I wrote on today. I think the book could be called this or that.” The one you just gave, Ben, was a proposed title of a book someone could write. So you liked it.
  • 50:51 Ben: Somebody posted this. I don’t want to give away too much of that, then. I want to give my take on that specific phrase. I think people get so romantic about their ideas. It’s kind of the same as the musician who writes 14 or 15 songs and says, “All of these songs need to be on the album.” All of these chapters need to be in this book. All of these topics need to be written about.
  • 51:25 We get so romantic about our ideas that we rob ourselves of distilling down to the real value that we can provide. It ends up paralyzing us or keeping us from reaching the better ideas, had we been more picky about what we decide to put out there instead of loving every single thing that comes out of our head. That’s what’s going on with Uncle Billy, I think. It’s Uncle Billy for me.
  • 51:53 Sean: Yeah, Uncle Billy.
  • 51:54 Ben: I think he has that idea and he loves it so much, he’s so romantic about it, and because he’s never done anything with it—he’s never put it onto something to see it for what it is—it just lives up there as this idea in his head.
  • 52:15 Sean: Cobwebs.
  • 52:18 Ben: It’s blocking all of the other ideas that he could have. It’s not about the ideas, it’s really about what you do with them. Aim to get to the end of your life with billions of unused ideas,because you were able to get to the very best ideas along the way. Because you let them flow. That’s my two cents on that.

Now What?

  • 52:57 Sean: This is a segment that I like to call The Way I See It, With Cory McCabe.
  • 53:09 Cory: Here’s what I got out of this, and I’m going to start trying this. It’s about reaching out to people. You’re talking about one-on-one relationships, and that seems vague. “Building relationships,” it sounds like it’s going nowhere, but when you do it by providing something valuable to them, like we’ve talked about, making a video. That really spoke my language. That’s something I would do.
  • 53:33 I was like, “That’s how you do it.” That’s the only way I’ve ever gotten any client work. I’ve never advertised myself. I just do my own passion projects, but people have come to me, and other people have heard about me because of word of mouth. I want to start reaching out and doing stuff for free, pro bono. I kind of took that challenge on myself from this episode.
  • 54:10 Ben: After that conversation that we had a few weeks ago, I ditched all of my plans for doing content marketing for now, which hurts a lot. I really love the idea of it. I have a pretty good workflow for some other content marketing that I do, and I know I could do it very efficiently, but it’s still time that I can’t afford to spend right now. I ditched it, and I reached out. I initiated a pro bono project, and I’ve got a couple of other ones that came about because I went in and poked the nest a little bit.
  • 54:52 I said, “These are some things we can improve on,” and because I had an existing relationship there and was brave enough to speak up and say what I could do to fix it. There are probably people you know who have problems that you could fix, but they don’t know because you haven’t said anything. Maybe you don’t know the kinds of problems they have because you haven’t asked the questions. It takes a lot of bravery, but:
  • If you believe that you have value to provide and that people are missing out on it, it’s in their best interest for you to offer your services.

  • 55:42 Sean: If you could codify what you’ve started doing and what you plan to do in the future with this approach and maybe three takeaways or steps for people, what would you say to the listener, Ben?
  • 55:56 Ben: I would say, reach out to the people you already know. Make sure you’re clear about what you’re trying to do and the kind of value you’re trying to provide. We all have those people who message us on Facebook and say, “Hey, I haven’t talked to you in forever. I see that the kids are growing up…” They have a couple of sentences like that, and then they say, “I want to tell you about Advocare” or “this thing I’ve been doing…” You don’t want that.
  • Reach out to the people you know, with whom you’ve established ongoing relationships, and let them know what you are trying to do.

  • 56:44 You might be surprised at the kind of things that open up. Also, always be looking for ways to provide value.
  • 56:49 Sean: Yeah, no strings attached value. Not like, “Here’s a compliment about your kid, now sign up for my thing.”
  • 56:57 Ben: I really love what you said, Sean, about trying to figure out where your customers are. You have to go to where they are to get their money. They’re not going to bring their money to you. You have to go get it. Figure out where your ideal customers are hanging out, what they’re doing, and what kind of people they interact with.
  • 57:23 Sean: Isn’t that so much easier? To go where those people are, instead of putting content up on the internet and hoping they find, search, or stumble across it, especially with things like the Facebook algorithms and them hiding posts that you don’t pay for or promote? It’s so much easier to go where they are. You don’t need 1,000 clients. You’re trying to get 1,000 views on your Facebook video and paying to boost it. You just need six clients, so go meet 60 people.
  • 57:55 Ben: This is kind of within that, but as you’re thinking about ways to provide value, I want you to think to yourself, “I’m going to do things that other people will not do.” Not in a bad way, but like sitting in front of a camera and putting together a single piece of content for a single person, solving a problem they have. Those are things that other people are not doing.
  • 58:24 Sean: Not just pitching yourself or asking, but solving a problem and providing no strings attached value. Not even providing value and then saying, “Any time you need blah blah blah services, just let me know…” Not even that. Imagine it’s your friend and you saw something on their website that needed to be improved. You wouldn’t go send them a video to help them and then say, “Any time you want to hire me, I’m right here.” You would just give it to them.
  • People respond positively when you give them value with no strings attached, because it’s so refreshing—nobody does it.

  • 59:10 Ben: Those are the three things. Talk to people you already know, go to where your customers are, and then be willing to do surprising and wonderful things that other people are not willing to do with no strings attached.