How to Succeed at Content Marketing When You Have Nothing Interesting to Write About

This is a guest post by Josh Haynam, co-founder of Interact.  

Last night I went for a walk and thought about how to explain the way in which content marketing has worked for Interact. I knew I was slated to go on ConversionAid and discuss how content has helped us grow from nothing to $15k/mo in revenue, and I wanted to collect my thoughts.

As I walked through the little forest path near my house and looked up at the moon (it's almost a full moon right now, it's beautiful), I verbalized what I want to say on the podcast (I often do this to prepare for “speeches” it's a method used by Winston Churchill to deliver great public addresses). I thought I'd share some of what I was going over as it might just be helpful to your content strategy.

Part 1: The “Spaghetti on the Wall Approach”

In late 2013/early 2014, I was just getting started with content marketing for Interact. My only prior experience with producing content had been with a site called Entrepreneur Stories that was basically exactly what it is called, I interviewed successful entrepreneurs and shared their stories. That site had gotten to about 100 page views per day, but only because the famous people were kind enough to share the stories to their networks.

Anyways, when I first began doing posts for Interact I just kind of tried anything and everything. I inadvertently discovered the Skyscraper technique and got lucky enough to write a few posts that got thousands of visits. However, none of that moved the needle for Interact, and in February 2014 we were getting 1-2 free signups per week, and we didn't even have a paid version yet. By all conventional wisdom the outlook was dismal at best.

Part 2: Answering Questions

In February/March 2014, even with just a couple of signups per week, people started asking questions. Interact is a quiz building tool that's self-service, so the questions mainly revolved around “how in the heck do I make a quiz?” since most of the marketers who were finding our site had never done quizzes before.

In May 2014 I finally caved and decided to answer the biggest question “How do I make a personality quiz?” with a blog post. I still remember the night I wrote it. It was a Friday night (I was in my senior year at UCLA, so the only time to write was weekends). I had a beer or two and was sitting down to write a blog post. Out of sheer desperation I decided to answer this question “How do I make a personality quiz?” that I had gotten a few times over the previous months.

I sat down and pounded out a guide, it was pretty crappy, only about 800 words, but it answered the question and provided a somewhat easy to follow guide for making personality quizzes. I published it that same night.

The next morning (Saturday) I woke up and checked the analytics – zero hits. Sunday I went to church then came back and checked the analytics – still nothing.

Monday morning I woke up to see the very first paying subscriber to Interact. Miraculously my personality quiz article had gotten ten hits, and one of the people who found it clicked through and signed up for our paid version! It was a great day, and by the end of the week four people had signed up.

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Part 3: Expanding on the One Question

Once I realized that the signups were a direct result of the personality quiz article, which was a direct result of answering a customer question, I started to pay a lot more attention to what people were asking about. “How do I share my quiz?” “How do I make a multiple choice quiz?” and many more questions turned into articles that are still driving signups today.

Part 4: Running out of Questions

Eventually the inevitable happened, I ran out of questions to answer. More specifically I ran out of questions that our product had the technical ability to answer. You see, at some point in every company there are more requests than your programmers can handle (if you don't have this problem, please email me and I will steal away your programmers).

Regardless, I now had to come up with my own topics to write about, and remember, the last time I tried that it didn't work out very well.

However, this time around I decided to take a smarter approach, and instead of just throwing out ideas and seeing what stuck, I decided to use my previous successes to my advantage. I took the one post “How to make a personality quiz” and turned it into “How to make a health quiz” “How to make a travel quiz” and so on and so forth. In total I created nearly 25 specific guides for various industries.

The Travel article brought us Hilton Hotels as a customer, the Health article brought us the World Health Organization, and the other specific articles began to bring us a whole slew of high profile clients.

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Even through today, I still write genre specific articles for various industries anytime one comes up or I get a new question, it's proven to be a very strong tactic.

So that's the long and short of how I used content to bring in $15k worth of monthly revenue. I hope this story can help at least one person who is struggling to find a foothold with their articles. The reason I think our example is unique is that our content is actually pretty dull. We're not getting a ton of social shares on these pieces, anyone who isn't looking for a guide on making quizzes could care less about these articles, and yet they are highly effective at driving new signups.

You don't have to be an expert storyteller or some sort of marketing genius to create great content that converts into paying customers, all you have to do is listen to what people are asking about and create articles answering the questions, it worked for us.

Related Podcast Episodes:

Josh Haynam is the co-founder of Interact – a SaaS product that makes it easier to create shareable quizzes for your website. You can create a quiz to engage with your audience or generate new sales leads. In 10 months, they went from $0 to $15,000 in monthly recurring revenue. And they landed clients like Disney, NBC and the American Red Cross. And they did that with zero outbound sales calls, and all through content marketing.

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