4 Free Content Hacks to Kickstart Your Blog Right Now
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4 Free Content Hacks to Kickstart Your Blog Right Now

4 Free Content Hacks to Kickstart Your Blog
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This is a guest post by John Chen.

So you think the Web is a lucrative space to be in now.

You’re not wrong.

In fact, if you just do a simple Google search for the query “Holiday Season Sales Statistics,” this pops up:

Seasonal Sales Stats
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And we haven’t even touched on “normal days” yet.

It’s natural that if you own a business, you want a piece of the pie. Who wouldn’t?

But the next question you ask yourself is: how can you stand out from your competition?

Oh? What’s that I hear you say? Content Marketing?

Sure. The idea is simple, isn’t it? Tell your prospects what they want to hear, and they come flocking to your site, and buy stuff off you.

But as I write this, there are 2,612,495 blog posts being published, according to Worldometers.

Daily Blog Posts Written Screenshot
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Oh yeah, that number is still rising by about 500 every single minute.

You feel depressed reading this, but that’s the reality of today’s online business.

It’s a super crowded, super competitive space that tries to fill up the information gap of our every question, every desire.

And you want to stand out? *Hmm*Well, in case you’re feeling downright demoralized right now, this post can help you.

Today, I’ll share with you 4 simple content hacks that you can implement right now, that I used myself to grow my own web presence (in my journey to $100,000).

You'll learn some simple techniques you can use to get the word out about your website, and significantly increase the chances of being seen by the right people.

Let’s begin!

Introduction to Content Hacking

In order for you to understand content hacking techniques, we must first understand what content hacking is.

The term really began when Sean Ellis, a reputable guy in the marketing space, coined the term growth hacking - a marketer who cares about nothing other than growth (users, subscribers, customers, signups) and so on.

Naturally, since content marketing is one of the best ways to engage readers to convert them into subscribers, the term content hacking appeared.

Content Hacker Image via CoSchedule
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Image Source: CoSchedule

A content hacker is basically a growth hacker that uses content to obsessively grow his/her site’s traction using loopholes, and grey area marketing techniques with a blend of content.

For example, while the traditional marketer will use advertisements to get some visitors to the site, the content hacker will think of ways to get it for free, using simple loopholes and shortcuts to get the same (or even better) results.

A good example is Buffer, whose team used a form of content hacking by guest posting and leveraging other blogs’ audiences to grow their own traffic.

Buffer's Traction Update
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Oh, Buffer started from scratch, but they’ve grown into a powerhouse, with over 1.3 million paying customers.

Whew.

Who is Content Hacking Suitable For?

At the core, content hacking is a mindset that marketers are still struggling to understand.

This is because many marketers have not changed their mindsets entirely from the traditional ad model to the lean model that most businesses operate in today.

For example, ask any VP of a MNC and ask a VP from a startup (most likely tech) how a marketing budget should be used to grow their company, and chances are, you’ll get totally different results.

This is because content hacking is more suited for small, lean and fast companies - especially since it involves a lot of trial and error (and patience) that big companies simply can’t afford.

Therefore, content hacking is best suited if you are small scale, have a team of 1-3 people, or, you’re dead broke (but have an Internet connection).

Method #1: Have a Compelling Content Tilt

You already know there’s a ton of information on just about anything on the Web. So why should anyone listen to what you have to say?

That’s why you need to come up with a compelling content tilt before you start getting into content hacking.

A content tilt is basically an intersection between your passion and your skills, but with a twist.

Step 1: What are your passions and skills?

CMI's Sweet Spot Graphic
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For example, in Contentrific, my skills lie in being able to write persuasive content that converts for my customers.

My passion lies in helping others to communicate better, and sell more expressively.

Put that together, and you have a niche: content marketing, and content writing.

But, that’s not enough. Why? Because there are just so many blogs out there talking about this topic already. Chances are, if I were to join the queue, I won’t live to see my site get listed.

Therefore, we have to dig further to find an angle for our content. This is the content tilt.How can we do that?

Step 2: Your Content tilt

By digging really deep down and find out what our audience really, really wants.

CMI's Audience Graphic
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I like to call these secret desires. Why? Because these are reasons that people won’t tell you upfront.

For example, you don’t buy a Ferrari because you like the sound of it. You buy it to make a statement, and because you secretly desire the privilege of owning one, right?

We’re going to apply that same principle to our content.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What does my audience really want at the end of the day from my product/service?
  • What are their desired outcomes from reading my content?
  • How can I find that unique voice, that makes me who I am?

In my example, the secret desires my audience might have from writing better could be:

  • They want more sales
  • They want to express themselves in a clearer way
  • They want to avoid the writer’s block and be stuck with poor content
  • They want to know how content can work to make their online presence look better

I could go on and go, but choose the best 3 reasons to focus on.

Step 3: Find your unique offering

Now, the next question that we have to ask is: How can we put all these secret desires of our audience, and find an interesting way to phrase it?

Some good ways that you can do this include:

  • Follow me on my journey as I use [thing you are selling] to [secret desire of audience] to $xxx
  • Never be afraid of [secret desire] again
  • Overcome [secret desire] in [time]. Never face another [problem] again.

Notice that I deliberately state out the secret desires of the audience. I’m answering their inner questions, instead of being on the surface just like most other blogs out there.

In other words, this makes me a thought leader in my own space, and increases my chance at winning my audience over later on.

For me, obviously I chose the first option, and I ended up with my content tilt:

Contentrific's Lead Generation Example
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Note: You will want to place your content tilt and emphasize it everywhere on your website, using lead generation tools like Thrive Leads, OptinMonster, or LeadPages in these prime estate on your site:

  • About page
  • Home Page
  • Services Page (if you have one)
  • Sidebar on blog posts

The idea is to build your content tilt into the minds of your readers, so that you become memorable enough from your competition.

Method #2: Use Groups

Now that we’ve figured out how to make our content stick to the people that read it, the next challenge in our content hacking journey is to get as many people to read it using the least amount of resources possible.

To do that, a favorite technique I like to use is to use Groups.

Groups are communities of like-minded people on either Social Media platforms or forum boards.

The reasons why groups are a favorite of mine is because:

  • Since they opted into a topic on the platform that you are in [for example, content marketing], they are already open to your messages.
  • Chances are, they already know the industry jargon, so speaking to them is almost guaranteed to be more natural than speaking to complete beginners.
  • You can immediately recognize the right way to speak to them, based on the comments that they have left on the forum.

Some Ground Rules

Before we begin searching for groups, it would be wise for you to keep these general rules of groups at the back of your head:

  • Don’t be an as*hole
  • Help, not push
  • Add value, add value
  • Give credit when it’s due

You can easily find groups that are in your niche.

Format

Whenever you post to forums, always make sure to follow this template of answering questions:

  • Thank the original poster (OP) for posting the question
  • Talk about your experience, and how it qualifies you to answer the question
  • Talk about question in detail, add value as needed to expand on the question
  • Insert relevant links only when you can
  • End off by saying that you hope the information is of value, and is helpful to the OP

Now, let's check out some of the most popular groups and communities.

1. BoardReader

For starters, I always like to go to BoardReader, which is a collection of online forums and that you can use to speed up your research.

Simply enter the following query:

  • “your niche" forums
BoardReader Screenshot 1
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This brings up a list of forums that are already talking about your niche. If you’re lucky, you can use this chance to analyze and understand the burning questions that they have too.

forum thread 1
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Suppose I chanced upon this site from Warrior Forum from BoardReader, I can choose to answer this question using the following format:

  • Thank them for their question
  • Talk about your own experiences
  • Break down their question
  • Find different answers and perspectives that add value to their question, and what they are doing
  • Insert a link naturally into your answer - don’t blunty state something like: here, read this <your link>
  • Link out to a few other resources in your answer that might be helpful to the OP
  • End off your statement with a strong call to action, for example: “if you need help at any time at all, you just continue this thread. I read every comment”

Take note that you need to sign up for an account first, before you can comment on some forums.

2. Quora

Quora is another great example of a forum you can join to find burning questions, and get a few hits on your site.

To start off, you will be prompted to sign in, or set up an account with Quora.

Once you are logged in, enter “your niche” into the search bar, and choose any “topic”.

Quora Search 1
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Alternatively, you can always select “Search” to find the questions that are currently being asked on the platform.

Quora Search 2
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Find a question you’ve created content around, or feel confident enough to answer, and use the answer template that I gave you above.

Quora Search 3
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When done right, content hacking Quora can get you hundreds of votes, and significantly high volume of traffic for free.

LinkedIn

If you are offering B2B services, then LinkedIn is a must for you.

LinkedIn offers a variety of groups around most industries, and is a great place for you to get your message out.

To begin, simply create a LinkedIn account (if you don’t have one already), and head over to your profile page.

At the dashboard, hover over Interests, and click on Groups.

LinkedIn 3
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Click on Discover.

LinkedIn 4
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LinkedIn does a great job to filter out some groups according to your interests, but if you want to join specific groups, you can always use the search bar to find the group that you are interested in.

LinkedIn 5
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To join a group, you need to click on Ask to Join, if it is a closed group. Once you’ve clicked it, you simply have to wait until your application gets approved.

This is where the real fun begins.

With every post you create, or with any offers or content you come up with, publish them on the LinkedIn group. And position it in a way that adds value to the group's members.

Be sure not to appear spammy, or just being another advertiser out there; you might just get banned from a group in the end.

Apart from that, note if the group has in place certain restrictions about the kind of content that is allowed, and not allowed.

For example, my own attempts at posting my content to a group got me flagged:

LinkedIn Messaging Example 1
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Although they didn’t place the guidelines on their page, be sure to just keep a lookout for it, to protect yourself in case a moderator approaches you about it.

Method #3: Giveaway + Scarcity Method

The next technique that you might be able to explore is the Giveaway and Scarcity method.

I know I mentioned these steps are free, but if you have a small budget, you can always put them behind this campaign.

If not, then use the other methods outlined in this post to distribute it.

At the core, the purpose of creating a giveaway is to collect emails and signups, which you can then leverage on to read your content and convert later on.

Step 1: Creating a Compelling Offer

The first thing that you should do is to create a compelling offer.

This will encourage your readers to give up their emails in exchange for something that is of value to them.

lead gen 1
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Creating a compelling offer or a lead magnet is simple. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are some information that I can give away for free for my target audience?
  • How can I break down this information, so that I can engage my readers as much as possible?
  • At the end of this lead magnet, what do I want to achieve? More sales, more signups, more credibility?
  • Does my lead magnet solve a real problem that my prospects have?
  • Are the results immediate?
  • Is my lead magnet specific? Does it solve a specific problem?
  • Is the value of my lead magnet high? Does it sound too good to be true?
  • Does the lead magnet demonstrate my expertise or my unique selling point?

Some examples of a compelling offer that you can consider creating are:

A Toolbox​

A toolbox is basically a collection of tools that you use in your business. You might not think too much about the software/hardware that you use everyday, but for complete beginners, they can be an invaluable resource.

Michael Hyatt's Lead Magnet
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A Compilation of Resources

What are the fundamentals and essentials that someone new in your industry simply must read?

Which articles can they read that can get them up to speed with your niche?

A Sample Course

If you are selling a course, how can you condense your course to the point where your reader sees the value, but knows that if he/she pays, he/she can get mind blowing value?

The answer? DRIP email courses. A DRIP email course is a sequence of emails that provide links to lessons that are released over a period of time.

For example, at Contentrific, I created content courses on Writing Better, creating powerful LinkedIn profiles, and B2B content marketing on LinkedIn.

The power of the DRIP Email course lies in allowing you to build solid relationships with your new subscribers, but studies have shown that too long a course (over 7 lessons) makes people lose interest in it.

Step 2: The Law of Scarcity

If you think people love free stuff, you’re halfway right.

People love free stuff that are limited in numbers.

What do I mean?

If you take a look at the 2 offers below, which one do you think is more valuable?

  • Free consultation. Analyze your content for free now.
  • Sign up Now, and get an exclusive 1 hour consultation with an industry guru worth $500. Limited to first 3 signups only.

If you’re like 99% of people out there, chances are, you will think that the second offer is the more valuable one. Why? Because I’ve placed scarcity in it.

Let’s break it down in detail.

Example of Scarcity
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SIGN UP NOW - Beginning your pitch like this creates a sense of urgency, and persuades your audience to open up their ears to what you have to say.

EXCLUSIVE 1-HOUR, LIMITED, FIRST 3 SIGNUPS ONLY - When you use the word “exclusive”, you’re creating scarcity and generating demand, by limiting the availability of the item. This automatically raises the value of the product or service in your prospects eyes.

INDUSTRY GURU, $500 - When you use the word industry guru, and $500, you are building your credibility and the value of your time, as well as the value of the offer.

I see a lot of startups offering free consultations.

While that is a valid strategy, you want to price yourself out rightly, so that your readers think that they are getting value for your time, and, when you eventually upsell them, they have a value to refer back to, when they decide to engage you.

For example, if you're doing a free consultation, why would I pay you $3,000 towards the end? I won’t, because I started the conversation with it being free.

However, if I start the conversation with you understanding that it’s worth $500 every hour, why wouldn’t you consider my offer more seriously, given the fact that I would be investing a lot more hours into your business?

In psychology, this is called the anchor effect - we need a figure to base our calculations and decisions on.

This doesn't apply to just services.

If you're selling products, you can choose to give complimentary items, as a giveaway.

For example, if your main product is selling tennis racquets, give your winners tennis balls, then, when the winners are announced, send them a custom offer to purchase your tennis rackets with a winner’s discount.

At the end of the day, the key point of the giveaway is to get your readers to buy into your idea, and using the right words that make them tick.

Method #4: (Grey Hat area): Use scraping tools to gather data, then craft templates to pitch your content

Of course, a content hacking guide will not be complete if you don’t include some grey hat methods to grow your content audience.

Personally, I would not recommend this, but this is a grey spot that I think a lot of people don’t utilize.

This grey hat technique is very simple:

  • Use scraping tools to gather data
  • Use convincing, relevant content to win strangers over

Step 1: Gathering data of potential professional prospects on LinkedIn

If you are a B2B service, then LinkedIn is your best chance to grow your audience base. The latest report in 2016 showed that LinkedIn boasts a total of 467 million users on their platform.

LinkedIn User Stats 2016
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In other words, we need to first create a powerful LinkedIn profile, then use tools to grow our LinkedIn audience, which we can then transfer to our site with relevant content and niche messages.

But how do we get so many people to visit our profile, especially if we are new in the industry?

Meet Dux-Soup.

Dux Soup 1
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This nifty tool is a chrome extension that can help you to visit profiles that are related to your keywords, so that they in turn visit your profile instead.

What does this mean? Free traffic for you, of course!

To start using this software, go to Dux Soup’s website, and click on Get Started.

Dux Soup 2
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You should be redirected to the Google Chrome Store (you must use Chrome Browser to for Dux Soup to work).

Dux Soup 3
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Download Dux Soup by clicking on Add to Chrome.

Now that Dux Soup is installed, you should see the icon on your Chrome Toolbar.

Dux Soup 4
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Then, go to LinkedIn, and click on Advanced next to the search bar. This will redirect you to the Advanced Search Page.

Click on Advanced under the Search button on the left, if it doesn’t open.

LinkedIn 1
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Type in your keywords, and the location. Leave everything else blank.

LinkedIn 2
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For example, if you are selling tennis rackets, you can input keywords like “sports”, “tennis” and so on.

Click on Search.

You should see a list of connections appearing in the search list.

Dux Soup should also give you a notification that it’s ready to start work.

Dux Soup 5
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When you are ready to begin, click on the Dux Soup symbol on the Google Toolbar, then click on Visit Profiles, and Dux Soup will do the work for you.

Duc Soup 6
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Over time, you should see your LinkedIn connections grow organically, as more people visit your profile.

Take note that if you have a free account on LinkedIn, you can only visit up to 150 profiles per day.

Step 2: Creating a list of relevant website owners

The gameplan here is to create a list of searches for sites that are relevant, or might be interested in your site.

You can do so by Googling the following queries:

  • “Allintitle: your niche”
  • “Your niche + list of blogs”

Note down the URL of the websites that come up in your list onto an excel sheet.

At every step of the way, take note of the angle of the website you have identified. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this website already have an audience, or did they just start out?
  • How well is their content being received?
  • What is their approach to your niche?
  • Would they be interested to be pitched to with my offer?

This is important, as it will help you in the next step.

Step 3: Extracting emails

Method #1: Manually

If you are on a budget, and you don't have money to spare, then then best way is to search for contact information from the website itself.

The most common place to look is on the contact page.

Blogging Aid 1
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Look for any information that suggests the name of the author of the blog, or the owner of the company that the website is representing.

Blogging Aid 2
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In Blogging Aid’s case, for example, it’s clear that Julian is the owner.

If you can’t find the name of the owner, you can either do a simple search on their blog posts, or their About page.

Blogging Aid 3
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Blogging Aid 4
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Method #2: With Hunter.io

Obviously, the step that I’ve mentioned above is time consuming, and requires some patience.

If you do take this method as one of your main strategies for content outreach, then I suggest you to go for tools like Hunter.io. It’s free for the first 150 searches every month.

Hunter.io 1
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Hunter.io is a a web tool that can analyze a website, and pull out the contact information for that entire domain. The only limitation is that it can’t find the First Name of that contact.

To start off, input a URL into the search bar.

Hunter.io 2
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Click on Find Email Addresses, and the Email of the site owner should pop out.

Hunter.io 3
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Copy and paste the email address to the same Excel Sheet that we filled up earlier.

Step 4: Creating content or a relevant offer

This next step is crucial, and can make or break the effectiveness of this technique.

We need to create a compelling offer that is relevant and targeted to this group of people.

Remember that since they are complete strangers to you at this point, our offer must be as relevant and valuable to them as possible.

Here are some criteria that I often use to qualify my offer:

  • Which stage in my niche are these sites?
  • Do they need this information, or don’t they?
  • Would they find this information valuable, or won’t they?

Make sure to be as stringent as you can with this criteria, and create your offer based on them.

Step 5: Send them the relevant offer

i. For Website Owners

The next step you need to do is to send this group of people the relevant offer.

At this point, you should have collected two sets of data from your LinkedIn profile, and from your web search.

Here’s a possible template that you can use to reach out to website owners:

Hey {first name},

My name is {your name}, and I chanced upon your article {article URL}.

Really loved the value that you put out there!

In fact, I loved the content so much, that I took the liberty to create something of my own: {insert URL}.

It would really make my day if someone as experienced in your field would take a look at it, and let me know your thoughts.

Looking forward to your reply!

Cheers,

{your name}

{your website}

Note: For website owners, and bloggers, it would be wise to send them your articles instead of a free course - after all, they might be already developing their own courses.

You want them to help spread your message, not sign up for your offer.

ii. For Professional Prospects (Your B2B Leads)

As for professionals related to your niche, you could create an offer, or a download of value. Once you’ve developed the right lead magnet, send a message along these lines to your connections, whom by now would have grown organically because of Dux Soup.

Hey {first name},

Thank you so much for connecting on LinkedIn.

As you might know, i’m currently on a mission to solve {mention problem that your business solves} so that lives for professionals like yourself can improve, and reach the next level.

To do that, I’m starting off with a free {your lead magnet category} that I've spent {period of time} developing.

If you could help me take a look at it, and share with me your thoughts, that would really make my day.

Thanks!

Cheers,

{your name}

{your website}

Conclusion

Content marketing is the in thing right now, and that’s a good thing. But doing it blindly, and just using every single technique out there will only kill your resources, and get you in a position of misery.

I hope that you have found enough value in this post that will guide you in your brand new quest to content hack your website, and have fun along the way.

At the core, remember the basics of content marketing - test, rinse, and repeat.

What are some other techniques that you would like to share to grow your website the fastest way possible with content? Share your insights with me below! I read every comment.


Guest Author: John Chen has helped professionals from multinational corporations like Microsoft and Accenture scale their personal brands with the right content. He holds a black belt in the art of content weaving, and has helped thousands of people express themselves with clarity on print, and on the Web. His words have translated into hundreds of thousands of dollars for his clients. Some call him a “talented content creator”, known for his ability to bridge the gap between thought and paper. You can catch John on his site Contentrific, where he teaches entrepreneurs, professionals and small teams to grow their audience the right way with persuasive content.

Julian
 

Julian is a blogger, an affiliate, and a niche explorer. He loves everything in internet marketing. He also runs other blogs, such as AffiliMarketer. You can also find him sharing tips and resources on Twitter. Check him out.

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