Building a Content Strategy Without a Big Ass Budget

By Georgia Daubert

If you aren’t working on a solid content marketing strategy by now, you’re doing it wrong. We are officially at the end of Content Marketing Month on the blog now, and if you haven’t already taken away some great tools, design ideas, and offline tips for your strategy, then you have some homework to do!

Content marketing can be broken down into two very simple steps:

  1. Create awesome content
  2. Get that content seen by as many people as possible

Yes, it IS that easy and it doesn’t have to cost you a ton to be successful at it either. Did you know you can build a content marketing strategy without having to produce all the content yourself? TOTALLY! We have learned that sometimes, the best content isn’t always completely original. This post outlines 8 strategies that work and also don’t send us chasing after our piggy banks with a hammer… here piggy, piggy.

Image: Saving For Someday

1. Expert Series

So, you’re not a well-known expert on a particular topic or issue, but you really want to feature it on your blog? No biggie! Simply, identify the thought leaders in your field, especially those with a large network of dedicated followers, and reach out to them with a few simple questions for a blog post. Usually, they will be happy to oblige your request and share their expertise with you. In addition to providing your website visitors with expert advise, you can also leverage these thought leader’s large fan bases and ideally gain a few new fans and followers for your own profiles as well! We know you’re all dedicated Thunder Blog readers, but in case you missed it, Gary wrote an awesome post last month asking local search experts how they really feel about Google+ Local. Not only did this shed some light on a confusing situation, but we got more readers to our blog since the experts shared the post among their networks.

You may even find that YOU are asked to contribute to an expert panel, like our very own Monique was for a post on about how to sell executives on the idea and cost of content marketing. (Yes, we were very proud!)

2. Guest Blogging

This is one of my personal favorites, because one of my many tasks here at Thunder is to find, and then organize, our awesome team of guest bloggers. We invite bloggers with well established blogs of their own to write a guest post for us on a topic or region that’s relevant to our clients. We have even been so lucky as to have some of our guest bloggers write a recap on their own site and then link back to their original post, or share it with their own social networks as well. This is another great opportunity to leverage these communities of loyal readers and get new comments and eyeballs on your site that might not have visited before. This can inevitably lead to new relationships and links for your site.

3. Badge Strategy

Site badges are another awesome tool to incorporate into your content development strategy. We wrote about badges in 2009, and they’re still effective if used correctly. A badge is an image hosted on your own server that comes with pre-made markup for your fans or guest bloggers to use on their own sites. Site badges are most successful on sites where your fans or users have some sort of incentive to link to your site.

Awards also work great as badges. The first badge was created by BallHyped, who asked readers to share the support for their own blog. As you can see below, it worked! All they had to do was create the badge and ask their fans to share it.

The other badge shown is an award for attorneys who made the list of “Top 50 California Attorneys Online” to feature on their own websites linking back to 888 Bailbonds’ website with the full list of winners.

4. Annual Surveys

Similar to the expert series idea, you can create an annual feature that showcases industry trends or leaders. These surveys can be observational, yet still inspire great conversation on your site. David Mihm recently conducted a survey asking participants to rank the possible positive and negative factors that drive Google’s Local Search algorithms. The survey generated several “comments from the experts”, while at the same time providing useful results for the readers to take into account when setting up their own local search directory listings. Providing valuable information and allowing your readers to become a part of the discussion is a great way to build some buzz around a particular piece of content.

5. Content Repurposing

Sometimes, you are sitting on a gold mine of content just waiting to be repurposed and you didn’t even know it! There are 4 easy ways you can repurpose your existing content to appeal to a larger variety of audiences:

  1. Take something large and make it smaller. Perhaps you have a large infographic that could be broken down into a series of smaller blog posts?
  2. Take something small and make it larger. Or maybe you’re in the opposite situation and you already have all the research done, but need to present it in one, cohesive piece like an “ultimate infographic”?
  3. Convert or transform your content. If your company has developed a white paper, repurpose it into a webinar, and then present the webinar as a slideshare. The possibilities truly are endless.
  4. Promote your piece of content via social media. This is so simple, yet extremely important! You can promote all the amazing blog posts, infographics, and white papers you want, but if you aren’t getting people to actually read or share your stuff, what good is it? Always make your content available to as many different groups of people as possible, by posting it to every social media community that you are a member of. Just remember to change your messaging to fit the appropriate audience! created the Ultimate Guide to Business Cards Print & Design, and then cut the massive guide into smaller sections and wrote an in-depth post for each component, creating a fantastic blog series to accompany the guide. Here’s the original infographic:

Best Tips for How to Print and Design Business Cards

And here’s an example of the post broken up into more informational snippets with supporting copy:

6. Hosting a UGC Community

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention SEOmoz’s amazing user-generated content community, YouMoz. Asking your fans and followers to contribute content to Q&A forums and community blog posts is one of the easiest ways to build up a community and make people feel like they are a valuable part of the discussion. It also helps with longtail traffic and unique content.

7. Hiring Freelance Bloggers

If hiring an entire content marketing team is just not in your budget right now, consider hiring freelance bloggers to produce content for you at a reasonable rate that you can afford. Make sure the blogger can speak to your audience in an appropriate way, follow your editorial calendar, and is familiar with basic SEO practices before hiring them. There are tons of ways to find the right person for the job. Here are just a few:

  1. Blog Dash is a blogger outreach dashboard to help connect businesses and writers. You can sign up at the free level, which provides limited access finding bloggers, or at the $20/month level, which provides full access to the sites features.
  2. Scripted “offers expert writers in every subject” at prices that range from $49 per standard blog post to $300 for 100 Facebook posts. They also offer customizable monthly packages to fit your needs.
  3. Craigslist is another great place to find writers. As always, be on the lookout for scams and use this site at your own risk. That being said, we have had luck finding great writers through Craigslist; you just have to be prepared to sift through all the junk email!

8. Neighborhood Outreach

If your blog has a local focus, you should consider doing a roundup of neighborhood events and organizations that pertain to your audience. Browse local blogs to find events happening that week, and feature them on your blog, making sure to cite the original sources. Use review sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon to gain insights about the best dishes or features, and be sure to work these into your write up.

The final (and arguably most important) step to this process is to promote these posts via social media and mention the organizations involved. To paraphrase our good friend, John Bertino, “If a blog post falls in the forest, and no one is there to read it, does it even make a sound?” Be sure to follow and like the business you are writing about on Twitter and Facebook, and then @mention or tag them in your tweet or post as well.

Now is definitely the time to invest some extra time and energy into your content marketing strategy, but that doesn’t have to mean that you invest a ton of money into it as well. Taking advantage of some (or all) of these tips should help you to build your online community, all the while shrinking your overhead costs! Let us know what strategies you think we left off of this list and what’s worked for you in the comments below.

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  • This is a pretty cool post! It is really all about a content strategy at this point. Linking has taken such a drastic change in the last year, content is king now more than ever before!

  • Magdalene

    I bookmarked this page. I really like your site. I’ll bookmark the other pages when I have time