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Leveraging Editorial, Self-Placed, and Owned Content for Marketing

John Doherty —  August 1, 2013
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Marketers produce content. We produce a metric ton of content every day, actually. We’re told to create great content and to keep producing great content.

*cue the parody “Great content is killing me”*

Not only do we produce content on our own sites, we also produce content and put it on other sites (which some deem pretty insane). Let me get this straight – We’re creating high-quality content, that takes up our own creative energy and time, so that someone else can put it on their site. And we’re doing it for a freaking link??

If you’re just doing content for the sake of a link, let me say that you’re doing it wrong. Yes, I’ve worked in SEO for a while now. Yes, I know the value of a link. Yes, I can put the monetary value on a link, and I have. Yes, I still think about links first when I scan a piece of content.

BUT. What if I told you that you can still get all of this and more?

The Purpose of Content

If you’re an SEO, you create content to drive more traffic to your site to then try to convert that person into a person who will pay you money. Or, you create content to become a thought leader so that people will pay you money. Or, you create content to put on another person’s site for a link. Or you get that link and you also become seen as a thought leader.

I was thinking about content today on my subway ride home. It all of a sudden hit me how crazy it would be to just think of content as being for a link.

Here’s my thesis for this post:

Content can be used as leverage to get yourself onto other sites that can spread your message even further.

It’s called social proof. But then this got me started thinking about something even further along the trail:

What is the difference between self-placed content (ie a guest post) and editorially placed content (ie a press mention)?

My answer to the purpose of content is:

It depends on the outcome you want.

But your outcome should never be just links.

Editorially Placed Content/Mentions

I think we can all agree that content/mentions/links placed naturally is the best kind of mention you can get. It means a few different things:

  • You’re seen as a thought leader;
  • You didn’t have to do any work to get the content placed (other than create something of value);
  • It’s free;
  • It can get you in front of a new audience;

Past links and the fact that you didn’t have to write or outreach the content yourself, you’re becoming branded as a thought leader at least to that person, and now to their audience. The only drawback is that you didn’t get to control the piece of content or the site, and they might not be the best that you can get.

Now, an action for you:

Use this mention as social proof when you’re pitching a site. This should up your rate of acceptance

Try something like:

Hi person!

I blah blah blah. You blah blah blah.

I know we don’t know each other, so I thought you’d like to check me out a little bit before you agree to my request. I’ve been cited HERE and HERE, and if you do THIS SEARCH you’ll find a lot of content I’ve written! Oh yeah, and HERE is my personal website.

Sincerely,

NAME

Self-Placed Content

Self placed content is next. With self-placed content, the following has happened:

  • You’ve done outreach and been accepted;
  • You put in time and effort to create the content;
  • You’ve probably gotten a link;
  • You’re being seen as a thought leader by that person’s audience

As you can probably tell, I prefer the first option (editorially placed content), but this second option isn’t bad either. The drawback is that you’ve had to put forth the effort to both connect with the person, outreach to them to get accepted, and then spend your brain space on that content.

The positives, of course, are that you were able to qualify both the person and the site as well as being able to control the whole of the content published. That’s pretty awesome and not to be underestimated.

So what can you use this content for? Well, in the first example we used the fact that we had been talked about elsewhere, but now we can leverage the fact that others have trusted you enough to let you write a full piece on their site. I’d do something like this:

Hi person!

I blah blah blah blah. You blah blah blah blah.

I know we don’t know each other (yet), so I thought you might like to see other content I’ve written on other sites online so that you can see that I’m actually a good writer and will be good for your audience! I’ve written HERE about TOPIC as well as HERE and HERE about TOPICS. They each got COUNT tweets and COUNT Facebook shares.

Sincerely,

NAME

I did something similar in this post on ProBlogger last year, because I had written a case study on Launchrock before.

problogger-post

Content On Your Site

Now we get to the third kind of content that I want to talk about today, content on your own site. Obviously I’m a big believer in this and it often comes (sometimes months or years) before you’re cited naturally on other sites and able to get content placed on authoritative websites.

Of course, your site is your home. You can control the branding, the typography, every piece of content that is published, the size of your audience, and how much the post is promoted. You can also convert people into leads or sales directly from your site, whereas on other sites you probably cannot do this.

So how do we leverage content produced on your own site? Well, here are a few ways:

  • In a pitch to a blogger to write about a similar topic to something you’ve already covered;
  • To sell products or services directly;
  • To promote other websites of yours (through links and mentions)

When I’ve written guest post pitches in the past, they had something along the lines of:

Hi person!

I blah blah blah blah. You blah blah blah blah.

We’ve connected on SOCIAL NETWORK but I know we don’t know each other well (yet). I’ve written a few other posts on my own website about this topic, such as THIS ONE on TOPIC and THIS ONE a few months later.

Blah blah.

Sincerely,

NAME

Conclusion

What do you think? How do you leverage mentions, self-placed content, and content on your own site to push your desired outcomes forward?

John Doherty

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I'm the Senior Marketing Manager of HotPads.com, based in San Francisco. Previous to Hotpads I worked at Distilled for 2 years as an online marketing consultant. In my spare time I shoot lifestyle photography, ski, rock climb, and update my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

8 responses to Leveraging Editorial, Self-Placed, and Owned Content for Marketing

  1. John,

    Your post really hit home for me, someone who has spent most of the last eight months making use of the three elements you describe.

    I came from the outdoor industry (i.e., edited a B2B magazine for ESPN for 6 years), where I was seen as a thought leader in the space. I’ve been transitioning to produce content more broadly, so
    I’ve leveraged mentions from those I’ve worked with; written guest blogs for sites to further build on my position as a thought leader in the outdoor space; worked to solidify my footing in the content marketing, content strategy and SEO communities through reading and posting comments on blogs, building a rapport with though leaders; and learning all that I can so that guest blogging for other sites becomes even more palatable.

    As you assert, it all works. It’s about finding what works best for you.

    Thanks for a great post, one that has me thinking of even more ways to increase visibility and become a better resource to the communities I’m now a part of.

    RS

  2. Hey John,

    Good post. I think part of the discussion is also about brand building. IE, thinking about producing great content for more than just a link, but to develop the brand. I think sometime in SEO, with the primary focus, as you point out, most often being about getting that link (the short term gain) the long term benefit of building the brand is lost.

  3. What if they want mediocrity? What if they only want links as an outcome of their efforts for creating amazing content? :) But of course, you are right. It would be a waste of energy and skill if it’s just all about links.

    Riza, Kingged.com contributor
    http://www.kingged.com/leveraging-editorial-self-placed-and-owned-content-for-marketing/

  4. Hi John,

    I just wish I had more time to spend on creating great content. I might consider outsourcing some of this going forward.

    Great post.

    Thanks
    James

  5. Hey John,
    After Penguin 2.0 was released, I read a funny comment on Matt Cutt’s blog. Matt said that great content is the key to success, and someone replied that he will continue to create awesome content when Google will start to count it instead of freaking links.

    It’s actually sad that so many bloggers write only for the sake of getting a link, and I truly believe that the methods you have discussed in this article can be very beneficial on the long run.

    thank you for the great write-up.

    Anna.

  6. Hi John,

    I’m just about to go live with a directory website(my 1st) here in the UK and will be needing to ensure good content.

    Thanks for the great article.

    George

  7. Hi John,

    In working with clients trying to build a content marketing/outreach strategy essentially from scratch, do you have any general/broad recommendations on transitioning from on-site to self-placement?

    At what point would it be good to start doing outreach after focusing on on-site content in terms of time frame and number of posts to get a decent response/approval rate? This is a real general/broad question, but would you build up a certain amount of authority so to speak before reaching out and getting no/low responses, or just play it by ear.

    Thanks,
    Sean Maki