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How People Make Money through Content Marketing

Do you often wonder if there’s any value in content marketing? Do you doubt that people actually make money by providing free content on their web sites (sounds contradictory doesn’t it)?

If so, I’d like to answer your questions and provide evidence gathered from people just like you, who are making money by providing free, valuable, and relevant information.

Perhaps you’ve heard all the ‘buzz’ about social media and the need for ‘great content‘ but aren’t sure what it means or how to get started. Or maybe you’re concerned that you might invest too much time and in the end have little to show for it.

What follows are five examples of real people and brands that have made a fortune by providing great (free) content on their websites:

  • Mike Stelzner of Social Media Examiner. When Mike started SME in October 2009, he was a ‘nobody’ in the social media industry. His plan was to show people ‘how to navigate the social media jungle’ by providing outstanding content on his website.  Each day Mike publishes ‘how-to’ articles, interviews with industry experts, or success stories from other businesses. Never once does he advertise, talk about what he is selling or about himself.

Within 12 months, he went from zero to more than 40,000 email subscribers, received 450,000 monthly page views on his site, became one of the world’s top 25 business blogs, and made over $1 million.  He has just published his second book, ‘Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business beyond the Competition’. He attributes 100% of his success to content marketing.

  • Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. Ree Drummond is a city girl who married a cowboy and moved to the country in Oklahoma to start a family. She loved photography and cooking. So in 2006 she started a blog to share pictures, recipes and stories of her life in the country. Her site is a solid case study in how compelling content can create fascinating professional opportunities. Her hobby transformed her into an internet sensation.

By 2010 she was getting 22 million page views a month on her website. With such a massive audience she wrote three cooking books (The Pioneer Woman Cooks, From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels and Charlie the Ranch Dog) and became a New-York Times best-selling author. She’s been featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show, and Throwdown with Bobby Flay (FoodNetwork). In April 2011 FoodNetwork (cable TV) announced that Ree Drummond will soon be getting her own day-time show (this year).

  • Proctor & Gamble via In 2010 the poor economy resulted in a lot of men losing their jobs and picking up more household chores. P&G, a manufacturer of consumer goods such as Heads & Shoulders shampoo, Gillete razors and Tide detergent sought a way to connect with these men.

They launched an online magazine (read:blog) to reach out to guys and dads whose lives had changed and their roles in the family had also changed. The blog named ‘Man of the House’ provides highly relevant content that is designed to resonate with the lifestyle issues faced by this demographic e.g. money, careers, gadgets, house-hold projects, relationships, what to wear, cooking etc. The blog does not advertise and their articles have nothing to do with P&G products. Yet it attracts over 500,000 visitors per month, many of whom are buying P&G products.

  • Brian Halligan of Hubspot. Brian and his company’s co-founder met at MIT in 2004. In 2006 they launched an internet marketing company to help small businesses ‘get found‘ through in-bound links. They created a free internet marketing tool called Website Grader by which organizations can measure the effectiveness of their websites based on traffic, SEO, social popularity and other technical features. It also provides free suggestions on how to improve your website’s marketing experience – more than 3 million people have evaluated their web sites using Website Grader.

As far as content goes, Hubspot offers daily blog articles and 10 free webinars  per month on internet marketing (one even had 13,000 registrants), a weekly live Web TV show called ‘Hubspot TV’, and tons of free e-books. As a result, they have grown to 200 employees, received $33 million in venture capital funding and are projecting sales revenues of over $20 million in 2011 (350% increase from 2010).

  • And then there’s this one – I have absolutely no idea who the company is that produced this video, but if this is the kind of free content they routinely provide, then I would not hesitate to give them my money either (notice how many hits this video has had so far)! Thanks Joe Pulizzi for sharing.

Is this going to be a time consuming effort? Absolutely – there are no silver bullets in this business. Will you have to work your butt off and make some enormous sacrifices? Make no mistake about that.

But here’s the promise: If you start to create and publish great content (like the five examples I shared above) people will keep coming back for more; they will recommend your content to others; they will perceive you as an expert in your field; you will inspire deep loyalty in them; and when you finally decide to sell something, your readers will buy it!  And when that happens, you’ll understand the true value of content marketing and all your doubts will disappear.

Have  you started to create and publish content on your website? If so, what has been your experience? If not, what’s holding you back?

**If you enjoyed this article, please pass it on 🙂


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