Over and over again we hear the phrase, “Content is king!” Writers produce content. And content drives readers to our books, websites, blogs, videos, audio, and social networking sites. It’s what creates SEO, but it also makes our readers trust us, like us, know us. Our words—whether written or spoken—must strike a chord with those who read and hear them; we must touch their hearts or their minds with what we write and say.
If anyone knows how to do this—and to do it in every way content can be produced, it’s C.C. Chapman. I met C.C., the co-author of Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business, at BlogWorld & New Media Expo 2011 this past November. C.C. is a recognized leader in the online and social media marketing space. He is a digital lifestyle writer with a passion for travel, photography, food, and music, as well as an author, speaker, entrepreneur, and father. He writes a blog, which you can read here.
C.C.’s book, Content Rules, is a must have for authors wanting to use their writing skills to engage readers, build author platform and build a business around their books. Filled with case studies, tips, and advice on how to do everything from writing a blog post to producing a video or podcast, within its covers you’ll find a myriad of new ways use your ability to tell great stories for the purpose of advancing your writing career. You can apply the actual “rules,” which are included in part one of the book, then discover how to use them in the how-to section (part two), and see how others have successfully applied them by reading the case studies (part three—which I particularly enjoyed),which include companies like HubSpot, Kodak, and the U.S. Army. I was struggling with podcasting when I picked up the book, and was happy to find some pointers in its pages.
What follows is an interview I conducted with C.C. while at BlogWorld Expo. He covers the concept of content marketing, how it applies to social networking, making money with content marketing, fitting this activity into a writer’s daily writing schedule, and why it’s important to do the latter. I keep telling you to get involved in content marketing. Listen to what C.C. has to say on the topic…
What do you define as content, and what is content marketing?
Anything you create and share to tell your story. That’s everything. That’s what content marketing is. You put the word marketing on it, and some people freak out. “I don’t work in marketing,” they say. But any content you create tells your story. At its most basic, in its most raw form, that’s what content is.
Everyone says content is king, so it should be pretty basic for authors or aspiring authors to promote themselves using their content. What are the top 3-5 content marketing activities you would suggest they take on?
If you are an author you should be able to easily use content to promote yourself because you already know how to write. You know how to produce quality content, otherwise you wouldn’t be a writer. All good content is based on good writing; it doesn’t matter what it is.
Content marketing should be easy for authors, but maybe I shouldn’t say that. Let’s face it. Talking about yourself is not easy for a lot of people. It’s not easy for me. That’s why I usually write about other things, and I hope that doing so affects me positively.
People are going to be attracted to you talking about your book, talking about the process or writing your book, talking about the things people wouldn’t necessarily think about that relate to your book. One of the most popular blog posts Ann [Hadley] and I did for the book was one Ann wrote about the loneliness of being in her office rewriting over and over again. People connected with that because they felt they got a peak behind the curtain.
For any business this is an easy way to open the kimono—I hate that phrase, actually. They can use content to reach out to people. They can interact on Twitter or Facebook or other services and actually start building relationships with people. The more connected someone is to the author—even if it’s just through watching a Twitter stream—the more likely that connection might lead to sales. Those people are going to want to support that person because they feel like they already know him. That’s where content can shine through and accomplishes that end.
Here’s the other thing I would advise. Don’t focus on just the written word. Use pictures. Use videos. And don’t get hung up on technology. “Oh, my God, I don’t have a beautiful camera.” It can be your cell phone or your web cam on your computer. It doesn’t have to be super high tech or glossy because it’s what your saying that matters the most.
You mentioned reaching out on Twitter. Do you want to talk to people on social media about your personal life as well as about your book, business or your area of expertise?
Yes, but you have to figure out the balance between the personal and professional—what’s right for you. Some people are more open than others. Some people don’t want to share as much personal information as others. You do need to share some personal stuff, because people like to feel that connection even if it’s just a little bit. “Signed the contact today.” People love to read that. Or “Look! I’m reviewing book covers.” It can be something as simple as that, or it can be “Hanging with the family today,” or “My son just graduated from middle school.” It can be any of that stuff.
You have to remember, as weird as it may sound, the people who are going to buy your books are going to be fans. They are going to be fans of you and of your book. If they can become bigger fans of you the writer, you the author, that’s going to help you sell more books. Because they connected to you and are even a little bit of a fan or friend, they are going to tell other people to read or buy your book. They’ll say, “You need to read this book! He’s a great guy. He’s a great girl.”
There’s no magic formula of half your tweets should be personal and half should be professional. It’s whatever you’re most comfortable with. The more you can share of yourself, I think people love that. People love to feel the connection. If it’s all just, “Buy the book, buy the book, buy the book,” they are never going to make a connection with you.
What are the top three ways writers can make money with content?
The number one way if you are a writer, hopefully, is that you are going to sell your book.
Also, you may not actually monetize your content, but by having great content people could hire you to speak or to come to an event or hire you to consult. It’s not necessarily making money directly from the content, it’s making money indirectly—because of the content, because of the book.
Let’s face it. If you are a writer or an author, the number one way you are going to make money off your content is by selling it. And here’s a third way to make money with content: You can get hired to do more writing—freelance writing for magazines or online publications.
How does content marketing (blogging, social networking, etc.) fit this in with a writer’s “writing” schedule—meaning writing books?
Most authors I know have a writing schedule, whether it’s doing your artists’ pages in the morning or at night. Just like you have that schedule, just like you have to be disciplined to write, you have to schedule time to market it as well. Schedule the lunch hour, or whatever works for you, but schedule time every day to do this. It can be something as simple as a half hour in the morning and a half hour at night. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time.
The big thing is you can get sucked into this. You can lose a whole day easily playing around on Facebook and talking on Twitter. That’s not good, because then you aren’t going to get your writing done. Your writing has to be the first thing. You have to be disciplined. Set aside some time, and it will get easier the more you do it. At first, set aside an hour a day, and make sure you do it.
How much time do you spend on these types of activities?
You don’t want to know, but I don’t separate it.
When I’m writing, though, I turn off the Internet completely. I have a program called. Freedom. It’s a Mac program. You set it, and say, “Give me 60 minutes of freedom,” and it locks out the Internet. You can’t turn off the program. You can only turn it off by powering off your computer and power it back up. I get uninterrupted 60 minutes. But I never turn the Internet off for more than 60 minutes. That scares me!
Why is it important for writers to get involved in content marketing—blogging, social media, podcasting, etc.—if they want to be successful authors?
There are so many books out there on the shelves that you are not going to get discovered magically. The days of people walking the aisles of a bookstore and picking stuff off the shelves is going away. People need to know about your book. The more you talk about it, the more you share about it and the more they connect with you as the author—that’s the way they are going to find out about it.
Let’s face it. If you are a new author and you think the publisher is going to help you market your book, you’re grossly misinformed. The number one part of your job as the author is to sell the book. Any publisher will tell you that. If you’re self-publishing, then you are definitely selling it yourself. You have to.
There is so much content on line you’ve got to stand out some how. Building relationships, connecting with people and producing stuff they like and share—that’s how you get noticed.