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The SuccessLab Podcast: Where Entrepreneurs Collaborate for Success

Jun 23, 2014

In this episode, I’m in The Lab with Andy Crestodina, co-founder and strategic director of Orbit Media Studios in Chicago. 

Hey guys! I’ve been a little slow getting these up the past couple weeks…summer travel, but next week will be back on track. No more travel planned until September, which means three long months of Phoenix’s glorious triple digits. It’s not so bad …if you stay inside. But that’s enough small talk about the weather and complaining about the heat. 

As I mentioned, in this episode I’m in the lab with Andy Crestodina. We met last year at Content Marketing World and reconnected on Quora. Awww the power of social media. Andy is the co-founder and strategic director of Orbit Media Studios and regularly puts out rockstar content on analytics, email marketing, content marketing, and the list goes on. If you are responsible for marketing in your company, you should definitely check out the Orbit blog. In this interview, I talk to Andy about creating a content hub. He wrote a blog post about content hubs with more details. But in short, it’s a brilliant way to drive traffic to your site and dominate a particular keyword. So we’ll dive into the interview and I’ll catch you after.

Discussion with Andy Crestodina:

  • Creating a content hub helps you avoid the trap of just posting what you happen to be interested in at the time. By being more structured and focused than your competitors, you can become the authority on that topic and rank higher than competitors.
  • Content hubs allow you to hone in on one topic and become the expert and relevant source for that topic.
  • The goal is to create interrelated content based on a specific range keywords, published in multiple formats and shared with multiple people. It’s mirrors the wheel and spoke model. The hub or the wheel is your keyword phrase, and spokes may be the different people you can target and pieces of content you create.
  • When creating a content hub, choose your keyword or keyword phrase, and develop content around it. One ninja tip is to write original content for your site, such as “best marketing tactics for 2014” then create the “evil twin” piece as a guest post on another site. This evil twin would be “top marketing mistakes to avoid in 2014.”
  • Andy’s team implemented the idea of the content hub to gain attention for “lead generation” - a topic that is extremely competitive. They did so by creating an infographic, series of blog posts and guest blog posts, and other pieces of content that earned them ranking over Hubspot, Marketo and a few other large companies.
  • When finding influencers to help share your content, Andy suggests connecting with them at events first to help grow your network. These influencers may be able to help you share your content and you share theirs as well.
  • You can republish and curate content, but wait for about a week after that content has been live in one spot. Then you can republish it.
  • When guest posting, keep it relevant to the reader. Make it high-value content, not just for link building. When done well it’s almost indistinguishable from regular PR.

Thank you to Andy for taking the time to explain content hubs and don’t forget, the first five people to leave a comment will get a copy of his books Content Chemistry

This week’s Biz Hack: This week’s biz hack was actually inspired by Andy as well. He regularly seeks out opportunities to guest blog post and welcomes guest blog posts. It’s a smart way to establish expert status and authority, improve visibility, build relationships, and increase your search performance, all of which can open the door for contributing to well known publications or sites. 

There are a number of opportunities and ways to go about it from reaching out to mainstream sites, niche sites, and authoritative sites in your niche. For mainstream sites and publications you might try Entrepreneur, Forbes and Huffington Post or sites you know your customers frequent. Niche sites should obviously be specific to your industry - they may not have massive audiences, but they have the right audience for you. You can also find authoritative sites in your niche. These will have a larger audience base and are considered almost mainstream to your audience. Spend some time researching these and make a list of those you’d like to target. Keep your list manageable, possibly starting with your existing contacts. If you plan to look outside of your connections though, look for “contributor” pages and see how they take submissions, or do a Google search using your keyword or keyword phrase followed by the the words “guest post” or “submit an article.” For instance, “content marketing + guest post.”

As you are building your list of places to contribute, take note of their style and the type of content they cover. What are they missing that you could possibly contribute, or can you offer a different angle on a topic? Make a list of ideas, a few for each person you plan to reach out to. Begin to put all of your ideas into an editorial calendar or spreadsheet so you can keep track of which topics are being pitched to who or which outlets are publishing them. 

When it comes time to for the ask, this is obviously much easier if you know the person. If you don’t know them however, don’t fret. Simply start by sending a concise and personalized email. Ask if they take submissions then mention you have a post you’d like to contribute. Give a sentence or two about the post and why it would resonate with their audience. Provide them a brief (1 to 2 sentences) background on you to establish your credibility. Thank them for their time and consideration, and you’re done. You might set up a calendar reminder or Boomerang the email back if you don’t hear back, just as a reminder to follow up.

Lastly, don’t sell yourself short. Be sure you’re contributing to quality sites.

Action Items: This week’s action item is to create a list of sites and publications you’d like to potentially guest write for. Remember, this doesn’t have to be a massive list. 

Quote of the week: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

Next week we’re in The Lab with Graham Hiemstra, associate editor at Cool Hunting. He provides great insights on how to get featured on Cool Hunting, what they’re working on currently and trends they’re loving. Be sure to tune! Until then, have prosperous week!