Case Study: How Content Marketing Almost Crippled My Business!

You can’t imagine what this post is about!   content marketing study

But it’s important that you stop whatever you’re doing right now and read through this page.

Content marketing is the buzzword right now, but it almost crippled my business.

As a matter of fact, my fans and family call me a content marketer, because I believed in it. And I still do.

I’ve never written a controversial article ever since I started this blog.

Maybe this one is going to change the way you do your blogging and content writing. I want to begin by asking a question:


Why is everyone talking about content marketing?

Yes, virtually every blogger I know sings praises to it. We’ve all read somewhere, in a book or listened to podcasts that content marketing is powerful. Correct?

What I discovered is that you might be talking and writing about it, even without knowing what it’s about.

I’ve written several posts that raises the bar for so-called content marketers. But recently, I called myself to order to really examine the practice and the results I was getting.

You see, there are several myths about writing quality content and Google had always explained the various factors that can aid your rankings. Quality content is just one of those factors. Relevant links and social signals are also vital.

If you’re the type who follows the crowd to sing praises of a particular marketing system, you’ve to stop and study the metrics yourself.

What you need as an internet entrepreneur is results. You need a community that trust and believe in what you’ve to offer.

You don’t want to labor in vain, and at the end of the day have nothing tangible to show forth. So, stop following the crowd and let’s concentrate on the juicy part.


What really is content marketing?

In order to make this post simple and straight to the point, I’m not going to borrow my definition of this term from any so-called expert. So, in the basic form, content marketing simply means:

  1. Picking a niche
  2. Identifying the needs in that niche
  3. Creating content that can address the needs
  4. Creating and selling products and services to meet the needs
  5. Building relationships that can bring repeat customers
  6. Being consistent and honest

Now, these 6 points should become your pivot when you’re doing any marketing online. It doesn’t matter what name you call it, you’ve to stick to this. This also applies to pay per click advertisers and even media buying experts.

The concept of marketing has never changed and it will continue to address a particular niche.

I’m yet to find any reasonable internet marketer who advertises his “SEO e-book” to the audience who wants to buy jewelry and digital cameras. It’d be ridiculous.

I know that most bloggers who advice their readers to embrace content marketing may have a different definition to what I’ve laid out in the six points.

Some may claim that building relationship comes first, before selling a product. But there is a problem with that strategy and I want you to learn from my mistake.


Caution: Content marketing almost crippled my business    

angry content marketing
source: greg

In the second quarter of 2012, I discovered the immense potential in content marketing and decided to give it a shot.

I was told that when you consistently create quality content, that your audience would grow and your business, too.

Of course, it was true.

I started off researching, creating and updating this blog on a regular basis, and before I know what was happening, the number of comments on my recent posts increased.

I also paid for a professional blog redesign which you’re seeing right now.

As a freelance writer, I needed clients at all cost. Prior to 2012, I was actively involved in guest blogging and reaching out to my target audience.

But when I fully embraced content marketing – with the myth that when I have built an active blog, that prospective clients are going to find me easily, but that was when failure quietly crept in.

This happened in 2012 and for 3 straight months, not even a single prospect hired me. Yes, I got few contacts, but those aren’t serious entrepreneurs with money to invest into content creation and guest blogging services. What really happened?


I didn’t focus on the “marketing” side

Content + marketing = profit.

No matter what you do online, even if your content is better than everyone else’s you MUST focus your attention on marketing. You must continue to reach out and don’t rely on prospects to find you.

If they find you either via search engines, social media or word of mouth – rejoice and reap the rewards. But before they do, go find them yourself.

Bear in mind that when you remove “marketing” from content, you no longer have the powerful system to grow your business. You’re merely writing and updating your blog, which is what so many bloggers do.

Like I said earlier, I still believe in content marketing. But my misconception about it almost wrecked my business.

Each time I stop marketing my writing services and driving traffic to my niche sites, my sales and income dropped significantly. I had earlier thought that writing epic content is enough to make a blogger successful – but the reverse is the case.

Don’t believe those who say you can’t succeed online without quality content. They’re lying to you.

Recently, I interviewed 5 super affiliates who make over $10,000 monthly and asked what their keys were – to my utmost surprise, none of them were actively involved in content creation.

They’re more concerned about generating targeted leads and converting those leads into customers. It doesn’t matter how they go about it, but they’re making good money online – and creating valuable products continually.


Which prison has content marketing gotten you into?   

If I’m not mistaking, I know that this buzz “content marketing” must have imprisoned you, whether directly or indirectly. You might not realize it.

But if you don’t care about marketing anymore, you don’t care about meeting new people daily, who can add to the success of your business, you’ve been deceived.

Don’t take my word for it. But when was the last time you reached out to your target audience and asked them to try the product you’re selling?

If you’re marketing online, you need to pay bills. You’ve got web hosting bills to pay. What about email autoresponder services?

And by the way, content marketing has also brought about failures in email marketing (more on this later).

Build it and they’ll come is a phrase that’s killing businesses online. That’s why I love shopping sites. They don’t just build it and expect you to come – they reach out to you wherever you are via TV advertising, internet adverting, email adverting etc.

Truth be told, marketing can be defined as finding out where your target audience hangs out and going there to meet them with your product. You can’t expect them to meet you, because they’re Kings.

They’re your asset and from henceforth, change your mind set about internet marketing and start to do crazy marketing. Yes, I just said it, and you can quote me on that.


Why an email list might not work for you

Another aspect of internet marketing that’s so crucial is email list building and relationship marketing. You and I know that the inbox is the most active portal, and free from distractions.

The inbox is better than a facebook wall or page. It’s more targeted than marketing on twitter and could produce results if you do it correctly.

Nevertheless, I see a lot of content marketers making deadly mistakes. Just because some other successful content marketer isn’t selling any product to his list, doesn’t make you the same. Don’t just copy and replicate. Find your own style.

If you’ve a good and helpful product for your subscribers, don’t feel intimidated or insecure to recommend the product.

It could be an affiliate program that you’ve used and found interesting. You’ve got to sell to your list or they’d develop this impression that you’re a free-monger.

I know that Pat Flynn of doesn’t sell any product to his list. But that’s because he already makes a lot of money from affiliate marketing and his niche sites.

He’s a super affiliate and earns passive income from web hosting and email autoresponder service. He might not sell through his list, but nonetheless, he does sell through his active blog and resource page.

Whoever told you that content marketing is all about building an email list and never selling products to them has deceived you!

Actually, I was deceived and throughout 2012, I didn’t sell a single product to my list, which made every one of my subscribers to stop opening or reading my emails. I’m damn serious – they didn’t take me to be a serious person. And truly, I wasn’t at the time.

I didn’t know where I got the advice from, but I was literally sending only latest posts to a list of 800+ in 2012. Please tell me, is this effective marketing?

By the time I sent an affiliate program that had helped me in the past, not even a single subscriber clicked to check it out, let alone buy into it.

I want to beg you right now to stop collecting leads if you’ve no intentions of selling any product or service to them.

It’d be a total waste of money on autoresponder service if all you do is collate email leads and forget about subscribers and their needs.

I know that I’m speaking to someone out there – this is serious.

I know that you can get other benefits apart from selling products to your list, but the ultimate goal of building a list and all the relationship processes is to make money. If you’ve a contrary opinion, leave a comment below…


Moving forward into effective content marketing

The only way to get results; drive quality traffic and earn a living online as an internet marketer is to offer value to your target audience.

The value has to begin with a thorough research on the keywords people are using to locate you. See how I pick high-traffic keywords.

Once that is done, you can start creating ‘rich’ content. But this content must align with the products and services you’ve for your audience.

If you’re a freelance writer like I am, you should concentrate on creating content that would interest prospective clients, not fellow bloggers. 97% of your blogger friends have no intention or plan of hiring you. All the content they need, they can create.

So, don’t write to please fellow blogger or friends. Write to persuade website owners, entrepreneurs and people who can work with you.

Don’t just wake up each morning to write articles and expect miracles to happen. It doesn’t work that way.

You must be able to address a particular problem that your audience is facing. If possible, limit the number of articles you write for your own website/blog and focus on reaching out to those who can buy what you’re selling.

The question is, what exactly are you selling? Take it from me. If you’re not selling any product or service, content marketing isn’t going to yield results for you.

I don’t care what you’ve read from any so-called content expert; you MUST offer something for sale or go broke.


Start early to train your readers and subscribers

If you’re building a list like every other website owner/blogger, and you already have readers who love what you’re doing, start to train them now. Before it gets too late.

I mean, don’t create the impression that you’ve nothing to sell, because over time, they’re going to see you like that. And when you eventually recommend an affiliate offer or add a banner to your blog sidebar, no one would click it.

You’ve accustomed their minds to only see Free Stuffs. And now, to get their hard earned money, you’ve to work extra hard. Be ready to lose subscribers and readers when you sell a product to them – but that’s fine.

Each time I send a newsletter to my list, asking them to buy a particular product or invest in a program, I get people who unsubscribe and complain.

Well, good riddance to bad rubbish – and I don’t even need those subscribers in the first place. It was a mistake to have them join my list. Sorry, I’m too harsh. It’s one of the qualities of a content marketer. Lol!

Whatever you do online, focus on building relationships that can bring you sales and money.

I don’t care what you’ve been taught in the past, most of those so-called experts are earning $10k – $100k per month. They can counsel you to NOT sell till you’ve built an active audience.

Don’t do that. Start selling in your own small way. Even if you don’t have 1000 readers yet, let the 50 active readers understand that you’re a businessperson.

You want to help them with free quality and helpful content, and at the same time, you want to stay in business.


Have I touched your heart?

I’ve one goal of writing this post – to give you a wake-up call right now. Content marketing when misunderstood can wreck the way you do business online.

Before I started reading a lot of articles and digital materials on this buzzword, I was doing well because I reached out to my target audience easily. The only difference between traditional advertising and content marketing is the format.

Traditional advertisers may not necessarily have a deep knowledge about their ideal customers, but content marketers do. When you’re using helpful content to persuade people, it must be subtle and devoid of hype.

Don’t be deceived, most internet marketing firms still don’t believe in content marketing as a term. They prefer to call it inbound marketing or relationship marketing. That doesn’t matter. What matters is…


Marketing is the “core”

Always give marketing the topmost priority in your online business.

To grow your website and blog to the point where it sustains itself and you, you’ve to give adequate time to effective marketing.

Start reaching out. If you’ve a budget, invest in press release distribution to generate more targeted leads.

Use press release distribution and PPC advertising. Create videos and podcasts. Harness your energy into building a website that truly delivers value.

Above all, have a product or service to sell. That’s the only way to make content marketing yield results for you.

No matter the amount of traffic your website gets on a daily basis, if you fail to monetize effectively, you’d still be broke. And that’s not content marketing. Or is it?

Do you think that content marketing is the best way to bring targeted leads to your website? Please drop me a valuable comment below. I’m eager to read your thoughts. See you at the top!

Top right image source: Robert

40 thoughts on “Case Study: How Content Marketing Almost Crippled My Business!”

  1. Good article as always Michael ! You hit the nail with content marketing buzz, me too I’m sick hearing this B.S. again and again but people tend to forget they must SELL in a first place and its not enough just to create Shakespeare like quality content 🙂

  2. so this what called content marketing, currently I’m working on a website and I’m very confuse how to get traffic for it by using marketing

  3. Great tips for new blogger……I am totally agree from your points about marketing.Your blog’s design and content should reflect the expectations of your audience and helps alot in marketing as well

  4. ‘Blogging can be fun, but it can also be complicated without the right tools. However, many beginning bloggers become discouraged quickly, giving up in a matter of days, or maybe weeks.’no? BLOGGERS should not give up!! all people should have the desire to continue and accomplish their dreams whatever it was. Thanks for sharing your important complement. I think the new blogger should be learn from this post. It is friendly for them.

  5. Today article writing is playing the key role in good pr websites. All of the search engines like google reads the information from the website and when it’s good content then this website is proven on top with related key phrases.

  6. Content marketing is using relevant and valuable information to attract potential customers to you. Content will not only attract, but if done correctly, will engage your target audience and drive profitable action to your business. Learn how to implement a content strategy in your business.

  7. Its a great pleasure reading your post..really appreciated with this blog and the thought have you shared here..Its full of information I am looking for and I love to post a comment that “The content of your post is awesome” Great work!! a very nice article! Thank you so much.

  8. I’ve been going back and forth about an e-mail list and honestly I don’t think it would work for me due to the number of different things I post about in relation to my work. Great post again!

  9. Hi Michael – as a new reader to your blog I though I’d just hop on and leave a quick comment here to say I’ve been reading a few posts and enjoying them a whole lot. Thanks! Shaun

  10. I’m badly surprised actually. I would never think that it might turn this way. I’m also a big fan of content marketing. but I can see that everything should be wisely balanced first.

  11. Most people involved in content marketing, create top notch content and wait for miracles for happen…The marketing part is often under played…If the aim is to promote sales, then you’ve to direct your content in such a way that it persuades the reader in doing so…The buzz is certainly over-rated..I agree.

  12. Most people involved in content marketing, create top notch content and wait for miracles for happen…The marketing part is often under played…If the aim is to promote sales, then you’ve to direct your content in such a way that it persuades the reader in doing so…The buzz is certainly over-rated..I agree.

  13. Today content writing is playing the important role in good pr websites. All the search engines reads the content of the website and if it has good content then that website is shown on the top with related keywords.

  14. Content marketing has really helped out many bloggers and definitely it has helped you out…Many few people understand the power of content marketing and this post by you Michael shall really inspire many bloggers to start using content marketing for getting traffic…

    • Content marketing when done correctly will deliver great targeted traffic, leads and sales. Unfortunately, most website owners only focus on the content aspect, neglecting the “marketing” which is essential as well. Thank you for reading my post.

  15. Great post, Michael! I find that many business owners underestimate what is required to have quality, targeted blog posts that converts. They just assume they can write whatever they want, whenever they want. Thank you.

    • To really write consumable content that can impact people’s life, you need thorough research, a good persuasion skill and the ability to identify the sweet spot in your prospects’ lifestyle. That’s how to win them over to your side. I’m grateful that you invested time to read and write me a valuable comment. Thanks a bunch.

  16. Sup Michael,

    This is absolutely awesome and truly epic. effective marketing of contents helps create additional sources of income which most people don’t really know. especially when guest blogging. In your bio as a good content marketer you should endeavor to market your services and products within the three lines usually allowed as this technique as the advantage of skyrocketing sales on ones blog.

  17. Quite a good post, Michael. As you put it, content marketing can NEVER be complete without selling/recommending a product or service to our audience.

    At least, every professional out there makes money and so, content marketers too need to earn a decent income for their hardwork. I’ll be back for more.

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