Is there anything more humbling that searching for your target keywords and discovering that your beautiful website ranks on the 10th page of search results?
How and where do you even begin to tackle this obstacle, especially in a crowded, noisy online world?
How do you claw your way up the rankings when you’re beginning so low, and there is so competition from the start?
What if I told you there is a way to tackle this problem without getting overwhelmed or discouraged, in just 30 minutes a day?
In this post I’m going to share a series of 30 minute content marketing projects you can tackle whenever you have a free half hour.
These projects are quick, NOT stressful, and will slowly and steadily help you to improve your site’s traffic as you tackle them one day at a time.
But first, a peek behind the curtain into something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately:
Control – or rather, the fact that I just don’t have it
There are a lot of things in life that I can’t control.
I can’t control the actions and opinions of others, my own past mistakes, the likelihood of future mistakes and regrets, sickness and suffering and obstacles that come along with everyday life.
But what can I control? I can control what I do right now, in the moment.
Or, more specifically, I can control what I do in the next 30 minutes.
I can’t change the fact that I have insomnia, but I can control what I think about for the next 30 minutes lying awake in bed.
I can’t go back and undo that mistake, but I can spend the next 30 minutes writing down a list of lessons learned from it.
I can’t control what other people think of me, but I can spend the next 30 minute working toward my goals and proving them wrong (even if I’m the only one who knows it).
Sounds like a great self-help book, right? Why am I writing about this on a content marketing blog?!
Because I’ve realized that this concept is so applicable to content marketing.
And it all comes down to this:
The painful, overwhelming feeling that you are so far down in search results and your competitors are so much better equipped/funded that you may as well not even try.
It is so discouraging to know that you have a great business, and incredible value to offer customers, but to be utterly lost in the sea of noise online, even losing business to companies that you know aren’t offering as much value as you offer.
Now time for some tough love. Here’s the truth:
You can’t control what your competitors do, or technical issues that come up with your website, or the many problems and tasks that take time away from your content marketing every day, week, and month.
But that’s just part of the story, because…
You can control what you do right now, in the present.
You can control what you do in the next 30 minutes.
And when you’re facing the seemingly insurmountable challenge of content marketing in a noisy world, just taking it 30 minutes at a time might be the best – and only – way to move forward.
Think about it:
What is going to result in more progress as you tackle a mountain of content marketing that may very well take years to move?
Should you go down the rabbit hole, neglect your business as you blog and promote late into the night until your eyes bleed?
Or should you focus on running your business well, making money and making your customers happy, and breaking off pieces of content marketing one manageable, tasty bite at a time?
Let’s see. The first one is definitely my innate leaning, but it tends to result in burnout, bad decisions, frustration, and no near term sales growth. (Oh, and poor sleep, poor health, poor mood, and grumpiness – fun!)
But the second one, while counter-intuitive (aren’t entrepreneurs supposed to work all the time?) allows me to stay fresh, motivated, relaxed, and removes a ton of pressure from my day to day work.
Oh, and it actually gets results in the long term.
Because effective, sustainable content marketing depends on two major things:
- Creating super high quality, engaging content
- Getting backlinks to said content
And the plain truth is, valuable content and valuable relationships simply can’t be wished into being.
You won’t manufacture them with a few all nighters in front of your laptop.
You can’t buckle down and become an authority online within 6 months of starting your business blog.
Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint; so pace yourself and you’ll have a much better chance of finishing well.
So if all you have is 30 minutes today or this week (or this month), what can you do to advance your content marketing?
Create more content
Brainstorm blog post titles and topics
Sit down in a comfortable chair, open up a notebook or grab a piece of paper and pen, and brainstorm blog post titles. Throw in a blank _____ anytime you are stuck on a specific word or title.
Outline a blog post
You most likely can’t write a full blog post in 30 mins, but if you spend 30 straight minutes writing a killer, thorough outline, you’ll be able to actually write the blog post pretty quickly the next time you sit down to write. So spend 30 mins outlining a single blog post, beginning with your target audience and the ultimate value you want to offer that audience through your blog post. Or you can cheat by downloading some of my pre-made blog post outlines. 🙂
Search for and save links to blog posts other people have written in your niche that you can do better
What are some keywords you want to rank for? (Long tail is always better – for example, go for “affordable event planner in Seattle” instead of “event planner”.) Spend 30 minutes searching for those keywords and saving links to blog posts, articles, and pages other people have written that rank well for those keywords. Later on, when you’re thinking of blog post topics, you can revisit these articles and think of ways you can write a better version. Not copying their content but creating new content that does what their content fails to do – make a hard topic more accessible, or a watered-down topic more meaty, or an outdated topic more current.
Draft a blog post
Again, 30 mins isn’t really enough time to write a full length blog post, BUT you can write a solid draft in 30 mins if you put your mind to it. Here’s my approach: open up Word, turn your font color white so you won’t be tempted to stop and reread your draft, and then write down everything that pops into your head. Do it as quickly as possible without stopping to correct typos or fix weird phrasing. If you get stuck mid-sentence or mid-paragraph and can’t figure out what to say next, just write “…” or hit enter and start a completely new sentence. You’d be amazed at how quickly you can churn out a 1000+ word draft that way. You can always edit later!
Do something else while thinking about a blog post
This might be a little counter-intuitive, but science actually backs this up: sometimes the best way to make progress on your content marketing is to spend 30 minutes NOT doing it. Step back and do something relaxing and physical, like yoga or running. Think about your content, but let your mind wander, and don’t write down anything at all. Procrastination, when wielded properly, can actually be the key to greater creativity and higher quality content.
Promote your existing content
Make a list of blogs to contact
Spend 30 minutes making a list of links in Excel. Search for and save links to blogs that fall in one of these two categories: bloggers that have linked to posts similar to one of your posts, who might be interested in the better/newer/more thorough post you just created (do this by searching for the URL of a similar post in SEMrush); or bloggers who write about related topics and might want to share your post with their audience. If you have time/energy for guest blogging (and some real value to offer!) you can also make a list of blogs to contact to offer to write a guest post.
Send outreach / networking emails
If you have a list of blogs to contact, you can spend 30 minutes sending as many emails as you can to reach out to those bloggers. Use a CRM like Hubspot Sales to keep track of everything, or just use Excel.
Subscribe to / comment on / share content from the bloggers on your lists
Take that list of blogs and spend 30 minutes engaging with them. Subscribe to email lists, reply to a recent newsletter email you’ve gotten, comment on a recent blog post, share their content on your social media pages. If you’re like me (and many non-full time bloggers), you don’t have time to do things like this every day, but even spending 30 minutes on this every once in a while will show these bloggers that you are serious about supporting them and you care enough about their work to share it with other people.
Improve your existing content
Set up + explore Google Analytics
If you haven’t already done this, do it the next time you have a few minutes. It won’t take a full 30 minutes but depending on what website platform and theme you’re using, it might take a bit of time to figure out. If you already have Google Analytics set up and have a few weeks or months worth of data, simply spend 30 minutes poking around and exploring your site’s analytics. What pages do most visitors land on? Where does most of your traffic come from? How long do visitors stay? Where do they tend to go after landing on one of your pages? Take notes on anything that stands out to you.
Set up + explore Google Webmaster Tools
Same deal with this one. Google Analytics tells you a lot, but it doesn’t tell you much about how you’re doing in search results. The important thing to note in Google Webmaster Tools is what position you rank in for different keywords and what your click through rate (CTR) is for that keyword. You may be surprised by how well you rank for one keyword or phrase, and conversely, how poorly you rank for another one. But you can use this to your advantage by creating more and better content for the keywords where you rank poorly, and enhancing content for the keywords where you’re doing well, including creating content upgrades for that content to take better advantage of the traffic you’re already getting. For now, just spend 30 minutes either setting up your Webmaster Tools or exploring the data and taking notes on what stands out.
Add internal links
Spend 30 minutes going back to older posts and adding relevant internal links to new posts you have written or relevant resources you have created.
Refine an older post
Pick a post you have already written and spend 30 minutes making as many improvements as possible. Correct grammar, improve the writing, break up overly long sentences and paragraphs, make it more easily skim-able by pulling out quotes and adding better headlines, etc. If you’re overwhelmed and not sure where to start, look at your analytics and pick one of your posts that receives the most traffic.
Enhance an older post with a new content upgrade
Spend 30 minutes creating a quick PDF download (checklists and worksheets are easy to make quickly) and add it as an opt-in lead magnet to one of your existing posts. Again, pick a post that is already getting more traffic if you aren’t sure where to start. Click here for some tips on how to create printables without design software.
Take it one step at a time
Listen – this is not a checklist.
You don’t have to do all of this (or any of this) to be successful.
If there are aspects of your content marketing that keep you up at night or make you cringe with embarrassment, please stop, take a deep breath, and relax. Content marketing is simply a tool to help you get more and happier customers. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective.
You can’t control where you are in your business right now, and you can’t control what your customers think and do or the resources your competitors have to invest in content marketing.
But you can control what you do in the next 30 minutes, so why not start with something on this list?
Content marketing – and successful entrepreneurship in general – is an epic long term play, with no true shortcuts. So consider the next 30 minutes a single step in a long journey with plenty of twists and turns. It doesn’t really matter how many steps you take this week or month, as long as you keep on moving – one single step at a time.
Get all these 30 minute content marketing projects in a printable list
Keep it by your workspace and look to it whenever you have 30 minutes to spend.