Tag Archives: content marketing

How I leveraged my journalism skills for a career in content marketing

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From time to time I’ll be speaking to someone I’ve never met before, and the “What do you?” question comes up. I’ve always struggled to answer. If I tell the person I’m a journalist, then invariably the next question is, “What publication do you work for?” Simply telling people I work in marketing could mean a variety of things depending on how familiar the person is with that industry. Well, though I haven’t thought up a more concise way to sum up my career, I now at least have an article I can point them to that discusses it at length. MediaShift asked me to write a first-person essay on how I leveraged my journalism skills for a career in content marketing. Here is the end result:

Why Freelance Journalists are Shifting Their Careers to Content Marketing

Why every blog post should be crossposted to LinkedIn and Medium

medium plus linkedin

Earlier this month, I completed a 1,500 word feature story on why the scholarly publisher PLOS is teaming up with Reddit on an ongoing science interview series. I had put a good deal of work into the piece, interviewing editors at PLOS, scientists who had been published in its journals, and moderators at Reddit. If I had written this article a year ago I would have simply published it to my blog and then devoted all my energy toward directing my social media followers to the piece. If I was lucky, a tweet of mine would float across the screen of someone influential on Twitter who had thousands of followers, and his or her retweet would direct a flood of readers to the article. But just as often as not, my article wouldn’t attract much notice and it’d lay stagnant on my blog, boasting only a handful of tweets and likes.

But my philosophy on web publishing has changed drastically in recent months, so in addition to publishing the story to my blog, I also uploaded it to LinkedIn’s publishing platform and to Medium.  The version on my blog did rack up a few influential shares, including a retweet from Gawker founder Nick Denton, but it ultimately attracted only about 100 views, which by itself would have rendered the piece a failure.

But on LinkedIn and Medium, the results were much more encouraging. A few hours after I uploaded it, an editor at LinkedIn plugged my piece into its Pulse channel on education, which currently boasts hundreds of thousands of followers. Within moments, my LinkedIn app on my phone began pinging me with updates as the story racked up comments and likes. Overall, it generated 106 likes, five comments, and 1,075 views.

While most the activity on LinkedIn occurred within the first 24 hours after posting, Medium was more of a slow burn. For the first day the article slowly collected recommends (Medium’s internal share function), and then began picking up traction on the second day after I submitted it to the influential Thoughts on Journalism publication. Ultimately, the article attracted 12 recommends, but because Medium is an influencer platform, it led to shares from outside networks. Of the 1,500 views of my article, 500 came from Facebook, 400 from email, and nearly 300 from Twitter.

All together, the piece attracted over 2,600 views, and that was before it went on to be reprinted by MediaShift and the Daily Dot. If you work at a major publication like BuzzFeed or the New York Times, 2,600 views might not seem like a lot, but for an independent writer who has no institutional backing, it’s a respectable audience (some of my articles on Medium have gone as high as 5,000 views and one article of mine on LinkedIn received over 50,000).

Increasingly, I’m seeing more and more writers follow this strategy — continuing to publish posts to their own websites but then crossposting to LinkedIn, Medium, or both. For years, we’ve been warned away from such tactics. You may have heard the term “digital sharecropping,” which Copyblogger once called “the most dangerous threat to your content marketing strategy.”  Put simply, digital sharecropping is when you place too many resources into growing your following on outside platforms you don’t completely own rather than focusing on your own website, of which you have complete control. And this makes some sense; in a world in which Facebook regularly changes its algorithm and Twitter can revoke API access, placing all your eggs in another company’s basket exposes you to a certain amount of risk.

But at the same time, anyone who has had any experience in publishing knows how difficult it is to drive traffic to a standalone website, especially if that website isn’t updated 20 times a day. The harsh reality is that only a tiny fraction of your social media followers will click on a link to an outside website, and most prefer to interact and consume content that’s native to the platform they’re browsing. So if you’re only publishing, at most, a few articles per week and don’t have an enormous social following, chances are your content is getting lost in the noise.

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The opportunity that platforms like LinkedIn and Medium offer is they have an already existing audience and they allow you to amass a following that will increase your content’s likelihood of discovery. Millions of people visit the home pages of LinkedIn and Medium each day, and their publishing tools provide you the opportunity to place your content in front of those readers and generate real engagement when they click into your article.

There’s another argument typically made against digital sharecropping: that it hurts your SEO. The thinking goes that if you post the same content across multiple sites, Google will penalize your personal website and only index the content that you crossposted on more authoritative sites. This argument was recently boosted when Google changed its algorithm to punish aggressive guest posting.

But it turns out many of these concerns were overblown. Google engineers have repeatedly said the search engine only aims to punish spammy guest posting that exists to build backlinks. Blogger Ryan Battles recently conducted an experiment in which he consistently crossposted his content to both LinkedIn and Medium and found that all versions of the article continued to be indexed.

Of course, if your create content in order to sell advertising against it, publishing to Medium and LinkedIn will do nothing to generate new revenue and may even decrease traffic to the website where you’re selling said advertising. But the vast majority of people who create content on the internet do so either to elevate their own personal brands or to market a product or service. For those content producers, the goal is to expand their audience, regardless of where that audience consumes the content. If you fit into this latter category, then by ignoring Medium and LinkedIn you’re potentially turning away thousands of readers for each article you write. You should go to where the readers are, not assume they’ll come flocking to you.

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Most PR flacks are terrible at their jobs

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Look at the email inbox of any reporter and you’re likely to see a graveyard of bad pitches from public relations specialists, the detritus that comes as a result of a low barrier to entry and a fundamental misunderstanding of the very people they’re pitching. Having spoken to other journalists about this phenomena, I know I’m not the only one who, upon opening such pitches, feels a small sliver of pity for these robotrons and their overpaying clients before I send their neutered, lifeless copy to the trash bin.

Perhaps I’m naive, but I feel like there are few industries other than PR where there’s such a concentration at the bottom, a nine to one ratio of bad to good. Most of this poor quality, I think, comes from outright laziness, an unwillingness to put in the actual research to understand the journalists these flacks are pitching before they hit the send button.

Many don’t even take a moment to check to see what you actually cover. Instead, most of them subscribe to massive databases that collect reporter contact information and sort them by broad categories like tech, energy, or finance. Though I often write about tech, an even cursory look at my article output would reveal that I don’t ever write about new product launches, and yet I receive dozens of pitches each week from flacks representing products I would never cover.

The very worst flacks decide to place you on mailing list you never asked to be subscribed to and blast out every press release they produce. Over the past 10 days I’ve received three emails from the same marketer trying to get me to write about a device that cracks coconuts. Coconuts!

Of course for most journalists, these pitches are little more than a minor annoyance (though god forbid your phone number gets circulated on these PR databases. Then you start getting phone calls asking if you received their press releases). The real victims are the clients. Unlike most other industries that create concrete deliverables — an advertising agency, for instance, actually produces a finished ad and places it — the only deliverables in PR are when they secure media placements. This makes it extremely difficult for potential clients to vet the firm prior to hiring them, meaning these clients must rely on the firm’s claims as to what relationships and success it’s had in pitching stories.

And hiring a PR firm is expensive. For any account you’re hiring at least one senior executive and a low-level minion who will do the brunt of the work.  For a small firm you need to pay a minimum of $10,000 to even make it worth their time, and for a larger firm they won’t even pick up the phone for less than $30,000.

Even when they do get placements it’s not a terribly efficient use of a client’s money. Oftentimes, a media placement means that a company executive gets interviewed and quoted for a sentence or two in the middle of an article. Sure, it strokes the client’s ego to be quoted, but how much brand penetration are you getting when you contribute 10 words to a 1,000-word article, and were those 10 words worth $10,000?

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This is why we’ve seen a growing shift toward content marketing. Rather than clamoring for journalists to cover you, you can actually compete with those journalists as an informational resource. Instead of getting a brief mention in a long article, you’ve authored the entire piece of content yourself and it’ll appear alongside your branding. There are much more concrete deliverables and measurements associated with content marketing. You not only have a completed piece of content, but it’s much easier to measure its impact in terms of traffic driven and lead conversion.

Meanwhile, the state of PR pitching only continues to get worse. It used to be that, at the very least, the product being pitched to you actually existed. But now with the rise of crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo our inboxes are flooded with pitches for half-baked ideas and products that aren’t on the market and may never be. Whatever abuse my email inbox has received in recent years, the worst is still to come.

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Image via Mytechgurus

Why journalists make the best content and social media marketers

simon hire me

It’s commonly accepted at this point that every company and organization should have an official blog, and that every working professional should be engaging in thought leadership in the form of blogging and social media engagement. The problem is that many of these blogs aren’t updated regularly and they’re not high in quality. That’s not the fault of the employees who work there; they have their own busy work schedules and have very limited experience creating web content that their customers and target demographics will want to read. At the same time, there’s wide recognition that these organizations should be on social media, but often there’s little strategy applied to social platforms other than occasionally posting content to a Facebook or Twitter page.

As a longtime journalist who’s written for national publications ranging from US News & World Report to The Atlantic to Scientific American to New York Magazine, I’ve spent my entire career creating and marketing content so millions of people would want to read and share it. As an assistant managing editor at US News & World Report, I built up the magazine’s social media presence, resulting in a 146% increase in Twitter followers and 590% increase in Facebook fans (Facebook traffic for the News division increased by 286% and Twitter traffic increased by 326%.). Our Tumblr followership increased by 53,000 followers during my tenure and our Google+ following by nearly 300,000. I’ve also worked with Fortune 500 brands to develop their digital content and social media strategies, as well as conducting PR campaigns that resulted in mentions at the world’s largest blogs and news outlets.

I can use these journalism and social media marketing skills to develop content for you and your brand and ensure it reaches the influencers and customers within your industry. Please review my offered services below and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Blog Management/Content Marketing/Thought Leadership

As a journalist and marketer, I’ve helped develop engaging content ranging from static infographics to 5,000 word articles. I can leverage these skills to:

  • Manage company blogs: I will conduct a detailed audit and research into your industry to find what kind of content it finds most engaging and then produce that kind of content for your blog. This might involve writing the content myself or recruiting and managing already-established niche bloggers or journalists. I will also work closely with your website’s developers to optimize the blog to maximize the shareability of content via design. Very slight tweaks in how your content is presented can increase the number of shares or the chances that someone will subscribe to one of your social channels.
  • Thought leadership: It’s now necessary for many professional executives to regularly engage in online thought leadership, whether it’s writing regular columns for major outlets like Forbes or blog posts for LinkedIn and the company website. Many of these executives, however, are too busy and inexperienced in writing content for a public audience. I can work closely with these executives to glean their professional insights and convert them into ghost-written articles they can publish under their own bylines.

Social Media and Email Marketing

Creating compelling content is only half the battle. You also have to find ways to deliver that content to the social media streams of your customers and industry leaders, i.e. the people you want to influence. My services can include:

  • Social media intelligence: Sometimes you can handle the management of social media accounts internally, you just need someone to identify where your target demographics are online and the best practices for reaching them. I can perform a detailed audit, examining your marketing goals and determining which communities you should focus on and the best methods for engaging their users. This will involve identifying the key influencers within your industry (which in some cases might be your competitors) and leveraging search tools to analyze their followers and topic focus. I can then create a detailed plan for how to reach these users and place your brand in the conversation.
  • Social media management: This is a more hands-on approach where I play a role in managing your day-to-day social media presence and incorporating it into your larger content strategy.
  • Social media advertising: Though it’s possible to grow organically on social media, it’s often a slow process, so spending some money toward targeted social media advertising can boost your reach and influence much more efficiently than standard display or print advertising.

Public Speaking/In-Person Staff Training

Perhaps you want your entire staff trained on social media management and best practices. Or you’re organizing an event where you need someone to speak on marketing, content, or digital media. I can prepare a presentation and talk in advance that’s tailored to your needs.

Public Relations

I have relationships with and have successfully pitched journalists and bloggers at many of the largest media outlets in the world. I can work with you to develop a media relations strategy and create news and content that journalists will want to cover. I can also perform advanced targeting to identify the journalists most likely to be interested in your story, rather than simply relying on PR software that merely categorizes journalists by broad subject matter beats.

Feel free to contact me if you’d like to learn more.

 

Why publishers should pay for content even if they can get it for free

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For a Washington Post article on why it’s difficult for journalists to organize into unions, Lydia DePillis interviewed media consultant Alan Mutter about journalists’ lack of leverage when negotiating pay. “With an abundance of content, and content producers, many of whom are totally happy to give their stuff for free for the ephemeral compensation known as exposure, the whole marketplace has been upended,”  Mutter said.

Writers who are willing to write for free have been a consistent scourge of the freelance writing community going back more than a decade. It used to be that the ire was directed at the publishers who “took advantage” of these poor writers, building multi-million dollar media companies on the backs of their free labor, but ever since a $100 million lawsuit filed against the Huffington Post on behalf of unpaid bloggers was laughed out of court, it’s pretty much become widely accepted that companies can serve as “platforms” on which others can publish without direct financial remuneration. Now, almost all of the anger is directed at the laborers themselves, who, if you’re to believe arguments from some professional writers, are not only devaluing their own work but also the work of others who are trying to make a living at it. In 2013, the author Jill Corcoran accused writers who heavily discount their ebooks (in many cases offering them for free) of depressing the entire book market and retraining the consumer to think that books are worthless. “Unless you are selling a heck of a lot of books, at $3.99 or  $0.99 or at the golden ‘price’ of FREE, we have all just devalued ourselves to a point of below the already pitiful American minimum wage,” she wrote.

While I’m perfectly fine with writers who choose to work for free and publishers who don’t pay all their writers (sometimes a writer actually does benefit from the much-derided “exposure,” especially if he’s not trying to make a full-time living writing), anytime I’ve recruited writers for a client or a publisher I’ve always paid them, even if I might have been able to find people willing to do the same work for free. Why? Well, as anyone who has ever had to organize volunteers or any kind of free labor knows, you often get what you pay for.

Here are six reasons you should pay for content even if you can find people to write for free.

1. You can ask for edits without guilt

Sometimes a writer turns in a blog post or article and the copy is pitch perfect and only in need of some light copyediting. But more often you receive a manuscript in need of revisions, sometimes requiring the writer to go back and restructure the piece. But if the author just wrote for free, are you really going to be that jerk that makes him go back and perform more free labor just so it meets your standards? But the second you attach payment to it then you’re more than justified in demanding a professional, finished product, and the writer will be incentivized to cooperate fully if he or she wants future work assignments from you.

2. Paid-for content is much, much higher in quality

Yes,  there’s always that one example of that amazing essay published at Huffington Post that HuffPo didn’t have to pay for, but let’s face it: most free content sucks. If they’re writing for you for free, chances are they’re doing it because they couldn’t get paid for their work. How much are you willing to devalue your brand just so you don’t have to shell out some money for content? And what does your willingness to devalue your brand say about how invested you are in your brand in the first place?

3. You can set deadlines

If you’re publishing on an anything-goes schedule, then perhaps publishing content you don’t pay for is fine, but if you’re commissioning a piece for publication on a certain date — perhaps you’re publishing a themed issue or want to stick to a regular posting schedule — then prepare to be disappointed.  That writer, no matter how good-intentioned, will always push that assignment to the backburner the second something even slightly important comes up, and the day it’s due you’re likely to get an apologetic email explaining that things got too busy. When there’s pay attached, however, then suddenly writing that content in time for a deadline becomes a priority.

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4. You get exclusivity

If someone writes for you for free, chances are he’s doing it for “exposure,” which means he’s cross posting it to every single website that will take it. Prepare for his article to be uploaded to Huffington Post, Medium, LinkedIn, and his personal website. If you’re looking for any SEO value from that content, chances are Google will be prioritizing these other more-established sites over yours. Paying for content means you get it exclusively and it’s not competing with itself in other places.

5. Paying for content isn’t all that expensive for the value you get out of it

No  you don’t have to pay the $1 a word that a glossy magazine like GQ pays its writers. You can get  high quality content by paying just $100 or $200 per piece, so if you’re a brand that’s publishing two or three articles a week as a form of content marketing, you’re really only paying about $1,500 a month. Can’t afford a mere $1,500 a month for marketing? Then maybe it’s time to reassess your priorities and seek outside investment, because without marketing you won’t be able to reach potential customers.

6. You can hold on to good writers

Let’s say you find a good writer who is willing to write for exposure. That means he’s looking to jump ship to a paying gig at a moment’s notice, and he has no incentive to stay with you. So you just spent all that time and energy building the brand of a writer who goes somewhere else the moment he truly becomes valuable. That puts you back at square one in trying to recruit and train other writers.

Of course, the latest media fad has been to launch a “platisher,” a company that solicits and pays for professional work in order to attract writers who are willing to write for free (Huffington Post could be considered one of the first platishers). But in order to make this work you still have to pay for content (and be willing to take the blame whenever one of your free writers publishes something controversial), and you need to have a system in place (usually an editor or built-in voting tool) in order to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you have a developer staff and the resources to carry out such a large-scale operation, more power to you, but the rest of us who are looking to run content operations need to settle on one of two options: pay for high quality or scrape the bottom of the barrel for whatever you can get for free. Which one you choose depends on how much you value your brand, or rather how much you’re willing to sacrifice it so you can save a few dollars.

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Why the rise of native advertising will make the internet a better place

brandymelville

For a generation of internet consumers who have become anesthetized to the completely-ubiquitous world of banner and interstitial advertising, the story of how a clothing retail company called Brandy Melville has been using Instagram and other social media platforms as its only form of online marketing should be uplifting. We’ve been trained to think of advertising as merely a barrier to entry, a pop-up image where your near-instantaneous response is to look for the “close” icon so you can access the content you came to consume. This in-your-face approach to advertising was invented by a man named Ethan Zuckerman who, 20 years ago, dashed off a bit of code that would become the first pop-up ad. On a recent episode of the podcast Reply All, Zuckerman apologized for the invention, not just for the rage-inducing intrusion it caused for all of us, but how it desensitized us to the idea that we were just an amalgam of data to be sold to advertisers by units of 1,000.

Brandy Melville, though, will not be chasing your computer’s cookies from website to website. You won’t suddenly hear its auto-play video ads in one of your open browser tabs. As detailed by BusinessWeek’s Lisa Marsh, the clothing retailer has placed significant investment in creating engaging social media content, and for its efforts it has earned 2.2 million followers on Instagram, 65,000 followers on Twitter,  and 218,000 Likes on Facebook. “Millennials want to tell stories and curate what they see,” WGSN’s Sarah Owen told Marsh. “This group is looking for something more editorial.”

These references to “editorial” and a brand’s desire to “tell stories” fit within the larger narrative of where marketing and advertising are heading in the second decade of the 21st Century: away from commoditized ad units and more toward native advertising. Which is to say that advertising will no longer be contained at the periphery of the website, but right in the content stream, and, when done well, it will be just as entertaining and engaging as the non-advertising content.

Last week, I wrote about the mini-scandal that hit the podcasting company Gimlet Media when an email miscommunication led to a 9-year-old being interviewed for a Squarespace ad when he thought the interview was for an episode of This American Life. As I argued at the time, this episode was cautionary but shouldn’t be blown out of proportion, and that Gimlet Media, with its storytelling approach to advertising, had created some of the most engaging and clever marketing I had ever come across.

The rise of native advertising shouldn’t just make you feel good about the future of the internet because it’ll be more entertaining; it will also fundamentally change the incentive structure for how news producers create and display content. The tyranny of the CPM banner ad, after all, has led to absolutely abhorrent web design norms that have made the internet a worse place. Everyone knows the frustration of landing on a top 10 list and finding a slide show they have to click through, each slide preceded by yet another load of the entire page. Or perhaps you follow a link on Facebook and find yourself on the third page of a six-page paginated article, and you have to scroll down in order to navigate back to the first page.

Banner advertising hasn’t just affected website design, but also the content we create to populate those websites. Because the media company is rewarded solely based on the number of pages loaded, it’s incentivized to generate clicks with little regard to longterm engagement or return readers. This is why we’ve experienced the hyper-aggregation that has led to hundreds of news sites embedding the latest John Oliver rant, each competing to generate the most hyperbolic headline imaginable in order to trigger whatever signal in the Facebook algorithm that propels you to the top of everyone’s newsfeeds. “Maybe my cynicism has taken over, but the internet’s race to try to suck up any spare pageviews on whatever slate of viral videos that happened to emerge that day is something I find utterly depressing,” I wrote earlier this week. “Especially when I think about the opportunity the web has given us and how much we’re squandering it.”

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Well perhaps the next decade will be one in which we squander that opportunity less often. Because native advertising, while not completely divorcing us from our proclivity for clickbait, at least incentivizes us to attract deeper readers. The success of a native advertising campaign won’t be predicated on how many people saw the ad, but how many read to the bottom and then were compelled to share it with their own social media followers. BuzzFeed, which has built its entire business on native advertising, doesn’t even charge its clients based on the number of views its sponsored posts have received. Which is ironic given that BuzzFeed has been painted as a pageview-sucking vortex that has been released to consume and regurgitate the entire internet.

The rise of native advertising will also be great for the economic state of the news industry and the journalists it employs. A consistent worry has been that the commoditization of advertising has depressed ad rates and led to the destruction of journalism. But native advertising, if it truly becomes dominant, will always require a human touch and penchant for storytelling, i.e. the work of creative people who have honed the research and writing craft and can utilize it to tease out interesting trends and anecdotes from brands. There’s an amazing opportunity for these brands to provide their own form of journalism (as we’ve seen with the Marriott-sponsored travel blog at Medium), and though yes, that journalism should always be viewed with a skeptical eye, there’s no reason it can’t be informationally valuable and advance human understanding of certain issues.

So while some, like Andrew Sullivan, see native advertising as a dangerous blurring of the lines between journalism and corporate-sponsored advertising, I see a trade-off that will give media companies the breathing room needed to create a truly valuable and user-centric experience on the web. Ethan Zuckerman, the inventor of the pop-up ad, realizes probably more than anyone how the web has been partially ruined because of the norms he put in place. Only when those norms are finally shattered and done away with can we truly forgive him.

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What Taylor Swift’s 8 seconds of static tells us about media consumption

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The world collectively snickered when, last week, a Taylor Swift track consisting of 8 seconds of just static was released on Canadian iTunes for $1.29 and subsequently shot to the top of the charts. But while this instigated a number of jokes about Swift going avant garde and Jimmy Kimmel dubbed it her “White Noise” album — a nod to the Beatles’ White Album — there’s a sobering lesson here for any hopeful singer:  That 8 seconds of static represents a mountain every new entrant into the music business, every aspiring star, has to climb before they can get noticed.

There’s this common assumption that the internet is the great democratizer of content that, because it removes nearly all friction between the consumer and content, has shattered all barriers to entry. But that lack of friction has created a paradoxical barrier in which there are now so many content creators in the world that developing a returning audience, the kind that will blindly purchase a music track just because it has your name on it, is increasingly difficult.

This isn’t to say that a new entrant can’t achieve viral spikes, but those bursts are fleeting, and you’ll quickly find your baseline readership returning to its previously unremarkable heights. Those within the advertising industry have long known that it isn’t enough for a commercial or ad to be shown to a consumer just once; depending on its stickiness, a television commercial needs to be seen at least five times before its messaging is absorbed by a consumer. For website banner ads, the picture is even more dire, with it requiring sometimes dozens of impressions of the same ad before any branding is transferred. The same can be said of developing a returning audience for your content, whether it’s music, video, or news.

This lesson was brilliantly demonstrated in a 2013 Pando Daily column from Bryan Goldberg, the founder of the sports news website Bleacher Report. The site has been enormously successful, listed among the top 50 most popular sites on the internet and purchased for $200 million in 2012 by Turner Media. Given Bleacher Report’s meteoric rise, a true David and Goliath story that any future media mogul can find inspiring, one would think that there was some major breakthrough moment when the site shot past its lesser competitors to stand among the ESPNs and SBNations of the world. “Whenever I pitch a VC, one of the most common questions I get is this one: ‘When did Bleacher Report really take off?'” Goldberg wrote. “The answer is never.”

He then posted this chart of Bleacher Report’s traffic:

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Here’s Goldberg again:

Now, I challenge any reader to pull out a pen and put an “X” over the spot in which Bleacher Report achieved escape velocity. What you may find is that it cannot be done. There was never a moment in which we “took off like a rocket.”

It was only through consistent content creation that the site developed momentum, leading to readers eventually bookmarking the site or subscribing to one of its social media profiles. There’s a content funnel for every website that turns casual drive-by readers into subscribers and then into evangelists. And it’s nearly impossible to convert a drive-by reader into a subscriber with one piece of viral content.

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The good news is that once you’ve converted that reader, it becomes easier to carry him or her to your new endeavors. In 2013, Neil Patel wrote a column explaining how he grew three separate blogs to 100,000 monthly visitors. Not only did he find repetition to be key to his growth — he published several new posts a week — but the 100,000 visitor mark was easier to achieve with each subsequent blog he launched: For the first it took him four years and nine months. By the third, he had reduced the time to one year and six months. “Luck has nothing to do with this achievement,” he explained. “I actually have a formula, which works every time. And if I leveraged it again today, I bet I could achieve similar results in less than 12 months.” Not only did Patel carry institutional knowledge with him for each new blog, allowing him to avoid repeating mistakes, he had also built up personal brand recognition within the content and social media marketing industry, hastening each new blog’s rise.

In August, Politico’s Dylan Byers reported that Vox.com, the explainer news site launched by Vox Media, had achieved 9 million monthly uniques after only five months. How could there be such massive traffic growth if there’s no such thing as an overnight success in media? Well that’s because Vox, though new, is not an overnight success. While it certainly creates great content and deserves the attention it has received, it simply wouldn’t have risen that quickly if it had simply been launched by a bunch of unknowns with similar editorial talent.

Vox has the benefit of two marquee names heading the site: Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias. Currently, Klein has 690,000 followers on his personal Twitter account, 219,000 likes on his Facebook page, and 1 million followers on Google+. Vox was also launched by a media company that already heads several other popular web properties, including the Verge and SBNation. Last month, longtime This American Life and Planet Money producer Alex Blumberg launched a brand new podcast that debuted at number three on the iTunes store. But again, this wasn’t an overnight success in the classic sense of the term. Blumberg had been building a brand on TAL and Planet Money for years, and both shows ran promotional excerpts from his early Startup episodes to their massive audiences. Each subsequent project that Blumberg launches — and he plans to produce several new podcast shows in the coming year — will be that much easier to get off the ground.

In essence, Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, and Alex Blumberg are their own miniature Taylor Swifts (I’m sure that’s a first-time comparison for each of them). The three of them could team up and co-release a new podcast that consists of just several seconds of white noise, and many of you would download it. I know I would.

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Image via Taylor Swift Web Community