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As marketers, we are always looking for a better tool, better piece of software, or better process. That’s the base level inspiration for the Social Toolkit Podcast after all.
When we invited Brian Clark on the show, we got to the root of all those concepts. Brian is the writing machine and CEO of Copyblogger Media. And he has taken his company from a simple blog, to a rapidly growing content and software company.
They create absurd amounts of high quality content through their blog, podcasts, email courses and more. All while building a very impressive suite of content software.
Brian joined us to talk about how he built Copyblogger to what it is today, with tips on content, software, thought leadership and building audiences.
Brain gave us some incredible insights on building, starting the process, staying focused, and working out of your passions. Here are a few of those insights, along with Brian’s complete toolkit at the bottom of the article.
If you have not already subscribed to get the latest episodes of the Social Toolkit podcast, you can do that on iTunes here, or search for the “social toolkit” on the podcast app of your choice.
1. Focus on building an audience
For a year and a half, Copyblogger didn’t sell a single product. Instead they focused on building an audience. Brian and ultimately his team made the intentional decision to share great content first and offer a product later. Much later.
The power of that audience is also what led Copyblogger being able to transition from a content company to a software company.
2. Use partnerships
“If you build an audience, you can attract the people who can build the products you want to build,” said Brian.
Initially the software efforts at Copyblogger were partnerships with other people and companies, aka joint ventures.
“There was a person who could code, and I was the person with the audience and the marketing abilities – it’s all been built on partnerships,” said Brian.
Ultimately Copyblogger had a suite of services and software products, from hosting to WordPress themes and content plugins. And so, Copyblogger brought all those partners together to form what is, today, Copyblogger Media.
“When all the partners of Copyblogger Media met for the first time, it was the day we all merged to start the new company.”
3. Start simple
Brian once asked Seth Godin what was his writing process was and Seth refused to answer. Instead Seth replied “I’m bat-shit crazy and If i tell people MY process, they are going to try and mimic me and they would be wrong.”
Brian’s process is very simple, “I compose, fundamentally, the substance of any content in my head without writing it down. When I do start actually writing I almost always write my first words in Microsoft Word or Evernote (the one thing I can’t live without).”
Brian’s Simple Writing Process:
- Write the headline first
- Write sub-headlines for each section of the piece, as an outline
- Fill in each sub-headline section with content
This process keeps each piece of content that Brian creates very simple and approachable at the start. It is his form of outlining, though he has definitely taken it to the next level.
4. Curate content
Brian recently started a passion project as an outlet for writing, called Further.
Further is an experimentation with curated content. And Brian views the rules of curated content as wholly different from original content, with a new set of rules.
As he experiments with this new channel, Brian is writing about and sharing what he is learning.
Each Further email begins with a summarization or breakdown from Brian about a piece of curated content. In a recent email he talked about the book The Rise of Superman, which examines “extreme” athletes in a scientific review of ultimate human performance.
And then he links out to more curated content from around the web that he thinks will provide value in one of three categories: heath, wealth, and wisdom.
The value here is bringing in new perspectives, new content from a wide range of sources, but with the trusted filter of Brian’s take on it all. Curation can be a valuable service for your audience.
A podcast that focuses on interviews is essentially curation. We do something similar with our Social Fresh Tip newsletter, where Jason Keath breaks down a new tactic or strategy each week, and shares his take on it, and making it easier to consume for Social Fresh readers.
5. Invest in podcasting
Rainmaker.fm is the Copyblogger podcast. And Brian announced on our show that it will soon become a podcast network,the Copyblogger Media Network.
Early in the days of Copyblogger, Brian saw success with serial content, 10 articles on this or 10 steps for accomplishing that. Podcasting is an extension of that concept. Attaching a themes to a series of content pieces.
Copyblogger was so confident in the power of a podcasting audience, they launched their new software product, New Rainmaker, entirely through the podcast. And they saw success with this strategy.
We’ve heard from multiple folks on the Social Toolkit podcast about their confidence in podcasting as a valuable marketing tool. And we are seeing even more companies, like Copyblogger, come out with multiple podcasts, building their own networks.
The trend line here seems very strong.
6. Employee generated content
While Copyblogger Media may be an anomaly, housing amazing bloggers and copywriters, you might be surprised that you have your own pseudo-internet celebrities in house.
Your underutilized employee talent may have all have great content ideas that your business would need. As Brian said on the show, “If you are looking for talent, look within the company. Find the people that are willing to contribute, that have the ideas, and are willing to make the effort to create on behalf of the brand.”
Brian Clark’s Complete Toolkit
Top social networks:
RSS, Curated email newsletters
Facebook. Professionally, Twitter
iPhone Camera app
Rainmaker Platform, WordPress
Microsoft Word. 😉
Draft in Evernote