This is a continuation from last week’s post where I gave the reasoning behind  getting your brand into fighting shape with content marketing. This installment gives you some concrete tips on how to begin flexing your muscles to get your brand more buff in the eyes of prospective clients.

I recommend you follow three of the following content marketing exercises at a minimum:

Blogging: you should keep a blog for your business and write for it at least weekly, if not more frequently. As you blog, you can embed a URL to link back to pages on your business website. “Backlinks,” as they’re known in SEO parlance, tell Google your website is of value and should be ranked higher than those without backlinks. Blogging frequency is important for two reasons: 1) it creates lots of backlinks from your blog to the website and 2) it builds an audience of readers who, over time, will share your blog with others and become advocates of your content. Blogging platforms include WordPress, Tumblr, Medium and Blogger.

Contributed Articles: find a trade magazine, business blog or local news outlet and ask the editor if you can contribute an article about something that relates to your business expertise in some form or fashion. Next, ask the editor if you can place an embedded URL into a phrase of your bio allowing you to get a valuable backlink to your website for the keyword you are seeking to optimize. A personal trainer might want to use the phrase “Seattle personal trainer for moms” for the backlink.

Comment on Blogs: another way you can gain quality backlinks – meaning they come from a reputable website with some relevance to your industry or topic of interest – is to read other blogs and make comments with a reference to your business website. Some blogs will frown on a backlink to your website so consider a backlink to your blog where you talk about similar topics in hopes that the breadcrumbs eventually lead back to your website.

YouTube: start a YouTube channel this year as a way to drive clicks, buzz and backlinks. Don’t worry about creating elaborate scripts and paying thousands of dollars for professional videographers. Sometimes the most viral of videos look like they were taken by a smartphone without regard to make-up, lights and elaborate props. Just keep at it, create enjoyable content, and eventually you will be rewarded. After all, I owe Canyonman1963 my life for showing me how easy it is to replace a lid switch on a Kenmore washing machine! Because Google owns YouTube, the powerful search engine includes videos in the search results of key words and phrases.

Twitter: use the popular microblogging platform to send out offers, links to your blog, etc. It creates another source of inbound traffic to your online assets, some of which will enhance your search engine rankings while others will boost the credibility of your brand, eventually leading to new customer leads. Don’t forget to use hashtags like #FitnessAdvice #MomFitness to jump on popular terms or trending news.

LinkedIn: don’t overlook the stodgy old network of business professionals as a way to spread news about your brand’s events, offers and accomplishments. By now, you should already have a company LinkedIn profile; if you don’t, it’s not too late to start. Any time you have a blog post, feel free to post it to LinkedIn Groups you belong to in hopes of driving more traffic and brand awareness. I have a PR over Coffee Group, which I launched in support of that organization’s events, blog posts and general networking. Every time I post to my blog or have an article picked up in PRDaily or another media outlet, I invariably post it to LinkedIn.

Facebook: one effective way to grow your content marketing muscles is to promote your content – blog posts, videos, etc. – through a boosted post on Facebook. While I still hate Facebook for monetizing what used to be free, the new service does come with enhanced features like micro-targeting demographics. A fitness coach in Seattle show likes to work with kids could target women between the ages of 25 – 50 in the Seattle area in hopes of reaching lots of Moms who want their kids to spend less time gaming and more time playing games outdoors.

eBook: consider writing an eBook to boost your though leadership bona fides. This is especially effective for providers of professional services like marketing, consulting, PR and even fitness. Writing an eBook can help you earn paid speaking engagements and quotes in the media about trending stories. It tells the world you sat down and worked long and hard to come up with enough content to fill up a book’s worth of knowledge. Plus, being an eBook, you can embed links back to your online assets to help you with your inbound marketing strategy.

eNewsletter: another way to work out those content marketing muscles is to create a weekly or monthly eNewsletter, which combines the best aspects of drip marketing and content marketing. People love tips and helpful content and an eNewsletter keeps you top-of-mind for their future buying decisions.

Brand Journalism: this is the equivalent of body building in the world of content marketing. Your aim is to create generous amounts of content for your website such that it has some of the the look-and-feel of a media outlet. You probably need to hire on somebody with strong editorial experience, either as a full-time employee or 3rd party provider. The goal is the create an extra-strong perception of credibility, reliability and integrity among a broad base of constituents: customers, prospects, influencers and media. Along the way, you become a champion content body builder capable of flexing even the most obscure brand muscles. A startup I think does a great job of brand journalism is SpareFoot, which did a very smart thing and hired long-time business writer and editor, John Egan, to edit, write and curate content for its blog.

White Papers: those tried-and-true brand exercises still work. White papers work well as click-bait and generate solid business leads. My advice? Format them a bit more like “listicles” and keep them on the short-side, no more than 5-10 pages, full of call-out boxes and graphics to make the piece easy to consume. And, of course, be sure to insert a call-to-action to plant a seed for a future inquiry.

These content marketing ideas should put you on the path to turning your brand into a body building behemoth. Ideally, you will choose to blog or vlog (video-log) on a frequent basis. Social media platforms need pretty regular nurturing, too, if you hope to win enough followers who are willing to share your wisdom, wit and timely observations.

Don’t underestimate the value of contributed articles as this is the gold standard of a search engine optimization strategy, which is to place a backlink to your website in a highly trafficked, relevant website. Backlinks from 2nd and 3rd tier blogs are a good start and build your portfolio over time.

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