In a crowded digital world how do you stand out? How do you win people’s attention, and draw the right business to you?
Here’s a brilliant example of a freelance business that’s winning the war for attention. John Espirian is a technical copywriter and he’s booked up for work months in advance. In a sea of content, he’s differentiating and winning business from all the right people. How? Here is his story with some great tips for content marketing success.
John Espirian’s content story
John Espirian is a technical copywriter based over the water from us in Wales. He specialises in writing B2B copy that explains how products, services, and processes work.
John set up as an independent technical copywriter in 2009 following a career in software assurance. It was a natural progression for him. In the software world, he was the person with a long queue of people at his desk asking ‘how does this stuff work?‘ He was always the explainer and realised this would be a great niche for him when it came to make the move to copywriting.
The early years of freelancing were difficult at times. Back then he had no website, and social media was only just getting started. Results from advertising his services were patchy. Leads came mainly from old contacts and word of mouth and John knew that these networks weren’t enough to sustain him by themselves. How could he attract and win more of the right clients more easily?
John started his blog back in 2014. But it wasn’t until 2016 that he heard about this thing called ‘content marketing’. When he looked into it he realised there was a framework that could really help him sell, in a way that felt natural and right.
“In a nutshell content marketing is about producing content that helps your ideal customers to feel more educated and smarter and make better buying decisions by removing the sales component from your content and providing helpful, explanatory messages for them.”
– John Espirian
John took to this inbound marketing strategy like a duck to water – no knocking on doors annoying people with cold pitches, no Google ads, just a focus on being consistently helpful and explaining the answers to the questions his ideal clients have.
John’s ‘relentlessly helpful’ approach to marketing has driven amazing results. He’s booked up way in advance, without ever cold pitching. When he looks at his Google Analytics he’s seen a year on year doubling of his traffic – he’s being found via organic search, and a good proportion of those searchers are contacting him ready to ask for his help. His bank of content has made him stand out and climb the Google rankings.
We interviewed John about his business development journey so far:
Helpful content marketing tips from John Espirian
- Help first don’t sell first. You don’t need to cold pitch – just focus on producing content that’s genuinely helpful, providing value to your type of customers. If your content is good enough the right people will seek you out.
- Don’t gate your content. If you put it out there for free your content will get more widely shared and loved. (Check out Mark Schaefer’s excellent post – Updating the argument against gated content).
- Don’t worry about giving your knowledge away. Some people will use the ideas you share in your content to do things by themselves. But a percentage of readers WILL become your customers, and that’s the point.
- Take a long-term approach. Play the long game. Think of a 30-month mindset – and know that sustained effort will lead to results. Have patience and believe in the methodology. Don’t expect immediate results.
- Have a good understanding of your place and space. What do you want to be known for? Become known for one thing – being ‘relentlessly helpful’ in John’s case.
- Go where your customers are. Understand where you should share your content. If you’re in a visual business, be where the visual people are – get on Instagram. Don’t like LinkedIn? Tough – if your customers are there, you need to be there too.
- Do one platform really well. It’s far better to do one platform well than 5 of them in a mediocre way.
- Think about your content DNA. Underpin your content approach with your own brand values. Write down 4 – 5 things that sum up your tone of voice and online personality, and keep them on your desk. Whenever you’re writing something, check that it ticks all the boxes. People love consistency – it means you’re much more likely to be memorable.
- Listen to your customers to find out what they want from you. This is so important if you want your content to be found and loved. Talk to them. Ask them. What are they struggling with? What information will they really value?
Here’s John explaining his content marketing approach, with a heap of helpful tips to take away and put into practice, whatever the size of your business.
How do you gain attention and interest in a sea of content? For John the answer is to be relentlessly helpful. That’s how he differentiates. That’s how he wins. What’s not to love about his approach?
Check out John’s fantastic website and blog here: espirian.co.uk.
“Putting out that free content without a sales message is the longterm route to building trust. And if you’ve got trust then your business will never fail.”
– John Espirian.
Congratulations John, and thanks for the relentless inspiration. Your well deserved valuable content award badge is winging its way over the bridge to Wales!