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Creating awesome content quickly is something that many of us aspire to do. Today we’re talking to Neil Patel. Neil is a New York Times author and was recognized by President Obama as a top-100 entrepreneur under the age of 30. He’s co-founded companies including Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics.
Today we’re going to talk about being super-prolific. Sit back, relax, and get ready for a 20-minute class on content marketing!
Some of the highlights of the show include:
Jordan: Today I’m talking with the one and only Neil Patel about how to create awesome content quickly. We’re going to take a deeper dive into his process and content creation, audience research and his relentless work ethic. Today’s episode has a ton of value in store for you. Welcome to a 20-minute master class in content marketing.
Neil is a New York Times best-selling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Barack Obama. He’s also the co-founder of companies like Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and KISSmetrics. Today’s episode is packed full of inspiration on getting super prolific. Let’s get to it. I’m Jordan with CoSchedule. Here is my conversation with Neil.
Hey, Neil. Thanks so much for being on the show today.
Neil: Thanks for having me.
Jordan: Absolutely. To kick this off, can you tell us about what you’re up to these days?
Neil: Sure. I’ve been working a lot on my Neil Patel blog, just growing the traffic, working on Crazy Egg. I’ve been improving the product, making it more feature rich with AB testing, we’re getting into personalization, and working on just creating awesome marketing software that helps people increase their traffic on QuickSprout.
Jordan: I found you by typing the words content marketing into Google. I think a lot of people have found you that way too. That’s one of the things that we at CoSchedule most admire you for. Can you share what lead you to having such incredible success with content marketing?
Neil: One of the big things that have helped me with content marketing get me to where I am today is being relentless. You just keep blogging and writing. With content marketing, you can get results but don’t expect it in five months, six months. Think of it as like a 5 to 10-year strategy. Whilst people don’t want to look at content marketing as a long-term play when it really isn’t, it should be.
Jordan: How do you define what makes the cut?
Neil: Eventually, you’ll know if it either hits or it doesn’t hit, in which you’re happy with it or you’re not. Doesn’t mean it’s going to be popular but you’ll know if you’re happy with it or not. What I usually like doing is I look at the content and I’m like alright, if someone reads this, can they get value out of it? If they can get value out of it, they feel if they read it they can get some sort of information with it, oh, this was good, then I’m happy. If they can’t then I’m not happy. That’s usually my rule of thumb.
I always look at it in which, hey, when someone reads this, they’re getting value and can they go and implement everything they learned? Which is a step further. If someone could implement and get results, you know you’ve done an amazing job. That’s very effective on the B2B or educational site even if it’s B2C for content that’s just entertaining; if it makes people laugh or amuses them, you’re good to go. But sometimes it takes a lot to create content that really amuses that much.
Jordan: What kind of time investment does this look like for you to create this kind of stuff?
Neil: It takes anywhere from 2 hours to 3 hours per blog post at the current moment.
Jordan: Your stuff is pretty long. As a writer myself, I am impressed by that number. Have you always been a super fast writer? Or have you found a good process that’s gotten you to producing that kind of stuff so quickly?
Neil: One, I’ve been doing this forever. Overtime, you just naturally get better and you speed up. Two, I have a process. The process starts with coming up with the idea, then you write your introduction, then you write your conclusion, then you fill in the body with the headlines of just what you want to cover. Then what you do is you add in the meat which is just the rest of the body. I do intro, conclusion then body.
Jordan: How much research goes into the stuff that you create?
Neil: I’ve been doing this for so long now, I don’t have to put as much research. But if I had to put inasmuch as most people who would be starting off, it would probably take me three to four hours versus two to three.
Jordan: One of the other things you do is you have podcasts that you’re hosting and you also do a lot with video. Then obviously your articles, ultimate guides, those kind of things. How does your process differ between content types?
Neil: For content types. For video, I shoot them all in one day. For a podcast, we record 40 episodes in one day. Video I do 30 or 31 per day. Then blogging is just a continual daily process or daily grind.
Jordan: Basically god-like stamina is what gets you your results.
Neil: It really does help. I love what I’m doing too. If you don’t enjoy what you’re writing on then it’s not going to work out well.
Jordan: Absolutely. For marketers who are not as far along as you, what are some of the most common mistakes you see them making in content creation?
Neil: The big mistake that I’m seeing is people just write and they just keep writing. The issue isn’t with the writing; I’m not saying it can’t be improved. But the issue is with the promotion. Just because you write content, whether it sucks or it’s amazing doesn’t matter. I know it should always be amazing but still, just because you write content, no matter what you think, it doesn’t mean it’s going to gain popularity. You have to go out there and promote. What I always recommend is email all the people out there if you need to and ask them to just share your content. It’s really that simple.
Jordan: Do you ever find any pushback or any reluctance? Or are people usually pretty excited to hear stuff that they were cited in?
Neil: Even when it’s not for my blog, let’s say you’re a brand new blogger and you’re unknown, in general we found that people are excited.
Jordan: It seems like this content marketing approach has worked in all of your companies. Is that correct? Has that kind of been the core marketing focus for you with Crazy Egg, with KISSmetrics, with neilpatel.com and in QuickSprout and all these others?
Neil: Yeah, it’s helped a lot. It really does help build a brand, awareness. It’s not the core focus but it’s one of them. I would say it’s one of the top three.
Jordan: What would the other ones be?
Neil: Building amazing product or service. Then from there we also focus on branding and press.
Jordan: When you’re creating content and you have something that you really want to talk about but then you also have your audience to consider and what they actually care about, how do you decide how to write something that you care about that you think your audience will also care about that’s going to produce either conversions or opt ins or whatever your target KPI is?
Neil: What we end up doing is we first talk to them, our ideal customer, or survey them. You can use SurveyMonkey. Figure out what they want to read about, what they want to learn about, what problems they have. We try to align the content with our product and service even if we’re not directly pitching a product and service, as well as with their problems that they have and we just work on solving them all at once. It’s like ideally I do have a post that helps both parties in which helps them solve their problems and of course is related to your company. That’s where I love starting.
Jordan: For doing surveys or research, do you usually have a pretty good turnout of results?
Neil: We do. When we’re doing surveying and getting feedback, we’re getting around 5%, it can be plus or minus a percent here and there. But we’re roughly getting around 5% to engage. I know that may seem low but that’s roughly what we’re getting.
Jordan: How often do you conduct this research? That’s a question I’ve wondered for people with audiences like yours. How much do you actually reach out and ask them for their opinions?
Neil: I do it roughly once a month or once a quarter or somewhere in that range.
Jordan: Does it seem to you like people actually like giving you their opinions, like they’re excited to take part in this? Or do you kind of have to bend their arm a little bit to get them to participate?
Neil: No. The people participate who want to. That’s why our rates are much lower than 10% or 20%. Either people want to participate or they don’t. You don’t want to incentivize people because the moment you incentivize them, their feedback could be off.
Jordan: That’s a really good point. What kind of questions do you ask them?
Neil: We ask them things like why’d you come here for, what can I help you with, to was this content useful, or did you learn anything, or how could we improve this content, to what else would you like us to blog on. The questions are pretty much endless. The real question is what’s going to help you determine how to write more content or generate more revenue or generate more sales? You have to figure out what problems they have and then get people to solve that. The way you figure how to solve it is you survey them and you get the right feedback first.
Jordan: Has any of the feedback from these ever actually influenced the way you build your product or maybe even the way you approach your marketing as a whole?
Neil: Yeah. It’s helped quite a bit. Because we’ll find out from people what issues they have. We’ll even do NPS scoring in figuring out what our net promoter score is for our product, for our blog or brand, whatever it may be so that way we can figure out how well we’re doing.
Jordan: As you’ve done this research, have you seen a steady increase in those numbers?
Neil: I wish I could say yes, not always. Your content is the improvement.
Jordan: Any examples of maybe some surprising things that you learned? I know when we do research, we come in with some hypothesis and then a lot of times we’re actually wrong. It kind of surprises us. Is there anything you’ve learned from your audience that surprised you?
Neil: All the time. In which I may think they want more features. We have a keyword tool. We started adding all these features and people are like, “Why’d you add all these features? We hate this now. We like the old version.” We’re like, “Okay. You want the basic version?” We’re giving you all these extra features for free. Who would’ve ever thought? I’m not saying they’re wrong. I’m just saying I should’ve done a better job learning and understanding my customers and their use cases before I started adjusting things.
Jordan: Can you talk a little bit about your publishing frequency now? We know you’re making a lot of stuff in a lot of places. What does your frequency look like for the content you personally produce?
Neil: Daily. I’m a big believer if you want to do well, you have to do it daily.
Jordan: You made this pretty much as a habit and just part of how you live and work every single day then?
Neil: Yes, part of my life. I go in mind with my data, “Hey, I have to publish content.” Of course I really want to do it in advance, you don’t have to schedule or you don’t have to create new content every single day. But in general I’m typically always creating content. I’m doing it in advance. It’s just part of my life.
Jordan: How do you decide what kind of content to create? I imagine you don’t just sort of show up to the blank page and think like, “Well, what am I going to write about?” Do you have a pretty defined editorial calendar with what you’re going to be creating in advance?
Neil: With me, we look at what problems people have or what they want us to write on because it gives me a lot of ideas. Then I write it in advance and then I publish then we schedule it out on our content calendar. We always put our ideas in our content calendar like, “Alright. Here’s what we’re going to write. Here’s what we’re going to release. Here’s our publishing schedule for the next 30 days.” We love keeping at least 30 days in advance. The reason being is shit happens. You’re going to get sick or you have a meeting. The last thing you want to do is have to worry about creating content at the last minute. Like my podcast. I think we have content all the way to two months away from now.
Jordan: That’s incredible. I know the Marketing School Podcast, you guys are on episode 350 something, last time I checked. You’re creating an incredible amount of content. I love the idea that you’re creating every single day. Any final advice for marketers who want to establish this really prolific creation habit and maybe haven’t been able to do so yet?
Neil: Go out there and do it. If you can’t figure out how to just be motivated to make it part of your daily routine, then you’re going to fail because that’s the easiest part.
Jordan: Neil, thanks so much for being on today. I learned a ton. It’s really inspiring to hear about that even people who have created so much like you and built so many businesses and blogs, we see you as someone who’s so successful, you’re still in the trenches. You’re still doing what we’re doing every single day. It’s really cool to see an elite performer and just get a peek inside of what your day and life looks like. Thanks so much for sharing with us.
Neil: I appreciate all of that. Makes sense of what you guys are doing, why you guys are doing this podcast and stuff. My final note for you guys, I know you didn’t ask me for a final note. A lot of people should be using tools like the ones you guys have and others out there. Content calendars, promotion schedules, lining up what you need to do to get stuff out there if you want to do well with content marketing. A lot of it isn’t just creation and promotion. A lot of it is process as well. I think that’s what a lot of people forget. If you look at what you guys are doing, it’s helping putting the process throughout this whole thing.
Jordan: Thanks so much.
Neil’s simple process of research fueled content plus writing an introduction, conclusion and body format has helped him produce steady streams of brilliant stuff over years and years of work. Content marketing success is about working a consistent process. To get results, you need to keep showing up, putting in the work and focusing on adding value to your audience every single time. What is your process? Have you made it a habit? Start there and you’re well on your way.
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