Sujan Patel, Founder, ContentMarketer.io
Every morning of every day, Sujan Patel starts his day by getting out all of his creative energy onto paper.
The process is relatively simple. He starts by recording himself talking about whatever topic he wants to write about as a way to order his thoughts. He’ll then send this recording to a transcriptionist and when he gets it back he’ll spend around an hour cranking out a 1,500-2,000 word blog post. For Sujan, this is the secret to being one of the world’s best and most prolific content marketers today.
Just 10 years ago, content marketing just wasn’t a thing. Sure, blogs existed but they were rarely used in marketing. Today, content marketing is one of the go-to strategies for businesses everywhere. But with everyone eagerly jumping onto the content marketing bandwagon, simply having a high-quality blog just doesn’t cut it anymore.
In order to really harness the power of content marketing and see some tangible results, you’re going to need a little out-of-the-box thinking.
“Everyone’s writing content for their customers, their existing customers, or who they think their customers are. What I like to do is, I don’t even talk about any of that stuff. I talk about content circles. And what a content circles is, is content that circles your industry.”
As the founder of ContentMarketer.io, the ultimate tool for content marketers, Sujan is one of the most knowledgable people around, and he shared a ton of his wisdom on the subject with us.
- The best way to generate ideas for articles that your audience will love
- Just why content marketing is so powerful and why everyone is using it
- How to create content that generates you leads and customers
- What to do when you find yourself with writer’s block
- How you too can start writing for places like Forbes, Inc. and Fast Company
Full Transcript of Podcast with Sujan Patel
Nathan: Hello and welcome. Bonjour, hola, How are you doing? I just had to mix up that intro because I’m batching all my recording and I just feel and sound like a robot if I say the same thing over and over. So I hope everyone’s having a wonderful day, time, evening wherever you are around the world. My name’s Nathan Chan. I’m the CEO and publisher of Foundr Magazine and host of the Foundr Podcast.
Let’s talk about today’s guest, his name is Sujan Patel. He is a content marketing genius. You know, Sujan has been on my radar as somebody that I have been wanting to get in touch with for quite some time. I’ve seen him pop up all over Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc., Fast Company, he’s pretty much an author everywhere and he’s just exploded his personal brand. And he really, really didn’t hold back in this interview when it comes to giving actionable content. If you guys would like to know how Sujan creates like literally 8-10 articles, high quality articles, every single week and puts… and finds places for these articles across Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes or any of the industry publications that, you know, is in this space, he shares all that and so much more.
And you know even if you’re not in the entrepreneurial space, you know, that’s not your niche, you’re in, you know, the sports niche, or the health and wellness niche, or the, you know, food niche, whatever niche you’re in, he shares actually how to become an influential blogger and how to be a guest contributor and build your authority and build your personal brand to really grow your business. Really, really smart guy, has a ton to share. I know you’re going to love this one. I’m just going to leave it at that, but you are in for an absolute treat.
Sujan is the founder of a company called ContentMarketer.io, he’s got quite a few other SaaSes that he’s working on, Quuu, Narrow, he just started a web agency, Web Profits, he’s partnered up with those guys there in Australia. He’s doing a lot… I asked him to find out how he’s doing it all, which is really interesting as well how he structures his day and his team and how he spends his time. But that’s it from me, guys. If you are enjoying these episodes, please, please, please do take the time to leave us a review. Please do share this with any of your entrepreneurial friends or founders. The more that you help spread the word, the more it helps the brand grow and the more people we can help. And that’s what we’re all about. So now that’s it from me, guys. Let’s jump to the show.
So the first question I ask everyone comes on is how did you get your job?
Sujan: Honestly, I just fell into it. Kind of rewind 10 years ago, I started the e-commerce website, had no clue what I was doing and quickly learned that I need to get traffic. Trying to get traffic succeeded, but didn’t know how to run a business. Now fast forward 10 years, had been doing marketing for other companies for a long time, had a marketing agency, I’ve always wanted to kind of do things myself and work for myself, and so I’ve always kind of worked backwards of what can I do that provides value to the universe, or people, that allows me to do whatever I want in life, have fun but also be passionate about what I do. And that’s kind of how I fell into the marketing consulting space.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. Because you do a lot, man. I’ve always been really impressed. Before we had connected in person, I’d seen you around just writing everywhere on all these different sites. You know Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur, Forbes. You produce a lot of content. I did know that you used to work with Eric, because I have connected with Eric Su from Single Grain and I did used to see you popping around everywhere. So was that your first agency, Single Grain? Tell us about how you got into the agency business.
Sujan: Yeah, so that was my first agency, I started that business back in 2005. Officially started in 2005, but was always a side kind of thing while I was working. And I kind of led with let’s make this seem like a big kind of organization, you know puff your chest and if it works, if I’m getting enough business, I can go full time on it. It wasn’t until probably 2009 where I convinced… I have a crazy story, I convinced my day job, which I was an SEO manager at a lead gen company to let me be part time and then hire me as a consultant, and that was my first client essentially. And I just kind of gave myself… well I have a year contract and I could either sink or swim and if I sink and nothing works out, well you know what, I will just get another job. And so I busted my butt, built that business, turned it into… I think when I sold it, kind of Eric came on for a bit and then I ended up selling the business to Eric at the end of 2013. We were north of $3 million revenue and I was just kind of burnt out, didn’t really know… I kind of lost my why I was doing it, and I wanted to get more back hands on. I love the technical marketing stuff, I love like getting my hands dirty and I felt like I was just kind of too out of the loop and focusing so much on the operations, the business, the process and I’m a marketer, that’s what I want to do. So you know that’s kind of… that was my first business and it was fun.
Nathan: Yeah, yeah I see. And so what happened next?
Sujan: The next two years that led up to what I’m doing now was very, very strategic. I succeeded in building a seven-figure business and kind of failed at scaling an eight-figure or nine-figure business. I wanted to obviously build as big a business as I can. So I knew what I sucked at and kind of because I pushed my boundaries. But I also knew what I wanted to improve and what I wanted to do. So over the last two years, one, I got a job. It actually took me three positions in the three jobs to get to wheniwork,com, where I served as the VP of Marketing at wheniwork.com. B2B SaaS helped take it from from $1 million to $10 million annual revenue. It was awesome. They were an old client of Single Grain, they found out I left, they reached out to me and that happened a number of times and this one kind of just hit because there was a lot of that kind of synergy and I hate using that word, but there are just a lot of good kind of relationships there.
And the CEO was a big like product marketer and I knew… like I didn’t know much about product marketing and so I kind of had a list of things and skills I wanted to improve on. And I also wanted to build my brand up. And I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do with my personal brand. All I know is that if I built a personal brand, and that’s why I started writing and doing all the things, I knew doors would open. And you know a year and a half into building my personal brand, things started opening, that’s when I started ContentMarketer.io, joined Jared with Narrow.io and involved in kind of now, again fast forward a bit, I’m involved in six SaaS companies and run a full time marketing agency.
And so I’m able to juggle a lot and then build my personal brand, write a lot. I mean, honestly, I kind of think of my life as a giant vacation and if I’m doing the things I love, I’m not really spending time working.
Nathan: Yeah man, that’s amazing. That’s where it’s at. Talk to me about these six SaaS companies that you’re working with. I thought you just had one, like the whole ContentMarketer.io. But you’re morphing it all together with Narrow and the outreach tool. So yeah, tell me about that.
Sujan: Yeah, so I can’t disclose all of them, but the ones I can tell you about is ContentMarketer.io, that’s… a lot of these are micro SaaS companies. What that means is they’re small teams. There’s myself and maybe two or three other people max. I have Quuu.co, and again I’m not the founding member there. I saw that idea, I saw how awesome the team was, and I was like, “Guys I have to be involved. Let’s find out a way to work together.” And I have Narrow.io, which is a Twitter automation tool. Again partner with a technical co-founder Jared, who had an idea, he built this MVP. It was working, I was like, “Holy crap, this actually works.” And then the most recent one is a company called linkedtexting.com. I actually just wrapped up a contract today.
So it’s a simple, simple tool. If you have a mobile app, obviously your desktop version, the web version, of your app or your website. You have to get people to download it, right? Most people link to the App Store, or Android Store, or Play Store. But this is a simple thing where you can text the person, yourself essentially, a link to download it. And so with that you get tracking and all that stuff. And I’ve just found, again, from… the business has been around for a few years. It’s making kind of quite a decent amount of revenue and what my plan is to kind of grow it, and there’s another couple people involved with that as well.
And what I found is I’m really good at micro solutions and micro SaaS and small teams. Where I can apply the marketing arm, and if you’ve noticed the kind of theme of the SaaS tools I’ve mentioned so far, they’re all SaaS, they’re all B2B, they’re all targeting kind of a similar persona. And the reason why I target B2B SaaS and that persona is that’s me, I’m the person they’re targeting, I know how to market to myself and/or my friends, and/or people like myself and my friends. And so I stick in that realm even though most likely churn is going to be high and there’s going to be a lot of different problems to grow the business, I like it because, well one I love problems and kind of solving them, but two, they’re all one problem. And so when I figure it out for one company, I can apply the blanket solution for all of the other ones and I do that all the time.
Nathan: That’s really interesting. So I’m sure a lot of people are wondering how do you structure your day across the agency, the SaaS companies, building your personal brand, and everything else you’ve got going on. I know you wrote a few books. So yeah, talk to me about that. How do you structure your day, man, how do you get so much done?
Sujan: Yeah, so the first thing is what externally is as building your personal brand. It’s writing, it’s producing content of some sort. So I’m always trying to start the day with, at least now, getting all my creative energy out on paper. Oftentimes I just use my phone, go to voice notes and record myself talking on 20, 30, 15-30 minutes on a topic. I’ll literally be looking up things while I’m talking about it. It will sound, if you hear these recordings, and my editor probably hears this way too much. So I have an editor who will then transcribe it, but I’ll get to that in the second. It’s literally me ranting on these things and then what I do is I kind of take that and I email my editor saying here’s the seven 5-10 things I hate. Here’s the seven topics I really nailed.
And so it forced me to kind of listen to myself and organize my thoughts and I’ll add some of that research and stuff to it. And I have a person who will then transcribe it, and they won’t just like transcribe it, it’s like a service, it’s a person. And they will highlight things in red that just don’t make sense, they’re stupid, that I’ll probably need to remove. I’ll highlight things in yellow that need more research or kind of depth and then green or like just leave a blank as that’s good kind of key points or whatnot. And so then what I do is I go back and edit it. And so what that whole process, in 45 minutes to one hour of my time, I can crank out 1,500-2,000 words, because I’m not really focusing on the nitty gritty weeds of the details.
Step one. Step one is talking about a topic I’m passionate about, and it’s talking to myself and I don’t have to worry about making sense. I’ve worked with my editor and transcriber person for like nine years and so she gets what I’m saying. She’s like my third wife, my second wife would be a multiple of business partners. Yeah, so I start with that. They just get that out of the way, get that process going and honestly sometimes I crank like two, three blog posts in a day if I have downtime. Start my day kind of around 9:30, 10:30, somewhere around there. And that’s when I get in to… I get my inbox done before I even get to the office. But that’s when I get into like, “Okay, what are the main things I need to get done?” And surprisingly, I only really do three to five big things a day. Everything else gets swept under the rug. So I learned about a year ago that I’m only going to focus, and this is kind of by just like an arbitrary idea I had, I’m only going to focus on my five biggest things. And sometimes it’s only three. And my biggest problems.
So my biggest opportunities for growth and this same framework gets applied to clients. And so during this time, kind of 10 to 5 range, it’s all client mode. And throughout the day there’s some kind of work on the SaaS products that are going to have partners and kind of contractors that help with that. But with my marketing agency, a lot of this is not me doing the day to day work, it’s not me right. Doing the kind of thing. Honestly the hard work. My role in most of my companies as well as on the agency is to make sure we’re doing the best possible marketing. I can’t be executing that marketing, I am kind of two parts. I’m making sure my staff gets unstuck or removing roadblocks when they get stuck and reviewing their execution or our execution and making sure that’s the best possible way.
The second thing is making sure I help level them up. And I learned this early on actually with an old mentor of mine at my first job, is to help just teach people… teach what you know. And I try to do this with my content as well and my personal brand as sharing everything I know, there’s no secrets. It’s just hard freakin work and execution. I teach my staff the same thing. And my goal is the staff to help at some point run… be the kind of general manager of one of my businesses or help them get their next job and skip a couple steps from let’s say kind of entry level or mid-level marketer to they’re experienced enough to be the director of market or run a one a whole company’s marketing department.
Nathan: Yeah no, that’s really smart. So in regards to all these teams that you have going on, things you have going on, how often do you catch up with everyone, what’s that schedule look like? Because it sounds like you’re doing a of managing. Do you do stand ups daily with every team?
Sujan: Yeah typically I do. With the agency team, I do stand ups daily. Weekly, we review our clients’ performance and that’s the end of each week, every Friday we review all of our clients’ performance. Every Monday we work on, we review the stand ups all about what is going on and we follow the what’s the big five things we can focus on that’s going to move the needle and what are the three biggest weaknesses. At the moment we offer content marketing services, we’ll probably expand more than that. But when I say content marketing, I also mean how to get an ROI from that, right? So it’s not like let’s just help people get traffic. When we help get traffic, let’s get them to lead let’s get them into a trial, like you know from a lead to actually purchase something or attempt to purchase. And so a lot of our efforts and our problems with our clients is let’s solve the bottlenecks of why is retention so low and so kind of the bottom up. We focus a lot on the middle bottom and kind of after the transaction happens. But none of that happens without the traffic.
Nathan: I see and you’re very good at this growth marketing stuff driving traffic. But first of all, I think, and a lot of people would really like to know this question, what is the best way to get an ROI for your content? And also what volume should you be creating content at if you’re you know for many of our audience just starting out you know running a start up or you’ve been doing this for a while, how much content should people be producing and how do you get ROI for it?
Sujan: Yeah, this is literally the single biggest problem people have and why they don’t get ROI from content is they’re producing frankly too much content. And so my strategy is to create the least amount of content. It’s typically one, two, or three articles a month that are just top notch, something that’s better than anything else there is out there. Some people refer to that as 10x content. I often talk about 10x content, but in this conversation what I mean by 10x content is just something that’s unique, something that’s different. And unique might be oh it’s updated the last version of this was two years ago on the internet, it’s really old and it’s using design. I mean I always say a piece of crap polished up, put in a box in a gift wrapped with a bow on it. You can’t tell it’s crap until you get inside. So polish it up, make it look good, make it look like a million bucks. Even if your copy isn’t the best, it could still work for you.
I’m not saying continue that forever, but it’s a way to get started. So I think it’s first and foremost writing very in-depth content, not focusing on producing more than a couple pieces of content a month. And if you can do that, focus on just one get one down and then repeat a process that works. Most people just start churning and burning and I feel like it’s this kind of ecosystem that leads to this same behavior. Don’t do what I do. I’ve been doing this for a long time, what works for me is not at all going to work for people that are getting started. What works for people who get started is find the one or two wins, get that evergreen content out there, and that’s also part of the 10x content.
And the next part is after you figure out, and you get the process of writing the right type of content, it’s what to write about. Most companies talk about customer centric content. What I mean by that is everyone’s writing content for their customers, their existing customers, or who they think their customers are. What I like to do is I don’t even talk about any of that stuff. I talk about content circles and what a content circle is is what’s content that circles your industry. So if you’re a plumber. What, and this is just like it’s a hard example, right? You’re a plumber. How do you make plumbing content sexy? You can’t, right? Well it’s hard to. But think about what other problems that people that need plumbing have. It’s maybe home improvement, that’s kind of the higher arching category. It may be how… you know maybe it’s not even about plumbing, it’s just all on home improvement and then you go into another category on like all the services that can help you with home improvement these days and/or things you can do, maybe just talking about the world’s best bathrooms, right?
I mean you can go kind of crazy, but what I’m getting at is it’s not your category it’s one level removed from your category and do keyword research to find what are some keywords that you can essentially write about that potentially can rank for that’s interesting. So you do that. You keep one level removed and then you write something very stellar and then you focus. And this is the next problem I find most people have is promotion, you know. I get emails all the time saying, “Hey, I write content. It’s this amazing, it did this and this, I spent so much time on it and then it didn’t get anywhere.” Well, I mean that’s what happens because you didn’t do any promotion. And so 80 percent of your time should be on the promotion.
And I always have a rule that’s, again, very simple because marketing is not that complex is have five ways you’re going to promote the piece of content before you write the content. And if you can’t come up with five ways, you shouldn’t write it at all because no one’s going to see it. And it forces you to like learn and focus on the content promotion, which will actually help you get seen, and to be honest it could be co-marketing. It could be reaching out to influencers. It could be doing a bit of Facebook ads, I always try to do that with every article. It could be emailing your list, whatever that is. Now if you’re emailing your list, you have to also then ask yourself what did my list sign up for? Would they be interested in this topic? Or, what would they be interested in? Then it might be where should your content go and so that kind of…
The third problem I see is people always writing about their own blog on their own blog about their site or their company. That’s the worst thing, because you’re talking to people who already know you about you. I mean they already know you, why do you need to talk about yourself. Talk not about yourself, go do guest posts. So instead of writing on your own site, go write and reach a new audience and then get that audience back to your site, and so you know old school days 5-7 years ago, everyone was doing guest post for links and in a bio getting a link back. That doesn’t work anymore, that tactic doesn’t work, but the strategy of guest posts still works, reaching a new audience and getting in front of them. Because in this day and age, you don’t have to own them and that kind of brings me to the last point I think.
Nathan, you’re going to love this is my one, two, three, four, five punch when it comes to building a personal brand and building this lead flow and marketing not just myself, but all of my companies. I don’t always focus on owning the traffic, right? So a lot of my content that actually gets me leads gives me zero visitors. And in fact if I tell you how much traffic my sites get, you might laugh at me it’s all of them combined are under 100,000 and all the leads combined I get, all SaaS and agency are over 2,000. So surprisingly high amount of leads from a low amount of traffic.
Nathan: Interesting and they are really high quality leads, right?
Nathan: Gotcha. Please go on.
Sujan: Yeah, so this one, two, three, four, five punch is one, it’s all about awareness. So I write a lot of guest posts and I write a lot on Forbes and things like that because I want people… I want to be where other people read content. No one reads my site that doesn’t know about me, they have to know about me to read my site. So I want to get the kind of subliminal, or just high level awareness out there. I also know like for example, Forbes, if you look at the word “content marketing” or “10X content” or any of my kind of keywords, a Forbes article ranks there. So that means I might not be able to rank my site that easily, but I may be able to rank Forbes site on there, my Forbes column on there.
So I went and targeted all the sites that rank, and I didn’t do this in a very strategic, I mean I’m sorry, not a very strategic way. I didn’t do this in a very automated fashion. I literally Googled all the biggest terms in my industry, in SEO, marketing, content marketing, PPC, what have you, email marketing, and I just looked up, and I just follow the breadcrumbs. And I saw all the blogs that were ranking, like Hubspot, Forbes, Kissmetrics, Entrepreneur, and all these other places. And so I just targeted those sites. I’m like, “Okay, well if I can write something on there, they’re going to have a high potential ranking.” So that’s my one punch is just writing on there. My second one is writing keyword specific or topically strategic content. So I have a very specific reason why I’m writing about something. And the kind of a third punch is then bringing them back into my site, bringing them back until some sort of property I have a part of, or I can collect an email, or whatnot. By this point they’re not just a visitor, they’re a qualified visitor. They’ve probably heard about me, and a lot of my traffic in analytics shows that I’m getting sure I’m getting traffic from Google, I’m getting traffic from direct, my email lists and ads and whatnot on Facebook. But my best traffic comes from referrals and there’s not a lot of it, but they convert 10 to 20 percent, somewhere in there, and that’s fairly high. And again it’s not a lot of traffic I have to build. It’s just very specific. And so that’s kind of my third punch.
And then three, and four, and five, actually four and five is continuing to deliver value, right? And so I started doing videos, I’ve been doing podcasts and I’m mixing up the formats of content that I create to continue to deliver value in different ways. And when I want these people that have now come to my website, opted into my email list, or signed up for my product is to know that I, Sujan Patel or whatever my brand, whatever my company is is that there’s humans behind this thing. We’re humans, we get sick in fact I’m sick right now. We have great days, we have bad days, we’re energetic. When you can see a person, you can establish trust with someone and the other formats, I use like video, I get very little views on them, but on a 100, 200 view video that I had been producing, in fact all of my videos I’ve been in kind of that range lately. I get around 10 to 15 e-mails, engagements of people just asking me questions, starting conversation, they feel like they know me and the reality is they probably do. Like I show emotion on the video and people like that. And so that’s the way I go, that’s kind of my fourth thing. And my fifth thing is inbox. I just stay in my inbox. Everything comes to me. I tried doing a lot of outbound stuff, in fact like I pitched a bunch of conferences to speak at and I got rejected from all of them. Like literally 100 percent rejection rate. And I mean my pitch could be improved, all those things could happen, or I could just do a really good job marketing to where they have to come to me, and then they come to me, it’s my terms and they know me, and it’s very likely that things are just going to work out. It’s very conversational and so I want… my goal was to get everybody in the inbox and start a conversation. Not even a lead, I want them just to have a conversation. So that’s kind of my one through five way of getting people to really connect with me. And when you start doing this for a long period of time, what ends up happening is it starts compounding, people talk, people help each other, you know, you have multiple conversations with people. And again it’s just starts becoming compounding where you do less and more comes to you.
Nathan: I see and you can do this not just for your personal brand, but you can do this strategy for your own business and for your own company brand too, right?
Sujan: Yep, exactly. The strategy… And really this is all what I’ve just said is all content marketing related. You can do this for any business, because at the end of the day, whatever industry you’re in, there’s a human on both sides, right? The buyer and the seller is a human being. I mean maybe disregard the whole chat bot thing, right? But even then right, that’s because customer service sucks. And so chat bots can help quickly get you to the right section. But anyways there’s still a human to human interaction. And I found that the strategy applies any time that is true.
Nathan: So when it comes to, you know, your fourth and fifth punch when you get that person to sign up to your e-mail list or you, they become a prospect or a lead. I’m curious what are your thoughts on the balancing of the scales versus value content vs. product or service based content kind of pitching for the sale. How do you manage that balance?
Sujan: Honestly I just keep giving stuff away. Any time I figure something out and I can explain it in an easy to understand way, I’m gonna write about it and I’m just gonna continue delivering value. The thing that is unique, maybe not unique to me, but like my unique value is that if you if you’re reading about it, I’m already onto five bigger, better things. And so there’s two reasons. Most companies can hire us and the agency side is that it’s all about execution. You can learn everything in the world, but you can never kind of repeat the time and experience that the agency has had or myself has had or the relationships and execution, right? So again like by the time I write about it, 95 percent of the time I’ve already mastered it and moved on to a bunch of other things
Nathan: I see. But it was like how do you manage the balance between once you have that lead, how do you get that sales conversation going? How do you maintain that balance between value based content versus sales based content?
Sujan: Yes. Okay, yeah. So literally in all the value based content, there’s plugs to go in to a lead form, right? So if I’m trying to get consulting deals and typically I don’t do any of those, any time I drive people to the website there is kind of sidebar or kind of some sort of link to get to a consulting like lead. And so that happens just naturally by people visiting the site or viewing emails because they end up going to a place where they can go try to hire me or connect with me to hire me. And then on the SaaS side, there are a plug. It’s usually in the signature on emails. It’s usually very subtle and at the end of the day. I’m probably missing out on lots of execute, on lots of leads or like new business to my SaaS businesses, but I don’t care. My goal here is just smarter customers and smarter potential customers turn into better customers. And again I talk about the what I do and how I do it. If I’m using my own tools to do so, I’m going to clearly say that, “Hey, I use my tool to do this,” and then people kind of go that way. And again, I’m probably missing out on a lot, but that’s kind of my approach right now. Because I don’t want to be too aggressive and kind of converting people. One, because I don’t think I can handle it, in terms of volume. And two, because when I don’t ask for something, it’s that person that remembers me and they remember the brand and then they come back on their own anyways and then convert.
Nathan: Yeah, no, that’s interesting. Awesome. Something that I’m sure people would like to know about, and I know you could talk about this all day, but if we can cover this one little thing off quickly, that would be awesome. Just tips for pitching blogs. You know writing for industry blogs, or influential blogs, or publications, that’s something you’re very, very good at. Tips around that.
Sujan: Yeah, so couple tips. I’m going to leave you with three big tips. One is don’t pitch until you absolutely have the resumé to do the job. Meaning if you’re just starting with your blog, don’t go pitch Forbes or Entrepreneur, it’s not going to work. They have 100 people, 1,000 people that are in front of you and 100 people that are more qualified, that are actually qualified to be on the site, so get qualified. What that means is get a couple wins under your belt and move up slowly. So don’t just target Forbes, go start from the bottom. Go target some small blogs, get some wins, every place you write, make sure they’re a win. Make sure you get traffic to the site, you create the best content. All these publishers, in my experience, want traffic and quality content. And quality meaning the practitioner is writing the content, that they actually know what they’re talking about. So first and foremost, you’re gonna get rejected unless you have that. And so just build and you only need three wins at every level. So I kind of started with… And again you might look at me now and like, “That’s easy for you,” but trust me, two and a half years ago, there was nothing, right? And so had to start from the bottom and so I started with industry sites like Search Engine Journal. kind of random blogs and I kind of worked my way up to bigger industry blogs. And then when I got there, I kind of worked my way up to Business Insider and again I got a couple wins at each one, specifically three wins, and I just kept moving up. It took me five years because I didn’t have that approach down. I was just kind of willy nilly doing it. But kind of looking back, if you did this straight for one year, it can work and you have to be patient. There’s no shortcut.
Now I say that and my number two tip is how to get shortcut your way into this. So for those of you that don’t know me, I like to contradict myself. I find it humorous. But number two tip, it’s a shortcut your way into these big blogs or any guest posts is to know people, right? Relationships, your network. When people know you, they can open doors for you, right? So most of these big blogs, when you can get in fast, it’s because they’ve figure out a way to shortcut into the editor or a person. So the shortcut is finding who else is writing on these sites and befriend them, provide value, help them for free. Now again, there’s no shortcut to building a relationship in that there really is no shortcut. You have to be genuine, you can’t ask for something upfront and don’t go and say, “Hey, I see you write for Forbes, can you introduce me?” Because they probably won’t and they can’t, because you don’t have a writer’s resume. So again, befriend people and doors will open. I mean literally today a few people texted me and said, “Hey, do you want to be involved in this one project I’m doing for Entrepreneur?” And this and that. So I literally did nothing and doors just opened. And that’s because the person I’m talking to about here, I helped give him free advice on how to get into these big places and he was able to do it over the last six months. And so be human, build relationships and shortcuts will happen, but earn them.
And the third tip I want to leave you with is ask yourself why you want to write for these places. Oftentimes writing for these large publications will not do anything for your business. So if you’re expecting, and if you look at… like let’s say you look at my… you to analyze what I did, or reverse engineer everything I’m doing. If you find the conclusion is, oh I get a lot of value because I write for these large places. That’s incorrect. I get some value from it. But the majority of the value I get is from connecting and building relationships, doing offline events, like private dinners and all the content I produce on my site and other guest posts. I get way more value when I write for Search Engine Journal than I do for Forbes. So figure out why you’re writing for them. And oftentimes if it’s not your audience, go right for your audience because you can be a big deal in your audience and no one knows you in the main world, like in the regular world. That’s okay, as long as you are, you built your brand in a world where it matters. And so don’t believe all the sexiness and don’t worry about it. Like if I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t really target these large sites. The main value I’ve got from these places, and I love writing that’s why I do it, is talking about it, right? So I’ll just be completely transparent. That’s the value I get from it.
Nathan: Yeah, no, that’s really interesting. And that’s actually something I think you’re very, very good at is serving first, asking later, networking in relationships. So I’m really curious, and this is me being selfish now, I have a question around you know you talked us through your content creation process, which I think is absolute gold man around just speaking, recording it, and getting it transcribed and then editing it out. And you can pump out really, really 10x kind of articles probably, it sounds like at least four to five a week, right?
Sujan: Yeah, typically I try to produce six a week. Four on the weekends. I do a bit. I do a bit, I haven’t found the most value from syndication. What I do that works well for me is repurposing. So instead of saying, “Hey, take this exact article and publish it on your site, I will publish on SlideShare, or LinkedIn, or Medium. I’ve been publishing regularly on Medium and LinkedIn for the last three months straight, and it’s been a goldmine. I mean I’ve had people on the phone like I was just talking to a client today and he’s like, “Oh man I read your article on LinkedIn today.” Honestly I had no clue what it was. It was something like six months ago. But it works, right? Because LinkedIn, it’s all your professional contacts. So I like to repurpose and like SlideShare has a big network. YouTube, again, great like all of my videos is just content I’ve written so much about that I’ve just mastered that I can talk about it and, again, people get to know that emotional side about me and that personal side, because I kind of have a way of talking that’s maybe different than others, I don’t know, I feel like it is. And again like just leveraging other networks.
Nathan: Yeah. Gotcha. No that’s interesting. So where out of those six that you aim to produce, you probably, you try and put one on Huff Post, you try and put one on Fast Company, Inc., Forbes, Entrepreneur. And you just find out whoever wants them and submit them and then you just kind of, you have how many. Okay, out of all the publications that you write for, what does that cycle look like? Because you’ve got your keywords, you want to link back to certain ones, those kinds of things as well. Who does that?
Sujan: Yeah, so I mean it’s kind of my marketing team internally for the agency and whatnot. So there’s not really a link back and whatnot. I just think about topical relevance. So it’s like for example, I wrote an article on a site on personal branding. And so I wrote this really in-depth article on like everything I did. I literally just said like here’s the 10. I don’t know if it was 10, maybe it was 10, 15 things. Here’s the things I did, and then look, this is the outcome that came, that happened. But then I’ve written articles on like Inc. or Forbes, like how to build a brand, like personal brand like Donald Trump. Or here’s how to use social media to build your brand. So I’m kind of coming up with adjacent topics that then all kind of reference that. And I’m not referencing that in an unnatufral way, it makes sense. It’s like the most relevant thing to link to. I also link and quote and talk about other people doing it. So that’s kind of how I go about it. Inc., Forbes, Entrepreneur, I publish regularly, weekly typically. There is the other three articles. One of them usually goes on my site. One of them usually goes in another. I called it like the largest publishers in marketing. So think like Hubspot, Kissmetrics, Content Marketing Institute. One of those kind of marketing sites and the other one, I have to figure out where it goes. Every week or two, I earn… I have to hunt down new sites. Like the other day, I published something on a company a SaaS company’s blog called Chargebee, they look like a cool company. I like the marketing team, they were really hungry, and so I was like, “Hey look, I want to create some content for you guys, and let’s just… I know there is a fit here. Let’s talk about this.” And you know it’s a way for me to connect with other companies and talk about what they’re doing and again like I kind of blend my content creation into relationships as well.
Nathan: I see. And do you check… do you always look for at the domain authority for certain things or don’t really mind.
Sujan: You know, five years ago I would say, “Hell yeah, I definitely look at all this stuff.” Not anymore. And that’s me being arrogant. And I’m okay with that because I can produce six… I have a home for six articles a week. If you’re just starting out, hell yeah look at the domain authority. But beyond that, look at the traffic. Look at the reach of that… of a domain or a web site. Like you could find for example Forbes. I’ll just kind of call myself out. Forbes is a huge domain authority. But my column, if I publish on Forbes and it doesn’t get picked up by the Forbes network, like the Forbes network doesn’t do all the share and promotion of it. I have to do all the hard work. And so I would say huge domain authority, huge potential for reach, but very low reach because the competition is high. I’m competing with all the other awesome writers there. Or some other like kind of blog, they email their lists all the time, right? So like for me, my domain authority on sujanpatel.com, I don’t know, probably like 45 to 50, somewhere in there. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check in a while, but I email my list of like 50,000 marketers and so I don’t know, do you want to get in front of 50,000 marketers, or do you want a high domain authority link? I choose the 50,000 marketers.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s right. Okay, so you’re weighing it up and then you just kind of, you’ve got all these… you’ve got all the networks in place where you want to push out and write for. That’s a pretty boss system, man.
Sujan: Yeah, it’s fine. Honestly like the only reason I do it is because it’s fun. Sometimes I’m tired and I don’t, but I don’t write much and it’s just getting ahead, right? So like what kind of the lesson I learned is beyond anything else in life, be consistent, right? Anything in marketing, do it regularly. You’ll never see me miss a publishing date. Why? Even if I’m sick, like I said I’ve been sick for the last five days, but I’ve never missed a beat on publishing because I’m usually working two, three weeks in advance so I can afford to miss a week and still be you know let’s say not three weeks I’ll be two weeks ahead. So be consistent. I mean Neil Patel, Gary V., both of those guys are amazing at consistency. Like, I think Neil has been doing it for I think 13 or 12, 13 years, blogging religiously. And it’s amazing because things just start happening and it was funny because I actually was, you know, back in the Single Grain days, I was helping him with this new site called neilpatel.com, again this was back in 2009, 2010. And I was like, “Holy crap, like how can I get to where you’re at?” And I realized there’s no magical answer, it’s just doing it for a while and now I realize like, “Holy crap, things just kind of fall in my lap because I’ve earned it.” I’ve kind of put the work in place to where it could even happen.
Nathan: Yeah, no, that’s so true on any content play, whether it’s on social, blogging, podcasting, magazine, publishing, like that’s something that we’re very, very big on as well at Foundr. It’s like that snowball effect, the moment you stop is the moment you lose. That consistency is so key. It’s like building a house, man, brick by brick and you just keep going and that’s how you just keep building. Dude, we have to work towards wrapping up. This has been awesome. Two questions, one, what are you working on right now, anything awesome that you want to share, interesting, any more goals? I know you’ve shared a lot with us. And then next, where’s the best place people can find you about all your SaaS products, your tools, your personal brand.
Sujan: Yeah, so I’ll tell you this little secret that I guess when I say it won’t be such a secret. I’m working on content right now that is not even in my industry. But it is targeting the same persona. You might see a glimpse of it if you’ve already checked out my site. I wrote a playbook, it’s this 10,000, 12,000 word guide on customer delight. It’s called The Customer Delight Playbook, that has nothing to do with marketing. I mean it kind of does, but like it’s so far away from my normal content that actually provides me value. But it is actually exactly hitting the nail on the head with my content. My audience or a potential customer persona. And so over the next six months, you’re going to see a series of playbooks and they’re all themed playbook intentionally. But really they’re all things very far away from my my brand, but they’re very specific to my customer persona. So don’t be afraid to go really far.
Key Resources From Our Interview With Sujan Patel
- Learn more about Sujan Patel
- Follow Sujan Patel on Twitter
- Connect with Suajn Patel on Linkedin
- Checkout ContentMarketer.io