The demand for online content is staggering. To stay competitive with your biggest rivals, keep the attention of your most important followers, and maintain your top search ranks, you have to keep an open flow of fresh, original, detailed content going at a near-constant rate. Some marketers publish a new piece every day, whether it’s an article, infographic, or video, and some even make efforts to post multiple times a day.
The cumulative effects of this content pace are limiting for marketers and entrepreneurs. You’re forced to either spend all your time creating new, original pieces, or spend exorbitant amounts of money for another employee or independent contractor to handle the workload. At least that’s the way it seems.
There’s actually a strong alternative—using free SEO techniques and strategies to generate original content for your site (or update old content). Does that sound too good to be true? Try one of these:
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1. Ask for guest posts.
Possibly the easiest and most straightforward strategy here, you can ask your followers or other industry experts to submit content for publication on your blog. Generally, it’s a win-win situation; you get the content for your site (and a fresh voice for your feed), and the writer gets a free backlink with some additional brand visibility on your platform. Generally speaking, guest posters won’t request compensation, and if you look hard enough, you should be able to find ample willing participants online. Seek out strong personal brands on social media to get things rolling—active social media users often jump at the chance to publish on an outside platform.
2. Look for interviews.
Interviews are extremely cost-effective because they don’t take much of your time. All you need to do is find an influencer willing to have a published conversation with you, and sit down to discuss a few highlights. You can record this as an audio or video file, and publish it alongside a written transcript—the whole process might take a half hour of your time, yet will result in high-quality content you didn’t have to think too heavily about. As an added bonus, your interviewee will be motivated to share the interview on his/her own channels, strengthening the reach of the final piece.
3. Request user-submitted videos.
Some people love to see and hear themselves on video. If you introduce some kind of fad, trend, or other motivation for your customers taking videos of themselves, chances are you’ll have a host of participants within a few days or weeks. For example, with every product you ship, you could include an instruction and a hashtag for users to upload a video of themselves trying the product out. Or, you could ask your users to take videos of themselves discussing a certain industry problem—almost like one-sided interviews. Either way, you’ll end up with fresh content and you won’t have to pay a dime.
4. Send free samples in exchange for reviews or testimonials.
Your first step here is to find individual influencers in your target market (or in your industry). Individual blogs and social media accounts are best for this. Then, send that person a free product (or extend an offer for a free trial service) in exchange for him/her reviewing that product on his/her medium of choice. They’ll get a free product, and you’ll get free exposure—you can even host the best testimonials on your site directly (assuming you secured permission with the writers).
5. Sponsor a content-based contest.
This is a more specific way to request user-submitted videos, and it does tend to generate more results (though the results may be of a lower quality due to the new motivation for submitting). With a social media campaign, you can offer a prize or giveaway for the “best” user submitted video within a certain time period. How you define “best” is up to you—it could be the funniest, the most creative, or the most entertaining, for example. The point is to get all your followers actively submitting their best work.
6. Get other members of your team involved.
Technically, you’ll have to pay for this one, but not in the typical format. Rather than paying someone new or investing your own time, you’ll borrow from the time of your other coworkers. Rotate blog duties to different people in different departments (checking their work if necessary) to generate more posts for less time and money. Your blog could also use the fresh perspectives as a change of pace.
7. Use a forum to generate conversation.
Finally, consider putting together a forum for your site, beyond just a blog comments section. You could get the ball rolling with some example topics and conversations, and invite all your customers to get involved. If it gains momentum, eventually you’ll have a self-monitoring, thriving community of participants all generating content for your site on a regular basis. It’s also a reason to keep your customers coming back for more—just be aware that it will take some time and effort to get to a consistent level of popularity.
Put these strategies to the test for your own content campaign. You may find that your self-published content is more satisfying, or of a higher quality, but you can’t beat effort- and cost-free content to add to your repertoire. Keep these strategies in balance with your traditional content efforts, and keep experimenting to find the approach that works best for your brand.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.