If you’re old enough to remember the song I’m alluding to, then you’re old enough to remember there was no real Internet at that time, other than in the military sense. We still had a lot of history to live through, including enduring years more of the beeps and static that came with telephone modems (the struggle was real). Content marketing as we know it now didn’t start to get popular until the early 1990’s. Here’s a little history of content marketing (very little) and a micro-memoir of my adventure into that brand of wilderness.
What is content marketing
The Content Marketing Institute (yes, there is one), defines content marketing as“the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” (Jun 6, 2012)
What was I doing that was so “revolutionary”? Around 1985, when I was in high school, a friend told me about her dad’s electronic bulletin board. These boards were “the first collaborative tool[s] available for the personal computer platform, [enabling] two or more computers to communicate using modems over telephone lines.” Well that was awesome, but I didn’t quite understand the mechanism. Still, the idea that you could say something to what felt like the whole world was exhilarating.
Me: “Oh, please can we post something?”
Her: “My dad would kill me!”
Me: “See if he’d post something for us!”
Her: Silent pause before she gave in to the thrill of teenage sneakiness instead.
We posted something about school computers (in this case, the Apple IIe).
I’m sure it made no sense, and the post was largely ignored by the engineers who probably thought my friend’s father was an idiot.
So that’s where it started. Because I longed to become an immortal writer, the developing Internet served as my ultimate, nerdish fantasy. I wanted all my short stories and angsty poems to be strewn across the intricate connections of the growing web, even though I still could not grasp the abstracts of this technological miracle.
Back to the present
But enough about how old I am. Let’s fast forward to my current career and just say that I had no idea I was doing content marketing until a few years ago when I put together a marketing plan for my first book. Besides setting up book signings and the usual live events, I endured the pain of learning WordPress all on my own. I set up my first website, Poems from the Battlefield(which I’ve not updated recently, so please forgive me – I look nothing like my profile pic).
From there, I launched and populated my Facebook account. I created a separate Facebook page for my book. I spent whole days on Twitter and LinkedIn, reveling in my imminent fortune and fame, posting, sharing, blogging, never knowing what I was doing was content marketing.
Before I knew it, authors were asking me to do the same thing for them (including setting up simple websites on WordPress). Author and photographer Steve Clapp was “discovered” through the rudimentary website he still has today because hey, it worked. I was thrilled.
Throughout all this, I was doing research, attending seminars, practicing my own presentations, blogging, disseminating and growing a client list so big that in 2014, I decided to write full-time. I launchedAll Things Writing, LLC. By the time 2015 hit, I needed a team to help me handle all the calls for website content, blogging and social media services, bios, LinkedIn profiles, magazine and news articles…all things writing. And while I probably won’t be immortal, I am living my dream of making a living by writing, with the unexpected bonus of running a business.
I say all this not necessarily to brag, but to demonstrate the power of content marketing. I can’t stress enough the need to be active online, to offer quality content, but most importantly, to write often and write well. And if you can’t do it yourself, get some help.
Then give it time. It won’t take 25+ years to get the word out about your particular talent, but it won’t take just a couple of weeks, either.
Katherine Gotthardt, M.Ed., writing concentration, has been writing, editing and teaching for more than twenty years. For the past ten years, she has focused on content development and content marketing for small to mid-size businesses, writing and disseminating material that increases client visibility while supporting their brand. Besides being published in dozens of journals, Katherine has authored five books: Poems from the Battlefield, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, Approaching Felonias Park, Weaker Than Water and Bury Me Under a Lilac. Learn more about her creative life at www.KatherineGotthardt.com.