Content Marketing


I find it curious how people tend to focus on the “content” in “content marketing” a whole lot more than the latter word.

And the word “content” always seems to be associated with frivolity. It instantly brings to mind spammy listicles and fun blog posts that we love to read, but just aren’t very serious or work-like. Stuff that attracts eyeballs, you know, but are only vaguely connected to the bottom-line.

content marketing business
“Yeah, that doesn’t sound very business-y to me, mate.”

This is especially so in Asian companies, which tend to be very focused on dollar signs. I’ve met clients who expect to see “some results” within a week of launching their blog. After all, companies like Buffer and Crew have managed to throw some articles up and receive a whole lot of referral traffic in return. Why can’t we?

This Isn’t Content Marketing

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let’s establish that content has always been a part of marketing. TV advertisements are made up of words and visuals, which are “content.” Pamphlets are made up of words and visuals, which are “content.” Facebook posts are made up of words and visuals, which are “content.”

You get the idea.

When we refer to “content marketing,” though, there is something specific we have in mind. We think about virality. We think Buzzfeed. We think, put some memes and GIFs and lists together and we’ve got an award-winning blog post on our hands. We’ve got all the traffic we need to sell to for the rest of our days. Time to book that flight to the Maldives.

And yes, you might have a real winner right there that sends everyone on a sharing frenzy. But not for long. Here’s what your graph will probably end up looking like:

evergreen content

The solution? Why, create more “content,” of course! Keep those spikes going on and on forever!

Sadly, that’s not going to happen. Buzzsumo’s analysis of 1 million articles says all:

  • 50% of randomly selected posts received 8 shares or less
  • 75% of these posts received 39 shares or less
  • 75% of these posts achieved zero referring domain links

That spike there? An anomaly. A blip. Might not ever happen again.

That’s not content marketing. That’s generic junk. That’s the stuff that content farms rear and hawk on a dark and gloomy Monday evening, when you feel just about depressed enough to try anything.

What Content Marketing Is

Far from just being excellent writers, the best content marketers are masters of the funnel (I hate that word, but it’s a good way to track results nonetheless). They create both content and processes tailored to bring visitors through from brand awareness to becoming loyal users.

That’s because content marketing isn’t about that one-hit wonder. It’s all about the long-game, as Morgan Freeman says in Now You See Me 2.

Content marketing is brand marketing. When you write guest posts or get quoted and featured on publications sharing domain knowledge, readers will (slowly) begin to see you and your company as leaders in that particular space.

You develop a content brand.

That’s how Buffer became synonymous with social media. That’s why Airbnb and Uber are always uttered in the same breath as the sharing economy.

Jay Acunzo puts it superbly:

“Content marketing is just solving the same customer problems as your product but through media you create and distribute.”

Your product, Jay elaborates, solves problems for your customers. You know it’s doing just that when money starts rolling in.

The same goes for your content. When your article series helps readers to know more about insurance, they’ll remember your brand name when they’re thinking about buying some.

Content marketing is email marketing. What’s the point of asking readers to subscribe to your newsletter when you’re just going to send them weekly updates (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you can do more than that)?

Enter drip campaigns. Enter curated collections. Your readers subscribed because they loved that particular article or ebook they just read. Give them more, give them the best, satisfy them! And just as your content solves their problems again and again, show them how your product can solve their problems, too.

That’s where the bottom-line comes in, businessman.

I Could Go On And On…

But I’ve made my point. Content marketing isn’t “just content.”

It’s about finding out who your audience—potential customers—wants to become, and empowering them to be just that, while at the same time capturing and holding their attention in a media-saturated world.

It’s about building your brand narrative around that—becoming the champion for your audience—and in so doing so, creating a loyal community that pushes on ahead of you.

Content marketing IS marketing.

Images from FlickrPexelsBuffer


It’s been a roller-coaster year of sorts for me since graduation midway last year. Since then, I’ve undergone 4 (full-time) job changes within a window of 11 months. Yes, that averages to about a new job every 2.75 months – I am the very epitome of the millennial’s struggle to find purpose, passion, and autonomy in the economy today.

Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with a slew of clients in my freelance writing career in the meantime that keep me afloat.

I have learnt a lot in these tumultuous months, though. I have seen the best and worst of people in the tech and marketing industries, but have emerged on the other side relatively unscathed, though perhaps with a stronger sense of skepticism. Still, there’s nothing like first-hand experience that will force you to grow up in a hurry – and that is exactly what I had to do, grow up.

Making the move into journalism with Tech in Asia will be a whole new challenge for me, and perhaps that’s exactly what I was looking for. I had previously dived head-first into the deep end of the marketing pool in 2013, specializing (maybe prematurely) in content marketing and subsequently taking up role after role, client after client. It’s been an eye-opener, and I certainly still strongly believe in the power of content marketing.

Writing for the news will be a whole new ballgame, I suspect, and  as of today I have already experienced a week of adjustment.

This is not to say that I will be offloading my current clients and assignments. Writing will always be my passion, and I will most definitely continue engaging in other forms of writing alongside news writing moving forward. And, after a process of elimination, I have successfully curated an amazing group of clients that I absolutely love to write for. It is safe to say that I will not be giving them up in the near future.

More importantly, for those who are desperately looking for the right job that they can call their own, don’t be afraid to jump in and test the waters. Sure, you might feel the water is too cold after a while, but don’t feel pressurized to hold out against your better judgment. Find warmer waters. Find purpose, passion, and autonomy wherever they may be – yes, they are out there somewhere.

As for me, I’m currently treading new waters. Let’s see where time and tide takes me to.

(Featured image credit:

Looking for the best content on Freelancing, Writing and Content Marketing? Let me save you the trouble. I will be curating the top posts on Freelancing, Writing and Content Marketing at the end of each week,  for your reading convenience. For more freelance resources, check out my Resources for Freelancers page.



The Path to Mastery on Medium

The case for having no goals in your life: Why it might lead to more success and happiness on Buffer

A Grad’s Guide to Freelancing on Business2Community



7 Invaluable Writing Tips from Stephen King on Policy Mic


Content Marketing

How to Build a Scorecard to Measure Content Marketing Effectiveness on Content Marketing Institute

Optimize Your Content Plan for Google’s In-depth Article Results on Content Marketing Institute

7 Ways Twitter Can Help Juice Your Content Creation on Hubspot


Looking for the best content on Writing and Content Marketing? Let me save you the trouble. I will be curating the top posts on Writing and Content Marketing at the end of each week,  for your reading convenience. For more freelance resources, check out my Resources for Freelancers page.



The 7 Deadly Sins of Blogging on Smart Boy Designs

Joy Williams’s Daily Writing Routine on Brain Pickings

How to Use Evernote Correctly on Lifehacker (I included this because I think it is a fabulously handy tool for writers/bloggers/freelancers to organize all their stuff)

12 Tips on Writing Content for Your Blog on

Quote-worthy Quotes from Richard Branson about Blogging on Internet Dreams


Content Marketing

How Not to Freak Out about Content Marketing on Marketing Tech Blog

Three Content Marketing Tips from Linkedin on Econsultancy

21 Social Media and Content Marketing Tips Tailored for Small Businesses on Heidi Cohen

Winning Creative Content Marketing on Top Rank Online Marketing

5 Content Marketing Mistakes Even the Pros Make on Quick Sprout