When you read the first part of this article, you’re going to think I’ve published this article to stroke my own ego, but trust me, such could not be further from the truth–the stuff (blogging strategies) herein is a MUST read.

The following is an email/testimonial I received from a client that was featured here on The Sales Lion a few months back in an article that was read thousands of times because it introduced to the world of business blogging an incredibly innovative content production method– a Blog-a-thon.

There are two reasons why, if you’re a business trying to become great at content marketing, you’re going to love the following information:

1. The 12 step plan mentioned is simple, powerful, and works….and did I say it’s SIMPLE??

2. The language, feelings, and general mindset of the author, Kirk Drake, is incredibly applicable to just about every small business owner in the world when it comes to blogging and content marketing success…and that’s no exaggeration.

That being said, read all the way through to the end, I promise you’ll be glad you did.

A Powerful Email, An Even More Powerful 12-Step Plan (By Kirk Drake)

About a year ago, I sat in the audience over lunch and listened to Marcus Sheridan talk about how he changed his life from pool guy, inground fiberglass pool guy to be specific, to The Sales Lion.  I was an avid believer that blogging, tweeting and social media were a complete waste of my life, resources and time and had no real idea how in the world someone could turn those efforts into online inbound marketing.  After 1 hour and several enticing pictures of big macs I was 100% hooked and became a believer that Marcus is a genius . First, he is a great speaker – I think I have seen him 6 or 7 times now and I still can sit through it loving every minute.  I can’t even watch a movie twice other than The Usual Suspects.  Following the speech – I went home and attempted to turn a 1 hour speech into an inbound marketing engine for a very, very niche market. 

Ongoing Operations provides secure cloud computing and disaster recovery services for highly regulated businesses – specifically financial institutions.  While there are more than 10,000 financial institutions, most of the world has no idea what kinds of things they search on.   I started my first blog when I got back to my desk using Marcus’s simple formula – Answer your customers questions.   My first question – How do I get to the Cloud?  It was terrible.  Not just bad, but when I looked back a few months later it had lots of spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.  There were sentences that didn’t make sense.  Want to know something crazy – it ranked number 2 behind Apple.  If you are like me – WHAT? How is that even possible?  That post changed my world and my company’s world too.

Here is the end message from Marcus – If you answer your customers questions – online and honestly and then do lots of secret stuff that Marcus is a genius on – it can change your business overnight.  This month we have received over 100 inbound leads from customers…when we started we averaged 2 a month.   The leads we are getting are for all of the right potential customers too…not just a bunch of random people.  The end result when all of the pieces are put in place as an inbound marketing engine that sucks in prospects, qualifies them, educates, and spits out customers that are the perfect fit.   Here is the formula as I don’t think Marcus does a great job of explaining how to put it all together.

 12 Simple Steps to Business Blogging Success

1.     Start Blogging (don’t be proud just try anything)
2.      Follow Marcus’s suggestions on keeping it simple (don’t try to be SMRT – this is a Simpsons reference [shown in the 17 second hilarious video below]), adding images, using HubSpot, and tracking key words, tagging etc.

3.      Have a blog-a-thon and get as many blogs written as quickly as possible

4.     Sort through and figure out what is working – rewrite and clean-up the bad blogs while continuing to try new ones

5.      Once you have enough content – create some ebooks, get some cool ebook covers made, and tie your content together in themes

6.      Start creating CTA (calls to action) throughout your website that push the ebooks, blog subscriptions, and other stuff throughout your website

7.     Go back and review where you started and continue to edit, link, and refine your prior approaches – learn from your mistakes

8.     We aimed for getting 10 ebooks on the website with 10 CTAs throughout

9.        Remember to stop trying to be smart and just answer their questions

10.       Build a campaign to groom the leads – once you get it right – build three more – tweek the first one – then build one for all 10 ebooks

11.      Make your sales team give you customer questions and never give them an e-mail to forward to a client – just a link to a post you did

12.       Start all over and continually enhance and refine what you did


A Willingness to be Imperfect Yet Improving

In my experience, the whole thing needs to operate on a continuous learning and improvement cycle.  You have to start some place and it may as well be at bad…you can always get better.  The good news is – if you are like us – nobody was reading your stuff when it was bad.  Now they are and it is better. Tomorrow you will have more readers and it will need to get to match your audience.  If you never start, you will never get there.

Today, our niche website generates about 3 leads a day and our web traffic has almost tripled in a year.  Our most popular terms are for things like “FFIEC Guidance on IT Exams”…who would think to search or write content on that?  Well, financial institution CTOs (our primary customers) search on that regularly.  Today we own #1, 2, or 3 (in Google) on over 150 keywords – most specific to our niche market.  The brand recognition and buzz we create in the industry is huge because we are the ONLY ones writing content for our niche market.

(end of email)

The Perfect Attitude of a CEO Looking for Online Marketing Greatness

As you can see, Kirk Drake is, in many ways, an outlier. He’s willing to be imperfect. He also understands how to get stuff done, not letting stupid obstacles present themselves. It’s this same attitude of “cutting to the chase” that made me want to publish his words here, as they’re frank, concise, and a much needed breath of fresh air in an industry that intimidates the heck out of many, many business owners as they consider climbing this “mountain” known as inbound/content marketing.

Your Turn

I’d love to hear your thoughts on some of the things Drake mentioned herein. How many of these 12 steps have you done/experienced? What have been the results? And if you haven’t attempted them, what’s holding you back?

Fire away friends, this subject is too important not to discuss.


38 thoughts on “The Easiest 12-Step Business Blogging Guide You’ll Ever Read

  1. hi Marcus

    “…stop trying to be smart and just answer their questions” – I love it, and believe it to be so true!

    It’s interesting you’ve reminded us about the blog-a-thon concept… as it’s something that came right on time, this idea alone will help take my project next level…

    You see, over the past years I was able to build a small blog network (it takes guts, perseverance and a “never quit” attitude, of course…) of 300+ aged domains/niche blogs, and I learned that turning yourself (and your team) into a genuine “content machine” is the only/most viable way to help the reader/customer/fan for real…

    If any of you guys are keen to hear more about my approach to niche site building and SEO/affiliate marketing, the you could grab a free PDF report I share with subscribers…

    • Appreciate it John, and great job on your growth online man, nice!!!


    • “stop trying to be smart and just answer their questions” I also think is the most important blogging tip out of 12 described above.

  2. The ‘answer the questions’ is really the cornerstone to pumping out great content for a business – the best part is that any employee at the business can begin creating these responses because they’re the ones that are constantly being asked the same questions over and over again.

    Not only can you push out content to answer the questions which drives leads but you can then form them into a customer knowledge base, too, so your customer support reps aren’t hung up on answering these common questions – they can point ‘em over to the knowledge base. Couple that with the CTAs and ebooks mentioned and you’re game.

    • That’s exactly it Murray…this clearly isn’t rocket science, it’s just common sense applied the right way.

      Good seeing you bud, hope you’re well!!!


      • Funny thing about common sense…

        Common sense is the least common thing in common people!

  3. Thanks for sharing all these great ideas. You are a man of brilliant thoughts. I find it funny but realistic when you said, “stop trying to be smart and just answer their questions.” It’s like saying, “stop going around the bush.” You got a point here. Confused people throw you a lot of questions to know the answers. They don’t do it just to get another confusion. Keep it up!

  4. Hi Marcus,

    First, kudos to Kirk for taking action on your lessons- many people think about blogging, but very few actually are blogging (and as that happens, the competition becomes a lot smaller)!

    What’s fascinating about the 12 steps outlined above is that many [old school] business owners and marketers become fearful the moment they see the word ‘blogging.’ But what would happen if we replaced the word ‘blogging’ with the word ‘teaching’ in the 12 steps? Teaching can take place in a variety of formats (written, video, audio) which can mitigate their preconceived notions of what blogging (content) actually is and the immense opportunities it can have on their company’s success.

    I’ve had a lot of success with Keeping it Simple, Adding CTAs, and Answering Questions without Trying to sound Smart. In fact, I even began applying these concepts to my communications with clients (emails, phone calls, and meetings) and their feedback has been absolutely incredible! Yes, my responses could outlast a sermon, but they give clients every piece of information needed, and then some. The best way to master something is to look for additional ways to apply it in other facets of our lives- just think of it as another opportunity to practice, refine, and master that behavior.

    Another inspiring post, brother. Your inbox must be a constant source of “delight ion” with these types of emails :)

    Keep changing lives.


    • You’re too kind Jeremy. Seriously man, thank you….I just wish you could have sat down longer at Inbound. Let’s be sure to fix that next time!


  5. Joy

    “You have to start some place and it may as well be at bad…you can always get better.”

    …I love it. Great advice for all areas of life really.

  6. “don’t be proud just try anything”

    This is probably the best advice. People delay and stall because they’re worried it won’t be perfect. JUST START.

  7. I am looking for advice to be succeed in blogging.This is the great article that gives solution of my answers.Thanks

  8. Jeevan Jacob John

    Well, I have taken most of the steps in the most (Except for blog-a-thon; Iwould love to try that when I start a new blog).

    Above all, this post has reminded me the power of niche sites. I just got back to blogging after a long break, and I am still working on my online business plan . Niche sites is something that I haven’t really tried. I had used the excuse of “not knowing” about any niche as an excuse to stay away from niche sites. Like Kirk mentioned, you gotta start somewhere, right? And I am going to start.

    Thank you Kirk, and of course, thank you Marcus!

    Just answer the questions – I love that :D Envision the problems and answer them.

    Anyways, thank you for sharing the email, Marcus :)

    • Thrilled it helped Jeevan, continued success!


  9. I have tried a few of the steps that Drake mentioned.

    I love the keep it simple mantra.

    It’s crazy how much we tend to make things complex it’s crazy.

    One of the steps, I’d like to try is the blog a thon. I think that would be rather interesting just to see how it played out.

    • Iain, I’d love for you to give it a try and then hear how it goes for you.Good luck!!!!


      • Thanks for the words of encouragement.

        I’ll keep you posted

  10. I think that really every business should have a blog to be used to reach more people/clients/prospects and provide information and answer questions. Clearly it is wise to be ethic and honest in business because the net makes very easy, luckily, to spread the word both in the positive and negative side.

    Actually a business should be ethic and honest because it’s the right way to do it but in this world we can’t pretend it right?

    It is not my case as the goal of my blog is to express my writing and spread knowledge plus being of help inspiring people to live a better life rather than pushing a business but the points above are very useful, especially imho keeping things simple. Thanks to Google it’s pretty hard but it’s very rewarding anyway. :)

    • Rewarding it certainly is Andrea, even if the results are always so apparent. :-)

      Good seeing you bud,


  11. Thrilled to hear it Peter,good luck!


  12. Blogging is an most important element when we talk about online business through seo. By using this platform we can promote an business by sharing secrets and offers of business.

  13. For me the last one seems to be it, whatever you do, keep refining so you get better and be persistent. Thanks for these 12 tips.

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