***Note: This is one of those articles that may sound a little ‘me, me, me…I ,I, I’, but please understand that my only goal here is to help others learn from my successes and failures***
I’ve talked so much about how blogging and content marketing can change one’s business over the past year, but today I want to discuss a more personal, and quite possibly more rewarding, aspect to blogging.
As some of you are already well aware, about two years ago I wrote a small book on ‘Selling’ that I had extremely high hopes for. But after many weeks of utter rejection from agents and publishers alike, I realized one day that as long as I had no personal brand, and as long as no one (at least outside the swimming pool industry) knew who Marcus Sheridan was, it was foolish to expect a publisher to take a risk on some 32 year old kid without a lick of value to bring to the table.
It was in this moment of self-realization that I decided to change my future. I would build my brand through a blog, and ultimately it would put me in a position to become a well-known author and speaker—something that I’ve always felt I was meant to do so as to help as many people as possible reach their potential.
I can vividly remember a conversation I had with my wife during this time period (Oct 2009). It went something like this:
Me: I need to tell you something and it’s important.
Nikki: OK, what is it?
Me: As you already know, I’ve had no luck with my sales book, and this is basically due to the fact that no one knows who the heck I am. So, in order to change this, I’ve decided to start a platform for my own voice—a place where I can write and others can hear my thoughts, and thus attract attention.
Nikki: Sounds good. And what do you expect to be the result?
Me: In the coming months, incredible things are going to start to happen. I’m going to attract success into my life through the content I write, and eventually a publisher or publishers will approach me for a book deal. No more will I go to them. It’s time to turn the tide.
This being said, in November of 2009 I started typing away, and The Sales Lion was born.
Looking back, and despite writing 3 articles a week during those first 6 months or so, very little happened. In hindsight, I now realize that I was doing a solid job with my writing, but my networking stunk. In fact, it was terrible. Because sales and marketing is such a saturated and competitive niche, my blog was essentially a billboard in the desert….and no one could see it.
Was I frustrated? Yeah, sure I was. Content alone had caused my swimming pool blog to go nuts (that means grow big in Marcus language) and I figured the same would happen with The Sales Lion. But alas, after spending hundreds of hours producing content, I had about 40 subscribers to show for it. Ouch….
Luckily I had somewhat of a personal ‘Great Awakening’ in the second half of 2010 when I realized two critical aspects to blogging success that had up to that point escaped me:
1. I needed to embrace the idea of community through comments, tweets, shares, etc.
2. I needed to focus more on giving value and promoting others than I did on myself.
I know, sounds rather silly, doesn’t it? Like, duh Marcus! But from this realization everything started to change.
The First Big Break:
As you all know I’m a huge fan of Hubspot and inbound marketing in general. This being said, because I had experienced so much success as a customer for Hubspot I decided to write a review of their product here on TSL. After contemplating the write-up for almost a month, I sat down one day and finally put my thoughts to pen. After hours of arduous focus on creating what I felt was the ‘perfect’ article, “The Most Important Customer Review of Hubspot You’ll Ever Read” was born.
To make a long story short, the first day the article was published it was read 1500 times. The people at HS loved it and so did their customers. Before long, Google started loving it too. In fact, today it ranks on the first page of Google for a mountain of ‘Hubspot’ related keywords, and has brought thousands upon thousands of people to TSL.
Having gotten Hubspot’s attention with the article, they flew me out to Boston a few weeks later where I made my first of two appearances on Hubspot TV (watch hilarious video here). A few months later, I spoke at a conference for HS customers. Finally, I was able to get in front of an audience and discuss marketing. As you might imagine, this was quite thrilling and forming relationships with an incredible company manned by an army of inbound marketers has since done wonders for my blog and my brand.
Along with the HS relationship, after I started investing time in other bloggers and their work, the Law of Reciprocity soon took over and comments on my blog shot through the roof. Finally, my writings were getting in front of people, and my relationships with some awesome folks (like JK, Ingrid, Tristan, Troy, Mark, John, and others) grew and grew.
As I continued to discuss the wonders of content marketing and its affect on my pool business, all of the sudden and out of the blue authors started ringing my phone for interviews. Ann Handley was one of the first and our simple 20 minute conversation on the phone ended up being the basis to the first chapter of her best seller, ‘Content Rules’. Since that time, I’ve been interviewed by many other authors and bloggers as well (books yet to be released) and each experience has been truly rewarding.
This past January I woke up one morning to see Seth Godin had commented on my blog. After letting out a huge yelp I think I read the comment 3 times just to make sure it was really him. Even Chris Brogan has kindly mentioned a few of my articles in tweets over the last few months. Again, knowing that such incredible men are reading my thoughts is exhilarating, to say it in the least.
The Next Big Step:
Yesterday I was invited to speak a Content Marketing World in September. This is an event put on by Junta 42 and as you might imagine, it’s chock-full of some of the brightest content marketers in the world. Knowing that I’ll be sharing a stage with so many incredible people is absolutely thrilling, and I have a feeling the experience will be yet another quantum leap along this path to success and fulfillment.
Although all of these transpired events have been amazing, I’ve honestly not been shocked or surprised with any of them. In fact, I’ve always expected these things to happen. As I told my wife those many months ago, great things would inevitably happen if I but put in the time.
The great Jim Rohn once said ‘Success is something you attract by becoming an attractive person’.
These past 16 months of blogging have verified this statement to me again and again and again. As I look forward, I can see the day when I get that phone call from a book publisher. When will it happen? Honestly, I have no idea, but I can tell you it will. If I but continue to walk this path, success will have no choice but to accompany me along the journey.
So that’s my story (at least part 1 ), now I would love to hear yours. What are you doing to will success into your life? What does your future look like when you close your eyes and envision ahead? Please open up and share your thoughts, as they are what make this blog a true ‘community’.