How to Write 100 Blog Articles in Under 5 Hours: An Amazing Content Marketing Story

by Marcus Sheridan

typing fast

Is 100 blog articles in less than 5 hours possible? Of course it is…

When it comes to content marketing and blogging, I have found there are basically two types of business owners and leaders:

1. The person that has every excuse as to why there isn’t enough time(and employees, resources, etc.) to produce enough needed content.

2. The person that makes no excuses and simply does what it takes.

In other words, slackers and doers. (Just keeping it real y’all)

At this point in my career as a consultant, I’m happy to say I no longer work for person #1. In fact, it has become my entire goal to find the outliers in each industry that are willing to be digital renegades and quit looking for excuses as to why they “can’t” do certain things and instead embrace the possibilities of what “can” be done if they simply make it a priority.

Kirk Drake of Ongoing Operations is one such renegade. Kirk heard me speak about content marketing at the end of last year and since that day he has tackled this new marketing approach unlike any business owner I’ve ever seen. Although I could literally go on all day about some of the steps he has taken to ensure the success of content marketing within his organization, today I’m simply going to focus on one act he did which indicated just how forward-thinking he is with regards to content.

I’ve talked at length before about why companies should require employees to participate in the company blog and content marketing efforts, but Kirk Drake took this suggestion to a whole new level I’ve not yet seen done by any company ever within the content marketing realm. In 3 simple steps, here’s what he did:

1. Along with his core staff of less than a dozen employees, Drake took the time to brainstorm all the questions they get from clients every single day, and then turned these questions into titles for his blog posts.

2. He then assigned the articles to his fellow employees and told them (again, less than 12 employees total) the company would spend 90 minutes a day, during working hours, over the course of 3 straight days, to write the answers to these questions.

3. Over a 3-day period, the staff spent a total of 4.5 hours answering these questions in their words, with the end result being over 100 blog posts.

Pretty cool, huh?

Yep, that’s called putting your money where your mouth is.

Like I said earlier, some folks make excuses as to why there isn’t enough time to produce content and others simply do what it takes to make it happen.

By leveraging his employees and simply answering client questions, Ongoing Operations is getting huge results.

By leveraging his employees and simply answering client questions, Ongoing Operations is getting huge results.

Real Results, Real ROI

Because of his labors, in less than 6 month’s time, Kirk Drake is changing his business and industry as we know it. He has gone from getting a 1-2 leads a month from his website to getting, on average, 1 a day. Furthermore, he has posted over 200 blog articles during this time frame and just produced his first eBook as well.

Even better, he realizes he’s just starting to tap into the potential of his industry.

Oh, and did I tell you that his company specializes in backup cloud-computing services for the credit union industry?

Yep, that’s what he does, and although it may not sound like a “sexy” industry for content, Drake realizes sexiness is in the eye of the beholder, and frankly there is nothing more sexy than answering consumer questions better than they’ve ever been answered before.

At a recent conference where I was brought  in to speak to a few hundred credit unions, I interviewed Kirk on stage at the end of my talk and asked him a simple question:

“Based on the leads you’re now getting from your website compared to before, what type of financial impact will this have on your business’ bottom line?”

His answer was telling:

“Somewhere between $500,000 to $1,000,000 in the first year.”

If that ain’t ROI my friends, I don’t know what is.

Our Challenge

Hopefully you can see why I wanted so badly to share with you this story. The fact is, anything is possible when it comes to marketing if we learn how to leverage the talent around us. Whether you are an army of 1 or have a staff of 1,000—seek to be unique. Imagine the possibilities. And for the love of Pete, clear your own path and make your own rules—just as Kirk Drake has done and just as you could do within your industry.

Your Turn

I’d love to hear about some of the most creative ways you’ve seen companies leverage their existing staff and talent to produce more/better content. If you’re aware of such a story, tell us about it. What were the results? And what is preventing you from being a digital outlier within your niche?

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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen Booth April 30, 2013 at

Great story Marcus! I am definitely going to experiment with this here at Quintain. We’ve already done the brainstorming and have come up with well over 50 questions, but we haven’t done the second part – setting aside concentrated periods during the day when staff can write. Can’t wait to see the results we get! Thanks for posting…

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2013 at

Kathleen, awesome, love hearing that.

Yeah, it takes a committment, but boy does it produce results quickly. And that’s what I love about it.

Thanks so much for stopping by,

Marcus

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Iain May 7, 2013 at

I think it’s a great idea Kathleen.

If you do what kirk did, your business will grow just as his did.

Marcus, thanks for sharing this awesome inspiring story. If only more businesses realized the power of content marketing, but I suppose that leaves up to those willing to do it.

And those businesses that do it will reap the benefits.

Thanks again

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Mike Kawula April 30, 2013 at

That Marcus is an AMAZING return!

Quick glance over at their blog also and really “Brief” but good Content!

Saw this the other day to your point of the 2 types of business owners! Winners: http://www.blog.shreeflora.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Winners-vs-Losers.jpg

Have an awesome week!

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2013 at

Nice observation Mike. I like the fact that Ongoing Operations isn’t looking to create an “epic post” with every new article. They succinctly answer questions, and do a very nice job at it, which I love.

And thanks for the great link bud.

Continued succes and passion my friend,
Marcus

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tom martin April 30, 2013 at

Great blog title Marcus BUT isn’t your math just a tad flawed here?

You say he has less than 12 employees — so let’s call it 10 and you said the entire company would spend 90 min a day for 3 days blogging.

So instead of 4.5 hours (3 days x 90 min/day) shouldn’t it be 10 employees x 90 min/day x 3 days for a grand total of 45 hours vs 4.5 hours to create those 100 blog posts?

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2013 at

I do see what you’re saying Tom, and don’t necessarily disagree with the math at all, but I’d also submit this question:

If you have a 1-hour meeting with your 10 employees today, do you call it a 1 hour or a 10 hour meeting?

But as you rightly picked up on, the point is that in a very quick period of time, if we leverage the talent underneath our noses, we can do amazing things with content…but it starts with a comittment.

Thanks for your thoughts bud, appreciate you, as always.

Marcus

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tom martin April 30, 2013 at

Marcus,

I’d call it a 10 hour meeting — but then I grew up in the advertising world — billable hours — so my brain was trained to think that way because that is how a client would be billed for that meeting.

Regardless… the point is excellent and the output (100 posts) is still an incredible accomplishment. Was there some magic to how they did it? Formula, post length, etc. because THAT would be a very valuable bit of learning.

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Matt Antonino May 2, 2013 at

I tend to agree with Tom here simply because I’m the only writer on my blog. It wouldn’t take me 4.5 hours to write 100 posts, it would take me 45 hours to write the same posts. Now, we’re not talking about a quick & dirty hack anymore – now we’re talking about 8 hrs a day for a bit over a week to write these.

STILL worth it – but we have to think about workload in person-hours because that’s what it is. My solopreneur clients are going to see “4.5 hours” and have a freaking conniption if I tell them they should just write 100 posts in 4.5 hours. :)

Regardless of the math, I love how this is done and definitely need to get back to doing some major writing of my own. Thanks for the boost! :)

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Marcus Sheridan May 6, 2013 at

All legit points Matt. Obviously, as you pointed out at the end,this post really isn’t so much about “math” as it is the possibilities of using our in-house talent. Some companies have more than others, but the key is leveraging all of it.

Thanks again,

Marcus

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Teena Hughes April 30, 2013 at

I’ve only been following you for a week Marcus, and have almost finished the PDF “Inbound Content Made Easy”. Together with this story (and others I’ve read on your site) you have become my Knight in Shining Armour :-) I’ve been preaching about “questions as content” for the past few years, and only now do I feel people are starting to listen. To come across your blog was like a breath of fresh air – and reading success stories like Kirk’s are fabulous and inspiring. Even a one-woman business can do this – it just takes a bit longer than Kirk’s 5 hours :-) Like Kathleen, I’ve done the brainstorming and am creating my own content one story (or question) at a time. Finally – an email which arrives in my inbox which fills me with anticipation … and then inspiration! You rock, Monsieur Lion!

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2013 at

Hahahaha, why thank you Teena, I’ve not yet been called “Monsieur Lion” in over 20,000 comments on this blog and I certainly like the ring to that!!

Furthermore, thrilled you find the content helpful. Keep doing great things!!

Marcus

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Teena Hughes April 30, 2013 at

Oooooh I like being ‘special’ Marcus! The first in 20,000 – woohoo! “Monsieur Lion” suits your avatar, and if you pronounce “lion” in a French accent, like “lee-ohn”, it’s even better. After reading one of your recent articles, I wrote my latest podcast article on my site – written as a ‘story’ about one of my clients. I got a ton of email feedback where readers & listeners said they could really relate to hearing a ‘story’ so your teachings are correct :-) Splendid! I’m new to podcasting (episode 8!) but here it is http://bizmarketinginabox.com/how-simple-videos-can-bring-you-clients/

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Bipper Media April 30, 2013 at

Great post Marcus – great strategy… and wow – what an amazing concept for how to come up with content for a business blog — simply start compiling FAQ’s from employees.

BRILLIANT – as always!

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2013 at

Bobby, really appreciate your enthusiasm for the topic here and kind words.

Although this process is so very simple, the results are often profound, just as they were with Kirk Drake.

Thanks again for stopping by,

Marcus

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Ritch Brandon April 30, 2013 at

Emailing a link to a client and tweeting this out RIGHT NOW! Thanks for post.

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2013 at

Ritch, thrilled with your enthusiasm sir, thanks!

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Andrea T.H.W. April 30, 2013 at

Really an inspirational article. The world completely changes when we begin to do something instead of just dreaming it and the wiser men, and women, are always those who receive a sound advice and follow it. There is no worse hearing impaired person than the one who doesn’t want to listen.

True all the times.

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2013 at

Well said Andrea, as always my friend. :)

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Bob London April 30, 2013 at

Marcus, you neglected to mention in your video that third type of guy at the dance: The Wallflower (ahem, not me of course). This would equate to the business owner who hears about content marketing and sits on the sidelines due to fear, anxiety, indecision, etc. I have no doubt that as you continue on your path, you will convince many Wallflowers to join the dance floor! Keep up the great work.

Bob

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Nathalie Lussier April 30, 2013 at

I’m digging this story Marcus! I love how getting everyone on board got them closer to their goals, and produced such significant results. It’s amazing what happens when you’ve got a clear goal and outcome in mind, and you do what it takes to make it happen.

I think it’s also telling that they started with questions from their customers/clients and worked backwards from there. It’s not just “here’s news from our company” which isn’t nearly as helpful. :)

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Terry Reese May 1, 2013 at

What a really neat concept. Getting all the heads together and actually assinging time to get things done. Those posts will get out and help a great deal of others. Almost like a train the trainer kind of thing.

I think I definitely got some work to do. Why don’t I ever come up with ideas like this… oh well, I can always pretend I did. lol.

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Kevin Gallagher May 1, 2013 at

It is so great that you are making a stand and only work with number 2.

So many marketing companies just want to take the client on and then work out if they can do what they say they would and can have a working relationship with the client.

In my experience when I work with #1 they they always blame you for not doing a good job.

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Rob Metras May 1, 2013 at

Great post Marcus. The first advice I ever give to clients is to answer the top 20 questions you get in an article. This idea and the actions of Kirk show simply that you don’t have to be a content marketing or social media expert to get results. Thanks for highlighting this doer, and his incredible results from simple,directed action and follow-thru. You will often discover hidden talents for storytelling in your staff that you never knew about by following this example. Roar on.

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Greg Dorban May 1, 2013 at

Wonderful article. Totally agree that to deliver value and give a holistic company view in the social world that all departments need to be involved. No longer is blogging and social owned by Marketing and PR, it is owned by people.

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Johnny Bravo May 2, 2013 at

That is pretty awesome. It’s amazing the results he expects. Imagine if had twice as many employees, 3x, 4x? That is an unlimited number of ideas and content that can be produced. As always a great post Marcus that gets be thinking about my own content marketing.

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Teena Hughes May 2, 2013 at

Hey Marcus and all the authors of the wonderful responses here!

I’ve just been thinking … and thought I might share this with you.

Recently I’ve been using speech-to-text recording, and simply telling an anecdote or a story or updating a client, and then my recording is converted to text which can be emailed …. OR … added to a blog or website.

Just thinking out loud now — if I make 5-10 bullet points about each Question (from the list of Q’s I came up with), and then simply TALK it through (rather than typing, formatting etc etc), I could then use the transcription as my “typed story/article etc”, and I could potentially get a TON of these done in a shorter period of time!

So here’s my challenge – I’m going to try this technique for ONE hour and see how it works for me. If anyone else would like to give it a shot, I’ll be very interested to see how you get on.

If you don’t have speech-to-text Apps on your smart phones (Dragon Design App is the one I use on my iPhone), plus you can install it on your computer. There are other speech-to-text software packages around, so you mighty also like to check them out.

If you prefer to send your text to be transcribed, another excellent App I use is Say-It Mail Lite. In fact, I use this one for all my Podcasts – excellent quality!

I will definitely need to edit a wee bit if the software didn’t catch my accent (I’m an Aussie, after all :-) — but editing will be much faster than typing! And perfect for us solopreneurs. You can also outsource the transcription if that’s something that’s easier for you to do.

I’m sooo glad I thought of this – I’m going to do this over the weekend and see how many client ‘stories’, triumphs, tribulations and solutions I can “talk” about (record) – what fun!

The beauty of doing it this ways is many-fold:
– you can add the audio file to the web page or blog post
– you can distribute the audio file to get more exposure online
– call it a Podcast and put on iTunes and other podcast sites
– you can create a quick slideshow – 3-4 slides – and add the audio file, then save as a video
– add the video to your site, plus distribute online (Youtube etc)
– each of these things will give you unexpected and delightfully delicious back-links if you so desire, but make sure they point to the article not your Home page.

Sorry for blathering on so much, I got excited at the prospect :-) Marcus you have sooooo inspired me every day this week! Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Lion!

BTW Marcus, have you ever tried this speecth-to-text or audio file idea? Might work well for corporate types (remember the old dictaphone???). Cheers!

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Henry Johnson May 6, 2013 at

I believe Marcus did do this at one point. I think he had surgery for something and was unable to write. That being said I would like to know what everyone thinks of this idea because I do think it would be a time saver.

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Marcus Sheridan May 6, 2013 at

Holy cow Teena, now that’s a burst of information!! :-)

Would love to know how your experiment goes…and thanks for sharing so many fantastic ideas!!

Marcus

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Teena Hughes May 14, 2013 at

Hey Marcus, I didn’t get time to do my content-as-audio questions yet (life got in the way over the weekend :-) but I did meet with a new client today who had been intrigued by my concept of “exact questions” to use as blog titles.

While we were talking at the start of today’s brainstorming session, he had to take a phone call, and I could quickly hear it was an enquiry so I started writing down the major points I heard him explain. When he got off the phone, I showed him my list of 9 questions he had just answered on one phonecall – and that would be our starting point to write new posts for his site.

He was amazed! Together we wrote and published the first 3 Q&A’s in a half an hour (I also created interesting images to go with them using the question as the jpg name and Alt tag) and he was thrilled to bits at how easy it was! I’ll be helping him out again tomorrow to put a strategy in place with a checklist to follow, and I know he’s excited about the prospect of building his site in such a great way. We also brainstormed another idea I had for his site, and we came up with 40 blog post titles for that in just a few minutes.

This is truly a remarkable way to help people find you online, build your site so it’s full of rich content people are searching for, and to show potential customers you know your stuff. Thanks again Marcus – you’re the golden-haired boy again this week :-)

Teena!

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Ryan Kettler May 3, 2013 at

Wow, what an amazing idea. Too often I hear from person #1 in my line of work, and that can be downright depressing.

Thanks for sharing, Marcus.

Kirk is my new hero!

Just curious, how many staffers did he employ to write these posts? How do small businesses and startups with less than 5 employees take advantage of this strategy even though they might not have professional “copywriters”?

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Marcus Sheridan May 6, 2013 at

Kirk has no copywriters on staff Ryan. Truth be told, he is willing to have “average” content in terms of writing prowess…notwithstanding, they get it done.

If I see a company that has five employees, and each one of those employees deals with customers every day, in my mind there is no reason they can’t be producing content. Maybe one of the five is the “editor,” but no copywriter is needed in most occassions.

Thanks again for stopping by,

Marcus

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Davina K. Brewer May 4, 2013 at

Whenever anyone starts talking about the ‘who’ and ‘how’ to keep content going, I’m like: See Also, Marcus. :-) Excellent example here – and how simple; take your team, divide them to answer the common questions and boom: lots and lots of blog fodder. You put the team forward, make the brand and company more social and connect to your stakeholders.

That said, I gotta side w/ Tom and Matt on the math. As I’m the only one who’s writing, I’m also the only one looking at analytics, keywords, SEO, linking, tracking, editing, image searching, coding, etc. So I know there is considerable time spent on the backend, which someone has to be doing so if the blog is going to generate all that organic, inbound sales juju they’re going for. Now for the big one — writing well enough to be read. I type that as someone who edits a lot of comments and feedback I get for blogs, for media answers and OMG are they bad. They may be in someone’s own words, but they’re not on message, on brand and don’t ‘translate’ well. I don’t mean always ‘epic’ or brilliant, but the content has to have a certain quality to build audience and.. quality takes time. FWIW.

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Marcus Sheridan May 6, 2013 at

Hey Davina, great to see you, and yes, time is time, and relevant to the people assisting. Thing is, most companies with multiple employees don’t make content production a priority like this, leave it to the “marketing silo” and nothing great really happens. I always lean towards “shipping” vs “perfection” in this digital world. Ongoing Operations and Kirk don’t have the greatest content in the world, but they aren’t afraid to put it out there, think like a consumer, and produce it at a high rate. I dig that. :-)

Smiles,

Marcus

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diwaker srivastava May 4, 2013 at

hi Marcus Sheridan,

very nice and good article , you have given me a new strength now i can also tell you that i can try to make this possible for me. I can also understand that self motivation is also necessary in this field and i don’t want to become your #1 type person. So i am going to make this possible . Thanks again

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Sid May 5, 2013 at

100 articles? OMG, that’s an unbelievable idea. I have seen some bloggers like Ste (dukeo) who posts often a day. However, this is awesome tip and without any doubt, it’s a great idea to boost blog traffic.

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Allison May 7, 2013 at

Loved this idea so much, we have scheduled a Breakfast and Blogs meeting on Thursday to launch this idea and 90 minutes next week set aside for the entire company to write. I think the key is to show the full company support behind this – as in – “we aren’t adding to your daily job duties, but setting aside time for you to get this done.” I’ll be curious to see how our “non writers” feel about this idea, but hope to alleviate any stress by giving them topics they feel comfortable with.

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Caelan Huntress May 7, 2013 at

This idea kicks ass for two reasons:

1. It focuses the content on what customers are asking, rather than what companies are selling;

2. It gets the whole company involved in content creation (and some frontline people may have a better hold of what customers are asking).

I’m scheduling a brainstorming session this week. Thanks for the inspiration, Marcus!

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Olatunji Femi May 8, 2013 at

Hey Marcus Sheridan,
This post is very inspirational, motivating and above all it also reveals the creativity kirk has adopted and embraced to impact his business positively. i wonder what would have happened if he had not taking such giant and courageous attempt to building his business. Although profit will still come in but not as huge as what he quoted.

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Frank May 9, 2013 at

I found this post to be extremely helpful as I was searching what all the information was about regarding How to Write 100 Blog Articles in Under 5 Hours: An Amazing Content Marketing Story.

Thanks for sharing

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Perk Idea May 10, 2013 at

Amazing! 100 blog article in 5 hours. A very intelligent way of using resources and talent. I was referred by Zemanta to your post. As I myself wanted to learn more about content marketing. Real real wake up call now to think outside the box and believing that there is sure possibility to do something impossible. :)

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Breavely Diamond May 12, 2013 at

VERY VICE AND HELPFUL POST I READ IT BEFORE AND NOW.I HAVE BOOKMARKED IT FOR FUTURE.THANKS FOR SHARING.
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Online Articles May 13, 2013 at

Your tips are very excellent. I would like to found this site and ask one thing whether it is possible to write an amazing content marketing story.

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Mark Gadala-Maria May 14, 2013 at

Incredible, just goes to show what creativity and inginuity can do with content marketing. The kind of traffic quality blog posts can bring is incredible.

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Will Preston May 14, 2013 at

Really impressive ! I need to produce more content but it is very difficult to have good content in under 5 hours :)

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Richard May 14, 2013 at

Wow !! I can’t believe it to writing 100 articles in just 5 hours. I hope you can continue your process to give us more attractive news.

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Adi May 22, 2013 at

Hi,

I learned a lot from this post.It takes me almost half an hour to read the whole post. Definitely this one is the informative and useful post to me. Thanks for the share.

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Mike May 22, 2013 at

Turning client questions into blog posts…another, “Why didn’t I think of that?” moment! This is an excellent article, Marcus! Thanks for giving me some new ideas for my blogs!

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Manny June 2, 2013 at

100 articles in 5 hours really caught my attention but when I came to know that it was a work of around 12 employees, my mind digested it.
Anyways, I liked the trick of converting customer queries in to blog posts.. clever enough.. :)

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Anu preethi July 3, 2013 at

My writing is not very fast, i can only manage two or three article per hour. so thanks a lot for posting this idea about it.

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Mukesh Mamtora July 14, 2013 at

Thanks Marcus You have shown a great , in 5 i was able to make only 1 hour and lets how your strategy works for me.

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Don Stanley August 29, 2013 at

Inspired to act as always bro … TY!

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Robin Yearsley - Founder: Contentimo.com November 16, 2013 at

Marcus – we’ve re-engineered the traditional blog post creation process – and shifted the whole emphasis away from “getting started” and “creating first drafts” TOWARDS just adding some finishing touches to content that’s been written by experience writers in the crowd. All done within 2-3 hours. Our new tool Contentimo.com automates it all for you – from curation, to getting the content into your Blog (in draft) ready for final edits. Check out the 2 minute demo video. We love it!

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Marcus Sheridan November 19, 2013 at

I actually looked at the video Robin, and think your tool is quite solid. Will you be at any marketing conferences in 2014?

Much thanks,

Marcus

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mick bebbinton November 27, 2013 at

I have always just outsourced content writing , even though my mentors say you should always try and write at least one great article to get the feel for it, in saying that I do write my own content for my site as that comes quite easy, as you can write about the things that you know, but when it comes to affiliate stuff I hust suck.

I am downloading your book now, looks like I could learn something from here thanks for the share

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