If in doubt, publish an article.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve said that before. Nothing new.
It’s concrete, actionable advice. Everyone understands it. Few do it.
I don’t publish content so I can earn $100 today.
I publish content so I can earn $5 per month for years.
If you don’t like “if in doubt, publish an article” try this on for size. “If in doubt, do something that will earn for years.” That encompasses a lot.
Any SEO activity counts unless you’re doing something stupid to cook your site. Setting up email autoresponders counts big time. Even one-off broadcasts like this email does the job which is fostering a readership. Fostering a readership, if doable in your niche, earns for years.
What did you do today that will put a few bucks in your pocket every month going forward?
Shotgun vs carpet bomb content strategies
Over the years I’ve used terms such as shotgun and carpet bomb when talking about content strategies.
I use both.
What are the differences between shotgunning and carpet bombing? What do they mean?
Shotgunning content is blasting out content on all kinds of topics within a niche. They’re not necessarily tightly related.
For example, if you’re in the dog niche, a shotgun content strategy would look like the following:
- Best food for poodles
- How to train a terrier
- Dry vs. wet dog food for doberman pinchers
- How fast do labs run?
The KEY with shotgunning is choosing any keyword in the niche that’s easy to rank. The aim is to rank and get some traffic, even if it’s not much content.
Carpet bombing content is far more methodical.
It’s carpet bombing all keywords within a specific topic.
- Best food for poodles
- How to train a poodle
- Dry vs. wet dog food for poodles
- How fast do poodles run?
When should you use each strategy?
First, you can use either strategy any time. Both work.
Second, my usual approach is to kick off a site shotgunning content to see what sticks, as in what does Google end up ranking.
Once a particular article or two or three ranks well, I carpet bomb those topics. After all, Google likes the site for those topics so might as well take advantage of that.
If you have a bigger content budget or are capable of publishing lots of content, once you’re getting traffic you can use both strategies simultaneously.
I’m constantly throwing new topics against the wall to see what sticks while drilling deep into topics that are working.
How deep should the carpet bombing strategy go?
I go very, very deep as in go after every possible topic and keyword within that topic. I even go after impossible to rank keywords because usually those are important umbrella article topics within the topic… “Guide” style articles. Often the “Guide” style articles tie everything together. Other terms for these include cornerstone or pillar articles.
Word count will vary as well. Simple question and answer articles may only be 450 words. Guides may come in at 5,000+ words. The rest somewhere in between. I do what is necessary for each article.
Combing over the cluster
As the cluster grows, I’ll read the articles looking for areas to expand. One advantage of hiring writers is they bring unique approaches to content including content I would not have come up with.
If I see a term or phrase or anything that could be expanded on, I’ll add articles to the cluster.
Clusters can grow for years
Don’t expect to finish clusters in a month. I continue to add articles to clusters that have been around for years.
As I continue doing keyword research every month and year, I stumble on more terms, topics and article concepts to add to clusters.
Speaking of keyword research, my latest toy for finding loads of long tails with decent search volume is Keyword Chef. With its wildcard capabilities, I’m finding all kinds of new article topics for existing clusters and scores of easy-to-rank article topics for testing.
Websites, like the Constitution in Canada, are a living tree. In Canada, the living tree doctrine is a doctrine of constitutional interpretation that says that a constitution is organic and must be read in a broad and progressive manner so as to adapt it to the changing times. Source: Wikipedia.
Likewise, websites must evolve to changing times, tech, topics, trends and of course, the Big G’s ever changing algo.
What’s more fun?
Both strategies are fun.
I get a kick out of finding good keywords that are easy to rank. After umpteen hours doing keyword research over the years, I still get a thrill finding keywords that are child’s play to rank.
I also enjoy planning out and building in-depth clusters. It’s a real value-add to the Web. As a user of the Web, I enjoy good articles and thorough websites. I’m not the only one.
What does fun have to do with it?
A lot. If this wasn’t fun, I’d do something else. You should too. Why start a business that’s not mostly fun?
Starting a business is risky, time-consuming and a lot of work. If you don’t like it, surely there’s something better you can do to earn some extra money.
Here’s the irony. If there is something you prefer doing, chances are you can turn that “something” into a niche site.
Heck, if you love watching movies above all else, write about the movies you watch. Ad revenue isn’t great but in case you didn’t know, lots of people watch movies. Not only that, they do so with phone in hand reading about movies while watching movies.
There’s money in being a couch potato.
You don’t even have to get off the couch to write your articles.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.