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It Started with Content… How 3 Blogs Became Big Businesses

It started with content… How 3 Blogs Became Big Businesses

Someone recently said to me that blogging is dead…they said that visual, video and audio content are the way forward and blogging is “old school”.

While I agree that rich media formats are powerful, I disagree that blogging is dead. I believe that blogging should be a fundamental part of your content marketing strategy. Here’s why…

93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.

Think about how you search for information online. You might go to YouTube or even search a keyword in your podcast app…but most people head straight to Google and type in their query. Most likely the results page will be full of blog posts.

Search engines love blog posts when they demonstrate quality information from a reputable source. If search engines trust you, hopefully so will people. They’ll see you as an authority, come back to you for more, and start to build a relationship with you…blogging can be very powerful.

In this ‘It Started with Content’ video and podcast episode, I’m sharing the incredible stories of three business founders and industry leaders who all started their journeys with – you guessed it ­– a blog.

Listen in or read on to discover the blogging turned business success stories of Brian Clark, Founder of Copyblogger, Nathan Barry, Founder of ConvertKit, and Martin Lewis, Founder of MoneySavingExpert.com.

Watch the video…

Or, hit play to listen to the podcast episode…

…or keep scrolling to read more.

Brian Clark, Founder of Copyblogger

Brian Clark is a writer and entrepreneur who founded Copyblogger in 2006 with one goal: to build an audience.

His priority was to grow a following. Then he would consider what to do next.

So, Brian started creating content. Lots of content! He consistently published informative and useful articles, which kept people coming back time and time again. As his audience grew, he paid attention to what they wanted, and more importantly, their pain points.

This gave him a key insight into what people would ultimately put their hand in their pocket and pay for. Brian put this knowledge to the test and started to build products that would help his audience.

When Copyblogger started sharing its products with that captive audience, they went wild! These were products fine-tuned to meet their exact needs. It was a win-win.

Today, Brian’s content has made Copyblogger ‘the most influential content marketing blog in the world’. But it’s also become a huge business. It’s a WordPress software company and an online education/training company that generates millions of revenue.

I find this story so interesting…and it’s not just me! Brian’s story has even been featured in Forbes!

So often, people start a business and then create content, such as a blog, to help sell their products. But then it takes time to build an audience that trust you and are willing to invest in your products or services.

Brian’s clever approach was to flip this on his head. He started by building the audience, kept a keen eye on them, and then created what they wanted.

Most importantly, Brian would never have grown his amazingly successful business if he hadn’t first started a blog.

Nathan Barry, Founder of ConvertKit

In 2011, Nathan Barry was a man with a dream…to quit his job!

Nathan heard that there was money to be made on the internet, so he started up a blog. He saw it as an opportunity to get himself known and to form relationships with people. He wanted to reach out to others online as his peers…and knew blogging was a good way to establish his credibility and enable that to happen.

Alongside his blog, Nathan curated an email list. It only had around 800 subscribers when he saw other bloggers making money from ebooks and thought to himself, ‘I could do that too!’. He took the leap anyway and launched The App Design Handbook in 2012 (only a year after starting his blog).

What I like most about Nathan’s story is his willingness to dive headfirst into new opportunities. Even though it was going to take time and dedication for him to write this book, he saw the potential and made a brave beeline for it…

And it paid off! After just one week, his ebook generated a whopping $20,000 in revenue!

Nathan replicated and multiplied on this success with a second ebook (this time making $25,000 on its first day). But Nathan was learning fast from his experiences, and the ebook launch planted a seed that would take his blog from ebooks to big business.

It’s no secret that your email subscribers are more likely to buy from you than, say, your Twitter followers, but Nathan worked out that those on his email list were 15x more likely to make a purchase! At the same time, Nathan was struggling to find an email marketing product that was really working for him.

He took his experience of growing an email list and decided to build his own software, ConvertKit. Now, his email marketing software is a jaw-dropping 25 million dollar business.

In total, it took Nathan just over two years (and many big leaps of faith) to make the transition from a blogger, aspiring to quit his job, to founding a SaaS company. Now, it wasn’t always straightforward, and the business took time to grow…but less than four years later, ConvertKit was generating a whopping $8m in turnover. Finally, Nathan achieved his dream of quitting his job!

I think Nathan’s story is so inspiring. It just goes to show what investing in content, growing an audience, and believing in yourself can do for your business.

If Nathan’s story didn’t convince you how powerful an email list is…wait until you hear this story…

Martin Lewis, Founder of MoneySavingExpert.com

If you’re not already familiar with Martin Lewis, here’s some quick information.

Martin is a financial journalist who is extremely well known in the UK. He’s a regular on British TV, with guest appearances on many different shows, and even has his own live TV show where he shares up-to-date money saving tips, educates his audience, and answers their questions live.

But how did he become so successful? You guessed it...by creating content!

In 2003, Martin spent just £80 ($110) setting up his websiteMoneySavingExpert.com. Martin was wise to the ways of managing money and wanted to share his expertise with others, so he started writing and publishing articles. He had no drive or desire to start a business...he just wanted to educate people and help them save money.

Obviously, people LOVED his content! He had a huge target audience (anyone who wanted free money advice, aka, everyone!) and provided unbelievably high-value content that people couldn’t get enough of.

The site’s following grew and grew, and so did his email list. Each week, Martin sends out a roundup of all the latest, up-to-date money saving tips and tricks. It shares information on everything from buying a house to redeeming McDonald’s vouchers…it’s completely free to sign up to, and according to his website, currently has over 7.5 million subscribers.

Just imagine what 7.5m email subscribers could do for your business!

Martin’s content established him as one of the most credible personalities in the UK…and not just in the financial sector! Surveys have shown that people trust him even when he’s talking about something that isn’t money related…which just shows the immense value of content. It really does build trust unlike anything else.

In 2012, 9 years after starting his content journey, Martin sold his website for £87m (he’s still very involved and writes the weekly email to all 7.5m subscribers). But his content tale is one of spinning straw into gold. Martin really is a money expert, turning that £80 investment into something much, much bigger… as The Guardian reported in 2019

“The business of saving money has made Lewis extremely wealthy. After he sold the site in 2012 to the price-comparison firm MoneySuperMarket for £87m, the Financial Times called him “the most successful journalist in the world, ever”. A year later, he was the seventh most Googled celebrity in the UK, nestled between Taylor Swift and Beyoncé.”

Now, how’s that for a rags to riches content story!

So, is blogging dead?

I think we can safely say, no – blogging is definitely not dead! In fact, a blog could be what takes you from content zero to content hero!

What we can learn from all of these stories is that it starts with getting started. All three of these content creators turned business owners had to start somewhere and dedicated years of time and energy to get to where they are today. But it was their drive to stay consistent, provide quality content to their audience, and pursue new opportunities which set their blogs apart…and helped them become big businesses.

For more of our It Started With Content videos click here.

If you feel inspired to start creating content, then we have plenty of resources to help! You can check out our blog or subscribe to The Content 10x Podcast to get lots of free tips and advice about creating content.

Once you’ve created your content, you’ll need to get it out there! To find out how repurposing maximizes your blogs’ reach and how to do it successfully, check out my book: Content 10x: More Content, Less Time, Maximum Results. It’s the ultimate guide to realizing your content’s repurposing power and is packed full of tips and advice for repurposing everything including blogs, audio, video content, and much more!


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