How would you like to learn how Gary built a $40 million e-commerce empire through content marketing? Of course you would.
Well in this video, sadly, we're not gonna share with you everything Gary's done but what we are gonna share with you is one important thing and that's how to find topics to write about.
So first of all, Gary thank you so much for being here.
Yeah, thanks for having me.
Really appreciate it.
So Gary, a few years ago you built yourself an e-commerce, an e-commerce business that didn't take you that long.
It took you a few years.
But you got it up to a $40 million valuation, is that correct? That's correct.
And, you did that primarily through just creating solid content and building this network of content that just drive traffic continuously, correct? Yeah, I probably did the opposite of what most of the listeners did.
I didn't have a lot of money so the, really the only way that I knew that I could start driving traffic was through content creation, cause it was one of the only things I could do that was free.
So, I kinda– I'm sure any listener right now probably picked their ears up, they're like, he didn't have a lot of money so that's perfect because one of this challenges that a lot of us have is, of course there's always the paid traffic search.
Everyone you know is that paid traffic works really well but the sad thing with paid traffic is that first word, paid traffic.
And so, if you have a low budget, you could waste a lot of money just trying to figure out how to get going with paid traffic.
Never mind, the fact that, once you start paying with paid traffic and if anything happens, if your budget cuts off or anything what happens is your traffic all stops.
Now the cool thing with what you did, is, you built a system that right now, you don't have to be doing anything and it's still sending (mumbles), is that correct? Exactly.
Yeah, to just to preface it.
The difference between like paid traffic and sort of the organic or content strategy that I do is, you're not gonna see that instantaneous result that you would from paid traffic.
It's not that instant feedback that you're gonna get.
But when you look at it from a long-term strategy, along with your paid strategy, you're basically building up traffic and eyeballs over time that will continue for years to come.
If the articles and everything are structured the proper way.
So, they don't, it's not really one or the other it's if ideally is a combination of both.
But, while you're doing your paid traffic to be able to build this other traffic source that kind of is of, essentially free other than the writing and the time that you're putting into it is just, for me, that's just, there was a way for us to kinda diversify our traffic flow.
Yeah, and then the benefit you get from that again as we've said is that with paid traffic it stops but with this kinda traffic, it keeps going.
Now obviously it's not a set, forget it for eternity.
You would need to keep posting new content and keep things going.
But one of the things I also wanna stress on this and correct me if I'm wrong.
This isn't like, you don't need to have like a well established blog, there's a lot of free sites out there that you can leverage to be able to use content and publish it through a content strategy, correct? Yeah, exactly, that's a great point.
Most people think that they have to build out this elaborate blog and they have to have this, really fancy website.
You can literally do it on a site like wix.
com or one of my favorites is sites.
google, which also being a Google product, kind of, adds a little extra juice to it as well but there's a lot of free platforms where you could just start writing, and you don't have to worry about building out these elaborate sites and having a hosting and all that kinda stuff, everything's really done for you, is which is great these days.
A lot of people even think it.
I mean, I've fallen into that trap too because being from the old school SEO days.
The idea was, oh you gotta build a WordPress blog.
But, you don't need to do that anymore.
There's so many places out there where you can publish content.
Now ideally, you wanna have your, if you're an Amazon seller, you wanna also have a Shopify site, the blog, and you wanna build up all these content networks.
But if you're just getting started now and you don't have a budget or time to even build a WordPress blog as Gary said.
You can just use Google Sites you can use Wix there's tons of places you can (mumbles).
But the thing is we're getting it, I think maybe I'm putting the cart before the horse because the whole question people have though is it's great, I can write content, get content, but wonder what I can write about? How do I find content that's worthwhile because I think one of the mistakes I've made in the past.
And, it was more of a product of how times were in the past where it didn't really matter the quality of the content.
You just wanted the keyword rankings.
But times have changed, correct me if I'm not.
Like you need to have worthwhile content.
Just kind of a side note, I don't wanna go down a full rabbit hole on this.
But, as you've mentioned, things have changed.
So, Google's gone towards more of an intention-based search versus a keyword.
Five, six years ago, you'd be able to pick your keyword, kinda stuff an article with it.
Rank really well for it, that's all you had to do.
Now Google's getting more sophisticated cause buyers are getting more sophisticated so that it's more of the intention.
It's going towards like a long-tail keyword or even questions.
I don't know about you but even when I do Google searches I no longer just type in like, best stroller, it's might be the best stroller for hiking in the woods or something like that.
So, you're creating these really long-tail keywords or questions.
So, the content should be around that.
The good thing is, most traditional or marketers from the past, still follow that old sequence so by, kind of scaling up your marketing strategy and going for the questions and everything that people are asking, it's actually a little bit easier to rank now than it was maybe three or four years ago when people were just keyword stuffing a bunch of articles.
So, that's great news especially for listeners cause chances are, what you're saying is most of the competition if they are doing a content strategy, they're probably just looking at keywords and just getting keyword stuff content written.
So even though they might be getting some traction, what you're gonna recommend here will provide content that Google looks as far superior and will probably do more a lot better.
Yeah, so everything that I did when I star.
Especially the last couple years.
I wanted to simplify the process, and almost make it proactive instead of reactive.
Instead of me trying to figure out what to write, I was letting people or I was finding ways for it to come to me so they were telling me what to write.
It's a really interesting way to look at it.
But yeah, I could dive into that and kind of give you some really quick action steps of how you can find like the types of things that you should be writing about, to at least get you started.
Yeah, let's get right into that.
I'd love to hear those.
Yeah, I mean the easiest thing I mean obviously if you're just selling on Amazon you already know what keywords you're targeting.
At least you should.
Even if you're just starting out.
You should really know what keywords you're working on.
So, that's kinda the basis of one of the strategies that we use.
So, even if you haven't had any traffic or even if your business is just kinda getting off the ground, knowing those keywords, I can show you how to take that and actually find topics to write about.
One of the easiest ways is taking that, and we can dump it into this program called Answer The Public.
So, what you do is you put your keywords in there and it'll give you all the questions or phrases that are being asked around those keywords.
So it might be, let's use baby strollers example.
You write in baby stroller, it'll actually give you a whole wheel of questions like, what is the best baby stroller for X? What is, how do I do this with the baby stroller? So, it'll give you at least a foundation of types of questions that you can answer without even having a, any kind of traffic or any kind of source of traffic for your business yet.
And that's answerthepublic.
com? Yeah, answerthepublic.
The other one that I use that's very similar to that is called AlsoAsked.
It'll give you slightly different variations of questions but the combination of those two will give you a good foundation of questions that you can answer.
So my theory has always been, if somebody's asking a question there's probably at least five or six other people that wanna know the same answer.
So, rather than me trying to invent topics, I'd rather just answer questions that are people are already asking.
Yeah, you haven't heard of that site answerthepublic.
com what a great resource.
Yeah, it's great resource.
And that kinda leads me to the second one.
So, if you already have an existing business you got traffic to your Amazon store you've got a bunch of buyers and everything else like that.
Your customer service is probably receiving questions, whether it's on a daily basis or weekly basis.
That is the best source of topics that I can come up with.
So what we will do on a weekly basis, we have our customer service write down every question that came in, and then we look for a pattern.
So, there might be five questions about, what are the ingredients in the product? So, that will become a topic for an article, it'll be like, here are the top five questions about X ingredient in our product or top five ways to use our product.
But we're letting our customers tell us what questions they had, and then answering them.
So that when you go back to the store that Google explanation I gave before.
If you're actually answering a question that somebody is already asking, as soon as they type that in on Google, that's gonna rank much higher than somebody that just going for a keyword.
So those were.
No really no.
It's so true and often times, I think we get lost in the idea of thinking that our content has to be like sexy and appealing.
And the idea is no it's intent based.
And so the idea is, if someone's asking a specific question about your type of product, like that is, to me like that's the highest converting type of content almost you can buy because that person is specifically talking about what you provide.
Now, and it's no different with any industry.
Also and you're looking like the expert in the field, they're gonna wanna know, oh, well this person answered my question so well what awkward products do they have? So this makes perfect sense.
And I think as business owners, we tend to get caught up in the technicalities or the specs of our products.
And we're not really thinking how our customers are looking at it.
So when we start looking at their questions you'll actually see that you may actually come up with like different phrases or different ways of talking about your product that you never thought about which all adds to your sales copy as well.
I think we get caught up in our own terminology at times.
And sometimes we're not even the expert in the field and so when you start hearing the words that the audience is using, the customers are using, all of a sudden now you're breaking into territory that you weren't even writing about before.
So that, yeah, cool.
So, one other strategy that I use that, some people may not be familiar with the program but it's called SEMrush.
It's an SEO software program.
What you can do in there, there's a really cool feature called, I think it's called like backlinks suggestions or something like that.
What they're doing is they're going out and searching all the blogs and forums for questions that are being asked around your topic.
So, even if you don't have a lot of questions coming in from customer service, or, you run out of questions from Answer The Public, these are actually questions that are being asked on industry specific blogs and forums that relate directly to the topics that you're selling.
So, one of our strategies has always been, we'll download that list of questions that are being asked on a blog or on a forum.
We'll go create a piece of content around it, and then go back to that question and say hey, we saw that you asked a question about X, Y and Z about this product.
We actually created a blog post about it and answered it over here.
So, it's a really good way to kind of create additional content topics but then also create backlinks to the articles that you're writing.
SEMrush it's a great tool.
Now just to give everyone, just to be upfront with everyone.
SEMrush is pretty much like a higher level tool where they're, I think it's like $97 a month to start with.
But, the data you get especially when you're getting into a content marketing thing.
It's absolutely gold because it's gonna tell you exactly what your competitors are doing, what their keywords are and everything and from an organic traffic standpoint, definitely one of the best tools out there in that category I may have to say.
Any other tips on finding content? I mean, those are the main ones.
We went where just to kinda summarize that.
Our primary was always the customer questions that we're getting through customer service.
We will then go out either using SEMrush or just doing Google searches for different blogs and forums that might be asking questions about it, and then leveraging sort of the Answer The Public and the other one Also Asked to kinda gather other questions that we may not have been thinking about.
Those are probably our three major resources and when you use those three there's plenty of content there for you to create.
It should keep you busy for quite a long time.
So, how do you recommend, people structure their content when they're doing? Is there a specific formula you have or should there be a variety? So, we try to mix it up.
We'll do, depending on, what your strategy is.
So, there's a couple different strategies.
And, I mean I could probably talk to you for hours about this.
But, we'll always do, we'll always try to mix in like a top 10 list or something like that.
Where we're recommending other products that complement our products.
So, for like the kitchen it might be like a grater company it might be an appliance company but we will just pick like the best of the best just to kinda do a summary list.
It does two things.
It shows that you're, kind of positioning yourself as an authority.
But if you do it right you'll start to get, they'll start to recommend people to go to the article because you're referring those types of companies.
So, as an example let me just step back from them.
So as an Amazon seller.
So, a popular thing that we tell people not to really go into it anymore cause too many people have gone into it is taco stands.
Those little taco holder stands.
So, someone is sitting there like what can I write about when it comes to taco stands.
So what you're saying is, think of the complimentary products that would go with that because if someone's buying that, they'll probably need a cheese grater to grate the cheese and they'll need any of the other things that would go with it.
So then what you do is you create a list, and so could be an article of how to do the best, I'm gonna butcher is.
So this is just.
I'll give you a good one.
It might be like the 10 things to make your Taco Tuesday night successful or something like that.
Perfect that's a.
So that might be different things that you can incorporate into that evening that would help make that will help complement the taco stands that you're selling.
And so by then, recommending, so it's not your competition.
You're looking for complementary products.
So, products that you probably won't end up selling or maybe you will down the road but right now the whole idea is you're just providing value for your customer.
But the cool thing with that is what you're saying is the reward is oftentimes these people see that their article is being, their product is in that article so they'll wanna promote it as well.
Have you ever reached out to people and say hey I wrote this article, I included your product.
Just wanted to let you know in case you want to do shout out for us.
So that would be the like phase two of that strategy.
Would be to reach out to those companies and just say hey we created this really good article about, the perfect Taco Tuesday night.
Your product was mentioned in it.
If you'd love to share it here's a link, just want to let you know it's out there.
So we don't really push it but we just let them know that it's there.
And a lot of times they take it because it's not, you're not being overly promotional, it's a creating a good story so, a lot of times you'll get people actually share that on their site or on their blog or wherever it might be.
Yeah, I mean even if you just get someone posted on Facebook, I mean, any little bit of exposure is good exposure so yeah.
So another thing that we could do along those lines cause as you're talking my brain started going here.
You have something, it may not even be related to your actual product but something like that might be like, the five things that make the perfect taco.
And you reach out to a couple of chefs that are famous for their tacos and get them to give you tips on like what they put into the perfect taco.
Again, what you're doing is you're leveraging some of their authority by getting them to contribute to the article.
Most people, if they're quoted in an article are gonna share it on their site or whatever.
So, you're creating a little bit of virality without doing a lot of work and that's really just a simple email or a phone call just saying, hey we wanted to do is, perfect taco article, would you mind contributing to it? Yeah, so I wanna actually back up and focus on that for a second because I think oftentimes people might be intimidated to think, oh, would somebody wanna write for me or anything.
But you've had a lot of success recruiting people, because often these people they're not really.
They're not sitting there, they're not like you, a product sales person that they're sitting there, trying to sell their taco stands, they're actually a chef, they're passionate about like what they're creating.
And so, for them to be able to get any publicity like maybe even like publishing their little taco stand or the restaurant or their website, that would be great for them.
So, what do you do? How do you like research that? Do you just look online? Do you yellow paint it, what do you do? Yeah, I mean it depends on the product and depends on the niche.
Something like that where it chefs.
You could do a Google search for like, I don't know, there's also contests out there for like the best taco or the best pizza or something like that.
I would find those types of articles and see who was recommended as the top ones and just reach out to them that way.
For some industries, I'll give you.
I was gonna say, I'll give you a really good example.
So I'm moving into the pet industry a business that we just acquired.
I started looking at, sort of the educational side, and looking at the veterinary schools and those types of things.
Cause that's a whole database or wealth of knowledge that lends authority to my article, but they usually don't get contacted by people.
So like, they're just happy to share their information and maybe get a little of their own exposure.
So, when you start getting creative and think about who indirectly impacts my product, there's a whole world of people out there that are, not necessarily starving for exposure but they're not getting approached by people on a daily basis so they're more than happy to contribute to stuff like that.
What do you see as like the biggest mistake people make when they are trying to put together content? Actually there's two things.
One, and I used to make this mistake myself.
I tried to get the cheapest article possible.
So I'd go on like an Upwork or I'd hire somebody.
Nothing against this but hiring people from like overseas and whether it's Philippines or India or whatever, that don't really understand the subtle nuances maybe of the product that I'm trying to sell.
So, all they would do is do a Google search pull a bunch of content from other things and put it into an article, but when you read it, it didn't have that, the specific buzzwords and everything that I really needed to do.
The other mistake was using the old school strategy of just stuffing it with as many keywords as possible, so that it just, it seemed fake and it seemed like it was something, artificial.
The more genuine you can be and the more authoritative you can actually be in the article, which means, it usually ends up being a little bit longer, the better.
So, now I go for quality versus quantity, whereas before I used to go for as many articles as possible and I didn't really care about the quality.
Do you have specific purposes with your content? Like, is it always link building? Is it traffic? Is it? Or do you have a variety of purposes? It would be a combination of everything.
So, when you start to look really diving into it.
And you get to like sort of the second phase of content creation.
That would be more like guest posting and outreaching the other websites to try to put content on their sites.
For that it's creating more of an authoritative position.
When it's on my own blog, it's more for the backlinks and driving traffic to my site.
So, once I get em to the site, unlike Amazon maybe where I can drop in my Facebook pixel, I can drop in my Google pixel.
And I can re-target them for quite a long time.
So for me it's getting, as many eyeballs to the site as possible.
And then, I can put together email campaigns and those kinda things to try and nurture those people.
So, you're saying, for example, I'm using the taco thing.
Like if you were able to do a guest post on someone you wouldn't recommend them linking to the Amazon thing, you'd recommend them linking, ideally, to like your own blog where you could have pixels so then now you can re-target that traffic.
But that doesn't so we, but that same strategy works for Amazon.
So, if your intent is to never actually build out your own blog like you just, you don't either don't have the team or you don't wanna put the resources into it, driving those articles to your Amazon listings will actually help increase the SEO value of your Amazon listings.
As you, when you do Google searches now you see that Amazon listings actually do come up.
So, if you're driving links to them, Google sees that as authority being driven to those actual products.
Amazon does reward for diversity of traffic and the more activity you're getting on your listing the more they'll reward you so it is a win-win.
So, there was one other thing I wonder, oh yeah, so, we used to talk about keywords.
So, do you actually focus on any keywords at all or like how do you do that? So, like using the taco stand, like say I found like I won a rank for best taco stand.
How would you format your article for that? So, I'll give you sort of previous strategy versus current strategy.
Previous strategy was, you wanna load up that specific keyword as many times in that article, without going over like a two to 3% ratio of keyword towards.
I can put it in the title.
All that kinda stuff.
Now, the strategy that I've been going with is multiple versions of that word within the article, so not just best taco stand, it would be, I've drawn a blank on different vari.
Yeah I've drawn a blank on the different variations.
Yeah, but like yeah.
So, taco holder, taco stand like using those types of variations so that it seems more natural.
So you're not always just repeating best taco stand.
So, I'd have like five or six different keywords that I kinda pepper throughout that article versus just that one, having it solely focused on that keyword.
And, here's the last thing I'll ask you because obviously you've got the content but how do you get the content ranking like what is your number one, like backlink ranking kinda strategy? Yeah so backlinking strategy.
We actually sort of alluded to it.
It's even if you can't get people to quote things within your article or like you don't do that outreach.
Look for authoritative sites that have already talked about that topic so you could say, let's say tacos it'll be like, I saw this recipe from such and such over here, and here's what they said about it.
Then I would outreach, reach out to them and just say, hey I want to let you know I mentioned you in this article or whatever it is.
So, a lot of it comes down to that sort of outreach side of it and just try to do some of that stuff.
What we also do is we do, which could be a whole other topic for you would be sort of our content distribution where we turn it into multiple formats of media, and then we distribute that on different channels.
So, it's really just building out as many backlinks as you can to those articles.
You can look at the.
As I mentioned before the forums, finding questions that were pertaining to that topic.
So, in this case if we were talking about the five best taco recipes.
Finding sites that are asking what is the best taco recipe? So that you then go post a link to your blog and get a backlink that way, it'll grow over time.
So, again, this isn't something like the first day you have to go find 40 or 50 backlinks to your article, it'll just naturally progress over time and build as you go.
So, something that I wanna make sure people understand.
So again, like there's no exaggeration here you built a company, up to a $40 million value.
And, you did it with a, a combination you did a lot online but it was primarily and you'd become an expert you actually do workshops and everything on content marketing strategies.
But you did it in such a way that it grew over time now I have to believe that when you exited your business you must have got a multiple added because of that huge content network you had that was driving perpetual traffic.
Yeah and that's a great topic there too.
The more you can diversify your traffic flow, the actually the higher the multiple you can get when you go to exit your business.
Because they realize that.
So let's say, you're just on Amazon you have 95 or 99% of your traffic comes from Amazon.
For any potential buyer, that is seen as a risk because if Amazon TOS, terms of service changes or algorithm changes and suddenly you lose half your traffic.
That's a risk for the potential buyer.
So just by doing this and laying this like, I call it a spiderweb.
It's like a wagon wheel or a spiderweb of links coming in and traffic coming from different sources, even if one of them got shut down tomorrow, it only impacts, maybe 10% of your business or 5% of your business.
So, that gives the potential buyer a lot of security and they're willing to pay a little bit more for it.
So yes, it's actually a really good point is that, this strategy, if your goal is to sell your business in a couple of years.
Is actually laying the foundation for you to say, no, we are not dependent on just one traffic source.
We have all this other stuff that's bringing us in and this is ongoing and will change.
Yeah, I think oftentimes people don't look at that and I guess what I'm saying here is one of the best strategies you can do for build a long-term business is make it as sellable as possible.
And by making it sellable as possible that means you're making it as profitable and as failure-proof, as possible.
And this is one of those strategies because as Gary has told you multiple times.
This has led to a lot of the success he had but what it did is, it's kinda like building that foundation.
He put all this work into place.
And then now, he has this awesome system that when someone came in to buy his business, they're looking at it like wow.
You have this perpetual traffic system that has all this traffic coming in.
I'm not worried that it's just focused on this one traffic model.
I see that it's getting traffic from everywhere and there's long-term value in it.
So if you're sitting there just starting out, absolutely like you wanna get started with your sponsored ads, you wanna do those core things.
But now is the best time no matter where you are in your business to get started on content strategy.
And realize like as Gary said, this isn't something that go and publish some content this week and next week.
Oh, you're fine.
No, this is a long-term strategy.
But I mean, on average, like if you start, what would you tell people like try to post how much content per week over the next few months before you should start seeing some significant improvements.
Yeah, I mean.
It's gonna depend on obviously your time commitment and availability in everything.
But, our goal is always to put out two new pieces of content per week, .
And they don't have to be, overly produced or anything like that.
Like I said, we're just really answering the questions that people are asking us and just putting it into a nice format.
So, if you can get in a pattern where you can actually start creating maybe two pieces of content per week and just, putting it out whether it's on your blog or on one of the sites we mentioned like Google Sites whatever, you're gonna start to see some traction, develop.
So, may not be the first month but it'll.
Second month you'll start to see a couple eyeballs coming through or a couple hits from this site, a couple hits from that site, and it'll just snowball from there.
And it's like, correct me if I'm wrong but on sites like Google Sites and everything can you put any re-targeting codes or will that only be on you own personal settings? To be honest with you I'm not sure.
I've never actually tried it, cause we've always just linked them back to our own blog but yeah that's actually something to look into.
I'm not sure if you can or not.
Gary any closing remarks for anybody on here regarding this strategy? Ah no.
I mean the only thing I would say is, if you think you have a hard time writing content.
Imagine trying to write about kitchen cabinets for 10 years when you know nothing about them.
It was almost impossible.
So, that's how I developed this strategy, it was like I just ran out of things to talk about.
So, I can tell you for a fact that it works.
I've worked with over 100 some businesses now in the last two years and gave this strategy.
It's worked for all of them.
So, just start at your own pace.
It doesn't have to be something where you do 100 articles in the next month, but just start slowly doing this and you're gonna see that traction grow and it's gonna inspire you to keep.
One last question.
Back in the day it used to be, oh you need to have at least a 400 word article.
Is there any specific length you wanna target for minimum or is there variety the key, what do you think? No, I don't think there's a minimum.
If I, so over the last three months I've really deconstructed probably about 40 or 50 different blogs in the niche that I was looking at.
The one pattern that I noticed the ones that were ranking the highest were really long informative articles.
So, some of them were up to 6, 000 words.
Some of them were 2, 000 words.
I would say now, the more informative you can be the better so a little bit longer tail, or a little bit longer form.
But, you may have the questions that only lend themselves to a short answer.
So, don't let that be the driving factor, it's more about answering the question in the most concise way and most informative way that you can.
So, just so you know, Gary is actually gonna be at SellerCon again this year.
Gary was at our SellerCon last year.
So, if you wanna learn more from Gary, you wanna come to SellerCon in July, tickets are on sale right now and Gary, what are you gonna be talking about in July? So I'm gonna cover a couple different things.
We might go a little bit deeper into this and we'll talk about some of the ways that I grew my business outside of just the content distribution.
So, it'll be really informative for anybody no matter what stage of business they're in whether they're just getting started out, they're at seven figures or they're even in the eight figure mark, I guarantee there's gonna be something that you'll learn from it.
And if anyone wants to learn more about you right now where can they go? Yes, I have a blog.
If you go to GaryNealon.
I essentially do a brain dump.
I try to do like two or three a week, just any topic that comes to mind, or I use the same strategy if one of my clients or somebody asked me a question I immediately just turn that into a piece of content.
Well Gary, thank you so much for being here.
If you wanna check out Gary, and learn more about him.
Go to GaryNealon.
And remember, he's gonna be at SellerCon this year so go to SellerCon.
It's in Austin this year in July 16th, 17th and 18th.
I believe here in Austin, Texas.
Gary, always a pleasure.
Always so impressed with what you were able to do.
Thanks for doing what you're doing.
Always thanks for giving back.
And I hope you have a wonderful day.
Yeah, thanks for having me, really appreciate it.