How to do Content Marketing if You’re Dead Broke and Bad at Writing

Written by Neil Patel on January 10, 2016

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Content marketing can be a fantastic way to generate leads.

So why is it that 70% of marketers lack a consistent content marketing strategy?  

More often than not, the problem is that marketers think that in order to succeed with content marketing, they need to be great writers.

On top of that, many also think that they need to have a big marketing budget for their efforts to be fruitful.  

That isn’t necessarily the truth.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at how you can get started with content marketing, even if you’re not great at writing and you don’t have a lot of money to spend.

We’ll look at the specific strategies that you can focus on and how you can make the most out of each of these strategies.

Are you an average guy or girl with a shoestring budget for content marketing? Follow these action steps to learn how you can get started with content marketing with limited budget, even if you’re not great at writing.

By the end of this post, you should have a good sense of how you too can join many of the marketers enjoying success with content marketing.

Let’s begin!

Become a better writer

I know you think you’re probably a bad writer, but, really, how bad are you?

Writing for the web is nothing like writing a university style thesis, or even an essay for a high school teacher.

It’s a lot easier and it doesn’t take much talent or time to create content that’s both valuable and easy to read.

You probably just need a little bit of practice more than anything and that’s not hard to accomplish.

If you set aside some time to write a 500 word post every other day, you’ll soon establish a groove that allows you to write a basic article anytime.

You can then double the word count to 1000 words, and then, a week or two later, double it again.

What you will find is that it is often hardest to get used to writing the first 500 words, but it’s smoother after that.

That’s because you’ll need to learn how to formulate your ideas, turn them into words and how to best format your text so that it is easy to read.

Once you have those things down, writing more is simply a matter of providing more value in your post.

And to do that, all you need to do is some research.

Here are a few tips that you can keep in mind to improve your ability to create incredible content, even if you’re not used to writing.

The first tip is to create an superb outline.

So what does a great outline look like?

Here’s a step by step process for creating an outline for a post that’s going to be incredible.

First, create a new Google Doc.

To do that, sign in to Google, and then go to docs.google.com and select the ‘Blank’ option.

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Give this Google Doc a title.

The first thing you’re going to write in your outline are the paragraph headers.

You can always change the headers later, so don’t worry about making them perfect.

Just make sure that what you write down effectively captures what each section of the post is about.

Odds are you have a little bit of knowledge, in terms of the topic you’re going to be writing about, so these headers should come to you naturally.

However, if that is not the case, simply do a quick Google search based on the topic that you’re looking to cover.

Then take a look at the top posts presented in the search listings and examine the topics that each of these articles discuss.

For example, let’s say that I wanted to write a post on how to get better at ‘email marketing.’

I’d go to Google and type in ‘email marketing tips.’

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I’m then presented with the following listings.

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There’s a lot to go through here and it can seem a little bit overwhelming at first, as there are some posts here with ‘50+ email marketing tips.’

The number of tips you cover in your post, however, is going to depend on how long you want your post to be.

You can arguably create a 5,000 word post that contains 5 tips, while also creating a 5,000 word post that contains 50 tips.

What separates the two posts is how in-depth the content is.

So, don’t feel overwhelmed when researching.

Just have a quick read to see what’s being covered frequently.

Identify some points that you think are particularly important and then input those points into your outline.

For example, I have clicked on the top five listings above and I have noticed that each page mentions ‘subject lines.’

Here’s the post from Copyblogger.

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Here’s one from econsultancy.

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Another one from econsultancy.

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And finally one from Huffington Post.

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They all talk about creating a great subject line.

So it makes sense that this must be an important part of email marketing and something worth covering in detail.

The amount of words you use in the ‘Subject Line’ section of your post is going to depend on how long your post is going to be.

Notice that each of these posts cover this topic in varying detail?

If you’re just going to create something that’s 500-1000 words, you probably have enough from each of these posts to create something valuable.

However, if you want to take things one step further, you’ll want to repeat the process above for this specific ‘paragraph header.’

If I want to produce an in-depth ‘Subject Lines,’ section, I’ll search ‘how to write email marketing subject lines.’

You can experiment with entering a better search term, but this should return some good results.

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You’ll notice that the listings returned all relate specifically to subject lines.

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We’ll then click on each of these posts to see some of the common points covered here, in terms of what it takes to write effective email subject lines.

Just by clicking on these posts, I notice that one of the recurring themes is that subject lines should be short.

Here’s the Mailchimp post.

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Here’s one of the posts from Hubspot.

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And here’s the post from Unbounce.

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And one from Wordstream.

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Now, there are a lot of other points that these posts have in common, but, short subject lines seems to be one of the most important things to pay attention to.

You’ll also notice that a lot of these posts quote a stat produced by Mailchimp.

If you want to produce fresh content, you might want to source some other stats.

If you want to do that, simply head over to Google again, and search ‘Subject line stats.’

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And you’ll see the following.

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Plenty of stats to choose from!

51% of marketers state that their content marketing efforts are only somewhat effective — and part of that is due to poor content in the first place.

By creating actionable posts that contain data, you’ll easily end up creating long form content that is of value to your audience.

This is important, as it’s better to create long form posts.  They generate 9x more leads than short form posts.

You’ll also take advantage of the fact that on average, only 18% of companies produce blog posts longer than 750 words — thereby making you stand out from the crowd if you produce anything longer.

In terms of your writing style, just write as if you were writing to a friend — or at the very least, as you talk.

Don’t use fancy words if they aren’t required and don’t try to sound ‘smart.’

Also, keep the lines relatively short (like I do), as this will make it easier for the content to be consumed.

As you begin to develop or reestablish your writing skills, you’ll be able to incorporate things like storytelling and analogies into your writing.

You also want to make sure that you’re including plenty of images within your post.

Articles with images get 94% more views than those without.

Let’s quickly talk about copywriting.

You can create massive blog posts that really provide a lot of value.

However, if you don’t have the ability to create a compelling headline, your posts will not garner the attention that they deserve.

If you want to improve your ability to write headlines, keep a swipe file of some of the best headlines you see.

Then see how you can emulate the strategies used by your favorite headlines into your own blog posts.

Consider doing what Upworthy does, and write 25 headlines for each post.

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As with all things, becoming a better writer mainly comes down to practice.

However, by using the process we’ve covered, you should be able to create incredibly detailed blog posts that provide a lot of value.

It’s worth mentioning that if you’re spending money on content marketing, you’re often spending money to create the content or to promote it.

If you’re comfortable with writing a piece of content, it is worth taking a look at how you can do some guest posting, so that you don’t have to spend any money promoting your content.

There’s always a demand for quality content. If you can write something compelling, you will find that blog owners/editors will be more than happy to check out what you have.

53% of bloggers post content weekly. As you might have guessed, maintaining that kind of consistency can be a lot of work at times.

Your blog post will reduce the workload for the week, making the editor or owner’s life a little easier.

It’s not that difficult to find guest posting opportunities and you can use the following approach to get started.

The most basic way you can find opportunities is by combining the phrase ‘write for us’ with a keyword related to your niche.

For instance, let’s take an obscure example like ‘knitting,’ and see if we can find relevant blogs that accept guest posts.  

To do this, I’d search ‘knitting + write for us.’

And this is what would come up.

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Right away, we can see that there are some great guest posting opportunities.

However, there’s another strategy, that has been discussed in the Quicksprout University, that can uncover even more guest posting opportunities!

Here’s how it works.

Rather than looking for actual guest post opportunities, you’re trying to find guest bloggers and where they have posted content.

And you can do that by inputting the following into Google instead.

‘Niche’ + in inurl:guest author

If you were looking for guest bloggers who have posted on ‘knitting’ blogs, you’d search the following.

knitting + in inurl:guest author

And this is what would come up in the listings.

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And now you have even more guest posting opportunities!

Then you reach out and pitch these blogs with your content ideas.

We covered earlier how you can produce great content — but here are some other tips you can use to come up with content ideas that will impress blog editors.

Go to Buzzsumo, and then enter in a keyword based on your niche.

This is what came up when I entered ‘knitting tips.’

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Then sort the content by ‘Most shares.’ I also set it to show content that has been posted in the past six months.  

Now you have a sense of the topics that tend to get a lot of shares.

You can then take one of these topics and create something incredibly detailed using the process that we covered earlier.

You can also use Google Adwords to come up with ideas for content.

To do that, login to the Adwords Keyword Planner.

Then type in ‘knitting,’ and click on ‘Get Ideas.’

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You’ll then be presented with some overall topics.

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Those with high search numbers and high levels of competition, tend to be the kinds of topics that people like to read about.

Either way, click on one of these ‘Ad group ideas,’ to uncover some topic ideas.

I’ve clicked on the ‘Baby knitting’ group and this is what came up.

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As you can see, there are quite a few keywords here that you can use in order to create a blog post.

You can use these ideas on your own blog, or when you’re looking to submit a guest post piece.

If you could come up with a list post, such as ‘101 knitting patterns for babies,’ there’s a good chance that a knitting blog will take it on.

It would also be relatively easy to promote a post like that, because, as you can see, it’s an in-demand topic.

Therefore, if you become a better writer and you learn how to find guest posting opportunities, you can get started with content marketing on a very low budget.

Ideally, if you’re guest posting, it might be a good idea to send people to a landing page (we’ll discuss this more later)using a little link in your author bio.

This will let you collect leads and ensure that you earn a return on your guest posting.

Just make sure that you get the permission of the blog owner before you do this.

Use other content mediums

The other option to help you get into content marketing, if you’re not looking to do much writing, is to simply pick other content mediums.

So what exactly does this mean?

When referring to other content mediums, I’m referring to the following forms of content —

  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • YouTube Videos

Those forms of content marketing are relatively easy to create if you’re on a budget.

Infographics probably deserve to be placed on that list, but it’s worth remembering that a good infographic can cost quite a bit to create or require more than basic graphic design skills that you might not have.

I’ve said it before, that you get what you pay for when it comes to design.

Therefore, you might want to wait until you can create something that looks spectacular.  Poor looking infographics don’t tend to help you much and can actually hurt you.

Let’s cover how you can do the above, while on a shoestring budget.

If you want to host a webinar, you don’t have to use a potentially pricey platform such as GoToMeeting.

That’s because you can use something like Google Hangouts instead.

Here’s how you can host your own Google Hangout and join the 61% of marketers that use webinars as part of their content marketing strategy.

Note: An ‘unlimited’ number of people can watch a live broadcast of your Hangout, but only 10 people can ‘broadcast their screen’ at the same time as the Hangout.  

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This is something to keep in mind if you see any mention of a Google Hangout ‘limit.’

In any case, go to https://hangouts.google.com/.

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If you do not have one already, create a Google account.

Once you have created one and you have signed into the Hangouts page, you should see the following page.

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Click on the three dots, on the left of the page, to expand the column.

Then select the ‘Hangouts on Air,’ option.

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When you see the following page, click on ‘Create Hangout On Air.’

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You then need to create a public profile for your Google Plus account.

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You may be taken to the main ‘Hangouts On Air Page,’ after doing that

If that is the case, just click on the same button and you should see the following.

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Enter in the relevant information.

Create a compelling title for the Hangout.

For the description, just provide a brief introduction and then list some compelling benefits in bullet point form.

This is what I do for my Kissmetrics webinars.

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In order to use Google Hangouts, you need to connect your Google Plus account with YouTube.

You’ll know you need to do this, if you see the following text.

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To do connect the two, first login to YouTube.

Then click on your user image, which can be found in the top right hand of the page.

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Then select the ‘Creator Studio,’ option.

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On the left hand side of this screen, under the ‘Channel,’ option, pick ‘Status and features.’

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Then click on the ‘Verify,’ button.

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Finally verify your account.

You should now be able to click on the ‘Share’ button (from when the Hangout was being created above) if you could not do so previously.

Once you do that, you’ll then see this screen.

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Click on the ‘Start,’ button when you want the event to go live.

If you want to share the link for the event, click on the ‘Links’ text.

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When the Hangout is live, click on the highlighted icon below, to share your screen.

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You might be thinking — ‘this is all very well, but how do you get people to actually turn up?’

If you’re struggling in this area, you might want to consider creating a partnership with someone who already has a list of people that represent your target audience.

If you’re looking to sell something at the end of the webinar, you can propose a revenue split.

If you’re not looking to sell something, people will still be happy to do a webinar with you, as long as you can provide a lot of value for the list in question.

This will make the person who owns the list look good, and so is beneficial for them.

If you want to find such opportunities, consider using the guest posting tips mention before, but this time to find blog owners who own lists that can be marketed to.

Now let’s talk about Podcasts.

There’s evidence to suggest that 17% of adults listen to a Podcast every month — that’s a huge opportunity.

Setting up your own Podcasts can cost a bit of money.

However, you can do some content marketing using Podcasts without spending any money.

You do this by being a guest on shows hosted by others.

If you adopt this strategy, you’ll be able to get yourself in front of massive audiences that have already been created by the Podcast host.

In a sense, this can sometimes be a better way of going about things if you’re just starting out — even if you have a big budget.

However, as with the webinars above, if you’re looking to make use of someone else’s audience, it is absolutely essential that you provide value.

If you can’t do this, then the host of the Podcast will have no reason to feature you as a guest.

So what counts as value?

Well, maybe you have a very interesting business story.

For instance, you may have dealt with a challenge in your business by finding a novel way to overcome it.

In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a novel way — all that matters is that you found a way to overcome the issue.

Your story, in and of itself, will inherently provide a lot of value for the people listening to the Podcast — both in actionable content and through inspiration.

Another way you can provide value is by proposing that you teach the listeners of the Podcast something new.

If you’re an expert on a subject matter, it shouldn’t be hard to do this.

For instance, you might be an expert when it comes to Twitter Ads.

If that is the case, you could approach a Podcast catered towards app developers on how to use Twitter Ads to generate downloads.

It is important that you think, ahead of time, about how you can tailor your content to the audience of a particular Podcast.

Should you want to find Podcasts to be featured on, consider using this approach.

Go to Google and search for Podcasts by including a relevant keyword with the word ‘Podcast.’

If you were looking for Podcasts related to real estate, you might search ‘real estate Podcast.’

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Then go through some of the listings shown and email the hosts.

Sometimes you’ll find Podcasts that haven’t been updated for many months. It may just be that these hosts are taking a break, rather than having quit the game altogether.

So, consider sending them a message, too.

If you already have a Podcast app on your mobile device, consider using that to find relevant Podcasts.

When you email Podcasts hosts, don’t be pushy.

Simply state who you are, provide a little bit about your background and explain why you’ll be of value to their guests.

If you don’t receive a response within a week, consider reaching out again with a follow up message.

If you secure a Podcast gig, take a moment to quickly create a landing page where you can give something away for free.

This is important, as it will allow for you to capture leads from the show, therefore making the guest slot worth your time.

Lead generation is the end game for 85% of businesses using content marketing, because it is those leads that make the content marketing work worth the time and effort.  

Plus, once you capture these leads and make some money from them, you’ll be able to join the 56% of business bloggers hiring additional resources to build and promote their content marketing — thereby freeing up your time.

Instapage provides a great platform for those who want to create a great landing page for free.

If you want to create a landing page, go to https://instapage.com/ and create an account.

Once you’ve done that, click on the ‘Create New Page,’ button.

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Then click on ‘Pick a Template.’

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You then have the option to pick a template.

Your landing page template can have a big impact on your conversion rates — though if you pick something simple you should be able to do pretty well from the get go.

Here’s the template that I chose.

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Here is a post that I wrote on the topic of creating compelling headlines. Use it to inform your decisions when writing one for your landing page.

In order to make it so that people can access a PDF file, click on the ‘Opt in box.’

You should then see this.

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Click on the ‘Redirect’ icon.

And then select the ‘Upload File’ option and go ahead and choose the file you want to share.

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Once you’ve done all of this, click on the ‘Publish’ button.

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You’ll then be able to give your landing page a URL.

If you’re looking to keep everything low cost and you don’t yet have a website of your own, simply create an Instapage URL.

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Then give your landing page a URL that is easy to remember.

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You should mention this URL at the end of any Podcast, so that people can download something of value from you.

If you’re not sure what to give away, consider providing a bullet point checklist of any tips that you mentioned on the Podcast.

The other form of content marketing we mentioned was a YouTube video.

72% of B2B marketers use YouTube to distribute content.

On top of that 69% of those who want to improve their content marketing efforts aim to improve things by creating more engaging content.

In a world where everyone isn’t up to reading a 5,000 word blog post, YouTube Videos can be a brilliant way to deliver engaging content.

This really starts to make sense when you consider that 75% of smartphone owners watch video on their phone.

Plus, if you’re not good at writing things down, the creation of a YouTube video can be helpful.

You don’t have to do anything extravagant, just record yourself speaking into the camera.

In fact, you’ll find a great example of how to do this by checking out what Steli Efti has to offer.

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It’s nothing long winded and drawn out.

It’s something short, precise and that is of value to his target audience.

Make sure you optimise your videos properly when you upload them.

That means includes creating great headlines, but also using the right ‘tags.’

It’s very important that you write a detailed description, further increasing the chances of your video being found.

I also suggest that you take a moment to create an eye catching thumbnail, using Canva.

If you want to find out more about how this can be done, I’ve covered this topic in length here.

Once you have one piece of content —  figure out a way to repurpose it

There’s another way you can do content marketing, if you’re low on money and bad at writing — and that is to repurpose what you already have.

Although 76% of B2B marketers are looking to produce more content in 2016, when compared to 2015 — you can bet that they’re not all going to be creating content from scratch.

In fact, 57% of marketers are putting their efforts into finding better ways to repurpose content.

Repurposing content means you take what you already have and turn it into something else.

This is, of course, dependent on the fact that you have created something in the first place.

But repurposing can be a great way to snowball your efforts, once you already have something that’s a hit.

For instance, if you have a Podcast, you can have that transcribed for your blog.

Transcribing a Podcast can be somewhat tedious and if you have the means to do so, you might want to hire someone to do it for you.

You can always check out sites like Fiverr.com.

Because the site is designed to offer ‘gigs’ for $5, it may be tough finding someone who will transcribe an entire Podcast for that much.

However, there will probably be someone on there who is willing to create a deal with you, whereby they transcribe your long Podcast for a higher fee.

You might also want to check out sites like Upwork.com — though there is a chance that this may be more expensive.

As with all things in life, it is important to remember that you often tend to get what you pay for.

Either way, this post is all about budgeting, and so, if you’re on a budget, you’ll probably have to do this yourself.

The most basic way to format a transcription for your Podcast is like this.

[Speaker’s Name] Minute:Second: What was said.

If you were a guest on someone else’s Podcast, you might want to ask them if you can do this and post the content on your blog.

This can be a great way to generate some goodwill with the host too.

On top of that, you can also repurpose your Podcast content by recording a video of the  conversation as it is taking place.

You can then post this video on YouTube.

Lewis Howes does this effectively, with his “School of Greatness Podcast.”

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Posting on YouTube is a good idea, because it provides another way for your content to be discovered.

It also gives you a chance to reach people who won’t ever read a long form blog post.

Keep in mind, however, that you should put a link, in the description section, to a landing page (like the one we created earlier).

That way, you’ll be able to capture some leads.

You can also use annotations to encourage people to visit your website or landing page.  

Repurposing webinars is something that you may want to consider too.

If the webinar was run by someone else, you may need to ask for permission before you take action on some of the suggestions that I’m about to provide.

In any case, one thing you can do is take the slides of the webinar and post them onto Slideshare.

This is a good idea, since Slideshare has around 70 million users and a lot of it’s users and content are business related. 

On a side note: Make the slides ‘Slideshare friendly,’ if they are not already.

I covered how to create effective Slideshare slides here.

As that post mentioned, there is an option within Slideshare where you can place lead forms within your presentations.

When you have a bigger budget, this might be something to consider.

In addition to posting your slides on Slideshare, you might also want to post an actual recording of your webinar onto YouTube.

If you want to upload videos that are longer than 15 minutes to YouTube, you will need to do the following.

Login to YouTube and click on ‘Upload.’

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When you’re on this page, scroll down to the bottom and click on ‘Increase your limit.’

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You’ll then go through the ‘account verification process.’

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Once you’ve done that, you’ll see the screen below.

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Now you can upload videos that are longer than 15 minutes!

As mentioned before, make sure you include some annotations to encourage the viewer to visit your landing page and become a lead.

When it comes to repurposing YouTube videos, we’ve covered the main points inadvertently.

Simply encourage viewers, at the start and end of your videos, to visit your landing page so that they can download a piece of valuable content.

The content provided can be an extra video that goes more in depth or it can be a general piece of content that you use for all of your videos.

However, just like with content upgrades on blogs, you’ll find that if you can provide unique, tailored pieces of content, you’ll be able to maintain higher-than-average conversion rates.

Conclusion

Content marketing can be a great way to get yourself in front of your target market.

You may be holding yourself back, because you think that you’re not a good writer.

On top of that, you might also think that you need a lot of money to get started with content marketing.

However, as we’ve explored in this post, neither of those points should stop you.

You can easily brush up on your writing skills and you can very easily tackle content marketing with a limited budget.

In fact, you don’t even have to be a good writer — you just have to find a way to provide value and unearth opportunities to share this value.

Now that you know this information, all that’s left is for you to get started and to see how far you can take things with content marketing. Good luck!

How do you get results with content marketing, even if you’re bad at writing and limited in budget?

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