Editor’s note: this is a sponsored post for PR Newswire

Blogging and content marketing is basically getting your startup closer towards your goals through the use of any media type. It is no longer a “new” thing, nor is it the holy grail of success. Yet, it is a big part of the strategy for many companies that we cover and we applaud those that manage to do it well. The problem is, they are few and in-between.

Most startup blogs or content marketing attempts are not too different from the corporate blogs that you want to shoot yourself reading.

Why? Because they use the same advice that you can find online: write for your audience, have clear goals, guest post to major blogs, have a content person on the team, provide real value etc.

That is definitely sound advice, but you need to go a step further and really dig into each part in order to write good content and reach your audience.

So how should you approach content marketing? We had a chat with PR Newswire and stumbled upon a pretty interesting study that revealed some data on best practices when it comes to getting your content marketing spotted and then we added some of our own advice into the mix.

1. Don’t think about your audience: write what you are passionate about.

Writing for your audience means that you will most likely adjust your writing style to what you believe they might be interested in. In all likelihood you will also write about things you are personally not passionate about. Guess what? Everybody can see through it.

Instead, if you write about topics that are important to you, things you care about deeply – that will show too. This will help you become a respected thought leader in the industry, even if you do not always write about things that are one hundred percent related to your company and your products.

2. Promote your content: organic and paid.

This is often said all over again: a good product and good content sells themselves. This can not be further from the truth. Sure, sometimes you will get a lucky break and be spotted on Hacker News or a powerful influencer might write about your startup.

However, most of the time, there is a cost of acquiring readers and/or users and you need to take that into account.

As Peter Harich, the Nordic Marketing Manager at PR Newswire comments, “Content marketing is actually a very basic marketing idea. So most advice concentrates on delivering great content, and that is the most important part. However if you write the best piece of content that’s ever been written and dig a hole in the ground and place the text in a locked box in the hole, no-one will ever read it.”

When it comes to organic promotion, you should be reaching out and building relationships with the right people: influencers, bloggers, journalists, entrepreneurs, investors.

That does not mean filling their inboxes with “Hello, I want to guest post for you. Here is twenty thousand ideas. All I want in exchange is a link to my very boring website.” We get enough of those. What it means – really getting to know them.

Following them on Twitter, reading and commenting their blogs, sharing their stories, engaging. Only then you can start building towards doing a common story or asking them to share yours.

You need to also think about your distribution strategy. How and when will you post to social media, will you try to distribute it through influencers, aggregators (Reddit, Hacker News), other blogs & platforms (Medium), paid promotion, or say digital distribution over at PR Newswire (Which has thousands of media subscribed to it, including ArcticStartup).

There is also absolutely nothing wrong with throwing some bucks at promoting your story and if it is truly written well and is interesting – it will work well, compared to most promoted content.

In the study we mentioned, it was found that White Papers and Blog Posts were the most effective means for paid promotion.

3. Don’t stop or don’t start.

Very simple, if you are going to blog once every six months then do not do it at all. It takes time and effort and constant blogging before you become an influencer and start gaining recognition and traffic.

It is extremely important for you and your company to understand this. It may take more than a year for your content marketing strategy to start paying off. Most people give up way too early.

4. Be creative and use multiple content types.

When we think content marketing, we often think: blogging. When in fact, you need to consider the whole spectrum:

Blogging, White Papers, Webinars, Infographics, News Releases, Vlogging, Research Projects, Social Media, E-Books, Redditing, etc.

According to our friends at PR Newswire – 78% of the most effective content marketers see press release services as a part of their content promotion strategy and that shows that they are being creative about using unconventional ways of monetizing and acquiring audiences.

This means that you can use any content type and promote it using various ways, not just the ones that are specifically designed for it.

5. Don’t have clear goals: look for good stories.

Having clear goals means that you will tie your content to your advertising and call-to-actions, which in reality means that every reader will see through your attempt to get them to use your products.

Good content is about great and interesting stories that are not really told elsewhere in quite the same way. Having very clear goals and objectives will tie you down to specific stories and that can be a problem, as you might have to decline an amazing story because of it.

This ties down to writing out of passion and on topics that you truly know. If you write despite any goals, you will write content that is interesting simply because you do not care how many conversions it leads to and thus will not try to squeeze that information in and will truly be sharing valuable content with your readers. If they love what you do, they will spread that love. Do not be stuck in the marketing mind-set.

Coming from a marketing background, I always have to try my best to switch off my marketing mode when I sit down before a story and when I do that – the stories become much more engaging.

Now, a quick survey
Based on this, we really want to know how you have used content marketing in the past and what results you had with it.