Back in college/uni, I studied communications. That’s how I learned the fundamentals of content creation, ie delivering the message in a way that is suitable for the target audience. Freelance corporate writing work remains my main income channel.
That specialisation got me jobs, but the money only started growing as I learned how to sell myself and my services via digital marketing. Every cent I threw in digital marketing got me at least 10x return on investment. All that effort to self-learn digital marketing is worth it.
This post is a case study on Ringgit Oh Ringgit’s blog digital marketing strategy, including what works and what I still have to improve on. I figure this information might be useful for freelancers and small businesses looking to explore content marketing as your primary digital marketing strategy. I don’t think you see that many case studies from Malaysia-based content creators.
Ringgit Oh Ringgit Blog Digital Marketing Strategy
Content creation refers to any type of content that is informational and/or entertaining, whether it’s in text, graphics or video format. One-off content is easy, but consistency is hard. My specialisation is writing, and I dedicate a few hours a week thinking of content ideas, doing post outlines, creating and sticking to a schedule – before the actual writing, editing, proofreading and optimising processes.
All, or almost all great digital marketers I follow emphasise content marketing as the best lead generation strategy. Nowadays, sales ads like ‘We sell beautiful clothes!’ will no longer work. Even if it does, it will only attract price-conscious customers.
Freelancers and small businesses can’t – or rather, shouldn’t – compete on prices. You can’t compete with developing-world price tags, which big companies can afford to buy/outsource in bulk. That’s the fastest way to get out of business.
In my case, I first created personal finance content in this blog as a hobby (it still is my hobby). Later, as the traffic grew, I used it as a funnel of sorts to attract clients while looking around for other ways to monetise it. That’s why you’re seeing ads and sponsored posts btw. Thanks for understanding, the money keeps me motivated to keep writing free blog articles 🙂
Let’s go deeper into the blog digital marketing strategies I’m using for Ringgit Oh Ringgit.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Almost 70% of my blog traffic comes from organic search, ie readers who found me when they enter certain keywords into Google. It’s the best and cheapest way to get consistent traffic – the rest don’t even come close!
I learned about SEO when some clients requested SEO articles during my Upwork (a freelancing platform) days. Gradually I learned by doing and happy to report I got pretty good at it by this point.
If you’re a writer, get yourself acquainted with SEO stat. You can demand higher rates from clients. If you’re a small business, I can say that SEO-optimised content is a worthwhile investment for long-term organic marketing. Here’s a tip – find out what problems your target audience face, then make high-quality guides to help them.
Social media marketing
I’m active in Facebook or Twitter, but tried and failed with Pinterest and meh on Instagram. Visuals are really not my strong point at all. I’m still learning and making
small tiny improvements – not giving up hope!
In my particular case, it’s okay to concentrate on the written medium as I sell writing services anyway, but I imagine my income would suck if I sell products. People do expect to see them before they buy them, correct or not?
Social media marketing requires you to keep up with constant algorithm changes. I remember my traffic from Facebook plummeted after they implemented a new algorithm in early 2018. My posts no longer rank high in the news feed, unless I pay for it. They’re really after that ad money sighhhh.
There IS a way to not rely on paying for social media ads. Rationally I know I should jump into the infographic and video creation train – Facebook ranks those higher – but I’m still strategising how to sustainably incorporate it into my content. If you have video ideas, I’m all ears. Bonus points if I don’t have to show my face in it. #paisehpeopleproblems
Nothing makes me happier than people sharing my content, by the way. It’s so… what’s the word? Emotionally rewarding. Like, despite not using video, despite lacking in graphics, you still share? Just because of the writing? It makes me incredibly, incredibly happy.
Other Blog Digital Marketing Optimisation
There are a few bits and pieces that don’t fit in anywhere else here. I’ll just compile them for now.
1) Frequency and timing of blog articles
I used to update whenever, as long as it’s minimum once a week. Now, I stick to creating two articles per week, published at 10.30am every Monday and Wednesday.
The days and timing weren’t plucked out of thin air. According to Google Analytics, Ringgit Oh Ringgit records the highest traffic between Monday and Thursday, between 11am to 4pm. Hey, if that’s when you’ll visit, that’s what I’ll follow.
Naturally, to stick with that schedule I have to make an editorial calendar to keep myself organised. Mine is nothing fancy – just a page in my notebook, but it helps. I have a few regular series (like my monthly budget updates and link roundup series). Still, I have to brainstorm around five new and original ideas per month. I’m lucky to be obsessed with personal finance that it doesn’t feel like work most of the time.
I wish I have the time and energy to update more often than that because quantity matters, but I don’t want to sacrifice on quality. All my articles are over 1000 words long – this one is almost 2000 – and studies have shown that longer, in-depth articles tend to get more shares.
2) Website and mobile optimisation
About half of you are reading this on mobile, and another half on desktop. So I have no choice but to prioritise both types of optimisation.
Can I just say that the technical parts are kinda annoying to deal with? Once, a new plugin update completely crashed my website – I had to scramble around and find out WHY it crashed. Thank goodness for friends and contacts in the WordPress space.
And also, tweaking CSS and the like. Like wtf when I started blogging I DID NOT SIGN UP TO LEARN PROGRAMMING TOO. I mean yes fine I get to learn new stuff but would I call it fun? Err no.
Aside from that, there are so many little things that add up to an enhanced reading experience. Among other things, I:
- Changed my hosting package to improve on speed
- Tweaked the layout and the font and the font size
- Test plugins on a regular basis (WHILE deleting the ones that don’t work as well as it should, because lots of plugins slow down the website), and
- Try as much as possible to write paragraphs that look good on both web and mobile.
This part will never stop. So FYI. If you’re not a technical person, better get yourself a trusted IT person.
Tbh, I’m still not completely satisfied with how my website looks on mobile. Am itching to try out another theme.
I LOVE automation. It saves me so much time. When I hit publish, a few things happen:
- The article gets published automatically to Facebook and Twitter
- It gets re-published on Twitter a few hours later on the same day
- It gets added on into my automated list, which shares my content (older than 30 days) three times a day on Twitter
I’m not comfortable sharing the exact steps I’m using for this because I’m still trying to perfect my automation. I’ve tried – and abandoned – my (free) Hootsuite account twice now.
Aside from that, I also use IFTTT.com to automatically share Instagram images to Twitter. Not as links, but as native images. That I can recommend.
Do you have other automation hacks to recommend?
Other blog digital marketing things to improve on
As I mentioned, I want to jump into visual-type content. I also want to work towards fixing my mindset – I’m stingy af when it comes to marketing and purchasing paid WordPress plugins and stuff. I’d rather not pay for them, but they’re necessary investments.
But aside from those, one thing in particular that I’m keen to work on is my email marketing skills. I’ve done sales copies and onboarding decks with MailChimp, but those are always for other companies.
I’ve been dragging my ass on email marketing for Ringgit Oh Ringgit for the longest time despite EVERYONE telling me how important it is to get your audience to subscribe. Dunno lah, I personally find pop-ups that ask you to enter your emails annoying so I don’t do that. The most that I’ve done is having a newsletter subscription box (requested by a reader btw) and a short text at the end of every blog post (in grey – you’ll see it below. Added using CSS).
Many digital marketers like email marketing because it is an effective sales strategy. That’s why many e-commerce websites you visit give you freebies and discounts and stuff just to get your email address!
Testing email marketing with ebook project
At the time of writing, I don’t have a mass-market product to sell yet, but that will soon change hopefully! I’m organising a personal finance-themed writing competition to collect stories and compile them in an ebook! Click here for full details – am offering cash prizes. Final submission date is 15 August 2018 so hurry!
Organising this competition satisfies me on so many levels because it allows me to:
- Test my Facebook ad copywriting skills (in the ad to promote the writing competition, about one in four people who saw it ‘liked’ it, which is awesome!)
- Create a new type of monetisation from digital products
- Learn about the ebook creation process (going through ebook courses on Udemy is fun!)
- Play around with e-commerce plugins – something I’ve always wanted to try
And best of all, it’s such a win-win-win thing. Writers, even new ones who get selected will get paid. I get a new digital product to sell. My audience can read entertaining stories with personal finance elements.
Subscribe to my email listing to get my emails and see, in real-time, what kind of email marketing tactics I’m using to sell this ebook. Plus, email subscribers will get discounts on the ebook when it comes out. Yo, as a personal finance blog, this is as meta as it can get.
I love high-quality content, and I’m sure you do too. Can I invite you to share blog pages (or YouTube) of small businesses that you think have great educational and/or entertaining content in the comments section? Would love to check them out.
I’d also love to get digital marketers reading this to give feedback on areas I can improve myself. I know I’m not the best at it – if I were, I’d have a million monthly traffic by now – but dammit I will try because it’s fun to see the effects of the investments I put into it.
As always, thanks for reading! This was one of the funnest blog article to write :p