The demands of the digital landscape and a 21st-century audience are unforgiving. No one is searching Google for your advertisement. Most of the time, they aren’t searching for you nor for your company. More than likely, they are searching for an answer to a question. If you can provide a useful answer, they may peruse your website, social profile, and other content. They may not.

It takes more than a single piece of magnificent content to build an audience. Today’s viral post is tomorrow’s forgotten moment in time.

What’s the alternative to relying on big content “moments”?

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Incremental Steps Lead to Big Wins

One superb piece of content doesn’t build a loyal audience. The art of incrementalism, changes by small degrees versus overnight leaps, builds an audience.

Content creators must establish cadence and rhythm. It may seem like a small first step, but it’s cadence that turns you into a media channel and publishing platform. Small steps ultimately build big wins.

There are very few successful online influencers because the incremental process takes patience and consistency. Influencers dominating specific niches didn’t pop up yesterday. They started methodically building an online brand many months—even years—ago, and now see the fruits of their labor.

This doesn’t mean delayed success. Each content creator has “wins” along the way. When a post resonates with readers, traffic spikes. But ownership of a space isn’t instant. That’s why the content process is an investment.

So, how do you establish a successful, long-term content marketing strategy incrementally?

Research and create content around one new keyword each week

Develop a firm understanding of who the influencers are in your niche. Who reigns supreme with certain topics and keywords? Who does your audience identify as a go-to resource? This research helps you identify new opportunities to increase your influence.

Start your week with Google Trends to find relevant topics and keywords. Do a quick Google search to see who ranks for those keyword concepts. Are these keyword topics saturated, or is there opportunity to stake a claim?

Look for a few new keyword themes weekly for your site, and select an idea for new content.

Measure success weekly

Building a kingdom takes time and determination. Monitoring and measuring content marketing results is essential to ensuring you invest time and effort into the topics and content types thst provide the most value.

At the end of each week, review your content analytics and compare this week’s performance with the last. If you don’t have software tools to help you, use a spreadsheet to analyze content metrics (views, engagement, shares, etc.). 

With weekly tracking, a picture of what your audience finds compelling will emerge. Push yourself to make today’s content as great as last week’s best performer. Review your progress again at week’s end; keep what’s working and ditch what isn’t.

These small, incremental adjustments over time will ultimately help you to refine your content marketing strategy.

Create a realistic content marketing (editorial) calendar

It’s important to plan your content marketing strategy around available resources. There’s no sense being everywhere at once if your team is a one-person show with only five hours per week to spend on content creation and distribution.

Instead, think contextually: “What can I create with my available resources to get the best return on investment?”  This may mean hiring an outside resource. It might mean getting creative on your own. Either way, it’s better to perform well on one platform—or master the creation of a single content type—than to have a subpar presence everywhere.

Discipline and Consistency Drive Results

Magnificent content creators understand discipline and consistency. If they promise to publish a newsletter every Monday morning, they do. If they tell their audience they will post new blogs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, they do. They train followers to visit routinely by becoming a media channel. Readers return because of the habit, the quality, and the consistency of the publisher.

To succeed in the world of digital content, your question shouldn’t be, “How do we create something mega popular?” The question is, “How can we sustainably create valuable content on a regular basis, for a long time?”

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Take Incremental Steps

It’s OK to start small with content marketing. Make one promise to your audience, and execute on it. Once you have your Monday morning newsletter process down, make a second promise. Then a third. And a fourth. Eventually, you’ll have an entire digital marketing strategy.

Here are some quick wins to help significantly increase your output over time:

  1. Curate content by sharing relevant industry articles, videos, etc., so that you don’t always have to create content from scratch.
  2. Invite influencers and thought leaders to create guest posts for your website and social channels.
  3. Produce “Expert Roundup” blog posts that pool together advice on a specific topic from industry leaders.
  4. Create templates for quote graphics, infographics, list posts, etc., for productivity and efficiency. This way, you don’t have to start from scratch each time, and you can maintain brand consistency.
  5. Once you have enough content “in the hopper,” schedule it using tools like Hootsuite or HubSpot, so that you have more time to invest in other areas.

Remember, you can’t typically turn everything on at once. It’s far better to start small, build consistency with one or two types of content per week, and incrementally add a second, third, and forth over time.

About the Author:

Joe Griffin is the CEO of ClearVoice, a content marketing technology company for high-quality blogs and content destinations that he co-founded in 2013. He has served in executive roles at and iCrossing, and has founded multiple companies. You can follow his tweets @joegriffin or connect on LinkedIn.