Free resources: the key to my anti-gatekeeping content marketing strategy
This article has been adapted from my fortnightly newsletter Thusfar, Untitled. If you want first access to these resources, sign up to my newsletter here.
Gatekeeping doesn't build trust. And frankly, there's too much of it around
What do I mean by gatekeeping?
The obvious is gated content. While I don't have an issue with that specifically, it's the obsessive need so many companies have to collect as much data as possible for access to something like an eBook or a webinar that makes me uncomfortable.
But more than that, I've seen too many companies feel sceptical about the power of sharing information for free.
Here's the round-up for this week:
Why you should share free educational content
The golden (was a triangle, now a square?) of E-E-A-T
Building a *personal brand* (I hate that term so much)
I chatted about this on a podcast, which is pretty cool
How (and why) sharing FREE educational content is the backbone of good business
Long-lasting businesses are built on steady growth, not on quick wins. And steady, consistent growth relies on building trust. It's not about who has the most followers or whose TikTok went viral.
Those things can help to an extent, sure. But only if you are fully prepared to harness the attention at the moment you get it.
And most people just aren't there. You can't really be prepared for a sudden explosion of visibility. But what you can do is build a reputation through willingly, freely, educating others.
The purpose of free educational content
For your audience, it's to give them a chance to learn. And for your content marketing strategy, free educational content comes with a huge range of opportunities.
You build a reputation for knowing your shit about the thing you're always talking about. You build an engaged audience who are learning with you, rather then being sold on some false aspirational ideal.
Free educational content is not a threat to your business
There is a common misconception that if you give people access to all of the information, they will not buy from you. Why would people spend money on your services when they can just learn the skill themselves?
Providing free educational content shows people that you are the expert. But more than that, it's about helping people. Not everyone can afford your services or your software. And that's ok.
Not everyone is your target customer. But they may be in circles with the people who are.
Our moral imperative for inclusivity
I understand, especially in the world of business, that this is not an ideal everyone shares. Personally, I think that's a real shame.
Here's the thing. I believe that everyone deserves the chance to be proud of what they have created and the businesses they work for.
And if you're fighting imposter's syndrome about your website, copywriting skills, design, photography, whatever it may be, that's going to get in the way of feeling good about your business.
Now, I can't help with design or photography. But I can help people with their websites and wider content marketing.
Just because someone has no money to spare, it doesn't mean they deserve to feel shit about their business. So for the love of god, stop pay-walling everything and refusing to help the people who can't afford to outsource everything.
From a business perspective, you lose nothing
If a moral imperative to help and support people doesn't do it for you, or it isn't enough, consider the fact that you lose nothing by helping people. Because the parts of your audience without budget can't afford to work with you anyway.
Why not put yourself out there as an expert? Without bullshitting people and selling stupid fucking "get rich quick" and "six figure freelancer" courses.
Build trust, not walls
Position yourself as an expert, build trust among people with and without budgets, stay in it for the long haul, and treat people with the respect they deserve. Not everything has to be about making as much money as possible. Capitalism has brainwashed you.
The golden (was a triangle, now a square?) of E-E-A-T
Now the rant is over, let's look at the real business benefits of sharing free educational content and reducing (or completely removing) the walls you're putting up around your business.
What is E-E-A-T?
Firstly, let's clear this up. E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness. (Experience is a new(ish) addition, and it was previously known as E-A-T).
It's a marker of high quality content as well as a valuable metric for helpful content. (More here on Google's big Helpful Content Update). But what does this have to do with gatekeeping?
You can't show off your experience, expertise, authority, or trustworthiness behind a paywall
Or behind long convoluted forms. People just don't care enough about your content anymore.
If the general feedback from folks I work with and the people I speak to is anything to go by, I imagine a lot of companies are seeing a dip in their asset downloads.
I understand their purpose. I used to work at a company with a 90k strong CRM database that I used to create complicated "personalised" lead nurture workflows. But I'm not convinced that really works anymore.
People come to me because they trust I know my shit
And how do they know that? Because I give my information away for free. I am present and consistent on social media. I chat with you guys every couple of weeks. I reply to every single email you send me about this newsletter. I reply to (almost) all of my LinkedIn comments.
Last week I got an enquiry from a fairly sizeable tech company because I kept popping up on someone's FYP (TikTok). I've only got 200 followers over there*. The reach of my videos is fairly minimal. But I show up most days to share information for free.
*This was true at the time of writing. At the time of editing this blog I now have approx. 450.
E-E-A-T isn't just for the search engines
It's an indication of why people should give a shit about your business. You know how important I think SEO is for businesses. But Google isn't the be all and end all. Show people, for free, your experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Then let them imagine what could be possible when they pay you for your time and services.
Building a personal brand
I can't explain rationally why I hate the term "personal brand" so much. Probably that the commodification of personality makes me a bit sick. Nonetheless, there is no denying how important it is for business growth. More than ever people want to buy from people, not from businesses.
Building a brand has never been more important. I often get complimented on mine and my confidence to show up exactly as I am. And I want to help you do the same. If you fancy some 1:1 consultancy and support, we can chat just the once or meet 1-4 times per month, on a schedule that suits you.
Realistic content strategy for small businesses (and one person marketing teams)
Earlier this week, my first ever podcast episode was released. How exciting! I got to speak with the WONDERFUL Jack Chambers-Ward on the Search With Candour podcast. We had a lovely time, a great laugh, and chatted about why I love working with SMBs and independent creatives, my marketing philosophy, and how to survive as a one-person marketing team.
Give it a listen and let me know what you think.