In today’s post I revisit a short portion of a podcast from long ago, because to date, it is one of the most inspiring interviews I’ve ever conducted. My guest was Ryan Hanley, an insurance agent turned content marketer, who, in spite of the people in his agency thinking he was crazy, embarked on a journey to prove that content marketing works.
One way that he did this was through writing 100 blog posts in 100 days AND creating 100 YouTube videos in 100 days as well. (He embedded the YouTube videos in his blog posts.) His results were nothing short of remarkable, and in fact, the agency where he worked turned from being skeptical about blogging, to making blogging and other forms of content marketing his full-time position.
Now whether or not I’ll publish 100 blog posts in 100 days remains to be seen. I have a lot of irons in the fire right now, and my publishing schedule will depend on whether or not some of those things come through. But what I do plan is to publish at least 31 blog posts this month. It’s a little easier to looking to the current month, and while publishing a blog post (with an audio, for my followers who prefer audio) will be challenging, it’s a doable goal for the current month.
One thing that IS certain is that shooting for the moon when it comes to the content we create will, at the very least, help us to land among the stars, even if we fail to reach the mega goal we set for ourselves.
With that in mind, I’d like to encourage you to set a big and scary blogging goal, and then do your best to reach it. Feel free to leave your scary goal in the comments below.
And now, here’s the interview with Ryan:
Ryan Hanley: So I don’t know if any of your listeners or if you’ve ever seen Pulp Fiction. Have you ever seen that movie?
Rebecca Livermore: Yes.
Ryan Hanley: Where the woman OD’d and they take the adrenaline shot and they stick it right into her heart and she comes like bursting back to life gasping for air. That’s what I wanted to do with our website. So I said, “OK, how do I do that?” I’m going to write an article every single day for the first 100 days of 2012 and see what I can do. I didn’t just want to write. I wanted to really play into Google and how Google plays favorites with his own tools. So what I did was I answered 100 insurance questions in 100 days in two minutes or less on a YouTube video.
Rebecca Livermore: Wow.
Ryan Hanley: And then took that YouTube video, wrote about six paragraphs of content, embedded the video in a blog post on my website and then I also uploaded the video and put some content and a link to my website in Google+. So I connected YouTube, Google+ on my website and I did that for 100 days and it was exhausting to say the least.
Rebecca Livermore: I bet.
Ryan Hanley: But the traffic, just watching the little meter in Google Analytics, whatever that’s worth, the amount of traffic and attention that we were getting, it was well worth it.
Rebecca Livermore: Oh, that’s awesome. Was that also an attempt to kind of show your company that hey, this really works? I mean did you feel like you had something to prove when you set out?
Ryan Hanley: Oh, yeah.
Rebecca Livermore: To start doing it?
Ryan Hanley: Yeah, I mean something to prove would be an understatement. No. It was like I have been talking about this for so long and they finally kind of gave me the keys to the website and I didn’t want to drop the ball here. I wanted to show them that hey, this stuff works.
So we did the 100 days and the 100 articles in 100 days, 100 videos. We’re answering questions. The questions I think were the most important parts. When we really get into kind of the nitty-gritty of content creation and a lot of people are talking about VOC, a lot of the kind of content marketers out there talking about something called VOC, voice of customer.
What I did was in the month of December 2011, so the month before, when I knew I was going to be able to start working on the website before I could actually do it, I was out on Facebook. I was calling people. I was asking every client that came into my office. If you had one insurance question that you could have answered what would it be? Very simple. It doesn’t have to be mind-bending.
If you had an insurance question, what would it be? Over the course of that month, I collected like 147 questions and then some of them were duplicates and some of them were close and I paired those down to the hundred but I paired them down in the exact phrasing that my clients used.
So I was using the words that they used and that was an incredibly important part of the process because I wanted the way insurance customers talked to match up with the words and the language that we used in the content we created for these videos. Over the course of the 100 days, we saw our traffic on a daily basis increase by 150 percent.
Rebecca Livermore: Wow.
Ryan Hanley: So we were getting between 72 and 78 hits a day on our website leading up to January 1st and I could tell you we had three pages on our website up until that point and every single one of them was either the home page or a Contact Us page which had our phone number and our address. So, 72 to 78 people a week were going to our page to find our phone number or our address. When we started the 100 days, literally on day one, we got 150 people.
So we doubled our weekly traffic in a day, the first day that we did this. I mean there’s a lot of other promotion that went along with it. But then that promotion died off and it was really just everyday being consistent and we just watched a little meter on Google Analytics tick up and up and up.
We signed in those 100 days about 25 new clients just from people who contacted us who directly mentioned the videos and the articles which for the actual amount of time that it took to put all this together, which was about a half hour a day, is an incredible amount of revenue for us.
Rebecca Livermore: Oh, yeah. That is incredible. So how did your bosses respond when they saw that big of an impact just in the first few months?
Ryan Hanley: Well, first they didn’t think I was crazy any longer. This is a family business. There’s my father-in-law who owns it, my brother-in-law who works here, my wife and my wife’s twin sister and myself. So there are five of us total and I wasn’t like the crazy outcast son-in-law who would evolve his wild ideas on creating content and driving inbound traffic. All of a sudden it became, “Well, what else can you do?”
That’s actually how I ultimately got. So I was just a producer then. So I was doing all this in addition to the daily functions of a traditional insurance producer. I still had to do cold calls and do all the other stuff.
Three weeks ago, I was given the title Director of Marketing and now I’m fulltime head of marketing for the agency doing all this that we’re discussing and more. I’m no longer a traditional producer because using these kinds of inbound content marketing tactics or strategies, those are – I don’t necessarily like those words but using this type of marketing method, the concepts and theories behind it, I can bring much more revenue into the agency than I could as a traditional producer.
Rebecca Livermore: Wow, that’s amazing, and that really shows the power of what you and I both have a passion for and it’s not just some silly idea that may or may not work. When done well, it does work.
Ryan Hanley: I mean work is not even a question and it doesn’t even have to be done well. You can do it OK and still see results. I mean the truth is it’s really just taking the time to do it and the time becomes less and less as you become more proficient in how you create content and have a better idea of the content you want to create and you don’t even have to be that good of a writer or that good on video or that good on a podcast. Getting the content out there is really the first step. I think far too many people wait to try to produce something great.
Rebecca Livermore: Right.
Ryan Hanley: And it just doesn’t have to be. Just get started getting the content out there and then learn and you will get to great. Really this is Seth Godin. Just ship it. Just get it out there. Get it going and as long as you’re willing to learn, that your content is going to get to the point where you’re doing some serious damage but it will work day one.
The big question for you is what will YOU do? Do you think that you’ll try writing 100 posts in 100 days?
I hope that you enjoyed that inspiring interview with Ryan. My question for you is if you think that you’ll embark on your own blogging challenge. It doesn’t have to be 100 posts in 100 days. For example, if you haven’t been blogging consistently, it can be one post a week for the next 12 weeks, or if like me, you’re a bit uncertain about what the next 100 days holds for you, consider setting a goal that is for the next 30 days instead.
The important thing is to set a realistic but challenging goal and then do your best to stick with it and make it happen.
Feel free to share your goal by leaving a comment below, so that we can all cheer each other on!