Website Income

Content Writing vs Content Marketing – Case Study

We have likely all been there… crushing out content for a project and just not getting the results that we’re after. I would argue that it is often because the process of content writing is disconnected or even mistaken for content marketing.

In this post I am going to show you a case study (URL revealed) with advanced content marketing (page 1 results for target 10k/month volume keyword in under 90 days) and discuss the difference between content writing and content marketing

Waitlist – Advanced Content Marketing and Link Building Solution

ContentRefined (a popular content writing service) has been executing the strategy below including strategy, copywriting and link building for potential customers. We are opening it up in the near future to anyone. Join the waitlist here to be the first to find out more about the service. 

This is how we should – but often don’t – think about content marketing and the results we have been able to achieve when a congruent content marketing strategy is proof.

Content Writing vs. Content Marketing – What is the Difference?

Content writing is one of the steps that has to happen within content marketing. Content marketing consists of a series of steps, including digital marketing strategy, keyword research, content writing, publishing, and marketing the created content. Too often, the process of content writing gets mistaken for a business doing content marketing.

How Online Entrepreneurs Often Get the 2 Confused…

Content marketing and content writing are not the same. Without “marketing,” it is just content.

If you are a good content writer that just wants to crank out great content in the form of blog posts or social media posts for the search engines that is great. But, it won’t be enough for you to generate the inbound marketing or brand awareness results you are trying to drive.

As the Content Marketing Institute is better at communicating content is not the same as Content Marketing. They argue this point for larger companies where the brand is an important consideration. However, for those of us building online businesses, our strategy needs to go beyond simply crushing words out and copywriting.

How does the process of the 2 differ?

Typical Content “Marketing” Process for Online Businesses

content writing vs content marketing

The typical process, which definitely works but is not optimal, is a very linear approach where the input to the content creation method is an almost random approach to keyword research.

Too often, the keyword strategy is not defined at the start in a structured way resulting in a random approach that cannibalizes keywords and leaves the site without a great structure. The focus on this process is typically around the copywriting with a good content writer and not on the marketing strategy.

This can and does work but leaves a lot of opportunity on the table.

Ideal Process for Advanced Content MARKETING of an Online Businesses

I firmly believe in the saying, “done is better than perfect,” and that is very true when growing a website. If the strategy below is too intense to be able to execute efficiently, then you are way better to execute the simpler strategy above, then do nothing!

Let’s break each of these steps down into a little more detail.


In the strategy stage, the key is to execute an iterative process that identifies…

●      Target keyword and cluster of supporting keywords to create articles around

●      Identify possible content assets that can be created that go beyond words which will help the audience (infographic, video, tool/aid)

●      Identify the marketing strategy, specifically the promotion and link building strategy. Most importantly, ensure the written content and other assets will support/enable the marketing strategy.

These 3 steps can’t happen in a linear process and are required to be an iterative process where an optimal link building opportunity might shift the focus of the target keyword to better capitalize on the opportunity.

An example of how this might change would be if you identify a target KW to go after but then as you are working through the promotion strategy you find a link building strategy that will perform well in the niche, but you need to shift the article to better capitalize on the link building strategy.

content writing vs content marketing

Create Content:

A high-quality brief leveraging advanced tools like MarketMuse, SurferSEO, and other Keyword Research tools are required. This brief will help ensure that the best content is created which will have the best chance possible of ranking for the target keywords.

In addition to the written words, additional assets can and should be created if the strategy calls for it. Video, infographics or simple tools can all play a significant role in the content marketing strategy. 


This is the simplest step in the process, make all the assets that have been created published.

In an ideal world, the advanced strategy involved a topic cluster structure and the interlinking adheres to that strategy. 

content writing vs content marketing

Execute Promotion Strategy:

The strategy for promoting is now congruent with the content that has been created. If it is a broken link building strategy, the content has been created to best mirror the content no longer available. If the purgatory link building strategy is used again, the content is created to maximize the chance of getting a link on outreach. 

Content Marketing Case Study

Below is a case study as an illustration of how much of the principles above can be applied. In this case study we focus on content writing and promotion with less of a focus on social media or influencer marketing. The content writer here needed to have some specialized knowledge in the field to create a piece for the marketing campaign to resonate with the target audience.


Page 1 Rankings in under 90 days for our ideal target keyword with 12k monthly searches in a competitive niche

content writing vs content marketing
From SerpBook


Spencer Haws, Kelley Van Boxmeer, and I launched MotionInvest in Q4 of 2019.

We wanted to not just rely on our audiences but lay the content strategy foundation for a 10yr+ business.

Because of this, a couple of content pieces were identified to be created. This case study summarizes the strategy and execution of one.

Below is the process we used to achieve the results shown above…

content writing vs content marketing

First – Strategy:

Keyword Research:

Keyword Identified – buying websites, website for sale online

Intent & Opportunity Identified – Although there is a lot of content online around this topic, there was limited content that was squarely focused on helping someone looking to buy a content-based website in the under 100k price range. Specifically, a complete resource to guide someone through the entire process including advanced due diligence.

We believe there are no articles that match a searcher’s intent of looking to educate themselves on the website buying process better then what we knew we were capable of creating (with the help of ContentRefined).

Content Asset Creation Plan

In addition to an epic guide helping people buy an online business, we identified 2 additional content assets which would help the user and play into the promotion strategy:

●      Infographic of Website Buying and Selling Landscape – As the landscape in the online buying/selling world has gotten more complex, there was a need for a map of all the players in the industry to help educate someone new to the space who each of the players were and when it would make sense to work with them vs. alternatives.

●      SOP for Due Diligence – All due diligence guides were focused on doing due diligence for larger businesses and therefore covered too many things (taxes, entity setup) and didn’t cover the specific requirements in enough detail (how to analyze backlinks). Therefore, we included in the article the complete SOP on executing due diligence.

●      Tips from Industry Experts – An additional content asset we intended to include were tips from industry experts.

Promotion and Link Building Plan

The strategy that was decided upon focused on a 2 part link building and promotion plan…

●      Skyscraper Technique – Simply create the most epic piece of content for the given searchers intent and reach out to people to get them to link to it

●      “Ego Bait” – Since we are not competitive with almost all brokers (dealing with smaller sites then brokers touch), we have the opportunity to get their involvement in the post sharing their tip. Including their tip helps them with exposure, improves the quality of the article and is an opportunity for them to share

Content Creation:

The outline and this entire strategy were created with the help of the team at ContentRefined leveraging the tools used there.

Between the MotionInvest SOPs, some content provided by the founders, and then the combination of everything into a monster guide, we believe the best BOOK on the topic of buying content websites for profit is the result!

The additional content assets of the infographic were created with a designer. I then executed the industry outreach.


Publishing such a long post is surprisingly challenging and time consuming!

In addition, we have a lot of pages that all rank for some related keywords, which is not ideal but as the site gets built out further it will all make sense to both the visitor and Google.


This is the part that is often left off and the difference maker between a content writer and a content marketing writer! Here was the basic promotion strategy that we have leveraged, including our own assets, to help push this piece of content to page 1. 

●      Skyscraper Technique – Based on the length and depth of what we created, people have been happy to link to us. The main outreach effort has only begun and the results already are promising with links such as this one from Matthew Woodward’s blog.

●      “Ego Bait” – By including people in the post and then letting them know once it is live, it is in there interest to share with their audience if we are not competitive with them and the asset piece helps their audience while demonstrating they are an authority in the space. Such as links from Jean Aglea or Richard Patey.

Hopefully, this case study was insightful in how to approach content marketing more strategically.

If the next time you see a piece of content that is killing it for a competitive keyword, try and reverse engineer their strategy. It is highly unlikely that they stumbled into the keyword or how they promoted it. When you look at top posts under this lens (Strategy, Copywriting, Publish & Promote), on Google, online success becomes far less mysterious.

How Can You Execute:

If you have a site, think about what piece of content you could rank for that would disrupt your industry. What if you ranked on the first page for a would-be trajectory that could then change the outcome for your business?

Imagine what just one of these content surges can do for your business once per quarter or once per month!

Need Help Executing? A Complete Done for You Solution?

The process is underway to combine all parts of what is outlined above under one offering executed by ContentRefined. Early beta testers are already in and the team is building the waitlist now. You can signup here.

About the Author Jon

I am a 36 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

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