Ryan Hanley

author, speaker, marketing geek

The Four C’s of Beginner Content Marketing

Beginner Content Marketing

The following beginner content marketing techniques create the foundation for our success online.

Advanced content marketing tactics and strategies are sexy, no doubt. But most marketers and business owners are not ready to build these advanced strategies (i.e. self-syndication) into their everyday content marketing efforts.

Think of your online presence as building a custom home. Before we can add fancy crown molding and granite counter-tops, we must first dig a hole and put in a foundation.

Our content marketing strategy is not different.

We must first lay the foundation of our online presence using the beginner content marketing principles outlined below.

Four C’s of Beginner Content Marketing

Here are the four C’s of beginner content marketing:

  • Create
  • Captivate
  • Community
  • Convert

Every professional content marketing strategy is born out of the Simon Sinek, “Why,” of that organization.

The great content marketers of our era (Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Chris Brogan just to name a few) spend more time on “Why,” than the content marketing tactics they’ll use to execute.

If you need help figuring out the “Why” of your content marketing, grab a copy of my new book Content Warfare, you’ll love it.

Far too often amateur content marketers get lost in tactics.

Don’t make this mistake.

The four C’s are a content marketer’s guide.

Apply your organization’s unique “Why” to these four principles and the tactics necessary to execute will simply fall into place.

If you can harness all four, even at this very basic level, you will find success online.

You’ll find success because you’ll actually understand “Why” you’re doing all the tactics rockstar ninja guru marketers preach every day.

SEE ALSO: What is Content Marketing?

content marketing for beginners1) Create

The first C is create.

We must create original content.

We must create original content on a platform we own. The blog is not dead.

There is no shortcut and no excuse that can get you out of this first principle of content marketing.

By original, I mean to your business (not that you specifically have to write the content) Hiring a copywriter or freelance content marketer is an excellent strategy if you have the resources.

Regardless of who actually creates the content, our website, blog, social media outposts and email marketing must all provide unique value through original content.

Most of us did not start our businesses to become publishers. Unfortunately, in today’s world, it’s become increasingly difficult to buy the attention our businesses needs to survive through traditional methods. We must publish. We must create original content.

This is where the idea of Content Warfare came from. We’re not curating content, we’re not echoing the ideas other thought-leaders and we’re certainly not stealing content.

With 70% of B2B marketers set to increase content creation in 2016, according to Content Marketing Institute, not creating original content is NOT an option.


Content quality matters. According to a study analyzed by Marketing Land, 69% of content online is low quality.

Coupled with the necessity to create content, (and ultimately create more and more over time), is the need for that content to be high quality.

Creating consistent high-quality content is a foundational principle of beginner content marketing.

2) Captivate

Many businesses, (especially small businesses), stop at creating content. These businesses mistake activity for success.

The content we create must captivate our perfect online audience’s attention.

An incredibly simple idea, that is incredibly difficult to master.

Here is what captivating your perfect online audience does NOT look like:

…it’s not cat videos.

…it’s not political rants.

…it’s not puking out advertising messages.

The simplest way to captivate your audience is be human. 

Our content must capture the authenticity, transparency, vulnerability and humility that enable true connection with your audience.

A more tactical approach to captivating your audience looks like this:

  • Teach through stories,
  • Share case studies,
  • Answer common questions about your business or industry,
  • Highlight audience members, and
  • Provide “behind-the-scenes” access.

These are just a few ideas.

Adding rich media, such as video, audio and Slideshares to content marketing can help captivate your audience as well. Last year video from people and brands increased 3.6x year over year. There is a reason for this.


The definition of captivate says it all:

attract and hold the interest and attention of

Attract and hold your audience’s attention long enough and they’ll begin to trust you.

Building trust by captivating your audience with original content is a foundational principle of beginner content marketing.

3) Community

Communities advance trust building with your audience.

Community building is as vital to the long-term success of your content marketing strategy as air is to your personal health. I’m serious.

According to Vanessa DiMauro in her 56 Lessons From 20 Years of Online Community Building:

People come for content and stay for community.

We can generate attention in bursts. Create a new product with some compelling sales copy and pay for ads that attract attention. Do this and you will move product. You will make sales no doubt.

But attention without trust, without a sense of community is fleeting.

It’s just a burst of attention. You get a nice run up and then… crickets.

As quickly as your perceived audience was built, it’s gone again.

Attention is quickly taken away, unless you build a community. Unless you introduce your captivated audience to one another and give them a reason and way to congregate and network.

You and your ideas are the rallying point for your audience’s success.

You’re not the success itself; you’re the facilitator, the spark. Your ideas are the gasoline and your community is the engine.

When you build a community, you’re manufacturing repeat customers and brand evangelists. You’re building your own personal marketplace for the products and services you sell.

Community is what keeps your content marketing thriving, forever.


According to a study by Crezeo80% of marketers indicate that building brand communities has increased traffic and 53% of Americans who are part of a social brand community are more loyal to the brand.

When audience members become community members, you build loyalty and trust.

Building a community of true fans is a foundational principle of beginner content marketing.

4) Convert

Once you’ve established a consistent creation process, learned how to captivate your readers and turned audience members into a community, conversion becomes the easy the part.

Conversion becomes easy because you’ve already put in the hard work.

The first three foundational principles of content marketing are labor intensive.

The trick to conversion is testing.

No one really knows what’s going to convert prospects into customers until they test the various elements of a conversion focused landing page. The tool I use for this is Leadpages Landing Pages. It’s wonderfully simple and works with any platform, not just WordPress.

You don’t have to sell your community. You don’t have to sell your audience. If you’ve put in the work, if you’ve set yourself and company to the first three C’s, then your community is going to tell you what they want.

All you need to do is provide it.

Sure there are strategies, designs and tactics that will help you maximize conversions.

This stuff is important, no doubt. If you’re looking for more resources on conversion, check out Unbounce and ConversionXL. Both are fantastic and go-to resources for me.

In order for beginner content marketing to produce results, for those schemes and designs and tactics to help in any way, we must have done the work.

It’s that simple and that hard.


According to Peep Laja, founder of ConversionXL, when it comes to conversion:

Here’s the hard and fast rule: one page, one goal.”

All the hard work of content marketing seems pointless if we’re not going to eventually convert our audience into clients.

Developing a plan and process for converting your audience into paying customers is a foundational principle of beginner content marketing.

awesome content marketing

The Rub

Focus on the four C’s of beginner content marketing and you’ll never have to read another post on how often to post on social media or write the perfect blog post.

These are derivatives of your ability to harness the foundational principles of content marketing listed above.

Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.

Don’t overinvest in platforms, tools or strategies.

Submerse yourself in creation. Whatever it takes for you to consistently publish content, which captivates your perfect online audience. Do that thing. Read that book. Be in that place…

…and you won’t be a beginner for long.

Thank you and Good luck,

I am Ryan Hanley.

beginner content marketing infographic

What say you?

image credit 1: giphy.

image credit 2: giphy.

About Ryan Hanley

I help make sales easy through content marketing. My work as a marketing strategist, keynote speaker, and Amazon bestseller author will help your business establish authority, attract an audience and grow revenue. Hire me to speak at your next event or grab a copy of my new book, Content Warfare.

  • https://www.professional-cv-writer.co.uk Claire Greenhow

    A great guide, I’ll pin the infographic to refer to again.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley

      Thanks @clairegreenhow:disqus. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

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  • http://craigmcbreen.com/ Craig McBreen

    Hey Ryan,

    I love your framework!

    “The simplest way to captivate your audience is be human.”

    You buy a product, work with an individual, or hire a team based on what you know and feel about them… your beliefs. Part of this is perception. But authenticity will bring your brand to life :)


  • Chuck

    Hi Ryan: Enjoyed this a lot. Can you comment on building a community. How do you build a community and sustain it? Thanks,

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley


      What part of building a community are you referring to… getting the people’s attention or the tactics of it?

      Does that make sense?

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  • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


    I saw the video… Amazing, thank you so much. And I loved your breakdown. You’re doing some very good work and I’m glad we’re connected now.


  • http://www.21stcenturyblogs.com Wayne

    The 4Cs break it down so basic that even a beginner like myself can understand. Finding fresh content to relate to all your social outlets seems to trouble me from time to time.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      I find that subscribing by RSS using a free tool like Feedly is a great way to find and distribute quality content to your audience… Then mix in your own content and you’re on your way to becoming a thought-leader.



      • http://www.21stcenturyblogs.com Wayne

        I have been researching more on web 2.0 and have found it is a beast of its own in the ability to find new content for yourself. So many people sharing. I have made the mistake in the past of only sharing my content instead of contributing overall. This has really opened my eyes. Thanks for the response.

  • http://madlemmings.com Ashley

    Great 4 Cs there Ryan, and I seem to have not problem with Create. But the last 3 take a bit more time. Community is especially tough and takes a long time. Getting to know people, gaining trust and keeping them coming back. The convert often takes place as a result of that as well all know! Nice work

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Ashley,

      You are 100% correct in saying that last 3 C’s take time… That’s why they are so important. Most of the people we’re competing against for attention are NOT going to willing to put in that time creating a HUGE opportunity for anyone who is.

      All the best!


  • http://www.frankhouse.com Gaurav Heera

    creating own content is really very important to get success. visitors as well as search engines loves unique and informative content. nice article and thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Thanks for stopping by Gaurav!

  • Jeevan Jacob John

    Hey Ryan,

    Great tips you have got here (By the way, I love the font 😀 Did you install it recently? Or did I miss the last time?).

    The thing I used to struggle with is conversion.I never put some effort into email marketing and conversion, and when I realized the importance of it, it was already too late.

    But, I have already planned a strategy for my new blog, when I start it.

    The hardest part is capturing our audience; we certainly have to put a lot of effort into that. Crafting attention grabbing headlines and headings, starting off with a superb introduction and finishing off with a questions that compels the readers to comment.

    Anyways, thank you for the reminder on content marketing. Since I was on a long vacation, I certainly feel like beginner 😀

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      I actually upgraded my Genesis theme to Minimum Pro and this is the default Font out of the box… I love it.

      I find that taking a stand on things helps to get your audience thinking. It’s important to remember that your audience shouldn’t ALWAYS agree with you.


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  • http://www.brentmkelly.com Brent Kelly

    Great tips for beginners and those who have been at this for a while. I think sometimes we get stuck on the last 3 c’s and forget the most important one, create. Keep up the awesome info.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Brent and I completely agree with you… we look past step #1… Great insight dude.


  • http://www.aaronbeaudette.com Aaron Beaudette

    I couldn’t agree more Ryan. Regurgitating and summarizing another article is ok but it is best to create your own ideas.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      If you regurgitate or summarize you’re simply never going to get the traction you’re looking for.

      Create first and always.



  • http://crackgate2014.in Atul Puri

    Nice post. Unique idea of coming with Cs. My content marketing lacks in terms of first C (which i think is the most important) but i will try to recover this.
    Thanks for this useful article.

  • http://www.johnstahl.com John Stahl

    Ryan, great stuff. But could it be that simple? Just create rock’n content? I began blogging a month or two ago with minimal success so far. My impatience has always been an Achilles heel for me. Any tips on getting your blog found?

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      A month or two is definitely not enough time to see real significant results… Google needs time to index your site… It takes time to captivate people and build a community.

      Do you have an email list of any sort?


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