Sometimes, Publishers Need to Give Content Away to Get

Although our target (Z Squared Media) as a media company is corporate marketers, I get the opportunity to talk with publishers on a consistent basis. There is one constant that I find with publishers, no matter the size or industry – They don’t like to share.

Let me explain. Publishers love to leverage content from editors to position as their own … that’s basically what publishers do. We leverage great content from multiple sources and sell against it (advertising or paid content). It’s been a great strategy for years, and should continue to be so. But if you asked publishers to promote content that is not theirs and does not reside in their print magazines or websites, you better put away the knives and torches.

But that’s exactly what publishers need to do more of.

Here’s the rationale. To excel, a publisher needs to be the industry expert. They do this through content. BUT, there are hundreds, if not thousands of experts in our industries that bang the industry drum through blogs, white papers, webinars and more. There is no possible way, in my opinion, that a publisher (or magazine) can position themselves as the industry expert without bringing those industry experts into consideration.

Let me give you an example. Our goal at Junta42, from the beginning, was to be the leading source of content marketing information on the planet. No matter how much great content in multiple formats we produced, there was always someone, somewhere producing great content marketing information as well. So, we decided to create the Junta42 Top Content Marketing Blogs.

The idea of the Junta42 Top 42 was to develop a list of the top content producers in our industry (content marketing) and keep it updated. We developed a rationale for judging, and every quarter we release a new list. We started with 81 blogs three years ago, and now have almost 400 blogs that we review. As you’ll see, we promote the best blogs in the industry and link out to those blogs. Yes, we actually send people away from our site, with no strings attached.

Why would any publisher in their right mind do that?

Since launching the list, that web page has been our most popular, with over 20,000 unique visitors to that page alone. The list also gets over 1,000 inbound links directly to that page. It has single handedly been responsible for the majority of our enewsletter and RSS signups, as well as signups to our matching service (our main revenue driver). Simply put, it’s a traffic magnet and core to our business model. It also positions us as the experts in the content marketing industry by highlighting the best content in the industry (even though it’s not ours).

You might say, “Joe, this has been done for years with directories” and you would be right. Except that directories are direct revenue generators. Our top blog list is definitely indirect. We give this information away freely.

Yes, this strategy drives business for us, but it also has driven opportunity. Junta42 now has relationships with the majority of the top industry bloggers simply because of the list. They love the fact that we promote them, and they always take our calls or open our emails.

My advice is this … if your goal is to be the industry expert, you’ll need help from freelancers, bloggers, associations and more. By helping the other content producers in your industry, you can solve a lot of your own web problems as well as reach your own goals.

Joe Pulizzi is CEO of Z Squared Media, LLC, LLC, whose brands include Junta42, the Content Marketing Institute and SocialTract. Joe also speaks around the world about content marketing and sometimes promotes his book, Get Content Get Customers , called THE handbook for content marketing. You can reach Joe at joe[at]

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