8 Content Marketing Lessons Your Startup Can Learn from Neil Patel

Aaron Agius
8 Content Marketing Lessons Your Startup Can Learn from Neil Patel

Unless you’re completely new to the online world, you know Neil Patel — the marketer who’s skyrocketed his businesses through the power of content marketing. His efforts serve as foundational lessons for anyone interested in this marketing format.

As a startup, you know that strong content marketing can help your increase cash flow, as well as improve your customer acquisition and retention efforts. But despite knowing how important these activities are, you still find yourself struggling to actually get it off the ground.

That’s OK. You’re not alone.

These eight lessons will provide you with a strategy for dramatically growing your content marketing campaigns.

That said, you should know upfront this will require time, effort and dedication.

Become a Leader Through Teaching



Thought leadership, beating competitors, making an impact…it all happens through consistent, educational content.

And Neil definitely practices what he preaches.

From his 30,000-word guides (two of which I had the chance to collaborate with Neil on) to his rigorous content production schedule, he’s delivering value to his audience week after week.

Regardless of your industry, your audience needs to learn something. And you can teach them.

But how can you figure out what to teach them? Think of it like a Venn diagram:



When you can align these three things, you have the recipe for great content marketing.

And just as we’ve seen from Neil’s efforts, great content marketing can yield powerful results. You just need to put in the effort to make things happen.

How will you use these lessons to fuel your next content initiative?

You Have the Time — No Excuses


As a startup founder, you wear a lot of hats. It’s understandable you might feel overwhelmed by all the work that needs to get accomplished.

But, chances are, you can still find a few extra hours to craft that blog post.

It’s all about priorities.

Neil writes about eight posts each week. That’s on top of running multiple companies, advising startups, angel investing and speaking engagements.

If he can find the time, so can you. No more excuses.

Great content marketing requires dedication. You’ve got to make it a priority. And when you do, you’ll find time to get it done.

It may mean missing the latest episode of your favorite show, but hey — that’s why Hulu was invented.

Use Engagement to Build Relationships

Want your audience to give you their time, attention and money? Well, you’ve got to start the process by giving to them first.

Typically, this happens through your initial content. You’re giving free education and insights. That’s great. But why stop there?

If you check out the Quick Sprout blog, you’ll see that Neil responds to each of the comments he receives. By his estimates, it takes him about 26 hours a month to respond to the comments in all the posts he publishes around the web.

That’s dedication.

Why does he do it? Well, it turns out commenting provides many benefits. Most notably, he points out the way it helps with traffic:


Comments also help you on a qualitative level. This level of repeated engagement with your audience forms a bond a relationship. As a startup, you can’t ignore the power of relationships.

The more people you have in your corner, the better.

Focus on Building the Right Audience

It’s no secret that you need an audience. But before you start rounding up anyone who will listen, take a second to evaluate the audience you should really seek.



He goes on to talk about how well Sean Work, his editor, does with selecting the right types of posts for the KISSmetrics blog.

The right type of content will cause readers to feel engaged, educated and enticed to keep returning. And, as an added bonus, your efforts will generate more qualified leads for your sales team.

Focus on creating the right audience, not just any audience. That’s what Neil would do. And that’s what your startup should do too.

Use Data to Influence Your Decisions

It’s easy to get overwhelmed (or underwhelmed) by your content marketing results. In the heat of discouragement, you might think your “gut” is telling you to take another route.

I hate to break it to you, but you shouldn’t follow your gut in these decisions. Instead, let the data guide you.



Let’s say you’re trying to decide which direction to take your content. You could easily go with what you “gut” tells you. Or, you could take a scientific approach.

Analyze the average traffic, number of social share and comments each of your top posts has received. You’ll find a handful of topics that rise to the top.

Assuming you’re building the right audience, this data will reveal what type of content works best.

And when the data guides you, the decisions feel a lot easier.

Write Powerful, Engaging Headlines


In a noisy world, powerful headlines help you stand out from the crowd. It’s your one shot to capture attention and entice people to click.

Startups don’t often have the luxury of a huge audience right after launch. That makes building engaging, sharable headlines that make an impact an even higher priority.

Neil advises you find a creative editor from the magazine world. Have you ever picked up a magazine or started a conversation in the grocery store line, based solely on a headline you read?

That’s the kind of power these kind of editors bring to the table. They know exactly how to craft headlines that capture attention.

Don’t Be Afraid of Getting a Bit Aggressive



Have you even gone over to Neil’s blog and seen all the popups and call-to-actions? He’s aggressive with his lead generation. And it gets results.

His findings show that a bit of aggressive sales tactics typically don’t increase bounce rates or cause any traffic decrease.

That’s great news for startups.

You need as many leads as you can get. So, take a note from Neil and get a bit aggressive with your sales. You may make a few people upset, but who has ever done anything worth mentioning without upsetting a few people along the way?

Bank on the Laziness of Others


So far, we’ve discussed several lessons that you can apply to your startup. And I’d venture to say that at least 70% of people reading this article won’t implement most of them. Why?

Because people are lazy.

In addition to Neil’s rigorous publishing schedule, he and his team also release numerous guides and infographics that are thousands of words long. His guides alone hover around 35,000 words and cost him more than $30,000 a piece to produce.

How many other people do you see publishing content on this scale? Not many. As a result, Neil will continue to grow because he’s willing to go above and beyond in his content marketing.

You can do the same — even if you don’t have such a major budget.

Instead, bank on the laziness of others. Look to see what other people are doing well, and then do it one step better.

Over time, as your audience goes, you can reinvest in your site’s content marketing initiatives to grow even faster.

So far, I’ve presented eight lessons that you can apply to your startup. However, do you know the only way to really make these content marketing lessons work?

You have to go out there and apply them!

Which lesson impacted you the most? And what small action will you take today to set it in motion for your startup? Leave me a comment below with your thoughts!

Header image: Canva & Unsplash

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Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands, including Salesforce, Coca-Cola, Target and others, to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, his blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
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