It’s summer and time to dial up the road trips, air pods in the kitchen, and stories that inspire us. On the Simple Pin Podcast we do something fun during the summer months – the Summer Story Series!

This is where we interview entrepreneurs, business owners, and inspiring people to give us a break from the tips and action items. This just allows us to listen to a good story.

Past Episodes:

This week we’re diving in with Joe Pulizzi, a content marketing speaker, author, and founder of theTilt newsletter. Several years ago, Joe had such a profound influence on Kate and the business here at Simple Pin Media.

Kate first met Joe at Social Media Marketing World, and what he shared in his session really resonated with her. He shared that you were going to have to find a way to differentiate yourself in business, and most importantly, it will take at least 18 months of investing to really know if what you have is successful or will make money.

It was such a profound thing for Kate to hear early on in the trajectory of Simple Pin, as an accidental entrepreneur.

After reading his book and speaking at his conference, Creator Economy Expo, she realized that she really wanted to have Joe as part of the Simple Pin Summer Story Series. It feels so amazing to hear other content entrepreneurs talk about the current issues facing people in content marketing, and feel like you’re not alone.

man smiling with text "what does the future look like with creators? with joe pulizzi".

can you grow a successful business in less than 18 months?

In the early stages of growing a business, even close to a year in, you’re still figuring out what your story is and what your audience’s pain points are. At theTilt, Joe and his team have done a lot of research and found that 18 months is the minimum in terms of seeing an impact in your business.

Joe recommends keeping your expenses down as low as possible in the beginning, because you’re basically just building your on-ramp.

In this day and age, you can start a business with basically just a smart phone. You don’t need an office or employees. You don’t need a ton of overhead expenses. Depending on your business type, you can start it by yourself and really make an impact.

But to build an audience that’s significant enough for you to monetize, it takes a good chunk of time.

Sometimes people look at a business from the outside and think it looks so successful, and everything works out great. But if you really dig in to the backend of a business, often there are multiple times that the owner or the team wants to hang it up.

They lose clients. They aren’t making money. It feels so daunting.

There is a lot of stress behind the scenes, and that’s not something that everyone talks about.

Joe says that you just never know. Today could be the worst day of your content entrepreneurial career, but tomorrow could be the best, right?

RELATED: Does Pinterest Make You Happy? (podcast/blog post)

“Blogging” vs “content marketing”

Joe was one of the first people that Kate heard use the term “content marketing” instead of “blogging”.

He says he started using it back in 2002-2003, right when Google was really getting going and Facebook was coming out to the public. Joe believed that every organization needed some kind of content strategy, because they were going to have to start communicating directly with their audience.

He felt that the terms in the industry were antiquated.

Joe would go into business meetings and talk about branded content, or branded journalism. He mentioned “content marketing”. And this was the term that got the CMO to sit up and take notice.

We know what direct marketing is, or search engine marketing, social media marketing. Putting the word “content” in front of marketing makes sense to a lot of marketers’ brains.

RELATED: Pinterest SEO Explained (podcast/blog post)

Using this term that nobody was using at the time, really differentiated Joe from everybody else. They put a lot of content behind it, they did content marketing awards.

To the original question – what’s the different between content marketing and blogging?

Content marketing is not JUST blogging. Blogging is one way to build an audience, another way is to write a newsletter, record a podcast, host in-person events. Content marketing is the whole strategy, blogging is just one piece.

airpods and case sitting on white table.

Can you build a business without creating content?

Joe says it’s possible.

You see organizations that push hard on advertising, they’re savvy on their pricing a product structure. They start with word of mouth referrals. But he really believes that if you’re going to be one of the top companies in the industry or a top thought leader, you have to stand for something. And when you do, your “word of mouth” comes from people sharing your content that resonates with them.

They’re sharing your podcast, your blog post, your research project, a speech you gave. And these are all strategic forms of content that you create. Joe believes that creating content of some form is just part of doing business today.

Creating content is marketing.

But as mentioned before, you have to differentiate. There’s so much content out there, that you need to find your voice. You need to figure out how you can answer questions differently from other business owners and creators.

You’ll get incentivized to be truly different – to talk and think differently, to communicate with your content differently.

Ann Handley says that you don’t want your content to be for everyone, because then it will be for no one. What’s your sweet spot? What are the pain points of your audience, and how can you deliver a solution to them?

RELATED: Do Product Sellers Need a Blog? (podcast/blog post)


  • Why “overnight success” isn’t a thing
  • Why you shouldn’t be on every social media channel
  • Marketing narratives we wish would go away
  • Why books are a necessary part of your content marketing strategy
  • Being a “super connector” and why conferences are mostly about networking

To learn more and hear more from Joe, check out his website or subscribe to theTilt newsletter. You can also find him on the This Old Marketing podcast. or grab one of his many books.

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