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The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy, Episode 5: Surprise Announcement! New Book, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing Coming Out
What is Practical Content Strategy & Marketing All About?
Practical Content Strategy & Marketing is a 350+ page accompaniment to my online course. That’s why the subtitle for the book is The Content Strategy Certification Course Student Guidebook.
I took the written video scripts of each of my course lessons, the original illustrations, concepts, guest expert video notes, and all the exercises, and compiled them into a giant, massive, industry-leading book! My editors and I have been refining the contents for the last two weeks across October.
The book is a side effect of the massive industry education I created in the Practical Content Strategy Certification Course, which took me 7 months and about 500 hours to date to create. In the book, you’ll find easy-to-understand illustrations, concepts, and examples.
I’m also really excited because Mark Schaefer, one of the top five business bloggers in the world, has said yes to writing my foreword!
When does it come out??
Tentative date, provided our formatting timeline goes smoothly, is November 30 on Amazon (paperback and Kindle) and within the next weeks it’ll be available on B&N and iBooks.
What do I know about writing a book?
I published my first book, So You Think You Can Write, in April of 2016, after working full-time in content marketing running my own agency, serving over 5,000 clients, for five years.
With zero paid marketing, it sold thousands of copies around the world in the last year–and it made category bestseller within 24 hours of going live.
My new book is almost double the size, and it’ll be a slightly larger physical size, 7×10 – my last book was 6×9. It will sell for between $18-$20 (paperback).
Special Offer: FREE signed copy for each and every All-Access course student!
All students that enroll in my course BEFORE November 30 will get a signed, mailed copy of the book for free! Just email me with the email you used to sign up for and buy the course. It must be the all-access pass, and before November 30! Go to the all-access certification course enrollment page.
Where can I go to get first dibs on launch day + bonuses?
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The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy, Episode 4: How to Set Up a Content Creation Workflow & Process You Actually Enjoy
This is for the content creator that has sometimes felt stumped at the creation phase.
Here’s a few questions that might have ran through your head:
Where do I begin?
Do I just jot down an idea and start writing?
I have a keyword. Now what?
I’m here today to give you a few quick hacks on how to approach the content creation process in a few key workflow steps that will make it easier, less challenging, and natural, every time you sit down to write.
Even if you’re an experienced content creator, it’s normal to feel like you’re right at Square 1 again when it comes to creating content.
How do you get past that and get into a comfortable swing with content creation?
3 Phases in Content Creation
Approach it in three phases:
Ideation, Creation, Preparation
FYI: These stages will differ if you’re writing for a client: example, clients usually have topics and keywords prepared, so you might be able to skip stage 1.
Why Stages? My Wake-up Call to Stop Rushing
But here’s why you need to think of creating content in stages.
When I started out in my agency, I was the sole staff member at my agency, and I was scared of growth and investing in what I needed to have, to grow. So, I did all my content, and rushed when it came to getting it out. I barely double checked what I published.
A year later, my husband who is our CTO actually asked me why I was rushing through my content creation process, when I did it so carefully for clients. That was a turning point. Now, I invest hours if not weeks into one piece of content and following a process.
Here’s how rushing harmed my content:
When the content I’d thrown together started ranking 2-3 years later, in super high organic places on Google – example, #2 for the long tail phrase hire an SEO content writer – I got zero conversions.
Only when I rewrote that crappy but high ranking content did I start to get conversions from it. (I ended up investing and paying double to fix the crappy content.)
The perils of “rushing content creation” happens for many business owners.
But if you start right and devote time and care to this process, and in the long run, your maintenance and “fixing” costs will be much less.
So let’s discuss these three stages.
1. First, IDEATION.
This is where you come up with a topic that is worthwhile. Think of content ideation like a crosspaths. You need to choose one road for every content idea you (or your client / team member) have, to make sure that idea is worth investing the time of creation into.
Once you have an idea:
Map it to a goal early in the idea phase. That way you stop low ROI from even happening.
Then, research and finalize your topic idea. Write it down.
It’s easy to know what you should be creating, when you know how your content idea aligns to your goals.
EXAMPLE: If you have a new site, skew towards looking for keywords that are relevant to your searchers so you can get some rankable content ideas going. Use a keyword tool to find that data. OR If you have an existing site, map your ideas in a sales/brand awareness direction and think of trending topics that you can add your authoritative voice to, in your industry. Use Quora to research trending questions being asked in your topic area.
#WordFromTheSponsor: I go really deep into each areas of this process and much more, in my new industry course. Get off the fence and invest in yourself, if you’re looking to grow your skillsets! Go here: www.contentstrategycourse.com
This is where you write down the topic, put it in your editorial calendar, and get started on writing. This stage includes drafting, writing, and optimizing the content, or having writer/writers creating it for you.
Time here should really depend on the piece, AND your creative flow.
Finding your flow in the creation step is KEY.
For example, I write best at morning and late in the day. I know that, so those are the only times I write. You MUST block off times around your creative flow.
Don’t create when you’re tired. Eat lunch if you haven’t. Simple stuff.
If you schedule your content around your creative flow and when you’re most charged up and refilled, you’ll create GREAT content.
This doesn’t mean you have to spend weeks writing – once I know and have researched my topic, I can write a 2000w blog from start to finish in one day if I match the writing to my creative flow.
3. PREPARATION: This is where you fine tune your piece and if it’s for your site, decide when to publish.
ALWAYS get a second pair of eyes on your content. That could be an editor, a creator you work with if you run a company and have a team, or an editor if you’re an agency writer. I don’t ever publish my content without a second pair of eyes on it.
When it comes to publishing, think of dates you can publish that will especially appeal to the topic – if it’s seasonal and applies to a holiday, publish and tie to that holiday week or date. Even Google’s birthday can mean you write an SEO topic and tie it to that day.
If you’re doing the writing, there are also easy ways to “hack” and simplify that process.
You can invest in a transcription service and speak your content into a recorder, then have the transcription service write it out for you. You can finalize it from there.
Draft your content ideas, then hire an editor to clean up and finalize your rough drafts.
Hire an expert copywriter!
Ask your assistant to interview you about a topic and write you up a recap—it can be much easier to edit spoken thoughts than start from scratch.
Mix up types and formats to change up how you present content to your reader. Remember your content cores.
Today’s Episode of the Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy brought to you by… Julia McCoy!
I hope you enjoyed my fourth episode!
Please leave a comment on the video and tell me how I’m doing! This means so much to me! 🙂
And, come back every other Saturday for a new, short video where I teach one content marketing hack you can start using today.
Also… In case you didn’t know, right now you can grab a FREE copy of the SEO expert checklist I use when publishing content that gets ranked by Google, when you join my Facebook group! Join the group at: http://bit.ly/contentstrategyfacebook
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The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy, Episode 3: How to Use Long-Tail Keywords Naturally In Your Content for SEO Success
These can often pose quite a challenge to writers.
It’s not the keywords themselves. Those tend to be pretty straightforward.
It’s the often odd combinations of words in ways that are anything but grammatically correct.
Add to that a general lack of punctuation, throw in the name of a city and state, and you have what seems like a recipe for the most awkward sentences ever written!
So, how do we creatively insert a keyword in our content for best results?
The competition comparison in long-tail keywords vs. broad keywords
I’ve been able to rank content just on my site, expresswriters.com, for over 11,000 phrases.
Do you know what the majority of those keyword phrases are?
So when you’re looking for keywords to optimize your content with, you can either look up broad or long tail keywords.
1-2 words long
Also known as: “short tail”, “head terms”
Long Tail Keywords
Long tail keywords are primarily better because of two factors:
Lower competition: Easier to rank for. Great opportunities for new, emerging or growing sites.
Higher buying intent (ROI): Searchers are usually looking a specific answer to their question and are much more likely to be in the buying stage. Example: “where to buy basketball shoes online” vs. “shoes” – the searcher knows exactly what he wants by searching the long tail keyword, and he/she is much more ready to buy!
Broad keywords are tempting because of the amount of traffic searching for them.
But remember, you need the right traffic, not a ton of traffic, when it comes to looking at the value of keywords that will bring in real results.
Which type of customer would sell today if they walked in your dress shop?
Someone who wants a “dress”
Someone who wants a black dress, size M, for an evening party next week
One of my favorite tools to research keywords with is SEMrush and Mangools KWFinder.
In KWfinder, here’s what it looks like to find a low competition long-tail keyword.
For example, we looked up a keyword, blogging statistics. We wrote a blog around this as a keyword since it had a “possible rating at 50/100” – that’s since gone up to 52 – and we were able to get our blog in the top 4 results for that keyword. The left side of KWFinder is where you’ll find your gold mines – long tail keyword opportunities that you can write content pieces around.
I recommend going long-form and writing one piece of content around one keyword for best results. Don’t dilute and cram too many keywords in one piece.
Natural Language in SEO
The days of keyword-stuffing your way to the first page of Google are looooong gone, but today with how smart Google is, there’s no reason you can’t do this:
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When it comes to writing with SEO in mind, this means using natural language – and natural variations of the words that appear in the focus and secondary keywords – instead of inserting the same exact keywords and key phrases into your text over and over again.
Let’s talk about… focus keywords + natural usage
We always ask our clients for one focus keyword per piece.
But when it comes to penning the actual copy, if the exact keyword phrase doesn’t flow well, we fall back on just writing naturally.
Here’s an example.
For instance, this client-supplied keyword phrase:
“best ux designer Austin”
Clearly won’t work in either the title tag, meta description, or in the content (page, article, blog post, etc.). It may be an important, valuable keyword phrase for the client, but it’s a bit too clunky to use as is.
Even if you think you can squeeze that kind of phrase into a sentence – such as “When it comes to finding the best UX designer, Austin has a lot of choices to offer.” Sure, once in a while you’ll be able to get away with that. But far too often, the inclination seems to be to get hung up on that exact keyword phrase.
In a title tag or headline, the best approach would be to use the keyword naturally, like so:
“How to Find the Best Web and UX Designer in Austin”
You would then use variations on this keyword phrase throughout your content.
Don’t try to force the keyword into the copy, and don’t then use the exact same keyword or key phrase over and over. Use synonymous keywords.
Let’s talk briefly about location-based keywords.
Just when you think you’ve got a handle on things, along comes a location-based keyword:
“eyedoctor in Burlington Vermont”
To Google, there is absolutely no difference between:
“eyedoctor in Burlington VT” and “eye doctor in Burlington, VT”
Since we’re humans writing for humans – we should always defer to using proper punctuation, grammar, and style, even in SEO writing.
So, use the space between eye and doctor.
When you take into account that these keyword lists being supplied to (or, in some cases, created by) us are almost always generated by such tools as Google’s keyword tool and other tools – not actual humans – it’s not surprising the keywords provided to us don’t include punctuation, proper grammar, etc.: because they were generated by algorithms/tools.
It’s absolutely essential for websites to use location keywords in the page titles and Meta description tags of their pages. When it comes to using those same location keywords in the content itself – in the copy, in headings, and in image Alt tags – remember to avoid overuse.
Ways to get creative with location-based keywords
Let’s say your keyword is “gluten free pasta Phoenix.”
You don’t have to jam that keyword all over your web page, article, blog post, etc. – including in the meta data for those pages.
You can break it up any number of ways: pasta, Phoenix, gluten free, gluten, gluten free pasta, gluten free in Phoenix, pasta in Phoenix. That’s a lot of variation out of one phrase!
It is, however, still important to use your focus keyword or phrase in the first and last paragraphs, at least one <H2> heading, and the title of the article, if at all possible.
But as we’ve already discussed, make sure you’re using those keywords naturally.
Ultimately, it’s about balance: be creative, use real sentences and headings, speak naturally, and don’t overdo it.
How to tell if you’re overdoing it with a keyword
It may sound silly, but it really works: simply read your content out loud and pay attention to how it feels reading the content, and listen for any awkwardness, clunky-sounding sentences or phrases, general weirdness.
You should be able to hear where your writing doesn’t feel natural – it won’t easily roll off the tip of your tongue.
You’ll also hear where you use a specific word too many times.
And a nice side benefit to reading it aloud – even if you’re doing it silently – is you’ll almost always find places that could benefit from a bit of finesse and polish.
Did You Enjoy Today’s Episode of the Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy? Come Back for More!
I hope you enjoyed the third episode in my YouTube show!
100% of my agency’s sales come from the content marketing – and now, I teach YOU how to do what I’ve done to build an authority presence in content marketing, in my course! This course is unlike any out there because I show you how to actually become an expert in content strategy and build a practical, ROI-based online brand content strategy from the ground up. Check it out today.
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The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy, Episode 2: The #1 Secret to Generating Leads and Sales From Your Content Marketing
I’ve been running my agency, Express Writers, for about 6 years now.
We have about 40 amazing team members: expert copywriters in various specialties, full and part time general writers, strategists, marketing writers, and staff managers.
But there’s one thing that frustrates me time and time again when new clients approach us — when they tell us that a few blog posts executes their entire content marketing plan.
They may not say those exact words, but here’s how they show it:
“I just want to order 2 or 3 blogs. If they work, I’ll come back in a few months for more.”
“I don’t think I need blogs this month. I’ll skip it due to budget.”
“I’ll just start with one short blog and if it works, I’ll order more longer content.”
“How soon can you guarantee me ROI on these blog posts?”
Here’s what you’re really doing…
If you’re trying to save money, cut the budget, or try before you buy when it comes to content marketing, this is what you’re doing.
You’re throwing your money away.
First of all, the investment in blogging is worth it, but not unless you commit to it.
I’m about to give you the lowdown of how content marketing REALLY works in terms of long-term investment.
Sometimes, the results don’t happen until month 12 – 24 of consistent blogging — consistent topics, consistent content creation, a consistent publishing schedule, and consistent promotion.
But when it does return, you could make your money back 10x. Sometimes, even more.
How to Generate Leads and Sales From Your Content Marketing
Again, the investment in blogging is worth it, but only if you commit to it.
It’s like Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid:
You either do it or don’t do it.
Let’s go over some of the statistics that happen when you stay consistent at publishing content to your blog:
Websites with a blog tend to have 434% more indexed pages. (TechClient)
Days, weeks, and months pass – and guess what? That blog you published way back will start to accrue more results than the day you published it.
It’s a dominoes effect.
The effort you put into your blog today could triple or quadruple when it hits the top three in Google months down the road,
… Or when an influencer picks up your blog and shares it to hundreds and thousands of readers,
… Or when someone finds it and then offers you a speaking opportunity.
And long-term, all this content will build your authority online. Results happen when you’re consistent at publishing industry-expert, authoritative blogs.
The #2 Biggest Method to Win Real ROI from Your Content
You need to create thorough, long-form, authoritative content.
Be the best answer to the topic or question.
Be valuable, relevant and insightful in order to win results from those that read your content in the rankings.
Let’s explore what thorough, authoritative content looks like.
You don’t have to guess what content works. These studies prove that long-form, authoritative content, consistently, gets ranked better and shared better.
#1: The average length of posts in the top 10 spots of Google is 2,000 words.
While it’s possible for short-form content to rank well, long-form content is the winner when it comes to front-page results. This is from a SerpIQ study that spanned tens of thousands of content pieces.
From the data, it’s clear that the high performing pages in organic search are those with word counts over 2,250 words. The sweet spot is at 2,250-2,500 words.
#2: Long-form content gets people to stay on pages 40% longer.
People exposed to long-form content also viewed 25% more pages than other visitors. How long? Well, this was from a Kissmetrics study done on an 18,000 word post!
#3: Long-form content earns more social shares.
When it comes to social media, long-form content earns more shares and engagement than standard blog posts. Look at this study by Hubspot:
#4: Longer content helps position you as a leader in your industry. It’s tough to bluff your way through 10,000 words, and readers know that. When you create quality, long-form content, you position yourself as a leader in your industry.
Long-Form Content Examples
I’m going to list some long-form examples. Look at the structure, the research, and the style. This is what you should aim for in your comprehensive content.
There really is no limit to the success a blog post can bring you, especially over time.
This is reason you have to commit.
You can’t give up too early.
From an ongoing column on one guest blog, I’ve seen a $5,000 sale come in within three days. But this lead was exposed to my content for 12 months before he moved and visited my site and bought later that week.
From an ongoing column on another site, I was approached and offered a $1000 paycheck to lead a summer course. But again, I’d been blogging for 2 years on that site!
These are just a few examples. I’ve already showed how long-form content over time generates real shares and traction.
Consistency and thorough, useful content are the only way you’ll generate real sales and return from your content.
Don’t throw your money away by investing in anything less.
I challenge you the next time you create a blog for business purposes — think about the ROI of that piece.
Think long-term. Think about the overall worth of the content piece.
Put your best effort into being the best answer to the question you’re trying to write about.
Enjoyed Today’s Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy Episode? Come Back for More!
I hope you enjoyed the second episode in my new show.
Have you heard about my all-new industry course, The Practical Content Strategy Certification Course?
I’ve poured everything I know into teaching you the SAME content strategy and marketing principles I used to turn $75 dollars into $4 million in sales and build a successful business. 100% of my agency’s sales come from the content marketing I teach in my course!
This course is unlike any out there because I show you how to actually become an expert in content strategy and build a practical, ROI-based online brand content strategy from the ground up.
For my first episode, the topic I had in mind was originally an idea for a long-form blog post.
It was a topic I’d been thinking about, and wanting to write on for weeks.
So – I translated it to video, for my very first episode on my new show.
Last Friday, I filmed.
And, actually, had a lot of fun!
I’m an introvert by nature, but I’m putting myself out there to grow in my industry. I was surprised how much this first episode felt natural. I think it has a lot to do with seriously loving this topic. If you feel completely comfortable with a topic, there are no limits to how much fun you can have with it. At least, that’s how I felt.
But you’ll have to tell me what you think… Subscribe to me on YouTube and please do drop a comment on this week’s episode to tell me what you think!
And YES: Episodes will include a feature of the kind of coffee I’m drinking each week. (Sometimes, it’ll be tea. Maybe a latte. Iced. Maybe hot. You’ll have to tune in. 😉 )
Without further adieu, here is Episode 1 of the Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy. This is for the freelancers that love writing but dread pitching new business: How to Easily Win More Freelance Content Marketing Clients (Without Selling Your Soul or Losing Your Dignity).
Below the video, for our first-ever episode, I’ve included a list of the “tech” I used to set up the show, and the cost – since a lot of you geeks like that kind of stuff. Weekly, there will be written show notes for the readers among us with every episode. Those are below, too, for E1.
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How I DIY’ed My New YouTube Show, The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy
When I decide to do something, (i.e. launch a business, write a book, launch a course, create a podcast, or even a Twitter chat – yes, yours truly has done all those things), I always go by the following rules of thumb:
a) plan all my setup at the lowest possible costs, DIY as much as I can.
b) make sure I have the right support to make it happen consistently and at a high quality level – i.e., hire a few extra people, or pull in a few from my existing team.
c) lastly, GET IT DONE.
So, following that super-simple method, here’s what I did to make my YouTube show happen.
Total costs behind the first episode: 7 hours of my time, total costs with a custom animated intro, and all my one-time setup costs (mic, stand, software), $593.
Video content concept and script: I wrote the script for the first episode inside a day. Time: probably 2 hours.
Copywriter with a conversion brain to help me with titles and content: Mandy, an amazing copywriter from our team! Cost: Staff hourly time. For my first initial show, it was just a few minutes of her time to help me hammer out the headline. She was working on the clock creating other course email copy that I was paying her to do.
Used my iPhone 6s Plus to record all shots. Time to shoot, about 20 minutes including all the takes. Total video time is around 10 minutes.
Lavalier Lapel Microphone: plugs straight into my iPhone, and clips right onto my shirt. This is necessary for better, clearer audio. $16.97 on Amazon.
Lighting: zero costs! I have professional filming lights, but I used 100% natural lighting for my show. I simply opened the blinds to my double windows in my office (luckily, they stretch from floor to ceiling) and faced them to film. I filmed when the light was most warm and natural – on a sunny day around 3 p.m. Here’s a picture:
Here’s another shot, capturing the wide angle of my office.
Animation designs for intro and inner slides. This was roughly $270 between my in-house designer and an animation team, and will be a one-time cost. Designing each episode slide in the future will be only $20-30.
Production time: 4 hours per episode to plug in graphics, some subtitles, add in effects, add music tracks. I will be hiring a video editor for my next episodes, and already found a freelancer from Upwork for $15/hour. Weekly, this will be $60.
Email marketing: I emailed the episode to my list, using ConvertKit. I will bring in someone else to do this weekly, but for now, this was my time.
Salesforce has reported that 90% of email is now considered spam.
84% of B2B leaders start their individual buying journeys with referrals, according to OpenView Labs. Cold outreach cannot reach the vast majority of B2B decision makers.
I get, on average, 10 cold emails (per HOUR). And those are the ones that make it to my inbox – there are hundreds more in spam daily.
Do you know how many I ignore and mark as spam?
100% of them.
So how do you do your outreach and find new clients when cold outreach is nearly dead?
3 Simple Ways to Get More Clients and Avoid Getting Ugly, Selling Your Soul or Losing Your Dignity
Here are three simple ways you can get more clients and ENTIRELY avoid the ugly cold email solicitation – each of these have worked tremendously well for my agency and I.
1. Hitting up past clients consistently.
As simple as it sounds, this is the #1 way we have boosted our income by almost double every month.
This works for you if you have an existing customer list of any size. Don’t stop at just one or two followups. Constantly sending in a friendly greeting to see how you can help is key.
Don’t overdo it: we recommend a followup every week to each customer on your old list, and be sure to add a line asking them to let you know if it’s too much.
You will be so surprised how many clients say “actually, yes, I DO have some work for you” if you just ask them. The prior connection of working with you before makes it 1000% easier for you to gain their business rather than get new leads to give you theirs.
2. Ask for referrals every chance you can get.
Capitalize on moments when clients love your service! This can send a huge amount of leads your way.
Hubstaff says prospects that come through referrals were by far the most likely for freelancers, at a 30% conversion ratio.
Don’t have a customer list?
3. Use LinkedIn!
LinkedIn’s business blog reported that prospects are 5x more likely to engage with sales professionals who share a second-degree connection. We’ve seen much better response rates to messages sent via LinkedIn connections than reaching out to a cold lead through email.
Find the agency, brand or business you want to work with, and then find their associated VP on LinkedIn. That’s the person you want to contact. Avoid paying for InMail by sending a no-cost connection request and adding a couple one-liners in ‘add a note’ section.
And there you have it!
I hope you enjoyed the first episode in my new show.
Come back every other Saturday for a new, short video where I teach one content marketing tactic you can start using today! Follow me on YouTube.