write podcast E17 Mark Traphagen

The Write Podcast, Episode 17: Mark Traphagen- His SEO Story, Tips on Video Storytelling, & Creating Content That Builds Your Brand & SEO

In this week’s episode, I had the privilege of sitting down with Mark Traphagen. He and I have “talked online” for a considerably long time, including hanging out back on Blab.im when it used to be the new coolest kid on the block.

Mark is the Senior Director of Marketing at Stone Temple Consulting – he got started in SEO “by inventing it!” (Just kidding, his next ingenious remark is that he isn’t the Al Gore of SEO.)

In today’s awesome podcast, I talk to Traphagen about his story and beginnings in SEO, and how he turned something he stumbled into to become one of the foremost content creators, marketers and digital experts in the industry today! It’s a story you won’t want to miss. Then, we dial it up to chat all things storytelling, SEO, and even selling online (“never push your product. Work to be at the forefront of your buyer’s minds”).

Ideal for anyone who wants to overhaul their SEO, publicize their brand, and rank better online, this far-reaching conversation is packed full of gems. Enjoy!

write podcast E17 Mark Traphagen

The Write Podcast, Episode 17: Mark Traphagen- His SEO Story, Tips on Video Storytelling, & Creating Content That Builds Your Brand & SEO

While Mark has held many jobs throughout his life, ranging from a salesman to a school administrator, he eventually found his way through grad school and went to work at a bookstore.

It wasn’t long before he realized the physical bookstore was dying due to digital competitors like Amazon, and his boss at the time asked him to take it online in an attempt to save it.

He dove in and learned his way through the process of digital marketing and e-commerce. Eventually, he found his way into Stone Temple Consulting, where he is currently creating some of the most unique video and text content on the web.

In today’s fun, enlightening conversation, we cover the following:

  • How Mark worked in sales, went into teaching, then went back to grad school and ended up working for a bookstore, where he learned how to setup an e-commerce store and actually conducted early influencer marketing with bloggers.
  • How he took inspiration from Rand Fishkin’s “Whiteboard Friday” videos. And how these led him to developing his own unique video content, “Here’s Why.”
  • How he learned to navigate his way around Facebook’s soundless auto-play feature. While these videos don’t typically offer much of an incentive to click, Traphagen discovered how to grab a user’s interest with visual material and captions first.
  • Why good SEO takes time. And how he and his team at Stone Temple Have learned to communicate this to their clients.
  • How to master the science of SEO. While things like ranking algorithms are difficult to get a handle on, Traphagen does a great job of explaining how ranking in SEO is a little bit like a scientist testing and developing a theory.
  • How you can build a successful platform by focusing on long-term SEO efforts. SEO isn’t an overnight game, and Traphagen helps listeners understand how to focus on cumulative efforts rather than one-off results.
  • How to create authority content that gets inbound links. When you write relevant, well-marketed content, people link to it and talk about it, which builds publicity and helps expand your business!
  • How you can become one of the few brands consumers look forward to hearing from. While many social media users say they don’t want branded content in their feeds, virtually everyone has a few brands they love. Traphagen talks about how you can learn to become one of those top-tier brands through trust, authenticity, and value.
  • Using guest blogging to build your brand. Through OPA (other people’s audience), you can build your brand massively. Traphagen talks about how to do this, and why (after creating content on your own site) it should be one of your main priorities.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

'I am not the Al Gore of SEO.' - @marktraphagenClick To Tweet
'I went back to grad school and worked for a bookstore, where I learned how to use SEO.' - @marktraphagenClick To Tweet
“SEO is both a science and an art.” - @marktraphagenClick To Tweet
'The most important thing we can do is to be trustworthy and useful to our audience.' - @marktraphagenClick To Tweet
'We don't need to do a hard sell on people. Or push products. Be at the top of their mind by being the most helpful.' - @marktraphagenClick To Tweet
“Good, effective SEO is a cumulative effort.” - @marktraphagenClick To Tweet
“There is a vital link between SEO as we typically think of it, and the value of a brand.” - @marktraphagenClick To Tweet
“Never think of SEO as some sort of isolated practice.” - @marktraphagenClick To Tweet

Links Mentioned

This Episode Is Sponsored By Search Engine Journal!

Get 15% off the November 2 SEJ Summit with coupon code EXWSEJ, at bit.ly/sejsavings!

Today’s episode is sponsored by Search Engine Journal! This is a one-day conference tailored for search marketers, featuring experts from Google and other industry experts in a full day of 11 sessions and 6 Q&As. Guess what? Mark himself will be speaking in one of the sessions! And, I’ll be there giving away 25 free copies of my bestseller So You Think You Can Write? Get your free copy, find me there, and I’ll sign it!

Grab 15% your tickets now using exclusive Write Podcast coupon code EXWSEJ at bit.ly/sejsavings.

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write podcast e16 tor refsland

The Write Podcast, Episode 16: How to Not Be an Annoying Content Marketer & Win the Notice of Influencers with Tor Refsland

This week, I sit down with Tor Refsland, an award-winning entrepreneur and blogger, and the creator of TimeManagementChef.com. Tor has caught my eye for a long time, and our episode was dynamic (as I knew it would be)!

This is an episode you won’t want to miss – it’s jam-packed with amazing, inspiring and fun lessons for every content marketer.

In the last year, Tor has won awards for his blogs and continues to stand out as a top performer in the world of blogging and entrepreneurship. In just eighteen months, he’s a shining star in the blogging world (an amazing feat to do nowadays, with the rise of bloggers everywhere)! Jon Morrow even awarded this guy “Most Epic Blog Post.” That’s a big deal: Jon Morrow is one of the top bloggers in the world. He’s a self-taught guru. One time, he learned how to be a SAP Consultant, then was immediately head-hunted to be a SAP Consultant for one of the largest companies in the country! Tor is even a public speaker, garnering an audience of 3,000 for one of his public sessions in Nice. (For more amazing feats by Tor, read here.)

How did Tor climb to such fame in less than two years? How did he build thousands of followers, organically? Listen in to find out!  Today’s episode is inspiring – and it’s perfect for any entrepreneur or content marketer who wants to learn to increase productivity and get the biggest possible ROI from all of your marketing efforts!

write podcast e16 tor refsland

The Write Podcast, Episode 16: How to Not Be an Annoying Content Marketer, Win the Notice of Influencers, & More with Tor Refsland Highlights

  • What is content marketing? In the words of Tor, Content Marketing is the desire to “provide awesome value.” Learn how he does it every single time.
  • How Tor left a six-figure company to find his purpose and get started in content marketing. After two decades of helping founders and CEOs build their dreams, he decided to jump in and start doing it for himself.
  • How he quadrupled his productivity at one of the largest companies in Norway. And how he applied what he learned to his first business, TimeManagementChef.com.
  • How he built 3,000 followers organically at his first company. And what steps he took to reposition himself and his brand for better results in just three days.
  • Tor’s “pre-free technique.” How to create an opt-in form and landing page to test your product, and how he used this tactic to drive over $6,000 in sales for his course.
  • How Tor won the respect and trust of his audience by being transparent about the content and offerings of his free and paid courses. And how you can apply this approach to your online marketing, as well.
  • How he created an MVP (minimum viable product). One of the most important things Tor learned is to survey his audience and deliver the content type based on what they wanted.
  • How audience differs. To be a good content marketer, Tor believes people must learn that it’s not about what you Tune in to learn about how audiences differ and how you can find out what format your audience wants!

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

“The secret to growing your tribe fast is removing your ego ENTIRELY from the equation.” @TorRefslandClick To Tweet
“Over-deliver like CRAZY!” -@TorRefslandClick To Tweet
“It’s not about what you want to do for your audience, it’s about what they want from you.” -@TorRefslandClick To Tweet
'You’re just a caretaker for the blog. You’re there to serve THEM = your audience.' - @TorRefslandClick To Tweet
“Provide value again and again without expecting or asking for anything in return.” -@TorRefslandClick To Tweet

Links Mentioned

This Episode Is Sponsored By Search Engine Journal!

Get 15% off the November 2 SEJ Summit with coupon code EXWSEJ, at bit.ly/sejsavings!

Today’s episode is sponsored by Search Engine Journal! Meet me and five of my staff members from Express Writers this November 2, at the SEJ Summit in NYC! This is a one-day conference tailored for search marketers, featuring several experts from Google and other industry experts in a full day of 11 sessions and 6 Q&As. I’ll be there giving away 25 free copies of my bestseller So You Think You Can Write? Get your free copy, find me there, and I’ll sign it! Grab 15% your tickets now using exclusive Write Podcast coupon code EXWSEJ at bit.ly/sejsavings.


For great content services, visit our Content Shop.

write podcast episode 15

The Write Podcast, Episode 15: Tips on Balancing Entrepreneurship, Parenting, & Staying Productive with Business Coach Holly Diederich

I had so much fun connecting with Holly Diederich, a business coach I connected with a while back, in a podcast today! We met in mutual Facebook groups, and she quickly became a business friend who was there for me early on with solid advice on my big-ticket questions about publicizing the crazy embezzlement story.

We’d been trying to schedule this episode for weeks–well, it finally happened! In today’s episode, we talk about a lot of real-life stuff: the fun and busy world of parenthood while balancing being an entrepreneur, and Holly’s entire story, from leaving a comfortable corporate job to follow her dreams and how she made five figures fast (without a website)!

Before she started her current business, Holly was enjoying a managerial role at a publicly-traded Fortune 1000 company. She thought she was on top of the world, fulfilling her goals for herself, traveling and making big decisions.

Then she had her first child, and she, like so many moms, realized that her priorities had shifted.

In this episode, we dig into how Holly made the leap from what she thought she should be doing, to what she wanted to do, and how she made a great life in the process. Listen on Spreaker or in iTunes.

write podcast episode 15

The Write Podcast Episode 15 with Holly Diederich, Talking Life, Entrepreneurship, Parenthood, and Staying Productive: Highlights

Ideal for anyone who struggles to juggle family life with entrepreneurship, this episode offers a wide selection of great tips on productivity, efficiency, and caring for yourself, first. Here are a few highlights:

  • How Holly left the corporate world to start a coaching business, and what influenced her decision.
  • How she started her first company (an online boutique) and grew it from an idea to $4,000 of revenue in just 3 months
  • When she realized that she could allocate her time and energy more effectively by outsourcing key responsibilities, and how you can, too
  • How her coaching business grew up out of her own entrepreneurial pursuit
  • How her coaching business reached $10,000 in revenue in five weeks, without a website, and how she used LeadPages to do it
  • What types of content she publishes to attract leads in her wildly successful Facebook group (more than 1,400 members!)
  • Which tricks Holly has learned to care for herself and avoid burnout
  • Why all entrepreneurs can benefit from putting themselves first
  • How she finds the best courses to continue her learning and growth
  • How the biggest gains come from intentionally relinquishing responsibility (and outsourcing!)

Relevant Links:

And don’t forget…


For great content creation, from ebook writing & design to original blogs and more, visit our Content Shop!

Madalyn Sklar Twitter strategies large

The Write Podcast, Episode 14: Talking Twitter Strategy With Madalyn Sklar- Her Story, What #TwitterSmarter Is All About, & Ways to Rock Out Your Twitter

Today’s episode was a blast! I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with Madalyn Sklar, a huge Twitter influencer who I’ve respected for a long time.

Known around the web as a “social media power influencer,” Madalyn Sklar has made a name for herself for being one of the best Twitter marketers around with a solid knowledge of Twitter strategy and practices. With over twenty years of experience in social media (her roots were in starting GoGirlsMusic in 1996), she’s currently ranked the #1 Social Media Power Influencer in all of Houston. Madalyn keeps busy blogging, chatting and podcasting about all things technology and social media.

Over the years, she’s built a massively successful online business focused on helping her clients build buzz (and maintain it) on social media. She’s got the resume to back it up, too: the founder of GoGirlsMusic (the largest community of female musicians online), Madalyn has a long history of dominating Twitter strategy and social media and learning what it takes to be successful online.

The Brilliant Twitter Strategy of Madalyn Sklar: #TwitterSmarter

As if running a massive online business weren’t enough, Madalyn also runs the #TwitterSmarter Twitter chat and podcast – what a brilliant way to brand two different content styles and platforms under one umbrella! Her Twitter chat, #TwitterSmarter, happens on Thursdays at 1 PM CST on @MadalynSklar, and her podcast in iTunes, Twitter Smarter, specializes in offering Twitter tips and tricks to interested marketers.

Launched in June of 2015, the podcast has since featured some of the biggest names in online marketing, including Mari Smith and Tim Fargo. I’m also honored to announce that Madalyn will be scheduling me in soon for her podcast, so head to her website and subscribe!

Ep 14 Twitter strategies

The Write Podcast Episode 14 with Guest Madalyn Sklar, Talking Twitter Strategy: Highlights

  • Taking action is critical. When we join live Twitter chats, (and I’d even apply this to reading a blog or content piece online), we often enjoy learning new things. But Madalyn believes in taking action: this is “where the rubber meets the road” and is one of the most essential things a marketer can do. Don’t just talk about it – be about it!
  • You have to be on social media. Today’s marketers must have an online presence. It’s critical to getting found and building a following.
  • How Madalyn developed #TwitterSmarter as an online course in 2013, and what she did to grow it into the powerhouse it is today.
  • Why she loves short-form Twitter chats, and how she’s made short-form content work for her over the years.

Relevant Links:

Like my podcast? I would greatly appreciate your time to leave me a rating & review in iTunes! Click here to see the show in iTunes.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

“I like short, concise, to-the-point, and I really found my home with that on Twitter in 140-characters.” – MadalynClick To Tweet
“From day 1, I saw the power of Twitter. I saw that I could use it to connect with people who were like-minded.” –MadalynClick To Tweet
“My big thing is taking action…I tell people we’ve got to go take action. That’s where the rubber meets the road.” – MadalynClick To Tweet
“People are always saying, ‘what can I do to stand out?’ Doing video on Twitter is a great way to stand out because so few people are doing it.”-MadalynClick To Tweet
“Go back to the basics...you’ve got to have an amazing Twitter profile.” -MadalynClick To Tweet

For great content creation, from ebook writing & design to original blogs and more, visit our Content Shop and order today!

write podcast ep 13 embezzlement to success

The Write Podcast, Episode 13: From Embezzlement to Success, Our May 2016 Story & 4 Major Biz Lessons

I’m here on the podcast today, raw and authentic, sharing an episode that took me four weeks to figure out how to say.

We went through one of the hardest months we’ve ever had in May this year, after discovering that two managers I’d trusted for over three years were embezzling from our company for a span of eight months. That month and the ones following were a trial by fire.

But we came out refined.

Join me and my solo self in Episode 13 today on the Write Podcast. Listen to the full story of the embezzlement that happened to us, how I took immediate action steps that worked and what those were, and the four major life business lessons I learned. Enjoy!

write podcast ep 13 embezzlement to success

Episode 13: From Embezzlement to Success, Our May 2016 Story & 4 Major Biz Lessons Highlights

One day in May, I had this gut feeling that something was off. It was like knowing that I had a mole somewhere in my business, but I couldn’t identify or pinpoint what exactly was going on, or what the problem was. That month, I paid everyone and then had I nothing left to pay myself.

Where was the money going?

I took a dive deeper. I audited the business after payroll that day, working late into the night and looking into all our finances at the company. I was shocked. Two of my main staff members were claiming three times the work they had actually done. My stomach felt sick.

4:10: Learn the action steps I took after the discovery in the second lesson I detail on the podcast.

It’s been more than three months now since this happened, and not only have we fully recovered, but we’ve reinvented so many of our processes that we’ve seen a higher client satisfaction rate than we’ve ever had. We have deeper team communications, and I’m hands-on in the training for every single new hire. We’ve found amazing new writers in the past few months, trained new staff members, and brought on some truly creative minds that are the force behind our better quality.

We’re in a better place than we’ve ever been, all thanks to the scary month of May and what it did to inspire me to take better steps. Here’s a summary of the key lessons I learned: listen for the full story on each!

  • Lesson one: Schedule and do a deep audit on your business finances every few months, if you run and own a business.
  • Lesson two: Honesty and transparency works.
  • Lesson three: you can’t cut corners, rely on one single process, or expect to put in no effort if you want to deliver an incredible product every time you serve your clients.
  • Lesson four: when you find amazing people, grab them fast and don’t let them go.

One more step that is going to happen for Express Writers this year, the cherry on top to our reinvented process, is the launch of brand new custom development in a new Content Shop and internal systems that my CTO Josh has been developing for more than 13 months. Our Content Shop v. 2.0 will be launching along with the custom built team room in about two months from now. It will be so much easier for our clients to order and our management team to pick best-fit writers for every order. Stay tuned!

Relevant Links:

Like my podcast? I would greatly appreciate your time to leave me a rating & review in iTunes! Click here to go to iTunes.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

It’s vital you know where every penny is going in business, so you can instantly see where you’re wasting money and close up the holes. This is especially true if you’re a service related business relying on people to fuel your deliverables.Click To Tweet
People are human, not a robotic machine that does everything you program it too. And that’s a good thing, but the bad thing is, some people are good and some aren’t. And you never know the absolute truth of their character till you actually see them working well in their role.Click To Tweet
Honesty and transparency works in business.Click To Tweet
I’m an authentic content marketer. I had to go with my gut and tell the real story to my clients.Click To Tweet
It’s amazing how transparency can unite you that much more to your client base. All in all, I think that every human being has the ability to relate to other humans. If you show them that level of authenticity, they’ll respect you in the end for it.Click To Tweet
Find people who help you build processes instead of just band-aid a problem.Click To Tweet
The creative-at-heart is the kind of person that is the fit for our @ExpWriters team.Click To Tweet
I started my company on the principle of passion and growing a team of people that share my passion for online writing and content marketing.Click To Tweet

For great content writing, visit our Content Shop.


The Write Podcast, Episode 12: How We Created a Twitter Chat from Scratch & Grew it To #11 in Trending on Twitter In 6 Months

Hey! Thanks for stopping by to listen to my now twelfth episode on The Write Podcast. (Psst: I have a new intro! I’d love if you let me know in the comments if you like it better than the other one!) Need the iTunes link? Here it is.

E12 write podcast contentwritingchat

Have you ever wondered about how to create or launch your very own Twitter chat?

Now is the time to do it, if you’re considering–they’re hot stuff. There are even chat hosts that are getting sponsors for their chats. (Businesses pay the chat owners to mention them.) Full disclosure: that hasn’t happened for us yet, simply because I haven’t had the time to set it up.

#ContentWritingChat is a chat I started back in January of 2016. It was part of a New Year’s resolution.

And in 6 months, it made the trending sidebar of Twitter!


What’s even more amazing is the community that literally sprouted from a mere grassroots beginning through #ContentWritingChat. We schedule guest hosts every single week, experts in all areas of content marketing, and what we hear from participants is truly glorious: many people leave learning something new. I’ve seen both solid regulars and brand new people come in every week, making for a variety of people and a super fun, energetic environment.

Rachel, our social media manager at Express Writers, runs the Twitter chat as smooth as butter every single week, creating all our imagery and content ahead of time and scheduling out in Buffer. She joined us when I’d just created the chat, about three weeks out from its inception. And her consistent, smooth management means it runs without a hitch every single week. She’s a marvel!

In today’s episode, she joins me to discuss all about how she runs and manages the chat; what tools she uses, the basics of what she does to interact during the live hour, schedule guests, and even create the chat recap we post every Friday. You won’t want to miss this one.

In Episode 12 of The Write Podcast, I talk about #ContentWritingChat with our Social Media Manager Rachel Moffett

  • The backstory of how I created #ContentWritingChat from scratch
  • A rundown of how Rachel manages our Twitter chat every week
  • How we find and Rachel sets up great guest hosts & the importance of a guest host
  • The tools we use to manage and create content for our Twitter chat
  • How Rachel creates a recap of the chat every Friday, like this one (hint: it’s not an automated tweet stream)
  • Why and how you DON’T need 5,000 followers to start a great Twitter chat
  • ….& more!

 If you like what you hear, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes here. It will help the show and it’s ranking in iTunes immensely. I appreciate it! Enjoy the show!

Transcript: Episode 12, How We Created a Twitter Chat from Scratch & Grew it To #11 in Trending on Twitter In 6 Months

Julia: Hello and welcome to episode 12 in The Write Podcast! This is your host Julia McCoy, and for this episode, our social media specialist at Express Writers, Rachel, is joining us today. She and I will be discussing how we created a Twitter chat from scratch and how Rachel continues to manage it for us every week.

I launched the chat in January this year and in just six months we’ve seen it hit number 11 in the trending sidebar of Twitter. Better yet, we’ve seen a community sprout up out of nowhere around this chat that is just wonderful, friendly, helpful and we see a lot of people leaving saying they’ve learned something new every week.

Rachel, welcome to the show, I’m really excited to have you on with me today.

Rachel: Thanks for having me, I’m excited to be here.

Julia: Yes we finally get to show a voice to your name. I know you’ve been with us for a while. [LAUGH]

Rachel: Yeah I know. [LAUGH]

Julia: So to begin I will just go into how I started the Twitter chat itself.

So our Twitter chat is around the hashtag #ContentWritingChat. I started it this January, it was actually the first week of January in 2016, and the backstory is pretty simple. I was in Twitter chats myself for about a whole year, my company and I (the company is @ExpWriters on Twitter it’s just @ExpWriters). And what I was doing was I was bringing in my company Twitter handle and myself, and I was alternating and then joining Twitter chats just getting familiar with them, getting to meet a bunch of new people.

I did that for about a solid year. And then after I was doing that for a good while, I realized there was no chat that really drew in a lot about what I do, what we do in our field as writers and in our company. And I realized that I had a good chance of creating one. So I came up with the hashtag #ContentWritingChat in about literally five minutes. [LAUGH]

It was a really simple idea and in January I just made it one of my New Year resolutions to get it started and it was that simple. I just announced to all of our followers on Twitter that it would be starting every Tuesday at 10 AM CST. And we launched it the first week of January, and it’s just taken off since.

So Rachel is actually the one who manages it for us every week. So Rachel, just walk us through a little bit about how you manage the chat.

Rachel: Yeah so prepping for the chat actually includes quite a few different stages. So first we always have a guest host very week, and one of the first things we have to do is to get the guest scheduled.

So the great thing about having a guest host is somebody can come on and share their expertise with our audience. And once we lock in a guest, we come up with a topic and the questions for the chat and topics are always chosen based on the guest areas of interest and what they might be considered an expert in.

And for the questions, I basically draft a bunch of questions, send them over to Julia, she gives me her final list back and then I send them over to the guest host to approve them in advance. We like to make sure that our guest host has the opportunity to look at the questions ahead of time and maybe prepare their answers or give their feedback.

And really once everything is ready to go, I create all the graphics in Canva for each of the chat questions and I schedule them out in Buffer prior to the chat which is all pretty simple. I just find it a lot easier to manage the chat when the questions are already scheduled, you can just focus on engaging with the chat participants, liking their tweets, retweeting things.

Because that’s really what’s key in interacting with your audience, so having all those questions scheduled ready to go so you don’t have to worry about it during the chat is a huge help.

Julia: And what you said about engaging with the audience, that’s really the biggest key of the chat.

For example whenever I started the chat, I had no idea about how many people we’d see. I just kind of launched it and we started out with the intention to interact with as many people as we can who join the chat. And since we are replying to people, Rachel’s actually doing that now from our Express Writers Twitter account, we reply to people, we retweet, we like, we keep the conversation going, and like you said that’s just a huge part of what makes the chat so successful.

Rachel: Right that’s how you build a community around the chat, and why people coming back every single week.

Julia: Exactly. And tying into that, the marketing for our chat, I’ve had some questions come my way about that. How do you actually market the chat? And Rachael and I have a pretty simple, I’d say fairly simple system.

Of course she does all the work. [LAUGH] So run us through how you do that. I know it entails reminding people on Twitter from our account.

Rachel: Right, it’s actually not that crazy, it’s not like we’re doing this whole marketing plan or anything.

Julia: Exactly.

Rachel: The simplest thing is really just sending out reminder tweets prior to the chat.

And I noticed there are a lot of other chats to do that as well, and there are some chats that don’t do that. And I just find that when we send out those reminder tweets, it’s just really helpful to make sure everybody knows hey it’s Tuesday, #ContentWritingChat’s today, and I think I send these out about five hours prior to the chat which saying that out loud now it actually seems like a lot.

But I send them out early in the morning and it gives people the opportunity to say, yes I want to join today’s chat and they can maybe block off time in their schedule or set a reminder on their phone or whatever, so they know to join. Right at the time the chat starts and I’ve also gotten to the habit of including our chat graphic with those tweets, because I tag people specifically.

People that we would love to see in the chat, people that are regulars, people that are maybe new and need a reminder, and by including the chat graphic that we have it shows our guest host and topic for that day. So then people can easily see what we’re gonna be talking about, who we’re talking to, and they can determine whether or not today’s chat is gonna be something that they’re interested in talking about.

It’s super simple, nothing really involved. It’ doesn’t take a whole lot of work. I’ve got a set list of people I tweet every week. We add to it, take people off the list if maybe they’re not responding. And that’s really been key just reminding people and having people show up every single week.

Julia: And with those reoccurring reminders, we see so many faces that return to the chat, and it seems like some of them are there five minutes ahead of time. They look [LAUGH] forward so much to the chat, they are there.

Rachel: Right, people join before the chat starts. There are still people tweeting after the chat ends.

Julia: Yeah.

Rachel: It’s kinda funny but it’s great because it shows you really have built an amazing community around this Twitter chat.

Julia: That’s awesome. The engagement part is so huge, and the fact that I did have a presence before I launched it. I didn’t just launch it cold turkey.

But one thing to throw in as well, I’ve seen a lot of experts say that you have to have something like 5,000 followers before you even start a Twitter chat.

And we actually only had 2,000 followers when I started the chat and we’ve doubled that. I know we have over 4,000 now. And we doubled that literally just from doing the chat.

Rachel: Right, I have to say, I don’t think anybody should follow that advice necessarily because like you said, you didn’t have 5,000 followers before you started the chat and it’s done well.

And I’ve actually managed two other Twitter chats for different brands in the past, neither of which had a huge following but the chats did really well. They consistently brought in people every week and it helps build their following. So for anybody who is listening and wants to start a Twitter chat of their own, don’t think you need to have a ton of followers, in order to do it.

I mean the amount of followers you have you can invite them, invite people on your email list or whatever and people just might show up. And once you continue to chat every week more people are gonna find out about it.

Julia: Exactly, we see so many new faces come in every week and I’ve seen people say I heard about it because my friend on Twitter told me.

And what you mentioned abut sending an email that’s a good point. We actually did that whenever I started the chat I sent an email campaign out, it was a week before the chat started, and then we sent another email campaign out a day before the chat started. And interestingly enough I noticed that the people that were reminded on Twitter actually joined, and then the people in my email list, it was probably like 1% or less actually joined the Twitter chat.

So I’ve quite email marketing at all about the chat, and we just rely on what you do with reminding people.

Rachel: Right, I guess with the email list it kinda depends.

Julia: True.

Rachel: If your email subscribers would be interested in something like that if they’re really on Twitter then it does serve as a good reminder to them especially if you’ve a got a lot of subscribers if you could invite.

So it really depends but yeah, doing the reminders every week really does help.

Julia: Is their any other way we can market a Twitter chat besides the reminders? Is their anything we’re doing, like for example, are we following up after the chat? Just run us through anything you are doing there.

Rachel: Well the great thing is that after the chat’s over, I’m always participating in other chats which I do think helps other people to discover our chat if they go look at our profile. And the reality is some many people who are in our chat are actually in a lot of the other chats that I participate in.

So it’s really great because in it helps to build a connection with those people, even outside of our Twitter chat. And it’s really a reminder for them to come back to ours every week.

Julia: Exactly that’s how I began the awareness for the chat before I started, it was just through being in other chats.

And then I mentioned at the end of a couple chats I was in some of the biggest ones I just mentioned, oh hey I’m starting a chat next Tuesday if you’d like to join. And I think that’s how we got a lot of the reoccurring people at first.

Rachel: Because so many people who are in other Twitter chats are looking for other chats to join, so they are the perfect people to mention it to an to encourage them to join yours as well.

Julia: And since you are the one helping us pick guests now, run us through how you pick a guest and how do you approach them.

Rachel: Well picking a guest is something that when we started you kind of came to me with a list of people that I know you wanted to have and I reached out to them. And some people that I get in touch with are people who really stand out to me in other chats, because a great guest is someone who they have a level of expertise in a certain area.

And whether we’re seeing them sharing amazing content on their blog or on social media, or like I said I’ve seen them in other Twitter chats and they’re doing really amazing. And some of the people that we’ve been able to connect with through those chats are very knowledgeable and engaged with the other audiences.

So they’re great people to have and really I just reach out to them. If there’s somebody I think would be a great guest host I reach out to them either through Twitter or through email if I have their email address. And let them know about the chat, what kind of things we talked about, why I think it would be great to have them on.

And fortunately everybody has pretty much said yes that we’ve reached out to which is awesome.

Julia: Yes that is awesome. And I’ve noticed there are some chats on Twitter that don’t have a guest host and as a rule we’ve seen much more engagement happen whenever we do bring in a guest host.

The first chat I started the first week of January, it was actually me just me as the guest host. And then it was me again the next three because we were still planning our people to come in as guest hosts. But we’ve seen especially certain guest hosts that had for example a bigger blog following, it seems like they’ve brought us a lot of traffic to our chat.

Rachel: And I think having guest hosts is really helpful. Obviously you don’t need to, but the great thing about having a guest is that you get exposure to a whole new audience. You get to be in front of their audience because they may promote the chat to their followers and when the chat takes place and they are tweeting and posting, their followers are gonna see that and they’re going to be more likely to join in.

So it’s really a great way to get new people to find out about the chat each week.

Julia: That’s true. So run us through some things you do during that hour. I know it’s really busy and it seems really hard to keep up so you have a lot on your plate during the hour. But what do you do to interact with people?

Rachel: Right, well like I said I schedule all the questions in advance so during that hour, I can just focus on interacting with people.

And I think kind of two of the key things that I feel are important to do is when people come into the chat, they introduce themselves, greet them, say hi to them, let them know that you see that they’re there, and make sure you thank everybody at the end as well. It’s simple but it makes people feel appreciated and throughout the chat, obviously it is impossible to respond to everybody.

The chat gets pretty busy. I swear if you look away from the chat screen for like five seconds, you will come back to like at least 10 new tweets, you can’t look away.

Julia: True.

Rachel: I can’t respond to everybody but I definitely try to respond to people and let them know if they’ve shared a great answer or answer any questions they may have or get them to elaborate on something or like their tweets or retweet the really amazing tweets that people would love to see.

And I think that’s important because like I said you can’t respond to everybody, so you wanna do something to show that you are engaging with them, that you are seeing what they are posting.

Julia: Exactly, and as a rule of thumb, most chats do this and this seems like a good practice just liking everyone’s tweet who is using that hashtag.

Rachel: Right yeah, it’s a lot [LAUGH] especially when you have a lot of tweets coming in at that hour so.

Julia: It’s a lot.

Rachel: But I basically just, sit there and TweetDeck because TweetDeck is what I use to manage the chat. I’m just hitting like, like, like, like and trying to click everything and retweet the really good ones.

And it gets a little crazy but it’s not too tough to manage.

Julia: Do you have time to drink coffee? [LAUGH]

Rachel: I don’t often look away from TweetDeck during the chat. I’m pretty sure I stay laser-focused on my laptop screen and sometimes I feel like I may need a nap when it’s over just because staring at your laptop for so long, it actually does get a little tiring after a bit.

Julia: I join it every week but I don’t manage it now. You do, so it’s hard for me to keep up so I can only imagine whenever you like every tweet what that gets like.

Because our last Twitter chat on last Tuesday was actually the most popular one to date and it’s six months after we started it. And it was so cool, it hit number 11 and it made the trending sidebar of Twitter.

Rachel: Yeah that’s awesome. We had quite a few new people join and that’s how it’s been week after week. There’s always at least a couple of new faces which is amazing to see and especially all the regulars who come every week.

It’s so cool to see everybody coming back time after time.

Julia: Yes, it’s very neat to see the type of community not only the questions being asked and what’s being shared in the knowledge, but also I think our community is so warm, friendly and helpful. It’s not your typical marketing community. It’s very open, warm and friendly and I love that we’ve been able to build that.

Rachel: Right and I have to say two of the main things for me with a good Twitter chat is that one, you learn something from it and at the end of the chat you feel like you’re taking something away. And two, just having a really great community around it.

Social media is meant to be social and I think a lot of people forget that and may spend so much time scheduling all of these posts with links to their blog and their products and their services that they forget to take the time to just talk to people. And Twitter chats really are the simplest and best way to do that, because there are so many people that you can interact with within the span of an hour.

Julia: It’s really neat how Twitter has become a platform where that happens. And it’s so social, like you said. [LAUGH]

So one thing you do for us that is really great is creating a weekly recap of the Twitter chat which goes on our blog post. I proofread it but you put it all together.

So run us through how you do that.

Rachel: So basically the weekly recap is essentially just a bunch of tweets from the chat. I really just go through all of the tweets that people posted during that hour, and choose some of the top tweets and I try to really get a mix. I wanna make sure that I include everybody at least once just because I wanna make sure everybody gets included in there.

And then of course you wanna share some of the most valuable answers. Because I know a lot of people do chat recaps where they have this Storify stream of every single tweet.

Julia: [LAUGH]

Rachel: And that’s a lot to look at. So I really try to go through and curate some of the top tweets and the tweets that are gonna add value to people who are reading these recaps, and who missed the chat and want to still learn from the recap.

So I try to make sure I get a variety of tweets in there and a lot of some of the best posts. And then the great thing is that we can mention people on Twitter when we’ve quoted them in the recap, and it’s funny because I always love to see what people write back saying that they appreciate it that they were quoted in there.

And then they share it with their audience which sends traffic to the site but it also brings more awareness of the Twitter chat. And one of the other things with the recap is that it’s not just a stream of tweets, I try to add some commentary to each tweet which somebody, I can’t remember who it was, but somebody a while back said that he actually really appreciated that we added that commentary on there.

And that it wasn’t just a bunch of tweets embedded into a blog post.

Julia: I think it makes it so much more personal and it just has so much more than just that automated looking stream of tweets. 

Rachel: Exactly.

Julia: So you went through some of the tools you use and you mentioned TweetDeck and then Canva for the images.

Are those the two main tools that you use for the chat?

Rachel: Yeah those are the two main tools I use. TweetDeck is definitely my favorite for managing the chat, just because with TweetDeck you can create columns for specific things. So I have a column specifically for the hashtag which shows me all the tweets, for the hashtag during the chat.

And then I have columns for the mentions and the notifications that we get so I can keep track of everything. I seriously never miss anything with those columns set up. Because I mean Twitter chats get a little crazy and when you have a ton of people joining week after week, it’s not something you wanna try to manage on Twitter’s actual website, that’s gonna be stressful.

And as you mentioned, we use Canva for the question graphics and also for our chat graphic in general where we promote the topic and the guest host and really the only other tool that I use for the Twitter chat is Buffer, just because I use Buffer to schedule out all the questions in advance.

So whatever scheduling tool is your preference go for that but we use Buffer for all of our social media posts which makes it super easy.

Julia: Exactly.

Well I think that covers the essentials of how we run our Twitter chat. And just maintaining this every single week is probably the biggest key to seeing it become successful, because it’s taken six months for us to get in the sidebar of Twitter which is actually faster than I thought.


Rachel: Right let’s face it, that’s seems to me pretty quick.

Julia: Yes.

Rachel: I was surprised when you shared that in the chat on Tuesday, I couldn’t believe it, but that’s amazing.

Julia: Yes that was like the ultimate reward of what we do. [LAUGH]

Rachel: Yep.

Julia: Well thank you so much for coming on and sharing what you do in our weekly Twitter chat and thank you for being so awesome at our social media, really appreciate it.

Rachel: Well thank you for having me it was a lot of fun. And hopefully people listening will now join the Twitter chat.

Julia: Yes which remind us when that happens and what day.

Rachel: So the Twitter chat is #ContentWritingChat. It takes place every Tuesday at 10 AM CST.


Join #ContentWritingChat to learn all things content marketing, writing, and creating! Follow @ExpWriters and the dedicated chat account, @writingchat on Twitter. We look forward to seeing you!

write podcast with brandon schaefer

The Write Podcast, Episode 11: Why Content Marketing is Like Eggs to Your Cake with Brandon Schaefer

If you only listen to ONE of my episodes today, I’d point you to E11. You know why? I connected with someone who was as equally as passionate about content marketing as me–and so wonderfully expressive about their passion. Brandon Schaefer is the bomb! He’s an expert growth and business strategist, as well as mentor; and has helped companies like BuzzSumo, Hashtagify and many others (that he can’t name for NDA reasons) climb to the top. He’s also founded multiple companies of his own, including MyVirtualSalesForce.com. Brandon comes from a family of entrepreneurs and is an avid proponent of content marketing–you can tell it all throughout this episode! I enjoyed having his passion and expertise (not to mention personality!) on my show.

write podcast with brandon schaefer

In Episode 11 of The Write Podcast, Brandon Schaefer joins me for an epic discussion on content marketing:

  • Why it’s absolutely essential to businesses of ALL sizes
  • How brands can get started right now (hint: it’s as simple as writing, writing, writing)
  • How Brandon came from a family of entrepreneurs
  • What a “butt to the gut” is and how it applies to content marketing (basketball term)
  • How to connect with influencers (don’t go for the jugular right away)
  • Shoutout to Sujan Patel!
  • How content types and mediums are like the ingredients to a cake
  • ….& more!

 If you like what you hear, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes here. It will help the show and it’s ranking in iTunes immensely. I appreciate it! Enjoy the show!

Transcript: Episode 11, Why Content Marketing is Like Eggs to Your Cake with Brandon Schaefer

Julia: Hello and welcome to episode 11 in the Write Podcast. I’m here with Brandon Schaefer, who is a business strategist and mentor. He currently owns and runs myvirtualsalesforce.com. He’s a business mentor at Score Mentors and he’s worked with multiple companies in growth hacking and brand awareness. He’s also the author of Wake Up To Win.

Brandon, I’m really excited to have you here today.

Brandon: Oh thank you so much. I really appreciate it. I’m thankful for the opportunity.

Julia: Absolutely. So let’s start. What would be your number one piece of advice or something fundamental for someone that’s looking to grow their brand?

Brandon: Get a plan, sit down with somebody. [LAUGH]

Julia: [LAUGH]

Brandon: I don’t even write stuff, I type, I don’t even carry a pen, but get a plan and sit down with maybe one or two people in your market segment that you can count on, if you don’t know somebody, find one or two people that aren’t actually trying to sell you anything. That they’re maybe in a similar market segment or somebody that you can sit down with and kinda share where you’re at.

Because most people have spent like six months a year, 12 months 24 months investing your time and money into something, and they don't see the results so then they get upset and then they just bail, they give up and I understand it. But if you just realize that if you put some time in, it's like working at a gym you go to the gym you don't walk out looking buff, wherever the heck you are it takes time.Click To Tweet

Get an unbiased opinion and not from a wife, a husband, partner anything else like that. Get somebody that can sit down with you and be honest with you and say like, listen how I’m I gonna make this thing work? This is what I’ve done so far, this’s the amount of money I spent and this is the amount of money I have left in the reserve.

What can I do over these next three months and get a strategy together, because I talked a lot of people and they always dumped, like, $70,000 so far and they don’t have a website yet. So it’s like we’ve been launching the website and it’s like don’t wait for perfection.

Get a strategy and don't spend a lot of money upfront, and don't wait for perfection.Click To Tweet

All three of those, you need to really focus on. There’s not anything what, those three are my three magic portions there, strategy, don’t spend a lot, don’t wait for a perfection because none of them are, you’re not gonna have a lot of perfection, you’re not gonna have a lot of money probably when you start and you’re probably not gonna have a lot of strategy either so those three things are the triangle that will yield good results I love it.

Julia: That reminds me of how I started my company. Every point you said just reminded me of how I began. So four years ago, actually five years ago now, I started my company because I was a really busy freelance writer. I had too much work on my hands but I didn’t want to turn away any client.

So I identified the need for a writing agency that had really good writers because back then it was like the industry was more populated with non English writers so I just identified that need and then in five minutes I literally coined my business name and I wish I’d spent a little more time on it [LAUGH] because I just took that business and ran and now I’m like, oh, I could have been more creative.

You know I just took it and ran and now we're a seven-figure company.Click To Tweet

Brandon: Yeah, I mean the thing is like with your story, it’s kind of like your sitting then your like, oh this just seems like good idea, just do it. You’re not like spending like a ton of money because you go out you hire these big firms to do these websites to look like Walmart and Target and stuff like that or some like site that spends hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Just go to work, get something starting, blog or something, get something started, prove your model and as you prove your model, then you can start to spend some money, but you just don’t dive into the pool without knowing how deep it is.

You gotta out your toe in, feel it around, see what type of feedback you get like you did. An outlook. You got an incredible experience.

Julia Right. I spent $75 total to start my company. I coded my own website, I learned how to do it all myself, I learned how to post everything so [LAUGH] yeah, you don’t need much.

Brandon: I tell you what Julie, this is what most people that come to me I’m like, most companies, this is what I say initially.

I’ll sit down with you, I’ll go over the strategy, come back to me in 30, 60 days I’m gonna see how you’re doing. If you prove that you’ve done what I’ve recommended, then I’ll work with you. But until then, it’s not going to work because when someone jumps in, everyone has expectations that are like here because all we hear on the web is success stories.

All you hear is the tip of the iceberg, super success stories. Like hey I just started this, or hey I did this and this, we don’t hear about the 20 billion other people that just haven’t made a dime. It’s just shiny object syndrome.

But take the recommendations, start out slow and build it up from there and write Everyday, write every single day, I don’t care if you write 300 words, 500 words, what’s the guy, he posts everyday, he writes, Seth, who is it?

Julia: Seth Godin.

Brandon: Yeah, what’s he write? His posts are 100 words, I mean he has some more in-depths, I mean he’s an incredible guy, incredible resource, but his daily posts are like 200 words.

I mean that’s it.

Julia: They’re really short. Yeah that’s great advice. That’s something I do all the time, is just sit down and write. Maybe three fourths of my week is writing.

Brandon: Yeah it’s a diary. I mean for me personally I take the train on most days, so I just write on the trains. An hour ride each way on the train.

So usually in the morning time or afternoon, really in the afternoon I’ll take half hour and I’ll just write. And whatever I can write in a half hour, I write. And that’s me. I’m not sending this to get reviewed or anything else like that. I’m writing and publishing and firing. And I’m on to the next thing.

I know it’s not gonna be perfect. You hear me speak, I mean I speak crazily. I mean I speak with passion, I get loud, I get crazy.

Julia: That’s great.

Brandon: I jump up and down.

Julia: [LAUGH]

Brandon: Sometimes I have trouble talking, I mean it’s just because I’m excited. That’s it.

Julia: Right, well, your passion shows.

Brandon: Oh cool, thank you.

Julia: Tell me a little bit about your background as a business strategist.

Brandon: I grew up in business, my grand father was an entrepreneur, my mother is an entrepreneur. So I just naturally grew up around business strategy, around people always talking about that at thanks giving dinner, at holiday dinners or whenever, that’s all we ever talked about talked about was kind of business stuff, so he can say at some point it’s unfortunate, but kind of learned a lot.

I learned a lot about testing things, and failing, and that it’s okay and get right back up and tie those shoes on; you got to tie those laces on your shoes tighter the next day and get up and test something else out.

So as for planning, no. I always say failing to plan is planning to fail, right? So and that’s all that strategy is. It’s just taking the time to set out kind of a road map for yourself to go on.

Julia: I love that advice. So tell me a little bit about the companies that you’ve helped grow?

Brandon: Well I know one of them was BuzzSumo, I know you had mentioned that when you first reached out to me.

I recently worked with those guys. And I will tell you, that company does everything that they do 100% correctly. They have a small lean staff but they are truly an incredible model and if anybody on here, you reach out to Steve from BuzzSumo he will definitely talk with you. But yea those guys they do it, they do everything 100% correct and in the content world I guess, so much information is driven through content now that that market space that their in is a home-run because everybody is looking for content to share right? It’s perfect for everything for them right now. So it’s a really great company.

Hashtagify, for certain hashtags and stuff like that, that’s another home run of a company. Great brand that’s been around and is very popular in the social media space for attracting hashtags and searching to see which ones are most relevant, which ones are trending and stuff like that, and then we go all the way to sports equipment companies, you name it.

I’m not gonna go on and on with this stuff, for those who are probably two of the ones that would hit home most with your audience. I mean obviously they’re on all different types of market segments.

Julia: Yes you’re right, I use and I love both of those tools and BuzzSumo has been huge for content marketing.

I look at it like an essential content marketing tool, you can’t do much better than that. I haven’t found one that’s really better and you mentioned that what they do they do the best. I’ve reached out to Steve, he’s actually been on my podcast and I love—

Brandon: Oh my goodness okay.

Julia: Yeah and you’re so right about that, one thing he told me was that he has stayed up later than the competition, and that’s been like their number one secret.

Brandon: Oh and they’ve also got another secret, her name is Susan and she does all the web access and all kinds of stuff. She is a phenomenal lady. I feel like well I work with a lot of people but she is a phenomenal phenomenal resource for them.

Julia: That’s cool. It’s often people behind the scenes that are doing so many neat things and you don’t know them, but they’re there working really hard.

Brandon: Well that’s the key with business, actually probably a good point to bring up is that in business there’s always these secret hidden weapons, these secret weapons right, these people that really can get you to where you want to go or can help you along.

And we all see this bright shiny object and everybody especially when you’re trying to get into an account or something else like that, or get a guest post or something else like that, you always go right for the jugular.

Like we’re on an African plain like a lion trying to take down a hyena or something. You don’t look for the jugular, you hang out in the car, in the Jeep or whatever, see who does what. You’ll see that there’s hidden influencers behind all the big influencers or figures. So, if you can aim and start to hook up with some of these type of people, and whether you’re selling or in type of big sale, or whether it be an enterprise or a big company or whatever, whatever the case is, there’s always these hidden influences.

I always try to find a hidden influences or form relationships with them and then they can lead me when the time is right.

Julia: That’s really interesting, I love the advice. So how do you find someone like that?

Brandon: Well it’s, you gotta have, I call it butt in the gut, right? So, it’s like physical, like if you play basket ball, you will always butt in the gut, I’m not, I’m not like a basketball guy but I know my son plays basketball so he’s always coaching me on stuff which helps.

But yeah, it’s by paying attention, it’s by listening, because we all want to, and not just speaking for myself here and you know it’s like, I wanna say how great this is or what we can do or what problems we can solve and how great we’re gonna do it, but people want to really know what’s in it for them though? Like what effect is it going to have on us? Like if we do this service with you, then what results can we expect? What can we, what’s going to be different in our company? So, it’s important to stay focused on always providing value to the client, keeping them first.

Julia: That is so true and that’s funny, because I just published a blog today about how to stand out as a blogger and one of my number one tips is to focus on your audience, and sort of just you and, your brand whatever you’re selling and if you can focus on your audience and talk to that person, that’s so important, because that draws them in and they feel engaged and they’re probably more likely to go to your site and do something.

Brandon: Yeah and you’ve gotta get active, I mean, as, just as you know, you gotta go out to the conferences, if you can’t afford to go out to the conferences, then get involved in online groups, or Facebook groups, there’s lengthy in groups, there’s Twitter, you name it, just get engaged, get involved, with these different types of people and just give, give a response every once in a while, if they write something, I’m more into e-mail, I will rarely comment on an actual blog but I will get an e-mail address for them and send them a personal note like hey this is where this really hit home for me, thank you so much, like this is really cool, I was just thinking about this, like that type of stuff, so, I’ll take it actually offline right away, in most cases, if I’m gonna take the time to read a comment I’ll actually take the time to find their e-mail address and send them a personal e-mail and that’s, you wanna get your butt in your gut, that’s really get’s you belly to belly with somebody.

Julia: Exactly and that reminds me of how I touched base with you, I think it was just through a tweet.

Brandon: Oh yeah, that’s exactly how it works, you send me something today this is like this or whatever, we took it offline, and it’s a message I said hey send me an e-mail, and a couple of days later we were talking so.

Julia: Exactly, it’s amazing how quickly that can work. You know it’s like something, something so simple just to reach out directly and there’s so many platforms now like you mentioned going to events and Blab is huge.

Brandon: Yes, yeah.

Julia: For the networking, it’s been enormous.

Brandon: And there’s one thing that I always like to do too with these influencers, just kinda circling back on the, influencer stuff.

Julia: Mm-hm.

Brandon: Find out what platforms they hang out on and hang out on those platforms that they hang out on. So you try to get in front of somebody, but if someone’s big on Blab or someone’s big on Twitter or anywhere else and always on there, find out where they hang out the most and then communicate with them on that channel because there’s so many different channels as you know, we’re all kind of flipping back and forth, we’re getting with stuff.

I mean most people use tools, I know we use a bunch of tools to monitor tracks and hashtags and direct messages and email. There’s all day long there’s stuff coming come again, but if it’s sincere outreach, we’ll immediately respond back to that. Or if it’s something bad, we’re gonna immediately respond not that that happens a lot but wherever, but we’re prepared to take that conversation offline immediately as well.

Julia: Exactly. That’s so true about finding the platform where they I remember I was trying to reach out to someone on Twitter, when I was looking for someone to write my book for and I finally got Sujan Patel to do it but whenever I was looking for people, I reached out to someone on Twitter and they were like, well I don’t know you, so this was an influencer there.

Brandon: Yeah.

Julia: He’s like I don’t know you, but why don’t you come join my Blab and then we’ll get to know, to know each other and then yeah, maybe I’ll do it.

Brandon: Oh, that’s cool. Is it Sujan—Sujan?

Julia: Sujan Patel.

Brandon: Susan, okay. Does he run Contentmarketer.io or is that-

Julia: Yeah, he started that.

Brandon: I’ve actually reached out to him real quick about how to actually do something. I’ve actually tested out that software, it was pretty cool. He’s got a couple of different things going. He seems like a pretty cool dude, I like his profile picture and if he’s ever in Philadelphia here I’ll be sure to catch up with him.

Julia: Oh that’s cool. Influencers connecting with influencers.

Brandon: That’s [LAUGH] that’s it, is it.

Julia: So Brandon, I just wanted to touch on as well content marketing, in your experience as a business strategist and growth hacking, how important would you say content marketing is to a business that’s looking to grow?

Brandon: Oh man. It is vitally important.

If I like don’t answer you right away is because it hits directly to my, it’s like you stab me in the heart with a knife because it hits so close to home with me, like I’m actually catching my breath before I say something so-

Julia: [LAUGH]

Brandon: Oh yeah content marketing is vital to any size business, any size.

I don’t care if you’re bricks and mortar, Mom and Dad shop, that you’re 70 years old and you’re in some small town. Content marketing, first it’s free. Well I don’t know if anything’s free anymore because time costs money and you know here and there but if you don’t have the advertising dollars to actually pay Google or pay Facebook or pay Twitter or any of these other platforms to run ads on or banner or whatever and you’re a happy writer, even if you’re not a half decent writer, but you’re writing about making saddles for English riding and horses in Wyoming, if you’re very specific, there’s a very, very good chance and you’re offering some information that’s unique, there’s a very, very good chance that your content is going to get seen by people and have some type of you’re gonna get more leverage and more opportunities to talk to more people.

Not only that but you also have the opportunity to get back lengths like qualified backlinks—

Julia: Right.

Brandon: Not like junk crap backlinks that don’t mean anything. It would be like me linking to you linking to you know and that shows basically free SEO so and there are so many types of different content to like get on a blab you can do a blab then you can transcribe what you went over and what you talked about you can do portions you can do quotes from that you know there is just you can make it into a SlideShare then you can make it into another video on YouTube, there is 15,000 things to do so there is no excuse you know?

Julia: Exactly I totally agree with that and that’s something I found just launching a podcast is in the amount of content I can re-create out of this podcast. You know we’ve done transcriptions for every episode, and the transcriptions have been like 6,000 words, and we post that as a new piece of content on our site and that’s huge attracting already new rankings.

Brandon: Yeah of course it works and it’s important there are so many companies that are still kind of not believing in it And I mean listen you can pay I was just doing a guest post for Tor Refsland, he just picked me yesterday about a guest post for something similar to this so I sent it back yesterday but you got to believe in it right so there are so many companies that are paying Google. And when I pay Google I mean I’m just guilty of it as well right so it’s like when I go to the water falls and I turn the water falls and then water comes out right it’s the same thing with Google when I pay Google traffic comes, right? And then when I stop paying them the traffic stops coming and it just still be a little bit of leakage here and there every once in a while.

But when you implement content marketing and you do it good and consistently and when I say consistently it’s not just like once a week or you can do whatever is comfortable for you like I just share like once a day, once every other day, I’m just here like a business experience that I’m going through I won’t mention any names because we always disclosure agreements but I won’t mention any names but I’ll just share like a similar story or something else like that and it works it’s a way to get it to work.

Julia: Right. So how would you look at different mediums of content as like for example being more important or more essential than another, like blogging I suppose, to doing a video or different mediums like that. So how important is a blog for business in general?

Brandon: Again you are stabbing me in the heart because these things hit so close to home. Always on my mind. You are doing a great job.

I look at it like this right so when you make a recipe at home not that I cook a lot and stuff like that my wife thank goodness for her does that, but so when we cook or something when we do we need all the ingredients right we need something like mushrooms.


We need some onions, we need some oil, we need some butter. We need some chicken if we’re gonna put in there or whatever. So those are all the ingredients, and no one type of content is good for everybody. So you gotta take a little bit of each one of the pieces, whether it is video, whether it’s actually an infographic, whether it’s by chair whatever platform it is you need to fold them all into the blender right and you need to hit, it just gets you, you need to touch on all basis and then once you do that for like a month for like 30, 60, 90 days then you can see which one is giving you the most ROI right and then you can start to really focus on that one, but you can’t leave the rest of them out of the picture right because all of them equal to pieces of puzzles.

So if you find one piece that like yields you better results than the others then always have that issue of primary focus but still make sure you are always hitting on this other types of content as well.

Julia: I love it that reminds me of a phrase I’ve seen a lot, like the eggs to your cake. That’s like—

Brandon: Exactly.

Julia: The content to your marketing.

Brandon: Yeah that’s exactly what it is.

Julia: Thanks so much for being here Brandon, I really appreciate it.

Brandon: Anytime and I’m available any time anybody wants to talk, anybody wants to chat in whatever, I’m here to help.

[MUSIC] Thanks for joining today’s Write Podcast. For more online content, tips and strategies, visit expresswriters.com/write-blog and now here’s your host Julia McCoy with a final message.

Julia: I hope you enjoyed today’s episode, I absolutely loved connecting to and talking with Brandon Schaefer, you can find them at myvirtualsalesforce.com or on Twitter @MyVSF_Brandon.

I’m really excited because my, book So You Think You Can Write, The Definitive Guide To Successful Online Writing came out April 19th and I’ve seen it already hit #2 and 3 on the charts on Amazon. And even better than that, I’ve been hearing from so many people including people around the world that are telling me how much my book is helping them create better content online, and that to me is so inspirational. That’s why I wrote this book, I really think that the hands-on skills involved in online content writing are not taught or talked about enough in a way that everyone can understand. It took me over five years of self teaching to learn all of this skills after a lot of trial and error and finding out what works and what doesn’t. So I’ve put everything I’ve learnt into a book, So You Think You Can Write, the Definitive Guide To Successful Online Writing and you can find it right now on Amazon, Print and Kindle as well as Barnes & Noble and iBooks. Go to www.bit.ly/soyouthinkyoucanwrite for all the links.

Thank you so much for joining today’s Write Podcast!


The Write Podcast, Episode 10: Book Chapter Read of So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing

EEK. My first-ever published book, So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Online Writing, launched TODAY on Amazon.


In today’s episode, I read aloud part of the Introduction, where I talk about how I got started in this crazy world of online writing, and the first chapter from my book, where I share a section I thoroughly love: starting grounds for the online writer. Enjoy!

In Episode 10 of The Write Podcast, Julia reads an excerpt of her new book, So You Think You Can Write?

  • Learn how storytelling is an underlying fundamental of great online writing
  • Find out which companies are leading the forefront in creative, spectacular online writing skills
  • Hear some of Julia’s history, from her early days as a content marketer to today
  • Be inspired as you listen to what makes up some of the great stories in content marketing today
  • ….& more!

 If you like what you hear, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show and it’s ranking in iTunes immensely. I appreciate it! Enjoy the show!

Transcript: Book Chapter Read of So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing

Julia: Hello and welcome to The Write Podcast! This is Julia McCoy, and today I’m really excited to share with you that my book So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide To Successful Online Writing is finally out. It went live today as print and Kindle on Amazon! This book is a summary of every skill I’ve learned and taught myself in the last few years to create successful online content, from blogs to webpages and much more.

To buy my book on Amazon just go to bit.ly/juliamccoy. The direct Amazon book link will also be in this podcast description. 

I’ve had this book idea for years and I started working on, So you think you can write about a year ago. It’s been crazy just to get through this year of writing a book, I have a whole new respect for authors.

Writing a book is no small task, especially if you really wanna make it a good and worthwhile book. Worthwhile book. So the section I’m gonna read to you begins at the Introduction and I will read you chapter one, so let’s get started. Introduction. As an online marketer, site owner and freelance writer I’ve been and in online consecrations since 2011.

In a short few years I have seen the entire world of online content evolve for 100’s of businesses. The good news is that I’ve seen a great deal of progression, in 2011 I saw a lot of sub par online content do just fine then Giggle Panda hit the web a lot of duplicate cured stuffed poor content got struck down from the rankings.

Every time a major Google update has come out I’ve researched it, written about it and watched marketers flinch and then adapt. Some of my favorite clients were the marketers who came to me with the need to change and fit their content to the new Google rules and regulations. I think I was on speed dial for some of them [LAUGH] It was simple really.

Many of these marketers just needed higher quality content or they needed to replace the duplicate content on their site that they had copied over from somewhere else on the web. Yikes! So today’s overall online content direction is progressing toward a higher content quality and standard all over the web.

And who’s the major driving force? Google. I’ve been doing this for half a decade now and I run a seven figure company with a team of talented writers delivering online content to businesses of all kind. This has been my self taught full time career path. Here’s my belief about succeeding in this field, you don’t need a college course to learn to be an online writer, the nitty gritty, hands on, real world skills of online content writing aren’t taught in college yet.

I’ll agree that a foundational knowledge from college English 101 or 102 is applicable if it helps to refine your basic writing skills. Consequently a journalism degree does help if you choose to write press releases, but I firmly believe anyone could be self-taught in successful online content writing to create great content for themselves or earn a living doing it with the caviar that they have a passion and talent for writing because passion and talent will keep them going.

I’ve seen this manifest in my own career. If you’re this kind of writer but you don’t know how to bring your talents online yet or you want to solidify your knowledge in creating good online content, then my guide is just for you. I am giving you such a thorough definitive guide on online content writing that if you find all of it, you’ll be ready to write any kind of content that will rank well online and be successful, whether it’s for your clients or for yourself.

Chapter One: Starting Grounds.

Success in online writing, both monetary and in the subsequent value and ranking of great web content can happen for any passionate writer and brand given the opportunity to learn the tricks of the online writing trade. The tough part is there’s no one easy course to sign up for it that teaches you all of the tricks you need to know to succeed.

I was completely self-taught and I picked up some of my bet skills by learning them on the job as I wrote online content for my clients, not what I’d suggest for everyone. I think that essential writing skills are born from a passion that surfaces at a young age. This passion can’t be taught and it’s the starting point of what it takes to be a stellar content creator and copywriter.

My stunning growth can be traced back to writing fiction when I was just 9 years old. Many professional copywriters, probably more than half, double in fiction When the mood strikes them. Writing fiction maintains and sharpens the base skills of creative writing. When we grow up telling stories it’s only natural that we incorporate pieces of them into our current writing, and guess what, fiction writing is the fertile ground where some f the greatest storytelling genius is born and cultivated.

A passion for storytelling born at an early age can blossom into amazing online content writing skills at a later age and thus translate into well developed copyrighting chops for the world’s most successful brands. Ordinary writers doing extraordinary things. Storytelling comes from showing reality from a different perspective, it could be summed up that simply.

An interesting, unique point of view can really draw a person in, and when you combine the identifiable point of view with a good story to tell you transform that story into an extension of someone’s life. A good story and advertising copy makes the person witnessing it subconsciously think – GEE, that sounds like or could be me!

How was that emotion pulled out? By a story told so well that it became relatable and real. Very often that person goes on to become a customer for the company that drew them in and related to them on a personal level. Although story telling styles and media has changed over time, the idea that a good story appeals to the audience is timeless, it’s why we tell our kids stories adapted from 16th century German fairy tales.

The story is in itself a timeless art form. Once upon a time stories were used as a means of promoting discourse. Socrates presented his thoughts to the public in the form of fables. Many ancient Greek and Roman philosophers such as Euclid and Plato used to couch their factual knowledge and Story telling, and you know what? Stories stick.

Who remembers the first grade fairytale rather than the sixth grade Geography or Math lesson? Me too. It goes to show that a relatable story is often remembered far more accurately and much more vividly than drier content pushed down our throats as a road to memorization. This persistence of memory is also another reason why the story has taken root in modern day advertising.

Storytelling allows us to bring the audience into the front seat and bad times make each person feel like the most important person in the room. Nothing is as memorable as a show put on just for you, unless it’s a show that is starring you. In our attempts at storytelling we try to put the audience in the driver’s seat and have them experience the feelings and emotions that an ordinary person would feel in such a position, like the myriad of writers that came before us, from Herodotus to Shakespeare.

We continue to carry on the timeless work of telling stories. What are the online writers stories made of? Now obviously online copywriters don’t write the kinds of stories found in books. You just won’t see a guy staring at a full page ad and reading it like a novel enjoying its use of double entendre, maybe we’ll get there one day, whenever any single one of us enjoys the fabulous art of reading entire volumes voraciously, but I highly doubt that’s likely.

Our attention spans are currently dwindling not growing according to research. So the way an online writer builds a story is a little different. While a fictional writer has a toolbox full of plots, devices and character portraits, the content writer has a trunk full of information about whom they want to reach and the most effective way to do it.

We began by researching our audience first and foremost before we even start writing. A fiction writer starts with the premise and then finds the audience but the copywriter starts with the audience and then generates the premise, and they create a story that sells to that audience.

There are a number of different success tales in businesses, both large and small that testify to the usefulness of this story as a marketing tool. Recent trends in marketing have shown that combining the idea of a story to teach the audience something has a far greater impact on final sales.

As entertaining as the story is, if it doesn’t sell then it isn’t successful from a marketing perspective. So are there limits to storytelling? Will the story ever detract from a message you need to get across to a potential customer in order to sell him or her? Enter the following example, marketing storytelling so good it sold crap literally.

An example of storytelling success in marketing: Poo~Pourri. Recently I came across an example of brand storytelling so good it blew my mind. It was an ad by the brand Poo~Pourri on YouTube. This 3 minute 5 second video captured me and held my attention the entire time. Yes they interrupted the writing of this book.

The video opens with a beautiful, English, redheaded girl drinking tea and eating baked goods with her lady friends. She suddenly experiences the passing of gas, looks into the camera and says, my butt trumpet is about to blow [LAUGH] and when the eclairs spreads my hot-crossed buns no one will ever know. It’s time to go down the crappit hole, where smelling is believing.

The viewer then proceeds to get flushed down a toilet, and to a music video where people are doing yoga and simultaneously singing about crap with their heads between their legs. Did that just make you say what? And then immediately you want to know more.

The maker of this newer brand sold no less than 4 million products to date. And I think the magic of their story telling is their primary reason. Make your story educating and entertaining. Potpourri’s example is so crazy good it’s out of this world literally I haven’t seen a better tale in marketing.

If you can nail a story that creative then my hat is off to you. Not every brand will be able to come up with that amount of successful crappy puns, pun intended. So even if you cant be the next Poo Potpourri here’s how you should be using the hugely important element of storytelling in your content.

The overall aim of our online storytelling should be to educate and entertain and from that naturally to sell. Educating validates the idea of a value-based content system, what Google and readers love today. Success for the online marketer is found in copy that isn’t aimed at a hard sale, but instead offers useful and insightful information.

Through visualized content that naturally attracts more leads out of viewers and entertaining is simply your desired and achievable level of creativity. However far you want to go to make your story entertain your fans on a one to Poo~Pourri level. With a truly useful educational, entertaining story line and consistent content output, regular blogs, videos or other content types you’ll draw and warm leads will keep reading your content because it gives them an answer or solves their problems, and these leads are much more likely to buy your product.

Then the readers face with the cold sale. This is big news for us writers, since a whopping 40% or more of the world’s population now has access to the Internet, which means there are more than 3 billion people online, Internet marketing is the primary advertising avenue for all businesses.

More than 8 new people get online every second and over 139,000 new websites go live everyday based on 2013 statistics. 46% of people read blogs more than once a day and 82% of marketers who blog daily gain a customer from their blogs. Adobe has reported that Internet TV will be replacing traditional cable television with Internet video viewing growing by 388% annually, and cable TV is seeing the lowest number of viewers today than it has ever seen.

I could cite stuff all day long but the point is if you’re in business your best audience is found online and the foundation of all online marketing is good content. Fundamentally good story telling is the key to writing contents that excels then add too this strong underlying foundation it make as your knowledge research skills and the ability to thoroughly address all of your readers questions.

Learning to create captivating headlines that correctly reflect what the content is about is another important tool in your skill set. This described process is also what I’m about to teach you in my book. This approach is already working, numbers don’t lie, companies such as General Electric RedBull have utilized the medium of story telling in a bold new way giving theirs viewers and readers stories informing as opposed to selling.

Go read and watch some of the media on their websites if you want to be inspired, and as I showed there are brands like Poo~Pourri taking storytelling to the next creative level. and simply sewing through the power of an astoundingly fun brand. Providing useful engaging content is the new face of marketing.

If you’re aware of this concept and can manage to blend storytelling with useful information then you’re well on you way to becoming a first class content creator, and when And once you’ve had some experience in storytelling, whether it is making up fables on the fly or your kid brother, eating up volumes of beautiful fiction tales at a time or writing a lengthy essay you actually enjoyed creating for your middle school teacher, then you probably have the skills for this type of content.

Truth be told I personally find it easier to write from an ad or targeted online copy perspective than just writing from a fictional perspective. Fiction gives you a lot of freedom to experiment but too much of a good thing means you have no limits or boundaries and it’s very easy to wonder off message.

In contrast online copy almost every time has defined guidelines to work within and although you were challenged to think outside the box where really good ideas are born, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll end up doing something wrong if you stay within the guidelines while exercising your writing talents and skills.

In this type of writing once you understand the instructions it’s impossible to stray off the beating path, fall off the cliff or wonder into the weeds.

End of chapter one.

I really hope you enjoy this brief excerpt of my book So You Think You Can Write, The Definitive Guide To Successful Online Writing.

Thanks for joining The Write Podcast.


To buy Julia’s book, click the Amazon button below:


guillaume decugis content curation

The Write Podcast, Episode 9: How to Fit Content Curation into Your Content Marketing Strategy Successfully with Guillaume Decugis

Welcome to Episode 9 in The Write Podcast! I’m thrilled you’ve joined me for another episode. This episode is a good one: Guillaume Decugis, one of my favorite marketers in the content curation niche, joined me as a guest expert to share insights on just how marketers can do online content curation correctly. Guillaume is an expert online and his insights are fantastic. Prior to co-founding Scoop.it, which is a pioneer in the content curation platform space and has over 2 million users today, Guillaume built a company to success from scratch and sold it to Microsoft. I like what he says so much, I’ve invited Guillaume to be a guest expert on #ContentWritingChat, and had a Google Hangout with him a way back.

In this episode, Guillaume discusses Scoop.it, how they’re doing great new things, and how content curation as a whole fits into content marketing–plus a whole lot more good things. Enjoy!

guillaume decugis content curation

In Episode 9 of The Write Podcast, Guillaume shares insights on:

  • How Scoop.it is fulfilling on a mission to help marketers find and re-share great content
  • How the methodology in content marketing isn’t clear, how many marketers don’t know yet how to create great content; and how content curation helps marketers
  • How Guillaume is an engineer-turned-content-marketer and how that helps him reverse engineer content marketing (a reason I seriously love listening to him!)
  • How you’re not a parrot if you re-share your content (you’re just getting more visibility)
  • How we’re about to see a lot more SMBs embrace content marketing – not just big box brands
  • Why measuring ROI in content marketing matters
  • ….& more!

 If you like what you hear, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show and it’s ranking in iTunes immensely. I appreciate it! Enjoy the show!

Transcript: How to Fit Content Curation into Your Content Marketing Strategy Successfully with Guillaume Decugis

Julia: Hello and welcome to The Write Podcast. This is your host Julia McCoy. And today my guest is Guillaume, the founder and CEO of Scoop.it, which is a content discovery and curation platform. I love their home page tagline: you are the content you publish.

Guillaume, welcome to the show, and thanks for being here.

Guillaume: Hi everyone, and super excited to be here, hi Julia.

Julia: Great to have you here. So I wanted to go into a little bit about what Scoop.it does for content curation, and just how content curation ties into content marketing, for those who maybe haven’t heard of Scoop.it before aren’t familiar with it.

Guillaume: Yeah, so we’ve been around for four years now, we turned four in November which is entering old age for a start up.

And so we are very proud we made it so far, lots of exciting things to do, and I think it’s just the beginning. And so we started with this realization four or five years ago, and that’s why we like this claim that you are the content you publish. And what we mean by that is that online visibility has shifted over the last five years, from traditional techniques like SEO completely changed, it used to be technical, SEO techniques, used to be SEM, it used to be display adds, and it really changed to content.

Now if you wanna be visible online you have to publish great content. This is what Google tells you, this is what social networks tell you. So that’s what we wanted to help professionals in general, and marketers in particular, achieve is how to transition from the old style marketing to accountant based marketing.

And so we started with a first idea, we tried to think about what is the difficulty here. And we found a lot of marketers were not actually trained to create great content. They didn’t think in terms of their company as media, they thought about campaigns, they thought about a lot of digital marketing things, and even today in schools there are very few curriculums in marketing classes which really focus on content.

So we felt, okay, our mission is gonna be to help marketers be good at content. And so the first thing we noticed is that it was really hard for them to create content at scale, and that content curation was a great way to help them with that, to help them discover content to curate and share to their social channels, which is the basic curation that everybody does or everybody should do. Share somebody else’s content to engage our community. But there’s a lot more to curation to that. There’s the idea that you can use that curated content for your blog, for your newsletters, and we can touch into that.

So what we realized over time is that, we’ve been known for our curation service which is a free tool that anybody can use at Scoop.it, but the novelty that we’ve launched earlier this year is Scoop.it’s Content Director, where we encapsulated that curation technology with all sorts of different features to really create a complete integrated content marketing framework that helps.

A software that helps marketers with all of the content marketing cycle, and then curation is an important way we helped, but we’re strong believers that content marketing is a cycle that needs to be optimized in the same way that CRM was optimized, that lead nurturing was optimized, so there’s a lot to see on that.

Julia: So thinking about the future and 2016, it’s crazy for me to think about how much content will probably be out there, and it will be like a sea of content, it will be crazy. So how do you see content curation as helping navigate all of that content?

Guillaume: What really sounds super useful is that, so first of all the fact that everybody starts to embrace content marketing now means that you really have to be good at it in order to be efficient.

So you need to step up your game, you need to be having the right methodology, the right framework to do that. There was a benchmark by the Content Marketing Institute that really showed something interesting. They do their yearly benchmark, and this one went out about months ago.

More than 50%, I think 56% of marketers don’t know if their content marketing is efficient. So there’s really a lack of methodology, a lot of marketers don’t know really what they’re doing, what’s content marketing, and that’s not their fault. The methodology is not clear yet, and so we think that’s our mission, and that’s what we’re doing with our own content, but also putting rules in our product to help marketers with that.

So the first consequence of having everybody in content marketing is you really have to be professional at it. The second thing is, everybody publishes a lot of content, you have to keep track of what’s being published out there. And so the first thing you learn with content curation is you discover what content is published on your topic of expertise, on what’s interesting for your audience.

The third thing is that because a lot of content is produced, you don’t have to produce entirely from scratch, and so you both have to publish more content, but there’s already a lot of great content out there that you could relate to, that you could curate, and make your own by adding a commentary, an insight, and transform a piece of third party content into what we call a curated post, which really means quoting that piece of content linking back to it, being super ethical and transparent about it, but adding your own insight, as we call it, to turn that into a blog post.

And that’s been a great way to not only publish more content, we have an e-book on there that just show that compared to writing from scratch a piece of content during a curated post, takes maybe four to eight times faster. But it is also a great way to work with your community and to be really be lean about your content marketing.

And I think about it based in terms of, think about recycling, we all wanna recycle, we wanna be healthy with the time and everything. Well when you recycle content from somebody else you’re doing some magic here because you’re giving love and traffic to that author, but you’re also adding your own value and your own context, and you’re getting more content on your blog, and you can distribute that on your social channel as well.

So that’s really how content curation can help. So I think, as we’re seeing more content, I think curation plays more and more in a role.

Julia: Yes. I agree, that’s a really good nutshell of how it works for marketers I think, and going forth in 2016, we’ll probably see more use of platforms like yours and Scoop.it, and tell me a little bit about how you’ve seen it grown, I mean, you started it, how long ago?

Guillaume: Four years ago, November, 2011.

Julia: So how much have you seen it grown since then, and more so in this year?

Guillaume: Yeah, we’ve been seeing a ton of acceleration, so the reason for that, I think is as we’ve explained, content curation becomes more important, and becomes more important to discover content more easily, and be able to publish easily contents on social channels, on your blog, on your newsletters.

We have about two and half million users of the free version now, so that’s been really fantastic to see people embrace it. But the thing which to me is really something we’re proud of, is not just to have users, it’s the fact that those users collectively, ever since we started, attracted about 300 million people, and they were able to publish 100 million pieces of content.

So think about what we said earlier, our mission is, we said, you are the content you publish, and our mission is to help people publish content to get visibility. That was our starting point, publishing content is the way to get visibility, have you solve that? Well, content curation helps.

It makes it easier, and so our validation is we help a lot of people publish a lot of content, to attract even more visitors to their pages, either their Scoop.it pages, we have a light CMS platform you can create easily, Scoop.it pages, topic pages on Scoop.it, or you can integrate with your blog. So that’s really valuable traffic that the platform has been able to help our community of users build so it’s very satisfying for us to see that variation. And so now we keep growing, and we built this B2B version which is Scoop.it Content Director, and we already have a lot of companies using it, and the results have been fantastic as well.

We’ve seen people go from blogging one time a month to blogging twice a week, and they’ve seen the results in terms of how much SEO and traffic they generated. And I think the other niche we’re very happy about, is we’ve done a lot of work around how do you prove the ROI of content marketing? How do you generate leads? And we’re seeing now content marketing as something that is becoming essential as part of lead generation, demand generation, and I think that’s gonna also be a very important change next year. I think we’re gonna have a lot more ways to prove and improve the way of content marketing.

Julia: I totally agree, it’s amazing whenever you connect to your audience, and you find people in your audience who are sharing your content, and connecting to them back, and directly relates to our lives.

Like you said we’ll probably see refining of those types of tactics next year.

Guillaume: Yeah and I think we’ve done a lot of work ourselves on what is the ROI of Content? And we wanted to answer that question in general, but also for ourselves. We used content marketing, that’s our number one marketing strategy, and we experiment a lot with some of the ideas we have or what we see people blogging about.

And so a lot of the framework and the methodology we built for content marketing that is reflected in our products, is something that we’ve experimented with, and on which we have feedback. And so on ROI we’ve really thought about what does it mean to get ROI from content.

And I think a lot of people still struggle with, okay I know I can get more content out there, I can measure traffic increase with maybe Google Analytics, but we don't get paid in likes and Google Analytics visitors. We get paid in getting revenue up.Click To Tweet

And so there was an interesting piece I curated recently about at times you get marketers on the quarter just like sales people. And I think that’s a very interesting idea because now there’s a bunch of tools like ours and others that really helps you.

For instance, one of the things we’re super happy with is that on Content Director you can go piece of content by piece of content, and see how many leads you’ve generated with that piece of content for your company. And for all of you who are B2B marketers, who are tasked with driving demand, generating leads, nurturing leads, really proved okay, let’s take a look at the blog post I published, the tweet I made, every piece of content I did over last one month, two months, three months, here’s how many leads each of this individual pieces generated.

That’s a fantastic tool to have because now you get a very different seat at the table when you’re discussing with your C-level, with your direct reporting, with your boss. Whether in a small or mid-size companies, that gives you a lot more credibility. And it’s also a way to scale content marketing because the minute you can prove that by blogging, by tweeting more content, by curating more content, by distributing more content you can generate more leads.

Then the next question you have is okay, tell me what you need to generate more. So I think we’ll see a lot of that trend in 2016.

Julia: That’s great. It sounds like you have already provided so much of an answer to find the ROI, what type of content converts and the numbers, and that’s definitely something not a lot of other platforms offer. So that’s really neat.

Guillaume: Yeah, but I think it’s really the beginning. We have a lot of interesting things in the road map. We’re building integrations with steel arm tools. I think, I’m an engineer turned marketer, so first I like to build stuff, but when we started to work on that content opportunity, and how to structure things, I wanted to reverse engineer content marketing.

I really wanted to understand and try to really build a solid methodology for other people to use. And I don’t want to do that as the consultants. I have a ton of respect for consultants, but I’m a product builder so we wanted, as a team, to build software to help people do that.

And when we think about everything we can do to help, if you think of all the posts you’ve read about how to do content marketing, how to be better, and there’s a lot on all blogs, there’s a lot on great other blogs, you write a lot of great contents on this as well. What’s really striking to me is as a community of people who write on content marketing we start to establish some patterns.

There are some rules, there are some methodology that everybody agrees upon, but it hasn’t been productized yet. And that’s where road map is bad. It’s taking those roles, things that everybody agrees upon, and making them easy for people to do. Like reassuring your content multiple times, re-purposing your content.

A lot of people still are, what I call, publishing prey. They publish a blog post, and they think their work is done, when maybe half of your job actually starts at that moment.Click To Tweet

Julia: Right exactly.

Guillaume: So we’ve built work flows where you can say I want this blog post to be re-shared ten times over the next six weeks.

Things like re-sharing your old content, the content that transformed the most. So you need to have first this data, why don’t I blog posts which have the higher conversion rate. And how do I then, re-share them over and over again in a very easy way? So those are things software can help you do, and we’re really passionate about that, and we have tons of idea.

Julia: That’s awesome. Sounds like next year will be exciting for you because by now the need for content marketing has been so much established, and now it’s just like well, how do we bring numbers to our bosses that the content’s working? And how do we do it a better way. So, sounds like next year will be exciting?

Guillaume: Yeah. I think we’re going to see, my vision for this is that if you look at sales and marketing software in general, it all started with CRM 15 years ago, and sales force is the big player in that field.

I’m gonna date myself, but I was around when SalesForce, [LAUGH] started to gain traction, and there was a lot of people who were doing sales at the time in a very different way.

It wasn’t really so much process to run it, there was a large dimension which still exists, a great sales guy, is still a great sales guy, but a great sales guy with sales force is much a more efficient salesperson. And I think we’re gonna see the same in this marketing, there’s a cycle to optimize.

The CRM is about optimizing the cycle which is, you wanna do a certain number of tasks in order to keep them happy, take them from a qualified prospects to customer, and a happy customer, and everything. And you wanna align your organization around that, even if it’s a small team, even small teams are using CRM now.

I think we’re gonna see exactly the same thing happen with content marketing. Think about it. Content marketing is about doing a cycle, it’s about planning, understanding what content to publish, and when to publish it over time. It’s about producing content, either from scratch, original, curated, a mix thereof.

It’s about distribution on social, on email, SEO, and all the channels you can find. And it’s about analytics, analyzing that the impact on your business results, and repeating the cycle over and over again, and iterating it, learning from the analytics, and then doing some tests, and iterating, and getting better and better at it.

Now the fastest you can optimize that cycle, the more data you can use in that cycle, the better you’re gonna be. And of course you’ll still need to be able to be good at content, understand content, understand your target audience, understand your bio-persona. But we are firm believers that with the right tools you can make that cycle be more optimized, and that’s what we’re building.

Julia: Sounds like you’re trying to make life easier for content marketers?

Guillaume: Easier and more impacting.

The keyword for us is ROI. So ROI is R and I. So the ease here is making the I lower, and taking away a lot of the pain-points, a lot of the copy-pasting, and a lot of the painful stuff you have to do so that you can focus on where I think, human beings will never be replaced which is applying judgment, being creative, understanding, having empathy with your targets, prospects, and audience.

But the R is also important, think about what we’re discussing about republishing content.

This is documented, we’re not the only ones saying that. Mark Traphagen published a study two to three years ago, but the impact of republishing content over time.

You share it once you get that many views, you share it five times over three weeks, nobody is gonna think you’re a parrot because not 100% of your audience is seeing your tweet when you publish it, but then you get 2 to 3x more traffic.

So this is also how we increase ROI. So making the I lower, but also amplifying the impact of your content is something we work a lot on.

Julia: And I also wanted to mention some of what you just said will tie into this. The limitations of concentration, and what would be the limit? What would be the good percentage amount to mix up creating original content, and then adding in content curation?

Guillaume: First, content curation is not something you should do 100%.

It’s not a balance here, it’s not replacing creation for instance. If you look at our blog we’re using a mix of created and curated content. If you look at our social channels we’re also using a mix. And for us it’s also important because it ties in with our community, we share a lot of a lot of content from the influencers we respect and admire, and who also in turn help contribute to our content.

So I think the rule of thumb that I always like to give is if you think about what is good content plan? A good content plan might be to say, look, right now I’m blogging on a monthly basis. And I know it’s not enough, I wanna go to weekly, and I wanna do two extra weeks. So set objectives for yourself, and those objectives will vary in time.

Maybe next quarter you will be doubling, and the quarter after that your will be doubling again. So think about setting those objectives, and to me you should create as much as you can, quality content. It’s pointless to decrease your quality level just for the sake of publishing.

So at some point you gonna realize that you are either running out of time to create content, or you can create something that is not gonna be as good that shouldn’t have your brand. So at this moment you should say, well I’ve created enough, that I was inspired. I’m now lacking inspiration, I don’t have enough time, so you should think of supplementing your creation with curation.

So I always try to think about create everything you can as long as you maintain quality, as long as you’re inspired, as long as it’s easy for you to do so. And then the way you go from, and maybe that’s gonna be one of your two blog posts every week. Now the other one will be a curated one.

So there’s no strict rule like a 75/25, 50/50, 80/20, whatever. It’s different for everybody. Some people will find it easy to create one blog post every week, and then do maybe three curated posts. Some people will struggle to do one original blog post in months, and then they could supplement everything else by curation.

I think my rule is I don’t wanna create something that is not my quality standard, that’s not educational for my audience, that’s not actionable. So the minute I start to feel, okay. I’m gonna be blogging for blogging sakes, I’m better off publishing somebody else’s content, and adding some commentary in it.

Julia: That’s a very good rule of thumb. If you don’t like what you publish yourself maybe you shouldn’t be publishing it.

Guillaume: Yeah. And then, plus, there are lots of opportunities where if you publish somebody else’s content they’ve done the work, they’ve done something awesome, you can relate to it, that doesn’t make you weak.

There’s a lot of people who have been confused by that. Even the thought leaders who admired the most. Art sizes and field kind of marketing, if you look at history they’ve always been quoting, they’ve always been relating to other people’s content. That’s the way mankind is built.

We build on our predecessors and what’s existing. So it doesn’t make you weaker. Actually it plays the opposite role. Curation, besides ROI driven quantitative stuff like publishing more, and publishing faster, does a couple of things. First, it makes you more credible. If I tell you hey, here’s what an expert said on this topic, I’m more credible than if I’m telling you that.

And actually there was a study, I’m gonna do that just now, there was a study that was done not by us, but by an analytics and market research company who surveyed people on how they found various type of content credible. They had to rank. Do I trust that type of content or do I trust more that type of content? And they found that third party content was four to seven times more trusted than vendor originating content. So that’s not me saying it, it’s somebody else’s. So curation adds credibility to what you’re saying. But the second thing it also helps you build a relationship. There’s a lot of people, and it might be your case where I started sharing their content, and then we had conversations.

Hey, thanks for sharing my content, and then we started chatting on Twitter. And then you contributed to our blog, and now we’re creating content together. So sharing influencers’ content, influencers in your industry sharing their content will put you in their radar. And if you wanna then build on that and do influencer marketing. I think this is a great start.

And I published a blog post on the Tracker blog, on this. Tracker is a great platform to discover and nurture influencers. I recommend you look at it. There’s a blog post I wrote about how curation is actually a first step in an influencer marketing strategy, because before you can ask influencer anything.

I’m a firm believer that you have to give before you get. Give them traffic, give them love, share their content, and once you start to establish those relationships well maybe you’ll be in a position to ask them to, I don’t know, contribute to your content, or re-share one of your posts, or anything like that.

So that aspect of curation is also very, very important.

 Julia: Absolutely that’s great for connections. We’ve seen that happen so many times. We will go and connect to our influencer, just minutes later we’ll get a follow back, and then we’ll start a conversation. And if we didn’t initiate, and do something, re-share their content, follow them first, good things wouldn’t follow.

So it is about connecting. Any last thoughts you want to add, just thinking about the New Year, and business going into content marketing doing their curation?

Guillaume: Yeah. I think there’s a recap, I think we’re gonna see something pretty exciting happening over the next few months so next year is gonna be exciting.

I think, we’ve been hearing about content marketing for a long time. I think there’s another aspect maybe I’ll add to that is the fact that the other trend that I’ve been seeing in 2015 that I think will amplify in 2016 is the type of companies which are embracing content marketing.

If you look at four years ago when we started to talk about content marketing it was really a large company, a consumer brand story. I am a big admirer of for instance, Red Bull. They transformed a food company, a soft drink company into a media company. And we’ve seen a few examples of that.

When you look at those stories, you look at content marketing being awesome and great, but this is not what 99% of companies out there can do. It’s what large companies can do. And so, Joe Pulizzi has this compilation of predictions for next year, and last year he asked me, what’s your prediction for content marketing trends in 2015? And my prediction is we’re gonna start to see SMBs, so small to mid-size businesses, embrace content marketing, and content curation is actually an enabler of that because this whole ROI equation was the bottleneck for them, and so now they’re starting to see techniques that help them do that with a one person team, or two person, and then small marketing teams.

So I think we’re gonna see that trend accelerate in 2016. It’s already true now. I think we’re seeing a lot of small mid-size companies, who don’t have teams, marking teams of 100 to 200 people. Start to think about content as something they can really embrace, and start, be good at, and scale, even though they don’t have the means to give a million dollars to a large advertising agency and say okay, solve that problem for me.

So they have to do it themselves. So they need to have the right tools and the right methodology, and so I think we’re gonna see that amplified and continued through in 2016 in addition to that trend around, standardizing the methodology, and also be able to measure the ROI of content marketing a lot more.

Julia: Thank you so much for being on The Write Podcast Guillaume, really appreciate it.

Guillaume: Let’s do a follow up to see whether our prediction was true. [LAUGH]

Julia: [LAUGH] That sounds great.

Guillaume: Thanks for having me.

[MUSIC] For more online content tips and strategies, visit expresswriters.com/write-blog. [MUSIC]

Julia: I always like hearing Guillaume’s perspectives and insights on content marketing. You can follow him on Twitter @gdecugis, and be sure to check out Scoop.it.

Guillaume was recently a featured guest host on our weekly Twitter chat, this March. If you’re a writer, business owner, or content marketer, you’ll love our Twitter chat. It happens every week on Tuesdays at 10 AM CST. Join us with the #ContentWritingChat. I love hearing from the participants that join content writing chat every week. We always hear something like, a business owner learns a new way to do content, or someone is inspired to create better content in a better way. So be sure to join our Twitter chat.

Lastly, keep an eye out for my book. I’m really excited about it, it’s coming out the end of this march. The book is called, So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide To Successful Online Content. In this book, I’m sharing everything I taught myself in the last four years on how to create great content for the web. This is both for the online writer who wants to make this their career, and for the business owner that wants to create great online content for their readers. Be sure to check it out on Amazon.

Thanks for joining today’s Write Podcast! For more episodes go to expresswriters.com/write-podcast.

E08 Write Podcast Website Cover Featured Image

The Write Podcast, Episode 8: How BuzzSumo Can Help the Content Marketer & How to Stand Out In A Content Crowd with Steve Rayson

Welcome to Episode 8! If you do any kind of online marketing, I am more than 100% positive you are going to love Steve Rayson, my featured guest expert today, and the nitty-gritty, real content marketing and entrepreneurial advice he shares in this episode. Also, I’m quite partial to our topic of discussion on BuzzSumo. It is one of the most awesome content marketing tools I’ve found to do things like find your audience, discover new topics, find your industry influencers, seek out what’s trending, and so much more. Trusted by brands like Moz, National Geographic, Hubspot, and more, it’s a top content marketing tool online.

My guest Steve knows what it takes to create a company; he’s founded multiple multi-million dollar startups, including BuzzSumo, and he’s not afraid of doing the work it takes to get somewhere. In this episode, Steve covers how to use BuzzSumo to go further than the average content marketer, get in control of your audience, and discover great topics; and, what it really takes to be successful on Twitter and in content marketing. You can’t beat Steve’s sound advice – I thoroughly loved what he had to say. Enjoy!

buzzsumo with steve rayson

In Episode 8 of The Write Podcast, Steve covers:

  • How BuzzSumo can help you avoid the typical content marketer’s problem: inability to do correct amplification
  • How content marketers have a responsibility to know their audience, and how BuzzSumo can show you that
  • What Steve’s day looks like
  • How to be creative using the BuzzSumo search to find what people are talking about
  • What makes all the startups Steve’s created successful: staying up later than the competition
  • How retweets matter more than followers on Twitter
  • How BuzzSumo adapted and found a way to get around Twitter yanking the share counts
  • When you go to a city you don’t visit the sixth tallest building & how that needs to be the content marketer’s mindset when creating
  • How content marketing is all about regularity and elbow grease 

If you like what you hear, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show and it’s ranking in iTunes immensely. I appreciate it! Enjoy the show! 

Transcript: Episode 8 How BuzzSumo Can Help the Content Marketer & Tips on Standing Out From the Content Crowd with Steve Rayson

Julia: Hello and welcome to The Write Podcast! I’m your host Julia McCoy, and today I’m excited to chat with Steve from BuzzSumo.

BuzzSumo is what I like to call the essential content marketing toolkit. It is a content marketing and SEO tool that allows you to do things like set content alerts for hot topics, research industry leaders, find the most shared content on the web. It is an excellent source of inspiration for creating great content.

I’ve been using it for about a year now for my company and I’m really excited to talk to Steve. Steve, thanks for being here.

Steve: Hi Julia thank you so much for having me and thanks for the nice words about BuzzSumo.

Julia: Yes, so tell us a little about BuzzSumo and what it would do for say a typical marketer who runs or owns a website.

Steve: Yeah I mean we designed it very much as you said just at a simple level just to help people create better content. We try to do that in a number of ways just by helping in some parts of the process, and the three parts we try to help with are what we call research amplification and monitoring because they’re often steps that are missed.

People sort of rush into content production without really spending enough time researching. So what’s your audience like, what resonates with them, what do they like to share and what do they like to comment on for example. And so with BuzzSumo you can just type in any topic and we’ll show you the most shared content for that topic.

So you can see what articles are trending, you can filter it down just for this post or info-graphics and it just gives you a really good insight into what’s working in your industry. You can also see what your competitors are sharing, what’s working for them and how that compares to you, so that’s sort of the research side.

The side that I think is also really important is amplification. I think in the old days, a few years ago, you could produce really great piece of content and it would get found and get shared. And personally I just think there's so much content out there now, there's so much attention for people's time but that doesn't really work anymore.Click To Tweet

So you can write fantastic piece of content but if you don’t amplify it, it might just sit there and get very lonely so we talk to people a lot about the importance of amplification. And that can be two ways, obviously people linking to it and getting found in SEO is one way. But another way is people finding it through social networks. A really interesting research by Shareaholic recently showing most people now discover content through social networks not through search and so that’s interesting, people often finding articles that their colleagues and friends are sharing and then clicking through to it.

And so amplification really matters so you need to think about amplification from the start, who is likely to share it, who do we want to share it, who are the influencers in this space. So that’s the second part, just helping with amplification and then the third part is just monitoring. So as you say monitoring trending content, you can search for a topic and see what’s trending today for content marketing, so you can keep up to speed.

And I think as content marketers we have a responsibility to know what our audience is sharing right now.Click To Tweet

So what were they sharing this morning. What’s trending with them. What can we can we jump in on, what we need to comment on, what should we be sharing. We need to keep on top of things and we also provide content alerts because we look at content all the time.

We can tell you every time a particular topic is mentioned or every time your brand is mentioned or every time a new site or a site or an author publishes content. So it enables you just to monitor and see what’s happening and how well you’re performing so as it’s a bit of a long ask.

But the simple part is, we try to help people create better content through those three elements of research, amplification and monitoring.

Julia: That’s excellent that you’ve created one tool that answers so many needs in content marketing.

Steve: Yeah we don’t do everything, that we don’t do scheduling and things like that there’s lots of tool that help you schedule content and of course to help you write and create content and some fantastic tools like canvas, creating images and things.

But we are just focused on those three elements really, the research, the amplification and the monitoring. And we think they are important elements so if you miss any of them, it can be quite difficult for you and if you don’t do the research, you produce the most fantastic content, but it’s not just resonating with your audience, and so nobody gets engaged with it, or if you don’t do amplification and I think that’s really one of the biggest misses, people spend so much time on creating content.

It’s such a shame if it doesn’t get amplified and people don’t see it. So, we do talk to people about, just think about your amplication before you even write the content, how’s it gonna get amplified, who’s gonna share it? Why would they share it? And just think about those things first.

Julia: Those are great questions, and like you said I don’t think those are asked enough really in creating content. And coming up in 2016 there’s going to be an even bigger sea of content, it would be so easy to get lost without proper research and before you published something, make sure that it’s at the top of your industry and BuzzSumo is great for that background work.

Steve: Yeah I agree, just think about those elements. Just have the research, the amplification as well as obviously the writing the content, producing beautiful images and all those other things that matter. But I think just start with the research is a good place to start.

Julia: Yes exactly.

So I wanted to ask. What does your day look like working at BuzzSumo, walk us through what you do?

Steve: Yeah. Every day is quite different really. So what do I do? I do lots of things. We are a very small company, so we all do lots of things and James and Andy came up with the original idea. They work a lot around the products. My day tends to be looking at the data from the products so I try to use the tool a lot myself to see what’s working, what’s working in different B2B areas, what’s working generally. So I spend a lot of my time looking at data. And pulling data from our database, and analyzing that to see what’s working and then hopefully I can write articles and share those insights with our audience because they like to know what’s working.

So it can be researching data, writing blog posts. I do quite a lot of webinars with partner organizations. So I can do quite a lot of webinars as well. It may be talking to James and Andy about new product features or what we need to add. There is always so many ideas, so many things we want to add to the tool it’s just a matter of time and what we can do. So we’re often bouncing around different ideas in terms of what we can add. What makes the tool work better for people? So yes my day tends to be split between those tasks so, tends to get on quite late because I am based at the UK and a lot of our users are in the US, probably most of our users are in US, but we have a fair chunk in Australia and other parts of the world.

So the day goes on a bit and because we are a small team, we pick up queries if you’re writing with a query I might pick it up, or James might pick it up, so we spend a lot of time answering this queries which is also great. Because we get a good sense of how people are using the tool. What we can do to make the tool better for them.

Julia: That’s great. Sounds like a busy, dynamic role.

Steve: Yeah I’ve done a number of startups and if you work for startups you’ll know what it’s like. You tend to do everything, you tend to work quite long hours. [LAUGH]

Julia: Yes. [LAUGH]

Steve: You don’t really get much of a work life balance because you’re focused and I think that’s the way it has to be.

I've set up a number of businesses and sold them in the past. People say why was that so successful? And I think more than anything, we probably just stayed up later than the competition.Click To Tweet

Julia: [LAUGH]

Steve: We just stayed up and worked harder and I don’t think there are any real secrets, it’s about focus and about working hard really.

Julia: That’s great, that sounds exactly like what I’m doing. I started my company about four years ago and I’m still staying up till midnight every other night.

Steve: Yeah. There’s always more to do, there’s always somebody else to talk to, there’s always somebody else to see and to check out their site, or to see some content.

Julia: That’s true.

Steve: There is always more to do so I find managing time is a difficult one.

Julia: I love what you said, it’s about staying up later than the competition.

Steve: Yeah I think that is the fundamental you’ve got to be prepared to work a little bit harder I think.

Julia: That’s great.

So just diving into some of the nitty-gritty and how BuzzSumo really helps you create great content. One thing I love about BuzzSumo is that, you can find industry leaders and you can also look by most shared content. So if I find someone’s domain that you know is a great blogger, I can type in their domain and then see what’s been the most shared on their site. And then sometimes I would go to their most shared posts and I’ll read through the comments and see what is being asked and then I’ll try to create content based on what is left unanswered from that really hot post.

So things like that has helped us create content just using BuzzSumo to discover questions that are being asked around really great content, what are the other things that you would say BuzzSumo is great just for creating this type of great content?

Steve: Yeah, we did several things similar to you. I think using the search engine creatively, some people just type one word into the search in BuzzSumo so what’s the most shared content on e-learning, whereas you can use search box quite creatively, you can actually put a thousand characters into the search box so you can build some quite sophisticated searches using quotes and minuses and things.

But even if you just put e-learning and then put how to in quotes, it will bring back all the how to posts on e-learning. So if you are about to write a how-to post, you can see which one’s working well, what’s an example of a good post, etc. So using the search box creatively I think is a really nice way of doing it, or seeing what works on a big site so if you’re doing something on leadership maybe type in hbr.org, the Harvard Business Review site, space then put in leadership, then you’ll the most shared post on leadership from that specific site.

Things like that I think work well, it’s just being creative in terms of searching, in terms of things like amplification I think the thing that people miss and I think is really important is, find contents doing really well in your particular nature really, so maybe a very narrow, make sure you’re looking at it.

Find content that’s really relevant and then find the top five or six articles that are being well shared. And then what I like to do is see who shared them. So that will do the View Sharer’s button and see who’s sharing that content so why did it go viral. And then I tend to look at people who’ve got a retweet ratio of more than two, which is that basically every time they tweet they get retweeted at least twice, and less than that is too low.

So I had to then look at people who shared really relevant content to what I’m doing. Then I just filter out the people who got a retweet rate of above two and then I try to build relationships with those people. And that may be 10 people, it might be less, but they’re other people who probably help push that post, and get it to go viral.

So, I try to really focus down on sort of five or six co-influencers, for any piece of work that I’m doing. And sometimes obviously I try to build the amplification in, so sometimes if I get to know them quite well I might ask of their view on something. Because you always have to start with any relationship, it’s you give more than you take to start with, so normally I would just follow them, share their content, comment on their blog, offer them data if we haven’t, BuzzSumo offer if that can be helpful to them.

And over time building the relationship with those five, six key people from that particular niche topic, then I might tell you, I’m writing an article about this, would you prepare to contribute about some views. And that sort of almost builds your amplification in because invariably then they help you share that content as well.

So you almost know that the top five or six people are gonna share it because you’ve involved them in that process. But it’s a long process, it’s not just simply sending a note and saying can you give me your tips. I have to say I once did make a mistake of doing that and it’s not a nice experience. You really do have to build the relationship, I was in just a bit of a rush and wanted to get somebody’s views, and you have to build the relationship fast. But so for me that’s a great feature, just to see who’s sharing the content because then you know they’re interested in really relevant content to what you’re doing.

And you also know they’re an influencer on looking at the retweet rate.

I would always look at the retweet rate not the number of followers. People make a real mistake and look at the number of followers somebody has.

And I’ve pulled loads of data on this, there is no relationship at all, and I mean at all, between the number of retweets somebody gets and the number of followers they have.

There is just no relationship so people will say, oh I want this person to share it because they’ve got 100,000 followers. But they may not be that engaged, they may not see their tweets whereas somebody might only have 2000 followers but they might have a really engaged audience who understand and like what they’re sharing.

And they may get a retweet 10 times every tweet for example. So I think you go to look at what’s important and for me it’s that engagement. It’s about the retweet rate and influence it gets.

It’s certainly not about the number of followers, which is a bit of a vanity metric really.

But in some ways the people with really big followers, sometimes I find have really less engaged audiences. And may just be because the audience is so big, there is less engagement. And sometimes I find people with 2,000 or 3,000 followers can have really engaged audiences. So yeah I wouldn’t look at just the number of followers either so they be my sort of tips.

Julia: Wow. Have you heard of Twitter doing away with share counts on the Tweet button?

Steve: Yeah of course. [LAUGH] It was a big issue for us about six or seven weeks ago whenever they announced it, on the day they announced it we picked it up of course because we show in BuzzSumo the number of shares on Twitter.

Julia: Right.

Steve: So basically they’ve shut off the API which did the share count, the share count API so the Twitter buttons now won’t show the number of shares. It’s not very easy to get the data. We were lucky that we had a database of all the shares, all content in the world, so we have all the Tweet shares up until the point they cut it off on the 20th in November.

Julia: Wow!

Steve: And what we do now is we now have to buy data from Gnip, which is Twitter’s data arm but it’s not share count it’d be nice if it was share count. It’s actually a stream of tweets, you basically buy a stream of tweets. And they’re not that cheap [LAUGH] it is a bit expensive to buy a stream of tweets and then we have to do the filtering ourselves.

So then we filter and as we find shares of certain content we then add it to our database. So we might already have a thousand shares and then we’ll add the further shares to it and we keep up to date, our share count number, so if you use the BuzzSumo you can still see the number of twitter shares.

Because we knew people would want this, we built a Chrome extension, so if you go to the Chrome store and search for BuzzSumo there’s a Chrome extension, and when you have that on your browser, for any webpage you’re on, you click the BuzzSumo extension and we’ll show you the number of shares across all the networks including Twitter.

So if your site doesn’t have a Twitter button we will still show you the number of tweets. So not yet there is a lot of work just the way we did things and not entirely sure the background of the reasoning behind it. I think it’s sad now a lot of sites don’t automatically show you the Twitter accounts, I do think they can be gamed of course, people can retweet lots of times, and buy tweets, but generally I think it was an indicator of social value, social credit. And so using our extension people can still see the number of tweet shares.

Julia: Wow, I had no idea that you found a way around that that challenge because Twitter is definitely making it harder. Like you said I agree that Twitter share counts can really point to the social value of a post, but it sounds like you found a way around that challenge with some really hard work.

Steve: Yeah I would say, the bottom line is you can buy the data from Gnips, so we’ve had to buy it’s not just the expense of buying there’s actually, there’s quite a lot of work then to filter it and keep it up to date, and keep your database up to date. We were lucky we didn’t have to buy all the data to go back historically, that would’ve been very expensive because we already have a database of all Twitter shares and content.

It’s just a question of us keeping it up to date. So yeah I would recommend you use BuzzSumo Chrome Extension and you can see the Twitter shares for any piece of content.

Julia: That’s good to know. Yeah, I will be checking out that extension.

So for our last question, I wanted to go into a little bit about your perspective on SEO, as it ties in to content marketing.

Steve: I think it’s difficult to separate SEO and content marketing, is the reality. They’re both so intertwined. I mean there are more technical aspects of SEO and on page SEO and elements like that but they are very closely intertwined really. I think it’s interesting about that sort content, if you want to perform better in search engines then you really do want to build links.

I still think Google values links a lot. So you need to be writing the source of contents that attracts links and what we can see from our analysis is, certain content attract shares, and certain contents attracts links, but there’s no direct relationship, the same content doesn’t always attract shares and links because you get a lot of shares.

I think a lot of people assume if they wrote this content, get it shared a lot it will then get linked to a lot and that would help in SEO terms. And that’s definitely not case, it just depends on the content. If you’re doing content like sort of amusing content, quizzes, you can get tens of thousands of shares, but virtually zero links, and I mean zero links, because people don’t tend to link to that sort of content.

Whereas the classic content, in terms of evergreen content, long-form content, authoritative content, research-backed content, that tends to do better in terms of acquiring links, and people linking to it.

So I think it depends on your purpose of your content marketing, and I think this is another issue some people just write blog posts, write another blog post whereas you need some sort of content strategy because during any month you need different types of content of course as you know well, sometimes it’s great awareness and getting brand awareness.

That might be a nice thing but is it gonna convert somebody, it’s not gonna attract links. But it’s an important part of the awareness raising part of your content, whereas other content might be in depth educational content, it might be a white paper research case that may not get shared as much but it might attract more links.

So there is a different stage of your sales funnel where a case study of every niche case study, can be really helpful in converting somebody, but it may not have such wider audience. But it’s really important in that part of your sales funnel. So you need different types of content for different purposes.

So I think some of us will just write a blog post and another blog post [LAUGH]. You gotta have some strategy of what you’re trying to do with the content, I think, but in my view, is content marketing SEO just intertwined, it’s not saying that SEO is not relevant to content marketing, it’s where it’s at, they’re both important and I think that both parts of each other really, because search engine optimization means somebody is looking for something.

And so if they’re looking for something, hopefully you are the best answer to the question. Often if someone’s searching, I still think it will be in the context of, if someone is searching then, they’ve normally got a question and I like what Leon says, which is you be the best answer to the question.

So if you can understand the sort of question, somebody is asking, then you can write content which is the best answer.

Google has a vested interest in providing the best answer to the question and I think Google is getting very good the way the semantic search is working, Google is trying to find the best answers to the questions, so I think personally, I’m not a great believer, in lots of the technical SEO, I think it can be a bit like alchemy or whatever at some point.

For me it’s just if you write a really good post which is really addressing the questions then Google might serve that up because it wants to give people the best answer. And I think who knows exactly what’s exactly in the Google algorithm but you would hope that if it’s a good post, and people are spending time on it and engaging with that content, then Google would take that into account.

Whether they do or not it’s difficult to say, but I think there’s some evidence that not necessarily the number of shares of a post, but certainly people then visiting the article and spending time with it, that engagement will go into, will have some weight within the overall Google algorithm.

But I think it is about just answering good questions. You mentioned it earlier, often just search Quora, I’ll often search, BuzzSumo, I type in quora.com {space} SEO let’s say. And if you do that, what you’ll see is all the most shared questions about SEO and Quora and so it can be, I guess in a small way but it’s a small way of just looking at some of the questions that are being asked, or you can type in quora.com ad words, and see some of the questions being asked for Adwords, and then look at whether there’s content that answers it, if it doesn’t you can then try to write that piece of content.

The other thing I would say, and I know random and most people say this a lot now but you’ve got to be one of the top posts, what I find interesting is, there are two or three posts on a topic that really dominate, you may have written a fantastic post but if it’s number seven, people still share the top two or three.

So if you’re gonna write an answer to a question you got to be in the top two or three posts I think, and if you’re not then look at may be a slightly different question, or may be come up with a radically different way of answering it with a slight satire, a quiz or something because it’s really hard to break through those top two or three posts so, I always have a look, if I’m gonna write something, first thing I do is going to research, what are the top posts.

And actually there are other top posts on exactly the same subject, an infographic by Neil Patel, or other people I’m probably not gonna beat that, so I’ll find a different topic to write about, and I think you gotta, it’s like picking your battles really, in terms of where can you win, and we can’t all win in all areas.

So I think we have to understand where we can be that best answer, because in SEO, Google will also display that answer to people who are searching for the question. So I don’t think you can separate them, I don’t think is one or the other. I think we all know that content is increasingly important, and it’s an important part of the mix, but it is a mix.

It isn’t just as I say, it’s not just about writing blog posts, and people will come to you because they want it. It’s a whole range of things. It’s about amplifying your content, of course you want it to be optimized as such, so that least it can be found. But I think it’s that combination of factors and I think more than anything, and I heard Brian Dean speak recently about Google. Things taken into account, engagement with the content and that’s what I would really like. If I am writing a good post, people spend some time with the post. Google takes that into account and then serves up as an answer to somebody else because it’s creating more engagement. I do see the enthusiasm but it’s difficult to separate really, there’s no SEO verses content marketing.

Both are equally important.

Julia: I so agree. That’s really our thought process at Express Writers. What you described, it’s like we have identical minds. Because creating content that thoroughly answers a question being in the top 10x content was what you were saying Rand’s mentioned, yeah that’s become the standard to create the top 10%.

Steve: Yeah you have to be and I think Brian Dean did call it Sky-Scraper Technique. I think what he simply said. I may have got it wrong, but basically, when you go to a city you visit the tallest building, or the second tallest building, you don’t go visit the sixth tallest building, that makes sense? And I think it’s a bit like if you’re sharing a post or whatever happens to be, there are other big posts. This is the best post we’ll share that, unless there is something different and I think people at Google do really well. Brian tries to write you will see, the way he even terms the posts, he’ll say the Comprehensive Guide to X. He wants to be the most comprehensive, thorough piece of content etc. And I think you have to think about being that 10x piece of content in your particular niche.

And I think if you just write a post and I get a bit of frustration by this, people who just say 5 Ways To Write Great Landing Pages. They may be reasonable tips but there are so many of those posts. Why would I share yours as opposed to anybody else’s, and there is a lot of content and it is again short form content, which people don’t invest enough time in. You churn it out but it’s really not gonna work for you, I don’t think personally.

The research we’ve done, we’ve looked at lots, lots of content this year. Consistently long form content gets more shares and gets more links than short form content. So long form content does that, I mean there are arguments that why it does that and there are still a place for short picture posts and things. But as a general rule if you look across hundreds of millions of pieces of content long form content performs better. Particularly content of over a thousand words, once you get to about 3,000 words it doesn’t seem to change but content of sort of 2,000 words performs much better than say 700 words.

But when we look at then content we find that 85% of all articles written are less than a thousand words. So is that interesting. The evidence is really, really clear content of over a thousand words does better, you just look at all the stats, it does better and yet 85% of people write content of less than a 1000 words.

So they’re either ignoring the data or they haven’t got the time or whatever, so, long form content doesn’t always perform better but if you look on average across millions of post, it does.

But people don’t do it, so there is those frustrations of mine which is look at the data. [LAUGH] The data is saying this, and then of course there are awesome exceptions to that. A really great exception is the IFL science site and they do short form post with images around scientific concepts so they get masses of shares. But they’re really an outsider, they’re really an exceptional not the norm.

Julia: I think that will work into the conundrum in 2016 as content rises and our ability to digest stays the same. It’s about who’s creating the most in-depth piece. Markers will have to face that concept in order to succeed in content marketing.

Steve: Yeah I know there’s some much content, I mean they’re arguments about content shock and market shakes but you’ve only got 24 hours in a day and so if the amount of content triples then everyone can’t read and share as much content.

There are some people saying actually your day is not 24 hours but increasingly in the modern world we multitask so we go to the gym and listen to a podcast, we watch the TV and we read an article on our phones probably not doing either very well, but that’s what the article says, the average person gets 32 hours out of the day or something like that but there’s a limit you can’t keep going on squeezing things in and there’s no limit to the amount of content being produced and I read a very interesting paper the other day something like 5000 scientifically peer review papers published every week.

Julia: Wow!

Steve: That’s just peer reviewed scientific research papers you know the amount of blog posts is in the millions every day of course. So we can’t read all of that so it’s not a surprise that certain content floats to the top and it may not be the best content, I think sometimes it’s the best amplified content. If you had a really good influence in market strategy you get some top people involved, they share it. You could do better than other people even though your content is not as good. If you have a good amplification strategy, and the other way of course is if you do paid amplification.

So paid amplification might drive your content to be visible even if the content is not as good, although long term my instinct is and I hope, good content wins that’s my hope. But I think at the moment we’re in a position where people who have good amplification have got a better chance than the people who are poor at amplification, almost regardless of the quality of the content.

I think it’s about building an audience. Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute goes on about this and I think it’s right, which is content marketing is about building an audience. And at some point, you may be out to engage with that audience and sell them things, whatever, but you’re building an audience and that just takes time and consistency.

It’s not three blog posts, that doesn’t build an audience. Ten blog posts don’t build an audience. If you do it year in, year out, you build an audience, people like your content engagement. And it is as you say, building a relationship, but it takes time to build an audience.

But seems to be the purpose of content marketing is to build that audience, and that’s what newspapers have done over many, many years. So whether you read The New York Times, or The Wall Street Journal, or The Guardian, and the UK etc., they built over a long period of time, an audience who know what to expect, so consistency.

And I think in content marketing it’s about that regularity in order to build the audience and that relationship with the audience. And so you can’t just say we’ll do content marketing this month then we’ll move to something else. And you won’t get results immediately it takes time to build the audience.

Julia: Yes consistency is such a huge key. We’ve been creating posts for four years and by now we have 600 posts and we haven’t ever stopped in a month. Like okay now it’s time to take a break, no. You can’t [LAUGH].

Steve: You have to keep going but then you get that flywheel effect you get the benefit in time of the older content at least the server is updated and still relevant for long, the evergreen sort of stuff, it takes time and that’s where the people say, I don’t think content marketing is particularly difficult, I think it’s just really hard work.

Julia: That’s true.

Steve: A lot of people just drop out because it’s just too much hard work, so I don’t think it’s difficult. Produce good content that answers your audience questions consistently, regularly, I don’t think it’s super complicated but it’s really super hard work.

Julia: Absolutely it is so much elbow grease, well thank you so much for being here today Steve and sharing your insights it’s really good to hear from you.

Steve: No thank you, I’ve really enjoyed it, thank you very much.

[MUSIC] For more online content tips and strategies, visit expresswriters.com/write-blog. [MUSIC]

Be sure to check out this amazing content marketing tool at BuzzSumo.com. You can also follow Steve on Twitter @steverayson.

Also if you’re in marketing, be sure to mark your calendar and join our twitter chat, #contentwritingchat. It happens every Tuesday at 10 AM CST and we discuss all kinds of content marketing tips, tricks and strategies and we feature weekly guests experts.

Lastly, keep an eye out for my book. I’m really excited about it, it’s coming out the end of this March. The book is called So You Think You Can Write, The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Content. In this book, I’m sharing everything I taught myself in the last four years on how to create great content for the web. This is both for the online writer who wants to make this their career and for the business owner that wants to create great online content for their readers. Be sure to check it out on Amazon.

Thanks for joining today’s Write Podcast! For more episodes go to expresswriters.com/write-podcast.