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#ContentWritingChat, content marketing strategy

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Creating a Content Marketing Strategy 101 with Doug Kessler

It’s no secret that every brand needs to have an effective content marketing strategy if they want to see results within their business. However, many brands feel unsure of how to get started when creating a strategy of their own. This week’s #ContentWritingChat was all about the basics of creating a content marketing strategy, so there’s no more excuses. You can get started on yours today!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Creating a Content Marketing Strategy 101 with Doug Kessler

For this Tuesday’s #ContentWritingChat, our guest host was Doug Kessler. Doug is the is Co-Founder and Creative Director of Velocity. He shared some great insights with our audience about content marketing, so you’ll want to read through these tips and start implementing them.

Q1: Discuss the importance of content marketing for brands in 2017.

So, how important is it for a brand to develop their own content marketing strategy? And what kind of results will it provide once they have? Check out these tips from Tuesday’s chat:

Doug said that content marketing has turned into a mainstream strategy.

Julia knows just how important your content marketing strategy is when it comes to marketing. The stats she shared are pretty impressive!

As Annaliese said, content marketing has become expected of brands. She feels it helps you to build an interested audience and can establish you as a thought leader in your industry.

Content marketing can help you build relationships with your customers, which can ultimately lead to more brand loyalty. You’ll see these kinds of results when you do your content marketing strategy the right way.

The Digital Natives team said it’s key for establishing trust and adding value for your clients.

Q2: What’s the first major step(s) of a solid content marketing strategy for any business/industry?

When creating a content marketing strategy for your brand, there are a few steps you’ll have to take in the early phases. Here’s what you need to know in order to get started:

Doug said that the first step to creating a content marketing strategy is getting to know your audience. If you don’t know who your audience is, you can’t create the right kind of content to attract them.

To get to know your audience, you’ll need to do some research. It may be time-consuming, but it’s a must before you can get started with anything.

Know your goals and who your audience is. Once you’ve figured out those two things, you can start planning how you’ll connect with them and what kind of content you’ll create.

Annaliese agrees that it’s important to set goals before you begin creating your strategy.

Take the time to map out the journey you expect a customer to take. This is very beneficial to your success!

Bill’s advice is to list out your business objectives and the needs of your audience. This will help you start planning.

Tony recommends finding ways your audience likes to read and access content. Once you’ve figured that out, you can create exactly the type of content they’re looking for.

Q3: Content marketing vs. traditional marketing (i.e., TV spot): Your thoughts? Is one higher ROI?

Today’s brands still invest in traditional marketing as part of their content marketing strategy. There’s no shortage of ads on television. But is it really the most effective tactic or is content marketing the way to go? Here’s what our chat participants had to say:

Julia shared a link to her post that showed just how effective content marketing can be when compared to a Super Bowl ad.

Kevin’s advice is to figure out who your audience is and where they’re spending their time. Once you know that, you’ll be able to create content and put it directly in front of them on the platforms they’re using.

Keira brought up a great point about how consumers now crave relationships with brands. Those relationships are what help to build trust, which ultimately turns a follower into a customer. Conversations are key to building relationships with your target audience.

As Roslyn said, it’s also easier to track the success of content marketing than traditional marketing. This will help you to really see the results you’re getting from your investment.

Q4: Discuss a few favorite channels/content types that work for you (live streaming, guest blogging, etc.).

The channels and content types that work best for one brand won’t necessarily be what works best for another. It’s important to experiment so you can see what works for you, then make it part of your content marketing strategy. Here’s what seems to be working well for our chat participants:

Doug is a big fan of SlideShade, which we’ve also used here at Express Writers. If you haven’t tried it for yourself, give it a shot and see how your audience responds.

He also mentioned video, which is still very powerful today. Whether you’re uploading videos to YouTube or doing live videos on a platform like Facebook Live, it’s great for your brand.

As Julia said, she sees results from writing guest blogs for other sites and here on Express Writers. This Twitter chat and her book have also worked out well.

When blogging on your own site, make sure you do so consistently if you want to see results.

Annaliese has seen great results with guest blogging. It’s a fantastic way to increase your exposure since you’re able to get in front of a whole new audience. Social media engagement is also great!

For Sarah and the ThinkSEM team, they get the best results from blogging and sharing on Twitter.

Andrea is also a fan of Twitter, as are we here at Express Writers. Infographics are a great one as well!

If your audience is on Pinterest, it’s worthwhile to pin your content there to increase traffic back to your website.

Michelle loves joining Twitter chats. They’re actually a great way to connect with new people and to share your expertise. She also enjoys using the story features on both Instagram and Snapchat.

Meg mentioned email has been very effective for the team at Brandfolder.

Cheval knows that podcasting is great for building his authority within his industry. Even if you don’t see a return on your investment right away, it can happen over time.

Another point for podcasting!

This is great advice from Bill!

Q5: Share some ways to stand out in a sea of content. How do you find and showcase your brand voice?

With so much noise online these days, it can be hard to stand out. How do you do it? Check out these tips:

Infuse everything you create with your brand’s voice. Doug said Slack and MailChimp do a great job with this. Honesty is also important!

Great answer from Michelle, especially her point about authenticity and transparency.

Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. If something doesn’t work out for you, don’t get discouraged. Learn from it and move on.

Jeremy said it’s important to test the content you create. This allows you to see what’s working and what’s not. Make sure you’re also being helpful and serving others.

Make sure you’re also expanding your reach by utilizing SEO.

Don’t forget to engage with your audience regularly. It shows them that you’re human and helps to build a connection.

Q6: How can you identify if your content marketing strategy is actually working and generating results?

Once you’ve developed and implemented your content marketing strategy, how do you know if it’s working for you? These tips will show you what you need to track:

Doug’s advice is to measure everything. You can learn a lot by seeing the areas in which you’re growing.

As Kristi said, this is where your goals come in. You need to set goals for the content you create so you can see if it was actually effective. If it is, great! If not, you need to make some changes.

Make success specific and measurable from the get-go. This is great advice from Mallie!

Jacob is spot on with his answer. You don’t want to get lost in a sea of data, so know what you want to measure first.

Be sure to give yourself ample time to reach your goals. Don’t expect results overnight.

Julia knows it’s important to track leads. Your content brings in leads, which ultimately leads to more clients and revenue for your business.

As Sabjan said, it’s all about those conversions.

If people are engaging with your content, sharing it, and eventually becoming customers… You’re doing something right.

Q7: Share some favorite tools you rely on consistently for your content marketing.

If you’re looking for new tools to help with your content marketing, you’ll want to check out this list.

Doug loves using SlideShare and Evernote.

Like Annaliese, we also rely on Yoast here at Express Writers. It’s great for SEO and readability.

Evernote is great for storing ideas and writing drafts. Asana is awesome for project management. And we can’t forget about Yoast and Buffer!

These tools are all worth checking out!

Cheval relies on Post Planner and Buffer on daily basis to put content out for his audience.

Buffer, Trello, and Google Docs are key for Amanda when it comes to her content marketing strategy.

CoSchedule is great for planning out your content!

Q8: Share some predictions or observations on the state of content marketing for 2017 and beyond.

What do you think is in store for content marketing in the future? Check out these predictions:

Those who commit to content marketing will win, while those who dabble won’t.

Julia is predicting new platforms, tools, and smarter systems.

Sarah thinks it’ll become more important to hone in on your audience’s desires, as well as timing and placement of your content.

Now is the time to start committing to video content, as its popularity will only continue to grow.

Tony also agrees that video content is important.

Great visuals for your content will always be important!

Javier predicts that augmented reality will become a lot more common.

Work smarter, not harder with strategic content.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

super bowl ad

How to Spend $37,000 for 2 Years of Content Marketing & Outperform a $5 Million Super Bowl Ad (Or, Why Content Marketing Is the Best Marketing)

Super Bowl ads cost a lot.

The average cost of an ad is around $5 million. Marketing for one commercial spot can cost as much as $1.25 million.

That comes out to about $41,600 dollars / second.

$5 million for one short spot?

Could it be wasted money?

The truth, according to a Stanford study, is that commercials by soda and beer companies have an insignificant effect on revenue. And 80% of commercials do nothing to boost sales or purchase intent, according to Bloomberg experts.

Here’s my next question.

Could content marketing outperform a Super Bowl ad?

I think so.

In today’s post, I’m making the argument that it can, by comparing a two-year investment in content marketing ($37k) vs. a 1-second Super Bowl ad investment ($41k). Read on.

super bowl vs content marketing

The High Cost of Being in the Super Bowl Ad Game

Companies justify the cost of advertising in order to keep pace with the competition, to give their brand greater visibility, and to keep consumers talking long after the winning touchdown is made.

To add to the mix, the rise of social media and advanced technology means we can share, YouTube, and tweet these commercials over and over again after companies have rushed to take the first place in line when commercial previews are unveiled in January.

Fun fact: the steep $5 million price tag is double what a Super Bowl ad cost ten years ago.

NY Times Graph

Graphic from NY Times

Can you afford to spend that much on content marketing?

The best of content creators could come up with a variety of efficient ways to spend $41,000 dollars in their efforts aside from a 30-second television spot.

Content marketing doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. And there are many ways a brand can spread a message that are both cost-effective and impactful.

Check out these incredible content marketing statistics:

  • 61% of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog. (BlogHer)
  • 70% of consumers say they prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads. (SlideShare)
  • Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing. (Demand Metric)

See the pattern? Content marketing costs are less expensive and the preferred method for consumers to get to know a brand. This frees us up to explore other avenues in our quest to deliver authoritative and authentic copy.

Thankfully, those methods are cost-effective, allowing us to market a brand without a hefty price tag; we’ve gathered three effective tools and some powerful stats to show you how.

Ready to jump in?

The Math: Content Marketing Costs vs. Super Bowl Ad Costs

super bowl infographic

 

(Content costs based on our agency services at Express Writers. Keep reading for the breakdown.)

Why High-Quality Content Marketing Plays a Vital Role in a Brand’s Life (& 3 Winners)

Content marketers have proven time and again that they don’t need to spend thousands of dollars per second on flashy advertising in order to be successful. Reasonably-priced content marketing has the potential to make a difference to a brand’s online life.

High-quality tools like e-books, blogging packages, and social media can do wonders for a marketer’s efforts and bring a new vitality to a brand’s online presence for a non-millionaire price.

Here are three cost-effective, lead-generating content tactics you can use when you don’t have millions to invest in a Super Bowl ad.

1. Ebooks

With the right promotion and the support of a collaborative team, an e-book can not only generate leads, but also be the tool that converts. An e-book can set you apart as an authority in your field and can serve as a powerful source of information for your audience for years to come.

Another benefit of ebooks is the opportunity to deconstruct the content into smaller pieces, which could include:

  • a series of newsletters
  • blog posts
  • podcast series
  • a list of do’s and don’ts

Barry Feldman over at Convince and Convert calls this the “e-book equation.” He notes that while planning for your ebook, it should be formed in such a way to “cast a wide net over a fertile area that traces to one of your strengths,”  then outlined, researched, and written with the knowledge that it will “foster offspring.”

2. Blogging

In the 2017 Content Marketing Institute Benchmarks report, 75% of B2C marketers noted that blogging was one of an average of seven marketing tactics used in their efforts; this fell just under the top answer of social media content

SlideShare CMI

Graphic from SlideShare

Just over half of those surveyed said blogging will be most critical to their content marketing success in 2017.

In their most basic form, blogs are easy to use and can cost almost nothing to maintain. As a converting tool, blogs can be the fuel that moves readers to your social media channels and sales pages. Blogs are the place where SEO is maximized.

Successful blogging in today’s world of content development is easier than ever. The accessibility of quality tools for content marketers leaves us with little excuse for delivering subpar content on an inconsistent basis.

  • Quora is a question-and-answer site that will help content creators with new ideas for topics. (link)
  • BuzzSumo allows you to enter a topic or website into the search box and find the key influencers to help promote your content. (link)
  • Canva lets users express creativity through custom-made images, and many of the elements are free. (link)

If used consistently and creatively, blogs can be a powerful tool in your arsenal. Why does consistent blogging win? Read more here.

3. Social Media

The rise of social media over the past several years has had both a direct and indirect impact on content marketing and search engine optimization. Having a social media presence is not only one way to build brand awareness, it also connects us more closely with our audience with opportunity for engagement.

In the CMI research mentioned above, social media channels followed email as the top for distribution of content, which means marketers are becoming more aware of how important it is to be linked to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Why invest in social media?

  • Nearly 70% of Americans use social media to connect with others and engage with content. (Source)
  • Vision trumps our other senses. We remember 10% of what we hear and 65% of what we see. (Source)
  • Tweets with images received 18% more clicks than those without. (Source)
  • 81% of marketers found that increased traffic occurred with as little as 6 hours per week invested in social media marketing. (Source)

Social media continues to be an important and affordable component of an overall content strategy, and with the right approach, it’s reach can be wide.

What A 2 Year Investment in Content Services Can Bring You

The services available from our own agency offer a higher value for the cost, and our clients receive much more than they would with other avenues. Our team is made up of trained and committed writers, designers, and social media experts who combine their trained approach with industry knowledge to deliver top-notch content for your needs.

Here are just a few of the high ROI services available from our specialists at Express Writers.

  • Ongoing blogging plan: Choose this plan and we will provide your website with 16 blogs per month with up to 1000 words each. Includes branded imagery, meta descriptions, and publishing. Every blog is SEO optimized, written by our engaging blog writers, and includes high-quality links and reader-friendly formatting (H2s / H3s). Proofreading by our editorial staff is included. Price: $980 per month. Additional services include content planning and expert writing. (See it here)
  • Authority blogs: Receive up to 4500 words backed with keyword strategy and research by our trained Content Strategists who will find a low competition, high opportunity long-tail keyword to include and optimize for in your content. Your content is then assigned to an industry-fit Authority Writer, and written from scratch. Original illustrations will be created by our designer and you will receive a feature graphic to use on social media. Price: $900 per month. (See it here)
  • Web pages: Custom Expert copy services begin at 500 words and include content written by a handpicked writing expert who specializes in your chosen subject. Select your word count, send us the details, and we will take care of the rest! Price: $90 per piece. (See it here)
  • E-book/whitepapers: These two products serve as the perfect lead magnet for content marketing. A ten-page e-book is created with expert copywriting and original illustrative designs crafted from scratch. Price: $750 (See it here). Our creative and experienced marketing team writers produce whitepapers for a variety of services and businesses that can be delivered as copy only or beautifully designed for your need. Price: $100 (See it here)
  • Social media plan: The social media Enterprise Plan offers you the maximum mileage for your content. You will receive custom-designed text images added to your posts, which will be posted multiple times daily to various platforms. Five custom premium branded images are designed and posted on a weekly basis, including to Pinterest. Price: $1025 per month. (See it here) 

A Content Success Story

Here at Express Writers, we remain committed to delivering custom content that works for our clients. Check out what happened when a marketing agency connected with us for their content needs.

Marketing Labs is a digital marketing agency located in Worksop, England that is dedicated to helping online businesses increase their website traffic and improve conversion rates. Their team of professionals includes many individuals who possess more than a decade of experience in the area of online growth and customer service. Based on their expertise, they were set to become a premier digital marketing agency in their area.

In their search for a copywriting agency that would bring a certain level of competency to the table, they realized they needed not only quality writing, but the speed and knowledge necessary to deliver authoritative content for their digital marketing efforts.

After connecting with Express Writers, our team began creating and implementing a content plan for the Marketing Labs blog, as well as cleaning up and optimizing the product description copy for one of their clients. The results were amazing.
EW Success Story 2

EW Success Story

See our success stories here.

The Marketing Labs team is now in place to become a leading digital marketing agency throughout all of England. As their CEO Matt says, “Being able to add the kind of quality writing (EW provides) to our services makes us an extremely attractive proposition to those seeking to optimize their digital exposure.”

Recapping the Challenges to Content Marketing

We can’t end without recapping some of the top challenges facing content marketers.

Going back to the CMI research in 2016, the top one was content strategy. The second challenge was time.

Only 40% of those surveyed claim to have a documented strategy; 42% plan to increase their content marketing spending over the next year.

If we want to enhance our efforts, we need both a documented strategy and a marketing budget. Those are two tangible steps we can start working on today, right where we are.

Once a strategy is documented (what you want to accomplish and when), and a budget is set (how much you can spend and on what), the next challenge comes with researching, writing, and scheduling all of that awesome content.

That is, if you have the time.

If not, there are some options out there.

  • Delegating a team member: If you are part of a larger team, there is a good chance someone is a skilled writer or social media guru who can take over the responsibility of content creation. Maybe that means hiring someone to join the team with the specific task of writing and managing your e-books, social media, and blogs.
  • Hiring a freelancer: A freelance writer may charge by the hour or the piece, and rates may be negotiable. Quality of the work may not be guaranteed, and you should remember that you get what you pay for. A freelancer may or may not be well-versed in the topics you are focusing on, so there needs to be clear communication so that the right message is delivered.
  • Working with an outside agency: A well-qualified agency with a reputation for excellence and a commitment to quality will have a team of trained writers who are prepared to fulfill your content creation needs. Beyond a single, pay-by-the-page blog post, a team of writers can be invaluable for e-book creation, ongoing blog plans, and social media management that will increase the visibility of your brand and put authority behind your message.

Is Your Brand Creating Content That Makes for an Extremely Attractive Proposition?

It can be a tough business, this content marketing gig. Almost half of us feel like we are only somewhat more effective when compared with a year ago, and that’s understandable.

We face deadlines and budgets and client expectations every day, and we all know time stops for no marketer. And that’s saying nothing for our life outside of work (hopefully you have one. If not, that’s a topic for another post).

While some things are out of our hands, there some things we content marketers can control.

We can do things like:

  • document a strategy
  • set goals for our content
  • develop a vision for our own brand that we strive to live out in our daily schedule

These are the basic parts of effective planning, and should be the basis for every piece of content we create. The strategy, goals, and vision for our brand need to be woven into the message we convey.

There are other things that are out of our control. Contrary to what we may believe, we can’t do it all, and we need the support of a collaborative team and guidance from industry experts.

We can’t perform miracles like:

  • put more hours in the day
  • accomplish all our goals without support
  • make $41,000 suddenly appear in our budgets for advertising (unless you can, in which case, give us a call)

For all that we cannot control, there are cost-effective, time-saving options that can work wonders for our marketing efforts and make us an extremely attractive proposition. The tools at our disposal like automated scheduling and the use of repurposed content are designed to make content creation easier and are a good place to start.

Consider is a partnership with an agency of well-qualified writers, designers, and social media managers who can take your good ideas and turn them into a conversion masterpiece.

Keep Moving Forward

We can’t all afford Super Bowl ads. But we can all take steps forward in the journey of creating high-quality, authoritative content that will engage our audience and keep them coming back for more.

All without breaking the bank.

Are you ready to connect with Express Writers? See our values, or get in touch today.

#ContentWritingChat, content curation, content marketing, Curata, Sasha Laferte

#ContentWritingChat Recap: The Benefits of Curation in a Content Marketing Strategy with Sasha Laferte from Curata

Did you miss #ContentWritingChat this week or could you use a refresher on all the great tips that were shared? You’re in luck because our recap of Tuesday’s chat on content curation is here! If you’re ready to dive in, grab some paper to take notes and keep on reading!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: The Benefits of Curation in a Content Marketing Strategy with Sasha Laferte from Curata


Our guest host this week was Sasha Laferte. Sasha is the Content Marketing Manager for Curata. She’s also a digital marketer and storyteller. For this week’s chat, she joined us via the Curata account to share her top tips on the benefits of curation in a content marketing strategy.

Q1: What are the benefits of content curation?

To kick off the chat, we asked everyone to share their thoughts on why they felt content curation was beneficial. If you haven’t felt the need to incorporate content curation into your content marketing strategy, these tweets just might convince you! Here’s what some chat participants had to say:

As Sasha said, content curation can help improve SEO, increase lead generation, promote thought leadership, increase your content output, and more. She also shared a link to a helpful article on Curata’s website that’s worth checking out.

Jeff seemed to be on the same page with his answer. He said content curation provides a way to generate more content. It also helps to position you as a thought leader and adds value to your audience.

By curating great content, you’re able to share relevant articles and valuable knowledge with your audience without having to write it yourself. It’s also a great way to learn what others in your industry are saying.

As Angelica said, with content curation there’s less pressure to create all the things. You can have a balance of your unique content, plus content curated from other sources.

Q2: Is content curation plagiarism?

Many question whether or not content curation is considered plagiarism since you’re sharing content from another source. Here are some of the responses we received during the chat:

Sasha doesn’t think content curation is plagiarism. She said to make sure you add a new title, body paragraph, and credit the original article. This will ensure you’re in the clear!

Sarah has the right idea! If you’re sharing someone else’s content, you should always credit the original source. It’s always a good idea to add your own spin on the content to give it a fresh perspective for your audience.

Odds are, people will love when you share their content. It’s a great way to start building a relationship with someone as long as you curate the right way. They’ll appreciate that you thought highly enough of their work to share it.

If you publish a piece of content as your own when it’s not, that’s definitely plagiarism. Avoid any trouble by respecting the original creators, as Mike said, by giving them credit.

A simple copy and paste is a no-no! Tony said to give credit to the source and change it up a bit when you republish to give it a unique take.

In case we haven’t made our point clear, make sure you give credit! Also, how appropriate is this GIF Jamie shared?

Q3: How much content should I curate?

Now that you’re sold on why it’s important to add content curation to your content marketing strategy, you need to know how much content you should be curating. Here’s some advice straight from Tuesday’s chat:

Sasha shared some pretty interesting statistics with us. According to Curata’s data, 65% of your content should be created internally. 25% of your content should be curated and 10% should be syndicated. Do you agree with these results?

Mike is spot-on with his answer! He recommends only curating as much content as you think is valuable. Don’t curate just for the sake of publishing content. Everything you share with your audience should be relevant and add value.

Great answer from Jeff! He said to share content that will define you as a thought leader, as well as provide value to your customers.

Julia feels the amount of content curation you do will depend on how much unique content you’re producing. If you produce plenty of content, curate less. If you don’t, curate more.

Brittany said it’s difficult to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry if you’re only sharing thoughts from others. Balance your curation with original content. When you do curate, add your own take on it to provide your own unique thoughts and ideas.

As Jacob said, make sure you’re curating quality content. Share information that is relevant and valuable to your audience.

In the end, it’s going to depend on your strategy. What works for one brand might not be what works well for you. One key thing to remember is to make sure you’re producing original content as well.

You should also make sure you read through content before sharing it. Make sure it actually fits with the goals and vision for your brand.

Q4: Does curation have a negative impact on SEO?

So, does content curation have a negative impact on SEO? Check out some of these responses from the chat to find out the true answer:

Sasha said curated content can actually improve SEO. She advises to avoid reposting full text or repeatedly doing so from a single source. Read the article from Curata she shared for more tips!

Both Sarah and Sara said you can still rank in the search engines if you add your own viewpoint to the content you curate.

As Jacob said, make sure you aren’t duplicating what’s already out there. That’s a big no-no when it comes to SEO.

Q5: Where should I curate content from?

There are a ton of sources out there on the web that you can curate content from, so where should you turn? Check out these ideas fresh from the chat:

Sasha suggests turning to a variety of sources to find great content. Check out trade publications, blogs, news outlets, and more to discover valuable content.

Right on, Lauren! A key thing to remember when curating content is to stick to sources that are both trusted and respected. You can count on them to provide accurate information that adds value to readers.

Lexie said to use reliable sources that share valuable content. She also recommends being 100% sure about the content before you share it with your audience. If you aren’t, pass on sharing it.

Jamie said to turn to reliable sources such as websites, blogs, and thought leaders that your audience trusts.

Turn to the thought leaders in your industry to see what they’re sharing. Curate content from them when you can. It’s a great way to start building a relationship with them.

Erika suggests turning to some uncommon sources that are still of interest to your audience. You never know what gems you might uncover! She uses Feedly as a way to discover new content.

It’s a great idea to have a selection of sites that are trusted sources you can turn to any time. Read them on a regular basis to stay updated with what they’re sharing.

Just make sure you don’t share content from the same source over and over. It’s good to have a little diversity!

Q6: Should I have a dedicated site for content curation?

Do you really need a separate site to collect curated content? Check out these responses from the chat and decide for yourself:

Sasha weighed the pros and cons of having a dedicated site for content curation. One one hand, she said it’s great for SEO, experience, and establishing you as a go-to resource. However, there’s also a big time commitment that comes along with that.

Sarah doesn’t see the point in having a separate website. She feels it’s better to keep everything on the same site, especially for SEO purposes.

Ask yourself the questions Lex suggested. Would your audience use it? Do they need it? Considering you need your audience to be interested in it, you want to consider their needs before moving forward.

Q7: What are your thoughts on curated newsletters?

What do you think about curated newsletters? Do you enjoy them or do they automatically get deleted when they land in your inbox? Check out some of the responses we received during the chat below. Here’s a spoiler: If you enjoy creating a curated newsletter, give it a try and see how your audience responds. If they love it, keep going! If not, try something else.

Sasha said curated newsletters are great for educating your audience, but they’re not indexed or in real-time.

Becky says no thanks! She prefers to turn to Twitter to discover a curated list of topics, as opposed to her inbox.

Mike balances his newsletter by making them half original content and half curated content.

Over at Digital Natives, they feel a newsletter is better suited to provide an inside look at your own company. And it sounds like Robyn feels the same way! She thinks newsletters should tell a brand’s story to subscribers, instead of sharing content from others.

Jeff’s advice is to avoid fully curating your newsletter. He said to add your own content as well.

As Debi said, just make sure the curated content you add provides value to your reader.

Q8: How can I measure content curation success?

Now that you’re ready to dive into the world of content curation, you need to make sure your efforts are working for you. Here’s how to measure your success:

Sasha said to track page views, visitor growth, subscriber growth, and click-through rate.

Jeff recommends tracking engagement. Make sure your audience is interacting with your content in some way to find out if it’s resonating with them.

Don’t forget to measure those conversions!

You also want to see how much your reach has grown and whether or not your audience is engaged.

Make sure you set goals for your content first so you know exactly what you hope to achieve with everything you share.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

#ContentWritingChat, Mark Traphagen, content marketing

#ContentWritingChat Recap: The Content Marketing Sweet Spot: Content That Gets Both Shared & Linked with Mark Traphagen

Did you check out the latest #ContentWritingChat? If not, you’re in luck because we have a recap of our latest chat! We talked all about that content sweet spot and how to create content that gets both shared and linked so you can make the most of your content marketing strategy. Want to learn more? Keep reading!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: The Content Marketing Sweet Spot: Content That Gets Both Shared & Linked with Mark Traphagen


Our guest host this week was Mark Traphagen. Mark is the Senior Director of Brand Evangelism at Stone Temple. He’s also a speaker and author. He joined #ContentWritingChat to share his top content marketing tips with us, so you won’t want to miss the great insights he shared.

Q1: How much content builds both brand and SEO value?

So, exactly how much content builds both brand and SEO value? Find out what Mark and some of Tuesday’s chat participants had to say:

Mark’s answer? Not much. He feels most content is focused either on SEO or brand building. So many people are focused more on creating content for SEO purposes or increasing social shares, that brand building is an afterthought.

One thing to always keep in mind when creating content is to focus on providing value. When you provide value to your audience, it’ll increase engagement and sharing. People will want to link to you when you’ve given them something beneficial.

Quality over quantity every single time! You want to put out content regularly, but everything you publish should be high-quality.

Q2: Why are share metrics alone not the best measure of the value of your content?

These days, so many brands are obsessed with sharing metrics. They want to know how many social shares they’re getting on every piece they create and how many shares they receive on each platform. But the thing is, it’s not the best measure of how valuable your content is to your audience. Here’s why:

Mark makes a great point when he said that the majority of content that’s being shared is not actually being read. Yikes! That means that many times people are just sharing your content without knowing what it’s all about. In the end, that doesn’t help to build your brand.

As Brandie said, if people aren’t taking the time to read your content, they don’t receive value. They also don’t visit your website and they’ll never have the chance to convert.

As Sarah said, it’s more important to see people linking to your content, engaging with what you’ve created, and converting. Social shares don’t mean that any of those things are happening.

Sharing is definitely caring, but it’s important to see how much of those shares turn into engagement or some other type of conversion. You want to see results from those social shares for it to truly make a difference.

If people aren’t responding to your call to action, you’re missing out on money!

Q3: What is the importance of content that attracts good links?

How important is it to earn good links for your content? Check out these answers from the chat to find out:

As Mark said, if your content attracts good links, it’s a good sign that it was truly valuable for your reader. You want to see people taking the time to link to your work. Earning links is also much harder than getting social shares, so it’s a good overall measure of the success of your content.

If you’d like some extra reading on the subject, check out this post that Mark shared. It’s a study that shows backlinks are still powerful when it comes to SEO.

Sarah knows link building is an important factor of SEO. She said that links are essentially votes of credibility.

Good links can boost your credibility with Google, which can help you rank higher in search engine results. Who wouldn’t want that?

Julia knows that creating and promoting great content will encourage links to happen naturally. Moral of the story? Make sure you give your audience quality content that’s valuable to them.

Q4: What kinds of content earn the sweet spot of both shares and links?

As part of your content marketing strategy, we know you want content that earns both shares and links. So, how do you do it? Our audience shared the content types that they think work best:

Mark shared a link a joint study conducted by Moz and BuzzSumo. It’s definitely worth a read!

The study showed that opinionated journalism hits that sweet spot between links and shares. If you’re going to try it yourself, make sure you present a clear point of view and your take on the issue. The study also revealed that content with data-backed research often gets both shares and links.

Julia knows 10x content gets results! Read her post on Search Engine Journal to learn more about it.

Create content that answers those burning questions your audience has. When you provide them with valuable information, they’ll want to link to you and share it on social media.

The types of content that work for you will depend on your audience. As Kristen said, it should be customer-centric, evergreen, and high-quality.

Sarah also agrees that it largely depends on your audience. You want to figure out what grabs and keeps their attention. That’s what you need to create!

Content that is relatable and touches your reader on a personal level is a great way to earn links and social shares. Find out what resonates with your audience and create more of that to see results.

Tony knows valuable and informative content is always popular with readers. Include images, videos, and infographics to increase those links and shares.

Creating the right content at the right time and reach the right audience for a winning formula.

Q5: How do you craft question-answering content that hits the sweet spot?

When creating content, it’s so important to address and answer the common questions your audience has. If you want to learn how to do it and get major results that hit the sweet spot, keep these tips in mind:

Pay attention to what your customers are asking. If you want to create content that answers their questions, you need to get to know them first. Figure out what they’re asking, then start creating.

As Mark said, one of the best ways to do this is to refer to your sales and customer service team. Find out what questions they get from prospective customers. He also suggests looking for questions in blog comments that have gone unanswered. Create a blog post that answers them.

You truly need to take the time to get to know your audience and understand their needs if you want to create content that resonates with them.

If you aren’t sure what your audience wants, don’t be afraid to ask them. Talk to your audience and your team members to get ideas. Figure out what people are talking about and what they’re looking for from you. Sending out a brief survey is a great way to get responses.

Julia knows research is a must to figure out what your audience wants. She uses BuzzSumo, Quora, and Answer the Public to find hot questions in her industry.

Once you’ve found the questions you want to answer, you need to provide amazing content that gives an answer. Kristen said to deliver detailed solutions that go above and beyond what others are writing on the topic. This is sure to help you stand out and earn you those links and shares. Put your unique spin on the content as well to really make an impact.

Q6: Why is content with a strong opinion sweet spot content?

Mark previously mentioned that a study showed opinionated content hits that sweet spot of both links and shares. But why does it get such major results online? Let’s find out:

Mark said people want sources that back up their own opinions and thoughts. People are also drawn to opinionated content because they want to engage with it. They want to agree with what was said or challenge it.

You never know what else might come from creating opinionated content. Outside of links and shares, you could land speaking gigs!

Julia said that strong opinions and taking a stand is the content of today and tomorrow. When you share your opinions, you being to attract your tribe and build a fan base.

Many people like to find those who are like-minded. Isn’t it great to discover someone who feels the same way you do about a topic?

Erika said opinionated content is authentic and can define the brand and what it stands for. Strong opinions also illicit an emotional reaction in readers, which can trigger engagement.

Andy’s advice is to be different from the crowd. Don’t be afraid to offer an alternative view on a subject.

Strong opinions are sure to get people talking. They might agree or disagree with what you have to say, so be prepared for an increase in comments of people voicing their opinions.

Q7: Why is original research great sweet spot content?

Original research is also a great way to earn links and social media shares. Here’s why your audience will love it:

Mark said original research helps to prove a point, which often encourages people to share it and link to it. It’s also a great way to build your brand’s credibility and authority.

Kristi agrees that original research can build your credibility. It shows that you care enough to take the time to conduct the research, which your audience will appreciate.

Do you want to be seen as an authority in your field? Try doing some research of your own! It’s a great way to get people coming back to your content time and time again.

Original research means you have something new to say. That’s sure to attract plenty of links and shares on your content.

Zala said original research is a great way to provide fresh, new insights for your audience.

Kristen knows conducting research might be labor intensive, but your audience will certainly appreciate the information once it’s published for the world to see.

Content Marketing Institute and BuzzSumo are two brands that really stand out with their own original research.

Q8: Why is adding original insights to trending topics a sweet spot strategy?

Should you add your own insights to trending topics? Absolutely! Trending topics are great to add to your content marketing. It’s perfect for hitting that sweet spot with your content and here’s why:

Because so many people hop onto trending topics, you need to provide an original take on it in order to stand out from the crowd.

If you’re going to jump on a trending topic, you have to act fast. Don’t wait too long, otherwise you risk missing out on a great opportunity.

Adding your own insights is a way to boost your credibility and authority in your field.

It’s a good idea to put a fresh spin on trending topics by adding your own insights. It’s a great way to differentiate from what others are already saying.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

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#ContentWritingChat, content marketing strategies, Lilach Bullock

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Content Marketing Strategies for Bloggers with Lilach Bullock

Are you searching for some great content marketing tips? You’ve come to the right place! We’re recapping our latest #ContentWritingChat, which was packed with tips you’ll want to start using today. Keep reading to see what our chat participants had to say!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Content Marketing Strategies for Bloggers with Lilach Bullock


Our guest host for this week’s chat was Lilach Bullock. Lilach is a speaker, as well as a social media consultant and trainer. She joined our chat to share some of her top content marketing tips for bloggers.

Q1: Discuss how important blogging is to content marketing.

Of course we know that there’s more to content marketing than just blogging. However, blogging does play a huge part in our content marketing strategies. Here’s what some of Tuesday’s chat participants had to say about it:

As Lilach said, blogging is very important to content marketing. She said it provides a way for you to give your audience valuable content. It becomes your place to consistently provide your audience with the information they need.

She also said a good blog offers value to customers and increases traffic to your website. After all, people will want to head over to your website to see what you’re sharing!

Our CEO, Julia, was spot-on with her answer! She said blogging is your consistent content platform. It’s also the voice for your brand, which is huge.

If you want to showcase your expertise and offer valuable knowledge to your readers, blogging is where it’s at!

Sarah knows just how powerful a blog post can be. She said you can send your audience to your blog so they can learn more. Then, you can encouraged them to take action from your posts. Of course, it’s also great if they share your posts because it sends more traffic your way!

Debi knows just how important blogging can be. As she said, it’s important to share great information that your target audience would be interested in. It keeps them engaged and keeps the information fresh for search engines.

Q2: How can bloggers get started with putting together a content marketing strategy?

Now that you know just how integral blogging is to your content marketing plan, it’s time to create a strategy. How do you do it, you ask? Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Lilach believes there are five important aspects to remember here. She knows how great short-form content can be for your blog, however we also know long-form content is great as well. It’s important to experiment and see what your audience enjoys the most.

She also recommends creating premium content for your subscribers. Next, she mentions SEO, designing visual content, and creating audio content.

As Sarah said, you need to know your audience. That’s where it all starts. You cannot expect to create content without first knowing who your audience is. Then, figure out the goals you want to achieve and start planning to make them a reality.

Tim feels the same way! He knows it’s important to understand your audience, define your objectives, and then plan from there.

Olivia also knows the importance of setting objectives. Once you have them in mind, you can determine the strategies that will help you get your desired results.

We can’t stress this point enough: get to know your audience. Speak their language so you appeal to them. And don’t forget to make an editorial calendar. When you plan in advance, content creation is much less stressful.

Bill recommends beginning with the end in mind. What actions do you want your audience to take? It’s important to remember this when creating content for your blog.

Stephanie knows that you need to think beyond your blog, too. You should create a content marketing plan for all of the platforms you use and make sure they work together to support each other.

Important things to keep in mind: who you’ll reach, how often you’ll write content, and which topics you’ll cover.

Q3: What tools can help you be successful when it comes to content marketing?

There are plenty of great tools available that can help you with your content marketing strategy. If you want to check some out, take a look at these suggestions:

Lilach uses CoSchedule to plan out her editorial calendar. It certainly comes in handy to have everything planned in advance! She also uses BuzzSumo to find out what types of content works within her niche.

Matt is also a fan of BuzzSumo!

Lex relies on the Yoast plugin to help with SEO. She also uses Trello to stay organized and Canva for creating amazing graphics.

Olivia shared a great list of tools that are all worth checking out!

Bill relies on Hootsuite for scheduling social media posts. He also uses Canva to create graphics, which we use as well.

Alternatively, Buffer is another great tool for scheduling social media content. We love it here at Express Writers!

Much like so many of our other participants, Brittany also likes Yoast, Canva, and BuzzSumo. It’s no wonder so many people like them because they’re all amazing tools.

BuzzSumo, Buffer, Google Analytics, and Canva are all must haves!

One thing you can’t forget is an email service provider! You need a way to capture the email addresses of visitors to your website so you can reach them after they’ve left.

Q4: How do you integrate content marketing with other marketing strategies?

It’s important that your content marketing strategies work hand-in-hand with other marketing strategies you implement. Here’s how to do that:

As Lilach said, it’s important your content stays true to your values and your tone. Everything you create should be representative of you and your brand.

Debi knows consistency is key!

As Sarah said, it’s all working together toward your goals.

As Julia said, content marketing is very powerful for us here at Express Writers.

Q5: What makes a great content marketing campaign?

So, what exactly makes a great content marketing campaign? These are the tips you need to know if you want your content to be a success:

Lilach knows it’s important to provide valuable content consistently. She also said never to forget what your brand is all about. It’s important to stay true to your vision.

Make sure you also set goals for your campaign so you know what you hope to achieve and can measure your results.

Provide value to your audience as a way to inspire them to take action.

It’s important that your campaign leads people to the end destination. What do you want people to do? Your campaign needs to move them in that direction.

Q6: What is the biggest misconception about content marketing?

There are quite a few misconceptions about content marketing that people still believe. Check these out:

As Lilach said, some believe all you have to do is create great content and it’ll do all the work for you. This simply isn’t true! It takes a lot more than just content creation.

Olivia knows the importance of quality over quantity. You need to focus on creating better content for your audience.

Creating a lot of content won’t guarantee leads, ROI, and exposure will start coming your way. It takes time to get results. You have to consistently create and promote your content to spread the word.

Remember that your content needs to actually provide value to your audience. Get to know them and deliver the content they want to see.

Q7: What are some of your top tips for bloggers?

If you’re looking for some great tips for blogging, this is what you need to know:

Create an editorial calendar to plan your content. When everything is planned in advance, content creation is less stressful. There’s no more scrambling to come up with content at the last minute.

Don’t post on your blog just for the sake of posting. The content you publish needs to provide value to your audience and should always be high quality.

Great advice from Olivia: find your niche and be authentic. And remember that success doesn’t happen overnight!

We couldn’t agree more with Brittany’s advice to be real. Your audience can detect when you aren’t being true to yourself.

You should always cater your content to your audience. Sarah also knows that creating evergreen content is a great idea because it’s always fresh. Writing in a conversational tone also helps people connect with you.

Create a plan first! You should have an editorial calendar, know your target market, come up with some great ideas, and then set goals.

Julia knows planning is essential! She recommends planning your best keywords and topics.

Q8: Which brands consistently do an amazing job with their content marketing campaigns?

There are so many brands who do an amazing job with their content marketing campaigns. It’s a great place to look for inspiration! Check out these brands who are creating fantastic content:

Lilach is a fan of Get Response. She said their infographics, white papers, case studies, and webinars all provide tremendous value.

Natalia likes reading The Muse and Buffer.

This is a great list from Julia! They’re all worth checking out.

You’re making us blush! Thanks for the compliment, Tim!

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

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epic content marketing

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Let’s Talk Epic Content Marketing with Tor Refsland

Did you miss #ContentWritingChat this week? There’s no need to worry because we have a value-packed recap for you to check out! Keep reading to find out what you missed from Tuesday’s chat.

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Let’s Talk Epic Content Marketing with Tor Refsland


Our guest host this week was Tor Refsland. He’s an award-winning blogger, a productivity coach, and an entrepreneur. Tor joined our #ContentWritingChat to talk all about content marketing and he shared some amazing tips with us!

Q1: What do the words “epic content writing” mean?

What does “epic content writing” mean to you? Our chat participants had their own interpretations of the phrase, which they shared with us. Check it out:

Pamela said epic content is in-depth and high quality. She knows how important it is to provide useful and accurate information for your audience to consume.

Epic content is content that’s created for your audience. If you don’t write with your audience in mind, how can you ever expect them to read it?

Your content should be engaging and tailored to your unique audience. That’s the key to reaching them and drawing them in!

Julia knows epic content writing will evoke some sort of emotion within your reader. It may shock them, or leave them in awe or utter gratitude after reading what you’ve written.

Q2: Why is it so important to make your content epic?

Now that you know what epic content is, you might be wondering why it’s so important for you to create. Let’s find out:

As Tor said, you only have one chance to make that first impression online. You should strive to over-deliver with your content, which is sure to make your audience fall in love.

Tara knows that we all want our content to be seen! If you spend a bunch of time and effort creating something, you expect great results.

Epic content can build your authority in your field. As Pamela said, you should ask yourself what you want to be known for. Then, choose your content topics accordingly.

Not only does great content build your authority, but it also helps establish trust with your audience. Through your content, they start to see that you really know your stuff.

If you consistently produce epic content, it’s going to help you stand out and get noticed by your audience. And they’re sure to keep coming back for more!

Q3: What can epic content do for your brand and business?

So, what exactly can epic content do for you? We have the answer! Take a look at what some of the participants in Tuesday’s chat had to say:

Tor said epic content can position you as an authority in your niche. Once you’ve proven yourself as an authority, you can influence more people and it allows you to charge a premium price for products and services.

Katria said your content can give your brand credibility, a human voice, and a reason for people to keep visiting your site.

Creating epic content on a consistent basis can help generate awareness for your brand, establish you as an authority in your field, and help you build a connection with your readers.

Do you want to be the go-to person in your field? Of course! Brittany knows your content can help establish your brand’s presence and position you as a leader in your industry.

Great content can also become amazing word-of-mouth advertising for your brand. When people read something epic, they can’t help but to share it with their friends.

When you put the time and effort into crafting amazing content, it shows your audience you care about a particular topic/industry as much as they do.

Here are Express Writers, we know just how important epic content can be! Julia shared a link to our recent case study all about how content fuels the Express Writers brand.

Remember that your content is an extension of your brand, so make sure you’re only publishing the best!

As Bill said, holding yourself to epic content standards will keep you accountable to your followers. You don’t want to let them down, after all!

Q4: How important is it to find your voice when it comes to creating epic content?

Finding your voice and injecting that into the content you create is so important! Here’s why:

Tor said the only way to truly stand out and attract people to your tribe is to write in your own voice. That’s what will draw people to you and make them like you and your brand.

Julia feels it’s crucial to know your voice. She said to be confident in using it!

As Megan said, your voice is what makes your content unique. It provides that human connection your readers are seeking.

Once you have found your voice, you should stay consistent by using that same voice with every piece of content you create.

Q5: Why do you think most people are struggling with creating epic content?

Why do some people struggle with creating epic content? Find out:

Don’t take shortcuts. Epic content takes time and effort to create. There’s no way around that, friends!

Tara said to ditch the imposter syndrome if you want to create epic content. She encourages everyone to own their expert status!

Many struggle because they don’t know their audience well enough. You need to know and understand your audience in order to create the right content for them.

It can take time to understand your audience and figure out what they truly want. If you aren’t sure what to write about, ask them what they’d like to see. They’ll tell you.

Remember: Writing is hard and it takes practice to create something great. You need to keep working at it and your skills will get better.

Q6: Is epic content enough to stand out in the overcrowded marketplace?

Is amazing content enough to help you stand out online? We asked and you answered! Here’s what some participants had to say during the chat:

Tor knows it’s all about a combination of epic content and epic promotion if you want to stand out online.

Epic content requires epic marketing! To get more eyeballs on your content, you need to spread the word about what you’ve created.

As Lex said, epic content gets people through the door. You need to provide a great product and an amazing customer experience if you really want people to take notice.

Zachary agrees with Lex. Customer service is so important when it comes to your brand.

Tony knows epic content is great, but engaging your audience is one way to truly stand out with your audience.

People need to like you if you want to succeed as a brand! Focus on making that personal connection with your audience.

Jessy got it right with her answer. You need to be human, engage with your audience, and provide help when they need it. Don’t forget that excellent customer service is a must, too!

Q7: What is the best way to get more eyeballs on your epic content?

So, you’ve created this amazing piece of content. Now what? You need to get people reading what you’ve created! Here’s how to do it:

Tor suggests promoting like your life depends on it! Start spreading the word about your epic content.

Promote, promote, promote! Don’t forget to spread the word about your own content.

Have a promotion strategy in place so you can test to see what works and what doesn’t.

Get to know your audience and figure out where they’re spending time online, what makes them convert, and more. Understand them so you can create and promote with them in mind.

Make use of social media and your email newsletter for promotion. You can also help spread the word through speaking engagements and conferences.

When scheduling for social media, make sure you’re hitting multiple time zones to reach extra eyeballs.

You can use influencer relationships as a way to spread the word about your content.

Zala said sharing is caring! Make sure you’re sharing the content others create and they’ll be more likely to return the favor by sharing yours, too.

If you want people to share your work, make it easy for them to do so. Providing great content will keep them coming back.

Zachary said to become a valuable member of your community. Contribute and be of service instead of only promoting your own content. That’s a must!

Q8: If you have epic content and PR, is that enough to run a profitable business?

Is epic content and PR enough to succeed? Here’s what we found out in the chat:

Tor said to know how to monetize in order to turn a profit. You have to start by connecting with your audience and serving them.

Julia said YES because that’s exactly what she’s been able to do here at Express Writers.

If you’re a service-based business, you probably need some clients to make a profit!

Debi said everything needs to be in synchronicity in order to run well.

Your product has to be as good as your promotion. User experience and quality make a huge difference when it comes to business.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM CDT for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

building your audience

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Content Inc.: Strategies on Building Your Audience First with Joe Pulizzi

Did you miss #ContentWritingChat this week? There’s no need to worry because we have a recap that’s jam-packed with amazing tips! Let’s dive right in!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Content Inc.: Strategies on Building Your Audience First with Joe Pulizzi


Our guest host this week was none other than Joe Pulizzi! Joe is person who coined the term content marketing, and the founder of Content Marketing Institute. He’s also a speaker and an author on content marketing. He shared some amazing tips during our chat all about building your audience online.

Q1: How can content help you build your online brand or presence?

You probably hear others talk about the importance of content all the time, but how exactly does it help you build your brand? Let’s break it down:

The first thing to keep in mind is this piece of advice Joe offered. Content for content’s sake won’t do anything for your brand. You shouldn’t just create because that’s what you’re supposed to do. The content you publish should add value and serve a purpose within your brand. Remember that!

Joe’s next piece of advice is to find a niche that you can be the leading resource/expert for. It’s important that you show your audience that you know your stuff to help build trust with them.

Content can be what helps your company stand out from the rest. It’s also a great way to connect with your audience and establish a level of trust with them.

The content you create can lend itself to establishing you as a thought leader in your field. You just need to make sure you’re generating original and thought-provoking content. Great answer, Katie!

As Maureen said, content can also help build your presence through SEO. Focus on answering the questions your audience has and providing value to them. It helps to build trust and shows your expertise.

Malayna knows great content can help you grow relationships with your audience, which is crucial for your success.

Edanry summed it all up with his answer. Content helps build SEO while developing a framework for authority, expertise, and trustworthiness.

Q2: What do you need to know about your audience in order to create content they’ll love?

Now that you know why great content is so important, you need to understand your audience in order to create content that appeals to them. Here’s what you need to know about your audience:

What keeps your audience up at night? Where do they hang out online? Who do they trust? Who are your attention competitors? Joe recommends answering these questions to get to know your audience even better.

Many people from Tuesday’s chat agreed on this one! You need to know the pain points of your audience. What problems do they have? Create content that solves those issues for them.

Jeff said you need to know who they are, where they are, and what they’re all about. Knowing your audience is really the foundation of creating content.

Jessie said that once you know your audience and where they are, you can tailor your content to speak directly to them.

Once you know what your audience wants, make sure you create top-notch content that provides them with the answers they’re looking for. Your audience expects the best and they deserve it.

Q3: Which content formats should you create for your audience?

There are a lot of content formats you can choose from, which can make it tricky to figure out which one you should pursue. To help, keep these tips in mind:

As Joe said, any content format can work. He recommends choosing one and sticking to it. When you can do that one thing really well, it’s going to help you stand out from the crowd.

Tim’s advice is to consider what your audience likes the most. You want to choose a format that will resonate with them. If you aren’t sure, ask them what they’d like to see.

You also want to choose content formats that are enjoyable for you to create. For example, if you just aren’t comfortable in front of the camera and you feel awkward no matter how much you practice, don’t force yourself to do video. Choose content formats that feel good to you and show off your strengths.

Amalia shared some great content formats to try: video, podcasts, infographics, images, and written articles. Try creating these to see what feels right to you and what your audience enjoys.

A friendly reminder from David: don’t forget to repurpose your content. Don’t let the content in your archives go to waste. Find ways to repurpose it and bring new life to it.

Q4: How can you build your audience organically through consistent content creation?

If you’re ready to start building your audience through your content, keep these tips in mind:

Joe said the two drivers to building an audience are valuable, target content and consistent delivery.

Listen to the needs of your audience and serve them through the content you create. They’ll love you for it.

Make sure you’re consistently producing quality content to keep your audience coming back for more. Building that audience won’t happen overnight, so you have to keep at it.

That’s a great way to look at it, Bill!

Don’t forget to actually engage with your audience while doing all of that creating. Take the time to truly connect with them.

Q5: What are ways to use social media to grow your audience?

Social media is a great tool to grow your audience and connect with them. However, if you aren’t sure how to do that, the whole process can feel a little overwhelming. Here’s what you need to know:

Joe recommends building influencer relationships. Help them spread the word about their content and build a level of trust.

Josh said to join communities on social media. Use them as an opportunity to listen, learn, and help people.

The key is to figure out where your audience is on social media and be present there. Make sure you’re engaging with them.

As Liliana said, social media can amplify your reach and get you exposure in front of new audiences.

Make sure you share your brand’s personality. Allow people to see the person behind the logo. Giving followers a behind-the-scenes look is always great.

Tim agrees with showing your personality. It helps your audience build a stronger connection with you.

Jessie recommends trying Facebook ads as a way to expand your reach. You can also add hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to get your content in front of new people.

Don’t forget Twitter chats are a great way to build your audience.

As Zala said, social media provides communication channels that allow you to connect with your audience. You’re able to nurture your relationships this way.

Q6: How important is it to build the Know, Like, and Trust Factor with your audience?

How important is that KLT Factor? Here’s what some people from Tuesday’s chat had to say about it:

When people know, like, and trust you, they’ll be more likely to buy from you. Joe also said you don’t have to be liked by everyone. You just need your people to like you.

Quite a few people during the chat agreed. It’s hard to make a sale without first establishing trust.

This is a great way to view it, Maureen! Buyers won’t marry you on the first date. You have to woo them first.

Julia has heard something similar to what Maureen said. It all goes back to wooing your audience first.

You’re competing with a lot of other content creators out there. If you build trust with your audience, they’ll come to you first.

Building trust won’t happen overnight either. It takes time and effort.

Consistency and trust go hand-in-hand.

Q7: How can you measure which pieces of content your audience is responding to?

Once you’ve published your content, you want to make sure it’s working. Here’s how to find out:

Joe recommends focusing on what keeps subscribers and gets new ones.

Start by setting goals for your content so you know what you hope to achieve. Knowing this information will help you see what you need to measure and track. Google Analytics is always a great tool to use.

Julia said to measure conversations, real interest, leads, and revenue. That will show you whether or not you’re seeing results.

Don’t forget to check your analytics and social insights. Jessie likes to use Sprout Social for this.

Track engagement on social media, as well as comments, clicks, conversions, and sales.

Look at your open rates, engagement rates, downloads, site stats, and more.

Use Google Analytics to track clicks and conversions.

David knows email opt-ins are another great metric to track.

Q8: What tools can help you grow your audience?

Which tools can be a big help when trying to grow your audience? Give these suggestions a shot:

Joe said to start with analytics and an email tool. If you don’t have an audience already, be prepared to spend some money to grow.

David suggested having effective opt-ins on your site in order to land more email subscribers.

Julia is a big fan of Drift, SEMrush, Keyword Finder, and ConvertKit.

This is a great list of tools from the Legacy Consulting team!

Nicholas relies on Hootsuite and has been focused on video content.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM CDT for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

Need great content to fuel your online presence? Visit our Content Shop today!

#ContentWritingChat, content marketing tips

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Your Best Content Marketing Tips with Barry Feldman

Did you miss #ContentWritingChat this week? You can get caught up with our recap of the chat! If you want to step up your game when it comes to your content marketing, this is one recap you’ll want to read through!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Your Best Content Marketing Tips with Barry Feldman


Our guest host this week was Barry Feldman. Barry is a content marketing consultant, copywriter, creative director, social media advisor, and an author. We were thrilled to have him joining us this week to talk about content marketing.

Q1: Define “content marketing.”

To kick off the chat, we asked participants to define content marketing. While it’s a pretty common phrase, it’s not one everyone is familiar with, so don’t feel bad if you don’t fully understand it yet. This recap will help! Here are some of the answers we received:

Barry defined content marketing as publishing content to pull prospects closer to your brand. When creating a content marketing strategy for your brand, you want to make sure what you publish online serves a purpose and helps you achieve your goals.

Having a strategic plan for your content will help you see major results within your business.

It’s all about creating quality, valuable content that will help you reach your goals.

Tracy said it’s about providing content that meets the needs of your audience. Your content should add value and answer their questions.

As Tara said, content marketing is about getting the right content to the right people. That’s a must!

Bill has a pretty handy reminder of the definition of content marketing.

Q2: Could content marketing be a more powerful strategy than any other form of online marketing?

What are your thoughts? Is content marketing more powerful than other forms of marketing? Here’s what some of the participants in Tuesday’s chat had to say:

Barry definitely feels content marketing is powerful, but you have to commit to it.

Jacob feels the reason content marketing is so powerful is because it’s changed the conversation to understanding your buyers’ problems.

As Scott said, content marketing is important because it helps your brand connect and engage with your audience.

Liliana said that it’s impossible to acquire and nurture audiences without content.

Connecting with your audience is key!

Julia knows firsthand how powerful content marketing can be since she’s seen the results in growing Express Writers.

Q3: Define “content strategy.”

What does “content strategy” mean? Check out these responses:

Barry said content strategy is about creating a plan that answers the who, what, where, and why.

Sarah said content strategy is the planning/execution of useful, relevant, and shareable content for your audience. Great answer!

It’s all about finding the perfect audience for your stories, just like playing matchmaker. We like the way you look at this, Bill!

Andy said planning your content is about making sure the right audience sees your content.

You want to create unique content with your audience in mind. Focus on engaging them and teaching, then distribute it.

Content strategy is also about the development and collaboration process that comes along with content creation.

A content strategy shows how you will provide value to your audience and how you’re going to share what you create.

Cheryl and FirstFound shared some great answers for this question. They both agreed that it starts with knowing you audience. Who are you writing for? Figure out what they want and choose the best platform for creating and sharing that content.

Q4: Discuss the elements of an effective content marketing strategy.

What makes up an effective content marketing strategy? Check out these tips:

A key element of your content marketing strategy is knowing who your content will appeal to. You have to understand your audience and keep them in mind as you create. You also have to figure out what content you’ll publish. Figure out where you will publish your content and the purpose it will serve.

Jacob and Zachary know it all goes back to understand your audience. You have to start there.

It’s all about those goals! Have clear goals in mind for your content so you know what you’re working toward. Figure out who your audience is and how you’ll get conversions so you can see amazing results.

Brittany agrees. You need to understand your goals, your audience, and how you’re going to measure your efforts.

Bill said your content must be relevant and valuable. Define your target audience and create content with them in mind.

Your content should be engaging. Incorporating visuals is always a great way to grab the attention of your audience. You should also be informative and provide your audience with the content they’d want to see.

Tara said an effective content marketing strategy should address the pain points your buyers are facing.

Jeff shared a few questions that are important to ask yourself when creating a content marketing strategy. What are you saying? Who are you saying it to? Where/when are you saying it? Why are you saying it? How should you say it? It’s a lot of questions, but they’re important to answer.

Creating content that resonates with your audience is an absolute must!

Q5: What are ways to be consistent at and maintain a great content marketing strategy for your brand?

How can you be consistent and maintain your content marketing strategy? Take a look at this advice from Tuesday’s chat:

Barry feels it’s important to create a content marketing culture within your company. Get your team on board! He also said you should stick to your strategy, but don’t be afraid to experiment with new things.

An editorial calendar is a must to help you plan out your content. You also want to have resources and experience content assistance so you can grow.

Create an editorial calendar every month so you can enter each new month prepared. It helps to eliminate any stress. It allows helps ensure your content is strategic and serves a purpose.

Check in with your strategy on a regular basis and ask yourself a few important questions. Am I giving my audience what they want? Is my content converting? Am I getting there before my competition?

Justine said you should always be yourself. Speak with your unique voice and your audience will embrace it.

Keep the voice of your brand consistent. Even when you bring new writers on board, make sure they are aligned with your goals and maintain the vibe of your brand.

Debi also knows brand consistency is key.

Michael said a consistent content marketing strategy requires planning, scheduling, and monitoring.

If you want to be consistent, you have to make content marketing a priority.

Q6: How can you track the value of your content marketing strategy?

Once you’ve created a content marketing strategy, you need to be able to track your results. Here’s how:

Know what success means to you. What goals are you trying to reach? That will help you determine how you should track results.

Julia knows that social media shares aren’t necessarily the best reflection of your success with content marketing. Conversations and interactions are much more valuable.

Keep an eye on your analytics. Track number of shares, how many visitors you received, and which pieces of content are the most popular.

Track visitors, potential leads, and conversions on your content.

Keep an eye on pageviews, average time on page, and referral traffic to see how people are responding to your content and where traffic is coming from.

Take feedback from your readers into consideration. What are they saying in your blog comments? What are they saying in response to your emails? What are they posting on social media?

Google Analytics is definitely a must!

Brandie likes to use a tool called Sniply to track her conversions.

Q7: What are the major don’ts in content marketing?

When it comes to content marketing, what should you avoid? Check out these responses:

Barry said you shouldn’t expect fast results. If you stay dedicated and are consistent, you’ll see the rewards in time.

Don’t assume anything. Don’t forget to track and set your goals. Don’t create crappy content. Don’t stop trying for more success.

Don’t ignore your testing phase. You need to keep an eye on your metrics to know what’s working and what’s not.

Don’t oversell, create dry or boring content, ignore your audience, or offend anyone. Those are all no-nos!

Don’t put out content for the sake of putting out content. It’s more important to have quality content than a quantity of content.

Lack of consistency is a huge don’t.

Don’t forget to make your business stand out from the crowd. Find ways to differentiate yourself from others.

That’s one strategy you’d be smart to avoid!

Don’t give your audience what you want to give them. You have to give them what they want.

Don’t leave your audience hanging if they engage with your content. Respond to them!

Q8: Share a few wins you’ve had from your own content marketing.

We asked chat participants to share some wins they’ve experience. Here’s what they said:

For Barry, guest blogging has exploded his reach online. It’s definitely a powerful way to connect with a new audience. He’s also had great results with Slideshare and infographics.

Julia shared her major wins with Express Writers. Awesome!

That’s definitely a win, Jeff!

High-quality, high domain authority links are a win in Sarah’s book.

Great job, Andy!

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM CDT for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

Want a free strategy call to discover what kind of content you need to reach your online goals? Contact us today! 

#contentwritingchat, content marketing

#ContentWritingChat May 24 2016 Recap: How to Adapt to & Succeed in Modern Content Marketing

Did you miss this week’s #ContentWritingChat? There’s no need to worry, friends! Dive into our recap of Tuesday’s chat and learn all about successful content marketing.

#ContentWritingChat May 24 2016 Recap: How to Adapt to & Succeed in Content Marketing

This week, our guest host was Sujan Patel. Sujan is a growth marketer, entrepreneur, and the co-founder of Narrow.io and ContentMarketer.io.

Q1: How important is content marketing to businesses in today’s era?

Should businesses have a content marketing strategy? If so, how important is it in this day and age?

As Sujan said, content marketing is the most effective way to do SEO and to build your audience and brand. Content marketing can also help you generate leads. Just look at the results Sujan has had with his personal website!

It’s no secret that content is king! You need to know your audience so you can create the right content to attract them to your brand.

Sarah from ThinkSEM was spot on with her answer. Write content that speaks to your audience.

Zachary questions how anyone could be in business without having a content marketing strategy. Do you agree?

Jim says it’s the glue that holds your community together. Focus on providing relevant and shareable content for your audience.

Great answer from Hannah! Invest in data-driven content.

Our CEO, Julia, chimed in: you can’t have good marketing without content marketing!

Q2: What are key first steps in building a successful content marketing strategy?

Now that you know how important content marketing is, how do you develop a strategy that gets results?

Sujan knows it all starts with getting to know your target audience. What do they need and want? What are their struggles? What makes them happy, sad, angry? Then, conduct some keyword research to find the top keywords for your content. And don’t forget guest posting! It’s a powerful way to get in front of a new audience.

Netvantage Marketing and Elexicon agree: get to know your audience. When you understand the needs of your audience, you can create exactly the content they’re looking for.

Always set goals and keep them in mind as you work. When you have a clear idea of what your goals are, you can create a plan to help you achieve them. Nice answer, Sarah!

Chris knows the importance of engaging with your audience. If you want to see results, start connecting with people. Building relationships makes a huge difference.

Research the platforms you’ll use, get to know your audience, and be aware of trending topics. These things are so important in a successful content marketing strategy.

Great answer from Zala! Know your why, know your target audience, align their needs and your offerings, then make a plan.

Know why you’re creating content and who you’re creating it for. This is so true, Brittany!

Alberto said you should also consider the content format and focus on building an email list. An email list is always a great idea.

Cheryl said to get to know your audience. Know what they’re looking for and where they spend their time online. You want to create the content they’re looking for and share it across the platforms they’re actively using.

Julia knows the importance of research. Get to know your audience and figure out what they want to hear. At Express Writers, we love to use BuzzSumo for this.

We love this answer from FreshSparks! You want to make sure you set SMART goals, create valuable content, and measure your progress. Measuring your results is so important so you can see what’s working and what’s not.

Q3: How can you determine what will resonate with your audience?

To determine what kind of content will resonate with your audience, you’re going to have to do some research! Check out these tips:

Don’t be afraid to just ask! Start conversations via social media, email, etc. It’s a simple, but effective, way to get to know your audience. After all, they’re the best ones to tell you what they want.

Take a look at the bounce rate in your analytics. It’ll give you a good idea whether or not your content is actually being read and if people are staying on your website.

Varun knows that social listening can yield some great results. Tune into what your audience is saying via social media. What are they talking about? What do they need help with?

As Jeremy said, figure out what matters most to them! When you know what they want, it becomes so much easier to create the right content for them.

Kristen suggested creating a survey to get to know your audience. Send it out to your readers or to your email list to gather responses.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your content. Alberto said to try different formats, media, publishing days and times, etc. See what works the best.

Make sure you’re addressing their biggest problems. As FreshSparks said, use your content to teach, guide, and consult.

Kavita knows research is key! You won’t learn anything about your audience if you don’t put in the time and effort for research.

Q4: How can you use your content to establish yourself as an authority figure in your niche?

If you want to establish yourself as an authority figure in your niche, make sure you’re consistently publishing great content. And implement these tips as well:

We love this answer from Sujan! If you teach people, they’ll remember where they learned it. Focus on adding value to your audience.

Great answers from Kristen and Brittany! Is there a topic your competitors aren’t addressing? You should consider writing about them!

Providing valuable, quality content is so important. When you offer quality content that solves a problem for your audience, they’ll want to keep coming back for more.

Sarah said to write what your audience loves, shares, and promotes. Figure out what resonates with them and create more of that.

Great answer, Maureen! Create content that refers to external expertise. It can add credibility, which is essential.

Don’t just share your content. Chris said you should be part of the conversation with your audience! Start talking to them on social media and get to know them better.

Host discussions and talk about the hot topics. It’s a great way to engage your audience and build a community.

Strive to get published on other websites to get noticed by a whole new audience. Guest posting is a fantastic way to grow your audience, but it also helps build your credibility and can establish you as an authority figure.

Q5: What content formats should you incorporate into your content marketing strategy?

What content formats should you be using? Check out what our chat participants had to say:

Sujan’s favorites include video, images, and written content. Content upgrade downloads are great as well. Make the time to test and see what’s actually working for your audience. Don’t forget to repurpose your content in other formats.

Maureen and Kavita agree on this one. Figure out what your audience enjoys and produce more of that! Do they like long blog posts? Are they into podcasts? Create the content they’re craving.

Tim suggested using short, snappy videos. Video content is always a great way to engage your audience. If you keep it short and sweet, they’re sure to tune in.

Amalia said to incorporate videos, infographics, and quality articles in your content marketing strategy.

No matter which content formats you choose, Jim said to include visuals. A great visual will catch the eye of your audience and get them to pay attention. Visuals are also highly shareable.

Q6: How does storytelling play a role in content marketing?

Take a look at some of the storytelling tips we received during Tuesday’s chat:

To put it simply, storytelling works! Sujan said it helps people resonate with you/your brand on a personal level. It’s all about forming that connection.

Sarah shared a quote from Ann Handley. “Good content isn’t about storytelling. It’s about telling a true story well.”

As Kavita said, stories are memorable and can help get the point across to your audience. You should definitely make sure storytelling is part of your content marketing.

Dave said that people want to know how you got to where you are. Incorporate that into your story and take your audience on a journey.

Storytelling allows you to connect with your audience on a new level. We agree!

FreshSparks said to use a conversational tone when storytelling. It’s a great way to keep their attention.

If you aren’t using storytelling, you risk losing your audience’s interest. Hook them from the start!

Storytelling humanizes your brand. Kevin also said you should end by helping your audience.

Great answer from Zala! Telling a story to your audience is like reading/writing a great book that draws you in. Grab their attention and keep it the entire time.

Storytelling allows you to show the personality and uniqueness of your brand. We love this answer!

Q7: How can you measure the success of your content marketing?

You have to measure the results of your content marketing efforts to know if it’s working for you. Here’s how:

Sujan said to measure traffic, mentions/links, leads, email opt-ins, and search volume. You also want to measure the money and leads coming your way. As he said, it’ll take some time to see those results rolling in.

FreshSparks suggested keeping an eye on website traffic, opt-ins, engagement, inquires, and sales. Make sure you set your goals first so you know what kind of results you want to see.

Sarah said to measure/monitor the right KPI. That’s key!

Measure the conversation your content has sparked, but don’t forget to measure conversions as well. Great answer, Varun! Keeping an eye on the conversations that come up as a result of your content is very important.

Amalia said to measure conversions, goals, clients, and followers.

As Tim said, you should track how many people moved to the next stage of the buyer journey. Are they signing up to your email list, getting in touch, etc.?

Engagement is always important to measure. Is your content receiving likes and shares? Is it generating conversations?

Referring back to last week’s chat: measure conversions right down to leads, customers, and income.

Kristen is thinking outside metrics. She said if you inspired someone to take action, think differently, or solved a problem, that’s a success. We agree!

Q8: Where do you think the future of content marketing is headed?

What’s in store for the future of content marketing? Here’s what some of our chat participants had to say:

Sarah thinks content marketing is going to get even more personal in the future.

It sure isn’t going anywhere! It’s just going to keep evolving.

Tim thinks there will be an increase in short lifespan content such as Snapchat.

Julia thinks we will see an increase in innovative content types. There will be more video and live interactions, which are great ways to connect with your audience.

Brittany said content marketing will become more personal, nuances, targeted, and effective.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM CDT for great chats centered around content writing and marketing.

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.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Content marketing is like going to the gym. You have to put time in to look buff. – @MyVSF_Brandon ” quote=”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.”]

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.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Don’t wait till you have $70k to start a website. Don’t wait for perfection. – @MyVSF_Brandon” quote=”Get a strategy and don’t spend a lot of money upfront, and don’t wait for perfection.”]

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.

[clickToTweet tweet=”You know, I just ran with the idea of a writing agency and now we’re a 7-figure company. @JuliaEMcCoy” quote=”You know I just took it and ran and now we’re a seven-figure company.”]

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!