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E38 write podcast jeff goins

The Write Podcast, Episode 38: Jeff Goins on How to Develop Real, Everyday Writing Habits

Jeff Goins is a writing legend.

How, you might ask? Well, you can tell by one glance at his blog, which is full of compelling posts and aptly titled Goins, Writer. Or, you can have a conversation with him like I did, and see the obvious: writing is in his blood – he’s been writing since he was a kid, and has written for hundreds of publications. (He even wrote sad poetry and sappy songs with a band as a teenager.)

He’s also the best-selling author of five books for writers and creatives, including The Art of Work and Real Artists Don’t Starve. His books have made multiple bestseller lists, including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and the Washington Post. He’s guest published for Business Insider, Fast Company, and The New York Observer, to name a few. On his blog, he shares practical advice on the writing life and creative work.

It was an incredible honor to have him on my show and record this brand new episode for you all!

For this episode of the podcast, I’m picking his brain and finding out how he does it all. In return, he hands out solid advice and tips for any writer, content writer, or marketer. Ready? You’ll enjoy this one – promise!

E38 write podcast jeff goins

The Write Podcast, E38: Jeff Goins on How to Develop Real, Everyday Writing Habits

 

  • 1:40 – Jeff’s Story. How Did He Get into Writing? Like many of us, Jeff channeled his teen angst into sad poems, which eventually morphed into songs he created with his high school band, Decaf. Also like many of us, Jeff has always been drawn to writing instinctually.
  • 4:45 – Jeff Shares His Productivity Secrets. Jeff publishes prolifically – along with 5 bestselling books, he puts out at least one article and one podcast per week. How does he stay on top of it all? One word: Commitment.
  • 9:45 – The Universal Writer “Process.” – Jeff doesn’t really like the concept of a writer’s “process.” Instead, he says we all have the same goal in the end: To move someone.
  • 12:00 – How to Reach Your Writing/Content Goals. How do you move people with your writing? Jeff explains why it’s a worthy goal, and how it relates to marketing.
  • 14:30 – What Does It Take to Move People? Jeff tells us how you reach the goal of moving people. First steps: Be emotional, be clear.
  • 15:10 – The Science of Writing. If the art of writing is moving people, the science of writing is how you get there. Jeff explains how he uses the “3-bucket system” to break down his writing tasks and eliminate blocks.
  • 16:22 – The 3-Bucket System. The system Jeff uses to stay organized in his creation process has three “buckets.” For example, bucket 1 is the idea bucket. It’s the ideation process, which is ongoing. Put all your writing ideas into this bucket.
  • 18:20 – How Do You Help Your Clients Understand the Writing Process? Jeff has news for you: You don’t. (I love this part!)
  • 22:10 – Jeff’s Advice for New Writers. Jeff shares a few nuggets of wisdom for anybody jumping into the professional writing waters for the first time.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

“Typing is easy. Putting words on a page is easy. Writing is HARD.” @JeffGoins via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “With writing, I realized the only variable I had 100% control over was my own effort. The thing those 9 failed blogs all had in common? I quit all of them.” @JeffGoins via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “I think that's true of all creative work: If you can't first do it for yourself, don't bother doing it for somebody else.” @JeffGoins via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “I think ‘content’ is a very flaccid word. What does that mean, ‘content?’ It's writing, it's communication.” @JeffGoins via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “You can get somebody to take action, but before they will move, you will have to move them.” @JeffGoins via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “That's the art: I want to create something that somehow mysteriously connects with someone on the other side of the world.” @JeffGoins via @writepodcast Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned

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copywriter Diana

Interview for the Write Blog: Copywriter & Content Strategist Diana

Today for the Write Blog, we interviewed one of our full-time writers, Diana.

Diana is a journalism graduate, award-winning filmmaker and online content specialist. She dedicates her work to crafting content that connects people with stories and ideas that matter. When she’s away from the laptop, you can find her navigating through South America’s mountain trails or planning her next large-scale environmental project. Diana joined our team earlier this year and has become an integrated part, training closely with Julia for a course support role, and writing a myriad of content types for our clients. 

interview with writer Diana

How did you first find out you liked to write?

02 dianaMy dad is a writer and I’ve always been a big fan of him in many ways.

So when I was about nine years old, I decided to submit a story for the Remembrance Day competition at my school. The story ended up winning first place and was announced at the annual ceremony.

If you can remember being nine years old, winning basically anything was the best thing ever.

So clearly, I exploded — and became totally obsessed. Soon after, I got a hold of my dad’s old briefcase, filled it with blank notebooks and begun writing long-winded mystery stories for a good length of time (Nancy Drew was my other hero).

What (or who) were your early influences in writing?

After my long-lived Nancy Drew/Harriet the Spy phase and survived my too-cool-for-school chapter, I was introduced to a handful of influencers in University.

Besides my incredible journalism/writing professors and mentors, there were some other special people I surrounded myself with:

I ABSORBED Kurt Vonnegut. Like I wanted to take his work and inject it into my body somehow.

Douglas Coupland and Rawi Hage were fairly prominent in my life, too.

David Sedaris was pretty much my long-distance, secret mentor for my short story work.

Hunter S. Thompson was my muse.

Charles Bukowski, Leonard Cohen and Sylvia Plath were my sad, soulful weekend mentors.

At this time, I was also regularly writing lyrics for a band I was in.

I think this may have been one of the greatest influences for my writing: The self-disciplined study of lyricism and poetry. It gave my writing a certaindepth and flavour.

Henry David Thoreau was a game-changer, though.

I think I’ve read Walden 4 times.

This, combined with tree planting expeditions and my insatiable love for scriptwriting eventually led me to creating work for a purpose, rather than simply the joy of storytelling.

What kind of topics get you excited/passionate to write about and why?

I love characters. Profile pieces, especially on zany people, make me giddy.

I also love every aspect of writing for environmental topics. I try to learn as much about environmental issues on the side to help my craft in this field.

Honestly though, any topic that has the potential to influence further development in either myself or the world at large has me pretty pumped.

01 diana

This can include:

– content marketing
– social enterprises
– psychology and self-development
– new cuisine or farming practices
– specific technology

Do you have any daily/typical writing rituals?

I meditate.

I go through stints where I don’t do it as often, but it’s clear how it affects my concentration and therefore my writing.

Meditating every morning before looking at screens improves the overall productiveness of my day significantly.

Clear/calm mind + blank paper + coffee = real potential.

What books, tools, websites have helped your writing the most?

I’m kind of old school.

I believe the simple discipline of reading and writing a desired topic/style can boost your abilities.

Currently, I’m trying to improve my content writing, so I’m reading Julia’s book while following various blogs.

I use Feedly to help me stay updated with specific styles of content I’m focusing on — which is actually the most high-tech I’ve ever been in this respect.

What is your favorite article that you wrote?

It was called, “Massacre on Dundas Avenue.”

It was an investigative piece on why there were so many dead squirrels littering the main roads in my town.

The article was a result of a casual observation that led to a broader issue — an approach I feel makes for the best articles.

A favorite client that you worked with?

Dr. Graham’s Homes, which is an orphanage and school in Kalimpong, India. I wrote a number of the graduate’s testimonials for their main site to encourage essential funding.

The stories these students shared were truly inspiring, some of them almost chilling. Being given the chance to take these stories and mould them into something tangible was an honor.

What is the oddest writing assignment you’ve ever had?

I covered a radio story on the inside life of a trailer park, which was actually a few hours away from where the TV show, Trailer Park Boys was shot.

The assignment required me to go door-to-door and interview residents of the area, which proved to be both terrifying and awe-inspiring. The range of characters was vast, but one common theme that carried through was the residents’ ability to effortlessly entertain guests.

How does your writing career help you either creatively, personally, or financially?

My writing career not only pays the bills and my ability to travel (which includes its own benefits), but it encourages me to evolve on a personal level.

I believe that constantly working on a craft, whether it be art, carpentry, music or writing, enhances your ability to expand in a myriad of ways.

It helps you practice humility, and when done well and enjoyably, can be beneficial for your spirit and overall well-being.

The craft of writing helps you connect with people and ideas.

It supports continual learning, curiosity, and encourages open-mindedness.

Needless to say, invaluable gains.

CTA writer Diana

SEMRush Q&A Express Writers

Q&A Interview With The SEMrush Team: Talking SEO & Online Marketing

Last week, we sat down with a few members from the SEMrush team. Who are they? In a nutshell, SEMrush is today the world’s leading provider of competitive intelligence and keyword research for professional digital marketing campaigns, with versatile, affordable plans. And yes – we use and love their software.

We talked to Tara, Michael Stricker, Michael Isaac, and Tyler in our Q&A session. (Bios of the team members are at the end of this post.) We asked them how SEMrush came to be, common marketing problems to be faced today, SEO insights for website owners, among other things. It was a great session, with a lot of useful knowledge shared from their team – read, enjoy, and share!

SEMRush Q&A Express Writers

Tell us a little about how SEMrush was started (what’s your founding story)?

Michael Stricker: “It was a dark and stormy night…” – Oleg and partners are the only ones who can answer this… they concocted something to aid their SEO data-gathering, and their peers were so taken with the result that they offered to pay for it… and the rest is history.

Tyler: Oleg and Dmitry were tech guys working for a marketing firm with the task of creating “cool tools” (as Oleg puts it) for their company to run more efficiently. The point wasn’t profit; just create something cool and useful for the industry. They got so into it that they spun off the tools to create SEOQuake then SEMrush.

Tara: Please see this for quotes directly from Oleg.

What kind of daily problems does SEMrush answer for online marketers?

Michael Stricker: Questions arise regarding what keywords your market is using most frequently. SEMrush enables astute marketers to get inside their prospect’s heads for a minute. The fact that it also affords an X-ray into what is working best for one’s online competitors is the icing on the cake. Add to that keywords, ads, clicks and spend for AdWords and you’ve got a chocolate layer cake. Sweeten that with Google Shopping data regarding keywords and prices and you’ve got a tray of high-converting cupcakes on top. Now, consider mobile search terms, visibility tracking and then specify local search down to the city and state, and you’ve got a tiered wedding cake for SEOs married to the data. Roll out the SEO Audit to help find and fix link errors and such that can trap search spiders and prevent your site from being fully indexed and you’ve got confections fit for a Technical SEO. Do that in 28 countries worldwide and Bing U.S. and you’ve given the world a slice of the pie.

Michael Isaac: When people use SEMrush, they are constantly looking for answers. “What will be my next keywords?”, “Who should I be looking at the closest as a competitor?”, “What are the next errors I should fix on my site?”. We help our users find out all of this information every time they log in. We can tell them who is ranking for the same keywords they are, what issues we find with their site through our Site Audit tool, what keywords they should target next through their SEO and multiple other reports that can contribute to their overall success. We have users that are logging in every day fully utilizing the data we have in our database to improve themselves and find new information that will grow their online marketing efforts.

Tyler: Prospecting clients with overview report and site audit. Which keywords to optimize for and which to stay away from. Who’s linking to me, what kind of links, and which links I should no-follow. Who’s spending what and how much in ads? Tracking and reporting SEO/PPC progress.

Tara: While we market SEMrush as a competitive intelligence tool, there are many other things it can do for digital marketers. As a content manager and writer, I appreciate the insight SEMrush offers in editorial direction. I can use it to see which topics we’ve covered thoroughly or where we need more content. SEMrush allows me to combine instinct and data to produce informative content our readers enjoy. You’re not just competing with others, you’re competing with what you’ve already done on your own website.

How would SEMrush benefit a typical marketer looking to analyze or boost their SEO rankings?

Michael Stricker: Market insight comes with crowd-sourced data about what it is that web users are actually searching for, and the words and phrasing they use indicates just where they are on the “path to purchase”. Competitive insight gleaned from understanding your keyword strengths (unique, well-performing content and keywords), weaknesses (gap analysis), opportunities (popular keywords unique to competitors), and threats (keywords that are very competitively shared by commercial foes) all feeds into a holistic picture of what works and what does not, so that experimentation and attendant risk is minimized and positive SEO results can be accelerated and maintained. Knowing when to avoid pursuit of steeply-competitive keywords can preserve working capital for small or new domains. Gaining knowledge of competitors who invoke your brand to gain traffic for themselves is like a suit of golden armor. Forewarned is forearmed.

Michael Isaac: Typical marketers are always looking for ways to improve their SEO and watch their competition closely. We believe here at SEMrush that we have came up with the perfect tool to conduct this research. We have tools that will provide insight on possible keywords you are looking to target or have been keeping an eye on. We offer multiple tools and reports that will assist you with tracking your competition and adding their SEO/PPC campaigns to determine where they have been struggling the most.

Tyler: How wouldn’t they? Unless they feel like wasting a million hours manually crawling SERP results then they need SEMrush. They probably won’t need every feature, but life without a tool like SEMrush is like setting yourself up for failure– as a digital marketing.

Tara: One of my favorite features about SEMrush is the position tracker report. I have my personal website set up in SEMrush and the tool sends me e-mails to let me know how I’m doing. I don’t have very much time to devote to analyzing my own website, and SEMrush automatically sends me reports to let me know what’s going on and how my site is doing against others in the same niche. While I log into the tool for deeper analysis and updates, I often use this to guide my website’s content strategy without having to log into the tool. It’s a blessing for a busy editor.

How have you seen the SEO landscape change since SEMrush was started?

Michael Stricker: Do you mean the stampede of arctic animals? Or, the blind, headlong rush of iterative marketers looking for the ‘next trick’? The emergence of Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing. The level of triggered communications that makes marketing automation possible. The incredible data-gathering such as heat-mapping and analytics that sparked a renaissance in Conversion Rate Optimization. The rise of the consumer to equal voice and footing with brands, and the new reliance on Online Reputation Management and Social Customer Relations. The double-digit increases in AdWords budgets, and Google’s revenues. The way that free PLA Ads became a paid advertising channel and the new balance as budgets shift to increased investments in Google Shopping. The dominance of Mobile SEO and smartphone use. The prevalence of App use on smartphones, so much so that Google Now must overlay search results into Apps to gain face time with mobile users. The rise of AI and machine learning in use by Google to improve search results. The improvement of location by IP, cell tower, triangulation, GPS, and now, in-store beacons that informs personal results.

Tyler: The PPC environment is way more competitive– Campaigns are running much leaner and opportunities dry up faster than they use to because so many people are using competitive tools like SEMrush.

Tara: I’m still relatively new to using SEMrush, but as a content writer well aware of the affect Google Panda had on the industry, SEMrush is now an important tool in content strategy, allowing me to make the most out of those long tail keywords (most of which are also evergreen) for a long-term content strategy.

We love SEMrush’s Twitter chat, #semrushchat! Tell us a little about how you started and grew that.

Tara: Olga Andrienko began #semrushchat in October of 2014. It’s grown from there! Olga will go into more detail about the success of the chat on the SEMrush blog over the month of September. When I first started at SEMrush half a year ago, #semrushchat was one of the easiest ways for me to connect with the digital marketing community right away. It’s one of the best networking opportunities I’ve experienced – all from the comfort of my desk.

What’s one good SEO tip for achieving better rankings you’d give to a typical website owner?

Michael Stricker: Learn what your market is looking for, how they’re asking for it, and at what step along the ‘buyer journey that they are signaling intent by using certain phrases. Work on every step of the ‘funnel’, but pay special attention to the terms of ‘transactional’ or commercial intent. If I had time to say two tips, the second would be, Learn from competitors so you can do what works, with less expense, and risk.

Michael Isaac: The best way to achieve better rankings would be to analyze your competition. What are they doing that you are not? By reviewing who is ranking within the top position and reviewing their landing pages, descriptions and titles being used, you can then structure your content to be more relevant to the keywords you are targeting and leap over your competition.

Tyler: Have a well thought out URL structure before committing to a website.

Tara: Many people start blogs and websites to establish themselves as experts. Whether you have a website or not, you need to take some time actually living in your community (Facebook and LinkedIn groups, Twitter chats, meetups, other networking events) to really grasp it. This can inform your instincts about industry trends, while SEMrush can help you sure up your content strategy around what you already know. Also, know where to go for help and don’t be afraid to ask for it. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses within digital marketing. People often ask me for content and editorial advice, but I always review in-depth data analyses from SEMrush with helpful members of our marketing, sales, and customer success teams. Sometimes they find a story or trend that I’ve missed.

For someone just starting out in SEO, what are some best tips?

Michael Stricker: Brands must do R.P.S. — Real People Stuff. Affiliate marketers who can afford to shed burned-out domain names as they get penalized by Google, be it manually or algorithmically, may be able to afford to rely on iterative techniques like mass link-building or blog networks or link wheels, but brands that must preserve their equity cannot take that risk. The more Google knows about users, their interests and the context of their searches, the harder it will be to fake relevance. So, be prepared to learn as much as possible about search queries, market segments, affinities and interests, buyer and prospect personas. Then, apply that information to put the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Until search becomes predictive and passively delivers great stuff to humans, you still have a chance to influence search outcomes.

Tyler: Learn, learn, learn, then apply, then learn some more, then post on twitter. 

Tara: 1) Participate in Twitter chats. It’s the most friendly and accessible way to learn. I recommend: #semrushchat, #cochat, #inboundhour, #scottsbizchat (especially for small e-commerce sites), and #LinkedInChat for general networking. 2) Find your niche and own it! It’ll evolve and change over time, and that’s okay. 3) Blog as you learn. Answer your own questions in blog posts so your audience can see your growth. It’s an extra reward for your research. Give credit to those who help you or provide useful information. 4) Make sure your message is clear. I recommend checking out Don Purdum’s blog and podcast for more information on how to do that. 5) If you’re starting out at an agency or other business involved in SEO, you should be able to learn something every day. If you’re just fetching coffee and not being offered the opportunity to learn, move on – there are plenty of other organizations that will take an interest in your personal success and personal brand. (SEMrush is hiring, by the way!)

We love SEMrush and it’s impressive capabilities! Thanks for being here for our Q&A chat.

Tara: Thanks so much for including us!semrush bios

semrush team

 

Who Is Michael Stricker?

Michael Stricker markets the leading research tool for Competitive Intelligence as U.S. Marketing Director of SEMrush. The hundreds of digital marketing campaigns he has constructed and consulted deliver millions of impressions to enterprise web-based businesses. Decades of agency experience enable his actionable strategies, creative concepts, scalable processes and do-able tactics to achieve business goals. Michael has spoken at ClickZ Live (formerly SES), Etail, HERO Conference and SMX East, and contributes to blogs such as CIO.com, B2Community, SEMrush.com.

Who Is Michael Isaac?

Mike Isaac is the Customer Success Content Manager at SEMrush.

Who Is Tyler Wilson? 

Tyler Wilson is a sales executive at SEMrush. A recent graduate from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, Tyler came to SEMrush in January 2015 with two years of digital marketing experience– interning for DMi Partners and SEOM interactive.

Who Is Tara M. Clapper?

Tara M. Clapper is Technical Editor (blog editor) at SEMrush and Senior Editor at The Geek Initiative, a website celebrating women in geek culture. The author of thousands of blogs and hundreds of small business websites, Tara enjoys blogging about SEO copywriting, content management, corporate culture, personal branding, networking and LinkedIn. She has over a decade of experience in digital publishing.

blogging wizard interview

Essential Blogging Tips: Q&A with Adam Connell, Founder of Blogging Wizard

This week is the first week of our Q&As, a series we’ll be doing weekly with experts in our field, so we can learn and grow from their wisdom. Stay subscribed so you can read them weekly!

We’re excited to present our first one: last week, we had the chance to (virtually) sit down with Adam Connell from Blogging Wizard. We asked him all about blogging—and he gave us some awesome insight and great blogging tips. It’s a must-read for any serious blogger.

We promise... you're in for some awesome blogging advice!

We promise… you’re in for some awesome blogging advice!

Essential Blogging Tips: Interview with Adam Connell, Founder of Blogging Wizard & Julia McCoy

If you’re at any stage in blogging (just beginning, several years in the game, etc.) you’ll love what Adam has to say. Let’s get started!

1. What inspired you to create Blogging Wizard?

Before starting Blogging Wizard I’d launched a few different blogs and the success I’d had helped me land a marketing job. After working at the agency for a while I wanted an outlet to share what I was learning, and in particular help other bloggers. One night I woke up in the middle of the night and scribbled “Blogging Wizard” on a piece of paper and went to sleep. The following day I purchased the domain name and started planning.

2. Tell us a little about your success story.

Like most new blogs, it took a while to take off. Especially as I didn’t have much free time to grow Blogging Wizard. But as time went on I landed some good guest blogging opportunities on the likes of Problogger, and Search Engine Journal. I focused on connecting with other bloggers and began being featured in group interviews, as well as some coverage in HuffPost and CIO. In June 2014 I’d grown my blog to the point where I could leave my full time marketing job and focus 100% on blogging. Since then I’ve been mentioned on the likes of Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine. At the moment I get around 60K-70K monthly readers.

3. What’s one piece of advice you would give someone just starting out in blogging?

The most important thing to get nailed down at the start is what you’re trying to achieve. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you make sure that you get there? Sure, you might end up there by chance but if you take control of your goals, you can make sure it happens.

The next step is to work backwards from your end goal and figure out exactly how you’re going to get there. Break everything down into smaller, more manageable steps.

Look at it from a tactical level too. You want to grow your audience and be able to keep more people coming back to your blog, so what’s the best way to do that? For most blogs, it means building an email list! So once you know what to focus on, you can build your blog around it and prioritize other things like social media accordingly.

For example, I get more traffic from my email list than my social following, despite my social following being larger. So while I still work on improving my social presence, my blog is geared more to encourage email sign ups than social follower growth.

The bottom line is this: know what you want to achieve, break it down into smaller steps and you’ll achieve your goals much faster. These are my blogging tips.

4. What’s a good way a blogger can narrow down on the right audience?

First you need to make sure you’re in the right niche. I see so many blogs that start off so well and then fade into obscurity, this is usually because the blog owner has lost interest or they weren’t able to make the blog financially viable.

So, start off right and consider 3 things – what you love, what you know and can you make money in that niche? Even if your goal isn’t to make money now, it may be in the future, after all, we’ve all got to put food on the table.
The truth is that there’s usually a way you can make a blog profitable with some out of the box thinking, but when all other methods fail you can offer the skills you’ve attained as a blogger as a service – still, it’s good to consider revenue potential at the start. Having knowledge and experience you can draw upon is a valuable asset but I’m a big believer that you can learn anything you put your mind to, but the bottom line is that it helps.

Above all else, the biggest consideration should be what you’re passionate about. You can make a success out of a blog that you’re not passionate for but it’s VERY challenging. And it defeats the point of starting a blog, most bloggers blog because they want to do what they love. By focusing on a niche you’re passionate about you will grow an audience faster (passion shows through in your writing) and you’ll be far more motivated to succeed.

This is just the starting point though, the next step is to get as clear as possible on WHO you’re helping and HOW you’re going to help them. Be as specific as possible and really get to the core of who your target audience is. Creating an elevator pitch is a good idea, something like “I help ____ to _____”. For example, for a new project I’m working on, our elevator pitch is “we help solopreneurs streamline their life and streamline their business”. So get clear on who you’re helping and how you’re going to help them (i.e. the problems you’re going to solve) and your blog will grow so much faster. You’ll find it easier to speak to your audience and your audience will immediately see why they should follow your blog.

To get clear on the WHO and the HOW, you could try to find online communities in your niche and ask people to fill in a survey. You can then use this data to flesh out some reader persona’s.

But, you may find that you need to launch your blog initially and cast a somewhat larger net. This is because you learn so much more about your target audience after you launch your blog.

Everything from email exchanges, comments and research for content ideas will teach you something more. After a while, you’ll start to clarify the vision for your blog.

5. What’s a good typical consistent blogging schedule for any business starting their blog?

Every industry is different and every target audience has their own unique dynamics. The best advice would be to publish content as often as your audience can consume it, but factor in content length too. The longer the content you publish, the longer it’ll take your readers to consume it.

But, when you first launch a blog, it’s worth publishing more content over the first few months and then settling into a more consistent schedule afterwards.

6. What’s one tip you’d offer on writing an awesome blog post?

An awesome blog post is subjective but for me, I prefer to read blog posts that are usable.

Actionable advice is key. The web is littered with blog posts that are surface level and for the most part, difficult to use. The main thing is that someone can read your post and implement some of your advice, without being left thinking “yeah, that’s great but how do I do that?”.

7. How would you describe the way SEO keywords should fit into blogging?

SEO in general cannot be ignored, unless you want to give up on the potential of thousands of extra targeted visitors. Looking at keywords is a great way to come up with proven topic ideas but when it comes to writing content, forget keywords. Use keywords to discover proven content using tools like SEMrush.com and BuzzSumo but above all else, ensure that your content is written for people above search engines.

Search engines have evolved and engagement metrics (e.g. pogosticking between search results) will show search engines what people think of your content.

8. What’s one thing important to keep in mind about blogging specifically in 2015?

This isn’t anything new for 2015 but it’s important.

The web is a noisy place and with blogging becoming increasingly popular, it’s becoming more difficult to rise above the noise. This means we’ve got to keep trying out new things and pushing boundaries to ensure we cut through the noise.

9. How would you say blogging fits into the content marketing sphere this year? For one, it’s vital, right?

As a blogger, I’d say it was vital but the truth is that it all comes down to what you want to achieve. And there are some businesses that aren’t a good fit for blogging, a good example is a client I worked with in the financial sector, they had restrictions on what they could share on the web, so much so that they couldn’t start a blog.

Starting a blog is a huge investment and it’s not a quick content marketing fix; It takes time to start seeing results.

But, if blogging makes sense for your business and you’re ready to focus on creating a long term, viable business – Blogging is vital.

10. We love the content you share! Thanks for being a great inspiration in the content marketing community and sharing your blogging tips.

My pleasure, thanks for inviting me to take part in the interview Julia!

Adam Connell is the Founder of Blogging Wizard and Marketing Director at UK Linkology. He spends his time helping others get more visibility online.

Julia-McCoy-of-Express-Writers-Interviews-ScoopIt-CEO

Google Hangout: Content Curation Interview with Guillaume Decugis, CEO of ScoopIt & Julia McCoy

On January 13, I held a Google Hangout on Air with the CEO of Scoop.it, where I interviewed him about Scoop.it and the value of content curation this year. Below is the video and full transcript. It was a very insightful chat. Enjoy! 

 

View the Google HOA here.

 

Content Curation Interview with Guillaume Decugis Transcript

 

Julia: Hello everyone, I’m Julia McCoy, the CEO of Express Writers, a copywriting agency. I have with me today the CEO of Scoop.it. Can I ask you to pronounce your name, if you don’t mind?

 

Guillaume: Sure, so hi everyone, I’m Guillaume Decugis.

 

Julia: Guillaume. Did I say that right?

 

Guillaume: Yes!

 

Julia: Great! Awesome. So, to start this off, I just wanted to talk to you about your tool. I think it’s an excellent tool for content curation that is a huge need coming up this year. We’re just seeing so much content happen, and we need tools for content curation, to be able to sort this content, and to be able to share it. So, tell me a little about Scoop.it, how you built it, and how it helps businesses today.

 

Guillaume: Well, thanks for the praise. So Scoop.it was something we started and launched three years ago. We launched it because we realized that Web 2.0 was creating an opportunity and a pressure. The opportunity and the pressure is actually the same. The opportunity is we can become a media publisher, we can publish a lot of content. That’s what all those tools around Web 2.0 helped us do. It’s not just an opportunity, it became a pressure.

 

Now that everybody can publish content, if you do not, then you simply don’t exist.

 

Or if you publish bad content, you might hurt your brand. So we felt that pressure is going to be something that a lot of professionals, businesses, companies, big and small are going to have a tough time with. Because..

 

Not everybody is a content creator. It takes time, energy, talent, inspiration to create good content.

 

And so we felt a lot of people will be struggling with that. And there’s an alternative to create content, or complement. We like to talk about complement, which is content curation. We felt not everybody can become an awesome blogger, an awesome video producer. But, we believe that fundamentally all businesses, all professionals have expertise. When you’re good at what you’re doing, you’ve done that for a few years, you have expertise and you can apply that expertise to curate content, which means selecting great content that you feel is relevant to your field, and adding your own value, your own context: telling your audience why this was an awesome piece of content. And we felt that was much more accessible to professionals in general, and it is a great way to build your content strategy for your business. So that’s the background behind it.

 

Julia: That’s excellent! I agree with everything you said about getting content, and staying on the map with content. As you may or may not know, I developed some content strategizing products in our own company. We wanted to go beyond just creating content. So we looked into creating curation, and we were going to try to plan content, and show people how to find content. One of the tools I found was Scoop.it. I was so happy it was so simple to use, and I was researching maybe 20 different tools. Scoop.it was a key of how we find content.

 

How do you see it as answering a big need for curation coming up this year?

 

Guillaume: So, first of all, I love the fact you found Scoop.it simple, because that’s really I think the key to what we’ve been trying to do. We wanted to make it super simple.

 

Let’s clarify something: curation in itself is not simple. If you don’t have tools, it’s actually very complicated, and you can waste a lot of time trying to find great content.

 

You’ll have this experience of, like, I’ve been browsing the web for FOUR hours and I felt I achieved nothing. And so we felt we needed to combine a couple of things. First, a piece of technology that could automate your content monitoring. And let’s be clear: automation, we automate the discovery of content, we never automate publishing. So we empower our users to publish in their own name what they’ve selected, and we make it easy for them to find content instead of searching for it hours every day. In just a few minutes, you can have the most relevant content in your field, directly on your Scoop.it engine. So simplicity is at the core of what we’re trying to achieve.

 

I was asked by the Content Marketing Institute, what’s my prediction for 2015, and I think, you know, content marketing has been around for a few years. It’s maturing and it’s something that large companies have embraced. They’ve moved from traditional advertising, which is kind of old fashioned, to creating excellent content.

 

The company which I admire which is probably the pioneer of content marketing is Redbull. If you look at what Redbull has become, they’re not a soft drink company anymore. They’re a media company. They have this content pool with 50,000 pieces of content, they launched a man to space and broke the record of parachuting down to earth. They’ve done amazing stuff, they’ve done amazing content. But the thing is they’re a large company, and they’re making a bold bet of transforming their company into a media company. A lot of the small midsize companies have not been able to do this, because it takes resources, it takes a long term horizon that large companies have and small companies don’t have. So my prediction for 2015 was that content marketing is now going to become mainstream. It’s going to become something that millions of SMBs in the US or in the world are going to be able to embrace. And, I think curation is going to play a very important role there, because if you think of content marketing where a lot of people like to mix up creation and curation, and the large brands have resources. They can create a lot of content, they can have agencies work for them. But for more SMBs, they usually don’t have access to that, they usually don’t have a budget for that. So, curation is necessary for them to embrace content marketing, and that’s what we see coming in 2015, a lot of SMBs embracing content marketing through content creation and curation.

 

Julia: I totally agree with you. Everything you said is really insightful. I see that there is so much content on the web and it’s growing every day as you know, and it’s so important to curate and create to make your own mark.

 

Guillaume: Having a mix is really important. We’re not saying stop creating content; we’re saying if you have a day job, or if you’re not a natural born writer, it takes time and you should really focus on exceptional pieces of content. And we believe that curation forms creation. By curating you will spot the gaps in your field that nobody is writing about, like the things you’ve learned, you can tell. Instead of adding to the noise by creating another piece of content that’s already been written, you can use your curation abilities to say, I’ve shared some really good articles by other people, but nobody has been writing on that particular point, and I can share that and I can educate my audience. So, we’re strong believers in balance and there’s strong synergies in curation and creation.

 

Julia: Exactly. That’s something I’ve been blogging about in a few of my recent blogs, I talked about that exact idea.

 

Guillaume: Yeah, I love your blog posts by the way, I’ve curated a few of those already. Really good.

 

Julia: Now about blogging, I also wanted to ask you how businesses can use Scoop.it to publish their own content. Tell me more about that.

 

Guillaume: So our view is, the way we look at content and content strategy for businesses, we look at a couple of things. We think you should have a content hub, a place where all of your content, whether curated or created, can reside. A lot of businesses blog already, and if you have a blog you should make it your content hub. Scoop.it integrates with WordPress, or Tumblr, so it’s very easy to consolidate everything in something that already exists, like your blog. So we look at you should have a content hub, which is where you’re going to drive your audience to, which is going to be a place where people can see all of your content that defines you.

 

We like to say you are the content you publish.

 

Whether it’s created or curated, and you can organize that content the way you want. It’s also going to be a place whether you can drive SEO content, where people will be able to discover you from search, not just from your social channels. You will also be able to convert. You know, we’re doing content strategy, content marketing because we think it’s fundamentally good for your business, so it should be a way to drive and generate leads, and convert people to either subscribe, or buy, or drive a sale. And you have to have your own face to do this. It could be a WordPress blog, it could be another blog. And for those who don’t have a blog, we have a live publishing platform on Scoop.it so you can create pages with your created and curated content. You can use that as like a blogging platform.

 

So that’s one thing that’s your content hub; then you should think about all the distribution channels you could use, social media of course. Scoop.it is connected with all the social media channels, so in the same way you feed your blogs or your content hub on Scoop.it, you distribute that content to social media, to Facebook, LinkedIn, not just for files but for groups. We also integrate with the ability to create newsletters. Email has been under the radar for a few years because we say, ah, social media is the new way to distribute. We still believe that email is super important, super relevant, still in 2015. We integrate with Mailchimp to make it super easy to distribute by email. So, I like to think about creating a content hub wherever you feel affordable. But you should really own it. And with the premium version of Scoop.it, you can really make Scoop.it pages your own, you can really integrate with WordPress, and distribution channels which should be social, SEO, email, to name a few ones.

 

Julia: Wow, it sounds like a really thorough platform. We’ve been using it to find content, but I don’t think we’ve been using all the features of being able to publish. So, instead of a social media competitor, it sounds like really you’re your own content hub.

 

Guillaume: Yes. You know, again, I think it’s an evolution of Scoop.it which is evolving. We’re actually about to launch a new version of the platform.

 

Julia: Yes, tell me about that.

 

Guillaume: That platform is really going to be reaching all around the needs of SMEs. And I think, as Scoop.it grew we evolved from being a tool to becoming a solution. And what do I mean by that? Very quickly, Scoop.it started as a discovery tool. The first users of Scoop.it liked it, that they could discover content very rapidly, and then share that content to their social handles. Then we’ve added the ability to create content hubs, or view existing content hubs on WordPress. The solution people need is actually a combination of things. We think SMEs actually need a workflow. They don’t need just discovery, just distribution, just content hubs. They need a combination of that, of all things, and they need to be able to manage it. We have this new version coming in a couple of weeks, which is really about planning your content. Number one, having a calendar that gives you a full view of what is it you have plans for the next few days. Second, sourcing which is essentially the discovery part but enriched with a lot of admins features. So sourcing all of the content that feeds that planning, and then integrated with feeding a destination but also feeding distribution channels as we discussed, and also all of the analytics activity, did you get traffic, engagement, leads. So we’re packaging all of those things into a very neat solution that takes you through a content workflow with a 360 global approach.

 

Julia: Wow! So that’s really impressive. So that’s getting ready to launch next week?

 

Guillaume: Next week or the following week we’re getting ready. So in the next two weeks. Before the end of the month.

 

Julia: That’s a good goal! That sounds really great. So, thank you for your time and going through all of that. It’s really great to see all the features of Scoop.it and what it can bring just coming up this year, because content is going to be a monster. And this tool can help businesses get control of it, and just not be average with content. And, you know, just do better than your industry competitor. So do you see a lot of growth coming up, do you anticipate that this year?

 

Guillaume: Do I see a lot of what, sorry?

 

Julia: Growth.

 

Guillaume: Oh yeah, absolutely. I think right now we’ve been seeing large companies embrace content marketing, and we’re used by large companies as well, as more and more are using collaborative features. We’ve been used by 1.5 million professionals primarily as a discovery social media tool, and so I think we’ve seen more and more SMBs embrace Scoop.it as part of everything. So we have been growing very fast, we’re closing our books and so I don’t know the final numbers yet, but we’ve been focusing on that for about 15 months now. We’ve grown in a year from 0 to 3,000 business and enterprise plans, and I think it’s going to accelerate throughout the year. I see a lot of, the story that you just told, businesses are now embracing content, they’re realizing it’s not just talk with peers on social media, they’re realizing you need to have that publishing capability in order to build your SEO, your inbound marketing, your inbound leads. I think that’s going to be an essential drive and an essential strategy to grow yourself. We’ve moved from SEM and emails to getting social media, trying to explore social media. I think those companies will understand that. It’s a powerful sales channel for us. The companies that do that will grow much faster than their competitors. And that’s going to happen this year.

 

Julia: That sounds really great. It’s just amazing how much content has grown in the past few years and how it’s changed so much.

 

Guillaume: Yes! And you know, another thought I would like to bring is, if you think that this whole change, driven again by Web 2.0, is about us becoming media publishers, as professionals or as businesses.

 

I would encourage you to look at what are the media outlets that really became rockstars in the past 5-10 years. It’s not the NY Times, it’s not the Washington Post. If you look at the history of media, it’s completely changed.

 

The media that created a lot of value and grew the fastest were the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Business Insider, Upworthy.

 

They don’t produce 100% of their content. They use a mix of their own content and curated content, or even some of them, like Upworthy, just do curation. They do awesome curation, which means that curation really can drive amazing traffic. So if you’re going to become as businesses, media, because Web 2.0 puts us in that corner and puts that pressure on us, we shouldn’t look at becoming media in the old-fashioned, twentieth-century way, like the NY Times 20 years ago, we should look at becoming media in the modern way like the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and Upworthy. That’s using that mix of curation and creation, that makes it easy to scale and helps you become lean with content. We like to talk about lean content as a way to be efficient with your content strategy. And I think those media are a good example of that.

 

Julia: That’s a great point.

 

Just to wrap this up, I know you’ve mentioned a couple times just a mix of curation and creation. What do you recommend, knowing what you do, having gone through content, building Scoop.it, what do you see as a good schedule for curating (something that’s not original, but relatable to what you do) and then creating your own content? Would you say 50/50, like two blogs a week, and then a few curated?

 

Guillaume: So the way I like to define, for some people it will be 50/50, for others 80/20, the thing that I would encourage people to look at is what comes naturally. Focus your creation activity in creating really epic content, something that if you’re going to devote some time away from your business, away from your customers, away from your employees, you should really make it count. To me, that’s the rule. If you’re talking about a 3 people shop where the business owner has a lot of things, that could be once a month. If we’re talking about 200-people company which already has a marketing team, it could be blogging once a day (everybody publishes, you know, once a week, and if they’re a 5 people team, that’s once a day). But then, look at curation to fill in the gaps for everything else. And so I think it’s depending on,

 

The minute you start creating low quality content is where you should stop.

 

You should stop and say, well, instead of creating low quality content, create less content but curate more content. You will augment the quality of whatever your readers receive. To me that’s the signal, when you start realizing, ah! I’m pressuring myself too much, and I’m creating something I’m not really proud of. You’re better off spending that time curating.

Julia: That’s a really great rule. I think anyone could take that rule and make it work.

 

Guillaume: Yeah, I mean that’s the rule I apply myself, whatever I feel uninspired, and I feel I’m going to force myself to blog, force myself to create something, maybe two hours later I’m going to go through content suggestions on Scoop.it, and I’ll find a great piece of content and I’m inspired, and suddenly I turn that into a mini blog post, using the publishing capabilities of the platform, and that’s so much better.

 

Because I’ve added to the discussion, instead of adding noise.

 

That’s been working a lot better for us as well, and our clients.

 

Julia: Yes, great rule. I would add nothing to it. Really good.

 

Thank you so much for your time today! This was a really insightful chat, and it was really good to talk.

 

Guillaume: Thank you, and if anybody has a question they want to throw out, my Twitter handle is @gdecugis. Feel free to tweet me, and I’m passionate about this discussion, so we are engaged.

 

Julia: Yes! That sounds great. We will have to probably schedule another one of these.

 

Guillaume: Alright! Bye.

 

Julia: Thanks for your time!

 

Guillaume: Thanks Julia.

 

Visit Scoop.it!

Follow Guillaume Decugis on Twitter. 

Julia Interviews Marc Landsberg, CEO of Social Deviant

I had the pleasure of interviewing Marc Landsberg, CEO of Social Deviant, on Friday, January 24, 2014. See Marc’s blog and see his company online, Social Deviant. We were originally planning a Google Hangout, hosted by Open Communications, Mark’s marketing team—but it refused to work for us. Yes, maddening! Especially because we had our video cameras all ready! But, we were still able to meet in a recorded phone conference, and had a great conference together. 

What Marc Thought of Express Writers!

 

I started by introducing my company and asking Marc about Social Deviant. In return, Marc first started off by talking about how he appreciated, and saw the need and value for, the specific and large amounts of content Express Writers publishes. Marc is a 25+ year marketing veteran with a global exposure to CMOs, CEOs, for a long time, having built and sold his own businesses across the years. He saw a frustration in this world among agency owners where people did not create real-world content, which he saw as fundamental for their success—not an afterthought. Smart marketing of the future is smart content marketing, and they are synonymous. He saw the value in what Express Writers does from noticing a lack of the type of content we deliver. For instance, in one blog we talked about how to optimize your Pinterest posts. Marc saw that this offered real-world value to our followers. Too many agencies, Marc said, saw things from a 30,000 foot view—and the content topics we are delivering are spot on in today’s Internet.

 

Social Deviant Serving Big Names

Marc then talked about the value his brand, Social Deviant, brings to clients. “A toddler in a man’s body,” his less-than-two-year-old company focuses on helping their clients build smart social media strategies, identifying target audiences, thinking about business objectives and marketing goals, defining the content mixed model, and putting this into social platforms; including specific management, development, and optimization. SD links a strategic approach with a conceptual, creative approach instead of a programmatic idea of reposting, etc.  It’s a different approach, top-down rather than bottom-up. He outlined how he’s been targeting key metrics and building a content strategy for several clients. Just two years old, Social Deviant has already built out an entire strategy plan for amplify and publicize a new route in air travel across social media, and a specific retainer project for a big brand for Miller Coors Kraft Beer.

 

Why Social Deviant?

I asked Marc about his reasoning behind the company name Social Deviant. He believes in deviating from the typical and wants to revolutionize, in several ways, the field he works in. It’s also just as much as important, how you do it as what you do. Great reasoning, Marc!

 

Content & Social Media

Next up were my questions for Marc. Since he has probably seen it all when it comes to social media, I asked him what he thought of the role that content played in social media, specifically for example: how do blogs work for social media?

 

Content & Social Media = Synonymous

Marc said this is one of his favorite questions. What Social Deviant has done is equate social media with content. Social Deviant has basically made social media and content synonymous. Social media is content, Marc said. He said Express Writers’ content is great—because everything they do for clients is about content. Strategic issues arise, for example, how to measure and manage over time; how staffing can deliver smart content marketing; with POV on lots of this. Social Deviant has done a little “sleight-of-hand” to equate social media marketing to content marketing and include things like business metrics and content types, formats, frequency and volume, the social platforms, syndication and optimization strategies. He’s developed a 7-or-8 point list of content strategizing for all of his clients, making social media = content marketing synonymous.

 

Less Teaching In This Area?

I asked Marc if he has noticed less of a need for teaching, with more and more people realizing they need content. He said clients choose Social Deviant because they embrace the fact they need to be better content marketers. SD only pursues like-minded clients. Marc says: if you stink at advertising we’re probably not your guys, and I don’t have the time or energy to convince you that that’s the wrong approach! Instead, he is looking for clients who know they need to be smarter. The question isn’t just about social media, it’s about how to be a better content marketer, when clients approach SD.

 

Content Marketing As A Whole

SD also looks at all aspects and pieces of content marketing as content, and put a calendar together based on all aspects. They are re-defining what the marketing calendar looks like, driven by content. Put the word social aside, replace it with content. If you have a 12-month calendar, X budget, Y business objectives, what do you need to do to deliver on your marketing objectives? That could be a billboard, a long-form video, a Vine, infographic, images, all of the above. All of this is content. Which of these units make the most impact? Marc admitted it could be cheating—but he has put everything around content, which puts his company in a central role with all his clients. He’s taken the specific word social and replaced it with content.

 

At the ANA Social Summit in San Francisco, Social Deviant presented their new content calendar, driven by content formats that includes all online and offline content types. Interesting—at a social media summit, they presented an integrated content calendar! Incidentally, it’s now being used by big names like Farmer’s Insurance and was a hit when it was presented.

 

Marc said that what Express Writers does is very specific, very fantastic, and a great compliment to work that he’s doing. I told him we should hook this together! He said that we absolutely should, and offered to strategize together on a Join.me meeting with terrific opportunities to collaborate.

 

Long-Form Blogs Are Great, Marc Says

I then asked Marc how he saw other content products fitting into the realm of social media and content marketing: infographics, whitepapers, e-books. He said that Social Deviant has basically construed a taxonomy, built across categories and tags, across social platforms. He specifically mentioned that SD loves “long-form blog content.” Google, Marc said, over-indexes it, and it’s even more powerful if you’re smart about the way you blog and you use tags, etc., which is overlooked by clients but yet enormously relevant.

 

SM Tools

Marc then listed some of the tools that he loves for content curation and discovery: content discovery for hashtags, VideoDeck. He still saw the value of Hootsuite; but there is growing competition there, with bigger clients looking at specific curation, syndication, analytical, or all-of-the-above needs. Adobe Social integrations have been growing.

 

We ended the call with Marc saying: there should be less hand-waving agency guys and more of you! Very excited to get Marc’s feedback, and it was an honor to talk to him.