do not's of seo: sej recap

The 7 Do Not’s of SEO in 2019 and Beyond (Search Engine Journal Webinar Recap)

SEO to content is like paleo chocolate frosting to a paleo chocolate cake.

(Ever had one of those? They’re decadent, AND good for you. 🤤)

It seriously is that important–and impactful–in content marketing.

SEO-focused content marketing has powered our own organic marketing at Express Writers for years.

Without good SEO practices, your content will miss out on the possibilities of earning traffic and leads through organic user searches.

The opposite, bad SEO, will make readers and Google look a little like Steve Carrell in this scene in the 2014 movie, Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day:

Not good.

That’s why, this April, I presented a webinar for Search Engine Journal on the top seven bad SEO tactics to abandon forever – ones that are dragging down your search rankings, confusing users (see above photo), and leaving your content in the dust.

We had an amazing turnout for this webinar. Over 300 people tuned in live!

Here are the slides from my webinar, and here’s the YouTube replay.

For those who missed it, or those who want the highlights, keep reading – I’m recapping the major points, here, too. ✔

Before we get into the bad SEO tactics and practices people are still using, we need to answer one question…

Get your own content marketing all geared up for the ROI you've been waiting for with the help of good SEO. Watch @JuliaEMcCoy's @sejournal webinar about the 7 Do Not's of #SEO in 2019 Click To Tweet

sej webinar recap julia mccoy

Why Does SEO and Google Matter?

Two reasons:

1. Most Internet Users Rely on Google

About half of the world’s population uses the internet. That’s no joke. Of those internet-users, about 60% begin their browsing with a Google search.

Over 3.5 billion Google searches happen in a day. Plus, Google dominates the market. Almost 60% of all web traffic begins with a Google search, according to the data from SparkToro and Jumpshot.

do not's of seo: forgetting Google

Image: Backlinko

2. Google is All About the User

Most web traffic comes from Google, and Google is all about that end-user. From their Search Engine Evaluator Guidelines to their Webmaster Central Blog, the user experience takes center stage. When your SEO and website experience tick off human users, you tick off Google, simultaneously.

Therefore, good SEO practices are all about keeping users and Google happy. The better you do, the more highly you will be ranked in search (and loved by users!).

With that out of the way, let’s get into the bad SEO tactics that will make your two most important audience members (humans and Google) confused, annoyed, and fed-up.

SEO-focused content marketing has powered our own organic marketing at Express Writers for years. Know why SEO matters with @JuliaEMcCoy's @sejournal webinar about the 7 Do Not's of #SEO in 2019 Click To Tweet

7 Just-Plain-BAD SEO Tactics You Shouldn’t Be Using Anymore

1. Using Your Target Keyword the Wrong Way

An outdated SEO practice we need to do away with is targeting one keyword per page – especially similar or semantically related keywords.

Instead, it’s better to target both focus keywords and secondary, related keywords in the same piece of content. This will align your SEO strategy with modern semantic search, which is what Google is focusing on moving into the future.

Semantic search looks at a page’s overarching topic vs. individual keywords to determine whether it’s relevant to a user’s search query.

do not's of seo: bad keyword usage

On the right side of this diagram, each keyword is targeted individually. A better SEO practice is to target related terms like these within the same piece (left).

Using a focus keyword + variations, related terms, and synonyms all within the same high-quality content piece signals to Google AND users that the page is topically relevant to the search query.

2. Developing Thin Content That Doesn’t Go the Distance

Short, thin content pieces are not SEO-worthy. If you want a page to rank, you need longer, in-depth content.

How do we know? Look at the data: From BuzzSumo’s analysis of over 100 million articles, long-form content (over 3,000 words) was most-shared. A Backlinko study came to the same conclusion – long-form content = higher search rankings.

To write longer content, focus on answering the user’s question(s) thoroughly and deep-dive into your topic.

3. Posting Content Whenever You Feel Like It

You can’t post content erratically if you want to rank higher in search. Many studies have shown that consistently publishing high-quality content leads to more ranking opportunities.

For one example, a HubSpot benchmark study found that companies that posted over 16x/month earned the most traffic and leads.

do not's of seo: posting inconsistently

That doesn’t mean you need to start blogging like a madman (or madperson), though. If you push out tons of posts but your quality sucks, you still won’t get anywhere. That leads us to bad SEO tactic #4…

4. Focusing on Quantity Vs. Quality

Pushing out blog posts just to get them on the web is never a good idea for SEO. Quality matters more than quantity for rankings and readership.

If you can’t feasibly publish fantastic blog posts on a consistent basis (say, 2-3x/week), cut back. One amazing post per week or month is better than 3 mediocre or crappy ones.

Tip: Check out the top 5 search results for your focus keyword in Google. Try to create a post that’s better than anything in that top 5.

5. Publishing Duplicate Content

According to SEMrush, a study of over 100,000 articles showed the most common SEO error is something we can all easily avoid: duplicate content. Nearly 66% of the articles in the study suffered from this problem.

It happens when multiple pages appear very similar or match 100%. Usually, this is unintentional, but some people do plagiarize content. Either way, you will be penalized.

Luckily, this mistake is easy to avoid. Do it by running all of your content through Copyscape before publishing. Rewrite any pages that have a percentage match.

6. Using Shady Tactics like Link Buying

If you really want to get on the wrong side of Google, link schemes and link buying are the way to do it.

Google specifically states in their quality guidelines that “Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”

do not's of seo: link buying

If you violate those guidelines, bet on getting de-ranked faster than you can say “blackhat SEO”.

Instead of trying to sneak your way onto the SERPs, make every piece of content you publish link-worthy. Then, amplify that content using every resource in your power (social media, email marketing, networking, and connections).

Make every piece of content you publish link-worthy. @JuliaEMcCoy #SEO Click To Tweet

7. Not Paying Attention to Customer Reviews (or Posting Fake Reviews)

70% of online consumers read reviews of a product or company before buying. If you’re forgetting or ignoring the customer review portion of SEO – why?!

Some marketers go in the opposite direction and resort to posting fake reviews to boost their reputation. (Did you know The Washington Post discovered 61% of electronics reviews on Amazon are fake? Yikes.) It’s not like this works, though. Review platforms are becoming more advanced at sniffing out and deleting fake reviews.

Fake reviews aren’t necessary if you know how to earn glowing ones from customers. A few tips:

  • Ask happy customers to review you on the platform that contributes most to building your reputation (social media, Google review, Yelp review, etc.).
  • Seek customer reviews when they’re super happy with your business. Say you exceeded their expectations or delivered a quality product early – those are prime moments to ask.
  • Offer free samples to influencers and ask them for an honest review in return. This works especially well if you have a feature-worthy product.

Online reviews are a big part of building your reputation and authority. Seek them out from happy customers instead of resorting to fakery.

Turn to the Light: Good SEO Practices Are Worth It

Outdated, blackhat, or downright lazy SEO practices will make human users and Google shun your site like it has the plague.

GIF: Tenor

What you really want is a site and content that shine like a beacon, beckoning and welcoming users with the warm glow of usefulness, quality, depth, and insight.

Look at what we’ve achieved at Express Writers, for example. 99% of our leads and revenue have come to us through our SEO content.

That’s what good SEO helps you achieve. Avoid the bad stuff and focus on the good for best results. Come back into the light!

express writers cta

content writing workshop

I Gave a 4-Hour Workshop on Content Writing to A Healthcare Firm. Here Are My 3 Takeaways

This March, I had the honor of teaching my first paid content writing workshop.

(I’m stepping out of my comfort zone by taking my first in-person speaking engagements this year. Till now, I’ve done webinars, podcasts, and lots of video. This January, I gave my first 20-minute live talk to a mastermind here in Austin, and it went well!)

The March workshop was in Irvine, California, for a healthcare company called NextGen Healthcare. Sarah, Manager of the Marketing Content Strategy, asked me to come and teach a full half-day class on one of my favorite topics — strategic content writing techniques for web, blog, email, social media and downloadables (whitepapers, content upgrades, etc.) for a B2B audience.

nextgen workshop

The workshop was on March 26, and it went very well!

For several reasons.

First, the team of people that were there! (*cue Hallelujah chorus*) Teaching is easy when you have such a great crew as students. These people were simply amazing. Smarties, each and every one!

Secondly, it was great to have a live audience while teaching content — tunnel vision, farewell! I was able to see, hear and discover what people that work in a leading industry firm actually find difficult in content marketing, what they struggle with, and on the flip side, what they actually enjoy doing and are good at.

I think I walked out with as much new inspiration and knowledge as I (hopefully) left my attendees with. Here’s a recap of my workshop experience. First, what went into the workshop; and secondly, some key takeaways from the conversations I listened in to.

Content marketing expert @JuliaEMcCoy gave a live content writing workshop to a healthcare firm in California. Read her top takeaways from the experience 🔥#strategy Click To Tweet


What Went Into My 4-Hour Content Writing Workshop

It was fantastic to work with Sarah Andrade, who is the Manager of Marketing Content Strategy (that’s a mouthful) at NextGen Healthcare. She found me through our site at Express Writers, and sent me a warm, friendly email requesting my presence teaching the workshop and offering full payment.

Content creation is my jam, so when Sarah at NextGen Healthcare found me, despite a short timeline (in two weeks!), I said yes to taking on content creation for the half-day workshop.

It was an amazing experience. I can’t say enough good things about the content team themselves. Brilliant people, all of them! Sarah (the marketing manager who found and recruited me), Allison, Carrie, Michael, Holly, Eleen, Jaime, Cathryn, Michelle…and everyone else whose names my post-speaking mushy brain sadly didn’t hit save on. Seriously, it was a rockstar team.

They checked all the boxes:

  • Engaged, interested, and passionate about their jobs (the whole room was engaged and came alive when we paused for Q&A)
  • Already knowledgeable in a variety of areas (from SEO all the way to how to post content on Instagram with the paragraph breaks — Allison and Jaime had a finger on SEO, social and content trends)
  • Great at content (Michael, Carrie – rockstar content writers, serious OGs, I’d hire them — and I hire 1-2% of the writers I meet!)

Here’s what the final outline of my workshop looked like:

NextGen® Healthcare Content Creation Workshop Sessions & Outline

Sarah gave me full liberty to construct the whole half-day workshop. So, with Sarah’s help, I came up with 20-25 minute speaking sessions, broken up by Q&A content creation workshops. Here’s the final outline of workshop I constructed and gave. I was able to get through all the sessions between a time span of noon to 5 p.m. We ended up spending a great deal of time in Q&A, which I loved.

  • Session 1: Introduction to Modern Content Writing & Content Types
    • — Learn It! Q&A and Homework Share
  • Session 2: How to Craft Engaging, Optimized Blogs
    • — Learn It! Q&A and Blog Content Creation Workshop
  • Session 3: How to Write Engaging Web Content
    • — Learn It! Q&A and Web Content Creation Workshop
  • Session 4: How to Write Emails
    • — Learn It! Q&A and Email Writing Workshop

I spent a few back-to-back 10-hour days working on the content to get it all done, right after Sarah found me. In less than 10 days, I’d created 200+ slides, four PowerPoint presentations, four cheat-sheet PDF takeaways for each attendee, and two recorded videos for the class demo-ing how to use BuzzSumo for content analysis, and SEMrush for keyword research. If I had more time, I would have made the content even more tailored to their audience and conducted more research on their high-level audience – but, I was able to customize it fairly well.

My designer did an amazing job on the presentation design (psst… this is something we offer in the Content Shop!):

Here are a few of my favorite slides from the session (and I think everyone’s favorite, from the joyful and positive feedback that erupted after I presented the ‘icky face’). I took an overly stuffy home page tagline from the website for NextGen Healthcare, and rewrote it for the class:

nextgen healthcare julia mccoy

The ‘homework’ everyone was asked to do prior was a suggestion of Sarah, and I thought it was a great idea. We came up with three items (1. Bring your questions, 2. Bring a piece of content from NextGen to reform, 3. Bring a piece of content that makes you feel something – curious, inspired, joyful, etc.), and everyone that attended the workshop was all about it! Pretty much all of them had done their homework prior (again, so impressed with this team).

In the homework Q&A time, lead writer Michael shared how much he took inspiration from Andrew & Pete, two content marketers that recently made a Top 100 Marketer list. I love Andrew & Pete myself. They’re outside-the-box thinkers who boldly and creatively go where few marketers go.

Overall, it was an amazing group, and the experience of teaching a workshop was wonderful.

nextgen content writing workshop collage

3 Takeaways & Inspirations Gained from Teaching My Workshop

I was inspired by the live conversations I listened to, during and after my live workshop. It was quite an experience to teach a group of (incredibly smart and talented!) people live, vs. teaching one of my courses online.

I was so inspired that when I visited the California beach the next day, I filmed this YouTube video: Is the Playbook to “Good Content” Dead? The Reality of Content Marketing Today (Video) I’d planned on filming my next bi-weekly scheduled video while in California, but had no script, talking points or outline prior to recording. I was thoroughly, 100% inspired.

It’s time to stop doing same old, same old — and that’s one of the biggest points of my video and my takeaway from teaching the workshop.

My three takeaways would be these:

1. THEM vs. US.

It’s time to stop making our marketing about us, and make it about our consumers, our people.

As I drove back to the L.A. airport from Irvine, I noticed and read billboard after billboard. 60% were worded with ‘OUR’ and ‘US,’ and only 40% were worded with ‘YOU,’ ‘YOURS’. And the ones with pro-consumer copy were so much more inviting and intriguing. A Porsche billboard, for example, offered an experience that was “your ticket to adventure.” You only knew it was Porsche from the logo. I wanted to be a part of that adventure! A bank offered “our talented solutions” for your needs, and their egotistical message overshadowed the ‘you’ part.

Authentic, audience-focused copy on our website, ads, etc. makes a huge difference in telling our audience that we truly care about them.

It's time to stop making our marketing about us, and make it about our consumers, our people. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

2. Level 10 is Now Level 1

What used to be Level 10 (content strategy knowledge) just a few years ago is now Level 1.

Seriously! I believe that level 10 has become our new Level 1. It is now the Basics.

So, this means we have no excuse to not know our content basics. Get strategic, and never guess when creating content – ever! Use data-backed insights on REAL searches they’re doing in Google and find the questions they’re already asking online, using tools like BuzzSumo (content discovery) and SEMrush (SEO analysis).

Need help? I teach all the answers to ‘what is content marketing’ step-by-step in the Content Strategy & Marketing Course.

Our new level 10? Well, that’s my next point.

What used to be Level 10 (content strategy knowledge) just a few years ago is now Level 1. This means we have no excuse to not know our content basics. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

3. Allow Room for Innovation

Once you have the basics down, and you know content strategy:

Throw out best practices and your content playbook.

I mean it.

This is your new level.


After you equip your people (agency staff) with the right skills, it’s critical to allow room for innovation. Take your marketing people on a trip outside the office to spark brand new thoughts and inspired action.

This is how we’re going to win today.

Not just by covering the basics, and ‘knowing’ the what.

After we know our basics (the WHAT and HOW of content), we need space to create content people desire. This comes when we leave room for inspiration and innovation. This only comes when we leave room for inspiration and innovation. And this is how to hit a true, tangible and real next-level, in a world full of mountains and mountains of content.

Once you have the basics down, and you know content strategy: Throw out best practices and your content playbook. Your new next-level is innovation. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet


Teaching a training workshop is no joke. I was dead tired after my four-hour workshop!

However, it was rewarding to be a part of an amazing content team (even if just for half a day). I thoroughly enjoyed helping them navigate the waters of creating great content! And, I feel like I walked away with just as much fresh, renewed inspiration as my students. 🔥

Want to request Julia to be a part of your event? Send us a message!

E37 garrett moon coschedule write podcast

The Write Podcast, E37: Building a Content Marketing Empire and the 10% vs 10x Framework with Garrett Moon of CoSchedule

Today on The Write Podcast, the CEO of CoSchedule, Garrett Moon, joins me to talk about how he’s grown a massive content marketing empire with CoSchedule, and a framework for prioritizing opportunities that equal major business growth: he calls this the 10% versus 10x framework.

I’ve long been an avid reader, listener, and subscriber to CoSchedule. Their brand is close to my own heart, and their incredible success proves that they know content marketing. Currently, CoSchedule is the fastest-growing startup in North Dakota and the #1 scheduling tool for marketers. This marketing calendar software also has an impressive 8,000 customers and 225,000 blog subscribers, and they even host their own Academy with training courses, as well as a podcast, the Actionable Marketing Podcast.

(I’ve been honored to have been a guest on their podcast, as well as on a recent live CoSchedule webinar.)

There are so many great insights shared during this episode.

Sit down and listen to our chat, and be prepared to learn!

(P.S. Quick sidenote. My apologies for the former inconveniences with the Spreaker audio stream above. We figured out how to turn off those annoying ads that played right away. Whew! So sorry again that was happening – I wasn’t aware till a few episodes ago.)

E37 garrett moon coschedule write podcast

The Write Podcast, E37: Building a Content Marketing Empire with Garrett Moon of CoSchedule

  • 2:37 – The Story Behind CoSchedule. Garrett talks about how CoSchedule started. He and his co-founder were marketers who essentially “fell out of love” with the widespread tools they were using to plan and publish their content. There had to be a better way to pull all the various pieces together.
  • 5:38 – What Is the 10x vs. 10% Rule? (Hint: It’s A Major Growth Factor for CoSchedule). Garrett explains the framework they use at CoSchedule that helps them decide which content marketing projects are worth the time and effort.
  • 7:00 – Which Projects Fall into the 10% Category? Every action you take for your business can be categorized as either 10% or 10x. 10% projects increase your growth, but only incrementally. They’re good ideas, but take time to show results. There’s no huge impact once you implement them.
  • 7:48 – The 10x Category (The Big Guns). In contrast to 10% projects, 10x opportunities are ones that explode your growth. Garrett gives us an example: 10% opportunities may net you 100 clicks, while 10x opportunities will get 10x those results – 1,000 clicks.
  • 8:30 – Doing a Few Things with Great Results vs. Doing a Lot of Things with Lackluster Results. We discuss how having your hands in too many pots can add up to 10% results in everything. If you scale back, you will be able to put more time and effort into fewer things with BETTER results.
  • 10:07 – The 10x Marketing Formula. Garrett’s book dives into this topic in far more detail. Check out the “Links Mentioned” section to find where you can snag your copy (I highly recommend Garrett’s book).
  • 10:53 – How JOMO (“Joy of Missing Out”) Ties In. #JOMO strikes again! Trying to do “100 things 10% good” can hurt your business. FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out”) can fuel this. Instead, try the antithesis to FOMO and embrace JOMO, and only shoot for what will rocket you to 10x growth.
  • 11:42 – Sometimes, a 10x Opportunity for Others Is a 10% Idea for You. Garrett talks about why CoSchedule decided not to jump on the video bandwagon a few years ago – a 10x opportunity for plenty of others, but not for them as a company.
  • 13:47 – The Framework for “Competition-Free” Content: Look, Research, Strategize. The content you publish is competing with other content. The marketing sea is a crowded place. To stand out and produce content that stands alone, Garrett talks about the three things you need to do (look, research, and strategize) and how that framework worked for CoSchedule.
  • 23:10 – Two Content Traps (The Traffic Trap and Promotional Trap) and How to Avoid Them by Focusing on a Content Core. Garrett talks about two common content pitfalls: Getting traffic that engages but doesn’t convert, and focusing too much on self-promotion, plus how to avoid both.
  • 26:10 – The Traffic Trap: How Do You Fix Blogs That Bring in Traffic, but Not Sales? Often, rewriting old content that falls into the traffic trap is a good way to refocus the traffic you may be getting from SEO into your sales funnel.
  • 29:06 – How to Buy The 10x Marketing Formula. Garrett’s book is available on Amazon, and you can read the first chapter on the CoSchedule website. Check “Links Mentioned” to find all the resources to buy this essential marketing read.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

'The 10% vs. 10x framework is a way to look at what types of projects and ideas you should take action on, versus the projects and ideas you leave on the backburner.' @garrett_moon of @coschedule Click To Tweet 'In that start-up phase, if you're not producing results with the work you're doing, you're doing yourself a disservice. Your time is too limited and the risks are too high to be working on things that don't maximize your growth.'… Click To Tweet '10x opportunities are the types that could potentially multiply your results by 10 times. For instance, 100 clicks become 1,000 clicks.' @garrett_moon of @coschedule Click To Tweet 'The challenge is to figure out how to de-prioritize those 10% items and put as much energy and effort as you can into those 10x opportunities.' @garrett_moon of @coschedule Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned

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online content strategy

The 6 Steps You Need to Build a Rock-Solid, Lucrative Online Content Strategy Framework

Want to know the #1 way I grew Express Writers?

Two words, five syllables:

Content marketing.

Or, more specifically, consistent, strategic content marketing.

Online content strategy, a real, firm strategy, became my best friend to get to the “serious growth” phase.

The thing is, it took YEARS to figure out and perfect.

All the pieces had to come together, and I had to test, re-test, and test again to find out what worked (and, what didn’t).

When I figured it out, things snowballed.

Our income from Express Writers boomed to six-figures, and then to seven-figures ARR, inside just two years.

Here’s the story, and how I used my experience to get clear on EXACTLY what I needed to reach bigger, better, bolder success.

After that, I’m going to share the 6 steps I used to hone my online content strategy to a razor-sharp edge: the exact same system you can use to get crystal-clear on your own content and start seeing real results.

(What you’re about to read is a sneak peek into the six pillars of content success that I discuss and teach at length in my intensive content strategy & marketing book and course.)

online content strategy

Online Content Strategy Clarity Equals Success: From Near-Failure to Six-Figures after Getting Strategic

I started my business, Express Writers, from basically nothing – I was a college dropout with a dream and a mere $75 of pocket cash.

The beginning was hard. Here’s what that looked like, 2 years into the game:

By that time I had published 215 blogs, had 141 keywords ranking on Google, about 500 visitors/day to my site from organic traffic, and was earning around $29K/month.

I was creating content, but the results were lackluster.

I was doing a few things wrong:

  • My content quality wasn’t consistently high
  • I often published content just to “get it out there”
  • I was trying to push out TOO MUCH content (at least one blog post a day)
  • I was doing cold outreach to get more clients – and not earning any ROI for my time spent (read: the cold emails I sent out turned up nothing but crickets chirping)
  • I was trying to boost growth on every channel possible

In short, growth from content marketing was slow. I was hustling every day, snatching at leads wherever I could. And, the leads I did get from my content weren’t that good.

And, all of this was happening while I was a wife, a mom of a two-year-old, and had an understandably busy family life.

Bottom line: I was overworked and not seeing the results I dreamed of from my content.

The Turning Point: Enter Content Strategy

The turning point came in 2016. Our low-profit, high-expense months were not sustainable. We were making an average of $65K/month, but were lucky to take home 35% of that total.

Then, in May 2016, I discovered my two managers had been embezzling from the company for months.

I fired them. After that, some reassessing happened. I had to rebuild my business and my team.

It wasn’t until a few months later, while we were still slowly recovering, that I finally started implementing a content strategy.

With the combination of that strategy and better members on the EW team, we started seeing returns, slowly but surely.

We even started setting records for our monthly gross income.

  • Before using content strategy, I was publishing an average of 4 blogs/week. We had about 3,900 keywords indexed on Google, and we were making $65K/month, with some lower months after the embezzling fiasco.
  • One year later, and only a few months after implementing a content strategy, we hit our first $71K month in income. We also reached 6,000 keywords indexed on Google, which was nearly double the amount from the previous year.

And that momentum kept building as I refined my content strategy.

We continued having record months. Our Google presence kept building, and our online visibility skyrocketed. We started ranking #1 for hot keywords, and our traffic jumped to thousands of visitors per day.

Today, our content marketing continues to work and build on itself.

Without the strategy, though, none of it would be possible.

By now, you’re probably dying to know what that strategy looks like.

Listen up, because I’m sharing the 6 steps to my content strategy framework next. These steps build out the foundation of a rock-solid strategy.

6 Steps to Build an Unstoppable Content Strategy Framework

This is how you do content marketing that wins.

1. Understand the Basic Fundamentals of a Content Strategy

Content strategy defines as:

content strategy definition

If you don’t understand what a content strategy is, go back and get clear on this. It’s the only way you’ll also understand how content strategy fits into content marketing, and why the two cannot exist without each other.

Think of it this way: It’s impossible to succeed at any activity without a thorough base knowledge to guide you. Content strategy is no different.

You should also know what you’re talking about, and how to branch out into topics your audience wants to hear about. Finding your topic area is a fundamental first step in a content strategy.

Along with that, know your CDF – your Content Differentiation Factor. What makes you different than all the other content voices out there?

CDF content differentiation factor

2. Know Your Audience and How to Lead Them to a Sale (Bridge the Gap)

Knowing your audience is one thing, but knowing how to turn your audience into customers is another.

If you don’t understand how to bridge that gap, you’re missing out on one of the biggest first steps involved in putting your content strategy in place.

Of course, before you can connect the dots, you must know who your REAL audience is – not your imagined audience (only research and having actual conversations can tell you this!).

Once you know your persona, you can create content that matches the lifecycle stages of awareness, in the sales cycle. Example:

sales cycle content marketing

3. Use SEO (and Understand Its Importance)

Want to get found online? Including SEO in your content strategy is a foolproof way to do it organically, without paying a cent for ads.

Using SEO to get all its associated benefits means:

  • Knowing how to find keywords that will bring you profitable traffic (people with buying intent)
  • Knowing which tools to use to do keyword research
  • Understanding Google’s ranking factors and making sure your content hits them

You need to know the right tools and methodologies to use when you’re working on improving your search engine rankings. Keyword research plays a big part in this.

4. Build Your Gravitas Online (Be an Authority)

Building your authority online can have a few different meanings.

It can mean:

  • Building your brand as a trusted source of information
  • Building your brand as an authority website by Google’s standards

Both are valuable to your content strategy, and you should do things that help boost your gravitas in both scenarios.

Just one way to build your domain as an authority in Google’s eyes is to focus on publishing content on YOUR platform, i.e. a domain that YOU own – not proprietary ones like Facebook, Instagram, or HuffingtonPost (which sadly discontinued their guest blogging platform not too long ago–I, along with many others, lost my content profile and login).

Focus on your 'content house' to get better online results, says @JuliaEMcCoy. #ContentMarketing #SEOContent Click To Tweet

content house julia mccoy

5. Create Content Strategically

When the times comes to create content, guess what?

This is what your content strategy is FOR.

Every previous step should lead you in the right direction for creating the right kind of content for your audience and brand.

Of course, there are a few extra steps involved, like putting a workable process in place for content creation (research, writing, editing, publishing); understanding what kind of formatting, tone of voice, and topics lead to high-ROI; and placing quality above quantity.

6. Maintain + Build Your Content Momentum (Budget, Audit, and Promote)

To maintain your forward progress with content marketing and strategy, you must budget wisely, audit strategically, and promote faithfully.

These three activities will keep your content marketing going. Instead of drifting aimlessly in a boat with no paddles, you’ll be riding the next wave with a motor at your back.

  • Budgeting content is about planning your expenses wisely and knowing where your dollars are going. I.e., know how much outsourcing content costs, and budget for high-quality.
  • Google loves fresh content. Do content audits of old posts and update anything outdated or thin.
  • Content promotion gets more eyes on your content assets, which can result in more leads + sales. Promotion doesn’t have to cost much, either.

Remember, a content strategy needs constant work to keep moving. Update, budget, plan, and promote so your content marketing never goes stale.

This 6-Step Content Strategy Framework Is Just the Beginning (Join My In-Depth 60-Minute Class for More)

Once you have the 6 steps down for building a profitable content strategy framework, your content marketing can grow, and grow, and grow…

But only because you’ve taken the time to lay a rock-solid foundation to stand on.

If you rush these steps or skip one or two, you’ll find yourself back at square one. The whole thing will collapse.

Don’t let that happen.

Know the framework inside-out, build your strategy with steel instead of straw, and you’ll be far more likely to succeed.

In short, make sure you have this stuff down!

Get a deeper explanation of each step, plus tips and advice, when you join my 60-minute 6-Step Framework to a Profitable Content Strategy masterclass that covers this framework from front-to-back. This is a FREE, on-demand webinar that dives into each step to a profitable content strategy in one, information-packed hour. Choose a time that fits your busy schedule, and ask your burning questions live. Don’t miss it!

(And, grab a copy of my book on this topic (each chapter is an in-depth look at the six steps in this framework): Practical Content Strategy & Marketing.)

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write podcast E36

The Write Podcast, E36: An Outsourcing Story Narrated by Julia & Josh McCoy

Today, my husband joins me for the first time ever on the Write Podcast.

Today we’re covering a topic that’s huge in the content marketing industry: outsourcing your content!

In this episode, I’m talking to you, content creators and writers! Be inspired as I share why and how you should stick to your guns about the quality you provide and the rates you set as an expert.


I’m also talking to you, agencies and marketers. Learn how to work with content writers for better success.

But first, we’re eavesdropping on a sales call with a marketer who is a bit clueless about both… and I was able to convince my husband to play the marketer’s role.

Josh McCoy joins in as Marketer “Cowboy Joe,” and I’m playing myself.

You’ve got to listen in on this one. ?

write podcast E36

The Write Podcast, E36: An Outsourcing Story Narrated by Julia & Josh McCoy Show Notes

  • 0:01 – An Outsourcing Story. Listen in to hear a sales call to Express Writers from Joe, a marketer who wants masses of SEO content at bargain bin rates.
  • 2:53 – Why the Outsourcing Story Is Nothing New. Even though content marketing and content creation have come a long, long way since Express Writers first launched, we STILL get clients who want cut-throat rates for their content – and then get burned when they settle for bargain quality.
  • 4:37 – Setting Rock-Bottom Rates Sets an Unsustainable Standard in the Content Creation Industry. Many of EW’s competitors set extremely low rates for content writing. But, to create truly great, quality content that gets results, you need to aim higher.
  • 5:23 – Content Writers: Never Compromise on Quality and Rates! To set better standards in the industry, ones we can all benefit from, we need to stop accepting low rates and compromising our content writing just to make a quick dime.
  • 6:21 – How We’ve Changed at Express Writers to Refocus on Quality. We used to give in and give discounts to clients just to get the sale. I explain why that’s not our policy anymore and how it ties into refusing to compromise. This includes not compromising on the time and creativity it takes to create high-quality, amazing content.
  • 9:10 – Clients: 3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Outsourcing Your Writing and Content Creation. There are three mistakes it’s really easy to make when you need to outsource your content writing. The first one: Going in without a strategy, i.e. not knowing what types of content you need, not defining your brand voice, and not knowing your audience.
  • 10:53 – Content Creation Is One of the Top Outsourced Activities in the Industry, According to CMI. The stigma around outsourcing your content writing is continually shrinking. I talk about why that’s happening and why it’s so great for content writers.

Quotes to Tweet

Because we have competitors that charge very low, this sets an expectation. Marketers see that price, and they think, 'oh, that's the going rate' when that reflects very low quality. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet The day we all as writers agree to never compromise, is the day this question will stop coming our way: 'Hey, can you go low for high-volume orders?' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet Whenever we turn a client away, it comes from a place of ‘This is our expertise, this is our knowledge, this is what we know, this is what we're good at.’ We stand there, and don't bat an eye. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'If you have the skills and expertise... you can stand on your knowledge and not give in to that client. You won't feel like a salesperson who is just after their money, whenever you ask for that big number.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'In this industry of content creation, the best deal really doesn't mean the best content.' @JuliaEMccoy Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned

Follow, subscribe, and listen to The Write Podcast

productivity improvement for content creators

​The Write Podcast, E30: Productivity Improvement for Content Creators & Writers (How I Beat Content Creation Laziness & Had My Best Year Ever, in 2017)

Welcome to episode 30 of The Write Podcast!

For our 30th episode, I’m doing things a little differently. It’s just me in a solo episode, sharing the secrets behind how I was able to do it all last year: create and launch a course, run an agency of more than 40 team members, write and self-publish a 366-page book, launch a YouTube show, try public speaking for the first time, and, publish more than 70 posts – all while maintaining a home life (and my sanity).

“How on earth do you get that done?” is probably the #1 question my community asked me throughout all of 2017.

Finally, you learn my productivity secrets. It’s all right here. Listen in!

Sit down with me and grab some ideas to beat content laziness and boost your own productivity and professional output for 2018. ?

And don’t forget to head on over to my Content Strategy Course site to read the in-depth blog I wrote, for the full case study: 

productivity improvement for content creators

The Write Podcast, E30: Productivity Improvement for Content Creators & Writers (How I Completely Beat Content Creation Laziness & Had My Best Year Ever)

1:40: Part 1 – My Productivity Case Study

  • 1:40 – 3:12: What I Accomplished in 2017. I had a full plate last year, no question. I give a run-down of what I was able to accomplish professionally, including creating a course, writing a book, and launching a YouTube show.
  • 3:15 – 3:56: Read the Case Study. For an in-depth, detailed look at how I did it all last year, read about my process at the link provided (see “Links Mentioned” below).

3:57: Part 2 – How Exactly Did My Productivity Take Off? + 18 Actionable Productivity Tips

  • 4:30 – 4:57: The Number One Reason Behind My Super-Powered Productivity in 2017. I credit the long task of creating the in-depth curriculum for my course as the instigator for my improved productivity.
  • 4:58 – 6:54: Forming New, Productive Habits and What the Studies Say. The idea that it takes 21 days to form a new habit is a myth. So, what does it really take? I cite some studies that provide enlightenment, then show how my own experience proves the research. It’s no joke (it’s hard), but it worked for me.
  • 6:56 – 7:19: Setting Deadlines and Accountability That Stick. Another reason behind my productivity: I put some accountability factors in place from which I couldn’t back down.
  • 7:20 – 9:16: Becoming My Most Productive Self. I talk about how the new habits I have formed from 2 rigorous months of hard work have paid off.

9:17: 18 Actionable Productivity Tips

  • 9:17 – 10:08: My #1 Tip. Choose your work environment carefully – don’t just work anywhere. Have a dedicated space where you get sh*t done.
  • 10:10 – 13:02: Productivity Tips 2-4 – My Recommendations for the Best Work Environment. The next few tips are all about where you sit, how you sit, and how they can affect your output. For instance, tip #3 is to work in natural light, which boosts your mood, helps eliminate headaches that fluorescent lighting can cause, and more.
  • 13:05 – 16:36: Tips 5-9 – Increase Your Speed. Invest in better tech, improve your typing speed, know some handy keyboard and tech shortcuts, and your output will be able to keep up with your brain power!
  • 16:37 – 19:50: Tips 10-13 – Make Healthy Productivity Habits Part of Daily Living. One part of being productive (and staying productive for the long-haul) involves taking care of your body. If your body is fueled with nutrients, hydrated, and energized, you’ll be able to work better, including focus better, longer. I share my favorite tips for doing just that.
  • 19:52 – 24:00: Tips 14-15 – Set Deadlines, Get Up Earlier, and Get an Accountability Partner. This is the winning trifecta that helped me successfully finish my course in 2017. I explain how they go hand-in-hand-in-hand (there’s a lot of stumbling in this story, but the point is I pulled through some hard early wake-ups!).
  • 24:02 – 25:20: Tip 16 – Listen to Music for Focus. The right music can make a huge difference for focus. I recommend my favorite type to play while I work.
  • 25:22 – 26:32: Tip 17 – Get the Support You Need. This tip is especially big for entrepreneurs. No one can do it all alone.
  • 26:34 – 27-13: Tip 18 – Busy ≠ Productive. Don’t just spin your wheels. Multi-tasking can go overboard. Focus on getting the right stuff done.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet:

'Forming a habit in 21 days is a myth. It takes 2+ months before a new behavior becomes automatic.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'A 2-month period to complete a project and teach yourself a new schedule can impact your productivity.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'The easiest thing to do when the going gets hard: stop. Habit training can show you how to counteract that feeling.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'Give yourself deadlines for everything and then work to meet them, if not beat them.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned:

Read the Full Productivity Improvement for Content Creators Case Study on the Content Strategy Blog

Subscribe, follow and listen to the Write Podcast!

write podcast cta

long tail keywords

The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy, Episode 3: How to Use Long-Tail Keywords Naturally In Your Content for SEO Success

[clickToTweet tweet=”Catch the third episode of The Content Marketer’s Café with @JuliaEMcCoy, on @ExpWriters!” quote=”Catch the third episode of The Content Marketer’s Café with @JuliaEMcCoy, on @ExpWriters!”]

The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy, Episode 3: How to Use Long-Tail Keywords Naturally In Your Content for SEO Success

Keywords = key phrases, focus keywords and secondary keywords, broad keywords, long-tail keywords…

These can often pose quite a challenge to writers.

It’s not the keywords themselves. Those tend to be pretty straightforward.

It’s the often odd combinations of words in ways that are anything but grammatically correct.

Add to that a general lack of punctuation, throw in the name of a city and state, and you have what seems like a recipe for the most awkward sentences ever written!

So, how do we creatively insert a keyword in our content for best results?

Let’s explore.

The competition comparison in long-tail keywords vs. broad keywords

I’ve been able to rank content just on my site,, for over 11,000 phrases.

Do you know what the majority of those keyword phrases are?

Long-tail phrases.

So when you’re looking for keywords to optimize your content with, you can either look up broad or long tail keywords.

Broad Keywords

1-2 words long

Also known as: “short tail”, “head terms”

Long Tail Keywords

3-5 words

Long tail keywords are primarily better because of two factors:

  • Lower competition: Easier to rank for. Great opportunities for new, emerging or growing sites.
  • Higher buying intent (ROI): Searchers are usually looking a specific answer to their question and are much more likely to be in the buying stage. Example: “where to buy basketball shoes online” vs. “shoes” – the searcher knows exactly what he wants by searching the long tail keyword, and he/she is much more ready to buy!

Broad keywords are tempting because of the amount of traffic searching for them.

But remember, you need the right traffic, not a ton of traffic, when it comes to looking at the value of keywords that will bring in real results.

Which type of customer would sell today if they walked in your dress shop?

  • Someone who wants a “dress”
  • Someone who wants a black dress, size M, for an evening party next week

One of my favorite tools to research keywords with is SEMrush and Mangools KWFinder.

In KWfinder, here’s what it looks like to find a low competition long-tail keyword.

kwfinder blogging statistics

For example, we looked up a keyword, blogging statistics. We wrote a blog around this as a keyword since it had a “possible rating at 50/100” – that’s since gone up to 52 – and we were able to get our blog in the top 4 results for that keyword. The left side of KWFinder is where you’ll find your gold mines – long tail keyword opportunities that you can write content pieces around.

I recommend going long-form and writing one piece of content around one keyword for best results. Don’t dilute and cram too many keywords in one piece.

Natural Language in SEO

The days of keyword-stuffing your way to the first page of Google are looooong gone, but today with how smart Google is, there’s no reason you can’t do this:

[clickToTweet tweet=”Write for search engines without sounding like you’re writing for search engines, says @JuliaEMcCoy.” quote=”Write for search engines without sounding like you’re writing for search engines, says @JuliaEMcCoy.”]

When it comes to writing with SEO in mind, this means using natural language – and natural variations of the words that appear in the focus and secondary keywords – instead of inserting the same exact keywords and key phrases into your text over and over again.

Let’s talk about… focus keywords + natural usage

We always ask our clients for one focus keyword per piece.

But when it comes to penning the actual copy, if the exact keyword phrase doesn’t flow well, we fall back on just writing naturally.

Here’s an example.

For instance, this client-supplied keyword phrase:

“best ux designer Austin”

Clearly won’t work in either the title tag, meta description, or in the content (page, article, blog post, etc.). It may be an important, valuable keyword phrase for the client, but it’s a bit too clunky to use as is.

Even if you think you can squeeze that kind of phrase into a sentence – such as “When it comes to finding the best UX designer, Austin has a lot of choices to offer.” Sure, once in a while you’ll be able to get away with that. But far too often, the inclination seems to be to get hung up on that exact keyword phrase.

In a title tag or headline, the best approach would be to use the keyword naturally, like so:

“How to Find the Best Web and UX Designer in Austin”

You would then use variations on this keyword phrase throughout your content.

Bottom line:

Don’t try to force the keyword into the copy, and don’t then use the exact same keyword or key phrase over and over. Use synonymous keywords.

Location-based keywords 

Let’s talk briefly about location-based keywords.

Just when you think you’ve got a handle on things, along comes a location-based keyword:

“eyedoctor in Burlington Vermont”


To Google, there is absolutely no difference between:

“eyedoctor in Burlington VT” and “eye doctor in Burlington, VT”

Since we’re humans writing for humans – we should always defer to using proper punctuation, grammar, and style, even in SEO writing.

So, use the space between eye and doctor.

When you take into account that these keyword lists being supplied to (or, in some cases, created by) us are almost always generated by such tools as Google’s keyword tool and other tools – not actual humans – it’s not surprising the keywords provided to us don’t include punctuation, proper grammar, etc.: because they were generated by algorithms/tools.

It’s absolutely essential for websites to use location keywords in the page titles and Meta description tags of their pages.  When it comes to using those same location keywords in the content itself – in the copy, in headings, and in image Alt tags – remember to avoid overuse.

Ways to get creative with location-based keywords 

Let’s say your keyword is “gluten free pasta Phoenix.”

You don’t have to jam that keyword all over your web page, article, blog post, etc. – including in the meta data for those pages.

You can break it up any number of ways: pasta, Phoenix, gluten free, gluten, gluten free pasta, gluten free in Phoenix, pasta in Phoenix. That’s a lot of variation out of one phrase!

It is, however, still important to use your focus keyword or phrase in the first and last paragraphs, at least one <H2> heading, and the title of the article, if at all possible.

But as we’ve already discussed, make sure you’re using those keywords naturally.

Ultimately, it’s about balance: be creative, use real sentences and headings, speak naturally, and don’t overdo it.

How to tell if you’re overdoing it with a keyword

It may sound silly, but it really works: simply read your content out loud and pay attention to how it feels reading the content, and listen for any awkwardness, clunky-sounding sentences or phrases, general weirdness.

You should be able to hear where your writing doesn’t feel natural – it won’t easily roll off the tip of your tongue.

You’ll also hear where you use a specific word too many times.

And a nice side benefit to reading it aloud – even if you’re doing it silently – is you’ll almost always find places that could benefit from a bit of finesse and polish.

Did You Enjoy Today’s Episode of the Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy? Come Back for More!

I hope you enjoyed the third episode in my YouTube show!

Please leave a comment on the video and tell me how I’m doing, and the next topics you’d like to see. Leave a comment on today’s episode.

Come back every other Saturday for a new, short video where I teach one content marketing hack you can start using today.

Subscribe on YouTube: @JuliaMcCoy.

Have you heard about my all-new industry course, The Practical Content Strategy Certification Course?

100% of my agency’s sales come from the content marketing – and now, I teach YOU how to do what I’ve done to build an authority presence in content marketing, in my course! This course is unlike any out there because I show you how to actually become an expert in content strategy and build a practical, ROI-based online brand content strategy from the ground up. Check it out today.

BONUS: Get a FREE seat to 8 lessons in the course when you join my Facebook group! Join the group at:

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new youtube show is live

I’m Launching a New YouTube Show! Tech List & DIY Story Behind The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy (Episode 1 Live Today!)

While at CMWorld two weeks ago, I decided to launch a YouTube show!

Inspired, I brainstormed my topic all week…and last week on Thursday, inspiration struck.

Mandy, one of my three go-to EW copywriters to support me on our branding content, brainstormed with me.

The Skype thread we started began filling with all kinds of awesome ideas…

Including coffee, one of my favorite things in the world.

youtube show is live express writers julia mccoy

With Mandy’s help, I decided I’d call my show The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy.

Psst. You can request Mandy on YOUR projects. She’s available at the expert and marketing level copy services in our Content Shop. Just put her name in the input form.

For my first episode, the topic I had in mind was originally an idea for a long-form blog post.

It was a topic I’d been thinking about, and wanting to write on for weeks.

So – I translated it to video, for my very first episode on my new show.

Last Friday, I filmed.

And, actually, had a lot of fun!

I’m an introvert by nature, but I’m putting myself out there to grow in my industry. I was surprised how much this first episode felt natural. I think it has a lot to do with seriously loving this topic. If you feel completely comfortable with a topic, there are no limits to how much fun you can have with it. At least, that’s how I felt.

But you’ll have to tell me what you think… Subscribe to me on YouTube and please do drop a comment on this week’s episode to tell me what you think!

And YES: Episodes will include a feature of the kind of coffee I’m drinking each week. (Sometimes, it’ll be tea. Maybe a latte. Iced. Maybe hot. You’ll have to tune in. 😉 )

Without further adieu, here is Episode 1 of the Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy. This is for the freelancers that love writing but dread pitching new business: How to Easily Win More Freelance Content Marketing Clients (Without Selling Your Soul or Losing Your Dignity).

Below the video, for our first-ever episode, I’ve included a list of the “tech” I used to set up the show, and the cost – since a lot of you geeks like that kind of stuff. Weekly, there will be written show notes for the readers among us with every episode. Those are below, too, for E1.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Catch the first episode of The Content Marketer’s Café with @JuliaEMcCoy, on @ExpWriters!” quote=”Catch the first episode of The Content Marketer’s Café with @JuliaEMcCoy, on @ExpWriters!”]

youtube show

How I DIY’ed My New YouTube Show, The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy

When I decide to do something, (i.e. launch a business, write a book, launch a course, create a podcast, or even a Twitter chat – yes, yours truly has done all those things), I always go by the following rules of thumb:

a) plan all my setup at the lowest possible costs, DIY as much as I can.

b) make sure I have the right support to make it happen consistently and at a high quality level – i.e., hire a few extra people, or pull in a few from my existing team.

c) lastly, GET IT DONE.

So, following that super-simple method, here’s what I did to make my YouTube show happen.

Total costs behind the first episode: 7 hours of my time, total costs with a custom animated intro, and all my one-time setup costs (mic, stand, software), $593.

Recording (Pre-Production/Recording)

Video content concept and script: I wrote the script for the first episode inside a day. Time: probably 2 hours.

Copywriter with a conversion brain to help me with titles and content: Mandy, an amazing copywriter from our team! Cost: Staff hourly time. For my first initial show, it was just a few minutes of her time to help me hammer out the headline. She was working on the clock creating other course email copy that I was paying her to do.

Used my iPhone 6s Plus to record all shots. Time to shoot, about 20 minutes including all the takes. Total video time is around 10 minutes.

Lavalier Lapel Microphone: plugs straight into my iPhone, and clips right onto my shirt. This is necessary for better, clearer audio. $16.97 on Amazon.

Tripod & Stands: Eocean WF-3130 50-Inch Tripod, $22.99 on Amazon, and a tripod adapter mount for my giant iPhone for $8.99.

Lighting: zero costs! I have professional filming lights, but I used 100% natural lighting for my show. I simply opened the blinds to my double windows in my office (luckily, they stretch from floor to ceiling) and faced them to film. I filmed when the light was most warm and natural – on a sunny day around 3 p.m. Here’s a picture:

camera setup

Here’s another shot, capturing the wide angle of my office.

diy youtube show

Animation designs for intro and inner slides. This was roughly $270 between my in-house designer and an animation team, and will be a one-time cost. Designing each episode slide in the future will be only $20-30.

Props (which I’ll use later): this funny “expert advice” mug for $10.99.

Video Production (Production)

Camtasia Video Editor for Mac: Great video editing software, one-time $199. I’ve played around with other software, and if you’re looking to DIY, this is the easiest program – or at least I think so.

Music tracks: Melodyloops, $25/3 tracks.

Production time: 4 hours per episode to plug in graphics, some subtitles, add in effects, add music tracks. I will be hiring a video editor for my next episodes, and already found a freelancer from Upwork for $15/hour. Weekly, this will be $60.


Email marketing: I emailed the episode to my list, using ConvertKit. I will bring in someone else to do this weekly, but for now, this was my time.

Launched to my group: I spent a few extra minutes creating a video clip from the episode just for my Facebook group Content Strategy & Marketing, and launched it within the group on Saturday morning.

Social media promotion: I plan on trying a $50 Facebook promotion on this video and see what happens. I’ll send the viewers straight to YouTube.

The Content Marketer’s Café E1: How to Easily Win More Freelance Content Marketing Clients (Without Selling Your Soul or Losing Your Dignity) Video Show Notes

STOP sending cold emails!

I’ve had a non-native Indian writer pitch me on content creation services.

I’m the creator of a content agency where I have more than 40 handpicked, native English speaking writers.

What was he thinking?

Think about this…

How okay is it to be approached by a stranger who in their FIRST BREATH of conversation, asks for your business?


Here’s the reality about the state of email. It’s pretty dire, especially if you’re soliciting people you don’t know.

  • Around 9 out of 10 of top-level B2B decision-makers simply do not respond to cold outreach anymore, reported LinkedIn’s Head of Sales Kevin Scott.
  • Salesforce has reported that 90% of email is now considered spam.
  • 84% of B2B leaders start their individual buying journeys with referrals, according to OpenView Labs. Cold outreach cannot reach the vast majority of B2B decision makers.

I get, on average, 10 cold emails (per HOUR). And those are the ones that make it to my inbox – there are hundreds more in spam daily.

Do you know how many I ignore and mark as spam?

100% of them.

So how do you do your outreach and find new clients when cold outreach is nearly dead?

3 Simple Ways to Get More Clients and Avoid Getting Ugly, Selling Your Soul or Losing Your Dignity

Here are three simple ways you can get more clients and ENTIRELY avoid the ugly cold email solicitation – each of these have worked tremendously well for my agency and I.

1. Hitting up past clients consistently.

As simple as it sounds, this is the #1 way we have boosted our income by almost double every month.

This works for you if you have an existing customer list of any size. Don’t stop at just one or two followups. Constantly sending in a friendly greeting to see how you can help is key.

Don’t overdo it: we recommend a followup every week to each customer on your old list, and be sure to add a line asking them to let you know if it’s too much.

You will be so surprised how many clients say “actually, yes, I DO have some work for you” if you just ask them. The prior connection of working with you before makes it 1000% easier for you to gain their business rather than get new leads to give you theirs.

2. Ask for referrals every chance you can get.

Capitalize on moments when clients love your service! This can send a huge amount of leads your way.

Hubstaff says prospects that come through referrals were by far the most likely for freelancers, at a 30% conversion ratio.

Don’t have a customer list?

3. Use LinkedIn!

LinkedIn’s business blog reported that prospects are 5x more likely to engage with sales professionals who share a second-degree connection. We’ve seen much better response rates to messages sent via LinkedIn connections than reaching out to a cold lead through email.

Find the agency, brand or business you want to work with, and then find their associated VP on LinkedIn. That’s the person you want to contact. Avoid paying for InMail by sending a no-cost connection request and adding a couple one-liners in ‘add a note’ section.

And there you have it!

I hope you enjoyed the first episode in my new show.

Come back every other Saturday for a new, short video where I teach one content marketing tactic you can start using today! Follow me on YouTube.

free course

The Story Behind Express Writers: Julia McCoy, Founder Shares “From College Dropout to $4 Million”

99% of our sales here at Express Writers come through the content marketing we do.

I believe it’s possible, because I’ve done it.

Revenue-generating content marketing is not a myth, or some secret recipe that you have to be born into.

It’s what we do everyday, and I believe you can, too.

I’m Julia McCoy, and I’m a college dropout.

I’ve sold over $4 million dollars worth of content creation services to thousands of clients across the globe through the company I founded, Express Writers. Today I lead a team of 40 hand-picked writers, creators, and project managers.

More importantly, we have the best client satisfaction rates that we’ve ever had, and we just had our biggest month in sales.

Just 6 years ago I started with nothing but $75, a hope, and a dream.

Here’s how I did it…

Because I’m on a mission to inspire you to achieve your dream even faster than I did.

The Story Behind Express Writers: Julia McCoy, Founder Shares “From College Dropout to $4 Million”

I was 19 years old and failing out of nursing school.

I didn’t have a safety net and nursing school was not going to work, so I asked myself: what do I love to do, and how can I make money doing it?

I love to write. By age 12, I’d written a 200-page medieval fiction novella. And at 13, I was teaching myself internet marketing, doing surveys for cash, learning basic computer skills. I walked around the neighborhood offering my services to the public. It worked out well, and I was earning $400 in a given month before I turned 16.

I jumped in.

In the next 3 months, I taught myself how to write, and I wrote over 250 articles for very cheap clients. But that was how I honed my early writing skills.

I also started learning a lot of SEO and content marketing back then.

More Work Than I Could Handle as a Freelancer

Two things happened:

  1. I discovered an untapped need in the marketplace when I combined content marketing with search engine optimization (SEO). Most of my competitors were frustrating clients by being one or the other. I blended the two disciplines to write content that positioned my clients as an authority AND turned into real sales, which led to…
  2. More work than I could handle.

And that’s when I started blogging regularly on my own site, and found businesses willing to pay top dollar for lead generating content, and we grew.

I had one goal when I started my company back then: it was to find a group of writers who had passion in online writing, and who I could teach the elements of SEO and content marketing to, and we could learn and progress together, as a whole.

Getting Disowned by My Parents Led to a Better Future

You might say “oh sure, this was easy for you with your family’s support.”

The truth is, it wasn’t.

I didn’t have a safety net.

I grew up in a religiously suppressed home. My dad was the pastor of a church, and on my 21st birthday , my parents locked me in my bedroom with a letter telling me my life was worth nothing.

I shouldn’t have been born.

I was not allowed to lead a normal life, was told everything I did was wrong, and my business skills were looked down on.

Even though that was the only home I’d known, when I got that letter I knew that it wasn’t normal and I had to get out.

Six months later, my sister and I made the difficult decision to escape in the middle of the night. It was very heartbreaking, but it was the only shot I had to follow my dreams and chase my passions.

200% Growth for Express Writers in the Early Years

Completely bootstrapped, no outside funding, no family support, no safety net.. my content agency, Express Writers, grew 200% in the next few years.

The first year was $50,000, and in the next few years we hit $300,000, and last year we just surpassed $650,000.

Taught Through Failure = My Greatest Lessons for Success

As an entrepreneur, you often hear that failure precedes success.

Early in 2016, I discovered two trusted managers in my staff were embezzling. I fired them, rebuilt the team, over the next five months.

I learned that with a supportive environment, ongoing accountability for your staff, and most importantly, the right people, there is no limit to what you can do as a business. That experience taught me what it means to create a great company culture, and serve our clients with the best customer service.

The CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff, said “the secret to successful hiring is this: find the people that want to change the world.”

For me, that was finding people that shared my goal, a gigantic goal, of creating the best copywriting agency on the planet, and giving our clients the best content that they’ve ever gotten.

One of my biggest lessons was that it’s not about the job descriptions in your company, it’s about the environment and how your staff support each other.

The next big lesson is to constantly evolve. What helped grow our company in the beginning might not work today. For example, we had a terrific commissioned sales rep but I wanted a culture of cultivating great client relationships rather than a culture chasing end of quarter sales quotas.

I replaced our commissioned sales rep with a real content marketing expert, to do consulting and selling at Express Writers. After she was working here for a week, I checked in with one of our clients, and asked: Could you rate the difference in experience between the commissioned sales rep and our content expert? And he said that the difference was 100x better. I knew we were on the right track.

I couldn’t be more proud of the team we have in place today. We are greater than the sum of our parts.

There are no limits to what we can do as a company, because we’re learning and progressing together.

Our team is large but nimble enough to adapt quickly, which gives our clients the best service. We’re seeing the highest writer retention rates, we’re able to provide full time jobs for the writers we have, and we’re seeing the highest client satisfaction rates that we’ve ever had as well.

What Is Your Biggest Success Secret in Entrepreneurism?

I think my biggest lesson as an entrepreneur and content marketer is that the right people, working next to you, make all the difference.

There’s also no I in SUCCESS.

There is an “US” in success, though.

You can’t move forward and hit your best success level by yourself. It’s just not possible.

I hope that this story inspired you!

Follow me at “JuliaEMcCoy” on Facebook, Twitter, and Julia McCoy on YouTube.

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content strategy certification course

Our Practical Content Strategist Certification Course Is Live Today!

Remember my post about giving up Netflix and committing to 5 a.m. mornings?


I’m doing a happy dance today, because…

Today, it all becomes worth it.

It worked – I was able to put in more than 400 hours on this course and create (pinch me) over 70 lessons, 50+ videos, 6 workbooks (totaling over 220 pages), and 30 exercises that build on each other.

Without further ado, the Practical Content Strategist Certification Course is live today.

The course was reopened late fall 2017. We’re currently enrolling! Check out the course and the accompanying guidebook, live on Amazon!

content strategy certification

The Benefits of Learning Content Strategy Certification from a Real Life, “Hard-Knocks” Teacher (Proof is in the ROI)

Content marketing is an industry that is seriously blowing up.

It’s the “new” marketing of today. In 2019, it will be valued at more than $313 billion.

Yet, the #1 missing piece when most businesses invest in content marketing is their actual strategy.

Yikes! Shouldn’t strategy guide their entire content marketing to obtain better results?

It absolutely should.

But it’s not easy to get to the bottom of what your content strategy should actually look like.

Where do you go to learn the skills involved in creating a content strategy?

I’ve had to learn many of the skills in creating great content through trial-and-error. Many of the courses I looked into taking early in didn’t teach the lifeblood skills I needed to know to “make content work.” And I’m all about ROI, because I’ve made it my full-time, sole focus for 6 years now to build content services and train my writers on how to create content for clients in the best way possible.

As well as create content for myself that works.

It’s eat or not eat.

In the end, it took figuring it out and creating, tinkering with, and building all kinds and formats of content to learn how to execute and implement worthwhile content.

Last year, after publishing a book, launching a podcast, maintaining a blog and Twitter chat, I hit top in the list of 2016 content marketers. I saw my Twitter chat trend at #4 nationwide on Twitter, and I hit bestseller in the top 2 books for my category on Amazon as a self-published author. And the best yet: this year, my organic traffic from blogging hit an all-time high of $57,000/month (what you’d pay in Google’s Adwords for the same traffic results). It accounts for a whopping 99% of our entire marketing and lead generation at Express Writers. That’s a big deal, when you frequently hear that “content marketing usually provides only 30% of the leads in marketing.” 

We’re about 3% more visible in Google organically than our competitors, who have millions upon millions in funding (we have none).

And, some of my guest blogs have hit top-read on their respective locations: Search Engine Journal, BuzzSumo, and HuffingtonPost to name a few…

In my agency, I’ve launched, tweaked and created levels of content at Express Writers that can give clients incredible results online too.


After launching my most sophisticated content writing level, authority content, late 2016, I actually sat at my desk

And thought about how frustrated I was about the lack of content strategy knowledge.

It was killing me.

Sure, my trained writers and I can create great content all day long, but how much does that help you if you don’t have a guiding strategy?

Only 9% of 100% of content marketers like their strategy.

That’s dire.

And it shows… so much content is being created, yet only a few pieces truly stand out.

Back to that day.

I sat there and thought about building another, cooler, better agency service to sell.

“How can I launch a new service that fits the industry need better?”

…Then I realized something…

It hit me like a load of bricks.

“What if I sold the knowledge of creating ROI content, instead of just putting together another service?”

I thought about that for a while…

And I decided I’d go for it.

I talked to influencers and experts, wrote blogs, scoured the net, started backtracking my own content success, and began mapping a course out.

Fact: I almost quit on outlining day when I realized how massive it would be to actually do. I cried a little.

But, I also realized that this course, if I focused on a ground-floor practical approach, could be the answer to the industry’s biggest problem:

Creating a content strategy that works.

That simple, and that hard.

I started getting up at 5 a.m. and I committed myself to creating the curriculum.

I wrote. 150+ pages of content. Then turned it into simpler content. Created materials, diagrams, illustrations, and even came up with simple concepts to reflect the toughest parts of brand strategy, so I could help content marketers navigate through industry content creation easier.

I’ve created my course in an effort to teach content marketers – from start to finish – the skills they need know how to build and achieve working, high-ROI content.

And guess what?

My navigational course on these practical points – created from the viewpoint of someone who’s been in the trenches of content marketing – is finally ready.

This course has been my gigantic 2017 goal, and I’ve poured everything – heart, soul, sweat and hard work for three months – into creating this course. I’ve formulated it to be an in-depth, practical, hands-on approach to the problems of this entire industry.

In my course, you’re building the cores of a strategy, and to get your certification your work will be personally graded by my team and I!

Read more about the “hard knocks” life I had before I wrote my course here.

Get Notified About The Practical Content Strategist Certification Course

To learn more about the course, go here.

By the way — with a few savvy content marketing team members from my agency ready to help me, I’ll be personally assisting my students in the exclusive Facebook group with their brand strategy builds.

I’m excited!!!!!

I hope to see you on the flip side and get the chance to personally mentor you in my course.

– Julia

content strategist course