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

​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: www.bit.ly/juliasproductivitycasestudy 
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

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

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

Welcome to Episode 8! If you do any kind of online marketing, I am more than 100% positive you are going to love Steve Rayson, my featured guest expert today, and the nitty-gritty, real content marketing and entrepreneurial advice he shares in this episode. Also, I’m quite partial to our topic of discussion on BuzzSumo. It is one of the most awesome content marketing tools I’ve found to do things like find your audience, discover new topics, find your industry influencers, seek out what’s trending, and so much more. Trusted by brands like Moz, National Geographic, Hubspot, and more, it’s a top content marketing tool online.
My guest Steve knows what it takes to create a company; he’s founded multiple multi-million dollar startups, including BuzzSumo, and he’s not afraid of doing the work it takes to get somewhere. In this episode, Steve covers how to use BuzzSumo to go further than the average content marketer, get in control of your audience, and discover great topics; and, what it really takes to be successful on Twitter and in content marketing. You can’t beat Steve’s sound advice – I thoroughly loved what he had to say. Enjoy!
buzzsumo with steve rayson

In Episode 8 of The Write Podcast, Steve covers:

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

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

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

Julia: Hello and welcome to The Write Podcast! I’m your host Julia McCoy, and today I’m excited to chat with Steve from BuzzSumo.
BuzzSumo is what I like to call the essential content marketing toolkit. It is a content marketing and SEO tool that allows you to do things like set content alerts for hot topics, research industry leaders, find the most shared content on the web. It is an excellent source of inspiration for creating great content.
I’ve been using it for about a year now for my company and I’m really excited to talk to Steve. Steve, thanks for being here.
Steve: Hi Julia thank you so much for having me and thanks for the nice words about BuzzSumo.
Julia: Yes, so tell us a little about BuzzSumo and what it would do for say a typical marketer who runs or owns a website.
Steve: Yeah I mean we designed it very much as you said just at a simple level just to help people create better content. We try to do that in a number of ways just by helping in some parts of the process, and the three parts we try to help with are what we call research amplification and monitoring because they’re often steps that are missed.
People sort of rush into content production without really spending enough time researching. So what’s your audience like, what resonates with them, what do they like to share and what do they like to comment on for example. And so with BuzzSumo you can just type in any topic and we’ll show you the most shared content for that topic.
So you can see what articles are trending, you can filter it down just for this post or info-graphics and it just gives you a really good insight into what’s working in your industry. You can also see what your competitors are sharing, what’s working for them and how that compares to you, so that’s sort of the research side.
[clickToTweet tweet=”‘Amplification is key. There’s so much attention for people’s time online.’ @steverayson #quote” quote=”The side that I think is also really important is amplification. I think in the old days, a few years ago, you could produce really great piece of content and it would get found and get shared. And personally I just think there’s so much content out there now, there’s so much attention for people’s time but that doesn’t really work anymore.”]
So you can write fantastic piece of content but if you don’t amplify it, it might just sit there and get very lonely so we talk to people a lot about the importance of amplification. And that can be two ways, obviously people linking to it and getting found in SEO is one way. But another way is people finding it through social networks. A really interesting research by Shareaholic recently showing most people now discover content through social networks not through search and so that’s interesting, people often finding articles that their colleagues and friends are sharing and then clicking through to it.
And so amplification really matters so you need to think about amplification from the start, who is likely to share it, who do we want to share it, who are the influencers in this space. So that’s the second part, just helping with amplification and then the third part is just monitoring. So as you say monitoring trending content, you can search for a topic and see what’s trending today for content marketing, so you can keep up to speed.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Content marketers have a responsibility to know what their audience is sharing. @steverayson #quote” quote=”And I think as content marketers we have a responsibility to know what our audience is sharing right now.”]
So what were they sharing this morning. What’s trending with them. What can we can we jump in on, what we need to comment on, what should we be sharing. We need to keep on top of things and we also provide content alerts because we look at content all the time.
We can tell you every time a particular topic is mentioned or every time your brand is mentioned or every time a new site or a site or an author publishes content. So it enables you just to monitor and see what’s happening and how well you’re performing so as it’s a bit of a long ask.
But the simple part is, we try to help people create better content through those three elements of research, amplification and monitoring.
Julia: That’s excellent that you’ve created one tool that answers so many needs in content marketing.
Steve: Yeah we don’t do everything, that we don’t do scheduling and things like that there’s lots of tool that help you schedule content and of course to help you write and create content and some fantastic tools like canvas, creating images and things.
But we are just focused on those three elements really, the research, the amplification and the monitoring. And we think they are important elements so if you miss any of them, it can be quite difficult for you and if you don’t do the research, you produce the most fantastic content, but it’s not just resonating with your audience, and so nobody gets engaged with it, or if you don’t do amplification and I think that’s really one of the biggest misses, people spend so much time on creating content.
It’s such a shame if it doesn’t get amplified and people don’t see it. So, we do talk to people about, just think about your amplication before you even write the content, how’s it gonna get amplified, who’s gonna share it? Why would they share it? And just think about those things first.
Julia: Those are great questions, and like you said I don’t think those are asked enough really in creating content. And coming up in 2016 there’s going to be an even bigger sea of content, it would be so easy to get lost without proper research and before you published something, make sure that it’s at the top of your industry and BuzzSumo is great for that background work.
Steve: Yeah I agree, just think about those elements. Just have the research, the amplification as well as obviously the writing the content, producing beautiful images and all those other things that matter. But I think just start with the research is a good place to start.
Julia: Yes exactly.
So I wanted to ask. What does your day look like working at BuzzSumo, walk us through what you do?
Steve: Yeah. Every day is quite different really. So what do I do? I do lots of things. We are a very small company, so we all do lots of things and James and Andy came up with the original idea. They work a lot around the products. My day tends to be looking at the data from the products so I try to use the tool a lot myself to see what’s working, what’s working in different B2B areas, what’s working generally. So I spend a lot of my time looking at data. And pulling data from our database, and analyzing that to see what’s working and then hopefully I can write articles and share those insights with our audience because they like to know what’s working.
So it can be researching data, writing blog posts. I do quite a lot of webinars with partner organizations. So I can do quite a lot of webinars as well. It may be talking to James and Andy about new product features or what we need to add. There is always so many ideas, so many things we want to add to the tool it’s just a matter of time and what we can do. So we’re often bouncing around different ideas in terms of what we can add. What makes the tool work better for people? So yes my day tends to be split between those tasks so, tends to get on quite late because I am based at the UK and a lot of our users are in the US, probably most of our users are in US, but we have a fair chunk in Australia and other parts of the world.
So the day goes on a bit and because we are a small team, we pick up queries if you’re writing with a query I might pick it up, or James might pick it up, so we spend a lot of time answering this queries which is also great. Because we get a good sense of how people are using the tool. What we can do to make the tool better for them.
Julia: That’s great. Sounds like a busy, dynamic role.
Steve: Yeah I’ve done a number of startups and if you work for startups you’ll know what it’s like. You tend to do everything, you tend to work quite long hours. [LAUGH]
Julia: Yes. [LAUGH]
Steve: You don’t really get much of a work life balance because you’re focused and I think that’s the way it has to be.
[clickToTweet tweet=”‘I’ve sold a number of successful businesses. Our secret: we stayed up later than the competition.'” quote=”I’ve set up a number of businesses and sold them in the past. People say why was that so successful? And I think more than anything, we probably just stayed up later than the competition.”]
Julia: [LAUGH]
Steve: We just stayed up and worked harder and I don’t think there are any real secrets, it’s about focus and about working hard really.
Julia: That’s great, that sounds exactly like what I’m doing. I started my company about four years ago and I’m still staying up till midnight every other night.
Steve: Yeah. There’s always more to do, there’s always somebody else to talk to, there’s always somebody else to see and to check out their site, or to see some content.
Julia: That’s true.
Steve: There is always more to do so I find managing time is a difficult one.
Julia: I love what you said, it’s about staying up later than the competition.
Steve: Yeah I think that is the fundamental you’ve got to be prepared to work a little bit harder I think.
Julia: That’s great.
So just diving into some of the nitty-gritty and how BuzzSumo really helps you create great content. One thing I love about BuzzSumo is that, you can find industry leaders and you can also look by most shared content. So if I find someone’s domain that you know is a great blogger, I can type in their domain and then see what’s been the most shared on their site. And then sometimes I would go to their most shared posts and I’ll read through the comments and see what is being asked and then I’ll try to create content based on what is left unanswered from that really hot post.
So things like that has helped us create content just using BuzzSumo to discover questions that are being asked around really great content, what are the other things that you would say BuzzSumo is great just for creating this type of great content?
Steve: Yeah, we did several things similar to you. I think using the search engine creatively, some people just type one word into the search in BuzzSumo so what’s the most shared content on e-learning, whereas you can use search box quite creatively, you can actually put a thousand characters into the search box so you can build some quite sophisticated searches using quotes and minuses and things.
But even if you just put e-learning and then put how to in quotes, it will bring back all the how to posts on e-learning. So if you are about to write a how-to post, you can see which one’s working well, what’s an example of a good post, etc. So using the search box creatively I think is a really nice way of doing it, or seeing what works on a big site so if you’re doing something on leadership maybe type in hbr.org, the Harvard Business Review site, space then put in leadership, then you’ll the most shared post on leadership from that specific site.
Things like that I think work well, it’s just being creative in terms of searching, in terms of things like amplification I think the thing that people miss and I think is really important is, find contents doing really well in your particular nature really, so maybe a very narrow, make sure you’re looking at it.
Find content that’s really relevant and then find the top five or six articles that are being well shared. And then what I like to do is see who shared them. So that will do the View Sharer’s button and see who’s sharing that content so why did it go viral. And then I tend to look at people who’ve got a retweet ratio of more than two, which is that basically every time they tweet they get retweeted at least twice, and less than that is too low.
So I had to then look at people who shared really relevant content to what I’m doing. Then I just filter out the people who got a retweet rate of above two and then I try to build relationships with those people. And that may be 10 people, it might be less, but they’re other people who probably help push that post, and get it to go viral.
So, I try to really focus down on sort of five or six co-influencers, for any piece of work that I’m doing. And sometimes obviously I try to build the amplification in, so sometimes if I get to know them quite well I might ask of their view on something. Because you always have to start with any relationship, it’s you give more than you take to start with, so normally I would just follow them, share their content, comment on their blog, offer them data if we haven’t, BuzzSumo offer if that can be helpful to them.
And over time building the relationship with those five, six key people from that particular niche topic, then I might tell you, I’m writing an article about this, would you prepare to contribute about some views. And that sort of almost builds your amplification in because invariably then they help you share that content as well.
So you almost know that the top five or six people are gonna share it because you’ve involved them in that process. But it’s a long process, it’s not just simply sending a note and saying can you give me your tips. I have to say I once did make a mistake of doing that and it’s not a nice experience. You really do have to build the relationship, I was in just a bit of a rush and wanted to get somebody’s views, and you have to build the relationship fast. But so for me that’s a great feature, just to see who’s sharing the content because then you know they’re interested in really relevant content to what you’re doing.
And you also know they’re an influencer on looking at the retweet rate.
I would always look at the retweet rate not the number of followers. People make a real mistake and look at the number of followers somebody has.
And I’ve pulled loads of data on this, there is no relationship at all, and I mean at all, between the number of retweets somebody gets and the number of followers they have.
There is just no relationship so people will say, oh I want this person to share it because they’ve got 100,000 followers. But they may not be that engaged, they may not see their tweets whereas somebody might only have 2000 followers but they might have a really engaged audience who understand and like what they’re sharing.
And they may get a retweet 10 times every tweet for example. So I think you go to look at what’s important and for me it’s that engagement. It’s about the retweet rate and influence it gets.
It’s certainly not about the number of followers, which is a bit of a vanity metric really.
But in some ways the people with really big followers, sometimes I find have really less engaged audiences. And may just be because the audience is so big, there is less engagement. And sometimes I find people with 2,000 or 3,000 followers can have really engaged audiences. So yeah I wouldn’t look at just the number of followers either so they be my sort of tips.
Julia: Wow. Have you heard of Twitter doing away with share counts on the Tweet button?
Steve: Yeah of course. [LAUGH] It was a big issue for us about six or seven weeks ago whenever they announced it, on the day they announced it we picked it up of course because we show in BuzzSumo the number of shares on Twitter.
Julia: Right.
Steve: So basically they’ve shut off the API which did the share count, the share count API so the Twitter buttons now won’t show the number of shares. It’s not very easy to get the data. We were lucky that we had a database of all the shares, all content in the world, so we have all the Tweet shares up until the point they cut it off on the 20th in November.
Julia: Wow!
Steve: And what we do now is we now have to buy data from Gnip, which is Twitter’s data arm but it’s not share count it’d be nice if it was share count. It’s actually a stream of tweets, you basically buy a stream of tweets. And they’re not that cheap [LAUGH] it is a bit expensive to buy a stream of tweets and then we have to do the filtering ourselves.
So then we filter and as we find shares of certain content we then add it to our database. So we might already have a thousand shares and then we’ll add the further shares to it and we keep up to date, our share count number, so if you use the BuzzSumo you can still see the number of twitter shares.
Because we knew people would want this, we built a Chrome extension, so if you go to the Chrome store and search for BuzzSumo there’s a Chrome extension, and when you have that on your browser, for any webpage you’re on, you click the BuzzSumo extension and we’ll show you the number of shares across all the networks including Twitter.
So if your site doesn’t have a Twitter button we will still show you the number of tweets. So not yet there is a lot of work just the way we did things and not entirely sure the background of the reasoning behind it. I think it’s sad now a lot of sites don’t automatically show you the Twitter accounts, I do think they can be gamed of course, people can retweet lots of times, and buy tweets, but generally I think it was an indicator of social value, social credit. And so using our extension people can still see the number of tweet shares.
Julia: Wow, I had no idea that you found a way around that that challenge because Twitter is definitely making it harder. Like you said I agree that Twitter share counts can really point to the social value of a post, but it sounds like you found a way around that challenge with some really hard work.
Steve: Yeah I would say, the bottom line is you can buy the data from Gnips, so we’ve had to buy it’s not just the expense of buying there’s actually, there’s quite a lot of work then to filter it and keep it up to date, and keep your database up to date. We were lucky we didn’t have to buy all the data to go back historically, that would’ve been very expensive because we already have a database of all Twitter shares and content.
It’s just a question of us keeping it up to date. So yeah I would recommend you use BuzzSumo Chrome Extension and you can see the Twitter shares for any piece of content.
Julia: That’s good to know. Yeah, I will be checking out that extension.
So for our last question, I wanted to go into a little bit about your perspective on SEO, as it ties in to content marketing.
Steve: I think it’s difficult to separate SEO and content marketing, is the reality. They’re both so intertwined. I mean there are more technical aspects of SEO and on page SEO and elements like that but they are very closely intertwined really. I think it’s interesting about that sort content, if you want to perform better in search engines then you really do want to build links.
I still think Google values links a lot. So you need to be writing the source of contents that attracts links and what we can see from our analysis is, certain content attract shares, and certain contents attracts links, but there’s no direct relationship, the same content doesn’t always attract shares and links because you get a lot of shares.
I think a lot of people assume if they wrote this content, get it shared a lot it will then get linked to a lot and that would help in SEO terms. And that’s definitely not case, it just depends on the content. If you’re doing content like sort of amusing content, quizzes, you can get tens of thousands of shares, but virtually zero links, and I mean zero links, because people don’t tend to link to that sort of content.
Whereas the classic content, in terms of evergreen content, long-form content, authoritative content, research-backed content, that tends to do better in terms of acquiring links, and people linking to it.
So I think it depends on your purpose of your content marketing, and I think this is another issue some people just write blog posts, write another blog post whereas you need some sort of content strategy because during any month you need different types of content of course as you know well, sometimes it’s great awareness and getting brand awareness.
That might be a nice thing but is it gonna convert somebody, it’s not gonna attract links. But it’s an important part of the awareness raising part of your content, whereas other content might be in depth educational content, it might be a white paper research case that may not get shared as much but it might attract more links.
So there is a different stage of your sales funnel where a case study of every niche case study, can be really helpful in converting somebody, but it may not have such wider audience. But it’s really important in that part of your sales funnel. So you need different types of content for different purposes.
So I think some of us will just write a blog post and another blog post [LAUGH]. You gotta have some strategy of what you’re trying to do with the content, I think, but in my view, is content marketing SEO just intertwined, it’s not saying that SEO is not relevant to content marketing, it’s where it’s at, they’re both important and I think that both parts of each other really, because search engine optimization means somebody is looking for something.
And so if they’re looking for something, hopefully you are the best answer to the question. Often if someone’s searching, I still think it will be in the context of, if someone is searching then, they’ve normally got a question and I like what Leon says, which is you be the best answer to the question.
So if you can understand the sort of question, somebody is asking, then you can write content which is the best answer.
Google has a vested interest in providing the best answer to the question and I think Google is getting very good the way the semantic search is working, Google is trying to find the best answers to the questions, so I think personally, I’m not a great believer, in lots of the technical SEO, I think it can be a bit like alchemy or whatever at some point.
For me it’s just if you write a really good post which is really addressing the questions then Google might serve that up because it wants to give people the best answer. And I think who knows exactly what’s exactly in the Google algorithm but you would hope that if it’s a good post, and people are spending time on it and engaging with that content, then Google would take that into account.
Whether they do or not it’s difficult to say, but I think there’s some evidence that not necessarily the number of shares of a post, but certainly people then visiting the article and spending time with it, that engagement will go into, will have some weight within the overall Google algorithm.
But I think it is about just answering good questions. You mentioned it earlier, often just search Quora, I’ll often search, BuzzSumo, I type in quora.com {space} SEO let’s say. And if you do that, what you’ll see is all the most shared questions about SEO and Quora and so it can be, I guess in a small way but it’s a small way of just looking at some of the questions that are being asked, or you can type in quora.com ad words, and see some of the questions being asked for Adwords, and then look at whether there’s content that answers it, if it doesn’t you can then try to write that piece of content.
The other thing I would say, and I know random and most people say this a lot now but you’ve got to be one of the top posts, what I find interesting is, there are two or three posts on a topic that really dominate, you may have written a fantastic post but if it’s number seven, people still share the top two or three.
So if you’re gonna write an answer to a question you got to be in the top two or three posts I think, and if you’re not then look at may be a slightly different question, or may be come up with a radically different way of answering it with a slight satire, a quiz or something because it’s really hard to break through those top two or three posts so, I always have a look, if I’m gonna write something, first thing I do is going to research, what are the top posts.
And actually there are other top posts on exactly the same subject, an infographic by Neil Patel, or other people I’m probably not gonna beat that, so I’ll find a different topic to write about, and I think you gotta, it’s like picking your battles really, in terms of where can you win, and we can’t all win in all areas.
So I think we have to understand where we can be that best answer, because in SEO, Google will also display that answer to people who are searching for the question. So I don’t think you can separate them, I don’t think is one or the other. I think we all know that content is increasingly important, and it’s an important part of the mix, but it is a mix.
It isn’t just as I say, it’s not just about writing blog posts, and people will come to you because they want it. It’s a whole range of things. It’s about amplifying your content, of course you want it to be optimized as such, so that least it can be found. But I think it’s that combination of factors and I think more than anything, and I heard Brian Dean speak recently about Google. Things taken into account, engagement with the content and that’s what I would really like. If I am writing a good post, people spend some time with the post. Google takes that into account and then serves up as an answer to somebody else because it’s creating more engagement. I do see the enthusiasm but it’s difficult to separate really, there’s no SEO verses content marketing.
Both are equally important.
Julia: I so agree. That’s really our thought process at Express Writers. What you described, it’s like we have identical minds. Because creating content that thoroughly answers a question being in the top 10x content was what you were saying Rand’s mentioned, yeah that’s become the standard to create the top 10%.
Steve: Yeah you have to be and I think Brian Dean did call it Sky-Scraper Technique. I think what he simply said. I may have got it wrong, but basically, when you go to a city you visit the tallest building, or the second tallest building, you don’t go visit the sixth tallest building, that makes sense? And I think it’s a bit like if you’re sharing a post or whatever happens to be, there are other big posts. This is the best post we’ll share that, unless there is something different and I think people at Google do really well. Brian tries to write you will see, the way he even terms the posts, he’ll say the Comprehensive Guide to X. He wants to be the most comprehensive, thorough piece of content etc. And I think you have to think about being that 10x piece of content in your particular niche.
And I think if you just write a post and I get a bit of frustration by this, people who just say 5 Ways To Write Great Landing Pages. They may be reasonable tips but there are so many of those posts. Why would I share yours as opposed to anybody else’s, and there is a lot of content and it is again short form content, which people don’t invest enough time in. You churn it out but it’s really not gonna work for you, I don’t think personally.
The research we’ve done, we’ve looked at lots, lots of content this year. Consistently long form content gets more shares and gets more links than short form content. So long form content does that, I mean there are arguments that why it does that and there are still a place for short picture posts and things. But as a general rule if you look across hundreds of millions of pieces of content long form content performs better. Particularly content of over a thousand words, once you get to about 3,000 words it doesn’t seem to change but content of sort of 2,000 words performs much better than say 700 words.
But when we look at then content we find that 85% of all articles written are less than a thousand words. So is that interesting. The evidence is really, really clear content of over a thousand words does better, you just look at all the stats, it does better and yet 85% of people write content of less than a 1000 words.
So they’re either ignoring the data or they haven’t got the time or whatever, so, long form content doesn’t always perform better but if you look on average across millions of post, it does.
But people don’t do it, so there is those frustrations of mine which is look at the data. [LAUGH] The data is saying this, and then of course there are awesome exceptions to that. A really great exception is the IFL science site and they do short form post with images around scientific concepts so they get masses of shares. But they’re really an outsider, they’re really an exceptional not the norm.
Julia: I think that will work into the conundrum in 2016 as content rises and our ability to digest stays the same. It’s about who’s creating the most in-depth piece. Markers will have to face that concept in order to succeed in content marketing.
Steve: Yeah I know there’s some much content, I mean they’re arguments about content shock and market shakes but you’ve only got 24 hours in a day and so if the amount of content triples then everyone can’t read and share as much content.
There are some people saying actually your day is not 24 hours but increasingly in the modern world we multitask so we go to the gym and listen to a podcast, we watch the TV and we read an article on our phones probably not doing either very well, but that’s what the article says, the average person gets 32 hours out of the day or something like that but there’s a limit you can’t keep going on squeezing things in and there’s no limit to the amount of content being produced and I read a very interesting paper the other day something like 5000 scientifically peer review papers published every week.
Julia: Wow!
Steve: That’s just peer reviewed scientific research papers you know the amount of blog posts is in the millions every day of course. So we can’t read all of that so it’s not a surprise that certain content floats to the top and it may not be the best content, I think sometimes it’s the best amplified content. If you had a really good influence in market strategy you get some top people involved, they share it. You could do better than other people even though your content is not as good. If you have a good amplification strategy, and the other way of course is if you do paid amplification.
So paid amplification might drive your content to be visible even if the content is not as good, although long term my instinct is and I hope, good content wins that’s my hope. But I think at the moment we’re in a position where people who have good amplification have got a better chance than the people who are poor at amplification, almost regardless of the quality of the content.
I think it’s about building an audience. Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute goes on about this and I think it’s right, which is content marketing is about building an audience. And at some point, you may be out to engage with that audience and sell them things, whatever, but you’re building an audience and that just takes time and consistency.
It’s not three blog posts, that doesn’t build an audience. Ten blog posts don’t build an audience. If you do it year in, year out, you build an audience, people like your content engagement. And it is as you say, building a relationship, but it takes time to build an audience.
But seems to be the purpose of content marketing is to build that audience, and that’s what newspapers have done over many, many years. So whether you read The New York Times, or The Wall Street Journal, or The Guardian, and the UK etc., they built over a long period of time, an audience who know what to expect, so consistency.
And I think in content marketing it’s about that regularity in order to build the audience and that relationship with the audience. And so you can’t just say we’ll do content marketing this month then we’ll move to something else. And you won’t get results immediately it takes time to build the audience.
Julia: Yes consistency is such a huge key. We’ve been creating posts for four years and by now we have 600 posts and we haven’t ever stopped in a month. Like okay now it’s time to take a break, no. You can’t [LAUGH].
Steve: You have to keep going but then you get that flywheel effect you get the benefit in time of the older content at least the server is updated and still relevant for long, the evergreen sort of stuff, it takes time and that’s where the people say, I don’t think content marketing is particularly difficult, I think it’s just really hard work.
Julia: That’s true.
Steve: A lot of people just drop out because it’s just too much hard work, so I don’t think it’s difficult. Produce good content that answers your audience questions consistently, regularly, I don’t think it’s super complicated but it’s really super hard work.
Julia: Absolutely it is so much elbow grease, well thank you so much for being here today Steve and sharing your insights it’s really good to hear from you.
Steve: No thank you, I’ve really enjoyed it, thank you very much.
[MUSIC] For more online content tips and strategies, visit expresswriters.com/write-blog. [MUSIC]
Be sure to check out this amazing content marketing tool at BuzzSumo.com. You can also follow Steve on Twitter @steverayson.
Also if you’re in marketing, be sure to mark your calendar and join our twitter chat, #contentwritingchat. It happens every Tuesday at 10 AM CST and we discuss all kinds of content marketing tips, tricks and strategies and we feature weekly guests experts.
Lastly, keep an eye out for my book. I’m really excited about it, it’s coming out the end of this March. The book is called So You Think You Can Write, The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Content. In this book, I’m sharing everything I taught myself in the last four years on how to create great content for the web. This is both for the online writer who wants to make this their career and for the business owner that wants to create great online content for their readers. Be sure to check it out on Amazon.
Thanks for joining today’s Write Podcast! For more episodes go to expresswriters.com/write-podcast.