julia mccoy talks in austin, texas on profitable content

I Gave My First Live Talk on Profitable Content in Austin, Texas. Here’s How It Went.

I’ve written two books… created an agency that allows me to work from wherever, whenever… and have been named a leader in content marketing (of which I’m so honored!).

What comes easily to me is writing.

What doesn’t come easily is speaking.

I was brought up in a cult from which I escaped shortly after starting my business. The mindset I was forced into, all my life growing up, didn’t keep me back from much — except public speaking. (Life in a cult, my escape, and how I grew a successful agency from nothing is all part of a memoir I started writing in 2017. It will be finished this year. Want to hear about it? Click here.)

I’ve turned down several organic invitations to speak on stage in the past, even though I have managed to get comfortable with video.

So, this one thing held me back — until last week.

I broke through one of the last and biggest barriers standing in my way.

Right before Christmas of last year, I decided to accept an invitation to speak as the guest of honor at Jessica Campos’ (Marketing for Greatness) mastermind luncheon right here in Austin, Texas on January 9th, 2019. It was a big moment for me. Just saying yes was something I never would have done in all my seven years of entrepreneurship. That “yes” was a defining moment.

Jessica is a genius marketer and a good friend of mine here in Austin that I respect a lot. I met her through her local networking events and her Facebook group for Austin entrepreneurs. Saying yes to her was a no-brainer. It made me feel more comfortable speaking at her venue because I already knew and liked her.

She let me pick the topic, and so I picked the one I love the most: profitable content.

I collected my 6-step framework to profitable content which I’ve developed 100% from scratch, after learning and implementing content marketing for the past seven years and finally getting to a place of success after a lot of trial and error. I’ve taught this framework online, by invitation, for Stukent and other publications. It’s also the base of the course and book I built across all of 2017.

Teaching my 6-step framework, live.

So I took my favorite topic ever — and one of the most original concepts I’ve ever developed — and turned it into a new session geared for entrepreneurs at a “starting point” level for Jessica’s lunch. When I got up to speak, not only did I feel 1000% comfortable with my topic, but I also found myself thoroughly enjoying sharing it to a live audience.

Jessica told me something that stuck: “I think webinars are harder. If you did that, you can speak live. The energy of a real, in-person audience around you helps a lot.” She was right!

Download the slides to my talk here.

julia's talk in austin texas

Read and watch @JuliaEMcCoy's first-ever live talk given in Austin, Texas on how to build profitable #contentmarketing. Click To Tweet

I Gave My First Live Talk on Profitable Content in Austin, Texas. Here’s How It Went

how to build profitable content

If a picture speaks a thousand words, a video speaks a million words — right?

My talented friend and videographer, Joel Valle, recorded my session for my YouTube channel as I spoke.

Without further ado, here it is. It’s up to you how well you think I did! Click to pop open in a new window and watch on YouTube. I’d absolutely love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Psst… I’d be honored if you would subscribe to my YouTube channel. (It will be worth your time: I’m committed to a weekly video every Monday featuring practical advice on a hot content topic in my #ContentMarketingMemos.)

3 Speaking Tips that WORKED for Me

If you’re thinking of approaching your first speaking gig, here are the speaking tips that worked for me the most. I thought this would be useful to add to today’s recap.

1. You Don’t Have to Be an Extrovert to Speak (In Fact, Being an Introvert or Writer Can Help You Deliver an Impactful Message)

First, despite all my fears, there was a small spark in my heart that told me I should try speaking. Each of my family members has spoken publicly or are comfortable with it. And by all — I mean all! My father, mother, aunt, uncle! The internal spark of desiring to speak grew when I listened internally, focused in on quiet time, meditated, and prayed.

I’ve also talked to many live speakers across the years, down to walking the floors of Content Marketing World in 2018 and finding the keynote speakers to ask them for their tips.

(Lee Odden told me at karaoke night that he’s spoken on more than 200 stages, is a MAJOR introvert, and is still nervous about it and doesn’t love speaking! Even though he kills it and is in demand! Ann Handley, the winner of the first Hero Award, CMI’s Hall of Fame Award, told me she’d paced her hotel room in solace all day, practicing the speech she was giving on stage that evening. And she’s also given so many speeches.)

Everything I was told convinced me of something. Being an introvert did not discount my chances of speaking. I was excited to learn that possibly, being an introvert could even equate to “awesome speaker.” Could it be?!

In a pre-Write Podcast conversation, Brian Fanzo told me a story about award-winning keynote speaker Scott Stratten. Brian looks up to Scott as a speaker so much, and Scott is a major introvert. Scott won’t go out for drinks with Brian after killing it on stage because he’d rather decompress in his hotel room.

Brian also told me something else: Because I’m a good writer, I possibly have an advantage over many other average speakers. I can easily create content that rocks, and he said that’s the struggle for many speakers. Chris Strub has also encouraged me to stop letting the “introvert” perspective limit me. He’s even included me on his list of 50 women speakers, which I was very honored about.

Over time, I’ve had countless people tell me that being an introvert shouldn’t hold me back.

1. You Don't Have to Be an Extrovert to Speak - In Fact, Being an Introvert or Writer Can Help You Deliver an Impactful Message and 2 other tips on #publicspeaking from @JuliaEMcCoy #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

2. Practice, Practice, Practice Makes a Perfect Presentation

Nadya Khoja, Head of Marketing at Venngage, gave me this tip. Before she gave her first presentation (and she’s killing it now on stage), she practiced her slides at home 50 times. 

50 times!

I realized something while considering speaking. Everything I’ve done, from launching my agency, getting on Facebook Live, creating and launching my first course, writing emails that work, creating and publishing good blogs, you name it — all became better with practice. 

And so I took Nadya’s tip to heart. I decided I’d practice at home till I knew this presentation better than myself.

I already knew the 6-step framework — for Pete’s sake, I’d developed it 100% from scratch — but for this presentation, I wanted to know in and out. Not that I memorized every word. And that’s important: I think a good presentation is natural, and memorizing every word would make it stuffy.

To keep the flow natural, I made sure I memorized only the concepts and the first few sentences. (Keith Shannon, college professor and speaker extraordinaire, gave me this tip: “Know your opener COLD.” I took that advice to heart.)

I gave this presentation at home so many times, here’s what happened.

  • My 4-year-old could say the first three sentences of my talk all by herself without prompting.
  • My husband got so tired of me giving him the speech that he started hating hearing it and would look over at me with a painful sigh when I started saying it again. (I expected that, though.)
  • I could whip out the first three sentences and the concepts anywhere on the spot, down to saying it randomly to a vet care tech as we took our pet in for shots. (I bet they probably thought I was the one needing medical care, at that point.)

3. Find Your Rhythm

This sums up several tips I was given that all worked. A few were:

  • Look at the back of the room, the floor, or your slides when losing breath or confidence. This will reset your brain and let you look back out at the audience confidently. Good tip!
  • Sweep your glances across the audience’s faces. My friend Dori gave me this tip, and it worked very well for me.
  • Look at just a few people that you have a personal connection with if you feel your confidence is going down.

I didn’t have to rely on these tips like a crutch since I didn’t really lose my pace at any point, but I did find them helpful. I would add:

  • Find your natural rhythm. This is different for everyone!
  • Don’t be afraid to take up space. Stretch your arms, your body. This is your time, and it’s your space. Be you!
  • Strike natural and comfortable poses. I found a comfortable pose and found my mind eased up with my pose. I leaned on the podium and kicked up my heels for Q&A time.
  • Practice diaphragmatic breathing. This helped me probably the most. I learned diaphragmatic breathing from my mother, who was a trained opera singer. I remembered her old tips. You want to activate the muscle between your stomach and chest. Your stomach should deflate when breathing out, and you should feel the strength in your voice if you do it right. This gives you all the breath you need! I found a tip on a blog from a speaking coach: 10, 10, 10. Breathe in for 10, filling up your stomach, then your chest: Hold for 10, and breathe out for 10. This will force you to start breathing right and you’ll use the right muscle when speaking. I started practicing this for weeks before my speech. By the time I went up to speak, I was in diaphragmatic breathing rhythm.
  • Believe, relax, and focus. Faith, prayer, and meditation were a big part of my preparation process. I tried to stay off social media and avoided too much noise and interruption as I focused in and got ready. That’s hard because I run an agency, but I made it happen.
Terrified of speaking in public? Major introvert @JuliaEMcCoy just gave her first-ever live talk in Austin on profitable content, and it went well! This post is jam-packed full of #publicspeaking tips. Click To Tweet

Slides: Julia’s Mastermind Guest Session, the 6-Step Framework to Profitable Content (20-Minute Live Talk)

Don’t forget to grab your copy of my slides!

Download my slides to my live talk in Austin, Texas.

And, you already know — but I’d absolutely love to hear what you think of my first-ever speech in the comments! 😊

digital content strategy

How to Build a Strong Digital Content Strategy in 2019 & Beyond

Here’s a blatant reality many well-meaning digital marketers are unaware of:

Content alone will do nothing to improve your marketing results.

Pushing out content with no direction, no strategy, no purpose, no goals, and no targeted audience will just end up wasting time and money – even if your content is beyond incredible!

Content needs a digital content strategy behind it to truly have an impact on your audience, bottom line, and web presence. Without that solid foundation, your blog posts, articles, ebooks, web pages, guest blogs, and more will go to waste.

The numbers don’t lie. A digital content strategy is essential to any content marketing endeavor. It’s what differentiates the successful from the unsuccessful.

Now that you understand that a digital content strategy is 1000% necessary, let’s dig into a clear definition of what it entails. Then we’ll jump straight to a master plan for building your own profitable digital content strategy. Ready?

how to create a digital content strategy

The 6-Step Master Plan to Building a Profitable Digital Content Strategy

1. Understand the Key Fundamentals and Foundations of Digital Content Strategy

  1. Know Your Content Goals
  2. Know Your Content Differentiation Factor (CDF)
  3. Know Your Topic Area(s)

2. Understand Your Audience

  1. Do Audience Research
  2. Create Audience Personas for Your Content Strategy

3. Know How SEO Fits into a Digital Content Strategy

  • Research Targeted Keywords Your Ideal Buyer Is Searching

4. Build and Solidify Your Online Authority

5. Create Content the Right Way

  1. Optimize Your Content with Keywords
  2. Find a Workflow that Works
  3. Map Your Audience Persona to the Marketing Lifecycle
  4. Map Content Topics to Your Content Goals
  5. Guest Blog Strategically

6. Set a Budget, Promote Your Published Pieces, and Maintain Momentum

  1. Budget for Your Major Content Activities
  2. Promote Your Content
  3. Maintain Your Digital Content Strategy
Need a master plan for your 2019 content strategy? @JuliaEMcCoy has you covered in this guide. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

What Is a Digital Content Strategy? & What Is It Worth?

The simplest way to think of a digital content strategy is to imagine it as the engine of a car.

The car represents your content marketing. The engine that drives your content marketing is the digital content strategy.

It gives it a purpose and a way to reach ROI. The strategy moves your content marketing forward, pushing it in the right direction.

Without a strategy, your content will remain stuck in the mud. And you’ll end up with a ton of unwanted facepalm moments.

Image via GIPHY

The digital content strategy is also a lot like a map. It tells you the direction to take your content to best appeal to your ideal audience, so you always know how to get to ROI. This includes:

  • Where to publish content
  • How often to publish
  • Where to share/promote/distribute it
  • The style/voice to use in your content
  • The audience niche you’re writing to
  • Your content budget
  • Your topic areas and target keywords
  • And more!

Marketers who forge ahead without a strategy are literally traveling without a map. It’s no wonder they end up lost more often than not.

This is what the numbers say about using a digital content strategy for your content marketing:

  • Without a strategy, you’re paddling upstream. According to a 2017 survey from Zazzle Media, 60% of marketers found producing consistent content difficult to do.
  • Another 60% said they didn’t know how to measure content ROI.
  • Via CMI’s 2019 B2B report, 65% of the most successful content marketers have a documented digital content strategy in place. Another 32% have an undocumented strategy.
  • That means a whopping 97% of the most successful marketers have some kind of strategy backing up their content!

Some of the benefits of a documented digital content strategy, according to CMI’s report:

  • It aligns your team around your mission/goals.
  • It helps you figure out which types of content to develop.
  • It keeps your team focused on priorities.
  • It helps you allocate resources for better results.
  • It clarifies your target audience(s).

And of course… it helps you actually measure and see PROFITS and growth.

benefits of a documented b2b content marketing strategy

The 6 Essential Steps to Build a Digital Content Strategy

How do you build a digital content strategy that gets results? There are 6 steps to putting all the pieces of this framework in place.

Psst – I teach a 6-week course that covers all of these steps, with personal mentoring and support. Learn more here!

1. Understand the Key Fundamentals and Foundations of Digital Content Strategy

You can’t start building your digital content strategy without these key fundamentals.

A. Know Your Content Goals

What do you hope to gain from content marketing? These are your content goals, and they should drive your entire content strategy. Identify goals first before you do anything else.

B. Know Your Content Differentiation Factor (CDF)

Before you can assemble the other pieces of your strategy, you have to have one key fundamental in hand. I call this your Content Differentiation Factor, or CDF for short.

content differentiation factor

This factor is what separates you or your client’s brand from the billions of others out there on the internet.

  • What sets you apart from your competitors?
  • How do you help your customers/audience differently?
  • How do you help them better than anybody else in your industry?

Once you have a handle on your CDF, you can dive into which topic areas you will own for content creation. That’s a HUGE part of any good digital content strategy.

C. Know Your Topic Area(s)

Content marketing is all about giving your audience value and information in the form of blogs and articles, images, infographics, videos, ebooks, white papers, and more. When you provide accurate, reliable, trustworthy content, time and time again, you build trust with your people.

Of course, if you’re going to provide all of these resources, you need something to write/talk about. It can’t be just any random topic, though. It has to be:

  • Relevant to what you sell
  • Relevant to your audience
  • Related to your industry expertise

I call this your topic area – the place where what your audience wants and your expertise collide.

topic area – the place where what your audience wants and your expertise collide

Your key topic area is a broad umbrella under which lots of other related topics live.

Example: If your expertise is “selling running shoes,” you don’t have to limit your content to that topic alone. Lots of connected, related topics will lead your target audience to you, too:

  • Training
  • Running events
  • Warm-up exercises
  • Knee health
  • Hydration
  • Etc.

Big tip: I teach both of these concepts (CDF and topic areas) PLUS how to build a digital content strategy from the ground up in my comprehensive, intensive Content Strategy & Marketing Course.

2. Understand Your Audience

The next question that should be on your radar when creating a digital content strategy:

Who are you writing for?

If you’re thinking “Wow, I have NO IDEA,” you need to do audience research, STAT.

Building a digital content strategy for 2019? You need a master plan. @JuliaEMcCoy has you covered in this guide. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

A. Do Audience Research

Audience research is an indispensable activity to do when you’re forming your digital content strategy. This helps you get to know your targets on a deep, personal level without any guesswork. (Because if you only guess at what your ideal audience is like, you’ll probably miss the mark!)

My #1 tip for audience research is to simply talk to them. That’s right – sit down and have an old-fashioned conversation with your ideal customer, whether over the phone, on Skype, or at your favorite coffee shop.

Pick their brain, get to know them, and find out what makes them tick. This type of research will be monumentally helpful when you go on to create your audience persona.

B. Create Audience Personas for Your Content Strategy

An audience persona is like a cheat sheet that tells you all of the important facts, stats, and demographics about your ideal customer. This little tool not only helps you remember your audience is made up of living, breathing people – it also helps you stay hyper-focused on who you’re talking to in your content. It might look like this:

hailey, the humanitarian hipster audience persona

A mock buyer persona for Starbucks. Check the SlideShare to see the whole thing.

How do you create a persona? Ask lots of personal questions about your buyer. This is a good example of a persona development checklist from WiredImpact. This is specifically for nonprofits, but many of the questions can apply to any type of brand or industry:

target audience persona development

3. Know How SEO Fits In

Your ideal buyer is searching on Google for information. Targeting the keywords your online leads are typing into the search bar means they will discover you that much quicker.

That’s called search engine optimization (SEO), and it’s a major piece of any digital content strategy.

SEO begins with keyword research.

A. Research Targeted Keywords Your Ideal Buyer Is Searching

Keyword research is how you find those key terms and phrases your ideal buyer is searching for on Google.

Your best bet is to find long-tail keywords (3 or more words in length) with low competition (usually meaning a keyword difficulty score – KD – of less than 50; i.e. still “easy” or “possible” to rank for that term) and highly relevant to your brand/industry. I call this your “sweet spot.”

keyword sweet spot

Some of my favorite keyword research tools are KWFinder and SEMrush. This is what a possible keyword looks like in KWFinder:

keyword research with kwfinder

To find your own highly relevant, low-competition keywords:

  • Start with broad seed keywords that describe your industry niche. (Example: “treehouse”)
  • Add onto those terms to make them long-tail. (Example: “how to build a treehouse”)
  • Look at the keyword variations your tool suggests.
  • Check keyword difficulty and search volume. Weed out the keywords that are too hard to rank for/have too much competition.

For an expanded breakdown of keyword research for your digital content strategy, check out our guide: How to Find Killer SEO Keywords for Your Online Content.

4. Build and Solidify Your Online Authority

Building up your online presence and authority has a ripple effect:

  • It demonstrates your expertise in your industry.
  • It builds trust with your audience, transforming them from visitors to leads to customers.
  • It builds your website’s domain authority (DA).
  • It generates valuable backlinks to your website (which helps your content climb the rankings).

All of these positive effects are essential to profitable content marketing. That’s why ironing out how you will build your online authority is a must-do when you build your digital content strategy.

Ask yourself:

  • Where will you focus on building your authority?
  • What’s the main web address that will be associated with your brand?
  • Where will all outside links to your content point to?

The answer to all of these questions is what I call your content house.

content house and content differentiation factor

This is your content basecamp, where you will host and publish all of your content pieces, landing pages, and blogs. It will be the main focus of your digital content strategy efforts.

Build content on your own land versus proprietary platforms (Facebook, Medium, Blogger, etc.). Outside platforms come and go, and your control over the content you post is never guaranteed. In contrast, you have total control over your own domain, and your content will be there as long as you maintain it.

Some other tips for building your online authority:

  • Keep your website updated and fresh. Blogging helps with this!
  • Make sure the design is user-friendly, including links, navigation, and images.
  • Only publish the best content you possibly can.
  • Prioritize quality over quantity.

For more guidance, this article from HubSpot is a good resource on this topic: 11 Ways to Use Content to Build Online Authority.

5. Create Content the Right Way

Here it is: the nitty-gritty part of your digital content strategy. Content creation is truly the heart of the whole shebang.

Luckily, you already did a lot of the dirty work by going through steps 1-4. Having your target audience + personas in hand as well as relevant keywords, your topic area(s), and your content goals will make content creation a snap.

A. Optimize Your Content with Keywords

Remember those keywords you found via strategic keyword research? It’s time to put them into action.

  • Ideate content topics using your keywords.
  • Write content around those keywords.
  • Use keywords in key places in your content:
    • Title tag/headline
    • Meta description
    • Page URL (also called the “URL slug”)
    • H2s, H3s
    • First and last paragraphs
    • Sprinkled throughout, including synonymous keywords
There is a right way to create content. @JuliaEMcCoy shows how in this 2019 content strategy master plan. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

B. Find a Workflow That Works

To create great content consistently, you need a proven workflow that works every time.

Your workflow can and should stem from your digital content strategy. Lay out the key steps you’ll take each and every time you sit down to create content, and the process will flow much easier. Include these three basic steps:

  • Ideation – Come up with content ideas that fall within your topic area(s) and match up with your content goals. Do it regularly so you never have to face a blank mind and a blank computer screen. (See “Map Content Topics to Your Content Goals,” below.)
  • Creation – Write, research, draft, and edit your content. In this stage, you’ll also add images, optimize with keywords, and potentially collaborate with other writers, editors, and graphic designers.
  • Preparation – Schedule your content to publish strategically. Use an editorial calendar to organize your posting schedule. Start thinking of where you can distribute and promote your content besides your content house.

C. Map Your Audience Persona to the Marketing Lifecycle

Remember the audience persona from step 2 of building our digital content strategy? Don’t just write for them. Write for where they currently stand in the marketing lifecycle.

This will help you create content that’s ultra-targeted, that speaks to your buyer’s deepest pain points. You’ll be addressing them right where it hurts and offering help – and that’s beyond powerful.

The modern marketing lifecycle looks like this. Note that it includes a key stage, Loyalty:

marketing lifecycle stage 1

Check out this post on the marketing lifecycle to read about what each stage means for your buyer. Once you figure out what stage your persona is in, you can map that stage to a type of content you should create for them, or an action you should take to help them move to the next:

marketing lifecycle stage 2

Use the marketing lifecycle in tandem with the next section (5.D. – mapping content topics to goals) for content that packs a punch.

marketing lifecycle ebook

D. Map Content Topics to Your Content Goals

What’s the best way to ensure the content you create moves you closer to your goals and ROI?

When your content topics connect to your goals. In other words, your content should always serve a purpose. It shouldn’t just exist – it needs to do something to get you closer to your idea of success.

I rely on my three-bucket topic strategy to make sure my content aligns with my goals. Here’s how it works:

I visualize my major brand goals for my digital content strategy as 3 different buckets:

  • Build SEO rankings
  • Build sales & connections
  • Build brand awareness

Every single content piece I create needs to fit inside at least one of these goal buckets.content goal buckets

Additionally, certain content types fit into each bucket:different content types and their goal bucketsIf a content topic idea doesn’t fit into one of these buckets, I throw it in the trash and move on to the next idea.

Check out our guide on using the three-bucket topic strategy to really dig into how this can work for you.

E. Guest Blog Strategically

Guest blogging is an activity that majorly builds your online authority. When you guest blog strategically, it will lead the host blog’s audience (which also should be your target audience) straight to your content house, like so:

strategic guest blogging

When approaching guest blogging opportunities as part of your digital content strategy, remember to:

  • Only approach guest blog publications that are directly related to your brand/industry, for which you share a target audience.
  • Familiarize yourself with the publication’s posting guidelines, and follow them to the letter.
  • Contact a real, live human from the publication about guest posting for a better chance at a “yes.” This is usually an editor or managing editor.

6. Set a Budget, Promote Your Published Pieces, and Maintain Momentum

The final parts of setting up your digital content strategy include setting your budget, planning for content promotion, and generally keeping your content marketing momentum going strong.

A. Budget for Your Major Content Activities

To carry out your digital content strategy, you will need some resources. This can include stuff like:

  • Web hosting
  • Help with content creation (copywriters, editors, etc.)
  • Tools and software for keyword research, topic research, email marketing, etc.
  • Tools and software for tracking and measuring your content performance

As such, you should budget for everything you plan to use to make your content strategy work.

B. Promote Your Content

SEO is only one way your target audience may discover your content. Along with this, you should come up with ways to promote and distribute your content to get as many eyes on it as possible. This might include:

  • Emails to your subscribers
  • Social media posts surrounding your content
  • Paid promotion like Facebook ads

C. Maintain Your Digital Content Strategy

Maintaining your digital content marketing strategy is all about auditing your content, tracking your progress, and measuring your results. Without this, you’ll never be able to see how far you’ve come, and your ROI will be unclear.

Auditing your content for quality and freshness – Eventually, lots of your old blogs and content pieces will get outdated with stale information or old quality standards. Updating these posts is a great idea for your digital content strategy. It ensures your content always aligns with your goals, mission, and standards.

Tracking and measuring – You will have no idea what kind of effect content marketing has on your brand presence and revenue if you don’t track and measure it. According to the Content Marketing Institute, a few KPIs (key performance indicators) to hone in on include:

  • Organic website traffic
  • Unique visitors
  • Engagement (bounce rates, click patterns, page views)
  • Comments
  • Social shares

A Digital Content Strategy Is Your Map to More Customers, More ROI, and More Revenue

Content marketing is nothing without a strategy. When you put that foundation in place, it gives you a map and guidebook to ROI. It points you in the right direction and tells you how to get there.

According to CoSchedule’s 2018 State of Marketing Strategy Report, marketers who create and document a digital strategy are 538% more likely to report success than those without a documented strategy.

keys to successful marketing

That’s incredible. More importantly, it shows just how vital it is to plan out your digital marketing.

So, here’s my next question:

Have you started your content marketing planning yet? (If not… What are you waiting for?)

online content strategy