E40 write podcast

The Write Podcast, Episode 40: Jay Baer on Talk Triggers & How to Build Effective Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Did you know? 83% of Americans say that a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend or family member makes them more likely to purchase that product or service.

Today, for Episode 40 (already!!), I’m honored to have the amazing Jay Baer as my guest on The Write Podcast.

Jay’s brand-new book, Talk Triggers, co-written with Daniel Lemin, came out on October 2, 2018 – less than one week ago! We recorded this episode a day before his book came out.

My own copy is already in my hands, complete with an alpaca (listen for a funny discussion at the beginning about the difference between an alpaca vs. llama, complete with sound effects), cookies, and headband. (I did an unboxing video of the book and giveaway items that you can watch here.)

The book is awesome, and I was so excited to chat with Jay and get more inside details. He has tons of sage advice from years in the marketing space.

Jay is the founder of Convince & Convert, a Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker, and the best-selling author of 6 books, including The Now Revolution, Hug Your Haters, and Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help and Hype. He’s well-qualified to speak (and write!) on today’s topic.

Without further ado, here are the episode show notes. Listen carefully for lots of gems – Jay is incredibly quotable!

E40 write podcast

The Write Podcast, E40: Jay Baer on Talk Triggers & How to Build Effective Word-of-Mouth Marketing

1:38 – Talking the Cover of Talk Triggers (Llama or Alpaca)? Before we dig into today’s topic, Jay clears up some confusion about the cover of his new book.

4:42 – Why Is Word-of-Mouth So Effective? According to the 2018 Word-of-Mouth Report, 83% of Americans are more likely to purchase a product or service if it earned a word-of-mouth recommendation from one of their friends or family members. Jay and I talk about this stat and the basic reason why word-of-mouth works so well.

8:05 – What’s the Difference Between a Talk Trigger and a USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? A talk trigger is something you do differently that gets people talking about your brand. It may be unexpected or surprising. Jay discusses how this concept is similar to but fundamentally different from a USP. (A great talk trigger example: Cheesecake Factory menus.)

10:03 – How Do You Start a Conversation Around Your Brand? Nobody has a word-of-mouth strategy. So how do you get people talking about you? According to Jay, the answer may lie between the expected and the unexpected.

12:09 – Should “Going Viral” Be One of Your Business Goals? Watch out – this is a trick question. Jay tells us why going viral could be positive or negative.

15:35 – How to Build Connections with Customers. Jay makes some great points here about how marketers rarely get insights from customers anymore. Instead, they rely on data. To create connections and nurture brand loyalty, you have to go to the source and find out what customers are expecting from you – then you can surprise them.

19:35 – Fans vs. Advocates. Jay comes up with a fantastic, off-the-cuff differentiator between fans and advocates. Hint: You definitely want brand advocates on your side.

22:52 – It’s Hard to Turn Fans into Advocates. Enter Talk Triggers. Jay gives a few great examples of how talk triggers can turn passive fans into active advocates for your brand.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

“Word-of-mouth has always been important since the first caveman sold a rock to another caveman, and the third caveman was like, ‘Dude, this guy has the best rocks.’” @jaybaer via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “Now, in this developed economy, we have so many choices and everything moves so quickly that somebody giving us a tip makes such a difference.” @jaybaer via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “As the variety of options increases, the persuasive notion of word-of-mouth increases accordingly.” @jaybaer via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “A talk trigger is a story people tell each other in a bar. A unique selling proposition is a bullet point people discuss in a boardroom.” @jaybaer via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “Nobody has a word-of-mouth strategy despite the fact that word-of-mouth influences between 50-91% of all purchases.” @jaybaer via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “Understand that same is lame. In business, we tend to play follow the leader. We say, ‘Who’s really good at xyz in our industry? Let’s mimic them, that’s safe” – but that doesn’t create conversations.” @jaybaer via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “Understand what your customers expect, and then do something they definitely don’t expect. That difference becomes your talk trigger.” @jaybaer via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “Going viral is not the same as a word-of-mouth strategy. Going viral is buying a lottery ticket. It’s a recipe of hope.” @jaybaer via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “Today, most marketers are surrounded by data but starved for insights – and it’s partially because we don’t talk to customers.” @jaybaer via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “Would you rather have fans than not have fans? Of course. But that’s only true because we assume that some percentage of fans will become advocates, or will give us money, or both.” @jaybaer via @writepodcast Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned

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E18 Keesa Schreane

The Write Podcast, Episode 18: The Secrets of Customer-Centric Content: How to Discover What Keeps Them Craving More with Keesa Schreane

Listen to “E18 The Secrets of Customer-Centric Content: How to Discover What Keeps Them Craving More with Keesa Schreane” on Spreaker.

I first listened to Keesa Schreane last November at the Search Engine Journal Summit in NYC, where she covered Inspired Marketing: How To Leverage Emotions In SEO. Her presentation was of so much value that I had to invite her onto my podcast! We connected on Twitter, then LinkedIn, and the rest is history. 🙂

Keesa, the API, platform and analytics content marketing head at Thomson Reuters, joined me today to discuss how online content works hand-in-hand with customer relationships and service. This is a unique topic to my podcast, and one to be sure to listen to all the way through.

If there’s one thing I think that’s not maximized enough in today’s content marketing world, it’s how to draw out super valuable content ideas from the very problems your own customers face daily. If you can uncover that, you’ll discover the hottest content topics to talk about to capture a motivated audience who will only enlarge your own customer base!

Win, win. Keesa is all about serving those you sell to–and her ideas are golden.

Enjoy this week’s episode!

E18 Keesa Schreane

The Write Podcast, Episode 18: The Secrets of Customer-Centric Content- How to Discover What Keeps Them Craving More with Keesa Schreane Show Notes

While Keesa’s background is in journalism, she’s spent years writing about personal finance, entrepreneurism, and careers. People describe her as “curious” and she believes deeply in maintaining this as a marketer, as well as a journalist.

This curiosity lead her into a career with entrepreneurs. In this podcast, Keesa talks about why she loves working with entrepreneurs so much, and how this dynamic group of innovators has led her to develop her own outlook on customer service, content, and digital relationships:

In our conversation, Keesa and I discuss the following:

  • Keesa’s role at Thomson Reuters. Keesa also gives us a glimpse into how she arrived at her dynamic role, and how her background influenced her decisions (and how curiosity is so important to content marketers!)
  • Why we build the things we build. Keesa talks about how great customer service and communication tie into great content. Keesa helps listeners understand how businesses can use customer service to develop great relationships while also incorporating the mission into the content they create, to create massively effective content!
  • Why it’s important to talk to your client ‘as if they were a 6-year old.’ While jargon can be tempting, Keesa describes why she thinks clarity and simplicity are central to shareable content–even with a high-level audience!
  • How businesses can start building a core message for their audiences. Plus, the importance of fleshing your customer personas out into real, semi-fictional people.
  • How to communicate and reach your target audience most effectively. Keesa talks about why it’s critical to read what your audience reads and visit the platforms they love.
  • How brands can provide the message of “great customer service” and show you care for your customers through content and branding. How building a “use case” can help set up your workflow and show your customer you understand their processes.
  • How to keep your audiences coming back once you have them hooked. And how finding out how your service and product is important to your clients will help you predict their future pain points.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

'Be clear on why you do what you do, and marry that to a need in the marketplace.' @KeesaCamille Click To Tweet 'Great customer service and communication ties into great content.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'Businesses can tie in great customer relationships to their copy = massively effective!' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'How to keep them coming back for more: know where your customer hangs out. Get to know X by knowing where X hangs out. Understand what motivates them, what’s important to them.' @KeesaCamille Click To Tweet 'If you're not ahead of the trends, in content marketing, you're behind.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'Have one-on-one conversations with your customers so you can serve them best.' @KeesaCamille Click To Tweet 'Nurture a client relationship by talking to customers. Listen to them, but also ask them questions. Be right there with them on their next question.' @KeesaCamille Click To Tweet 'I know it's old-school, but I use Excel as my editorial calendar.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'Sometimes, old school is all you need.' @KeesaCamille Click To Tweet Reach out to a small trial group of customers, maybe a dozen, and ask: 'Hey, this is what I’m thinking about for next quarter blog. Does this resonate with you?' @KeesaCamille Click To Tweet 'Look for topics that prompt more conversation.' @KeesaCamille Click To Tweet 'We want every point in the customer journey to be the best for that customer – to be tailor-made for that customer.' @KeesaCamille Click To Tweet 'If a writer sticks to the story, the readers are going to be drawn to the authenticity of the article.' @KeesaCamille Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned


express writers cta

write podcast with brandon schaefer

The Write Podcast, Episode 11: Why Content Marketing is Like Eggs to Your Cake with Brandon Schaefer

If you only listen to ONE of my episodes today, I’d point you to E11. You know why? I connected with someone who was as equally as passionate about content marketing as me–and so wonderfully expressive about their passion. Brandon Schaefer is the bomb! He’s an expert growth and business strategist, as well as mentor; and has helped companies like BuzzSumo, Hashtagify and many others (that he can’t name for NDA reasons) climb to the top. He’s also founded multiple companies of his own, including Brandon comes from a family of entrepreneurs and is an avid proponent of content marketing–you can tell it all throughout this episode! I enjoyed having his passion and expertise (not to mention personality!) on my show.

write podcast with brandon schaefer

In Episode 11 of The Write Podcast, Brandon Schaefer joins me for an epic discussion on content marketing:

  • Why it’s absolutely essential to businesses of ALL sizes
  • How brands can get started right now (hint: it’s as simple as writing, writing, writing)
  • How Brandon came from a family of entrepreneurs
  • What a “butt to the gut” is and how it applies to content marketing (basketball term)
  • How to connect with influencers (don’t go for the jugular right away)
  • Shoutout to Sujan Patel!
  • How content types and mediums are like the ingredients to a cake
  • ….& more!

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

Transcript: Episode 11, Why Content Marketing is Like Eggs to Your Cake with Brandon Schaefer

Julia: Hello and welcome to episode 11 in the Write Podcast. I’m here with Brandon Schaefer, who is a business strategist and mentor. He currently owns and runs He’s a business mentor at Score Mentors and he’s worked with multiple companies in growth hacking and brand awareness. He’s also the author of Wake Up To Win.

Brandon, I’m really excited to have you here today.

Brandon: Oh thank you so much. I really appreciate it. I’m thankful for the opportunity.

Julia: Absolutely. So let’s start. What would be your number one piece of advice or something fundamental for someone that’s looking to grow their brand?

Brandon: Get a plan, sit down with somebody. [LAUGH]

Julia: [LAUGH]

Brandon: I don’t even write stuff, I type, I don’t even carry a pen, but get a plan and sit down with maybe one or two people in your market segment that you can count on, if you don’t know somebody, find one or two people that aren’t actually trying to sell you anything. That they’re maybe in a similar market segment or somebody that you can sit down with and kinda share where you’re at.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Content marketing is like going to the gym. You have to put time in to look buff. – @MyVSF_Brandon ” quote=”Because most people have spent like six months a year, 12 months 24 months investing your time and money into something, and they don’t see the results so then they get upset and then they just bail, they give up and I understand it. But if you just realize that if you put some time in, it’s like working at a gym you go to the gym you don’t walk out looking buff, wherever the heck you are it takes time.”]

Get an unbiased opinion and not from a wife, a husband, partner anything else like that. Get somebody that can sit down with you and be honest with you and say like, listen how I’m I gonna make this thing work? This is what I’ve done so far, this’s the amount of money I spent and this is the amount of money I have left in the reserve.

What can I do over these next three months and get a strategy together, because I talked a lot of people and they always dumped, like, $70,000 so far and they don’t have a website yet. So it’s like we’ve been launching the website and it’s like don’t wait for perfection.

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

All three of those, you need to really focus on. There’s not anything what, those three are my three magic portions there, strategy, don’t spend a lot, don’t wait for a perfection because none of them are, you’re not gonna have a lot of perfection, you’re not gonna have a lot of money probably when you start and you’re probably not gonna have a lot of strategy either so those three things are the triangle that will yield good results I love it.

Julia: That reminds me of how I started my company. Every point you said just reminded me of how I began. So four years ago, actually five years ago now, I started my company because I was a really busy freelance writer. I had too much work on my hands but I didn’t want to turn away any client.

So I identified the need for a writing agency that had really good writers because back then it was like the industry was more populated with non English writers so I just identified that need and then in five minutes I literally coined my business name and I wish I’d spent a little more time on it [LAUGH] because I just took that business and ran and now I’m like, oh, I could have been more creative.

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

Brandon: Yeah, I mean the thing is like with your story, it’s kind of like your sitting then your like, oh this just seems like good idea, just do it. You’re not like spending like a ton of money because you go out you hire these big firms to do these websites to look like Walmart and Target and stuff like that or some like site that spends hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Just go to work, get something starting, blog or something, get something started, prove your model and as you prove your model, then you can start to spend some money, but you just don’t dive into the pool without knowing how deep it is.

You gotta out your toe in, feel it around, see what type of feedback you get like you did. An outlook. You got an incredible experience.

Julia Right. I spent $75 total to start my company. I coded my own website, I learned how to do it all myself, I learned how to post everything so [LAUGH] yeah, you don’t need much.

Brandon: I tell you what Julie, this is what most people that come to me I’m like, most companies, this is what I say initially.

I’ll sit down with you, I’ll go over the strategy, come back to me in 30, 60 days I’m gonna see how you’re doing. If you prove that you’ve done what I’ve recommended, then I’ll work with you. But until then, it’s not going to work because when someone jumps in, everyone has expectations that are like here because all we hear on the web is success stories.

All you hear is the tip of the iceberg, super success stories. Like hey I just started this, or hey I did this and this, we don’t hear about the 20 billion other people that just haven’t made a dime. It’s just shiny object syndrome.

But take the recommendations, start out slow and build it up from there and write Everyday, write every single day, I don’t care if you write 300 words, 500 words, what’s the guy, he posts everyday, he writes, Seth, who is it?

Julia: Seth Godin.

Brandon: Yeah, what’s he write? His posts are 100 words, I mean he has some more in-depths, I mean he’s an incredible guy, incredible resource, but his daily posts are like 200 words.

I mean that’s it.

Julia: They’re really short. Yeah that’s great advice. That’s something I do all the time, is just sit down and write. Maybe three fourths of my week is writing.

Brandon: Yeah it’s a diary. I mean for me personally I take the train on most days, so I just write on the trains. An hour ride each way on the train.

So usually in the morning time or afternoon, really in the afternoon I’ll take half hour and I’ll just write. And whatever I can write in a half hour, I write. And that’s me. I’m not sending this to get reviewed or anything else like that. I’m writing and publishing and firing. And I’m on to the next thing.

I know it’s not gonna be perfect. You hear me speak, I mean I speak crazily. I mean I speak with passion, I get loud, I get crazy.

Julia: That’s great.

Brandon: I jump up and down.

Julia: [LAUGH]

Brandon: Sometimes I have trouble talking, I mean it’s just because I’m excited. That’s it.

Julia: Right, well, your passion shows.

Brandon: Oh cool, thank you.

Julia: Tell me a little bit about your background as a business strategist.

Brandon: I grew up in business, my grand father was an entrepreneur, my mother is an entrepreneur. So I just naturally grew up around business strategy, around people always talking about that at thanks giving dinner, at holiday dinners or whenever, that’s all we ever talked about talked about was kind of business stuff, so he can say at some point it’s unfortunate, but kind of learned a lot.

I learned a lot about testing things, and failing, and that it’s okay and get right back up and tie those shoes on; you got to tie those laces on your shoes tighter the next day and get up and test something else out.

So as for planning, no. I always say failing to plan is planning to fail, right? So and that’s all that strategy is. It’s just taking the time to set out kind of a road map for yourself to go on.

Julia: I love that advice. So tell me a little bit about the companies that you’ve helped grow?

Brandon: Well I know one of them was BuzzSumo, I know you had mentioned that when you first reached out to me.

I recently worked with those guys. And I will tell you, that company does everything that they do 100% correctly. They have a small lean staff but they are truly an incredible model and if anybody on here, you reach out to Steve from BuzzSumo he will definitely talk with you. But yea those guys they do it, they do everything 100% correct and in the content world I guess, so much information is driven through content now that that market space that their in is a home-run because everybody is looking for content to share right? It’s perfect for everything for them right now. So it’s a really great company.

Hashtagify, for certain hashtags and stuff like that, that’s another home run of a company. Great brand that’s been around and is very popular in the social media space for attracting hashtags and searching to see which ones are most relevant, which ones are trending and stuff like that, and then we go all the way to sports equipment companies, you name it.

I’m not gonna go on and on with this stuff, for those who are probably two of the ones that would hit home most with your audience. I mean obviously they’re on all different types of market segments.

Julia: Yes you’re right, I use and I love both of those tools and BuzzSumo has been huge for content marketing.

I look at it like an essential content marketing tool, you can’t do much better than that. I haven’t found one that’s really better and you mentioned that what they do they do the best. I’ve reached out to Steve, he’s actually been on my podcast and I love—

Brandon: Oh my goodness okay.

Julia: Yeah and you’re so right about that, one thing he told me was that he has stayed up later than the competition, and that’s been like their number one secret.

Brandon: Oh and they’ve also got another secret, her name is Susan and she does all the web access and all kinds of stuff. She is a phenomenal lady. I feel like well I work with a lot of people but she is a phenomenal phenomenal resource for them.

Julia: That’s cool. It’s often people behind the scenes that are doing so many neat things and you don’t know them, but they’re there working really hard.

Brandon: Well that’s the key with business, actually probably a good point to bring up is that in business there’s always these secret hidden weapons, these secret weapons right, these people that really can get you to where you want to go or can help you along.

And we all see this bright shiny object and everybody especially when you’re trying to get into an account or something else like that, or get a guest post or something else like that, you always go right for the jugular.

Like we’re on an African plain like a lion trying to take down a hyena or something. You don’t look for the jugular, you hang out in the car, in the Jeep or whatever, see who does what. You’ll see that there’s hidden influencers behind all the big influencers or figures. So, if you can aim and start to hook up with some of these type of people, and whether you’re selling or in type of big sale, or whether it be an enterprise or a big company or whatever, whatever the case is, there’s always these hidden influences.

I always try to find a hidden influences or form relationships with them and then they can lead me when the time is right.

Julia: That’s really interesting, I love the advice. So how do you find someone like that?

Brandon: Well it’s, you gotta have, I call it butt in the gut, right? So, it’s like physical, like if you play basket ball, you will always butt in the gut, I’m not, I’m not like a basketball guy but I know my son plays basketball so he’s always coaching me on stuff which helps.

But yeah, it’s by paying attention, it’s by listening, because we all want to, and not just speaking for myself here and you know it’s like, I wanna say how great this is or what we can do or what problems we can solve and how great we’re gonna do it, but people want to really know what’s in it for them though? Like what effect is it going to have on us? Like if we do this service with you, then what results can we expect? What can we, what’s going to be different in our company? So, it’s important to stay focused on always providing value to the client, keeping them first.

Julia: That is so true and that’s funny, because I just published a blog today about how to stand out as a blogger and one of my number one tips is to focus on your audience, and sort of just you and, your brand whatever you’re selling and if you can focus on your audience and talk to that person, that’s so important, because that draws them in and they feel engaged and they’re probably more likely to go to your site and do something.

Brandon: Yeah and you’ve gotta get active, I mean, as, just as you know, you gotta go out to the conferences, if you can’t afford to go out to the conferences, then get involved in online groups, or Facebook groups, there’s lengthy in groups, there’s Twitter, you name it, just get engaged, get involved, with these different types of people and just give, give a response every once in a while, if they write something, I’m more into e-mail, I will rarely comment on an actual blog but I will get an e-mail address for them and send them a personal note like hey this is where this really hit home for me, thank you so much, like this is really cool, I was just thinking about this, like that type of stuff, so, I’ll take it actually offline right away, in most cases, if I’m gonna take the time to read a comment I’ll actually take the time to find their e-mail address and send them a personal e-mail and that’s, you wanna get your butt in your gut, that’s really get’s you belly to belly with somebody.

Julia: Exactly and that reminds me of how I touched base with you, I think it was just through a tweet.

Brandon: Oh yeah, that’s exactly how it works, you send me something today this is like this or whatever, we took it offline, and it’s a message I said hey send me an e-mail, and a couple of days later we were talking so.

Julia: Exactly, it’s amazing how quickly that can work. You know it’s like something, something so simple just to reach out directly and there’s so many platforms now like you mentioned going to events and Blab is huge.

Brandon: Yes, yeah.

Julia: For the networking, it’s been enormous.

Brandon: And there’s one thing that I always like to do too with these influencers, just kinda circling back on the, influencer stuff.

Julia: Mm-hm.

Brandon: Find out what platforms they hang out on and hang out on those platforms that they hang out on. So you try to get in front of somebody, but if someone’s big on Blab or someone’s big on Twitter or anywhere else and always on there, find out where they hang out the most and then communicate with them on that channel because there’s so many different channels as you know, we’re all kind of flipping back and forth, we’re getting with stuff.

I mean most people use tools, I know we use a bunch of tools to monitor tracks and hashtags and direct messages and email. There’s all day long there’s stuff coming come again, but if it’s sincere outreach, we’ll immediately respond back to that. Or if it’s something bad, we’re gonna immediately respond not that that happens a lot but wherever, but we’re prepared to take that conversation offline immediately as well.

Julia: Exactly. That’s so true about finding the platform where they I remember I was trying to reach out to someone on Twitter, when I was looking for someone to write my book for and I finally got Sujan Patel to do it but whenever I was looking for people, I reached out to someone on Twitter and they were like, well I don’t know you, so this was an influencer there.

Brandon: Yeah.

Julia: He’s like I don’t know you, but why don’t you come join my Blab and then we’ll get to know, to know each other and then yeah, maybe I’ll do it.

Brandon: Oh, that’s cool. Is it Sujan—Sujan?

Julia: Sujan Patel.

Brandon: Susan, okay. Does he run or is that-

Julia: Yeah, he started that.

Brandon: I’ve actually reached out to him real quick about how to actually do something. I’ve actually tested out that software, it was pretty cool. He’s got a couple of different things going. He seems like a pretty cool dude, I like his profile picture and if he’s ever in Philadelphia here I’ll be sure to catch up with him.

Julia: Oh that’s cool. Influencers connecting with influencers.

Brandon: That’s [LAUGH] that’s it, is it.

Julia: So Brandon, I just wanted to touch on as well content marketing, in your experience as a business strategist and growth hacking, how important would you say content marketing is to a business that’s looking to grow?

Brandon: Oh man. It is vitally important.

If I like don’t answer you right away is because it hits directly to my, it’s like you stab me in the heart with a knife because it hits so close to home with me, like I’m actually catching my breath before I say something so-

Julia: [LAUGH]

Brandon: Oh yeah content marketing is vital to any size business, any size.

I don’t care if you’re bricks and mortar, Mom and Dad shop, that you’re 70 years old and you’re in some small town. Content marketing, first it’s free. Well I don’t know if anything’s free anymore because time costs money and you know here and there but if you don’t have the advertising dollars to actually pay Google or pay Facebook or pay Twitter or any of these other platforms to run ads on or banner or whatever and you’re a happy writer, even if you’re not a half decent writer, but you’re writing about making saddles for English riding and horses in Wyoming, if you’re very specific, there’s a very, very good chance and you’re offering some information that’s unique, there’s a very, very good chance that your content is going to get seen by people and have some type of you’re gonna get more leverage and more opportunities to talk to more people.

Not only that but you also have the opportunity to get back lengths like qualified backlinks—

Julia: Right.

Brandon: Not like junk crap backlinks that don’t mean anything. It would be like me linking to you linking to you know and that shows basically free SEO so and there are so many types of different content to like get on a blab you can do a blab then you can transcribe what you went over and what you talked about you can do portions you can do quotes from that you know there is just you can make it into a SlideShare then you can make it into another video on YouTube, there is 15,000 things to do so there is no excuse you know?

Julia: Exactly I totally agree with that and that’s something I found just launching a podcast is in the amount of content I can re-create out of this podcast. You know we’ve done transcriptions for every episode, and the transcriptions have been like 6,000 words, and we post that as a new piece of content on our site and that’s huge attracting already new rankings.

Brandon: Yeah of course it works and it’s important there are so many companies that are still kind of not believing in it And I mean listen you can pay I was just doing a guest post for Tor Refsland, he just picked me yesterday about a guest post for something similar to this so I sent it back yesterday but you got to believe in it right so there are so many companies that are paying Google. And when I pay Google I mean I’m just guilty of it as well right so it’s like when I go to the water falls and I turn the water falls and then water comes out right it’s the same thing with Google when I pay Google traffic comes, right? And then when I stop paying them the traffic stops coming and it just still be a little bit of leakage here and there every once in a while.

But when you implement content marketing and you do it good and consistently and when I say consistently it’s not just like once a week or you can do whatever is comfortable for you like I just share like once a day, once every other day, I’m just here like a business experience that I’m going through I won’t mention any names because we always disclosure agreements but I won’t mention any names but I’ll just share like a similar story or something else like that and it works it’s a way to get it to work.

Julia: Right. So how would you look at different mediums of content as like for example being more important or more essential than another, like blogging I suppose, to doing a video or different mediums like that. So how important is a blog for business in general?

Brandon: Again you are stabbing me in the heart because these things hit so close to home. Always on my mind. You are doing a great job.

I look at it like this right so when you make a recipe at home not that I cook a lot and stuff like that my wife thank goodness for her does that, but so when we cook or something when we do we need all the ingredients right we need something like mushrooms.


We need some onions, we need some oil, we need some butter. We need some chicken if we’re gonna put in there or whatever. So those are all the ingredients, and no one type of content is good for everybody. So you gotta take a little bit of each one of the pieces, whether it is video, whether it’s actually an infographic, whether it’s by chair whatever platform it is you need to fold them all into the blender right and you need to hit, it just gets you, you need to touch on all basis and then once you do that for like a month for like 30, 60, 90 days then you can see which one is giving you the most ROI right and then you can start to really focus on that one, but you can’t leave the rest of them out of the picture right because all of them equal to pieces of puzzles.

So if you find one piece that like yields you better results than the others then always have that issue of primary focus but still make sure you are always hitting on this other types of content as well.

Julia: I love it that reminds me of a phrase I’ve seen a lot, like the eggs to your cake. That’s like—

Brandon: Exactly.

Julia: The content to your marketing.

Brandon: Yeah that’s exactly what it is.

Julia: Thanks so much for being here Brandon, I really appreciate it.

Brandon: Anytime and I’m available any time anybody wants to talk, anybody wants to chat in whatever, I’m here to help.

[MUSIC] Thanks for joining today’s Write Podcast. For more online content, tips and strategies, visit and now here’s your host Julia McCoy with a final message.

Julia: I hope you enjoyed today’s episode, I absolutely loved connecting to and talking with Brandon Schaefer, you can find them at or on Twitter @MyVSF_Brandon.

I’m really excited because my, book So You Think You Can Write, The Definitive Guide To Successful Online Writing came out April 19th and I’ve seen it already hit #2 and 3 on the charts on Amazon. And even better than that, I’ve been hearing from so many people including people around the world that are telling me how much my book is helping them create better content online, and that to me is so inspirational. That’s why I wrote this book, I really think that the hands-on skills involved in online content writing are not taught or talked about enough in a way that everyone can understand. It took me over five years of self teaching to learn all of this skills after a lot of trial and error and finding out what works and what doesn’t. So I’ve put everything I’ve learnt into a book, So You Think You Can Write, the Definitive Guide To Successful Online Writing and you can find it right now on Amazon, Print and Kindle as well as Barnes & Noble and iBooks. Go to for all the links.

Thank you so much for joining today’s Write Podcast!


The Write Podcast, Episode 10: Book Chapter Read of So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing

EEK. My first-ever published book, So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Online Writing, launched TODAY on Amazon.


In today’s episode, I read aloud part of the Introduction, where I talk about how I got started in this crazy world of online writing, and the first chapter from my book, where I share a section I thoroughly love: starting grounds for the online writer. Enjoy!

In Episode 10 of The Write Podcast, Julia reads an excerpt of her new book, So You Think You Can Write?

  • Learn how storytelling is an underlying fundamental of great online writing
  • Find out which companies are leading the forefront in creative, spectacular online writing skills
  • Hear some of Julia’s history, from her early days as a content marketer to today
  • Be inspired as you listen to what makes up some of the great stories in content marketing today
  • ….& more!

 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: Book Chapter Read of So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing

Julia: Hello and welcome to The Write Podcast! This is Julia McCoy, and today I’m really excited to share with you that my book So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide To Successful Online Writing is finally out. It went live today as print and Kindle on Amazon! This book is a summary of every skill I’ve learned and taught myself in the last few years to create successful online content, from blogs to webpages and much more.

To buy my book on Amazon just go to The direct Amazon book link will also be in this podcast description. 

I’ve had this book idea for years and I started working on, So you think you can write about a year ago. It’s been crazy just to get through this year of writing a book, I have a whole new respect for authors.

Writing a book is no small task, especially if you really wanna make it a good and worthwhile book. Worthwhile book. So the section I’m gonna read to you begins at the Introduction and I will read you chapter one, so let’s get started. Introduction. As an online marketer, site owner and freelance writer I’ve been and in online consecrations since 2011.

In a short few years I have seen the entire world of online content evolve for 100’s of businesses. The good news is that I’ve seen a great deal of progression, in 2011 I saw a lot of sub par online content do just fine then Giggle Panda hit the web a lot of duplicate cured stuffed poor content got struck down from the rankings.

Every time a major Google update has come out I’ve researched it, written about it and watched marketers flinch and then adapt. Some of my favorite clients were the marketers who came to me with the need to change and fit their content to the new Google rules and regulations. I think I was on speed dial for some of them [LAUGH] It was simple really.

Many of these marketers just needed higher quality content or they needed to replace the duplicate content on their site that they had copied over from somewhere else on the web. Yikes! So today’s overall online content direction is progressing toward a higher content quality and standard all over the web.

And who’s the major driving force? Google. I’ve been doing this for half a decade now and I run a seven figure company with a team of talented writers delivering online content to businesses of all kind. This has been my self taught full time career path. Here’s my belief about succeeding in this field, you don’t need a college course to learn to be an online writer, the nitty gritty, hands on, real world skills of online content writing aren’t taught in college yet.

I’ll agree that a foundational knowledge from college English 101 or 102 is applicable if it helps to refine your basic writing skills. Consequently a journalism degree does help if you choose to write press releases, but I firmly believe anyone could be self-taught in successful online content writing to create great content for themselves or earn a living doing it with the caviar that they have a passion and talent for writing because passion and talent will keep them going.

I’ve seen this manifest in my own career. If you’re this kind of writer but you don’t know how to bring your talents online yet or you want to solidify your knowledge in creating good online content, then my guide is just for you. I am giving you such a thorough definitive guide on online content writing that if you find all of it, you’ll be ready to write any kind of content that will rank well online and be successful, whether it’s for your clients or for yourself.

Chapter One: Starting Grounds.

Success in online writing, both monetary and in the subsequent value and ranking of great web content can happen for any passionate writer and brand given the opportunity to learn the tricks of the online writing trade. The tough part is there’s no one easy course to sign up for it that teaches you all of the tricks you need to know to succeed.

I was completely self-taught and I picked up some of my bet skills by learning them on the job as I wrote online content for my clients, not what I’d suggest for everyone. I think that essential writing skills are born from a passion that surfaces at a young age. This passion can’t be taught and it’s the starting point of what it takes to be a stellar content creator and copywriter.

My stunning growth can be traced back to writing fiction when I was just 9 years old. Many professional copywriters, probably more than half, double in fiction When the mood strikes them. Writing fiction maintains and sharpens the base skills of creative writing. When we grow up telling stories it’s only natural that we incorporate pieces of them into our current writing, and guess what, fiction writing is the fertile ground where some f the greatest storytelling genius is born and cultivated.

A passion for storytelling born at an early age can blossom into amazing online content writing skills at a later age and thus translate into well developed copyrighting chops for the world’s most successful brands. Ordinary writers doing extraordinary things. Storytelling comes from showing reality from a different perspective, it could be summed up that simply.

An interesting, unique point of view can really draw a person in, and when you combine the identifiable point of view with a good story to tell you transform that story into an extension of someone’s life. A good story and advertising copy makes the person witnessing it subconsciously think – GEE, that sounds like or could be me!

How was that emotion pulled out? By a story told so well that it became relatable and real. Very often that person goes on to become a customer for the company that drew them in and related to them on a personal level. Although story telling styles and media has changed over time, the idea that a good story appeals to the audience is timeless, it’s why we tell our kids stories adapted from 16th century German fairy tales.

The story is in itself a timeless art form. Once upon a time stories were used as a means of promoting discourse. Socrates presented his thoughts to the public in the form of fables. Many ancient Greek and Roman philosophers such as Euclid and Plato used to couch their factual knowledge and Story telling, and you know what? Stories stick.

Who remembers the first grade fairytale rather than the sixth grade Geography or Math lesson? Me too. It goes to show that a relatable story is often remembered far more accurately and much more vividly than drier content pushed down our throats as a road to memorization. This persistence of memory is also another reason why the story has taken root in modern day advertising.

Storytelling allows us to bring the audience into the front seat and bad times make each person feel like the most important person in the room. Nothing is as memorable as a show put on just for you, unless it’s a show that is starring you. In our attempts at storytelling we try to put the audience in the driver’s seat and have them experience the feelings and emotions that an ordinary person would feel in such a position, like the myriad of writers that came before us, from Herodotus to Shakespeare.

We continue to carry on the timeless work of telling stories. What are the online writers stories made of? Now obviously online copywriters don’t write the kinds of stories found in books. You just won’t see a guy staring at a full page ad and reading it like a novel enjoying its use of double entendre, maybe we’ll get there one day, whenever any single one of us enjoys the fabulous art of reading entire volumes voraciously, but I highly doubt that’s likely.

Our attention spans are currently dwindling not growing according to research. So the way an online writer builds a story is a little different. While a fictional writer has a toolbox full of plots, devices and character portraits, the content writer has a trunk full of information about whom they want to reach and the most effective way to do it.

We began by researching our audience first and foremost before we even start writing. A fiction writer starts with the premise and then finds the audience but the copywriter starts with the audience and then generates the premise, and they create a story that sells to that audience.

There are a number of different success tales in businesses, both large and small that testify to the usefulness of this story as a marketing tool. Recent trends in marketing have shown that combining the idea of a story to teach the audience something has a far greater impact on final sales.

As entertaining as the story is, if it doesn’t sell then it isn’t successful from a marketing perspective. So are there limits to storytelling? Will the story ever detract from a message you need to get across to a potential customer in order to sell him or her? Enter the following example, marketing storytelling so good it sold crap literally.

An example of storytelling success in marketing: Poo~Pourri. Recently I came across an example of brand storytelling so good it blew my mind. It was an ad by the brand Poo~Pourri on YouTube. This 3 minute 5 second video captured me and held my attention the entire time. Yes they interrupted the writing of this book.

The video opens with a beautiful, English, redheaded girl drinking tea and eating baked goods with her lady friends. She suddenly experiences the passing of gas, looks into the camera and says, my butt trumpet is about to blow [LAUGH] and when the eclairs spreads my hot-crossed buns no one will ever know. It’s time to go down the crappit hole, where smelling is believing.

The viewer then proceeds to get flushed down a toilet, and to a music video where people are doing yoga and simultaneously singing about crap with their heads between their legs. Did that just make you say what? And then immediately you want to know more.

The maker of this newer brand sold no less than 4 million products to date. And I think the magic of their story telling is their primary reason. Make your story educating and entertaining. Potpourri’s example is so crazy good it’s out of this world literally I haven’t seen a better tale in marketing.

If you can nail a story that creative then my hat is off to you. Not every brand will be able to come up with that amount of successful crappy puns, pun intended. So even if you cant be the next Poo Potpourri here’s how you should be using the hugely important element of storytelling in your content.

The overall aim of our online storytelling should be to educate and entertain and from that naturally to sell. Educating validates the idea of a value-based content system, what Google and readers love today. Success for the online marketer is found in copy that isn’t aimed at a hard sale, but instead offers useful and insightful information.

Through visualized content that naturally attracts more leads out of viewers and entertaining is simply your desired and achievable level of creativity. However far you want to go to make your story entertain your fans on a one to Poo~Pourri level. With a truly useful educational, entertaining story line and consistent content output, regular blogs, videos or other content types you’ll draw and warm leads will keep reading your content because it gives them an answer or solves their problems, and these leads are much more likely to buy your product.

Then the readers face with the cold sale. This is big news for us writers, since a whopping 40% or more of the world’s population now has access to the Internet, which means there are more than 3 billion people online, Internet marketing is the primary advertising avenue for all businesses.

More than 8 new people get online every second and over 139,000 new websites go live everyday based on 2013 statistics. 46% of people read blogs more than once a day and 82% of marketers who blog daily gain a customer from their blogs. Adobe has reported that Internet TV will be replacing traditional cable television with Internet video viewing growing by 388% annually, and cable TV is seeing the lowest number of viewers today than it has ever seen.

I could cite stuff all day long but the point is if you’re in business your best audience is found online and the foundation of all online marketing is good content. Fundamentally good story telling is the key to writing contents that excels then add too this strong underlying foundation it make as your knowledge research skills and the ability to thoroughly address all of your readers questions.

Learning to create captivating headlines that correctly reflect what the content is about is another important tool in your skill set. This described process is also what I’m about to teach you in my book. This approach is already working, numbers don’t lie, companies such as General Electric RedBull have utilized the medium of story telling in a bold new way giving theirs viewers and readers stories informing as opposed to selling.

Go read and watch some of the media on their websites if you want to be inspired, and as I showed there are brands like Poo~Pourri taking storytelling to the next creative level. and simply sewing through the power of an astoundingly fun brand. Providing useful engaging content is the new face of marketing.

If you’re aware of this concept and can manage to blend storytelling with useful information then you’re well on you way to becoming a first class content creator, and when And once you’ve had some experience in storytelling, whether it is making up fables on the fly or your kid brother, eating up volumes of beautiful fiction tales at a time or writing a lengthy essay you actually enjoyed creating for your middle school teacher, then you probably have the skills for this type of content.

Truth be told I personally find it easier to write from an ad or targeted online copy perspective than just writing from a fictional perspective. Fiction gives you a lot of freedom to experiment but too much of a good thing means you have no limits or boundaries and it’s very easy to wonder off message.

In contrast online copy almost every time has defined guidelines to work within and although you were challenged to think outside the box where really good ideas are born, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll end up doing something wrong if you stay within the guidelines while exercising your writing talents and skills.

In this type of writing once you understand the instructions it’s impossible to stray off the beating path, fall off the cliff or wonder into the weeds.

End of chapter one.

I really hope you enjoy this brief excerpt of my book So You Think You Can Write, The Definitive Guide To Successful Online Writing.

Thanks for joining The Write Podcast.


To buy Julia’s book, click the Amazon button below:


The Write Podcast, Episode 9: How to Fit Content Curation into Your Content Marketing Strategy Successfully with Guillaume Decugis

Welcome to Episode 9 in The Write Podcast! I’m thrilled you’ve joined me for another episode. This episode is a good one: Guillaume Decugis, one of my favorite marketers in the content curation niche, joined me as a guest expert to share insights on just how marketers can do online content curation correctly. Guillaume is an expert online and his insights are fantastic. Prior to co-founding, which is a pioneer in the content curation platform space and has over 2 million users today, Guillaume built a company to success from scratch and sold it to Microsoft. I like what he says so much, I’ve invited Guillaume to be a guest expert on #ContentWritingChat, and had a Google Hangout with him a way back.

In this episode, Guillaume discusses, how they’re doing great new things, and how content curation as a whole fits into content marketing–plus a whole lot more good things. Enjoy!

guillaume decugis content curation

In Episode 9 of The Write Podcast, Guillaume shares insights on:

  • How is fulfilling on a mission to help marketers find and re-share great content
  • How the methodology in content marketing isn’t clear, how many marketers don’t know yet how to create great content; and how content curation helps marketers
  • How Guillaume is an engineer-turned-content-marketer and how that helps him reverse engineer content marketing (a reason I seriously love listening to him!)
  • How you’re not a parrot if you re-share your content (you’re just getting more visibility)
  • How we’re about to see a lot more SMBs embrace content marketing – not just big box brands
  • Why measuring ROI in content marketing matters
  • ….& more!

 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: How to Fit Content Curation into Your Content Marketing Strategy Successfully with Guillaume Decugis

Julia: Hello and welcome to The Write Podcast. This is your host Julia McCoy. And today my guest is Guillaume, the founder and CEO of, which is a content discovery and curation platform. I love their home page tagline: you are the content you publish.

Guillaume, welcome to the show, and thanks for being here.

Guillaume: Hi everyone, and super excited to be here, hi Julia.

Julia: Great to have you here. So I wanted to go into a little bit about what does for content curation, and just how content curation ties into content marketing, for those who maybe haven’t heard of before aren’t familiar with it.

Guillaume: Yeah, so we’ve been around for four years now, we turned four in November which is entering old age for a start up.

And so we are very proud we made it so far, lots of exciting things to do, and I think it’s just the beginning. And so we started with this realization four or five years ago, and that’s why we like this claim that you are the content you publish. And what we mean by that is that online visibility has shifted over the last five years, from traditional techniques like SEO completely changed, it used to be technical, SEO techniques, used to be SEM, it used to be display adds, and it really changed to content.

Now if you wanna be visible online you have to publish great content. This is what Google tells you, this is what social networks tell you. So that’s what we wanted to help professionals in general, and marketers in particular, achieve is how to transition from the old style marketing to accountant based marketing.

And so we started with a first idea, we tried to think about what is the difficulty here. And we found a lot of marketers were not actually trained to create great content. They didn’t think in terms of their company as media, they thought about campaigns, they thought about a lot of digital marketing things, and even today in schools there are very few curriculums in marketing classes which really focus on content.

So we felt, okay, our mission is gonna be to help marketers be good at content. And so the first thing we noticed is that it was really hard for them to create content at scale, and that content curation was a great way to help them with that, to help them discover content to curate and share to their social channels, which is the basic curation that everybody does or everybody should do. Share somebody else’s content to engage our community. But there’s a lot more to curation to that. There’s the idea that you can use that curated content for your blog, for your newsletters, and we can touch into that.

So what we realized over time is that, we’ve been known for our curation service which is a free tool that anybody can use at, but the novelty that we’ve launched earlier this year is’s Content Director, where we encapsulated that curation technology with all sorts of different features to really create a complete integrated content marketing framework that helps.

A software that helps marketers with all of the content marketing cycle, and then curation is an important way we helped, but we’re strong believers that content marketing is a cycle that needs to be optimized in the same way that CRM was optimized, that lead nurturing was optimized, so there’s a lot to see on that.

Julia: So thinking about the future and 2016, it’s crazy for me to think about how much content will probably be out there, and it will be like a sea of content, it will be crazy. So how do you see content curation as helping navigate all of that content?

Guillaume: What really sounds super useful is that, so first of all the fact that everybody starts to embrace content marketing now means that you really have to be good at it in order to be efficient.

So you need to step up your game, you need to be having the right methodology, the right framework to do that. There was a benchmark by the Content Marketing Institute that really showed something interesting. They do their yearly benchmark, and this one went out about months ago.

More than 50%, I think 56% of marketers don’t know if their content marketing is efficient. So there’s really a lack of methodology, a lot of marketers don’t know really what they’re doing, what’s content marketing, and that’s not their fault. The methodology is not clear yet, and so we think that’s our mission, and that’s what we’re doing with our own content, but also putting rules in our product to help marketers with that.

So the first consequence of having everybody in content marketing is you really have to be professional at it. The second thing is, everybody publishes a lot of content, you have to keep track of what’s being published out there. And so the first thing you learn with content curation is you discover what content is published on your topic of expertise, on what’s interesting for your audience.

The third thing is that because a lot of content is produced, you don’t have to produce entirely from scratch, and so you both have to publish more content, but there’s already a lot of great content out there that you could relate to, that you could curate, and make your own by adding a commentary, an insight, and transform a piece of third party content into what we call a curated post, which really means quoting that piece of content linking back to it, being super ethical and transparent about it, but adding your own insight, as we call it, to turn that into a blog post.

And that’s been a great way to not only publish more content, we have an e-book on there that just show that compared to writing from scratch a piece of content during a curated post, takes maybe four to eight times faster. But it is also a great way to work with your community and to be really be lean about your content marketing.

And I think about it based in terms of, think about recycling, we all wanna recycle, we wanna be healthy with the time and everything. Well when you recycle content from somebody else you’re doing some magic here because you’re giving love and traffic to that author, but you’re also adding your own value and your own context, and you’re getting more content on your blog, and you can distribute that on your social channel as well.

So that’s really how content curation can help. So I think, as we’re seeing more content, I think curation plays more and more in a role.

Julia: Yes. I agree, that’s a really good nutshell of how it works for marketers I think, and going forth in 2016, we’ll probably see more use of platforms like yours and, and tell me a little bit about how you’ve seen it grown, I mean, you started it, how long ago?

Guillaume: Four years ago, November, 2011.

Julia: So how much have you seen it grown since then, and more so in this year?

Guillaume: Yeah, we’ve been seeing a ton of acceleration, so the reason for that, I think is as we’ve explained, content curation becomes more important, and becomes more important to discover content more easily, and be able to publish easily contents on social channels, on your blog, on your newsletters.

We have about two and half million users of the free version now, so that’s been really fantastic to see people embrace it. But the thing which to me is really something we’re proud of, is not just to have users, it’s the fact that those users collectively, ever since we started, attracted about 300 million people, and they were able to publish 100 million pieces of content.

So think about what we said earlier, our mission is, we said, you are the content you publish, and our mission is to help people publish content to get visibility. That was our starting point, publishing content is the way to get visibility, have you solve that? Well, content curation helps.

It makes it easier, and so our validation is we help a lot of people publish a lot of content, to attract even more visitors to their pages, either their pages, we have a light CMS platform you can create easily, pages, topic pages on, or you can integrate with your blog. So that’s really valuable traffic that the platform has been able to help our community of users build so it’s very satisfying for us to see that variation. And so now we keep growing, and we built this B2B version which is Content Director, and we already have a lot of companies using it, and the results have been fantastic as well.

We’ve seen people go from blogging one time a month to blogging twice a week, and they’ve seen the results in terms of how much SEO and traffic they generated. And I think the other niche we’re very happy about, is we’ve done a lot of work around how do you prove the ROI of content marketing? How do you generate leads? And we’re seeing now content marketing as something that is becoming essential as part of lead generation, demand generation, and I think that’s gonna also be a very important change next year. I think we’re gonna have a lot more ways to prove and improve the way of content marketing.

Julia: I totally agree, it’s amazing whenever you connect to your audience, and you find people in your audience who are sharing your content, and connecting to them back, and directly relates to our lives.

Like you said we’ll probably see refining of those types of tactics next year.

Guillaume: Yeah and I think we’ve done a lot of work ourselves on what is the ROI of Content? And we wanted to answer that question in general, but also for ourselves. We used content marketing, that’s our number one marketing strategy, and we experiment a lot with some of the ideas we have or what we see people blogging about.

And so a lot of the framework and the methodology we built for content marketing that is reflected in our products, is something that we’ve experimented with, and on which we have feedback. And so on ROI we’ve really thought about what does it mean to get ROI from content.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘We don’t get paid in likes and visitors. We get paid in revenue.’ @gdecugis on @writepodcast:” quote=”And I think a lot of people still struggle with, okay I know I can get more content out there, I can measure traffic increase with maybe Google Analytics, but we don’t get paid in likes and Google Analytics visitors. We get paid in getting revenue up.”]

And so there was an interesting piece I curated recently about at times you get marketers on the quarter just like sales people. And I think that’s a very interesting idea because now there’s a bunch of tools like ours and others that really helps you.

For instance, one of the things we’re super happy with is that on Content Director you can go piece of content by piece of content, and see how many leads you’ve generated with that piece of content for your company. And for all of you who are B2B marketers, who are tasked with driving demand, generating leads, nurturing leads, really proved okay, let’s take a look at the blog post I published, the tweet I made, every piece of content I did over last one month, two months, three months, here’s how many leads each of this individual pieces generated.

That’s a fantastic tool to have because now you get a very different seat at the table when you’re discussing with your C-level, with your direct reporting, with your boss. Whether in a small or mid-size companies, that gives you a lot more credibility. And it’s also a way to scale content marketing because the minute you can prove that by blogging, by tweeting more content, by curating more content, by distributing more content you can generate more leads.

Then the next question you have is okay, tell me what you need to generate more. So I think we’ll see a lot of that trend in 2016.

Julia: That’s great. It sounds like you have already provided so much of an answer to find the ROI, what type of content converts and the numbers, and that’s definitely something not a lot of other platforms offer. So that’s really neat.

Guillaume: Yeah, but I think it’s really the beginning. We have a lot of interesting things in the road map. We’re building integrations with steel arm tools. I think, I’m an engineer turned marketer, so first I like to build stuff, but when we started to work on that content opportunity, and how to structure things, I wanted to reverse engineer content marketing.

I really wanted to understand and try to really build a solid methodology for other people to use. And I don’t want to do that as the consultants. I have a ton of respect for consultants, but I’m a product builder so we wanted, as a team, to build software to help people do that.

And when we think about everything we can do to help, if you think of all the posts you’ve read about how to do content marketing, how to be better, and there’s a lot on all blogs, there’s a lot on great other blogs, you write a lot of great contents on this as well. What’s really striking to me is as a community of people who write on content marketing we start to establish some patterns.

There are some rules, there are some methodology that everybody agrees upon, but it hasn’t been productized yet. And that’s where road map is bad. It’s taking those roles, things that everybody agrees upon, and making them easy for people to do. Like reassuring your content multiple times, re-purposing your content.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Publishing prey: people that publish a blog and think their work is done. [email protected] on @writepodcast” quote=”A lot of people still are, what I call, publishing prey. They publish a blog post, and they think their work is done, when maybe half of your job actually starts at that moment.”]

Julia: Right exactly.

Guillaume: So we’ve built work flows where you can say I want this blog post to be re-shared ten times over the next six weeks.

Things like re-sharing your old content, the content that transformed the most. So you need to have first this data, why don’t I blog posts which have the higher conversion rate. And how do I then, re-share them over and over again in a very easy way? So those are things software can help you do, and we’re really passionate about that, and we have tons of idea.

Julia: That’s awesome. Sounds like next year will be exciting for you because by now the need for content marketing has been so much established, and now it’s just like well, how do we bring numbers to our bosses that the content’s working? And how do we do it a better way. So, sounds like next year will be exciting?

Guillaume: Yeah. I think we’re going to see, my vision for this is that if you look at sales and marketing software in general, it all started with CRM 15 years ago, and sales force is the big player in that field.

I’m gonna date myself, but I was around when SalesForce, [LAUGH] started to gain traction, and there was a lot of people who were doing sales at the time in a very different way.

It wasn’t really so much process to run it, there was a large dimension which still exists, a great sales guy, is still a great sales guy, but a great sales guy with sales force is much a more efficient salesperson. And I think we’re gonna see the same in this marketing, there’s a cycle to optimize.

The CRM is about optimizing the cycle which is, you wanna do a certain number of tasks in order to keep them happy, take them from a qualified prospects to customer, and a happy customer, and everything. And you wanna align your organization around that, even if it’s a small team, even small teams are using CRM now.

I think we’re gonna see exactly the same thing happen with content marketing. Think about it. Content marketing is about doing a cycle, it’s about planning, understanding what content to publish, and when to publish it over time. It’s about producing content, either from scratch, original, curated, a mix thereof.

It’s about distribution on social, on email, SEO, and all the channels you can find. And it’s about analytics, analyzing that the impact on your business results, and repeating the cycle over and over again, and iterating it, learning from the analytics, and then doing some tests, and iterating, and getting better and better at it.

Now the fastest you can optimize that cycle, the more data you can use in that cycle, the better you’re gonna be. And of course you’ll still need to be able to be good at content, understand content, understand your target audience, understand your bio-persona. But we are firm believers that with the right tools you can make that cycle be more optimized, and that’s what we’re building.

Julia: Sounds like you’re trying to make life easier for content marketers?

Guillaume: Easier and more impacting.

The keyword for us is ROI. So ROI is R and I. So the ease here is making the I lower, and taking away a lot of the pain-points, a lot of the copy-pasting, and a lot of the painful stuff you have to do so that you can focus on where I think, human beings will never be replaced which is applying judgment, being creative, understanding, having empathy with your targets, prospects, and audience.

But the R is also important, think about what we’re discussing about republishing content.

This is documented, we’re not the only ones saying that. Mark Traphagen published a study two to three years ago, but the impact of republishing content over time.

You share it once you get that many views, you share it five times over three weeks, nobody is gonna think you’re a parrot because not 100% of your audience is seeing your tweet when you publish it, but then you get 2 to 3x more traffic.

So this is also how we increase ROI. So making the I lower, but also amplifying the impact of your content is something we work a lot on.

Julia: And I also wanted to mention some of what you just said will tie into this. The limitations of concentration, and what would be the limit? What would be the good percentage amount to mix up creating original content, and then adding in content curation?

Guillaume: First, content curation is not something you should do 100%.

It’s not a balance here, it’s not replacing creation for instance. If you look at our blog we’re using a mix of created and curated content. If you look at our social channels we’re also using a mix. And for us it’s also important because it ties in with our community, we share a lot of a lot of content from the influencers we respect and admire, and who also in turn help contribute to our content.

So I think the rule of thumb that I always like to give is if you think about what is good content plan? A good content plan might be to say, look, right now I’m blogging on a monthly basis. And I know it’s not enough, I wanna go to weekly, and I wanna do two extra weeks. So set objectives for yourself, and those objectives will vary in time.

Maybe next quarter you will be doubling, and the quarter after that your will be doubling again. So think about setting those objectives, and to me you should create as much as you can, quality content. It’s pointless to decrease your quality level just for the sake of publishing.

So at some point you gonna realize that you are either running out of time to create content, or you can create something that is not gonna be as good that shouldn’t have your brand. So at this moment you should say, well I’ve created enough, that I was inspired. I’m now lacking inspiration, I don’t have enough time, so you should think of supplementing your creation with curation.

So I always try to think about create everything you can as long as you maintain quality, as long as you’re inspired, as long as it’s easy for you to do so. And then the way you go from, and maybe that’s gonna be one of your two blog posts every week. Now the other one will be a curated one.

So there’s no strict rule like a 75/25, 50/50, 80/20, whatever. It’s different for everybody. Some people will find it easy to create one blog post every week, and then do maybe three curated posts. Some people will struggle to do one original blog post in months, and then they could supplement everything else by curation.

I think my rule is I don’t wanna create something that is not my quality standard, that’s not educational for my audience, that’s not actionable. So the minute I start to feel, okay. I’m gonna be blogging for blogging sakes, I’m better off publishing somebody else’s content, and adding some commentary in it.

Julia: That’s a very good rule of thumb. If you don’t like what you publish yourself maybe you shouldn’t be publishing it.

Guillaume: Yeah. And then, plus, there are lots of opportunities where if you publish somebody else’s content they’ve done the work, they’ve done something awesome, you can relate to it, that doesn’t make you weak.

There’s a lot of people who have been confused by that. Even the thought leaders who admired the most. Art sizes and field kind of marketing, if you look at history they’ve always been quoting, they’ve always been relating to other people’s content. That’s the way mankind is built.

We build on our predecessors and what’s existing. So it doesn’t make you weaker. Actually it plays the opposite role. Curation, besides ROI driven quantitative stuff like publishing more, and publishing faster, does a couple of things. First, it makes you more credible. If I tell you hey, here’s what an expert said on this topic, I’m more credible than if I’m telling you that.

And actually there was a study, I’m gonna do that just now, there was a study that was done not by us, but by an analytics and market research company who surveyed people on how they found various type of content credible. They had to rank. Do I trust that type of content or do I trust more that type of content? And they found that third party content was four to seven times more trusted than vendor originating content. So that’s not me saying it, it’s somebody else’s. So curation adds credibility to what you’re saying. But the second thing it also helps you build a relationship. There’s a lot of people, and it might be your case where I started sharing their content, and then we had conversations.

Hey, thanks for sharing my content, and then we started chatting on Twitter. And then you contributed to our blog, and now we’re creating content together. So sharing influencers’ content, influencers in your industry sharing their content will put you in their radar. And if you wanna then build on that and do influencer marketing. I think this is a great start.

And I published a blog post on the Tracker blog, on this. Tracker is a great platform to discover and nurture influencers. I recommend you look at it. There’s a blog post I wrote about how curation is actually a first step in an influencer marketing strategy, because before you can ask influencer anything.

I’m a firm believer that you have to give before you get. Give them traffic, give them love, share their content, and once you start to establish those relationships well maybe you’ll be in a position to ask them to, I don’t know, contribute to your content, or re-share one of your posts, or anything like that.

So that aspect of curation is also very, very important.

 Julia: Absolutely that’s great for connections. We’ve seen that happen so many times. We will go and connect to our influencer, just minutes later we’ll get a follow back, and then we’ll start a conversation. And if we didn’t initiate, and do something, re-share their content, follow them first, good things wouldn’t follow.

So it is about connecting. Any last thoughts you want to add, just thinking about the New Year, and business going into content marketing doing their curation?

Guillaume: Yeah. I think there’s a recap, I think we’re gonna see something pretty exciting happening over the next few months so next year is gonna be exciting.

I think, we’ve been hearing about content marketing for a long time. I think there’s another aspect maybe I’ll add to that is the fact that the other trend that I’ve been seeing in 2015 that I think will amplify in 2016 is the type of companies which are embracing content marketing.

If you look at four years ago when we started to talk about content marketing it was really a large company, a consumer brand story. I am a big admirer of for instance, Red Bull. They transformed a food company, a soft drink company into a media company. And we’ve seen a few examples of that.

When you look at those stories, you look at content marketing being awesome and great, but this is not what 99% of companies out there can do. It’s what large companies can do. And so, Joe Pulizzi has this compilation of predictions for next year, and last year he asked me, what’s your prediction for content marketing trends in 2015? And my prediction is we’re gonna start to see SMBs, so small to mid-size businesses, embrace content marketing, and content curation is actually an enabler of that because this whole ROI equation was the bottleneck for them, and so now they’re starting to see techniques that help them do that with a one person team, or two person, and then small marketing teams.

So I think we’re gonna see that trend accelerate in 2016. It’s already true now. I think we’re seeing a lot of small mid-size companies, who don’t have teams, marking teams of 100 to 200 people. Start to think about content as something they can really embrace, and start, be good at, and scale, even though they don’t have the means to give a million dollars to a large advertising agency and say okay, solve that problem for me.

So they have to do it themselves. So they need to have the right tools and the right methodology, and so I think we’re gonna see that amplified and continued through in 2016 in addition to that trend around, standardizing the methodology, and also be able to measure the ROI of content marketing a lot more.

Julia: Thank you so much for being on The Write Podcast Guillaume, really appreciate it.

Guillaume: Let’s do a follow up to see whether our prediction was true. [LAUGH]

Julia: [LAUGH] That sounds great.

Guillaume: Thanks for having me.

[MUSIC] For more online content tips and strategies, visit [MUSIC]

Julia: I always like hearing Guillaume’s perspectives and insights on content marketing. You can follow him on Twitter @gdecugis, and be sure to check out

Guillaume was recently a featured guest host on our weekly Twitter chat, this March. If you’re a writer, business owner, or content marketer, you’ll love our Twitter chat. It happens every week on Tuesdays at 10 AM CST. Join us with the #ContentWritingChat. I love hearing from the participants that join content writing chat every week. We always hear something like, a business owner learns a new way to do content, or someone is inspired to create better content in a better way. So be sure to join our Twitter chat.

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

E08 Write Podcast Website Cover Featured Image

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, 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 {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 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 [MUSIC]

Be sure to check out this amazing content marketing tool at 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

E07 Write Podcast Website Cover Featured Image

The Write Podcast, Episode 7: Best SEO Research Practices for Your Online Content with Michael Stricker from SEMrush

Have I ever mentioned that I love SEMrush? Seriously, it’s my favorite SEO and digital marketing software (and it’s a favorite among lots of other people); they have an amazing weekly Twitter chat, #semrushchat, that attracts hundreds of people discussing everything from content marketing to SEO; check out their software at

So, you can imagine how honored I was to have Michael, the US Marketing Director at SEMrush, join me for an episode of The Write Podcast. He’s amassed quite an expert background as a lead consultant on SEO, SMM, ORM, CRO, and inbound marketing for clients ranging from national brands to Fortune 500 companies. Michael has been an international expert speaker for PubCon, AdTech, SMX East and many other marketing events.

In today’s episode, Michael discusses overall strategies on SEO keyword research techniques, and here’s the cool part—he’s thinking of a busy person with not a lot of time on their hands to spend solely on keyword research. So, these tips are for just for you!

Michael is a savvy, well-versed SEO expert who’s fun to talk to and even more fun to listen to. You’ll enjoy this episode!

michael stricker best seo practices for online content

In Episode 7 of The Write Podcast, I’ve asked Michael’s insights on:

  • How would you invest just 10 minutes and do really effective SEO research?
  • How would you specifically suggest using SEMrush for SEO research?
  • How can businesses find real topics that their prospects might be searching right now?
  • How can businesses add SEO to their content marketing effectively?
  • Name a few trends for better content marketing and SEO in 2016

As always, the full transcription is provided below. Enjoy!

If you like what you hear, I’d love it if you would leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show and it’s ranking in iTunes. I appreciate it—enjoy the show!

Episode 7 Best SEO Research Practices for Your Online Content with Michael Stricker from SEMrush

Julia: Welcome to episode 7 in The Write Podcast.

This is your host Julia McCoy. And I’m here today with Michael Stricker, the US Marketing Director at SEMrush, which is the leading tool for competitive intelligence online. Michael is an international speaker. He’s appeared in the LinkedIn Sophisticated Marketer Podcast, he’s spoken at Pubcon, AdTech, Hero Conference, and SMX East, just to name a few.

Michael, I’m really excited to have you on today.

Michael: Julie I’m thrilled to be here, thanks for inviting me.

Julia: Absolutely. So a good topic to pick your brain on would be SEO research techniques, content marketing for businesses. To start that off, give us some insights. How to invest a short amount of time and do really effective SEO research.

Michael: Sure. This thing about techniques that you can apply, that only take a few minutes because my impression is that, your listeners are largely gonna be content marketers, content writers?

Julia: Right. Right.

Michael: Copywriters, and so for that audience, correct me if I’m wrong, but these people don’t wanna spend all day swimming around in a data analysis tool such as SEMRush.

Julia: [LAUGH] Exactly. [LAUGH]

Michael: They got jobs to do, and maybe even some of them are piecework, and so they need to write, and the point is to get to that as rapidly as possible. But to be effective so that when you finish the job and a week or so goes by, and somebody sees that their traffic acquisition is going up, maybe their rank for particular keywords is going up, and especially if they’re delivering a good experience for users, and actually converting business, then they’re gonna call you back.

And they’re gonna say, hey, I want that copywriter again. So just to cut to the quick, I wanna talk about the way that a content writer should understand what stage of a path to purchase that they’re writing for. And it sounds maybe a little daunting to some people. But basically, you’re thinking about like four or you call them five stages.

One is an issue. You got a problem. You see the questions that people ask, and you can look this up in key word research, and people are asking questions literary like I have a stain in my clothes. Or I have ring in my sink, or whatever, and they’re looking for a possible set of solutions for that.

The next thing is they’re comparing solutions and it’s okay. Would I rather hire a plumber, or get some Ajax, or what would I do about this ring in my sink? And then if they get to the point where they’re actually thinking about replacing the sink and hiring a plumber, they are gonna want to qualify.

So they are gonna wanna qualify different kinds of plumbers, and are they in their area, and oh. Now the final stage. How much does it cost? And that’s the final transactional stage and if you can catch people at those four or five various points through their journey to buying, and aim your content at one of those four points or five points, then you’re gonna be that much more effective.

The thing is to have a sense for what’s called the funnel. Oh, there’s a word, there’s term. So probably know what the funnel is, but know what stage of the funnel you’re writing for. And so as a content writer you might have to talk to the website owner, you might have to talk to the client if you’re working with an agency, or something like that.

You wanna get as close to the final decision maker, the stakeholder if you will, get as close to that person as you can. And they may actually be impressed if you ask them, am I writing for top of funnel, people with issues, am I just trying to acquire traffic, or am I trying to help you close a deal with a particular product or service in mind? And that’s gonna affect what it is that you’re looking for when you do the keyword research.

Julia: I think that’s a great breakdown.

And going back to that first step addressing topics that people search for, I love that. That’s one of the ways that we create content that seems to really answer big questions out there. And going back to that finding those initial topics would you say that long tail keywords play into that? Which type of keywords?

Michael: Yeah.

So the keywords at the top of the funnel are the short keywords, the issues, oh, bathtub ring, or sunhat or something. By the time you get down to the bottom of the funnel you’re talking long tail because the searcher has a lot more information, and now they are actually maybe using a brand name, a product name, a size, accessories, colors they’re using all of this words, and it can be five or more words long.

And the longer the term, the longer the keyword, usually the closer somebody is to some form of transaction. So yes. If you’re at the bottom of the funnel you’re looking for longer keywords. And if all you wanna do is bring traffic in, you can think a little shorter. But I think that the lie, sort of, in SEO is that some day you’re gonna be ranking number one for a single keyword, like the word hat, and the chances of you ranking number one for hat against companies that have sold nothing but hats for 100 years, and have 55,000 of them in their catalog, it’s pretty slim.

Google has a sense for the riches of content that people have. So I will just say started at two, and work your way up.

Julia: That great advice, to add on to that how would location keywords plan? I know sometimes whenever we research that it’s challenging because there isn’t a law of data on how many people search inside a location.

But can it be as simple as adding a location on? What are you thoughts about that?

Michael: Yeah, sure, absolutely. So thinking about whether location plays into your keyword set and the kind of content that you gonna write is an enormous boom. And if you think about that, going in, and starting to write for a client, you’re gonna do so better for them.

And you wanna do this on your own maybe un-coached. So the kinds of businesses that are local, restaurants, and taverns, and contractors, and service area businesses, and professionals like doctors, dentists, lawyers. All these people serve a particular area. So as soon as you see that.

A natural starting point would be to start including city and state name pairs like citations in your content. It’s gonna make Google imagine that this may actually apply to the specific area that you’re naming. The searchers themselves may not enter the city name or the neighborhood name when they search, but Google has so much metadata about searches.

Based on your IP address they know where you are. Based on your smart phone, and your geo-location. They know where you are so, so much of it is aimed at local searchers anymore that you should make an effort to include that. And on the other side of the equation, when you’re thinking about local keywords, some tools excel at giving you some of this data.

So, you’re gonna have to let me say [LAUGH] a little bit about SEMrush.

Julia: Of course, please. [LAUGH]

Michael: Okay [LAUGH] good. So there is something called position tracker in SEMrush, and what it enables you to do is to go in, and set up your domain, and competitor domain. So you know whose coming up against your clients, say, in the market.

And to either enter keywords or let SEMrush suggest them for you. And then scope how you’re gonna track the rank or the position, in Google, by State level or right on down to the City level. When you do this, overtime, it’s going to surface better and better keywords for these particular Domains.

So like you said at first, you maybe a little slim on the kinds of local keywords that are really working. Overtime you’re gonna see better and better information about just what those keywords are used locally, and like a frequent example that I refer to is that, here I am in the Northeast of the US, and we call carbonated beverages, sodas.


Julia: [LAUGH] Right.

Michael: I go flying down to Florida, or Raleigh, or something like that, and they’re calling it coke.

Julia: Right.

Michael: And what do you mean, it’s like grape soda, and you’re calling it coke? Well, that’s just what they call it. And then out west, in California, they’ll call it pop.

Julia: Exactly I was going to say pop.

Michael: Yeah, so if I want to talk the language of my readers, I gotta be a little sensitive to that.

Julia: So that’s a part of using synonyms within keywords, like just branching out beyond one keyword instead of focusing on just one word. Adding in synonyms, what relates, and that is a natural process of creating SEO content. Which I think is great.

Michael: Yeah. Absolutely, a lot of people and I’ve spoken about this for several years now, are accustomed to using the auto suggest part of Google, and using various tools to get that information. But you know how it works. You go to Google, you start typing in a term, and Google makes helpful suggestions for you in a little list to choose from. Oh, did you mean, and it gives you alternative suggestions and tools like Ubersuggest. There are some that did a great job of putting this information out for you, as you say, to give you some variant of the original keyword, the original phrase.

Part of the problem now is that Google is shutting down their auto suggest API. So you’re not gonna be able to get at that information any longer, at least in a free way. Maybe somebody will start buying the API, and sort of reselling it to users, but some people have built a lot of SEO on that process. And what you need for now is you need an independent process that, for instance, SEMrush uses something called the phrase report and related terms to arrive at something very similar to the auto suggest.

But it doesn’t use auto suggest to get at this. It uses semantic relations between words. So Google, hey. Knock yourselves out. Go ahead. Close one door, one more door [LAUGH] in the faces of SEOs, and thank goodness that there is other ways, other workarounds that are out there available now.

Julia: So true. One thing to add to that, I’ve heard of using Quora as a way to find really good topics that your people are searching for, and we’ve done that too. So that’s a good resource.

Michael: Yeah, that awesome. I don’t know if I saw it on your site, but I may have seen it actually in a blog post of yours, how you were doing that and I’m accustomed to thinking of Quora, with its Q and As, and all of that as an awesome place to drive some traffic from offsite. But using it as a place to look up related topics is great, it’s wonderful.

Julia: Yes, it’s very similar to the Google suggest which as you said Google’s doing away with so it’s great to have that.

I also wanted to talk briefly about prepositions within keywords, just some of your keyword advice there. That’s a question I have seen, and I’ve seen it change through out the past few years. In 2011, people were like don’t use preposition, say words like a service, and then the location, and don’t put anything in between that, and it looked so unnatural.

And it was like “credit card company Los Angeles”. And it looked just so bad, [LAUGH] and that was being stuffed in the content. So prepositions, does that matter? How does that change keyword research if at all?

Michael: Well, you’re right. It has changed because in the past it wasn’t so much that you had an ideal technique when you left this stuff out, and actually, Google got to the point where it could easily eliminate articles, and prepositions, and things that it thought were not the main to defining the meaning of what you are typing in.

That the search terms, they would sometimes strip them down to their basics, and that’s why you get, unemployment lawyer, Arizona, or something like that. But recently, especially since Hummingbird, Google’s done a much, much better job of figuring out just what people are looking for, and some of this is definitely based on sentence structure.

And as soon as you start saying that, the prepositions come back. And there’s yet another development that encourages you, for instance to, use lot’s of the w words, the who, what, when, where, and why. We talked about Quora. We talked a little bit about questions, but if I go to Google, and I make a search for a question, or an object, or something, there’s a good chance that, I think it’s almost 80% of the time now based on certain kinds of searches, I’m gonna see an answer box.

And it’s gonna take up a good section of that search engine result page. And it’s gonna give me the answer there. Now If I can answer a question for people in what I write, I state the question, and I state the answer, and therefore, I could earn that space in that answer box for my client or for myself.

So I would say, don’t worry about the about the prepositions. Be as natural in your language as possible, include both the query and the answer, if you can, in your writing, without over-stuffing. The point of it is to be natural, readable, and realize that Google has, some time now, used human raters that they send to look at sites and judge quality, and you’ve probably seen where Google has finally released—

Julia: Oh yes. A 160 page doc. Yes we wrote a blog about that, and I tried to actually keep the blog short, but it turned out to be around 4,000 words [LAUGH]

Michael: [LAUGH]

Julia: So we really take a look at it. [LAUGH]

Michael: That’s awesome. What a great resource that it is.

Julia: Oh, thanks.

Michael: So yes, it’s nice to have it kind of boiled down for people.

Julia: Yes.

Michael: And it’s very, very interesting to see, and it is all about, speaking directly to people, providing something actionable, making what you say conclusive, avoiding being slim, shallow, and-

Julia: Right.

Michael: You know? Of those things that used to be more Panda problems, but just to be as genuinely helpful as possible.

Julia: Right, exactly, that kind of sums up that monster guidelines doc that was released. It’s all about being helpful, useful, and having expertise when you speak.

Michael: Yeah, yeah.

Julia: So I wanted to move on to talking about businesses, adding SEO into the content marketing mix, which can sometimes be challenging, just all the SEO tactics that they should be using.

And your tool, SEMrush is, it’s one of our favorites. We’ve tried different tools, and I think that everything is so comprehensively inside SEMrush, for so many different SEO needs. So, maybe talk a little bit about how to use SEMrush to bring in SEO into your content marketing.

Michael: Yeah. So content marketing, from my point of view and from the point of view of many, started when HubSpot started talking about inbound marketing, and how important it was to have content, and the importance of answering people’s questions.

And when you can dig into a keyword phrase report where related terms around a particular set of keywords you can start to see, literally, deep in this list of available keywords, long tail phrases that are the expression of questions as they were typed in by living, breathing, human beings. Doesn’t get anymore genuine than that. So you find these things, and you say I can imagine this person. And they’re interested in this particular thing. If I buy this will it fit me, thus, and so? Or whatever the question is. So digging deep into a phrase report that’s 1,500 keywords sounds like a lot of work.

However, if you dive in to the 5th page, 6th page, or something like that, and you start to see the questions, you can ignore, a lot of times, the shorter terms and phrases upfront to get at these longer tail phrases. And that’s gonna help a writer arrive at their topic more rapidly, and get a direct kind of question to answer. That’s one way of getting at it. Another thing is that a lot of websites, a lot of people who are stakeholders in their own websites, get all caught up in their own set of keywords, and where their traffic is coming from, and what have we been doing lately.

And you can get a lot of that information out of their analytics, and you’re gonna actually get some of their keywords, say out of their Google search console, which is all well and good. But when you compare keyword sets among the best competitor out there, and you see the phrases that they’re using, and that are driving them the most traffic, you have a leg up.

You have a way that you can avoid overworking yourself, you can avoid the risk of experimentation, you can meet the needs of your audience, and I’m not saying that you would write what they wrote, although you could click through and read it if you wanted to. But the point is that you know what is being searched frequently in Google, so there’s a good way of getting some traffic, and you can see what is actually delivering traffic to, say your competitors’ websites.

And when I say competitors I mean, you may be a more of a boutique outfit let’s say, and you’re selling particular items of clothing, yoga clothing or something like that, and you might be interested in what a Modell’s, or a Macy’s, or what other larger retailers are using to sell your kind of clothing.

So when you see their much larger keyword sets, might be a big eye opener, and so there you go. So SEMrush gives you a way of comparing keyword sets between your own sets, say, and those of a competitor. Let me see what’s unique to my competitor. Oh. That’s a good opportunity. If it’s working for them, there is a good chance it will work for me. Let me find the key words that are overlapping that we share. Could be a case where there’s lots of competition for these keywords, maybe I wanna double down on some of them, or maybe I’m looking for an alternate route. I wanna find other key words that I can do. If you find key words that are unique to you, and unused by a competitor there is your strength.

Work on those kinds of key words, and attract as much traffic as you can, while the sun shines, until somebody else discovers those particular key words.

Julia: That’s excellent. I think that competitive keyword research or competitor keyword research is something that not a lot of businesses are doing enough of. And it’s easy to skip over that part. But I call that inspiration. You look at what others are doing, what they’re doing successfully, and also maybe how you can do it a little better. How you can answer the question a little deeper. So I think that’s really good description of the process.

Michael: That’s awesome. I mean, the word inspiration that you said, to me that’s perfect because it really is not a matter that you’re going to copy it or anything, that’s the last thing that you wanna do. But I think without thinking of it the way that you did, and using the word inspiration, some people might get caught up in this thing like I’m gonna do what they do.

Do things that they do but do it better.

Julia: Exactly.

Michael: Do it with a tone that, now this goes for copywriters, if you know the personas, or the people, the audience that you’re writing to, you can be authentic and genuine in how you phrase things, and the tone that you take, and all of that.

And that can be often be overlooked. I mean given the opportunity to have a little sense of humor and lighten things up, I mean you’re gonna have a much more engaged audience for your writing if that goes with the brand zone like sort of self image or whatever. So, important to know that stuff going in, do you wanna be casual or maybe even a little irreverent, or you might have to keep it buttoned down pretty tight if you’re doing something technical.

But there’s always room for a little personality, I think.

Julia: I agree. [LAUGH] That’s something I try to keep within my blog, direct voice, that’s my favorite type of style. I just try to be really direct, and if that includes, hey let’s get our heads out of the sand, including something like that. That’s just part of our voice.

Michael: It’s good. I’m gonna be reading your blog more.

Julia: Oh good. [LAUGH]

So, to wrap this up Michael, I wanted to get your thoughts on just a few trends for where SEO and content marketing might be headed in 2016.

Michael: Okay. Well, thanks for asking. Nobody has a looking glass.

If I read a lot that’s going on, and you mentioned this yourself, live streaming video, it’s expected to be huge now. We’ve had false starts in the past, there have been some social video tools that were out there, tried to build an audience, and even Vine. You had the chance to do 6 seconds, and then somebody did 15 seconds, and then somebody did 30 seconds. And the idea that you can stream it live now, seems to lower a lot of the obstacles that get between you and actually getting started doing it. So think of your idea about small businesses, if they can just have the courage to do the first few. Start building a library of these things, they’re gonna be on the upper trend for producing that kind of media, and I’m not even sure.

I mean, it’s just gotten so casual. Not even sure that the word media might be a little too [LAUGH] fancy for it.

Julia: [LAUGH] That’s true. It really has gone casual. The direction of that is that could that be a good direction or could that be lowering quality sometimes? What do you think?

Michael: Yeah.

Well, some of my favorite content in say YouTube, has been content that it is kinda low brow, if you wanna think of it that way. So to explain that a little bit more, there was a company called, and this is a very, very common example so pardon me if you’ve heard it before but Blendtec. And Blendtec did videos of blend this, and they would do this really hokey read in, and will it blend? It’s an iPhone, and they throw an iPhone into one of their blenders, and they turn it on. As soon as they did that it’s like, I just wanna see this.

Julia: [LAUGH] Right.

Michael: Yeah. And they grind it into powder, and it’s amazing, and so you say well that’s one heck of a blender, but it’s just this funny thing to see what the heck are they gonna throw in there next? And genuine, interesting, yeah it gets at a strength of the product.

The blender can’t be stopped, all of that, but for its audience, largely men it turns out, just chopping crap up [LAUGH]. It turns out to be enormously popular, and they have billions of views as people shared that stuff. So, if you do something a little out of the ordinary, and you have a different take on things, don’t think it has to be complicated, and the production value was not good.

It wasn’t lovingly lit, or they didn’t have perfect lenses and stuff, but it’s just awesome stuff.

Julia: That’s a good point, yeah. It sounds like it’s more about appealing to your audience. If you can hit on what they would like to see, it doesn’t have to be top-notch quality.

Michael: Right.

I’m sitting in a studio here, and I have lights, and a green backdrop, and all of these things that you can do whatever you wanted in here. I could be sitting on the screen, and I could be looking like I’m skiing down a hill behind me or something, but is that gonna really help me deliver a more entertaining video, or does all of this, going for quality, actually just provide you an excuse not to get started?

Julia: Well, thank you so much for joining me today Michael, on The Write Podcast. I really appreciate it.

Michael: I really appreciate being here. You’re a lovely host, and I really appreciate being here, and I’m hopeful that you can join us on an SEMrush webinar perhaps podcast soon.

[MUSIC] For more online content, tips, and strategies visit [MUSIC]

Julia: Michael is continually appearing in the SEO niche, and I think the advice he shares is excellent. You can go follow him on twitter at @RadioMS. Also, be sure to check out SEMrush. I love and use this tool daily for my SEO.

Also, Michael will be appearing as an upcoming guest host on our Twitter chat that happens every week. Join us at #ContentWritingChat. Follow the chat on twitter, @writingchat.

Be sure to keep an eye out for my book! I’m really excited about it. I’m publishing it by the end of this March. It’s called, So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide To Successful Online Writing, and I’m sharing everything I’ve learned over the past five years as an online writer, marketer, and blogger. I’m putting this together as a guide for both writers and the business owner that wants to create great online content. It will be out on Amazon. You can search for it, So You Think You Can Write.

Thanks for joining today’s episode of the Write Podcast. For more episodes go to

E06 Write Podcast Website Cover Featured Image

The Write Podcast, Episode 6: Talking Life, Entrepreneurship, Guest Blogging, & Content Marketing With Sujan Patel

In today’s episode, I’m thrilled to be interviewing Sujan Patel. This guy is super cool, because, well a) he’s writing the foreword to my upcoming book and b) he’s an entrepreneur who has started multiple companies and has been an Internet marketer for over 12 years now. He’s known for being the co-founder of co-founder of Content Marketer &, and he’s appeared on Forbes, Inc, and many other high-caliber content sites. I can’t wait to launch my book, featuring his foreword – stay alerted when it’s out here!

Sujan shares his down-to-earth, super-useful advice in this insightful episode on lots of things: entrepreneurship, how to be a star guest blogger like himself (it’s not overnight), and content marketing practices in general. Enjoy!

sujan patel episode 6

In Episode 6 of The Write Podcast, Sujan Patel covers a lot of things, including:

  • How he went from college dropout who loved to surf to a multi-company founder and startup entrepreneur
  • How he only creates tools that he feels personally invested in…and how the hardest part is simply doing the work
  • Tips on guest blogging from the guru: why getting on Forbes and Inc isn’t an overnight job
  • How Sujan Patel is actually related to Neil Patel, a leader in content marketing
  • Why Sujan feels live-streaming and recording videos of yourself is essential in content marketing
  • How to easily figure out if you have a viable business idea with a napkin marketing plan
  • What are some of the craziest risks Sujan has taken, to uphold his “risk-taker reputation”
  • If you’re new to content marketing, don’t expect immediate results
  • How that one payment might not matter as much as relationships, if you’re subscription-based
  • ….& more

As always, the full transcription is provided below. Enjoy! 

If you like what you hear, I’d love it if you would leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show and it’s ranking in iTunes. I appreciate it—enjoy the show!

Transcript: Episode 6 Talking Life, Entrepreneurship, Guest Blogging, & Content Marketing With Sujan Patel

Julia: Hello and welcome to The Write Podcast. This is your host Julia McCoy, and I’m here today with Sujan Patel, the co-founder of Content Marketer and He’s an entrepreneur and startup guy that has led content strategy for companies like Salesforce and Intuit.

Sujan is also writing the foreword for my upcoming book, So You Think You Can Write. It’s great to have you here today Sujan.

Sujan: Yes thanks for having me excited to be on your podcast and I’m excited to write your foreword too.

Julia: It’s great to have you do both, I’m excited too. So I saw we have something in common, you are a college dropout and I am too. So I started nursing school and I actually failed it in the second semester, and then I decided to try to pick up what I really liked doing which was not nursing school, and it was writing.

So tell me a little about your story when you went from college dropout to what you are today.

Sujan: Yeah, so I went to college because that is what I thought I was supposed to do, and that was just the next logical step. But I really had no clue what I wanted to do I mean I was studying in the business and computer science, but I didn’t really know why I was doing that just figured out that I’ll get developer a job or IT job or something like that.

And then I realized in kind of like my freshman year, sophomore year I started doing some consulting work, I stumbled on to SEO, during college I had a e-commerce website that I was building, actually a car park business I was trying to build into an e-commerce website.

And so I was in the wonderful world of Internet in general and then I spent tons of money on my site, and then I had a rude awakening when holy crap no one is coming to my website. So I stumbled on SEO and it kind of started this series of events that led to me dropping out of school. One was, I was able to optimize the website and actually gain a bunch of traffic but I stopped that business because I had to go and do drop shipping, customer support, like I was just an 18 year old kid. I didn’t have any clue what I was doing, let alone I was going to school which really meant waking up and going surfing in the mornings.

I grew up in Cali so I would go surfing in the mornings and then snowboarding in the winters and I would adjust my class schedule around that, but anyway that is another story. So I stumble on SEO I ended up getting a lot of traffic, but it didn’t actually grow the business it just got a lot of traffic, and realized that holy crap I can actually do this as a consultant or maybe even a career at this time.

This was early 2000s, right when I was getting at this, the dot com bust happened and I was a little too naive to even know it happened. So I kept going and I ended up doing consulting gigs on like Elance and Odesk and actually Odesk didn’t even exist at the time. So it was Elance. And I was like one of the only Indians in America doing [LAUGH] consulting work on Elance.

Julia: Wow.

Sujan: And I think that helped me get some clients and what not, but when I did that I was actually making more money than what I wanted to make as a career out of college, why am I doing this and so I ended up going into work for an agency when I decided to call the quits, and that really what kickstarted my career as marketer.

Julia: That’s really awesome and the same thing happened to me in the case that I’m making more now than I would have as a nurse.

So in our industry I’m sure you’ve heard of the name Neil Patel, and when I first heard of you I actually thought you were related. So tell me do you get that question a lot?

Sujan: Yeah I get, that’s the question I get a lot we obviously have very similar names.

So we are related. So Neil is my cousin actually.

Julia: Oh really?

Sujan: So we grew up together there, we spent our childhood together then we went very different paths. He went entrepreneur initially and then I went kind of employee route and started working kinda raising within the kind of corporate world.

And then I ended up going down that entrepreneur route anyways. And so Neil and I have always stayed in touch and things like that, but it was funny because I’m always saying like man I wanna meet people that don’t know you.

Julia: [LAUGH]

Sujan: And I want to get out of your shadow and what not or whatever that might be and so it’s a question I get asked a lot but it is what it is.

Julia: I didn’t know you’re actually related. So that’s kind of cool.

Sujan: Yeah we do a lot. Our family is a lot of business guys are kind of entrepreneurs, whether they’re very small business owners to guys like Neil who are super successful.

Julia: So it just seems you need to have a story online about the Patel family.

Sujan: [LAUGH]

Julia: Tell me a little bit about the tools you’ve created, Content Marketer and Tell me a little bit about what they do and how you created them.

Sujan: With content, that was the first one I got into, that was the idea came about early last year or the idea came to life. Earlier last year I’ve had this idea in my pocket for a long time. So the short version was that I started this prior to what I’m doing now, I ran a marketing agency, a digital marketing agency and we did a lot of SEO, content marketing and before it was even called content marketing and link building, we did sales, and we did outbound sales for ourselves. We’d be sending a lot of emails, we’d be doing pitching people, saying, hey we looked at your site, here’s a few improvements. That was kinda of one of our go to, sorry, our acquisition channels for our customers acquiring clients, and so we did a lot of outbound emails. And I found a lot of tools and went through a lot of tools, and they all kinda suck but they don’t really work for me.

Then we ended up building a lot of these small tools. At the time they’re really built for link building, outreach for content promoting, and then for sales. We had all these real tools and those are really the essence of what is today except those tools were very, very bad UX. A lot of them were just, literally you’re running in terminal and so I had to have a person who actually knew how to write code to actually run these tools. They had no like user interface and ContentMarketer is really the web vector family version of that using a lot of what we’ve learned over the past.

So I’ve sent over a million outbound emails for again various reasons, and learned a lot like I just learned the right things to do, built a lot of relations, made a lot of mistakes and so that is what the initial Chrome plug-in was built off of, and then from there we get a lot of customers, we get a lot of people using it.

To date we’ve seen at least about six thousand, seven thousand people through the door and in early days we had a beta launch so a lot of it was free. And what we’ve learned is how to make our tool even better and so we created two free tools, one that launched just yesterday called Connector which is just for email outreach.

Julia: Oh wow.

Sujan: It’s kind of like a middle ground between the Yesware, what’s in your box and or where you need a full grown CRM, you’re doing that much outreach. So ours is right in the middle, we have a lot of templates. And then the other tool is Notifier, and Notifier is Twitter outreach. So you scan a URL and scan an article you’ve written. If you’ve mentioned anybody in there we’ll find the twitter handles and then bam, you can send a tweet with those twitter handles included and if you’ve mentioned four, five people you can split it up into multiple tweets and both tools from the basic features are free and my goal was essentially to take what we’ve learned and users get the most value out of, and try to make it as free or as cheap as possible. And give people a quick win because our end game with, like our big goal, is to create a suite of content marketing tools or tools to help content marketers specifically.

Julia: That’s a great aim and that sounds like fantastic tools that you are creating.

Sujan: Yeah, it’s been fun. I’ve been in the SAAS kind of space for some time now and I’m taking everything I’ve learned, I’ve known and again, I’m an avid marketer so I’m really making these tools for myself first. And then that’s how I value, is that I actually build some basic functionality for myself, I explore to or I expand to my marketing network which I have a few Slack groups and, I’m very active in the marketing space so I just let people kinda explore it and it’s kinda, I ask these guys, hey I’m I missing something? Am I in the right direction? They all get it then I know there’s something there that could be good.

Julia: That sounds like what I do with content marketing, whenever I publish or create something. I always ask myself, would I actually read this, would I actually share this and learn from it. And you’re doing that with your tools, and I think that’s just great. If all marketers thought like that, we’d probably see a lot of great tools on the web.

So I also noticed that you are a really fantastic guest blogger. You’re on Forbes, Inc and Entrepreneur. So how did you get on those guest blogs? How did you approach them?

Sujan: Yeah so I actually have a whole lengthy kind of like 30, 40 minute talk on how I went through the process. But I’ll kinda give the short version. It’s if you want to work your way to the top. These guys, these publications are really the cream of the crop, these are where everybody wants to go after, I’m sure you as a content marketer, writer you totally understand that. You’re not gonna go from I’ve never blogged before to I’m gonna blog on Forbes or write on Forbes.

Julia: Exactly.

Sujan: You have to work your way up and what I did is it took me about five years, but then because I didn’t really have that [INAUDIBLE AUDIO]. I was trying and failing and succeeding at certain points, but then after I did it I was like holy crap, here’s the thing that I did that actually works.

So the short version is first you got a blog on your site. So that you can get into any credible company blogs or kind of blogs that have some reputation, but they aren’t like the biggest blogs in the space. Get your name out there somewhere and from there you have now your blog, and another site to validate your reason for going after the next site, and just kind of go after a slightly bigger site.

Make sure you knock it out of the park and then when you do it with those three sites, go after industry publications. So in my space, sites like Search Engine Journal, Content Marketing Institute, who else? Search Engine Lab. There’s so many industry sites that are talking about SEO, marketing or something like Social Media Examiner would be another one. And you work your way and fish that side. You have that site you can pitch maybe in sites like Small Business Trends, Entrepreneur and you pretty much going broader and broader and then you have a couple wins there, and your pitching Forbes what not. Now when I say pitching, you can find the contact information of the editor and reach out to them and you do a cold email, that’s how I did it. I’ve also, some of them I’ve got intros, so I’ve made friends with other writers that are writing there, and you got to keep in mind don’t do this is that don’t ask for an introduction to an editor. That is the number one question every writer that writes for Inc, Forbes or whatever gets asked all the time.

So make friends, pay your dues, I mean don’t use that person but make friends with them and I guarantee you, if you’re doing a good job and you’re truly providing value to, and it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Doors are gonna open and this whole process is a year, 18 months, two years not overnight.

You know it’s kind of just knowing your place and making sure you are always inching forward, but not reaching beyond kind of like your brand, and so having a personal brand and building that up really, really helps.

And Julia I’ll give you a quick shortcut: video. Video is amazing way to show that you are a great writer. What I actually write.

Julia: Interesting.

Sujan: Take your content and show like your personality because that’s something that people can see. And like when you see someone smile or charisma like you’re hand movements. That’s something that you don’t get when you’re reading or listening it’s like this emotional trigger that happens and I’ve tested this out like that last October, November. I did like a 60 day spread of where I was creating a ton of video and I was doing a lot on Periscope, and oh man engagement rates and the amount of people that like connected with me was crazy. It was with less than a 100 people were viewing each video, but the engagement I got was equivalent to like 10, 20,000 people visiting a blog post.

Julia: So you do live stream and then you just do the YouTube videos?

Sujan: Yeah so I’ve been doing that. So I tested it now as my MVP to getting in there. I bought a few thousand dollars of equipment, proper lighting is essentially the biggest key, and then what is it called? Just a stand for your phone. I record all my videos iPhone 6 nothing too fancy, but it’s a pretty powerful camera. Sure. It’s pretty cheap. I’m looking at the blog and Lead Pages blogs, they do a lot of videos. I’m just kind of looked up their resources, and then repeated it and saw some traction and now this year.

I’m going heavy into video. I started the year with like a 2015 recap for me and I did like a 30-minute video. And the content was good, it was kind of very personal and I was very transparent. But really that video it triggered a lot of emotional things and connections. So I’ve gotten like 50 emails already from just that video.

Julia: That’s amazing, that’s a big engagement thing.

Sujan: I feel like people just connect with me with me as a person, more than I’m just another person blogging.

Julia: Right.

As you know, you’re known for taking risks and I wanted to ask what are some of the craziest risks you’ve taken, either an entrepreneur or just in general.

Sujan: Yeah so for those of you that don’t know me I am an avid sky-diver.

I race cars and motorcycles by the racetrack all the time. I don’t think you know this I have actually broken 17 bones.

Julia: Oh ouch.

Sujan: I see how many bones I’ve broken just to remind myself, I haven’t broken any bone, since that I’ve gotten the tattoo of the broken bones.

Julia: [LAUGH] Nice.

Sujan: But the biggest risk I’ve taken as an entrepreneur, is really talking.

So there’s two, one is talking a lot about what I wanna do, and not taking the action. It’s so easy it’s so fun to talk about what you gonna do this amazing idea of whatever like you’re super passionate about. But then when you sit down you have this piece of paper in your hand or like you have this piece of paper you need to write down what you actually need to do or like you are in front of a computer.

Like you have an idea within your head of what do you do and biggest risks. These were talking about and not doing it, like with, I had this idea in my back pocket for two years maybe even longer and…

Julia: Wow.

Sujan: I just didn’t take action and it’s okay I don’t blame myself.

Julia: Sure.

Sujan: Taking action and even failure is better than continuing to talk about something.

For those of you who don’t know in addition to ContentMarketer now I’m acquired by other company, I always spell it out. I work full time for, so I’m quite busy. I’m leaving the company to go pursue fulltime but to do this exit which is a slow kind of thing I’m looking for my replacement.

I’ve come up with four, five, six business ideas and I validated them I took action and guess what four of them sucked, they were horrible but financially there would be bad things to get into. All I did instead of talking further about it was just to think, okay let’s go do the financial modeling. And that sounds complicated? No, its like how much does it take to get off the ground and then fit every basic financial modeling.

Julia: MM-hm.

Sujan: And I look at what’s called a napkin marketing plan so it’s, take a napkin like this, wherever napkin you having in front of you, around you get a pen and if you can’t come up with like five or ten ways then draw that napkin up with what you are gonna do to market this company, you probably shouldn’t do it. You work on that.

Julia: I haven’t heard of that before, it’s so simple, I love it.

Sujan: Yeah I mean because a lot of people always focus on like I gotta do this right, I gotta have a business plan, like the traditional way. Like Microsoft is if you think about all of these companies, they were launched in the garage, they were one of this have an idea and then have the idea execute it and unlock the other halves, pieces of it.

So I always think what’s the minimal thing you need to do to start to get action.

Julia: That’s a great tip.

So just to wrap this up, I know you shared some really good things already but what would be some tips you give, let’s say a startup just delving into content marketing?

Sujan: Yes, first and foremost don’t expect return in short term.

Talking six month, a year when you started to really see the value, don’t expect anything until first six months. It’s constantly working in the compound and gates, one thing you do today helps you do something better two weeks ago, and then those two things helps you do the next third thing and those three things are what maybe give you that value, so that’s the act.

And then the second thing is guest posts, think about not guest blogs or link building or SEO but really think about how to build your network the best way to go through your network you can. We talk to nobody and go through networks from scratch or you can talk and follow at other people’s audience, and what I mean is you’re blogging on Content Marketing Institute or any other industry site there are audiences listening to you, and so some of that can go back to you.

And if you do that enough you’re gonna build the audience back to your site and so you need to do both sides but really heavily emphasis the guest posts and building out your network and reaching at other people’s audience before you really worry about yours.

And then the last thing is don’t regurgitate. What’s been done like I always see these articles that are like little articles they give us something unique like the biggest part where people fail, there’s two parts: one is they fail at creating the right content and the content strategies so they are either they are not putting enough time and thinking what to write about and how that’s gonna help them whether it’s for long time SEO or to bring traffic, promotion, wherever, and the second thing is not doing content promotions.

So if you are creating content, and not actually doing anything to get the word up then you are not doing content marking. You are just creating content. So are the two kind of biggest mistakes I see people do, and so I recommend really doing research, and you don’t have to start from scratch you could follow the leader, follow what like Neil Patel or what successful content marketers are doing today.

And follow them and then try to repeat and mimic what they’re doing and then you’re gonna eventually, after doing that a few times, you’re gonna find a voice of your own.

Julia: That’s a great tip. Just don’t copy them right? [LAUGH]

Sujan: Yeah, don’t copy. Take what they’re doing and try to apply it for what you’re doing, right? That’s a big difference. Just copy what they are doing and be aware that what guys like Neil or I can pull off, Gary B can pull off, that’s not what a new blogger can pull off. You can’t go and email 50 people and they’re gonna automatically promote your content. You have to give something of value, if I email 50 people I likely gonna email 50 people out of which 30 I’ve talked to before or have helped me.

So there’s a different perception there and unlike my last tip in the content marketing world is to always focus on giving. People are always like can you do this for me. Can I get this from you. Like can you share this? If you just focus on giving so much value away, the value I guarantee you is just gonna come back to you.

And I can tell you that today. I gave somebody early access to A year and a half ago, have to go back and actually a year ago in March of 2015, and I didn’t ask for anything. Case was closed, he didn’t even have a blog. He said, I really want this, and then he’s been using it for a year and he said holy crap I want to write an article about you, and he just sent me a link of an article he wrote about how he’s using and, and he became a customer of, so like I didn’t ask for anything, I didn’t, I just gave him value and I got a lot in return.

Julia: That is so smart. That is the way to do it. There are actually companies we partner with and we don’t pay them for like they’re biggest subscription, we just tell we’re gonna write about you and the companies are starting to see the value of that, more so than years ago.

Sujan: Exactly and its that relationship that’s more, the relationship is more important than asking for that one thing you are looking for. I guarantee it.

Julia: Thank you very much for being here Sujan and sharing your thoughts.

Sujan: My pleasure.

[MUSIC] For more online content, tips, and strategies visit [MUSIC]

Julia: You can follow Sujan on Twitter @sujanpatel. He and I are actually collaborating on a few things coming up. Sujan will be a guest on one of our upcoming Twitter chats, join it at #contentwritingchat. You can keep an eye out for the date that Sujan will be joining us as a guest host, by following our Twitter chat account @writingchat on Twitter.

Also as I mentioned, Sujan is writing the foreword to my upcoming book, So You Think You Can Write, The Definitive Guide To Successful Online Writing. My book is for anyone who wants to take their writing skills online and make a career out of it, or for the business, or marketer who wants to create great content for their own website. Keep an eye out for my book with Sujan’s foreword coming out the end of this March on Amazon.

Thanks for joining today’s episode of the Write Podcast. For more episodes go to

E05 Write Podcast Website Cover Featured Image

The Write Podcast, Episode 5: Conversion Copywriting Tactics with Joanna Wiebe

What does “conversion copywriter” mean? What is the target aim of all good copywriting? How does SEO fit in, if at all, to conversion-oriented copy? Joanna answers these key questions and more in my episode today for The Write Podcast. I was thrilled to capture a slot of her time and get an interview in–I’ve been a fan of Joanna’s for a long time! An expert copywriter and founder of Copyhackers, she’s optimized web and email copy for brands like Wistia, Buffer, Crazy Egg, Neil Patel, Shopify, just to name a few. She’s been invited to teach conversion copywriting on the stages of Mozcon, Heroconf, CXL Live, CTA Conf, SydStart, Problogger, and many more.

Joanna’s really cool, down-to-earth, and fascinatingly intelligent: I bet, no holds, you’ll learn something you didn’t know about online copy. Enjoy listening!

conversion copywriting joanna wiebe the write podcast

In Episode 5 of The Write Podcast, Joanna Wiebe discusses:

  • How she (and her boss) came up with the term conversion copywriter 
  • What copywriting is: writing that moves people to action
  • Her background in copywriting: she learned writing in school, was 100% self-taught in copywriting
  • How being self-taught usually means you’re learning from experts who put their ideas online
  • The hugely growing need for online copywriting wasn’t something she dreamed of when she started
  • What the 3 major parts to conversion copywriting are
  • How she got an 8% lift for Crazy Egg by tailoring home page copy
  • How she doesn’t really care about “SEO” in conversion-oriented copy, but the keywords usually come in naturally
  • Copy tips for businesses/brands just starting out with creating online copy

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 of Episode 5: Conversion Copywriting Tactics with Joanna Wiebe

Julia: I’m here with Joanna Wiebe, the founder of Copy Hackers, and a conversion copywriter. She’s been the speaker at Copyblogger’s Authority Intensive event, MozCon, Inbound, ProBlogger and many more.

Joanna, it’s so great to have you here today, as you know I’m a big fan of yours.

Joanna: Thank you, that’s very nice of you to say. Actually for MozCon, I was invited to speak, but I was going to Paris instead, so I had to make that choice. So I haven’t been on the MozCon stage yet, but soon.

Julia: Well Paris sounds like more fun. [LAUGH]

Joanna: Don’t tell the Moz people that! [LAUGH] No, it was one of those things where you can’t really say, well I’m gonna cancel my Paris trip.

Julia: Right.

Joanna: But it was very nice to be invited to that, yeah.

Julia: So do you think you’ll do one down the road?

Joanna: I think so, yeah. There’s no reason not to, so yeah.

Julia: Awesome.

Joanna: Yeah.

Julia: To get started, how did you come up with the term conversion copywriting, and what exactly does it mean?

Joanna: I have a background in copywriting, way back to creative copywriting is where I started as an agency copywriter, which wasn’t called copywriter because it wasn’t to the direct response part of the agency, but rather just the creative side of the agency.

Which doesn’t mean that other people who work in agencies don’t have the title copywriter, but I got to choose what I wanted. And my boss and I, when we were sitting there going over like, what title should I have? [LAUGH] And he was like, what about copywriter? And I was like, gross, that sounds awful!

Julia: [LAUGH]

Joanna: And then so we landed on conversion copywriter, and we both thought this was fantastic, and for me, years down the road that initial decision kind of shaped a lot for me.

When we talk about copywriting, we’re talking about so many things. 

There are different ways to approach that, and so when we look through the history of copywriting, and yes there is a long one, way back at the beginning it was kind of what we’re talking about now with conversion copywriting, writing something that was designed fully to move people to act. [clickToTweet tweet=”If you’re copywriting, you are writing something that is meant to move people to action [email protected]” quote=”If you’re quote on quote copywriting, you are writing something that is meant to move somebody to action, so copywriting if it’s there to move people to action, let’s do that immediately, whatever that action is.”]

Then there was this period in there, when award shows started happening for agencies, and you’d find people looking at copywriting more as a creative exercise, like how do we get a brand story out there? Not that, that’s so far moved from conversion copywriting because telling a story can help to convert people, but there was a really big focus on coming up with concepts, and with concepts that means like to creative concepts.

So to turn something into a billboard, or a commercial, or a campaign that isn’t designed to move people to act, it’s designed for other reasons, there maybe a lot of them. But conversion copywriting is there to take the best of direct response copywriting, that old school kind of stuff, and the best of what we know about human decision-making, the best of user experience styles, like we know about designing experiences, and moving people to act using an interface, or just the experience itself.

All those pieces come together to create what we call conversion copywriting, again where the goal is to get people to act.

Julia: So to get where I’m at in writing, I just basically taught myself all the skills I needed to know to learn how to write online content, and I left nursing school to do that.

Joanna: Yeah.

Julia: So as far as your background, and how you got into writing, was it like self-teaching, or did you go through school?

Joanna: Well for writing itself, it was in school. So I did an undergraduate degree in English. With creative writing as a big part of that, and then I did my masters in communications and technology, which was less about writing and more about communicating online.

So I would say for copywriting, I am 100% self-taught. And the self-taught part, it’s hard to say that when people are learning so much online today because one of the differences between reading everything Copyblogger has got, and going to school where you’ll learn everything Copyblogger’s just said; self-taught, it feels like, but you’re still learning from smart, smart people, we’re not living in bubbles, but I agree.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘When I started copywriting, I didn’t even know what copywriting was.’ @copyhackers @writepodcast ” quote=”When I look back, I didn’t study Gene Schwartz when I started copywriting, I didn’t even know what was copywriting. I didn’t know, and I think many of us don’t know what it is that we’re actually doing.”]

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘You can make your life so much better by teaching yourself: go read the right books.’ @copyhackers” quote=”And the history that’s there, and all the things you could be learning to make your job, and your life then so much better if you just go read the right books, and do all that stuff to help you as you’re essentially teaching yourself.”]

Julia: I love that explanation. It’s so true that you’re teaching yourself, but you’re still learning from someone else.

Joanna: Yeah, right? And that’s really the quote unquote the future, not that I dare to imagine that I have any clue what the future holds, [LAUGH] but it does feel like all, or so much of what’s traditionally done is moving to a more user-driven online at least, or mobile, or just not in a bricks and mortar location, whether that’s a school, or a store, or whatever.

It’s all moving, right? And so the idea of being self-taught, I think it’s more and more people of course are just gonna say I was self-taught, but that’s because you were taught by all of the people who are putting their great ideas online.

Julia: That’s true. That’s true, and also on that, I saw that you taught a web writing course back in, was it 2008?

Joanna: Yeah, you did your research!

Julia: I saw that on LinkedIn, and I was actually approached several years ago by someone who was like, why don’t you teach this in our local college? Because there is so little known about how to write for the web.

So I saw that and I was like, oh, wow! Joanna has done this. [LAUGH]

Joanna: [LAUGH] Yeah it is cool, and there are so many opportunities. There’s a copywriter who is now teaching I believe it’s a masters level course. I think it is, I might be wrong. On copywriting at the University of Iowa, which is of course a school that’s very well known for it’s writing, with the people who it turns out that are writers, and so for them to be offering a copywriting course now too. I’ve been lucky to do like little guest sessions there, where I get to go in and tell people what it’s like to be a copywriter in real life, and so it’s cool that they’re doing that. So when I taught there, that was like in the extension or not the faculty of extension, whatever it is, the group that’s like you don’t have to be approved, you don’t want to be an accepted student, you can just drop in and take the course through it. So it wasn’t a program from the university, at the time it was still a college, and now it’s an accredited university. It wasn’t like trying to do anything with copywriting, but it was the same kind of situation you’re talking about, where they’re like, I actually had taken a web writing course because I had to.

I was working at Intuit, and they have requirements for what you’re supposed to be doing to improve your knowledge, and train in your area, and so that was one of the things where my boss at the time was like, well just take that, and I was like, okay fine, whatever. It’s a Saturday, I’ll go in and have coffee and see what’s up.

And while taking it, then afterward I was encouraged to go and just teach it the next time. So it’s the same kind of situation you’re talking about, but yeah there’s lots of opportunities to learn, and to teach.

Julia: Yes, and it seems like there’s a growing need for that, like that will just happen more and more.

Joanna: You’d never think when I was sitting there, I would never think sitting at the agency ten years ago, and not knowing what a copywriter really was, even though that was my job. I would never have thought, oh! there is a big demand for this, or there are a lot of people who need this.

But today especially, I don’t know if it’s because of everything online and content marketing, inbound marketing and everything, I can only assume that’s what’s driving so much of the demand for copywriters, but there is a huge demand. And so it’s always telling to me how many people are interested in learning, how many do sign up for courses, or sign up to learn more from us by subscribing to our stuff, there’s just a lot of interest.

Julia: Wow! Yeah.

So I also wanted to go into just the actual conversion copywriting you’ve done, and maybe some of your success stories with the clients, or just a couple of examples of conversion copywriting.

Joanna: So conversion copywriting for me, it follows a pretty straightforward process, there are three parts to it. Phase one is research and discovery, and that’s the biggest phase. Phase two is actually writing, which includes wire-framing, and then going over and editing your work, to add in all the stuff that’s going to make it great, take out all the stuff that isn’t doing any work, that’s phase two.

And then phase three is the split testing side of it, so it doesn’t mean you always have to split test in order to be writing conversion copy, that’s not critical. But it is, thankfully with technology, there are ways that we can really measure things that previously copywriters had a very hard time measuring, where you couldn’t point to just how much you’ve done for a business even though you’re the online sales person.

You’re the one that connects to customers, and brings in more leads and more customers, it’s all on your words largely, but traditionally it’s been difficult to measure the impact. So that’s where I do say, as phase three of writing conversion copy, do your absolute best to measure how it worked, so a split testing tool could do that.

Now a little while back we did the home page test for Crazy Egg, the heat mapping software, click tracking software, that was cool. The whole objective was to keep the layout as similar as possible, excluding things if need be, but not rearranging elements necessarily, and really just rewrite the copy, so we did that.

A couple things there. When you’re writing copy online, when you’re writing any copy, you are directly impacting whether people will or will not sign up, or buy, or share, or whatever it may be, and so we have to be careful when you’re writing that copy of the things that you’re doing.

So we were careful going into this Crazy Egg test, just like we’d be careful in anything. Any assumptions that we were making, like one particular assumption we had was, they had a Johnson’s box, the traditional Johnson’s box on the Crazy Egg home page.

For everybody who doesn’t know what a Johnson’s box is, people talk about call-out boxes today as Johnson’s boxes, but those are not Johnson’s boxes.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘A Johnson’s box comes from the old school salesletter printed on paper.’ @copyhackers #quote” quote=”A Johnson’s box comes from the old school sales letter that was printed on paper, where when you open up the letter and unfold it, there at the top above the first fold is a box that has a border around it, and it really summarizes in a nutshell what you’re about to find inside.”]

It may say the offer, or it may just point you to some things that get you interested in reading the entire, what could be a twenty-page letter that you’ve got in your hands, sometimes less, sometimes more, but it could be a very long letter, so that Johnson’s box was doing a lot of work on that sales letter.

So Crazy Egg had a Johnson box of a sort. It was kind of like navigation, but it was doing what a Johnson’s box tries to do, which is trying to get you to get excited about what’s in store for you if you read this. I didn’t see it working. When we did click tracking on the Crazy Egg home page, we didn’t see people really engaging with it, but we couldn’t be sure.

So before we did any copywriting tests at all, we just did an exclusion test. So exclusion tests you just take out an element, and see what the impact is. So we did an exclusion test on that Johnson box, so a new variation of the page that’s exactly the same except the Johnson box is gone, to see if it was critical to keep that when we moved forward.

It turned out it wasn’t. There was no real lift or drop, nothing significant, so we felt comfortable pulling it out, so we did. And then when we went through and we did our next variation, where we were actually optimizing the copy, we had several recipes that we came up with. A recipe being each new variation that you’ve got to be split test.

So we did three different versions of that home page, where we were really just shortening the copy in each one. So the Crazy Egg home page at the time was super long, and it was also very optimized. That long page had been tested by a group that I used to actually work for, I wasn’t involved in that test when it happened though, Conversion Rate Experts. They’re fantastic, and they had this really optimized version that I was supposed to be improving on, which was intimidating to say the least, but theirs was really long, and so we did three different versions where each one was shorter. And we just rewrote the copy using language that we had found in surveys and online, like message-mining that we would do to see how people really talk about in this case Crazy Egg, or just solutions that are part of a conversion optimization strategy.

So we went and we looked for messages online, and in survey results, we interviewed some Crazy Egg users, just going out there is a core part of conversion copywriting. It’s going out finding your message, rather than sitting there and staring at the page and hoping to come up with it, which is where most of us, [LAUGH] generally start out, right? Which is tragic.

Julia: Right, right.

Joanna: Right? So we did that, and we pulled in a few different messages, we did some more exclusion testing to get down to those shorter versions, and in the end we got a lift. Now this lift was not incredible, it’s not like, oh wow! We doubled their revenue! We got an 8% lift.

Julia: That’s still good.

Joanna: That’s still good though, right? It is still an improvement. We condensed well, now they’ve got a very short page that they’ve tested and it works for them, so that’s great. But that 8% lift is still a great lift, and it does speak to the fact that when you revise your copy, and when you test it, you can see if it worked or not.

It also speaks to the value of having a process in place and not looking internally for those messages, but actually looking externally and finding your messages in the words of your prospects and customers. So that’s one example of a page that we did.

Julia: It’s really interesting to see how you worked that out. Back when I was hired as the writer, maybe four years ago, I’d been mostly hired as a SEO writer, so that’s kind of how I started out. So do you use any optimization, or do you not even look at keywords?

Joanna: I have found that if you’re writing using the words of your customers and prospects, then you’re generally using keywords.

Julia: That makes sense.

Joanna: Yeah, right? Although we do take into consideration any particular keyword phrases that have to appear in let’s say an H1.

Julia: Right.

Joanna: Just because we don’t want to have a problem with the internal, or [LAUGH] contracted SEO, we wanna get along well. So, we’ll consider it, but for example right now we’re doing a test on, on their home page, we actually just launched it. And in that, their keyword phrase that they had in their H1, that they still have in their control variation at least, the control. It was just a keyword phrase, it was I think email and social media marketing, that was their headline.

Now a copywriter [LAUGH] Comes in and says like, what? That’s not a headline, that’s not even close to a headline!

Julia: [LAUGH]

Joanna: So we have to then have the discussion with the team that get’s them onboard with the fact that, we’re gonna test something that may not, probably will not read like the current headline does.

So we may not get that keyword phrase in there, but if our new page outperforms the control, then we will from that point on do another test afterward that tries to get that keyword phrase in there. But the first things first, we have to get people to choose you. So when they land on your site, you have to make a choice, do you want to get more people to your site? Or do you wanna get more of those people to convert on your site? You bring us then if you wanna get more people to convert on your site, and that doesn’t mean we’ll sacrifice SEO, we’re not trying to hurt your page, [LAUGH] and have you not rank as well, absolutely we’re not, but that’s not gonna be our first thought.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘We have to lead with the language that comes from our prospects and customers.’ @copyhackers #quote” quote=”And so if they’re cool with that, if they’re not cool with that, we can’t move forward because we have to lead with the language that comes from our prospects and customers.”]

Not the language that comes from some internal department, or some contracted agency that has their own agenda, and not necessarily the user’s agenda first and foremost, or even the business bottom line first and foremost.

So we have to have that hard conversation, it’s really that hard because we do have a plan, right? If the page loses, then it’s gone and you don’t worry about it competing with, about having to figure out a new way to squeeze that keyword phrase into a certain place, because you’re control one, so you get to keep it.

If our new variation beats the control, then we have a system, right? Then we’ll put together another variation of the page that has that keyword phrase in the headline, or wherever it is that you think it needs to be that it wasn’t. Test that, and if that still does least as well as the one that we produced does, then we can go with that one that’s both CRO and SEO-friendly.

Julia: It’s interesting too, to me to see that SEO mindset has changed so much. So I think people are starting to realize they have to speak the language of their customers, like you said.

Joanna: Exactly. It’s not just working the way as well, right? [LAUGH]

Julia: [LAUGH]

Joanna: I think we’ve all heard the horror stories of somebody who put SEO first, and then Google changed their algorithm, and now they’re not only not ranking, but they’re penalized dramatically.

Julia: Yeah.

Joanna: So they’re not in their former spot even, but it’s even worse than that. So I think Google is always gonna reward you for putting the user first, that’s their whole job, is to get people to the right places. So if you’re using your visitors language, we would always vet first on using your visitor’s language rather than trying to optimize for other kind of, not to negate what SEOs do, because I have really good SEO friends, but we don’t wanna do some of the trickier things that have been done traditionally by SEOs, which I know are really not happening anymore.

Julia: Yes, that’s really good. I think a lot of them have died out.

Joanna: Yeah.

Julia: So just to wrap this up Joanna, what would be some, let’s say startup tips, or just initial things? Let’s say a business owner is just starting out creating their website content, what would be just some good strategies for them to think about as they start creating it?

Joanna: Yeah, if you’re starting that’s a great place to be.

I would say throw out all of your ideas about what copy should sound like, about how your page should look, and start by going out and just eavesdropping on your prospects, and that’s like the best way to put it, I think. Is going out, not stalking them because that always sounds very, very bad, [LAUGH] but if you can just listen in on their conversations, listen in to the ways that they talk to the things that they’re thinking about, you’ll be further ahead than if you hired most copywriters actually.

Because once you get out there and start listening, you’re bringing in all that information that any good copywriter would wanna bring in anyway, and you’re doing it yourself, and you care about your own business, and all of that good stuff. So, that’s where I would say to start, and there are really easy ways to eavesdrop.

Like if you’re somebody who’s comfortable talking to people, which I know a lot of people are not that comfortable with. So if you are though, you can obviously set up good interviews with any existing customers you may have. If you don’t have any, then you can set up interviews with people who look like, or are very similar to the types of people you want to build the business for.

So if you want to help nursing students with a nursing course let’s say, or a course on how to move from nursing into the best form of nursing possible, I don’t know what it is. But whatever it is, if you’re building a solution for a certain group of people, if you’re building it for nursing students, well the most natural thing to do would be to try to talk to those nursing students. So reach out to some. Go into the faculty of nursing, and sit there as student nurses go by, and ask if you could please set up a time to buy them coffee and just pick their brains. This isn’t complicated, it doesn’t have to be crazier than that. Now if you’re not comfortable doing that, or let’s say you’re not in a position where you can just go walk into a space where you know your audience is, and ask them things, there’s other possible things you can do online to find your messages too, where are those nursing students talking? What are they doing to express their concerns?

And that could be, we talk about, because we learn from Jay Abraham, who teaches us and it’s brilliant, to go on Amazon, and look up a product or a book that’s closely related to the thing that you’re selling.

If you’re selling a service, go on any of those service review sites. All you’re really doing is going to look for reviews that people have left of products, or services that they’ve purchased that are similar in some way to the thing that you’re trying to sell.

So that you can find their objections, what they were hoping to get out of something, which means the pain that they’re really trying to solve, what they had most desired, and all these big ideas, these ultimate benefits they were looking for, and the outcomes they wanted. They say this stuff in natural language in the reviews. Tweets are harder, I wouldn’t recommend you go through tweets, and look for what they’re saying there because people have to shorten their language so much. But in places like reviews again, or comments on blog posts, or on YouTube videos, or wherever it might be where you can find how people are really speaking about what they really want, then that’s the best place to go to find your message. Pull all of that information in, and then start organizing it in a persuasive way on the page, and that can be as simple as taking that information, and writing a letter to your prospect. So have that nursing student in mind, have your solution for him or her in mind, and write a letter to him, say it’s a male nursing student, write a letter to him that is trying to get him to sign up for the thing that you’re selling, or buy the thing that you’re selling.

But these are really basic, easy things that a lot of people skip over, but that can be the big difference between actually writing a high converting page, or just writing a ho-hum page that nobody can really connect with.

Julia: I love it! Thank you so much for sharing your insights, and joining me today Joanna.

Joanna: Thanks a lot for having me, Julia.

[MUSIC] For more online content tips and strategies, visit [MUSIC]

Julia: Joanna is a fantastic expert to follow to learn copywriting hacks, tips and strategies. Follow her on Twitter @copyhackers.

Also if you’re a marketing owl, go join our weekly Twitter chat. It happens every Tuesday at 10 AM Central Standard Time. Join us with the #ContentWritingChat. We feature weekly guest experts, and we talk about all things content creation and marketing.

Also, my book is coming out this March, it’s called So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing. And in this book I share everything I’ve learned in order to create a career around, and succeed in online content writing. So keep an eye out for it on Amazon.

Thanks for joining today’s Write Podcast! For more episodes go to

E04 Write Podcast Website Cover Featured Image

The Write Podcast, Episode 4: Inspirations from a 14-Year-Old Entrepreneur, Author & Motivational Speaker, Caleb Maddix

Welcome to episode 4 in the Write Podcast. In this episode, I met with and interviewed an incredible 14-year-old entrepreneur and published author, Caleb Maddix. My thought after I turned off the mic with Caleb: we all should strive to have the motivation this kid does!

Caleb believes (rightly so!) that age is nothing but a number, is the founder of Kids 4 Health, and is the author of Keys to Success for Kids on Amazon. He has a tremendous social media and video platform presence, with an average of 100-200 people catching every live stream he puts out, hundreds more on Facebook; and Caleb is getting ready to do huge things like changing the world. He has incredible drive and motivation. Caleb reminds me of myself; I was twelve when I finished a 200-page fiction novel and started three companies. It was great to connect and share inspiration!

For all entrepreneurs, especially those who are ready to start young: listen. I guarantee you’ll be inspired by Caleb. Enjoy!

caleb maddix

In Episode 4 of The Write Podcast, Caleb Maddix talks about:

  • His day-to-day life as a 14-year-old entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker
  • How he starts every day at 4:30 am with his dad on Periscope
  • How young he was when he had the entrepreneur mindset and lifestyle, and how his dad took that decision seriously
  • How Caleb invests hours in doing sales calls every day, and what his one tip for all salespeople is (hint: “open the door before you close it”)
  • How Caleb wrote and published a book on Amazon (in no time at all)
  • Caleb’s huge goals: 10 bestsellers, TED talk, seminar launch and more
  • What Caleb’s advice is to hopeful entrepreneurs listening today

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 4 Inspirations from a 14-Year-Old Entrepreneur, Author & Motivational Speaker, Caleb Maddix

Julia: I’m your host, Julia McCoy, and today I have a 13-year-old entrepreneur and published author, Caleb Maddix, with me. He believes that age is nothing but a number, is the founder of Kids for Health and is the author of Keys to Success for Kids, a book you can find published on Amazon.

Thanks for joining me today Caleb.

Caleb: Thank you so much for having me. I’m looking forward to this interview, and the lives that we can help, who we can inspire.

Julia: So I wanted to start just talking about your day-to-day life, being a 13 year old entrepreneur which is definitely an awesome thing that you’re doing, and you have a published book out.

So tell me a little bit just about your life, being that young and being an entrepreneur.

Caleb: Well let me kind of explain who I am, kinda give a deep view for all the viewers out there because they’re listening to us.

My name is Caleb Maddix, and I’m 14 years old and like Julie has been talking about I’m the author of Keys to Success for Kids, I also own my own company, it’s called Kids For Success, and I do a lot of speaking and everything like that but really my goal in life is just to motivate people and that’s what I’ve been doing.

So that’s really what happens in my day-to-day life. I wake up every single day at 5 AM, or at 4:45 AM, I get ready at 5 AM, meet my dad and we go out, we do this thing called Periscope, which is basically like a live video stream. So we’ll get motivation there, we have a couple of 100 people watch that, then once we are done with that we will come back in.

We’ll get a good work out and we’ll have breakfast, and then normally after that I’ll do my school work, because I’m home-schooled. So I’ll do my school work after that I’m going to have like probably two or three interviews lined up normally. So I’ll do that and then after that I like to take the next two hours to kind of do whatever I have to get done for that day, and then after that for like four hours I just make sales calls trying to get kids in my company, Kids For Success.

Honestly my day always changes, it’s always varying because of the fact that as an entrepreneur it most likely is gonna change, because sometimes I’m travelling, sometimes I’m speaking, sometimes I’ve got an interview.

[clickToTweet tweet=”I just motivate people and that’s literally what I spend my entire time doing. – @calebmaddix #quote” quote=”But really all you need to know about my day is I just motivate people and that’s literally what I spend my entire time doing.”]

Julia: Amazing, that’s a really packed schedule, it’s good you’re committed.

Caleb: Well you gotta get a lot done, I always say time flies but you’re the pilot.

Julia: Oh! that’s awesome.

Caleb: So what are you doing with your time? Are you crashing it? or are you using it to get to your next destination.

Julia: I love it that was great.

Caleb: Thank you.

Julia: So you mentioned using Periscope, and that’s how I found you. That’s how I came across you. Tell me a little bit about how you use Periscope in your marketing, getting your name out.

Caleb: Yeah, definitely. I use Periscope as a way to connect with people, for those who don’t know what Periscope is, as I said before it’s basically you go live and you could start to talk.

Just like a video blog except that other people will come in, and they’ll comment. They’ll ask questions and stuff like that. I really try use Periscope as three things. I use it as a way to learn, I learn from a lot of people, I watch other people’s Periscopes. Number two when I use it as a way to kinda generate business.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘If you socialize you will monetize.’ – @calebmaddix @writepodcast #quote” quote=”The majority of my business comes from social media. I always say if you socialize you will monetize, and I’ve been able to monetize social media by socializing, meeting a lot of people.”]

As a number three it’s my way to give back, I mean if you think about it I can work at my phone for five minutes, and I can get some content to people and send it out to hundreds of people, and you’d be shocked the messages I get every single day who say that my Periscopes inspire them, and change their lives or change the way that they think.

Those are really the three reasons why I use Periscope.

Julia: That’s awesome. Do you have a schedule for Periscoping, like once a day?

Caleb: I try to do it 2 to 3 times a day, but I don’t schedule my Periscopes, if I wanna do one I’ll do one, if I wanna do three I’ll do three. The reason why is because my schedule’s always changing, and I don’t wanna have to commit to whatever, but also I don’t like to force myself ever to do something, I like to feel it.

You either realize when you force it you can tell it’s a forced Periscope, my best Periscope where I have had the most people is when I literally whooped out my phone didn’t really think about it and I just started it.

Julia: That’s great advice. I think that’s the way to do it sometimes.

Caleb: Yes ma’am.

Julia: So tell me about how you started out as an entrepreneur. I saw that you had a website, and it looked like you were 9 years old in your bio.

Caleb: Yeah that was my old, old website. As I’ve experienced this my journey, I’ll try to do it quick as I answer this in every single interview, so I’ll try to make this pretty quick.

But how I started off is when I was six years old I went out to my dad and I said dad, I want to become the short stop to the New York Yankees because I love baseball, I love Derrick Jeter, I love the Yankees. So it seemed like a good fit for my life. So I told that to him he was like okay.

I was like what do you mean I just said I wanna do that, what do you think about that, dad? He said I think that’s awesome. He said to me, are you willing to make sacrifices and work really hard, and commit your life to doing baseball?

And I said yes sir I am, so the next morning I hear pots and pans banging at 6 am and my dad is like wake up, wake up.

I was like what are you doing? He said to me do you still want to play for the Yankees? I said yeah I do, he said okay get up. So we got in the car and we drove somewhere, I didn’t know where we were going. We ended up at the baseball field and then he sat me down for two to three hours.

It was a Saturday so I had no school. And he sat me down and he went over the values that I was going to live by, and how hard I was gonna work, and if I ever wanted to quit I would quit instantly instead of forcing myself. So we went over our values, we started to work really hard, my dad got me like six coaches.

We did all of this stuff and I was so dedicated towards baseball but the thing was I was this really small kid, so I had to out work every kid that I was playing against basically. And I was the worst on my team, I was the smallest and I started to go above those kids, but you can imagine this kid is working, so hard he’s doing all this he is probably passionate right? And I was I was a very passionate kid.

But my dad travels a lot and does speaking. And I was younger I had this passion but I need other kids who didn’t really have the passion. They didn’t really have dreams. They don’t wanna accomplish stuff. And I made up my mind I was gonna make it my mission that every single kid I meet I will try to give them some of my passion that I have.

So I started speaking, I started doing video blogs, I wrote a book when I was 12 years old, like literally funny story. I went over to my dad and said can I write a book? He said yeah. So I literally walked away and finished the book within a week, I wrote it. Then I started this business.

But everything comes to that and what I’ve realized I’ve drifted away from doing the short stop thing because I realized that was a stepping stone to giving me the passion to giving me the values, and now it’s going over in to my speaking my coaching, all that stuff.

That’s kinda my story the reason why I do what I do is so I can help other people be passionate about life.

Julia: Sounds like you found what you’re really good at and staying committed to it.

Caleb: Doing what I love exactly yes ma’am.

Julia: What you love, absolutely. That sounds like how I got started. I was in nursing school and I thought that that was my calling, and half way through I decided it wasn’t. Because I just didn’t enjoy it at all. And my clinical teacher in nursing school actually failed me, not because I did anything wrong but she said that she could see no passion and I had just started my writing company then. And she’s like whenever you talk about your business, I see a lot of passion so why don’t you go do that. And she failed me, I was devastated.

Caleb: That’s awesome, that’s actually a cool story. I know that probably in the moment it was hard thinking about it still.

Julia: Right, right but yeah that was my pathway to start my company.

Caleb: Awesome, that’s such a cool story.

Julia: Thank you. So sounds like your dad is your biggest supporter and has really helped you.

That’s awesome.

Caleb: Yes ma’am. Definitely. I mean my family is now very supportive of what I do, but my dad is the greatest ever, like literally if you meet him you’ll know that his entire mission of life is to be a great dad. His investment, his business is me, pretty much. And he’s invested so much into me and he set me up for the future now I’m just living out what he’s kinda set me up with.

Julia: Wow! That’s amazing.

Caleb: Yes ma’am.

Julia: So I wanted to also talk about your book being published on Amazon, that’s a big deal at such a young age.

Caleb: Thank you.

Julia: Absolutely. So, tell me a little bit how you just got started and decided to publish on Amazon, how you did that.

Caleb: I mean, most books are published on Amazon. So I just wrote a book, I’d no clue where I was gonna go, I didn’t know if I was gonna get a publisher. I didn’t know where we could find an editor to do it. We didn’t know any of those details. I literally sat down on my iPhone in the note section and started typing and I just typed through the next week and I finished the book.

It was so simple and what’s funny is you’re like that was such a big accomplishment. In my eyes I think writing a book is amazing, but in my eyes I’m not impressed with myself that I wrote the book only because of the fact that it was so quick and like such a quick deal. It so simple it was such simple thing for me to sit down writing, I don’t even like writing, but it was just about sitting down and writing and making it happen and executing on the idea.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘So many people have ideas, but very few execute on it. That’s all I do.’ [email protected] @writepodcast” quote=”Because so many people have ideas, but very few execute on it and I just executed on an idea and it’s given me a lot of results.”]

Julia: That’s the truth, it really is about the execution. I think a lot of people don’t get to that point.

Caleb: Definitely, I agree.

Julia: Tell me a little bit more about your sales calls, what makes it successful for you, what are some tactics that you use?

Caleb: The number one tip that I would give any sales person out there who is listening to this is everybody’s focusing on closing a sale, everybody’s focusing on how can I, they’re always reading books, how to close a sale they’re always watching videos.

All they study is how to close the sale.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘Here’s the deal, you can never close the sale until you open the sale.’ @calebmaddix @writepodcast” quote=”But here’s the deal, you can never close the sale until you open the sale. You can never close the sale until you open up their minds to buy the product.”]

So the number one thing that I focus on before I ever go to the close and how people can get more closes, is if they would focus on opening up their minds first by really connecting, not just putting up a presentation that would lead to the sale, but actually have like a conversation, getting to know who the person is.

Determining is this actually a good buyer for my product? Because the worst thing that you can do is have somebody to buy your product who doesn’t really need it. I know we are like money, money, whatever. But I think the biggest thing about asking does the person need my product, and then how could I open up their mind, let them know that this is a product for them this will help them and just focus on opening up their mind and then going for the close, that’s the biggest mistake I see people make and there’s a different twist and that’s why I wanted to share that.

But I say open up their mind.

Julia: That’s excellent advice, I haven’t heard that before but I love it.

Caleb: Thank you.

Julia: Yeah, that really makes sense, open the sale before you close it. [LAUGH]

Caleb: [LAUGH] Definitely it’s like everybody is focusing on closing the door before they open it. You can’t make that happen.

Julia: That’s true. That makes sense. Also, tell me a little bit about your goals just in your future, you are so young right now and you have accomplished so much and what do you see ahead of you?

Caleb: You know this year I’m aiming to make six figures.

So I’m gonna make $100,000 this year. By 16 years old I wanna be a millionaire, by 30 years old I wanna be a billionaire.

Julia: Wow.

Caleb: I got those big goals financially. I also want to write 10 New York best sellers by the time I’m 30 years old. Me and my dad are starting this thing called the Success Stone in St. Petersburg, Florida and we wanna have a thousand people in that, it’s basically like a weekly seminar. So we wanna have a thousand people weekly coming to our seminar this year that’s one of our goals.

I want to do a TED talk by the time I’m 15 years old. I have a lot of goals. I write about them every single morning.

I started shooting for the sky because I know that I’m good enough to fly.

Julia: You cannot shoot too high, that’s what I’ve learned in business. You know I have accomplished stuff that I didn’t think would happen. I started my company, it was literally a five minute deal, I thought this company is probably not gonna go anywhere, I’m just gonna start it. Three years later it’s a six figure company and I have 60 people working for me.

Caleb: That’s amazing.

Julia: Well you can do anything. Make big goals.

Caleb: That’s really impressive, you know it’s like I was listening to Grant Cardone the other day, and somebody asked him on Periscope, they said, what’s your number one regret you know a lot of successful people get asked that question and he said my number one regret is not having big enough goals. He’s written five best sellers, he’s a multimillionaire, all this stuff, and if you think about him saying he was to do is set bigger goals, how big should we set our goals?

Julia: Exactly.

Caleb: The guy like is saying set every single goal that you have as if it were to come true and sometimes people set goals like I wanna live a good life. Well they’re not living a good life then it comes true but they are not really happy in the end, because they wish they would have accomplished more.

But you are never going to accomplish what you don’t set in your mind, and I always say listen you can’t score without a goal right, so set them big.

Julia: Great advice. Love it. So to wrap this up today Caleb what advice would you give hopeful entrepreneurs anyone who is looking to start a business or maybe get somewhere with their goals, what advice would you give them?

Caleb: My advice for all the hopeful entrepreneurs out there would be don’t be hopeful, don’t say to yourself I hope I can become an entrepreneur.

[clickToTweet tweet=”No, entrepreneurship isn’t something you become, it’s somebody, who you are. @calebmaddix #quote” quote=”No, entrepreneurship isn’t something you become, it’s somebody, who you are.”]

So if you really are an entrepreneur you should start now, instead of saying, I’m gonna be an entrepreneur, I’m gonna be whatever. So many entrepreneurs they are killing themselves with this gun.

[clickToTweet tweet=”I always say the gun that kills the most people is the gonna, I’m gonna do this, that. @calebmaddix” quote=”I always say the gun that kills the most people is the gonna, I’m gonna start the business, I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do that.”]

Stop mentally committing suicide and go out there, start the business write the book, do that. Because rarely there is no better time than right now.

Julia: That’s the truth. Lovely, Caleb, thanks so much for being here today.

Caleb: Thank you I appreciate it.

Thanks for joining today’s Write Podcast! For more online content tips and strategies, visit, and now here’s your host Julia McCoy with a final message. [MUSIC]

Julia: Go follow Caleb on Twitter and Periscope at @calebmaddix.

If you’re in marketing at all you’ll love our weekly Twitter chat it, happens every Tuesday 10 am CST. Join us on Twitter with the #ContentWritingChat. We feature weekly guests experts, and we talk about all things content creation and marketing.

Also keep an eye out for my book coming out this March! It’s called So You Think You Can Write: The Definitive Guide To Success Online Writing.

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