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Mad Lemmings Podcast: Online Marketing, Blogging, Social Media with Ashley Faulkes
47 minutes | Sep 4, 2014
Amplify Your Blog Content and Social Sharing w/ Ann Smarty
Have you ever struggled to write enough content for your website? Or maybe, once you have the content, no one is sharing it! Well, you are not alone my friend, it is something many of us struggle with, especially in the beginning. But guess what? Not only are you not alone, but there is an amazing set out tools out there to help you solve these problems! And quite a few of them have been developed by just one woman! (ok, she had some help, but she is still amazing) Let’s meet today’s guest… Enter Ann Smarty You might have seen Ann Smarty around the social media and blogging scene. She has certainly built a brand for herself. But she is not just blogging and tweeting like the rest of us, no no. Ann is a busy lass. She has developed, or co-developed quite a few online tools to help the community with blog content and social sharing. So today I invited her on the show to dive into the – whats, whys and wheres of some of the amazing tools she has created for us. In this podcast we are going to talk about: What MyBlogGuest is and can do for you What happened to MyBlogGuest when it got slapped by Google How Ann recovered and protected MyBlogGuest How ViralContentBuzz can help you get your content shared Why ViralContentBuzz is different and better than many of these tools Her latest baby, the blog content community MyBlogU What is going on inside MyBlogU and how it can help you and your content Last but not least, Ann’s project to improve Twitter chats – TWChat And all her related Twitter chats helping communities learn Ultimately, if you are into blogging and social media, then Ann has your back! Take a listen to what Ann Smarty has to say in this super informative podcast Send Ann A Thank You Tweet If you enjoyed this SEO chat with Ann, why not send her a thank you Tweet… Thank Ann with a Tweet Posts and Resources from the Podcast MyBlogGuest – Guest Blogging Platform ViralContentBuzz – Social Sharing Platform MyBLogU – Crowd Sourced Blog Content and Ideas Platform TWChat – Ann’s Twitter Chat Tool Posts from Ann I Apologise for Our Community Being So Transparent – Discussion of the de-indexing of MyBlogGuest 10 Things That Make @MyBlogU Group Interviews Feature So Freaking Awesome Twitter Chats Viral Content Buzz Twitter Chat (#VCBuzz) MyBlogU Twitter Chat (#MyBLogU) Connect with Ann Smarty SEO Smarty – Her Main Website Twitter Google+ Thanks for the Review on iTunes – Or Stitcher As this podcast is just starting out, I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes to help me promote it and reach more people. I have a quick How To Do a Review on iTunes (only because it may not be so simple to find the place to do it). Previous Podcast Episodes If you don’t really need to head to iTunes or Stitcher, you can find all the previous podcasts here Final Words Creating content and getting it shared is not always easy, even if you have some online clout. So why not make use of some tools and a little community help to reach your goals! It can be fun too. So head over to any or all of the tools mentioned in this episode and you will be sure to benefit!
51 minutes | Aug 15, 2014
Leveraging Personal Brands on Social Media w/ Jacob Curtis
In today’s podcast I speak with Jacob Curtis, who used his personal brand to make a name for the company he works for. Many bloggers and small business owners spend a lot of time creating a personal brand. You get your name out there with amazing content. You make connections and collect followers like baseballs cards. But many people on social media actually have a “normal” job. They work for someone else. However, they may still have a lot of online influence and a long list of followers on one social media site or another. So what happens when you take that social media influence, and mix it in with your employer? Explosions? Hopefully the good kind. And if done right, and planned and tracked correctly, the results can be amazing. Enter Jacob Curtis Jacob works for Bonfire Marketing in Portland. He was already building his personal brand on social media and with his own website – JacobCurtis.com And his following on social media, specifically Twitter was already quite big with over 22,000 followers. So when Jacob approached his boss with the idea of leveraging his social media influence to bring Bonfire a new and large audience, he jumped at the chance! In this podcast episode, I have a detailed chat (put me and Jacob in a room and we don’t shut up!) about: how he used his social media presence and personal brand for Bonfire the importance of personal brands in general how trust is super important on social media knowing which social platforms to focus on how he measured his success and the importance of data also having a plan (from both sides) how employee advocacy can be useful for both employer and employee lots of other random but useful information So take a listen to what Jacob has to say about his journey using personal branding on social media as an employee advocate. Posts and Resources from the Podcast Twitter Advocacy: How One Employee Generated Massive Reach for @ThinkBonfire Creating A Company Of Social Advocates: How to Get Your Employees To Share Your Content Simply Measured – Social Media Analytics Triberr – Connecting Bloggers MyBlogU – Blogger Collaboration Connect with Jacob Website – jacobcurtis.com Twitter Google+ Thanks for the Review on iTunes – Or Stitcher As this podcast is just starting out, I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes to help me promote it and reach more people. I have a quick How To Do a Review on iTunes (only because it may not be so simple to find the place to do it). Previous Podcast Episodes If you don’t really need to head to iTunes or Stitcher, you can find all the previous podcasts here Final Words Building a personal brand is a great idea if you have a small business or blog. But even if you don’t, if you have something that you are very passionate about and want to share, then it can be a great investment for the future. After all, Jacob never thought he would be able to leverage his personal brand at work, and now he and Bonfire are flying!
41 minutes | Jul 9, 2014
Get Amazing Results with a Simple Social Media Strategy w/ Rebekah Radice
Getting started with a social media strategy can be extremely confusing and intimidating. It is hard to know where to start, and what exactly you need to be sharing and with whom. That is why I decided to consult an expert to help you get started on the right track. Rebekah Radice will help us understand how simple a social media strategy can really be. What are the most important things you need to think about as you plan your strategy? The kinds of content to share. How often. With whom. How to find your place in the social media world, and create a plan that you are comfortable committing to. Rebekah will help you answer all these questions and more… Enter Rebekah Radice Rebekah is a social media pro, who helps clients get on track and get amazing results. So what better person to talk to about social media strategy? In this podcast we talk about how to easily get started with a simple social media strategy. More specifically: understanding your potential clients and where they would be on social media start with the platform you feel comfortable with trying a variety of content types and see what resonates with your audience the ability to create content for all channels from one piece alone getting to know your competition and perhaps connect via blogs or social media creating useful and valuable content and social media interactions applying the 70/30 rule in content sharing finally: starting small, doing what you can and what you are comfortable with There was a wealth of tips and knowledge shared in this podcast, and I certainly recommend you listen to this one (or read the transcript). Read the Transcript If you prefer to read the transcript, you can Download the Transcript PDF Or read it below… Show Podcast Transcript Ashley: Good morning, Rebekah, thank you for joining me on the Mad Lemmings podcast today, it’s great to talk to you again. Rebekah: Good morning, Ashley, it’s great to be here! Ashley: And certainly we have a time difference. Its afternoon here and morning there, but we’ve already been on this topic today and its great connecting with people worldwide and getting to know people and let’s start off with a little bit about yourself. Give us a couple minute rundown on Rebekah Radice. Rebekah: Well sure, I am a social media strategist, a consultant/trainer, and a digital marketing specialist. Basically what that means is I come in and I take a look at the overall online strategy of businesses and look at the health and the growth, to figure out where we can really optimize and rework their strategy, their current overall plan and then really put a plan in place to accelerate their efforts. Ashley: Okay, so that’s actually – interesting you should summarize yourself like that because that’s exactly what I wanted to talk to you about today and you do talk about a lot of different things online and on a lot of hang outs and podcasts that I’ve listened to, but I thought one area which you really excel in and actually summarize really well in a lot of your posts and chats is how to do a basic strategy. I think it’s something that people don’t necessarily do or pay enough attention to and it’s something that if people haven’t done already, or they’re just starting out they could benefit from, and yeah, so let’s start into that. How would you begin? What would be the first things you would do in getting a strategy prepared for people with a business? Rebekah: Well, and I think you said it; it is unfortunately one of those areas that’s often overlooked. You know, a big part of what I do is coming in and taking a look at traditional marketing. So, what have they been doing? What have they already established offline? And then how can we take that and translate that to the online world? And I think with that where a lot of businesses struggle is really understanding how to take all of that content that they’ve got and plug it into an online strategy and one that is fully integrated so one that really leverages everything, every tool that’s online out there. So whether it’s Google+, whether it’s Facebook, maybe it’s Instagram, really understanding your audience would be the #1 for me where to start because there are so many different places you can be, so many different places you can start, so my first suggestion always is, understand. Get inside the head of your potential clients, understand why they’re using social media, what are they doing online? Who are they looking to connect with? My guess is: it’s probably both on a personal as well as a professional level. And so from a business standpoint, really know what their goals are, what they’re looking to achieve, and why they would ever connect with your business. Because if you could be just truly laser beam focused, if you could really understand what motivates them, then it becomes much easier to create that targeted content, that content that they’re out there looking and craving every single day and that eliminates yet another hurdle which is that content creation. So, you know, #1 like I said is really understand your audience. Ashley: So how would you go about – just some quick tips on that, obviously, it’s probably weeks of your time to fully understand such a topic, but how would you go about honing your channels, for example, like you said, you could choose any number of the big, what is it, five or six channels, and I’m just thinking of Africa here, and the big five; the lion, the elephant, but we have Facebook, Instagram, yeah, LinkedIn… and I know from my experience, of course, you’ve got B-to-B is great on LinkedIn and then personal consumer products is great on Facebook, and visual content is great on Instagram, and there’s a lot of different choices out there. But if you’re a business, what’s a couple of things you could ask yourself that would help you make a decision on a couple of channels to choose, and a couple of content varieties to use to approach this first step of creating a strategy? Rebekah: Well, again, it’s like you said, understanding your company, so are you B to B, are you B to C? And then really starting to take a look at where are your potential consumers spending their time. Obviously, Facebook is still the biggest boy on the block as far as social networks are concerned, and the majority of consumers are definitely spending their time there. So it’s going to be a lot of trial and error, I think, is really starting to post some content, start that conversation, see what kind of interaction you’re getting, and then starting to do your reconnaissance work, getting out there, and looking at your competitors. Taking a look at what conversations are they having? What kind of content is really driving interaction, driving engagement, on, say, their Facebook page, or maybe it’s over on Twitter? I always recommend start in one place, so start where you’re comfortable. Where are you spending your time right now, and where do you really feel like you’re finding people to interact and engage with? Start there; work that strategy like I said as far as posting content, trying out different types of content. Obviously we’re all different. We receive our information differently, some people choose to read, some people really appreciate video, some people love podcasts. So repurposing your content and just sharing that in unique ways is also going to be important as you start to define where those people are spending their time, and then playing around with how you share that content to really get a feel for not only what kind of content do they want, but how do they want to receive that content? That’s – it’s always a challenge not only to understand where to spend your time but also what kind of content should you be spending your time on? Because you may find that, and maybe in your case, Ashley, this is definitely has become the case since you’ve got this podcast, is people are, they’re very auditory and maybe they would prefer to just simply listen to you talk as opposed to reading an article. So it’s figuring that out as well. Ashley: Yeah, I mean it’s definitely something I’ve noticed a difference on as well and I think it certainly pays to vary everything you do at least a little bit. Of course, not everybody’s comfortable with doing a podcast or a video, but I think you certainly, as time goes on and you get comfortable with one medium, whether that’s writing or talking or whatever, you should try to move on to other verities. And how do you find that’s helped with your customers and their social media campaigns? Rebekah: Well, I think its several different ways. First of all, doing something like this, where we’re just having a conversation on a podcast allows people to get to know you on a very different level. All of the sudden they can hear you; they can listen to your words as opposed to just reading your words, which we now how that goes. You know, reading, whether it’s an article or an e-mail, there’s always room for interpretation as well as misinterpretation where if you’re listening to somebody it’s pretty straight forward. So it definitely gives your audience the opportunity to get to know you on a very different level and I think with that there’s that opportunity to build trust, there’s always the ‘I know I can trust’ factor where you want your community to feel comfortable with you. You want them to feel as if you’ve just opened your arms and kind of drawn them into the fold of your company. So being able to give them just a little bit different insight into who you are, what makes you tick, what you do, why you do it, all of those things that are incredibly important to anybody looking to make an educated decision about your business. I think video is a great way, obviously, to engage a maybe otherwise unengaged audience and I do understand that not everybody feels comfortable. In fact, I would imagine that most people feel uncomfortable getting in front of the camera initially, but there are a lot of great ways to use video within your business without actually having to get on camera, so you can think about that too – how to use video within your business to connect people in a very different way but not necessarily have get on camera and feel that uncomfortable tug whenever you’re stepping into something that you haven’t done before. And then of course, as we’ve already talked about, there’s podcasting, where people can hear you but they don’t have to see you, so a lot of different ways to connect people to your business that are a little bit different maybe in methodology than you’ve done in the past which might just be traditional writing on your blog or posting to your social networks. Ashley: Yep, for sure, it’s definitely something that I’ve listened to in the famous quote from Pat Flynn that everybody seems to use which is to be everywhere and I don’t think that’s necessarily the best choice. I mean, it sounds great to say that but I don’t know if everybody has the time to be everywhere, I think that’s a very, a very good aspiration but I’m not sure we all have that time. I think certainly mixing it up and I was just looking through your posts again this morning about this particular topic and that’s one of the things that you said in there was, “mixing it up,” now whether that is with content types and audio, video, info graphics, or whatever, I think it always pays to mix up even within one style the different kinds of content that you’re delivering and I’ve noticed also you’ve been doing that recently, and that piqued my attention because you do those kind of things really well and you’re now putting a lot more visuals in, more than you did before, and also some Slide Share, and what got you going on that particular topic… Slide Share’s become common in all of your posts I’ve seen. Rebekah: Yeah, you know, it’s funny as I talk to companies on a daily basis about how to really make the most of all the content that they’ve got, so how can we get the most mileage out of that content, get that back in front of a whole new audience. I had a bit of a ‘duh’ moment for myself where we were using Slide Share and I wasn’t even using it for myself, I speak quite often, probably have hundreds of PowerPoint presentations I put together over the years, yet wasn’t actually taking the time to upload them to Slide Share on my own so just started to do that and follow my own advice of repurposing some of my content into Slide Shares and they’ve been very well received so it’s a great point that you bring up, Ashley, that it can be as simple as, one of them, there is a fabulous tool out there, if I can share a little tool tip, called Haiku Deck, which I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that but, just a very easy way to drop any of your content into a Slide Deck, they’re basically pre-created templates – you can either use your own images, you can use some from their gallery, as well, and within 30 minutes it’s really that simple, you can put together a very beautiful presentation that you can download and then upload directly into Slide Share, so very simple way to take your content, repurpose it, repackage it, and like I said, just get it out there all over again, but in front of a whole new audience because SlideShare obviously is catering to a very different audience then say, Facebook. The people that are spending their time over there are looking for something different, probably speakers or looking to become a speaker, and looking and doing some research, maybe, on the speakers within their industry or niche, so it’s a great way to get your content out there in front of yes, consumers, but from a B-to-B point of view, boy, to me it’s just a no-brainer. Ashley: Yeah, I did it a while back and didn’t actually get as much traction as I’d hope, but I think maybe I gave up on it too easily because what I saw with how you had done it, which was really good and actually something in which I think one of the speakers was talking about in the content marketing conference and I can bring that into the conversation here as well, which was that when you create something, especially something reasonably big, whether it’s a big post or a small e-book which is also relatively big, thousands of words, you can either approach it from the finished product and then break it up, which is what I saw you doing, you break it out into a summarized SlideShare which you can then turn into multiple tweets or multiple sub-posts in social media, you can break that down into your blog posts into multiple sections or into multiple blog posts, so you can actually attack your content strategy with social media in mind as well as the multiple channels in mind. Whether that’s video, audio, SlideShare, images, Instagram, everything. So you can really attack this with the end in mind, which is getting most of your channels filled with content with just one particular thing that you create and I think that’s really an end that everyone should be trying to achieve and it actually saves you so much time… you create one thing and you get ten things out of it. It’s actually an amazing thing. Rebekah: There you go, and that is, that’s the goal at the end of the day, it’s all about doing, being able to create a whole lot more content at the fraction of the time or the cost. Yeah, so it’s just maximizing all that you’ve got available and I think that’s where anybody from an entrepreneur to a start-up to a large corporation tends to over think how to create content, when in reality you just broke it down. You could take one post and for companies set up in a business for quite some time, look at your offline collateral. Think about that marketing you’ve put together over the years. You’ve got newsletters, you’ve got e-mails, you’ve got drip-marketing campaigns, you probably have just a wealth of information at your fingertips that could be repurposed into the content that you’re talking about where instead of constantly reinventing the wheel, you’re just going back through, just cull through all of that content you’ve created in the past… update it. Just freshen it up, give it a new life, and turn it into a SlideShare, turn it into maybe ten different posts for social media. It could be a tips post, so maybe you did a list of the Top Ten Tips, and you can take every single one of those and break it out into its own blog posts. You could take every single one of those and then turn those, as you said, into a hundred and forty character tweets, into a post for Facebook or Google+, so there’s just unlimited possibilities with what you can do with your content. Ashley: Yeah, it’s once you get the ideas, basically, you get sort of the gist of how it all works and the different channels that you’re using. So if we bring it back to our original topic which was, which – how you would do your social media strategy so you start to get to know your audience, where they’re hanging out, what kind of content they’re consuming, how you’re making that content and repurposing all of your content. What would be the next step, you would say, in trying to get your customers somehow as leads to actually embrace your business or potentially buy something? How would you go about doing something like that? Rebekah: I think there’s a few steps in there, I think obviously one is being very tactical, so very strategic in where you’re spending your time but also how you’re spending your time there. So when you’re on Facebook, are you just popping in? Are you just randomly hopping around from, you know, maybe one post to the next? Or do you find yourself in that rabbit hole and within an hour you suddenly you realize, you’ve wasted an hour of your time! And you haven’t gotten anything accomplished! So it’s really going in knowing how are you going to find those people and then how are you going to interact with them, so one thing that I’ve touched on is find your competition. Start spending some time on your competition’s social media and really start to get a feel for what they’re talking about, how those conversations are going, what are they doing well? And what are they not doing well? Where can you really capitalize on that conversation, and then how can you pull that conversation over to your website, your blog, and your social networks? So how can you leverage all that’s going on within your industry, a lot of times its topic topics, so it’s really keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s going on within your industry and the biggest piece is, as I mentioned, being strategic in how you’re spending your time. So let’s take Facebook for example, because you know, again, this is where people are spending quite a bit of time still, start to identify those places, as you said, Ashley, where your potential clients are spending their time. And then start commenting, start interacting on those pages, they’re – any industry that you’re in, you have people that are doing something very similar to what you’re doing. I never look at them necessarily as competitors; I look at them as opportunities for us to build a mutually beneficial relationship. My opinion? There’s always enough business to go around. So if you can start to begin to build those connections, you know it would be – let’s just use you and I as an example. Let’s say we were both offering the same product or service. And I could come to you and start to comment on your blog, start to interact with you on social media, start to really get to know you, because I’m willing to bet that you have a skill set that’s very unique to you, probably a little bit different from mine, and there’s a way that we can tap into that. There’s a way that we can start to build that reciprocity where I’m sharing your content, where we’re able to start maybe referring each other’s business. And if I were to start to get to know you, interact with you, say, on your Facebook page, allow your – those people interacting, fans of your page, to be able to get to know me just through my comments, through my interaction with you, you start to build a reputation. You start to allow people to get to know who you are. So there’s definitely ways to be strategic not only in your time that you’re spending identifying where your consumers are hanging out, but also getting to know that supposed competition. I see just enormous value in building those relationships within your own industry. Ashley: Yeah, sure, and that’s what we’re doing here today. I mean, we’ve been – I’ve been on your show, you’re on my show, we get to know each other, we help each other, and it all goes around and I keep seeing that coming up again and again. I was just reading something about networking from someone the other day and they said, you know, the biggest thing that’s ever helped them in their business is their connections and when you’re not running your own business and you’re working for someone all those years before you start your business normally, you don’t realize that your connections are just your friends. But once you start running your own business you realize suddenly that having influential friends or connections is actually handy to have. And you don’t just rely on other people, of course you help people yourself, and yeah, and it goes back and forth in different ways and it’s – that’s one of the parts I think people forget. You’re looking for customers but you’re also looking for connections, and it’s not about meeting someone and straight away asking for something, people have done that to me recently on LinkedIn, and that leaves a nasty taste in your mouth. It’s kind of like, “Hi there! Connect with me, can you please help me do something?” … uh, no. But, really, it’s too fast. That’s something you need to remember, someone said that this morning to me in a podcast or something I was listening to, make those connections a year or two before you need them, not when you need them because when you need them you shouldn’t be asking, so, it’s the wrong way around but… Rebekah: It really is, you know, I actually wrote a post a while ago about that exact issue. It was about your customers – are you wooing your customers, but it could – but the same is true for business relationships where you do, you want to be woo’d on a first date, and too often people are going, you know, trying to round second base on the first date and it does, it really leaves a bad taste in your mouth and instead of accomplishing what you’re trying to accomplish, which I think for some people it’s just awkward, they have a tough time explaining who they are and what they do and just kind of reaching out, and what it kind of ends up being is this ‘go for the jugular, let me tell you who I am, let me tell you what I’m all about,’ and ask for the sale, well, they never earned the right to even ask for the sales, so I think that’s a great point that as you’re out there, as you are building out this strategy, as you’re thinking through how you can tactically start to connect with those people who maybe are influential within your industry and also with those consumers, understand that you really do have to earn the right to ask for their business. You’ve got to take the time to get to know people, and Ashley, I’ll go back to you and I – I think our relationship is a great example where we met us bloggers, we got to know each other, mutual respect over our content, and then that slowly started to move into social networking, and we connected on Google+ and we connected on Twitter, we’ve just connected all over the web and I can see that what you’re doing is consistent everywhere and that really starts to build that rapport when we’re connecting, we’re engaging, we’re sharing each other’s content, and we’re truly taking an interest in that other person as opposed to me having just coming to you and saying, “Hey Ashley, I saw that you’re a blogger, hey, want to start sharing all my stuff?” I mean, really, come on, has that ever worked? Ashley: Luckily I don’t get too much of that, but occasionally I get some e-mails and I’m just like, really, I mean I feel really bad for the people… I had one this morning, someone asked me – I mean it was actually reasonably well done, the e-mail for a change, which is quite rare but still – I’m kind of like, okay, just… it’s your first e-mail to me, maybe you should get to know me first, but anyway. Rebekah: Take a little time! Ashley: So getting back to our original topic again, and so we’re out there engaging with people, we’re getting involved in conversations, and this is something that I’ve been trying to do on LinkedIn because it’s good for me to be just chit-chatting, offering information, and I think this comes back to this presentation I saw from Jay Baer about being useful, and this is something that he signed into my book when I was at the conference, he’s just says, “be useful,” and I just thought that’s really, really handy to keep in your mind, even if you’re meeting people as we’re talking about, sort of peers, or whether you’re talking about meeting your customers, if all you’re ever doing to create business is finding the places where people are and helping them, I think that’s one of the best ways you can interact with your potential connections or customers. Rebekah: Oh, I couldn’t agree more. And, be useful, my goodness, just think about that. If you simply went into your day, getting ready to post to Google+, to Facebook, to Twitter, wherever it might be, and thought about, ‘How can I solve somebody’s problem today? How could I make their life better, easier, what could I offer to them, what do I know?’ Because of course no matter what you do on a daily basis, you have a whole lot of information that somebody is dying to gain access to. So, you know, think about it in those terms. What can I do to be of value to somebody else? And I always think about it from that kind of servant point of view because as business owners, as entrepreneurs, no matter what line of work you’re in, if you’re running your own company, you are a servant to those people and if you come at it from that perspective, there is so much value in that as opposed to that feeling of that all you’re ever doing is take-take-take, you’re asking, you’re asking for that sale, you’re asking for that business, you’re asking for help, which certainly there’s nothing wrong with that, we’re all in business to make money, there’s no secret. But again, I’m going to go back to you, you’ve really got to earn that right and the only way that I know that you can do that is to be valuable to people and that means creating consistency in all that you’re sharing and that’s where it goes back to having a plan in place, understanding what kind of content you’re going to share on a daily basis. That’s going to be helpful. That’s really going to be useful to people that you’re going to want to take and either read over and over again, they’re going to want to share it, they’re going to want to pass it along, so it, you know, it all really does play hand-in-hand together in understanding what their needs are and then consistently sharing that just over and over and over again. Ashley: That’s a, a great point, and that’s really, it’s all about sharing stuff which helps people, and they remember you for that, and that was something Jay was saying in his presentation. Who are you going to remember? The guy who had the big billboard on the highway or the guy who helped you solve a problem when he didn’t even ask you for anything in return, and of course that comes back that to having an app which helps you find a location or whatever. Oh, that’s something from a company I’ve never bought anything off of, that’s amazing. And you know, you really remember that, that really hits home and in this day and age, it’s the way we have to do business. So if you’re sharing content on a daily basis, and I was just reading through your points on your post again, you’re saying here the rule of 70/30, and I think this is just something that most people tend to follow, and I’ve seen some people really get wrong with the 100/0 rule which is the exact opposite which is almost like shouting again – which is, of course, sharing yours and other people’s stuff. Rebekah: Yeah, well, exactly, so the 70/30 rule, which – not a hard and fast rule by any means, this is going to be a little bit different for everybody, but it just basically means that you’re sharing 70% of other people’s content, 30% of your own, and again, it’s finding that happy medium for yourself. But I always like in this, too, in a social networking event, because sharing content is definitely all about networking and think about it this way, if you were to walk into a networking event and just storm into the room, a bunch of people in the room, all talking, and you just started shouting about yourself, telling them all about your accolades, your skills, what you’ve done in the past, who you are, and oh by the way, here’s what I do, here’s how you can send me a client – what would those people do? They’d probably turn around, walk away. Nobody’s interested in somebody that just stands on a mountain and shouts with a bullhorn. So, you know, it’s very similar within social media. You want to create conversations, and a great way to do that is to share your content, but also share other people’s content. There are plenty of people, and this goes back to what I was saying about identifying who those people are within your industry, that are really doing a great job sharing content. So network with those people, network with them to get to know them and then start sharing their great content as well and a lot of businesses that I work with will say, “Oh my gosh, why in the world would I share somebody else’s content?” Oh my goodness, why wouldn’t you? There’s just so many different reasons to do that. 1. It’s creating that relationship, 2. It sets you apart, because now you look like you are creating just a wealth of information and you’re sharing all of this information on a daily basis and you become that go-to resource for, you know, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, wherever it is you’re sharing, people are saying, “Well, pfft, I don’t even need to go anywhere else to get all the information I’m looking for because Ashley just shares it. He’s out there curating, he’s out there creating, he’s doing it all for me.” So it’s really positioning you as the thought leader, as that go-to professional, so there’s just tons of different reasons to want to share other people’s content .Again, back to the 70/30 rule, not a hard and fast rule, I think you really have to start to get out there, start to share other people’s content, know again how much you can commit to and how much creating of your own content. I post once a week. I know that’s my commitment to my blog, so you have to figure out how much can you commit to and then how much do you want to share on a daily basis? And then start to kind of weave other people’s content into that. Ashley: Yeah, and I think that’s a problem that many people have in thinking that they have to keep up with the Joneses, if that’s a good enough expression for that, but – Rebekah: It is. Ashley: – you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Because once the people connect with you they’ll get used to what you’re doing, and they’ll expect that so I think the key is, and we’ve, I think, already mentioned this already but the key is consistency as opposed to volume. And if you’re on it once a day is probably not enough, there’s certain amount of times per day, especially on something like Twitter, maybe on Facebook it’s only a couple of times per day, and on Instagram maybe the same and Pinterest, again, you know, four or five times per day, whatever, but certainly if you’re doing it once a month people are going to forget you. So you need to find out kind of what the minimum standards are for each channel but certainly doing exactly the same as the big boys are doing or whatever, is not even your competition is doing, maybe they’re annoying the people who are following them, because they’re spitting out too much content, could be. Rebekah: Yeah, well, and I think that’s a great point. I, you know, I talked about taking a look at your competition, and that by no means does that mean,mirror or mimic what they’re doing, I love what you said, we should all strive to do our own thing, be unique, get out there and set the tone for your business, your brand across your social networks, on your blog. To me, sustainable gets done and if you do not create a sustainable plan, one that you actually feel you can commit to, you’re going to get stressed out, you’re going to feel overwhelmed, and you’re going to start to let it slide, and that’s where the problems definitely do begin to crop up. Because then all of the sudden consumers are landing on your Google+ page and you haven’t posted in a month. Well, to me that looks far worse than not having a Google+ page altogether. So, you know, put a plan in place that feels comfortable to you, that you really feel like you can commit to and it maybe you work up to it. You start to share a little bit of content on a daily basis, and then you start to test the waters and see, ‘can I share a little bit more? Can I post a second time per day on my Google+ page?’ Whatever that might look like, just start to test it out, see how it’s received from your community and then move on. Then maybe bite off a little more. To me, it’s always baby steps. Don’t dive into the deep end of the pool and think that right out of the gate you’re going to have this enormous social media business plan or strategy that you’re going to be able to keep up with, especially if it’s just you and you don’t have a team. So, if I can give one big piece of advice, it’s really focus on maybe a couple of things. Focus on what you can commit to on your own blog, if you’re a writer, and you’ve got content on your blog, think about is it once a week, twice a week, what can you actually do, and then how much do you really have to curetting content – meaning going out there, finding other people’s content to share. Think about those two pieces, how many hours within a day or your week you have to do those two tasks and then chunk it down to, what does that mean? How many articles can you actually write, and how many articles can you actually curate? Ashley: Mhm. Yeah I think that’s almost a perfect place to end, I was actually looking at the time and we’ve almost reached fifty minutes already, I can’t believe it. And yeah, actually, I think that’s almost a perfect place to end, I’m not sure, is there anything else you think we should touch on? Rebekah: No, I think you’re right! I think that really does bring it full circle. I think the misconception that a strategy has to be lengthy, it has to be 20 pages, it has to be all encompassing, can feel very daunting to a lot of people, and so I would say, start small. Start small, and really know your limitations. Know what you can take on because understanding that, really knowing that from the get-go is going to allow you to put a sustainable plan in place. Ashley: Yeah, I think that’s perfect because we’ve probably completely daunted or, I’m not even sure if that’s a word, but anyway that’s the problem of living in a German-speaking country, but anyway, ‘daunted,’ yes, I think that’s a word… but anyway, it’s daunting for people to hear all of this stuff. Multiple channels, multiple content types, video, podcast, Twitter, and you’ve just said, basically don’t do that; don’t bite it all off at once. These are all opportunities and options, they’re not musts and you don’t have to do 90% of them, you just need to do what you can, where you can, and where you’re comfortable, where your customers are, piece by piece, slowly implement, build it up, and that’s exactly what I did when I started and now I’m comfortable on multiple channels and I still can’t cover them all fully. And I just have to live with that, it’s something I can’t do, and yeah, that’s basically the way it is. And as you say, it doesn’t – you don’t have to copy everybody else. Do what you can but do something and try to engage with people and I think that’s almost perfectly covered it all, so these people should be creating a little bit of content wherever they’re comfortable on the channels that they can do that on. Awesome. I’m ready to go, even though I’ve already got mine in place. But I feel like I should’ve had that when I started out. That’s, yeah, that’s as you say, it doesn’t have to be complex, and that’s what I think people need to realize. It sounds really difficult when you say, “Social media strategy, oh my God, I need to write a book!” Rebekah: Exactly. No, and you said it so well. Do what you can with what you have. Ashley: Yep. Rebekah: Don’t over think it; don’t stress yourself out over it, just figure out what you can commit to, and what you can commit to daily. Ashley: And certainly if people go and follow you they’ll get lots of great tips, and let’s go there. What’s the easiest way to connect with you? Rebekah: Well, they can find me on my blog which is Rebekahradice.com or connect with me pretty much anywhere social media-wise; on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ is probably where I’m spending the majority of my time, and that would be +Rebekahradice or @Rebekahradice over on Twitter. Ashley: Okay, and I’ll put all of those links on the show notes and that’ll be madlemmings.com/episode18, that’s the number 18, and all of the links there and I’ll the links a few of your posts on this topic too so people can get a feel of what you’re blogging about and get some more information and yeah, I just want to thank you again for having your first coffee with me. Rebekah: No, thank you. Ashley: And we’ll certainly catch up again soon, I’m sure, and yeah, have a great day and hopefully a great rest of the week, as well. Rebekah: You too. Ashley: Alright, thanks Rebekah. Send Rebekah A Thank You Tweet If you enjoyed this SEO chat with Rebekah, why not send him a thank you Tweet… Thank Rebekah with a Tweet Posts and Resources from the Podcast 10 Steps to a Solid Social Media Strategy Ideas to Use Social Media Strategically Dramatically Boost Brand Visibility with Social Media Haiku Deck – Slide Creation Tool Youtility – Jay Baer (being useful) Connect with Rebekah Website Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Pinterest Thanks for the Review on iTunes – Or Stitcher As this podcast is just starting out, I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes to help me promote it and reach more people. I have a quick How To Do a Review on iTunes (only because it may not be so simple to find the place to do it). Previous Podcast Episodes If you don’t really need to head to iTunes or Stitcher, you can find all the previous podcasts here Final Words
61 minutes | Jun 25, 2014
How to Hire Freelancers to Free Up Your Time
When your business or blog starts to grow, you might find that you just don’t have enough time in the day. This is a problem we all face, and there are a number of ways you can solve this. Becoming more productive is one way. And I have spoken to the Productive Super Dad before on this podcast to help you get some ideas on how to improve there. But sometimes that just isn’t enough. If you seriously want to free up some of your time, you need to get some help. And these days, getting help often means hiring a Virtual Assistant or someone similar. These kinds of virtual employees are great. You send them a task from wherever you are, and they just do it. Sometimes while you sleep! And often at a very reasonable price. Can’t beat that. But the challenge starts when you want to find, hire and work well with such people. That is why I got an expert on the podcast to share her knowledge in this area! Enter Diana Diana has been a freelance marketing consultant for over 5 years. And she has not only a lot of experience working as a freelancer, but also in hiring them for her clients A lot of what Diana knows, she shares on her website which you will find a link to further down. So she was obviously the perfect person to talk to about this topic and she certainly had a lot of information to give. In this podcast, I discuss with Diana the full freelancer hiring process: why you would get a freelancer vs employing someone where to find them how to write the job post (title, desc, skills) how to filter them (questions and secret word) not being too careful with money (you get what you pay for) the benefits of trials rewarding your freelancers Take a listen to what Diana (or read the transcript if that is your thing). Read the Transcript If you prefer to read the transcript, you can Download the Transcript PDF Or read it below… Show Podcast Transcript Ashley: Hi Diana thanks for coming on the show today. It’s great to talk to you finally.Diana: Hi Ashley it is nice meeting you. Ashley: And let’s get a quick run-down of your background because you’re a freelancer as well, and that’s what we’re going to be talking about today, so maybe we’ll just get a quick background of what you have been doing for the last years. Diana: OK. Well I don’t much like talking about myself so this part will be short. I am born in Bulgaria and since 5 years ago I became a freelancer and pretty much since then I have been traveling the world a lot. This is a dream of mine, come true. I’m a freelance marketing consultant and basically work with clients on their marketing projects whether it’s a price of content you need to get rid of or they need a website review or they need a marketing plan or just writing some marketing collateral materials. They can hire me for that. And working online has given me the freedom to travel because that is really what I want to do and so far it’s working great. I moved to Spain a few months ago and I am talking to you today from there; southern Spain. Ashley: Yeah that’s a really cool thing. I remember because we have been in contact since almost he beginning of when I was online and you were, I think in Sofia at the time right? In Bulgaria? So and then all of a sudden you were like oh I’m going to Spain. Diana: [Laughs] Yeah that’s the beauty of freelancing. Just pick up your stuff and go wherever you want. Ashley: Yeah and that’s one of the cool things I guess we’ll touch on today. As well as the freelancer and that’s kind of what I do a little bit as well. I’m more in web design but I could also do that from anywhere in the world and that’s the beauty of online stuff and freelancing is part of that. You could get your work via the internet. You could give your work back via the internet and you can be anywhere there is a decent internet connection. Now you’re in Spain. Diana: Yeah and thanks to Skype you can even talk to your clients or freelancers in real time if you need to discuss something in real time. So it’s, sky is the limit in whatever you want, whenever you want. Ashley: Yeah, I was actually just talking to a guy yesterday, a new client I got for a website and he is not used to this and he was figuring out a way to connect to me and downloading applications and trying to figure out how he could talk to me. I’m like download Skype man its easy and he went with some other thing I can’t remember what it was, I had to download a new client. But in the end we got connected and we got to screen share and everything. It only took a few minutes. And he was very happy. He was like oh my God I can’t believe I’m working with somebody in Switzerland. Ok. Yeah that’s the way of the world these days. It makes your life an amazing thing. What I wanted to do today was talk to you because this is something you have a lot of experience in and something I’m growing into on the opposite side of the fence which is why I would like to hire some people in the future and we were just discussing this before we started recording, I’m not exactly sure who or how I need to do this but one of the options I have is to hire a freelancer, which is what you do. so I guess the first question we can help people answer is if they want to hire somebody, and if they want to go down this path of even having someone just for a task or just for so many hours a week or whatever, what kind of things or how would you go about making the distinction of hiring a freelancer which is the kind of work that you offer. When would you hire a freelancer and when would you be looking for someone more permanent or an assistant. Diana: Right this is a very important question actually. Not many clients ask themselves that question before they start looking for a freelancer. Of course it pretty much depends on what type of work you need help with but in my experience I have seen the best relationships between clients and freelancer came out of, for instance, if you needed help with your daily work like uploading blog posts or maybe sorting out your email or going through your reader or finding blog posts which you want to read or which can wait until your free time on the weekend for instance. That is something that can be outsourced to a virtual assistant. This is a very popular profession, today, among freelancers; of course it requires special skills. In terms of programming skills or marketing skills. Or just to be organized. To be good with time management, maybe that’s why virtual assistants are so much on the rise. That is maybe the most searched, most looked for profession today, after writers. Writers will always be on the top I think. So apart from virtual assistants which is almost always better outsourced than having someone in house, other than that I think the main distinction you need to do is whether you need someone for a long term or short term. Whether you have a quick job or your have a large scale project. Which is better handled in house. You need to decide how much control you want to have over the day activities which are concerning the work. How much control you want to have of the day activities. Because if you want daily reports or you want to have to pre approve everything, every step of the way, maybe it’s better than to hire an employee because as a freelancer. A good freelancer who is a freelancer not because he doesn’t have anything else to do but because he has made a choice to be a freelancer. Chances are that freelancer will not like to be micromanaged. So if you want to have 100% control over everything, go with an employee, don’t go with a freelancer. Rather than that I think that everything can be outsourced to a freelancer. Even for instance in my, from my experience, I have been hired for small jobs like writing a press release but I have also been hired to manage a marketing team of ten people. It was one project which was very interesting because the whole company was totally neutral. Two people were from the same country, from the same country but they didn’t have an office and we were like I don’t know maybe 30 people, 40 people, all over the whole, it was the definition of a virtual company. Ashley: Wow that’s crazy. Diana: Yeah so bottom line is everything can be outsourced and every task can be outsourced to a freelancer. Of course a manufacturer obviously cannot. But if it’s done online and via computer it can be outsourced. But it very much depends on who you as client are and what you as a client want. What type of person you are. Ashley: Do you really need to be able to give up control in way, I mean not completely but you can’t go to someone like how’s it going, any questions, when you don’t have that access so you don’t have the be able to still control it but in a distance in terms of time and a distance in terms of actual distance as well, I mean you can no longer… Diana: Yes but I wouldn’t call it give up control, I would call it trust your freelancers. I mean when you work with someone, there are clients who demand constant presence and they can pop up at any time. He wants to know exactly how the design is going. Well when will I have the first draft? Whatever. There are such clients but those in my book bare bad clients. Yeah there are people who agree to work like that. But usually those are people who do not handle work well they cannot take responsibility, they cannot make decisions for themselves so again it very much depends on what type of work you have and what type of person you are. Because for instance if you, with this podcast you need transcribers I suppose. Ashley: Yes. Diana: So for this type of work, transcription, you don’t need much decision making or anything. So you can hire a transcriber based on solely how much it will cost for all your minutes and how much time it will take. Whether one hour, or if they will transcribe it for one day. Or it will take them one week. Obviously here the choice will be very easy, a transcriptionist’s transcription is accurate there’s not much that can go wrong. You don’t need to check up on your freelancer. Because they will transcribe it or not, you will find out soon enough. If you for instance are looking for someone who will transcribe your calls, transcribe your audio, and they will get the audio and make a summary touching up on the main points that were made in that audio. And then you are no longer looking for a simple transcription, you will care more about the level, how well you write or she writes, how quickly then can, what the turnaround time for the transcription but also the blog post that they will write, and if you through into the fix, formatting and choosing contextual images there are other skills that person needs to have not just writing but good research and to know where to look for what images and create the work. So my point is that adding simple things to the scope of the work then the requirements for that person change and the type of people you look for change. The approach when you look for those people will change as well. Ashley: Ok well let’s take that example and its more or less the kind of thing I am starting to look for and it’s probably something similar to many people have had for a blog post or my podcast and they will probably keep away from it for a minute. Let’s just say I want the blog post, I want someone to do my images. If my images I’m not sure I’m going to give that up yet, so I’m not going to break down, and when you start looking for someone you need to make sure what you can give them is reasonably packageable, is that how people come to you with these kind of tasks, is that the best sort of practice for describing a task for a freelancer. Diana: Well, hmmmm, well let me see because people don’t usually come to me with these types of tasks but I have been looking for people for this type of task. Ashley: So what would you say is a good way of getting the information to the freelancer? Diana: There are two ways to kind of approach this matter, one is what most people do and one is more not so popular but if you ask if it’s better, especially in your case, but the more conventional one is you just think of all the requirements that you have. As silly as it sounds take a sheet of paper and write down everything you will need that person to do, that is find images, that is if you need that person to also do something with the images like add text or maybe edit them or with some other program, that is something which not many can do so there is a filtering mechanism that put in place right there. Ashley: So you need to break every skill down and every program down that you’re going to be touching in the task that you’re going to do so that you know you get the right people. Diana: Exactly yes, include everything that you need to be done. So that you for yourself can figure out what you need. And then you can go and post that in the job post and you can look for someone to hire who possesses every single skill that you need. Or you can go ahead and find someone who has not done many of the things or not done anything maybe he or she is just starting for instance and then from A-Z. Which way you will go very much depends on whether you have a process you like to be followed or you are fine with that person doing the work as they like as long as the end result is what you want. So if you have a process , for instance you like your blog post to be saved in word first then you review them. Once you review them and approve that everything is good them that person can go ahead and find the pictures that go with your requirement. Once they find the pictures you approve them again and the only then you start the way maybe it’s better to train them to stuff like but if all you care about is okay the blog post when it is uploaded to word press the proper images with proper credits so that I can for like two minutes and then hit the publish button then it does matter. They need to be able to do this on their own. Ashley: If you were to look for someone who, that must also be quite difficult , from a guy in Australia’s podcast I listen to that he prefers to train these people and it’s also more likely they will stay on for longer because they have gained a skill from him, then they have gained a skill and they get bored and they leave or whatever. But I mean how would you go about someone to know they have the potential to learn this from a distance , that’s quite difficult. Diana: Yes. It can challenging especially in the beginning because you are not used to working this way it’s easier not to get fooled but to believe someone is something which she isn’t but even in the beginning there are certain precautions you can take. So for starters if you are just starting and you do not have experience working with freelancers you can always turn to websites like oDesk and Elance where those are basically big freelance job boards and there are a lot of clients who need various services and there are even more freelancers with certain skills who are bidding on job posts published by clients. So it’s a bidding site, I believe that you are familiar with those. Should I summarize for the audience listening to this. These are where a client publishes a blog post the way that we just discussed and you publish what you need, who you need and why you need, and when you need them, into the details how it is better to publish a job post , to attract suitable candidates. The ideas behind oDesk and Elance, there are many more but I have used this so that’s why we have talked about them. Clients publish their job posts and there are freelancers who send them cover letters, basically apply to that job. Then the client has the freedom to choose one or more of the freelancers and after let’s call it an interview , after a few messages or even a Skype call, they can talk to various freelancers and decide they will hire you or I will hire two of the applicants, that’s the process, but if you don’t have experience working with freelancers, the y are carefully crafting the freelance post. First step when you protect yourself from spammers or bad freelancers it’s sad but there is a lot of spam on those websites and you can fall victim and waste an awful lot of time. Filtering through crappy freelancers. So the first thing you should do is choose the title of your blog post because that will save you and the quality freelancers some time. For instance in your case let’s continue your example with the person who you need to transcribe your blog posts and sort images and the blog post into WordPress. Ok so let’s say you look for that person on ODesk or Elance. If you title your job post transcriber needed, you will get applications from transcribers. If you title your job post, for instance, help needed with WordPress blog, this is totally vague. I mean are you looking for a WordPress programmer or are you looking for someone to write a blog post on a regular basis. I mean what are you looking for? Help with WordPress blog needed is awfully vague. So be sure when you post your blog post to make the title as clear as possible so that because if the person who you are looking for and you want to work with them, that is probably not applied to a job with a vague title, simply because they found their time too much and they will not waste their time into asking additional questions only to figure out whether your project is or isn’t good for them. Ashley: So you make a really long title describing it? Diana: Well not really, really… Ashley: Not sentences. Diana: Yeah not sentences. But it should be clear enough and it’s better to be longer and clearer instead of vague and not getting enough information , for instance, again thinking on the fly here but in this particular example it would be what let’s say you need a transcriber , needed a virtual assistant for transcribing and publishing blog posts in WordPress , for instance. So the person will know that transcribing is needed, but also basic knowledge of WordPress in order to publish the blog post. Now if they have both those things they will take the job post and then they will know all other things like image editing and Photoshop if needed or research for suitable images that will be explained in the job post. Ashley: So already in the title I mean it’s like many things we do in a blog post when you publish it and you put it on social media, people won’t click on it and in your case of Elance or oDesk it’s the same thing. People are quickly looking for new work I don’t see things which catch their attention then they are not going to open them. Diana: Exactly. Yeah. The completion among freelancers is awful. I mean awfully big, a lot of competition. So it’s between clients and the good freelancers, the quality workers, the people who know what they time is worth, who have the skills and sell them for top dollar, they know that they can choose their clients so the way that I am explaining how you as a client can filter freelancers. The same way freelancers can filter their clients based on the job posts, they can decide they should apply or avoid a certain client. Ashley: Ok so the next part of the job post would then be a description of, you’ve also got a section at the bottom, description and then skills you can choose I think from what I’ve seen. Is that the best place to write what you need in terms of skills? Or is it best described in the description? How do you split that up normally? Diana: I would say best described in both, for instance , their interface , here I don’t want to mislead you because I have not applied for a new job in a very long time but they have recently I was looking for a transcriber on oDesk and I know that now all the skills that you can insert are preset. You cannot just go on oDesk and write ‘good English.” When you start typing there is a drop down menu and you need to a choose a certain skill from the preset skills which oDesk has set. So yeah it’s best if you describe what you need into the job post. And you should give as many details as you can. Like how long do you expect the project to be. Are you looking for someone for the next month or are you planning to use the services of this person for years to come. So how long would it be? How much of a workload? What’s your budget? Because that is important as well. Of course you cannot say I will give $86 and you will stick to that number that is an estimation and freelancers know it. But for instance if you are looking for a writer and you have $20, you can give $20 for a blog post. Obviously writers who are charging $50 or more would not apply because they will see that you don’t have the budget for their services. So having said that it is important to set a really strict budget. If you don’t, you risk either attracting the wrong crowd. Freelancers who will not deliver the quality you need or freelancers whom you cannot afford. Yes. Either way that is one risk if you do not set the budget right. the second thing is you risk to not have many suitable candidates because if you have underestimated the budget then people because you don’t know better, it may not be a matter of budget but you simply don’t know better because this is the first time you’ve done this. So people may not apply to your job because they will be your cheap client for instance, that this work costs more you have to see so many other clients price this type of project in this price range. So in those cases, so it’s basically if you find someone like a friend of yours or someone who has been on the other side of the fence. For instance like if you are looking for help with marketing you can come but you don’t know how much something costs you can always come to me and say hey Diana. I am looking for a freelancer but I don’t know how much it will cost can you help me to figure it out, just for this, how much money do I need to give that person. So it’s best if you seek such help in order to set the budget right for your project. This will ensure attracting the right crowd. It’s funny what I have noticed when a long time ago when I have been looking for link building techniques at some point. That’s how people are doing it and I had been looking for clients projects and I had been hiring link builders. So but I had never been into that black hat link building. But were a lot of people who were doing it and they were doing it like for $1 per hour. $2 per hour. Really cheap rates. But I was looking for people who have some kind of marketing background. They will not just build links but they will focus on more on building relationships and network with the people they will call on their websites. So when I put the minimum rate that I require for let’s say $10 per hour or I don’t know some higher number than $2 per hour, those contractors that were doing back end link building , they never applied. So this is another way to filter the candidates that you will get. Ashley: OK so it’s also probably a little bit of experimentation and experience. If you can find someone to help you who has done it before , find some posts of people who have done it before like your website is giving a lot of advice on the marketing side of things and that obviously helps. Because it seems like yeah from my side I mean it’s a sort of Pandora ’s Box. I’ll be typing something and putting it out there and then I’m going to get this crazy amount of responses. So having a good headline and having a detailed description, choosing the right skills. Trying to be realistic with your budget because let’s face it if you go too cheap just to be cheap its obviously stupid. Diana: Yep. Ashley: I hired someone recently, cheaper for my transcriptions because my normal transcriber was busy and the quality was a lot less and in one case it just disappeared. So he came back and blamed Fiverr in the end. But I was very skeptical that it was Fiverr’s fault because yeah. I mean it was just a coincidence that he disappeared and that he was cheaper or whatever. But anyway. It didn’t matter in the end. I managed to get my original transcriber to solve these problems. And she did it in an hour. It was taking him a week. So the difference was insane. She was an insanely fast, accurate, English fluent transcriber. And he’s from Indonesia. His English was ok. But I found a lot of errors just flicking through his transcription. And I had an hour to fix most of it. And then you’ve got to ask yourself is there much point being crazy cheap. So obviously if there is a balance there try and be a little bit more generous than you think is that cheapest price but obviously you don’t want to go too crazy then, yeah maybe you blow your budget. [Laughs]. Diana: Yeah well truth is value always beats price. I mean its way more important what do you get for your money. And that is something which a good freelancer knows. At least I have not met a freelancer who knows what they are worth and they are willing, they will never say ok you know what I will cut my price in two , just for you, only for you. There are a lot of freelancers who are doing it. I don’t know, I think they simply are new to this whole freelance idea. Or they are really desperate.. Or they don’t have really have anything special to bring to the table. A freelancer who knows what their value is, a freelancer who knows what they are worth, they will never come to you offering you a discount. Simply because you are paying for a value that they bring. You are not just purchasing bread in the store where you will get a discount when you buy two. And not one. It doesn’t work like that. Ashley: SO on these platforms once you have posted you get people applying and do they also give their rates when they are applying. I think that’s what happens. I think I’ve read something like that. How does the other side. You put your job post up and then you start getting responses. Diana: Yes but sorry I forgot something very important. I don’t know how I can forget it. Be specific in your job posts. Yeah sure despite what you need and what you want but also ask questions which relate to your post. To the needs that you need. You are looking for a freelancer to fulfill. For instance if we continue the same example with the person who will be transcribing your posts and inserting images and publishing on WordPress. An example of some specific questions would be what is there experience with transcribing? How much it takes for them to transcribe one hour audio file. Or I don’t know if they have not difficulty but if it matters for them whether they transcribe in regular English or US English or British English. It’s not necessarily relevant to your files per se, but the way that the freelancer answers your question will tell you a lot about the freelancer. If somebody replies yeah sure whatever thing is given to me I will bring it back within a day, something isn’t quite right. or if a freelancer replies well ok I am , if you speak fast Australian English I may have difficulties so it may be more expensive but generally speaking I’m good with American English. For instance. It will tell a lot about the experience of the freelancer. Yes based on the way they answer your questions. Whatever the questions. Ashley: So yeah they are basically taking time to answer honestly and care that they are responding with you rather than just everything is cool, I can do it. Diana: Exactly yes. That is my point. So ask specific questions about the tasks that you need and in relation to that to the specific freelancer. Ashley: And I also saw on this post that I was reading about it, that some people suggest putting a stupid word in their subject replies so that you know who the people who have read the post through have actually read the post rather than just responding because they have seen the title. Have you heard of that? I think you wrote a post about that too. Diana: Yes, I strongly recommended it before. And I saw before, not that it’s not relevant anymore. On Elance it is. This recent oDesk interface change that I mentioned earlier, that word is a bit redundant because right now you have, I suppose, oDesk help has been listening to their client’s feedback because now oDesk has introduced the ability to ask specific questions. Not in the description of your job post but separately. A freelancer cannot apply to your job unless they address these questions. There is a single field for each question. So when a freelancer applies to your job all you see at first is the answers to your questions. If you want as a client you can click through and see more and then only then can you see their whole cover letter and if they use the code word or didn’t. At this point the code word is not that relevant. At least on oDesk, I have not used Elance in a long time but I think that they did not change that and it is still relevant. There when you receive applications from freelancers all you see is a long list of candidates with the first three lines of their profiles and the beginning of their cover letters. So if you have a code word, listed in the job post and they did not put it on top of their application you will see it … so you will easily filter out everyone who did not start their application with the code word. Ashley: So I’ll just clarify that for people who don’t know what we’re talking about. Basically when you put a job post up there you’ll get I don’t know how many replies. Tens or maybe a hundred, who knows? You get quite a few replies and a lot of them will be just stupid automatic replies. People who aren’t serious about your job or whatever you assume. It could be more than half. And the common way that people have found the filter that is to put a word probably at the end of your jobs description saying please use this code word and then it shows that they have read through. Maybe they have fond the code word at the bottom. Maybe they are getting smarter. At least it is not an automatic reply, right? If it’s an automatic reply they won’t have seen the code word. So you are filtering out in a way some junk by giving a code word. Then the people often put that code word, you say please put this at the front of your reply. Just say tiger or elephant or whatever. And you see the ones that have that and you know that the rest haven’t read your description so they are not serious about the job. So the examples I read about it the guy had like 20 replies and only 5 used the code word and out of those he chose 2 people. Or something. And then this question thing is doing the same thing, if they haven’t gone to the trouble of reading your question and addressing it properly then they are obviously not serious or not relevant to your job so that’s a good way of filtering them out. Okay so another thing I was thinking about and I read in this post I was talking about recently from the guy who had this recent experience which kind of got be thinking because I wanted to do this anyway. Was this is idea of a trial assignment. And I guess this is especially is if you are wanting to keep someone on for a longer time, which is what I am thinking about. and I guess yeah you can maybe take a couple of people and see who comes up with the best response to the trial and then take that person as a sort of semi-permanent person you choose. Have you had experience with that kind of work as well? Diana: Yes. I strongly believe in the positive effect of trials. Today I was addressing a comment on my blog where a reader of mine said that she finds if you introduce a trial early in the relationship you basically say to the freelancer that you don’t trust them. Or if the freelancer requests the trial , the freelancer tells the client I don’t trust you. I have never seen it from this perspective but I disagree with that. I strongly believe that the trial is a good thing. Especially for some type of tasks. Let’s take the same example with transcribers who will need also to search for images and publish the WordPress blogs. If you hire 2 or 3 people for this job, especially if you are looking for a long term relationship. If you hire several people to do this job you can easily see with whom you will work best. Because yeah sure I am a perfect transcriber and I do great with research of images and I am very well versed with Photoshop. I will do everything that you ask me and I will do it perfectly. But I am a night owl and you are a morning person. And we are never online at the same time. And it can take 3 days to finish a blog post only because you sleep when I play and vice versa. So obviously I will not be a good choice for you. It’s that I don’t do my job well. It’s not that you don’t trust me or I trust you. It’s not that I don’t like you or you don’t like me. Not at all. It’s just a schedule mismatch, if I may call it that. And unless you try out someone you cannot know that. Ashley: And you say also that the communication is something that this guy was talking about and his post too was if you have a couple of questions and you see those people responding to those questions. Even during that trial, task or whatever it is you can still see already do they read your emails properly, are they answering your questions. Are they caring about what’s going on in the relationship, because it has to potentially continue for a long time. If they are really difficult to work with and correct and bring on track. Not open to criticism for example , yeah it may never work right? It’s just like an employee at work. If you hire somebody , and with an employee it’s really risky because it’s harder to fire them. Or at least in some countries. Here we have a 3 month trial in Switzerland but yeah if you hire somebody and you can’t get rid of them that’s … it can be horrible. They come in late. They drink a lot of coffee. They smoke a lot. They don’t really do anything. Yeah. Anyway. So basically you give people maybe even the same task to do WordPress post, even the same post and see how they come up with a result and whether they follow instructions. Diana: Exactly. I think that is the most valuable thing about a trial. To see how well you work with the other party. For instance okay let’s talk from both sides because yeah you as a client you can hire several people for a trial but you as a freelancer can also request the client to work on a trial basis. I mean all you say is yeah I like you, I want to work with you, but I’m not sure if we will work well together, let’s try it. For instance you don’t go and design the whole line of business marketing collateral for someone, website brochures and all the press related stuff. And online banners, et cetera. You do not get into contracts in such large scale directly. You better start a trial and see how it goes to design a single banner or a single ad. Or just the website although the website is already large enough. Yeah it can turn into a disaster really quickly if you have not negotiated the working conditions with the client. I believe that the trial will help you determine if your communication skills are a good match with the other party’s communication skills. That’s the most valuable thing of the trial. It’s not a matter of trust. It’s not a matter of liking. It’s just a matter of work flow and how you and the freelancer or the client work. Ashley: Yeah together. Obviously it’s very difficult remotely and you have to use some of these kinds of things. These filtering descriptions. And in the trial too, just to clarify that in case people are wondering what to do and go through this process if they have gotten this far already. It’s a paid thing right? You pay each person even if they doing the same thing for you. A certain amount of money to do a small task in order to give yourself a safety net. Right? Diana: Yes. I would recommend it’s a paid trial. I have seen clients who do non-paid trials. But that’s pretty much a similar thing like with the budget that we discussed earlier. If you offer request a trial and you do not pay for it there will be several freelancers who would agree to do that but most probably they will not be the best choice. Those will be freelancers who do not value their time. They don’t know what they are worth. So maybe their quality of work will not be high either. Ashley: Yeah that makes sense. It’s more or less. Like okay I’m desperate I’ll take whatever I can get. If it means working for free , I’ll work for free. You’re giving the wrong signals by asking for that. So from both sides and listening to this and what they are planning on doing. Yeah accepting free trials may be an option but it’s not a good precedent to set for your future and not good for your client saying they are obviously cheapskates or whatever. And I’ve had similar cases in building websites for people too. You get clients who just you end just emailing back and forth and back and forth and they never respond or they miss appointments or they don’t give you the information you require and I still in the past have ended up doing the work for them and really regretted it. Because you can say very easily and very quickly now I can see, now that I look back that it was a bad idea. So it’s the same thing with freelancing. I guess you have to be really careful. And just another couple of quick things. While we’re on the topic. We should finish up before we get too long and people get sick of hearing us and want to go for a jog or something. So it’s ok. We’ve applied for some jobs. We’ve put the descriptions out there. Hopefully filter the people. We’ve done a trial. We’ve chosen somebody. For me personally and maybe for other people listening. There are small tasks and you can get those on Fiverr and also on Elance or oDesk. But let’s say we are looking for someone even if it’s only 5 or 10 hours a week, looking for it to be a long term relationship and it’s also something that I need. I’ve got certain tasks I do not really want to be doing anymore. They are taking too much of my time. I want to find someone good to do them. What’s some of your recommendations for keeping those people. Keeping them happy. Keeping the relationship going and so forth to keep everything running smoothly. Diana: Well the first thing and of course this shouldn’t be done too early you must be sure that this is the person with whom you want to have the relationship in the long term. Once you do that and once you are sure then you should tell that you want to keep them on the team for good. Well not for good but for the long term. As long as you can. Because you might think I like them I want to keep them but the freelancer may or may not know that because unless you tell them you cannot be sure that they know. I have seen it many times, freelancers decline a project and move on to other work simply because they got a better proposition or a project which will require, better workload, larger workload, meaning more money. So or for instance you have certain tasks which are on an ongoing basis. There’s no constant flow of work from you. So the freelancer may take other work and when you need their services they will not be available for the time being. But if you have told them okay, it’s an ongoing project, let’s be on an as needed basis. I will have work now for you and then next month. But I want to give it to you. Ask them , what should I do to make sure you will be available to do that work for me. So then the freelancer will always have in the back of their head that okay I am going to take another project which is large scale. Let’s email Ashley and ask him if he has work for me coming up, if I should block some time on my calendar for him or not. So a little clarification and just putting your cards on the table is the first step to ensure a fruitful long term relationship. Unless you tell them that you want them for the long run they will not know it and they may or may not be available when you need them. Another thing you can do is actually those are two things. One is to regularly reevaluate their work and pay rate. When I say regularly. Of course it depends on the type of project and the work quality. It will be one thing if that person works for you 5 hours per week. It will be different if he or she works for you 20 hours per week. But at least once per year, I think it’s good to reevaluate what this person is doing for you. Whether the scope of activities is growing or not. Whether the quality of the work is changing for the good, for the better or for the worse. Just evaluating what you have been doing, where are you going, are they happy. Asking are you happy? Do you need something? This seems straightforward but you cannot imagine how few clients do that in reality. Ashley: Yeah I heard something similar again from this Australian guy James Schramko and he talks about for him the way he keeps his employees really happy, he has like 20 in the Philippines right now in his company basically. He said firstly the whole training thing is keeping them constantly motivated. And asking what they need. Asking if they want to change jobs. I mean obviously he has the scope for that. But yeah if you just treat someone like an entity and not as a person I mean everybody wants to grow. I mean everybody wants to learn something new. Not necessarily all the time but you know occasionally wants to do something different and I think if you never ask you never go to that person as another person and say hey how’s it going? Are you happy? Is everything ok? How are things at home? How’s the work going? Do you need more work? Have you got too much work? Is the work boring you? I think everybody likes to be asked that even at a normal job and I rarely get asked that by my pervious bosses. And it’s horrible and it’s one of the reasons I don’t like working for companies anymore because they just didn’t care. I think you have to remember that as a freelancer, they are working for you. They are kind of your employee and you should treat them as a person. He also said one thing he tries to do is actually to call them up on Skype and see them. He said a lot of people never meet their employees and that really makes a huge difference. And he often sends them something at Christmas or whatever just to personalize things a bit more and create a relationship. Not just an entity who is doing a task and gets a piece of money or whatever you want to call it but becomes an actual person and a trusted employee. Yeah and you were also saying and I think it was in one of your posts I was reading recently something also about the reevaluation of the rates but also potentially bonuses if you are really happy with the person. Diana: Yes. And it pretty much depends on the type of work because in this example with the transcriptions and blog post publishing it doesn’t really relate to the revenue that you have as a blogger or a programmer or whatever you do as a client. If publishing the blog post doesn’t have direct impact. So it will be hard to tie freelancer’s performance with your success. And in that case yes a Christmas bonus for instance would be nice. But what’s more important and often overlooked by clients is that lets say if you’re in marketing and you design some kind of campaign for whether its holidays or not it doesn’t matter there’s a campaign and the goal of this campaign is sales. So after the campaign is over and after you should carefully analyze what were the costs associated with this campaign. How much and which freelancers did what part of this campaign? Which freelancer had the most impact if I may say so. I mean tie the freelancers work directly to your revenue and give them a bonus according. Yeah sure it’s the freelancer’s job to create but he can do it well but he can do it superbly well. So if he did it superbly well, well show your appreciation with the financial bonus. Ashley: Yeah it’s the only way you can really reward them. You can’t take them to dinner. Diana: Well if you’re local you can of course. Send them something, but whatever the case it’s totally up to the client how they will show their appreciation. Financial bonuses I have not seen a freelancer to reject that. Or decline a financial bonus. Ashley: Sure . Diana: If you don’t have a better idea, I don’t know I have not thought about this. I cannot give you an example of when something else will be better than a financial bonus. Probably there is some kind of a nice surprise. Let’s say send me two tickets to go to Hawaii. Ashley: Yeah if you know the person really well maybe you can help. Diana: You can be creative with that. But you cannot go wrong with a financial bonus. What I’m saying is that clients should really show their appreciation and a financial bonus is a way to do that. Ashley: Okay. Cool. So I think we are coming up to a long time podcast. I’m going to wrap it up and I think we have pretty much covered the whole thing from how to apply, think about what you need , write things down in detail, divide it up into good head line description tasks, filtering, paying bonuses. I think that should be enough to get everyone started and of course people can always come knocking on your door I guess somehow through your blog. What’s the best way to get a hold of you on your blog or social media? Diana: My website , there is a contact form on the main navigation you will see contact me or there are also direct links to my social media pages on the top site. That is the best way to get in contact with me basically because I am always online. Well yeah. Almost always online and the easiest way to get in touch is through the contact form of my site. Because that way they never go into the spam folder. So I will see it. Ashley: Yes. That’s www.dianamarinova.com right? Rather than spell it people can go to the show notes which is madelemmings.com/episode17 I believe were on. Or enter the blog and just look under podcasts you’ll also find it. Diana: I was just going to say that they can just leave a comment on the blog post which you will post. On the podcast, I will keep an eye on that and I will reply to questions there or make a follow up podcast. Ashley: Yes, sure. Diana is one of my favorite commenters. She asks very interesting and difficult questions. Which are always worthy of discussion and actually most people just don’t write much so whenever I have a chat with you in my comments it is always great fun. Most people don’t go to that level of detail and it’s actually really appreciated. I’m not sure if you know that. Yeah you write some of the best comments I’ve had on my blog. Diana: Thank you. Ashley: Be sure to go on the comment section and chat with Diana after the podcast and yeah enjoy the rest of the time in Spain. And you’re going to quickly pop home soon and then also come back and were going to be all over the place. That’s the joys of freelancing and you’re also trying to start a few startups as well and people can have a look at that on your website as well. You talk about your indiegogo campaign and your startups you’re also looking at another one now and doing other things which we won’t talk about … you’re a very busy lady. Diana: Yes but its good busy. Ashley: Yes exactly. Well I appreciate your time and I wish you a great day. We won’t hang up after we’ve finished here but we’ll say goodbye to everyone else and yeah wish you a pleasant afternoon. Diana: Thank you very much for having me Ashley. This was a lot of fun. Ashley: No worries. It was a pleasure to talk to you. Thanks Diana. Diana: Thank you. Ashley: Bye. Diana: Bye everyone. Send Diana A Thank You Tweet If you enjoyed this Freelancer chat with Diana, why not send him a thank you Tweet… Thank Diana with a Tweet Posts and Resources from the Podcast How to write a freelance job post to attract candidates How to choose the right candidate Benefits of a Trial Assignment How to keep freelancers on your team Connect with Diana Website Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Pinterest Thanks for the Review on iTunes – Or Stitcher As this podcast is just starting out, I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes to help me promote it and reach more people. I have a quick How To Do a Review on iTunes (only because it may not be so simple to find the place to do it). Previous Podcast Episodes If you don’t really need to head to iTunes or Stitcher, you can find all the previous podcasts here Final Words Time is money. And sometimes you need to pay someone to get more time for what you need to be doing. If you seriously want to grow in what you are doing then getting help is what you need to be doing. So give it a go, and let us know if you need any help in the comments below.
53 minutes | Jun 18, 2014
Do You Know Where Your Business is Going?
Wandering the world without a goal is a little bit meaningless. The same goes for your business or blog. You may go for a while, simply spinning your wheels, but without any direction you won’t last long. We all have the same problem at some point, and I have recently gone through the process of focusing my business. And I was lucky enough to have the lovely Lisa Chilvers to help me through the process. Enter Lisa Chilvers Lisa specializes in helping businesses find the direction. Figuring out what exactly you stand for, and what you are trying to achieve are fundamental things that Lisa and i have been discussing. So I brought her onto the podcast to help you also find your focus and this is what we discussed: 3.40 – Her enlightenment when she saw how Disney do business 7.27 – What is your ethos? (finding what you are all about) 10.18 – Looking at your USP and differentiating yourself from others 12.58 – Standing out with things other than price 17.05 – Taking time to look at your business and building your “Super Hero Mission” 20.45 – Deviating from your business plan is ok if it’s worth it 28.00 – How to define your Vision 32.00 – How some parts of your business dictate how you work 38.28 – Why a lot of small businesses fail 44.14 – What you can do today to help your business Take a listen to what Lisa has to say and get your business on track (or read the transcript if that is your thing). Read the Transcript If you prefer to read the transcript, you can Download the Transcript PDF Or read it below… Show Podcast Transcript Ashley: Thanks for joining me today, Lisa.Lisa: Thanks for inviting me, Ash. I’m really happy to be chatting to you, finally, after all this time.Ashley: Yes. It’s a common ailment that we have on the internet. We know each other, but yet we’ve never met.Lisa: Exactly. Though we have seen each other today, so that’s a good start.Ashley: Yes, quickly turn on the Skype video. It’s always interesting when I do a podcast; people are like, “Is it with video? Is it without video?” I say, “Well, it’s up to you.” If you’re decent, we’ll turn the video on, and then we’ll turn it off again later when the bandwidth goes down or whatever. Sometimes that causes problems. But yeah, it’s great, actually, to finally connect. I’ve had the same experience with a lot of people who have been online, because most of the people I get on, I already know reasonably well from Twitter and so forth. So, quick 2 minute spiel on your background, what you do, where you are? Lisa: Oh gosh, 2 minutes? Is that all? Ashley: All right, I’ll give you 20. Lisa: I’ve got a background probably like a lot of people who go into self-employment. You try quite a few things and aren’t particularly happy with any of them, and then realize that that takes you to where you really want to be and what you want to do. I was an accountant by trade, and I do apologize for that, and I apologize to all the accountants out there who might be offended by the inference. But I didn’t like crunching the numbers. There is so much more to business than what I call the hard side of business, the numbers, the profit and loss, the balance sheet. The business is more about the softer side, the people involved, the personalities, what drives those people. I was very, very fortunate to be offered a role within the finance industry as a practice manager, which took me into all sorts of different areas – HR management, planning, strategy within companies, both for my own company that employed me and my clients. I really liked looking into businesses and finding out how they worked and what made them tick, and the personalities involved. That was the starting point to getting me where I am today. And then while I was a practice manager, a friend invited me to a Walt Disney Master Class out at Manchester Airport, which was a day’s event presented be Disney executives all about the Disney corporation and how they do business and how you can take those qualities and put them into your own business. I have to say, I was fascinated by their whole ethos of customer retention, of delivering top quality service, and I decided that this was something that was severely lacking within the UK as a whole. And hence here I am, helping people, through Athena, grow their businesses, but it’s all about growing your business by creating a much better engagement with your customers. So your customers like you, they know you, they trust you, and they actively want to do business with you, and they want to keep doing business with you. Because at the end of the day, one-off business is never going to make you a fortune; what you need is a steady, reliable customer base who will keep giving you income year in, year out. And that’s basically what we do. Ashley: We came across each other on Twitter, and most people probably don’t realize, but we’ve been working a little bit together. You’ve been pushing me in the direction of streamlining my thoughts on where my business is going, because I’ve just started. I thought I would get you on today to go over a couple of those topics, because I think most people, like myself – and you don’t even realize – are missing this really important foundation of what you’re doing, where you’re going, why you’re doing it, and what your main goals are in mind. I thought we could quickly chat about your philosophy on that and how you go about guiding people with that, and some ideas that people could take away at the end of the podcast and put into their own business. Lisa: Certainly. Do you want me to go through it as I went through it with you? Ashley: I don’t know if we missed anything in what we did together, or we could just do the main points till where you left me off last. Lisa: Yeah. The fundamental thing about growing any business is you have to know who you are and what you’re all about. We call this finding out what your ethos is. Ethos stands for characteristic spirit, so I think it’s certainly different to a mission statement. I think a mission statement is more about what you want to achieve. Your ethos is about who you fundamentally are as an individual. Because if you can get those values across to your customers, they will necessarily engage with you – as long as the ethos is positive, which we’d always like to think that it is. We don’t want anything with a negative ethos, and those that have a negative those doesn’t last very long. But it is all about working out what you actually want people to know about you, and when you’ve worked out what that fundamental ethos is, making sure that everything you do in your business communicates that to your clients all the time. At Athena, we are fixers. We claim that we can solve – and I say “we” because I couldn’t do what I do without some fantastic trusted associates who help me deliver what I do for my clients – but we are able to solve whatever problem that client may have. Because if I can’t do it myself, I will go out and find somebody who can. But I will only work with those who have the same ethos as myself for reliability, for quality, for attention to detail. So it’s not about what we’re doing for the client; it’s how we’re going about doing it, and that’s what’s most important, I think. Ashley: Yeah, I think that’s a very important point because in the end, how many businesses out there are really unique, if you look at what you do? Most of us are doing something that there is already competition for. Lisa: Exactly. Ashley: Or even if you’re not, you need to convince people that what you’re doing is worthwhile even if it’s a new business. For example, I don’t know when PayPal came out, or whatever, you still need people to trust you and understand you. I think this is a great idea of picking apart why you’re doing what you’re doing, and what it is that you want people to remember you for. I’m still slowly finding my way in putting that into my business; it’s very difficult to get that in your mind when you’re just so used to focusing on the black and white, as you say, the numbers and the hows and the whats. You’re not really looking at the why so often, which is actually a big mistake. How does this go together with what they usually call the – is it the USP? Is that the right acronym? The unique selling point or the unique position of yourself as a business, what you stand for. Is that more or less part of that, then? Lisa: I think it is, and I know someone who actually puts, rather than using the letter “U,” puts the word “you,” as in your USP. Because you’re quite right in what you say: what is it that’s going to differentiate you as Ashley from another web developer or another social media person? What is it that makes you so different? Because we would like to assume that if you say you’re a social media specialist, you know everything about social media. But then the next social media expert will claim exactly the same. So what is it about you that is fundamentally different? It can’t just come down to personality. “Well, it’s because I like them. I like the way they sound.” There has to be something deeper than that, and quite often it does come with the things you have done in your career that have brought you to where you are now. For example, one of my USPs is my Disney connection. The fact that I’ve studied what they do, I’ve worked with them, I know what they’re about, and there are certain things that they do that, love or hate Disney as a corporation, there is no doubt that it is phenomenally successful at what it does. And what you have to do is, there is nothing wrong with modeling yourself on someone else, of taking almost – not copying the ethos, because your ethos has to be individual, but taking your inspiration from an incredibly successful company in your sector, and go “Okay, what is it that they’re doing that makes them so brilliant at it? And can I incorporate any of that into my own business?” Ashley: So people should really be starting to think about what it is that drives them and why they can make a difference for their customers and not just provide the service, but impress them, for example, or go above and beyond, or do something. I think this is also an interesting differentiating factor I hear. People say, again, discounting as a method of getting customers is inherently weak. You should be looking to increase your prices and offer more instead of less. I think this, partly at least, goes hand in hand with you’re offering something unique and something that the customer’s going to come back to because of you and what you’re given them rather than just the individual service. Because as you say, there’s 10 on the next corner, right? Lisa: Yes, it is all about the added value. Competition never has had anything to do with price. All you have to do is look at the luxury brands that are out there to see that they are surviving and prospering regardless of the fact that the prices they charge are eye-wateringly high. Now, when we talk about discounting, I always use the example of say you wanted to buy a luxury car. So you decide you want a Bentley. You can’t get much higher than that. So you go into the Bentley showroom and you go, “Actually, I really like your cars, but I’d like a 20% discount.” They’re just going to hold the door open and suggest that you shop elsewhere, because quality costs, and quality will always cost. And if you want people to appreciate the quality of what you do, you have to demonstrate that in the price that you charge. Disney is a prime example. Their flagship hotel is the most expensive hotel in the whole of Florida, yet it has a 98% occupancy. Ashley: Really? Lisa: Yeah. Now, most hotels would be glad with a 50% occupancy, but Disney managed that because people will actively part with their money to pay for an experience. Now, a lot of people would argue, okay, you’re going to a theme park, you’re doing something for leisure, you’re enjoying yourself; why wouldn’t you want to pay for that? But their agreement would be, if somebody feels like they’re getting the right experience in any business that they do, price is the last thing they think about. I’ll use an example. I live near a local small town where I have four drycleaners to choose from. I use one of them where the couple that run it, Mark and Sarah, I know them by name. I go in, I drop my stuff off, they clean it for me, and I go in and pay. Now the seasons have changed, so I took a pair of curtains and a big heavy duvet in, and I just dropped them off on the counter, asked when they’d be ready, and left. It was only as I was walking away that it never actually occurred to me to ask them how much it was going to cost me. Because at the end of the day, to be honest, it doesn’t bother me. What I’m more interested in is the service I get when I walk in the door and the quality of the dry-cleaning service they will deliver. I recently found out that the drycleaner about 50 yards down the road is cheaper. Am I going to swap and go to them? No, because I know what I want, and I know I’m getting that extra value. And that’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to give people – you can charge them whatever you like, but you have to make your client feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. And that’s what it’s all about. Ashley: The second step that we went through after the ethos – I’m just trying to remember, what did you call that? Lisa: It’s your vision. Ashley: The vision, that’s right. Lisa: Yeah, your vision. Where you want to go. Ashley: That’s a very important question, actually. I mean, it was something, when you asked me, that I already had a rough idea. Luckily it wasn’t too killer for me, but for a lot of people, you’re so busy – and we were talking about this before we started as well – you’re so busy with daily life sometimes, you don’t stand back or stop and think about what it is you’re doing. You just do, because you’ve got more than enough to do. You don’t have time to think. But if you don’t take time to think, or you’re not forced to take time to think, then you really don’t see beyond the next step, and then, really, you could be going anywhere. Lisa: Yeah. It’s very, very easy to get so involved in your business that you don’t spend any time on it. It’s always quite difficult when you’re first starting out; the main primary driving force is making money, because you’ve got to pay the bills. You’ve got to make ends meet. So when you start off, it’s quite easy to just do anything and everything. But what you’ve got to think about is, going back to your ethos, how does that make you look out there in the market? Do people realize what it is you’re trying to do, or do they just see you as being a bit random? So if you want people to engage with you, you need to be very, very clear about what it is you want to do. And it’s all about picking – there’s a lady I know; she’s called Isla Wilson, and she runs a company called RubyStar Associates. She’s always called it your Superhero Mission: something that’s so far out there that you don’t realistically have any hope of ever achieving it. But why not think big, because even if you only get halfway to that vision, you travel an awful long way. I think it’s only by having a big vision for your business – we call it world domination – if you want to achieve world domination, fabulous. We’ll try and help you get there. You might have to start with domination of your local area first. You might even have to start with domination of a 5-mile radius. But you’ve got to know where you want to go if you ever hope to succeed. I heard a very, very interesting quote, and I can’t credit it because I don’t know who first came up with it, but the quote was “If you want your wishes to come true, a plan is the only magic wand you need.” I thought, you know, that’s really interesting, because we tend to think “Oh, I’ll carry on and it’ll sort itself out,” but how often is that actually true? Not very, really. If you want your business to achieve great heights, you’ve got to know where you’re headed. And as you know, when you and I talked about it, you’d just gone on a train journey, and I used the example of you traveling to a different destination. You wouldn’t set off on that journey without planning your route, working out where the connections were, working out what time you were due to arrive, how you would get back. You wouldn’t plan a normal physical journey without going through the right planning process, so why take your business on a journey without doing exactly the same? Ashley: You end up like those people – I’ve forgotten who they were – who put something into their GPS and they didn’t really know where they were going, and they ended up on a mountain in Italy instead of on the coast. Lisa: Exactly. Now, as we’ve discussed, there is nothing to stop you deviating from that plan if you think the different route you’re going on is worthwhile. I think too many people fail to plan for their business because they think it’s set in stone. “Well, I’ve made this plan and I’ve got to stick with it.” Again, I use the example of traveling from Manchester to London to an appointment. If I could fit in a little detour via Birmingham to achieve what I wanted to achieve and still arrive at London at the right time, what would be the problem with doing that? Because I think sometimes people are afraid to investigate opportunities. We think, ”No, it doesn’t fit in with my destination.” Well, it might do. Don’t obviously go off at a total tangent, but it’s fine to wander off the path a little bit to see where it might take you. Ashley: That’s very fitting, actually, because yesterday I was on the phone with a woman who contacted me just out of the blue from this women’s online conference yesterday and asked me to be a speaker in July. She asked me to do it for Twitter, which is something I was focused on a lot in the last year. It’s not something I’ve been focused on in my business recently, but I thought, “Well, should I say no to this opportunity? Because I don’t have 20 people knocking on my door asking me to do speaker gigs and exposing me to thousands of people I’ve never met before.” So I thought, “Okay, I’ll just ring this woman up and see where it takes me,” because yeah, if you say no to everything that comes your way that doesn’t seem 100% on track, then maybe you’ll miss out on something which might take you somewhere amazing. Lisa: Yeah. I think that with every decision – and this comes back to the ethos and the vision – the first question you have to ask yourself is, “Does this fundamentally match my ethos? Is it something that I feel comfortable doing? Does it fit with my core values?” Which, clearly, given your background in Twitter, etc., it does. “Does it fit my overall vision?” Well, yes, as we’ve talked about, you have a vision for your company, but it’s not a singular vision. There are other things tacked onto it, and this could be part of it. So therefore, why not explore it? It all comes down to I think time and effort. If there’s something that’s going to take a week of your time, you might want to sit back and go, “Whoa, hold on. Is this really going to benefit my business in the long term?” This actually comes back to something I’ve been blogging about after a discussion with a client today: when it comes to making these business decisions, it’s always good to extrapolate. By that, I mean look at the decision you’re going to take, and then ask yourself, “What is my WCS? What is my worst case scenario? If I take that decision, what’s the very worst that could happen?” And then you ask yourself, “And if that worst case scenario happens, can I live with it?” And if the answer to that is yes, then there’s your decision made for you. It might not be the ideal outcome, but if you can live with the outcome and it still fits with what you want to do, then do it. Ashley: I was thinking about it, actually, before I even called this girl, because I thought to myself, okay, it’s not something I’d planned, and focusing on Twitter was not my current focus, so is it going to deviate me too far in terms of time and focus? I thought, okay, I’ve got all the material pretty much already from – this is how the woman found me, through my course, actually. I’ve got all the material, and she doesn’t want me to present a course; she just wants me to do a 45 minute presentation. She said “From that, you can then decide yourself where you want to take these people. You can get them onto your mailing list or you can offer them coaching or whatever you want to do. It’s up to you entirely.” So I just need to think about that as a potential future service which I’d put on the site, actually, for the moment, but now I can rejuvenate. I thought to myself, okay, worst case, nobody wants to take any of my services. Well, okay, but now 3,000 to 5,000 people might now know my name. That’s not a bad thing. Lisa: No. I’ll give you a scenario from my point of view. As an accountant, I can quite easily crunch the numbers. Can I produce a financial business plan for a client? I certainly can. But a client approached me the other day and asked me if I would do a business plan and cash forecast for them, and I said “No. Sorry, but no.” “Why? But you can.” I said, “Yes, but although I can, doesn’t mean I want to.” I don’t really want people to know me for producing business plans, because I’ve moved far away from that as part of my service. So the fact that you can do it is totally different to “Do I want to do it, and does it help me get my business where I want it to be?” And in the case of me doing a business plan, the answer to that is resolutely no. It’s not what I want my business to be about, so I’ve turned work down. I think this is what people find very, very difficult when they’re growing their business. It’s hard to say no, because a client is quite often seen as a moneymaking opportunity and taken for its own sake, rather than thinking about “Whoa, hold on a minute. If I do this, again, what are going to be the consequences? Am I going to be known as someone who prepares business plans? And how bad would that be, and how far will that take me from my overall vision for the company?” So it is all about everything – like we said, your ethos and your vision must fundamentally drive everything that you do. Ashley: This is the part where I’m at now, which is trying to think how to start getting this information across in your business, like something you mentioned to me the other day on my Twitter account, which is something I’ve been partially correcting but not enough, which is I’m focusing too much on other people and other information and not on – and there’s always a balance, of course, but not on my own business. Of course, it’s very difficult to find the exact balance that works without blowing your own trumpet too much and not blowing someone else’s. So your idea then is when you’ve decided all of this stuff and you’ve figured out where you want to go – actually, let’s just stop on that for a second. I’m getting off-track. But when you were talking about this vision, just to give people an idea of how you would break that down, what were the three or four things you said to me in order to imagine this future vision of yourself and your business and how to put yourself in those shoes? Lisa: You have to make your vision quite clear. I think that’s the first thing. Not only for your business, but for you personally. So it’s quite easy sometimes for people to say “I want to be the biggest web developer in Europe.” Fine, okay. That’s fair enough as a vision for your business. But where do you see yourself sitting within that business? Because I talked to someone the other day, and I said it’s very much “be careful what you wish for.” Because turning yourself into the biggest web company in Europe might sound like a brilliant idea, but think about what that does for you personally. Will you have a personal life? Will you have any life? Will it be making money? So what you have to do is you have to take almost a mental snapshot of yourself in 5 years’ time, say, and go “Where would I like to see myself? Where do I envision myself being? Would I like to be a Hector Riva type on a boat somewhere in the Mediterranean, just slopping around, doing nothing in particular, having sold my company for millions of dollars? Fine. But it is all about quantifying it. For a lot of people, it’s not about the money, and we’ve talked about this. It’s more about creating a lifestyle for yourself, and a balance. Yes, perhaps you do need a great deal of money to achieve that, but unless you know where it is you want to be as an individual, you can’t really then translate that into business success. Because as I said, if you say you want to be the – for example, I’ve worked with someone who was an event organizer. They want to organize the biggest events in the UK. But then I pointed out to them, did they really want to be working all weekend, every weekend, and 5 days a week and then weekends as well? What did they hope to achieve by that? How would it make them feel? Why do you want what you want? Because you can’t just decide you want to take your business somewhere without thinking about the consequences on you as an individual, how you might grow and develop, and whether or not you can maintain the ethos and the vision that you started out with and carry that through into the future. So it is all about quantifying. Like I said to you, where do you see yourself? Who do you see around you? Are you a materialistic person? Do you want all the trappings of fame and fortune? Those are the sort of things that you need to focus on personally, as well as focusing on the vision for the business. Ashley: Yeah, and I think it really goes hand-in-hand – and especially these days, when we have so much potential freedom and travel and all of these kinds of things, because now you have a variety of different businesses which you could model. So thinking about, as you also said to me, the business model; do you want to be in an office with a bunch of people, or do you want to be at home behind a computer, or do you want to be able to travel and take your laptop with you? Do you want staff, do you not want staff? Do you want a lot of money or do you just want enough to get by? I think these are all really, really fundamental and important decisions, because once you’ve made a lot of those decisions, what do I want to achieve with my life in relation to my business, it actually will then dictate a lot of what you’re aiming for. Not just the business goals, but how it’s going to be formed and how it’s going to work, because now we can outsource, we don’t have to have staff anymore. Yeah, I think that’s really important. I had a lot of these ideas already. Luckily, I knew roughly what I wanted to achieve, but I think for a lot of people, understanding the potential business models and the ways that you can work with people these days – because a lot of people are in that mindset that they need an office. I just listened to a podcast about an Australian guy the other day, and he was working with one of his Mastermind groups and the guy in there, he said, “You’ve got a struggling graphic design business with three employees in an office. Firstly, why do you have an office? You’re doing computer work. You don’t need an office. You own an office. Get rid of the office.” So the guy sold the office, and he said, “Okay, these three employees, why do you have them? You have seasonal work.” He’s working for a lot of fashion stuff, and they didn’t have work all year round. He said, “As much as it’s harsh to say, get rid of your employees. They’re actually killing your business. Get rid of your employees and contract people.” He did that, and all of a sudden he went from barely making a living to sometimes making $20 grand a month. The guy couldn’t believe the turnaround in his business, because he didn’t realize that there were other ways of working. Lisa: Yeah. I hold my hands up and I’m very, very limited in how big I can grow my business, because – yes, go on, I am going to blow my own trumpet. I’m the only person that can do what I do. I couldn’t pass my day-to-day consultancy work on to somebody else to deal with my clients for me. Yes, there are a certain number of things that I have done for clients in the past which I no longer do. I used to manage the social media for one of my clients; I don’t do that anymore. I subcontract that out. I also appreciate that horses for courses, there are certain things that I just don’t know enough about, that I need to bring another expert in, another specialist. But I don’t have them on the payroll. They’re actually brought in on a client-by-client need basis, and they charge me a fee, and I charge that fee to the client. Or the client will pay me a global fee and leave it up to me to make sure that the right services are brought in. But it is all about thinking about “Who do I need to help me deliver this, and how can it best be done?” I don’t have an office. I have an office at home, but I spend so much of my time out and about that my clients – there is one client that comes to my office at home, my biggest client, but all the rest, I go out to their premises or I meet them wherever’s most convenient for them and contacts of theirs. Yeah, I don’t need my own office space. I don’t need full-time employees. I have various people who I use to do my – although I could do my financials myself, I actually pay somebody to do those for me, because it’s more productive use of my time to be doing other things. Everything that I don’t necessarily need to do, I do farm out to other people on an ad hoc basis. But I’ve also appreciated that due to the nature of what I do, my business itself will never achieve world domination, because I can’t possibly – there’s only a limited number of hours in every day that I can offer consultancy services. However, I’m comfortable with that. My business makes me a decent living, and it will never make me a millionaire, but that’s okay with me. Now, I talk to some people, they go, “I wouldn’t be satisfied with that.” Well, that’s fine, but this is why it’s very, very important to set your own limits and not listen to what other people want and not listen to them say “You should do this and you should do that. Why don’t you want to be bigger?” Actually, I don’t want to be bigger because I like to offer a bespoke service, a personal service that I couldn’t possibly offer if I was relying on other people to deliver that for me. So it is all about, again, coming back to what are you all about, and how are you best going to deliver that, and then how big, realistically, can you get? And in my case, it’s quite small, really. Small but perfectly formed. Ashley: Exactly, and that’s where I think people often get stuck or people don’t understand, including myself in the beginning, how to break things down into your wants and needs and then the possibilities of achieving those through the variety of methods and services that we have available nowadays. And as you’ve said, you can outsource all the bits and pieces that you don’t want to do, and that’s relatively easy. I mean, you need to find the right people, it takes time, but it’s certainly doable. You don’t need to be a jack of all trades. And it certainly doesn’t always help to be one, because there are better people out there to do certain tasks, like you’ve got your graphic designer and this and that and the other. And people I think need to start to understand that, like “What do I want to do? Do I want to have all the money and just stand back and not doing anything, or do I want to be personally involved?”, like you are. That’s really a fundamental decision. And then do you want to outsource, do you want to have an in-house team, do you want to grow big or do you want to stay small? Do you want lots of money or not lots of money? What do you stand for and what are you trying to achieve? That’s basically why I wanted to bring you on here, because these are questions which I don’t see that many people talking about on the internet, and I think even as bloggers or small business owners, single entrepreneurs or whatever, you’re sitting there online, you’re working, and if you’re not looking at all of these questions early enough in your business or in your blog or whatever, then you’re going to make a lot of really fundamental mistakes and 5 years later go “Whoops, I didn’t mean to get here. I meant to go somewhere else.” Lisa: I think you’ve actually hit the nail on the head with so many small businesses that start and then fail. There’s an incredibly high failure rate in small business, and I think an awful lot of it comes down to – as I always say, just because you’re incredibly good at what you do, doesn’t mean you can make money at it. And you can be supremely talented as a graphic designer, as a fashion designer, as a photographer, as a cake maker, whatever it might be, but unless you actually sit down and think of the consequences of trying to make a living doing it, then you are going to come on stuck. It is very, very easy to hurtle into it thinking “I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that because I need to make some money,” and then sit down a year in and go, “Oh my God, how did I get here? Why don’t I have… I now need this.” I’m actually working with a client at the moment who we’ve been working together for 18 months now, and we have actually achieved world domination to a certain extent. They’ve done a merger with a U.S. company and their projected turnover for the next 12 months is $1.6 million. Which is fantastic. However, I’m now trying to get them to make sure the new business plan follows the right steps. Because one of the issues they had with the previous business was they tried to shortcut procedures. They tried to do things quickly. They tried the quick fix, and unfortunately, quick fixes never last. Unless you get it right at the beginning, when you have the time and the energy to devote to it, you will find that when it does go wrong, you’re so busy doing other things that you really don’t have the time to address the problems. One of the analogies I use is a new building. There’s a new building in the city centre, Manchester, that’s been in the process of going up for the last 18 months or so. It started off with the original building being demolished and the hoardings going up, and for what appeared to be the longest time, nothing was happening. Nothing at all. And then all of a sudden, you get into the city centre and there is this phenomenally big building, and part of you goes, “Oh, good God, where did that came from?” But what you don’t realize is while the hoardings are up and you don’t know what’s going on, the architects are making the plans. The structural engineers are talking about the different load weights and the measurements and how things are going to fit together. The construction people are digging big holes in the ground to lay the foundations. This is why I use a building, because your business is very much the same. If you don’t get the foundations of the building spot-on, how long is that building going to last? So look at your business and the foundations of your business, the fundamental things – your ethos, your vision, your message, what you’re all about, what you want to achieve. Get those right from the beginning. Unfortunately, it takes time, and not a lot seems to be happening. But then once the building starts going up, it’s amazing how quickly it grows. And your business is the same. Get the groundwork and the foundations done properly, and you’ll be amazed how quickly your business can take off, because you can focus on growing your business now, rather than constantly backtracking and trying to shore it up from underneath, trying to put right the things that you didn’t get right the first time round. My biggest complaint is people bring me in when they’ve been going for 9 months, and these problems are already there. Whereas what I’d really rather is they brought me in on Day 1 so we can start properly. It’s always more difficult to correct things that have gone wrong. It’s much, much easier to start at the beginning, get it right from the beginning, and then there’s far less effort as things progress. But I think it’s just the way of the world, really. People wait till things go wrong. People are very, very reactive in business. They will wait for things to start falling apart before they go, “Oh, God, this isn’t good. We’d better get someone to put this right.” Unfortunately, I think it’s just a problem of business generally. Ashley: It happened all the time in my early career as an IT web developer. It’s basically, “Oh, we’d better get the web guys in. We’ve tried to make a website and it didn’t work.” Lisa: Yeah, very familiar, unfortunately. Ashley: I think it’s part of human nature. We’ll give it a go ourselves, and when we mess it up, we’ll get somebody else. Lisa: We’ll get an expert. Ashley: We’ll get someone in to clean it up. All right, to wrap up and just give people something to walk away with maybe they could do today, what would you suggest as a couple of relatively straightforward tasks to get them on the right track to get started? Lisa: I think the fundamental, the most important one is getting that ethos right. Because it is almost giving people an impression of who you are, making sure they think the right things about you. We would all like to think that while we’re out and about networking or chatting over Twitter or LinkedIn or whichever platform we’re using, that people are thinking well of us, that people respect us. And if you feel like you’re not getting that level of respect, perhaps it’s worth asking yourself why that might be. Do they fundamentally understand what it is I’m trying to achieve? Do they know what I’m all about? Because this may be where the problem is. That people go, “Well yes, he’s a lovely guy, but I have no idea what he does.” And that’s quite a common thing, particularly in something that I do, which is bespoke for every client, which is perhaps a bit more woolly around the edges. What I think is even more important in somebody like what you do or a printer or a photographer, a social media specialist, someone who is facing an awful lot of competition, you have to think about “How am I going to make people see me? What am I going to do to convince them that I am the person to do business with?” Reputation will spread, and what you’d like that to be is you’d like that to be an incredibly good one. You would like people to go, “Oh yes, I know that person, and yes, they are brilliant at what they do. They’re very trustworthy, they’re very reliable.” These are the things we’d all like people to think about us, but we perhaps don’t think to convey that in our day-to-day lives. A lot of it is actually, I would always say to people, you have to give quite a lot. You have to put yourself out there and be seen as one of the good guys. I jokingly say that when I first started in business, I would go to the opening of an envelope if I thought there was something in it for me. And I would. I networked relentlessly. To the extent that I got an email from someone last week, and all it said was, “Oh good God, you really do know everybody. To which I replied, “Well, no, not quite, but I’m working on it.” Because it is all about not what you know, quite often, but who you know. Because not only can it help you run your own business, but it can also help you make those important connections into other businesses. Because nothing works better than a referral. And what would be better than phoning someone who you know trusts you to say, “Could you possibly find a way to introduce me to somebody else that you feel is important?” That is sometimes an easier way to do business, but unless they know fundamentally what you stand for, they’re not going to be comfortable doing that, because they’re not going to be happy that they can do that in confidence. Because who wants to refer someone, only for them to cock-up and then look like a fool? So it is all about establishing your reputation and what it is you stand for, and then getting it out there, getting people to talk about you, getting known for being good at what you do. That will help you grow your business. It also helps to give stuff. Get involved in something charitable. Get involved in doing something for nothing, because it will open you up to an awful lot of opportunities, but it will also help you to get your message out there. Because if people find out you’re prepared to do something for nothing, trust me, the invitations will flood in. Now, they’re not always good invitations, but I’m assuming when you’ve been asked to do this online podcast, is there any fee involved? Ashley: No, no. Lisa: Exactly. No, there is no fee involved. You are doing it for the purpose of self-promotion at the end of the day, but other people are benefiting from that. So I would say put yourself out there. If you get an opportunity to speak or present or get involved in something that will demonstrate what you do, take it every single time if it will help you get into the market you want to get into. It will also help people realize fundamentally what your ethos is. I keep coming back to this, but I think people would do better in business if they put more of themselves into their business. If I go to one more networking event and go “I’m a printer and I print business cards,” and it’s like, “Oh, Lord, it’s so dull, it’s so boring.” So yeah, why would I want to have you print my business cards, because what makes you better? And then it does come down to price, and it shouldn’t be about that. It’s all about getting your ethos out there, getting people to know who you are, what you’re all about, and it will make people engage with you, because they will fundamentally want to do business with you. And that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day: engagement and building of relationships. Ashley: Yeah, that’s definitely something I’ve been realizing. I’m going to a conference next week just for that exact purpose, so it’s right on track, hopefully. We’ve got to wrap up here. I’ve got another call in 10 minutes, as we said earlier. Where’s the best places for people to connect with you? On your website, which is… Lisa: www.athena-business-solutions.co.uk. It’s a bit of a mouthful; I apologize. I would say the place I do most of my business is on LinkedIn. People find me under my name, Lisa Chilvers. Have a look through my profile. I like that particularly because the recommendations that I have on there from clients tend to give a better flavor about what it is that I do, because it’s almost like the stories of the successes that I’ve had, which is great. Or you can connect with me on Twitter, which is always great because, as you know, actually, I am addicted to my social media. It’s @athena_business. Ashley: I’ll put all of that in the show notes, anyway, so people will have links. Lisa: Thank you very much. Ashley: You’ve got your book coming up, which we didn’t get a chance to talk about, although we chatted before the show. Maybe we’ll talk about that later in the year when that’s come out and you’re doing your amazing book tour. Lisa: That’s fantastic. When I’m rich and famous, we’ll chat again, and I will be chatting all over the world, hopefully. Fingers crossed. But like I say, if you’re not going to think big, why bother at all? Ashley: Of course. Perfect philosophy. Thanks, Lisa. Lisa: Thanks, Ashley. Bye bye. Ashley: Bye. Send Lisa A Thank You Tweet If you enjoyed this SEO chat with Lisa, why not send him a thank you Tweet… Thank Lisa with a Tweet Connect with Lisa Athena Business Solutions – Lisa’s Website Lisa on Twitter Lisa on LinkedIn Thanks for the Review on iTunes – Or Stitcher As this podcast is just starting out, I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes to help me promote it and reach more people. I have a quick How To Do a Review on iTunes (only because it may not be so simple to find the place to do it). Previous Podcast Episodes If you don’t really need to head to iTunes or Stitcher, you can find all the previous podcasts here Final Words Giving your business direction and purpose is one of the most important things you can do. Without taking these basic steps (early on, or whenever you can) you are just riding in a boat without a rudder! Take some of Lisa’s pro advice today and find out your Ethos and Vision. Have you figured out your business purpose? Let us know in the comments below.
55 minutes | Jun 11, 2014
Klout: Measuring Your Social Media Influence w/ Susan Gilbert
Times are changing my friend. The days of only movie stars getting free hotel upgrades are gone. The time has come where social media influencers and powerful bloggers have an impact on the world. And now that your every move is tracked on the internet, there is of course a way to measure this. It’s called Klout. It is not the only tool of it’s kind, but it is definitely making an impact. Do you know what your Klout score is? Maybe you are wondering why should you even care? Fair questions I grant you, but bear with me, there is gold at the end of the rainbow. Let’s ask Susan and find out all about Klout… Enter Susan Gilbert – Author of “Klout Score” Susan has been a social media lover and user for a quite a while. And as a result, she has quite a lot of online influence. So, it is no surprise that she knows and understands how Klout works, and why it is important. In this episode of the podcast we discuss the latest trends in online media and influence how influence is becoming increasingly important what klout is all about and how it works how you can increase your Klout score why Klout is useful to you, companies and brands other benefits of Klout Take a listen to what has to say about Klout and online influence (or read the transcript if that is your thing). Read the Transcript If you prefer to read the transcript, you can Download the Transcript PDF Or read it below… Show Podcast Transcript Ashley: Welcome to the show, Susan. Thanks for joining me today.Susan: Thanks for asking me to be here, Ashley. This is fun.Ashley: It’s always great to meet someone new and have a chat about the things we love talking about, right? Susan: Yes, absolutely. Ashley: Just for everyone who doesn’t know you, can you give us a quick 2 minute spiel on your background? Susan: Sure. My background is as an entrepreneur. I had a brick-and-mortar business in San Diego, California, and as a result of the growth that took place with that business, then I wrote a little gift book, and it’s really just inspirationally based, called The Land of I Can. But then I did so well in the publishing world and did so well with it online that I started helping other authors and other publishers. So there came a point that I decided that I wanted to move to the Seattle, Washington area, which is where I am now, and I sold the business in San Diego – although I am the co-author of The Idiot’s Guide on how to operate and open a coffee bar, so that was my legacy. Then moved up here and have been helping authors and entrepreneurs – because again, I’ve had a brick-and-mortar business and I can certainly help the solo entrepreneur. I had 55 employees when I had the five locations, so I’m not a Fortune 500 kind of gal. I really believe in paving your own path. And then the topic we’re going to talk about here shortly is that I wrote a little Kindle book last summer on the topic of Klout, and I’m very passionate about that. Ashley: And marketing, online marketing in general, you’re very active. Susan: Yes, very, very active. Again, it comes as a result of I want to do it first and learn how to do it well, and then be able to help others. That’s what happened when I published The Land of I Can, and then on Walking the Talk. I use social media and I use Klout because I’m always looking at how I can improve my own sphere of influence and what’s working and what’s not, and then I can bring that back home and help people, either through my coaching and consulting, done-for-you services, or in any books that I write. Ashley: Okay, so on a daily basis, you’re working with a variety of people doing all these kinds of things. Susan: Yes. Ashley: We’re just getting onto the topic we’re jumping onto today, which is influence and Klout. Maybe we should first quickly just define what we’re talking about, for those people who don’t really understand this whole influence, influencers, powerful people online. Because it is, for many non-marketing people, quite a strange thing. Susan: Here’s the way that I like to approach it, is that influence isn’t new. Influence has been around as long as human beings have been on the planet, and the official definition of influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something or the effect itself. To bring it into at least the 21st century kind of thing, think about Dale Carnegie, who was the grandfather of people skills and talking about the power of influence when he published How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1937. So influence isn’t new. The new spin is that we now can influence people online, where in the past our influence was more person-to-person. Ashley: There’s sort of an amplification going on, really, and also an ease of reach. You can reach influencers very easily, too. Susan: The world has become our oyster, because we don’t need to do – like when I had my brick-and-mortar business in San Diego, I could only reach those people who were within a sphere of the location that were willing to come in. But it would’ve been very hard to sell them coffee and muffins in Switzerland. But when you’re online, everybody is a potential lead, a potential customer, a potential JV partner. We’re not limited anymore. Ashley: I don’t know how to place this, but is there a specific time when you’d say somebody becomes an influencer? Or would you say we’re all influencers in some way? Susan: I think we’re all influencers; it’s just the degree of. That’s one of the things that Klout, which is this third party social media measuring system – and it’s not perfect, and we’ll talk about that, but it does work. So what I like to think of it as is when you’re in school and you get a “C” on a particular topic, you know you have some work to do, right? If you have an “A,” you say, “Okay, I’m doing pretty well. Maybe I need to go work on that topic where I’m failing.” Everybody who’s in school is getting a grade, and anybody who’s online – in particular, having a Twitter account – has an influence score. The question is, how influential and where are they on that “A, B, C, D, E” scale, so to speak, if we think about it in terms of a school and how well we’re doing. In my opinion, we always want to be improving. Ashley: That’s the hard part, right? Susan: Exactly. We want to be improving in anything that we’re learning or doing, and in business, we always want to be improving. With your web work, we use Google Analytics, we use tracking so we can tell what’s working and what’s not. Because if we’re not testing and tracking, we can’t improve it. So that’s what Klout allows us to do, is to be able to measure our influence and how well we’re doing, and it does work. When I started, because I’ve always been active in social media, I came into Klout with a relatively high score. It’s bantered about, but I think if you’re over 45, you’re influencing people. If you’ve got a score of 18, you have some work to do. When American Airlines opened up their Admirals Club a year ago, I believe they were looking at anybody with a score of 50 or above. And when I published the Klout score book last year, my Klout score was 64, and today it’s 83. So it’s just constantly using the systems that are in place to see how well it’s working. I mean, how did you find me? You found me online, right? Ashley: I think we’ve probably touched base – I’m not sure if it’s been through – Triberr, maybe? Are you on Triberr? Susan: I am, but I’m not really very active there. I think we just met on Twitter. Ashley: It’s funny how it happens, because sometimes I can’t remember where I find people. It’s just through certain retweets, through certain hashtags. And that’s an interesting thing; it just kind of happens organically, and as you say, it’s a calculation of your reach. If you don’t have a big reach – because I have no idea who I’m touching. Yeah, it’s an interesting idea, you asking me that question, because actually I really don’t know. Susan: That happens for me frequently. I did a speaking engagement in Denver at Author U the first part of May, and I used to go out and do a lot of speaking engagements when I lived in San Diego and around the country, but once I moved up onto my farm, it’s pretty hard to get me out of here. I like to stay here. But I had promised Judith Briles, the woman who puts it on, and she had interviewed me on Klout and other social media topics. So I went out to Denver and did that topic, but I said, “I don’t need to do that,” because people find me online. My clients come to me through referrals or they find me online. And when I ask them – they reach out to me – “How did you find me?”, it’s always going to be one of those two answers. So you really can market from wherever you are in the world, and if you are influential and if you are building a good brand online, then you don’t really have to go out and market the way we used to. Ashley: Yeah, it’s an amazing thing. Actually, many of the people I have on the podcast, when I talk to them pre-show or post-show about their situation and what they’re doing, it’s usually the same story. It’s someone often in the middle of nowhere or in a very small place who has very little power or connections where they are, and online they appear as a complete other person. Or maybe it’s no longer the case. We say that it’s not a separate thing anymore; it used to be. But it’s really, really interesting. It’s an amazing thing. Actually, I’m wearing a t-shirt now which I got many years ago which says “I’m famous online,” and I used to joke about it. Susan: There’s a cartoon that shows a dog sitting in front of a computer that says “Everybody’s famous online or something to that effect, and I love that, of course, animal lover that I am. But yeah, who knows who’s on the other side of that computer screen, right? Ashley: Yeah, it used to be a joke for me because it was always like “Oh yeah, yeah, you’re famous online” because you have a Facebook account or whatever, but now it actually becomes a point where people know people and they don’t even realize they’re known by those people. You have followers, you have people reading your blog and reading your tweets and they never respond. You don’t know who they are, you don’t know who’s listening. You don’t know who your audience is, often. Only a small percentage of them. We have a huge amount of influence. Getting back to Klout, which is what we were going to talk about, this came about as – were you using this from the beginning? Was this founded basically as a way of measuring online influence? Susan: Being someone who’s been in social media almost from its inception, before it was popular – I used to use it for SEO and for ranking websites because the links would get spidered so well – so as somebody who’s always looking at what’s new, a lot of things come and go. They don’t stick. So I got involved with Klout and Kred, another social media measurement company, I’d say about 2 years ago, and then finally decided to do the book last summer, because I really felt that Klout is here to stay, it’s not going to go away, and that Klout was the one that would be the leader. And certainly with its acquisition from Lithium in March at $200 million in cash and stock, I do think Klout is here, and whether people like it or not, it’s better that you know how to use it and how to improve your business, because I don’t think it’s going away. Ashley: I wasn’t aware of these examples; being in Europe, Twitter and these kind of things are not taken seriously. But if you’re saying that companies are using some of these measurements as a way of determining marketing and reaching people, then it certainly is something worth paying attention to if you are a serious online marketer. Susan: Oh, absolutely. I had a wonderful conversation – and I’ve had it on my to-do list to do an article on it, and I haven’t yet – but a great conversation with the Head of the Social Media Department for American Airlines, and they love Klout. She shared a lot of the information, the internal documents with me from the promotion that they did. And think about it: if you’re checking into a hotel and they have your email and they can pull up your Twitter account, and they see that you have a Twitter score of 83, do you think they’re going to put you in a room next to the freight elevator and one that needs repair? Or are they going to put you in a really nice room with a view? Because they know that you have the ability to let people know when you like something, and you have the ability to let people know when you don’t like something. And we are the media now. We don’t need – although we do watch TV, we do listen to the radio – but you’re creating a podcast right now. So we have the ability to affect what other people think or know. In fact, Dale Carnegie said that there are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world, and that we’re evaluated and we’re classified by those four contacts. It’s what we do, it’s how we look, it’s what we say, and how we say it. And we can do all of those things online. Ashley: Sure. It’s really, really interesting, because I’ve never really thought about this stuff like that. Because as I said, here in Switzerland, social media is LinkedIn, basically. People are using Facebook and LinkedIn just for personal or CV-related tasks. There’s very few companies using Twitter. Slowly a couple are picking it up for customer service. So thinks like Klout are nowhere – at least as far as I know, nowhere on the horizon. Susan: That’s fascinating, because watch out, it’s on its way. Ashley: Yeah, I can believe it. Susan: Like worldwide brands, like American Airlines, just as one, as they become more and more used and prevalent, it will spread across the world. Ashley: Yeah, it makes sense. Instead of saying you need to recognize a face – “Oh, that’s Brad Pitt walking in; we’d better give him a good room.” I mean, he’s probably booked the top room anyway, but let’s just say he hasn’t – and now you’re saying, “Okay, I can now recognize someone from their details and realize that they’re more powerful than I thought, and therefore I should pay more attention to them.” That’s an amazing thing. So what kind of things are going into a Klout score right now? Susan: For the most part – I mean, there are lots of different connectors that you can use, but the Klout score really heavily depends on Twitter, Facebook – either your profile or your page; can’t be both, so you want to pick the one that you are most active on – LinkedIn, Instagram, and what made my score go from 80 to 83 is Wikipedia. So you can connect things like Foursquare, if you’re very active there, a few others like Blogger and WordPress – the org, not the website. But in all honesty, the ones that Klout really pays attention to is Twitter, Facebook. Even Google+, I’m connected, but that really doesn’t seem to move the needle very much yet. I think that probably will change in the future. But if you are active, and I’ll define what active means, in Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, you’re going to bump your score up. Ashley: So even Instagram is having an influence on this? Because it’s still probably one of the smallest, right? Susan: They love it. Yeah, it’s fascinating. There are people who are bumping up their Klout score significantly, just being more active on Instagram. Ashley: So Pinterest isn’t taking any power right now. Susan: Pinterest is not a connector yet. I don’t know why they haven’t; I think it should be. They haven’t asked me, so I don’t get to weigh in on that. But again, it’s kind of like where Twitter was in, what was it, 2007. It’s in its baby form now, and it’s going to grow into an adolescent and an adult, and I think we’re going to see a lot of changes as that happens. Ashley: This company that bought them, what’s their deal? What do they do? Lithium you said, right? Susan: I don’t know that I really understand what Lithium does. They say that they’re a provider of social customer experience solutions. I don’t really know what that is, but my guess is that they’re very tied to what we’re just discussing with American Airlines. I’ll give you a couple of different examples. I was having a conversation with somebody on Twitter. It was around Valentine’s Day, and I had asked if she got chocolate from her husband, and she came back and said she’d gotten Brownie Brittle, two cases of it, and evidently she really liked it. I said, “Oh, I’ve never had Brownie Brittle,” and lo and behold, I got a box of Brownie Brittle delivered to my house. Ashley: Nice. Susan: So Brownie Brittle was paying attention. They were paying attention to who was mentioning them, saw what my Klout score was, and decided to send me a box. To me, that’s a customer experience solution. I think that’s where they’re coming from, but I’m surmising that. Nobody has told me that. I’ll give you another example. I love HostGator. I’ve got several reseller accounts with them, and I recommend them as individual accounts for clients. No hosting company is perfect; we’ve all had our share of horror stories, and sites do go down, especially when they’re on shared hosting. So I’ll go through the typical due diligence of opening up a support ticket for myself or a client, sending it in with what the problem that we’re experiencing is, and then wait an hour, 2 hours, depending upon the severity of the problem, and if I don’t hear anything, I go onto Twitter and go to the support – I think it’s @hostgatorsupport – and just say “Here’s my support ticket number, and it’s been 2 hours and I haven’t heard anything. Could you check on that for me?” And they will be back immediately and saying “Escalating.” Within 5 or 10 minutes, typically, they’re on it. Why do you think that they responded to me on Twitter faster than they did through the support ticket system? Ashley: They see your account. Susan: Exactly. It’s just like you used the example of Brad Pitt. He’s recognizable. Online, you’re recognizable based on your influence. Ashley: I don’t have a huge following; I’ve got near 7,000. But it’s starting to have an effect, I notice. I’ve been getting invites from companies for free accounts, which I was never asking for, to just try out. Because suddenly they see a post – I think when I did this Pinterest experts post recently, that went nuts. I think it got something like 1,200 shares or something crazy. Susan: Oh, that’s fantastic. And that’s the whole thing: people notice that. Now, let’s talk about your score a little bit so that you and your listeners understand how the score works. It’s not how many fans or followers that you have, or friends. Ashley: Not at all based on that? Susan: It’s really not based on the number; it’s of the number of friends, fans, followers that you have, how many of them are engaging with you? How many of them are retweeting a tweet, or posting a like or a comment on Facebook? How many are giving it love on Instagram? People can have a lot of Twitter followers that nobody pays any attention to at all. They don’t favorite anything, they don’t retweet anything. So what Klout is measuring is your activity level. How many people are you actually reaching, which is not just the number of fans, followers, and friends. Does that make sense? Ashley: Yeah, sure. Because you could have 10,000 fake followers, and that means nothing. Susan: Yes. And a lot of people have real followers that don’t even see what they’re doing because they don’t care. Ashley: It makes sense. Susan: So the big thing with Klout is that you need to be giving people good content. This article that got all the activity, you gave them dynamite content, and people responded. That’s what Klout is doing. They’re constantly changing, and it’s not perfect. When I got the Wikipedia page, what I found is that Klout measures my score differently now that they did. They put you in a different category. So what was really important for me to be active, and I was getting a lot of bang for my buck before, now it’s changed. So it changed from that standpoint, and also I’m seeing changes now that Lithium – maybe they were changes that were in the works anyway, or they’re changes that Lithium is now putting in, but it used to be you’d have to wait a couple of days for Klout to pick up your activity, and now it’s almost in real time. They may not have the measurement that they’re going to give you for that post or tweet, but they’re picking it up right away. I find that very exciting, because the more real time it is – like Google Analytics. We don’t have to wait a couple days to see what’s working; we can tell right away, and that’s now starting to happen with Klout. Ashley: Being bought by someone and suddenly having access to money certainly will allow them to develop things that they’d only been thinking of or give them servers they didn’t have before and do this real time stuff. Susan: Yes. Ashley: That’s really interesting. As I said, I haven’t paid too much attention to it; I know roughly my score is, I don’t know, 64 or something. I had a look once. It hasn’t moved much, and it’s been like that for awhile, I think. As I said, I’m not sure exactly how that’s measured, but my Facebook is more or less dead. I don’t use Facebook much. I mostly use Twitter. Pinterest is big for me, but that’s not measured by Klout, so obviously that hasn’t been picked up. Susan: Exactly. One thing, too, you want to log into your Klout account occasionally – well, I’ll tell you tow reasons you want to. First of all, because sometimes the accounts get disconnected. It happens often with LinkedIn, and it’s just they want you to re-verify, like reconnect it again. So one of the things you might do is just log in and make sure that they’re all connected, anything that you want, and then play with it. Get active on Facebook or do something different than what you normally are, and watch what happens. The second thing is that now that they’re providing what is curated content, they will provide content within your dashboard based on the topics that you have listed are your popular topics, the things that you know about and talk about, write about. So you can go through – it’ll bring up, I always get Facebook, Twitter, social media – and then if I post that, because my profile – I got started in Facebook so early on that it was before there were pages, and so I used my profile for business. And even though I have Facebook fan pages, they never get the activity that my profile gets as a result. So that’s what I have connected to Klout. With that connection, if I’m really active and it shows up on the account, then I see that I’m being offered more Facebook curation content. So there is a correlation. They’re tracking. They’re tracking what you’re talking about, where your activity is, and they’re feeding you the opportunity to schedule content to go out to either Facebook or Twitter or both. What I have noticed is that when I’m curating that content, I get bumps – I mean, even though my score is 83, you know that it’s going to range from 82.83 up to 83.40, and at the point that it gets to 83.51, it’ll bump up to 84. So there’s a range within that score of 83, or in your case, 64, and you’ll start to see the shifts. And it is much easier – I think getting over 50, getting to 60, it takes more effort to get to the 70s, and every bump in the 70s, like to go from 74 to 75 to 76, it just gets harder. So what you can do is connect a few things, like if you’re not active or haven’t been active on Instagram and you connect that, you’ll start to see some activity right away, and you’ll probably get up into the low 70s or higher. But every incremental step after that gets to be much more difficult. Ashley: Yeah, it makes sense. Because you did also – I was also looking at that earlier on last week when we were talking about this podcast; you did that list of – was it Top 100 Klout People or something? Susan: And they have discontinued that. Ashley: Yes, I couldn’t find it anymore. Susan: They have discontinued it. I was really disappointed, and I have sent a couple emails to Klout, and they keep saying “We have great things in the works.” So I just have to assume that they have things that will be even better, but I really liked being able to see who – and that’s a part of it. If you are having conversations with people on Twitter that have a Klout score of 25 and you like them and you support them, that’s fine. They’re a person, and you like them, and you want to do business and have conversations with them. But you want to be looking for people who have scores that are higher, because then, when you interact with them, their people, at a higher level, are seeing it. It’s the example of if you’re going to do an email blast, a JV approach type thing, and somebody has a 100 email list versus 10,000 email list, which one would you pick to do the blast with? And it’s the same thing. You might do it with a person that only has 100 because you like them and you want to do that, but you’re really going to look for the benefit to come to you with a list of 10,000. So in addition to your activity on Klout, it’s really who are you interacting with? Because the way that I reframed Dale Carnegie’s four important things is that what we do is about positioning, so we want to position ourselves; how we look is our branding; what we say is our core message; and how we say it is what creates the influence. Ashley: Also, an example of this kind of thinking as well, I’ve heard many, many, many times, which is the people you surround yourself with basically enables you or defines you in many ways. I also have that issue right now, because I don’t have many people around me in Switzerland who understand what I’m doing, can help me with what I’m doing. So I struggle with that and have to try to go online to get that ability. Find forums, find communities, and so forth. This is a similar sort of way of thinking. If you always surround yourself with less influential people and people who aren’t in a position to help you, then you will struggle to develop and to grow. Susan: Absolutely. You hit the nail on the head. Ashley: And I’ve seen it over and over again. Example, this Pinterest post. A lot of the people I wrote to, I knew, and I knew because over the last 12 months, I’ve gradually, slowly built contact with these kind of people, and some of them have quite some power. For example, Peg Fitzpatrick was on there. I don’t know if you know her. I don’t know her really well. Susan: I do, yes. Ashley: I had contact with her, so when I wrote to her, she knew my name. It wasn’t a complete blind write. Because for her, I think she may or may not have otherwise responded, because she’s very busy. Not everyone on that list was like that, but some of them were certainly more difficult to get to than others, and most of them I know already. I mean, not very well; as I said, I haven’t spoken to them, I haven’t podcasted with them or anything. But it helps to know people, and at least to have retweeted something, to have had a bit of a chat on Twitter or whatever the forum may be. And that’s where this comes in. I’ve used similar tools like BuzzSumo before to see who’s been tweeting my top posts, what kind of people are responding to my kind of content, to see whether I’m really focusing on the right people or not. Because it’s sometimes really difficult to know, right? Susan: Yeah, absolutely. Something I was thinking about, too, as you were explaining what you had done with your Pinterest article, is that I was selling computers way back when people didn’t have computers type of thing, so you can pretty much date me in terms of how old I am. Ashley: We’re not saying anything. Susan: Yeah. But the interesting thing is, if I cold called somebody, they either had to know of me because somebody said, “You should do business with Susan Gilbert,” and then they were open to the conversation, or, as I moved into the ranks of the corporate world and was working for AT&T, just working for AT&T was a door opener. But now, people can go online and see who you are. They can tell, if somebody wanted to give you an interview or be interviewed, they’re going to go to your website, and the look of your website, the activity within your website, that’s going to speak volumes, just like when I introduced myself as being with AT&T. So things have shifted, but yet they’re still the same. It’s just online. Ashley: Different technology. Susan: Yes. Ashley: Or technology where there was none before, right? Yeah, when you talk about all of this stuff, as you’re saying, none of it is new. It’s all people being people all over again. When people say to you, “You’ve got to be personal and you’ve got to stop treating it like a computer and you’ve got to stop hiding behind your computer,” it’s basically a wake-up call to this whole effect of what you’re saying about Dale Carnegie’s book about having relationships and forming relationships and being a good person and being nice. Because if you approach someone cold on email – and we get that all the time, and I get it every day as well, “Can you help me out with a plug-in?” Can you sell my plug-in? Can you retweet this?” I’m like, “Who are you?” It doesn’t work. So Klout is really becoming a way for brands to use all of that stuff, because now we’re talking about influence and marketing and all of these kinds of things, blogger outreach, and these are all becoming very popular topics. Susan: Absolutely. And as we reach out and we’re doing it online, then we are influencing other people, and that influence, typically, while it starts online, will often go offline. I know that doing a podcast, are we doing online or are we doing offline? But I’m talking to you in real time, and it started at Twitter, but here we are now. I have that, and I’m sure you have that happen all the time, where it becomes much more personal after some social media exchanges take place. Ashley: Yeah, it’s almost like a very online version of meeting someone. Like someone says, you can’t go straight to the bedroom; you have to take the person to dinner first. I think that’s social media. Get to know someone, send them a few tweets, retweet something, maybe write them an email. And then maybe in a few months’ time, you can ask them for something. But it’s just crazy. It’s crazy the way people approach it. Susan: Yes. Yeah. Ashley: I’m the exact opposite. I never ask. I rarely ask. I feel really bad for asking, and then I get all these people who ask without even knowing people. I find it just really rude, but that’s just my upbringing. Susan: Well, and it is. It’s really marketing gone wrong. There’s always going to be spammer, and that’s the category that I put that into, because anybody who’s a real professional will act exactly the way that you do. It’s kind of like in the old days, when you’d go to a networking group that was all together in one room, there would always be the person that would run up and stick their business card in your face and say, “Buy your insurance from me.” Well, that’s as rude there as it is when someone is reaching out to you when they don’t know you and they haven’t built a relationship with you. So that networking meeting is great to get to know somebody, and maybe the second or third time you’re at the meeting, then you decide to set up a one-on-one meeting. So everything that we’re doing really is the same. It’s just we’re doing it online. Ashley: And now it’s being measured by Klout, but still, ultimately, if you’re not doing it correctly – as you say, they’re measuring things, and just having followers doesn’t cut it. You’ve got to actually have interaction. And you’ve got to have genuine interaction. I saw that BuzzSumo did something similar; they also measured influencers, and they showed you specific columns. It’s probably a similar breakdown to what Klout does of saying “Okay, this person has influence, but have a closer look: what is that influence? Are they getting retweets? Are they retweeting? Are they mentioning? Are they talking to people?” I think it’s very important with that. I’ve also noticed – you’ve mentioned a couple of these things but maybe people haven’t picked up on it – Klout is expanding. You’ve now got almost a Buffer-like interface where you can share curated content, right? That’s one of their latest… Susan: Yes, and if you do that, Klout likes that. When it measures on a scale of 1 to 5 dots how much influence, as long as a couple people retweeted or like it, you get a really nice bump. So there is a correlation there. Ashley: Of course, they’re liking people using their own system. I don’t know how new this is, because as I said, I’m not really a Klout person, but you also get these perks, right? That’s really interesting. Susan: Yeah, the perks have been around from the very beginning, but of course, as more and more people get involved, there are more perks that are being added in. The perks are – I don’t even know how they randomly choose who gets what, because when I look at all the listings of the perks, I don’t get every one. But when they send me a perk, then I accept it, and then I’ll give them feedback about it. One of them, I got a baby thermometer. I don’t have a baby, but I have a friend whose daughter had a baby, so she got the baby thermometer. So it’s odd, some of the things that they come up with, but if you only do it for the perks – and to me, the perks aren’t really the perks that Klout gives you. The perks are some of the things that I mentioned to you before: being able to reach out to HostGator, knowing that I’m probably not going to check into a Hyatt or a Westin that they’re not going to know what my score is and be benefitted from it. To me, those are pretty big perks. Ashley: Yeah, and it’s becoming more of an issue, whether people realize it or not, but if you’re working in our kind of community, building up your expertise and how that’s seen and measured, and we have to face it now. It’s going to be measured. I mean, it’s measurable. It’s an online interaction, so you should probably start to take it seriously if you’re serious about your online profile. Susan: Absolutely. When I first was writing the Klout book, I used the example of our credit scores, and that seemed to resonate so much for people. But to me, it’s the same thing. You can not pay your bills and have a bad credit score and then have to pay higher interest on your mortgage or a car or be declined for something that you might want to purchase. You have free will, and you can’t get mad at the credit score company, because they’re just doing their job. Or you can work really hard on always paying things on time, as you should, keeping your credit limits in line, and having a good credit score. There are companies that, if you’re going to go buy a car, they’re going to reach out to one or several credit scoring companies to see what your score is and determine whether you’re a good risk or not. That’s what Klout is. So you can say that you don’t like it, you can say that it’s not perfect – and it’s not, just like there are lots of mistakes that happen on credit reports. But it is a system that’s being used in order to determine the risk factor, and I do believe that Klout is being used as a scoring system to determine how big of reach do you have and how influential can you be, and how could this be helpful to my company? Ashley: As I said, if that is what you do, if that is your business, if your name is your brand, then I think people really need to take it seriously. It’s like LinkedIn. If you apply for a job and your LinkedIn profile is a mess, it may stop you from getting an interview. Susan: Absolutely. Exactly, you’re absolutely right. We are, like it or not, an online world. So learning how to work with it rather than being a naysayer – because it’s not going to go away. Ashley: No, that’s for sure. I think if anything, as you say, it makes more sense to me, when I hear the story of American Airlines, it makes more sense to me that it’s only going to get stronger, because we’re becoming more computerized. We’re becoming more interlaced through the internet. Everything is becoming internet. There’s a wave coming of this so-called – what to do they call it? Internet everywhere. There’s a special term for it. But a friend of mine’s husband’s working on a project. I don’t know exactly what he’s doing, but having devices hooked up – for example, fridges or whatever that can order your food when you run out of milk or this kind of thing. Susan: Oh, I like that. Ashley: Yeah, that’s where it’s going. That’s where the internet is going, and I think it’s only a few years away. And like houses that you can unlock remotely; when a friend comes to visit, you let them in. That’s basically what’s happening with this influence. You as a person are now hooked in online through your social media accounts. People are monitoring you, so somehow, be careful. Susan: Yes, yes, yes. And if we use the credit score where it measures – I’m not that familiar with credit scores, but I know it measures over a time period. In other words, certain things stay on your credit report longer than other things, and it’s measuring do you have a credit card that’s maxed out or is it paid off in full? So it’s monitoring it. Klout is updated every 90 days, so when you log into Klout, you’ll see what your score was 90 days ago and where it is today. It’ll also show what your highest score has been within that timeframe. So as your Klout score goes up, your average goes up, and so that average gets computed into your current day score. Does that make sense? Ashley: Yeah, sure. So it’s basically like a 90 day average is somehow influencing the current. Susan: Yes. So know that as your score goes up, because it’s over 90 days – in other words, it’s not going back to where I was a year ago; it’s only going back to where I was 3 months ago. So as my score goes up, that average goes up and impacts the score. Ashley: So if people are wanting to take this seriously, or at least take a look, what would you recommend they do? Pop onto Klout and connect everything up? Susan: Make sure it’s connected. If you have a Twitter account, it’s there. You just want to log in with either Twitter or Facebook, and make sure that at least the properties that you’re active in are connected. I’m pretty much of the mindset – I don’t think everybody agrees with me, but I’m of the mindset that if you’re not active, don’t connect it. Ashley: Yeah, have it on the side. Susan: It’s not going to affect your score. I’m not a Foursquare person, so I disconnected it. It’s there if I ever want to go back and become active, but because of my lifestyle, I’m not checking in and out of places all the time. I’m just working in my barn. So I disconnected it. But the ones that you are active or you want to become active, connect those, and then start engaging with your audience and watch what happens. Ashley: Yeah, people should be doing that already. If you’re not, if you’re just one of these people who jumps on Twitter and blasts everybody or never actually interacts with anybody, then this might be a good reason to start doing that. If you’re serious about your online behavior and your online influence and the way you’re seen online, I think this might be a good way to measure how you’re doing. Are you improving your interaction? Maybe take a look at it every month and see how you’re doing. Why not, right? Susan: And because I’m somewhat of a fanatic, I’m logged in every day because I’m curating content from there every day, and I’m always watching what post or what tweet or what photo did people like? Because you learn. You learn what your audience wants and you give them more of it. Ashley: Just to give people an idea, if you log into Klout and you give Klout some topics that you’re interested in – and they also look at what you’re interested in as well, right? And then they give you suggested content from the day from top other influencers or stuff that they found online, and you can then share that. Is that more or less correct? Susan: Exactly. And here’s the really fun thing. I’m not sure if you’ve had this happen yet, Ashley, but they’re paying attention, because they list my articles sometimes from my blog. Ashley: You can tweet yourself. Susan: I was curating, and it was like, “Oh wow, there’s one of my articles.” So I’m getting traffic from Klout now. So another reason – they’re paying attention to who’s out there, and there’s just a lot of ways to benefit, and getting started is Step #1. Ashley: And then the stuff that you share through there, you can then go back and look what got engaged with. Susan: Yes. And they score it 1 through 5. There’s dots next to it. It’s in your dashboard; it’s not viewable to someone who’s just looking at your Klout page. Ashley: It’s your internal, private… Susan: Yes, it’s internal. And they will list, either by the property, the frequency, or the most activity, and you’ve got little tabs to choose from that, and they’ll give you dots, 1 through 5. So of course, if it’s 5, then they scored that high, and if you’ve got 1 dot or if it didn’t show up at all in the feed, then that wasn’t something that your audience was interested in. Ashley: So that’s three things you can basically do: log in, start using it as a way to share good stuff with your audience – if you’re not using another way to do that already, like Feedly or whatever else people are using, or Buffer is now starting, I noticed, to do something similar – and then the third thing is, of course, if you don’t care about anything else, you also get freebies. You get perks. Even if you don’t care about the rest, there’s stuff in there. Like yesterday, I was looking through it before our interview. I thought, “I’ll have a look and see what’s going on in Klout,” and there was an offer from – I don’t know if you know Moo. They do these really cool business cards. Susan: Yes. Ashley: And that I was interested in. But there was some really random stuff, and I’m not even sure if they’ll send me it in Switzerland, because I’m guessing a lot of it is States-oriented. There was some really unusual categories. I could choose from all sorts of health, fitness, whatever crazy stuff, and I’m thinking, “Why do I get these perks?” Susan: It’s amazing, some of this stuff. And again, this is only going to get bigger and bigger and bigger, because the brands know this is a way that they can get out into the hands of the people that have influence. Ashley: Have influence, exactly. Which is exactly – we’ve come full circle. So that is influence, and if you’re on there, you become influential. It’s a way to get products which maybe you can even review on your blog or get a relationship with the company through that as well. So win-win-win, everyone can win. They should give Klout a go. Susan: That’s right. There’s nothing to lose. If you log in, you don’t like it, you don’t believe in it, you can always delete your account. But it’s kind of like people laughed when we were using Twitter and Facebook, and look where it is now. So I think it’s here to stay. Ashley: Yeah, sure. Give it a go. I think if people are serious online and they’re looking to get their name known or even just to get a few freebies for fun, they should at least give it a go. I’ve been on there a few times, and it’s always interesting to see what’s going on. And it’s changing constantly, and now with Lithium having bought it, who knows what’s going to happen? I just saw another article from someone today about Klout, so people are still talking about. I think everyone should take a look, at least. Susan: That’s a big buyout. I mean, for a young company, $200 million? And I get that it wasn’t all cash and there’s private stock in that $200 million, but still, that’s pretty amazing. Ashley: Yeah, not everyone’s WhatsApp. They’re not all going to get billions of dollars for a small piece of software. All right, I think we’ll end our discussion there. Is there anything you quickly wanted to touch on before we go? You’ve got your book on Amazon, of course, which I’ll put a link to in the show notes. Susan: Wonderful. Ashley: We’ll put that in there, if people are more interested in that. Susan: And I’m going to check out your Pinterest article. Ashley: All right. I’m surprised you haven’t seen it yet; it went everywhere. It was crazy. I think it got 350 tweets and 700 pins. I’ve never done anything like it. I just found a really small little niche of a topic, basically, and it hit home. Susan: That’s great. Ashley: And the best place to find you online? Is Twitter the best place to connect with you? Susan: Sure. My website, SusanGilbert.com, I publish articles there Monday through Friday on social media and promotional work online. And then certainly Twitter; it’s @susangilbert. Ashley: Easy. Susan: Yeah. Ashley: All right, thanks, Susan. I appreciate your time, and we’ll have another chat about social media in the future, I’m sure. Susan: That’s wonderful. Thank you so much, Ashley. Ashley: Thank you, too. Ciao. Susan: Bye bye. Send Susan A Thank You Tweet If you enjoyed this SEO chat with Susan, why not send him a thank you Tweet… Thank Susan with a Tweet Posts and Resources from the Podcast Susan’s Klout Book: Klout Score Connect with Susan Website Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Thanks for the Review on iTunes – Or Stitcher As this podcast is just starting out, I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes to help me promote it and reach more people. I have a quick How To Do a Review on iTunes (only because it may not be so simple to find the place to do it). Previous Podcast Episodes If you don’t really need to head to iTunes or Stitcher, you can find all the previous podcasts here Final Words Online influence is the a powerful thing and can help you become a known brand with real clout. So why not find out what Klout can do for you! Head over to Klout today, create an account, connect your social media accounts and let the influence begin!
48 minutes | Jun 4, 2014
Grab People’s Attention Even If You’re a Blogging Nobody
Getting people’s attention in the noisy online world is tough. In fact, according to Wikipedia: On 20 February 2014, there were around 172 million Tumblr and 75.8 million WordPress blogs in existence worldwide. And that is not including other platforms like Blogger and non-Wordpress sites. So competition is fierce, and you need to do something a little different to get noticed. Most of you probably know who Seth Godin is, right? What would it take to get his attention do you think? What would it take to get him to comment on your blog? Well, today’s guest on my podcast managed to do just that…and much more. Enter Will Hoekenga – Attention Grabbing Copywriter Will has tried blogging many times before. But it just never worked out. Like many before him, he gave up on it. He has far more important things to do like earn a living. But with his latest blog, CopyGrad, he decided to try some different tactics and see if he could get some influential people’s attention. What did he manage to achieve: A comment from Seth Godin on his first post A skype call with Jeff Vincent of Wistia A job at Leadpages via Clay Collins Attention from Ramit Sethi’s team Will has used a variety of techniques and ideas to achieve these amazing feats. Basically he has: written detailed and compelling posts written posts about influential people or companies gotten hold of these people (directly or indirectly) to alert them to his new content In this podcast, Will explains: exactly what he did how and why it works what not to do when contacting influencers the kinds of content that works how to be on the look out for new ideas how to hook in your readers for life Take a listen to what Will has to say, I am sure you will learn more than you can imagine… (or read the transcript if that is your thing). Read the Transcript If you prefer to read the transcript, you can Download the Transcript PDF Or read it below… Show Podcast Transcript Ashley: Welcome to the show, Will. I appreciate your time. Thanks for joining me today. Will: Yeah, thank you for having me, Ashley, happy to be here. Ashley: And you’re calling me from Nebraska, right? Will: It’s Nashville. Ashley: Nashville, part of Tennessee, okay. Will: Yeah, Nashville, Tennessee. Ashley: Excuse me. My American geography is not as good as it should be, but, let’s just quickly dive into your background. Give us a quick run down.Will: Sure, yeah, so for I guess the last 5 years or so I did a lot of freelancing, consulting work, copywriting, email marketing, content marketing, blogging, stuff that locally and just, with people from a variety of locations around the country. And so back in January of this year, 2014, I started a new blog of my own called CopyGrad which was designed to be all about just teaching copywriting stuff and, online marketing, that sort of thing. And so, recently I’ve had a little bit, I guess, it’s more than a little bit of a career change, but I wrote a post about a company that I was a customer of and a big fan of called LeadPages. And LeadPages, it’s a landing page creation and lead generation software basically. And I actually … I used it a lot at the very beginning of getting started building my CopyGrad email list and as it continue to grow using LeadPages a lot. So, anyway, I wrote this post kind of just about their launch strategies that they used, because they had this really cool way of launching new features. And so after I did that I kind of, I tweeted it out a little to the company’s co-founder Clay Collins and, the company Twitter account and stuff. And anyway, not thinking anything of it really, just be I’m like, “Hey, I wrote this about you guys. I hope you don’t mind,” and that sort of thing. And anyway, so I got a message back from Clay actually who … I then met … He’s the co-founder of the company and he was like, “Hey, we’re actually interested in hiring a copywriter. Would you want to hop on the phone sometime?” And so I was kind of, “Woo,” that’s kind of cool. Yeah, so I take that. And I wasn’t looking for a job or anything, but, it was an opportunity to talk to the founder of a company that I really like. So, I was like, “You know, sure, I’d be glad to.” So, we got on the phone and kind of started this relationship and I ended up flying to Minneapolis where they’re located and one thing lead to another and I fell in love with the company so much, and the team they have there are just an amazing team of people that, yeah, I ended up accepting a job doing copywriting and content development for LeadPages and just started that last week. So, yeah, that’s what I’m doing. Still, doing a lot of writing about copywriting, content marketing, and that sort of thing, conversion optimization. So, I’m going to be doing a lot of content for their blog, and their community and helping write copy and all sorts of stuff. So, exciting, exciting changes. Ashley: Congrats, it’s actually one of the reasons I got you on here today was to talk about this whole … this strategy and it’s actually worked really well. Will: Yeah, yeah, it’s, yeah, definitely crazy, unexpected. But, yeah, I definitely learned some things from the experience. Ashley: It’s interesting how you can touch … We were just discussing this before we started recording, but how you can touch people who’re actually quite high or influential or whatever you want to call that, and you can actually get a hold of them, by just almost being reasonable, or being nice, or … You don’t even have to send them a box chocolates, but, you know. Will: Right, yeah, and I mentioned to you when we’re talking about this, but, in doing freelancing for some different bloggers and stuff, prior to all this, who had fairly sizeable email lists and online followings. One thing I kind of notice in seeing people reach out to them was 95 … 95% might even being generous. It might be more like 97 or 99%. Ashley: A lot. Will: That’s stuff that a lot of people who have followings get. Pitch to them or even just when someone says, “Hey, I wrote this about you.” And they send it to you so often. It’s so not good and I feel bad saying that. But it’s just what I kind of notice is that if you’re taking your time in producing stuff that is truly high quality, high value content, and you take a little bit of time and energy to make it presentable, make it look nice and demonstrate that there’s thought, and you know, real craftsmanship behind what you’re doing and you kind of put it out there, whether it’s through Twitter or shooting someone an email, someone who’s an influencer or … If you’ve taken the time and invested in your material, it’s going to stand out so much from what they’re used to receiving from people. And so that was one kind of surprising thing that I discovered that really helped me in growing CopyGrad early on, and eventually getting opportunities like this job with LeadPages for example. Ashley: Yeah, the first thing … I guess the first opportunity you got there was the blog post, right? That was where I came across your writing actually. Was that the first thing that they asked for, or was it already done by then? Will: No … No, I hadn’t even started on that. But the first time I talked to Clay he was interested in us working together in some capacity. So, just the first kind of thing he suggested was “Well why don’t you try writing a blog post for us.” Which I was definitely more than willing to do, because I think at the time my blog had maybe 500 unique visitors or something. So it was getting a good response, it just, it didn’t have a ton of traffic, I didn’t have a huge following or anything, and you know, the LeadPages blog, I think their list is over 75,000. So, that was a huge opportunity that came out of that. Ashley: Yeah, it’s a quite a good strategy if you can manage that and that was what I was hoping to chat with you about. These results that you’ve had and these ideas that you’ve used. I’ve seen similar things done before, but you seem to have basically grabbed the bull by the horns and gone for it. I’m starting this blog and I’m going to leverage people directly or indirectly by writing stuff which I want to write anyway. Will: Right. Ashley: And try to maybe get somebody a lot bigger than me to notice me. So, what was your thinking behind that? For example let’s take the Seth Godin one which is quite amazing. Will: Sure … Yeah, that was my first kind of holy crap type moment. But … and one thing I want to say also is that this blog, CopyGrad, it was actually … it’s the third blog that I’ve started. And the first two did not do well at all. And I just completely fizzled out on them after 6 months of trying on each and not getting any real response. So, but so what I noticed with this strategy was the very post that I wrote for CopyGrad was a post about … it was “5 copywriting tactics you can steal from Seth Godin”. And, so, it was just kind of an idea that came naturally the way ideas you like come. I’m on Seth Godin’s email list and he sent out an email. I want to say last November, it was a little before Christmas sometime and he was just, he had links to 5 different products that were unrelated to him. They were just products that he really liked a lot. And he wrote a little chunk of copy about each one, and the copy was so good, that I ended up buying one of the products. It was a pair of headphones actually. But I wanted to buy all of them. And I was sitting there. I was like, “Man,” you know, I’ve read this… Ashley: How does he do it? Will: Yeah, I’ve read some of Seth Godin’s books. But I was like, “He’s also this good at writing copy, this is unfair man,” So, anyway, I started writing this post I was sort of already mentally kind of picking apart the copy he had written and why I thought it was a good, and what techniques were at play and that sort of thing. So, anyway, I wrote this, it was a longish post. I think somewhere between 1500 and 2000 words. Ashley: Okay. Will: And that was the first post I wrote for CopyGrad. And it was a new blog. So I had relatively no subscribers or anything. And that morning when I published it so I’ve Tweeted out a link just to my general audience which is not very big. And I was … I was aware of the fact that Seth Godin actually gets emails that are sent to Seth at SethGodin.com. And I was like, “What the hell, I’ll just send this out to him.” And I wasn’t expecting anything to happen. But I was like, “Why not?” So I spent maybe 2 or 3 minutes writing a super short, I think it was 3 paragraph long email, just saying like, “Hey, Seth. So, those products you wrote about were awesome. I got that pair of headphones. I wrote this post about your copywriting techniques. You know, thanks for all you’re doing, been a big inspiration.” I sent it out that morning didn’t really think anything else about it. I’d forgotten about it by the afternoon and so I had that blog post sort of pulled up on a tab in my browser. And I was working on something else and I noticed at the corner of my tab, a little, one new comment thing popped up on … I use Disqus commenting system on my blog. So, it’s that kind of blue box that pops up saying there’s a new comment. And I was like, “Cool.” So, I clicked it and it’s literally a comment from Seth Godin, apparently he has a Disqus account I didn’t even know. Ashley: You don’t see him around, yeah. Will: Right, yeah, and he was basically, he made a comment about you know the copy that he wrote was easy because he was writing about stuff he really loved. And then he said “thank you for this post. I read all of it. I loved it.” And I was just … First of all I wanted to make sure this was actually Seth Godin. I pulled up, I clicked on the Disqus account, started analyzing all the comments that … I think he had 200 something comments on various blogs. And I started picking them apart, trying to figure out if this is the real guy. And it became fairly clear after a little bit that it was him. And so at that point I was just kind of like, “Wow,” well, you know … Because it was cool to receive the comment just from a validation stand point. Someone who’s a marketing hero validating the stuff that I’ve done. You know, it was very good just from a personal stand point. But then I had this comment from Seth Godin saying that he loved my writing. I was like, “Man,” I’m totally using this as a testimonial, when I hit up people for guest post, I’ve got to let them know about this just as social proof or whatever, that I have some semblance of knowledge on a subject, and … So anyway I was … Several weeks after that had gone by. I’ve done some more posts and they’ve gotten descent reactions, but nothing that had happened. And so I was like, “I need to try, what did I do with that post that made something like that happen.” And, so I started breaking it down and I was like, “Okay, so I wrote about someone who I really liked and who a lot of people really liked, people who liked Seth Godin.” It’s not just, “Oh, I like Seth Godin.” They’re, “Oh, my God. I love Seth Godin.” Like they’re nuts, and so I was trying to find stuff like that, that people really loved to write about and that I love to write about and just see what they’re doing with their copywriting and their marketing. And sort of break it down in a fun interesting way. And so that kind of became the formula for every post that has done something good for me since then. And so I think the next one after that I wrote about a grocery store chain called Trader Joes that we have … I don’t know if it’s outside of the US or not. Ashley: I don’t think so. And I’ve seen them in the States but not outside. Will: Yeah, so it’s a cool a little grocery store and they have a really unique way of writing about their products in a fun kind of corky way and … Trader Joes fans are the same as Seth Godin fans. They freaking love Trader Joes, they would lie down on the streets for Trader Joes. And so I just … I wrote a post about how Trader Joes writes copy their customers love. And that kind of got bounced around on Twitter a little bit not by Trader Joes because they don’t really do a whole lot online, I discovered. But it ended up a guy who works for Wistia, the video hosting company in Boston that I’m also; I love their content they put out. Ashley: Yeah, their videos are really cool. Will: Yeah, yeah, their videos are great. So, a guy, Jeff Vincent, he is apparently a big Trader Joes fan and saw the post, and he was like, “Oh, man. I’ve been waiting for someone to write this post.” And I said, “Thanks.” And then he tweeted back and said something like, “You know, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can improve our copy sometime.” And so that lead to a Skype call with Jeff and getting to learn more about what Wistia is doing which is awesome because I said, I’m a huge fan of them. And then after that I think the LeadPages post came next. I wrote the post about “How LeadPages builds insane amounts of anticipation into all their product launches.” And yeah, that ended up, Clay saw that and it lead to a whole a new kind of path in my career which has been really cool, and it’s just kind of strange to believe. But that a tweet can actually lead to that. Ashley: Yeah, sure, it’s … As I was saying the leverage sometimes is quite crazy. The people that I’ve gotten to know even from posts recently through Pinterest Experts and so on. If you have a little bit of credibility it certainly helps. I mean, if you’re approaching them from zero it doesn’t help. But you don’t need to as you’re demonstrating. I mean, you have a virtually brand new blog or at least a few months old. You don’t have a huge Twitter following of 50,000 people or whatever and still these people are open to paying attention to a well-presented, whether it’s email or tweet and with good content behind it. I mean, that’s basically what you’re doing. Will: That’s the goal, yeah. Ashley: I mean, it’s quite an amazing thing and I was just reading here, this break down you did of the Seth Godin email which I think is quite interesting about how, you have the subject and the way you … I mean, you only wrote him a short mail but you obviously thought about what you put in there, because he’s not going to … First you got to catch him with the subject line, right, because he might not even open it. Will: Yeah, definitely. Ashley: And then once you’ve got him reading, you’ve got to catch him pretty early on to keep reading it, right? I mean, then he may follow through and click the link. How did you break that down? Will: Well, when I was writing that email I didn’t even really have like, “I hope Seth promotes my post,” in mind that much. And not that it’s wrong to have that in mind cause I’ve definitely have ever since that happened, but I wanted to … You mentioned the subject line and I spent probably the most time writing that, thinking about the subject line. And so like I said I had bought a pair of these headphones that Seth really liked, and so I was thinking to connect on a personal level. I won’t make the subject or even the beginning of the email about, you know the post I’ve written. I’ll just make it about the headphones and be like, “Man, these headphones are awesome. Thank you for recommending them.” And so I think making the subject about something that the person you’re reaching out to cares about and might have some bit of an emotional connection to, even if it is something as seemingly superficial as a pair of headphones. Just finding some type of common ground or whatever that you can relate to, I think that helps. And opening the email not with an ask right away, but just some way of making a connection and then doing a soft kind of ask for promotion, or you don’t even have to ask for a promotion. I think in that email I just made him aware of it. I was like, “I read this post. Thank you.” And yeah, it leads to that. And I don’t know with something like a person like Seth. Obviously I think that there is probably a fair amount of luck played into what happened with him. But I do think there are certain things you can do like I was saying just now to better your chances of the person opening the email, noticing the email, taking the time to read the email and then going to your post. Cause when you think about it you’re … it’s a lot of barriers you have to come just to get them to the point of reading the post that you’ve written. Ashley: Yeah, as I said first … first thing is getting them to open it, right? So, if you think about and then I’m sure you did this, you think about what is appearing in his inbox, even if he doesn’t already have an assistant sort of trimming it down for him already and getting rid of the spam or whatever. But, yeah, what’s coming in his inbox, and … I just picked one I opened earlier a conversation here that I just had the other day and I get tons of these as well. And that they’re just so crazy. These are obviously spam. “Greeting of the day, I am, Sonia. I was surfing through your website and realize that despite having a good design it was not ranking on any search engines and the keywords about your domain.” Interesting premise they have, but that’s actually not true because it is ranking. Will: Right. Ashley: They obviously haven’t done their research. But I got something more interesting this morning which I actually might follow up on. But the person in my opinion made a mistake because they cut and paste a part of the email in, which in itself is okay. You know, we can’t all write fresh emails for everybody. But the fonts are different and the font size is also different. Will: Yeah, it’s the little things like that, you know. Ashley: It looks bad. Will: That can … Ashley: Making it bad. Will: Yeah, there’s not a whole lot you have to do just sort of make it at least look like a normal email somewhat that’s sent. Ashley: Well, maybe they don’t even know how, but it’s … I’m not sure if maybe in their email client they didn’t see that it was a different font or whatever. But, I don’t know, if you’re doing this on a daily basis you think you would get good at it. And maybe that’s the whole point, that’s the reason why you stood out and they don’t. Firstly you had a personal hook which I think is a great. And I found that also from meeting people even on the podcast and whatever and they reach out. I just love to talk to people and get to know them anyway, because I’m actually glad to meet them and you do find common ground usually very quickly and it’s good to chit chat and then afterwards usually you continue to stay in touch, and that’s really nice. But if you don’t find any common ground you’re like, “Right, thanks for joining me. Let’s record the podcast. Okay, I’m only here for the podcast. I don’t care about anything else.” That’s crazy. Will: Right. Ashley: And when people do that they write to me and say … They even write tweets to me say, “Can you just re-tweet this for me.” I’m thinking, “Who are you? Do I know you?” Will: Right, yeah. Yeah, I think you have to search for that personal connection and you know offering the person something that has value for them as well. So writing that post about LeadPages for example. I didn’t write the post to make them look really good. But I wrote the post kind of about an awesome marketing technique they were using. And it did bring some attention to the company and stuff and it was just … It was a good value piece that you know that could be useful for them to share as well. Ashley: Sure. Will: And so as opposed to just asking for a share or whatever, I think creating something that you can see has a use for the person that you want to promote it. You know, if that value and that use is clear then you’re not even, you don’t really even have to explicitly come out and ask so much as you do. Just send it their way. You know, say thank you. Yeah, and I think people are kind of caught up and they’re trying to get a hundred different people to promote their posts so they don’t have the time to sort of invest, make that effort to invest personally in their asks, and they just end up as you said copying and pasting and just straight up asking for the promotion which … You know, that will work for if you do ask a hundred people I would be shocked if at least somewhere between 1 to 5 of them didn’t say, “Yes,” but yeah… Ashley: But that’s a “burn and run” strategy, right? Will: Exactly. It doesn’t build a relationship. And often if they’re sharing it. You know, all shares aren’t really created equally. I mean just re-tweeting something is not as good as if they’re like, “Wow, thank you so much for writing this awesome post.” You know if they get excited about it and they really want people to see it, they’re going to make more of an effort to get it in front of their audience. Ashley: Yeah, I think that’s exactly true. And I mean, I’ve never actually done that until recently I’ve realized that maybe I should have. But, this whole asking people and share my stuff, I always thought I should earn it and maybe I’ve done it wrong, but then in the background and I’ve gotten to know a few people and I even had a guy I know really well the other day. I won’t name names, but he wrote to me and said, “You know what?” He said, “Send me 5 of your best posts and I’m going to throw them in my tweet stock and they tweet them out for you every week.” Will: That’s awesome, yeah. Ashley: And because we know each other really well now. I’ve written stuff for this guy and we have a really good relationship. And it’s about … It’s all about the relationship. Will: Right. Ashley: And his has come to me, I think I’ve almost covered this exactly little gem in every podcast I’ve had. Every topic I’ve talked about, it’s all come down to where is the relationship? Are you developing a relationship with whoever it is? Will: Right. Ashley: It doesn’t have to be a big person or whoever. But if you’re not forming a relationship then you’re not really achieving anything. It’s amazing. And this other one that you wrote recently, this post about Ramit Sethi, did that go anywhere? I was just noticing that the other day as well. Will: Sure, yeah, so that post that was following the exact same strategy I’ve been talking about. Yeah, I’ve been a big fan of particularly the way that Ramit Sethi writes emails. I’ve been on his email list for a year and he just, he writes awesome emails and sometimes they’ll be 2000 words long, which is… Ashley: Really, Will: Yeah, yeah, it’s kind of crazy, not many people will do that. And, but I always read to the end and, yeah, he has an amazing online business and so I’ve always really liked the way he writes emails. So, I wrote a post about a recent product launch he did, I think he wrote 20 something emails. I pasted them all into word and added up the word count and it was … I think it was close to 20,000 words worth of emails he wrote for his product launch. And so anyway, yeah, I wrote that post, I sent Ramit an email and when I promoted it on Twitter I used his Twitter handle. And I did not hear anything directly from him, but it was another one of those situations kind of like the Trader Joes thing, where there are lots of Ramit Sethi fans out there. And so when they saw the post they really connected, take time with it, and I get several emails about it. I actually, I got … I forgot about this, this is kind of a recent thing. I got my first speaking request ever. Ashley: What? Awesome. Will: Which … Yeah, I mean, I haven’t been chasing that at all. I hadn’t even really thought about doing speaking. But, yeah, it’s for a conference called the Social Recruiting Seminar I believe, and it’s in Alberta in Canada. And the guy who’s organizing it saw that post about Ramit and he’s a fan of his and emailed me. It was like, “Hey, I’d love, next May, for you to come up here and do a workshop of copywriting for recruiters.” It’s a conference for recruiters basically and so it will be about applying copywriting techniques to writing descriptions. And yeah, so that’s… Ashley: It’s a desperately needed. I was just going to say that’s really, really needed. Will: I know, yeah, and it’s crazy cause I just went through this whole process of recruitment with LeadPages so it was kind of odd timing. But, yeah, they (Leadpages) wrote a kick ass job description. So, yeah, it’s a subject that I have some things to say about. So, yeah, it was really exciting and that’s another sort of takeaway is that it doesn’t always have to result in the person or company or whatever it is that you’re about. It doesn’t have to result in them promoting you. A lot of times it’s in their fans, their fellowing. Finding it and connecting with you that way. So, yeah, that was another really cool result that’s happened. Ashley: Yeah, I mean, I’m just looking at your post here. It’s actually, I mean, how many words is it? And it has a lot of pictures in here as well obviously, but it’s a really, really, really long. Will: Yeah, that’s another, a good point, yeah, it’s the longest post I’ve written and I think it’s over 3,000 words which, yeah, I don’t … Being super long isn’t a requirement, but, I think a post that’s at least in the thousand range is usually going to give you a better shot that a quick little 500 word post. Not that a 500 word post is always something that’s quick and easier to write. You know, it’s actually really tough to pull off great posts that are at that length. Ashley: Yes, I have that problem. Will: Yeah, but I think what I would say is that all those posts that have done well for me; I wouldn’t use length to describe them. I would just say that they were very in-depth. Ashley: Yes, exactly. Will: So, yeah, they’re very thorough and both an analysis of the copywriting and marketing and describing how you, the reader the can implement those techniques and apply them to your business. So, that’s another 2 things I think to keep in mind, is having great analysis, but then also having a great practical application for the reader. They should be able to read your post and not only learn something but then be, “Oh, cool. Now I’m going to go try that right now with my stuff.” So, actionable items, things like that. Cause if someone can read your stuff and then they actually do something because of it, that creates kind of a bond with your content that, isn’t always easy to earn, but it’s definitely stronger than just a connection made if they just read the post and didn’t do anything, when they do that action, that’s a really big connection that can be made. Ashley: That’s actually a great idea. And you’re talking here about teaching an actionable tip and there’s one from you just now. Will: Sure, yeah. Ashley: Which is just actionable connection and I read something in Darren Rowse’s book, one of his blogger books. And he was talking about building community and it’s actually quite difficult to do outside of his niche, but he was building his digital photography school or whatever it’s called. Will: Right, right. Ashley: And one of the things he used to do was get people to do homework or a project every week and then joining this community of assessing and looking at each other’s photos based on a particular tip of the week. And it’s along the same lines, but in marketing you’re basically giving people something to do easily in a broken down way and then that is, you are the teacher and they will remember you for that. Will: Right, yeah. And it’s not like everyone is … Even if you give someone … If you had the best, greatest tip that a hundred percent of the time worked for people, which nothing like that ever exists even if people say it does. But if you had that and it was real and everyone knew it was real there would still be a good percentage of people reading it who would not turn around and act on it. So people, even when you print out great actionable stuff, people aren’t always going to act on it. But the percentage of people who do are going to be worth so much to your community and your audience. They’re going to be so engage. They’re going to be the ones promoting every post you write and commenting all that time. And down the road if you’re planning on releasing products or anything like that or if you’re trying to get coaching clients, those are the people that going to be your biggest supporters in those areas. Ashley: That’s a great idea. I mean, that’s something I hadn’t thought about. I mean, I always try and provide and really useful information. But having this idea of developing a deeper connection I’ve always really missed that one point that you just said. That’s fantastic. I’m going to steal it and use it now. Will: Awesome, yeah. You know I would love to see that. That’s great. Ashley: So, let’s just backtrack and cover what we’ve gone over here and so we can bundle it all into 3 or 4 tips that people could use. I mean basically what we’re talking about here is writing great stuff which is then actionable and detailed and getting somebody’s attention whether it’s someone specific or a fan, I mean, that’s basically what you’ve done, and … so how would you go about thinking about such a topic. I saw in one of your posts you were talking about being passionate and writing about things that mean something to you and that you notice on a daily basis. How do you normally go about doing that just to give some people an idea? Will: Yeah, well, I mean I’ve never been a great note taker kind of person. In school growing up who had one notebook that was just overflowing with crap and so disorganized and didn’t take notes in class and stuff like that. I just didn’t have this note taking mind. So, one thing I’ve kind of made an effort to do especially since I’ve started writing more often, it’s just whenever I see something I like, whatever idea I get. I just make a little, have a note on my iPhone and, I’ve just got blog ideas, and just write everything down there. And I know it’s a fairly common tip. But what I would recommend people really look out for is that stuff that for some reason you can’t help but find yourself liking. Even if it seems there’s not that much of a connection. I mean, I wrote a post about a grocery store, it doesn’t always immediately in your mind seems like something that would fit well in copywriting a marketing blog. But when you notice things that you like, make a note of it and go back and just sort of … You know, if you’re writing about something, like marketing for example, ask yourself what’s making you like it. What is it about them that crated that connection with you? And just sort of look for things like that and then look for ways to apply however they’ve accomplish creating that connection to your audience. Ashley: Yeah, yeah, that’s what I think I read on your post. That’s really, that’s what it’s all about, right? I mean, you’ve got to bring it back. Whatever you see, you have to bring it back and I wouldn’t say twist, but apply it to your area and see how it would applies to your area and why it’s appealed and how you can leverage that to learn something like you said about: how LeadPages builds anticipation. You noticed that, it really caught your attention and you wrote about it. And you wrote about it as a copywriter because that’s what you do. I could write about it more in terms of how they do the process or how they do their websites or whatever. But you just apply it back to yourself. So then you write the post, you try and get as much information as you can, make it useful and break it down. And then you, somehow whether it’s, you also said, you look for people’s connection details as well, right? Will: Yeah, so… Ashley: To emails and tweets and stuff like that. Will: Right, yeah, so basically you know it’s always good to know the best way to get in touch with somebody. So, it could be hard to find email addresses or it can even get into border line, like creepy stalker territory. If you’re doing … There have been times in my life, I feel like I’m trying too hard to get this email address. It might be weird. But, anyway, yeah, I mean, just take a look at their activity, and, I mean, almost anyone that you write about is going to be on Twitter, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the best way to get in touch with them. But the two that I found work best are email and Twitter and, a lot of times when you email somebody and they may not get back to you. A lot of times they still read it and that can sort of lead to things down the line. For example, I sent that post about Ramit Sethi, to his email address, and I didn’t hear anything back from them. But I did notice that someone from his company subscribed to my … or joined my email list. So it was someone who had like at @ramitsethi.com name or whatever. So, I mean, someone saw it and, who knows, if anything could come at that down the road, but yeah… Ashley: I think that’s very true. I’ve heard stories like that before where someone says, “Hey, I’m sorry”. I think it was John Paul Agiuar. was saying, “Look, I do notice you. I may not reply. But I do notice you.” People do notice who’s commenting on their blog and who’s sending them specific tweets. Generally they do notice. Will: Definitely. Ashley: And so it has an impact. And one tip I was just going to give them when I was actually stalking some people as well for email addresses. You sign up to their newsletter. That’s where you generally get the email address that they respond to. Because I send some people I connected with last year, Christmas cards actually. That was a really good trick. Will: I’m amazed. Ashley: Proper mail actually makes more of an impact than anything else, cause nobody gets any anymore. Will: Yeah, that would be cool thing to try. Ashley: You’re just getting bills in the mail, right? That’s it. So, I didn’t know, right? Because you’re supposed to put your proper address on the bottom of your email as part of the anti-spam. So, I use that trick. And it had some impact.. I had written to people I really wanted to thank cause they’ve been supportive and whatever. It was something that I used to do with all my friends and they all stopped replying. So, I stopped sending my friends Christmas cards from Switzerland and now I send them to influencers instead. Will: That’s awesome. Ashley: Nobody does it anymore. People would send electronic Christmas cards or just emails or whatever. But, I like making them out of photos that I’ve taken or whatever. But, yeah, anyways, so yeah, that’s a really cool strategy. Basically you’ve ended up with not only a comment from Seth Godin and tweets from the LeadPages team, you’ve actually got a job with LeadPages. And then in 6 weeks you’re off. So fantastic and congratulations. Will: Thank you. Yeah, I’m really excited about it. Ashley: So, there you go, that’s it… is there anything else you want to quickly want to add? I think that rounds up everything we’ve discussed. Will: Yeah, I think that’s really good. Just, yeah, I would say the only biggest other sort of lesson I’ve learned from blogging is to make it a habit and, to not let one crappy post or one post that doesn’t get any response sort of dig at you and cause you to stop writing. And … I will say real quickly just one time when this technique totally, seemed it backfired on me was the second post I wrote. It was about how to write a great about page. And I talked about several different about pages and I won’t say which one, but I sent … So anyone who I mentioned in the post, I sent the post to them, I was like, “Hey, I mentioned your about page. You know, I hope you don’t mind.” And then anyway, I didn’t hear anything. And then I got a 3 word email back from one of them, and it just said, “Your post sucked.” And yeah, and so I was, yeah, it was just kind of crushing at the moment. But, I mean, nothing horrible happened and then kind of bizarrely, like a day later, the same person. I kind of responded and I was just, “Hey, sorry you felt that way. Thanks anyway.” You know, so I would say don’t take it personally. Cause after I sent that back the person wrote back and they were, “Oh, I forgot to put a smiley face on that email. So, it might have … I was trying to be joking with it.” I was, “Okay, cool.” Ashley: Maybe, yeah. Will: Yeah, but, so anyway, yeah … Just don’t … Stuff like that happens, that happened to me and then my next 2 posts, I talked to someone from Wistia and, I got hooked up with LeadPages. So, don’t let the one bad thing kind of slow you down. Ashley: Yeah and keep working on the relationships. That’s the key. Will: Definitely. Ashley: Alright, cool. Well, thanks for your time today, Will. You’ve really given us some motivation here. I know it’s, I mean, you’ve had obviously difficult time with your blogs in the past and now it’s finally, it’s finally paid off and that’s awesome. Will: Yeah, thank you again for having me. I really appreciate it, great talking to you actually. Ashley: Yeah, no worries and we’ll probably catch up again in the future. I’ll see how things are going in LeadPages. Will: Awesome, yeah, definitely I’d love to talk about that. Ashley: Alright, cool. Alright, thanks and have a great day. Will: Alright, yeah, bye. Send Will A Thank You Tweet If you enjoyed this podcast with Will, why not send him a thank you Tweet… Thank Will with a Tweet Posts and Resources from the Podcast 5 Copywriting Tactics You Can Steal from Seth Godin How to Get Awesome Results from a Low Traffic Blog The 17,000-Word Beast Ramit Sethi Created to Launch His New Course How LeadPages Bakes Insane Anticipation Into Every Launch My Pinterest Expert Post that got shared like mad Connect with Will Website Twitter How About A Review on iTunes Or Stitcher? As this podcast is just starting out, I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes to help me promote it and reach more people. I have a quick How To Do a Review on iTunes (only because it may not be so simple to find the place to do it) . Previous Podcast Episodes If you don’t really need to head to iTunes or Stitcher, you can find all the previous podcasts here Final Words Although it is not easy to become famous online, if you get the right people’s attention it can really help. So why not try writing something that your role models would love to read. Maybe even a post about how they have inspired you? Then let them know it exists. The results might surprise you.
48 minutes | May 28, 2014
MLP013: The Current State of SEO – Social Signals & Guest Posting w/ Brent Carnduff
When Google opened the gates of the SEO Zoo and released all the Pandas, Penguins and Hummingbirds things changed drastically. Since then, it has been hard keeping up with the current state of SEO. People have been suggesting that Guest Posting is dead over the last few months. In fact Matt Cutts himself even said it, and scared everyone to death. Then we have the good old social signals. If you get lots of tweets, +1s and pins, then you will get ranked in Google…or will you? Nothing is what it seems, and SEO is not as simple as it once was. What is the current state of SEO in 2014? FREE Bonus: Download my Free SEO Checklist which will show you how to quickly improve your SEO on all pages and post. Included are extra tips and resources to help you even more. Enter Brent Carnduff – SEO is his game Throwing the cat amongst the pigeons is always a fun game. Watch them fly away scared! And with his recent post titled – Social Signals are NOT a Ranking Factor, Brent did just that. He has challenged the status quo. The belief, that has been spreading over the last year, that you have to focus on social to get ranked on Google. Sure, social helps you get traffic. Of course, the more followers you have gives you more social proof. But does it make you rank higher on Google? Perhaps it is time to think again. It’s time to understand the current state of SEO. Take a listen to what Brent has to say about SEO today (or read the transcript if that is your thing). Read the Transcript If you prefer to read the transcript, you can Download the Transcript PDF Or read it below… Show Podcast Transcript Ashley: Welcome to the show, Brent. Appreciate your time.Brent: Thanks, Ashley. It’s great to be here. I’m really excited to be part of a podcast. This is my first.Ashley: First podcast version. It’s always fun being on the first one. Brent: Yes, yes, quite excited about it. Ashley: I’ll be nice. I’ve got you on the show today to talk about SEO, but I guess before we get started, just a quick rundown of your story. Brent: Well, I’ve been now running – I own Echelon SEO and have been doing that for about 4 years now. Prior to that, I was a school teacher and basketball coach, and decided at some point that my next career was going to be in financial planning. So I went back to school to become a financial advisor, and while I was there, I got involved in a website, just a little retail hobby site, and the guy that built it for me came back and said, “I don’t do any marketing, I don’t do any SEO. You’re going to have to do some reading.” So I started reading, and I just absolutely loved it. I became very interested in social media, very interested in SEO. I like the changing environment and the challenge of keeping updated on what’s going on, and so I went back to my program and told them “I’m going to go into marketing.” I do a lot of marketing for financial advisors, but I do for other businesses as well. I was fortunate; my university was just going through the process of hiring an SEO company, and so I was able to be part of that, kind of as a non-credited study. Worked alongside with them on the university’s SEO and that got me started. And then my web developer got me my first client, and I worked for another year as a teacher, and then I’ve been on my own since. Ashley: Wow. It reminds me a little bit of Ileane Smith’s story of accidentally – I mean, a little bit different – but accidentally starting blogging by thinking she was signing up to her daughter’s website, and all of a sudden she had a blog. It’s like, “Oh, I went into financial analysis and I came out as an SEO expert.” Brent: That’s great. I think of that term “accidental,” I think most small business owners are accidental marketers. It’s a part of everyday business now that you are probably taking on some of your own marketing or outsourcing it. It’s been an interesting adventure. Ashley: It’s a funny world we live in. I was speaking to a potential client a few weeks ago, and they have a website and they’re not getting any hits on Google at all, and yet they’re one of the biggest of their kind in terms of what they’re doing in Zurich. They asked me “Why is that?” and I said, “It’s because you don’t have any content, you don’t have any SEO.” All of this stuff that’s been creeping in for I don’t know how many years, they don’t know anything about. And of course, neither did I a couple of years ago either. You could get up to speed relatively quick, but most people are walking around ignorant until we need to know, right? Until we start our businesses up. Brent: Absolutely, and that’s what I find here as well. I live near Boise, Idaho and work with a lot of businesses over there, and I was in talking to one, presenting to a group of businesses, and I realized that they didn’t even know what questions to ask. As business owners, you know you need a website, so you get one up, but you’re so busy working on your business that you don’t always have time or an interest in the marketing side of things. So I think a lot of businesses go through that cycle of setting up a website and then realizing they’re not getting any visitors. “How do I get traffic?” And then after they get traffic, they have to go into the “How do I capture leads form that traffic?” It’s kind of an evolution over time. Ashley: Yeah, hopefully eventually they’ll learn, but I think it’s something that’ll obviously never happen. Everyone’s behind all the time. In one other podcast that I listen to, the guy said in Australia he had a meeting with Google and – it was a few years ago or last year – 50% of Australian businesses don’t have a website. Whatever that actually means, I don’t know, because it could be one-man shows that don’t need a website or whatever. But anyway, it’s still a big statistic. Brent: Right. I see stuff like that. I find it shocking when you hear stuff like that, because you and I, we’re immersed in it every day, and we forget that that’s not where everybody else is all the time. Ashley: Exactly. We’re in the sort of 5% and these people are living in reality. It’s funny, because is I talk to any of my friends or family, nobody really has a clue what I do. Brent: No, I go through the same thing. Ashley: Anyway, let’s move on to our topic of the day, which is SEO, and specifically I wanted to talk about something on a post you wrote recently, which was the debate and the interesting question and answer that you had on the post about relevance of social signals in SEO at the moment. Something that I’ve heard a lot about, a lot of people are saying “Yeah, you’ve got to get on Google+. The pluses are going to give you better ranking,” and other people are saying “No, it’s totally irrelevant. Get off Facebook, and who cares?” So let’s jump into it. What did you basically go through and find out from your explorations in that post? Brent: You’re right, it has been a hot topic within the SEO world, and really, you talked to different people and you get a different answer. I was asked at the beginning of the year what’s coming up for 2014, and myself, I, like many other SEOs, wrote social signals are going to become an increasingly important factor. And I still believe that that’s true at some point. I don’t think 2014 maybe is the time for it, but at the time I switched some of my clients away from more traditional back-link building and towards more of a social media plan or strategy. What I started seeing is – well, I wasn’t seeing any results. So I started looking into this. This subject has been a point of interest of mine for a few months now, so I started looking into it a little bit and seeing what Google had said and watching Matt’s videos and reading some of the leaders in the SEO industry. Although there’s still a mixed bag, and you’ll find lots of people saying either way, I’ve come to the conclusion that social media is not an SEO ranking factor. Matt Cutts from Google has said over and over that it’s not. Initially it was, for a short time, and then – that was I think in 2010 they said that. But since 2012, they’ve been saying that it’s not. So then you either – is Google being forthright? Are they being transparent or are they not? Personally, I don’t see the benefits to them to not be transparent. They don’t tell SEOs everything, by far, but I think the stuff that they do say is fairly straightforward. I think there’s always somebody out there testing and watching them. Then you look at some of the work Stone Temple Consulting has done; they’ve done some tests, and there are questions on validity and some of the controls. It’s a hard thing to isolate. And there’s been some other great articles. But essentially, what it comes down to is social signals are not a direct SEO ranking factor, so it does not matter how many likes you get, how many followers you have, how many +1s you have. Now, on the other side of that, what was just a very summarizing statement in my article is that they do benefit SEO, but just not in a direct way. Ashley: That’s been the big question. Just to be clear for people who are listening and maybe not understanding what we’re talking about, social signals, it can be anything related to social media. So the more whatevers you have, the more SEO you get, whether it’s shares, likes, pluses, or whether you’re more influential or powerful because you have more followers. Obviously, it has an indirect benefit. There’s always the more shares you get, the more clicks you get; the more clicks you get, maybe the more Google might notice that somehow, whether it’s coming through Google+ or whatever. But directly, you’ve seen tests, and just looking through your article, you actually went through and really analyzed it and saw that most people are finding that actually it’s very hard to prove that this is helping directly at all. Brent: Yeah. There’s been a couple things that people brought up as I was looking at it. First of all, Eric Enge and Mark Traphagen of Stone Temple Consulting have done studies both with Google+ and Facebook, and apparently they’re going to release one very soon on Twitter. So if anybody’s interested, stonetemple.com I think is what it is. But if you look up Stone Temple Consulting, you’ll find them, and they had some really good stuff. But a few other people have mentioned things. First of all, Google, Matt Cutts himself said that they do not have control over their access to Facebook and Twitter. They do over Google+, obviously. So I think if and when it happens, Google+ will definitely be a place to be and a reason to be there. But right now, they don’t control all of that. Brian Dean, who runs Backlinko, a very authoritative back-linking site builder from an SEO perspective, he made a really interesting comment when I questioned him. He said that Google – with a back link, if I back-link to a site, I’m recommending that site or giving it some referral reference, and that does help with SEO. If I were to do the same thing, if I were to like their tweet or +1 their post, and then 2 years later, that website changes to a different – maybe they’ve gone to adult content or gambling content or something that I no longer want to recommend – with a back link, I can remove that back link. I can’t remove my +1. So it’s hard right now, and Mark Traphagen has written an article on Google’s ability to read the signals. I think intuitively, it makes sense that at some point they will start using those signals, but right now, it’s a difficult market for them to read and control, and what signals do they count, and which don’t they. I think it’s a harder puzzle than what a lot of us thought going into it. Ashley: Yeah, that makes sense. We were just discussing this before we started. As a company, if you don’t have access to the data – let’s make this simple and say Google can get data from Twitter, for example, but they don’t own it. Twitter could block that at any time. Google is a business, and Google is wanting to control what’s appearing on their search results so that they get more of us on Google and they make us happy. Now, if all of a sudden the things that they’re using to rank those pages are pulled out from under them by Twitter or Facebook or whoever – suddenly Facebook realizes they’re getting bigger than Google or whatever and they just turn it off – then Google suddenly has their arm chopped off, and their search algorithm falls apart. So it makes sense to say “Hang on, why would they be placing a huge importance or relevance on a data source that they cannot even control?” Brent: Right, agreed. Google obviously wants to give the best answer to their client, the searcher. They are a business; they rely on advertising. So they want the best answer. If they could – and they’ve taken steps towards it with authorship. If they could identify influencers and then identify their engagement or interaction with content out there, it would be a nice way for them to add to their ranking. But you’re right, it’s a big gamble for them if they don’t control the content and other companies can essentially withhold or change the algorithms just by doing that. So there’s a lot of solutions or problems for them to overcome before I think you’ll see social signals becoming a big factor, a direct factor in SEO. Ashley: Yeah, it was really a moment for me when I read your article. I’ve been hearing this stuff and not really paying too much attention to it because SEO is not something that I’m specialist in, and I thought “Okay, social signals, I’m using social signals, so whatever. It doesn’t matter.” And then I read your article and I thought, yeah, that really makes sense, because they can control +1s, but still, if someone +1s something, it’s not quite as committing as putting a link on, as you said. If I put a link on, I’m really making an effort, whereas if I +1 something, it’s kind of a half-hearted thing. It’s pretty simple to do. It’s not even as serious as making a comment on Google+. Yeah, okay, authorship. Let’s get into that for a second. That’s quite interesting as well, and people who may not be into that – I’m not sure exactly the level of knowledge of the people who are listening, but Google has two levels of identification in terms of content. They have authorship, which is let’s say who wrote a piece of content, and then they have publisher as well. I think that’s more of a general thing, like a website or you put that on eye level, from what I know. Robert Ryan once wrote a good article on the difference between those two things. But in any case, let’s just stick with authorship, which is the main one. I put that on all of my articles, even guest posts, so that when something comes up on search, often, but not always, you’ll get a picture as well. That’s also a nice thing that helps people to click through; you’re identified as the author, you get a bit more authority, a bit more influence. And then Google can also identify when you write something that it’s you who’s writing it and that you’re an authority in your space, because you’re often writing on a specific topic. Brent: Right, and I think that’s what it is right now. The benefit of authorship is, like you say, it improves click-through rates. People get more information about you when they search and you come up in the listings, because there is your picture, and with semantics, there can be some other information there. So there’s a higher likelihood of them clicking through to you. A lot of speculation went on when authorship came out that Google can identify, follow you around the web, and what articles do you write, and develop a profile of influencer; who are the influencers in that industry? It makes sense that identifying those influencers at some point could be an important point in SEO in the fact that, like you said, +1ing is really easy, and personally, I think it would be hard just to have a straight algorithm on +1s, because it’s really easy to game. You talk about all the stuff that’s gone on in SEO with gaming back-links and everything else; +1, you can go over to Fiverr and hire somebody to +1 you 20 times a day or whatever. So the only way that really becomes a factor, I think, or social media can, is by identifying the influencers that interact. If somebody’s a high influencer in whatever field you’re in and they engage with your content and +1 it and share it and stuff like that, then that would eventually become a signal for SEO. So I think you’re right; right now, it is a better marketing tool from getting somebody to click through once you do appear on the search engine results page. It’s not yet an influencer on appearing on search engine results page, but I think it someday could be. That’s another good reason to be on Google+. First of all, if – and I’m not in the business of pushing Google+, but if people are concerned about this or wondering about it, if Google starts working off of social signals for SEO, Google will be either the first and only, or it will be the first that they start reading from, even if they start reading the others. But it’ll certainly be easier to use Google+. And then your authorship when you set it up is tied through to your Google+ account. Ashley: I think that’s a good tip for people. If you want to get a little bit of an edge, and if you’re writing especially blog posts – I think for pages, it’s not really as relevant, but for blog post type articles on your website, it’s worth at least having your Google+ account set up and then bringing in that ID. And there’s plenty of articles out there; if you just type in “how do I connect Google+ authorship on my WordPress account,” for example, it’s quite simple. You just copy in an ID on a plug-in usually, or something else. It’s a relatively simple thing, and it can help because Google then will probably like you a little bit more. Maybe even just 1% more, but that’s worth it, right? And then they’ll potentially put your picture up on the search results, which, if you look at a search result and it has an image, like for a recipe or a person, an author, or a review, or a video, it’s a lot more eye-catching than just a piece of text. So it’s worth just having that for that, I think. I personally think it’s worth doing. So I think if you’re not doing that, just for the audience out there, if you’re not doing that and you’re writing blog posts, get out there and do that. It’s only going to take you half an hour – maybe an hour, if you’re really struggling – and then it’s really going to help you for the future. I think it’s worth setting that up even if you’re not going to jump on Google+ and spend time on there. That’s not I think as crucial, but having your authorship set up is really worth doing. Sorry, go on. Brent: No, sorry, I agree. I think that was a great point. And to that fact, there’s been studies showing that the click-through rate is higher. I saw one probably about a year ago where somebody had gone through and tested different images, even, tried to optimize their image, and they noticed quite a difference in what image shows up. And you may have to play around. I had, for a long time, a black and white image as my image on Google+, and Google would not recognize the black and white. Particularly if you have a side profile and stuff. So you may find that you need to change your profile image or check back every once in awhile to get it to work. But it is worth having, and I think that’s a great idea that you suggested, that when you guest post, you make sure it connects back to your authorship account. Ashley: Yeah, I’ve actually had – at least some of the higher profile blogs that I’ve posted on have specifically written to me and contacted me and said, “Hey, make sure you give me your Google+ because I do want to attribute authorship.” And then the reverse of that, if anyone’s out there guest posting, not only does your ID need to be on the post, but you also need to attribute the site on your contributor’s section of your Google profile in Google+. Whether or not I think both are a necessity, I can’t say, but it’s worth having them in there anyway, on both sides. There’s a contributor section at the bottom of one of the three or four sections of your profile in Google+. I think that’s definitely worth doing. That was just going to lead me into the next thing I think that’s worth quickly touching on at the moment, which is I think a hot topic. It was very hot, I don’t know, about 2 months ago, which is guest posting and SEO. Brent: Yes. Another very hot question right now in SEO is the guest posting. A couple months ago, you’re right, Matt Cutts from Google came out and said that guest posting is dead as far as an SEO element. It follows along a long stream of SEO gaming stuff, and one of the most powerful factors still in search engine rankings is back-links, how many links – more the quality of the back link pointing at your site, but the numbers as well. Panda and Penguin did a good job of cleaning up some of the real spammy link farms and stuff like that. They’re still working; there was just a new update, Panda 4.0, yesterday or the day before, it came out. Still a work in process. But one of the things that all of a sudden SEOs were writing all over the internet was that the one good SEO back-link technique is guest posting. That turned into kind of a spammy thing where there were very good, high quality guest posts out there, but a lot of businesses just spinning or scraping articles and putting terrible posts together just to get a back link from a blog post. So the quality went down; it became very much a game for a lot of the SEO industry, and I think kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back was Matt Cutts got an email offering to raise his SEO. This company was just one of those generic spammy emails, just saying that they would do that for him; if he wanted to hire them to do some guest posting, they could raise his SEO. So he thought enough was enough and came out and said that back-linking is dead. There’s been a debate of how dead is it? Are the quality back-links still worthwhile, or quality guest posts? Obviously, even Matt has come out and said that by no means – he’s not saying that you should not be guest posting, but I do believe that the link, the practice of linking back is going to change, or the amount of impact it has on your SEO. Ashley: Yeah, I think it wasn’t long after, or even during that period, I was doing about one or two a month in the beginning of the year, and I must say, since then I haven’t noticed a significant increase in anything. I haven’t said, “Wow, okay” – I mean, I got some really higher quality blogs that I was on, and I didn’t notice a sudden jump in my rankings. So yeah, whether or not my profile was already at a certain point and it’s very hard to push to the next point, I don’t know, because I’m sitting at like 60-something thousand on Alexa. That’s already quite reasonable. It’s interesting. I went into that thinking, “Okay, this is a relationship-building, an audience-building, and a link-building process.” I think if you just go into it as a link-building process now, it’s maybe a little bit misleading, because you may be disappointed. Brent: Yeah, and if you go through – there’s been several guest posting companies that have been hit hard by Google, the company and the people that have participated. There’s been questions whether their intent was even to be spammy or not, or just to provide guest posting. But if the guest post is link-related, you could find yourself in trouble. And in fact, they recommend – there’s been many recommendations that any guest post you do, the links should be no-follow, which is the webmaster there can set up, rather than follow. That just means there’s something in the code that tells – and you probably can explain this better than me, actually, but tells Google whether to follow that link and provide a little SEO to it or not. I think what you had just said, if you’re guest posting, it should not be for SEO purposes. It should be to reach another audience, to broaden your brand out there. There’s certainly a lot of benefits to guest posting, just like there are a lot of benefits to social media, but they’re just not a direct SEO factor any longer. Ashley: I think that’s quite important. I think it’s still worth trying it. And one thing that I’ve been learning the hard way, actually, through guest posting as well is to actually have a plan in place. I think a lot of people, especially when they’re starting out like I was, don’t think about that, which is “I do the guest post, I post” – I mean, there’s a certain etiquette to guest posting you need to be aware of as well, like commenting and sharing as much as possible and being available and all this kind of stuff, which also a lot of people don’t realize. It’s not just a post-and-run thing, which is why you really need to screen your guest posters, if you have any on. But what I found, I did recently, and I got a few sign-ups, was I specifically posted on a topic and then made an offering, a small eBook related to that topic, and then linked back to it at the end of the post, or in my bio, depending on who you’re posting with. I knew the person, so they were more open to it. But I didn’t make it spammy; I just said, “Yeah, this is the article.” I put everything I could into the article, got tons of shares, and then at the end, I just had a little offering for a bit of extra information to an eBook and brought them back to my website. It’s the first time I did that, and I’ve been stupid – I believe I’ve been stupid, but it’s just a matter of learning. And I think that’s something you really need to consider now, is that if you’re not going to get the SEO link juice, you really need to try to get the audience over to your site if possible and get to know them through your email list. Brent: Definitely. If it’s done right, it can be a win-win for the site that hosts the guest post and for the guest poster, and I think what you got to is true; it needs to be a very quality post, and you want to look to go to quality sites to leave your guest posts. Then I think it can benefit both. I’m certainly a proponent of both guest posts and social media, but just I think there’s some issues and questions within the SEO aspect that have been very interesting over the last few months – and continue to change, always. So I think it is something worth pursuing if done right. What you stepped into is that next step. The first step is get your website up; the second step is get found; and the third step is then getting some leads from it, lead gen through making good content available and some offers to the people that come visit you. Ashley: Yeah, that’s something we have to go through the whole process of learning and then doing. Because I started from zero, so I’ve been picking it up as I go. But yeah, that starts to become far more important. Getting back onto SEO, obviously we’ve shot two big tigers or two of the Big Five, as they say in Africa. We’ve just shot a lion and a rhino. We’ve killed guest posting and we’ve shot down social media signals, so, without giving too much away – I know SEO is a bit of a mythical beast – but what do you do right now in terms of helping your customers? Brent: It’s been a really interesting process over the last 2 years, as Google has brought out so many changes within their algorithm that affect SEO directly. Where Google wants to go – a few months ago, about 8 months ago probably, they introduced Hummingbird, which is a new algorithm, a major change to their algorithm. Where Google wants to go is they’re thinking forward to voice search. With Siri and Android already having voice search, more people are doing that, and one of the things that happens with voice search is, where people used to just put in a keyword when they’re searching, when they’re searching with their voice, it’s more statement or full question or sentence. So Google wants to move away from identifying a few broad keywords and guessing as to what you want and move towards really understanding the context of your question. I read a great book on semantic search, which is part of Hummingbird and all the updates, but where Google wants to go is to where Star Trek has gone. If Captain Kirk walks into the Enterprise, he says “Computer” and asks the question; the computer answers. This author related where Google wants to go to that. They want you to be able to speak to your computer, ask a question, and they want to provide the right answer. So when somebody searches Rio, Google wants to try to understand, are you searching for the city? Are you searching for the movie? Or maybe the casino? And give you the right answer. It’s becoming more personalized, and they’re trying to understand the context. They do that a number of ways. First of all, where are you searching from? They take that in. They take into consideration your search history. So they’re going to be learning more and more about you. If you’re someone that searches kids’ movies all the time, then they’re probably going to give you Rio the movie. It’s trying to learn more about you, learn more about where you are, and give you a better answer. What I found, though – there were all kinds of articles, including mine, that came out at that time saying “Search is changing, this is where it’s going. You need to change what you’re doing.” What I found right now, though, is it’s going to be a slow move, I believe. I have found that they’re still not there yet. There are some issues with search. I live in a small mountain community in Idaho, and there are three little towns in our valley: Bellevue, Hailey, and Ketchum/Sun Valley. I have a client over in Bellevue, and I can be sitting in his office – he’s an accountant – and I can search “Bellevue CPA,” and what we get is search results from Bellevue, Washington. You have to tell it “Bellevue, Idaho CPA” to get anybody from that community. So Google’s not there yet. Where they want to go – right now there’s something called a title tag that’s a pretty big part of on-page SEO. It’s just your way of saying what your page is about to Google and the search engines, and it was always best practice to put very specifically what you were about. “Boise CPA” or “Boise SEO” or whatever you were about, and then just list it out. Well, the idea of where Google is going is they want to be able to, even if your business doesn’t do a great job with SEO, they want to be able to understand the content you’re giving and be able to rank you even if you don’t understand SEO. Ideally, they would be able to understand that I’m saying I am an SEO, that I should be able to write “I offer SEO. I have offices in Boise and Hailey,” and go on from there. But what I found is, again, I still need to say “Boise CPA” or “Boise SEO” and not go into the full sentence and assume that Google understands it yet. So they have a place where they want to go and they have a place where they’re at, and I still think they are closer to more traditional on-page SEO factors and back-links than they are to this all-knowing answer machine. I’ve gone back and reverted to more traditional SEO, on-page SEO. Certainly not – I’ve never gone into any of the black hat stuff. I don’t go back into that. All the link farms and stuff that were effective for some people are harming people now. But the traditional on-page stuff, make sure your keywords are where you’re at – content is a big thing. But content marketing is not SEO. I saw a lot of articles awhile ago, and still see them, “SEO is dead” or “Content marketing is the new SEO.” Content marketing is a huge part of the SEO process. If you’re interested in being found in search engine rankings and you’re in a competitive industry, you need to consider yourself a publisher as a secondary business. Whether it’s video or podcasting or blogging, you need to be producing content for Google. But SEO is still much more than just producing content. Ashley: I think that’s an important point, though. Again, it was something I was talking about with this client in Zurich, which is that most people haven’t come to the realization that they need to produce content to be found. I think, I don’t know, 10 years ago, maybe even longer, you could just keyword and have your keywords meta-tag, which is pretty much dead, and then all of this stuff, and then you would just be ranked. And if you had a few more back-links, then you would be ranked higher. Whereas now, it’s about content, it’s about freshness, it’s about – what this other term? I’ve forgotten the word for it. I think maybe it’s written in your article here, where they’re finding terms near other terms, and then they’re – there’s a specific word for that. I’ve forgotten. I read about it. Brent: Are you thinking co-citation or co-occurrence? Ashley: Yeah, those two terms. That’s also coming more from the content side of things, right? Brent: Yes. Ashley: You’re writing words naturally in sentences and then Google’s bringing them together, saying “Okay, those three words, which I think are important, is almost right next to that word, which is also important, and so I’m going to throw them together.” Brent: Yeah. That’s been an interesting element. There’s an Idaho-based link-building company here called Page One Power, and they’re quite well known, and I was talking to one of their guys. He said they’ve noticed that that’s become a bigger thing or them, is not only – especially if you’re getting links and stuff, not only what is that link, but what is right above that link, right below it, and the words right beside it that Google – he had a great term for it, but there’s a little circle around that link that Google looks at everything around there to figure out what it’s about and what it’s attributed to. Ashley: I’ll just do a quick summary. Basically where we are at the moment is that all of these things that everybody’s talking about that may change search or are partially changing search are not as far as we think. The evidence – and your article is really detailed; you’ve cited some really big guys. The listeners may not know some of these people, but Eric Enge and Mark Traphagen, for example, are really huge on Google+. I think Mark Traphagen’s probably one of the biggest guys on Google+. He is Mr. Google+. He has I don’t know how many gazillion followers, and was there from the beginning. He knows what he’s talking about, and he constantly researches his stuff. You’ve cited a lot of his research, and he’s said, “Look, there’s no clear answer, but it seems clear that Google can’t fully rely on this stuff at the moment. And also guest posting, be aware that it’s not what it used to be, and spamming people with emails to get guest posts isn’t going to help you.” So what you really need to be doing, then, is still getting relationships, getting good links from people you know with reasonable text – not always the same text. Maybe sometimes “Click here,” maybe sometimes not; that’s what I was also hearing. Vary your anchor text. Is that still… Brent: Yes. Yeah, if you’re getting back-links, you want to have a natural-looking profile. Google wants to create the best answer, and so they don’t want somebody out there artificially making back-links. That’s where a lot of the Panda and Penguin and the guest blogging thing has gone to. So yeah, your anchor text, the stuff that’s pointing at you, they want it natural-looking. It should be a variety. There’ll be some “click heres” – where a few years ago, it was best practice to make sure that if I wanted to be ranked for “Boise SEO,” then anybody linking back to me said “Brent Carnduff is a Boise SEO” and linked that Boise SEO topic, where now, you don’t want to do that. You want to have it very natural-looking. Ashley: Google’s basically getting smarter at seeing that stuff. Brent: They are. Ashley: And you don’t have much control of what people are linking to you. Maybe you know the person, maybe not, and if so, maybe you can direct them to change it if you’ve got too many “click heres” or too many names of your company – which I also had a problem with. But I think the name of the company, Google forgives you for, but specific pages should be linked quite naturally. But yeah, if you’re linking out to somebody, just vary the text up. Sometimes have a huge link, sometimes have a little link; sometimes have a “click here” or “more info here.” Don’t just highlight the most SEO-friendly sounding words if you used to do that. I used to do that, and I’m stopping doing that as well. I think the other area we were discussing is Google authorship is worth getting onto if you want to try and power up your SEO, just even a smidgen. And writing good content and linking out to authority sites, and getting relationships so that you’ll get links back, I think that’s really powerful. This relationship thing, I think it’s now touched on almost every podcast I’ve done. If you’re not out there getting relationships with people and getting powerful or less powerful friends, then in the end, you’re probably not going to get very far. Brent: No, I agree. And that’s where social media becomes such a big thing, is in helping you develop those relationships. AJ Kohn – I believe that’s how you pronounce his name – he writes some very interesting stuff. His website is Blind Five Year Old, and I cite him in the article. The article of his that I cited and referenced to was really interesting, and it’s changed my perspective a little bit. I’ve always told clients you have two people that you’re writing for: you’re writing for your customers and you’re writing for search engines. And you always have to have good content for your customers, but make it as search engine-friendly as you can so the search engines know what it is and share it. Well, he presented the idea of a third party that you’re writing for, and that is the influentials. You want back-links, but in most industries – in marketing, the people that we write about are used to linking out to people and they write content, but in a lot of industries, they don’t do that. What he has found is there’s really only 1% of people online that provide the links to everyone else. So you need to write content – I just took a webinar from Brian Dean about back-link building, and he said that Moz came out with it first, but called them the “Linkerati.” The people that will actually write articles and link back to you. So you need to write content that your industry’s Linkerati will be interested in getting links to. And again, that’s from a perspective of building search engine ranking, not – the whole world, I realize, doesn’t revolve around that, but mine does. So from an SEO perspective, you want to write or your customer, you want to write for the search engines, and you want to produce some content for your industry’s Linkerati. Ashley: I think it’s always worth connecting with people. When you’re working a 9 to 5 job, it happens in 9 to 5 jobs, too. If you know the secretary, you might get hold of the beamer that you otherwise couldn’t get for your meeting tomorrow. It’s always worth knowing people, even if it’s for no particular purpose. Even if it’s just to be friendly. And it should be just to be friendly, but at the same time, you also need to be a little bit decisive on who you connect with, because you’ve only got so much time in your day. You’ve got to look to people in your industry. That’s also why I’m starting to go to conferences. If anyone’s in Antwerp in June, I’m heading to the Fusion MEX Conference in June, just because I happen to be in the area that week. But yeah, I’ve heard this from so many people, too: get out there and meet people, connect, and then that helps you in absolutely everything you do. Yeah, stretch your boundaries as well. I think that’s always a great thing. SEO is always changing. Brent: It is, it is. One of the things that I think we see happening in marketing is it’s becoming less divided. A few years ago, there was SEO specialists, website specialists, social media specialists, and I think what we’re finding is you can’t just do one thing and be found. Marketing now, online, is producing good content, making sure you can be found by the search engines, and interacting with other people that are in your industry and not in your industry. The social media or the social aspect is a big part of it. From a personal perspective, I’ve found it’s not all online as well. There’s still definitely value in going to those meetings you’re talking about. I still go to my chamber meetings and interact with local business owners. I think there’s value in all of that. But relationships, whether they’re virtual or the face-to-face kind, are hugely important in any business marketing aspect, I think. Ashley: All right, that’s a good place to leave it. I think we’ve covered a lot of ground and confused a lot of people – or helped a lot of people, depending on where they’re at. But hopefully we’ve provided some value. I’m sure I’ll get you back on to make some further enlightening points about SEO in the future. Yeah, is there anything else that you quickly wanted to mention or touch on coming up that might be worth going over, or where people can find you? Brent: My blog is just Brent Carnduff. It’s my echelonseo.com site. I love connecting with people on social media, so if you’re particular to Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or even Facebook, I’m there. Ashley: You haven’t abandoned ship yet. Brent: Not yet, not yet. But as Ashley said, there’s lots of information available. Check it out. I would love to connect with anybody that’s interested online. If they have questions, they’re more than welcome to find me on social media or on my website and forward them to me. One of the things I found that I forgot to mention that this last article was my first attempt at is long form content. That’s one of the SEO factors that really has been working really well, is longer blog articles. Or longer content on your website. I found some businesses having trouble getting found; we’ve added 200 or 300 words to their website page, and all of a sudden they start showing up. Ashley: What numbers are you talking about then? How many words? Brent: I found on a website, going from the 300-400 up to the 600-700, 500 to 700 is good. For blog content, my typical blogs are usually 500 words. What people have found is Google really identifies if you start hitting the occasional one above 2,000 words. I think my last one was 2,300. It really does have an impact. And people share it more. So I would recommend, from that standpoint, make your webpage content a little bit more full, and every once in awhile, throw in a long blog. Find something that’s really keyword-related to what you want to do and post it. I’m going to try to start doing, every couple months, a long form blog post. So that’s another thing that’s working out there. But I do want to thank you, Ashley. This has been great. I loved being on a podcast. I love adding that to my resume now, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Look forward to the next time. Ashley: No worries. Appreciate your time. Have a good day. Brent: Thanks. You too. Posts and Resources from the Podcast Brent’s Post Discussed in the Podcast Social Signals are NOT an SEO Ranking Factor Connect with Brent Echeolon SEO- Brent’s Website Twitter Google+ Thanks for the Review on iTunes – Or Stitcher As this podcast is just starting out, I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes to help me promote it and reach more people. I have a quick How To Do a Review on iTunes (only because it may not be so simple to find the place to do it). Previous Podcast Episodes If you don’t really need to head to iTunes or Stitcher, you can find all the previous podcasts here Final Words SEO is far more difficult that it has ever been and you have to stay on top of what is happening. Social signals and guest posting may or may not be what you thought they were, but writing great content and connecting with your visitors is far more important than ever! Let Brent and I know in the comments below how you think SEO is in 2014 and what you experiences have been. FREE Bonus: Download my Free SEO Checklist which will show you how to quickly improve your SEO on all pages and post. Included are extra tips and resources to help you even more.
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