What’s Your ONE Content Marketing Thing?

Here’s a question…

What’s the ONE content marketing tactic that drives the majority of your revenue?

Is it blogging?

Webinars?

Teaching small classes?

Or, is your answer, “Hmm, I’m not quite sure, but does it really matter? After all, shouldn’t all my content efforts help?”

Well yes…and no.

Because, without knowing your one content marketing thing, you’re putting your revenue at risk.

Here’s why.

What’s the ONE Thing, anyway?

Gary Keller, founder of Keller Williams Realty, Inc., coined the “ONE Thing” concept. His thought?

“What’s the ONE Thing I could do, such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”

For instance:

  • You may not be a “saver,” but you’ve found that automatic deductions from your checking account helps you build a robust safety net.
  • You’ve found a bedtime ritual helps you sleep a full 8-hours. You know you can fall asleep wherever you are, as long as you can maintain your ritual.
  • If you want to function before 9 a.m., you need a grande almond-milk latte (OK, maybe that’s just me!).

The thing is, we use this ONE Thing principal all the time – but we don’t think about it. It just…works.

But, somehow, the concept gets lost when it comes to our content marketing.

And bad things happen.

Instead of focusing your efforts on the thing that works, your efforts get scattered.

That’s not to say that experimenting with other content strategy tactics is a bad thing. But those “other things” should be in addition to your ONE Thing…not instead of it.

On the flip side, when you do know your ONE content marketing thing, everything else is easy.

Not sure what your one content marketing thing is? Here are some things to try:

  • Comb your analytics. Does a certain type of blog post (for instance, thought leadership posts,) pull in more leads?
  • Do all of your new leads say they found you the same way (for instance, your podcast or a guest post?)
  • Was there a day (or month) that saw a huge spike in sales? Does it correlate to a certain something that happened (for instance, a webinar series?)

Finding your ONE content marketing thing sounds so simple in concept – but pinpointing it may take some time. Plus, if you have multiple target audiences, you may have multiple “things.”

For instance, LinkedIn is my best bet to reach customized training clients. If I want to sell courses, webinars (and in-person seminars) are what moves the needle.

Guess how I spend most of my time now?

I’ve also found that my one content marketing thing has changed and morphed over time. Once upon a time, guest posting drove major leads. Today, I do it here and there — but the ROI never pans out. Twitter used to be great, and now it feels like noise.

You’ll go through the same process. That’s OK. It means you’re trying new things and measuring the results.

What’s your ONE content marketing thing?

Do you already know what your one content marketing thing is for your business? Or, are in you in the process of narrowing it down? Leave your comment below and let me know!

Is SEO Writing a Dying Art?

I thought about making this the shortest blog post ever by answering the subject line question with a single sentence.

“No, SEO writing is NOT dead — despite what you may have read.”

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But instead, let’s break down how this zombie myth happened.

At least once a year, somebody comes out with an article proclaiming the “death of SEO.” 

Their reason? Google is changing. The way people search is changing. The search results page is changing.

So. Much. Change.

That change means SEO (and, by extension, SEO writing) is a dying art.

I get the fear. I do. Google’s search results page is different than it was a few years ago. More ads, featured snippets, and “people also ask” results change our familiar “ten blue links” Google layout.

You can’t throw a keyphrase on a page anymore and automatically see a top position (oh, how I loved those days.)

But…

Just because it’s changing doesn’t mean it’s dying.

Google is just growing up.

In fact, here’s a great post by Kristine Schachinger in Search Engine Journal that outlines ALL the cool opportunities.

But, something is dying…and it’s not SEO.

It’s the SEO practitioners (and, sadly, SEO writers) who aren’t keeping up with the times.

In today’s brave new Google world, we have more opportunities than ever before.

We can strategically write our content to try to land a “people also ask” slot.

We can learn how voice assistants “think” and can write content that provides the best answers. 

We can create “micro-moment” content, giving readers the exact answer they need, when they need it.

In short, we need to evolve as SEO writers and to learn how to work with Google TODAY — not Google as it was in 2010 (or even 2015.) That means keeping up with what works and not falling prey to common, outdated zombie myths that WILL NOT DIE.

Sure, this may sound scary if you’re used to doing things a certain way. You may have only ever relied on a so-so SEO writing formula to do what you do.

Just know that embracing Google’s new way of doing things is actually fun. It takes more strategy and think time — but the end result is better, more visible content.

So, no, SEO writing isn’t dying — in fact, we have more opportunities than ever before.  

SEO is alive and well.

What do you think?

Are you afraid that SEO will go away tomorrow? Do you also enjoy a silent chuckle every time you read an “SEO is dead” post? Leave a comment and let me know.

Why 404 Pages Are a Clever Content Opportunity

Have you ever clicked a link that took you to a big “404 Page Not Found” or “Error 404” page?

Isn’t that annoying?

What the error means is exactly what it sounds like — the page is no longer there. Maybe because a link changed. Or, the page was deleted because the site owner thought it was “thin content” and wanted to get rid of it.

Whatever the reason, landing on a 404 page is a bad user experience. After all, why hang out on a site when the first page screams, “Nope, what you’re looking for isn’t here”?

If you’re like me, you immediately hit the “back” button when you see them.

But here’s the thing…

If your site has been around for a while, you probably have your own broken links and deleted pages. After all, 404 errors are extremely common.

They’re like pimples — everyone has them from time to time, and nobody likes them. 

The important thing is how you handle them.

The solution? Get creative!

Instead of relying on an ugly, “hey, this content doesn’t exist anymore” page, why not create a custom 404 page that helps your readers?

For instance, here’s mine. (Sorry for the earworm — this song will be stuck in your head all day.)

Not only does my 404 page make me smile, it also leads readers to my blog and two of my most popular pages. That way, readers have something to click other than the back button.

Want other examples?

The Pixar 404 page doesn’t have any links, but it’s pretty darn cute.

Airbnb’s page is equally engaging, plus there are helpful links to other pages.

E-commerce retailer ModCloth’s 404 page may not be as cute, but it does have helpful product category and “contact us” links. 

You see? Custom 404 pages are like magical concealer for your website pimples. The page may not exist anymore, but the reader doesn’t necessarily notice or care.

(And yes, if you freelance, you can suggest custom 404 pages to your clients and offer to create the concept and to write the content.)

Pretty cool, eh?

What do you think?

Are you ready to create your own custom 404 page? Do you wish I didn’t stick that earworm in your brain? (Again, sorry!) Leave a comment with your thoughts!

Does Your E-Commerce Page Make This Big SEO Mistake?

One of my father’s favorite things to say was, “Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to do it too.”

As you may imagine, his wise words had zero impact when I was a teenager. I probably rolled my eyes and replied with something snarky. After all, doing what the cool kids did was all that mattered.

As an adult, I see this aphorism in action all the time — especially in SEO.

Case in point: E-commerce category pages.

This situation recently came up with a wonderful long-term client. He asked me to write “SEO copy” for a product subcategory page to replace what was there.

When I clicked through to the category page, I saw a common issue…

…all the text was shoved way below the fold. There was a headline, lots of product thumbnails, and around 300 (fortunately, well-written) words at the bottom.

Oops. No wonder he called it “SEO copy.” Chances are, nobody saw (or paid attention to) the copy. It was solely there for Google to have some keyphrase-rich copy to work with.

So, I sent him this article, that explains Google’s stance on this SEO writing technique. Google’s John Mueller even says, “from our point of view, it’s essentially keyword stuffing.” 

It doesn’t get more clear than that. 

Yet, my client had a (very good) question. “If it’s so bad, why do I see other sites do this all the time?”

Yup. He’s right.

I totally understand his confusion. After all, a quick e-commerce site check shows a number of sites doing the exact same thing. Home Depot does it. Brookstone does it. Land’s End has almost 1,200 words of tiny type crammed on the bottom of their women’s clothing category page.

Sad.

The thing is, these sites are missing huge opportunities. Instead of thinking “SEO text,” they should be thinking of ways they can make the page better — and yes, showcase their benefits.

The cool kids aren’t always right.

You don’t need to write a below-the-fold novel on your category pages. You just need to rethink how to give your readers (not just Google) the information they need. 

For instance…

Glossier has a short, benefit-full copy block at the top of their category pages.

Even a small amount of content can pack a big bunch!

Tektronix’s spectrum analyzer category page has a snazzy, benefit-rich slider plus two short (and keyphrase-rich) copy blocks.

See? Smart, keyphrase-rich category page content that’s not visually overwhelming.

The Lowe’s exterior doors category page is clean, clear and concise. It’s easy to find what you need, and the benefits are clear.

Keyphrase-rich copy and helpful content! Yes!

See the difference? Yes, there’s text — but, it’s not “SEO text” (although the text is optimized.) It’s good for Google and for readers.

It’s a double win.

This is the technique that Google’s John Mueller recommends, too. From the Search Engine Roundtable transcript:

“Maybe shifting that giant block of text into maybe one or two sentences that you place above the fold below the heading is a good approach here because it also gives users a little bit more information about what they should expect on this page. So that’s that’s kind of the direction I would head there.”

That’s way different than a 1,200-word text block shoved at the bottom of the page, eh?

After all, just because the big-site SEO departments are doing it, doesn’t mean you have to do it, too.

Especially when it won’t help your site. ;)

What do you think?

Has a client (or your boss) ever asked you to write “SEO text” for your e-commerce pages? Have you wondered why all the text was being shoved down to the bottom of the page? Let me know in the comments!

What the Death of Google+ Teaches Content Creators

So, did you hear the news?

Google is shutting down the consumer version of Google+. Just like they did with Google’s other social network, Orkut.

Remember Orkut? I didn’t think so. :)

I can’t say that I’m surprised to hear the Google+ news. Neither is anyone else. Here’s some more information about the shutdown and the security breach. Joy.

Google+ went from a “you MUST be on it, because…Google” platform to a virtual ghost town. Heck, Google cites “low user engagement” as a reason why they’re sunsetting the product.

Sadly, Google+ was pretty cool. You could segment your followers and could write posts just for them. You could link your content to your Google+ profile, which caused your photo to pop up next to your blog articles. You could +1 posts you liked.

(Ah, I do miss Google Authorship…seeing author photos on the search results page was cool.)

Some people went all out on Google+. They posted multiple times a day, wrote about Google+ hacks, and put a lot of eggs in their Google+ basket.

Now, all of that information will be gone within 10 months.

Poof.

What’s the big takeaway, here?

(Other than Google seems to have problems creating social networks?)

The only marketing platform you can rely on is the one where you have 100 percent control.

(Typically, your website and your newsletter.)

Everything else could go away in an instant.

Poof.

For instance, Facebook has changed their algorithm so many times that paying for advertising is the only sure thing.

What was once a cool way to build social engagement and to connect with customers has gotten way more challenging. Even big brands aren’t seeing engagement anymore. 

But, what about those people who put a lot of time and resources into their social networks? For instance, I know someone who creates one Facebook live video every day. 

Let’s look at worst-case scenario. What happens if Facebook bans her? Or if it changes its algorithm again? Or if people leave Facebook in droves?

Yup, that could effectively hurt her business…and she would have no control over what happens.

Ouch.

Putting resources into a site other than your own is called “digital sharecropping.” Here’s a great explanation from Copyblogger:

“In other words, anyone can create content on sites like Facebook, but that content effectively belongs to Facebook. The more content we create for free, the more valuable Facebook becomes. We do the work, they reap the profit.”

Sound familiar?

I’m not saying you should ignore social, because we know that people turn to social sites as part of the buyers’ journey. You may have tweeted a company to get faster customer support or checked out a company’s Instagram for deals.

Social is here to stay. I always recommend that companies find right “mix” of social that works for their business and provides measurable ROI. 

But…

Remember this…

Don’t focus on social (or anything else you can’t totally control) at the expense of your website or your newsletter. Make these assets shine and keep improving them.

That way, you don’t have to worry about the “rules” changing on you. You get to make your own rules! 

What’s more, even if Google and SEO went away tomorrow (doubtful), you’d still have a functioning website and a targeted email list. 

It’s the ultimate insurance.

So, yes, post on Twitter. Enjoy Instagram. Reach customers on Facebook. Just don’t put all (or most of) your eggs into social baskets that could change on someone’s greedy whim.

Make sense?

What do you think?

Are you bummed that Google+ is going away? Or, did you think, “Wait, Google had a social network?” Leave a comment and let me know.

Does your content spark profits?

Does Your Content Spark Profits?

Have you heard of the KonMari method?

In a nutshell, the idea is to go through all your belongings and to ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” If the answer is yes, you keep it. If not, you thank the item and get rid of it.

I’m asking you to KonMari your content — with a twist — by asking yourself one simple, powerful question:

“Does this content spark profits?”

Here’s what I mean…

A few years ago, Laura, my ex-blog editor, used to spend hours creating a weekly content marketing roundup post. Every post had a theme and a minimum of 20 links.

They are impressive posts.

Out of curiosity, I recently combed through some analytics. No matter how good and authoritative and extensive the roundup posts were, they didn’t drive any direct conversions. No newsletter signups, no leads. Nothing.

In short, they didn’t make money.

In fact, those pages are (sadly) my #1 source of, “I wrote this post, will you link to it?” spam.

Sad.

What does drive conversions for me? Being a webinar or podcast guest. Conference speaking. LinkedIn. My newsletter. My cornerstone posts, like this one. My sales pages.

I’ve learned to let go of the other stuff.

Sure, I’ll try new tactics, or revisit old ones from time-to-time. This year, I’ll probably guest blog here and there, just to see what happens. I’ll try video (ack!) Maybe even more conferences.

I like to tweak, to test, and to shake things up. It sparks joy.

But, I primarily focus on what makes me money.

How can you KonMari your content?

Dive deep into your content and determine if it sparks profits for you. Pinpoint the content assets that drive traffic, get great newsletter signups, and help you get noticed.

These are your money pages. Treat them like gold.

At the same time, you also want to take a hard look at all the content you produce and make sure it’s truly working for you.

For instance:

— Are your Facebook posts consistently falling flat, no matter what you’ve tried?

— Is your podcast a pain to produce, and people aren’t tuning in?

— Are you guest blogging everywhere and still not seeing any returns?

Let them go. Thank them and set them free.

Even if you have to kill your favorite projects.

Sometimes, you may be so proud of something you’ve created, you’re blinded to the fact that it’s not helping your bottom line.

Looking back, I should have pulled the plug on those roundups after the first year. I loved them too much to let them go (or to examine their analytics too closely.) That’s on me.

I’m not saying that these tactics are always off the table. If the perfect blog post opportunity pops up, why not give it a shot? If your social media results suck, you can hire a consultant to see what’s up.

The key is — you’re focusing on what works RIGHT NOW — and then, you can prioritize the other stuff.

What happens when you streamline your content?

Sure, it may feel like a short-term ego hit to discontinue something you’ve been doing for a while.

Trust me. People probably won’t notice (much.) I don’t think one person ever said, “Hey, I miss your weekly roundups.”

But, when you do let go of what’s not working, your life will feel smoother — and the content creation process will be way more streamlined.

And truthfully, letting go feels like a relief.

But, what happens if you LOVE doing something?

This one is trickier.

Sometimes, we know we’re doing something that doesn’t necessarily drive profits — but, it does spark joy.

For instance, I love responding to emails you guys send me every week. Does responding to 20+ emails every Tuesday drive profits? Possibly, here and there.

Although I’m 99.9% sure a consultant would tell me, “You don’t have time to respond to every email.” In fact, other people specifically state on their sites, “I do not respond to questions unless you pay me first.”

I get that. There may be a day that I have to go that route. But, for right now, I like to respond. I just limit the amount of time I spend doing it.

It’s my “best of both worlds” solution.

So, yes, keep what sparks joy (even if the returns aren’t there.) But, know that you’ll only spend X amount of time doing it. No matter what.

What do you think?

Does ALL of your content spark profits? Or, is it time to thank one of your current tactics and to let it go? Leave a comment and let me know!

7 Outdated SEO Writing Myths That Will Not Die

Do you know what drives me nuts?

Reading about outdated or incorrect SEO tactics.

Like a virus, these bad tactics get passed around from person to person. One company I worked with had an old “SEO copywriting 101” Powerpoint that hadn’t been updated in seven years. Another company read a “hot tip” in a forum and didn’t know that it was wrong. Another client got their bad information from an old SEO vendor.

Ouch. That’s scary stuff.

Unfortunately, some sites are built on stupid SEO copy strategies (hopefully, your site is not one of them.) The strategy may seem somewhat effective. Maybe even logical. But unfortunately, they are like slow-moving viruses that are making the site “sick.”

Here are the most common SEO writing myths I (still!) see:

Keyphrase density

Will. People. Please. Let. This. Die. About the time I think the world is safe from keyphrase density percentages is when I get an email saying, “I was watching a corporate training video, and the recommendation was 3.2 %. Is that still right?”

Keyphrase research has’t been a “thing” since the days of Alta Vista (remember them?). Ignore keyphrase density. Wipe it from your mind. Let it go. Don’t you feel much better now?

Keyphrases (and SEO writing) are dead

No, keyphrases are not dead. They are still alive, kicking and doing well. This tasty tidbit of misinformation stems from Google is much “smarter” than it used to be. Yes, Google can understand the intent of a page. But that doesn’t mean your content should be keyphrase-free. In fact, basic optimization techniques can often propel low-ranking pages to top positions.

It’s true that in today’s world, you don’t have to worry about exact matching the keyphrase every time and repeating it X times. However, you’ll still want to use keyphrases (and synonyms) in your content. Continue to research your keyphrases and use them in your body copy and your Title. Just like always. You’ll be fine.

To the people who say SEO writing is dead, I tell them to look at how Google is laser-focused on quality content. To me, that shows writers still have a seat at the SEO table.

Is keyphrase research still important? Yes.

We used to see spammy pages in the top-10 results all the time. Today, we may see them every once in awhile, but the frequency is way down.

Plus, what Google sees as quality content is changing — in the good way.

Heck, Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines are ALL about assessing content quality. Google’s stance on quality content makes me think that SEO writing will be around for a long time.

Press releases are a great way to get links

Once upon a time, press releases were a great way to get links. You could add some keyphrase-rich anchor text pointing back to your site and blammo–links galore! There were some pretty spammy (and funny) releases back in the day. Sure, the releases deviated far away from the real intent of distributing a release (letting the press know about a newsworthy event.) But people didn’t care.

Today, press releases are still a relevant marketing tactic and can be an essential piece of the overall marketing pie. A well-written release can help you (or your client) get press mentions and even drive traffic. But…

…the links within your press release have zero Google link juice and won’t help you position. Yes, distribute a press release if it makes sense for your business — but know that it won’t help with SEO.

There is a “right” word count for Google

There has never been a “perfect” word count for Google, no matter what the experts say. Yes, I know that some experts say that longer copy (1,500+ words) tends to position better. But that’s not the case for all copy, all the time. Nor should an arbitrary word count dictate how you write the copy.

Your best bet is to write a wide variety of content and let the subject matter dictate the length. You may want to write resource-intensive 1,500-word blog posts and 500-word services pages. That’s OK. Your main criteria should be, “Am I writing this for my readers?” If you start slipping into writing things “for Google,” you’ll mess up our readers’ experience.

Besides, even Google has said that word count doesn’t equal quality content. Longer articles aren’t necessarily better or more authoritative. They’re just…longer.

Guest posting can get you slapped with a penalty

Guest posting gets a bad rap. Once upon a time, people used to score links by submitting to every site under the sun. Did it work? Sure. Did it drive qualified traffic? Nope.

Then Google changed their stance on guest blogging. The great Google gods made it clear that writing a crappy blog post for the sole purpose of driving links is no longer OK.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t guest blog on quality publications your target market reads. Nor does it mean that you can’t accept a guest post from a quality author. It just means you have to be picky.

Guest posting can drive fantastic, targeted traffic. It can help your company build brand awareness. Just target your publications (and court your guest bloggers) carefully. If you’re responding to emails that say, “I’ll blog for you for free in exchange for a link back to my site,” well, you deserve what you get.

There is a secret SEO writing formula

I’ve been in the SEO writing game for over 20 years. If there was a “no fail” SEO writing formula, don’t you think I would be on a beach somewhere counting my Benjamins and watching the waves?

Of course I would!

The reality is, there IS no sure-fire SEO writing formula.

Why?

The “best” approach depends on the keyphrase, the target reader, and the current competition. A 500-word article may be perfect, or way too short. It depends on the query and the intent. What works for my site may not work for yours.

Yes, there are specific best practice “steps,” but they’ve never been a secret. If you ever hear the term “secret SEO ANYTHING,” it’s time to run away.

You should blog “for Google”

Yes, blogging is good. But…

…if the only reason you’re blogging is to get in Google’s good graces, you’re doing it wrong. Yes, blogging is a great way to gain Google positions. But, most importantly, it’s a fantastic way to connect with readers at all phases of the buy cycle.

Google doesn’t care how often you publish new content. So, there’s no percentage to uploading multiple pieces of so-so content every week. I’ve even seen companies try to get positive Google vibes by uploading multiple blog posts a day. How high quality do you think their posts were?

Yeah. You guessed it. Instead of quantity, think quality content.

To summarize: Blogging for readers = good. Blogging for SEO only = bad. It’s simple.

What do you think? What are some of your favorite SEO writing myths that will not die? Post your ideas in the comments!

How Freelance Writers Can Survive the Upcoming Recession

Right now, a lot of people are afraid.

Maybe even you.

They look at the news and at past economic cycles and say, “See, a recession will happen any day now. What will happen to my job/business/livelihood when it does?”

Scary stuff.

I get it. I do. For many people (including me,) the last recession was devastating. Sure, many folks are doing 1,000 times better now than they were before 2007, but that fear, uncertainty and doubt remain.

It’s like we’re suffering from an economic-based PTSD. Sure, the worst probably won’t happen. But that doesn’t help us when we wake up at 3 a.m. worrying about stuff.

I learned a lot from the last recession and from talking to other business owners who survived (and yes — even thrived.)

Here are some things to think about:

– A recession does NOT mean you’ll automatically go out of business. 

It’s easy to think that a recession = we all lose money. In fact, many businesses did well during those dark recession years. And yes, even freelance writers. 

It’s important to get your mindset straight NOW, before the other financial shoe drops. If you go into a downtime thinking you’re going to flounder — guess what’s going to happen?

There is always opportunity. You just may need to think outside of the box to find it.

I know business owners who made a bunch of money during the recession and weren’t worried about cash flow at all. (Shocker, I know!) Just because the news is telling you, “Everything is horrible everywhere,” it doesn’t mean it has to be true for you.

– Working in-house won’t necessarily protect you.

Sad, but true. There was a time in 2008 when every. single. one. of my client contacts was fired in the same week. None of them saw it coming. This doesn’t mean your employment is hanging by a thread, but it does mean you’ll want to come up with a plan B — just in case.

Heck, according to this salary survey by Carol Tice, part-time freelancing is the norm. Maybe now is the time to test the waters and to build your writing business.

 – Being “too busy to market yourself” will bite you in the butt.

I hear you. You’re already working long days, and you’re constantly busy. Sure, you mean to update your LinkedIn profile and to contact possible prospects, but who has the time? 

You do.

Instead of waiting for work to come to you, get out there and hustle. Maybe that means connecting with a few LinkedIn contacts every week. Or going to a networking event. Or creating some video tips. Anything you can do to connect with future clients is a good thing, especially if your current reliable client pipeline dries up. 

 – Examine new markets, new skill sets, and new ways to stay competitive.

It’s time to be more than a one-trick pony. Think about new services you can offer your clients (or even your employer.) Stretching your wings, offering different things, and billing yourself as an SEO content marketing consultant makes you more marketable and gives you profitable options.

This is also the time to take a hard look at your target audience and to ask, “Is it worth it?” If you’re constantly underpaid, find a client (or industry) that WILL pay your rates. If you love your niche, think of ways you could expand it. 

– Save money whenever and however you can.

Even a small nest egg will give you a huge sense of control. I use Digit.co to transfer small amounts of money out of my checking account into savings — and it’s been amazing. The amounts are so small that I don’t notice, and I now have a nice chunk of “just in case” cash. 

Some people save X percent of every contract as “just in case” cash. Others transfer money into savings every week or month. Find what works for you and do it — even if you’re only saving $10 a week.

– Can’t save money because things are too tight? Raise your rates.

Freelance writing does not mean “working for less than minimum wage.” Yet, so many writers undervalue themselves because they think they aren’t worth more than $10 a post. You can make at least $50 an hour — and more than $100 per hour — just by positioning yourself and knowing your value.  Especially since there ARE writers making good money.

This is ALL about mindset and marketing. You CAN make more money doing exactly what you’re doing now. 

Want more inspiration? Check out this survey of top-earners (scroll to the bottom of the page to see it.)

 – You’ve got to spend money to make money.

Do you need a business coach to help improve your productivity and to change your mindset — but, you keep saying, “It’s too expensive”? Have you wanted to attend a conference that’s chock-full of prospects, but you’re afraid to spend the money?

Get over it.

NOW is the time to get your mind and finances right for what we all know is coming. Sure, it’s scary to spend money when (1) you’re unsure of the ROI, and (2) you’re already feeling vulnerable. I’ve been there. At the same time, not spending $1,000 now could actually COST you money later.

 – Build a supportive business community and share your story.

When the last recession landed, I felt like I was the only one who was hit so darn hard. I felt horrible about myself (and my business,) and I was afraid to tell my friends how things were really going.

Then, I attended a conference along with some long-time SEO friends. We collectively let down our guard and shared how much things sucked. One friend lost a million dollar contract. Another was thinking about taking a job at his local newspaper. One friend had to lay off his staff and was still dealing with the guilt. This happened to some of the top names in SEO — not just the stragglers.

That dinner years ago was the most cleansing, therapeutic thing that could have happened for me. It normalized my situation, gave me hope, and made me realize I wasn’t alone. 

Create your own community of business/writer friends who “get it.” Think of them like your own personal mastermind group who keeps you happy, sane and focused. You may want to go it alone — heck, that’s typically how I roll, too. But, having folks around you will make things so much easier.

You can enter the upcoming recession feeling confident, secure and prepared. Or, you can fail to plan — and let the financial news (and reality) hit you like a truck. Again.

You have a choice. 

I know what I’m going to do. How about you?

What do you think?

Did Carol’s salary survey results surprise you? Are you ready to take the plunge and to start your own freelance copywriting business? Do you walk around saying, “I ain’t afraid of no recession”? (If so, I applaud you!) Leave a comment and let me know!

Want to know how to start your own freelance SEO copywriting business? I’m running a free webinar on February 14, 2019! Sign up for my newsletter to get all the details.

Are You Sabotaging Your SEO Writing Success?

You know those days when you work your butt off, but it feels like you have nothing to show for it? 

This week was one of those weeks.

Sure, I can blame feeling under the weather. I can even blame the actual weather (it’s cold and grey and dreary.) I can blame a lazy weekend hangover.

Here’s what my problem really was…

I was working — hard — on tasks. But, none of them were important. It was all content busywork that distracted me from what would really make an impact.

In short, I did this to myself.

The thing is, I see writers (and in-house teams) do this all the time. 

They write the same type of content over and over, even if it doesn’t position, doesn’t get shared, and doesn’t drive income.

They focus on detailed minutiae, like revising their blog categories (which is what I was doing) instead of moving their business forward and working on scary goals.

They spend all their energy on a small piece of the content marketing puzzle rather than doing the BIG stuff that makes a BIG impact.

And, that’s sad.

Why do we self-sabotage?

Because doing anything else is hard. It takes work. It means stepping out of our comfort zones.

For instance…

Heck, it may mean admitting that what we’re doing now isn’t working.

 — It’s easier to keep writing non-performing posts than to dig in, to figure out what’s not working, and to make a change…especially if there are in-house politics involved or if people feel “protective” of their work.

 — It seems easier to focus on smaller writing goals than to create a BIG content asset that you can repurpose.

 — It feels easier to sit behind our laptops and to check our social platforms than to prospect and to get ourselves out there.

 — It’s easier to be satisfied with “meh” results than to bring in someone who can tell you how to improve and how to change your process.

 — It’s easier to tweak our blog categories — something most readers won’t even notice — than to start penciling out plans for a San Diego SEO training/coaching workshop next March.

(OK…maybe that last one is just me.) :)

Busywork may calm our fears in the moment. We may feel like good little content soldiers. But, it doesn’t move us forward. It doesn’t give us the results we want. It doesn’t help us grow. 

Sometimes, it even saps our energy.

Does this sound familiar? 

Here’s what you can do.

Think about the things you do every day. 

Do they move you (and your business) forward? Do they put zing in your step and excite you? Are you seeing results — for instance, better positions, more money, or more clients?

If that answer is, “no.” Notice that. Know that you’re not alone.

Most of us LOVE to wrap ourselves up in a busywork cocoon. It feels cozy. Until it doesn’t.

Then, you have a major decision to make…

What are you going to do about it?

You see, noticing it is a (big) part of the solution — but, it’s not the only part. 

We have to take action.

Sometimes, we can do this by ourselves. In most cases, we need outside help to kick us out of our comfort zones and to help us do great things.

That’s why I’ll get called in to train writing teams. They know they need an outsider to evaluate their process and to help them get better.

That’s why people hire business coaches. They need someone to call them on their B.S. and to hold them accountable for making changes.

(And yes, it was my business coach who called me on my reluctance to get involved with video and my reluctance to hold the San Diego seminar I’ve been chewing on for three freakin’ years.)

The point is — you have options. This is something you can change. Heck, focusing on what really matters will make you feel like you’re finally moving forward.

And wouldn’t that feel great?

So, now what are you going to do?

Where are you burying yourself in busywork? What’s that one, big goal you keep thinking about — but there never seems like “enough time” to achieve it? Where are you feeling stuck and stagnant? Leave a reply in the comments and let me know!

Do This Before You Write Sales Copy

Do you ever wonder about the “right words” you should use in your sales copy?

Do you have just a general idea of your clients’ pain points, and creating reader-specific benefit statements is hard?

We’ve all been there. It’s hard to write good copy when you don’t have all the information you need.

The solution?

Start a conversation with your target reader and ask them what you want to know.

If you’re thinking, “Ack, does that mean talking to people in real life?” the answer is yes. :)

Chatting with a reader or a customer uncovers a treasure trove of information. You’ll learn what they love about the company. You’ll learn what they don’t like.

And you’ll hear their story — including why they chose to work with your company (or read your blog) over all the others.

Knowing that information makes writing the sales copy easy. In fact, it basically writes itself.

Plus, readers coming to the site will immediately click with your content. They’ll read it and think, “Wow, it’s like this company gets me.”

After all, how many times have you worked with a company — even if they were slightly more expensive — because the sales copy put you at ease?

Yes, this takes extra time (if you freelance, know this is a billable deliverable.) But it’s worth it.

Are there other things you can do besides talking to people IRL?

Yes. But they aren’t quite as good. ;)

Survey Monkey surveys are a great way to gauge interest in topics, float possible product ideas, and identify pain paints. Consider including a comments box at the end — the feedback is just as fascinating as the results.

Another idea is to send an email after every transaction and ask a couple questions. I do this when people purchase my SEO Copywriting Certification training, and the feedback is amazing. Not only does this give me a great chance to “meet” my students and to start a dialogue, but I also learn why they signed up. 

And that’s great information.

If you’re looking for general target audience musings, specialized forums are key. You can see what people post, get a feel for popular topics, and learn a lot about folks who are passionate about a topic. Check out places like Reddit or specialized forums. Did you know there are multiple forums for a Thor 23FE Freedom Elite RV? Neither did I, until my husband told me. 

Finally, you can get in the habit of asking for feedback. That’s why I do it at the end of every newsletter. I want to know what topics you want to know more about, and which ones bore you. (It’s OK. I’m not hurt.) I learn what’s inspiring and what’s just…meh.

Sure, I have other data too — AWeber (and other email providers) track all sorts of fun stuff. But, I always read my emails. The notes mean more to me than the raw data alone.

So, what do you think?

Are you going to (gasp) chat with a customer or a reader in real life? Or, are you going to get feedback a different way. Leave a comment and let me know! <—See what I did there with the CTA — ha!