A good blog is the foundation of good content marketing. But for some reason everyone seems to make the so difficult. Investing time in your blog can often seem like a waste of time. But those who know, know.
A blog isn't a vanity project. It serves a valuable purpose in your marketing. It's the centre of your content world and provides fuel for social media, email marketing and good search engine performance. Show your business blog a little love and it will, in time love you back a lot more.
This week my guest is Rachel Extance and she's an award winning blogger who's going to share her tips and strategies for making your blog a little easier and hopefully motivate you to rekindle some love for your blog.
Rachel Extance helps business owners to spot their stories and use them to build their brand. A former journalist, she is an award-winning blogger who provides consultancy on how to get your message across, plan out content marketing, and write material for use online and offline. To find out more about her and get tips on how to use stories in your business, go to extance.co.uk
I'm @RachelExtance on all the socials. Most active on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
To find out more about her and get tips on how to use stories in your business, go to extance.co.uk
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Automatic Show Transcript
A Blog is the foundation of good content marketing. But for some reason everyone seems to make it so difficult. investing time in your book can often feel like a waste of time. But those who No, no. This week, my guest is Rachel excellence, and she's an award winning blogger. He's going to share her tips and strategies for making your blog a little easier to run, and hopefully motivate you to rekindle some love for your blog. Hi there, and welcome back to amplify the digital marketing entrepreneur Show. I'm Bob Gentle, and every Monday, I'm joined by amazing people who share what makes their business work. And if you're new to the show, then take a second right now to subscribe so you don't miss new episodes. Plus, you can dig into some older ones when you finish with this one. Also, don't forget to join our Facebook community at amplify me.fm forward slash insiders. So welcome along and let's meet Rachel
This week, my guest is Rachel excellence. Rachel, do you wanna start just by telling us a little bit about who you are, where you are and the kind of work you do?
Yeah, that'd be great. Thanks for having me on Bob. So I am a journalist by trade. I worked in local newspapers for 15 years. And then redundancy came knocking on the door, and I thought I would see what the world had to offer. When I started going out to networking events, meeting other business owners. What I quickly found was that they didn't know what their stories were or how to tell them. So now what I do is I help businesses to use stories to raise their profile attract their ideal customers, convert them into fans. And so anything from what's going on your website to your blogging, to stories that you can tell when you're on stages.
I think, again, I'm waving at whoever that is in the background. Because this sounds ridiculously cute. I'm really interested in the website content side of things, because the stories that we tell on the website are so important. And there's so often done very quickly by people who've just been given this job to do, because the web designer is asking for and is in a hurry. And the website copy very rarely tells the story of what's actually in that business. And it's very frustrating for the web designer. And often, it really lets that business down. So how should that process be approached?
So the key thing to think about when you're planning your website copy is what is your core message? What's the one thing that if people took nothing else away from your site, they would be able to go on to and get a clear idea of what you're about. And that comes down to whole range of things, it comes down to the words that you use, it comes down to the colors that you use the the genuine look of your site, because all of those give a, a first impression to your website visitor. So the first thing you want to think about is, you know, can you get across what you're doing in a really short number of words, and make it really clear so that somebody understands who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.
I think that's absolutely right. And I think one of the issues web designers have is that they'll often disregard that, that they'll very quickly leap into the design without really having directed the client to properly think about the content. And one thing I think it's important for web designers to think about is the moral pressure on them. To look at the words first because I think every web designer should know that if you've got the words First you'll do a much better job with a design.
I think often people go into website design As I'm talking about clients, no, not designers. But clients often think I need a website. And they might not have put very much thought into that beyond. I need a website. Everybody has a website, I need a website. And the trouble with that is that you maybe haven't thought about what you want the website to do. You haven't thought about what your customers are coming to that website for, why they're visiting. And it's easy to get carried away with the bells and whistles of design. And not think about the practicalities of does this tell the customer what I'm selling and how I can help them? Does it tell a search engine? what I'm doing, how do I help and give a search engine enough information to bring me up when a customer is searching for the thing that I do. So those are things which you know, if you're thinking about getting a website, you need to think about that. As well as thinking about the design,
I think the basic sort of homepage copy and the about page copy and product page copies are one thing, and they're really, really important. And I think it does pay to engage with a web copywriter. But one area that I really want to look at with you particularly because I know you won an award recently, which if I try and explain what it is, I'll get it horribly wrong. But one area that a lot of website owners business owners come to with the best intentions is the blog part of the website, but they very rarely execute well on if at all. So first of all, tell me about your spectacular blogging victory recently, and then we'll talk about blogging.
So I was very privileged to win blogger of the year at the digital women awards recently which is a lovely Surprised I wasn't expecting a journal. And it's it's really great to have that recognition. I think blogging is a really important thing, which often lands up at the bottom of a business owners to do list. And it is really worthwhile to invest time in your blog. your blog, helps people understand how you how you can help them, it gives them a much wider view of who you are and your approach your your ideas are. It is a great way to showcase your knowledge. You can use it for things like case studies. You can use it to think through things. So if you're trying to figure out a situation that you're you're, you're trying to see what what your approaches, if you blog about it. That's a help. way of getting feedback from others about that. And it also, you know, obviously gives you things you can be sharing on social media. This question of all, you know, what do I put on Facebook today? Or what do I share on Instagram? Well, if you've got a blog, you've immediately got material there that you can share it lots of different ways. So it's a really worthwhile investment for you as well as making
giving search engines
additional lovely information that they can call over and go, Oh, yes, this person definitely knows this stuff about whatever your your specialism is.
And I'd like to ask you about some of the people you work with maybe some success stories about blogging in a minute. But something that I regularly encounter with business owners is time is always a reason to give for not coming to the blog. And it often reminds me of something that I'm pretty sure Regarding Vaynerchuk said, which was that every business should be 80%, whatever it is they do for money and 20% media company. And that media company element of the work isn't something that you can delegate really. For some people that might be writing a blog post for some people that might be shooting a video, it might be working on case studies or testimonials, it might be working on graphics, or all kinds of creative output. But actually, I see very few businesses taking that on and I think if business owners are not feeling creative, perhaps the blog is the safest place to do that. But to also think of it not as a waste of time or a use of time, but an investment, because like you said, the blog is feeding the search engines and that investment in the search engines, like paying into a bank account appears compound interest over time. And I'd be interested to hear from you of people that you know, that have been paying into this blog or bank account. What are some of the surprising things that come from that?
It is a really useful way of getting known and raising your visibility and the number of people who I've never met, who will pop up and go, Oh, you know, I read this on your blog, or Oh, I did this because I followed these steps with your blog and it did such and such. You don't realize a lot of the time the people that you are impacting the people who are reading your website, seeing what you do. It is a great way of getting your name out there and helping people who are making purchasing decisions. If you think about what you do when you're thinking of buying something, it don't go through the yellow pages at What you do is you type it into Google and you have a look around and you ask your friends or colleagues about what they've done. And a blog is a really useful way of somebody being able to have a look at you, and judge whether or not they think that you're the person who has something to offer them.
I think that was a very different perspective on Google Analytics. I think I just had a little bit of a mind blowing moment. When I'm, I look after the analytics for a lot of websites, some of which have blogs, and I was sort of visualizing the analytics from my own website, and my own blog, and I'm thinking I'd have been giving it away, giving away the game here. But I think my website blog gets three or 400 visitors a month, which isn't much but the websites on the been up since for about seven months. But I'm thinking every single one of those statistics is a person. This person is choosing to read my content. Yeah. And that's quite mind blowing. Really,
and you don't know where they are in their buying journey, they might be looking immediately, they might be somebody who doesn't come and knock on your door for six months or more. But that doesn't mean to say that you're writing that blog post was a waste of time, because it was if if used to me, it's one of your, the touch points for your business, you know, if people need to sort of come across you eight 910 times while your blog posts are part of that if your blog posts are surfacing for them, or indeed, they've landed on your site. they've read one, they've gone. Oh, that's interesting. And you've got a link to another one. And they read that and go, yes, I like the sound of that. And oh, well, you've answered that. Oh, I don't. I've been wondering about how that worked. I didn't know how to do that. And they've gone down that rabbit hole on your website. That's incredibly valuable.
Absolutely. I think one thing I'd be interested to explore with you is a lot of people claim that they're not very creative. And certainly when I work with groups of business owner, there's an initial sort of resistance to idea generation. They just don't know how to approach it. I think we're all more creative than we give ourselves credit for. But the thinking that you're not creative is almost putting a barrier to being creative. So, do you have any tools or tactics for trying to break down these creative barriers, or stimulate idea generation?
So I have a couple of different things that people can do. One I've actually written about today. Because we're what we're recording this at a time when life has just changed immeasurably, which has taken a bit of getting used to me. And I said to somebody, you know, I just didn't know when I went to write my own blog, because I'm doing all of these other things on top of it, and I'm gonna do this And my friend said, What have you got five minutes? Could you just write for five minutes? And it, it really does focus your mind. If you just put aside five minutes and write, you will be surprised what you can come up with. Because you haven't had time for your brain to go. Oh, I didn't know. Is that really a good idea? All of these sorts of reasons that you might put off waiting. If you just set a timer. Start typing or writing ideas down in a notebook. You'll be surprised what you come up with. The other thing is to think about what are the most common questions that people ask you about your business. And then, like blog post about them and blog posts don't have to be long, people often think that they need to write 2000 3000 5000 words. Now that can be a good reason for doing that. If you want to work what's called pillar content, which is an really great in depth guide into something, then yes, ideally, that would be several thousand words long. But a lot of the time people want quick snackable content they're reading on the train, or you know, in that five minutes that they've got is popped up on social media, and they just want a quick thing that they can look at. You don't have to write really, really long articles. But just answer people's questions, because it is a conversation and it is about helping people to understand how you help.
Something that popped into my head there was I'm thinking about some clients I've worked with in the past that might be considered by many people to be extremely boring businesses. And I think of things like engineering fabrication, for example, which to many people just seems really boring. And a lot of the time the business owners also have this fixed idea. Type businesses really boring? Who would want to read about it? Have you experienced working with anybody like that? And how might you deal with that?
So I would say that no business is boring because it was really that boring. Why did you decide that you would devote time to studying the necessary skills to get into that profession and turning up to work every day to work in it, so it cannot be that boring because you are clearly interested in it. So that's the first thing. If you were interested in it, other people will be interested in it. Seth Godin has a phrase find the others. There will be other people who are interested in that thing that you were also interested in. So that's the first thing I used to know a person who worked in a mattress company and they actually created an industry magazine. For for their industry, the that they used to trade shows, I think it was so that they There's absolutely content to be found for the right market, because you're not going to be the only person in your sector. It's highly unlikely that you are the one and only organization that does that.
So I think you're absolutely right. And I think we all forget, actually, how interesting are stuff is for the right person? Hmm. Yeah, I think once you start understanding that allowing somebody to look at your world through your eyes could be incredibly interesting. It's very liberating, and it does take the brakes off the creativity a bit.
And you've got all sorts of things that go into, I don't know, huge amount of engineering, fabrication, but I am assuming that there are a whole load of different subjects that you could talk about with regards to materials, processes, people who are involved suppliers, for people that deal with that end product Once you've created it, the thing It goes on to allow people to do. So there are a whole load of different ways of tackling this object.
Another thing I think a lot of people see as a barrier is this blank page. And how do you go from a blank page to having a document that has some kind of structure? I know, I know, for myself, I don't struggle with as I start every thing that I create with a mind map, which provides the structure. But what sort of process would you suggest somebody who's never written 300 words since the left call, for example? How should they approach it?
Think about who it is for who is going to be reading this article, and what is the most important message that you need to get across to them. So what's going to make them imagine that you're putting on the front page of a newspaper? What is the thing that's going to grab their attention That's your intro. And it could be that you're helping them to do something, it could be that you are explaining something to them, it could be that there's something new that you're offering them that you need to think about why that would grab them. So that's short intro. And then what I would do is you can do this in your imagination, or you could do this with a colleague or somebody at home, is have a conversation with it. And imagine that you're sitting having coffee or a drink down the pub with somebody and talk to them about this thing. And if you think about it as a conversation, and you think about what the person might be asking, or ideally, you're doing this with the colleague and they are asking you, then you, you've got those questions. And you can use those to structure what you're going to write about what Makes sense as a logical wave. Somebody's saying, okay, so you've told me about such and such? Well, hang on what's that? And it would also help you see which bits you have to explain. So for engineering prefabrication Are you talking to an expert in engineering? prefabrication? or Why are you talking to me? Who was the got any idea about what it is? Because you're different audiences will ask you different questions, and you'll see what language you have to explain. keep it as simple as you can. Try to avoid industry jargon. And get Do you think about it as if you were having a conversation with a friend?
And how important is it to you think that you're consistent about who the posts are for? So if you're writing for one person, that should it be consistently for that one person? Or would you not potentially write different blog posts for completely different people? That's a bit of a puzzle for me. Um, I guess where I'm coming from is a lot of the time we're told we should produce content for, for the thoughts for the ideal avatar, a singular individual. But is that a general rule that we should stick to her is that a rule that can be broken?
The beauty of a blog is that you can write things for different people in mind. So if you think about the buyer journey, what somebody is looking for when they're at the initial stages might be different to what people are looking for when they're like, Okay, I'm going to put my money on the table. Now. This is what I want to do. So think about the different things that people might be coming to you for if you let's take estate agents. That's the simplest way of doing this. So estate agents do not have a single idea. customer, estate agents have people who were selling houses and people who were buying houses. There's a two distinct customers, they can't buy one bit of copy that talks to both of them, because it wouldn't work. So think about, you obviously don't want to have 510 different people that you're trying to talk to. But if you have two or three clear buckets of people that you're that you're trying to talk to, that enables you to figure out like, Who is this particular thing for? And then it's, if you're combining it with email marketing, you can segment your list and that way you're sending the right thing out to the right person at the right point.
That makes a lot of sense. And you mentioned the buyer journey, and I've spoken to people before about this and for some reason, it hasn't quite sunk into the point where I automatically know the answer. So I'm gonna ask you again, you mentioned the buyer journey. And creating content for people at different stages in the buyer journey. how might that be actually addressed in practical terms?
Oh, gosh, that's a big question because it depends on who you are what what your your buyer journey is. But if you
may be used as a estate agent, analogy again, if I'm somebody that's, I'm sort of right at the beginning of a buyer's journey. I'm toying with the idea of selling my house. Maybe
you're toying with the idea of selling a house, maybe you've got questions like, how do I go about selling a house? One of the questions I should be asking an estate agent about selling my house, how much does it cost? Do I need to redecorated it? I've got this, this bit of pointing, which is, you know, I've been I've been meaning to get around to it and I haven't, is it going to be a problem? If I haven't done that yet, do I need to tidy this garden up? have other houses in my area sold recently? And how much did they sell for? Now when she gets into that thing, you're that little bit further down onto you because you've gone from that kind of vague. Oh, I wonder about it two questions about should I be spending money on my house before I sell my house? And how much have other houses in the area sold for? So you can see that you go from there kind of vague. I'm wondering about this. I don't quite know how to go about it, too. Okay. I've got much clearer ideas now about what actions I need to be taking. And then you go into right, so what are your fees? What's your process? I come to you when I say I'm selling my house. What do you then go about doing? Where do you list my house? How do you make sure that my house is presented perfectly? What kind of photos Do you take to ensure To ensure that how to dress a room. So you can see that you've got the different sort of stages of where you are and the different content that's going to appeal to people at different stages.
Yeah, I hope there's some estate agents or if you're listening in America, this is a real estate agent. I really hope they're listening because they should be making a list or you pretty much given a four month content calendar right there. No, I can absolutely see that. And as you get further down, you're really talking about things like quotations and templates and things like that.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. All of the different things to think about, you know, how to start a living room, how to style your bathroom, how to style your bedroom. Do you need to have dealt with that? That particular problem? What do you need to? I don't want to say fess up about by just have, you know, those sorts of things. You're like, Oh, is it gonna matter about that bump patch over there? Yeah, all of these different. How does the contract work? What are the hidden costs? When you're thinking, you just mentioned content calendars when you're thinking about your content calendar, it helps to think about, can I create a piece of content this month for somebody at the beginning of the journey? Can I create a piece of content this month for somebody in the middle? And can I take create a piece of content for somebody who is at the point where they're going to come along and shake my hand and sign the contract?
I think as well. We're taking the content calendar into this, that when I work with a lot of business owners that aren't accustomed to content creation, and they're not they haven't experienced the benefits of it. They hyper focus on the individual piece of content. And they worry that they're going to be judged entirely on this one piece of content. But what's really important is to think of the content of the blog post within the broader context of your body of work. And the way that it was described to me is, think of each piece of content that you create As one stitch on a wider tapestry, yeah. And it's the tapestry that people are really judging you by not the individual stitches.
Yes, it all builds up it is. I think you've mentioned compound interest before it is one of those things which builds over time. And the more you invest, the more you're going to get back from it. If you can create a piece of content every week, you are going to benefit from it more than if you create a piece of content every month. And it brings more people into your website. If you think about. If you have more pieces of content, that's more people, more things for people to look at. It's more ways that people are going to come in people might land on your website homepage, but they might land on your website, because they've come through with a link to one of your blog posts. So it's all helping to bring that traffic and entertain people who you are.
I think that's something that has served surprised me I have a client that's in traditionally a really boring business. They're in the telecom space. And they have a blog on their website that they've been adding to quite religiously week on week for about three years. And I look through the analytics of their website and 90% of their website traffic is coming in through the blog, not through the homepage. And that investment that they've made is paying off spectacularly for them. It created an incredible competitive advantage for them that nobody can buy. They can't, you just can't replace it in any other way. So I would argue, the more boring your business is perceived to be, the more potentially powerful the blog can be for you.
And it's showing your expertise it showed that you are the person or the business that absolutely knows what it's doing. And also, you are taking that action Whereas many other people won't be taking that action. So you have that advantage because you've you've, you've done that thing you've put yourself out there you are, you know, standing in front of people and saying, Hey, here's this useful guide for you.
So, if somebody has never written a blog for their website, if they've got a news page on their website, and they're thinking, we could just change the title and call it a blog, what would be the first five posts you think they should write just to get the muscles going? Either sort of some standard blog post that pretty much anybody could cut their teeth on.
IV to have a think about who you are trying to attract and what their main questions are. So what is the number one thing that people always ask you? If it's about how you work with customers, so you are a designer? And that's One of those things that often, businesses don't really know how to work with a designer, they don't they don't know what's involved. And they might feel a bit funny about asking the question because they feel like they ought to know, but they don't. This is where blogging is really useful. Those things where your customer might feel that, you know, you might look at them a bit like me, you don't know what that is. But those are the sorts of questions that you could write blog posts about because then somebody doesn't have to ask you, because they've read it on your blog. Or if they do ask you they can you can use it as a, you know, a kind of a blow up to answer, hey, here's one I made earlier. So think about those, those key things that you think people would want to know before they bought from you and that could be pricing. It could be the process of working with you. It could be a case study of how you have worked with somebody in the past so that people can get an idea of difference that you've made before. And also write about yourself. Write about what influenced you, how you came to be doing what you're doing. Because there's origin stories are really powerful, and people buy from people. It's a great way of people getting to know you.
I love the idea of an origin story just makes me feel automatically like Tony Stark, which I love. Speaking of Tony Stark, I would like to talk about your business a little bit. And so maybe tell me, Rachel, who would I guess be your ideal customer? Who do you love working with the most?
I love working with personal businesses. I don't have a particular sector that I like working with, but I love just working with people and helping them to get their ideas across helping them to shine, Bailey. big supporter of entrepreneurs. He go out there and make a difference. So, so that's kind of my ideal customer. And I help people either by, you know, walking through with them what stories they've got, and helping them to see how they could utilize those all the way through to actually writing blogs for them. And
one thing I'm always curious about, and I asked this quite often to lots of guests, because I'm always surprised by the answer is most people see their work coming to them through one of a small number of ways. It's either referral, or it's sort of inbound through their own content marketing, or its outbound through proactive sales. Which of those three tends to be the one that works best for you right now.
Mine has been referrals and It's starting to be that I'm getting more inbound traffic, as I get a bit more established, but certainly, Yeah, it is. Up until quite recently. It's always been referrals.
I'm curious to ask you as well, because it's a question. That's a live one for me. Blog traffic is great. But traffic doesn't necessarily convert very well. Is there anything that you found in your blog or with your clients, that tends to work? Well,
it's one of the things is making it clear about who you are, it's very easy to read a blog post and you'll you'll see a lot where people will write a blog post and they won't link it to anything. So they won't think to link it back to the services or think about their products. And also, it's easy for you to read a blog and actually not know who's written it, because you just read it. Take away the information that that you wanted and then disappear again. So it's important to have a thing on there saying, This is who we are, this is what we do. This is how we can help you. Because that that helps the reader go, Oh, wait, okay. You've written this because you can do this or Oh, right, you offer that service. I've just read about x. I'm interested in x. I see you can actually help me do that thing.
Yeah. Well, I guess one of my last questions, I guess, is going to be and again, this is really a point of interest, because most of the guests I have on are great, a great and they appear to be created everything. So I'm always curious to know which part of their business they feel that they struggle with. Which part of that would it be for you?
I really struggle with sales. I am not a natural salesperson. I'm very much a person that kind of hides behind things, and it's it. So the thing that I really work on is making waste Get out there and be more visible, you know, going on social media and showing my face more and saying, Hey, this is me. And, you know, actually going out to networking events and things like that, because lovely is online businesses. And you could do a lot with it. I do think you do need that sort of that, that that personal touch that that proper connection of going out and meeting people. So that's the thing that I've always struggled with.
Well, if you're not good at sales, then I'm going to attempt to do this for you just because you have got a really good lead magnet on your website and I say a lead magnet because that's a technical term for something that you're giving away on your website in exchange for an email address. But it looks really good. Can you tell me about that?
Yeah. So I have a guide to stories that you can tell about your business to get people to know like interesting. It's 21 different story ideas that you can use. So if you are thinking Well, I'd quite like to book but I don't know what to blog about. Download that it's, and it will give you a whole load of prompts for things that you could write books about, and indeed, things to write on your social media or talk to people about when you meet them face to face.
Well, I've downloaded it. I haven't read it yet, but I'm looking forward to it. Rachel, my last question is a question that I try and remember to ask every single guest. And it's what's one thing that you do now that you wish you'd started five years ago?
absolutely networking, going out talking to people building those relationships. Because it is a lot more difficult when you're trying to as I said, at the beginning, I fell into running a business I wasn't ever expecting to run a business. And it is a lot more difficult to do that. If you haven't got a network of people out there that you can He can talk to other people. So yeah, definitely, um, I would say, you know, start building relationships as soon as you possibly can.
Yeah, I absolutely agree. And I would add to that also sometimes getting stuck in relationships you already have. I think sometimes we can get stuck in a network and sometimes it needs a big conscious shift to unstick a network, so to speak.
Yeah, and not being so I, I've told this story before to people about you know, the first time I went to a networking meeting, I always just kept myself straight back out the door again, because I was just so nervous. I just, I can't, I can't do this still. But do just go and do give it a go. And now I go to conferences, and put myself in a room simply because I know it's really important to go and meet more people and I've made lots of great friends. But by going and doing that, you know, don't think about it as a business thing. So much about building relationships. And those are great for all aspects of your life, not just your business.
Yeah, I absolutely agree. Rachel, if listeners want to get in touch with you, how can they do that?
They can go to my website, which is excellence co.uk NXT, eight, NC. And I am on social media, pretty much all social media at ritual excellence.
I'm so jealous of your domain name. It sounds so sci fi. It's really good.
It's a bit there's a lot coming up a name that only about 300 people.
Rachel, thank you very much for coming on the show. Thank you so much for your time.
Well, thank you so much for inviting me. It's been great.
I'll hopefully see you again soon.
Yes, absolutely. Thanks a lot. Bye Bye. Hi.
isn't a vanity project. It serves a valuable purpose in your marketing. is the center of your content world and provides fuel for social media, email marketing and search engine performance. Show your business blog a little love, and it will love you back a whole lot more. Before I go, just a quick reminder to subscribe and if you haven't already to join our Facebook group, you can find a link in the show notes are just hit amplify me.fm forward slash insiders. Again, I would love to connect with you on social media. So follow me wherever you are. You'll find me there at Bob Gentle and if you do then message me so I can see and I can follow you back. If you enjoyed the show, then I would love a five star review on iTunes. It would mean so much to me and it's the best way to help me reach new subscribers. Again, my name is Bob Gentle. Thanks again to Rachel for giving us her time this week. And thank you for listening and see you next week.
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