Nothing like an array of salads, sandwiches and sweets to get everyone revved up for session 3. This round is all about blogging and news optimization and will feature Brian Clark, the founder and CEO of Copyblogger Media, LLC, and Jeremy Schoemaker, the president of ShoeMoney Media Group Inc. BlueGlass’s Loren Baker will moderate.
This is a back-and-forth form of panel, so bear with me: I’ll bold the names when the speaker changes.
Loren’s discussing how he got his start with Search Engine Journal and his interest in how professional bloggers get their start, so here’s some mini background about our guest speakers.
Brian Clark started a blog six years ago about copywriting and creating online content as part of a marketing strategy. Now that blog is a centerpiece of CopyBlogger Media, which is a software company.
Jeremy Schoemaker started his site as GoogleNinja.com, and after receiving a cease and desist from Google, he ran with his nickname from high school: Shoe Money. He started writing about anything, from meeting Paris Hilton to pay-per click. He’s going on eight years of blogging, and he blogs at least once a day.
In 2007, Jeremy had crossed the six-figure mark per year, which was really moving the needle for his company. He started getting calls from the Wall Street Journal and realized he was considered an expert. He launched many companies from the blog, and he never had to spend money on advertising.
People ask him, how do you get people to read your blog? So he’ll look at their blogs and realize that they’re just rehashing what everyone else says “with lots of keywords like synergy and crap like that.”
“Be polarizing but just be yourself more than anything,” Jeremy said. You don’t have to come off as a news source.
Brian said that you definitely want to have that human speech — no one wants to read something that sounds corporate. “Think like a media producer,” he said. There’s a whole bunch of different ways to approach it, but you’re producing media one way or another. Whether you want to do it on a more personal way or a more tutorial-driven way, they’ll both work.
Jeremy talks about Brian’s blog and how it’s great content that’s polished but works differently than Jeremy’s blog. They discuss a dare that involved Jeremy posting a blog entry called, “George Bush: Great President or Greatest President Ever?” I’m going to have to look this up when the session is over.
Brian says the first step is to make an authentic connection and tell people a story they want to hear. Don’t just pander to them; sometimes people don’t know what they want. You have to have a personal and resonant relationship with the audience.
“Half the things you try, you’re going to fail. But you just have to keep trying,” Brian said. “You’ve got to be creative and experiment to get attention.”
He said writing creative, engaging headlines is half the battle.
Jeremy doesn’t put that much thought in his headline writing and mentions how including something like “NSFW” can attract a lot of traffic.
“I continuously mess with the SEO community because they’re easy to bait. They’ll spread your content like crazy,” Jeremy said.
Brian always paid attention to what people were saying on the blog. He knew the best way for bloggers to start making money was to create premium content that was actual online education. They were really the first blog to sell an informational product, and the market was dying for it, so it was a huge success. They paid attention to what people wanted and they were right; this led to more evolution.
Also, a brief pause to reflect on a speech blunder Brian almost made and his follow-up: “Fitter and Twacebook. Wow. I need a drink.”
He talked about how if he needs something, the typical user probably needs it, and that’s how most of the Copyblogger products are developed. They haven’t been wrong yet.
For Jeremy, his company builds services they want to use. It’s so much easier to sell and talk about because it’s a need they share with the audience. There are three ways they analyze an idea:
- Is it something they’re going to use every day?
- Will it go viral on its own?
- Can it make money?
If it doesn’t meet these criteria, they jump ship.
Brian said that the industries that aren’t saturated include small business blogs. That’s really where things are going; it’s the small businesses out there that have money.
Jeremy completely agrees. He added that if you’re not really into what you’re doing, then just forget about it. If you’re only doing it to make money, hang it up.
If you look at readership of their sites, it’s probably way more than the distribution of the newspaper. He gets hit up every day to be in books, etc., because they know he’ll write about it.
Brian continues by saying you should watch those TV shows that are informational and entertaining (like shows on Food Network) because that’s how you should be thinking about content.
Brian said, “I can barely bring myself to write most of the stuff on Copyblogger anymore.” It was one of the first blogs to take on guest bloggers and make it a regular feature. Some people have built entire businesses out of posting for them. That’s a benefit of building an audience.
Jeremy has a few guest writers, but 99% of the content is from him. He’s never had a problem writing. He has like 30 or 40 posts done and ready to post. He takes a lot of notes and has a whole list of topics to go back to. “It’s more just about me and what I do.”
Brian’s blog is more topic specific, so he can’t just write about anything.
He says you can get inspiration all over the place because you start seeing intersections between marketing, literature, film, etc.
In regard to getting bloggers to cover people, he suggests going around to blogs and asking to write for them. It creates exposure and you’ll be able to mention your product. The key with bloggers is that they really respond to the offer to help instead of the offer to give stuff. But there are all sorts of other ways.
Jeremy has a very specific criteria for guest posts: he wants opinionated articles. He said when your stuff is on someone else’s property, it’s so much more powerful than if it were on your own.
It really is about giving value. He’s been transparent, and people give value to that. If you have strong opinions about stuff, let them fly.
Well it’s time for a short cookie-and-coffee break, and I’ll be back for session4.