Apr 6, 2018
This will be the first of a multi-part interview with Heather Deveaux a freelance writer discussing content. Where do you start? In this episode, we covered a lot of general ground and hope to drill down further in future episodes.
The full transcript is below.
Roy Barker: Hello and welcome to episode two of the Business of Business podcast. I'm Roy Barker, I will be your host. The format for this show will be interview style. I hope to bring you a lot of great guests who talk about many issues that face business people today. Our first guest, lucky to have Heather Deveaux. She is a freelance writer. And what we're going to be talking about today, is just the content creation and curation. [00:00:30] Content has become really king. It's been king for a long time. But you need to have good and thoughtful content. You cant just put garbage out there and expect to have results.
And the other thing that I see and get some requests for every now and then are the old days of keyword stuffing. Which means if you're a plumber, you try to work plumbing terms or plumber into [00:01:00] every sentence that you write. And nowadays, Google has become smart enough in their algorithms, that they will block your site for doing crazy things like that. So I thought it would be great to have Heather come on the show. And just for full disclosure, Heather is one of my writing partners and has helped me with my writing and editing for the last year or so. So I wanted to bring her on and let her give you her opinion [00:01:30] on content creation and curation. Heather, welcome to the show.
Heather Deveaux: Thanks for having me Roy. I'm really excited to be on your new podcast.
Roy Barker: Oh great, me too. This is going to be good, and oh, it's going to open me up ... I have a Senior Living and Sales and Marketing podcast. And I wanted to start this one, because I think it'll open us up to a lot more issues that we can talk about in more broader terms for businesses. Well, what is [00:02:00] your opinion, or what is your take on content in marketing in 2018?
Heather Deveaux: Well, I think that I'll start by saying, I'll start with the keyword stuffing that you just mentioned briefly. My experience over the last year has been that it's sort of split down the middle. That a lot of businesses are still leading with that strategy. And when they come to me, [00:02:30] and they ask me for content for their websites or for their social media, that is the first thing that they ask for, is they lead with the keywords that they want. And the other side of that coin, is the businesses that are leading with consistency, and ensuring that they're constantly putting out content. And the thing that I found, is that if you're leading with keywords, that is really difficult to be consistent [00:03:00] with. Whereas if you're leading with consistency, it's easy to sprinkle in the keywords as you go. So the thing that I've been working with a lot of businesses on, is helping them identify those keywords to keep in the back of our minds.
But the most important thing, and I think Google would agree, is that you need to have that consistency. And what consistency does in content creation is, it allows you some flexibility [00:03:30] in terms of that quality. So where content is king, I think the saying actually needs to be more about quality is king now, and consistency is king. Because the content itself is rapidly changing. There's so many different types of content that your seeing these days, that it's more important to be putting it out on a regular basis, and that you can have a little fun with it, and you can play with it a little bit. And as long as your audience knows, and they can expect to see you every day at a [00:04:00] certain time, or that they can expect to ready a blog every week at a certain time, then you have a little more leeway with what you can actually be talking about, and how you sprinkle in those keywords.
Whereas, if you're trying to build an entire content strategy around being found on the internet based on keywords or keyword stuffing, that is when people lose steam very quickly. And the thing that I try to do with people, is to help them realize that your keywords are a great jumping off point, but it can't be the [00:04:30] thing that you lead with. It has to be the consistency, it has to be building that authority. And that is one of the number one questions that people ask is, "How do I become an authority in my industry when I'm brand new?" And the easiest answer to that is to establish yourself as an authority through your content, where people can trust you and they can come to expect things from you. And they can come to see you as being the person who, for example, your podcast, [00:05:00] Business to Business, people come to expect you to know about business.
And they come to expect you to know that you'll put that out, you'll put a podcast out every week at a certain time, and they'll look forward to that. And that will establish credibility, and that will establish authority and it's content. But people tend to think of content as mostly writing. And I'm not a marketing specialist, but I am a writing specialist, and I work with a lot of marketing specialists who say the same thing. That say the content is, [00:05:30] it's so vast and it's so wide, that they authority building comes in making sure you sort of touch on all those points, and you do it on a regular basis.
And I was just reading something yesterday actually about Pinterest, which has sort of fallen by the wayside as far as content is concerned. You know people are really focusing on the bigger social media platforms, because Pinterest isn't actually [00:06:00] a social medial platform. There is no real way to engage with people on that platform, it's a bulletin board, right? So this article that I was reading was talking about how there's so much missed opportunity to have landed content on the internet through Pinterest. Because people aren't able to track that engagement. They're only seeing numbers, they're only seeing whether or not people are clicking on it, or they're pinning it, or they're saving it. But they can't [00:06:30] see the comments, and they can't see how people are actually using that information.
But it's a missed opportunity, because it's a landing page basically for as much content as you want to produce. And if you get into talking about things like keywords and linking, you know when people talk a lot about, you build your authority of your website by having lots of breadcrumbs they're called, you have lots of breadcrumbs around the internet that lead back to your website. I think Pinterest [00:07:00] is one of the best ways to do that. Because you can have unlimited amounts of link back to your website. And people can share that, and it makes it's way to the other social media ... you can see, you can cross the gamut of options and it's about so much more than words in a blog or conversations on a podcast.
You almost have to have all of it. You almost have to have ... and so your podcast, [00:07:30] you talk about when the podcast is finished, you need to have those show notes, right? You need to have that transcript. And that also helps to build that authority. And in that transcript, you're going to have those keywords. And they're not forced, but it's that natural progression, that natural growth, of the content over time. That people, they know they should do it, but it's a lot of work, and people tend to push off the things that they're going to have to do over and over again, or they're going to have to commit to long term. Because [00:08:00] it's easier to write a blog post filled with a bunch of keywords and put that out and rely heavily on that, than it is to build that authority over time. And so-
Roy Barker: Right. And there's a huge demographic that a lot of people are leaving on the table over at Pinterest. And I'm pretty sure that's heavily weighted to women in the older age brackets from the data that I've seen.
Heather Deveaux: Yeah, and it's really interesting that you bring up data. Because [00:08:30] I was just recently reading another article about who is actually on social media these days. And it was striking to me to see how far Facebook has fallen away from the 25 to 40 age group, and how much more the Gen Xers and the baby boomers are on Facebook. So you're right in terms of you really ... I guess I'll back up a bit. In terms of [00:09:00] putting out content, you need to know who that audience is, but if you're sharing all of the stuff on Facebook, and your audience is younger or older, they're not going to be there. And Pinterest is certainly in that demographic. Like they're the Gen Xers, they're the baby boomers, they're the young moms at home who are looking for ways to organize they're house, or they're trying to figure out meals that they can cook for their family.
Or there are people who are retired, and they're looking for creative [00:09:30] ways to spend their time. You don't go to Pinterest looking how to find a job as a millennial. You know those aren't things that people search for there. So it's really important that you find a way, if you're target audience if millennials looking for jobs, it is really important to find a way to bring some ... though that isn't where your market is. Those, that group of people, their parents are on Pinterest. And so, you kind of almost have to go one step [00:10:00] further when you're looking at your demographic and your audience. And you need to think that, "Well my millennials aren't on Pinterest, but their parents are." And that age group of people, their parents are helping, looking to find them opportunities in the world as well, and they're doing research.
And I know my generation, that was always the thing. Your mom or your dad will come home and say, "I heard about a job." And so that's what the internet is to these people today, is it's a way [00:10:30] to share information and link opportunity. And the way that I look at content, is I always take it one step further. So if my audience is plumbers, you know if you're talking about creating blogs for plumbers, then you need to think about, who is it that's calling the plumber? And in this day and age, where there's many families that have working, dual-working parents, you know a lot of people are out of the house at the same time.
It might not be the husband, or the wife, or the mom or the dad. It could [00:11:00] be the housekeeper, or it could be the babysitter. So you need to think about how you can market to those people, not just the people who are the homeowners, but the people that are actually in the home on a regular basis.
Roy Barker: Oh that's a good point.
Heather Deveaux: You know, the neighbors, if they're watching the kids. Yeah, like things like that. When we talk about spreading content all over the internet, there is lots of ways that you can curate content, which is different than content creation, that you curate that content to get the attention of that once removed [00:11:30] demographic.
Roy Barker: Okay. I was going to go back to the, talking about keywords for just a minute. I guess, my theory about that has always been, if you write a very good, high-quality piece, whether it's a blog or white paper or anything, you generally end up having all the keywords and all the necessary things in that as if you tried to work hard to fit all these keywords in there. And so, [00:12:00] my opinion, an I just wanted to get your view on, if you just write this high-quality content, you generally hit the topics that you need to hit for SEO purposes.
Heather Deveaux: Absolutely. And it's actually ... people think that when we talk about keyword stuffing, when you break it down into percentage points, it's only 2% to 3% of the content that needs to have that kind of keyword identification. And the truth is, is that you only struggle [00:12:30] to get those keywords in if you don't know how to craft a blog, or if you don't know how to craft an article. But if you can string a sentence together, then that should come out naturally. Otherwise, what are you talking about? I always go back to when you're in high school and they're teaching you how to write essays. And you know, you start with the introduction, your thesis statement, and then you've got three paragraphs within the body of the essay. And then you have a conclusion which summarizes everything that you're talking [00:13:00] about.
And that is not a new concept. That's something that people have been teaching in schools for years. But I always go back to it, because, if I say this is what I'm going to do, and then I don't deliver that message within the content, then that piece of content is no good, regardless of how many keywords I was able to stuff into it. If you're not delivering what you say you're going to deliver in your content, people aren't going to read it. You know, if you start with your ... I'll refer to a blog as a essay type, if you start that essay [00:13:30] with saying, "We're going to talk about how plumbers can improve their content on the internet," then you better have three ways that you can help people improve their content on the internet if they're plumbers.
And if you only have two, or if you only have one, and the other two aren't useful, then that content isn't king, that content isn't useful. So you're absolutely right, if you know your topic, and this is where authority comes into play, if you know your topic enough to be able to sit down and write [00:14:00] about something naturally, you will get that 2% to 3% keyword hit with no problem. Because all that means, is that you're staying on topic. Which is all we ... that's all we need to ever worry about is, are we doing what we said we were going to do with piece of context?
Roy Barker: Right. Now there area couple of different methods, and I'll let you expound on these, but you can either create your own content, or you can curate content. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Heather Deveaux: Right. So the difference is, is that one [00:14:30] is original, and one is not. So creating content is when you take an idea, or you expand on an idea, in your own words, or you make it new on some other platform in a new way through your own lens, or through your own experience. Or you just sit at your desk and you write it from your thoughts in your head. That's creating content. This podcast is content creation. [00:15:00] And content curation, is if I were to come behind you after you've posted this podcast, and I would either transcribe what you said, or I would post it somewhere else and say, "Hey, check this out." That, I'm still putting content out, but I'm curating it. And all curation means is you're collecting it.
And there are lots of personalities on Instagram for example, that have really successful [00:15:30] social media accounts, but they're not creating any content. They're just sharing everybody else's content. And that's what curation is. And what you need to think about, is if you ar a business owner, it's a good idea to have a combination of both sometimes. And the way that you can do that, is obviously to create your own content. Whether that be through a blog, article, white paper, eBooks, whatever. But to curate content, a really interesting way to go about that, is to sort of partner [00:16:00] with complimentary services. So as a freelance writer, I might partner with a social media marketer, and I would promote their blog. So I would promote their podcast. Because it has something to do with what my clients are interested in, but I didn't create it.
And the way to go about content curation is always helpfulness. So you always lead with, "Will this help my audience in some way? Is this relevant to my audience in some way?" Whereas content creation is, "These are my [00:16:30] own words, this is something I think is important for you to know, and I haven't found something that will deliver that message in quite the way that I could, or I want, and so I'm going to put it out into the world."
Roy Barker: Okay. Do you have a good mix? Because I do the same. I create some of my own content. But I also look for other articles that I read through the day, that I feel like would help my audience. And so what I do is re-post those as well. I'm not taking [00:17:00] credit for them, just linking to it in it's original format. But I feel like that's a good way to not only stay out in front of people, but the other thing that I kind of try to keep in mind is this constant bombarding of, I guess selling, or the appearance of, "I'm just putting this blog out there, just as a sales message to try to reach you and telling you how good I am." And I feel that people get tired of that. [00:17:30] They want information, but they would like it a little more well-rounded than just hearing from me all the time.
Heather Deveaux: Absolutely. And it also, going back to the authority piece, when you can identify a piece of content that you think is helpful to your audience, it also gains their trust, it helps to build that level of trust with them. And I agree with you about the selling. People think that content always has to be, at the end there always has to be a call to action. But if you're putting [00:18:00] out good content, people are going to remember you anyway. And while ... if you bombard people, they're just going to click off, you know, they're going to get away from your blog, or they're get away from your article, or they're going to stop watching or video. Because if they're not learning anything, there are a million other places on the internet that they could learn it.
And what is really surprising to me, is, you started the interview with talking about how quality content is so important, [00:18:30] what's striking is how much content is still not of a certain quality, and how people are just putting things out there as lead magnets. And they're still talking about building those sales funnels, and they're still talking about, you know, you've got to have so many names on an email list. But if they're just faceless names on an email list, and you're just sending them content and you're not getting anything back, and you're not getting any sort of engagement, that's really difficult to measure. And I [00:19:00] would take one or two really good comments on a blog post any day, over a bunch of Instagram likes.
Because, at least then I know that someone has learned something. And you know, don't get me wrong, social medial is awesome. And you can use it for all kinds of promotion and advertising, and even I use it all the time to promote all my own services and products. But I also use it as a like, "This is what I'm struggling with today. Can somebody, what's your opinion on this?" [00:19:30] And that is content as well. And that builds that relationship. And the internet is great for making the world smaller, but I think people are really lonely, and they're really desperate for information, despite having tons of information at our fingertips. People are still searching for really great content. They're still looking for answers. They still want to learn.
You know people are smart. They can see through content that's hollow. [00:20:00] And they can see through when it's just meant to get likes, or when it's just meant to build a following or build an email list.
Roy Barker: And I think too, something you mentioned that I think is important that we don't do enough, is when the internet was first, I guess when it was young and first getting started, everybody wrote very technical. But my opinion today is that we need to let our personalities come through. And even though, maybe on one of your blogs, maybe [00:20:30] you take time out to write about a vacation or something else that you just did that was of interest. It doesn't always have to be your business focused or what you do, it can be about other businesses that may be helpful to the people who read your blog, or something of more of a personal nature.
Heather Deveaux: Absolutely. But you know what's really interesting? Is that requires people to let their guard down. And on the internet, you could be anybody. So why would you want to [00:21:00] be yourself, is the message that I'm getting from people. Like why would you, if you could paint a pretty picture of what your life look like, why would you be vulnerable? Why would you let people into your life like that? You know, you see people on Facebook and on Instagram with their perfect picture and their perfect family photos, but we all know that's not what life is like. But they won't let their guard down. But, those are some of the best blogs, so are some of the best articles, when people get really raw, when they get real about [00:21:30] how they're struggling in their business, how they lost their wallet when they were on vacation.
That's the real life stuff that people are looking for. And I think that when you start technical and you start really word heavy with a point to prove, that doesn't resonate with people. We're really at a turning point now where despite having access to all this information, we just want to know people better. This is supposed to make it easier for us to [00:22:00] connect with people, and it's an automatic barrier to get to know people. Because people will put up what they think people think their lives should look like, instead of saying, "You know, this is what my business is like. God I lost this contract this week," or, "I delivered a project." Like people don't say those things. But as a business owner, that's the kind of thing that I want to read about.
Because it reminds me that you're not alone, that I'm not alone, that there are people out there who are, we're just trying to put good content [00:22:30] out, we're trying to help people. And the essence of good content is always helpfulness first. Always, "How is this going to help?" And when you're creating that content, if the only person it's helping is you, then if it's just building your business and it's not speaking to other people, then that's tricky. So now, if you're writing a blog about how you lost your wallet on vacation, and that just [00:23:00] throws a wrench in all of your plans for the rest of the week, then that resonates with somebody. And so then that becomes really great content. Then you're the business owner that talks about the day-to-day life that people can connect with, and they can relate to.
Then suddenly, when they're thinking about how to expand their own business, or they want to go somewhere, they'll send you a note about, "Hey, what was your experience like when you were in Italy, besides losing your wallet? Where did you eat?" [00:23:30] It's funny how people will make those associations when you stop pretending, and when you start to share real stories about what's happening in your life, or what's happening in your business, and what that looks like. And I think that that content is really great.
Roy Barker: One thing you touched in I think is important is the quality of feedback. And sometimes we, back I guess years ago it was more of, "Well I got 12 likes [00:24:00] today," or, "Somebody joined my group." But there's a difference between quality and, vanity I guess is the best way to day it. Because, I had a guy one time that says, "I can promise you all this traffic to your Facebook group." And so I was kind of hesitant, and I said, "Well why don't you show me what you can do, luckily [00:24:30] before we engage, and let's see how this goes." And so basically what he provided me was a bunch of people from overseas who were not my clients, who would never be my clients, liking this Facebook group, and post, and maybe even commenting in a foreign language.
And so, luckily we were able to stop that. And it was just bombarding for a little bit. But like I said, [00:25:00] those guys weren't going to be my clients. So can you touch on that a little bit? Because you mentioned that, instead of getting 25 likes, it's better to get a good thoughtful comment, or maybe even somebody sharing your material.
Heather Deveaux: Yes. So I recently discovered that my email list on my website had been taken over by Bots. So what's happening is, I saw a huge spike in [00:25:30] the number of people who were signing up for my newsletter. And then when I looked at the email addresses, I realized that they weren't real email addresses.
Roy Barker: Oh my gosh.
Heather Deveaux: So like this is still happening. Then I felt really bad, because I was really proud that my newsletter was like spiking on the internet. But then, as soon as I realized that they weren't real people, the first thing I did was go to Google and figure out how do I stop that from happening? Because that is not what you want. My email [00:26:00] list is very small, but I connect with those people on a regular basis. I've met many of them in real life. And so I know that while my audience is small, that there are real people on the end of those emails, that are reading those emails that I'm sending. And you can see this on Instagram on a daily basis as well.
And you see it mostly with these Bots, these chatbots that are popping up. They'll follow your profile, and then 24 hours later they're [00:26:30] not following your profile anymore. But then they'll follow your profile again 24 hours after that, and then they're not following it again. And what they're doing, is they're trying to get you to follow their profile. And then once they've done that, they don't visit your profile anymore. And you know, there are all kinds of accounts that are even called, Follow-for-follow. It's still all about the vanity. I don't think that goes away. That's one of the number one things people say when they stand up in front of a crowd, they'll say things like, " [00:27:00] I have a million followers. I have 100,000 people on my mailing list. I have 5000 people who would like my Facebook page."
Those are still the things that people lead with, because that's what we all hear. That's what we all associate with success. But before YouTube, before people were getting paid for those likes and those subscriptions, none of that actually meant anything. Those people with a million followers on Instagram, they could be broke. But now, [00:27:30] we've associated it with success. And we say that, "Well, you know if they have a million followers on Instagram, they must be putting out good content." But if you go and look at some of these profiles and some of these accounts, that's not even their own content. They're curating content, and taking all the credit for it, and charging people to advertise on those accounts with them. Because they say, "Well we have a million followers. Don't you want to get in front of a million followers?" And that's what people hear, and that's what they think needs [00:28:00] to happen. They need to have a million followers.
But you just need, if you're like a small business, you know you've got two or three people in your company, you can only have so many clients at a time anyway. So why do you need 100,000 people on your email list or why do you need a million followers? The odds of them converting into paying customers is very small. You're better off with small groups or pockets of customers [00:28:30] who are actually genuinely interested in what it is you're offering, who will maybe over time come to be customers, or referrals, or at the very least become like an evangelist for your company, who will share and who will always sort of cheer you on, rather than have a million followers. I can't even imagine what that's like [crosstalk 00:28:50].
Roy Barker: Right. Well you know, I think there was a scandal, oh it's probably been a month ago, and I'm not even sure who reported it. But it included some politicians [00:29:00] and some movie stars that they had found out that they had done that. They had a million followers, but they had been out buying them and they weren't quality followers, they were just numbers.
Heather Deveaux: And you'll find a lot of ... I know, I have a couple of good contacts in the social media marketing area, and they're either of two schools of thought, they're either by your traffic, or they're totally against it. And they told me that if you see [00:29:30] someone who has 600,000 likes, there's a couple of accounts on Instagram, they've got 600,000 likes on Instagram, but there are no comments. Then, like that's bot traffic. So that's hard, because when you're starting out and you're trying to establish yourself as an authority, the easiest way to do it is to buy it. But it means nothing. It's that projecting that image again, and I'll go back to what I was saying earlier about, [00:30:00] you're living that life online, but that's not really what your business is all about. You don't really have a million followers, you don't really have 600,000 likes. You have Bots on the internet trying to promote your content, which is effective. I mean it works, but that's really hard to speak to you know?
Roy Barker: Right.
Heather Deveaux: And the other thing that I'll sort of caution people about is when you're doing content curation, the thing about content curation is, because it isn't coming from [00:30:30] your thought process or it's not coming through your lens of experience, it's difficult to fall back on it sometimes. Like, it becomes where you're in support of an idea and you're sharing it, but you need to be careful when you're putting out content like that, or if you're doing content automation, that you don't have any connection to that content. And if people actually engage with it and they want to talk about it, you might find yourself saying like, "Well, geez, what is it that they're talking about?" Or you'll have to go back and look at that content, [00:31:00] because you're just pumping it out for the sake of traffic.
Roy Barker: Right. So let's just say, I woke up this morning and I decided, I really want to create some content. Can you give the audience some tips on where do you even start with that process?
Heather Deveaux: Where do you start with creating content?
Roy Barker: Yes.
Heather Deveaux: Yeah, so I guess the process is a little bit different for everybody. The way that I go about [00:31:30] it is, I have a process for streamlining a [inaudible 00:31:34]. So if I want to write about, let's say business investment for example, then I need to come up with ... I always start with sort of my high-level topic. And I like to start with a title. And whether or not that title ends up being the title, for me, I need a place to always refocus. You know, I mentioned earlier about the essay writing format, I need something that I can always bring back to [00:32:00] refocus. And so I sort of start with a high-level topic and have a title.
And then I look at that topic and I say, "What are four or five things that I'm interested in, or that my audience would be interested in, that I can research and I can write about through the lens of either my business, or my audience, or my client's business?" And I'll write those ideas down, so I'll have four different ideas. And maybe for, in this example, where we talk about business investment, maybe the four ideas at four [00:32:30] types of business investments, the way that you can get investments to start a business, or to run a business. That is ... and I'll do some research about those four types of business investments, and maybe I'll feature a company, or maybe I'll feature an article, or maybe I'll look at some statistics about it.
And I am always interested in, when things like, what happened to those people who don't listen to the advice? Or what happens to those people who didn't get the [00:33:00] investment? Do they keep pushing ahead anyway? So I'll always try to add something that might be construed as a bit maybe controversial or negative, but I keep that in the back of my mind. Because I want to look at the research in a way that will add something new to the conversation, not just regurgitating what everybody else has said. So in this example, I'll have one or two options of the alternative that I could talk about, and I'll have those four sub-topics. And then I just start writing. And so [00:33:30] sometimes it becomes a matter of, I have to ask myself, how long do I want this article to be? Or how long do I want this blog to be?
And very simply, if my introduction is 100 words, then each sub-topic is 100 words and 200 words, and then all of a sudden I've got a thousand word article that I can share with the world. And it's just very linear, it's just an easy process of breaking down the information. But I always start with, I always read the headlines of what's going on in the news. And I always [00:34:00] read on LinkedIn, they have a daily rundown of what's going on in your area. And I'll always read about that, and see if that's something that would interest my audience, or if that's something that I could share. And I get ideas from a lot of books that I read. I read books, once a week I read a book, and I'll write about it on my blog.
And then I always keep it in the back of my mind when I'm reading something, for example business investment, how does that relate to ... last week I read a book about discomfort. So how [00:34:30] does the discomfort of trying to find investments stop businesses from moving forward? And I just sort of pull it all together from different areas of my life. And I think that that is an easy way for people to connect this content very quickly. Is just look around you. I always joke, my son had a little kitten that he adopted, and he couldn't name the cat. And he looked around the room and his scooter, you know your little push scooters, his little scooter was [00:35:00] in the living room, and he said, "I'm going to name the cat scooter." And he got that from looking around his environment.
And so, as a writer, I keep my writing space full of books, and I always have the news headlines up. And I'm always surrounding myself with information, because, just because we're talking about business investment, doesn't mean we can't talk about art, or it doesn't mean we can't talk about painting, or it doesn't mean we can't talk about travel, because there's ways to tie all of that stuff in. And so, if you're a plumber and you're trying [00:35:30] to figure out the content for your plumbing business, one of the easiest ways to do that is to start talking about complimentary services, how to's, tutorials, things that, even just like documenting your day-to-day.
Talking about some of the jobs that's you've had to do, what goes right, what goes wrong. There's all sorts of ways to do it. But the thing that really works well for me is high-level topic, title, whether that stays the same or to, four or five main ideas, and then an alternative view [00:36:00] that I can incorporate in there some way, to add some new conversation to an exiting conversation.
Roy Barker: Okay. Yeah, I think that we talked a lot about quality, but I think two things we can add to that is both timely and relevant topics and subjects in writing. So do you have a goal when you start to write, let's just say a blog? Do you have a sweet spot for a word limit, or where do you like to be? I know sometimes some [00:36:30] topics will take us a lot further than others, but is there a word count that you try to stay around?
Heather Deveaux: So when I'm writing for myself, my own blogs, I tend to cross over the thousand word threshold pretty naturally. What always helps me is, and I will always say it to my clients, "How many words do you want?" Because then I can very quickly break down my topic and determine how much I can say about each sub-topic. And [00:37:00] what I found, is there are all kinds of rules for this stuff. And if you ask anyone else, they're going to tell you something else. And if you ask three people, they're going to tell you three different things. A lot of people are going to say 500 words. The software packages they say blogs need to be a minimum of 350 words, and then others are going to tell you 1500 words. Like long tail articles have made a real comeback. People are trying to hit the quality target with [00:37:30] blanks.
So they're scratching the surface of quantity, but they're calling it quality. And so you're seeing a lot of these cornerstone articles where there's evergreen content that is massive, it's 2000 and 3000 words. And if you've got something to say about a subject that you feel so passionately about or that you feel is important that it needs 2000 or 3000 words, by all means, put that out there. But if you're looking for quality, [00:38:00] you really have to hedge your bets with, "Can you say this in a really succinct way?" And I find that you can achieve a succinct message with between 600 and 750 words. And if you can't say what you need to say in less than 750 words, then you might need to go back and look at the message that you're trying to send. Because that's a very long conversation, you know 1000 words is a long conversation.
Roy Barker: Right. To me it's a conflicting [00:38:30] data point, first off I've always heard that you need to be over 500 just to get Google to index it. And then secondly, is in, I'm guilty, but my attention span is not that long. And if I see these very long articles I will probably read the first three or four paragraphs, and lose interest and be out, or save it for later when I have time. Because I just don't have the time to devote. Because I got 10 other great looking articles that I would like to at least [00:39:00] skim, and see what they're talking about. But, the data that I have seen lately is these 2000, 2500 word blogs or articles, have really made a comeback and seem to be scoring a lot higher. But then I guess the real question is that they may get hit on a lot, but are they engaging like a smaller article will? And I don't have the answer to that, it's just something that [00:39:30] I wonder.
Heather Deveaux: Yeah, and my experience is the same as yours. That I have had open across my desktop computer of articles that I'm planning to read, and I just don't have the time to sit down and read them. And so, if you're on paragraph seven or eight, and you haven't got the gist of that article yet, that's a poorly written article. So like you should be able to capture the essence of that article in the first paragraph. And that's what I say when I write articles, [00:40:00] that I tell the reader what it is that I'm going to do, and then I do it. And then that doesn't leave them wondering when I'm going to get to the point. They can skip ahead and know exactly, this is the point of this article. And that should be a key within the first 30% of the article.
Because, you would be lucky to have people read 30% of the article. I think that would be amazing. If people read 30% of my work, that would be awesome. But like people aren't reading 30% of my work or anybody else's. They're reading [00:40:30] the headlines. And we know this because people will go to the internet and say, "Did you hear about this?" And they're only referring to the headline. They have no idea what actually happened in the circumstance of the situation, because they didn't read the rest of the article. And that's we know people are doing that. And it's fascinating and it's scary, that we have a lot of great information to share with each other. But if you can't delve it out in chunks of 10 words or less at a time, people aren't stopping to read it.
But [00:41:00] I believe that when things are important, and there was a real change happening in the face of business right now, where people are taking the time to learn what they need to know, we're still in this tested, fail, adapt, move on. People are still really in that space of, "We're going to fail fast so we can learn fast." I think though there are people that are slowing down long enough to say, "Look, I don't know about this, I need to [inaudible 00:41:29] [00:41:30] information about this, and they'll do a deep dive into reading. And that's what those articles are good for. Like those 2000 and 3000 word articles, they're generally not about the headlines. They're about things that we will always struggle with, that we'll always have questions with. Or that they've taken a headline and made it relevant to something that they can talk about for a long time.
That there are scenes there that are going to resonate with people for a really long time. And I know writers who will create an article of that [00:42:00] length. And they'll share it on the internet as just it's own web page. So when you Google that author or you Google that business person, you'll get this landing page with their name on it, and it's one article. Because the information that they're sharing is so important, they believe that they've dedicated an entire landing page to it. And instead of it getting lost it the minutia of their website, they've put it out there in like the quintessential evergreen way, that it will always [00:42:30] liver there on it's own.
Roy Barker:That's a good idea.
Heather Deveaux: Yes, interesting, it's really interesting. And when you start looking for these articles you'll find them. And it's very interesting. And there's tons, and tons, and tons of comments. What I find interesting about it is that impacting the statistics and feedback, if they get something that's really taken hold, none of that is attributed back to their website. None of that is attributed back to their social media. It's a [00:43:00] standalone content piece. And it's on fire. And they're not looking for ratings, or they're not looking for positioning on Google with that, it will just naturally come up. And I think that is the thing that we all strive for is, we just want to naturally be found. And if you want to naturally be found, you have to be yourself. You have to be the person that you say you are. You have to deliver content that is of that essence, and what delivers your message [00:43:30] in seven to ten words very simply.
Roy Barker: Right. I know we're running out of time. I've got just a couple more questions for you. The first is, how often do you recommend posting? I know, my opinion is if you've got something to say, you could post as often as you want. But you have to be careful about trying to force it. But if I was going to try to sit down and make up a calendar for myself going forward, [00:44:00] what kind of postings would you like to see?
Heather Deveaux: So, I guess if you're talking about blog, then and across the board, consistency is the important thing. So as long as you're doing it once a week. And even as a writer, I struggle with the idea of posting once a week. Which is why I get into reading books every week, so that I would have something I could write about, that I could tie back to my business, that I can share with my audience and my clients. And so if there's something that you could pick a theme, [00:44:30] that you can every week learn something about or share with your audience, that will help you to build consistency, and not only create symmetry in your blog, but give you something to write about every week.
And so once a week I think is enough for a blog, twice a week it great, but unless you're paying someone to do that, that's hard to do, to maintain that. When you also need to be posting, and I just read this recently, and I'm not going to do it, they said, "30 to [00:45:00] 40 times a day on Instagram and LinkedIn." 30 to 40 times a day. I was like, "That cannot be right." So I'm going to ignore that statistic and I commit to a few posts a day of really great, like in the moment content. I don't use automation for this stuff. Because my feeds are all about what's happening in my business right now. And that's the thing I want to share with people.
My blogs are reflective, so there's something about what's happened to me over the last week, which [00:45:30] gives me something to write about every week. So once a week for that, a couple of times a day for Instagram, two or three times a day for social media like Facebook and, or two or three times a week rather for Facebook, and then once a day for LinkedIn. But, that is a question for a social media marketer who will tell you much more. They'll be able to say, "I'm wrong, you need to do it much more than that, but this is less working for me." As someone who creates content, I don't [00:46:00] market content. So like, that's very different. And so I think that it really depends on the type of business you have. If you're a content curator, then you need to be posting 30 to 40 times a day I think.
Roy Barker: Right. Well can you give us a name of a book that you ... since like like a prolific reader, a good book that you've read that could benefit everybody?
Heather Deveaux: I think, yes, I could tell you lots of books. [00:46:30] The book that I just finished recently was called The Beauty of Discomfort by Amanda Lang. She's a Canadian journalist, and she writes about just like, incredible people who have come up against equally incredible odds in their lives, and how they were able to turn those discomforts into moments of triumph and how they were able to overcome all of those things. And she writes it in such a way that it doesn't matter what's going on in your life, [00:47:00] you could relate to those stories. And it's very well researched, it's very well read. But what I loved about it was that every story was so drastically different.
And so, she talks about this young girl who lost her sight, but then she talks about basketball players who learned to switch hands, and how one was forced upon somebody, one change was forced upon that young girl, and the other change was the basketball player, who chose to switch hands in the middle of his career. And how both are equally [00:47:30] discomfort for different reasons, but how they both embraced that discomfort. And I think as business owners, we need to embrace discomfort on a daily, minute-by-minute basis. Because that is where the magic happens. And that is what I write a lot about in my blogs, is about how uncomfortable all of this is all the time.
But, if you want to stay comfortable, you can't have a successful business. I don't think those two things go together. I think you really need [00:48:00] to get outside your comfort zone, you really need to stretch yourself. And this book, The Beauty of Discomfort, is an incredible read of just ... it reminds you that it could always be worse, and that this thing that you think that's going wrong in your life right now is probably not that bad. And it was probably self-inflicted if you're a business owner.
Roy Barker: Right, exactly. Well Heather, can you tell people how they can get a hold of you?
Heather Deveaux: Absolutely. So I have a website for my freelance writing business, [00:48:30] it's just my full name, so it's heatherdeveaux.com. And I'll spell that for you, so it's H-E-A-T-H-E-R, D-E-V-E-A-U-X.com. And I also have another website about a project I'm working on right now that I'm going to start teaching people how to start and run freelance writing businesses of their own, and that website is called thefreelancewritingschool.com. And just all one word, thefreelancewritingschool.com. [00:49:00] And so they can reach me at either one of those websites, and I'm on Instagram at heatherdeveaux_contentwriter.
Roy Barker: Okay, well thank you so much Heather. I've got about three or four other topics that I would love to get you back on the show in the very near future to-
Heather Deveaux: Absolutely.
Roy Barker: This is so important, I feel like we need to devote some time to it to stay on track and do the right thing for our audiences. But, thank you so much. I like forward to talking to you again. Thanks everyone [00:49:30] for listening. You can go to our website at www.thebusinessofbusinesspodcast.com, to see a replay and to see a transcript. You can also reach out to me at roybarker.com for my consulting and advisory services. Look forward to speaking with you all again. Thank you.