There’s a word that comes up a lot when we talk about content marketing: Intimidating.
It’s easy to get intimidated at the prospect of creating a high volume of really good content. And even more so if you don’t completely think of yourself as a writer.
Guess who wrote a book to help? It’s Copyblogger’s own Pamela Wilson. She wanted to share what she’s learned from her own journey, starting as a business owner who didn’t see herself as a writer. Today she consistently produces content that audiences love to read — while juggling the many other aspects of her role with Rainmaker Digital.
Today, Sonia Simone and Pamela Wilson take you through some of the lessons from Pamela’s new book, Master Content Marketing: A Simple Strategy to Cure the Blank-Page Blues and Attract a Profitable Audience.
In this 35-minute episode, Sonia and Pamela talk about:
Sonia Simone: This episode is brought to you by Acuity Scheduling. Acuity Scheduling makes scheduling meetings online easy. Clients can view your real-time availability, self-book appointments with you, fill out forms, and even pay you online. To learn more and get a free, 45-day trial, visit AcuityScheduling.com/Copyblogger. That’s AcuityScheduling.com/Copyblogger.
Hey there, it is so good to see you again. Welcome back to Copyblogger FM, the content marketing podcast. Copyblogger FM is about emerging content marketing trends, interesting disasters, and enduring best practices, along with the occasional rant. My name is Sonia Simone. I’m the Chief Content Officer for Rainmaker Digital, and I also like to hang out with the folks over at the Copyblogger blog. Remember that you can always get show notes for every episode of Copyblogger FM — that includes links and often it includes extra free resources and other kinds of goodies — by going to Copyblogger.FM. You’ll also get the complete show archives there.
I am here, once again, with Pamela Wilson. Pamela is our VP of Educational Content. She is my co-lead for the Authority community and for our Certified Content Marketer group, and because she is truly, ruthlessly productive, she has also written a book. Pamela, good talking with you again.
Pamela Wilson: I’m cracking up over the “ruthlessly productive.” I don’t know if I’ve ever been accused of that before.
Sonia Simone: I bet you have.
Pamela Wilson: That’s awesome. I don’t know if I ever told you this, that I’ve dreamed of writing a book for a long time. Actually, Big Brand System, my own site, started out as this idea that I wanted to write a book. Then I came across Copyblogger and I ended up writing a blog instead of a book. I created an online presence, which it turns out in retrospect, was a good way to do it. At the time I was just like, “I’m going to build an online presence and write my content online in a public forum where everyone can see it rather than putting it into a book.” It did end up being for the best, because I think I became a much better writer over those years. I hadn’t done much writing before, so if I had jumped right in and tried to write a book, I don’t know what I would have done.
Sonia Simone: I think that’s good. We always have this debate at Copyblogger. Brian Clark has not written a book, and all of his Internet famous people that we know are like, “Brian, why don’t you write a book?” He’s like, “Well, why? I have this amazing platform.” At the same time, books are different. Books reach a different audience. Let’s get into your book. Let us know what’s the title, what’s it about, and who’s it for?
Pamela Wilson: The title is — it’s kind of a mouthful. The title is Master Content Marketing: A Simple Strategy to Cure the Blank Page Blues and Attract a Profitable Audience. It is basically a book that I wrote for myself back in 2010. Like I said, I hadn’t done much writing and here I was — I had decided to build this online platform and I knew I wanted to use content marketing, I just did not even know where to start.
Like I said, I didn’t consider myself a writer at all. I was a visual person, I was a designer and marketing consultant. When I needed writing I would hire a writer. I would interview a copywriter or interview some kind of editorial content writer and bring them in on the project. But I always had this idea like, “Well, I don’t write. I just make the writing look good, but I don’t do any of the writing myself.”
Pamela Wilson: Here I was, back in 2010, building this online platform, and it was basically built on my writing. I just had no idea how to get started. What I did — and I guess maybe this goes back to the ruthlessly productive accusation, but what I ended up doing was trying to figure out a process that I could repeat every time I sat down to write a piece of content. And I did. I developed this process. It worked pretty well. I was juggling a lot in my life at the time, and despite that, the process worked pretty well. It worked so well that I actually had time to go to someone like you, who was in charge of the Copyblogger blog at that time, and say, “I have a guest post and I’d like to send it to you.” I actually had enough time leftover to create extra content that helped me to expand my platform.
Sonia Simone: Yeah, if I’m right, other than me, you were the person who had written more guest posts for Copyblogger than any other guest writer.
Pamela Wilson: Yeah, I’ve never sat down and counted. Brian Clark has said that. I think we should just go ahead and take it as the gospel truth.
Sonia Simone: Yeah, if Brian said it, I believe it. That settles it.
Pamela Wilson: The reason for that, Sonia — I’ll just go ahead and remind you. The reason for that is something that you did. I submitted a post, and after you published it, I submitted another. And then you published that, and I submitted … I’m just like, “Well, this is a good thing. I’m just going to keep replacing the one that I sent in with a new post and maybe they’ll keep publishing.”
After doing that for a few months, you emailed me and said, “How would you like to write once a month?” I don’t know if you have any idea how exciting that was for me, because … Well, first of all, it felt incredibly validating that a site like Copyblogger thought that my writing was good enough to publish on their site. That was a piece of it.
But then, just to know that I was going to have access to this huge platform. I told friends and colleagues it felt like I was being invited to give a concert at Carnegie Hall once a month. It was a huge professional moment for me. You’re the reason I ended up having so many guest posts on Copyblogger, because you invited me to write once a month, and who could say no to that?
Sonia Simone: Well, the funny thing is, somebody asked me once — it might have been Chris Brogan who asked me, “How’d you get the Copyblogger gig?” Because, for those of you who don’t know, Brian Clark started Copyblogger all by himself. He worked on it all by himself for about two years. He wrote two posts a week. It was a one-person show. I showed up, started making myself useful, eventually became business partner, and eventually became a co-founder of the new company. He said, “Well, how did you get that gig?” I said, “I showed up, and I showed up with my best stuff all the time. I kept showing up.”
I think people underestimate how powerful that is, and that’s where process — if you can get your process nailed down, if you can get a methodology … Because, honestly, if you’re just like, “Well, I’m just going to feel like writing a great piece of content for my blog once a week, and I’m going to feel like writing another one for this other blog once a week,” you’re not. It’s not going to happen. It just won’t.
Pamela Wilson: Yeah.
Sonia Simone: You have to have some kind of … Virtually every — I would say in excess of 99 percent of the professional writers we know, the big names, the people you studied in college or whatever it is, the writers that you read on a regular basis, non-fiction, fiction, people who write in The New Yorker, whatever — they all have a process. They all have a process to get the pages written, otherwise it just doesn’t happen. It’s like, “Well, I just showed up.” It’s like, “No, there’s no ‘just.'”
Pamela Wilson: Yeah.
Sonia Simone: It’s not just.
Pamela Wilson: Right. I think there’s something about creative work in general that has this touch … I think in the popular imagination, people think that there’s some magical component to it.
Sonia Simone: Yep.
Pamela Wilson: That you have to have some mysterious talent that was conferred on you at your birth. You either have it or you don’t have it. Inspiration is also kind of magical according to the popular imagination. Inspiration just appears at your doorstep with no bidding whatsoever. I have been in a creative field my entire career, and it just doesn’t work that way.
Sonia Simone: Yeah.
Pamela Wilson: It just doesn’t work that way at all. But that’s really good news for everyone, because it means that that kind of inspiration and creativity is really available to all of us if we’re willing to show up and maybe apply some systems and processes which don’t seem very glamorous, but they work. They work, and they’ve worked consistently for creative people throughout their careers.
Sonia Simone: Yeah.
Pamela Wilson: That’s what I wanted to talk about in the book. I remember having this moment after I’d been writing for Copyblogger for maybe a year. Some of my posts had done very well, and I remember saying to someone, “I kind of feel like I cracked the code. I know how to put those posts together so that they work. People like them and they can get the information they need, and they’re relatively … ” “Relatively,” I’m drawing huge air quotes here because I spent many hours on them. But they’re relatively easy to put together and you have a process so that makes it flow much more easily.
Sonia Simone: Yeah, because you take out … There’s the work that you put in: you have to do your research, you have to craft the writing, you have to structure the post so it makes sense. Then there’s the, “What am I going to write about?” There’s all the creative angst. That’s I think the part that makes writing hard, and that’s the part that we can do without. When we say it’s making it easier, it’s not that you don’t have to do good work.
Pamela Wilson: I think it’s just that you’re not starting completely from scratch every time. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to put that blank page blues thing in the title, because I think that is what creates that feeling like, “I can’t do this. I’m just looking at a blank page and I don’t even know how to take step one.” Having some processes that you have come to rely on and that work for you very consistently just takes a lot of that stress away. You realize, “Okay, I know how to get started. I know how to take those first steps and start getting something down on paper that I can actually work with.”
Sonia Simone: It’s funny, because you have a whole section called the lazy, and then in parentheses, “efficient” approach to content creation. We’re talking about it makes it easier, and it’s not like it’s not work, it is work. But there is a whole layer of stress that can be pulled out when we can get a little more efficient.
Pamela Wilson: Yeah, totally. The lazy thing is kind of a joke, but the whole idea of putting processes and systems in place and having reliable content creation habits, is that after a while it starts to feel like, “Oh, well, this is a lot easier. It’s a lot more efficient.” Lazy is my way of saying, “This is the way to do it with less effort.”
Sonia Simone: Yeah.
Pamela Wilson: It’s not that it’s not work, but it’s less effort than when you’re first starting out, because you have reliable ways of getting things done. I talk about this in the book, some of that is just … It’s funny, I don’t see anyone talk about this, but we create our content in a physical environment. We’re sitting in a certain chair. we’re in a certain environment. Developing some awareness about where you work best.
You don’t always have the luxury of working in that physical location, but if you have a place where you know you physically work best, where you have everything at hand and you have the light that works for you … Some people like to work in a dark room with the door closed and the glow of their computer is the only light source. Then other people want to work in a lot of natural light. Just having some awareness about the way you work best so that you can put yourself in that physical environment to get your work done as much as you possibly can. I think that can make a big difference. Then, the other thing is knowing what time of day do you work best.
Sonia Simone: Yeah.
Pamela Wilson: I do my best writing in the morning when I’m fresh and when I’m freshly caffeinated. Some people like to work at night and they do their best work at night. Even just having that awareness, “What time of day can I count on getting my best work done?” And then trying to block that time of day out so that you can do some writing during your most productive time.
Sonia Simone: Yeah, that’s a huge element of it. We’re going to take a very quick break, maybe just a minute or so. When we come back we’re going to dive into Pamela’s seven-part formula, and I’ll put that a little bit in air quotes, but it’s really a seven-part structure for getting your content created efficiently and also getting content created that really is worth reading, watching, or listening to. We will be back after a very quick break.
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Hey there, awesome to see you back. Talking again with Pamela Wilson about her new book. It is really all about creating content from the point of view of somebody who might not necessarily consider themselves a writer. Some will, but a lot of people won’t, which I think can be really liberating. You can really create consistent, high-quality content even if writer is not on your list of words you use to identify yourself....