Charles: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 228 of the Freelancer’s show. This week on our panel we have Philip Morgan.
Charles: Reuvan Lerner.
Reuvan: Hi everyone.
Charles: I’m Charles Maxwood from Devchat.tv. Quick shout out, I’ve posted the conference schedule for next year. If you want to go to Freelance Remote Conf you can check that out. freelanceremoteconf.com. The call for proposals is open so if you want to speak, you can do that too. In fact, that kind of leads in a little bit to what we’re talking about today. That’s ultra-net forms of content marketing. [0:11:57.0] it says, non-written for those who aren’t natural writers. I think, Philip, I think you suggested this last year.
Philip: I did.
Charles: Did this come out of somebody asking you something specific or is there a story behind this or was it just, “Oh, this will be cool to talk about.”
Philip: A little bit of both. It’s a question I get. It’s a need that I’ve seen in working with freelancers, a lot of software developers and it’s kind of a scratch thing because for me for a long time it was just super difficult to get content marketing done. Like get it shipped and out in the world. I’m a little more of a natural writer but I work with a lot of people in various capacities who, I mean they are super intelligent but the written word is not their sort of first natural, easiest way of expressing themselves.
Some of this came out, out of doing this service I did for a while called My Content Sherpa. I developed a workflow for interviewing subject matter experts, taking the audio and handing it off to a writer and then they would take that interview, sometimes they were present during the interview sometimes they’re not and they would that into written content marketing. I started to think about the role like interviewing yourself and recording your thoughts and then handing that off to a writer might play in making it easier for people to produce content marketing. Thinking about podcasting and these other ways of communicating something without using writing at all and how effective those are and how incredible the reach of podcasting is. We talked about that, I think two or three episodes ago when we talked about podcasting. Anyway, that’s the backstory. All those threads came together into this idea that maybe we could talk about content marketing that does not involve the written word as the primary vehicle for that content marketing.
Charles: I have some crayons.
Philip: You’re talking about infographics now. My least favorite form of content marketing. One thing to think about is I think people, when they think about content marketing, they have this sort of biased to think, well, that’s blogpost or that’s articles that you write and then you submit as a guest post to some publication that has more traffic or trust than you do. That’s the default setting of thinking of writing as content marketing. I think it prevents people from really getting some of the benefits that they could get from content marketing. I think it prevents people from embracing it. It makes it a non-starter for some people because when they sit down to write a million things happen. They start self-editing, self-criticizing, they don’t have a big enough chunk of time to really get into the writing process. Those are some of the more common reasons why I’ve seen people be pretty ineffective at marketing themselves using content marketing. I always try to encourage a broader view of what content marketing is. It could be you talking into a recorder while you’re exercising on the treadmill and then sending that to an email list. For some people, they’re going to be horrified by the idea of even doing that, of letting people into their life that much but that could be super effective for the right person or the right audience. Stop being the Philip monologue. What sort of content marketing have you all done that was not written form in writing content marketing?
Reuvan: Before trying to answer that, let me just get a better hold on what content marketing is both for myself and the people who are listening. The idea, if I understand it correctly, content marketing is, “I’m going to put stuff out there for free and it’s going to demonstrate to people that I’m so great at what I do that they’re going to want to when the time comes buy stuff from me that’s for pay.” I mean, it’s a little [0:16:38.0] but that’s the direction.
Philip: I think so. There’s probably going to be a different definition of content marketing depending on who you ask but that’s one aspect of what it is. It’s demonstrating your expertise by literally demonstrating it through writing. It doesn’t have to be writing but just showing people that you have the expertise that you claim to would be one way to think about content marketing.
Another is helping people for free with no expectations, no strings attached in order to create an impression or start to build relationship with those people would be another view of content marketing.
And then an even broader view would be just providing some value of some kind. A lot content marketing goes beyond just informing and educating and helping. It tries to entertain people or somehow break up the monotony of their boring day. There’s a lot of different ways that content marketing can create value or try to connect with potential clients. But the general idea is that you’re going to do some stuff for free and it’s going to come back to benefit you later. That’s the idea behind it.
Reuvan: Okay, okay. That’s good. Chuck, I’ve heard this podcasting is useful for content marketing.
Charles: Yeah. A few people know who I am.
Reuvan: Has it lead to work for you?
Charles: Yes, though I will point out that since most of my podcasts reach my colleagues more than my customers, sometimes it is a little bit tough to make that work the way I want it to. But that being said, it has work I’ve gone on the show and basically said, “Hey, look. I’m a freelancer, consultant.” Or whatever you want to call us. I know some people hate one term and some people hate the other term. I basically got in and said, “Hey, I solved these kinds of problems with Ruby on Rails. Do you want to hire me?” And I’d have people go to their boss and say, “Bos, you need to hire this guy.” It would work out for me that way. The first big client that I got, I got because I was doing ScreenCast about Ruby on Rails. They saw my videos and then they hired me. I worked for them for two years.
Reuvan: Wow. I was going to mention ScreenCast but I don’t think that came up in our discussion before we start recording but ScreenCasts are amazing. I have learned about all sets of people online and bought stuff from them based on ScreenCast that I’ve seen. I’ve done some ScreenCasts as well, with my book, the videos. I also believe it because I enjoy it too, it’s very, very effective.
I think people who don’t want to write although you could already be writing a text in advance, not that I ever do that. People don’t want to write. People who are a little screen shy, a lot of people don’t show their faces when they’re doing ScreenCast, you shouldn’t be. You can play it in a whole lot of different ways to suit your needs. There in programming, it’s like the writing is almost one step removed from the actual programming because you’re describing what you would do as opposed to doing it with a ScreenCast. You’re actually doing it. We’re talking about demonstrating expertise. ScreenCast is a great way to do it. And then you can put it up online and people see it forever. You have this evergreen content that new people will stumble upon.
Charles: We talked about this some when we talked about podcasting but I think it really does go to the fact that you are able to demonstrate your expertise and that’s what Philip basically said. The other thing is that I don’t even go for the cliffhanger where it’s, “Hey, I’m going to get you halfway there and then you’ve got to hire me to figure out how to do the rest of it.” I’ve never pulled that. Instead I’ve shown people how to do the entire thing.
One of the video series that I did in Teach Me to Code was how to build a Twitter clone. That client that watched the videos, he wanted to build a Twitter clone. He literally could have copied the code out of the videos or gone to GitHub and thy were available for anyone who wanted them. Pull that in and get going on that Twitter clone and yet he figured out pretty fast that he really wasn’t interested in building it himself. He wanted me to do it and so I came in and I built it for him and then we continued to customize it from there.
You don’t even have to be that secretive. “This is my secret sauce.” Or if you spent an extra five minutes you’d be giving away the farm, even if you’re giving away the farm unless it’s super easy and really simple for somebody to do on their own in which case you probably don’t have much of a business anyway. Showing people how to do it, showing them how easy or hard it is, a lot times it’s just, “Oh, he knows how to do it so he’ll just do it.”
Philip: I agree. In the cases where doing an end to end educational let me show you exactly how I do this thing that you can also pay me to do for you, the cases where a client takes that and does it own their own or cases where clients don’t value the things they’re actually paying you for anyway. They don’t value the risk reduction of having an expert do it or an expert look over their shoulder to make sure they’re doing it right. And they don’t value the time savings of having somebody do it for you. Neither of those are a type of client you really want anyway unless you’re just scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Another common question about any form of content marketing is am I going to miss out on client work by explaining or showing in great detail how I do this. I guess the one caution I would have is you might miss out on the attention of the right kind of person. ScreenCast are great and I think they can play a role in content marketing but if you’re talking it too deep level of detail, you may miss out on the attention of the actual decision maker which can work out anyway because you’re speaking to the person who might recommend you to the decision maker. In fact, check this out what happened when you’re in those cases where your, examples you we’re giving earlier was that sort of thing where a technical person recommended you to the CTO or the company owner or the decision maker.
Charles: Actually no. In both cases, it was the decision maker that watched the video or listened to podcast.
Charles: In one case, though, the client was definitely not a technical person and he had another successful business. He was trying to build this on the side. And what happened was his brother was one of the cofounder of Dentrix. When they talked about how the project was going to go and started getting advice in things and figured out, “Hey, he’s actually seriously going to go through with this.” He said, “Well, you should look at Ruby on Rails.” The client actually went and did a Google search for Twitter Ruby on Rails and he found my videos.
Reuvan: That’s amazing.
Charles: The other client, he had been trying to teach him to code for about six months and figured out pretty fast that what he wanted to build and where his skill level was at were completely separate. He actually had been listening to my Ruby on Rails podcast which is called Rails Coach at that time and he called me up and said, “Hey, are you interested in building this?” I said yes and so I got paid to build it. It never saw the light of day but I built it.
Reuvan: I definitely felt on occasion, “Wait, these guys want me to show them how to do everything. They want me to give away everything.” I’ve always found that when I have clients who want me to show, I should show them how I do what I do. First of all, they appreciate it and they keep me on longer because this demonstrates expertise. Second of all, if they want to do it they’re going to do the easy stuff, they’re going to do the boring stuff and that means I get to solve more interesting problems which most engineers, I mean that’s what we want to do. We want to solve more problems and more interesting ones. I’ve never found it to work out poorly. As if we’re offload to easier stuff or tell people how to do what I do. There’s always more to do. Even the simplest business where I almost instantly beep set of problems to solve.
Charles: The other thing is that even if the first ten steps are the easy part and they can get 90% of the way there with those ten steps, they’re eventually going to hit the hard part. And then they’re going to come to you and they’re going to say, “How do we do this?” And then you say, “Well, I have a product for that.” And then you book them and you get paid to help them out.
The podcast definitely work for that. I think ScreenCast also work for that. I’ve done some other training videos online like webinars so I’m not necessarily showing somebody how to do it. I’m talking them through the ideas behind and some of the process behind whatever it is they want to do. In my particular case, this is the career coaching that I do and in particular how do I find the job now that I’ve gone through boot camp. Just by talking through that stuff and helping people figure stuff out like that, a lot of times what I wind up getting to is, “Okay, well I will engage you for a couple of hours so that I can tell you my specific case and you can help me figure out what I’m supposed to do with my stuff.”
Philip: That’s the other thing about giving away the farm is you really can’t give away the farm because there’s always going to be specifics that differ from client to client and there’s real value in applying your knowledge to those specifics.
Charles: Do you have an example? It feels like you do a lot more of that kind of thing than I do Philip.
Philip: Sure. I sell a book for $49. People hire me routinely to help them apply the knowledge in that book. I mean that’s one example where I don’t hold back in the book from explaining everything that I can but the specifics of each person’s case differ. In some cases, people really value in having an outside pair of eyes who can go through that journey with them and say, “Okay, watch out for this.” Or “This is going to take a long time to figure out on your own so here’s a template I can give you that accelerates that process.” Or that kind of thing. I’m not doing client work right now but I think the same thing applies with client work where client can read a book on copywriting or programming and can do some of it on their own but there’s always going to be specifics that an expert can see these certain edge cases and help you avoid risk or help you implement faster because this is not the first time they’ve done it. That kind of thing.
Charles: I can definitely see that in the area that you’re in where you’re talking about helping people find a niche and so somebody decides they want to target deep sea fisherman and it’s, “Okay, I can’t find them.” And they go to the most obvious places for other industries and those things just don’t exist. They go looking for forums and things like that. Then they come to you and they say, “Well, this is a hard nut to crack. Where do you suggest I go?” And then you come work from there.
Philip: Talk about ScreenCast and podcasting. Another form of non-written content marketing would be the highly scripted video. That’s what I’m going to call this. I think it’s been a year or two. There was a scrape video that I think UberConference did that was a hilarious, funny video of showing what a conference call looks like but everybody was in the same room so they weren’t doing conference call. It was meant to be humorous. Do you guys remember what I’m talking about?
Reuvan: No. This sounds good.
Charles: I don’t think I’ve seen it but it sounds like [0:30:25] to watch.
Reuvan: Conference calls are bad enough. But everyone actually sees everyone else, oh my God, even worse.
Philip: Search on YouTube for the UberConference and I think you’ll find it. I don’t think they’re the first one that’s done this. I think some other conference calling company did this where they shift the context from a remote conference call to an in person meeting but they have it played out the way a conference call typically would go. It’s hilarious. It’s funny. It makes an impression. That’s an example that I don’t think is sadly very adaptable to what most freelancers are going to be able to do but I do see sometimes people invest in something like an explainer video for their services or some sort of scripted video and I just want to point out that that’s another way that you can do content marketing without writing although I guess the script is technically writing. It ends up not in written form. You guys have any experience with that or come across anybody using that? I haven’t, except I think for one instance. I’m thinking of someone had an explainer video put together for their service but it’s kind of a rare thing at the freelancer level.
Charles: I had a client that use one and what end up happening was they wound up having one of these explainer video companies be believers in their product and this was actually a physical product. They did it. It all worked out. they were basically explaining why their snorkel was better than other snorkels. It was kind of an interesting deal. It’s effective if you’re trying to differentiate yourself in some way. You have the explainer video that says, “Hey. You’re familiar with these kinds of things and here’s why we’re different, better, smarter, faster, smell better.” Whatever.
Philip: They’re typically almost more like a sales page or some form of marketing copy that’s been condensed into a video.
Reuvan: Scripted video to me also just sounds like an expensive, difficult sort of thing put together. Maybe I’m wrong. That’s just my impression whereas a ScreenCast you don’t need expensive [0:33:05.9]. You don’t need lots of time. It’s good to prepare but you don’t really need to do that so much. The ROI on ScreenCast that I’ve done has been, ROI not necessarily financial but in terms of authority also has been very high. I think I don’t have to have a really amazing, amazing scripted video to feel like I was getting something out of it that would [0:33:28.0]. I’m guessing that’s partly why a lot of freelancers don’t do it.
Charles: Yeah, if you have enough people around that are willing to either volunteer time or you’re already paying for their time in some way so you have subcontractors that are local and can come sit in or things like that. I can see that a little bit less expensive if you have somebody that has the expertise to do it without having to pay a videographer to come in and record it.
I could see maybe a freelancer making that work and then essentially having that message come across on the video but I generally agree with you that you’re right about that. My operation, it’s me. I’ve got a couple of people but they’re not even in the US so unless we wanted to do a scripted video that was over Google hangouts or something it just wouldn’t make sense.
This is something that my friend John Sonmez does. I think I mentioned it during the podcasting episode or last week but he does a video every day on YouTube. It’s partially scripted. He usually has some kind of outline of what he wants to get through and then he’ll just rant or talk about whatever it is that he’s talking about. He gets a little bit close to the scripted video in the sense that he’s putting a message out there and he’s talking about something that his audience is interested in. Generally doing that sort of thing but it’s different in the sense that it’s just him. It’s just his opinion. And it really is mostly just organic him talking.
I’ve also seen that work out where people watch the videos and they get to know who you are and then they also feel your expertise come through because you’re talking about things that they care about and have that work out to where your message comes out not so much over one video where it’s, “Here’s our differentiator.” But over several videos where it’s, “Here’s who I am and here’s what I have to offer.”
Philip: That’s moving towards the next category I have for this type of content marketing which is the casual video or audio. I’m seeing people do this on Facebook with Facebook live. I’m sure all forms of content marketing having mixed results but in some cases, good results and it’s just that same thing that you talk about just a different platform. Facebook live instead of YouTube. Same idea. Maybe they’ve got some talking points or sort of a loose outline they want to get through. The goal is to either educate or inspire or I mean maybe agitate some of this sense of pains and then suggest a solution. It can work.
I find videos really demanding compared to audio. Audio is demanding in a different way but video is demanding in that, if you look uncomfortable or a little sweaty or whatever it is, it can really just come across the wrong way of video whereas audio doesn’t have that. Either one for someone who has difficulty writing would be a good way for them to get into habit of producing useful content or thinking about what would be useful. If I could get in front of my phone and just record five minute of audio or five minutes of video, what would my clients care about, what would get their attention. That mindset is very valuable for people who are used to getting pretty much 100% of their business to referrals. Nothing wrong with that but if you want to change that you really got to start thinking what do my clients care about. Not what I care about although there should be some overlap between the two but what do my clients care about and what’s going to get their attention as they’re blazing through their Facebook feed or searching on YouTube or what have you.
Charles: It’s funny that you bring that up because there’s another, I think of him as a mentor, his name is Aaron Walker. He’s from Nashville. In fact, I’m actually going to be going out to Nashville to go to an event that he and a few other folks are putting on for the men’s group that I’m a part of that he runs. It’s really interesting because he is on Facebook live every day.
Charles: And he does it during his workout so you can see he’s got a headband on and blah blah blah. He’s walking through the green space in Nashville, Tennessee. Anyway, he puts out. he wants to coach men to make their lives better spiritually, mentally, business. And so, it’s a message every day on something related to that. Usually there’s some form of this is what I’ve learned or this is what I’ve been doing that goes with it but again it’s the kind of message that his target audience has or wants that he can put out there every day and get his message out. This is how you make your life matter. It’s a critical part of his business I think as far as being able to recruit people to come in and join the community that he has and be a part of his mission in helping people do better in their lives in whatever ways those are.
Reuvan: I’m curious. It’s very interesting that he does this daily video and Facebook live is relatively new but how many people are actually tuned into that? It sounds like an interesting way to get people to know you and they will but is there a large enough audience of potential clients to make it worthwhile?
Charles: That’s one thing I think is interesting. I don’t think most people watch his videos live. I think most people watch them after they’ve been posted to their feed because after it’s out, it just turns into a regular video post on Facebook. And Facebook is trying to get more people to participate in Facebook live so they promote them pretty heavily. That’s the other thing. He’s taking advantage of Facebook wanting to get people to use this tool. That’s what he does. I’m pretty sure that he’s getting hundreds of views every day from people.
Reuvan: Wow. That’s impressive.
Charles: Yeah. He has an online Facebook community as well for the man that he’s serving. He actually calls it The Community. Anyway, they don’t get posted to the community but because you’re so closely affiliated with them they show up at your feed. And then he gets dozens of comments and as I said hundreds of views.
The other thing is that, as you comment throughout the video, so like if you have a comment at timestamp three minutes then it posts your comment in chronological order with everybody else’s but it puts a timestamp on it saying you posted that comment three minutes into the video. If you’re looking at other people’s comment you can go and engage and say, “What was he saying at three minutes that they’re responding to?” And then you can be part of the conversation that way as well.
There are a lot of interesting things that you can do there. I think it depends a lot on where your audience is or where you’re target market is but if you’ve got a market that routinely congregates on Facebook and you can get them to participate in a page or other community that you control or run on Facebook and then you’re posting these kinds of things then Facebook will figure out that you might be interested in it. And if you watch them on your feed, Facebook figures out also that you paused or you clicked on that particular piece of content. And they will give you more of that. He shows up at my feed every day because I watch a handful of his videos.
Reuvan: Very interesting. I’ve also been, I mean it’s not quite the same but I mean I’ve put a whole bunch of things up on YouTube, not huge. My kids said, “You? You have a YouTube channel?” I’m not just an old [0:42:10.]. I’m an old [0:42:11.0] who knows a little bit or something. I mean I don’t have a million of followers exactly but it is amazing to me that people do find my channel, find my videos. They subscribe to it. They’re interested in seeing more of what they get. These are the things that I’ve learned from you Phil, from others which is if you put out content and you’re consistent about the subject, there will be people who will not be interested, not be subscribed, not want to watch more but there will be other people who, this is exactly what they’re looking. Keep putting it out. They’ll be very happy.
Charles: You can also do the same thing on YouTube in the sense that they now have moved hangouts on air over to YouTube. You got YouTube live and you can put up live events and when you do that opposite to Google hangouts or Google plus. The other thing is that if people know that you’re going to be on every day at a particular time on Snapchat or Periscope or YouTube or whatever then they may just tune in knowing that, “Hey, I’m probably going to be hear from Reuvan today about training or Chinese.” Or whatever it is that you’re talking about.
Philip: There’s actually a couple of interesting threads in there. Reuvan highlighted the thing that I didn’t want to be the guy but I’ll be the guy. Content marketing works so much better when you have a focus on some fairly specific area. I guess I couldn’t let that go without saying but it’s probably clear to people that if you’re not getting results from content marketing it may not be the quality of your content it may be just that it is all over the map, it is not focused enough.
But there is this also the thing about consistency. I email my list at the same time every weekday. 6:00AM pacific time. I’ve noticed that I get, sometimes almost immediate replies like within five or ten minutes. Some people will reply to an email, not every email but these replies come in so quickly. My list is not so huge. It makes same think that people are actually expecting them because they show up at the same time every day.
I don’t have the science really to go with this but I just have a pretty strong feeling that based on experience that there’s a lot of value to publishing on a consistent schedule. It’s hard to do. It becomes easier if you find a content marketing approach that’s easy for you to execute on a consistent basis. I think publishing on a consistent schedule or something important about that. I’m not saying if you can’t do that don’t bother but I am saying it’s something to work towards because I think people can start to build it into their day. I’m not saying I think there are people out there who open their email client at 6:01AM pacific time because they know there an email from me waiting for them but I do think that people know to expect it.
The other interesting thread that came out is not explicitly is the idea of how can you measure the results of any content marketing you do whether it’s written or not. With Facebook or YouTube, you can look at basic metrics like how many people viewed some part of this video or clicked the play button or click the little thumbs up to like it. And those are somewhat helpful but I guess the point that I want to make is that if you’re hoping for some kind of amazing level of accountability or data around any kind of content marketing you’re going to have to do a substantial investment in setting up analytics.
No content marketing approach that I’ve ever seen has really, really great data built into it somehow helped you know with great precision that somebody hired you or bought something from you because of these three pieces of content marketing. I know that’s a common question that comes up with content marketing. I’m not saying it’s not measurable but I am saying it’s a challenge to get good data from it from a marketing perspective.
Charles: That is so true. I mean YouTube has analytics. There’s an analytics package I’ve used for Periscope in the past. I’ll probably put it in as a pick because I think it’s pretty cool. It’s called fullscope.tv but still it’s not perfect. It gives you some information but if you want the analytics especially going toward who’s purchasing and what are they purchasing then you got to sell a lot of that upon your own. You’re going to be doing URL shorteners that set up UTM parameters for Google analytics or this or that. It’s not always very apparent how you get that to work.
Philip: Yup. Exactly. One thing that’s sort of hybrid between that highly scripted video, a good example that would be the UberConference thing I mentioned Marie Forleo is someone who uses this as almost her number one marketing channel is highly scripted videos or at least highly produced. A lot of editing done in a studio. That kind of thing.
Anyway, a hybrid between that sort of casual thing is something I’ve been experimenting with for case studies. I work with people in this mentoring program that I have and they finish and they get some results and of course I want to circle back into a case study with them just like any freelancer should be doing with their clients. I’ve been doing those in video so I will get on YouTube hangouts on air or Google hangouts on air and record a 15, 20, 25-minute conversation me and my previous student, my graduate and just talk to them about what was the program like, what did you get out of it, what kind of challenges did you have going into it and most importantly what did you learn through this experience that you would want to share with someone else facing similar challenges. I’m trying to take the traditional case study format and add value to it by making it have some kind of educational component where my student is teaching people who are watching what they’ve learned. Anyway, that’s another form of content marketing that makes use of the non-written form.
It’s very easy to do compared to a written case study. When I was writing professionally for clients it would take me a day or a day and a half or more sometimes to write a case study. This happens much faster. It really literally takes 30 minutes. I send people some questions to think about before we do the call and the call itself is about 20 minutes long. It’s recorded. There’s no editing after the fact. I’m not ready to say these are the most effective way to do case studies but they have some interesting attributes and that they’re very raw and real feeling. I think that does a lot to increase trust. That’s something people can think about is maybe adding video or some sort of recorded interview to a case study so you’re not depending on the writing to do all the heavy lifting.
Reuvan: I just want to pick up on something you said here which is, first of all I like the idea of these interviews. I think that’s definitely a nice way to go but I think with all these things, the unwritten and also the written, it’s like anything else, you’re going to get better as you do it more. To some degree, and this is because I’m also a writing kind of guy. I really feel that people should not be discouraged and not be put off by writing being difficult because it’s difficult for everyone at first. Little by little you get better at it. You get better doing videos, you get better doing podcast. And you get better at writing. It’s just a matter of sitting down and wanting to improve in that. That said, I mean [0:50:48.0] unwritten stuff but I do point out that when you first do interviews, when you first do podcast you’ll probably feel like, “Oh my God, I have no idea what I’m doing.” And when you listen to it and you’ll be horrified because it won’t quite turn out the way you expected you wanted but with each one you’ll get marginally better and after a thousand of them you’ll be great.
Philip: That is so hard to do. That’s an asymmetric vulnerability thing where you’re putting yourself out in some way. I mean written for a lot of people is sort of the safest track way because you can edit forever until you feel like it’s perfect. Whereas some of these other things we’ve been talking about have a component of being live or editing is difficult and expensive with video at least from a time perspective. It’s the safest, often is the writing but all of them have the asymmetric vulnerability where you’re saying, “Okay, I’m putting something out there and you might be able to criticize it without me really being there to defend myself or you might criticize it because I’m anonymous to you and it’s much easier to do that kind of criticism.” That makes getting started so hard for some people so I have recommended to some people just produce content and don’t publish it for a period of time. Although I think publishing it tightens some feedback loops and accelerates your progress but maybe for some people that maybe something to help them get started is, “Well, I’m just going to write a blogpost a week and not publish it until I feel better about my writing.”
Charles: It’s funny too that we’re talking about this because I have the absolute opposite problem. Almost none of the content that I produce is written. It’s all audio or sometimes video and then very occasionally I’ll actually get around to writing a blogpost or something. So maybe we can talk about this in another episode but how do you get around that to a point where it’s like, “Okay, I’m okay to write.” Because for me for the most part it’s, “I have so many things going on that I just don’t have the time to do the writing but I want to do the writing.”
Philip: Can I ask a tactical question?
Philip: Google search engine doesn’t index audio or video or do they have algorithms that inspect into audio or video?
Charles: Not that I know.
Reuvan: I’m sure they do.
Philip: Okay, two different answer.
Reuvan: I’ve never tried it. I’m just assuming that it’s not that hard to do if you have many billions of dollars and they’re computing power.
Philip: I mean theoretically not hard to do. They actually do it. Does building your content empire on audio or video affect search engine rank. I know YouTube’s second biggest search engine in the world and almost every videos at least have a title and be wrapped in some kind of text metadata that can be indexed and used for searching but you see the question I’m getting at Chuck, you feel like it’s harmed you from a SEO perspective that so little of your content is text.
Charles: No. I mean I’ve been paying for transcripts for years.
Philip: There’s the cheap code. rev.com, right? Or some transcription service.
Charles: I’ve either used Upwork or podcast motor actually just does it for me now.
Philip: Nice. I don’t know if that’s something that puts people of form the idea using audio or video but it’s something to think about. It’s like if you’re depending on SEO or if you’re depending on search traffic to bring you the kind of people you’re trying to attract through your content marketing that’s something you’ll have to think about. I think we’re at the consensus that Google doesn’t index the audio or video content. I could probably answer that with a two-minute Google search myself. Anyway, assuming they don’t there are still some role that text place. You still have to consider that.
Reuvan: I’m guessing it’s probably a good idea that if you have video or audio that have a transcript both for SEO purposes and also people will somehow stumble upon your site and they want to take a look at it. They’re not going to want to watch a half hour video to find out what you have to say. They’ll just come through it so having a transcript there could be very useful.
Philip: I agree. In my own preferences, people will send me videos and I’m hesitant to hit that play button because I just know it becomes a time commitment.
Philip: You want to talk about ScreenCast, that’s the other one or not ScreenCast sorry, webinars. I know we’ve covered that as the sole topic of other shows but that’s the other form of content marketing that I had written down in my shortlist of non-written forms of content marketing.
Reuvan: I love webinars. I haven’t done one in a while. I miss it. I think it hits all the right sweet spots for me. It doesn’t require that much preparation. It lets me at least in terms of my training, I often use it to try out a new material and see how it goes. It gives me a chance to interact with people. They can ask questions they often do. And then I get a video at the end that is available for every people can watch and enjoy. I have nothing but good things to say about doing webinars.
Charles: Yeah, I’ve done a few as well. Kind of the same thing. The other thing is that I get I get all kinds of feedback from people who are interested in it. I did one on the Five Reasons Why You’re Not Getting Hired for new people who are trying to get a job. It was terrific just from the standpoint of, “Hey, if you’re having trouble finding a job you’re probably doing one of these things wrong.” The other thing that was interesting though about it was that it again just makes that message concrete and demonstrates, “Hey, look I understand this stuff and I’m an expert so you can hire me as a coach or you can buy my product.” And people really seem to just get into it.
Philip: Here’s a question. If you guys can think back when you were starting out. Did you compare your efforts against what you saw that people you admired doing online like your podcasting efforts versus whoever your podcasting hero was or your ScreenCast effort versus your personal ScreenCast hero. Did you guys do that?
Charles: I did a little bit but my podcast hero was also somebody that I was talking to online at the time. So yeah, I was actively getting feedback from them. I’ll just call them out. It was Gregg Pollack. He was the CEO of Code School not at the time but he was doing the Rails Envy podcast which no longer exist.
Reuvan: That was a great podcast.
Charles: And then Ruby5. Anyway, it’s interesting because I did it to a certain extent but also at the same time because I was in contact with him I would periodically get feedback. I wasn’t like the one, “Oh men, he’s so much further ahead than I am.” It was, “Hey, I ran into this. How do I do it?”
Reuvan: I don’t remember talking to other people about how to do it but I definitely would look around and you know how this is [0:59:38.0] development or programming or I guess almost anything. You’re constantly on the lookout. You notice things when you started doing something you notice how other people are doing the same thing. It’s like, “Oh, that’s a nice idea. I should incorporate that.” And so little by little you make your own by incorporating the things that are useful to you. I couldn’t even tell you a point to specific things but I know that in my teaching, in my working with clients, over the years I’ve definitely improved things. Oh, you know what in fact, now that I think about it when I started doing ScreenCast, I started it without my picture and then I said wait. Funny that Chuck mentioned this. Gregg Pollack, I liked his ScreenCast and he has his whole body there. But the fact that he was visible really made a difference. And so I think that was one of the reasons that I started putting my picture in there like while I was doing it. Once you start doing it, if you’re not looking to improve and constantly be improving your technique then you should [1:00:44.0] it. I don’t really look at my very old stuff. In part because I’m sure I would just be completely horrified by it. It was good enough for other people but I know that I’ve improved a lot since then.
Philip: Ira Glass talks about the taste gap. That gap between the stuff you admire and the stuff that you’re actually capable of producing yourself at any given point. That can be discouraging to people. That’s why I think more and more if you’re going to do content marketing just go ahead and commit to do it daily because I think that accelerates moving through that taste gap. It sounds impossibly ambitious to think about something every day except for feeding yourself, bathing yourself, going to the shower. All these things that we do anyway every day, those are easy habits to maintain so why not just add content production to that if you’re serious about it.
Charles: You shower every day? That’s a lot of work.
Philip: Hey man, got to smell good for the podcast.
Charles: That’s you I’m smelling?
Philip: Yup. That’s my aqua velva you’re smelling. What have we missed? I think we’ve covered a lot of the major non-written forms. I mean I sort of sneered at infographics earlier and that sort of get out of pure writing. In a way that’s not been very inspiring or accessible for me. I’ve seen very few infographics other than the one that depicts Napoleon’s march to Russia and his defeat and return. Aside from that I’ve seen very few infographics where I’m like, “Wow, that really just made my life better.” It tends to be a sort of form of entertainment. It’s not actually all that accessible to me for some reason but I guess that’s another form that we should mention for the sake of completeness.
Reuvan: I would say that infographics are amazing or can be amazing but it’s rare for them to be so. So, if that’s your talent, if you’re really good at taking ideas and depicting them graphically, first of all why are you listening to our podcast you should be making millions but it’s something that I’m definitely not good at. But there are some infographics out there, there are some diagrams out there that people put them up online and they become instantly famous for them. There’s this such thing as a Venn diagram of the data science world, what it includes and what are the different overlapping parts are. There are a few other things that I’ve seen. Not a huge number but if you’re so inspired and you can really depict things well then you can make a name for yourself I think.
Philip: Yeah. I think that’s right.
Charles: I think the power of infographics is mostly just you put something out there that people can at a glance understand the message you’re trying to convey and if it’s not doing that for you then it’s not a very good infographic.
Philip: I agree. The good ones are rare and noticeable and they get shared a lot which I think is why for a long time you heard the content marketing gurus say you should make infographics. They’re easily shareable. They don’t imply a lot of overhead in terms of reading time, a lot of investment so they’re easy to consume but a lot of them are easily consumed because there’s no informational nutrition there. Empty calories.
Charles: I like me some empty calories.
Philip: I’ll keep that in mind in your Christmas gift this year Chuck.
Charles: I appreciate that. Alright, so anything else we should dive into here before we go to picks?
Reuvan: Another topic that I can think of, except just like I really feel it’s very important to say again, just try things. It’s not going to feel natural at first so maybe try it a few times but it’s definitely worth giving a shot especially if you’re not so comfortable with writing. And even if you are, I mean Philip you write really well and yet your podcast and webinars are also excellent. One doesn’t have to preclude the other. It might be also a matter of not just what’s good for you but what’s good for your potential clients.
Philip: If you’re wondering what you should create content marketing about regardless of the form, ask your clients. They are the best source of information about that.
Charles: How do you ask? Do you just say, “What have you always wanted to know about x?”
Philip: Yeah. I mean I think there’s a lot you could ask. There’s a sort of couple go to. What kind of stuff keeps you up at night? And you look for overlap between that and what you can speak to in a way that’s helpful or authoritative or what have you. What keeps you up at night? What kind of stuff have you always wondered about? When you hire someone like me what are the questions you have? What’s on your checklist to make sure they’re qualified? Or when a project like x blows up, why does it blow up? And then you can start to speak to some of those risk and concern about hiring somebody with answers to that kind of question. Those are some of the easy ones to ask that instantly come to mind. I guess another one is, why would you hire me or somebody like me to do x? How’s your business going to change as a result? And what are the levers that would make that change more profitable or dramatic or effective? I think those questions could really generate dozens of ideas for a really great content marketing.
Charles: Cool. Alright. We’ll let’s go ahead and do some picks. Reuvan do you want to start us off with picks?
Reuvan: Sure. I’ve got two picks maybe two and a half picks depending on how you count them. The first one is our co panelists Jonathan who’s not here this week, has his new podcast called Ditching Hourly. I listened to a bunch of the episodes and I got to say I’ve been listening to and talking with Jonathan for a few years now I guess. I don’t know how long it’s been. It’s been long time and it’s been great. Neither of us is going anywhere. Don’t take it the wrong way. The podcast is just phenomenal. I really think that he hits on the issues of value based pricing and why and how I am thoroughly enjoying every episode. I definitely encourage everyone who listens to our podcast to listen to his as well after ours of course.
The second thing is I recently saw a trailer on NetFlix for The Lemony Snicket’s Series, A Series of Unfortunate Events. There’s a movie that came out based on that series a few years ago that was terrible in most ways. And so, it looks like they might just actually be doing just as the book. First of all, I haven’t seen it other than the trailer. I’m excited about it. I’m now rereading with my 11-year old son. It is just so much fun. I really like that series. It’s amazing how funny tragedy can be when it happens to someone else. It’s fictional. Anyway, I definitely encourage you all to find an excuse to read it with or to your children. The Lemony Snicket’s series. You will laugh and they will wonder why and then you will laugh even more. Anyway, that’s it for this week’s picks.
Charles: Yeah, I remember that movie and if they’d made a sequel it would have been a series of unfortunate events. Philip what are your picks?
Philip: I pick you Chuck. I’m not kidding but also I pick rev.com. It’s a pretty great transcription service that will turn the audio track of a video file into pretty clean, pretty accurate text. Also, they would do it very quickly. There are other services. CastingWords is one but I had great luck with Rev so they’re a pick. I will point people to trustvelocity.com. Once again, maybe not definitive or even authoritative but a fairly complete source of lead generation ideas that are categorized or sorted based on the type of ability they have to create trust quickly which I think is vital. You’ll see that at least in my opinion not all forms of content marketing are equal when it comes to things like building trust with clients and so this might be a handy or quick way for people to narrow down all the possibilities to two or three that might be a good fit for them. That’s trustvelocity.com. Those are my picks for this week.
Charles: Alright. I’ve got a couple of picks here. The first pick that I have is I’d been listening to Zig Ziglar on audible and I mentioned I think on the show before that I set a goal to listen to everything that audible had from Zig Ziglar by the end of the year. Interestingly enough I haven’t actually looked to see how much there was and so I put together a spreadsheet and set it up so it would tell me how much I had to listen every day in order to get through it all. Over the 90 days, it’s not quite 90 days but it’s 12 weeks. There were like 138 hours of audio. You can kind of do the math there. It came out to a little over two hours but I’ve been listening and I’ve been really enjoying it. I’ve been listening to the Born to Win seminar audio recording that they have. I’ve listened to a bunch of his other talks and books and stuff. A lot of the stories are the same and things like that but that message of most of his stuff in particular this series where it’s basically saying, “Look, you were created with a purpose and you were born to win. And here’s how you be a successful person.” It’s just been really, really excellent. It’s a 15-hour audio. I’ve just been really, really enjoying it. I’m going to pick Born to Win by Zig Ziglar. I believe he also has a book by that title. I don’t remember for sure. I know that they did a Born to Win seminar for years and years and years. Zig has passed away so they’re not doing it anymore if they are they have other people doing it. Anyway, the stories are hilarious. He’s just a fun and interesting person to listen to so I’m going to pick that.
The other thing that I’m going to pick is I found a tool for Google drive. I was actually talking to somebody about marketing and monetization yesterday and he pointed this out to me. I started using it and I really like it. It’s called mindmup.com. It’s a tool that plugs into Google drive and will save you mind maps to Google drive. If you’re looking for a mind mapping tool that’s free, that works with Google drive then that’s it. It’s pretty good stuff so I’m happy with it and I’ll pick it. If you go to mindmup.com and then you can install the Google drive plugin and then after that it works fine so anyway those are my picks.
I’m also going to remind you to go check out devchat.tv/conferences. And if you’re interested in any of the technical content there, I’m also doing the freelance remote conf again next year. Definitely go check it out. I set things up so that all of the conferences next year except for the DevOps conference which is in January. I set up an earlier bird ticket that ends on my birthday. It’s kind of my birthday sale for everybody for the next month. If you’re interested in getting tickets for $100 instead of $150 or $200 then definitely buy you ticket before then. You can just pick that up at freelanceremoteconf.com.
With that I guess we’ll wrap up the show. Thanks for all your awesome input guys. Next week is our Q&A. we’ll catch you all next week.