Want to spend less time on content creation? I know the feeling. Producing high-quality content isn’t easy work. But according to content marketing expert Brittany Berger, there’s a better way to make the most of your marketing: content repurposing.
Repurposing content doesn’t mean recycling or reusing old ideas. It’s about reinventing your best content to expand your reach to a new audience. Brittany joins us on this episode to explain her approach to content marketing and share the solid framework she built for repurposing.
Listen to This Episode:
- Why businesses should stop creating more new content
- What it really means to repurpose your content
- How to determine whether a piece of content is ideal for repurposing
- The process for deciding which content marketing channel to focus on
- How Brittany developed a consistent system for repurposing content
- The unexpected reason “evergreen content” is a myth
- Why you need to update old blog posts and what to look for
- What she learned from the biggest mistake in her career
- Work Brighter
- Content Shock by Mark Schaefer
- Sitcom by Saul Austerlitz
- Killing Marketing by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose
- Create Unicorn Content – Brittany Berger’s YouTube channel
Louis: Bonjour, bonjour and welcome to another episode of EveryoneHatesMarketers.com, the marketing podcast for marketers, founders and tech people who are just sick of shady, aggressive marketing. I’m your host, Louis Grenier.
You’re probably following a lot of marketing influencers and brands who are publishing thousands or hundreds of articles every day on the different platforms. One of the key, the one I’m thinking of right now, is Gary Vee, who seems to be tweeting and Instagramming and Snapchatting and posting articles a 100x a day, and it seems like we were told to publish and put out as much as possible in terms of content as marketers, but my guest today makes the point that the quality really went down with all of those, with this approach of quantity versus quality, and that has a huge impact on your business, and we’ll tell you why.
So today we’re going to talk about getting serious about repurposing and creating way less new content on a regular basis, and find out how to do that, and my guest today is a content marketer who helps B2B sales companies to create more productive content through an all in one, holistic approach to content creation, promotion, and repurposing. As you can see, she’s quite an expert in this area. She also runs a community of over 1000 female entrepreneurs called Work Brighter, and she’s been publishing articles for HubSpot, CoSchedule, Social Media Examiner and a lot of others. I’m really happy to talk
to Brittany Berger today. Welcome aboard, Brittany.
Brittany: Hi, thanks so much for having me.
Louis: Alright. Let’s get started, in true Everyone Hates Marketers style. What’s the problem with this content creation virus that every marketer seems to have? Why is it such a problem that publishing a lot of content, why is it a problem on our business?
Brittany: Well, for the past 10 years or so, the staple of every content marketing strategy pretty much that we’ve been told to follow has been create new content. In the beginning, when brands didn’t have content, yeah, that was the best advice. But now, we’re getting to the point where every brand is doing content marketing. Every brand is creating so much content, and if you put yourself in the consumer’s mind, there’s too much. I really like the way that Mark Schaefer puts this when he talks about “content shock.” It’s like, at some point there’s just going to be too much content for people to consume, and instead of just feeding into this endless void, you can go back and improve each piece of content so that it can stand out better in that crowded space.
I was going to say, you mentioned Gary Vee in the intro, and he’s an example that I like to point to too, because he is everywhere, and he creates so much, but when you think about it, his life is creating content. That is one of the main things he does in his job; it’s a huge investment for him. Unless you’re ready to make that kind of investment, you can’t expect the same results.
Louis: He has a team of around 20 people creating content, publishing for him, right?
Louis: It’s not like him doing it, let’s be serious about it. Very much like Neil Patel, who publishes videos every day on LinkedIn at the minute and his blog has new articles almost every day. He doesn’t write those articles anymore; it’s been a long time since he has written probably an article.
Brittany: Even he, I noticed, does a lot of updating and repurposing old stuff too. Even he’s not only creating new things.
Louis: Yeah. Let’s take a step back a little bit, because I hate talking about topics where we don’t explain the context and the why behind all of it, and like the first principles behind those topics. So content marketing is a word and an expression I’ve been hearing about so many times in the marketing world. Why do you think it’s such a popular way to get new leads, to get traffic, to get businesses? Why in its core is it so appealing?
Brittany: I think it’s appealing in general in just the space of marketing that we’re in now because it’s a time when consumers have more power than ever. I mean, I don’t know the exact stats, but we see them all the time about how they’re just in control and you need to focus on helping them and just marketing from a more selfless place, and providing content is a great way to do that and build a relationship, and then it’s also really great for startups and new companies, because it’s a low investment, long-term strategy. It’s easy to get started, and while it does take some time to get going, it will work for you
forever as long as the content is out there on the internet.
Louis: Right, so in one side, it works really well because, as you said, consumers are in power now and people are in power, and they want to choose what to buy and when to buy it, and they want control. So that works for that, but on the other hand, it also works for businesses, because it seems to be something that anybody can do, really, from the comfort of their computer. Even if it takes time to start, if you’re doing it well, results should start kicking in within a few months or a year or two.
Louis: I mean, I’ve noticed that from my own podcast. I’ve never been able to consistently publish things on a regular basis until Everyone Hates Marketers, and I can see the effect that it has. I don’t really give a shit about my SEO; I just make sure that my articles have a good title and that I write stuff properly, but I don’t look into that. Yet Google has picked a few episodes and are starting to rank them for a few keywords.
The traffic on my website is increasing, the audiences that I get is increasing, and I don’t do any promotion. So it’s just purely getting out good content on a regular basis, and yeah, it works if you are willing to put the time, the effort and be patient. But there is an issue to that. It’s like, creating too much content can be an issue as you said because it could really lead to content shock. So today, let’s talk about how to create less content and how to have kind of a process to repurpose content on a regular basis, instead of just having that repurposing when we have time, and turning an article into a webinar
or whatever when we have time.
What is the number one step to go through to repurpose content? Perhaps instead of me giving you, like, what is the number one, perhaps you can define what repurposing content means in the first place?
Brittany: Okay, so I have perhaps a broader view of it than some other definitions, but I like to say that anything that takes existing content and gets new results from something old, that is repurposing content. That might be something like creating a new social media campaign, promoting a blog post from two years ago, or creating a new blog post from a customer support video that’s been sitting in your help docs and is really helpful, but that no one that’s not already searching for it has ever seen. So it’s just leveraging all of your existing resources to be able to use them to build audiences since so much of what we do is already content in some way.
Louis: Yes, and that’s a good point. There’s a lot of things that we do, even like meetings, conversations you can have with a coworker could be recorded. Could be turned into something else. The opportunities are absolutely endless. Let’s go through that because I’m very curious about it. As you know, I work full-time for HotJar. I also have this podcast and I’m very concerned … Not concerned, but I’m very into this process because we need to figure it out as well. So I’ll be quizzing you on this right now. How do you typically go about setting up such a strategy, like to repurpose content and to have that in a nice process? What is step number one?
Brittany: First, I take a look at whoever I’m working with or my own, or just I take a look at all the existing content and look at what is the strongest part of it. For example, with my own brand and my own business, a lot of times that’s my older blog posts. So right now, I’m really focused on repurposing blog posts into other, newer formats or newer blog posts and stuff like that. Since it’s just leveraging an existing strength, I know that that’s where the least amount of work will be involved for the most results. That’s where I like to start. I’m currently helping a friend of mine who has an amazing YouTube channel but has never really created content on their own website, so I’m helping them create a lot of blog and written content from their old video information. I would just say, whatever you have the most of high quality content, that’s what you want to start with, and you want to focus on new ways to use that, versus another situation where you’re starting from scratch.
Louis: Right. So first step would be to audit the content you have, right?
Louis: So would you actually start by … You kind of need to list everything you have before knowing whether it’s high quality or not, right?
Brittany: Exactly, yeah, but I think that if you’re creating content actively, you kind of have a feel…You know, since you are creating new pieces out of this, I don’t think you need to go in deep at this level into digging into analytics. I would just think about what type of content do you have the most of, and what is really strong about it. I think it would be more of a qualitative thing at this stage.
Louis: Okay, but I still, as soon as you mentioned that, in my head, I imagine a spreadsheet with every row would have the content title and its URL. You would have such a thing, right?
Brittany: Yes, yes.
Louis: Okay. So step one would be to create a spreadsheet and put in a list of all the stuff we have, right?
Louis: Then step two would probably be, you mentioned value, strong and all of that, but what does it actually mean? How do you decide which piece of content is worthy of being repurposed?
Brittany: Okay, so you have your main goal for content marketing, whatever that may be. Depending on your company, that might be free trial signups, email subscribers. Whatever that is. You have whatever that main goal is, and then you want to look at which pieces of content are most helpful for guiding readers and visitors to that goal. It’s different stages of the funnel. Something that might not be … Like social media might not directly drive the most direct free trial signups, but then you trace steps back where soon you realize, “Oh, that’s where people are coming from”, so you want to make sure that there’s a good amount of content in that area. You want to look at, yeah, where visitors are coming from and what’s meeting goals for you right now.
Louis: But how would you typically do it with … You mentioned you’ll do a lot of qualitative stuff, but it looks, it sounds quite analytical at this stage, right? What do you look at to select those pieces, then? How do you drill into knowing which one is high value for you?
Brittany: Okay, so for a client, we were looking at driving email subscribers, so we were looking at which type of opt-in was most effective for that, and then which pieces of content drove the most opt-ins. For that, it was a type form, type tool. We looked at, you know, we realized this is where a lot of high value subscribers were coming from, and so then we looked at which different categories of old blog posts or topics, in particular, were effective at driving leads to that tool.
Louis: Okay, so I would say step one is not even to list out everything. Step one is to figure out your goal. Let’s say for the sake of this argument that our goal is to increase the amount of signups we have on our email list. You list all of the content that you have, and then step three is actually figuring out which ones have brought the most signups in the past. So which one have contributed the most to your objectives, right?
Louis: That’s step three, so at this stage, we have the list of content. All the content we have, but we also start to see where there is a trend. Its likely that 20% of your content is responsible for 80% of your objective, right? That’s usually what you see from your experience?
Brittany: Yes, exactly. You’ll usually see that a certain either category of topics or a certain content format will really stand out, or you might realize just it’s something more like when you take a certain tone or mood in your posts, you might find out that the really optimistic outlook type posts get people going to take action, more than the kind of generic, objective view. So you might look at stuff like that. That’s again digging in really deep but start with content topic and topic format. That will give you a great place to get started and point you towards what your most successful content is.
Louis: Right, so content topic, content format. I would say that’s step four because at this stage, step three you have kind of maybe the number of signups attached to each article or to each piece of content. That’s the volume, but then you want to know what are the patterns? Why are those pieces, the high-quality pieces that brought the highest value to you: what do they have in common? Right? From your experience, topics and formats are usually the two things that are usually in correlation with the value that they have.
Brittany: Yeah. That will be the most helpful information for you for creating any new type of content.
Louis: Let’s say the blog post format and inspirational blog post have been working very well for me, but as soon as we write about how to, the methodology, people don’t care about them. What do you do with this information? That’s already step five. Once you know which ones are working and once you know why, what is the next step for you?
Brittany: Okay, so the next step is first I would look at, I know this is buzzword-y, but low hanging fruit. I would look at what are the quickest wins that you could take from this content. Normally that will be where else can you put it that hasn’t seen it yet? Have you not emailed it out to your email list? Have you not posted it on LinkedIn? Anywhere that your target audience is that you have not placed that content in front of, I would make sure that you’re doing that. So that might be and right now a lot of social media channels are really trending towards, you know, they don’t want you linking out and constantly driving people away. They want you creating content for the platform. What I like to do is look at ways to create posts for social media channels instead of just sharing the headline and the link. Something that I like to do with something like inspirational blog posts especially would be pulling out any of the really, really motivational quotes and creating separate social media posts around that to create engagement on any social network that’s important for driving traffic and leads for you.
Louis: That’s social media channels. That works for a company that might have a good social presence already, right? But how do you figure out the channels that you need to focus on if a company doesn’t really do social media? What is your process, or at least maybe it’s not a process; it’s more like an intuition or something that you do naturally because you’re very good at it, but what’s the process to select those next channels? Once you know that those blog posts are very inspirational, that work, what do you think about to choose those channels?
Brittany: I start with where your audience is, or where you have any followings already. I think that social media might not be the first go-to for every brand; it just happens to be with a lot of the clients that I work with, so it’s where my mind goes to quickly. It absolutely doesn’t have to be. I think that repurposing and using content for email marketing is something that is not talked about as often, but that’s really great since email is a super direct way to your consumers.
But people are sick of sales promos in their inboxes all the time. If you can be consistently sending them helpful content, that’s a great way to build a relationship. Most companies should have an email list, and so that’s a great way to get them engaged quickly is to just be able to take some motivational or inspirational email content and say, you know, maybe this is one email pointing people toward the post, maybe we want to break this up into a series talking … You could take an inspirational blog post and say, “We’re going to pull out three topics from this and they’ll each be a newsletter type email.”
So just yeah, go wherever you’re already building your audience. If that’s social media, great. If that’s email, great. If that’s somewhere else, amazing.
Louis: Right, so this step, I think it’s step six or seven at this stage, but to me it sounds like you want to know, you want to make a list of all the channels you’re already on, and you want to kind of rank them in terms of audiences or reach that you have. Let’s say that if your company has a very popular Medium blog but you actually don’t really take advantage of it, and then you have a YouTube, at least and you don’t really take advantage of it, then this is probably where you need to plan, where you need to
repurpose your stuff, right?
Brittany: Exactly, and so like I said: companies have email lists they’re likely not leveraging fully. They likely have inactive social media channels where their audience is looking for them. Those are two great places to start. You really just … The whole goal of content repurposing is making your life as a marketer or a content creator, whoever you are within the company, easier, creating content. So starting where you already are is always great.
Louis: Right. So we are in a good place right now and we are able to select the pieces of content that resonate the most. We are able to know why. We are able to select the channels where we need to repurpose them. Before we go into finding a system that works, that you can just implement over and over again, what’s … how do you choose what to publish on those new platforms? How do you pick the things that you think will work on those platforms based on, let’s say, a popular blog post?
Brittany: It would, again, depend a lot on the platform and your audience. It’s hard to give one size fits all advice, but to go through an example before of let’s say you’re trying to build your email list and you have an active LinkedIn following and Twitter following. LinkedIn is really pushing a lot of video right now, so you might want to consider how you can take those high-performing blog posts and create some kind of video content. Whereas on Twitter, I haven’t noticed, personally at least, the same huge gains from video, so you might want to focus on breaking up the blog post into smaller tweets or quote graphics or something like that.
Louis: Yeah, I like that. I’m thinking already in my head because as you might have noticed, I do enjoy talking to people and doing interviews, doing video, audio style content, but when it comes to writing, this is something that I’m not very good at, or at least I don’t enjoy that much. I think another step in this process somehow is to figure out the type of things you’re good at, like the type of content you’re good at creating, in order for you to be able to use your strength and do this more.
I’m thinking already in my head, if I have blog posts that have been popular and are written by other people in the company, let’s say, and I’m good at doing video and I can talk in front of a camera for two minutes, perhaps I should consider summarizing the blog posts to actually talk about specific parts of the blog post and publish those videos somewhere else.
Brittany: Yeah. I see a lot of people doing that, and I really like it. Like for example, when they publish a new, bigger in-depth blog post, they’ll then go live on social media channels summarizing some key takeaways and they’ll drop a link. I really like that, because it’s a piece of content on its own, and it’s valuable on its own even if you don’t click through to the whole piece, which is really what social networks want to see in the content that they’re going to show people right now.
Louis: Right. I think we have a good, solid understanding on the process from auditing what you have into finding out what channels you need to focus on and why you should be there, but then I think we can go one step further and say, how do we make sure that this is done on a regular basis? That we just don’t do that once and then forget about it? How do you go about creating a process for companies to just keep doing this over and over again?
Brittany: I actually like to try to build this into the actual content creation process as much as possible. So for example, when I am creating a blog post for my own blog right now, at the same time that I am writing the post I am also creating 10 or 12 different quote graphics that I’m going to be creating on social media. I’m also planning out, before I even publish the actual blog post but when I’m working on the draft, I also worked on a draft for a video to promote it on social media. I also have a YouTube channel, and something that I do before I publish the original video is that I also break it up into smaller clips of each talking point. Before I even publish the original piece, I’m already repurposing it. So that way, just once you have the content it’s all ready and done, and ready to be promoted.
Then in terms of delivery, I like automation a lot. Maybe that’s for email, that’s creating a drip campaign of different repurposed content to go out over time. Maybe that’s using something like Meet Edgar for social media. I really like to try to streamline it as much as possible and look at it all as one process instead of a bunch of different things.
Louis: So you’ve heard it first if you’re listening to this podcast on your way to work or running or doing your cooking. A lot of people are cooking, actually, listening to this podcast. Whatever it is you’re doing, you’ve heard it first: the best content repurposers in the planet don’t repurpose content after it’s produced. They do it while they produce the content in the first place. I think it’s a very, very nice way to think about it. Whenever, probably a good tip is if you’re already in a good rhythm of publishing, let’s say, a blog post every week, then perhaps add more steps to the creation process of the blog post where you add more formats so that you can publish that someplace else.
I don’t necessarily like to talk about tools too much on this show, because I have this dream that this episode could be listened to in five years time and still be valuable, but having said that, I think it’s still important and I think the tools you mentioned might still be around in the future. You mentioned Meet Edgar for social media automation. It’s slightly different than Buffer, because it allows you to just put a lot of content out there in your Meet Edgar queue, but Meet Edgar will actually … they will keep posting it over and over again, right? Instead of just once.
Brittany: Exactly, yeah. It kind of helps you do all this for you, and I really love it because social media reach is not great, and it’s not evergreen, and if you’re only publishing things once, you’re really not getting the most out of the time you’re putting in.
Louis: Yeah, so instead, as you said, you put the time in creating the content, making sure that you think of repurposing it while you’re creating it, and then you reap the rewards of it by constantly, I mean regularly posting those updates on social media or whatever else, and let automation do the hard job for you while allowing you, I suppose, to have conversations with people replying to those tweets or those Facebook updates, because you can then still … Then it saves you time to have conversations with people.
Brittany: Yeah. When it comes to social media automation, I like to say that automate just enough to make it easier to build real relationships. Just kind of sending out the content you’re personally writing anyway, that’s a really … it’s the most authentic way that you can automate social media.
Louis: I’m going to plug my own stuff here, but it’s not really a way to promote it; it’s more a way to explain the concept. I’ve repurposed … There was one episode of Everyone Hates Marketers, because I have no time to do it. Just my side project and I have other stuff to do, so I focus only on creating a podcast episode every week. But I’ve created an article out of the Seth Godin episode a few months ago, and I published it on Medium, and it blew up. Literally blew up. I didn’t really work on it a lot, because I had the transcript of the episode in front of me and I had an outline. I knew kind of what I wanted to talk about, so it was so easy, actually, to do it, compared to all of the other stuff I used to do. The rewards were absolutely amazing. I knew that the Seth Godin episode was popular, so that’s why I did it, but yeah.
Thanks for going through this repurposing kind of process with me and this methodology. It works. It takes a bit of time, it takes a bit of process, but it definitely works. Before we move on and switch gears to something else, did I forget anything about this particular process? Is there something else you want to talk about?
Brittany: I would also just mention that building it into your original process is so amazing and so helpful, but also that content is like a living and breathing thing, and once you press publish you’re not done forever. Even if we do create what’s evergreen content at the time, there’s a good chance we’re going to have to make updates at some point. So evergreen does not mean no more effort needed ever.
Louis: Right. Which is a good point, and I think this is, I’m going to grill you on this instead of moving on to another subject. So yes: how do you make sure, then, so you have the process to make sure that you repurpose your content while creating it. What is your process of keeping your content evergreen?
Brittany: Okay, so the first thing is making sure that it’s consistently over and over being shared out through something like the automation tools that we talked about. Another thing is updates, because even if the information within your content is truly evergreen and completely accurate and everything still, there are still a lot of little tweaks as best practices and trends change and stuff like that. For example, header images and graphics. As your company’s branding, you know, your company might go through a rebrand and then a really, really popular post has five-year-old graphics on it, and it’s not accurate of what your company looks like anymore. You might need to update it in regards to that, or you might have changed your lead generation strategy.
When I was working at Mention, this was something that happened a lot, because we kind of completely changed how we were collecting leads and generating leads, and we needed to go back and update all of the old blog posts, because they just had opt-ins for things that weren’t really kind of pushing people towards anymore, and they were still getting traffic to us. We needed to make sure that all of our old content aligned with our new goals.
Louis: I assume that your spreadsheet, again, you kind of list out all the content you currently have and do you advise to set a time, like let’s say every six months, to look over those articles or those pieces?
Brittany: Yeah, so I like to do this, I would do a brief look over quarterly. Once a quarter I would go in and just make note of anything that would need to be updated, and then again since I’m a really big fan of building something into your regular routine, I would then take that list and update one post a week, so it’s just an ongoing process. I try to get everyone I work with to just see it as something you’re consistently doing. Just a regular habit.
Louis: What are the typical things you see that needs to be updated or that needs to be changed in old pieces of content? You mentioned graphics could be one of them. What other stuff do you typically see?
Brittany: Formatting and readability. A lot of times when you first start blogging or creating content, a lot of us tend to write in big walls of text. Not a lot of headings and lists. If you can go in and improve the formatting to make it easier to read. Sometimes I full on add new content or delete entire sections that are no longer relevant. I, on my own blog, have a really popular post about email marketing tools, and there’s one that I don’t recommend anymore, so I just went through and I deleted that whole section.
Louis: What was it?
Brittany: It was AWeber, and I just don’t recommend it for the audience that I was speaking to anymore. I don’t know what it’s like for other audiences, so I’m not trying to smash them or anything, but for beginner bloggers, it’s not what I recommend anymore.
Yeah, and also lead gen and a call to action. A lot of times, blog posts or pieces of content have no call to action or nothing for the reader to do next. As your content marketing strategy grows and evolves, you can go back to old content and make sure that it has a next step for the reader.
Louis: Wow, okay. So I’m thinking already that we can repurpose this episode quite a lot, because you’ve basically shared three different types of processes and methodology that can be used, and I think all of them are very helpful. I’m actually going to have to take notes after this episode because there’s a few things I need to do differently pretty soon.
Switching gears, then, about you a bit more. You mentioned you used to work for Mention. Mention.com, right?
Louis: They’re a French company, no?
Louis: Right. Woohoo. I knew they were French.
Brittany: Yay. Laughs.
Louis: Before that, you were working for another company, I forgot the name now. What was
Brittany: The company before that was called ezanga.com.
Brittany: Kind of a made up name.
Louis: Before that, you basically had two … You worked for two companies before going out on
Brittany: Yes. I had been doing content marketing in-house for like eight years, and then a few years ago I started freelancing just as a side hustle for fun, basically, since I’m really a content nerd. Then last year, I decided to take it and some other side projects full time and evolve them all into a business.
Louis: So this is a good lesson, I think, for a lot of people who want to launch their own business. You were working full time, and you had a side hustle, and something that you actually enjoy doing, right?
Louis: How long did you keep this side hustle for, before going out on your own fully?
Brittany: It’s weird to describe because I had always had this side hustle. Ever since I’d always been blogging on my own since I’d been working full time, but I’d been doing it with the mindset of looking at it as a business for about two years before I started to consider, “Maybe this is a full-time business.”
Louis: Would you say that’s advice for a lot of people who are looking to launch their own
Brittany: Yeah. I definitely am glad that I did that. I am not a big risk taker. I am not a just go in and quit your day job type person. I’m very long-term thinking and cautious, and so I think that for other people like that, building a side hustle on the side of something else where you can, you know, you have funds coming in, you’re able to test new things, if you get burnout you can take a break without huge disaster, you know, you don’t dry up your income if you take a break from it, which is a factor. So yeah, I think everyone should have a side hustle at some point in their life, just as something to play with. It teaches you a lot of great habits and stuff.
Louis: Yeah, and makes you a better marketer I think. When you have to promote something, a new project, with zero euros, zero dollars, and make people care with like, two hours a week, and if you manage to do that then I think you’re a good marketer. I think you can genuinely call yourself a good marketer. That’s the biggest mistake I’ve made in my career so far is when I launched my own business three years ago, I had no credibility. I had no trust.
People didn’t know me, I had very little skills to market, and I just went in cold turkey. I just quit my job, I had nothing going on. Quit my job, started to launch a consulting business and it just … I managed to make some money, I paid myself very little. I had a small team, but I was miserable and I burnt out at the end. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. It’s about being patient. It’s about having a full-time job you’re very happy with and just being able to test stuff on the side, and that’s, I feel, a much better strategy, but it requires patience. Something I didn’t have a few years ago.
So I’ve shared my biggest fuck up so far in my career. What was your biggest fuck up so
far in your marketing career?
Brittany: I think I definitely was one of the marketers that I now try to warn people against becoming, where I did just create tons of random content for no reason and it wasn’t strategic. At the beginning of my career, I think I was writing two … I was working part-time for a company while I was still in college, and I think that I would go in and I would write two blog posts per day for them twice a week so that they could publish a blog post every day. None of those posts were strategic at all, you know? We knew what to write about and what our audience was interested in, but that was it. We could have published none of those and gotten the same results, which is embarrassing to admit now, but it’s true.
Louis: You learned from it, right?
Louis: So what type of article were they? Was it like 300 words listicles, bullshit articles? What
type of articles were they?
Brittany: They were definitely short. I think most of them were around 500 words. But they were also just random. They were things that we knew that our audience was interested in, but we didn’t then think about how to then tie that back to what we did. So we were kind of … This is really embarrassing, but we used to be like, “Oh, well most of our customers use iPhones so we should talk about iPhones, right?” So we did. It made no sense; we were a B2B advertising company.
Louis: When was that, you said?
Brittany: That was probably like 2012.
Louis: Yeah, so not that long ago. I mean, yeah. Six years ago. That’s a long time, in our book. Thanks for sharing that.
I would classify that to be almost sleazy, shady marketing, right? In my book, it’s like knowingly writing stuff and knowing that it’s not really 100% linked to the brand and just producing more content. Which I liked, thanks for sharing it. Do you have any other sleazy, shady, aggressive marketing tactics that you’ve used in the past?
Brittany: I’m generally very non-confrontational in my personal life too, which makes me pretty
non-confrontational in marketing, but I will admit to being overly aggressive with popup
opt ins, that I am bad with those. Just a sec, let me grab my charger.
But I will admit to being bad with popup opt-ins at first, before I kind of discovered that tools had different settings that you could customize and stuff like that, or that you could just not use them.
Louis: So what did you do? Did you used to have popups everywhere?
Brittany: Yeah. Like, it would just be in your face as soon as the page loaded. It would be big, the copy probably wasn’t great at that point in my career, and it was just, yeah. Popups all the time.
Louis: When did you realize it was the wrong thing to do?
Brittany: When I realized how much I didn’t like them.
Louis: But it was working, no?
Brittany: Yeah, that’s what everyone says, and I mean, that’s just the thing about popups. I think that that’s because we, consumers, have kind of accepted them as a necessary evil. But we don’t need to make them necessary. I think that there’s a place for them when they’re targeted or they don’t pop up as soon as they’re in your face, but I’m definitely leaning away from them now.
Louis: Yeah. I think this is a debate that can be easily closed by just explaining the fact that it’s not because someone left his email address in a popup that he or she will become a very good lead and a very good customer. In fact, what seems to happen is yes you’re asking, forcing someone to leave their email but they are very unlikely to become a good, quality lead turning into a good customer. Those emails are not going to be as valuable as the one you capture from inbound methods that are much less intrusive like a lead-in box at the end of your article, or that kind of stuff. That’s what we’ve seen, anyway, from experience, what I can say.
Brittany: Yeah, and I’ve noticed that even just setting my popups so that instead of coming up immediately it comes up after a minute, if someone is still reading that page after a minute, that’s a much better quality lead.
Louis: Exactly. So fuck the popups.
Louis: I mean the bad ones. The bad ones.
Brittany: Yeah, exactly.
Louis: Right. That’s a good one. Thanks for sharing as well. What do you think marketers
should learn today that will help them in the next 10 years, 20 years or 50 years?
Brittany: That your content is a living thing, and you can use it for longer than the time that you’ve spent working on it. You don’t need to publish a piece of content, be done with it and move on to the next one. You want to go back and keep using and keep updating so that you can keep getting results from all of this stuff that you’ve done in the past. I have people contacting me through my website from guest posts and old client work that I’ve written years ago. Those posts are still getting enough traffic, and that’s not even on me, because these are past clients. That’s them doing their own amazing thing. But those posts from years ago are still getting enough traffic that I have inbound leads coming in from them, and that cannot happen without consistent effort.
Louis: Yeah, amen to that. I actually haven’t asked you about your side hustle, before moving on to the last questions, but it makes me think: how did you go about getting those new clients onboard and making a good living out of it, by working independently? Because I know maybe it’s … I hope it’s not a marketing trick that you have on your side, but when you want to, let’s say work with you and you go to your work with me on the website, you said basically that you can’t take more clients right now. You can’t write for more clients anyway, because you’re just booked out. It sounds like you’re pretty popular, which is great. How did you go about getting those people, getting those clients in for your business?
Brittany: I had a definite advantage working for me, given that I had already been in my industry for a while and built up a network, and also that I’d created a lot of by-lined content. I just had a great network out there. Most of my clients are people that I knew before they were clients, whether that is someone I interacted with at my day job, a lot of people that just came across my blog and joined my email list and they became a reader for a while. It was just really leveraging what I already had working for me. That’s not a marketing tactic. I work mostly with ongoing clients, so right now I just have four
ongoing clients that I write with, that I create content for regularly and then I just try to fit in other stuff and other types of projects here and there. But yeah, I just really leveraged my network and the things that I had going for me from my past experience.
Louis: Which is also a good lesson, from what I told you about my personal history and the fuck up I’ve made is that I didn’t have that, either. I didn’t have a good network to leverage. I didn’t have credibility, people didn’t trust me, and all of that. So it’s much easier once you have that in place; once you have this support network around you and literally can say, “Oh, I’m leaving my job tomorrow,” and have people messaging you saying, “Hey, I want to hire you, I want to hire you as a consultant or as a freelancer,”
Brittany: Yeah. Like, it was scary. I hadn’t really planned on taking my business full time, but then there was just some personal stuff where I knew that I would need to focus a lot more on, and I needed to have a job with a flexible schedule and stuff like that. It was a huge leap of faith that I took, but I had a feeling that once people knew that I’d be available for work that they would take advantage of that, and my main strategy when I first left my day job was basically just letting people know, like posting on LinkedIn, not even in any strategic way but just, “Hey guys! I’m not at a day job anymore.” It was the most unstrategic thing. It was not a tactic. It was just I had built an amazing support system and
it came through for me.
Louis: Yeah, great lesson, because I know a lot of you listening, you’re probably thinking of starting your own business, you have a product in mind, you have something you want to do. Trust me: take your time, be patient and things will pay off big time once you are ready.
You’ve been an absolute pleasure to talk to today. I’ve learned a lot, and I seriously mean that when I say that. I’ve learned a lot from you today, and you’ve been very succinct in your answers and giving a lot of value without spending too much time explaining or going through, like what I’m doing right now, which is just talking and talking. You’ve been really helpful.
What are the top three resources you would recommend listeners to go through, to read, to view, to watch, to listen?
Brittany: One book that I am reading right now that I love, it’s called Sitcom. It’s not about marketing; it’s about the history of sitcoms, mostly in America but just as a medium, and it’s really interesting, and I’m learning a lot about storytelling and writing from it. I was not expecting that much, you know? I was kind of just expecting to geek out about I Love Lucy, but I have improved my writing so much from this book that I recommend it to any marketer that needs to write or create content at all.
I also recommend, as a tool, Zapier. I am a productivity geek, and I love being able to just streamline and automate whatever I can, especially admin type work like scheduling social media and stuff like that, so that I can focus on creative stuff and writing and content, and so that is my favorite tool for–
Louis: Sorry to cut you, but I don’t want to forget this question. What is your favorite Zap? What is your favorite way to use Zapier?
Brittany: Oh, I love this one. So I don’t like being in my inbox all day and having that open, but I also don’t want to miss important emails from clients, so I have a Zap that says whenever an email comes in from a client, and I just listed the email addresses in there, I get a Slack message. Then I can X out of Gmail, but still get an immediate notification when an important email from a client comes in.
Louis: So you don’t like opening your email inbox all day, but you don’t mind being on Slack all day, yeah?
Brittany: I kind of have to be on Slack all day, because there’s more of an expectation of immediate response, whereas … And I’m better at ignoring that than I am my inbox. I’m just better at that.
Louis: Alright, got you. I cut you there, I’m really sorry. You were mentioning this second
Brittany: Okay, and then a third one, let me see. Another book, I like books, is Killing Marketing. That is by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose, and it came out I think towards the end of last year. It’s kind of talking about what they see as next for marketing, and I really love it. They talk about marketing that generates profit on its own, and it just also kind of validated a lot of what I’ve done in my side hustle for me. I think that for a lot of content creators or marketers in general who are interested in any kind of side hustle, learning how to do marketing that makes revenue on its own independent of a product is really
Louis: Awesome. Well, Brittany, you’ve been an absolute pleasure as I said. I think a lot of listeners will have taken away a lot of stuff from you today. Once again, thank you.
Brittany: Thank you.
How to stand out: 9 bullshit-free lessons from world-class tech marketers
Insights from Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin, David Darmanin and 6 other world-class tech marketers.
I’m a no-fluff marketer living in Dublin, Ireland (but yeah, I’m French).
I believe you can treat people the way you’d like to be treated and still generate results without using sleazy, aggressive, hack-y marketing. This is why I’ve started Everyone Hates Marketers – a no-fluff, actionable marketing podcast – as a side project in April 2017.
I’m also the Content Lead at Hotjar – a powerful way to analyse people’s behaviour on your website or app and understand how you can improve their experience.