Content Crafters is an interview series where we de-construct the tools, tips, and tactics that top bloggers use to get so much work done. you’ll walk away in mere minutes with actionable takeaways you can try out right away. Let’s dive in!
Shayla Price is a marketer who positions products for growth. Whether it’s content, email, or good ol’ public relations, she strives to delight customers and increase company revenue. Shayla loves training teams to become critical thinkers. She also champions access to remote work opportunities.
Shayla’s work appears all over the place, and not just on her clients’ websites. She’s got bylines all over the internet, from Entrepreneur and Huffington Post, to Shopify and ConversionXL. She’s constantly putting out awesome content and is a super prolific content producer. Here we’ll ask her how she gets so much done, where she finds inspiration for posts, and how she tests out new tactics.
How do you describe your role?
Content leader managing multiple writers/creators
What are your top 3 blogs you follow?
What are the top 3 favorite tools you use to push out top tier content regularly?
What’s the secret of your production function? In other words, how do you get so much shit done?
Time management is the key to content production.
When I write, I give myself a daily word count to finish a piece before a deadline. When managing other content creators, I like to use an editorial calendar and set specific expectations.
How do you research or come up with topic ideas?
It depends on the type of content. Sometimes, I use BuzzSumo to generate ideas and to spy on the competition. I also like transforming conference topics from expert speakers into long-form blog posts.
How do you measure the ROI or effectiveness of your content?
I measure content ROI based on marketing goals. In some cases, content effectiveness may equate to increasing web traffic, boosting lead signups, or earning more newsletter subscribers.
How do you test out new ideas or concepts in your content marketing?
It’s an ongoing cycle of split testing content elements. From headlines to images to calls to action, I give myself the room to make mistakes and be open to change. At the end of the day, you want to make readers happy and achieve your marketing goals.
What’s your number 1 tip you’d give to content marketers looking to get better?
Start listening to your audience more.
You can gain first-hand knowledge from readers by conducting a short survey, interviewing them directly, or asking for suggestions via email. By understanding your audience’s needs, interests, and behaviors, you’re one step closer to crafting compelling content they will love and share.
Additional Notes and Commentary
Hi! It’s your editor again. This section is for those who want to dive deeper on individual points. I’ll expand here on some of the answers above and give you more details on any tools, processes, or resources that were mentioned in the interview.
On blogging tools…
Blogging tools are a focus of ours here (obviously).
The three that Shayla mentioned, Buffer, Zest, and Quuu Promote, are all quite popular among marketing writers. They generally help promote content, and they each do so in a specific way.
Buffer has several tools, but their main solution is a social media marketing management platform. You can plan social shares, automate a large part of your social activity, and view analytics to see what you need to improve on.
Zest is a mix of a community, a curation platform, and a content distribution network. Primarily, it’s a great place to find relevant content you can use to fill your social media feed. Secondarily, you can also boost your own content to that network there.
Similarly, Quuu gives you a social automation solution to fill your feed with good, relevant, and curated content. Quuu Promote lets you boost your content through that network and pick up traffic on your content.
All worth giving a try!
On writing productivity…
As Shayla wrote, “I give myself a daily word count to finish a piece before a deadline.”
This is a theme among many creatives, to give yourself an input metric to focus on.
Tim Ferriss talks about writing “two crappy pages,” and that’s his bar for the day. It helps to focus on these metrics because you have a concrete idea of success, and you don’t put pressure on yourself quality-wise. I put a similar target for myself: 1500 words per day. Sometimes I barely hit it with bad content, and sometimes I write way more, but it’s a good bar).
On topic ideas…
Shayla mentioned another tool here: BuzzSumo.
BuzzSumo has many features, but a popular one is its Content Research solution, where you can find and surface popular content in a given niche. Here, you can search by keyword:
Or, you can also spy on competitor sites by analyzing their domains:
She also mentioned that she likes “transforming conference topics from expert speakers into long-form blog posts.”
This is another underrated topic, but in coming up with content ideas, we often look backwards. However, you can find fountains of inspiration that are more forward looking by tapping into conference topics, discussions, and forum topics. These may not have current search volume because they may be developing in the public consciousness, but you know they have an interested audience due to their popularity as a discussion point.
It’s a good way to start writing about different things that the rest of your industry.
On testing out new elements…
Shayla mentions split testing and creating room for failure.
This is common practice in the world of conversion rate optimization, but hasn’t been adopted well elsewhere. The truth is, best practices aren’t always best practices, and just because your competitor does it a certain way doesn’t mean you should, too.
It’s important to bake an element of experimentation into your work.
You can do this rigorously, through A/B testing headlines to see which results in greater traffic or click through rate. Or you can just take a swing with a new content type by writing a series of posts and seeing if it moves the needle.
The point is to allow yourself some wiggle room so you can out-innovate others, instead of simply repeating the same old and getting into a rut.
On becoming a better content marketer…
“Start listening to your audience more,” is a popular and effective refrain from top bloggers and content marketers.
It’s still very often overlooked by writers.
You can implement several simple solutions nowadays to get closer to your customers. HotJar polls are cheap and effective, Usabilla offers wonderful product feedback capture tools, and SurveyMonkey or TypeForm will give you the ability to survey pretty much anyone.
Or, you can also talk to customers face to face or over Skype. It’s usually wonderfully illuminating to do so.
Doing all of this is no waste of time; you get closer to the problems that customers face and how they desire to solve them. You customer empathy skyrockets, which results in better content.
It’s probably one of the biggest takeaways in terms of writing better content.