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!
Maddy Osman is an SEO Content Strategist that connects WordPress brands (and other technology companies) with relevant prospects from search.
Her fascination and inclinations with the internet began very young. At the early age of 11, she was designing her first websites and editing graphics on Photoshop.
Now she works on SEO-driven content marketing for clients like:
- Sprout Social
- Search Engine Journal
In this interview, we cover tons of interesting content topics, including SEO, inspiration, video marketing, carving out a freelance niche, personal branding, and more.
How did you get into content marketing? What’s your origin story?
My foray into content marketing started with a foundation in web design.
I was self-taught at a young age and took that skill into my first college job, at a marketing agency. I helped create websites for various student organizations, events, and initiatives. At one point in time, my boss approached me to help with the department of student life’s social media and blog content and I noticed a big difference in the energy I had for this type of work compared to the web design work I was doing.
From there, I took on several freelance content marketing projects until I eventually made it my full-time freelance job!
Is there anything particular to your background, personality or skill set that you believe makes you a great content marketer?
One of the most obvious contributing factors to my success with content marketing is a love of reading.
Every year, I set the goal to read 1 book each week. Having this constant exposure to how other people use language helps me to think of new ways to say things and develop my approach to creating content.
Closely tied to that, I have a love of learning that contributes to a solid researching process.
Do you find that it’s difficult to differentiate or niche down as a freelance content writer? How did you choose the WordPress niche?
I think it’s certainly difficult to decide on the perfect niche for you when there may be a lot of different industries that you feel comfortable creating content for.
Me choosing the WordPress niche was kind of a happy accident, though it makes sense given my background.
Deciding on this niche happened when I started writing for more and more publications in the industry and recognized that my technical experience was worth something.
If you had to explain to someone outside of the content space, what would you say is the more rewarding or enjoyable aspect of your job in content marketing/copywriting?
I think a lot of freelance writers can relate to the feeling of elation when you see one of your pieces published on a big outlet that you worked hard to have the opportunity to write for.
I also enjoy engaging in discussion around my pieces — especially those written purposely to get people to open up their minds.
What skills do you believe are the most underrated for content marketers or copywriters? Are there any ways you know to learn or improve those skills?
This isn’t a skill as much as a personality trait: extraversion.
I think writers (and many freelancers) are typically thought to be introverted, which isn’t a bad thing. But when it comes to talking to people to source content, being confident in your conversation/interviewing skills can certainly make the job easier!
If you’re not naturally extraverted, improving this skill might involve a type of exposure therapy — like going to networking events and working on your ability to pick up conversations with strangers.
What do you think content writers get wrong about SEO? What’s the fastest way for them to learn the right way to do things?
A lot of people misunderstand onsite SEO success to be a factor of continuously repeating a target keyword as many times as possible, then calling it a day.
Then, on the opposite side of the spectrum, are those who dismiss the art of writing SEO content entirely, insisting that their content is high-quality enough to somehow bring in people from search without any organized effort to do so!
But truly, success is finding a happy medium between these mindsets. You must follow the basics of onsite SEO to effectively connect your content with relevant searchers BUT you can’t overdo optimizations to the point that you turn off the actual end user of the content — your human readers.
When it comes to learning more about SEO, start with ebooks and introductory content freely available from industry thought leaders: Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMrush. I also have taught several Skillshare classes about SEO that cover topics that include content optimization, backlink generation, and technical website SEO.
Are there any tactics in marketing you believe are overplayed or getting stale?
This may be a bit premature but I’m wondering if video marketing will continue to be successful now that so many have bought into the idea that it’s worth doing.
With thought leaders telling them that it’s ok to produce lots of video with low production value, I’m wondering if consumers will hit a wall in terms of how much of it they can realistically consume.
Check out Mark Schaefer’s definition of “content shock” for a more eloquently worded definition of what I’m getting at.
Conversely, what new tactics or plays are underutilized or surprisingly effective?
I’ve personally found a lot of success with tactics like content syndication and newsletter marketing (pitching editors to include mentions of my content on their newsletters).
How important is it for a freelance writer to build a personal brand? What methods would you most recommend for doing so?
If you ever want to make good money without working all the time, you absolutely need to build a personal brand.
Your efforts around this can be as simple as consistently sharing what you’re up to on social media (especially LinkedIn, which has good reach and attracts people looking for business solutions) and creating a user-friendly and representative online portfolio website that compels your target client to get in touch.
If you weren’t doing content marketing, what would you be doing?
I do have a side gig of sorts — an apparel company for travellers with a sense of humor. Check out Tanks that Get Around (and look out for a rebrand/website redesign in the near future).
Side gig aside, if I wasn’t writing, I’d still be doing something in the realm of digital marketing. I love testing out different tools and strategies!
Gimme three tips to improve my writing? Or rather, three tips anyone can use to write better.
1. Read it out loud before publishing or sending a piece to a client. You’ll likely find some awkward phrasing that your brain didn’t catch without this auditory feedback.
2. Set a goal to read a certain amount of books each year and stick to it! Look up vocabulary terms that you don’t know and attempt to use them in your writing.
3. Ask yourself, “Is this useful to the target reader?” and if you can’t honestly say, “yes,” go back to the drawing board.