How to write great content that gets noticed (and the mistake you don’t want to make!)

My last post about being your own hero has beenHow to write great content that gets noticed (and the mistake you don't want to make) my most successful one so far. My biggest honor was the fact that Jonathan Fields took time out of his busy day to comment on my post. That meant a lot. (I bet JF is going to get a million karma points just from my gratitude alone!)

Some of you have asked me how I did it, and even though I didn’t want to write this post initially (it could have just been a one-off thing with this post), after thinking about it I realized that there were some strategies I applied this time that definitely helped.

1. Be authentic

When I first started in this whole online biz/blogging space, I went out and signed up to 100+ mailing lists from some of the people I thought were successful, hoping I could “learn the ropes” from studying their e-mails.

Unfortunately, all I learned during that time is how much it sucks being sold to.

Even more unfortunately, I didn’t apply that lesson to myself. Instead, I actually tried to use these concepts in my blog posts and list e-mails. My initial response was crickets, so I tried harder. But the harder I tried, the more cricket-y the response got.

The problem, of course, was that the way I communicated with my tribe didn’t feel right to me, but I still pushed myself to do it, because I thought it was “the right way”.

So I started flip-flopping around what my brand was, how I wanted to structure my content (you may remember I even tried to quit blogging at some point), and whether I’m meant to do this in the first place.

One day, I realized that if I kept going on doing things the way I thought they should be done without honoring how it felt right for them to be done, I would never feel good about the blog and the online business.

So I started asking myself who I actually liked hearing from and who I didn’t. And that’s how I realized that there were people out there who were hugely successful but didn’t rub their sales in your face or try to convince you that your biggest worry on a Friday night was whether or not you were going to miss their one-of-a-kind-wonder-of-the-world enrollment period.

I unsubscribed from all mailing lists that made me feel like I was just a money bag, and started studying the people who made me feel good.

And I realized that I wanted to be like them. I wanted to become successful, yes, but I also wanted to feel 100% comfortable with how I was talking to my audience and how I was making my audience feel.

I was tired of feeling like being in business online was about constantly putting on a show. That’s definitely not who I am, and it’s not the kind of life (or success) that I value.

Most importantly (and this is something you will see repeated in the next concept as well), I focused all of my efforts on being helpful to my readers, and didn’t think about what I would be getting from it.

So I made a conscious decision to stop speaking in the voice I thought would be “cool” or would make me sound like I know what I’m talking about, and embraced my own voice. I allowed myself to be me, with faults and bruises, and said to hell with everyone who doesn’t want to see me that way.

Because that’s who I am, and that’s who you are as well. And anyone who preferred to see me as the perfect hype-maniac that I’m not is probably not willing to look inside themselves enough to really be part of my tribe.

And I’m cool with that.

2. The 80-20 rule (probably not the one you already know!)

I learned a very important rule from Derek Halpern: Focus 20% on creation and 80% on promotion. (His original article on it: http://socialtriggers.com/80-20-blog-building/)

Granted, Derek isn’t the only one who tells you to promote more than you create (Laura Roeder does too, and a number of other marketers do), but he gave me a simple rule that stuck with me.

(A tip for those who, like me, always try to be learning the ropes: simple rules and frameworks are memorable and work! Derek is great at this.)

What I liked about Derek’s strategy in particular is that he doesn’t just recommend posting your links over and over on Facebook, Twitter, and every other social networking site or Facebook group you’re a part of. Instead, he recommends strategic promotion, building connections with influential people in the industry and getting to their audience.

I have to admit that I have a decent amount of fear when it comes to reaching out to other influencers. (OK, I shit my pants every time I think of doing it.) So I gave myself permission to take it slowly. I reached out to a few of the people who I have noticed are authentic and down-to-earth and tried to be helpful.

What I have learned is that one of the best ways to be helpful to people who you feel have nothing to learn from you is to simply show them how much you appreciate them and their work.

Their businesses are more stressful and they already get a lot more flack from haters. And getting some (honest) love feels good for everyone!

I’m going to write a more detailed post in the future about how to reach out to influential people in your industry (I’m really still just in the beginning stages of learning how to do it), but I wanted to share this with you because these little steps forward I took in reaching out, connecting with other entrepreneurs, and promoting my content have really made a difference this week.

How do you promote your content without feeling self-promotional?

The key, I’ve discovered, is to not focus on what you’re getting out of it, but to always be thinking of what you can contribute. If I don’t feel like my article will benefit someone else or their audience, I don’t share it with them. If I do, I direct my conscious focus on giving, rather than getting.

In the beginning, this is definitely tough to do – you will find yourself sitting anxiously on the edge of your seat constantly checking analytics to see if you get any more sign-ups from those shares. But as time goes by and you keep redirecting your focus to giving, rather than getting, you get better at it.

3. Detach from your expectations

Yes, my last post did great, and after I saw those results I committed to applying these ideas for every post and demanding high quality from all of my posts (that’s why this one turned out so long).

But this post might very well have zero comments and no shares.

And I’m fine with that.

Because I am constantly keeping my focus on giving rather than getting, the important part to me is not whether or not this post is successful – but the fact that I’m writing what I felt like I needed to write in order to be helpful.

Depending on how this post goes, I’m going to go through my 3 habit success framework to make sure I learn as much as possible about how to give what my peeps need.

The key is to be flexible and maintain my hero mindset, because every experience that the victim in me would consider a failure, the hero in me sees as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Now that I’ve given you the basics of what helped me get this post out there (good, authentic content + thoughtful, honest self-promotion)…

Let me tell you about the mistake I made (that I don’t want you to make as well)

About a month ago I released a training video I worked on for several weeks that I poured my heart and brain into. The content is great, I even made a workbook for it, and I’ve received some awesome feedback from it.

But my initial copy for it sucked. I wish I had saved it for you so you could see it, but unfortunately I couldn’t find any cached versions of it.

It had a jumble of info from the copy from my old opt-in and some extra “perks”, and it didn’t even connect syntactically. I had changed the initial copy to a much better one on the front page of my site pretty quickly after I launched the video, but I forgot to got lazy and didn’t change it in the opt-in box below posts.

As a result, from the initial few visits to my post to the boost when it got shared more I received 0 (zero, Null) sign-ups.

I was ready to pull my hair out and throw in the towel. Was I really getting all of the wrong people reading my post? Or was my free offer really that bad?

Err, no. I just still had the old, shitty copy at the bottom.

When I realized that a few days ago and changed it, the sign-ups started rolling in (not even half an hour later).

I would lie if I didn’t admit that I desperately wanted to jump back in time and make that change at least a few days before. Just thinking about the sign-ups I had missed made me mad. Not to mention all of the people who read it and might have gotten turned off from my site because of my inability to string together a proper sentence.

But then I stepped out of my victim shoes and owned up to the fact that, for some reason, this is how it turned out, and this is how it was meant to be. One thing is for sure: after this lesson, I will never get too lazy to change my copy everywhere.

Never!

It also goes to show just how important it is to have good copy. And to not allow yourself to be a victim. Because otherwise I would still be sitting in my PJs eating ice cream right now instead of writing this post, learning the lessons, and moving on.

I shared, now it’s your turn!

Did you have an embarrassing blunder in business, like me? I would love to hear about it. And I bet our community would learn a lot too 😉

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Comments

  1. This is just what I needed to hear! Thank-you! I think my weakest link is not promoting….I love the idea of focusing on what I’m contributing.

    • Thanks, Gillian! Yes, that is my weakest link too! But you’re doing your work a disservice by not honestly trying to promote it. You’re also doing a disservice to the people who would otherwise be benefiting from your content. If it came from a true place of sharing and serving, you have no reason to hold back from spreading it because it will be useful!

  2. Wow! I love love love hearing real behind the scenes lessons from wins (and failures) in business. I know that optin mistake can be quite the bummer, but honestly, that won’t be the last popular post you have! Your people will find you, and your list will grow, even if you missed out on a good opportunity this time! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Thank you, Leah! I know, right? I also love getting a behind-the-scenes view, and I’m glad I could be on the side that peels back the curtain this time 😉 Thanks for the encouragement! Of course, you’re right, but when I first discovered it it seemed like it was the end of the world! Lol.

  3. Hey I just started my own happiness website and your blog just pop up on herfuture.com! some of the tips you mentioned really resonate with me like being authentic. I would love to hear your thoughts on my website if that’s not too much to ask?
    http://www.tubesofhappiness.com

    Thank you!

    • Thanks Jing! I took a look and I love the design and purpose behind it, as well as how much you use YouTube. But for the written parts of the site I would recommend spellchecking! It’s easy for us non-native English speakers to make mistakes, it’s my most helpful tool!

  4. Sara Graybill says:

    This was great to read! I’m going through the same struggle with finding my voice right now so this was really great. And I had never heard the 8/20 rule applied like that but it totally makes sense. Not to just apply it…

    • Thank you Sarah! I’m glad this was helpful to you. I know, right? Derek really put it in a great way to remember it. I agree that it’s tough to promote yourself, but like I told Gillian above, it’s all a matter of respect. By promoting the honest, helpful work you did you are both respecting yourself and your efforts, as well as the people who could benefit from it. It’s a win-win situation, but we don’t often see it that way!

  5. I think this sentiment is a really useful one to remember ‘the important part to me is not whether or not this post is successful – but the fact that I’m writing what I felt like I needed to write in order to be helpful.’ I also like your tip about subscribing to newsletters and really seeing how it works or doesn’t – I get lots of newsletters, and really should look at the wording and whether it hooks me in, but I mainly look at the design!

    • Thank you Kirsty! Yes, that was a good idea that helped me a lot in the beginning. To be fair, I’ve always been very much a self-learner (something about having issues with authority and being told what to do/learn, hmmm…) so I thought I could learn copy by just studying other people’s copy. To this day I have a folder in my computer where I save in PDF the best sales pages I’ve come across!

  6. Such a good post! Especially for people who are just starting out in the blogging world and feel that they need to conduct themselves in one certain way. For me it took months to find my voice or write anything of value 🙂 But if I quit after the first few crappy posts I wouldn’t have met the amazing people and clients that I have today. I don’t think i’ve EVR reached out to an influencer…can’t wait for you to write more about this!

    • Oooh well kudos to you for sticking it out and for making it this big without ever reaching out to an influencer! That’s super impressive! Yeah, when I look back over my first posts I can feel my eyes starting to bleed. But it was all worth it, and I’m sure a year from now I’ll be writing much better posts. My favorite stalker thing to do is to go on influencers’ sites and check out some of their first posts. It always makes me feel better about not being “perfect” now! We all have a ladder to climb.

  7. Enjoyed the read! As a new blogger (who never in a million years thought I’d ever write anything for the public to read), I’m struggling with all of these things you mentioned and trying to stay as authentic as possible (and extremely vulnerable). It’s a cool process. Thanks!

    • Haha Rebecca, I know what you’re saying! I always used to look up to bloggers I enjoyed reading and think I could never be like them. But with work and willingness we can get there 🙂 thank you for sharing your story!

  8. Hi Laura, thanks for such a great, down to earth post. I am still finding my feat with blogging so I’m happy I stumbled upon your blog as your content is really helpful to me. Many people out there love to only reveal how successful and great they are, so it was really refreshing to hear your honest words. Thanks, Sharon

    • Thank you, Sharon! I agree with you, it can be so frustrating trying to find people out there who really share their experience. Pat Flynn does this very well, and I also enjoyed Denise Duffield Thomas’s Behind the scenes of her business. Here is her report on the first year: http://www.luckybitch.com/2013/08/first-year-in-business/. I love how she shares the ups and downs, the struggles, and everything else along the way. Glad to have you in our community 🙂

  9. Hi Laura! I think I like this post even more than the last one (which I also enjoyed). I recently tuned in to Derek’s webinar where he talked about the 80/20 rule and that was immensely helpful to me as well. We’re writing to be read … we gotta put it out there. In an authentic, non-sleazy way, of course. Like you, I subscribe to a lot of mailing lists, and the emails I actually open consistently are the ones from people who provide great content for free. And those are the people that I eventually buy from.

    • Ha, I was on that webinar too! You are absolutely right, we write for others to read, not for our writing to hang out in the interwebz and collect cobwebs. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  10. Yay Laura! As said before me, this is what I needed to read. Other people’s ideas/newsletters/strategies/tactics/”do not do anything but this tips” are sooo seductive that it’s easy to slip right into forgetting your own voice. I know I did. I’m slowly, one step at the time, walking back up that hill – taking some good advice with me in my backpack but leading with my own voice.

    Because I LOVE that you share, open fully and with no BS. That’s what I want to do. Instead of, as you put it, be putting on a show.

    Thank you Laura, especially for sharing about your “bad” copy. I’ve made many mistakes with copy, with setting up opt-ins and I still work out kinks on my site on a weekly (hrm, maybe even daily) basis – a work in progress. But it’s progress 😉

  11. Thanks for writing this amazing post, Laura! 🙂 It gave so many great tips. I’m bookmarking this for SURE!

    You mirror so many of my thoughts as of late. I’m also going through a transition in my life and career – and rethinking this whole “internet marketing” thing, to ensure that I’m as candid and transparent as possible — even with the crappy stuff that I might be facing at the moment. I’ve been torn between launching two different sites where I can do this (my own personal name vs. an alter ego) and in the process of a major overhaul on my business as well.

    Like you, have been unsubscribing from marketers who just use my email address to sell stuff to me and make me feel like a cash register and solely following those who are authentic and truly care about serving their clients’/readers’ needs.

    Thanks for being a great example of this and being willing to share your “mistakes” with us, so that we can feel empowered to do the same.

    Signed (a new fan/follower) 🙂

    ~Thea

    • Thank you very much for your kind words, Thea! I know what you mean. I have been extremely disenchanted by the online marketing space, and really needed to give myself permission to stop focusing on selling (and what I’m getting out of it) and focus only on giving. It still takes a lot of effort (especially spiritually) but I’m getting better at it. Best of luck to you, and I know that whatever decision you make will be the right one for you!

  12. I’m adding you to my list of Inspirational people! Thank you for such a beautiful post. I think as teachers and bloggers, it’s hard to admit our own mess-ups. I mean, if I talk about my mess-ups all the time, people won’t want to hire me as a life coach or read my blog! I get scared of being vulnerable with my business, with sharing ALL the gritty details. But I forget that THIS is what my audience relates to – THIS is being human. And sometimes, as a teacher, you learn from your students and the other incredible teachers around you. You don’t ALWAYS have the right answers. Reading about your blunders have helped me and I thank you for sharing! xo

    Best,
    Brittany
    http://www.Soultiply.com

    • Ah, I know, right? I constantly have to snap out of thinking that way. I’ve made it kind of a game for myself to share as much of my real self as possible (and Lord knows, I make a ton of blunders! My husband always jokes that my life is one long series of “oh shit” moments.) It really helps to follow other people who do the same and notice how inspired I am by them. I definitely wouldn’t want to hire someone who can’t relate to what I’m going through!

  13. Laura, There are so many points in this article that I resonate with. Specifically, the details. As you are aware, when you are trying to do too many things, something always seems to fall through the crack. Thank you for the reminder to pay attention to the details.

    • Thank you, Kim! This is especially important to me, I stink at being detail-oriented and am totally a big-picture person. I give myself permission to fudge most of the details but set clear boundaries about when I need to be careful.

  14. This is such an awesome post, Laura! I LOVE your first point about authenticity. It’s SO important to be who we are. I love your statement: “I allowed myself to be me, with faults and bruises.” When we’re ourselves, not who we think we’re “supposed to” be, it changes everything. I also love how you mentioned Derek’s philosophy about promotion. Awesome :).

    • Thank you, Leanne! Yeah, that was a tough lesson to learn, and I have to say that I am still very much in the process of learning it. Vulnerability is always a work in progress!

  15. Great post – so nice of you to be so authentic and transparent about your experience. First time I’ve been here and I’m already a fan!

  16. Ha! My biz blunder is not quite as visible as yours, but involves interaction with an actual hopefully-future-client: I got an email notification that someone had booked a time to talk about their book with me from my online scheduler. That was awesome! Unfortunately instead of looking at the date, I looked only at the time…and it was in 15 minutes! (or so I thought!)
    I scrambled to get organised, made Skype contact, and rearranged another commitment. Then waited. And waited. And called their cell phone, left a message.
    Then I went back and looked at the appointment again: it was for a weeks’ time. ARGH! I’d done all of that, and looked like a stalker… so lesson learned. Read all appointments fully and carefully!!
    (And thanks for the article: it helped distract me so that I could recover my dignity!)

    • Oh my goodness! I’ve done things like this before and I always used to tell myself how I’m too scattered… like today I managed to chip/break two things in my home! But I think a lot of it comes from just being enthusiastic and passionate… ain’t nobody got time to pay attention! Thank you so much for sharing your story. No worries, I’m sure your client will understand (if they don’t, they may not be a good fit!) but I’d love to hear how it all worked out in the end!

  17. This post is so crazy good I want to bow to you as one writer to another. I can see all the love energy and effort you put into this. And my biggest blunder, quite frankly, was not self-promoting, not running my business like a business. Oh, and recognizing that online relationships take time; you won’t just ‘get’ good connections, you have to date them.

  18. I love the concept of authenticity… and like you, I noticed a huge shift when I just started being more ME and speaking from the heart… I’m really looking forward to that “future post” on influencers… because it scares the shit out of me too 😉 In the meantime, I will continue focusing on “giving” more… because I really like what happens when I do 😉

  19. Thanks for this post Laura. Elegant and authentic and I feel the connection very strongly. Really important points. Thank you for sharing so generously.

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