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‘If content is king, stories are YASSS QWEEN’: 3 things I learnt from BrightonSEO

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Before I worked in content, I was just a writer. I didn’t realise there was a difference. You write words for different reasons – to entertain, inform, sell, encourage, or a hundred others. But there’s a moment where text changes to content.

Content is there to fill a space. It is there to tell search engines that you exist, as well as provide your audience with something of use. As an author, content is usually promotional, or helpful. I write content on my blog to let you know how I write my books, what my process is and how you can replicate it.

BrightonSEO is a digital marketing conference. It covers search engine optimisation, PPC, link building, digital growth and content. Which is why I was there.

Content is super relevant for both bloggers and authors. Often we’re told to have a blog, or write blog posts, and we’re not really sure why or what they’re meant to achieve. It’s just sending out content into the world to try and get links back. I have a few tips about content marketing you can check out if you want to know more.

But for now, here’s 5 things I learnt from Brighton SEO that might be useful for authors and bloggers:

  1. Content is king, but stories are YASSS QWEEN!

In the digital marketing world, there’s a saying: content is king. It’s almost become a cliche. It means that when you produce great content, you can achieve a huge amount. But it also means that you can’t trick the system any more. Years ago, Google would rank you highly if you stuffed enough keywords into an article. Now, Google focuses on value – you need to be writing something that is in-depth enough, interesting enough and offers something new to your readers. If your content isn’t good enough, the internet won’t reward you with attention.

I heard from a few different speakers at the conference and they all backed up exactly how I feel: content is important, but it’s nothing in comparison to story.

Content is writing with purpose, and it has it’s use, but it’s stories that I care about, and I’m willing to bet it’s what you care about too. We like to know the interesting tidbits behind the brand, we want to know where an author works, or what led someone to their career. We want adventures – we want to follow a character down a rabbit hole. It’s why influencers sell us stuff. We care about them, and when they do something, we’re invested.

When you’re writing a blog post, even if you’re just sharing information – look for the story, because that’s what your readers are looking for too.

2. Nobody cares…until they do

You can’t expect people to care about your projects. Which is an unpleasant thought for a lot of creators, a bit like the realisation that no one else really finds your kids as fascinating as you do. You are invested in your stories, your creations. So how do you make other people care?

Stop trying to make them. The more you attempt to force someone to care, the more you try to sell someone, the more they retreat. What makes them lean in?

Say it with me – stories.

Don’t tell someone what you’ve done, tell them why you’ve done it, what problem you’re solving, what’s driven you to make it happen. Tell them about the process, the passion, and what you’re achieving. When someone asks me about my books, I don’t tell them ‘it’s about a girl who goes to this place and does X, Y, and Z.’ I tell them it’s a story about loneliness, or grief, and the experience of walking through it, and emerging on the other side. I tell them about the spark of the moment when the idea came into being, or the hilarity of a naughty misspelling at 2am. Find your audience and tell them the story they’ll care about.

3. Ingenuity over budget

It’s easy to think that you need a big budget to get anyone to notice you, but what you really need is to think outside the box. That phrase is incredibly annoying and cliched, but it’s true. Take a few steps away from your focus and see where it takes you – you might stumble onto something excellent! It’s hard to find a niche, and as an author it’s hard to carve out your space in the arena – often it’s difficult to imagine there’s more to you than your story. I definitely feel this way. I write interesting stories because I’m not very interesting myself!

But there’s no reason that a cause or a passion that’s part of you can’t influence your promotion. Your projects can sit alongside each other – don’t be afraid to let who you are move beyond your creations.

It’s easy to think the only way to be seen is to spend money on promotion, adverts or anything else. But consider how publishing is moving on – seeing bloggers talk about books online can be more useful in getting sales than a big advert on the tube. One is more expensive and seems more impressive, but is it really doing the job? Pick what your aims are and work backwards. Budget is a consideration, but buzz is worth more than bucks.

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