The Perfect Answer is Not a Novel with Maddy Osman

Episode 3 January 24, 2022 00:20:44
The Perfect Answer is Not a Novel with Maddy Osman
Launch With Words
The Perfect Answer is Not a Novel with Maddy Osman

Jan 24 2022 | 00:20:44

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Hosted By

Bridget Willard

Show Notes

Why should your small business value writing as part of their marketing efforts? In this episode of the second season of the Launch With Words Podcast, Bridget is joined by writer Maddy Osman for an insightful conversation on how small business owners can DIY their content or hire a writer.


Follow Maddy Osman at @MaddyOsman on Twitter and check out her company website at theblogsmith.com.


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Transcript

00:19.53
Bridget Willard
Hey hey season 2 another episode. This is episode 3 with Maddie Osman -- the Maddie Osman. If you have seen anything in WordPress written about anything you've seen her byline. Maybe you haven't seen her byline. D you ghostwriting? yeah.

00:34.26
Maddy Osman
I Do some ghostwriting.

00:39.13
Bridget Willard
She's she's pretty ah prolific, is the word we would use, welcome. I'm like career goals I want to be like Maddie Osman. Will you be on my podcast?

00:44.20
Maddy Osman
I'm glad you think so and thank you for having me.

00:50.84
Maddy Osman
Well I'm I'm super happy to and I feel like Bridget like we learn from each other. You know, like we both have these different approaches but we both like ultimately are trying to do the same thing which is like help businesses communicate better.

01:06.18
Bridget Willard
Yeah, and that is a problem because they have a passion and an an expertise and knowledge for what they do, but sometimes they feel inhibited ah by writing.

01:13.60
Maddy Osman
Right.

01:19.22
Maddy Osman
So yeah.

01:21.31
Bridget Willard
So like what are some of the things you think small business owners need to know or to get over that inhibition. Like for me I'm a something is better than nothing person. Like just put it on the internet fix it later.

01:33.99
Maddy Osman
Solo. Yeah yeah.

01:36.52
Bridget Willard
So like what kind of tips would you give a small business owner?

01:40.47
Maddy Osman
Yeah, no I think that's ah, a really great start and I think that the beauty of the internet as a publishing medium versus print or even you know like media like TV or radio or something like that is that we can change it. Right? after we publish it. We have that power and not that the bar is like lower for things like grammatical errors or making mistakes. I mean that's still super important. But I think that because of the medium that we're publishing on and the fact that a lot of content that we're creating has some sort of timely nature to it. There's also this like forgiveness like if you do make a mistake or you know maybe you like need to dig a little bit deeper into something for it to really provide the value that you want somebody to get out of it or if you made you know, just a grammatical error or whatever, you always have the option to go back in and edit it and I don't think that many people are are going to be upset about that. Versus like a print book and it's like oh crap that's how it is now.

02:45.40
Bridget Willard
Well I started my career working at a publisher of college textbooks. There are errors in every book Always as they just have those redlined for the next edition. It's not that big of a deal even in print.

02:49.70
Maddy Osman
Nice Oh sure.

02:59.68
Maddy Osman
Right.

03:01.67
Bridget Willard
But now with "screenshots are forever" - everybody's like you did this wrong. I just read a job opening today for a mortgage company that had the wrong like plural. The plural was missing like ah all you're only going to use 1 resource I guess not many of it. So but that's me.

03:07.37
Maddy Osman
Yeah, yeah.

03:13.13
Maddy Osman
Ah, snaps.

03:21.20
Bridget Willard
And that's my, you know, occupational hazard. But wouldn't you say that most people don't even read on the internet?

03:23.18
Maddy Osman
Show. Right? They they Skim is really what we're trying to optimize for and so that's maybe another maybe another like helpful thing to know for a small business owner. That people aren't going to like dig into it. They're not going to write literary critiques about it. It's.. It's really just like you want to write something. It's the same approach as um, trying to optimize around somebody going into search and typing something and being like what is what are they trying to find and how can I be the perfect answer to their question. And so that's that's kind of how you have to go into it and the perfect answer is not a novel. It is as short as you can answer that question and then you can provide some additional information if people really want to know more. So.

04:12.53
Bridget Willard
[Bridget laughs] I can't. I can't help myself. I can't believe we haven't ah talked you know actual with our voices conversation yet. "The perfect answer is not a novel" is now the title this episode. But.

04:24.62
Maddy Osman
Oh love it! Perfect.

04:32.31
Bridget Willard
Ah I always tell people that writing a blog post isn't an eighth grade essay. Writing an email isn't an eighth grade essay and if you really need some help Grammarly is right there by your side for free.

04:35.92
Maddy Osman
Right.

04:44.25
Maddy Osman
I Swear by Grammarly honestly everybody on my team has a premium subscription. And I'll say part of the reason why is not only like Grammarly is fallible. You can't. It's not the same as a human editor. You know it doesn't get nuance the same. But what's really cool about Grammarly is you can add your own custom style guide so that you know it it adapts to the things that you decide are important, that you say are important and.

05:11.44
Bridget Willard
Yeah I should definitely get that premium subscription because I'm constantly going incorrect suggestion incorrect suggestion. Go home You're drunk. But seriously it's a great tool because a lot of times.

05:18.56
Maddy Osman
Ah, come on Grammarly right.

05:27.45
Bridget Willard
You know, Ernest Hemingway said, "write drunk at it sober." We we just need to get it out of our system. We need to get out. When I was in construction we we would hear these like objections people had to epoxy injection, for example, and and then you just solve that problem. It doesn't have to be necessarily polished.

05:33.55
Maddy Osman
Yep.

05:40.19
Maddy Osman
Okay. Right? so.

05:46.60
Bridget Willard
They just need to know that their building isn't going to look ugly when you finish correcting this problem. So there are tools as you mentioned like you know, but um, like what kind of a what kind of.

05:50.60
Maddy Osman
Totally.

06:03.10
Bridget Willard
Like that perfect answer. How does a small business owner who is super good at framing or drywall and maybe doesn't do SEO because they don't do SEO but like how can you give them that common sense tip of what is that perfect question?

06:03.60
Maddy Osman
And.

06:09.35
Maddy Osman
Sure.

06:17.87
Maddy Osman
Yeah, yeah, totally yeah. I think for somebody who doesn't want to spend like one hundred plus dollars a month on SEO tools, that's you know, just going to be for you know some smaller marketing efforts.

06:22.80
Bridget Willard
I mean I have my methods I Want to know what you're getting your secrets. Ah.

06:37.21
Maddy Osman
You know that they barely have time to run. Um I think honestly the easiest way to find that information and the most effective way to find that information is to go in and start doing those searches. And to see like what comes up as like a suggested search. So like what are different ways to think about the same topic?

06:49.39
Bridget Willard
Yep.

06:56.59
Maddy Osman
Um, looking at other like Google SERP which is Search Engine Results Page for anybody who doesn't know that um features like the People Also Ask. So that's kind of like you know what specifically do people want to find in these search results I mean that's that's probably the most useful part of.

07:06.34
Bridget Willard
Yep.

07:15.49
Maddy Osman
Google Search data um and then looking at the bottom. Yeah I mean that's it's really that simple I think that a tool like Hrefs which we swear by because that's what we do is SEO content. Um a tool like Hrefs is good to validate.

07:15.52
Bridget Willard
Um, literally that's how I do it. That's literally how I write for my clients.

07:34.73
Maddy Osman
Things like the market or how difficult like realistically it's going to be for you to be able to rank in that market and so that's fair if you're doing it at scale. But if you're just trying to to answer the question and you know which. And SEO might not even be your goal. But I think that SEO has a lot of answers for even just like outlining content.

07:56.30
Bridget Willard
Yeah, absolutely so when when you're not using it for that reason not SEO in particular although publishing is a ranking factor which is my point with Launch With Words is just do it right? What? What would you say is.

08:01.94
Maddy Osman
And. Sure right.

08:15.24
Bridget Willard
Um, ah other uses of the content on their website?

08:17.82
Maddy Osman
So Oh yeah, what I was going to say that I forgot to add to my last thought was in coming up with those answers something that we're doing a lot more now at The Blogsmith now that I've hired some more people and have more time to think about it is like coming up with Sales Collateral. So It looks like a blog post but really, it's something that I can send to people who have the same questions over and over again, you know, to necessitate creating a piece of content for it and sort of like confidently answering the question and, you know, people being able to feel confident in that answer and and knowing that we've addressed that before and and that we have a process around it. So.

08:58.96
Bridget Willard
Yeah, that's I mean it feels so good to hear another writer do exactly what I do. That's how I started. Well because ah you know that was what was happening people were asking a question over and over and over again. Back when I was the secretary.

09:05.91
Maddy Osman
So validating.

09:13.10
Maddy Osman
Joe. Yeah.

09:16.45
Bridget Willard
If we would have all these files right? Physical paper files. and if if there was something that didn't belong anywhere you put it in the alphabetical miscellaneous file. But once there were 3 of them, it got its own file. I approach that the same way with content. If somebody's asked you the same question 3 times then it's not.

09:23.70
Maddy Osman
Show. Here.

09:36.00
Bridget Willard
You know for WordPress people, it's not in your documentation well or they can't find it or it's not on your website. And often people hear about you from word-of-mouth like this is the objection I hear from small, especially service-based industries that oh we work on word of mouth. Okay, so if Betty told

09:44.46
Maddy Osman
Yeah.

09:54.53
Bridget Willard
her friend Karen about your roofing company. She's going to go to your website now she's using your content for validation. Not just discovery. So when people are looking at their content like let's say they've been doing it.

09:56.56
Maddy Osman
Yeah, right. Right? yeah.

10:13.30
Bridget Willard
Now they're looking at Google Analytics, what which part of Google Analytics do you think a small business owner should pay attention to because you can just like geek out and be sucked into the black hole of Google Analytics? Like what is a good thing for them to focus on?

10:13.37
Maddy Osman
So.

10:21.34
Maddy Osman
Oh my god totally yeah I think that in general the overview is a good like summary of like the health of your website. Um. In terms of just like are people even using it you know and it's not so much about having like a million visitors a month or something it's is it growing are people staying on the page. Are they bouncing after looking at 1 page or you know do you have enough content to kind of keep them engaged and keep them. Doing kind of what you're saying this like self-service process of of deciding if you are the right business to help them with whatever it is that they need help with um and then I would say also just kind of more from my perspective. The queries report is useful because it shows. Um.

11:05.94
Bridget Willard
Um, yeah, um.

11:16.89
Maddy Osman
I can't remember if it's stuff that leads people to you from search or if it's what they're actually typing like in the search on your website but either way I mean useful data for sure to know like what people want to know.

11:26.76
Bridget Willard
Yeah, because if they're coming there because they're looking for advice on relationships and then they're not finding it or you don't write about it enough. Yeah, that's telling you what people are looking for and how that's bringing them to your websites. That's.

11:41.80
Maddy Osman
Right.

11:45.85
Bridget Willard
Super useful information. So ah, you have a company called The Blogsmith and you service these these other small businesses in tech and things like that. What advice would you give to a small business owner who's like listen I don't have time for this crap. Ah.

11:45.98
Maddy Osman
Yeah, and.

11:55.60
Maddy Osman
And.

12:04.50
Bridget Willard
The small business owner sometimes forgets that they are the source of truth in many ways to even ah, a writer that they hire. But how do they go about finding a writer?

12:07.89
Maddy Osman
Right? so.

12:19.77
Bridget Willard
Like where would you send them to search?

12:21.73
Maddy Osman
So sure. Yeah I mean besides working with The Blogsmith, Um, I would say that one of the places I've had the most success finding great writers is actually on Reddit. There's this hire a writer subreddit and you know what you do is you go in and you kind of just.

12:25.00
Bridget Willard
Um, yeah.

12:35.92
Bridget Willard
Um.

12:40.83
Maddy Osman
Post generally about the job you're looking for and like the expertise you're looking for. You do have to specify a pay rate that's important and I think that's important really on any channel because you don't want to waste. People's time you don't want them to waste your time. You don't want to waste their time you want to make sure you're in the same ballpark. Um. I've had success on Craigslist, too. I think it's all about setting expectations. So like going through and writing a job description before you post and not just kind of you know, finagling it together, um without any sort of idea of like what you're really looking for. And then the other part of the process is having a good application so that you can ask them questions about their experience or like how they would handle certain situations especially if they're going to be working on a team setting where it's like you but maybe also an editor or something like that. Um, and then like the last part for me is having.

13:28.70
Bridget Willard
Yeah.

13:35.60
Maddy Osman
Some sort of paid test project where you can really test whoever the best of the best applicants are to see that they can actually follow your processes. Because they might be a great writer but they may not work the same way that you do and and if they don't then it's just not a fit and that's okay, but you know you don't want to.

13:50.78
Bridget Willard
Yeah, yeah.

13:55.25
Maddy Osman
You don't want to spend a whole lot of time on something that's like never going to work and.

13:56.94
Bridget Willard
Absolutely and I like that you add paid tech the test project because I'm I'm always saying I don't do free work. I don't do spec work. Like that's the that's the reason why I am prepaid in my business because.

14:02.25
Maddy Osman
Very important. Hell No. No.

14:15.40
Bridget Willard
You know in construction which is my big background before I became went in marketing for tech you do you get a deposit you do some of the work and you bill progressively. It's the same as web development actually. And you bill progressively. You do the work you get paid. You do the work you get paid.

14:19.30
Maddy Osman
Yeah, right? right. Yeah.

14:32.90
Bridget Willard
But if you do spec work. It's out there and they can use it and they're just getting free work and you don't get feedback and you don't get compensated for your time. So um, that shows you as a small business owner are serious about finding somebody on staff.

14:35.28
Maddy Osman
Right? right.

14:50.98
Bridget Willard
Who understands your industry and and can write about it in a way that makes sense to the general population. You know.

14:55.67
Maddy Osman
Totally and I think like you and I Bridget we have enough experience at this point where it's like check out our portfolio. You know? Like like what more do you have to figure out? You know it's like.

15:08.58
Bridget Willard
Do a Google search.

15:10.51
Maddy Osman
The only the only question is if we're going to fit like your specific business. But if you want to know like are we professional writers. It's like there's enough out there. You can figure it out right? like.

15:17.84
Bridget Willard
I know Google my name I mean I used to have more bylines, um, but you know some people take their websites down after a while or whatever but like I have books I'm like whatever. like yeah so I mean for me. For writers and that's another that's a good way to pivot the rest.

15:26.50
Maddy Osman
Sure it happens that.

15:37.25
Maddy Osman
Sure.

15:37.47
Bridget Willard
The balance of this conversation I do as a client I do have a page where I have writing samples of things where I don't have to kill you if I tell you that I wrote for them. It's like I'm a ghostwriter, what am I supposed to show you? But the ones where I have a byline in all these different industries. You can go read that.

15:41.73
Maddy Osman
And.

15:48.83
Maddy Osman
Right.

15:54.31
Maddy Osman
Okay.

15:55.56
Bridget Willard
If you still have a problem I mean feel free to go to fiverr. But like what it's what advice would you give to writers who are trying to pair with small business owners? Because that's match made to heaven. There's there's a lot of that that needs to happen.

16:01.62
Maddy Osman
Yeah, yeah I I Totally yeah I think um I think that curating your portfolio is important. And I and I think that for ghostwriters, there is some, there are some things that you can't put on your public portfolio because of the agreements you have with clients. But I think most clients are okay if behind the scenes through a private email conversation that you would send them those pieces and say this is this is something I wrote. Um.

16:30.90
Bridget Willard
Right.

16:36.10
Maddy Osman
But yeah, curating it so that it's as relevant as possible to that small business and like let's just say construction like maybe you've worked with like um, someone who does like plumbing but you haven't worked with this new client or a new client like them where maybe they do HVAC or something.

16:52.30
Bridget Willard
Right? right.

16:55.21
Maddy Osman
And so you could still send those like plumbing samples just to show them like in the sort of like trades and stuff like I have handled this before maybe even connecting the dots to say here's how I can bridge that gap to work with you and I think another thing that's really important really.

17:07.86
Bridget Willard
Yeah.

17:12.99
Maddy Osman
Regardless of what client you're working with is asking like do you have access to a subject matter expert. Whether that's the client or somebody on the client's team or even somebody on their network. That's just willing to be a voice in these articles for the sake of them. Also like you know being promoted being shared.

17:30.10
Bridget Willard
Yeah.

17:32.28
Maddy Osman
Um, and having a process where you kind of go into these new articles coming up with questions that you can ask and and get a real answer from a real expert and then using that to make a truly unique piece of content because you are doing your research and you are you know, getting experts. Involved in it. So I think that I think maybe like a general answer to this question is just have good processes for dealing with situations especially where it's a topic that you don't know that much about and.

18:01.83
Bridget Willard
Yeah, yeah, the other day I was sitting in the bathtub learning about Gatsby. So like that's just what happens. You know writers are learners. Yeah. Well um, do you have a little bit of extra advice.

18:07.80
Maddy Osman
So nice right? Lifetime learners for sure.

18:20.39
Bridget Willard
Like like what's like something that frustrates you that small business owners don't seem to understand about writing and the value of it for the web?

18:28.93
Maddy Osman
Sure. Sure. I think that this hasn't been a huge issue recently and probably more because we've started like actually enforcing it but having like an intake process and then like forcing the client to go through that. Not just making it optional. I think. I Think that was my mistake in the past was I created this like kind of long, intimidating form. And so I tried like a couple different things I was like you know I'll get on the phone with you and fill it out with you if that helps. Now I think that people actually like just doing it themselves. And something that I've started to do to incentivize that is like sending them like a gift card to a coffee shop or something and saying like get a little you know treat for yourself while you fill this out. Because I know that it's It's a lot of work but you know the other thing that I do to incentivize people filling that out is I give them a copy.

19:14.28
Bridget Willard
Smart.

19:24.40
Maddy Osman
Of it. It automatically gets sent to them when they finish it and that way any other marketing vendors they work with will benefit from that same information. They might have their own questions but it's you know the the details about their competition or Personas and stuff like that like that's going to help any person they work with.

19:32.64
Bridget Willard
Right.

19:43.29
Maddy Osman
In the future. Even if they don't work with me long-term and.

19:44.12
Bridget Willard
Yeah, that's so smart. Wow that there's so much in just a short period of time. How can people find more about you and your company.

19:52.85
Maddy Osman
And sure so we're Theblogsmith.com and, like Bridget, I love Twitter so at MaddieOsman on Twitter and.

20:01.50
Bridget Willard
Thank you so much for being on this. I am so fan-girlling. You're the best.

20:06.72
Maddy Osman
Ah I'm I'm very happy to be here.

 

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