Trent: Hey what’s up everybody, my name is Trent Dyrsmid thank you so much for joining us today for another episode of the Bright Ideas Podcast, where we help you to shine a light on what is working in the world of e-Commerce today. In this particular episode, we’re going to do things just a tiny bit differently, I do have a guest by the name of Leslie Samuel and we are going to do a little bit of a different spin on the interview.
This is actually going to be more of a roundtable discussion so think of it as though Leslie and I are in a coffee shop comparing notes on the things that have been working for us and you’re kind of eavesdropping over a shoulder taking notes and hopefully going to be able to come away and put as many of these ideas into your business as possible so I’ll let Leslie introduce himself in a second before I do that, I do want to just quickly read his Bio.
Leslie is the creator of ‘Become a Blogger’ and the host of the blogging with Leslie podcast where he teaches the craft of professional blogging, changing the world one blog at a time is the mission he constantly strives towards. As a former University Professor, he has a passion for education, he founded and later sold interactive biology, a blog dedicated to making Biology fun for students and teachers worldwide wish you were there when I was in school.
And as the head trainer for Social Media Marketing society, he helps to ensure that social media marketing managers get the training they need to stay on the leading edge of social media and that sounds awesome; Leslie thank you so much for making some time, welcome to the show.
Leslie: Thanks for having me and I’m glad we’re in a coffee shop, I want something to drink, something to eat, so hopefully we can make that work right now.
Trent: You betcha, you betcha, the baristas they’re working on it, they’re going to come in on camera any second with their coffee until then I’m just going to sip my water. All right so let’s kick this off with just kind of who are you? I mean I read your Bio but in your own words, what is the thing that you’re most focused on these days?
Leslie: The thing that I’m most focused on is teaching people how to blog and specifically as a business, how do you how do you start a blog? How do you grow a blog? How do you monetize that blog? All that stuff, that is my main focus and it kind of comes from my experience as a blogger; you read a little bit about my Biology blog and I started that biology blog when I was about a teacher that wanted to be a University Professor but couldn’t because I didn’t have a Ph.D.
So I started it so that I could teach the stuff that I wanted to teach and it kind of grew from there and you know my journey has been taking my experience from what I had with that Biology blog and some of the other things that I’ve been doing and just helping others to do something similar whether they are looking to be the you know the known expert in their field or they’re looking for a way to kind of take their business online, grow their online business using a blog that’s been my main focus.
Trent: Okay, so my audience has come to expect that when they listen to an episode of the show they’re going to get actionable ideas they can use for their e-Commerce business.
Leslie: I like it!
Trent: So, if someone has an e-Commerce store or should they be blogging?
Leslie: So the answer to that question is, well it depends; I don’t like to set hard and fast rules like you should be blogging but if what you want to do is use content marketing to grow your online business and you want to focus on that, I think that is a good strategy for you.
Blogging can be a great way of establishing your company as a leading player in this space; so if you want to be kind of like that in have that like Thought Leader position blogging can be a great way to do that.
Trent: And I would also imagine that by blogging that I’m looking for an interview that I did; so I did an interview with Tim Soulo, the CMO of a SEO Software Tool Company back in Episode 264; so if you want to listen to that it’s brightideas.co/264 but I’m guessing that if SEO is a priority then content marketing and SEO kind of go hand-in-hand because you’ve got to have something to rank.
Leslie: Absolutely, I mean it’s the best way that I know of to do SEO when you’re creating that content and you’re putting it out there on that blog, there are a number of things that you can do to optimize it and to get some of that search engine traffic which I know we all want.
Trent: Absolutely, all right so let’s break this down into sort of a step-by-step process so someone is selling– will say and then come to mind any products come to mind, just pick something.
Leslie: So the one that comes to my mind is hair care products.
Trent: Hair care products, okay so very competitive space, how is launching a blog going to help someone in the hair care space to get more traction?
Leslie: So that’s the reason I thought about that is because I actually partnered with someone who was doing an e-Commerce store for Hair care products.
Leslie: So, that’s the first thing that came to my mind, so what we decided that we were going to do since it was all about hair care; we approached it strategy of creating video content, hosting it on a blog, using that video content to grow that blog and then getting people from the blog on to the e-mail list and using that email list along with the blog, along with the videos to promote the products and it actually went pretty well for that person when we did it.
And video was a prime— a main strategy behind that because here care you know people like to see what you’re doing with the products and so on but the blog was an essential part of the entire process; just like it was with my business. We made the blog the main thing with the content being put on that blog and then different marketing efforts to get that content out there.
Trent: And the videos I’m guessing were probably hosted on YouTube so you get a bang for your buck on search.
Leslie: Absolutely, It’s the beautiful… I love that combination, the YouTube plus the blog, plus the e-mail list to grow whatever kind of business you have there’s something about that combination that I find works very well because yes you get the search engine traffic directly to the blog. But if you’re doing a job on YouTube, well then you’re getting search engine traffic directly on YouTube which then funnels people to the blog and the email list and so on.
Trent: I’ve actually been running an experiment like that for the past couple of months for the Bright Ideas brand and has been working surprisingly well so I have been putting up videos where I’m generally speaking targeting a keyword [Yes] And those videos are shown to my audience but they’re also shown 70% of the people who watch those videos are not a YouTube subscriber. I think they might have been one of my email subscribers I don’t have the data on that [yeah] but in the description of those videos, I have a link to a webinar that I do [love it] and that webinar is actually monetizing exceedingly well.
Leslie: And so, I’m curious about that then is that… do you have that link in all of the videos on that channel and do you actually verbally promote it on the inside the video to get people over to register for that Webinar?
Trent: Yes, it is in all of the descriptions and No, I don’t mention it every single time to search out videos, you can’t have 19 things in your call to action at the end of the video, you sort of have to pick one you know sometimes the call to action will be, “Hey guys, make sure that you look right down below there’s a webinar, you can go sign up for it”
Other times I’ll say, “Hey, I have some additional links for some additional free resources that I have there down below” so they’re going to see but it’s prominently displayed very near the top and so I consider that traffic to be cold traffic because most of those videos people are probably watching they don’t know me, they don’t know my brand, they’ve you know type search into YouTube. They’ve watched my video and they’ve either liked it or not liked it of course and if there were liking it and watching it too at some portion of a long enough to check out the link so I’m going to call that cold traffic and when I looked yesterday some fourteen and some percent of the registrants to those webinars are actually converting and buying a $400 product.
Leslie: Oh that’s awesome!
Trent: Yeah, it’s been a huge price so if I was in hair care for example and I’m making videos about whatever to do with hair care, I could follow exactly the same strategy, I could have a link then is now driving to a landing page that has a certain product bundle or a coupon opt in or a like what are some of the things that you guys did with the hair care brand?
Leslie: So what we actually did and this was maybe this was a few years back but what we did was you know she did a lot of tutorials on how to care for your hair; the best type of shampoo to use, what kind of styling gel should you use and so on. And then what she would do at the end of her videos and we did this consistently was send people to our landing page where it was, “Get my free guide on the name of the free guide was ‘Five things your mama never told you about your hair’ and if you know the person that’s doing it, the way she says I mean it just fits into her personality and if you’re watching one of her videos, it just seems like, “Man, I need to know what these tips are”
So, we actually funneled them to that free guide and from that free guide you know there was a coupon offer, there was the we had special promotions and so on and whenever she’d create more content on YouTube, she would also use the email list to drive people over there as well so it’s kind of like you have all of these different things working together, pointing to each other and then leading to some sales.
Trent: Absolutely, so for someone starting out would you suggest they start with text based posts or video?
Leslie: I think it can go either way; I think it also depends on your industry. If it’s something like Hair care which is very visual I definitely recommend using video and actually in many cases, I think adding video to the mix can be a very beneficial thing; not just because you know when you see it you get a better understanding of what you’re doing whether it’s to fix something or to make something or to use something whatever the case might be; seeing it adds something extra to it but then you know for the reason that we mentioned the having the other search engine that is, I think it’s relatively easy to understand the YouTube search engine and to get some of that additional exposure.
So, I do— I’m tending to lead lean more heavily on the video but it’s not 100% necessary; if you’re going to text route, obviously there’s a lot you’ve got to think about in terms of optimizing for Search Engine Optimization directly on your blog and so on but I think the video can add a whole lot to it.
Trent: So, in my world I am leaning towards video in the way that I do my videos I get a [2/4] out of it because so I do all of this planning I have from folks who know me know that I love my standard operating procedures so I have standard operating procedures that guide me through the video creation process so there’s keyword research and brainstorm just putting all this time and effort into figuring out what should this video be about? What should it be titled? And then you know when I first started doing video, I just would stand in front of a whiteboard and I just kind of talk and that was better than nothing but here’s how I get my to for now what I do is I actually write scripts for the entire video.
And then I read the script off my teleprompter that way I know that I’m able to I’m not winging it when I’m on camera I’m able to cover off all the points that I want to cover and then and I don’t have to worry about getting it exactly right because I give it to an editor and they edit it for me but here’s the [2/4] part when it comes to publishing the video on my post I already wrote the blog post it’s called the video script and he has to make the video, I needed this script anyway so now my piece of content is in two forms, it’s in video, it’s on my blog I’ve got Search Engine Optimization benefits on the YouTube channel for the video and the close captioning and whatever words I put in the description of the video in the tag so forth plus if that particular video has compelling data in other words it’s has a high views and a high watch rate and all the things that YouTube likes, YouTube is going to promote that video in two other two other visitors and in that video of course I’m giving a call to action to get people back to my website now assuming that know what he ever went to YouTube to begin with and they’ve just come to my site well I’ve got all these words I’ve got to optimize title and up to us I’ve got on page SEO figured out [yeah] I’ve got all of this content which was my script so someone can find my Stuff by one of two ways because in Google I could potentially rank for the blog post or I could rank for the video in either case, both of those pieces of content have one objective well two I guess, one is to capture an e-mail address by either a webinar registration or to download or joining my mail list to get you know five other preferred videos or whatever. But two, I think the thing that where video is so much more compelling is in it allows people to connect with you that’s one of the reasons why– like I surveyed my audience about my podcast interviews because they used to be audio only because I just assume that people like me listen to a podcast while they’re driving or working out or whatever.
And so, I put a survey out and I said hey I’m thinking of doing my videos or my podcast interviews in video as well which way do you like to watch? And it was right down the middle which the interest of the heck out of me. Half the people I like to sit in front of my computer take notes and watch [Yeah] the other half is like I’m going to do it while I’m on the move and you know maybe send myself an e-mail or dictator you know however it is that they take notes. So, like you I definitely lean towards is towards using video.
Leslie: You know and interestingly enough eggs that evolution that you said you’ve gone through is exactly the same thing that I’ve gone through because I was always the guy, don’t script your videos you know just be natural maybe have an outline and so on now I script them all out and I thought find that they’re much more concise, people actually watch them longer because there’s not a lot of fluff and there’s also something else that I know it does happen in the process because when I do my videos, I kind of look at them a series and I don’t look at any video as an isolated piece of content.
So, I will write out right now I just finished writing 5 scripts for 5 videos and what I have and recording those videos and what I found is, when I’m on video number 4, it gives me some kind of trigger something that makes me go back to number 2 and edit it and kind of come up with this now I have these 5 videos that works so well with each other that it also is the other benefit of that is you know at the end of the video I am recommending the next video or I’m talking about the previous video and now you have these videos that are linking to each other which kind of maximizes the whole YouTube algorithm thing. So, it works out in so many ways. Yes And then of course you have the text to put on your blog now when I did my biology blog, I went the other way around I started with the video and then I got a transcript of that video and then I use the transcript on the blog for as SEO and so on and that did a whole lot for my traffic you know I went from 0 to over 100,000 unique visitors a month primarily because of the content, the written content from the videos so I had so many benefits that can come along with that.
Trent: Now have you found that back linking or getting external links to your content is still a very important signal in the Google algorithm I learned that or that I was reminded of that in my interview with Tim interview number 264, have you found Leslie that doing video versus text; do you have a cam a content promotion strategy where you are reaching out to places where you think you could get a link and if so, have you found that having video versus text or text versus video makes getting the link harder easier so forth?
Leslie: Yeah, I’m curious if you care your take on that as well for me my back linking strategy has been very organic and relationship based in terms of because the niche that I am in teaching people how to blog and I go to a lot of conferences, I connect with a number of different people and most of the back links that I get are from those relationships whether it’s doing interviews and being featured on other people’s shows and so on, that’s how a lot of my back links have come organically.
Now, I do find like for example with my biology blog, it was primarily video and what I got from the people that I try to I did have an outreach strategy for that and we can talk about that in a little bit but when it came to outreach for that blog, they were very impressed with the video and more likely to link because of the video. And I remember that distinctly. My first huge backlit came from a very popular biology blogger and she looked at it and when she saw the videos, it instantly she said, “This is exactly what I would want to do if I knew how to do it” so I’m going to link to you and she linked to me in an article, she like to me in her sidebar and that really kind I had a lot of ripple effects; you know so I think video does go our way where that is concerned.
But I’m curious about your back linking strategy what does that look like I know you’re an SOP you guy, so what does that look like for you specifically?
Trent: To be honest with you it’s not something I’ve put a great deal of effort into until I interviewed Tim and until I interviewed also Daniel Danes Hart in episode number 256 so one of the people on my team now so Daniel Danes Hart has his stories I think it’s amplifying my content and he is he’s got a pretty impressive track record of having really popular articles and so he’s given us access to his program and he’s actually developing some SOPs for our flow to software platform and I go into the marketplace.
So I’ve been pretty pathetic at that to be honest with you for initially it was for a lack of resources because for some time I’ve run bright ideas pretty much by myself with the support of a VA [Yeah] I just recently sold one of my US employees from one of my other companies and I brought her over here to the Bright Ideas brand, so she is literally as we speak working on creating SOPs for our outreach program. Now having said that, one of the things that has obviously given us links is anytime a guest on someone else’s show and let me use that to sort of transition so we’ve talked about video and text but we haven’t talked about podcasting and I think podcasting is a very important part of blogging which was our [oh yeah] master topic.
So in my case, Podcasting has been the single greatest contributor to the growth of my business by far; of anything I have ever done podcasting has been the most lucrative primarily I think for two reasons, one it’s much easier to produce a podcast than it is a video you and I did not script this conversation in advance so I don’t have to put the time into scripting but yet I’m getting a piece of content that I could transcribe and end up with a large amount of text and I do transcribe them.
More importantly, than that though I think podcasting helps my audience or anyone’s audience to build an affinity, even though I am interviewing smart people on my show my audience thinks I’m smart because I ask good questions and I know where to drill down and so forth so you get to build some authority and some affinity with your audience but even maybe more important than that is it’s the single greatest networking tool I have ever discovered and this is why it’s been the greatest contributor to money in my bank account is because of the relationships that I’ve been able to form with people who I’ve had on the show and while not everyone has a business where they sell digital products like me, it’s also really helped my e-Commerce business because I have kind of on the sly when I’ll find a company who in my Amazon business, I like to be the reseller of their products and I use it as a foot in the door, I’ll say to the CEO, had like to have you on my show and then I get to do that per interview and part of the pre-interview is I ask them to tell me about their Amazon strategy and that gives me then permission to ask some questions and throw in a by the way did you know that I also have this other business and we’ve literally landed accounts with meaningful brands because of the fact that I was able to have a conversation with the CEO at the very beginning of that relationship and had I not had the podcast, that would be difficult to do.
So, in the case of your haircare example maybe they didn’t have a podcast but if they did I can think of all sorts of different ways that they would be able to use the podcast to build relationships which would then help them with traffic and help them with sales and help them with getting in front of other people’s audiences and that’s a big part of how it’s happened with me as well because I have a podcast, I interview a lot of experts, I get interviewed on a lot of podcast and you know it’s hard to quantify what that actually does for your business but when I think about all of the substantial relationships in my business over the years so many of them have resulted from podcast interviews.
And what’s interesting about that is people who love to be interviewed; like you know people love for you to get them on a call, talk about themselves and how awesome they are and then and then when you know produce a blog post about it I really go all out with that I always get complimented on my show notes, it’s and how it’s a range and that visual is that we use and so on when you go above and beyond to make them look really good, that actually does a whole lot for the relationship and you know I can think about mass the mastermind group that I’m in right now, I can think about speaking opportunities and you know affiliate referrals and all kinds of stuff that have come as a result of that I think it’s such a great and powerful networking tool.
If I think about the big things that have happened in my business, a lot of them are the result of those interviews, the results of attending live events and connecting in person. And those two things have been huge for me.
Trent: Yeah I was I was in– here is I’ll like to give examples I was in Atlanta on Sunday speaking from stage I sold $100,000 worth of product in an hour so obviously it was quite profitable for me.
Leslie: I would say so.
Trent: And that only happened because of this podcast; my e-Commerce business that does millions of dollars per year happened because of this podcast. So, I really am a fly waving proponent of regardless of whatever industry you’re in it would be better to have more relationships with influencers in that industry than less right like that’s kind of exactly his conclusion so as long as you buy into that which I don’t know how you could not buy into that therefore it would be better to have a podcast or a video cast or whatever way you would like to produce the piece of content that allows that gave you the opportunity to have those interviews to build those relationships than not so maybe that’s the biggest takeaway of our show is that everyone who’s listening if you want more relationships and you want more traffic and you want more sales, well let’s just to restrict it you just want more traffic and you want more sales, you need more relationships [Yeah] because even those relationships can afford you the back links that will help you in your SEO efforts and if you need more relationships the easiest way I know of to get them is to talk into a microphone through Skype to somebody else.
Leslie: And what’s interesting is that there are a lot of people that do e-Commerce stores that are probably in niches that are thinking to themselves right now yeah but in my niche you know they’re not a lot of podcast and then people don’t podcast in my niche, it just doesn’t seem to make sense; I think in those niches, it’s even better to do it.
I met someone at a conference once that had a blog about cleaning and she sold cleaning supplies and she did a she came to my session where I was talking about podcasts and she came to me and asked, “Do you think I could start a podcast? I mean mine is about cleaning” and I’m I said absolutely you could do a podcast, you could talk about decluttering you could talk about how did it go about the process how do you start the process of decluttering and so on and she was excited about the idea she went and started her podcast it became one of the top podcasts in iTunes and as you can imagine the relationships that come from that and the business opportunities that come from that are significant.
Trent: Absolutely and as has been happening to me recently and I’m sure it’s been happening to other podcasters for a long time, when you start to develop an audience and get downloads sponsors will contact you.
Leslie: Exactly! Exactly!
Trent: And they will send you money to put their ads into your episode so in addition you basically, I get paid to talk to other people which makes me smarter, which gives me a new relationships which allows me to sell more my stuff and I get paid on the front end for all of that so it’s a really, really good deal.
Leslie: So it’s interesting to me and I’m glad it went where it went because the topic of this episode, the topic of this conversation is blogging and in that we’ve spoken about the blogging the SEOs, the video, the podcast and all of these different media and I and it emphasizes the way I’ve started to look at what blogging is because traditionally we look at blogging as you know you’re typing content and it’s just all written content.
But to me, a blog is just a platform that you are building where you are creating content you are publishing that content and you are using that content at least from my perspective to grow your business and whether it’s video, audio, written or a combination of which is what I think both of us do heavily, it’s such a great way to get that exposure so that you can grow that business whatever industry you are in.
Trent: All right before we wrap up, given what we have talked about so far which is really you described it perfectly let’s talk about blogging as a platform for producing content as opposed to typing blog posts. Is there anything else that you wanted to discuss before we wrap, we nearly out of coffee, they’re still have to look at us like, “Hey guy, you’ve been at those tables for too long”
Leslie: And just talking on these microphones and we need we need these chairs, go ahead yeah
Trent: So, is there anything else that you want to talk about before we adjourn and go our separate ways?
Leslie: Yes, a lot of people when it comes to content creation they always think especially when you start with the business first; the business model first and then you start to build in this content creation aspect, this content marketing arm of your business, they go at it from a perspective of creating content so this content the purpose of it is to promote the business. So, what I’m going to be doing is creating content about my next sale.
Trent: I’m glad you brought this up.
Leslie: Creating content about how awesome my stuff is, creating content about why you should buy from me and the problem with that is nobody cares [correct] you know it really comes down to e-Commerce and it’s a matter of where should I buy things? I might just go to Amazon; the question is, “Why should I buy from you?”
And for me, the way I look at blogging, the way I look at content marketing is you are creating a resource and especially when it comes to e-Commerce and selling stuff, I think a big part of that is just educational. People want to learn how to do the things that they want to do and they’re going to need the products in order to help them do what they want to do. So, think about it from a perspective of how can I educate my audience? How can I inform my audience in a way that makes them come to know, like and trust me? And as a result of that when they think about who they’re going to do business with what I can when it comes to buying whatever products you sell, you’re the person that’s top of mind because you’re the one that has been feeding them value, that’s what it’s all about.
Trent: I’m so glad that you brought that up because that is an incredibly important point; a way to think about that in a very short sentence is this: Your content strategy is driven by this sentence, “They ask, you answer”
Trent: Know your customer avatar, know what problems they have, know the struggles they have, know the questions they’re asking and produce content that helps them to get solutions and they’ll buy your stuff. Don’t produce content that says, “Hey, look at me, by my stuff buy my stuff” because that will not work.
Leslie: Exactly! Love it!
Trent: All right Leslie, for people who want to— do you offer blogger training and stuff like that I’m guessing you probably do.
Leslie: Absolutely! So if you want to just get started with a blog fromideatoblog.com go there have a free training to help you get started with that and from there, you know if you want to get coaching and get more advanced training you can go to bloggercoaching.com
Trent: Wonderful Leslie, thank you so much for being on the show it has been a pleasure.
Leslie: You are very much welcome, thanks for having me.
Trent: To get to the show notes for today’s episode go to brightideas.co/266.