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June 27, 2023

How Remote Work Benefits Women and a Content Tactic to Scale Traffic with Kelsey Jones of Six Stories

Jeanna discusses how remote work creates career opportunities for women with Kelsey Jones, Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Six Stories.

Kelsey Jones is Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Six Stories, a digital marketing agency that offers SEO and social media marketing services. She is a seasoned digital marketing consultant and writer, focusing on content-driven methods that enhance engagement and drive traffic.

Before Kelsey founded her firm, she worked as VP of Content Strategy at neilpatel.com and as Executive Editor at Search Engine Journal, where she collaborated with top industry professionals. She also co-hosted the Search Engine Nerds podcast, ThinkTank webinar series, and Pubcon interview series, engaging in conversations with renowned marketing experts such as Guy Kawasaki, Jeff Bullas, and Larry Kim.

 

 

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • How Kelsey started her career in content marketing
  • Benefits of remote work for women
  • How Kelsey doubled traffic for Search Engine Journal
  • The importance of content audits
  • AI tools that can be used to repurpose and optimize content
  • Content marketing tips for 2023 and beyond 
  • Why personal branding is critical

In this episode…

Did you know that 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and content audits are powerful tools for increasing website traffic. How can you attract more visitors to your site?

By optimizing content for search and conducting regular audits to identify and fix issues, businesses can improve their online visibility and attract more people. With 16 years of experience specializing in the intersection of SEO and content strategy, Kelsey Jones has mastered the art and science of driving traffic that converts.

In this episode of Remotely Cultured, Jeanna discusses how remote work creates career opportunities for women with Kelsey Jones, Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Six Stories. Kelsey shares how she helps businesses improve online visibility to attract more visitors, the importance of personal branding, and strategies to improve your content marketing. Kelsey also reveals her most trusted work-from-anywhere tools and advice.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Transcript:

Jeanna: Hey everyone. Jeanna Barrett here. I'm the Founder and Chief Remote Officer of First Page Strategy and the host of Remotely Cultured, where I talk with entrepreneurs, marketing leaders, and remote employees across the globe about the work from anywhere movement, the culture of the countries they're working in, cool projects at the forefront of marketing and tech, and the culture of remote work. Today, we have with us Kelsey Jones, who is a content strategist and digital marketing consultant with expertise in growing engagement and traffic through content driven strategies. She is also the host of Story Shout podcast, where she discusses the importance of embracing failure, and destigmatizing it. With over a decade of experience in the industry, Kelsey has worked with top brands like Yelp, Salesforce, and Microsoft to develop successful marketing and content strategies. She has also taught courses on website optimization, SEO, and content strategy for prestigious institutions such as Digital Marketing Institute and Columbia Business School. Hello, Kelsey.

Kelsey: Hi, thanks for having me.

Jeanna: Yeah, I'm excited you're here. Where are you calling in from today?

Kelsey: So unfortunately, I am not on an island. I'm in Kansas City. I was in the Bahamas last week for vacation. But yeah, so it's been kind of sad to come back to Kansas City. 

Jeanna: Post vacation blues. And did you work from the Bahamas? Or were you fully offline and taking a mental health break fully offline?

Kelsey: Unfortunately, our phones still worked. So I got some text but offline.

Jeanna: That's good though. I love that. I do try to typically like split up some time. I do some vacations where I bring my laptop and and work on things, but then super important also to just completely unplug multiple times a year so that's good. So how long have you worked remote?

Kelsey: Oh my gosh, um, since 2010. So I remember the full time job I think it was like my second full time job I ever had. They had to make me remote because there wasn't enough room in the office. And yes, I loved it. I loved it. I eventually had to go into the office but I left that job a few like maybe a year later and then started my own company and so have focused on being remote since then.

Jeanna: Okay, so you've been working remote for 13 years. And since the beginning of your career, pretty much. And how have you seen the remote working world change from so long ago? Like, what are the pros and cons of what has shifted or what has happened?

Kelsey: I think there used to be more of a stigma about working remote. I know that still exists today, somewhat, but it's a lot more normalized now, especially since the COVID pandemic, I think, forced a lot of people to go into remote. Which I think is a good thing for the fact that it normalized it more, but I would say, you know, back then, it was a lot more difficult to communicate with people. There wasn't Teams or Slack or, you know, a messaging software. So if you were gonna communicate, it had to be through email. So a lot of times that was frustrating, waiting for responses from people, you felt kind of out of the loop. I could call into conference calls, like on the phone, but there wasn't really like video conferencing. You definitely felt way more out of the loop. And now I feel like people that I've worked with, you know, at jobs in the past, or even when I've had contract work, where I'm more of the team, you know, on Slack, or whatever, I build these friendships with people that, you know, I've never met before. So yeah, I remember when I started going to conferences and meeting people that I have worked with online for even years, it was kind of awkward at first, because you have this relationship with them but the nuances of someone in person is so different, even if you've done video calls with them. So that's always like, interesting. I don't know if you've experienced that. But like, sometimes people just aren't what I expected person and not bad, but just I kind of have, you know, in my mind, what they how tall they are, their mannerisms, and it's sometimes it's different.

Jeanna: I joked about this with people at FPS is like, the only thing you can't tell from video calls is how tall someone is. So a lot of times when I meet up with someone, I'm like, wow, they're a lot shorter than I was expecting. Wow, they're a lot more tall than I was expecting. And we've had some of our team share really funny photos, we have like our Head of Data and Analytics is super tall. And then our previous Head of Creative was super short. And they met up with each other and took a photo, it was like three feet difference. But when we're all sitting at chairs at a desk, and Zoom is pointed at your face, it's like equal height. And what about as a woman in business? Do you feel like remote work has benefited you in a different way than an office would have?

Kelsey: You know, that's a really good question, I definitely think it has probably given me more opportunities, especially because I've been able to apply for jobs or contract work, you know, for companies that are based, even international or in other states that I wouldn't have the access to previously if they were only hiring to go into an office. So I think that has really helped as well. I also have read studies that you know, the big move to remote work has also empowered a lot of marginalized people and women to speak up more and to feel more confident in meetings than they might have otherwise in person. And so I do think it's a good thing. You know, there's downsides though. Like if you're in a big conference call, sometimes it can seem a little overwhelming because you can't read people in the room. So there might, you know, just for every opportunity to speak up more. There might also be places where you really feel like you can't speak up or you don't want to interrupt anyone. That's why I like having video on usually on calls. Because I'm a little bit hard of hearing. And so to be able to read people when they're about to talk or not has really helped me not interrupt people. And so just like video and stuff I think helps, I don't know helps me, be a little bit more confident. So I do think remote work does help women, especially the flexibility side of it, too, like when I work remote contract work, or full time, usually I have that flexibility to get my son if he's not feeling well, or I have to take him to a doctor's appointment or something like that. So that's also a really big benefit, I think for women working today.

Jeanna: Yeah, it's the juggling, right, like, I just read, there's some study that was done about like, it's terrible, right? But it was like women in relationships have 30% or some percent, I'm gonna quote this wrong, because like 75% of all statistics are made up but you know, 30, some percentage 30% or above of women's workload in the household increases when they are in a relationship with a man. So that was saying how, like divorced women, and single moms have less housework than when their in a relationship I wish I thought was super interesting. But women that are mothers and a relationship, there's a lot of like, stuff to juggle, right when you have children, and when you're working a full time job. And so I feel like remote really opens up that ability to juggle with your personal life with balance with taking care of yourself, making sure you have time and can fit in walking or working out or going to doctor's appointments or picking your children up. And yeah, I just I will never go back for that reason that like, I feel like my life is so much more manageable now than when I was ever in an office.

Kelsey: Yes, I completely agree. And I also think flex work and remote work. The idea that a 40 hour work week, like I really think that that needs to change. And I do think it's shifting with a lot of companies. But you know, and I'm sure you have experienced this too, because I have so much experience, sometimes I'll get projects done faster than someone who's newer in their career. But as a result, why should I be you know, punished, I'm doing air quotes of like to sit in an office for 40 hours when I could get the work done in 30 hours. So I think that's really interesting, too, and probably something we could talk about for a whole episode. But the idea of like, flexible working.

Jeanna: Yeah, well, now you're speaking my language, because that's exactly what we're trying to build at FPS, because that's how I work too. And I would like to see the working world shift to deliverables like we don't have a butts in seats mentality. I've never cared if someone's green light is on on Slack. And I am so appalled by the news recently after COVID with these companies that are going remote, but then doing things like making sure people's statuses are on. Someone in my family has worked at a place like that. Or there are these tools coming out that shake your mouse so you look like you're still working, which is so terrible. Because we really like if you're doing this, right, if you're building your company, right, I feel like you should be looking at deliverables. And how people get those deliverables done doesn't matter at the end of the day, like I don't care if you're working from 3am to 6am. And then not again all day, because you're out on a boat. As long as you're getting the stuff done that like drives results, delivers the goal, like the rocks and KPIs and goals of the business, then people should be able to work in the ways that fit best for them. But so many companies just are so far away from like, getting that, it's fascinating to watch.

Kelsey: Yeah, I agree. Well, that makes me think of one of my good friends, she became a mom first out of all of us in our group. And she said after she had a baby, she actually felt like she could get more done in less time because she kind of had to, she had so many other priorities. And I'm sure people even if you don't have children, but have a lot of other obligations like caring for someone or volunteer work or something else, you're kind of forced to like be more, I don't want to say productive but efficient, with your time because you have other things going on. And so she was thinking you know, if I ever become a manager, I'm actually going to look for working moms or people that have something else to do because they're going to get things done. They know how to prioritize and get it done. So it's just been really interesting to see that evolution and hopefully, the mind shift like you were talking about at FPS, like hopefully that will continue to catch on and more businesses will see okay, it's just about results and you're paying someone for their results, not for their time necessarily. And I know that is a fundamental change. But how fast remote work has shifted to become more normal. I hope that shift will happen with you know more of a results oriented approach as well.

Jeanna: Right? Yeah. And back to the thought of efficiency. Like I think about myself now versus myself earlier in my career, like when I did work at an office, right? And I am so efficient now. Like when I sit down at my desk, I'm literally working for the hours that I'm sitting at my desk. I'm not, rarely do I ever do anything personal, like I normally do like, online shopping or like booking, you know, appointments, or any of that in the morning when I'm drinking coffee, but not when I'm in front of my computer. So when I'm in front of my computer, I am solid working. But then I think about my earlier career when I was in an office, and I'll straight up admit, like, yeah, I was sitting on social media when I was younger, earlier in my career. And then my office life when I worked in San Francisco was a joke. Like, we've gone like three hours shopping in the middle of the day, happy hours long lunches, you know, game rooms, sitting in the conference rooms, and just like talking about nothing like I feel like was so inefficient. When I was in an office, it was more about just like, bullshitting with my coworkers than anything in any work actually being done.

Kelsey: Yeah, because you didn't need to be there that full 40 hours. I mean, I remember that job. I was remote for a while, and then eventually to go into an office Fridays. I mean, it was like torture to be there, because I finished everything. And so I'm just sitting there trying to look busy. You know, the rest of the day.

Jeanna: Yeah, literally just sitting in an office on a Friday, like, you know, messing around, because they have to be there because you're forcing them to be there not because they're doing any work. Right? Like, yeah, so wild. Yeah, this I think about this so much. Because as I built an agency, and I've learned about what it means to build an agency, which I didn't know any of that, right, like I was a marketer, and so I really had to kind of fake it till I made it and like, really lean into other agency owners and agency mastery groups. And one of the things you have to, you know, build at an agency is how do you build clients, so billable rates, and our CFO built us a calculator like a to work on how many hours our people were how many days we we give off because we have this whole idea of time, freedom, right. So we have quote, unquote, less hours or time in working then most companies, so we've had to build it out kind of work financially for the company. But what I felt was so fascinating is that every company, it's standard knowledge that people are only only 80% billable rate, meaning that only 80% of someone's time, if you have them in an office for 40 hours, is actually work time. The other 20% is people doing your own thing, you know, taking a lunch break going on a walk or whatever. So the mechanics of this, if you're like the businesses that are now forcing people back into the office, we have a high like a higher utilization rate, like our people are 90% or higher of the hours out of the time that we we pay them because they're not in an office, you know, messing around or doing whatever it is. And so the efficiency in the billable rate is higher for remote works than people in an office. So I mean, like the math is there, and I don't and anybody like running a business should know that the standard utilization rate is 80%, which I think is so interesting. So you're expecting people to waste 20% of the time you're paying them?

Kelsey: Yeah, well, and it's not natural for humans to be focused eight hours a day. I mean, I'm good if I can do four hours, and then maybe an hour or two of like, admin work, that doesn't need as much critical thinking, that's kind of my sweet spot. And I'm able to be a high performer at that time. But I don't think people are, are built to like, just sit there, and you can't expect them to be totally productive. And I think the old way of thinking is, well, when they're in the office, they're working, we can make them work. We can people, there's accountability there. And it's just not really the case. And I've seen studies where, you know, the four day work week or flexible work that lowers, I forget the technical term, but how often you lose employees due to them doing other jobs, it lowers the amount of sick days that people take, just because the wellbeing is better. And you're letting people work when it's best for them. And it really does help the efficiency like you said.

Jeanna: Yeah, and I think that there's like this outdated approach, like you said to a cookie cutter approach, right. So it's like, humans are so complex, and we've talked about this in schools. There's a lot of talk about like there should not be a one size fits all approach of how we teach our children, doctors, there can't be a one size fit all approach for how you approach your health care. And so It's the same at the office, like people work in different ways, people are night owls, they are morning people, they crash at 2pm, or crash at 9am, or whatever it is, you know, so complex. And also I was talking to a coworker the other day, it's like you never really know, at one at some point, like how you're going to wake up, like you might have a random ache or you might feel a little slow today. Or you might feel like, you know, you can conquer the world. And I feel like I go through all those things all week long. And so having a job that allows you to kind of like, just be human, and work in a way that works for you and do your best work. Definitely, like produces better work, in my opinion, I see that for sure at my company.

Kelsey: I agree. And that brings up the point to people that might have learning challenges or chronic pain. I mean, for years, I had really bad chronic pain in my neck and shoulders. And so I would wake up in the morning, like you said, with a headache almost every day, just from that tightness for years, you know, trying to work through it, figure out what it is. So you're totally right. I mean, it's not only the natural personality and energy level of people, but there's other factors as well that someone might be struggling with, either physically or mentally with relationships.

Jeanna: Exactly. Depression, all that stuff.

Kelsey: Yeah. And being able to work with a team or with clients that are understanding of that. I mean, people are gonna prioritize that. Because it just really helps when you work somewhere, that gives you that flexibility to kind of, like you said, let you be people and be humans.

Jeanna: Yes. Let's go back to this topic. Because I thought of something when you brought up the idea of like being a woman in business and having your voice more and being able to speak up more on video calls. Because that's super fascinating to me, because I if I think about my own career, I feel like I have gotten rid of my, or shed my kind of fear with public speaking. And speaking in a group like it used to be very difficult for me, when I was a marketing leader at a company in the office, to stand in front of a group, a room of people, I got really nervous, my heart would be out of my chest. But now I lead my company over video, I don't even think twice about it, I do podcasts, I don't think twice about it. I do all these speaking opportunities, don't think twice about it. And previously in my career that was like, just super debilitating to me, like I could not imagine giving a speech. And it's interesting that you say it might be because of video or Zoom or conference calls, I do think there is a level of comfort there, where you don't have to like stand at a podium in front of a crowd or something. So it does become easier to like, gain your voice.

Kelsey: Yeah, I agree. And there's been times when I've been really nervous. And I have thought to myself, like I could just hit end if I'm too nervous and say something happened and like take a breather. So even just like knowing that even though I've never had to do it, there's kind of a comfort there, like you said, and I think also remote work has also helped people be more comfortable with dressing how it's comfortable for them. Yeah, I'm sure in some culture, work cultures, people are still kind of expected to look a certain way even though they're remote. But for me, I'm able to dress in a way that's comfortable for me, you know, mostly t-shirts, and you know, things like that, or sweatshirts if it's in the winter, because I get super cold all the time. So I think being physically comfortable. And that probably goes back to more than clothes, like your chair or your lighting or whatever. Like I said, that probably helps people speak up more as well. I mean, there's all these factors. And I think, you know, as you were talking about your journey, the more you have to speak on meetings or do interviews or what have you, if that's part of your career, it gets easier and easier. So I think, you know, doing it virtually kind of takes some of the pressure off and then that helps you, it kind of snowballs, it helps you get more opportunities. You're thinking, Oh, that wasn't so bad. You know, as high pressure is when I've had to do an event in person and you kind of look for opportunities more. I mean, I've seen that with one of my good friends. She joined Toastmasters and got more comfortable. And now she's doing all kinds of virtual conferences and webinars and podcasts because like I said, it just snowballed. She's like I can do this, you know, and, and the virtual aspect too. I think for women is good because they're able to accept virtual engagements more. So you know, before the pandemic and COVID I used to travel a lot to speak at conferences. And when I didn't have a son, that was a lot easier because my husband would just take care of our dog and I could leave whenever. But now I'm a lot more likely to accept invites for virtual speaking engagements because I don't have to travel and plan with my husband like, Okay, you have to take you know, our son to school every day would normally I do it, you have to move all your meetings, I feel bad being gone. I just traveled last week, I don't want to travel again. And so that's probably another reason to why I think virtual and remote work really helps women is because they're probably a lot more likely to say yes to opportunities that maybe they wouldn't before. Another thing that I did during the pandemic is I got an MBA, and it was all digital and virtual. I always wanted to so I'm really glad I did it. But a lot of master's programs require you to do, I forget what it's called, but like meet your cohort in person for weeks at a time or, yeah, especially in person things. The program that I chose didn't require that. And so I did it versus if I could only find programs that had to be someone in person, I probably wouldn't have done it. So it really helps with education as well, I think.

Jeanna: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. education opportunities, totally open people like go to extended learning classes. I myself am looking at kind of, I'm really interested in getting involved in interior design. So I've just done like virtual interior design programs, just kind of a side hustle, future focus. And so yeah, it's fun to see that. And to the speaking opportunity thing, like now, what I'm enjoying is there's absolutely no excuse, while your panels and your speakers should be all men. I remember a time where there was virtually majority of men, some of the marketing conferences or things that I've been to in my career. And now I look at these panels, and I'm like, if you are majority men, then I'm not interested like, I don't want to listen. There's no excuse nowadays that you can't have a multitude of ethnicities, a multitude of sexualities, a multitude of female versus male in different perspectives in the room, like that's truly the conversation that I want to listen to, like people with different experiences, different backgrounds, like I don't want to listen to a panel of guys telling me how to do marketing.

Kelsey: I agree. And I one thing I've argued for for women as well, with conferences, when they have switched to all virtual instead of being in person, I say, well, is this paid, and a lot of times speaking at conferences isn't paid. And I've tried to be an advocate and say, well, you're not even having a physical location anymore. You should have a budget to pay, you know, women and just any speaker in general. And so I think this virtual shift is really, I hope, helping people kind of speak up more and and say, you know, okay, I will speak for you but here's my stipulations and here's my rate. And so it's been fascinating to see, you know, how kind of people have have felt more empowered with the flexibility of of the virtual opportunities to ask for, you know, better scheduling or pay or whatever.

Jeanna: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Cool. All right. Well, let's shift the conversation a little bit to talk about content marketing because I know you have just a completely impressive content marketing career working with some really cool brands and doing some really cool projects. So why don't you share with our listeners, just kind of your journey in content marketing, the breadth of your experience, the type of projects you've worked on, some of the brands you've seen success with.

Kelsey: So at the beginning of my career, probably the first half, I kind of just worked in many areas of marketing, like SEO, social media, paid ads, content writing. And, you know, the back half of my career so far, I kind of realized I wanted to narrow it down a little bit more. Having that experience, you know, social media and whatever was really good, because I do think all areas of digital marketing work together. But being able to narrow it down more towards content marketing, and the intersection of content marketing and SEO, and how that all works with maybe other projects other team members are working on has been something I've really enjoyed. Some of the awesome successes I've seen, so when I was Executive Editor at Search Engine Journal, there was no editorial process or, you know, guidelines, things like that. So I helped kind of get that all in order. And that was awesome in itself. But we also worked on a content audit there, which is something that I've done other podcasts about just content audits itself, but yeah, going through old content and figuring out what to revise, rewrite or, you know, redirect or whatever, combine posts, and then redirect them to one single post. That's been something I really enjoyed. And when they did that at Search Engine Journal, I left after we had started that project, but by the time it was done, traffic had doubled. Because they were able to do that audit and consolidate. So I've gone on.

Jeanna: And sorry to make you pause, I just and what you're doing in the audit was just archiving old content and redoing and refreshing content, right. And that had doubled traffic.

Kelsey: Exactly. And instead of, like, if there were five posts about one topic, we would, you know, pick one URL, that's the strongest piece of content and then maybe pull from the other four, but then redirect the other four URLs to that one, you know, pillar posts that we decided for that topic. And so because the content wasn't cannibalizing itself, that's what they call it in the search results, it actually improved the click through rate. And so I've done that with other clients since Search Engine Journal, and it's been really awesome to see the results from that. I wanted to be sure to bring that up. Because content audits are something that I think even if you're an entrepreneur, or you have a small team, it's still possible to do. Sure, you know, it's hard work. But it is possible to do that kind of work. You know, even if you're a smaller team, if you have a lot of content to go through. It's still very doable.

Jeanna: Yeah, what I love about that strategy is that I mean, content marketing is expensive. Like, there used to be a time in my career where it was kind of looked at, I'm sure you remember this as being like the cheaper channel, and kind of like, oh, you didn't have to spend much to do content marketing. But now, it's so sophisticated. And people need so much content. And you have to have a big, really healthy budget to create content, produce content, for the most part, if you're a brand. But you don't have to spend money, that much money to audit your content and make what you have worked better for you. If you have invested in written content for years, which one of our clients we've done that, we've worked with him for seven years, we've written so much content, and we just went back, we go back regularly and look at like, what needs to go, what needs to be better, so that we're not wasting money to produce content that just sits and has zero search results? Right?

Kelsey: Exactly. And that's what I always tell to clients. And I also that makes me think of something else that I think is definitely doable for entrepreneurs, especially with some of the cool AI tools that are coming out is repurposing content. So you know, I've worked with clients where they have really good content, but they haven't done anything with it, you know, in the year that they've created it. And I said, you know, you can turn these into videos, there's AI tools that will help you take portions of your blog posts and turn it into video, or take portions of a podcast and turn it into a blog post by transcribing it. So that's something that's also super doable. You know, with a smaller team, like I said, especially with tools that are available nowadays to kind of automate a part of it. Of course, there's always going to be a human editor and a need for that. But yeah, purposing definitely should be part of the strategy as well.

Jeanna: Yeah. So let's talk about AI for a minute, right? Because everybody's talking about this topic everybody's discussing, but discussing is disgusting. How funny is that? But I'm in content, like, I really feel like it's already shifting the content marketing world really rapidly. We're seeing some clients already, like not wanting to pay for their content creation budget, and just saying like, why aren't you just using ChatGPT? Or like, I don't want to pay for video scripts? Why aren't you just using ChatGPT? So what are your thoughts on how like AI and some of these tools coming out? And how that's going to shift content marketing or not shift content marketing.

Kelsey: So I see AI as like a helper, not the main driver for your content. So one thing to remember that I don't know if everybody knows this, ChatGPT is not connected to the internet. And the last time it was was like 2021. So some of the things it gives you might be super outdated by now because depending on the space you're in, it moves really fast. And I actually just saw an article about a lawyer who tried to write a legal brief using ChatGPT and Cha GPT actually made up cases that didn't exist, and he got in trouble with the courts because he was citing cases that didn't exist. So it's horrible. We cannot trust AI to do things on autopilot. Now I have used ChatGPT for certain things like one example is I was working on revising a ton of meta titles for a client. And so I took their super long meta titles that they had and told and pasted that in and told ChatGPT to rewrite this meta title under 70 characters, and it would do it and I, of course, would edit it and make tweaks. But yeah, that's a perfect example of like, where AI can really be helpful is like, there's a human component, I am still piloting it, and I am editing it, but it's rewriting something that might have taken me a couple of minutes more to do it myself.

Jeanna: Yeah, it's making you more efficient as a marketer, which by all means, like for people that aren't in marketing, they might not understand it. But like, we certainly need some efficiency, there's just endless amounts of work. Like, my job has not been done for 17 plus years, like you are never done as a marketer. There's always something else to do. And so with that being able to work quicker, or get through it in any way faster is like helpful, but it doesn't replace the marketer. Right?

Kelsey: Exactly. And if you look at blog post ChatGPT writes, like I've, you know, experimented been like, write me 100 word blog post on whatever topic. What it writes, you can tell it was not written by a human, like it's too generic. And even if someone looks at that, and says, well, that's good enough, we just need to have content on our site. Google has come out recently and said, like, they haven't been fully transparent, or maybe they don't even know how they're going to handle AI and all of that shift. But they've said, we are going to place more emphasis on experts. So having byline experts are saying like at the top of your article, reviewed by a lawyer, if it's a legal blog, or reviewed by a nutritionist, if it's about nutrition, or having maybe excerpts from an interview in the article like Google has said, we're going to look for that kind of stuff to determine how we're going to write content in the search engine. So I think it's kind of an outdated way of thinking to think, oh, any content we put up on our blog, it's gonna be fine. We can replace the writers and replace our budget because all we need is just content period, that does not work anymore. And Google can tell, and the reader can tell, and Google has always said, like your content needs to be for the reader. You can't just like vomit out content, and it's fine. Google is going to prefer content that is actually useful to the reader and answers their queries and what they want to know. And so I always try to think about that.

Jeanna: Yeah, and with so much conversation in content marketing, at least for the last two years, it all kind of blends together, so it might be longer this point, about moving away from junk content, like so many people are creating just endless amounts of content, right? And gone are the days I remember, you know, 10 years ago or something, where you would create a 500 to 700 word blog post written by a freelancer that was generic and did all the research on the internet. And that's gone. Right. Like, I feel like we've moved way away from that. And we're hiring the expert reviewers for some of our expert level content for different clients. And yeah, just creating like really in depth, useful content, because you want your content to be different than like, what everybody else is creating, and just junk generic content, right? If you actually want to beat search results. So that's another reason why, if you want to actually beat search results, and you have to beat the best three blogs at the top of a search result, you need your content to be really good. It can't just be like a generic 700 word ChatGPT blog posts with no interviews, no experts in it, you know. Cool. And why do you think content marketing is so important to personal branding? I know you have a POV here.

Kelsey: Yeah, so I have been, I kind of want to, like pat myself on the back a little bit. Sometimes that's fine. But I've been really good about that. I think I kind of had to because I have been freelance, you know, on and off and on my own business for so many years. But having that personal branding, it really sets you up as a thought leader in your space. I found like when I'm trying to hire someone if they have a website with even just a few blog posts about topics in our industry, and it could even just be your opinion on something. As a hiring manager and an owner, I have looked at that kind of stuff and said wow, this person really knows their stuff or they're really passionate about our industry. So I do think content gives you more of a leg up in in the job market, whether you're just trying to grow your own business or a full time employee, I know a lot of people, if they only work full time jobs, they don't think they need that personal branding angle. But I really think, you know, in today's market, especially if you're in technology, or it's really common to have an online portfolio, in the area you're in, it's really important to have that personal branding. The other side of it that I have found really helped me is speaking at conferences and going to conferences that has allowed me to grow my network and meet so many people that have given me so many opportunities over the years. I know you and I met because of a mutual friend that I met at conferences and I became friends with her. I mean, so there's probably hundreds of examples of where I've gotten to contract work, full time work, just found a really great friend that is like my lifeline for so many years, you know, just from meeting people at conferences, or talking on podcasts or doing interviews. And so even if you think, oh, I'm just a full time employee, or I'm not a leader, or director, I shouldn't be doing that kind of stuff. I don't think that's true because you have to think about yourself almost as a personal business. Yeah, there's a really good book, I think it's called Family Inc, that kind of talks about that idea, like running your family almost as a business. So of course, there's all the budget side, but also thinking about it from a career standpoint. You know, all the personal branding I do in my career is only going to help my career down the road. And so a lot of people, you know, will get jobs just from their network, my husband's done a really good job of that. And he's in cybersecurity. And he often has people text him that he's worked with in the past and say, hey, I have a job that you would be awesome for you, are you interested? And that's the only way he's gotten jobs for probably the last eight or nine years, has just been somebody texting him that knows him and says, hey, I can recommend you for this. So that's why I really think it's important, especially for women to really think about the personal branding side of it because that's gonna help your career, you're helping other women by showing up in these spaces where we need representation from women. And you're also kind of, I wouldn't say completely giving, you're like leveling the playing field with men versus women or, you know, gender equality, but it's definitely giving you more of a leg up. That maybe, hopefully, a man who has just not done any branding at all, I would hope that you know, someone, a woman with a fuller brand portfolio and whatever might have more of an advantage.

Jeanna: Yeah. And I see so many people doing this, like on LinkedIn now, where everybody kind of thinks they're like a brand influencer on LinkedIn. But it's so interesting because I see people who do have full time jobs. But it they are, you know, there's a couple that I follow in the remote work space like they are well known as kind of an influencer topic, subject matter expert for remote work. They run their own podcast, they go to speak at a bunch of conferences, you know, a million people follow their LinkedIn posts. But they're also full time at a company that is a tool, a remote work tool, maybe. So they're building their own brand, but then they're also mentioning and a face for their company tech tool, that's a remote tech tool, or whatever. So it's so fascinating because it's like I love that companies have allowed this to happen. Or it's kind of opened up this world, I guess, of having more online branding, because it's so good for our business. But it's so good for the individuals career. Right. So it's like a win win. Um, yeah, so it's fun to see we're trying to actually, we're doing an exciting program now at First Page, I think it's interesting to talk about a little bit about because I've thought about this, because we're really lacking, like, thought leadership and brand awareness at the agency. So I was like, how do I leverage instead of me being the face of everything, because I'm the person that does all the podcasts last year, and all the conference opportunities and stuff like that, but I'm only one person and I actually have this team behind me that's like, brilliant in many ways that I'm not. So how do we get our amazing team and minds out there and sharing the work that they're doing for our clients? Case studies, what they're trying to solve, their thoughts on SEO or email or lead generation or whatever it is. And so we built this program where we're incentivizing our team, it's not a mandatory which is interesting because a lot of people have given me advice that if they're full time employees, it needs to be mandatory, but we're actually incentivizing them through profit sharing program and through like just giving them opportunities to fly to conferences and making swag and like highlighting them as a special team on our content like an expert team, content creators and inviting our employees to be a part of this special team of content creators, basically. We just watched it like this month. So we're gonna see how it works. But it's our attempt to kind of doing some of this personal branding aligned with company culture.

Kelsey: Yeah, I really liked that I have seen things like you're mentioning the required, like I have seen, you know, times where companies will email everyone tweets or LinkedIn posts that they have to send out. I don't really think that's like the best way, the approaches like this can be a win win. You know, we want you to grow your online presence as much as we want ours to succeed. I think that that collaborative approach is a lot better, rather than trying to force someone to share something on their personal social media, because I do think social media, should it be required for people to have it? And if someone chooses not to really update their LinkedIn or not have a Twitter that should be their choice, even if they are in marketing, if they just don't want to have a personal account, or they don't want to share personal things, I think that should be okay. So I think it's really good. What you're doing and giving people the option, and then just kind of making it a win win for both parties. 

Jeanna: Yeah. Because we don't want to force people, right? We like if you truly want to work on your personal branding, like, we're gonna help you and we're gonna partner with you on this. But if you don't, then don't, you know. Cool. So we talked a little bit about content marketing for personal branding. Why do you think content strategy is so important for like corporate branding, or entrepreneurs or product lead brands to do today?

Kelsey: Oh, man, I mean, that's a big question. I think it's important because no matter what you're selling, and no matter whether you're B2B or B2C, you know, decision makers are going to research first. And so by having content that is kind of like a content ecosystem, outside of like landing pages that just talk about your products, you're setting your brand up as a thought leader as well. And so for me, I know I've seen over and over like great guides from certain companies about, you know, the industry as a whole, not even just solely about their products. And I've read them and found them useful, I'm more likely to not only recommend them to my audience or to my network, but also use them myself. Like if I know that they have put the time and effort in creating really useful content for people, I'm a lot more likely to use them myself. And trust and thought leadership, and you know, your stuff, you know, for me, and maybe it's because I'm a marketer, I don't know that everybody does this. But when I'm considering a really big purchase, whether it's for business purposes or personal, I will look on their social media, I'll look on their blog, I'll see how they respond to feedback online. And then I'll also look at blog posts and see like, is this stuff really interesting? Could I learn some more about the product before I make a decision? And that does influence people. If you have an outdated website that doesn't have any updated content, I'm not saying everybody has to have a blog, I know, there's probably some times when you wouldn't need one, but if you have outdated content, or no social media, no online reviews, I do think that affects purchasing decisions. Again, no matter the industry.

Jeanna: Yeah, I agree. And what about brands that are already doing content marketing, and have been for a while, like outside of the audit that you mentioned, like what is something that you think is really important in 2023 and 2024, as we look ahead, for brands to be doing with their content strategy?

Kelsey: I really think, you know, so many brands are doing content that's basically like a requirement for a lot of brands, most brands, is the competitive advantage and also thinking about trends. So as far as competitive advantage, like doing a content gap analysis, I know Ahrefs is a tool that allows you to do that. You can kind of see what keywords your competitors are ranking for, their website's ranking for, that you're not. And that allows you to kind of figure out what content you should, what gaps you need to be filling on your website. I think that's a big one that's still very relevant in 2023 and beyond. And then thinking about trends. There's a really cool tool. It's by Brian Dean who created Backlinko, it's called Exploding Topics and I'm not affiliated with them or anything. I just really liked the tool, but it shows you things in certain industries that are kind of exploding before they get super mainstream, so I think it looks at Google Trends data and some other research. But that has been fascinating. It has different verticals, depending on the industry. But you can see, like, there were things in AI, like when I was working at Neil Patel, we did some posts about like generative AI and what AI means for marketing. And that was like three years ago, because we were a little bit more ahead of the curve. So I think looking at trends, not trying to ride the wave at the peak of the wave, I'm not a surfer, if it's crest or, but like the top of the wave versus like, it's about to, you know, blow up. And so I think that's a distinct advantage that businesses need to be thinking about more. You don't always want to be playing catch up, like, oh, what's the competitor doing? Oh, crap, they have an article on this, I need to do an article on this, like, I do think there is value in the content gap, but also thinking about how can I be better than them? What are some topics they're not talking about at all, and probably haven't even thought of, or nobody in our industry is thinking of that I could write content about now. And that could be really helpful to people, maybe who are like the early adopters who are just now thinking about it. And then it gives the content also time to get indexed by search engines. So when the trend goes up, and is really really popular, your contents already ranking high for that keyword, because maybe there wasn't a lot of competition for that keyword before when you originally wrote the content. So two areas to kind of think of that I think are still really relevant this year.

Jeanna: Yeah, love it, Exploding Topics and Ahrefs, two really cool tools to look into. I haven't heard of Exploding Topics. So I'm gonna bring that back to my team. Ahrefs definitely one of the tools to look at if you're interested in SEO and content, we use it at First Page. And yeah, besides content gap analysis, there's just a whole world inside of there that can help drive your SEO and content in a better direction. Cool. Okay, so three final questions to wrap this up today. First one, what is your one work from anywhere item or tool that you could never live without?

Kelsey: Oh, my gosh, besides the obvious of a computer, I also have a huge power bank. So I think it can recharge my computer like two or three times. And it has its own carrying case. But sometimes, especially when the weather's nice, there's a big lake by our house, and I'll go work, I'll like put out a blanket and go around outside. And so that has been really, like, so much required for me, because then I don't have to worry about my computer dying. And I can be outside. And that just helps me a lot. You know, if I just need to be somewhere else when I'm working.

Jeanna: Oh, I love that. And it's something you just got on Amazon or Apple. Nice. Okay, and who is a mentor or colleague of yours that you want to give a shout out to? And what was their best advice that impacted you?

Kelsey: Oh, my gosh, there's so many people I know, you had told me you're gonna ask me this question. And I've tried to think about it. And I hadn't thought of anyone in particular. But I would say I can't think of anyone like, really in particular. But I do think the people that have really brought me so much value in my career are people that I feel like, are always looking out for me and I'm looking out for them. So I've had people like Casey Markey, I'll shout out him. He's been this kind of what I'm thinking about. So he will advocate for me. He runs his own SEO company. He mainly does SEO audits. And he's booked months and months in advance. But he will recommend me to conference organizers as a speaker, he will reach out to me and say, hey, what are you working on? What can I help with? So I love people like that. And I try to be that as well.

Jeanna: Bringing some personality and human-ness to remote work world. All right. And if someone wanted to learn more about you, where should they go online?

Kelsey: So my company website is six stories.com. But for professional stuff, I'm probably most active on Twitter. And that's @wonderwall7 so if anybody ever has questions about content strategy, or being a woman in business, or help with resumes I've, you know, I've audited people's resumes who are having trouble getting a remote job or any job. Yeah, feel free to reach out to me on there.

Jeanna: Wonderwall7, is that Oasis shout out?

Kelsey: It is. That's one of my favorite songs. Oh, seven is my lucky number. 

Jeanna: Cool. All right, Kelsey, thanks so much for your time. It was wonderful having you today on the podcast.

Kelsey: Yes. Thank you. You too.

 

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