LET’S GET UP TO BUSINESS
Erik Deckers of Pro Blog Service
Content is King and creating new content is the best way of making sure you’re growing your brand and your exposure. If you need assistance creating new content for your site, your blog, or any other content arena then having a professional writer like Erik Deckers to work with can really assist in upping your game.
Erik is the owner of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing agency in Orlando. He is also the author of several works including Branding Yourself, No Bullshit Social Media Guide, and his latest Mackinac Island Nation. He has been blogging since 1997 and has been a published writer for over 30 years.
Jordan and Erik sat down recently and talked about what it takes to be a ghost-writer for businesses. He explains why it would be great to bring in outside help to work on creating content for your site. Additionally, your work can sometimes be better highlighted by someone who doesn’t work in the industry because they come from another viewpoint than those who work with you.
Episode 21: Erik Deckers of Pro Blog Service – Full Transcript
Erik Deckers 0:00
I have found that the experts in a field are not great at explaining their field. They’re not – Because they don’t, this is not their focus. They focus on doing that work, not explaining that work. And so you know, you ask, you ask a paleontologist to tell a story about a dinosaur and they’re going to talk about carbon dating, and they’re going to talk about how they do carbon dating and all these things snd what you’re really asking is “how did this one die” or “what did they eat?” And, and so the experts get so bogged down in their expertise, that it’s hard to talk to normal people. And this is where hiring a writer comes in handy is because they are, that’s all they do is they write to make their stories understood.
Picture a world where costs down, profits are up and customers are clamoring at your door. You’re listening to “Let’s Get Up to Business” from Jordan Law. Our interviews with business owners, service providers and area experts can teach you how to create a world of success and profitability. If you’re looking for an attorney to assist in your business formation, employment agreements or other legal business needs, contact Jordan Law at (407) 906-5529. You can also reach us on the web at JordanLawFL.com. Jordan Law, we protect you and your business.
Jordan Ostroff 1:41
Hello and welcome to “Let’s Get Up to Business” with Jordan Law. Joining me today is Erik Decker’s with Pro Blog Service. Thanks for being here, Erik.
Erik Deckers 1:48
Thank you, I’m glad to be here.
Jordan Ostroff 1:49
So tell me a little bit about what Pro Blog Service does.
Erik Deckers 1:53
So we are corporate ghostwriters, and we focus primarily on blog articles for companies. Does two things for them: it helps them be found online more easily and once they’re found, they look and sound like experts in their field.
Jordan Ostroff 2:08
All right, so you know, our podcast is geared towards business owners. So we’ve got that business owner that knows they want to get more content out there but doesn’t know what to write about. They know they need your help. What’s the best way for them to reach you?
Erik Deckers 2:19
To find me, you can find me on Twitter @EDeckers. You can go to ProBlogService.com and just email me at Erik (E-R-I-K) @ProBlogService.com.
Jordan Ostroff 2:31
All right. So tell me a little bit about you. How did you become a corporate ghost writer?
Erik Deckers 2:35
Well, I, I’ve had writing as part of my career for the last 25 years. And I’ve been in sales and marketing and PR in that time. But 10 years ago, I was looking for a new job and this guy was hiring for a blog manager and so I joined the company. And three months later, I became one of the owners and then five years ago I bought out my partner and became the sole owner and this was, this all happened in Indianapolis. And then we moved down here to Orlando four years ago.
Jordan Ostroff 3:10
What got you down in Orlando?
Erik Deckers 3:11
Wanted to be in warmer weather and we wanted to be close enough to Disney that we could visit in a day.
Jordan Ostroff 3:18
That’s funny. That’s a, so my wife’s story is sitting there at law school graduation, having had to shovel snow that morning. I mean, like, nope, not going south. Never want to put up with that again. So tell me, you know, I guess it’s going to differ a little bit based upon the, the, the business you’re working for, the industry they’re in, but kind of walk me through the different services that you all offer?
Erik Deckers 3:43
Well, 90% of it is blog writing. And it’s just a, it’s a retainer type of service where we are asking four or eight questions a month. And those get turned into blog articles that then get posted on to their website. But then, the other 10% can be spent writing web content. You know, for different web pages, white papers, sometimes we will take a collection of the blog articles and just combine them all into one special report. Other times the white paper, the special report, is, is a brand new document. We’re not, you know, we’re starting from scratch on something like that. So generally anything that is written, we can do, but the thing that we focus on most is blog articles geared toward search.
Jordan Ostroff 4:35
So when you talk about like a white paper, special report, I mean, that’s just going to be like a longer blog article or there’s something that more differentiates those?
Erik Deckers 4:43
It’s generally deeper knowledge. It’s used for lead generation, if you want people to subscribe to your email list, it’s one thing to just put out on social media, hey, sign up for my email newsletter, but it’s another thing if you say sign up for my email newsletter and you get this free report. And the report can be about one of the industry questions, what are one of the problems that you solve for customers and its a report about that. So it could be something about why should you use WordPress? And I wrote a 4,000 word article for GoDaddy Garage a few months ago, that they ended up publishing on their website rather than as a special report. But it was, you know, a long, involved description of what makes WordPress the best blog platform to use. And so companies will use something like that in order to say
Jordan Ostroff 6:15
Job interview and then a special report might be, you know, “Running a Business in 2019 Owner’s Guide” or something?
Erik Deckers 6:19
Correct or something about, you know, why should you use a recruiting firm to do your job interviews, something like, you know, something along those lines or, you know, a case study of several companies that ran afoul of the job interview process.
Jordan Ostroff 6:39
So you mean you talking about writing a 4,000 word article, I mean, is that going to be about the normal size for one of these white papers or?
Erik Deckers 6:46
It depends, it can be 2,000 to 6,000 words.
Jordan Ostroff 6:49
Okay. And what, I mean like a book, how many words is a book normally?
Erik Deckers 6:54
Gosh, a book can be anywhere from, I’ve done a couple that were 20, 30,000 words. I just published my first novel of spring and it was 126,000 words.
Jordan Ostroff 7:05
Erik Deckers 7:05
Jordan Ostroff 7:06
Related to business or?
Erik Deckers 7:07
Not at all.
Jordan Ostroff 7:08
Erik Deckers 7:08
It’s a humor novel. I’m also a newspaper humor columnist. And so I wrote a political satire.
Jordan Ostroff 7:13
Ah, ok. So all right, so one of these, you know, special reports or white papers, we’re looking at maybe, you know, like about a fifth, fifth-sixth size of a book.
Erik Deckers 7:23
Jordan Ostroff 7:24
Okay, and then a blog post, I mean, what’s the normal length when you all put a blog post together?
Erik Deckers 7:28
It can usually be about five to 700 words. There are some clients that, they need 1,000 words. Google actually likes longer articles. People like to read longer articles. Several years ago, you could write a 200 word article and get away with it. But Google has, you know, has since clamped down on that practice, they don’t allow it. So an article should be at least 500 words, 700 words. But don’t be afraid to go up to 1,000, 1,200.
Jordan Ostroff 7:55
That’s interesting, because we always talk about people’s attention spans getting shorter and shorter, but I guess from a reading standpoint, they want something that’s more in depth?
Erik Deckers 8:03
Right. And people skim. They skim when they read. And so you’re, you can’t have a lot of tightly packed text, you know, these big long blocks of text that fill up your screen. You need bullet points, you need sub heads, you need lots of white space, lots of lines between paragraphs. So you need short paragraphs, and you need to use short words and short sentences and, you know, things like this, you know, little writing tricks that you pick up as you go along and you realize this looks better. People are more likely to read it. And so if you can write compelling copy, if you write well, basically, and you tell good stories, people will read that. But if it’s a lot of just jargon and garbled language, and it’s all packed together and three paragraphs, people don’t want to read that.
Jordan Ostroff 8:59
You know, it’s interesting you mention that because we get all of our, all of these podcasts, we get them transcribed. And I’ve had a couple people say like, oh, that’s one of the easiest things to read because it comes out almost like a movie script where it’s like, you know, Jordan says this, interviewee says this, Jordan says this and goes down like, like that. So I guess the spacing makes it easier for people.
Erik Deckers 9:18
Jordan Ostroff 9:20
So walk me through the process, you know, somebody contacts you, they reach out to you all, they know they want your services. What’s that, what’s that next step? I mean, are they giving you topics? Are you giving them topics? Is it a conversation?
Erik Deckers 9:33
It’s usually a combination of both, especially in the beginning, a lot of times a client will have something they want to talk about. After a while I become familiar enough with the industry that, when I’m interviewing clients, I’m giving them topics. Sometimes it’s, we’re looking at what’s happening in their industry. We’re reading their trade journals, and we’re seeing these articles and these developments and you know, somebody has invented something new and so we will write responses to those articles. And we always cite them and say, you know, we just read in Plastics Today that this has happened and here’s what we think. Other times, it’s a lot of what do I want to know about? And so, since a lot of people, and I do a lot of b2b work, business to business work, rather than business to consumer, and so in the b2b world, the people who are reading the blog articles are not the colleagues of the people writing them. So, you know, this manufacturing consultant I mentioned earlier, his readers are not other manufacturing consultants, they are business owners, and they are floor managers. And the things that he talks about are things that they don’t know about. But also, there are things that I don’t know about. And so I’ve got a question about measurement, or I’ve got a question about 3d printing or I’ve got a question about automation, that’s just 101 level stuff. That’s the same question that, that his readers are going to have and so I get to learn. And so in a way, it’s almost a selfish process on my part. I get to ask interesting questions or questions that I’m interesting, interested in and I get to learn about this. And then that also helps that person’s clients as well.
Jordan Ostroff 11:18
That’s interesting to me that you’re getting so involved in their business that you’re going into their trade journals to find, you know, the, the latest, the issues that are coming up.
Erik Deckers 11:27
Yeah, and I start learning enough about it, that I’ve got clients that I’ve worked with for eight or nine years that they just, they just give me a list of topics, not even questions. Just write about business travel. And that’s it and that’s all I get. And, but I know enough about what they want to do that I can just write that article almost off the top of my head and I’ve done that before where I just write it off top of my head and then I find a few sources to kind of back up what I’m saying, which is kind of how I did it in graduate school. But,
Jordan Ostroff 12:02
Hey, I was a history major so I’m right there with you.
Erik Deckers 12:05
Make it up and find the sources to back it up. But then,
Jordan Ostroff 12:08
Just not Wikipedia.
Erik Deckers 12:09
Right. In other cases, I just lost my train of thought.
Jordan Ostroff 12:16
So you’re saying in, in some cases, they’re just giving you a broad overarching topic. It’s up to you to write the article. And then in other cases, I guess they’re being more specific?
Erik Deckers 12:25
They’re being more specific. It’s a, it’s a specific question, it’s a specific industry. It’s, it’s something that, that I get to delve into more because a lot of my clients, I just find what they do interesting. And there have been some situations where the same knowledge has served me over three or four clients. I’ve got a couple of clients that do artificial intelligence and machine learning, and they are in completely different industries but what I learned in one, I was able to bring to the other and, and just write again off the top of my head about what I knew for artificial intelligence for oil and gas companies, let’s say.
Jordan Ostroff 13:06
So are you, I mean, are you cross referencing these topics with Google Analytics or search information or whatnot? Or is it more targeting, you know, what’s going on in the industry?
Erik Deckers 13:18
I look more at what’s happening in the industry. Although I do pay attention to Google Analytics and see which topics are performing well, which topics are, are ranking high, which pages are ranking higher and are on the analytics, you know, which ones are people visiting the most. And that kind of tells us, people want more of this topic. If they’re reading a lot about this, they want more about this particular subject. But that doesn’t necessarily mean pages that aren’t getting many visits aren’t doing anything. And it doesn’t mean that we have to stop talking about something because it didn’t get a lot of traffic. Sometimes it means yes, we stopped talking about it. Other times, it means we have to talk about this more. We, you know, we only wrote one article about the subject and 20 people visited it last month, let’s do more.
Jordan Ostroff 14:09
So I mean, so you truly are doing the very, you know, white hat SEO. I mean, you’re writing for the person and then tracking it, people are actually reading it to figure out where to go from there?
Erik Deckers 14:18
Correct. And that was, that’s always been one of the things that we did, because, you know, back in 2010, 2011, it was still kind of the wild frontier when it came to SEO, and there were a lot of black hat tricks that you could do. And just some of the stuff that was being written at that time was just garbage. And the reason we were hired by certain SEO firms is because we wrote well, we knew the SEO rules, and we would follow those, but we wrote it for the human reader, not the bots. And as a result, when Google implemented their pet Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, you saw all of these other companies just drop away.
Jordan Ostroff 15:00
Erik Deckers 15:01
And we were, we were still standing, we stayed at the at the top of the ranks, if not going higher, because of those algorithm updates. And so six months later, you saw these SEO companies writing these articles about how I recovered from Panda, how I recovered from Penguin, we never had to write those. We were always, we’ve always written for people first and an SEO second. But that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to do SEO, it just means that’s not our first focus.
Jordan Ostroff 15:29
Well, I mean, the SEO has moved towards what you all were doing. I mean, instead of writing the article that says, hey, you know, business owners in Orlando, contact us to learn more about how to run a business in Orlando as a business owner for a business owner in Orlando.
Erik Deckers 15:41
Jordan Ostroff 15:42
They as, as the algorithms try to make it more human reading, I mean, that’s what you guys have been doing the whole time.
Erik Deckers 15:46
Right. And you know, SEO has changed to the point where they look at human behaviors. How long did a person read this article? How long did they stay on the page? Did they visit several pages on the site or did they go to the one and leave again? And when they found you on Google, did they even click to see what you had to offer? And so there, there are over 200 factors that go into SEO ranking. So you know, we certainly can’t control all of them but there are four, five or six that we can focus on. And based on other research that other search engine optimization professionals have done, they’re pretty important factors. And one of the most important factors is just, you have to have interesting content that people want to read for a while.
Jordan Ostroff 16:32
So that kind of goes back to the, you know, longer articles will get people on the page longer, will get them reading longer, etc.
Erik Deckers 16:38
Right. It’s more information. It’s, it’s well written, it’s interesting, it compels people to move on from paragraph to paragraph, rather than looking at something and leaving again within three seconds.
Jordan Ostroff 16:52
So what are some of the other you know, techniques along those lines? I mean, you’ve got the longer stuff, you’ve got a well written article. You’ve got something on an interesting topic written for a person, you know, what are those other major guideposts if you will?
Erik Deckers 17:07
It seems like cheating and some people get annoyed with it but list posts are a great way to get people interested. 10 reasons you should do x or you know, three important things I learned, you know, something like that will get people to read. Bulleted lists are easy to read. So, just, you know, it could be each bullet item could be a paragraph, but if people can see a bulleted list, and especially if you told them there are 10 secrets, or you know, whatever the number is, people see that and they think, oh, that’s manageable knowledge. If it’s something I learned on summer vacation, or a few things you should know about x, nobody wants to see that. Or, you know, important information about x, nobody wants to see that because just looking at the headline, it’s so vague and nebulous, it could be anything, and probably a lot of it. And so it’s unmanageable in our minds. But when we see 10 tips, 10 secrets, 10 items, that’s a manageable number and we think, oh, I can read that in just a few minutes and I will have the secrets of that, that information and secrets of that industry. And so that’s another secret is just to use the word secret or tip.
Jordan Ostroff 18:28
Alright, so, so, a nice number like 10.
Erik Deckers 18:31
Actually, uh, so here, here’s an example.
Jordan Ostroff 18:34
Erik Deckers 18:34
I wrote an article once called three secrets that writing professionals don’t want you to know. And when I wrote the article, all the secrets were contained in the headline.
Jordan Ostroff 18:47
So the small number.
Erik Deckers 18:49
Had to be a number and it has to be an odd number.
Jordan Ostroff 18:51
Ah, odd numbers.
Erik Deckers 18:52
Yeah. So if I had done four, even though that’s more, that’s not better. If I had picked the number five, six would not be better. Three would have been better in terms of performance, in terms of people more likely to click an article based on just the number, more people click the odd numbered list than the even numbered list.
Jordan Ostroff 19:14
Interesting. So not 10?
Erik Deckers 19:15
No, 10 is a nice number.
Jordan Ostroff 19:17
Erik Deckers 19:18
Because it’s an, you know, it’s a nice milestone number but, but six would not do better than five. People would rather read five or they’d rather read seven.
Jordan Ostroff 19:28
Any idea why that is? Or just that’s what is it?
Erik Deckers 19:30
That’s just, that just happens to be how it’s fallen out I think. The next secret is the word secret. If it’s special knowledge, if it’s something that nobody knows, and I’m going to learn it for the first time, and I’m going to be one of the few people to discover this. That’s important. And then, the last secret was, I’m going to stick it to somebody by learning this. And so you know, things professional writers don’t want you to know, well, if if I know this, then I know something that they don’t or that they don’t want me to know, they know it, but I shouldn’t have it. And there’s an odd number and there’s secrets. So those, you know, headlines like that and if you write that headline first and then you write the article to fit it, that’s going to get a lot more people to read rather than interesting copywriting clues.
Jordan Ostroff 20:22
So odd numbers, secrets and that kind of us against the world, Rage Against the Machine mentality.
Erik Deckers 20:27
Jordan Ostroff 20:28
Erik Deckers 20:29
So, if you read, if you read like news articles on your, on your phone, you will see advertisements down at the bottom of every single article. And it’s you know, here’s the one thing that doctors don’t want you to know or this woman, you know, upset surgeons everywhere with this one secret.
Jordan Ostroff 20:51
You’ve just named every ad I’ve gotten at the bottom of every website.
Erik Deckers 20:54
And that’s why they do that.
Jordan Ostroff 20:56
Because it works.
Erik Deckers 20:56
Jordan Ostroff 20:57
Interesting. So all the, so all that stuff that was stupid clickbait five years ago has really, when backed by a well written article, has really become the kind of the good of the deal.
Erik Deckers 21:06
Yes, yes. And the problem with the, and this is something if we go back to the Panda and Penguin algorithms, this is something that people would do, you click that that ad. And you know, here’s one secret and then it would be to another page, it says, if you’re looking for that one secret, click here. If you’re looking for that one secret, click here, and it would take you 7, 8, 9 clicks before you realize there’s either a dead end or you were, this was never going to end. And so Google cracked down on, on bloggers, and SEO black hat people who were exploiting that. So if you can actually deliver on your promise of that headline, then people are going to respond to that.
Jordan Ostroff 21:51
I mean, does that mean you should put the information all on one page or having somebody click through maybe two or three pages?
Erik Deckers 21:58
Put it all on one page.
Jordan Ostroff 21:59
One page, okay. Because that, you’re right. I mean, everything you’re describing is the stuff that I hate when I’m on the internet.
Erik Deckers 22:04
Jordan Ostroff 22:05
Like oh, okay to find out the actual thing or listen to my 20 minute video, before we get to the one thing you clicked on this for to begin with.
Erik Deckers 22:12
Exactly. Just tell them what you’re going to tell them. And then tell them, don’t lie to them. Don’t trick them. People will get upset and people will quit you. Even if you say okay, okay, this time, I promise. I’ll do it. You’ve already lied to them and you’ve lost their trust, you have to deliver on what you promised them with the headline.
Jordan Ostroff 22:33
So, for us, like the seven DUI secrets prosecutors or cops don’t want you to know.
Erik Deckers 22:37
Jordan Ostroff 22:38
All right. Well, that may be a blog post that’s coming out.
Erik Deckers 22:41
That could be a white paper.
Jordan Ostroff 22:42
There we go. Interesting. Like, like we talked about before we started recording this, you know, you would mention how you know you do this to find stuff that interests you and I, and I said, you know, the podcast is the same thing here. So I’m glad that we’re getting to it. So what else, I mean from you know, our podcast is geared towards those business owners. So when they’re sitting down to put together these blog posts or hire a company to do the posts or the content creation, what else should they be thinking about?
Erik Deckers 23:12
They need to plan on this taking a little while.
Jordan Ostroff 23:16
Erik Deckers 23:16
You’re not going to see results in the first month, the first three months. I mean, you might start, especially if you’re in an industry or an area where there’s nobody doing this kind of thing. And those areas still exist. You might think that everybody’s doing social media, everybody’s doing content marketing, everybody is not, you might still be fortunate enough that you could quickly become one of the, the early leaders just by doing this. And so you need to think about what is it that people want to see and how can I give it to them, but then plan on that taking a little while. Six months is not out of the realm of possibility.
Jordan Ostroff 23:53
On the short end.
Erik Deckers 23:54
On the short end, to start seeing some movement on your Google Analytics. So, when you start, look at your analytics, and if you don’t have analytics, install it, and if you don’t know how to install it, call somebody to do this. But this is important because this is where you start and you need to see, essentially, did the line move up? Did I get more people coming to my site when I started doing this? And, excuse me.
Jordan Ostroff 24:20
It’s okay, if you want, you know, we got some water for you.
Unknown Speaker 24:23
Erik Deckers 24:23
I just hope you can edit all that out.
Jordan Ostroff 24:26
It’s fine. We’re all humans, you know, it makes it more real.
Erik Deckers 24:28
Yep. But um, but start on Google Analytics and see where you’re moving everything because you, you can’t just assume that one article is going to lift you out of you know, out of the doldrums. But once you get things going, and you see that people are responding, this opens up a lot of new opportunities for you too. So you know, I have gotten speaking engagements and clients just because of my blog. And you know, not even because I’m out calling on people and trying to find new clients, they come to me because of the blog. And so business owners can find not just new customers, not just new clients, but you might get a call from your industry trade show to say, hey, could you come speak at our conference? Because you’re sharing the kind of information that we need. So this leads to a lot more opportunities than just web traffic.
Jordan Ostroff 25:23
And, you know, I think on, on what you’re talking about, you know, let’s, let’s take a moment to plug the benefits of Google Analytics, because I don’t know that we’ve ever done that on this show. You know, so basically, we all know that Google has more data than, you know, God on all of us between everything that we do. So Google Analytics, I mean, that’s Google kind of giving us a little bit of insight into how people are using Google to find our website.
Erik Deckers 25:45
Yes. And what are they doing once they get there? And are they – So we can look at things like not only how many people came, and how long did they stay and where did they go after that but where are they from? Did they come to us on a mobile phone or on a laptop or a tablet? And which kind? And what, what country and what city? And in some cases, you can even get some of that demographic data, how many men? How many women? What are their ages? Because if you are, let’s say you use Google Chrome or you use Gmail, and you’re logged in, and then you’ve got these little tracking beacons on your web browser that, that tells you, or that tells the websites, this is who’s visiting your site. Well, when they show up on a site with Google Analytics, they can see that, you know, Erik is of a certain age, I’m not going to say, and he is in Orlando, and he uses Google Chrome for Mac. And you know, and so they see all this information. And so you can get an idea of the demographics of people visiting your site. It’s not exact, but it’s certainly a lot more exact than say a billboard or a TV commercial, you know, which are estimates at best of how many people saw the ad. But they’re certainly not going to tell you, well, we know that 57% of them are women, or, you know, 40% of them were between the ages of 30 and 40. They never know that, at least Google Analytics gives us an idea of the trends that we’re seeing.
Jordan Ostroff 27:21
Well, and also, you know, like, you talked about the data in and the data out, I mean, if it’s, if 80% of your traffic is coming from Facebook, or if you know, 60% of it is coming from a search for DUI attorney Orlando or whatever, that lets, you know, you need to, you know, continue to build your Facebook presence. Write more on, you know, those keywords. And then obviously, on the information with them leaving, you know, if they’re leaving to go back to Google to search for the next, you know, great attorney.
Erik Deckers 27:45
Jordan Ostroff 27:45
You know, you’ve got some problem somewhere that’s not having them call you.
Erik Deckers 27:48
Jordan Ostroff 27:50
And of course, again, Google and Google Analytics is free.
Erik Deckers 27:53
It’s absolutely free. That’s the great thing about Google is almost everything they give us is free.
Jordan Ostroff 27:57
Well because we’re the product.
Erik Deckers 27:59
Jordan Ostroff 27:59
Or our information is the product. Yeah, you know, every time I do any consulting work for other lawyers and they don’t have Google Analytics, that’s always like one of the first things I want to fix for exactly we talked about.
Erik Deckers 28:09
Yep. You’ve got to find out who’s coming and where they are and –
Jordan Ostroff 28:13
Well, and when, you know, when you hire a company to do blogs, or when you start focusing on the blogs, seeing the increase in traffic is going to be the easiest way to tell you know, what’s effective and what’s not.
Erik Deckers 28:23
Right. And one thing that I learned long ago, in fact, this is kind of what got me the job that I have now. When I lived in Indianapolis, I belonged to this small social network called Smaller Indiana, and it was built on a platform called Ning, N-I-N-G, and Ning let you build social networks. And so as part of, and this was early days, this is like 2008, early days of social media, and I thought to build my own brand, I’m going to post something to my humor blog every day and I found that, and I did that for a year, as an experiment. That was hard, because I would write something original every single day, at least 500 words.
Jordan Ostroff 29:08
Erik Deckers 29:09
And, and so by the end of the year, I was getting about 1,000 visits a month, just from local people. And then when I stopped, and I started publishing weekly, that number dropped by two thirds.
Jordan Ostroff 29:29
Erik Deckers 29:29
And so, so the, the, you know, the lesson is, the more you publish, the more traffic you get, the more people read it, it doesn’t, you know, it doesn’t necessarily mean if you publish a lot, you’re going to get more customers, at least not right away. But what happens is people come to you over and over and over again and they see you as a resource. You know, we don’t, we don’t close customers with the first phone call. We don’t close them with the first TV commercial or the first radio commercial. We don’t close them with one blog article. It takes multiple touches and marketing experts everywhere will tell you it takes at least seven touches of them seeing you somewhere before they ever decided to buy.
Jordan Ostroff 29:33
And there, there comes that odd number again.
Erik Deckers 29:52
Yep. And so if you want to, if you want to reach out to them and contact them effectively and cheaply, blogging is going to be one of the best ways to do it. Because your customers are searching for answers to questions. If you can answer those questions, and then you do it repeatedly, they’re going to come to you just as much if not more readily than if you were buying Facebook ads or billboards or, you know, an ad on the side of the bus or a TV commercial or what have you. Those things are effective, but a) you can’t track them and see exactly which ad brought this person here, but you can do that on Google Analytics.
Jordan Ostroff 31:02
Well, and I think people need to take that same mentality to, you know, digital stuff. You know, you put an ad on a billboard on a bus, not everybody’s going to see it, you know, you put a post up on social media, not everyone’s going to see it, even if they want to follow you. You know, I think Facebook does a really good job giving you the oh a page that you like, or a page that you follow, you know, has a post you may not have seen, but if you’re posting once a week, and somebody’s only seeing every, you know, third or fourth posts, they’re only seeing you once a month, as opposed to if you’re posting every day, then they’re seeing you, you know, maybe twice a week.
Erik Deckers 31:33
Exactly. And, and just that repeated contact and this all goes back to personal branding, and how you build your brand and get people to know who you are. Share your expertise, giveaway information. I go give talks all the time about how to write blog articles, and how to do what I do. Here’s how you write a blog, so you never need to hire me. And what happens is the people go to do it and they realize, I’m not a blogger, I’m a, you know, a car salesman, I sell stereos and they don’t want to be a blogger who sells stereos, they want to sell stereos. And so they contact me because I know how to do it. So when you’re writing your articles, give away the secret sauce. Tell people how to fix the sink, tell people how to, you know, re-roof a house, give them all the information, because they’re going to realize what, in about five minutes, I can’t do that. I need the person who knows how to do that and clearly, it’s the one who told me.
Jordan Ostroff 32:35
Well, it’s funny, you know, lawyers are the same way. And I’m always like, look, if you’re posting, you know, how to handle your own DUI case, or how to handle, you know, how to put together your own corporation. If somebody looks at that, and you really give them the information of how in depth it is, and all the expertise you can have and they want to do it themselves, they’re going to be a terrible client because they’re not going to be happy with your expertise.
Erik Deckers 32:55
Exactly. They would have been in the first place.
Jordan Ostroff 32:57
Right, so like for us, I know we, you know, we went to go replace a faucet a couple years ago and we’re watching the video on it. And they’re like, okay, well cut these cords and so you know, pause it, cut the cords and it goes unless yours is built this way. Whoops. But you know from that, I then called the, you know, called the people that were right there who put out the, who put the thing, they came and fixed it. So they got, you know, a couple hundred bucks because I didn’t have any patience to wait for the unless part.
Erik Deckers 33:21
Jordan Ostroff 33:23
Yeah, so alright, so let’s flip this kind of, let’s devil’s advocate this position. You know, we talked about some of the best practices, we talked about some of the things to look for, what are some of the biggest problems or mistakes that you see businesses making either you know, before they hire you or during the process of having a professional blog writer?
Erik Deckers 33:44
One of the one of the big issues and I think this is the big secret for anybody who’s getting into digital media period, you know, they’re, they’re advertising or not advertising, promoting themselves on social media is that they do see it as advertising. This is a free ad channel, they think. And, you know, TV commercials cost money and radio commercials cost money, but Twitter is free, blogging is free, so let’s advertise ourselves. And that’s a terrible mistake. Because we are training ourselves as a society to stop paying attention to advertising. And anytime I give a talk, I always ask people, show of hands, who watches all the TV commercials that come on your television when you’re watching your show? Nobody raises their hand. I think I’ve had like one person raised their hand, ever. Everybody else, we fast forward, we DVR the show, and we skip the commercials, we leave the room, we do whatever.
Jordan Ostroff 34:44
We play on our phones.
Erik Deckers 34:45
Yep. And so this is why, this is why when you see TV advertising numbers, when they see, they say, oh, 100,000 people watched the show that means 100,000 people saw your ads. That’s not what that means. It means your, your commercial played during the show that 100,000 people watch, but, but, you know, probably no one saw the ad.
Jordan Ostroff 35:07
80,000 people got up and walked around, they left the room during your ad.
Erik Deckers 35:11
TV advertising can’t measure that. But –
Jordan Ostroff 35:20
Don’t sell digital?
Erik Deckers 35:21
Right. So when you, when you skip ads, it’s because you don’t want them. You don’t want to see them anywhere. And so people who are seeing you advertise on social media, don’t want to see your ad. You’re not special. They aren’t, well, you know, I wanted to see everybody’s ad or I didn’t want to see anybody’s ad except yours. That doesn’t happen. They block you out just as much. And so if you advertise on social media, not, not Facebook advertising, but if you’re using your blog as a way to say, buy my stuff, buy my stuff, they’re going to tune it out. If that’s all your Twitter channel is is, hey, we got a deal, we’re running a special today, they’re going to block it out. They’re going to unfollow you, they’re not going to pay attention, they’re not going to be back to see your site. And the times that you do have something interesting, they’ve already written you off as just another advertiser. And so the big mistake that people make is that they see this as a free advertising channel, when this should be an education channel and an engagement channel, where you are answering questions people have, giving information that people find useful, and answering questions that maybe you can’t help with directly. I used to do social media marketing, I don’t do social media marketing that much anymore, but I still answer social media marketing questions. It’s not that I want social media clients, it’s that I still have knowledge that I can share and this, having this knowledge makes me a resource. And when people see my social media articles, they see what else I actually do and that’s what interests them.
Jordan Ostroff 37:03
Well, that always gives me my favorite, hey, I know you do x but will you handle y. That’s always my favorite lead in for, you know, is this the case you would take? Because they’re showing that they understand the core tenants of our practice and believe us enough about something that they don’t think is a core tenant of our practice.
Erik Deckers 37:20
Jordan Ostroff 37:21
So are you, I mean, when you’re writing these blog articles, I mean, are you finishing with something like, you know, for more information, call us at the phone number.
Erik Deckers 37:29
Jordan Ostroff 37:29
Okay, so you still have something.
Erik Deckers 37:30
Call to action just because it might work. You don’t want to leave anything on the table. You don’t want to walk away from some possibility. You don’t want to make it impossible for somebody to find you. It’s a, I always think of it as the, the, the guy who visits his friend and he finds his friend sitting in his house, in his underwear and wearing a hat and the guy says to his friend why are you sitting around in your underwear? He says, well, nobody comes to visit me. Well, but then why are you wearing a hat? Well, somebody might come. And so that call to action, to me, is the hat. Somebody might click it, so you should put it in there.
Jordan Ostroff 38:16
Gotcha. So, so in a, you know, five, 7,000 word article, you know, you’ve got that one or two sentences at the bottom that are sales-ish, or at least call to action. Okay, got it. So you still, you do still want to push something, you just, it shouldn’t be, oh, hey, this week, we’ve got a special on so and so. And this week, we’re running a discount on x and this week, we’re doing this.
Erik Deckers 38:37
Correct. Now let’s, let’s pick a coffee shop, for example. They could do something like that, where an article could be educational, but a bit salesy. So let’s say you, you have a special on, on a certain brand of Guatemalan bean, and it’s a certain roast, and so you educate people on here’s why we like it, here’s how it’s made, here’s what’s special about it. At the bottom, you go, oh, by the way, we’re selling this for $12 a pound instead of 14.
Jordan Ostroff 39:09
Erik Deckers 39:09
And so, you’ve provided a lot of value in the very beginning with you know, with 95% of what you’ve written has provided value in that it’s educated, and it’s informed and hopefully even entertained and then in case I’ve enticed you enough to want this coffee, here’s how you can get it.
Jordan Ostroff 39:27
Or we can do the five secret fall frappuccinos that Starbucks doesn’t want you to know.
Erik Deckers 39:31
Exactly, exactly. And you see, you see articles like that on the, you know, the five secret menu items.
Jordan Ostroff 39:36
Erik Deckers 39:37
And, and you can’t tell me Starbucks doesn’t want you to know those five secret menu items, of course they do. They want you to come in and ask for them.
Jordan Ostroff 39:44
Well, I’m 3,000 miles away from the closest In and Out Burger and I can still tell you most of their secret menu.
Erik Deckers 39:49
Jordan Ostroff 39:50
It gets it, you’re right. I mean, it’s that human component of uncovering some magical information that they don’t want you to know. I mean, the, the, you know, it’s almost like making you an archaeologist of information that you’re, you know, digging up these really secret things, these core things, these hidden facts. Meanwhile, everything’s on the internet.
Erik Deckers 40:09
Jordan Ostroff 40:11
All right, so any other, you know, common mistakes that you see business owners making in this in this space? Either, you know, I know we talked about expecting it to go faster than it’s going to take, you know, cutting corners and some of the SEO, the black hat techniques versus the white hat techniques, but any other major issues?
Erik Deckers 40:30
I would say writing quality is an important one.
Jordan Ostroff 40:32
Erik Deckers 40:32
Uh, I see a lot of people publishing their first draft. And that’s, that’s another huge mistake that, you know, you, you think about what you do when you write an email, you dash off an email, and you get a reply back and you just happen to be looking at what you wrote. And then you see, oh, my God, I got three typos in there. And that’s just a, you know, a three sentence email. And so if you’re writing a blog post, and you publish it after you write it, then you go back and look at it, I think you’ll be horrified to see what you’ve done. And, and so, you know, it’s not only a little jumbled in places and you forgot to finish a sentence, but there are errors and typos. And if you put that out there, people pay attention to it. That, you know, it seems unfair. But you will find people who say, well, if you didn’t put that much attention to detail into this blog article, why should I hire you? It’s like, look, I misspelled there, it was a typo. So you can’t, you know, you can’t throw away an entire business opportunity just because I misspelled there. But people do that.
Jordan Ostroff 41:43
Well, we had a, we had somebody on the podcast who talked about, they posted, you know, like, share this for a free t shirt only they dropped the R in shirt so it was a, that was probably a decent typo but –
Erik Deckers 41:56
But right or wrong, fair or unfair people make that kind of judgment. And so you need to, you need to proofread and revise everything. So I’ve been writing, like I said earlier, I’ve been writing for 25 years, I’ve written over 3,500 blog articles. And so my writing revision process is write the first draft, wait several hours, if not overnight, revise it. And that means major rewrites and moving things around, and then go and several hours later, polish it, and then it’s ready for publication. And that’s somebody who’s done this a lot for a long time. For anybody who’s new at this, stick in a second revision step. Your blog article should take you a couple of days to complete, not because you’re working on it for a couple of days, but because you wrote that first draft in 30 minutes, maybe an hour, and then you wait, you know, you write it that morning and then at about 4:30 you revise it, and then you go home and you come back and around noon the next day you revise it again, and then you know, maybe the next morning, maybe six o’clock that night, you polish it. And, and it takes a lot of work but if you want great content, you have to, you have to do that. Here’s something we’ve never even talked about, it’s just the amount of content that’s on the internet. A lot of it is being generated by bots. We’ve got robot writers that are creating barely passable content. It’s fine if it were a college paper, it would get a C, but a C is passing, and most of the content being put out there is C level work, sometimes worse. And so if you want to stand out and kind of not be buried under this just mountain of crap, you have to make your writing the best it can be. And if you can’t do that, if you don’t have the time to invest in that, that’s when you talk to a professional, you talk to somebody who does know how to write and they write well, and they’re, they’re not just marketing writers, but they are writers. People who understand the craft and study the craft and have, have spent years learning about writing and learning about language.
Jordan Ostroff 44:14
So are there any specific industries or jobs that, or businesses that you prefer to work with or prefer not to work with?
Erik Deckers 44:25
I won’t work with tobacco companies.
Jordan Ostroff 44:27
Erik Deckers 44:29
And that’s about it.
Jordan Ostroff 44:30
So that’s a moral thing?
Erik Deckers 44:32
Jordan Ostroff 44:33
Gotcha. What about e-cigarettes? Vaping?
Erik Deckers 44:35
No. Yeah, especially that but no, I, my, I lost my mom and stepdad to cancer. So I –
Jordan Ostroff 44:44
Sorry to hear that.
Erik Deckers 44:45
Thank you. I won’t do anything with tobacco.
Jordan Ostroff 44:48
Okay. All right. So that’s good to know. But otherwise, I mean, otherwise, from an industry perspective, I mean, you, they want to look for a better writer versus somebody who might be slightly more knowledgeable in the industry because, you know, over time you’ll get there.
Erik Deckers 45:01
Right. Exactly. And, and I hear that a lot. They want somebody with writing experience in banking, in construction, in marketing automation, in what have you. And you reach a certain level as a writer, where that does not matter. I mean, you think of all the newspaper journalists, and, who have spent years and years on a particular beat, the finance, the house, and yes, they have experience. What they are actually bringing to the table is the knowledge but it’s not like their words are better. It’s that they have the knowledge and the contacts and the networks of who they have to call with a question about a story. But if you’re looking at a writer who has been doing it for 10 years, and they’ve written for a number of general, you know, general ideas in general industries, your industry is not any more special that that person can’t slot themselves in and pick it up. And so, as long as you can express your information clearly to that writer, they are the journalist, they will write that story. And they’re going to turn around and go find somebody else the very next day, on a completely different topic in a completely different industry, and write that story that day. And it’s going to be great because they are professional writers who know how to tell a story. As long as you as the subject matter expert can share your information clearly, they can do a great thing with it.
Jordan Ostroff 46:32
Well, and also, from my perspective, I mean, I think there’s almost just as much merit not knowing the industry. You know, I feel like on a couple of these podcasts, you know, I’m stuck asking them what they mean by certain jargon words the entire time. Whereas, you know, for you, I know you jumped in a couple times and explained b2b without me having to say anything and whatnot. So I think getting a writer that’s not as experienced in the industry gets them to write things that will appeal to people that are not experts in that industry, which is why they’re on your website, trying to read, you know, about what you’re doing, and how you’re different and what you have to offer.
Erik Deckers 47:01
Exactly. And I have found, and I’m sorry for the experts out there, I have found that the experts in a field are not great at explaining their field. They’re not, because they don’t, this is not their focus. They focus on doing that work, not explaining that work. And so you know, you ask, you ask a paleontologist to tell a story about a dinosaur, and they’re going to talk about carbon dating, and they’re going to talk about how they do carbon dating and all these things. And what you’re really asking is how did this one die? Or what did they eat? And, and so the experts get so bogged down in their expertise, that it’s hard to talk to normal people. And this is where hiring a writer comes in handy, is because they are, that’s all they do is they write to make their stories understood.
Jordan Ostroff 47:49
Well, I just remember, you know, before this, I was a prosecutor. So I remember I was in this motion of suppress and the cops on the stand and literally he says, you know, in my experience as an LEO, I knew I had PC to stop them for the TCD violation. And it like took me a moment. And I was like, oh, it’s emotion suppressed. It’s the judge. It’s the state. It’s, you know, it means the state is the PD. Everybody had complete 100% understanding of what this guy said. I was like, but if we were in front of a jury, I would have had four follow up questions on this one sentence as to what is that? What does that mean? What is that? What is this one? What is that? So, yeah, no, I mean, it’s, it’s interesting, because I think as a professional writer, you know, you know, an audience better than they do as the business owner. You know, they have in theory, what they think their audience is, but it’s probably not their audience
Erik Deckers 48:35
Right. And it’s what, it’s what we learned in journalism class in the very beginning. My, my journalism 101 professor told us write a story for the guy who has been in a coma for the last 10 years and he wakes up and he picks up a newspaper and the first story he reads about this subject is yours. And so that means, this is why you see in every newspaper article, any abbreviation even if it’s something that you know, will spell it out first and then put it in parentheses what the abbreviation is going to be. And then you see that from then on, so you might, for LEO, you might see law enforcement officer in the first paragraph followed by LEO in the, in the parentheses, and then they explained that over and over, and even if it’s, even in a trade journal, they should be doing this. Even if you have been reading this journal for 10 years, and you’ve been in the industry for 10 years, they’re going to explain it every time because you’re not their only reader. You’ve got that kid who just got out of college and this is his first foray into that field. And he picks up this journal article and it’s the first one that he or she reads, they need to know what LEO stands for.
Jordan Ostroff 49:54
Alright, so now that we’ve gone through this, so we’ve got that business owner you know, they know that they need your help, either their stuff’s too jargony, they don’t have enough content, they know they want more content and don’t have the time or the skills for it. Can you give us your contact information again?
Erik Deckers 50:10
Sure. It’s so Erik Deckers (E-R-I-K D-E-C-K-E-R-S) and you can just Google me for one thing and there’s basically six of us in the world and five of them are in Belgium.
Jordan Ostroff 50:21
Erik Deckers 50:22
So the only EriK Decker’s in America. But it’s [email protected] My website is ProBlogService.com and you can find me on Twitter @EDeckers and Instagram @ErikDeckers.
Jordan Ostroff 50:37
All right. So I think this will be our 24th podcast by the time that it breaks, Mark will give me the thumbs up. I’m getting close enough, okay, alright, thanks. So you know we’re available on iTunes, Stitcher, Last FM, anywhere they’ll let you post a podcast. So if you’ve listened to our podcast, you enjoy it, we would really love an honest review. Hopefully it’s five stars, but you know, an honest review would go a long way and then we’re going to end this podcast the same way we ended the other 24, approximately, of them. If somebody’s listened to this, and they remember nothing else, what is that one piece of advice that you want as many business owners as possible to know.
Erik Deckers 51:18
Focus on your stories. Be able to tell good stories about why you do what you do, how you help people, what your product does. Don’t explain it to them in the process, and in the jargon, tell stories about people you’ve helped. And I think that is going to resonate emotionally with all your potential customers, and help them understand what you do.
Jordan Ostroff 51:39
You know, it’s interesting, because that is exactly what I tell my associates what to do when they’re at lunch. You know, they’ll go to these networking lunches like, oh, how much I want to talk about myself? I’m like, look, don’t talk about yourself at all. Hear about the other person you’re with and then just give them that one story that sums up what you do, because I, you know, I think it’s human nature. We remember stories a lot better than anything specific.
Erik Deckers 51:59
Jordan Ostroff 52:00
Alright, well thank you so much for joining us.
Erik Deckers 52:02
You’ve been listening to “Let’s Get Up to Business” from Jordan Law. We hope you enjoyed the podcast and would consider sharing the show. We would also love an honest, five-star review through iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or whatever podcatcher you use. If you are interested in being a guest on the podcast, please contact Producer Mark through email at [email protected] Use the subject line “podcast guest” in your email. Thank you. We look forward to speaking to you again soon.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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