Today’s interview features Eugene Farber, content marketing specialist who blogs at Content Strategy Hub, among other web properties that he owns or contributes to.
Eugene used to be an accountant, but when he realized he had a passion for marketing and an entrepreneurial spirit, he took the leap into his own business.
I’ll let Eugene tell the rest of his story…
(As always, questions from The Daily Interview are in bold.)
Eugene, we connected briefly a long time ago, and one of the reasons I took interest in you as a blogger and SEO is because you used to be an accountant before quitting your job and becoming a self-employed content marketing specialist. As someone who is currently a CPA, I (selfishly) love to hear about accountants who quit their jobs to take a road less traveled.
Tell us about your story and journey – what led to you quitting your job, and how did the Content Strategy Hub become what it is today?
Well, accounting was good and well while I was in school. Different classes, learning new things every day.
But then I got on the job and realized it was very repetitive. And I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit.
So, I dove head-first into all things marketing and fell in love with it. There’s always something new to learn, some new strategy to try out. Plus, businesses run on marketing…no marketing means no clients, and no clients means no business.
Content Strategy Hub isn’t my first blog, but really something that my journey has led me to because I recognized the power of content. Everything online is driven by content.
But, of course, I have a ton of other web properties as well. 🙂
If you don’t mind, I’d like to dig a little deeper into the moment you decided you wanted to quit your job. Was it a quick decision, or did you come up with a plan that you needed to execute before allowing yourself to leave behind your accounting job? Was there a turning point where you said, “This is it. I’m ready to quit my job.” ?
It definitely wasn’t a quick decision. But it was something that I was contemplating for a very long time.
It was just something that was building up and building up…and a few people who I was actually close to at work all start jumping ship at around the same time because they didn’t like the environment or had better opportunities elsewhere. So I figured it was time. Plus there was some promise with things I was doing on the side already.
But, while most people really jump into a new business venture very carefully, I made a lot of very drastic changes in my life very quickly…quitting the job and moving to a new city more or less on a whim.
Would I recommend that others do it the same way I did? Probably not. But at that point I had just reached a breaking point and the temptation was just too strong. 🙂
What has been your greatest success so far as a content marketing specialist?
Not sure what my greatest success has been to this point. But to be honest I surprised myself with how well the launch of Content Strategy Hub when it happened.
I mean…I knew it would work. I just didn’t think it would work as well as it did.
I attracted thousands of visitors and hundreds of subscribers within the first month of its existence. But what really shocked me was that I reached a Google PageRank of 4 for a brand new site within a month. I didn’t even think that was possible to be honest (it has since dropped to 3, but I’ll take it :)).
But really, nothing is quite as gratifying as the feedback I get from people that read a blog post, or buy one of my products, or subscribe to one of my services. It has been overwhelming positive. And that’s probably because I’m extremely worried about delivering enough value….probably to my own detriment.
Even the most successful bloggers hit a few roadblocks along the way. What do you consider to be your biggest failure with respect to blogging, and what did you learn from it?
I can’t say that I’ve had one big failure as much as I have one continuing struggle. I’m an idea person. And that creates opportunity A.D.D.
Focus is something I struggle with because I always want to jump from one thing to the next and try something new. It has certainly led to some great discoveries along the way. But it has also left some unfinished projects in the wayside.
Content marketing seems to be much more of an art than a science. What are some strategies that you think are underutilized, even by some of the better bloggers out there?
It’s funny that you phrase the question this way actually. I love what I do now because it’s a great combination of both art and science. You have the freedom to be creative…unlike accounting where getting too creative can get you in trouble.
But you also have to test things. And you have to have a well-rounded knowledge of all aspects of marketing in order to really succeed.
I think it’s some of the technical things that really take you to the next level. For example, optimizing your content and your site structure for search engines. But also, optimizing the entire thing for user experience to drive the desired result.
The big-name bloggers in the marketing/blogging niche usually know what they need to know more-or-less. But once you get outside that realm you see a lot of blogs that have great content, but the bloggers aren’t getting the most out of it because they aren’t taking it that extra step.
Let’s take a step back and look more generally at blogging. If you had to take your best advice and put it into one sentence or phrase, what would that be?
Oh man…just one? Can I give you a few phrases? 🙂
Write for people, edit for search engines. [Click here to tweet this]
Your email list is your biggest asset. [Click here to tweet this]
If you think something might work…there’s only one way to find out. [Click here to tweet this]
What are your favorite online resources ?
Well, the first one I have to start with is probably the most obvious: WordPress. I run all my sites on the platform and it’s really a thing of magic. Incredibly easy to create content, and incredibly easy to optimize it.
I also love Headway Theme for WordPress. I can make some serious design changes without having to code. I know a bit, but I’m no professional coder.
I recently launched an SEO service (and one specifically for the Cleveland area), so I’ve been putting in a lot of heavy use into some SEO tools. The one that is absolutely indispensable right now is LongTail Pro. I just love how easy it is and it gives me a ton of valuable data very quickly.
And Signals by HubSpot is a cool little tool I recently discovered. It’s a browser extension that tracks opens for emails you send out from Gmail. There are plenty of business applications to this from prospecting to tracking if someone actually opened an important memo you sent out.
For someone who is just starting out with an online business and doesn’t know where to begin with content marketing, what advice do you have? What do you wish someone told you about when you first started?
Assuming this individual already knows their niche/market, I think the easiest place to start with creating content is to answer common industry questions. If people have questions, and you can answer them to their satisfaction, you instantly become an expert in their eyes.
For someone at the very beginning of their journey in content marketing I would just give two pieces of advice.
First, don’t forget the “marketing” part of content. It’s not enough to just create something and hope people will come. You have to push your content to be seen. How you do that really depends on the individual, their skillset and what they are good at.
It could be through social media, it could be through SEO and link building, it could be through ads, etc. It drives me crazy when I hear “experts” claiming that “SEO is dead” or that you “HAVE TO” to do social. To be honest, they can all work. It just depends on the individual. Everything is still alive and well :).
The other piece of advice, and probably the most common one that any marketer will give, is build your email list. Don’t wait.
I waited at the beginning because I didn’t think I had anything to offer. Well if someone lands on your page and likes your content, then you do have something to offer. Heck, just have them sign up for updates to your future content. It has to start with your first subscriber.
Finally, where can people find you online?
Product: Strategic Content Launch Pad. This is my flagship product. In fact, I knew this was the product I was going to make before I ever launched the blog (how about that for strategic thinking? :)). It’s really a guide for using content and blogging to drive traffic, leads and sales.
Service: I’ll link to my Cleveland SEO page, but feel free to contact me if you are outside of Cleveland as well :).
Freebie: I just recently put together this free report of SEO Tools I’ll be using in 2014. You can get access to it through the link, and I’ll be updating it more or less regularly.
Thanks so much, Eugene! Lots of great advice here.
Do you have anything you’d like to say about this interview, or perhaps some content marketing tips of your own? Leave a comment below!