Those that know me personally know that for better or for worse, my mind is incredibly mathematic and scientific; I approach my professional and personal life with a careful, calculating mindset. At the start of the New Year, like many others, I made some resolutions of both the personal and private nature. Like most things in my life, I test, take samples, and of course, analyze all of my resolutions. Today, I am pleased to announce that the first sample test for a professional resolution has recently finished, and I would love to share the results with all of you.
I am in Inbound Marketer, an abuser of the term SEO, and a passionate contact creator. Whilst I am in the camp of “any SEO that says X variable is KING for SERP success” is full of it, I do believe in honest engagement and superior content. However, I had been plateauing in my guest posting efforts near the end of 2011, and I decided that instead of approaching blogging with an analytical mindset; (Domain Authority, Keyword Density, Professional Voice) I would attempt to “humanize” my writing by being accessible at all times, writing in a more casual or even passive voice, and getting inspiration from my esteemed peers.
Being Human Part 1 – Be Accessible
I am not going to be talking about how to leverage twitter for sources, or what sites to go to for connecting with blog owners; there are a ton of tutorials out there waiting for your eyes if you need that information. I would like to simply encourage you to be more accessible to your peers, clients, and audience.
I started learning of the benefits of being accessible after my first contact with Gerald Weber at SEM-Group. I wanted to sponsor his 2nd Annual Bad-Ass SEO Contest, and I tried contacting him through Twitter, which was the only medium by which we were connected. What resulted from a few back and forth tweets was an exchange of Skype usernames, and a professional friendship that I have no choice but to describe as supremely enjoyable.
The key has not been professional collaboration or exchange of knowledge nearly as much as it has been keeping in contact with one another. I know that if I have a client that is killing my flow, Gerald is going to laugh it off with me, and if Gman wants to figure out how to get author attribution working on his blog, we’re going to work together on it. What comes out of that accessibility and socialization; essentially being more human than an email signature, is a professional relationship where in exchange for helping him promote some projects, he allows me to use his contacts to source guest posts.
I highly encourage everyone to take 15 minutes each day and dedicate it solely to speaking to your peers in a more conversational setting. That may mean deviating from the usual channels and 140 character limits and joining Google Groups, relevant forums, community sites, or simply logging onto Skype. If there is one thing that being accessible has taught me, is that many unexpected people can add value to your blogging persona or personal life.
I follow a comedy writer at cracked.com named John Cheese because to me, he is an embodiment of the phrase; “A lot of truth is said in jest.” He has obviously been through some trials and tribulations in his personal life, but through making his life transparent through the comedic medium, I’d be willing to bet that his motivation for self-improvement has been bolstered and supported. Making himself accessible, relatable, and funny is a perfect storm where we can live and laugh at something that would normally make us all cringe.
Being accessible is not just being active, it’s being relatable.
Being Human Part 2 – Writing Casually
When I first got into content creation, I thought that the articles had to have a formula to do well; Relevant and popular topic, keyword density, try to engage the readers near the end. What my experiments have shown me is that I have a lot more success guest blogging when I stop worrying about format, formula, or calls to action; and focus much more heavily on just providing useful content that is easy to read.
I would even argue that the more you deviate from the “normal flow” of most articles; you are almost assured greater social reach and active comments. I attribute this trend to information filtering; or the mechanism we humans have to ignore messages we don’t want to receive. As our society as grown more global, the amounts of marketing messages we receive have increased exponentially. For this reason, we have developed a filter that blocks out the messages we find irrelevant.
That image right there completely encapsulates how I feel surfing around the Internet. My job requires me to stay active and current on most social platforms, but in doing so, I subject myself to an incredible amount of advertising in a short amount of time. If you check your homepage in Facebook, you see 4 ads; if you look at your twitter feeds, almost every other link is some sort of ad; Google+ helps shape which ads you see when you search; and Pinterest is a place where images and their source are linked from clickable boards.
When you write casually, and bring that element of humanity to your blogging, you may be alienating the true professional personalities out there, but you will become relatable to a more widespread audience. I would argue, that the benefit of increased readership and comprehension far outweighs the risk of looking less professional; because if you don’t care about your readers, what are you blogging for?
Take some time and develop your ideas so you can relate them to anyone, and you’ll find more success.
Being Human Part 3 – Using your Peers for Inspiration
Once you start becoming more accessible, and you begin to write your blog posts so that they can be completely relatable to anyone, you’ll find that the inspiration will just come to you. By far, the hardest part about content creation is finding topics to write about week in and week out. The reason for this is because regardless of what’s going on in your personal life, if your job is to create, you just have to deliver.
However, being a more human blogger almost takes care of that problem for you. The inspiration of this article came from a conversation with a friend about trying to increase communication between himself and other members of his organization. He tried using a Skype chat room, a Google Group, and was considering mass emails. While we still haven’t found a perfect solution, working through the problem with him gave me the idea to write this post. I could have waited a couple of more months and added a bunch of graphs and statistics about how humanizing my approach increased conversions; but the urge to create something overcame me, and you’re reading the result.
The moral of the story is simple, regardless of whether you think more with your mind or your heart, there is more to be gained by humanizing your approach to content creation and building relationships than being standoffish and professional. As of this moment, I’d rather risk looking too casual but honest than coldly calculating everything.
Pete Wise is a Content Creator and Inbound Marketer. He works closely with the amazing community over at MySEOCommunity moderating the content that adds value; and the Magento Programmers of Customer Paradigm. If you liked the article, follow Pete on Twitter: @MySEOHeadache or check out his portfolio site for Denver SEO.
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