Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a digital marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting, and blog posts. She uses her entrepreneurial drive to help small businesses realize their potential through smart marketing.
Susan is an avid writer and author. She’s written three books: How to Get More Customers with Press Releases, 101 Entrepreneur Tips, and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, all designed to help small business owners market their own businesses. She is also the founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource on public relations for business owners. Susan contributes to blogs like Forbes, AllBusiness, and more. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.
SmallBizLady: How important is content to the average small business?
Susan Payton: It’s extremely important, no matter what industry you’re in. Because people are always seeking answers to questions, a business has a great opportunity to provide those answers and educate potential customers through its blog.
SmallBizLady: So, a lot of people talk about content marketing in terms of the SEO benefit. Is that what you see as the #1 perk of it?
Susan Payton: SEO has become a given; you can’t do it to get to the top of search results necessarily, but you have to do it just to remain competitive. But when it comes to writing, my focus is more on the branding opportunity it provides. When people keep seeing your content across the web, they realize you know what you’re talking about. You’ll pique their interest, and they’ll click to read more about what you do on your website.
Think about this: if you had to choose between two companies that sold pretty much the same product, and the only difference was that you’d read a few blog posts by the CEO of one company, which would you buy from? The one you trusted through his content, right?
SmallBizLady: When you say “content across the web,” you mean writing for more than just your blog?
Susan Payton: Yes. Guest blogging, or contributing content to other blogs in your industry is a fantastic way to get introduced to people who wouldn’t otherwise have heard of you and your brand.
SmallBizLady: And why is guest blogging such an effective strategy?
Susan Payton: I think if you choose the right blogs — those that your target audience reads regularly — you can position yourself as an expert in your industry. When you contribute on multiple well-respected blogs, the way you do, Melinda, people stand up and take notice. They’ll click the links to your social media accounts and follow you there. They’ll comment on your content. They’ll visit your site. Guest blogging provides so many touchpoints that it’s better than advertising for a lot of small business owners. For me, it’s one of my top referrers for new business.
SmallBizLady: So what should business owners who aren’t good writers, or who don’t have time to write, do if they still want great content?
Susan Payton: A lot of times, business owners who don’t value writing or who don’t have time for it simply ignore it, but it’s to their own peril. There’s a solution in a situation like this, and it’s hiring a ghostwriter to write content on their behalf.
SmallBizLady: But can a ghostwriter really write in a business owner’s voice?
Susan Payton: A talented one can. It’s a matter of getting to know the client and paying attention to her tone to be able to write in her voice. It helps if the writer already knows your industry well. And of course, the longer the two work together, the more precise the writer can be in speaking in the client’s voice.
SmallBizLady: What are some examples of content we should hire a ghostwriter for?
Susan Payton: Anything that should be published under your name to build your brand can be ghostwritten. You’d be surprised how many bestselling books are written by someone other than the authors you know and love!
Beyond books, which are fantastic for branding yourself as an industry leader, you can hire a ghostwriter to write blog content for you, both for your own blog and any outlets you guest contribute on. Also ebooks and whitepapers can be ghostwritten.
SmallBizLady: I imagine ghostwriters are expensive. Are they?
Susan Payton: Well, like anything, you get what you pay for. You can certainly find really cheap writers overseas, but I don’t recommend it. Remember: your name will be on the content, so you want to be proud of how professional and well-written it is.
But there are ghostwriters for every budget. You can hire one to write a blog post for around $100 a post, and ebooks might start at $500. Start with what you can afford, and as your business grows, invest more.
SmallBizLady: I imagine some business owners struggle with the idea of letting someone else handle their content. Is that true?
Susan Payton: Well, naturally a lot of people have trouble with the idea of letting someone else write for them, and sure, the more Type A you are, the harder it is. But I look at it like: you would outsource your accounting, or administrative tasks, or social media. Writing is no different. Use that time that you’re not writing to focus on what delivers value best in your business. Let the professional writer handle what she does best.
For those clients who start out a little nervous, they’re usually surprised and impressed once they see the content my company produces. They see the views and shares it gets online and suddenly they have no worries about it anymore!
SmallBizLady: How does the ghostwriting process work?
Susan Payton: At my company, we spend time talking to the client to understand what they want. Some people are very hands off and just say, “I need 5 blog posts.” Others will be specific about style and tone. For some, we will write an outline of the content, especially if it’s longer, like a book. Once they approve that, we’ll start writing.
The first piece of content is usually the one that takes the longest, because we’ll want lots of feedback to help us improve future content.
SmallBizLady: What happens if you hate the content your ghostwriter created?
Susan Payton: A professional ghostwriter isn’t going to walk away if you’re unhappy with the finished product. But be constructive in your feedback rather than just expressing your frustration. Explain exactly what it is that you didn’t like and make suggestions for how you want it improved. Your ghostwriter should revise the content for no extra charge.
SmallBizLady: Do you recommend that small business owners have a long-term relationship with a ghostwriter?
Susan Payton: Absolutely. Once you’ve established a flow with your writer and like her style, it only gets better with time. She gets to know you better and can pay attention to what you’re doing in your business and reflect that. As I get to know my clients, I like to add personal touches to their content, like talking about their kids or special interests. You can’t get that with a writer you hire for a single project.
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