One Big Problem and The Qualities of Two of my Favorite Writers

albert einstein quote

If you’re in the internet marketing field, let’s do a quick experiment (don’t worry, you don’t have to click anything):

I’m going to list a bunch of websites and you mentally acknowledge whether you know of them or not…ready?

  • Moz
  • Search Engine Journal
  • Social Media Examiner
  • Search Engine Land
  • Business Insider
  • QuickSprout
  • HubSpot
  • Copyblogger
  • Forbes
  • Seth Godin’s Blog
  • Inbound.org
  • etc…

And if you’re one of those SEO warriors, these names should be familiar:

  • Rand Fishkin
  • Matt Cutts
  • Aaron Wall
  • Eric Enge
  • Danny Sullivan
  • Matthew Woodward
  • Chris Dyson
  • Jon Cooper
  • Dr. Pete
  • Gianluca Fiorelli
  • Paddy Moogan
  • Nick Eubanks
  • Jacob King
  • James Agate
  • Jason Acidre
  • etc…

If you recognize most of these, chances are you get overwhelmed like me.

I set aside a little time each morning to comb through for what feels like a priority read.

Vital internet marketing news or extensive new SEO strategy guides tend to grab my attention, but 99% of other content resembles a big problem.

I deposit them into a bookmarks folder, never to be seen again.

It’s not as if the content itself isn’t high quality, it’s precisely the opposite. We read a “7 Ways to do ‘x'” article and conclude, “That was interesting!”  – and that’s it.

No actions were taken. No comments were made. No shares.

Nothing influential.

So my morning reads have become a bit personalized and a bit critical. I never really had strict preferences, but now I do. Entertainment with education has its place – I mean, that’s basically what every online article is (in one form or the other).

I like personality, mostly because everything in internet marketing is so dry and technical, especially when it doesn’t have to be.

The blogs I’ve started gravitating to are by solopreneurs and individual thinkers.

My top two are:

I read them not specifically for their content – but for the context of their content. I’m more interested in the whys and subjects, timeliness and relevancy. And above all else, what elements influenced people to respond. Their content is more of a demonstration, and that’s how I’m extracting value.

In addition to the natural value of their articles, we can look through a magnified lens and perform case studies. This allows us to internalize strategies and immediately put them into practice.

For all you know, I could be doing that right now…

Let me show precisely what I mean:

Starting with Matthew Woodward, these are the elements I’m starting to pay more attention to: Image, Ignition, and Values.

Matthew Woodward

Image

matthew woodward

Matt comes off as a friendly, cool, funny; all-around stand-up guy in the SEO/IM world. That’s an impressive image to uphold. And even though his online demeanor may seem laid back, his long-time readers know he’s anything but laissez-faire. At heart, he’s a hard-worker capable of cranking out some of the biggest hits in SEO/IM.

Ignition

Last week I received the following email from his list serv:

matthew woodward email

There are hundreds of “blogging advice articles” that all say “Ask Your Readers!” And even though it’s over-preached, no one does it – or at least, no one does it well. Curiously, I wandered into the forums to see what the results were and found that indeed, this had provoked tutorial requests.

This was right after his promotion for an affiliate marketing blog competition, which followed two big events:

  • A massive guest contribution by Charles Floate
  • Public pwnage of Raven Tools (popcorn worthy)

These events were dramatic, big, and most importantly, influential.

At its deepest roots, the Raven Tools shin dig was irrelevant to me. It’s not as if Matt’s affiliate problem directly impacted me; however, I soon realized there was immense value to what had happened. It presented two vital insights:

raven tools die

  1. Matt’s current fans and circles of social reach were “called upon” - proving that even internet marketers can rally digital troops for social media activism. Justice soared down from pixelated skies in blazing digital glory.
  2. Storytelling and repeated persuasion were primary influencers in this case study. The Raven Tools post kept popping up in my news feeds and was raging on Inbound for awhile.

Values

These are the values that I perceive these writers value, so I may be entirely incorrect. 

Matt’s site is full of affiliate links – but that’s a no brainer – heck, he just won the Affiliate Summit 1st Place award.

His content model usually resembles:

  • Providing immense content value by cutting through flack, disregarding over-preached best practices, and writing in a uniquely conversational tone. 

By providing long-form content, there is plenty of room for affiliate link drops and internal link bait, such as his most popular posts or the forums. Collectively, his site feels very sticky. We can spend all day going through tutorials, reviews, and even crossing over to his videos.

As revenue streams, these are necessary values.

When I think about extracting values from context, it’s quite literally the nature of Matt’s post.

His articles feel like events.

We get a personalized invitation and there’s an air of dramatic expectation, as if we’re thinking, “something really cool is happening right now,” as we read.

This immediately creates a distinction of quality among other popular blogs in the SEO/IM niche.

Choice A) An Epic SEO Adventure With Matt, Filled with Flack-Slaying Greatness

Choice B) 5 More Monotonous Ways To Rank For Monotony

You decide.

Gini Dietrich

Image

Next up is Gini Dietrich, who in my opinion, runs one of the best public relations sites on the web – Spin Sucks.

Her presence is known to many as an extremely intelligent, socially engaged, and insightful writer with a knack for stirring up fun debates and discussions. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that Gini has mastered the art of digital persuasion.

gini dietrich social

Clearly, she has the stats to back that up.

Out of the hundreds of articles teaching us how to “increase social shares, traffic, comments” – nothing tops analyzing live social media engagement.

Ignition

Yesterday I read the intro to one of Gini’s articles:

gini intro

I’m not a Mark Cuban fan, so right off the bat this struck a chord with me. In minutes I finished expressing my thoughts.

It felt like an itch.

After I commented, the itchy feeling faded.

What sorcery is this? – I thought to myself.

Again, I was faced with a great piece of content that influenced me to do something. The content itself was Gini’s personal expression – it’s not as if I could put that information to immediate use. So instead, I started dissecting the reasons why her articles influence many people to comment.

For starters, Gini had built a community of dedicated readers.

They regularly comment. And their comments aren’t just “Nice one!”  – they’re fully-fleshed and spark follow-up comments.

It’s not even a comment section – it’s a discussion section. It’s inviting.

Values

Unlike Matt, Gini’ site focuses on public relations and marketing.

On top of running her firm, Arment Dietrich, Spin Sucks has a Pro version – neither of which are overly promoted.

On Gini’s site, it seems that some of the major value-themes are professionalism, key insights, and honest self-expression:

nothing blog post

There aren’t many bloggers who can get away with a headline like this, but Gini can.

Her articles have a voice.

Most of what I read on SEJ, SEL, and even the YouMoz Blog are just plain boring. I can’t idly accept everything they publish to be the “voice of the industry” – especially when the authors sound like robots.

I want articles to speak to me, challenge the status-quo, and give me a reason to engage. 

Collective Takeaways

  • Storytelling and repeated persuasion influence digital actions – make us lazy people click stuff!
  • Model content as if it was an event – send personalized emails that make us feel like we’re embarking on a journey!
  • Write things that give us an itchy feeling – controversy, ridicule, insight – even nothing!
  • Foster discussion, not one-off comments, by doing it yourself (give full, well-thought responses to anyone who takes the time)
  • Write with a real voice – don’t mimic the majoirty

And most importantly:

If you want to increase traffic, social shares, comments, garner reputation, expertise, revenue, and friends, stop reading the same articles.

From their older archives, it’s clear the recipe for increasing anything is dedication, tenacity, and time.

That about wraps this up…so who are your favorite writers and how do they influence people?

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Jesse Aaron

I'm a blogger, homebrewer, and community manager. Aside from writing, I have a passion for music and design.

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I’m feeling the same way about many blogs too Jesse and I’m gravitating to different blogs now than I was a few months back.

    I don’t know Matt’s blog but it sounds like something that would interest me.

    I do know Spin Sucks though and I haven’t been over there for such a long time.

    I think maybe it was because my strategy had been to only comment on CommentLuv blogs because I wanted to support CommentLuv in the bashing it was getting in the blogging community.

    • Hey Tim, thanks for stopping by (especially since I’m using disqus). I’ve seen hints and bits of the disqus vs. commentluv battle but I never thought too much of it. If you have a link to a good article about it that would be pretty cool :D – Matt’s blog is awesome – his video tutorials are pretty stellar as well for some of the more grayish SEO stuff. Spin Sucks always impresses me; the community especially. Discussions on the same posts last weeks!

  • Superb piece again Jesse. Unofficially, it’s my fav of the week and will for sure be added to my reading list that I’ll publish tomorrow.

    Keep up the good work mate.

    Stuart

  • […] My unofficial favourite article of the week is from Jesse Aaron. A great line he picks up on when describing another popular blog is: “His articles feel like […]

  • Hey Jesse I’m a new steam feed contributor so am a bit overwhelmed with both the quality and quantity of authors over there I feel obliged to familiarize myself with. That being said are you familiar with Anna Hoffman from trafficgenerationCafé.com ? her content is awesome, longtail quality, so well researched, and she’s funny to boot Check her out if you’re not familiar with her

    • Hey Suzen, not sure but this comment slipped through my updates!

      I’ve actually been to Anna’s site a few times, she’s a very talented writer with creative/clever content. I definitely have her up there on my preferred blogs list and like Matthew’s writing style, Anna isn’t afraid to tell it how it is. That’s a trait I really admire in the whole internet marketing/blogging/seo niche. It’s super-easy to tell when a blogger is “fluffing” up content and when they’re writing with practicality.

      Thanks again for stopping by Suzen, have a great week!

  • […] blog had a number of features this past month including this analysis of my writing & a closer look at my email […]

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