Mark Schaefer Interview
You are a successful marketing consultant and a very creative blogger on your wildly known BusinessesGrow blog. Could you tell our readers, how did the blogging era start for you and how much did it influence your work?
When I left the corporate world, I began to consult and teach. I knew that if I wanted to provide advice on marketing in this era I would have to immerse myself in social media, I needed to really do it. I started the blog as a bit of an experiment but today it is the epicenter of everything I do. Blogging helps people become aware of me, it helps clarify my thinking, it is an R&D lab for the ideas that will appear in my classes, speeches, and books.
Which self-hosted blogging platform would you recommend for new bloggers and why?
I advise people to start with a WordPress base because the site can grow into a business, as it did for me.
Any particular blogging tools (ex. plugins, SEO tools, marketing, social media) you prefer using and would gladly advise newbies to use since day one of their blogging adventure?
I’m not a big “tools” guy. I’m too busy to experiment and try things out so I leave that to others. I have a number of plug-ins I use of course, but I pretty much leave that to the tech people. If you’re going to focus on creating content, leave the tech stuff to other people, especially if you LIKE the tech stuff!
Do you have a ritual that gets you fired up for blogging? And how much time exactly do you spend blogging these days, comparing it with the time you used to spend before?
Blogging requires discipline. You need to be constantly gathering ideas. We are bombarded with messages every day. Many of these ideas could make great blog posts if we think of our life in terms of stories. You also need to reserve time to write, just as you would reserve time to have a meeting or exercise. Consistency is so important! When you have a list of blog topics to choose from (since you have been gathering them all week) and the time to actually create, blogging becomes fun!
I probably spend between four and six hours per week blogging. It’s probably a little higher now than when I started because the need for quality and deep thought leadership is greater today.
And what about content marketing – from your experience, are there any tips you’d love to share with blogging beginners that you wish you knew when you started your blog?
The world is a lot noisier, a lot more competitive than it was just a few years ago when I started. The rules that worked even two years ago don’t work today. Content marketing doesn’t start with content, it starts with research.
You need to have a clear idea of how you’re going to stand out in a crowded field. Put some thought into where you belong in the information eco-system that exists today in your business.
Find a way to add new value to your customers.
You’re a co-host of one of the top 10 marketing podcasts on iTunes named The Marketing Companion but, what do you prefer more – blogging or podcasting? And why?
I love both of them but I am really having fun on the podcast because it is so effortless. Basically, it is a conversation between Tom and I (we have more than 50 years of marketing experience between us!) and we get into some pretty wild conversations. And it’s funny. I crack up on every show. But I love writing too so I will never stop that.
Social networks changed many things and some even claim that because of them, the era of blogging is dead…What are your thoughts on that?
Blogging will be dead when reading is dead. Some people learn by hearing, some by viewing, some by reading. That won’t change. The social media options are multiplying, which is great, but some portion of your audience likes to read. In fact, millennials read more books than any generation. So yes, people still read!
You’re the author of five best-selling marketing books so far, but recently you released a new book named ‘KNOWN’ – could you tell us a little bit about it and explain to our readers why should they be known? 🙂
I’ve come to realize that so many of our personal and professional goals can be impacted if we’re known. If you’re known, and others are not, you will be the one to get the speaking invitation, the book deal, the new job, the new opportunity.
Being known is perhaps the only sustainable competitive advantage we can carry with us throughout the years. My book explains the four steps every person takes to become known in their field and also provides many case studies and exercises to help you focus on the path that is right for you. In fact, there is a workbook that comes with the book too.
This book has helped so many people. I really believe in it and hope everyone will use this book as a blueprint for their own personal brand.
We like to wrap up with a bit of fun, so if a five year old kid approaches you and asks you, “Mark, what’s blogging?”, how would you describe this to it?
“It’s like making a crayon picture, only I use words.”
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