Becoming a Content Marketing Expert – Interview with Eugene Farber

Eugene Farber left the world of accounting and started working as an Internet Entrepreneur. He took his analytical skills and applied them to starting up his own business. Today, he helps others make their online business dreams come true.

Eugene specialises in content strategy. His passion for writing good content is shared with the world on his blog site, www.contentstrategyhub.com. His analytical nature can be seen in his step-by-step, detailed break downs of the different processes involved in writing and publishing good content online. Enjoy!

 

1. You are a former accountant. What inspired you to leave accounting to pursue your current job as an Internet entrepreneur?

Accounting got a bit stale for me.

I always knew I wanted to get a business degree, just wasn't sure which one. When I was in school I got into an accelerated program where I could receive my Bachelor's and Master's degree in accounting at the same time. It was from one of the top programs so I thought it would be a shame not to go through with it.

But learning and being on the job are two very different things. The work became very repetitive and unchallenging. I got bored.

The thing I love about being an internet entrepreneur is that there is always something new to learn. You never get bored. There's always something new to implement, or something to tweak and optimize. It's exciting - a constant learning experience.

2. You suggest that people who write content need a “content strategy”. What do you mean by that?

I think one of the keys to accomplishing any goals - is actually setting some first and then planning on how you are going to get there.

A strategy allows you to plan out the steps you're going to take to accomplish your goal, and measure along the way to see what is working and what isn't.

It's easy to just throw up a blog online and start publishing content. But why are you publishing? That is the key to getting results.

3. You are also an Inbound Marketing Certified Professional. What does that mean?

HubSpot created a certification course for inbound marketers. There really isn't a degree you can get to show your expertise, so being one of the leaders in the industry they took it upon themselves to create the standard (which was genius in my opinion).

You go through video tutorials online as if you were attending an online class. So if you are new to the world of inbound marketing, you can go through and learn a lot.

By the time I took the certification test, though, I had already been online for a while. So I decided to just jump right in and take the test - I figured it would tell me if I knew as much as I thought I knew :).

Turns out I did quite well on the certification test, passing it with "Honors Distinction." That just goes to show that the test relies heavily on real world experience - which is a good thing.

4. How do you stay current with the trends and find out with what people want to read?

I do a lot of reading and follow a lot of blogs. I subscribe to their RSS feeds and have a huge list of resources in my Google Reader.

Unfortunately I have so many of them, and so much work, that I usually have over 1000 unread items in there which I just have to go through systematically clear out.

But just following some of the top blogs in any industry should give you a pretty good indication of what people want to read. They are top blogs for a reason - they have a following.

The key is to pick out concepts that work - not necessarily try to emulate style.

For example, you may see that list blog posts might be doing very well in your industry (they do very well in any industry actually). Or, you may see that white papers are very popular.

These things can give you an idea of what's working. But that doesn't mean that you should blindly do as they do. Just copying someone else won't necessarily get you very far - originality is important.

5. What makes content good? Are there certain criteria you use to “judge” the content in a piece of writing?

"Good" is such a subjective term. Different people have different tastes. But in general, a piece of content is a good one if it either teaches you something, or makes you feel something.

If it can do both, then you've hit the ball out of the park.

6. How do you come up with topics to write about on your active blog?

The easiest way to come up with a topic to write about, at least in my opinion, is to act. Treat your business like a science experiment -because really that's all it is.

You hypothesize - test it out - and see if it worked or didn't. Then you can report on it, and chances are you've got a good piece of content.

For example, I wrote a blog post about identifying who your audience is using Facebook. I wrote this post after I actually ran some ads for a niche site and saw specifically who was like the page.

I wrote my eBook after a lot of experience with, and observation of, growing business blogs.

Experience is always a great muse for content.

7. What is something people should have top-of-mind when they begin to think about starting their own online content-based business?

The key word there is business.

The mistake I made when I first got into the online world was throwing up a blog and thinking that I'll just build it up, and then figure out a way to monetize it later.

This might work for some people, but you're taking chances. And it takes a while to make this kind of approach work - most people end up quitting before they make it.

Before you start, plan out your strategy. How is your business going to make money? Are you going to be promoting other people's products? Will you have your own product? Will you be offering services? And how is the content that you will be producing going to help you get sales conversions?

8. You mention on your website that content should constantly be revised. How often should writers revisit their content? What, specifically should they update?

That's really something each individual has to decide on a case-by-case basis. It depends on the subject matter and how often you publish content.

You can edit a lot of things though. You can go back and edit/delete/add links for instance. Or alter/remove posts altogether.

I'll give you two examples from personal experience...

One of the first marketing campaigns I ran when launching Content Strategy Hub was a contest for a free website consultation. I posted on my blog about it. Once the contest was over I had to go back and update the post to say the contest is now over.

I run a WordPess plugin that auto-Tweets old posts, so it's important to keep the information up to date. This also gives me the ability to drive a bit of business because I can link that updated post to a page where people can hire me for paid consultations.

The other example is my eBook. I recently re-branded it and had to go back through the post archives to update the name of the eBook anywhere I had mentioned it before. It was a bit tedious, but not too bad.

9. How would you summarize the content strategy process that you use when you write content?

I don't really have any one set process. It really depends on what it is I am trying to accomplish with that piece of content.

The most important thing is figuring out what it is you're trying to do. Are you trying to show expertise so you can be seen as an authority figure? Are you trying to get people to subscribe to your list? Are you trying to make a sale? Are you trying to get people to click an affiliate link?

The list can go on and on. But the approach changes based on what you are trying to accomplish.

10. In one of your blog posts, you focus on asking the questions, “Why?” to produce epic content. In your opinion, why is that the most important question to ask, over, say, “How?”

The reason I focused on "Why" is because it helps people get down to the real root of the problem. And that is something you need to do before you get to the "How".
The "How" tells you what you need to do to solve the issue. The "Why" helps you figure out exactly what the issue is.

I give an example in that post of a puddle on the floor caused by a leaky pipe.

You need to solve the problem. A quick answer of the question "How?" leads to a quick answer - mop it up. But then you are stuck mopping up the floor each day - not very efficient.

But if you ask yourself a series of "Why?" questions, you can get down to the real root of the problem....

Why is the puddle on the floor? Because the pipe is leaking.
Why is the pipe leaking? Because the pressure is too high.
Why is the pressure too high? Because the pressure gauge is broken.

Now you're down to the real cause of the problem. Fix the gauge and you don't' have to mop up the floor every day.

11. What is the best way to develop presence online?

There are a few things you can do. Creating content is obviously a huge first step. Content is almost everything online.

The other thing is creating relationships with others. Chances are your audience is already out there following someone. You need to try and get in front of that audience.

12. What is your favorite niche to work in and why?

This is going to sound cliché, but the marketing niche. I do a lot of experimentation (and make some money) in other niches - like the dating niche.

But it always comes down to marketing, doesn't it? I take the view point that every business is in the business of marketing.

If you are selling widgets, you're really in the business of marketing widgets so that people buy them. If you're in the business of accounting, you're really in the business of marketing your accounting services.

Marketing is what gets customers and puts money in your pocket.

13. If you were to start your Internet career all over again, what is one thing you would do differently? Why?

The first two things I'm going to say are a bit contradictory. But here it goes anyway...

I would start with a plan. Creating content and throwing up a blog and hoping to some day make some money from it is not a plan.

However, and here is the contradictory part, the other thing I would do is just act. You need plan, but it doesn't have to be perfect. Nothing will ever be perfect. The beauty of having a strategy is that it allows you to measure and see what worked and didn't, and why it worked (or didn't). So throw together a quick and dirty plan - then start experimenting.

And of course, the answer that everyone gives - don't wait to start building your email list. There's a reason everyone gives this answer - it's true. You may only get one subscriber a week at first - maybe even less. But these are baby steps - look at them as small victories to motivate you to keep going.

14. What do you see yourself doing five years from now?

That's a tough question to answer because five years in the industry is like a lifetime. But I definitely see myself growing my business, helping others do the same, and not working in accounting :).

Thank you

Eugene Farber is a blogger and Internet Marketing expert. Stories about and quotes from Eugene can be found on Career Builder, CNN, and MSN. Visit him at www.contentstrategyhub.com

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