Tips from Bjork and Lindsay
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Welcome to episode 75 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week, Bjork chats with Garrett Moon, cofounder of the popular social media and editorial planning tool CoSchedule.
Last week Bjork interviewed Caleb Pike from DSLR Video Shooter about using a DSLR camera to record great food videos. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
When it comes to blogging, there is a lot more to do than it would initially appear. Not only do you have to create content, you have to plan it out (preferably well in advance) and promote it after it’s done (preferably for a long time after).
Keeping tabs on everything you need to do - including promoting it now, in a couple weeks, and around those holidays when it would make good shareable content - can be really tough. So, Garrett and his cofounder Justin created CoSchedule to make this process easier. Along the way, they discovered some unique insights into the world of social sharing.
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Bjork Ostrom: In this episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast we are talking to Garrett Moon of CoSchedule, and he’s going to be talking about some incredible things having to do with scheduling content and managing your blog posts and social media. Specifically he’s going to be talking about how they build out their content calendar at CoSchedule and how that really helps them build their business, some common themes that he sees with bloggers that are really thriving, as well as some lessons that they’ve learned in the process of building a massively successful software business.
Hey, everybody, this is Bjork Ostrom. You are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast and today we have Garrett Moon on, and Garrett has built with his partner a product called CoSchedule. Some of you have maybe heard of this. The ideal of CoSchedule is that it helps you manage all of the different content that you have with a blog, not only the content on the blog but also social media and everything that goes along with it.
As Garrett talks about in this interview, one of the really important things with releasing a blog post isn’t just doing it but then it’s promoting it. That’s just as important as releasing the content. I’m excited to share this interview that I had with Garrett Moon, and I think that you’ll get a lot out of it so let’s jump in. Garrett, welcome to the podcast.
Garrett Moon: Hey, thanks for having me. It’s awesome to be on the show.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, so fun to have a conversation here about your journey and your story, part that. Then also about the journey and the story of CoSchedule, and all of that will be wrapped around kind of some advice and takeaways that people can have with listening to this. Let’s jump back and hear a little bit about your story. I’d be super interested to know: What were you doing before CoSchedule? What did that look like kind of in the day to day sense?
Garrett Moon: Yeah. In college I studied graphic design and visual art, so I kind of started my career in advertising and was a production designer and then worked my way up into kind of an art director, creative director type of role in the advertising world. That’s actually where I met Justin, who is my co-founder here at CoSchedule. You’re kind of going along, you’re doing those projects and starting to get frustrated with certain things so you kind of one day look at each other and say, “I think we could try and do this better on our own.”
That’s kind of when we went into business together and took the leap and started a company called Todaymade that did web development, some marketing consulting although we try to usually just train them. We didn’t try to do a lot of the marketing for them. Then also in the end we started doing a lot of custom software development. He was a developer, I was a designer, so it was a really good match right out of the gate to start doing that type of work.
Bjork Ostrom: You had been at an agency and you said, “We’re running into some roadblocks, maybe hurdles that we don’t think would exist if we were able to break out, have a little bit more freedom, flexibility on our own.” You say, “Let’s create our own kind of little shop,” and that was called Todaymade.
Garrett Moon: That’s it. To think the other thing was we kind of had these product brains, right, so we would always be on lunch or something like that and start talking about different pieces of software and things that we could build. We were both really interested in social media. This was 2008, so Twitter was really picking up a lot of steam and social media was really a big conversation. I think we liked just the idea of that mechanism for creating an audience as well as the data that comes with looking at social media. We always had all these different ideas that were around that type of software.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and complementary skill sets in that you had a focus on graphic design, visual art, and Justin had this emphasis on programming and coding and kind of that background, as well.
Garrett Moon: Exactly, we were dangerous very quickly.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. It’s an interesting model in that you had this shop and you were doing kind of agency work. A business or a brand would come to you and say, “Hey, we need this done.” Then you as a team would say, “Okay, we can take this on.” Maybe it would be a website redesign or something like that.
Garrett Moon: Yeah, exactly. I mean, early on you take everything you can get, anything you can get, but we always really focused on web projects rather than other marketing things. Throughout the life of the business we started getting bigger projects where we’d actually building these full software installations for … Not an installation but it was a web-based software for a company that would literally run every aspect of what they do. You always start with those smaller projects and kind of work your way to something bigger-
Bjork Ostrom: It’s a very similar model to 37signals, now called Basecamp. For those that aren’t familiar, it’s a project management company, just called Basecamp now. They started out doing kind of consulting and things like that. Did you know from the start that eventually you wanted to morph into being a company that had an internal product or did you think “We might be able to do this for years and years and years and we’d be really happy to do this”? Was that the plan from the get-go, like “We want to figure out a software to build and use the profit and revenue that we’re getting from these jobs to fund that”?
Garrett Moon: Yeah, right away we knew that we wanted to do it. I would say early on I think we probably saw it more as a 50–50 thing, like “Hey, if we can get it where 50% of our revenue is going to be based on products that we build and maybe some of it’s always based on consultant type work, that’d be great.” As we started getting into it we really enjoyed the product side of things. Like I’ve said before, I think we both just kind of have a product brain. It just kind of keeps taking us in that direction. We actually launched three or four products, pieces of software that we sold directly before CoSchedule even, so we were always kind of experimenting with it.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk a little bit about that because I think that’s one of the things that so often people don’t get, right? They see CoSchedule, it’s this huge success and getting a lot of traction with it, but there’s this reality of so often what ends up happening is you work hard for years and years and then you’re an overnight success.
Garrett Moon: Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: I would love to know with those early products that maybe had some successes but not as much as CoSchedule: What was it that you learned as you went through the process of creating these things that ultimately didn’t get enough momentum to take off on their own?
Garrett Moon: Yeah. It’s like a comedy of errors. Really. There’s products that we built where we thought there was a market or we thought it would be easy, like “Oh, we could get this going in no time.” One of them was a piece of software that helped photographers proof photos that they’d taken to their clients. There wasn’t as many solutions as there are for that now, but it was probably something that people already had solved. Neither of us were photographers. We didn’t have a lot of connection to that industry. We didn’t.
We didn’t know a lot about it but we thought it would be easy. We thought it was something we could build. We thought we could do that. We did things like that. We built our own content management system to run all of the websites that we built at Todaymade. We used that every single website we built until we sold the company. We actually sold Todaymade last year. That was probably our most successful product, but it was something that … It was sold alongside of consulting services that we did.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. That was interesting, one of the things that I noticed as I was doing research was I was trying to kind of figure out Todaymade, looking for that. You ended up selling that company. That was the additional products that went along with that, so the content management system that you had created. Was the idea with that that you were selling the essentially agency that you had built along with the products or was it just the products that had built?
Garrett Moon: Yes, we tried both. All this goes so far back. I mean, even before we had Todaymade we were building tools that we gave away for free. We built a product called Scriptly that shortened Bible verses and stuff and created short URLs for Bible verses and that was kind of a fun project. Most of those things that I kind of referenced here, most of them have been shut down. The content management system that was sold along with the agency … After that content management system we started to go into social media software.
We built what is easily to describe as a social media inbox, maybe more of a copycat of what social has really become or something like that, where you could monitor and schedule social messages. We sold that in conjunction with the CMS and then also tried to sell it separately. That product itself is the closest precursor to where we got with CoSchedule, but was still by every aspect a failure in terms of how it went to market and the sales.
Bjork Ostrom: What was it that is the difference … If nothing else this is interesting for me to hear. What was the difference between those early ones and CoSchedule? Was there a process that you did differently in terms of moving forward on the creation of it? I’ll say this. I think that even though we’re talking about software and building a SaaS app, so software as a service for those that aren’t familiar. I think that can cross over into really any industry. What it is is sussing out an idea and figuring out “Is this going to stick? Does it work?”
Garrett Moon: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, some of them were just things like product quality. Our development skills weren’t to the point where we could build a really elegant product like what CoSchedule is today. Some of them, the purpose of them was that we learned how to do that and figure out how to make a product, started to understand user interaction, things like what happens when somebody uses it for the first time.
That is a process called onboarding and that can be really complicated. How do you make sure somebody can be successful with a tool when they try it? There’s a lot of those kind of technical side of things where the tools weren’t necessarily successful but they were part of the journey that got us where we’re at and you just sort of have to go through that. I don’t know necessarily how we would have gotten to CoSchedule without them. They were instrumental in training.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s the important piece that I want to point out because I think so often people that are in the grind of doing their thing can get so beaten up over the fact that what they’re doing isn’t working, but so consistently people that eventually find success in a certain way have gone through the grind themselves and have done things that don’t work, whether that’s publishing books that don’t get traction or blog posts that don’t get noticed. Eventually you use that to build on. I’ve used this analogy a few times but it’s like: The only reason I can see so far is because I’m standing on a pile of trash.
Garrett Moon: Totally.
Bjork Ostrom: Idea being that you work really hard and you’ll throw stuff out, but that stuff adds to your story and allows you get to a point where it’s like “Okay, I can see a little bit more clearly the lay of the land right now.” It seems like that’s a good example of it, the hard work that you guys did on products that didn’t necessarily stick. Then you have CoSchedule which did. Which is a great transition into talking about CoSchedule a little bit more. I’m curious to know. Were you solving a problem internally when you created CoSchedule or did you know this is also an external problem, or was it a little bit of both?
Garrett Moon: It ended up being a little bit of both but I would say it started internally. I think, referencing a little bit to that previous question, is the number one thing that makes CoSchedule different is that it was solving a real problem. I think there’s another iteration in our product or life cycle, I guess, in terms of learning and getting towards CoSchedule, is sometimes you try to do the same thing as someone else, just a little bit better. That doesn’t always work.
That was the problem with our first social media product, is it didn’t have enough that made it unique. There was not that real hook there. Where CoSchedule came in is when we had been running our agency, we committed to using our blog, social media, and that entire inbound marketing process or content marketing to market our company. It was great. I mean, I wrote five blog posts a week for the first year or so of the company.
It helped us get some national clients and some pretty cool projects because we focused in on a certain few topics. It was just sort of became this part of what we did. Customers that would come in and buy websites, they’d be asking us about it, they would want a blog, we would be showing them how to do it. I wrote blog posts and I wrote training, books even, on how to duplicate the exact process that we were doing at Todaymade. What was interesting to me is that there was a lot of people that were really interested.
They wanted to use their blog and social media to grow their business and email marketing, but there was always that problem of they had 10 browser tabs, a bunch of logins to remember, and they would maybe get a blog post out and that’s it. They wouldn’t really share it. They maybe would post it once on Facebook and they’d kind of walk away. The follow-through wasn’t there but the process was really complicated. We started to think you could really simplify this.
It started with a couple simple ideas. One, we always preached use a calendar, do planning. It’s really important to plan out what you’re going to say, and we can maybe get in that a little later but that was kind of one core component. The other one was social media, like why not just schedule your social media right here inside of Wordpress where you’re actually blogging? It would save a ton of time. We could grab your permalink, the link for the blog post. We could grab some of the text.
We could import the images. We could save a whole bunch of the copy-paste work that comes with promoting your content. Those two ideas really started driving it. We had this problem, we saw other people with that problem. The next thing we did was launch that initial one page website that had a few screenshots what we thought it might look like. They were just Photoshop files, little JPEGs, nothing that actually was coded or was built.
I think it had three or four bullet points on what we thought it would do. Launched that, I wrote one blog post and sent it to some people in some connections I have in the Wordpress industry, and they started to share it. There was a couple other blog posts about our announcement that we were going to be building this thing, and started getting a lot of response in terms of people signing up to say, “Hey, when you launch this let me know.” Then that kind of validated our idea and helped us take it forward.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s a really great little tip there for people that are thinking of creating their thing, and that is as you’re thinking about it to as quickly as possible get something up to see if people are interested in it. Because so often that’s the biggest question, is “Will anybody actually buy this?” A great way to feel that out is to put up some type of basic site.
Like you said, it doesn’t have to be the fully cooked product. Can just be some screenshots and say, “Here’s what we’re thinking about doing” and see if people are interested. You have this sense that people are interested. You know that you want to tackle these problems of planning your calendar and having that within Wordpress as well as integrating all the different social media aspects into it, and you move forward with it.
The thing that I’m always interested in hearing with from people that have created a product or a blog or whatever it is that they built is: At what point did you know “Okay, this is actually something that people want”? Sometimes people talk about this as product market fit, so the idea that things really catch on and maybe it’s the kind of hockey stick moment. Was there a moment like that with CoSchedule or was it slowly but surely, little by little?
Garrett Moon: I would say it’s more slowly by surely but I think we felt pretty strongly that it would through it all, because we were only a 5% company at this time and by the time we got into heavy development we were dedicating basically 50% of our entire time to it. The development was extremely expensive in that way, so we were very committed. One thing that we did do, by the way, is that we got that first set of email, people who joined our email list after that first announcement, and I don’t know, there’s probably a few hundred people in there but I went through that entire list and just read every email address.
All the ones that weren’t Gmail or Yahoo but actually had a URL attached to them, I would follow that URL up and see what was their website. From there I think we identified 10 or 15 people to reach out to directly and to say, “Hey, I noticed you signed up and you’re interested in this. Would you mind doing a 10 or 20 minute call for us to give you a preview of what you’re building and ask you a couple questions?”
Bjork Ostrom: These would be people that maybe were from a business as opposed to somebody who just kind of had a hobby blog or something like that.
Garrett Moon: We did a variety. Because we kind of saw there was interest from both sides, so I think we did a couple universities, we did one bigger business, a couple small businesses and a couple bloggers, one or two professional bloggers then one or two hobby bloggers, so we had a good variety right away.
Bjork Ostrom: You’re reaching out to these people and you’re saying hey, can we not sit down but maybe you’d be sitting when you have the phone call with them to talk through “Here’s what we’re thinking” or is this product demo?
Garrett Moon: Well, so it was a slideshow. It was a Keynote slideshow.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Garrett Moon: At this point we had not written any code. Everything we were showing them was just mock-ups that I had made, and they were nice looking mock-ups but they were mock-ups that I had made in Photoshop. By just kind of stitching them together through Keynote I was basically able to make it look like we were kind of walking through the product. Then I kind of cover a few bullet points like “Here’s the things that CoSchedule will help you to do.” It probably took me five to eight minutes to go through the little slideshow. We probably did 10 of these calls.
I recorded it, every single one of them, so I have an audio and video recording of each one, and just got people’s reaction to it. Like asking them questions like “Is this something that would be useful to you?” and they’d say, “Sure, maybe, no,” and then “Why? Why do you think this would be useful? How do you think you would use something like this? Would you be willing to pay for it? How much time do you think it would save you?” Starting to just kind of ask some of those types of questions and try to really identify how if a customer is actually going to internalize it and make it part of their day to day workflow.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think that’s the pre-part of any type of product or any type of service even is so important, and it’s just as important as that post-part. So often we think of post, which is like jumping in and designing or writing or creating it, but it seems like what you were really intentional about doing is spending time in that pre-product stage where you’re fine tuning it and kind of figuring it out, which again, I think is a really important takeaway.
Eventually you get to this point where you have a little bit of an idea of what it is. You put it together, you craft it, and you have this solution, CoSchedule, which, we use it on Pinch of Yum and it’s a great tool. Lindsay, my wife who does the majority of the content for Pinch of Yum, and the small team that we have use it all the time for scheduling and things like that. It’s a really powerful tool. I’m guessing that you use it internally, right?
Garrett Moon: Yeah, absolutely. Yep.
Bjork Ostrom: And have a lot of interaction with other people that are blogging and building a business that are really high level. One of the things that I would love to do is now that we know a little bit of the context and the story of you as an entrepreneur and kind of your origin story, is to flip it a little bit and speak directly to the people that are listening that are content creators, and to spend a little bit of time talking to them about what they can be doing with their content and their calendar and their marketing in order to help build their blog and grow their blog.
We can kind of frame that within the context of CoSchedule. Obviously some of it will apply directly to CoSchedule, some of it might not. I’m curious to know right off the bat: For you internally and also for any of the blogs or businesses that you interact with, what are some of the common traits that you see with them as bloggers and marketers that have helped them to build a successful website?
Garrett Moon: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think the number one thing I would save you … There’s a lot of ways we describe CoSchedule but at the end of the day, I think the thing that we do the most is help bloggers and marketers get organized. One of the pieces of that is pre-planning and really using an editorial calendar to decide what type of content you’re going to create, what you’re going to write, when you’re going to do it, how soon it’s going to be done.
I would say that’s pretty universal for even small hobby blogs and if you’re publishing once a week or doing it when you have time, to some of the larger blogs and marketing teams that we see in the product, is that the biggest difference between being very successful with it and less so is that intentionality of really thinking it out strategically. It’s not always rocket science.
I think it’s something that everyone can do and they sort of do it on the fly, but there’s sort of some extra value that comes once you’ve pre-planned it out. I think early days, there’s a lot of people that blog and they start by just saying, “Well, I have to post. It’s Thursday. I always post on Thursday. What am I going to write about?” They may have a few ideas jotted down somewhere but by and large they’re opening up a blank document and they’re looking at the blanking cursor and thinking “What should I write about?”
That’s really hard because you end up using a lot of mental energy at that point deciding what you’re going to write about, so by the time you even get to writing you’ve kind of wore yourself out a little bit, there’s a lot more stress in the process, and you’re going to kind of set yourself up for trouble because once it actually goes to publish it, you’re just going to hit publish and you’re just going to kind of throw your hands up and you have to walk away because you’re kind of expelled of energy at that point. Essentially what happens is they miss the whole promotion side of it. We always kind of have a rule around here, is that we should be spending as much time promoting the content we create as we are creating the content.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I think that’s something that so often people miss, is that they’re so ingrained in the content creation mode that they forget the content promotion mode that they need to go into.
Garrett Moon: Yep, exactly. I think that’s part of that intentionality. When you get yourself into a habit where you’re pre-planning by creating a list of topics that you might want to cover, just kind of breaking down your audience into groups or segments like: “Some people are in my audience because they really like this type of content. Some are for X, Y, Z reasons.”
You can start to plan your calendar so that you have a really good balance of content, so you’re going to kind of be hitting on each of those key topics that your readers really care about or your customers care about, and you can do it with intentionality. That’s where the editorial calendar comes into place. We have at CoSchedule … I’ll use us as an example. Our goal is to be a month ahead. Our goal is to have content 100% done 30 days before it goes live.
Bjork Ostrom: What does that look like from a editorial perspective? You want the content done. In terms of planning what that content will be, do you have a meeting where everybody sits down together and says, “Okay, what are the different things?” or do people own a certain area that they build out the content for? Then how far out is the content planned? Obviously 30 days for getting it done, but what does that look like in terms of planning?
Garrett Moon: Right. Yeah, so the team … Ben and Nathan run our blog now. There’s a couple ways that they do planning. I mean, one, they do sort of group brainstorms. Although I know that they really prefer to have each person who writes or is part of our marketing team spend some time doing an individual brainstorm and coming up with 50 topics or something like that, and then come together as a group and kind of go through those topics and pick and choose which ones we want to cover.
That happens sometimes. We actually have a video coming out about that process in the next week or so, where Ben really kind of breaks it down exactly how they do it. The other one is we do a lot with keywording. There’s usually a list of keywords that we’re hoping to target, and then we’ll kind of match keywords to topics that we can cover.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. How do you discover those keywords?
Garrett Moon: It’s pretty easy. I mean, you can just use Google just by picking some keywords that are important to your audience right now and just seeing what else comes up. We use a tool called Moz, M-O-Z, and that used to be called SEOmoz and it’s an SEO focused tool, and we use that for suggesting keyword. Gosh, I know Ben has just started using another one for it, as well, but I forget what it’s called.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Garrett Moon: We have some blog posts about that. There’s a lot of information out there. It’s not as hard as it sounds. You just kind of have to pick some and then work them into your post and kind of build the piece of content around that, that specific piece.
Bjork Ostrom: Basic idea is that you are saying, “Okay, we know that these keywords, maybe it’s something like ‘scheduling tool Wordpress’ or something like that, is something that we want to target, so what are some content that we could build around that that would be really helpful, that people might share and/or discover organically on Google?” They would come then and consume the content. Part of it with the editorial calendar isn’t just slapping something on the calendar and saying, “I want to do this at this time.”
It’s being intentional and saying, “What is either A, a keyword that I could rank for or B, in our niche maybe a type of recipe or something that would really make sense for this time period?” I think people understand that in general, but I think the intentional step of scheduling it and sitting down and thinking ahead … Like you said, you’re not using that mental energy early on in the writing process to go towards brainstorming what it is, I think is really smart.
The other thing it seems like it would do is it allows you to batch something so you don’t have multiple little sessions of brainstorming content, but instead you have one long session of saying, “This is how we’re brainstorming. We’re using this block of three hours to plan ahead and brainstorm.” Then that’s taken care of. You don’t have to make that decision anymore, which is so nice.
Garrett Moon: Yeah, exactly. That’s kind of exactly how it goes. We’re also dealing with things like product feature launches, and then once we launch our feature we try to create pieces of content that relate back to that feature and help our users actually put it into practice. For example, we just launched Social Video, so you can schedule videos to Facebook and Twitter and other social networks. Now we’re doing some best practice recommendations on how to do good video posts on social media.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s great.
Garrett Moon: Those types of things get worked in. Sometimes those launch dates can kind of move back and forth a week or two. If we’re ready to launch, we’ll launch a little early or if there’s something we’re working out in terms of technical limitations, we’ll move it back a week. Planning ahead gives it so that if something like that happens there’s never an emergency.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Garrett Moon: They take one of those posts, they move it ahead, and it’s no problem and they’re able to adapt really quick, very easily. That flexibility is really helpful, too.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, which also comes, like you said, from planning ahead and having that idea of where you’re going and what comes where and being able to flip flop dates potentially.
Garrett Moon: If you’re a hobby blogger or a food blogger or whatever, having some posts in the can that you can use if something happens or if you just can’t get a post done that week, it’s really, really powerful.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. That was the editorial side of things, planning and building that out. Ideally you’re getting content done ahead of time so you’re not scrambling on the day of. Then there’s also this side of once the content publishes. I think for a lot of people that are listening, maybe they have some type of basic process they go through. Maybe they tweet about it or post to Facebook. Maybe they forget about it.
I’m curious to know from your experience both on the CoSchedule side doing content marketing, but then also observing what other people do and people that are doing content marketing and creating content on a high level: What are some of the steps that people can take after a post publishes to really make sure that they’re squeezing all that they can out of it and getting all the value they can out of all the work that they’ve done?
Garrett Moon: Yeah, I think the number one thing is just using social really well. I mean, social drives traffic and can do it very consistently. The first thing that we do is … In CoSchedule we have a mechanism called the Social Queue, and it essentially allows you to create a drip campaign of social messages that will promote your content. We by default suggest that you create a series of social messages to promote your content the day that the content goes live, the day that the post goes live.
We suggest that you repeat it again on those networks the day after. Then we also give you a space to do that a month later and then even a couple months later. By default we kind of give you that map, and then we also allow you to add any other points to that. If you actually looked at the CoSchedule calendar and how we schedule social messages, you’d see that for every blog post that goes live we actually schedule 60 or 70 messages that will go out over the next three to six months that will constantly drip that content out there.
Now, most of the content that we create or all the content we create is evergreen content, which means it’s good today, it’s good tomorrow, it’s a topic that’s going to be relevant to our audience for a long period of time. That makes it a perfect candidate for repeating on social media over and over again. I think a couple things with that. Most people do the day of or when it goes live and you might repeat it once, but I think a lot of people don’t take advantage of how often that they can repeat that content. I think that’s probably a big missed opportunity for a lot of blog posts.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. When you say that, I think hearing it it sounds like a lot but when you are consuming social media … There are certain accounts that I see that are re-posting stuff all the time and it’s such a different mindset as the publisher versus the consumer, and I think as the publisher it might seem like “Oh, I don’t want to inundate my followers on Twitter or Facebook with all this content,” but the reality is that most of the time just a small sliver of people will see the content.
Garrett Moon: Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: Essentially what you’re doing is just trying to get it maybe 50% of the people on your social media followings to see that, which sometimes requires 60 different touch points.
Garrett Moon: It does. That’s absolutely correct and it does vary per network. Some networks are better at repeating content than others. I like to think about it as in many cases, you’re probably doing your audience a favor. I mean, if you think about Tweets and how many of the tweets … People that you follow on Twitter, how many of them do you actually read and a percentage of the ones that they share? I think just thinking about that helps put some of that into perspective. Even on Facebook or elsewhere, Pinterest or something, there’s stuff that you miss all the time. Repeating it bubbles it back up to the top.
It also takes a little bit of the pressure off on you need to create so much content. You set yourself a goal like “For every post I create I want to be able to get X number of page views or shares or something like that,” and kind of get yourself a goal of trying to reach that and kind of scrape every little bit of traffic that you can out of the content that you already have. I even think it’s a good exercise to say one week: “I’d usually write a post here but this week I’m not going to. I’m going to figure out how to re-promote older content and get the same amount of traffic than they would otherwise.”
Bjork Ostrom: Lindsay recently, this is kind of similar to that, but recently went back and refreshed an old recipe she had done. I think that not enough people do that where … It goes back to that mindset of new content creation as opposed to optimization of current content. I think both of those are equally important and it’s easy to miss the repurposing.
Garrett Moon: Yeah, and we still have this conversation around here and we preach this stuff every day. I was talking to some folks on our marketing team the other day and I was like, “I think it’s really easy to think of marketing like a book. We know every single post we’ve ever written, every single thing we’ve ever put out there, and we sort of assume that our audience has read it in the same order, in the same way that we have presented it to them.”
Bjork Ostrom: For sure.
Garrett Moon: That’s exact opposite of they maybe have only been a reader for two weeks, so they don’t even have a clue that you’ve ever written anything about a certain topic. Bringing some back old content, that’s a really good idea and a really powerful thing. Our team does that really well and I think they’ve written some posts on how to do it. Those are our great strategies that are in that promotion category.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. I think even just the mindset of, like you said, assuming that people have consumed the content in the order that it was released … It’s like “Oh, yeah.” That’s so rare for anybody to follow along and consume every piece of content that you have. Therein lies the question: “Well, how do we communicate old content to people?” Part of it is refreshing that on social or maybe updating a post and moving the data up on that so people see it a little bit more. I think that’s a great takeaway and an important mindset shift for people.
Garrett Moon: Yeah. If I could share just one more little 30 second thing on that, is when we do that we always really emphasize at creating some variety in the messages that you’re sending. I think that’s an important point. We’re not talking about repeating the exact same message 60 times. That is possible and there are ways to do it, but the better way to go is today you’re going to share the headline and the link and maybe a photo, right, the title photo from the image or from the post.
Tomorrow mix it up a little bit. Rather than use a headline, maybe write an alternate headline or use a pull quote from the blog post or a little fact that you pull from it. I think adding variety, using different images, mixing things up a little bit is a really important way where you’re going to continue to add value for your audience, because you’re not showing them this is just the same thing over and over again but you’re giving them something slightly different.
Bjork Ostrom: Right, so it’s the same baseline content but it’s shifted a little bit. Like you said, maybe it’s the title of it and then the next day it’s an image of it. Maybe a month later it’s the title and a different image. Instead of repeating the same thing over and over and hoping that somebody will see it or engage with it, it’s repeating the same thing but with some variety with it.
Garrett Moon: Yeah. Yep. Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the things I’m curious to know about is tracking. One of the things I’ve been focusing on for Pinch of Yum and our businesses is figuring out what are the metrics that we can use to figure out if this is working or not. I know within CoSchedule one of the things that’s really nice is there’s a little graph when I look at it, shows how many shares have come from that social kind of analytics. What are the other ways that you would suggest people keep an eye on or track along with to see “Is this working or is this not working?” Is that traffic? What are the other things?
Garrett Moon: Yeah, I mean the three metrics we always used, and this is up until recently … Our email list, we’re over 100,000 subscribers. This is something that works even at a larger scale. We tracked on individual posts how many shares did it get and we used it as sort of a benchmark in terms of popularity. Every single month, even still, we go back and we say, “What post got shared more than others and why did those topics get picked more?”
Was it the topic? Was it the way the post was structured? We use that data to kind of compare every piece of content we publish and see what was more popular and what wasn’t. Shares, it’s just a really easy piece of data to get. It gives you enough information to go off of. The second thing we always tracked was just raw page views. How many people came to the site to read our content? We always had some goals that we wanted to meet there. CoSchedule blog is over a million page views every single month now.
That was kind of a goal we wanted to hit, but just raw traffic coming into the site. Then some of them are unique, some of them aren’t, but what we’re just trying to do there is sort of gauge how big is our audience. Is that audience growing and is the audience we already have, are they continuing to come back and are they still satisfied with the content they’re getting here? The third was email subscribers. Email list is, as marketers, the most powerful tool we all still have.
It converts better than social. When it comes down to paying for a product or something like that, people give dedicated attention to it. I know we all feel inundated with email, but it still works. It’s amazing. That email list was always really important. We always kind of treated it like it was a vote, like every email person was willing to put themselves on that list, despite the millions of emails they’re already getting, was a vote of confidence in our content so we always wanted to see that growing.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. I think all of those things are, for the people that are listening, probably things that people think about but I think that email one is one that I always love to remind people of because, especially in our niche, it’s not necessarily something that people think of first and foremost but it can be such an important marketing component like you said.
Garrett Moon: Yeah, that’s your email, right. That’s your email list. You’re not giving away that follower to Facebook or to Twitter where they’re going to have control over how you communicate with that audience. It’s a direct communication. Like you said, it’s easy to forget about and I think it’s the most valuable piece of it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, absolutely.
Garrett Moon: To have that call to action for your email list.
Bjork Ostrom: We’re coming to the end here, Garrett, and appreciate you sharing all the insight here, both about your story with CoSchedule and things that people can be doing when it comes to content creation scheduling, being intentional about promoting after they publish the content as well. All of this stuff I think is really good stuff to hit on.
But wondering if you were to speak to the people that are listening today and say, “Here is some wisdom, some advice that I have for you as you go about building your blog but also your business.” You’ve built a successful business and you have a team. What would your advice be to people that are kind of in those early stages of getting started?
Garrett Moon: Boy, that’s a broad question. I think following along a little bit with this email list subscription topic that we were covering, I’d take it a bit further and say every single page on your website has to have … There should be one thing that you want your visitor to do on that page. You have to ask yourself, “What’s the one thing? I can only have them do one thing here. What would it be?” Write that down. You might have to write a whole list, like write all the things you could possibly think about, but force yourself to circle one.
Then really take a look at your site and: Does that page serve that one action? I think, when we look at blog design and stuff, the trends over the last couple years, things have gotten simpler and more focused and I think that’s partially why. The extra widgets, the Facebook little thing over there, some of that stuff can really slow down your page and it can potentially distract your audience. Once you can focus on one call to action, one thing you want them to do, you can really start to empower yourself and really influence …
Let’s say it’s that email list, right. Now you can experiment. What if I ask up top? What if I ask at the bottom? What if I use a pop-up? What if I change the language? You can really start to understand what works and what doesn’t. When you’re mixing it with everything else, it’s sort of hard to track things. I think one of the reasons that people have a hard time with analytics is because they try to look at too much. Pick one thing, so that way you know what to look at and what to track. It’ll make your life easier and I think you’ll be more successful.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great and a really awesome focused tip. The tip in and of itself adheres to the advice that you’re giving, which is a focused one action item, “Here’s the one thing to focus on,” which I think is great. You had mentioned the CoSchedule blog a couple times. We’ll link to that. It’s really well designed. Much like CoSchedule itself it’s just a very beautiful blog and it’s a beautiful product. People can check that out. Where else can people follow along with what you guys are doing?
Garrett Moon: Well, they can join our email list. New posts get shared that way as well as new features and things we put into the product. Then Twitter’s great as well. I’m Garrett_Moon on Twitter, or you can follow @coschedule.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Cool. Hey, Garrett, thanks so much for coming on. Really appreciate it and congratulations. It’s just a wonderful tool and we’ve really enjoyed using it.
Garrett Moon: Yeah, appreciate it. Thank you guys for using it and having me on today. It was a lot of fun to visit.
Bjork Ostrom: Thanks. Hey, that’s a wrap for this episode. Garrett, thanks so much for coming on one more time and congratulations on everything that you’ve done as you and your team have built CoSchedule. It’s an awesome product and awesome service and we hope and wish for your continued success. For those of you that are listening to this podcast, one of the things that I don’t often mention but would be worth mentioning is the previous episodes that we have here on the Food Blogger Pro podcast.
If you haven’t yet subscribed in iTunes or the Google Play Store or the podcast app on iPhones, then I’d really encourage you to do that. When you do that you can scroll back and see all of the different archives, and there are some real gems back there. We’ve heard from a handful of people that have actually gone back way to the beginning and have just worked their way through the different episodes. If you haven’t done that yet I’d encourage you to check it out and do it.
There’s really no benefit to us other than the download numbers increase, which doesn’t make a difference because we don’t have advertisers or anything like that. I really like the idea of people kind of unearthing or digging up these older interviews that we did because there’s so much good content there, so if you haven’t done that yet I’d encourage you to go back and check those out. That’s a wrap for this week. Thanks so much for tuning in and for listening, and we really appreciate you guys. Hopefully I’ll be able to see you in person some day so I can shake your hand and say thanks for listening to the podcast. We will be back here same time, same place next week. Thanks, guys.
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