How to Protect Your Digital Publication

 

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Loren Baker:  Hi!  Welcome to today’s episode of Search & Social, a Rainmaker.FM production by Foundation Digital.  This is your host Loren Baker, and with me, I have Kelsey Jones, the executive editor of Search Engine Journal.  So, welcome to Search & Social, Kelsey.

Kelsey Jones:  Thanks for having me, Loren.

Loren Baker:  It’s always great to have you on and have a conversation.  So…you’ve been at SEJ for how many years now, in the editing role?

Kelsey Jones:  Well, I started out as a news writer about two years ago, and then three to six months into that, I stepped up into an editing role.  So I’ve been editing for almost two years, and then I’ve been head editor…I would say for about a year, now.

Loren Baker:  Great, great.  So you’re basically steering the editorial ship of Search Engine Journal.  Managing a team of…internal employees and writers and bloggers and…and whatnot.  But also working with writers as a whole, right?

Kelsey Jones:  Yep.  Yep, that’s my main role.  I do help with the content strategy.  You know, the different projects we have at SEJ like the webinars or the podcasts, but a lot of my job still, as editor, is the day-to-day of editing content that comes in, deciding whether or not it’s fit to publish at all, talking with writers about our expectations and our guidelines…because I know when I came onto the SEJ editorial side, we started creating new editorial guidelines and really cracking down on links that could be too self-promotional, content that just wasn’t really high-quality and benefitting the readers, and so…I still carry those main principles and those guidelines through today when it comes to editing all the content that is submitted to us.

Loren Baker:  That’s great.  So let’s…let’s talk about content submittals, shall we?  Because, you know…

Kelsey Jones:  Yeah!

Loren Baker:  …in the world of search, guest blogging has been a hot topic for a long time.  But then for marketing in general, whether it’s personal branding or branding your company or positioning yourself or your employees as being market leaders and thought leaders in your industry.  You know, getting your work syndicated or published where your audience is, has really always been a form of marketing and PR.  So at SEJ, like you said, you manage the editorial team, and then we also take contributed content, so, you know, in terms of author acquisition or contributor acquisition, are you going out there and looking for people?  Or are you basically going through the contacts that you get off the site?

Kelsey Jones:  You know, at SEJ, we’re really lucky that we get a lot of applications coming in, or pitch emails coming in to me, of people wanting to write for SEJ.  So we haven’t really had to do a lot of searching.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  We aren’t really accepting new contributors, but when we do, it’s mainly a referral, or they submit an idea of a piece of content that’s really, really great and we just can’t turn down.  The times that I have, you know, actively recruited people, is if they’re already a thought leader in our industry.

Loren Baker:  Right.

Kelsey Jones:  So if I’ve seen them speak at conferences and I know they’d be a great writer, or I’ve seen their articles on other industry publications, and I know that they could bring us a lot of really great content on SEJ.  Sometimes, I’ll go after them after getting to know them for a while.  I really try to focus on building those relationships first, because I think…you know, the partnership between writers and an editor, it’s kind of…I don’t know.  It’s easy to go overboard as being too sales-y.

So if I’m trying to get a writer to write for us, I don’t want them to think that that’s all I care about.  But that goes along the same lines with a writer trying to write for SEJ.  So…you know, if a writer is pitching me a story and I can tell that all they want is getting links in to their site, that’s not really what we’re about.  And so I think, when it comes to recruiting writers, or pitching publications, you need to think about what’s mutually beneficial and what’s bes for the most important aspect of publishing, which is the audience.

Loren Baker:  Yeah.  Like, it really goes both ways, too, right?  ‘Cause at the end of the day, they are taking the time to contribute content that benefits the site.

Kelsey Jones:  Exactly.

Loren Baker:  Whether it’s SEJ or anywhere else.  Yet at the same time, you know, you had alluded to this with, like, sneaking and putting links in and things like that into the work.  It’s really up to the publisher.  I mean, Google came out a long time ago and said this, but it’s really up to the publisher to police and govern what’s being published on their site.

Kelsey Jones:  Exactly.

Loren Baker:  If a publisher lets someone…put a post up, and sneak in links, or even, you know…not even sneaking in links from an SEO perspective, but, you know, linking to the correct source.  You know?  How many times do you see someone sourcing something, and it’s not actually the source, right?  It’s like…you know.   A USA Today article that writes about a study that was done by another company isn’t a source.  The study itself is the source.  So it’s little things like that, too.  And even, you know, broken links.  Sometimes people don’t code correctly.  So it’s really…

Kelsey Jones:  Mhmm.

Loren Baker:  …taking the time to make sure that that’s all done correctly, so you don’t get a bunch of emails from people reading the post being, “Ahaha!  You guys have broken links!” or “You guys are linking to the wrong thing.”

Kelsey Jones:  Yeah.

Loren Baker:  Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Kelsey Jones:  Yeah, and that goes back, you know, to good old-fashioned journalism.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  You know, I’ve read so many articles of people saying journalism is dead.  Real journalists can’t get jobs, etc.  And that’s just not true.  You’ll find that, you know, really well-written content is gonna resonate with people, whether it’s digital or in a newspaper.  And so…at SEJ, we try to have all the content we have just be, you know.  Like you said…we at SEJ are responsible for what we’re publishing.  So we wanna set that journalistic standard that your sources are cited correctly.  So, if you’re sourcing a company, instead of linking to a phrase, like, “He said that.”, you need to link to the actual publisher name.  So…just little basics like that, I try to work with our writers on, just so they know.  Because a lot of our writers are experts in their field, and they just wanna write about what they know.  They aren’t journalists first.

Loren Baker:  Yeah.

Kelsey Jones:  And so…one of the things I really like about my job…because I come from an English literature and newspaper background, I want to help them become better writers, and I’ve had a lot of our writers tell me, “You know, I appreciate you kicking back articles.” Or, “I appreciate you telling me that things need to be written this way or need to be linked this way from a journalistic standpoint, because it makes me be a better writer.”  And people like the challenge, you know?  There’s so many publications out there where almost anyone can get published in it now.  And that almost makes those publications into a joke.  People don’t take ‘em seriously, because they know that at any given time, there’s articles on there that people just slipped in, and nobody’s really paying attention.  I think…you know, at SEJ, we wanted to build a publication where everybody knew that our team is working really hard to put the best content out there that we can.

Loren Baker:  Yeah.  And what happens, too, is when it’s easier to get stuff published, word gets around really quickly.

Kelsey Jones:  Exactly.

Loren Baker:  Like, if a site will take anything…like, all of a sudden, every single person on oDesk, or whatever, will be selling…you know.  The ability to get a blog published on that site, and it just…

Kelsey Jones:  Exactly.

Loren Baker:  It’s just like, they destroy it in a matter of weeks.  And then it’s really up to the publisher to kind of reboot themselves.  So in many ways, you’re like a living, breathing, flesh version of the Hemingway app.  Have you ever used the Hemingway app before?

Kelsey Jones:  Yes!  I love it.

Loren Baker:  Yeah.

Kelsey Jones:  I have it on my computer.

Loren Baker:  Cool.  Yeah, I started using it recently myself, ‘cause I’m such a terrible writer, and I never realized how many unnecessary adjectives I use all the time.

Kelsey Jones:  It really destroys you.  So, with Hemingway, some of…a couple of our writers are really, really wordy.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  And I’ve referred them to the Hemingway app, because there’s a web-based version that you can use for free, and then the downloadable app, I think, is 10 bucks or something.  I have it on my Mac.  So I refer them to that, because I say, “You know what?  I can tell you have really great ideas, but they need to be…you need to use less passive voice.”  Or, you know, like you said, “You use too many adverbs.” Or “You don’t use enough commas.”  And Hemingway is really good at catching that.  There’s another tool that me and Danielle, our senior editor, were just talking about.  It’s called Grammarly.

Loren Baker:  Okay.

Kelsey Jones:  And it’s a…Chrome plug-in.  I think they have a program, too.  But basically, as you’re typing, it’s checking your grammar and your spelling.  And it’s kind of like spell check on steroids, because it’ll underline it red, and then it tells you, “Hey, you should add a comma here.”

 

Loren Baker:  Oh, wow.

Kelsey Jones:  Or this…this is passive voice.  So I’ve started using that, too, just for emails, because it checks it when I’m typing in Gmail. And so…you know, I’m amazed how many people don’t realize what a great asset being a good writer is.  Or being able to share your voice in a succinct and professional way.  A lot of people just take it for granted and don’t think about what a big difference it could make.

Loren Baker:  I need a version of Hemingway app and Grammarly to install into my brain, so I can actually get concise thoughts across when I’m having conversations with people.

Kelsey Jones:  I know.

Loren Baker:  Those are two really good tools, and we’ll review them in the write-up on this podcast, as well, is Hemingway and Grammarly.  Any others that you’d like to add into the mix?

Kelsey Jones:  Oh, geez.  A lot of tools that I like to recommend to writers are content topic generators.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  So I know, for me, when I’m trying to write content for my own blog, or for SEJ, or whatever.  You know, it can be really hard to come up with just a good title that can give you a springboard to start off.  So there’s a couple really good title generators that I like to use.  HubSpot has a really good one.  Portent has one.  And I can send you all these links so you can add them to the write-up.  And then Brent Satoris (?) just sent me another one I just added that’s really amazing. It’s from Content Ideator.  Oh, it’s called that, and then it’s from contentforest.com.  So I can send you these, but that’s probably the second-biggest tool that I recommend to writers, because a problem that a lot of our writers come to me with is…you know, “I want to write more for SEJ, I just don’t even know what to write about.”

Loren Baker:  Right.

Kelsey Jones:  So I refer them to those tools, or…one thing we do that’s pretty unique, I would say, for a lot of…against other marketing publishers in our industry, is we…in our monthly writer’s newsletter…

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  We send 10 topic ideas that our team comes up with, based on the way that content has been received that’s been published.  So if I see that there hasn’t been enough articles about Periscope, or about Reddit marketing, or PPC lately, I’ll come up with some post titles and send them in the writer’s newsletter that goes out every month to our contributors, and those are so popular.  It is also a way to help keep writers accountable.  So if they know that they were “assigned” this specific title, they’re gonna be more likely to submit a piece of writing to SEJ versus if they just had to come up with something on their own.

Loren Baker:  Oh, and they also know that that piece has a better chance of being read, and distributed, and shared more, because you’ve already identified that as being an emerging trend, or a successful trend on SEJ.

Kelsey Jones:  Exactly.  Yep, exactly.

Loren Baker:  Amongst the audience.  So…you’ve implemented the writer’s newsletter, which I even see when I log into AWeber, right?  And I see that it has, like, the highest “open” rates of all the emails that we do.  So, I’m like, “Wow.”

Kelsey Jones:  Yeah.

Loren Baker:  “90% of people are opening this.”  And I’m like, “Oh, it’s the writer’s newsletter.  That makes sense.”  What else have you done in terms of kind of corralling…I mean, yeah.  Corralling the writers and kinda getting the group into more or less of a community that doesn’t only make it easier for you to communicate with, I don’t know, 50, 60, whatever individuals, but also kinda gets them a chance to meet and collaborate.

Kelsey Jones:  So, I think at the core, it comes down to just wanting to get to know the people that write for us, and I also want our writers to know that I’m accessible.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  So I feel like a lot of big publications that have pretty good traffic and a good social presence, like SEJ.  A lot of times, the team might seem not accessible to the readers or to the audience as a whole.  And that’s one thing that I’ve tried to help our SEJ team with.  And just help me as an editor.  Is to be more available to our community.  And so I always tell writers in the monthly newsletter or on Twitter, or whatever, “If you have any question about any content or about the way I edited your post, or if you just want a sounding board on…if you have some good ideas and you want to know if you’re on the right track, just email me.”  And so I think that goes a long way, for people to know that their…their ideas and their emails are gonna be heard and responded to.  And so I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from that.

We also just started an exclusive SEJ writer’s group on Facebook, and so…writers can have conversations between themselves there.  Sometimes, we’ll post opportunities for free press passes for conferences, if writers wanna cover them for SEJ.  Letting writers know about if there’ll be downtime on the back end of our site due to an upgrade, or whatever.  And so that’s been another good way to stay in touch with the writers as a whole when we aren’t sending out a monthly newsletter.

Loren Baker:  And, you know, another thing, too.  On top of helping writers write better, or helping someone like me, who…I’m not a writer or journalist, but I’ve blogged a lot and I do blog other places, but I don’t have that kind of base as a good journalist.  Helping people do their job better is also understanding things like the use of images, right?  Because…you know…image attribution, or even knowing which images to use and which not to use, is something that’s not really taught.  And it’s something that’s ignored, actually, by a lot of very large sites.  You know, BuzzFeed, for example, is full of images that are lifted from other sites, and reused without permission, and it seems to be just a trend on the web.  So, you know, how do you help writers there, in terms of guidelines and which images they’re allowed to use?

Kelsey Jones:  Yeah.  We…have really cracked down on this in the past couple of months, because another site that our parent company owned actually got fined for an image that was on Wikimedia Commons, but it wasn’t cited correctly.  So if the author…if the writer had just cited it correctly, there wouldn’t have been an issue, but because the attribution wasn’t correct, we got fined for it.  And so that’s something we want to avoid in the future, and I think what it comes down to is just education.  You know, a lot of…the majority of writers, especially ours, they’re not looking to steal other people’s images.  They just don’t know what the proper protocol is.

Loren Baker:  Right.

Kelsey Jones:  And, like you said, when huge publishers like BuzzFeed or other sites are lifting images, then, you know, most people think it’s okay.  And so…we’re coming from a place of education.  So, we addressed it in our writer’s newsletter.  We actually had a contributor…the post is going through the editorial queue, but he wrote a really good recap on finding and sourcing images legally, so we’re trying to not only educate our own writers internally, but then also the public through SEJ articles.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  And we have all of our image sourcing and guidelines on our editorial guideline page, which is public and anyone can see it.  And basically, what it came down to, in the shift in our guidelines for images, was, we’d rather be safe than sorry.

Loren Baker:  Yeah.

Kelsey Jones:  So we tell our writers that “If you’re in doubt as to whether or not an image would be safe to use or is okay to use, just use Shutterstock, and email Aki, who is one of our awesome editorial assistants.  Email her the URL of the Shutterstock photo you want to use, and she’ll put it in your post for you.  And we tell writers, “If you’re in doubt, just use Shutterstock.”  And that’s worked pretty well for us.

Loren Baker:  Well, you know.  It’s funny, too, even from a marketing perspective.  Like, ever since I started reading into, you know, image usage and rights behind images, I’ve even made sure that some of the client projects I work with…that they have the rights of usage defined with, like, infographics and stuff like that.

Kelsey Jones:  Yeah.

Loren Baker:  Because if it’s not, it really…I mean, it’s…given.  It’s assumed.  I mean, the whole reason for doing an infographic is so people share it on their site and link back to you, right?  But…to assume that people have the right to do so.  And, but then it’s not defined, right?  So where does that image fall under?  You know, whether it’s Creative Commons, or whether people have the fair use to utilize that, or whatnot.  And then also, like, I’ll go to a conference and watch a presentation that a theme of, you know, Star Wars or something.  And I’m sitting there, and I’m like, “Holy moly, I hope there’s no one from LucasFilm sitting in this room.”  ‘Cause this presenter just basically lifted the entire image library from Star Wars and used it in their commercial property, right?  So, you know, little things like that. It’s not a big deal at the end of the day.  Those larger companies have bigger fish to fry than someone doing a presentation on whatever.  But it’s incredibly important, like you said, because there are…there are people that, you know, Getty Images will check to see…to make sure that their images aren’t being used illegally.  There are people that will fine publishers if their image is lifted and not cited properly, because it’s the law of the land, right?

Kelsey Jones: Mhmm.

Loren Baker:  So you just have to really follow that.  So, cool.

Kelsey Jones:  Yeah.  And, I mean, it’s a whole huge thing.  That’s why we say…it’s so complicated, especially Creative Commons. There’s different types of Creative Commons licenses.

Loren Baker:  Yeah.

Kelsey Jones:  You know, like some you can use and modify in any way.  Some you can only use for non-commercial purposes.  It just gets really, really confusing.  And so that’s why we try to focus mainly on Shutterstock.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  But then if that’s not…if the writers aren’t finding what they’re looking for…Pixabay is another good site where they have a totally open license.  So anyone can use any images on Pixabay for any reason.  And then Unsplash is another one that’s like that.  Completely open, any reason.  And so we tell writers that those two sites are okay, but other than that, they need to either have written permission from the creator of the image to use, especially if it’s a graph.

Loren Baker:  Yeah.

Kelsey Jones:  Or it’s someone’s unique research.

Loren Baker:  Well, also, like, Flickr.  I’m not sure if they still have this, but they used to.  Flickr and Yahoo used to have a WordPress plug-in that would recommend related images from Flickr that were of Creative Common usage.  So…anyone writing a blog.  I think you would put in your blog parameters, like whether you’re a commercial publication, or whatever.  And then it would serve you the relevant Flickr images that you could just drag and drop into the post as well.  My Flickr story is, like, back in 2005, I went to visit Yahoo Japan, and I took a picture of…er, I’m sorry. Google Japan.  And I took a picture of these Google vending machines, and also these Google windsocks that were there in the Google Japan offices.  And the Google Japan vending machines were really cool, because they said Google…like, Japan is known for all of the vending machines all over the street, especially in Tokyo.  You can buy almost anything out of a vending machine.  And…so it was really, like, cool to see that in the Google offices.  They said “Google” on them and they had drinks inside, so I took the pictures on Flickr, and I really didn’t think about it again.  And about a year or two ago, after I saw that same picture utilized in someone else’s presentation at a conference…

Kelsey Jones:  Ugh.

Loren Baker:  I went through and pulled all the different blogs…just doing some Google image searches, or whatnot, but all the different sites and blogs that had picked it up, and it was over 300 different sites had picked up and shared that image over the past, well, 10 years now.  And it was pretty amazing to see that in most cases, there was zero attribution given.  And I even think, with the Flickr guidelines, you have to have that caption put in.

Kelsey Jones:  Yeah.

Loren Baker:  When you share an image.  And it just wasn’t done.  I don’t know if because my Flickr ID is flickr.com/paydayloans or not, that might have something to do with it.

Kelsey Jones:  Maybe…

Loren Baker:  But it was just kinda cool to see, after all the years, and I should have…now I know how photographers feel, right?

Kelsey Jones:  Exactly.  That’s what I was gonna say. Now you see the other side of the coin, how frustrating it could be.

Loren Baker:  I know!

Kelsey Jones:  To take a really great images, and just random sites are using it without citing you or asking your permission.

Loren Baker:  I’m a reformed image hotlinker, now.  Because of that.

Kelsey Jones:  Good.  Good.

Loren Baker:  Talking about this a little bit before.  SEJ is a great publication.  We do a lot of cool things, and we also allow writers to contribute.  Being that a lot of those writers are SEOs, sometimes they try to sneak in stuff that it’s really your job and the editorial team’s job to catch, and sometimes give ‘em a slap on the wrist.  Or I think we even put them in, like, detention or time-out for a month or two, from time to time, if they’re trying to do something pretty bad. Or just kick ‘em out.  Without naming names, or whatever.  What are some of the…dirtiest tricks that you’ve seen people try to do when they’re contributing content to the site, and how do you really pick it up?

Kelsey Jones:  So I think picking it up comes through experience and, like, seeing tricks people try to use.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  So I would say…I mean, obviously, a lot of people will contribute content with links back to their own site.  Like, they’ll say…the sentence will say, “This is a really great content marketing tactic.”  And “content marketing” is anchor text for their service page, to provide content.

Loren Baker:  Right.

Kelsey Jones:  I mean, that’s the most obvious way people have done stuff, that obviously, we flag, because Aki, me, and Danielle all check all the links of all the articles.  The shadiest thing that I’ve ever seen someone do, because it was blatantly behind my back…was this guy…submitted an article.  It had a shady link.  I think it was just a self-promotional link.  I took it out.  And then I had some other edits, so I sent him the edits that were changes he needed to make in the post.  Well, he made the changes, wrote me back in the little commenting queue that we have in the posts where writers and editors can talk.  He said, “Okay, the changes are all good.”  Well, I was going through the post to make sure that the changes were done.  I noticed he slipped back in a couple more links that were self-promotional.

And so, even though I told him when I sent him the edits, “Hey, I’m removing these links because they’re self-promotional, and it’s against our editorial guideline.”  He put them in and then told me that all the edits were done and it was good to go.  So he basically lied to me and, you know, readded the links hoping I wouldn’t notice.  And it’s that kind of stuff, when you try to be super shady.  You know, we don’t forget that.  Because the SEJ team, our first priority is doing what’s best for SEJ.  So I almost envision us as kind of, like, the front line.  You know, the front line army that’s…protecting SEJ from shady stuff, because we’re protecting our reputation.  People have tried to submit articles under fake personas.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  So, one time…and I think I mentioned this in my Pubcon presentation last year.  This guy…asked to write for SEJ.  And he was just, like, really good-looking, so I reverse-Google-searched his photo.

Loren Baker:  I remember you said he was too good-looking to be an Internet marketer.

Kelsey Jones:  Exactly.  I was like, “This guy’s too clean-cut.  He doesn’t have, like, Cheeto dust on his shirt.  So…I reverse-Google-searched him.  And he was…the photo was actually of a guy that’s a really famous actor in Ireland.

Loren Baker:  Right.  Right.

Kelsey Jones:  And so it was a totally fake profile that someone had created this entire life for this guy.  I mean, he had a LinkedIn.  He had a Twitter.  He had a Facebook.  He had a website that had a portfolio.  You know, he had followers and everything.  But, you know, me and Danielle are usually the two main people that are responsible for spotting fakers.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  And so it’s pretty easy to tell when someone’s fake, because a lot of their tweets are just surface-level stuff, or, you know.  Something that you know they’re just adding RSS feeds for their Twitter feed, or whatever.  So I think, you know, like I said.  It goes back to just being weathered.  You know, going through the experiences of all the times people have tried to get away with stuff, and then you don’t forget that, so…it helps, you know, the longer you are in an editorial position, the more you learn about what people are trying to do.  And it’s a constant battle.  And it makes me kinda sad, because I feel like, you know.  We care so much about SEJ, and all these people are trying to somehow game us to get their links on SEJ, and it just is, you know, frustrating.  And then I’m also disappointed in the people, because…to have someone lie to my face, I’m just, like, “Oh, well, you’re not who I expected.”  It kinda changes how you think about someone, and that effect goes beyond their article just getting published.  You know.

Loren Baker:  Yeah.

Kelsey Jones:  Like you said earlier, the industry talks.  So, you know.  If you have a reputation of being shady, that’s gonna come back to you.

Loren Baker:  Also, like…I can remember…I think this was before you came on.  We…one day, there was an article published by a guest contributor, and I noticed that, like, my Twitter stream lit up.  And so I checked it out, and apparently it wasn’t a real person, right/

Kelsey Jones:  Mhmm.

Loren Baker:  But they were using the name of…I think it was one of the members of N’Sync.

Kelsey Jones:  Oh, that’s awesome.

Loren Baker:  And maybe even the picture, as well.  And…I don’t know who the guys from…I mean, I know who Joey Fatone is, of course, ‘cause he’s, like, the coolest person ever.

Kelsey Jones:  Whaaaaat?1

Loren Baker:  But…he’s awesome.  But…and Lance Bass, or whatever.  I know those guys.  But I don’t know the other, like, two or three, right?  That would just stand off to the side.  Go through the motions.

Kelsey Jones:  There was Justin Timberlake, who, obviously, is the most famous.   Chris…

Loren Baker:  Maybe it was Chris, ‘cause I…I’d never heard of him.

Kelsey Jones:  Joey, and Lance.  And then one other one.  Who am I forgetting?  I’m letting my middle school self down, because now I don’t remember the fifth member.

Loren Baker:  I mean, I know Joey, ‘cause he’d be wearing, like, a tracksuit or something in the picture.

Kelsey Jones:  Yep.

Loren Baker:  But it was like…yeah.  It was the Chris guy.  And someone had used his name.

Kelsey Jones:  That’s awesome.

Loren Baker:  And I think his picture. And…contributed something.  And it was just, like, all of a sudden everyone caught on.  And I was like, “Oh my God.”  But not only…I mean, I didn’t feel so bad, ‘cause you know, I don’t know who these guys are.  But it was just…I kind of felt like either someone was dumb enough to do that, or they were trying to prove a point that they could get that through.  I’m not sure…

Kelsey Jones:  Oh, yeah.

Loren Baker:  …what the point was at the end of the day.  But, yeah.  The Irish actor story is pretty funny, too.  And speaking of which, like, it is kind of an odd thing, because if I were to have a story published on a site like, you know, Fast Company or Financial Times, or something like that.  Or SEJ, for the first time.  The last thing I’d be doing is trying to drop links in it, and stuff like that.  Like, at least contribute three or four before you start trying to spam, you know what I mean?!

Kelsey Jones: Yeah.  At least gain my trust before you try to screw me over.

Loren Baker:  Yeah, exactly.

Kelsey Jones:  I mean…

Loren Baker:  So, speaking of which, you know.  We’ve talked about kind of what not do, right? And what to stay away from.  And what people catch when you’re on the editorial side, but what are some basic tips for…say, someone that’s new.  Someone that’s in the industry, knows their stuff, and they wanna get published on SEJ or similar sites like SEJ.  What are some basic kind of tips and directions for folks to follow that are looking to, you know, build their following, contribute great content, work on becoming a thought leader, and develop their brand.

Kelsey Jones:  You know what I did, is I just built my own website.  I built my own blog, it was called the The Social Robot,  and I just started writing my thoughts about marketing as I was experiencing it.  And then those articles, I used as a working portfolio to get into writing for bigger sites.  And then when you get into writing for bigger sites, people will find you because of that.  I’ve had so many potential clients for my agency, MoxieDot, come to me and say, “Hey, I know you write for Search Engine Land (when I did)” or “I know you are the editor of SEJ, would you be interested in taking on this project for social media strategy for our company?”

Loren Baker:  Right.

Kelsey Jones:  And so…you know…you know, it’s weird, though, because I tell people, “Here’s what I did.  I built my own site and wrote content, and then used that as a ladder.”  But people don’t want to hear that.  They want to know what’s the quickest, easiest, you know, dirtiest way to get to it fast.  And the real people that are successful in our industry, like you, you know, they just started from scratch and just did it, and built a name for themselves by hustling.  But making genuine connections with people online and in conferences.  At conferences, sorry.  By writing really good content that people were interested in.  You know, it’s a lot of hard work to get to a position where your work is more visible.  And I know that that’s not something that everyone wants to hear, but it’s the truth.

Besides writing for my own website, I also went to a lot of conferences on my own dime.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  So, you know.  I was pretty broke for a while because I had an English Lit degree and then I took, like, the lowest level marketing jobs at this nonprofit education company, just because I needed a job.  But I still saved up money and I went to SXSW Interactive, which is in Austin in March every year.  And I found three clients that week.

Loren Baker:  Really?

Kelsey Jones:  Yeah.  One…it was me and this guy, we were charging our phones from the same outlet.  We started talking, and they needed someone to do their social media until they hired a full-time person.

Loren Baker:  Hmm.

Kelsey Jones:  Boom, right there.  You know, that basically paid for my expenses, because I worked for them for a couple of months.  You know, for six months, or whatever.  So going to conferences and going to events, you’d be amazed at the type of connections you can make.  Especially when people know that you’re a genuine person that’s just working hard and cares a lot about the industry and wants to learn.  I think people pick up on when you have a love for what you’re doing, and they’re more willing to give you a chance.

Loren Baker:  Do you typically game plan before you attend an event?  Like, in terms of who you want to talk to, and have goals to come back with?  Like, we’re kinda getting into event stuff, but since Pubcon’s right around the corner and everything else, I’m just curious.  Do you typically do that or say, “Hey, I’m going to SXSW.  I’m paying for my own ticket.  I wanna make sure I leave from this with X amount of contacts, X amount of leads, X amount of new friends, and everything else.”

Kelsey Jones:  So the only things that I’ve purposely done is I’ll live tweet sessions that I’m in.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  And that gets you a lot more exposure and a lot of followers on Twitter as well, if you’re using the #conference hashtag.  And I think me and Debbie Miller, our former social media manager, did a post on that.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  Er, sorry, a podcast for Search Engine Journal’s Marketing Nerds podcast.  So that’s something I purposely have a plan around, is live tweeting and being really visible in the social media stream of the conference.  I also, obviously, always bring business cards and always have them with me, even it’s in my purse while I’m at dinner, you know, one night at the conference, because you don’t know who you’re gonna sit next to at the bar, or whatever.  There’s been a couple of times where if I…if there’s a speaker that I really, really want to talk to, or I want to try to meet, I’ll go to their session.  And I know a lot of times, people will storm the stage to ask the speaker questions after.

Loren Baker:  That always happens to me.

Kelsey Jones:  Yeah.  And so I…if they don’t look too busy, then sometimes I’ll go up and ask them a question.  Otherwise, I just keep an eye out for them in the conference.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  So if, like, they are at lunch, then there’s been a couple of times I’ve sat at their table and said, “Hey, I really enjoyed your session.” And that’s a good intro.  You can also use social media if you’re feeling really shy, because I know sometimes I feel really introverted and shy to go up and just talk to someone.

Loren Baker:  Yeah.

Kelsey Jones:  I’ll reach out on Twitter and I’ll say, “Hey, really loved the person.”  And I’ll tag them.  “So-and-so’s session on this.  I wrote a recap post on it.”  And whatever.  That’s a good way to get noticed by those people.  Like, I’ve written recap posts when I’ve covered SXSW for SEJ.  I’ve had the writer then…we ended up talking through email.  Or we’ll follow each other on Twitter and have a conversation through that.  That’s another good way to kind of get noticed in conferences too, and by speakers, is if you cover events.

Loren Baker:  And then all this carries over after the conference too, right?

Kelsey Jones:  Mhmm.

Loren Baker:  You know, the connections that you make in real life are great.  They help you get more business.  More chances to contribute things online and helps you really cement the relationships that you’ve built online.  You know, you may know someone for four or five years and it takes that long to meet them in person.  And then afterwards, you’re either better friends or you’re never gonna talk again, type thing.  That was supposed to be funny, by the way.

Kelsey Jones:  Oh, sorry.  I was like, “Oh, that’s kind of sad.”  They’re a mean person and they’re never gonna talk to me again.

Loren Baker:  But I know with me, like, I can be pretty quiet sometimes, when I meet people in real life, so it’s always helped to kind of  pre-plan and make those initial conversations on social.  So I totally agree.  One thing that’s also been helpful for me.  Like, I moved to a new town about two, two and a half years ago. And I really wanted to connect with a lot of the other marketers in this area.

Kelsey Jones:  Mhmm.

Loren Baker:  So I ended up starting my own meet-up.

Kelsey Jones:  Right.

Loren Baker:  And it’s really helped.  I’ve gotten business from it, I’ve made some great connections, and built some really good friendships as well.  Because a lot of the same people that I see at the meetups are the same people that I’ll see at Pubcon or at SMX or whatever.  Or an SEJ summit.  But it helps kind of bring people together once a month or once every two months, as well.  So that’s pretty cool, too.

Kelsey Jones:  Yeah, you know, I just thought of this.  Everything we’ve talked about, whether it’s networking, whether it’s getting your work published on top publications, it all comes down to being honest and being, you know, genuine and being…you know.  Being proactive.  So being honestly proactive.

Loren Baker:  Mhmm.

Kelsey Jones:  So, you know, you proactively started a meet-up group out of a genuine want to meet people.  You weren’t…you didn’t create a meet-up group just so you could somehow get them to publish your content that has links to your client.

Loren Baker:  Right.

Kelsey Jones:  You know?  And so…you will find the most success when you are genuinely proactive about whatever you’re doing.

Loren Baker:  Yeah.  When you’re transparently you, that’s when you’re the most successful online, right?  Your online persona should just be an extension of your own personality, so when people do meet you, they’re not like, “Ugh, you’re nothing like you are on the Internet.”  Type thing.

Kelsey Jones:  I know.  I know…and make sure your social media photos look like you in person.

Loren Baker:  That’s a good tip.

Kelsey Jones:  Yeah.

Loren Baker:  When I went bald, that was actually…when I went bald, that was actually a really difficult thing to catch up, because you have so many…and Gravatar isn’t everywhere.  Right?  So…like, you have so many avatars and pictures all over the place.  And then all of a sudden, you’re bald.  You want to update that, right?  ‘Cause you don’t want to go to a conference and someone’s like, “Ew, I didn’t know you were bald.  You have hair in all your pictures!  You trying to hide something?”  So…

Kelsey Jones:  Exactly.

Loren Baker:  So yeah.  That’s a tip.  That’s the last tip from me, for today. If you do go bald, make sure you update all of your avatars, ‘cause you never know where people are following you.  Speaking of following, where can we find you online, Kelsey?  Besides Search Engine Journal?

Kelsey Jones:  So…I have a really random username that’s the same on Instagram and Twitter.  It’s wonderwall7.

Loren Baker:  Is that because you’re an Oasis fan?

Kelsey Jones:  Yes.  But I would say I’m more of a Wonderwall fan than an Oasis fan, so I’ve always loved that song.  And so, when I joined Twitter, when Twitter was fairly new, I just randomly chose it.  And I’ve decided not to change it, because I think it’s more memorable.

Loren Baker:  Do you think they should get back together?

Kelsey Jones: You know, sometimes, you don’t want to get back together just for the sake of getting back together, you know?  There’s been lots of bands that get back together, and it’s just not the same.  Or…they’ll replace their lead singer, and it’s just not the same.

Loren Baker:  So what are the two brothers’ names?  It’s Liam and…who’s the other one?  The one that writes all the songs?

Kelsey Jones:  My God….

Loren Baker:  Like, there’s the one that writes the songs and plays the guitar.

Kelsey Jones:  Yeah.

Loren Baker:  And kinda doesn’t say much, and then there’s Liam, who’s the singer and who’s also the complete…you know.  Extrovert of the group, right?  And it’s like they…

Kelsey Jones:  Oh, God.  I think it’s, like…

Loren Baker:  Noel.  Noel.  It’s Noel.

Kelsey Jones:  Oh, okay.

Loren Baker:  Yeah, so.  I dunno.  Maybe one day.

Kelsey Jones:  See?  I told you I wasn’t an Oasis fan.

Loren Baker:  There you go.

Kelsey Jones:  I was a Wonderwall fan.

Loren Baker:  So, we can find you basically anywhere with the handle “wonderwall7”, right?

Kelsey Jones:  Yep, basically.

Loren Baker:  And any other blogs that you write for, besides SEJ?

Kelsey Jones:  So I have a marketing blog.  So my agency is called MoxieDot.  And so, I write there sometimes, at http://www.moxiedot.com/blog.  And then I also have a productivity and, like, lifestyle…I don’t know…improvement blog.

Loren Baker:  Oh, really?  What’s that?

Kelsey Jones:  Yeah. It’s http://www.thehustlelife.com.

Loren Baker:  Oh, yeah.  Okay.

Kelsey Jones:  Yeah.  And I just started a podcast on there, called Bring Your Own Office.  And I’ve only done three episodes.  I’m getting ready to launch on iTunes.  And so, in there, I just talk about, like, some of my favorite tips for…like, I did one on how to work productively on a plane.  Just tips I’ve learned since I’ve travelled so much this year.  And so, I just started that just kind of as a fun project, and so…it’s basically what I work on when I’m not doing SEJ stuff.

Loren Baker:  Cool, cool.  Alright.  Joining me today was Kelsey Jones, the executive editor of Search Engine Journal, and this has been Loren Baker with Search & Social, a Rainmaker.FM production.  Thank you very much, Kelsey.

Kelsey Jones:  Yep, thank you!!

 

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