So, how in the world did I end up at Slingshot SEO doing something called inbound marketing? And, what does that all have to do with boots?
I’m glad you asked.
The Internet Whisperer: or, J-School Slippers
When I graduated high school, there were pretty much just two options that made the most sense: become the next “horse whisperer,” or follow my passion for writing and pursue a career in journalism. I chose to hang up my spurs, take off my boots and store my old cowboy hat in exchange for a warm hoodie and some comfortable walking shoes, the better to get across the scenic Indiana University campus where I enrolled in the School of Journalism, ready and eager to learn.
I’ll never forget the first college visit: According to IU’s J-school, students had a 90-95% job placement after graduation. I’ve never forgotten walking into the counselor’s office there in Ernie Pyle hall after I had my degree, ready to experience my own 90-95% job placement. But something happened on the way to heaven: the Internet.
“The job market for journalists has changed. You can always try freelancing. Good luck, kid.”
The print industry had been thrown a major curveball, which meant there were few soft places for wet-behind-the-ears writers to land.
Shoulda been a horse whisperer, I thought.
Instead, I took my fresh Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and headed out into the world, landing a job doing communications for the power company down the road from where I grew up. I took off the comfortable student shoes, put on some Hush Puppies and entered the world of corporate communications. I was delighted: I got a job where I got to write newsletters, do design and marketing, and even redesign a website. Gotcha, Internet! Look at me now.
The Business of the Internet: or, Steel-Toed SEO
But a few years down the road, and it was time for a career change. That meant a move from newsletter creation and bill stuffer ordering and annual report design, to the fields of marketing and ecommerce. I felt like my strengths in writing, communications and design would suit me well in this new Internet realm.
I found myself joining a retail and merchandising company, where my skills were quickly put to use toward ecommerce product management. Stiff business dress shoes were replaced by slick marketing and retail boots. I first heard the terms “SEO” and “PPC,” and started hearing whispers that “content is king.” I played around with Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, and I figured out how to make things like “Home Replica Peyton Manning Jersey” show up on the first page of search results.
Well, at least I thought I figured out how to make products show up where I wanted on the SERP. What I really was doing was creating content around the keywords that people were already searching for. I made it my mission to write and re-write product names and descriptions in order to maximize Google visibility. I understood one or two tools, and developed a method for visualizing and developing content for product lines, each tailored to an individual client’s needs and specific product types.
Let me tell you, there are only so many ways to describe a T-shirt—but I found and used them all. I started thinking in terms of our end users, the shoppers on our ecommerce sites, and how I could get them to find – then buy –my products. “The customer can’t pick up this product,” I told my colleagues. “We’ve got to describe these items in a way that makes them feel like their standing there in the store, holding that T-shirt in their hands where they can touch it, feel it, smell it, and find out everything about it that is going to make them buy it.”
In other words, creating good, optimized content specifically geared towards the end user. In a roundabout way, I started doing inbound marketing: delivering the information customer in a non-invasive way, enabling customers to find what they were looking for rather than interrupting their day to show them what I had to sell.
Discovering Inbound Marketing: or, Digital Soft Shoe
The more I learned about search engine optimization and inbound marketing, the more I wanted to do this for more than just T-shirts. Somewhere out there is a place where this all makes sense, I thought. Somewhere, there’s a place where content really is king.
Enter Slingshot SEO. And enter again those comfortable shoes for walking around campus.
I hung up my ecommerce hat, put away those tired old retail boots and changed back into those comfortable Chuck Taylors made for walking the streets of the college campus. Only now, the campus is Google, and what I’m learning is how to bring it all together.
How does a writer, a communicator, an ecommerce product manager… become a “Creative Consultant?” Content. It’s all about content in today’s digital world. And if you’re not wearing your student shoes and asking “what’s the best content I can deliver for my customer?” every day, you’re missing the mark.
Journalism and communications? Writing content. Ecommerce product manager? Figuring out how good content attracts customers, minimizes bounce rates and converts clicks into sales. Content. I used to think content was king, but now that I’m at Slingshot SEO, I know:
Content is a kingmaker.
So, that’s how an Indiana farm kid with a gift for talking to horses and writing and editing becomes a Creative Consultant. Each step in a different pair of shoes led me here, where the puzzle pieces finally fit together in the digital world, where writing and communicating and ecommerce fit together to meet one goal: delivering badass ideas that connect brands with their audiences.
The point is to never stop learning, never stop evolving, and never fear that next pair of strange shoes that you’re about to try on. In the realm of helping deserving brands achieve digital relevance, we’ve all got to walk a few miles in a few different pairs to get where we’re going. Which, by the way, just might deliver your business your next conversion, and fix marketing along the way.