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7.15am on the Dundee-Edinburgh train.
I’ve been deliberately frugal since launching the business. I’m working from home predominately, but also find I’m able to write quite easily in coffee houses, the local library, hotels and at my clients own offices. I don’t need silence to operate. In fact I think some ambient background noise is a good thing. Now, I’m writing on the train. I wasted money on an office when I had my first business. In fact, I wasted an awful lot of money on pointless things that didn’t add value. Now I’m operating the business by being ‘ducks arse’ tight.
But today I let go of the purse strings. I’m attending my first conference since launching the business. It’s the Content Marketing Academy 2015 event in Edinburgh.
There is a variety of speakers from different backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common – much of their success has been driven by content marketing. As a freelance copywriter & content writer, it is the perfect event for me to lose Square Tree Marketing’s event virginity.
5.55 the homeward journey
I’m on the train home after The Content Marketing Academy 2015 conference. Years of attending corporate events, sales kick offs, and other industry shindigs have taught me to keep my expectations low. I suppose you could say I still have an inbuilt cynicism, that is difficult to shake. I went into today’s conference hoping to take away one or two pieces of advice, maybe some ideas or a new concept that I could apply to my own business. I left with considerably more than that.
As I walked the few hundred yards from the COSLA building to Haymarket Station, my mind was racing. I’d taken copious notes, snapped a few pictures and absorbed the stories from the speakers. I know that I’ll never be able to remember every story, every anecdote or wise word, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that each gave me at the very least one gift. And those gifts, when combined add up to one thing – a far more inspired version of myself. I’m at risk of having my very own ‘Tom Cruise on Oprah’ moment, but I’m writing this ‘filters off’.
Today will go down as the day my business changed forever.
The Content Marketing Academy community is already established, and I have, until now been a silent admirer from afar. I was nervous about going along today as there are several big personalities within the group, and I feared I’d be in the all-too-familiar position as feeling like an outsider. Someone who doesn’t belong. People that know me, and I mean REALLY know me, will find this surprising. I come across as a very confident person, but like so many people, I still have those huge moments of self-doubt.
Also because I didn’t attend yesterday, I felt like I missed out, not just on Marcus Sheridan’s amazing workshop, but on the opportunity to meet & establish relationships. All the cool kids will have formed their groups, and I’d be that awkward kid on the outside looking in.
But that wasn’t the case. I saw a few familiar faces and found it much easier than usual to strike up conversations with strangers. I think this is for two reasons. First – everyone was there for the same purpose, to learn more about content marketing and second – I’m comfortable to proclaim what I am – which is a copywriter and content writer. (You can read about me ‘coming out’ as a writer here.)
I’ve devoured a huge amount of content marketing content from books to blogs – videos to webinars. I’m a believer; a convert from the World of traditional media that knows content marketing is the single most powerful way to grow any business. Today, I entered the church for the first time. The rest of the congregation came from all walks of life, from different sectors and with varying levels of experience. I felt a sense of belonging. These people – are my people.
So what specifically did I take away the day?
My Own Content
Ironically, as someone that loves to write – I’m not creating enough of my own content. I’ve been writing plenty of content for my clients, and I’ve used that as an excuse for not writing for my site. That changes NOW.
I was arrogant.
I only bought my ticket last week as the list of attendees didn’t blow me away, which is ironic, as that’s exactly what they did. Let me explain. I only saw one marketing agency (Velocity Digital) on the list of speaker. I expected to see more. Who was Karen Strunk, who was this fella Richard Tubb and what who exactly was this ‘Sales Lion’? In my defence – this was programmed from going to large Internet Marketing events from my time at D.C. Thomson. But I got that all wrong. Very wrong.
The nature of Content Marketing is that it’s inclusive. It’s FOR everyone & it’s FROM everyone. A hardened B2B chap such as I can learn so much from an American that made his living selling swimming pools in Virginia. From an IT consultant turned blogger and yes, from a dominatrix turned personal branding, coach.
The Wikipedia of….
I need to become the Wikipedia of content writing. I love to write content for clients, and it’s how I make my living, but I’m well aware that not everyone wants, or can afford to outsource their writing. But I can serve the large audience that wants to create their own content by providing useful, free content that adds genuine value.
I’ve not been thinking big enough. I can become a teacher, a coach or a mentor to the large and growing band of true content marketing believers that need support with their content writing efforts.
Be The Connector
I need to focus on helping other people first and as Richard Tubb said so powerfully – ‘Be the connector’. Not as a tactic, but because it is the right thing to do. Thanks Richard.
I am who I am
I need to embrace my personality. I could relate to Karen Strunks message about being authentic, genuine and true to yourself. She lives and breathes her message. Ten months ago I was off work with stress, on medication and felt utterly doomed. Now I own my own business and am doing what I love. From the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in a year. Thanks so much for sharing Karen.
I am who I am (part Deux)
On a related ‘personality’ note. I’ve always been told I should have been a comedian. I take that as a huge compliment. That came about from me sharing my mostly embarrassing tales inspired on my personal blog. They were inspired by the writing of David Sedaris. I love making people laugh – there is nothing like that. Gavin Oattes so skillfully and hilariously showed me that you can use humour to deliver a powerful, lasting message without in any way diluting its strength. I need to use my natural personality more in the content I create. Thanks Gavin – you delivered the perfect opening to the event and helped create the positive energy that framed the event.
I’m the Dummy
Stefan’s inclusion was freakishly well timed. I’ve avoided many of the traditional networking events, on the pretext that they don’t work. Ironically I know that they do. But it was my lack of self-confidence that was holding me back. I’m going to do three things. Buy his book (Business Networking for Dummies), take his advice and seek out more opportunities to establish deeper relationships. Thanks Stefan.
The Names McGrail, Mike McGrail
Mike at Velocity Digital taught me that it’s OK not to love LinkedIn! I love that a social media marketer doesn’t have to love every platform. The ‘James Bond esque’ targeting of competitors Facebook Likers wasn’t something I’d considered, but again is something I’ll certainly be trying. I scribbled so many notes and picked up so many tips from this session. Thanks Mike.
The Sales Lion
Marcus Sheridan. OK, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect and the tagline – ‘The Sales Lion’, did make me wonder why he was a keynote speaker at a Content Marketing event. I was wrong (notice a theme folks!!). He was the most engaging, energetic and authentic presenter I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness. If COSLA was the Content Marketing Church, then Marcus was THE Content Marketing Evangelist.
Marcus Sheridan’s words will change my business and my life. I will have a dedicated post about Marcus, but for now – thank you Marcus. You are an amazing man. I wish you and Danielle many happy adventures and encourage anyone reading this to visit www.travellingwithdad.com. Your emotional closing address touched me. I wrote a blog post called ‘Travelling With Jamie – The Short Walk to Freedom’. You inspired me to write it, and as such I dedicate it to you, Danielle and, of course, my own little trooper Jamie.
Chris Marr has created a unique community and delivered the best business event I’ve ever attended. The perfect blend of knowledge and inspirational motivation – it will live long in the memory. It’s given me the direction, and the drive to do more, and to be more.
For that, I am eternally grateful.