Writers Roundtable: How to Pick a Content Topic and Drive Rankings

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This is a podcast episode titled, Writers Roundtable: How to Pick a Content Topic and Drive Rankings. The summary for this episode is: <p>Now that we’ve introduced our revolutionary Pillar Based Marketing strategy, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and put the digital pen to paper—that’s why we’re focusing our Writers Roundtable series on pillar pages and topics. In part 2, Amber Peckham and Tamzin (Taz) Walters, Senior Content Managers at DemandJump, share their process for picking a topic that is sure to drive page one rankings and results.</p><p><strong>Quotes</strong></p><p>“Find a way to give value in the same piece of content to your business objectives, the people who you want to [target], and also the people who you need to reach to create that network effect—so have value for more than one reader in the same piece of content.” - Tamzin Walters, Senior Content Manager, DemandJump</p><p>“I'm not interested in staying at the top of the funnel for too long because that's not where our content needs to live. I like to get laser-focused on what data I need and love to ask questions... That's what will be interesting to the reader." - Amber Peckham, Senior Content Manager, DemandJump</p><p><strong>Key</strong> <strong>Takeaways</strong></p><ul><li>Don’t get so locked in on search engine-optimized keywords that you leave out the human element in content creation.</li><li>Content writers need to embody the reader’s headspace so they can understand their needs and wants while bridging the gap between the client and their audience.</li><li>Good content often comes down to good research. By going the extra mile and diving deeper into topics, you can create better content that resonates with readers.</li></ul><p><strong>Time</strong> <strong>Stamps</strong>:</p><p>* (2:20) What goals should you set for your content topic? </p><p>* (4:37) How to build out your network and stay relevant to your audience</p><p>* (6:53) What type of research is relevant to your content topic and copy?</p><p>* (11:42) Ways to measure the success of your content topic</p><p>* (15:22) How to convince clients to write about certain topics</p><p>* (23:43) Lightning Round! </p><p>* (29:13) Drew & Ryan’s key takeaways </p><p><strong>Sponsor</strong></p><p>This podcast is brought to you by <a href="https://www.demandjump.com/">DemandJump</a>. Tired of wasting time creating content that doesn’t rank? With DemandJump you know the exact content to create to increase 1st-page rankings and drive outcomes. Get started for free today at <a href="https://www.demandjump.com/">DemandJump.com</a>.</p><p><strong>Links</strong></p><ul><li>Connect with Ryan on <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/ryan-m-brock/">LinkedIn</a></li><li>Connect with Drew on <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/drewdetzler/">LinkedIn</a></li><li>Learn more about <a href="https://www.demandjump.com/">DemandJump</a>’s marketing tools</li><li>Become a Pillar Based Marketing expert at <a href="https://university.demandjump.com/">DemandJump University</a></li></ul>
What is your goal when selecting a content topic?
01:12 MIN

Speaker 1: Welcome to Page One or Bust, your ultimate guide to ranking on page one of search engines. We've introduced our revolutionary pillar based marketing strategy to help you achieve page one rankings. Now it's time to roll up your sleeves and put the digital pen to paper. In part two of our Writer's Round Table series, we're talking to two seasoned content managers about choosing the right topic that will drive traffic to your website. Taz Walters and Amber Peckham join Drew and Ryan this episode to share advice on getting started choosing your topic, how to conduct data- driven research into the topic you chose and much more. But before we get into it, here's a brief word from today's sponsor. Page One or Bust is brought to you by DemandJump, get insights, drive outcomes with DemandJump. Get started creating content that ranks @ demandjump. com. today and now here are your co- hosts, Drew Detzler and Ryan Brock.

Drew Detzler: Welcome back to Page One or Bust. This is your co- host, Drew Detzler, VP of Marketing at DemandJump. As always, I'm joined by my co- host Ryan Brock, our chief content officer here at Demand Jump. We have another great episode lined up. Today is part two of our Writing Round Table series. If you missed it, we broke down how to write pillar content. So we've talked about the process of that writing. Now today we're going to jump into picking those topics and getting started.

Ryan Brock: We're sort of going back to the start and thinking about, okay, if we want to build this network of content on our website, what does it look like? How do we know the topic's a good topic and what stands out to writers as they first get an assignment and see, okay, this is what I have to write about. Hmm. That's going to be tough or that's going to be great, or that's going to be effective, or whatever. So today here we've got two individuals who are two of the best in the business and really, really great perspectives to share on this. We've got Taz Walters, senior content writer here at DemandJump. Taz, how you doing today?

Taz Walters: I'm doing great. Glad to be here.

Ryan Brock: And Amber Peckham, my longtime partner in crime and senior content writer, pod leader here at DemandJump as well. Amber, how are you?

Amber Peckham: Hey, bro. Doing good.

Ryan Brock: All right, let's talk about content topics.

Amber Peckham: Woo- hoo.

Drew Detzler: Let's do it.

Ryan Brock: Let's zoom in really close. I don't want to ask a question as basic as what is a content topic, but in our world, the work that we're doing in pillar based marketing every day, when you're setting a topic, what's your goal? What are you trying to do? When you're saying, okay, my first job is to set a topic? What's the point in that? Taz?

Taz Walters: I think the point of setting that topic is picking this thing that your business cares about and what you are trying to get your audiences to care about. So picking a topic that is related and is going to let you talk about what you do and is also going to give people the answer to the questions that they're searching is really important. It's kind of utilitarian in a way. You're not doing a grand expressive creative thing. This is really much that realm of education. It is that writing and connection rather than like, well, what do I want it write about?

Amber Peckham: Yeah, I would take it even more utilitarian and say, lead conversion. Thinking about the goal at the end of your sales funnel is another part of it too, because we used to work without doing that before we came to DemandJump and people would maybe still be interested in learning about the topic, but then the client is just publishing content to their website that doesn't achieve their ultimate business goal, which is to make more money. So I think that choosing the topic, it depends how you're selling and who you're selling to and what they need to learn to make that decision to purchase.

Ryan Brock: Do you have any interesting examples of when that was done really well or maybe really bad in your experience? Like, okay, yeah, this is a topic the business cares about, but the audience doesn't care at all and they're not going to buy. Or maybe the flip side of, this is a topic that the audience cares about, but we're not getting any leads from it.

Amber Peckham: I'm thinking of all the FedEx surcharges pieces we wrote and UPS surcharges pieces we wrote to help the client that we were helping rank was a platform for enterprise to analyze their shipping costs. But those people at that level and in that role aren't necessarily worried about calculating the surcharges for themselves or knowing what they're going to be. So it felt like we were kind of writing something for the general consumer or the individual when the reader that was actually going to close for this client was someone who didn't need that information. But because that's what was shown to be the most valuable search term, that's what we wrote too.

Ryan Brock: Taz, do you ever feel like there's a balance to be struck between doing the work of addressing the questions that are important to the network for the sake of having that network, even if it's not the right audience? Or is it always better just to say, well, our audience isn't asking that specific question, so we're not going to answer.

Taz Walters: I think it's interesting that Amber brought up that specific instance because I do agree in that instance it wasn't quite the right fit. However, on the flip side of that, you look at something like the Excel reporting that we did. We wrote a whole pillar about Excel reporting. The people who we were really targeting were accountants or people who were doing these really specific types of spreadsheets and functions and forms in Microsoft Excel that the everyday person isn't going to be doing. But we were still creating content around those basic everyday questions and building that network and building that whole ecosystem of content is part of what helped that pillar rank so highly and beat Microsoft.

Ryan Brock: Props.

Taz Walters: So then you do have the top one position, and then even when you have people coming in who aren't those accountants or those ideal audience, you're still capturing that ideal audience because you're in number one.

Ryan Brock: It's almost like you're saying Google doesn't care about your business objectives, it cares about what's going to be authoritative and answer a question well,

Amber Peckham: But we have to care about the business objectives. So that's where the human element comes in.

Ryan Brock: Yeah, yeah. It's a really tough dance to figure out the balance there.

Taz Walters: Yeah. And finding a way that you can give value in the same piece of content to boast your business objectives, the people who you really want to reach, and also the people who you need to reach to get that network effect. So having value for more than one reader in the same piece of content.

Drew Detzler: We talk a lot about the art and the science of it, and that's kind of what we're talking about here, is that you do need to have business objectives when it comes to marketing content. But without the art of it, without the human element, Google doesn't want it, search engines don't want it, and the reason they don't want it is because users don't want it.

Taz Walters: Right. I mean, who wants to go and read a 3000 word blog that doesn't actually answer the question that you have or takes the question that you have and answers it in a convoluted way that is written for somebody else.

Amber Peckham: Or you read it and you think, I could've written this better, and then you completely opt out of being interested in that brand because you don't see them as someone with authority.

Ryan Brock: Amber, I don't think I've ever met a, and this is no offense to anybody on the call or anyone listening, I don't think I've ever met a better researcher in my life than Amber. Just the way that you dive in and then also call BS on bad sources and find good sources and know the difference. How does that play into the way that you go about answering your question? Like Taz, you were talking about you want the question to actually be answered, when you go out there to research a subject that you don't know a lot about, how does the landscape of what's already on page one influence your choices as you're writing that content?

Amber Peckham: Well, it's easy for me to see what is relevant and what is maybe stuff that I'm not interested in. I might open two or three of the rankings on page one for whatever piece I'm writing. And then from there, I'm just going to go into the network of whatever sources and resources that those pieces refer to. And then I'm just going to kind of keep peeling the onions. So I'm not interested in staying in that broad top of the funnel stuff for too long because that's not where our content needs to live. So I really just try to get laser focused on what data I need, and also I just love to ask questions. And so whatever question comes up for me about, well, I wonder how many of this or what kind of that, that's where I really think about looking for those data points that will be interesting to the reader.

Taz Walters: Yeah, I think what you said about peeling the onion is a good comment because a lot of times when you're trying to find the actual data and sources to back up the things that you're writing, you have to do a lot of digging.

Amber Peckham: Yeah.

Taz Walters: And you have to actually track down the statistics to find the right studies. And hopefully this won't be a surprise to people, but a lot of times stuff on the internet just links to other things that aren't actually this real study.

Amber Peckham: Yeah.

Ryan Brock: Yeah.

Drew Detzler: No.

Taz Walters: Two sources that are citing each other as their original source.

Amber Peckham: They all just go in a circle.

Taz Walters: With the original source inaudible. And it's a circle. So being able to track it back and go and say, no, I want to actually read the real study, make sure that's what they're actually saying, make sure that does support the points that I'm trying to make, make sure it is supporting the topic that has been selected so I really do have a grounding in what I'm writing about before I start writing.

Ryan Brock: Yeah. And I think it's so funny how so many marketers are drawn to the stats that fit their story the most. What are those data points. And so I find all the time I'm, the more specific I want to get, the more likely it is that I'm going to find some statistic that has become widely accepted in the marketing community. For example, about how many marketers feel like they're not getting enough value from their organic content or something. Everybody's citing the same original source that actually is from 2003 and therefore completely irrelevant, and it doesn't actually exist in an original form on the internet anymore, and it's just entered the collective consciousness. And it's really a bummer when you're trying to make a good point and you realize that this data point that you found is completely useless.

Taz Walters: Yeah. And sometimes, I mean, it has definitely happened where once I start doing that research, I realize how much I've come into a topic with an underlying assumption that is wrong, and having to let go of that underlying assumption and actually write what the data I'm finding is saying so that it is valuable for the reader because it's true.

Amber Peckham: Yes. And with the same energy and to what Ryan was saying too, a lot of times you do have to go to that primary source because people will paraphrase the source incorrectly or literally just misread it because they want to, and they think it makes a better point if they just want to make the point they want to make and you can make the data say anything in this world today. So yeah, that's why I personally take it really seriously to find that primary source and not just link to an article that claims it saw it somewhere else.

Ryan Brock: What happens when, and I'm sure it's when, not if, what happens when you go down those rabbit holes and you find the original data and you realize that the original thesis your customer probably wants to put out there isn't actually accurate or representative of the real world. Have you ever run into that?

Amber Peckham: Oh, for sure. But I would just say that part of that also is the ability to assume and speak from perspectives unlike your own. And so you just try to get in the mindset and if the data isn't there, then think of another argument, think of another angle or... So most clients will let you speak directly to the fact that, hey, the situation's complicated, and let you be at least somewhat honest without taking away their position in the market.

Taz Walters: Yeah. That's what I was going to say of just, a lot of times there is actually value in being upfront about, hey, there's conflicting information, there's conflicting data, there's stuff that supports this point of view, and there's stuff that doesn't support this point of view. Here's what we think and why we think the opposite of this. And then you let your reader make the decision themselves. And a lot of times that's actually a valuable way to inspire trust in your reader. There's some Greek philosopher who that was the method of presenting the two viewpoints and then letting the person make up their mind, and I forget who it was, but you could probably Google that if you want.

Drew Detzler: Okay, this is great conversation. I love this. Mixing the human element with the data, and a lot of times the human element involves gathering that data and learning that topic. Now you've written the content, it's out there in the world, it's published. How do you as a writer measure the success of that content and of the topic? I will add my take as a marketer as well, but Taz, why don't we leave with you?

Taz Walters: Sure, of course. I could get into going in looking at the analytics, looking at the data, looking at how it's performing, all those things. But really for me, the biggest tell is is this client coming back for more writing? Are we doing more projects for them? We have a lot of clients who we've had a very long relationships with because time and time again, we're getting those results that they care about.

Amber Peckham: I think it happens on a couple levels. On the personal level, I would say would I let the client put my name on it? And do I think this is a good piece of craft? Does it flow from beginning to end? Does it sound... What's our time on page? Are people reading it to the end? If so, then something there is working and it is successful. My next question would be, is it driving people to my call to action? Are they clicking whatever links? Is the client closing more business or better qualified business as a result? Basically, is the story I'm telling, achieving its emotional impact? That would be what I would call a success.

Drew Detzler: I love that perspective. Because I, as a marketing robot and just looking at money. How many dollars are we driving from this? Are we closing deals? Are we selling our product? And also traffic as a leading indicator. But I love that perspective of am I actually writing something that people want to read? And if they do, if I am, then they're reading it and that client or customer will come back to us for more of it. I think that is the piece that marketers miss so often in the past, is that just create content that people want to read, answer their questions. When marketer A gets tasked with creating content or generating more organic traffic, they brainstorm ideas, they get up on a whiteboard and they start talking about what they want to talk about, and they create content that the user has no interest in and it flops and they run away from it and never do it again.

Ryan Brock: And it's something that I've realized, the more that we've focused on color- based marketing and organic content driving rankings and results that communicating all the stuff that Taz glazed over appropriately at the beginning of Taz's response about analytics, page one rankings, what is the measurable marketing impact to stuff? It's really, really important to communicate that back to writers. Yeah, I'm saying I realize that as if I came up with this idea, people like Taz and Amber made it clear to me that they weren't hearing enough of that, and I'm still not doing a good enough job. And I think all that comes together to say that while writers love to say that they want to make sure that what they're doing is well received by the reader, and it's answering questions. It's bringing them value that it's well written and engaging and thoughtful in all of that. It also helps to actually have some numbers to look at and to know that this is resulting in a good return. So it all comes together. It makes it a little bit more tangible. And I think that that's something that I need to be better at. And I think any marketer out there should be thinking about is how do I really make sure to communicate the impact of the writing to the people writing that content?

Taz Walters: Yeah. I mean, I did glaze over them because I'm not a numbers person. But-

Ryan Brock: Yeah.

Taz Walters: ...It is important to have those numbers because they do actually convey that impact that we're been talking about.

Drew Detzler: Yeah. Both of those ideas work in unison, right? You don't get revenue without creating content that users like.

Ryan Brock: Yeah. And I think glazing over it is actually the right perspective. Man, yeah. Just knowing there is a way to, in some ways measure how people are responding to what you're doing, it's nice. It's something that wasn't possible even 10 years ago in the level that it is now.

Drew Detzler: Amber and Taz, I have one more question for you around selecting a topic, selecting that initial topic that you end up focusing on and interactions you've had with customers. I have in previous jobs, I have literally sat in a room with a whiteboard and brainstormed ideas of what we should be writing about that quarter or that half of the year. And it has been as simple as people rake leaves this time of year, boom, raking leaves, put it on the board. That's our leader in the clubhouse. It has been as simple as that. And I know that you guys have had customers that are still probably doing that method. I think we should write about X, flip a coin and pick it. How do you combat that and how do you help them make decisions on what that topic should be? Amber, is this something you've run into?

Amber Peckham: Yeah, definitely. I would say that it's challenging to respectfully remind someone that their perspective on what needs to be written about is not the important one, but in those situations it is essential because it's not really about what Drew thinks DemandJump should be writing content about. For example, even though you're our marketing officer, it's about what content our audience is looking for. So rather than flip a coin, what you need to be doing is saying to yourself, which of these two things is going to be more interesting and engaging to our audience and drive the outcomes we're looking for? Because it's not so arbitrary as just like, oh, this is what we feel like writing about or what we think is interesting without intention behind it, then you're not going to achieve an intentional outcome. So I just sass them up. I just tell them, no.

Drew Detzler: I love it. Keep it up. Taz, how about you?

Taz Walters: Yeah, that really goes back to what I was talking about coming into something with an underlying assumption. I think a lot of people think, oh, I know what my business does. I know what we should be writing about. I know what customers are searching for. But then when you actually look at what the actual data says, there's a lot of surprises there.

Amber Peckham: Definitely.

Taz Walters: And the people who are searching for the things that your company does are probably not searching for the thing you think that they're searching for.

Ryan Brock: In fact, I don't think I've ever seen someone get it right. And all the times people are say, well, the most important question we get asked is this. Then you go on the data, you look at that search behavior and it's never even on the top 10. And it's not because that person's wrong, their perspective is what it is, but people are their most honest and pure when they're typing a question into a search engine. And so we can learn things about what people actually want from that behavior that maybe aren't so easy to glean from a conversation with a customer who knows they're talking to the VP of marketing or whatever.

Taz Walters: I've told this story a hundred times, but I'll tell it again because I think it's just so enlightening of this fact. I used to work for an orchestra doing marketing, and I had to design ads for our season, and my executive director was in her fifties and she'd been in this business for ages, and I designed our season ad and I brought it to her and it was a beautiful picture of our new conductor and it had our website on it. It was very simple, it was clean. The whole point was just to get people to go to our website and look at our upcoming season. She took that ad and she said, " No, no, no. This is all wrong. You have to fix it." She said, " Well, you have to put every single concert date and every single piece of information about all the concerts on our season on this ad for when it runs." I said, " Well, then you can't see the picture. That'll take up all the space." Like why? And she said, " Oh, well, it's because people tear it out of the magazine and put it on the refrigerator so that then they have all the dates that they can see it all season." I said, " That's what you do."

Drew Detzler: Exactly.

Ryan Brock: Yeah. Right.

Drew Detzler: Exactly.

Taz Walters: What person does this?

Drew Detzler: That's exactly right. We seen anyone else do this.

Taz Walters: What person does that? And you're that person and that's what you want in an ad, but I guarantee you are demographics that are not you. They're not doing that.

Amber Peckham: Exactly.

Taz Walters: So, that's the kind of thing that you have to be aware of when you're making those decisions about what are my biases and perspectives that I'm coming into that probably are just me.

Amber Peckham: Yeah. I think we especially see it a lot with jargon or industry terms that... Or whatever people call their business in their lines of business internally that they think is a phrase that somehow their users are going to know to search for. They're probably using five words to make up for one word that you know. But if you don't know how the layperson is coming to the table, then you can't meet them there to what Drew was saying. Exactly right.

Ryan Brock: The example I used to give in presentations on this topic was Esurance. They used to have ads where they talked about how they're cheap because of their efficiency and their technology, unlike their competitors, the cut rate insurance companies, and they would never explain what that meant. And it's a small thing, but I feel like I could see the chain of possession of, okay, marketing came up with this cut rate insurance as a, here's our competitor profile, and then that makes it into some copy because someone uses it every day, and now we're talking about cut rate, when if they just said, made a pun about the general or something, I don't know. There's other ways to go about explaining what you mean that people are actually going to understand.

Drew Detzler: Exactly. Where they definitely went to content writers after that saying, you need to work cut rate insurance into this somewhere. Where on the flip side of that is it, was it Safe Auto was state minimum coverage. That's what the customer was looking for, state minimum coverage and they just threw it out there.

Ryan Brock: Exactly. And it's so literal, and it's like for people who don't want frills and they want the cheapest legal insurance, that makes so much more sense. And of course we're talking about radio ads, but all of this is so true.

Amber Peckham: Oh, I was just going to say, yeah, just because something is a keyword, it's not also a term that will resonate with users in print or radio or anything else. It works offline too.

Ryan Brock: Yeah. Yeah. We're learning how to speak our customer's language and share that language with them.

Amber Peckham: Yeah.

Ryan Brock: That's important.

Drew Detzler: You can't be a thought leader for only people that are looking to buy auto insurance right now. You need to be a thought leader on auto insurance in general. Be the true expert and not just the selling expert.

Ryan Brock: Yes. Authority is not just a jargon word.

Drew Detzler: Yeah.

Ryan Brock: Search engines are really, above everything else, in the business of understanding and quantifying and even qualifying authority. How do we understand what authority means? How does someone win authority? How do we know who has more authority than other people? And it has to be a holistic approach to a topic. If you really want to be seen as authoritative, it's so important to do this.

Drew Detzler: Exactly. And Amber, you mentioned the company jargon. We keep using our own phrases, and that's what people end up writing about. That's what gets marketing leaders in trouble, in my opinion, and well, it's almost fact, right? You get charged with creating a bunch of content. You spend a ton of money on creating content. You spend a ton of money...

Ryan Brock: Hold on, hold on. It's my opinion, but actually fact, that was beautiful.

Drew Detzler: This is a fact. You get this budget, you spend a ton of money creating content, but you create content around the stuff that you're talking about in meeting rooms and the jargon that you use and that content flops, and all of a sudden you're on the chopping block because you spent your entire budget on stuff that produced nothing. When you should be listening to the audience and figuring out what the audience is actually looking for.

Ryan Brock: And sometimes that's more fun. Right, Amber?

Drew Detzler: Yeah.

Ryan Brock: I mean, over the years, how many times have we sat down doing what Drew's saying and just, all right, we got to come up with an editorial calendar for this customer. Let's just write up all of our ideas on the board, and you end up writing some fun stuff, but man, it kind of stings when you realize nobody read that fun stuff that you wrote. I don't know. It's tough.

Amber Peckham: I'm thinking of the blog that I wrote called Christmas Poems to Read With Your Friends and Family that was just a list of links to poems because we needed something Christmas themed and...

Ryan Brock: For a finance company.

Amber Peckham: Exactly.

Ryan Brock: A very niche finance company. Yeah.

Amber Peckham: I'm like, I'm going to do a section for religious ones and a section for non- religious ones. This is great. Yeah, I'm sure all five people who have ever seen that in the last five years really loved it.

Drew Detzler: Let's make it six. Send it over.

Amber Peckham: I will. I'll send it.

Drew Detzler: I need some good poems for the holidays.

Amber Peckham: Maybe we can share to some of the resources with this podcast. Everyone can enjoy it.

Taz Walters: I think that's going to be our office Christmas party is just reading that blog to everybody.

Amber Peckham: Drop boom out of the hat, and you have to read whichever one you choose. Yes. I love it. I'm there.

Ryan Brock: We're going to meme the hell out of this article and just it's going to come up with a whole new life now. All right, Drew, I think we are ready for our lighting round. I believe. This has been a great conversation, but I want to get the hard hitting stuff here.

Drew Detzler: Yeah, yeah. Let's do it. All right. Right. Lightning round. Taz, what is the last thing that you searched?

Taz Walters: I search a lot of weird stuff. The last thing I searched was, " Are cashews actually nuts?" They're not, they're drupes. They're only nuts in the culinary since.

Drew Detzler: Wow.

Ryan Brock: I Drew a drupe?

Drew Detzler: Yeah. That was my childhood nickname, a drupe.

Amber Peckham: Drupe.

Drew Detzler: I'll always be a drupe. That's fantastic. Amber, what's the last thing you searched?

Amber Peckham: I was working right before we got on this call, so I searched for improvements in oil drilling efficiency since the turn of the century to now. So how has, since the rotary drill was invented in the 1880s or 90s, how has Lee made less of a mess? Have we?

Ryan Brock: That is the life of a content writer.

Drew Detzler: All right. Before I get to the next lightning round question, how many of the writers have tried to be on Jeopardy?

Amber Peckham: Oh, I take the test every year.

Drew Detzler: Okay, good.

Amber Peckham: But you can only take it once a year.

Ryan Brock: Well, I took it on the free day this year. Don't they do that, right? Where it's like, hey, you can do it again today on the special Jeopardy day or whatever, and I bombed it hard.

Drew Detzler: Well, I've taken it once, but you don't get... They don't tell you how you do. Right? It's just like, thanks.

Amber Peckham: They tell you if you're in. Yeah, exactly.

Drew Detzler: Yeah.

Ryan Brock: I know I bombed it hard.

Amber Peckham: Oh, yeah.

Ryan Brock: I didn't even need to be told.

Drew Detzler: Well, with the knowledge you guys are gaining on a day- to- day basis, you guys should keep taking it.

Taz Walters: Yes. But a lot of the specific things we learn are so specific that it's almost too specific for Jeopardy. I don't know that Jeopardy ever going to have a category about rat birth control.

Amber Peckham: Diesel turbo chargers. I mean, it could be that.

Taz Walters: Diesel turbo charges?

Amber Peckham: Yeah.

Ryan Brock: They could, but probably not.

Drew Detzler: All right. Continue the lightning round. Amber bust a writing myth for us.

Amber Peckham: I guess I would say, I think one myth that is out there to people who are not writers is this idea of the writers, this romantic artist, and it's certainly true, but writing is not that hard once you get good at it, and it's not always some big creative agonizing lift of the ego where you're suffering in a room and drinking whiskey and hating your mom or whatever. I think that there's a big romanticism around the work that we do that not only causes us to be perceived in certain ways, but also maybe causes people to think that they can't do it. And language is a tool like anything else, and you can learn to use it like any other tool, you just have to practice.

Taz Walters: My writing myth one that I am sure a lot of people will take a lot of umbrage with, so I'm excited to say it. Rules are made up and it doesn't matter. Like Amber's kind of saying, yeah, language is just a tool, so sometimes you should write really informally and casually and break grammar rules. Sometimes you should write in a very specific AP style or MLA or whatever, whatever, but there's no right way to do it.

Amber Peckham: Yeah.

Taz Walters: You can do however you want.

Amber Peckham: You can use a hammer to open a can. Are you supposed to? No. Can you? Yes, absolutely.

Ryan Brock: I mean, everything's made up. It's all made up.

Taz Walters: Everything's made up. The rules don't matter. Figure out what style of writing works to communicate what you need to communicate with the people you need to communicate with and do that.

Drew Detzler: All right. Taz, favorite topic you've ever written about?

Taz Walters: Oh, I have a lot.

Ryan Brock: Oh, that's a bad question for Taz. I know that.

Taz Walters: That's such a bad topic for me because I get really fascinated. I will say I loved writing about rat birth control. I loved writing about diesel engines because of Rudolf Diesel. Oh, I actually really liked writing about turbocharges. I forgot my favorite one. Five gallon buckets.

Amber Peckham: I was going to say.

Taz Walters: Loved writing about five gallon buckets.

Ryan Brock: I thought that's where you were going from the start.

Taz Walters: I forgot. It's been so long. I wrote so much about five gallon buckets, and I loved every second of it.

Drew Detzler: That's awesome. And I think we actually talked about five gallon buckets on the last episode. So Amber, your favorite topic.

Amber Peckham: One time for the Autonomy Media blog. I got to write a big long piece about the movie Labyrinth, which is one of my favorite movies. And why it functions as a piece of narrative. That was fun, and I had a reason to get paid to watch Labyrinth. I mean, come on. But from the client side, I would say recent projects, I mean, it's been a long eight years. Hey, Ryan. Recent projects?

Ryan Brock: Yeah.

Amber Peckham: I would say I really enjoyed writing about the RVs. We recently wrote for an Indiana RV manufacturer. That was fun. I just liked looking at all the different floor plans and types, features, kind of like house shopping. And I also do enjoy writing some of our more just general entrepreneurship content. Anything that helps people build a business or achieves their goals, dreams, personal dreams, I'm here for.

Ryan Brock: Well, this was an incredibly insightful conversation. We started by saying, we're going to focus on talking about content topics, and we really got deeper into what does it mean to create an ideological middle ground between me, the writer and you, the reader, that we would call a topic and engage in that topic together and make sure that we did it well and effectively. And it's fascinating. I loved it. Thank you so much for providing us with thoughtful expressions of your experience as a writer, and I really thank you for helping Drew remember what it's like to do the grunt work that he's making everybody do on his behalf.

Drew Detzler: Yes, thank you Taz and Amber, this was fantastic.

Amber Peckham: You're welcome. Thanks for having us.

Taz Walters: Thanks for having us.

Amber Peckham: Thanks.

Drew Detzler: Amazing.

Ryan Brock: Drew, as a marketer, you've now had a couple of episodes here to talk to writers. I mean, what did you take out of today's episode that you maybe weren't expecting?

Drew Detzler: Again, it's the human element of the creating of the content. It's so easy to get locked in on the keywords that you're using and generating revenue from that content, and you really you should step back from that and think about creating content that the user wants to read. Two episodes in a row now that that's hit home.

Ryan Brock: It's not just about technical stuff and word count, like the writer's job is to really embody their reader's head space and to find a way to bridge the gap between their client and who they're communicating with, so.

Drew Detzler: Exactly.

Ryan Brock: It's a magical thing. If you like what you heard today, make sure to check out part three. We've talked about how to write pillar content and today told you how to pick a topic and make sure it's a good one. Next, we'll be talking about where to find these talented writers for your company, and it might not be where you expect, so stay tuned.

Drew Detzler: That's right. Thanks for tuning in, and thanks again to our fantastic guests, Taz and Amber. That's it for this episode of Page One or Bust. We'll see you next time.

Speaker 1: Page One or Bust is brought to you by DemandJump. Know the exact content to create to increase first page rankings and drive outcomes with DemandJump. Get started for free today at demandjump. com.


Now that we’ve introduced our revolutionary Pillar Based Marketing strategy, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and put the digital pen to paper—that’s why we’re focusing our Writers Roundtable series on pillar pages and topics. In part 2, Amber Peckham and Tamzin (Taz) Walters, Senior Content Managers at DemandJump, share their process for picking a topic that is sure to drive page one rankings and results.

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