MF 088 : Mary Fernandez on Moving Forward with Content Marketing and Persuasion Nation
Mary Fernandez is a blogger, entrepreneur and former content marketing strategist for OptinMonster. She is also host of the podcast series, Persuasion Nation. Today, Mary will teach you how to use your knowledge to build a brand and a following, online (even if you don’t have your own blog!).
Successes at a glance:
Coach and consultant blogging and creating / selling online courses:
Former content marketing strategist for OptinMonster
Blogger, entrepreneur Mary Fernandez
Provides excellent content marketing strategies for entrepreneurs in the online and digital space
Tips for long form content, blogs that convert and becoming an in demand guest for podcasts
Get Mary’s Giant Guest Blogging Index
Moderator and facilitator of the Persuasion Nation Mastermind Facebook Group (and yes, I’m a member!):
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Contributor and/or featured in many of today’s top publications:
Host of the fantastic podcast series, Persuasion Nation; focusing on persuasion psychology for entrepreneurs:
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How Mary gets inspired to conquer the day:
For Mary, it all starts with the morning shower! The white noise combined with the solitude, allows the creative juices to start flowing. This is where Mary gets inspired by some of her best ideas. From there, Mary is ready to start creating a piece of content. Mary’s content process begins with an outline; a framework that maps out the major points she wants to hit. This is a neat mental hack since it minimizes the intimidation you may feel when looking at that blank page or screen. By creating a rough outline, Mary is able to take the ideas from the shower and get them on paper (or screen) so the words can come later. Mary also shares that by mid-day, she sometimes needs a break from looking a screen (as we all do!). So Mary will take a break and step outside to get fresh air or take in the sights. To keep the momentum going, she will sometimes switch to pen and paper. Moving Forward listeners, Mary has provided a blueprint for how to get inspired and take that inspiration and translate it into content. Start with that important me time. The shower is a great place since it’s where you can get block out the rest of the world for just a few minutes. Use that time to let the ideas come to you. Afterwards, map out those ideas, even if it’s just a rough outline as this will allow you to focus with a framework. Then, follow the map and create the content. Remember, this is also a marathon so don’t be afraid to switch it up mid-day with a break and go to pen and paper. This is how we get inspired to create content and keep moving forward.
Setback or failure that led to pivot and shift:
Mary’s first foray into blogging and content marketing was in the subject of ballet. As a ballet teacher, Mary had all of this incredible knowledge on ballet that she couldn’t fit into a regular class. So she launched an online knowledge hub that included great content and eventually expanded into online courses. As an expert, Mary soon became the go to source for all things ballet online. Her site got ranked on Google and she had tremendous traffic going to her site. However, keeping up with ballet wasn’t a good fit for her changing lifestyle, especially after starting a family. Mary decided to pivot and expand into prenatal fitness; introducing new content and products. Mary set up a sales funnel thru Facebook ads which gained lots of traction and was receiving great feedback from her target market; expecting moms. However, when it came time to generate revenue, less than 1% of the leads converted to sales. Mary was at a crossroads. She could have tweaked the product to increase sales but this setback allowed her to step back and assess. Mary realized that her heart wasn’t in this and that she didn’t want to tweak it. Eventually, Mary shifted her focus to content marketing and entrepreneurship. This led to her pivot towards a greater focus that energized her. Today, thru her work with OptinMonster and Persuasion Nation, Mary is crushing it in the world of content marketing and strategy. Amazingly, this is not something she ever envisioned for herself growing up. On the contrary, while she was in college, Mary found the idea of marketing to be “icky!” However, because Mary tried different things, experienced setbacks and failures and more importantly, listened to her gut on where her passion was, she was able to find her way into a field that she loves. Moving Forward listeners, Mary’s story illustrates what it means to pivot. We have to try different things. It is inevitable that we will hit roadblocks and even failures. You will then be presented with a choice: 1) you can either tweak it and continue building; or 2) you can step back and ask yourself, is this really what I want to do? Or as Mary put it, is your heart in this? That is such an important question and one you should be asking yourself regularly. If you’re starting a business or are in a career, do those spot checks w/ Mary’s “heart test.” The “heart test” is simply listening to your instincts without worrying about whether what you’re contemplating is possible. This is how you can turn any setback into a pivot point to keep moving forward.
Knowledge Bursts on content marketing:
Mary’s advice if you want to start a blog:
Start by guest blogging. Bloggers, especially influential ones, are constantly looking for great content to put on their sites. Offer to guest blog on as many sites as you can. You don’t have to be an established blogger to do this and guess what, you don’t even need to have your blog to get started! By guest blogging, you will be introducing yourself to established audiences and this can grow your following quickly and exponentially. To put in context, guest blogging grew Mary’s following to the same level in just a matter of a few months that her first blog had reached after several years!
Mary’s tips for approaching established bloggers: keep it simple and don’t overthink it. To stand out in your pitch, come up with some really good headlines that are targeted to the specific blog you want to write. Remember do your homework first: Mary recommends reading 10 of the most popular posts from any blog you want to market yourself to. In your email, lay out the headline ideas as your pitch. If you get a rejection, don’t be afraid to try again with some new ideas or headlines. The important thing is to make sure your pitch speaks to the style and audience of the blog. Finally, if you don’t hear back, don’t be shy about following up. Bloggers, especially big influencers, are busy people who get lots of emails. Sometimes, you may have to follow-up to stand out. Don’t be afraid to do so until you get a definite yes or no.
Get Mary’s Giant Guest Blogging Index
Habit or practice for keeping to a schedule if you are creating content, especially a weekly blog:
Time Doctor: an app that monitors how you spend your time on each of your activities. This app will even take screenshots of your computer to keep you accountable to your schedule!
Edit Flow: a free WordPress plugin that helps with content strategy by helping you map out your content ahead of time.
Resource or cultural experience that inspired Mary to move forward:
YouTube: Mary loves seeing what different creators come up with as inspiration. Some of Mary’s favorite YouTube influencers are:
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Mary’s Advice for you to Move Forward:
When you hit a point where you’re not sure whether what you’re doing is gaining traction and your heart isn’t in it, start by surveying your friends and family. Specifically, ask them “what am I good at?” Another way to phrase this is to ask them “what do you ask me for help with?” You may be surprised by what they identify as your core strengths; including things that you never considered. From there, look at the answers and find the common theme or thread in all of them. This can be a starting point for you to consider developing a platform to position yourself as a subject matter expert on this topic. From there, focus on building an audience. Build that email list. This is more important than having a website or blog. As Mary shared, you can start building an audience thru guest blogging before you even have your own blog! Moving forward listeners, sometimes we are so caught up in ourselves that it’s hard to step back and identify what am I good at that I can use as a focal point to pivot. Getting outside feedback can be a great way for you to break out of a rut and make that pivot so you can always be moving forward.
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