Interview with Lisa Barone of Outspoken Media

by on December 2, 2010 | posted in Marketing

I’m a Lisa Barone fan. I am a strong proponent of those who are willing to say “you’re wrong”, and Lisa is definitely one of them. Also, I somewhat strangely see myself as some kind of SEO-centered male-version of her, and since most people like themselves, that tends to make me like Lisa a little bit more. Good blogging in SEO is at a premium. Even though Lisa doesn’t claim to be an SEO, her content is one of the few that carries this business. And since I pay attention to SEO and know that Google likes reasonable surfers, I would also like to let you know that Lisa is a pivotal part of Outspoken Media, a superb group of SEO consultants. Lisa also rocks her unique personality over on her Twitter account, so you should follow her on Twitter here.

And remember, since Twitter accounts count for SEO now, she’s technically a pretty powerful SEO. So, I’ll soon be sending her a Link Request TweetMail. 

1. As a strong follower of your blog/you, I’ve noticed an outlying monologue that occurs at Outspoken Media and on your Twitter account – that is, regarding the lack of a book deal. Writing a book, eventually, seems like something that you’ve definitely set your sights on. Even if it isn’t  currently fulfilled – and perhaps you could also detail why you feel that it is – you must have something boiling upstairs for a potential book idea (if you haven’t written it already). I’d love to know what you might have in mind, if anything at all.

Heh. Well, I’m a writer. Every writer wants to write a book, right? If it feels like I’m talking about it more lately, it’s because I’m getting more emails from readers asking where my book is. Which then sends me on a rant. 🙂

Obviously, I’ve received offers to write search-related books, but I feel like there’s enough of that out there and no one needs me to write yet-another-social-media book.  It’s also not where my interest is right now. I want to write about the other stuff in my life and things that are important and/or influential to me. I think writing a book is something I’ll do one day, but right now I’m plenty busy with growing Outspoken Media and it’s taken a back seat. That said, I have been doing a lot more personal writing lately to allow me to stay creative and I’ll be publishing some of that that pretty soon.  You’ll have to wait and see what it’s in regard to.  A few people already have the domain so I don’t know it’ll be secret that much longer.

2. You do a lot of observational blogging – writing about current events, and also, live blogging conferences that are relevant to internet marketing. Much of the criticism of social media (and SEO), is the difficulty in measuring the efforts we take to move the needle. You seem to take a “hands off” approach wherein you don’t detail, directly, the efforts of your clients, even anonymously. Have you ever thought about doing some posts that were more data-driven, given your client experience? How much of your day-to-day is direct client work, as opposed to blogging/content creation?

I think I do detail much of what we do for clients – it’s just scrubbed into a general “best practices”-type format.  For example, our post on how to launch a small business web site or how to create a social media plan are blueprints for what we often do for clients – just without any personal details or the Outspoken Media secret sauce.  Obviously what we do is far more tailored to a specific client, the blog is intended to be more of an educational tool for someone who needs the help, but doesn’t have the budget to hire an SEO consulting firm like Outspoken Media.  I try to give enough that someone could take that post and then apply it to their own business.  If you’re looking for SEO data, then no, you won’t find that in my blog posts because I’m not an SEO. However, I think Rhea, Rae and Dawn are good at offering that side of things when they hit the blog.

In terms of what I actually do, I spend a large bulk of my day blogging and doing content creation.  I blog for Outspoken Media, but also have regular blogging spots at SmallBizTrends, Copyblogger and Shoemoney, among others. For us, blogging is part of a larger attraction strategy that has worked for well and allowed us to build a very noticeable brand in a short amount of time.  We’re in the middle of our largest growth spurt to date so I think some of that may be shifting a bit.  We have employees now who can take the burden off me in terms of some of the content creation and we don’t necessarily have to be everywhere anymore.  That will allow me to do more strategy with clients, which is something I currently do and really enjoy doing.

3. Do you imagine a long career in blogging? Give the frequency that you write and the length of your blog posts, I’d imagine that you’re in the top 1 percentile of (superb) blog posts created by a person on the internet. Can you envision yourself in twenty years looking back and saying wow, I created 18,000 blog posts, each of 700+ words in length? Or will that train ever run off course? What do you think about this new-world scenario, where a blogger can spend a lifetime pumping out more words than many published authors – but still have nothing to show for it? Is it more hollow than say, writing 200 books? Or is content creation content creation?

Will I be blogging forever?  I don’t know if I’ll be blogging forever, but I think I’ll be publishing content forever, even if it’s not to the same degree that I do today.  But I do think I’ll always be writing and sharing content because that’s what I enjoy doing and I think it benefits a larger community.  I take objection to the stance that bloggers produce more content than published authors and have “nothing to show for it”. I definitely feel like I have something to show for the work that I’ve put into this industry over the past 5-6 years.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t continue to do it.  I have the communities I’ve built, a company I’m proud of, happy clients, and a living brand that anyone can find.  My posts may not be bound together in print, but they’re bound on the Web.  Are 18,000 blog posts more useful than 200 books? It probably depends on who you are. For me, yes, they are.  Mostly, because they’re so searchable and because they can be updated to reflect current changes. I have a much easier time finding what I’m looking for online than I do inside of a book.   I don’t think “content creation is content creation”. I think there is valuable content and then there is bullshit.  I just don’t think that’s at all defined by the medium used.

4. So, you’re female.. yeah, I had a whole question written out about that until I read this. Since I’m not going to go that direction, I’m gonna pivot and instead ask: when does Outspoken Media start acquiring every SEO and social media person on the planet and go Blueglass (that’s a verb) on internet marketing? What’s the longterm Outspoken Media vision? Would you like to have your own conference one day? How about a small country?

Wow, was there a really a whole question about how I’m female? Would have loved to have read that one. 😉

When will Outspoken Media turn BlueGlass and start acquiring everyone? The short answer is never. BlueGlass has a great thing going with the amount of sheer talent they’ve been able to attract and the conference they’ve launched, but that’s not our goal with Outspoken Media.  We’re very happy running a small, but growing, boutique.  We’ve somewhat quietly grown from 3 to 7 over the past year and we have a good team that we’re building and a new office we’re working on.  Our goal is to provide superior service to clients and we’re doing that. Starting a conference series or growing to 50 employees in four months isn’t in our growth plan.  We’re going to continue to grow as it makes sense for us and as it allows us to achieve larger internal goals.  So far we’re doing very well and I don’t see any need to change that.  We may, however, buy a small country so we have somewhere to hang out on our off days.  We’ll see how the rest of 2010 goes.

5. Do you have any unwritten, subverted blogging tips that you use that you aren’t necessarily explicit with? Some of I’ve heard people use are under 1,000 words, spend X amount of time thinking about a title, etc. How about how you promote posts? Do you do it at X time, or Y times per account? How about at a certain time? You constantly berate Michael Gray for being a bot, but there must be some method to your madness. Right? Where do we cross the line?

Geez. Do I really berate him or do we playfully disagree and banter? I hope it’s the latter.  Michael is, hands down, one of my favorite people in the industry and the person who’s been most influential in my career.  And he knows that. We just happen to disagree on virtually everything, which makes for good Twitter banter.

I don’t think I have any unwritten blogging rules, which is part of who I am. I tend to lay it all out on the table. Anyone who has watched me since my Bruce Clay, Inc. days has seen the transition I’ve gone through in blogging and as a person. I feel like I grew up in front of everyone eyes, for good and for bad.  I’m very much WYSIWYG, in everything.  I think people appreciate that about me. 

I’ve probably shared most of my bigger tips at some point.  I think titles are vastly more important than people give them credit for. I believe it was Brian Clark who once said that 50 percent of writing time should be spent on your title – however, I never follow that just because I’m impatient and awful at them.  I don’t automate any of my social media presence. I’ll tweet a post twice to take into account different time zones, but that’s about it.  I really think the point of being in social media is to be present, so I don’t use any tools (for myself) to help me do it.

6. Is there any irony to the fact that there is almost no engagement on the @outspokenmedia Twitter account? How about how underutilized the Facebook account is? Is there any potential for Outspoken Media to become something known outside the internet marketing world, or is that too big? I, personally, would buy an Outspoken Media t-shirt. It seems that pushing that direction would require utilization of every media funnel – but I’m guessing that you haven’t established those as potentially viable for who you want to reach – potential clients. But, is it too crazy to think that an internet marketing company could one day become widespread enough that it would be pretty largely known – such as with Saatchi & Saatchi?

I think the goal for Outspoken Media in 2011 is to escape the Internet marketing circle a bit and move more into the marketing world.  We love our friends here, but I do think it benefits brands to get out of their comfort zone and meet new people.  You’ll see Outspoken Media doing a bit more of that in the upcoming year.  I definitely think there’s room for an Internet marketing company to become largely known and that’s part of our growth plan.  As SEO continues its evolution toward simply “marketing” we’ll see that more and more.  Do I think Outspoken Media has the potential to be one of those companies? Absolutely. I know we do.

I don’t think the under-utilization of the @outspokenmedia Twitter or Facebook account should be taken as irony. We’re still a small boutique so there’s a bit of deciding where our time is most well spent.   Because we all have such large personal Twitter accounts, we find that most people will reach out to us there.  We do respond to people who tweet at the @outspokenmedia account, but it’s not our primary focus.  Funnily enough, there will probably be Outspoken Media T-shirts in 2011.  There was quite an internal debate about that in 2010. Once the three of us decide on something, you’ll see them.

Thanks Lisa! Go support Ms. Barone over on the Outspoken Media internet marketing blog and again, follow her on Twitter here.

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