Storytelling, market research and finding blog post topics

Storytelling, blog post topic ideas and market research

In the first of Taleist’s Stand Out Sessions, Sydney copywriter Steven Lewis talked live from Sydney about direct response copywriting, storytelling, how to find your point of difference, among other topics like…


Transcript of Taleist’s copywriting FAQ live

Hello everybody. And welcome to Taleist’s first Stand Out Session. It’s one o’clock on the 6th of October. Hello. If you’re watching live hello is that on my face? Yes. Hello. And if you’re watching the recording later, fantastic. Hopefully, I’m thinner by now.

As we start recording immediately, they started drilling outside of the street, but hopefully you can’t hear that. So as I say, this is our first Stand out Session. The goals of the Stand Out Sessions are to answer your questions. So if you have questions on copywriting, digital marketing, storytelling, persuasion, writing with influence, those are all things that we do at Taleist. And we’re happy to answer your questions, which some people have asked in advance.

So I put up a LinkedIn post this morning. I’ve got some questions from that. You can go to, And you’ll go to the Stand Out Sessions page there, and you can sign up and ask us a question there.

Simple storytelling tips

So we have some questions, but what I thought we might try every week, it’s, it’s starting with a set topic that I’ve picked in advance. And this week, that story, that topic is just simple storytelling tips.

And the reason I’ve chosen storytelling tips is because I think it’s one of those things. That storytelling is a word that I have trouble with because it’s so abused. A story has a beginning, a middle and an end. It is a narrative to use another word that is abused. So a case study, for instance, can be a story. Your client had a problem. They came to you. These things happened in the middle. There were problems and challenges and together you overcame them. And then there was a great result. That’s the air, that’s a story. But these days we use storytelling almost to describe anything. That’s interesting. So you’ve probably been told in your marketing, you need to do more storytelling.

And if you’re anything like me, you probably thought, well, what the hell does that mean? But I was the other day at our local farmer’s market. And I saw such a great, simple example of storytelling that I wanted to share it with you. And that example was there is a family of farmers who come down to the market every Sunday, a husband, wife, three children, fantastic produce. And just where you pay, they have one of those plastic sleeve folders of photographs of life on the farm. And so you see the farm and the tractor and the children picking the harvest and just get a real sense that, yeah, this is food that is coming from real people from a real farm. And I wanted to take a picture of that to show you so I asked Gary the farmer and he didn’t want to, because his kids are in the picture.

So he didn’t want to splash his kids all over the internet. But I wanted use that as an example, because I think it’s that behind-the-scenes stuff that a lot of us and I include us in there are not very good at doing.

If you follow Taleist on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll see that we’re trying to get better at it, but it’s, it’s something that doesn’t come naturally necessarily to all of us to think. Let me take a photograph of what I’m doing today, but there was a second example that I wanted to show you that I think is fabulous. And it’s on Facebook, it’s a store that I follow on Facebook because Laura, who is our editor has done some work for Bunty’s General Store because they’re in her hometown, outside Glasgow or not her hometown where she lives outside Glasgow.

And this popped up in my feed because I follow them. And I thought this was just such a great example of something that’s easy to do. So Bunty’s General Store is a local shop in a village with deli elements. So they went on a fact-finding trip to London to get some inspiration. And so you can see, it’s just a simple story about walking 45,000 steps around London, getting some inspiration, just easy selfie, pictures, and shots of some of the great examples of delis that they saw while they were walking those 45,000 steps. And if you’re anything like me, when you take a picture like that, you think, well, who the hell is going to care? Right? Like, oh yeah, this is where I am. I’m at as deli. Why should I take a picture? The picture is not great, but actually I know from my own experience, when I put something up, that’s like this, I do get engagement and I do get likes and I do get people commenting on it and I do get people mentioning it to me.

So it’s simple storytelling tip from my point of view is to think, what do you do in the background that you take for granted? Like, it might seem super obvious that I run a shop. I’m going to go and look at other shops, but why not take a picture and put it up and see where you go. And as I say, you’ll, you’ll see how we try to do that. And I’d be interested to see, you know, how you go during the day. So that was the simple storytelling tip that I wanted to suggest to you. And it’d be great if you do try it. If you do try putting up a few things in your socials let me know how they go, because I think it would be interesting to see if you see more engagement from that personal behind the scenes stuff than you see otherwise.

Now the promise of a Stand Out Session is that every Wednesday at one o’clock, I’m going to go live and answer your questions. But as I say with just this five minutes of background, if you find the videos helpful, we’d love it. If you subscribed, liked followed, commented, engaged at all, encourages us to keep going. Am I suppose on YouTube, you can down vote it. So if you want to encourage me to shut up and not do this anymore, you can hit the thumbs down on YouTube, but I’d love it. If you hit the thumbs up, like subscribe comment, wherever you are, if you’re watching live on LinkedIn and you comment it doesn’t actually show up in front of us. So we are trying to monitor that. But if you have a question as we’re going, please you know, ask it, you can ask it in the comments on YouTube.

You can ask it in the comments on Facebook and we’ll keep an eye on the comments in LinkedIn, but they don’t feed through to this to this system. So to start with the question.

How to come up with blog post topics

So this is a question that I was asked this morning in LinkedIn, by Kath who wanted to know how we come up with our, how we recommend you come up with blog posts, topics. And this is something I’m just trying to get out of this Facebook window here, which it won’t let me, why would anything go, right? This is something we talk about extensively in our SEO content marketing course, because there were two reasons. Do you think you would blog? One is because you want something that somebody who finds your website through another means can read. So for instance, if you want to demonstrate a depth of expertise, somebody might find your website one way and they might navigate to your blog posts and see that you have interesting content and interesting things to say, alternatively, you might blog because you want to be found by Google.

So if you want to be found by Google for writing a blog, post things have changed considerably if you’ve been around the internet a long time. So going back to the early to mid two thousands, the advice was if you blog, Google will find it. Google loves fresh content on a, on a website. Google will rank you because you have blog posts. And that led to people writing a lot of blog posts that were more like opinion, pieces and columns and things that they thought and advice that they had to give. And that content can be fantastic. But these days, if you want to be found by SEO, you’ve got to be answering the questions that people are asking, and you’ve got to be answering them better than the alternatives. So what I wanted to offer and in answer to Kathy’s question was this fantastic website, which is called Answer The Public.

So you can find it at and you get, if, if you, you can have a free go at it, so you don’t have to have a subscription, but you can ask a simple question. My advice would be, I mean, you can see this is set to the UK, but you can set it to any one of a number of countries. It will set it to Australia because that’s where we are. So you want to ask a question at the top level, so you don’t want to get down too deeply into, for instance, I put chocolate in there. So you, you don’t want to get down into the depth of going, how do I make chocolate cool-down in order to make an icing because you know, that’s very narrow. So you start at chocolate. Cause you’ll see. So if I, I, the time, if I taught copywriting in here and hit search, what honestly the public is now doing is going out and essentially scraping Google.

And I won’t, you know, when you type something into Google and things start dropping down to complete what you’re writing, this is what onto the public is doing. And then it’s sorting those answers out. So it’s looking at what are the questions that begin with? What, what are the questions that begin with when this is a phenomenal way to find things that people are answering, asking? Because Google has an incredible data set on what people want to know, because Google has millions of people every day asking questions. And so Google knows all the questions that all the people are asking, and it’s very clever at sorting those out for you. So you can probably find a dozen blog posts topics immediately by starting in my opinion, with answer the public. If you start with the right top level questions, so don’t go too deep because you can see Answer The Public.

It’s going deep for you. How much to charge for copywriting, how to get started copywriting, how to copywriters make money, where to practice copywriting. You should also take a moment to infer things from those answers. So for instance, from a lot of those questions, you can infer that these are questions being asked by people who want to be a copywriter, not people who want to employ a copywriter. So you also have to ask yourself, is that the sort of question that my ideal client would ask? And if it is the sort of question that your ideal client would ask, then you’ve got a potential blog post topic there. If it’s a small question, one that you can answer quite quickly, you might think to bring a few of these questions together into a single post. So there are lots of ways to find topics to rank for, for SEO in terms of finding topics that your audience might find interesting, that you might want to put on your blog, share on LinkedIn, share on Facebook.

Then you can be thinking about questions like the questions that people ask you when they’re talking to you. Those generally make great blog posts because they are obviously the things that people want to know. Also, I like to think about what if it’s not for SEO. This is a great question to ask yourself, what do people think they know about my business, but they’re wrong about because that’s often interesting when you present somebody with some content, with an article that says, Hey, here’s a myth busted. Here’s a thing that you thought that you can you know, you’re actually wrong about that. That’s quite a grabbing and compelling hook. It’s useless for SEO because if it’s something I should know, but I don’t know, I’m certainly not searching for it, but it is something that makes great social media posts and a great post for your website.

So that’s answer the, which is a great way to start. There are a lot of ways that we talk about in the SEO content marketing course that we run at Taleist. The next one’s coming up later this month that goes through free tools, like answer the public that you can use to find those topics and then paid tools that you can use to drill deeper and find even more topics. And also ways that you can validate for sure, whether a topic that you’re thinking about writing is a something that you can rank for and be something that you can the people are asking and something that you have a chance of showing up in Google for. So that was the question from Kath, but she asked on LinkedIn this morning, and Brian also asked a question, which was…

How can you use market research to know your audience?

And Brian’s taken our landing page copywriting course. So he’s done some of our market research and instruction. And this is a phenomenal way, like answer the public is a great way to know what your audience is asking because when we’re writing a website, for instance, one of the things that we do is we look at search engine data to see what searches are being run in the area where our client operates. Because when you use those tools, you can learn a lot about you can learn a lot about where people are in their state of understanding what it is that you offer, and you can understand maybe some of their downs. So the example that I tend to give people is if you saw in your search engine research, that a lot of people are searching for a lot of people are searching for trustworthy real estate agent.

Then, you know, when you’re writing a real estate agent’s website that you need to you know, write about that real estate agent as being trustworthy, and you have to do a lot to prove the trustworthiness. So those, those are things that are really handy to use search engine research, to do things like looking at competitor reviews. So when people review your competitors and indeed your own reviews, if you have enough of them to look through, what is it they like, and what is it they don’t like, you know, these things can tell you a lot about what people are interested in and you know what they’re asking. And so similarly you can use arms to the public. You can put searches into Google. And one thing that’s really interesting to do in Google. And I’ll tell you this one which is a this is an example of one that we talk about in the SEO content marketing course.

A lot of the time you don’t think about this because you, you typed something into Google and results just come up and, and you don’t think, well, actually, and generally because the results are so good, you don’t think to yourself hang on a minute. How did Google know from such a vague question that you wanted to know this of all the things you want to know. So, I mean, I’ve just taken chicken. That is a one word search term, incredibly vague. So I’ve put in chicken and these are restaurants near me that sell chicken, cooks chicken. Yep. You’ve got the chicken Wikipedia entry. So in a way, Google is sort of hedging his bets. Maybe I want to know about chicken, but mostly it’s either recipes or it’s places selling cooked chicken near me. So what you can infer from that in terms of market research is when you start typing in terms that you think your clients might use in your industry, Google is telling you in the search results, what people who type that in want to know about.

So in Brian’s case, you know, Brian is a leadership coach. So if you start typing search terms about leadership, coaching into Google, you can infer from the results that Google shows you that Google has proven over time, that these are the sites most likely to get clicked by somebody who types that search term. Therefore these sites are on the money about what your audience wants to know. So that’s just a little market research tip that comes out of our landing page copywriting course, and also is in our USP. So we’ve got a course called, make your business irresistible, and then make this a business irresistible. We talk about ways because the first thing you need to do to make your business irresistible, which means define your point of difference. Your point of difference is what makes you irresistible. The first thing you need to do is understand what people want to know in your area.

So that’s market research. Typically just look at how Google presents the results to understand what people want to know. I also had a question. This one came in by email. So Phoebe had gone to our website for standout session. And she used the form there to ask a question. And Phoebe’s question is…

How often should you change the words on your website?

I think you should change the words on your website as your business evolves and changes. So as you learn more about your clients, you can change or slash add change, or add to what you already say on your website. So we quite frequently adjust the content on the pages of tailors, the services pages, and some of the other pages as we evolve our service, or as PR prospective clients ask different questions that we’ll go back in and answer them.

So you should not be thinking of your website as fixed. Your website is not a moment in time. And I believe it’s a mistake to think, well, that’s my website for a year or two years or 18 months. That website should reflect what your business looks like today. So as soon as you offer a new service or you think about something else that your clients have asked that you could get ahead of, or what are you finding in those calls with your clients that maybe they ask you, and maybe they don’t ask you, but you say something to them and their shoulders relax, and you can see, okay, I’ve got you, I’ve over, you had a resistance to what I was offering. And you relaxed when I said that thing, what is that thing? And make sure that is on your website. So you should be changing your copy on your website as frequently as you have an insight into your readers or when you offer a new service.

So that would be my advice to you Phoebe, on that one.

What common marketing practices are no longer working?

And so ST had a question again, asked this morning on LinkedIn, if you don’t follow me on LinkedIn, please do follow me on LinkedIn. I ask questions all the time. And I, I really like hearing from people and ST’s question is what common marketing practices are no longer working and, you know, my initial reaction to that is I don’t know, because I don’t think it’s luck. I don’t think it’s generally the case that common marketing practices stopped working. I think common marketing practices start being used by people who don’t have a strategy and because they don’t have a strategy, then they hit on a tactic. So they’ve gone mad and they decided to go live on YouTube, but they’re not really sure why they’re going live on YouTube and it doesn’t work, or they go live on YouTube one Wednesday in October and they don’t go live again.

Whereas I think we know you’ve got to do it repeatedly over a period of weeks for people to get into the habit of believing that you’re going to be there for instance, and coming in and asking a question, oh, it’s Wednesday, it’s a standout session day. I’ll go and ask Steven a question. So I don’t think it is that marketing practices become common and then stop working. I think people start using them badly. And then they blame the tactic, which is like, I’m just outside this door here. I’ve got a big toolbox full of tools. If I were to use any of them, the, that I was approaching would be likely to be more broken afterwards than before it. And that would not be the fault of the tool. I thought the question that was particularly interesting because you hear so much and there’s so much bloody noise about, oh, this isn’t working anymore.

I had somebody approach me for LinkedIn training and said, oh, you know, some, but some of the people in our office, they say LinkedIn is dead. It’s all WeChat now. And I said to, so were they all using? We chat? And she said, no, I don’t think so. And I’m like, well, it sounds to me like they just have got an excuse for why they don’t want to learn to use LinkedIn better. And their excuses we chat is taken over. But if you offer them we-chat training, they’d have another excuse. I wouldn’t want to do training on we chat. So it’s about knowing why you want to use something and what that thing is for. And then it will work. So you’ll hear that LinkedIn is dead, which of course it isn’t, you’ll hear that Facebook is dead. You’ll hear that email is dead.

You’ll hear that direct mail is dead. Radio is dead. TV is dead. None of these things are dead. There are people who are using them incredibly effectively and you know, they are, they are out there. So what else? What other questions have I got here? I’m going to go and cause Shalini has asked live so Shalini. Hello, thank you for watching us on YouTube. This is much appreciated. So I haven’t seen Shilani this question it might have. So now I’m totally nervous that I won’t be able to answer it. So I haven’t even read it. I’m procrastinating, Shalini.

What would you consider when writing a website for coaches or trainers?

I’m reading your question now. What are some of the things you’d consider when writing a website for educators, coaches, and professions like these? I’m going to assume from the question Cellini that you mean the educator or the coach has the website, as opposed to the website is aimed at an educator or a coach as an audience.

So if I’m wrong, feel free to add a comment and say, no, no, no. I, I mean, my clients want educators as their clients. So the website has an audience of educators as opposed to it’s for an educator. We’ve written a lot of websites for coaches. And I would say the number one problem that coaches have is they cannot explain what they do. It is really hard for them because it isn’t tangible a coach. Isn’t like a physiotherapist where you can go in with a sprain and leave with a bandage or stretch or an exercise feeling better. And with, with, you know, with a tangible result, coaching can take a period of time. It’s very hard to describe the transition from the person who arrived as the coachee, to how they feel after having received a bit of coaching. But you do have to nail that down because people buy transformations.

So somebody is going to an educator because they want to be transformed from ignorant to capable, or they want to be transformed from beginner to intermediate or intermediate to senior, whatever it is that they want. It is a transformation. So you have to identify what is the transformation that somebody wants. So you need to know what is their pain at the moment? What is their burning problem? And then what is it, how would they like to see themselves in the future? So my consideration with a coach would be one it’s brilliant if they can niche it down. So for instance, one of the websites we wrote for a coach called James James specializes in people who have reached a ceiling in their career by being technically brilliant. So they are excellent at what they do, but they have reached a level of seniority where they can’t get any higher unless they get better at managing people.

And these people are not necessarily people, people, so they’re technical experts, you know, maybe they’re great in it. And maybe they’re a brilliant developer and they’ve risen up high because they do brilliant software development, but now they need to manage other people and they’re not good at it. So that’s his niche. So having such a clearly defined niche, which he, he didn’t at the beginning of the process. So part of our process was really talking to him again and again and again, and working out what was the commonality between the people he wanted to work for. And once we’d found that out, it unlocked the rest of the website because you knew exactly who you were writing for. So that’s the, that’s the second problem that coaches have. And one, they find it difficult to describe what it is that they do. And then two, they are reluctant to narrow down who they do it for, because they don’t want to rule anybody out.

But as we say in copywriting to all clients, as soon as you’re not ruling anybody out, you’re not talking to anybody either. If you’re talking to everybody, you’re not talking to anybody. So that would be my advice. If, if I’ve understood the question correctly, that your client is an educator or a coach, and they want to talk to other people, do whatever you can to force them into narrowing their niche, which will scare the hell out of them, but they will get so many more people. If somebody can read that website and think that’s me, I have that problem. I recognize myself. Yes, that’s the destination that I want to get to. Oh my God, I must call this person rather than somebody who has a website that says wherever you are and wherever you want to be, I can get you there. Because that will hit that will hit the objections.

So Shalini, I hope that answered your question. Everybody who’s watching, if you’re watching recorded or live and we’d love it. If you’d comment hit, like hit subscribe, hit share you know, we’re going to be back next week and the more liking and commenting and sharing you do, the more people will know about this. The more likely we are to keep coming back. And the more likely you are to be reminded. And if you go to, there’s a form where you can sign up and you’d get on newsletter. And you will also get reminders that the sessions are happening.

We expand on these points in How to write a business coaching website.

A/B testing: Should you test big or small changes?

A question I had by email, from a subscriber to our mailing list, as it happens is this from Kate Dorrell. Kate asked when it comes to testing your website, big changes or small changes. And this is a great question because to find out whether your website is working, you need to test it because all copywriting or web design or websites or marketing is a hypothesis until it meets a reader.

So you put something up and you see how people respond. But what you can’t see is whether they would have responded differently if you’d said something differently. So the best way to do that testing is to present two versions of a page, the Abe version of the B version called AB testing. So what happens with AB testing is when somebody visits your website, randomly, they are assigned to the, a page or the B page. And you have to have an action that you want them to take. And that action might be how long do they spend on the page or more likely to, they click something, download something, sent you an email. How often do they take an action that you want? And then the page that gets more people taking the action that you want becomes the winning page. And then you run another test.

The challenge with this, for those of us who have small business websites with relatively low traffic, is that to have us do [inaudible] valid test, you need a reasonable amount of traffic. So if you only get 200 visitors to your website a month and you do one version of a headline on a page, and you do another version of a headline, or, you know, the classic example is you have a button that says, click here, and the button is orange and you try a green button. That’s great. If you’re Amazon, you can put that up on Monday morning. And by half past eight, you’ve got a statistically valid number of people. And you’ll know whether an orange button is better than a green button. If you only got 200 people visiting your website a month, you could wait two or three months to find out whether the orange button beats the green button.

So in those cases where you have low traffic, it’s not a strict AB test. So a strict AB test it’s you change one variable, a headline, an image, a button colour, one thing, because when you only change one thing, then, you know, it’s that one thing that has changed the result. However, when you have low traffic consider making big changes because you’ll get an year. So if you’ve taken an angle on a particular webpage. So if I give you an example, our landing page copywriting course, for instance, is aimed at business owners, but also at digital marketers who want to up-skill. So they want to get copywriting skills. Here’s a course that they can take that angle came about by doing some testing. So we did some tests and we put up different angles. And the one that got the best response was the one aimed, not so much a business owners who wanted to write their own website.

It was copywriters and marketers who wanted to write websites for other people. So they wanted to take a course, develop a skill and sell that skill again and again. So now if you go to the page, it’s the same course, but the page, as you’ll see, it’s very much written for people who want to take on the skill and do it many times, but that came from doing a wholesale change of the page and presenting two vastly different pages to groups of people, not just changing, changing a headline. So it’s, it’s one 30 now. I am inclined to think that half an hour is long enough to go into your feed. We do have some additional questions that, that people had asked. But what I’m going to do is hold those questions over till next week. I hope you will join us next week.

See you same time next week

It’ll be the same time. One o’clock Sydney on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on YouTube. If you go to, you will be taken to the standout session page, and you’ll be able to sign up there and you’ll get reminders by email of when we’re on, along with all the links. So please, if you’re still with us, how fantastic half an hour in, and you’re still with us, I’d love it. If you’d click, like on the video comment, subscribe like the page, all the things that social media and we would love you to do. It’s been fantastic talking to you and if you’re watching the recording thank you so much for staying with us and please join us live. If you feel like it, thank you everybody. See you next Wednesday, one o’clock.

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