Newsletter #5

Side-hustles, social media and senior content marketing roles

The weekly newsletter for content marketers seeking exponential growth in their work and personal lives.

Links

🔥 Episode 8: Devin Bramhall on Earning a Senior Content Marketing Role [Animalz]

In this podcast episode, Devin, our super-smart Director of Marketing at Animalz, shares her hard-won advice for pro-actively earning a senior content marketing role. My biggest takeaway (and the inspiration for this week's opinion): use a side hustle to make stuff happen.

🔥 10 Google Sheets Formulas Every SEO Should Know [Ahrefs]

I fumble around in Google Sheets all the time, conducting competitor analysis, searching for keyword opportunities, building monthly performance reports, you name it. The ten techniques covered here are guaranteed to make all of those activities - and about a hundred other marketing tasks - so much easier.

"Google Sheets can be used to scrape data from websites, create semi‐automated SEO workflows, manipulate big data sets, automate follow‐ups for outreach campaigns, and much more."

🔥 Why Content Marketing Fails [Rand Fishkin]

This Slideshare from 2014 (!!!) articulates a big, ugly truth: most content marketing fails. Four years (and about a billion articles) later, Rand's advice is more relevant than ever. With so much information in the world, a scatter-gun approach to content just doesn't work.

"The price of success is failure after failure after failure."

🔥 Learn How to Build a Killer Social Media Strategy [Matthew Barby]

Matt Barby charts his progress building a social media following from scratch. There are no hacks or workarounds here: just solid strategy, smart execution, and ideas we can all emulate ourselves.

"Here are the results I've had so far:

4,700+ Facebook followers
850 Twitter followers
515 Pinterest followers
550 email subscribers (double opt-in)
15,000+ unique visitors from social media alone."

🔥 Introducing Cohort Keyword Research [Traffic Think Tank]

What makes a "good" keyword? Instead of relying on assumptions and guesswork, Nick Eubank provides the answer using cohort keyword research, a framework for evaluating keyword opportunities within the context of multiple websites.

"For each metric, I’m going to use data from 5 websites in the same niche, and create cohorts for the average maximums and minimums of each metric, using the mean for each as the middle of the road to sort all other term-level metrics into an “above” or “below” bucket."

Tools

🔨 Newsletters

This week, I wanted to share some love for the handful of newsletters that continue to inspire and educate me (and provided the motivation to make my own). If you sign-up, tell 'em Ryan sent you 😁

Jimmy Daly's Swipe File
Kevin Indig's Tech Bound
Alred Lua's Newsletter
Len Markidan's Inner Circle
The Katie Martell Weekly
The Reforge Brief

Opinions

Harnessing the side hustle
Devin's podcast episode, and her experiences with side hustles, really hit home for me.

Over the years, my own side projects - my post apocalyptic magazine, newsletter, t-shirt design business (for reals...) and half-a-dozen other malformed projects - have been a constant source of enjoyment, professional development and reassurance.

Here's why you should consider your own side hustle:

  • It's a psychological safety net
    Side hustles allow you to spread career risk between two projects, instead of one. In most cases, those side hustles won’t be financially viable alternatives to your day job. But — as I found out when I quit my last job in 2017 — they provide a surprising amount of psychological relief.It’s something you control. It’s something you enjoy. And it’s something that has a kernel of possibility inside it. It doesn’t support you now — but with some time and energy, it could.

  • It's a source of constant creativity
    The most consistent way to be creative is to take ideas from one area of life - software development, cookery, music - and apply them in another.Having a side hustle in one area - writing a novel, building an app, setting up an ecommerce store - provides a brand new source of transferable ideas, just waiting to be applied in your day job, and vice versa. To quote Mark Twain:

    “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

  • It offers experimental freedom
    A side hustle provides a place to experiment with crazy, no-holds-barred ideas, free from the expectations of efficiency, profitability and success that come from working with customers and clients.If it works out, you've created evidence to persuade other people to adopt the idea. If it doesn't, well... it doesn't matter. Reset, re-evaluate and try again.

  • It's a chance to have skin in the game
    Side hustles allow you to build empathy and practical experience in areas that might otherwise be abstractions. Writing for developers? Set up a website and tinker with a WordPress theme to shed new light on the processes and experiences of professional developers. Writing about paid advertising? Put aside a small budget to promote your business, and learn what it feels like to spend your own money on Facebook ads.Even a basic, barely-functional grasp of a new area can make your work more credible and engaging.

  • It offers career flexibility
    A few of my friends hold PhDs. They've spent years and years burrowing deeper and deeper into a single field, to reach a point where they've become so specialized, so niche, that the idea of making a horizontal leap to another career seems impossible.Most careers follow a similar - if less extreme - path. We spend years carving out a groove for ourselves. The better we get in one area, the harder it becomes to move into another.
    Side hustles bridge that gap. They provide a mechanism for building experience in new areas, making it possible to transition between otherwise unrelated fields.

  • There's a small chance of a big payoff
    Most full-time jobs are like an index fund. Over time, they’re pretty much guaranteed to increase in value. Stick with it, climb a few rungs higher in the pecking order, and your salary will climb with you. It’s stable and relatively predictable.But it’s that stability and predictability that negates any chance that it will ever generate a huge payoff. Huge returns (usually) come from huge risks, from unconventional outside ideas... from projects that start life as side hustles.

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