Newsletter #8

Hard-won habits, mental models and the myth of irreversible decisions

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

Links

🔥 7 Habits of Highly Effective Content Marketers [Orbit Media]

To become a better marketer, there are big two big levers you can pull: strategy - creating smarter ideas - and productivity - executing on those ideas in a more efficient, focused way. Andy Crestodina tackles the latter, sharing the frameworks, processes and hard-won habits that have helped him thrive as a content marketer.

"This isn’t about a tactic or a channel. This is about your day. What you do, hour to hour, minute to minute. It’s about structuring your time and your activity for maximum results."

🔥 The Roadmap to a Complete Technical SEO Audit [cognitiveSEO]

This outrageously detailed guide covers 26 point-by-point processes for improving a website's technical SEO. From optimizing your crawl budget to setting up AMP, this is the technical SEO crash-course I never knew I needed.

"We wanted to cover, in the most effective way possible, all the elements that are important for making your website user-friendly, efficient, visible in SERP, functional and easy to understand."

🔥 5 Mental Models for Content Marketers [Animalz]

Mental models provide novel perspectives on existing problems. This article shares 5 that we've found particular useful in content marketing, from "mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive" for content creation, to "the circle of competence" for personal development.

"Thinking and acting strategically is one of the best ways to accelerate your work and your career. Apply this one broadly for the best results."

🔥 How to Earn More Links: Adding Context to Content Analysis [Ahrefs]

Many of the heuristics we use to assess content quality - like backlinks and referring domains - generate biased results: bad articles can perform well if they're posted on popular websites. Derek Gleason offers an alternative approach: identifying "overachievers", "content that earned a disproportionately large number of links for a given site."

"...most of us base our content strategy on the “most linked” content on a topic... Too often, that focuses attention on great websites rather than great content. Many of the “top performers” are mediocre articles that earn links solely because they’re on popular sites."

🔥 The Difference Between a First Draft and Second Draft [Jimmy Daly]

Most writers - myself included - have a tendency to "think out loud," writing articles that mirror our thought process as we grapple with a new topic and perspective. Editing is a mechanism for correcting this process, and reorganizing our writing to suit the reader - not the writer.

"A first draft helps you organize your ideas and get your thoughts on paper. It's writer-centric. But a second draft should be organized for the reader."

Tools

🔨 New Tab Draft

I've used a million different "New Tab" extensions over the years, and this is the only one that's had sticking power. It's literally just a blank page. I use it jot down quick ideas and notes. I never to need to rummage for my notebook, or digitize endless pages of call notes. It just... exists, waiting for me whenever inspiration strikes.

Opinions

Most decisions are reversible
My decision-making is usually accompanied by a vivid image of Jeff Bezo's egg-shaped head, uttering this quote from one of his Amazon shareholder letters:

"Some decisions are consequential and irreversible or nearly irreversible — one-way doors — and these decisions must be made methodically, carefully, slowly, with great deliberation and consultation.

...But most decisions aren’t like that — they are changeable, reversible — they’re two-way doors. ...you don’t have to live with the consequences for that long. You can reopen the door and go back through."

Virtually every decision you'll encounter in your working life is reversible. Articles can be unpublished. Campaigns can be revised. New responsibilities can be changed or handed back.

Even big, existential decisions - like quitting your job - are rarely as one-way as you might expect. If the situation demanded it, you might be able to swallow your pride and get the job back. Even if you couldn't, quitting opens doors to new opportunities, perspectives and motivation. You could work part-time. You could consult. You could go into business with a former coworker.

Theorizing will only take you so far - often, the best outcomes only reveal themselves when you're on the other side of a decision. Making the wrong decision might suck for a while, but not forever.

That's a powerful realization. It provides a mandate to take opportunities you'd usually shy away from. You're no longer paralyzed by the need to methodically over-analyze every decision that comes your way. You can silence the voice that says you're not ready for this, you can't do this. If you think there's a big upside, just go for it.

From my experience, the vast majority of these decisions will work out. The handful that don't can be revised, shifted on to parallel rails that still generate a beneficial outcome. The tiny minority that truly fail - and it will be a minority - can usually be reversed without long-term consequences.

And hey - you'll still learn something in the process.

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