Elegant Themes content manager Nathan B. Weller gives us peak behind the curtain as to what they’ve done to help make the Elegant Themes blog a behemoth in the WordPress blogosphere. He also lets us in on what their content marketing strategy looks like and provides some real practical tactics and strategies that you can apply to your business if you have a blog or do content for clients.
This episode is presented by my Divi/Wordpress Beginners Course.
In This Episode
00:00 – Introduction
06:15 – How a good presentation can help your blog
13:19 – Learning to be a better communicator
23:50 – Results of taking care of “A” clients
30:00 – You must have a team on the same page
40:11 – Results of burnout
46:57 – What to do with confidence in your own abilities
55:29 – Tips for being successful as a blogger
1:04:59 – How to do content marketing the right way
1:14:02 – Benefits of being in a community
Connect with Nathan:
Links mentioned in the episode:
Josh’s Top 3 Takeaway’s:
- Set guidelines and standards with creating content to keep things at a sustainable, consistent pace.
- Be more of a “scientist” than an “artisan” when writing, running and marketing a blog or content.
- Write for YOUR audience and customer.
Episode #004 Full Transcription
Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode Four. In this one, we’re talking about how to build a successful blog and content strategy. And my guest today is somebody who quite frankly knows what the heck they’re talking about. Yes, for those of you in the Divi community, you know, he needs no introduction, Mr. Nathan B. Weller, the Content Manager for Elegant Themes, the creators of Divi, this interview guys, Oh, my gosh, it is jam packed with value from start to finish, we cover so many impactful tactics and strategies in and around blogging and content strategies that you can apply to your business right now. Whether you’re doing a blog on your site, or whether you do content for clients, or even if you just write words, in general, you’re going to get a lot of value from this episode,
Nathan was very real and transparent, and kind of gives us a peek behind the curtain as far as what they’ve done and Elegant Themes to help build their blog front. Well, I’ll just tell you right now, back in 2014, before he took over, they were doing around in and around 300,000 posts and pageviews per month. Now, five years later, at the time of recording this interview, they’re doing around 2 million posts and pageviews per month, nuts, he talks about all the tactics and strategies they employed to help get those numbers and grow their audience. And I mean, it’s it’s no doubt helped the business. And I’ve seen Elegant Themes grow tremendously over the past few years. So we get a peek behind the curtain as far as what it takes to do that.
And the cool thing is like, I’m not going to be running a blog that big, you are probably not going to be writing a blog that big. But all of the tactics and strategies that they use, we can apply it to our endeavors as well. So what they’re doing with millions of pageviews we can do with hundreds or 1000s. One thing I want to say too, is hats off to Nathan In this episode, because he gets very transparent about some personal things that happen to he gets, you’ll hear later in the episode, he got to a point where he basically was just completely burnt out and worn out and was taking too much on. But he rebounded from that very quickly. And that kind of led to him creating some barriers and some guidelines and standards to make sure that he keeps at a sustainable pace. If you have followed me for any amount of time, you know, I’m all about keeping a calm and sustainable pace. So we get to hear about kind of what led up to that and then how he corrected some of those things and what he has done to make sure things stay sustainable moving for what she’s done for several years now. And the blog has continued to grow so you’re going to get a lot out of this episode. I can’t wait for you to hear this.
Before we dive in. Since we’re talking about Elegant Themes and partly about Divi This episode is brought to you by my Divi WordPress beginners course. If you if you’re just getting into Divi and WordPress and you don’t feel like wasting a ton of time going through documentation and going through YouTube videos and tutorials and trying things on your own. If you want the most cost effective and quickest way to learn Divi learn and learn WordPress so you can start building websites, check out my Divi WordPress beginners course I’d love to help guide you to be able to get started quickly and efficiently.
It’s a very low cost course and it’s a very condensed and concise course as well. And I do keep it updated. I’m actually just about to update and add some lessons to it for Divi 4.0 you can lock in lifetime access now and every time I update it, you’ll be able to check out those updates and I would love to help you quickly learn Divi and WordPress so you can get going on building websites. Alright guys, without further ado, enjoy my very in depth and super interesting talk with Elegant Themes Content Manager, Mr. Nathan B. Willard. Nathan, welcome to the show. Man. Thank you so much for taking some time out of a schedule that I’m sure it’s very busy after the recent launch of Divi 4.0.
Thank you. Yeah, my pleasure to be here. I always like making time for you and for the Divi community as much as possible to be on podcast. These talks are so fun to me. And you’re right. It has been busy, but always worth it to make the time.
Well, I appreciate it. Man. I’m sure a lot of listeners appreciate it as well, because we’re going to talk about blogging, I know we’re going to talk about how to build and successfully run a blog. I was just telling you before we went live, most people are not going to be in the position of running a behemoth blog like Elegant Themes where there’s a lot of visitors and a huge content marketing strategy. But what I figured we’ll do is we can talk about a lot of strategies that people can employ for their blogs. And then I’m a big believer in blogging and doing content for clients as well because it’s a huge markup and an upsell for services for people in freelance. Before we get to that though, for people who don’t know you or maybe you’re new to Divi Can you just kind of Explain your story and how you got into blogging. And then subsequently how you got into working for Elegant Themes.
Yeah, sure. And sorry, I don’t want to derail things. But just as a note on something that you said now, once or twice is like the level thing like big blog, or subtle blog. So I like to make this note early, because we’re gonna talk about a lot of things. And I don’t want anybody to go, Hey, you know, I’m running a tiny little blog, I just started my blog. And, and none of this applies to me, because I’m not enterprise, or I’m not, you know, well established or whatever. You know, I want you to think about, you know, you just presented at Divi Columbus, which is our local meetup. There were maybe 15 people in the room, right? These are people in your physical presence, and you spent, how long did you spend creating that presentation?
I probably spent a couple hours putting it together, maybe Yeah, maybe three or four hours.
And it was built on top of courses that he spent a lot lot longer than that, doing it. So there’s some serious, serious effort went into that presentation. And, and I’m sure that your desire to do a really good job was was palpable, I’m sure you really wanted to bring a quality presentation. That was for 15 people. So if somebody is listening to this, or watching this right now, and they have a blog, and they don’t have Google Analytics set up on it, I want you to go set up Google Analytics, on your on your blog, get a read, look at your monthly, daily per post audience, any of those stats, and I bet they’re going to be around 15 or higher. And if I were to tell anybody who’s watching this, or listening to this, that, hey, next week, I’m going to put you in a room with 15 to 50 to 100 people, and you’re going to have to, you know, wow them with something valuable, that solves an important problem in their life, you’re going to put a lot of effort into it. And you’re going to want all the tools at your disposal to solve that problem. And to make a clear, precise presentation, that they walk away going, Wow, that person really came through, they really wowed me.
So it even if you’re not, you know, blogging for, you know, one to 2 million people, like we do at Elegant Themes from month to month, you know, these principles and stuff we’re going to talk about, they don’t change. They’re just as valuable for, you know, the brand new blog as they are for the enterprise. So I just want to start that off as a thing. And now jump into who I am and why I should talk like that. So my name is Nathan, Nathan B. Weller as I go by online. I started to go by Nathan B. Weller, not because it’s some, you know, like literary tech or something I have, I’m not not trying to be like JRR Tolkien or something like that.
But I just found out a few, you know, it’s like 2008, somebody had another Nathan Weller bought every domain, every social handle was already taken. So I had to find a way to have my own identity online. So I just plopped my middle initial in there. And I’ve tried to be consistent with that. I’m a blogger, I’ve been blogging for ages. It feels like sometimes I started blogging about WordPress in the olden days. There. See 2009 I believe 2010 were like the first couple posts I did in WordPress, but it wasn’t really consistent about it then. But uh, if you’ve been around the WordPress blog o sphere for a long time very first blog ever wrote for was WP hub. I’m not around anymore. Or sorry. WP mods. It was purchased by That’s right. WP mods. Okay, really old school. One of the first like influential WordPress blogs started by Kevin Muldoon. He also started blogging tips calm. And I’ve just been going strong ever since.
So when you started blogging, did you how did you get connected with them? Like, did you just start a personal blog? Did you reach out to them? Or did they just find you? How did that go about? And there?
Yeah, I mean, I tell man, every time someone’s starting, and they’re like, I hate doing these, like low paying jobs to get started on like, I blogged for free for like years. So yeah, I started off by literally just focusing on the so I took I took a an interesting route. I don’t know if most people would want to do this. But my strategy was, if I want to get paid, well, the only blogs paying well are big, you know, because they they’re actually getting the traffic to support ads, etc. Or they have a product attached to them, and they’re doing well. So how do I get on those? You know, if, if the only way I can get on those is by having other big credits, then maybe what I should do is just offered a blog for free original content to bigger blogs and just work up, like get the biggest one I can get and then work out from there. And so that’s what I did. And I did that for, like, two years. Obviously, I had another job at the time, and I was just doing, you know, a couple articles a week, in my free time for.
I was just gonna ask what you were doing? Yeah, I mean, I figured, because see, when you’re getting started, you know, blogging, when you’re getting started is not probably gonna pay the bill. So what were you doing on the side? or What were you? What was your full time job?
My primary job at that time was business development, I was working for a company in in Columbus here called go big network. And I said they’re not around anymore. But it was actually like their parent company, they and a few different websites. And what I would do is we, we generate a lot of leads for businesses, and I would broker those deals, basically, I would call people up I curate email list and, and different types of digital information products, and try to sell them in bulk to, you know, to buyers who were interested in targeting those audiences. And that was like my, my full time job.
Gotcha. Now, I’m curious, when you decided you wanted to start blogging was that because you wanted to escape that role? Or the nine to five? Or did you just want to have freedom and be able to work from home or coffee shops, what what was the, the genesis of your desire to blog,
I just love creating content. I mean, I’m such a content creation, person. Um, you know, like, in high school, I went to a school that was sort of like half High School, half college. And I did it because they had this really unique schedule, where is like, the first half of your day was regular high school and the second half of your day, you basically got to take whatever courses you would be taking, if you were if you were in college. And so everything was kind of accelerated in terms of pace, but I loved it, because he basically just Scott sat down on this big computer lab with like, camera gear and stuff in a closet, and you had this huge binder, and it’s your whole work for the whole quarter.
And they’re just like, okay, like, we’re gonna check in with you every once in a while to make sure you’re doing this stuff, but you’re gonna get graded on it at the end of the quarter, but like, the pace that you do, this binder is up to you. So I would like go through tag all the cool content creation stuff. And then I do everything else really fast. And I spend the whole rest of the time like, you know, learning Photoshop learning video editing, like trapping our camera and lighting teacher and making him teach me how to do stuff and spend like an absurd amount of time. You know, creating these little videos and doing stuff with my friends. is so funny actually just was on Facebook today, I got an 11 year reminder of like content that was posted. And it was an old photo from from back in the day from from that time where we were doing experiments with content creation. So I had been a lifelong content creator. I just love it. And so I wanted a job where I got to do that full time.
And it wasn’t just writing it sounds like right you like the idea of content, all encompassing with video, lighting, and every just everything graphics.
I think for me, I mean, the thing that really gets me up in the morning are is like stories, and anybody that hangs out with me long enough will hear me talk about mythology, storytelling, principles of storytelling. And the reason is, is because I I’m a firm believer that if you study you know, like, human evolution, psychology, like the evolution of our brain structures, there’s this weird thing that happened where like, stories were the thing that that bound people together for the longest time and and we’ve literally evolved to to crave stories even when we recount like something as mundane as the, you know, our day like we sit down dinner, how was your day, it takes the shape of a narrative.
It’s inescapable. And so if I’m a big believer in that if you can understand what makes a story compelling, all the different elements and you can and you can use those things in your daily communication and in your writing and your content creation, you’re just going to be a better communicator. So I love that craft of of using things that that are concrete things that are real, that are science back that are studied in the lab in psychology, all these different things and actually using them in real world scenarios to be effective, effective communicator.
And it’s really really huge in marketing and blogging and business the idea of using stories. Have you read Donald Miller’s story brand?
Yeah, I have it right next to me over here.
Okay I just I read that really This year and it’s funny, it’s like, as soon as I read, uh, one of my students actually recommended it to me. And then I was like, that sounds awesome. And that book, I almost think that should be a prerequisite for any web designer, because it talks about web design structure and the idea of how to basically bring your service or product within a story, because you’re absolutely right. But you know, humans are just attracted to a story. That’s why we got it. That’s why we like movies and shows and things like that, because you want to see a story. So absolutely, I totally agree. That translates to writing.
I’m another huge, huge fan of winning the story wars, that’s it’s been a great book for me. And that guy, the guy who wrote that Jonah Sacks, he, he was one of the first like, viral marketers on online, like Viral Video Creator on YouTube and stuff. And he actually used his, his experience with that, and his knowledge of storytelling to, to really dissect what makes content online online content, attractive and appealing. And so like, if you’re in the space, I think, even more like story brands, great for branding, right? But like, if you’re if you’re online content creator, and you want to know what are the elements that make content appealing? And how does that intersect with stories? Winning the Story Wars is a great one.
Winning the story war. Okay, cool. I’ll make sure I put that in the show notes. I’m going to pick that up as well. Sounds great.
Review of it on my blog, too. And we can link to that if you want.
Yep, absolutely. Now did you have that mindset from the get go Nathan er, did that have to develop like the.
100% developed so crazy story I was in I was blogging for years. So and and I went, I got hired by Studio, like a design studio out in San Diego back in I think 2012 2013. And they want to start a publishing arm of their of their company. And they brought me out to to consult on that. And I had been blogging for a number of different design and WordPress blogs as a freelancer for four years at that point. And I kept running into the same problem everywhere. It was that everybody was doing everything technically correct. But they were not growing their plateaus. And the plateau really seemed to be something that was like audience engagement related, you know, like, they just didn’t have people leaving comments. People weren’t sharing their content, people were engaging with their content. People weren’t caring about their content, the search engines cared and they got a lot of exposure and traffic, but the traffic ended up not being very meaningful, because people were bouncing and all this stuff.
Like, okay, you’re doing the things correctly, on a platform level, you’re getting eyeballs to your stuff, but people don’t care once they’re there. How do you change that? Right? And that question was bothering the hell out of me for for so long. And so it was while I was on that consulting job where I figured out like, Hey, you know, if I really want to provide insight for for this new client, I’m going to need to expand my horizons. So I was at the bookstore. And I was looking just all over the place. And I found that’s where I actually found winning the story wars. And that kind of opened up this whole idea of content, like online content, no matter what it is being guided by narrative and storytelling principles. And then from there, I got way more academic and gotten to its source material. And I learned about, you know, Joseph Campbell, hero’s journey, seven basic plots by Christopher Booker, you know, archetypes, all that good stuff.
So that was really something around like, 2013 that I got real heavy, and I spent, in fact, I got so enamored with it that 2013 to 2014, I took off work completely. I moved home with my parents, because I just thought, you know, I kind of I’ve taken this technical blogging thing, as far as I can. And if I really want to have a big career After this, then I gotta, I got to take myself to college, basically. And so I, I bought like 40 some books on psychology, storytelling, content, creation. Just mythology, everything I could think of in that vein, and I spent a whole year reading taking notes. Just like I said, taking myself to school, basically. And and then the first client I had after that was Elegant Themes.
How old were you when you did that? Because that’s, that’s amazing. That is a rare thing to do.
Yeah, I mean, it sucked.
Probably had to swallow some pride, right when you’re hanging out with friends. Yeah, I reading a lot and living in my mom’s basement.
You know, it’s terrible. I mean, I it If you’re passionate enough to do it, I would recommend doing it if you’re questioning, like, I only did it because I was like Stone Cold certain, like, I have to do this. But if you’re lacking that there’s no way you’re going to make those miserable.
It’s all it’s also clear that that paid off for you. And you were very dedicated to learning. And really, I mean, you probably condense what you could have done in four or five years in one year by doing that, basically, just Yeah, exactly. That was my hope, not having to worry about having another business on the side to pay the bills that was mostly covered, I imagine. So Elegant Themes came next how to how the heck did that happen? We talked about this in a previous interview where I interviewed you, but I’d love to kind of talk about that, again, maybe in a little more detail, which I’ll link to that as well. But how did the Elegant Themes come about for you?
Right, so I actually should say, the Elegant Themes, my first blogging client after that, it was funny, because I almost got, I got it by accident. Because after that whole year of study, with the emphasis on storytelling and structure and psychological elements of story, I actually started doing something called story consulting. And I was working with, you know, writers, and I was working with a theater out in LA at a film production studio out in LA. And I was actually helping, doing story consulting for their scripts and stories. And I was also posting jobs online for like people to send me their novels. And I just wanted to be somebody involved in storytelling, and I was just really gung ho about it. And then I realized, you know, like, my, my longtime girlfriend was like, you know, you need to get a job again. Because I want to see you back in Columbus, you need to come back here. I was like, Okay, I’ll start taking, like, you know, I was like, getting paid for the story consulting, of course, but it wasn’t like as high volume as my blogging work would have been, like, you know, I get a client to pay me like three to $5,000. But I may not get another client for like a long time, right.
And so, I was like, fine, I’ll start sprinkling in some blogging again, because I know I can get that I get emails every week, people go on, Hey, can you blog for us? So it was like the most mundane thing ever. I just opened my inbox one morning and and Nick, from Elegant Themes our CEO was in was in my inbox. He’s like, Hey, I saw your, I’ve seen your posts on some of these other WordPress blogs. Would you like to blog for us? And this was late 2013? And I said, Sure, yeah, why not? And he’s like, well, we just had this thing, you know, called Divi just came out. And we’d like to, as part of our unique a new chapter in our company, we want to, we want to blog every day. And we need some bloggers to commit to doing a couple posts a week for us. Would you like to do that? And yeah, absolutely. Let’s do it.
So as a freelancer, I just started doing a couple posts per week. And, you know, it’s funny, like, I don’t think there’s necessarily anything like special about, you know, the blogging that I was doing, following all the normal best practices. But if there’s anything that like, contributed to me eventually coming on staff, I think it was just that, you know, I was intentionally not taking other clients. And so whenever Nick would email me and go, Hey, we had a few people drop off this week, we need an extra article or two, like, Can you do it? Like, oh, yeah, you’re my only client? Sure. And so like, after a while, I just kind of became like the go to person and and then eventually? Well, it’s actually not as straightforward as eventually I just came on, because do you want me to get into it?
Absolutely. Well, and I just wanted to reiterate a point you hit right there real quick, cuz I think this is gonna apply to every business. And that was you focus on and you gave your attention to your really good client, or you’re really good. Absolutely. So client, you know, that’s something where I found myself years ago, spending way too much time with like, I’ll say, low hanging fruit that just wasn’t worth my time, instead of focusing on a really good client, so that’s great. And and obviously paid off you. So yeah, what was the next step? How did that transition to your role?
Yeah, this is a funny thing. And storytelling, right is like a lot of times in storytelling, you want to make each of these transitions really smooth, and you want to feel like one thing led to another perfectly. But in reality, after a year of blogging for Elegant Themes from late 2013, oh, it’s actually longer to like 2000, the late summer, early fall of 2015. I was kind of burnt out on blogging again, because I was, you know, I was actually still getting storytelling work, story consulting work. And that was actually starting to pick up finally to the point where I was like, maybe I can transition. And Nick said, or I emailed Nick, and I just said, Hey, man, I think I’ve written You know, I’ve been doing this for six years now with with WordPress blogging, I think I’ve written every, I’m not a developer. So like, my content is limited. You know, I can’t dig into the code and write about that. As I said, I think I’ve written every WordPress article I’m capable of about five times over. I’m kind of burnt out on it, man, I was I don’t know if I want to do this anymore.
You know, I want to give you a heads up, but I think I’m going to be moving on, you know, find a new adventure. And he just said, Oh, that’s too bad, you should stay. And he’s like, you know, we’re actually looking for someone to come on board and edit the blog. Would you be interested in becoming an editor? And I said, I yeah, I mean, I would that is more interesting to me at this point in my career, because, like I said, you know, I’m just kind of like, at the end of my rope on on content ideas. But I want something more than just writing words. I was like, how about we How about, we do a podcast, and that’s how divination was born. So that was actually brought on 2015 40 was actually brought on to manage the blog, manage the freelancers contributing to the, to the blog, and, and do the podcast. So I was basically doing one to two posts per week myself, the podcast, and then editing the blog. That was my job.
That’s a great segue to where Elegant Themes was back in 2015, to where it is now. So let’s talk about that. I don’t know how specific you can get with numbers and stuff aware. I’m curious what the traffic was like to the Elegant Themes blog back then, and how many authors you had as relation to what it is now. And then we can talk about the whole journey with how you’ve continued to build and where things are at now. But yeah, what does it look like back then in 2015?
Yeah, I mean, just pull up our analytics peak. But we’ve actually done this before. With we’ve done some case studies at word camps, we’ve actually pulled up our analytics and talked about this, it’s pretty interesting.
Is any of that but in articles that I can link to, in the show notes for this?
I wish you know, I don’t know what it is. But every time I present at a word camp, somehow my presentation never ends up on wordpress.tv. I wonder why that is?
Something against or maybe something against Elegant Themes or Divi? Hmm. Now,
I don’t know. Probably not. But probably, it is it does. Unfortunate though, because there’s been several times I presented I can’t find any of my stuff on wordpress.tv. And in situations like this, and oh, yeah, did a presentation two years ago about that at work, camp, whatever. But let’s go back. So 2015.
I was just for folks who are curious, that was just when Divi was kind of just picking up some steam. So it wasn’t near what it is now. So I’m sure we’ll talk about how important content strategy is alongside a product. But yeah, I’m just curious, because I’d like to find out where the traffic and where the views and everything were then and then what they are now and then talk about what you’ve done consistently to kind of build that because I know it’s, it’s wild, huh?
Yeah. So, you know, in 2015, our blog had already been so if you really want to get to the big change for us on the blog, you have to go back to 2014. So let’s go to 2015. We are doing about 900,000 page views a month. And we peaked A few years ago, or not few years ago, we peaked last year, at like 2 million per month. And we’ve kind of waffled back and forth. Right, you know, under the 2 million mark since then, we actually got hit with Google used to count you know, all of those footer links like across the web with like, powered by Elegant Themes on like Divi and stuff. Oh, yes.
So that gave us crazy high SEO juice, like everything that we published, had just all those backlink authority, right? But Google de emphasize that. So we got hit not too terribly long ago with with like, just a huge dip in traffic because that authority was no longer granted us on Google. So we’re, we’re like in the mid, you know, like one, around 1.5 million per month now. And we’re trying to regain that by what we have now. Very different strategies. But yeah, long story short, we went from back in 2014. January 2014, is when we began regular blogging, right. It was better Miss blogging before then. But 2014 January was when we began to go Okay, we’re going to blog every day. So we had 303,000 per month pages. And now we’re close to 2 million, 2 million.
Wow. So let’s talk about what you guys did and what you’ve done to continue to grow. Have that and build that obviously, to your point, you aren’t doing the right all the writing at that point, you started hiring more authors and kind of overseeing the blog. How many authors were contributing, then a bit, you know, kind of a guesstimate?
Yeah. So like, I think when I took over the blog, as far as managing the day to day stuff, it was more like, think about 10. Six to 10 bloggers contribute.
What’s it look like now?
So at our high point, we had about 35 freelancers that were contributing. And we had to actually it became too much because not like, and it wasn’t that we had too many people to manage, it was too many schedules that you couldn’t predict, right. So like, if everybody’s a freelancer, and you have this high, you know, two posts per day thing that you’re trying to do, you can’t really keep up with that if like, in any given week, almost everybody could be like, Oh, I got another client project going on, I got sick, I’m on vacation, whatever, you need people whose first priority is your blog, right? And so we really had to, at that point, build a team. And now we don’t, we might have a bunch of people who want to submit to us now maybe more than 35. But as far as people who were in contact with and who were depending on, you know, it’s it’s like a handful, it’s it’s our team for the most well.
And now I feel kind of bad because I started writing for the Elegant Themes blog in 2016. You are, yeah, 2016, you’re approached me to help out with a Divi 100 series, which we’ll talk about here. And then yeah, it was the case for me where it was just kind of something I was doing on the side. And yeah, now I haven’t done nearly as much as I will, I would like to do more. And I know, you know, I think you’d probably allow me to pop on every once in a while, I definitely would like to do more consistently. But I understand that for you. That’s a very tough position to be in. If somebody’s like, oh, I’ll do a blog whenever I feel like it.
Yeah, and I think as a editor, you know, especially when you’re looking for community submissions, or submissions from experts in the field, you know, people who have real world experience, you know, that comes with the territory, you can’t take it personally. You know, that was a strategic mistake, or just a learning a bump along the road for us. Where we had to go, Oh, well, we can’t depend on on these folks making us their top priority when they got a business to run, you know, like, if we can find a way to work with them to kind of like get that knowledge out of their brain get that experience out of their brain onto the blog. That’s great. But that can’t be the thing that like we’re depending on for a tight deadline. That’s just not practical. So have you ever done a lesson?
Okay, have you ever thought about doing like a segment or a time period of like a commitment because I, the more and more I have conversations with people about content, strategy and marketing, one of the best things that I’ve learned is to have a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, particularly like your the Elegant Themes, Content Manager, like content is your thing. So you’re going to be doing that every day for a long time. But yeah, folks like myself, who I’m running a business, I have all this other stuff going on. I can’t commit to doing a blog every day. But sure, when I started my tutorials for Josh Hall.co, I gave myself a window, I gave myself 12 weeks, I said, Okay, once a week, for 12 weeks, I’m gonna do a video blog and a tutorial. At that way I had kind of an ending to that segment, and then I could recharge and do it again. Have you ever thought about maybe having that sort of approach with freelancers, or people who might commit for might say, like, three months or six months to help out with that?
Um, so yeah, I’ve tried that before. Um, and again, it’s, it’s really like, I think, particularly with folks who are running their own business, you can’t always predict when you’re going to need to be all hands on deck, right? You know, so like, you know, maybe you right now at this stage in your, in your career, because you’ve hired some people under you, and, and you can maybe buffer your time a little easier, you might be able to pull that off. But I found that a lot of folks who are still solopreneur doing or freelancing or whatever, like they have great experience, particularly if they’re doing like Divi tutorials on how to do this or that with Divi, you know, they got their hands dirty with Divi on client work, like every day. So they’re great folks for that. But you know, even if I booked them for a short stint, we could say that they’re going to concentrate on that for a while. But then, you know, they get a text or an email from a client. They got another big project comes along that wants to pay like five times what our tutorials pay, because it’s an actual full website build. What are they going to choose? You know?
Sure. That’s a good point. And the good thing is that consider if people do have a blog, where they want to hire people to do content, marketing and things like that, I’m sure we’ll talk about that here. But are you do you essentially look for people who can make that almost their full time job or at least a high priority? Is that how you get people into?
Yeah, yeah, our biggest priority is To build internal staff that was a decision we made a little ways back our first hire was MAC, who does our video work a lot of our video. We’ve since hired another video person, Matt and and we have three full time staff bloggers and we got a few staff bloggers in the interview process right now I’m hoping to expand our team. We’ve just found that the quality is so so much better. And the dependability for for scheduling is there as well. So it’s just worth it in every sense for us.
Consistency on both sides. I’m sure that’s Yes, too. Let’s talk about Divi 100 because that’s when the blog really exploded. You got it for folks who didn’t use Divi at that time. Divi 100 was a series where basically was a 100 days of Divi, where every day there was new tutorial or something in and around Divi. And that’s actually when you Nathan approached me to help I think I helped out at the tail end where I contributed some articles on things you can do with Divi and stuff like that. And that’s when I started blogging, more Elegant Themes, and where I kind of found my niche with more like some of the more story kind of stuff and some of the relationship and all that kind of stuff. But how, how did Divi 100 come about and how like, what did you see? How did that help grow the blog and just the Elegant Themes brand?
Sure, I mean Divi 100 was an idea Nick had and it came from the success of the 12 days of Divi blog series that they did when they were launching Divi, so it’s like they launched Divi, and then there’s like, they did like 12 giveaways, leading up to Christmas, to promote it. And that was like, pretty early on. I don’t know the exact dates, but I think the 12 days Divi happened like a month or two before I came on board. So when it came time to divvy 100 was leading up to a really big release, I forget which release that was 3.4 maybe it was a huge one. One of them. Yeah.
Yeah. Sounds about right.
And, and we just really wanted to do something that was going to blow people away. And that was going to build as much hype as we possibly could. And so we decided that we were going to commit 100 full days on the blog to, to do the only content, which was something we’d never done before. And it really was a breakthrough for us. And because, you know, our our strategy on the blog, up to that point was to gain people to get new people exposed to Divi, right. So we weren’t blogging about Divi, because we wanted to introduce people to it. We’re blogging about WordPress, and be like, Oh, if you’re a WordPress user, and you have this problem with WordPress, comm, check out this plug. And then while you’re on the website, you’ll discover that we make themes. This is you know, our main theme is Divi etc, etc.
And that was great. It was working. But it was we really did find out that there’s just one piece to the puzzle, right? Like, we were kind of breaking one of the cardinal rules of blogging and not even thinking about it, which is right for your audience, you know, in our audience, our entire customer base, care Divi users. We weren’t creating Divi specific content yet. And so that was really the first time that that we did that. And we just, I mean, it was noticeable, like right away, like, Oh, yeah, like, you know, we’ve got this strategy that brings new people in the door. But once they’re here, we don’t have anything to like, make them really loyal to justice. And what’s the chance to engage them even further?
Yeah, so it’s like we get them in the door with you know, now the strategy is get folks exposed to Divi with general WordPress content design, really valuable design, marketing and business content. And then once they become a customer, every single day, they’ve got a reason to come back to to our blog, and stay engaged with our brand, because we’re giving them the best content on how to use this really powerful tool that they’ve purchased from us.
That’s a really important lesson on segmenting and categorizing blog posts too, because in your case, we’re doing our WordPress blogs and we’re like crap, we need to have a Divi specific category. And then yeah, you can just kind of feed those articles from there. Something I would love to hit on is, at this point, I remember it was fall of 2016. You and I attended wordcamp in Columbus, and it was at the tail end of Divi 100 you are managing a lot. And I’ll never forget if you don’t mind talking about this cuz I remember you came in and at one point I looked over and you were like green, I was like, Dude, are you alright? And you’re like, man, I might need to go to the hospital. I just I am not feeling good.
And it I mean, from my perspective, it seemed like he just if I want to say you were burnout, but you were just kind of exhausted. You did rebound from that fairly quickly. So can you just kind of talk about that from a perspective of like, Did you just take too much on Did you over commit or what happens where you got to a point because again, you did Rebound very quickly, you were right back at it, which is a good kind of lesson learned. But you got to a point where you are green, Nate that you are Nathan Greenwell or for a little bit. Yeah, like what happened there?
Yeah, so that was I mean, that’s, that was a big turning point in my career in terms of the way that I manage my time and my boundaries. Divi 100 was probably like, the hardest stretch of my time here at Elegant Themes. Because, you know, we didn’t have all the things that we now have establishes systems and best practices and stuff from managing all the all these things. And so, you know, we were doing two posts a day, I think, for the first time ever, and one post a day was Divi. And it was, is basically we doubled, we had zero extra workers in terms of like, people who are whose top priority was the blog, right? But we doubled our volume. And so anytime something fell through the cracks, or something wasn’t gonna get down on time, or we need an extra post or this or that, I was it and I was doing it. And I was working, you know, 16 plus hour days, like seven days a week for most of that, Divi 100.
And at the end of the Divi 100 as getting married in October, so I had all that going on, and I just was way way over exert way under rested. Terrible, you know, dietary and eating habits during that time, because I was just getting whatever I could so no sleep bad food way, overworked way overstressed. And yeah, I mean, I went to the hospital that day, my blood pressure was through the roof, they’re like, you gotta like, you have to take it easy. I think one of the doctors is like, you have like, you have the blood pressure of like a seven year old on the on wall street right now wanting to chill. And, and so is basically after that, you know, after he got back from the honeymoon, I just, you know, I started saying no, a lot. I started saying, you know, hey, and this was really hard, because you know, like, the CEO of your company is telling you, this is what I want to do. Can you go make that happen?
Of course, you want the answer to always be yes. Because you want to be that kind of a person who can deliver. But what I had to start doing was just realizing that? Well, sure, that’s possible, but only if we do X, Y, Z. You know, I think it’s really tempting, especially for people who are think, who aspire to be high performers who think they have a high capacity to just go, Hey, I can do yes, it’s not that much more. I’ll do it. I’ll take it on. But you say that like 10 times, and all of a sudden, you know, you’re doing like three, four or five jobs. And that’s terrible for you. Yeah, and you’re not doing any one of those jobs excellently. You’re just barely getting by, you know.
So you at that, what did you do? Immediately following that? Did you set some guidelines to your time? Obviously, it sounds like you started resting, eating a little better. Yeah, did you just set up something and it sounded like that one thing that you said was you set up some practices, best practices and systems. And that all sounds like contributed to a more sustainable, consistent pace, which, that’s what I’m all about. And Tim Stifler, in Episode Two, set a quote, that was absolute gold. And that was that consistency beats intensity, because somebody can be really, really intense. And then when they flame out immediately, or three to six months in, whereas, you know, more consistently, at a slower pace, work less hours, because I’m all my students know, I’m all about working less than 35 hours, just so you keep a sustainable pace. It’s a long run game. Did you with the stuff that you learned out immediately following that? Did you apply that to the business as far as like, you know, how you run the blog? How you run content?
Yeah, absolutely. I made it a rule stick, I always get minimum eight hours sleep. Always, you know, get something like a walk in if, you know, try to get some kind of get outside a little bit. Obviously, at that point, because it was such a big gotten to be such a big problem. I had to make that a real priority, because my health was just in the gutter. And then after that, you know, in terms of work, like you said, with limiting hours, I had to limit my hours just say, you know, I’m starting work at this time. I’m stopping work at this time. And that’s it if something’s not done. You know, it’s not like if I’m working all day, and I’m on task and something’s not done at the end of the day.
You know, I’m not responsible for adding hours to the day you know, like I’m not, you know, that’s just outside of my wheelhouse. I can’t I’m not a magician, right. So I just started bumping things to the next day and updating the up you know, updating, Nick or whoever I’m working with, say, Hey, you know, this is taking longer than than we initially thought. What was cool about that is like, once you start having that conversation, I think the fear is that Oh, then you’re always going to be bumping things, we’ll know that the reality is that you start learning how to accurately estimate real timetables. And so after a while, you just get more accurate, knowing how long something should really take when you’re not killing yourself to get it done. And then you can quote that time at the beginning, and, and then you’re, you’re back to being you know, the dependable deliver, but you’re just doing it on a realistic timetable.
Right, right. Yeah, that’s a really good point, I found that same with Web Designs where, you know, like, I’ve learned exactly what you said, I know now to get myself a buffer with every project. And more importantly, when clients ask for something additional that is either out of scope or something, I’m much more competent to stand my ground and say, Look, we can do this, to your point, like what you said to Nick, we can do this, but it’s going to take this, it’s going to take more time, it’s going to take more money, it’s going to take something else, or we’re gonna have to rework something within a reasonable time. Because Yeah, earlier in your career, I feel like for everybody, it’s like you say yes to everything you want to please your clients, you want to please the people you’re working with.
And it’s very dangerous, because burnout, and you know, completely wearing out is very real. And I advise people to very cognizant of that early on, learn to say no more. I mean, you do have to say yes, more in the beginning. But you’ll quickly get to a point where you have to start saying no more set expectations, and I found most people are very, like, very welcoming of that, like, with clients. I used to be terrified to tell a client like, it’s gonna cost more to do that. We didn’t talk about that. And initially, yeah, like, we can totally add a blog, dear site, but we didn’t cover that. And we were going to do that as additional cost. Or we could do it in a phase two. And, and, and then the clients like, Oh, yeah, I didn’t realize how much work would be involved. Okay, cool. Yeah. And it’s, yeah, it goes a long way.
Exactly. And it’s really, that’s all it is, is owning up the fact that, you know, I think a lot of people, they know what they’re doing within their work, and, but they don’t know what they’re doing, like across the table from a client. And that’s a big deal. And the same goes for internally, like with your with your boss, your manager, whoever, you know, you’re almost scared to stand up for what you what you know, and how you operate. Because, you know, I think there’s this insecurity, like, Oh, well, maybe I’m not right, and maybe there’s so much better at this than I ended, they’re gonna call me on my bullshit, and, and then it’s gonna be a problem, and then I’m gonna look like an idiot. None of that’s true.
Well, maybe, if you’re, if you’re playing to fake it till you make it and you’ve gone too far, then that might actually happen. But if you’ve been doing your job, and you’re and you’re confident in your abilities, and you’re doing doing the work, and you know that, hey, this is just the reality of the situation, you got like a certain point, you just, you have to be willing to have that conversation with whoever you’re reporting to, or you’re going to get run into the ground, and it’s gonna be miserable.
The reason I like that we’re talking about this right now, Nathan, is because it was almost three years ago, at the time, we’re recording this, we’re recording this at the end of October and 2019. It was almost three years ago that that happened. So the cool thing about this is that I’ve seen the Elegant Themes blog and the content strategy and your career continued to progress very well, to your point with the I mean, the Elegant Themes, traffic did not peak out there, it continued to grow after you were working less hours, it’s work. It’s about working better hours, not working more hours.
And so that’s really cool to see that consistency, and a sustainable pace can like you can do it. You don’t have to Hustle, Hustle, Hustle, Hustle, Hustle until you run yourself into the ground. So let’s talk some practical strategies for folks. Because again, like we talked, like you said, In the beginning, most people are not going to be managing a blog that has 2 million views per month or whatever. Most people are not going to be managing a team of 30 plus writers. But all of these tactics and strategies can work for a blog at smaller for businesses. So what is your content strategy look like right now with Elegant Themes before we start talking about practical things like yeah, you guys still doing? two posts a day one for WordPress, one for Divi. You’re doing Facebook, you’re doing videos what’s what’s that all look like on average?
Yeah, so like we’re doing let’s see, I wrote it down here because I wanted to be able to kind of rattle it off here. So yeah, we’re doing a two blog posts per day except for like feature release days and those days we just do the one Divi post. All of our blog posts have their own segments, which is really important for email. We average one to two videos per day, depending on LinkedIn complexity. We do three live streams per week on the average week, and then all of our videos they’re done in house so the bulk of our Divi posts, but we do split our general WordPress design business and marketing posts between One staff writer, and a few freelancers. Right now we have between four to eight freelancers, depending on their availability and what we need.
So I’m stressed out just thinking about that 730 blog posts a year, not including the other content with videos and stuff. So you mentioned to me at the meetup, you’re not really doing any writing now, right? You’re more or less a project manager between everybody contributing, is that right?
Yeah, when you get to the scale, this is one of the things you know, I had to learn about, you are going to ask me are you did, maybe you did ask me a bit about that transition between being a blogger and then being a Content Manager. And that was, you know, part of that Divi 100 learning curve was? Well, clearly, you know, me doing the work, every time something falls through is not working. Like, that’s too much for one person. So like, even though, you know, I think the more common version of that is like, when you start to delegate, you start to build a team, and you go, Hey, this post needs a few fixes, I’ll just do it because I can get it fast. And then it’s done.
So I was doing that. But then when you’ve got that, you know, if you got 35, freelancers, and even if you do that only half the time, you know, this still is something that becomes your job, you’re still doing the work of the blogger, instead of doing the work of managing the process, managing the calendar. And trust me, that stuff is a full time job. And if you try to tack that on to actually having your hands directly in the content as well. I mean, you’re going to you’re going to be again, you’re going to be overworked, you’re going to be stressed, you’re gonna be miserable, and and everything will suffer.
So I started having as hard rule of no matter how small the change, no matter how small the note is, I bump it back to the blogger. And the only reason I did that is because it’s like, you know, yeah, sure, maybe it’s just this thing, but you never know, just like in web design, you think it’s just a little tweak. But then you spend like 30 minutes getting it just right, you know what I mean? And so it’s like, I just had that rule. It’s like, Hey, here’s the note, I’m not working on the note. It’s like, their job is to address the note and bring it back to me fixed. That way. I don’t even get into the hole, oh, maybe I have time for maybe I don’t have time for it. And I actually stay focused on my, my job. And you know, they do theirs.
That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in scaling my business. And I’m so glad you brought that up. Because it’s such an important rule. You do when you start to scale a business and you go from working in the business to on the business, you get to a point where like, maybe at first Yeah, you have to dabble in, you know, like, in my case, my lead designer, Jonathan, he started helping out with all of our ongoing edits and things like that. And for a while, I would keep on doing small edits on sites. But I got to the point where I realized, you know what, I have to pass this on. And no matter how small the change is, that’s, that’s his role now, like, that’s what he that’s not my position anymore. I am in a different position. And part of me like, I don’t know how you feel about this. But sometimes I still feel kind of bad, even if it’s something quick as I’m like, yeah, I’ll email Jonathan, hey, I need to need to change this link. Like, I could do that. It might take me five minutes or less. But it’s the premise. It’s the moral of the story of you, when you are moving up in a position or you’re taking on different roles.
You have to do that. Because I found to to your point, all those little things add up. And if I am, if I’m doing all the little edits on stuff, nobody’s thinking big picture. No one’s running the business. No one’s working, doing the jobs that only I can do the business. So yeah, that’s a good lesson that you have to hand that off when you start delegating no matter how simple or easy it sounds. That’s a really good lesson. Now. Okay, so it’s good to know, I think, you know, and it’s interesting, Nathan, now that I think about this is crazy as that situation was where you were essentially just overworked and done for a little period. I think that probably But who do because before Elegant Themes really took off? I mean, it really took off between 15 and 16 and 17. I mean, I’ve seen Elegant Themes just explode since then. Even just the numbers on the front of the website, where it’s like, you know, what point it was, like, 400 customers. I look a few months later, it’s like 500,000 like, holy crap, like it’s just exploded.
So it’s probably good that that happened then because you could have been a position where the company was growing so fast and just couldn’t, couldn’t keep up with it. So that’s awesome. That’s good to know. Like again, I’m I’m honestly I’m proud of you. And I’m excited for you that you’ve made those changes and you stuck with it. Because I’ve seen you I’ve seen you stay consistent. I’ve seen you not burn out since then, you know, which is, which is impressive. Most I found most people in blogging and any sort of content marketing fizzled out after a little while.
So what are some practical things that people can do in regards to content marketing, I know that I interviewed you for Divi Nation, and I’ll put The link to that because you had some really good points. But you talked about so far using story and talking about that with, you know, using a story within content. You talked about making sure you’ve talked to your audience. And because I think it’s sometimes inevitably, you’re in a business, you just you forget kind of where you are. And what were the need is, what are some other really important tactics or strategies that you would recommend for people who are interested in blogging for their sites or offering content for the clients?
Yeah, sure. So first and foremost, I mean, I, I have this like, way of looking at it, you know, people think of themselves when they start to blog, especially if they’re really into the craft of blogging, like so many of us are, they think of themselves as an artist thing themselves, like, I’m going to go in here, and I’m going to create something really amazing. Like, it’s, it’s beautiful, it’s special, it’s an expression of who I am and what I know. And I think that’s the wrong approach. I think first and foremost, you want to be a scientist, instead of an artist. And the reason being is because not only does that scientific aspect give you a view into how the platform works, like with with data, and metrics, and, and all that good stuff.
But, you know, art is very subjective, something that appeals to one person may not appeal to another person. But if you’re thinking about what makes people tick, and you’re looking at that information, which is why I still love stories, you really start to get an idea of what will make people engage. And so and I also want to note that on the storytelling thing, I think so many people make this mistake when they get into this idea of like, I’m going to use storytelling in my in my blogging or my marketing, they think, Oh, well, of course, to do that, I need to start, you know, my posts with once upon a time, here’s an anecdote, blah, blah, blah.
That’s, that’s not what that means at all. So like, it’s the structure, it’s how it’s the the things that make stories compelling. There are components there, like, like the structure of a narrative, like what makes a narrative go from one thing to the next. And what makes someone compelled to follow that thing is learning those principles and learning how to apply those in context and create those touch points. That is what, you know, people who know what they’re talking about when it comes to storytelling, and marketing and storytelling, consecration. And that’s what they mean. But that’s not what most people hear.
So in the case of tutorials, I’m just thinking practically, that would look like, Hey, this is, you know, like, when I was doing a W two tour, I would say this is, you know, what we’re going to do, this is how it’s going to help you this is what you’re going to become like you’re going to become more competent designer, whatever, then we get to the goods of here’s the problem, here’s the solution. And after showing you how to do this, by the end, you’re now more informed you can pull off this effect, and you have something that you can use to the site. Is that kind of what you mean, like thinking more about?
I mean, as far as I can be part of it. Yeah, that can be part of that, that really, you know, I think you have to look bigger picture. You’re not like your overall marketing message across the board, you know, should be tracking, you know, your customer journey, right. So like in storytelling, you know, go to Joseph Campbell, you have the hero’s journey. And that hero’s journey, is actually just a big metaphor for the progression and growth of a human being the transformation of one state to another state. So if say someone is in the process of becoming a freelancer, and they’re transitioning out of their out of out of like a nine to five job, there is a journey that they’re going to take. And if you if you can kind of map roughly map that journey out, you know, and the things that they’re going to be excited about insecure about, etc. Instead of trying to tell the story, you can just insert content that is relevant to that psychological place within the story.
And you can help guide them through that journey and say, Oh, hey, you know, you need that little call to action to help get you out the door from you know, from someone who’s considering taking that leap to someone who’s actually taken it. Well, here, let me here’s some content to help you do that. And then, oh, you’ve just done that? Well, now you probably need a friend in the business, I can be that friend in the business. And here’s some content that will help you feel that way. Oh, you know, at this stage, you’re probably running into these problems. You know, I know that because I’ve been there. And here’s a tutorial on all those problems. That’s what I mean by using the principles of storytelling. It’s, it’s really about understanding the psychological relevancy of different stages in someone’s process, someone’s journey in their life and where that intersects with your business.
And I think you’re hitting on an important point from story, the book story brand. Whereas when you’re posting content, whether you’re doing courses or you’re doing a service or any type of business, you are the guide, your client or your customer is the hero, they, they have a terrible website, they want to have a good website, you are the guy that has to help them get to that point. So I think that’s an important stance to take to whereas sometimes it can be easy to come across like a hero when you’re doing blog posts. Here’s what we did bla bla, bla bla, you come across as a guide is like, which is what you guys have done consistently WordPress and Divi, here’s, you know, some experience, here’s some results. Here’s how to get there. Here’s how to up your game.
Yeah, always think of it like that scene and Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, they’re all sitting around that table, they’ve got the ring in the middle. And Frodo, I mean, I’m getting geeky here. So I was I was I was like, take the ring, and everybody else is like, I will help you take that bring out. As long as the agenda has the best size, like as long as the burden is yours to bear, I will help you. And that’s the role of your brand. You know, you look at the cut, you look at your customer, your audience, and you say I recognize the thing that you’re trying to do. And it is your thing to do. But I’ll help. Also,
I’m not surprised you threw a Lord of the Rings reference in there. And that is one question I did have, going back to you said being more scientific, as opposed to being artistic, that was really interesting. Do you mean like, look at analytics and look at things that actually show you like, okay, here’s why. Okay, because yeah, I guess if you’re really artistic, you just do what you want, you’re not really focused on what’s actually happening?
Yeah, You’re worried about like it being an expression of yourself of your ideas, and your and that’s all great, you can actually add that later, if you want. Like, I think of it as like a pyramid, right? Like you want to do, like the very bottom of your pyramid, there’s three layers in it should be you as a scientist, then the middle layer is like you as a as like a, like a craftsman. You’re just doing the best practices and you’re learning from other people in terms of like style, and all that stuff. And then at the top of that is like your, your personal creative flair, like the things that make you unique, right. But if you don’t have those bottom two layers, and you only have that uniqueness, you know, you can create some of the best content in the world. But if nobody gets their eyes on it, because you don’t know how to do SEO. You know, who cares the end of the day? Like it’s just lost in the void.
That’s a great point. I think that translates to web design. So practically, because how many people? How many designers who are amazing designers? They build a website for them, not for their client, right? And the clients like, yeah, where where’s the phone number? I want people to call me well, but it’s, you know, we want to drop, you know, there’s still things like that where it’s like, Yeah, I think that’s Wow, that’s really interesting. Scientists build on that as a craftsman and add your artistic flair. I like that scientist, craft
Science, craftsman. artist, Craftsman is somebody who just looks at the looks at the task ahead. You know, they there may be they might be working under somebody else. So they have like systems, and they have like a framework to follow. And if you’re doing things for yourself, you know, that’s part of my, my, my whole thing, and it’s part of what you do so well, you know, have systems have processes have a style guide. And that becomes your Craftsman stage is once you’ve done the scientific work once you know what angle you’re attacking this from, why it’s going to be appealing to SEO for search engines, why it’s going to perform well or answer questions that a lot of people have.
How you know, where you’re placing, you know, specific tags and specific headings to get the best scores for your SEO, all that good stuff. Then it comes to craftsman, you’re following your style guide, getting things to look right getting things to feel right, following your language, guidelines, following your formatting guidelines, etc. And then the artistic stuff on top, like the things that that you bring to the table that no one else can but that should really be in all honesty, like the last thing like you can it’s it’s a trap to think that that’s the thing that matters the most it will it will shoot you in the foot.
That’s great. Yeah, I mean, prior to seeing that happen so many times we’re particularly graphic designers who will come in they just, you know, have their own flair and their design. But again, if you’re not thinking big picture to your point, you don’t have that scientific or crass Craftsman mind about it. Yeah, it’s only gonna get so far. And when budgets come into play and deadlines, that’s when things really need to be handled differently, so..
What would you say when you think about a content marketing strategy with blogs and video? I’m just kind of curious. I mean, because I think what’s overwhelming about that is there’s no right or wrong. It depends On the business that depends on budgets depends on what you want to do. Do you recommend for people who want to start a blog or who want to get into more content marketing? Do you recommend starting small? And maybe do things consistently? And then build on there? Do you recommend having a versatile content strategy? Yeah, I’m curious as to why you would so much minor.
Yeah, starting off, I would recommend finding, you know, identify your topic like niche down all that stuff, we don’t need to get into it. Once you know what you’re blogging about. Once you know what your objective is, go out and find who’s doing it the best in a world right now. Go to Moscow to sem rush. Use these competitive analytics tools to really zero in on what these people are doing really well. Which pieces of evergreen content are the most valuable for them and evergreen is really important is at this early stage. You don’t want to be topical, you don’t want to be day to day, you don’t want to be doing this kind of tune in tomorrow, because it’s, it’s too much too fast. So my thing is, find the say, top 20 Top 25 most important keywords, most important evergreen Cornerstone style posts for what you do on the web. And write those up first. And don’t worry about how long it takes to get them right, just worry about getting them right and publish them. I mean, try to be I mean, consistency is really important. So yes, ci note, once you figure out kind of how long it’s taking, don’t be afraid to write a few and keep them in your back pocket until you figure that out before publishing.
And don’t neglect everything after publishing to write. So like in your process, make sure that part of your your overall process for getting content out the door is includes your marketing of that content. So like don’t be rushing off to the next piece of content before you’ve actually marketed the stuff that you’ve already done. So anyway, so get get those like big pieces of content squared away, and then start gauging the response to that those are going to be the things that you want to take care of in your archive anyway, forever. So you want to make them really good off the bat. And then you want to keep an eye on their performance as you go.
But once you start seeing how people respond, maybe maybe you can use these as a way to build rapport with your, with your specific audience. And if they’re leaving comments with questions on your blog, then that’s someone tuning in to you asking, you have a specific question, if you publish that post, they’re gonna read it, you know, so start with what really, really matters. And then and then build from that both in terms of branching off with SEO and with responding to your audience for requests and things like that.
The cool thing about that, too, is what like I started blogging in my tutorials, and I already had a fairly decent audience growing. So I didn’t start, you know, because I was I was doing Elegant Themes blogs first, which kind of gave me some notoriety. Thanks to you, Nathan for getting me plugged in with that. But for people who don’t have any audience, the cool thing about that is that strategy can work for 10 people just like it can work for 1000. So if 10 people read your blog post, and three comments, 30% engagement, that’s not too shabby. Huge, that’s great. You know, like 1000 people with hundreds of people engaging is huge. So that’s an important thing to remember, for people who are, you know, starting with very little or no audience. When you talk about evergreen content, for folks who aren’t familiar with that term, are you speaking of more things that are like timeless and just something that can be built up over time, as opposed to a topic that is going to be obsolete? You know, soon after? Does that kind of what you mean by that?
Yeah, exactly like something, the way I look at it is if something is principles based, it’s evergreen, if something is liable to change with the next feature update on something or whatever, then it’s, it’s more what I would call topical. But your evergreen stuff is principles based. So if something’s almost always true, no matter what updates or changes happen, that’s the stuff that you really want to nail, you want to get it, you know, as high quality as possible, it has to be better than the competition has to be ranking as high as you can get it.
And then what you do then is when the practicality for how those principles play out the specifics for how they play out, change. That’s its own tutorial, right? So it’s like, you know, hey, here’s how to design a logo, you know, the principles of what makes a good logo, right? But then like, how you accomplish that has changed with like, every iteration of design software. You know, so that those are different tutorials, but that one thing and that is Cornerstone and you actually link out to all that other stuff from there,
I found that to be so true for all my content. In the case of my courses, my, my, I just released my web design business course, which is all evergreen content, like there’s nothing in there that I’m really gonna have to update because it’s just practical tactics and lessons, it’s not based off certain like, or, you know, technology or whatever. Same thing with my web design process course, it’s a 50 point process of web design from start to finish, very little things in there that I ever really need to update Unless, you know, couple things teams with search console or things like that.
Whereas my Divi beginners course, I’m getting ready to redo that, because I’ve got to revamp it for 4.0, I’m going to turn into tutorials that people are like, hey, this doesn’t work anymore. I’m like, crap, I’m gonna have to go back and read it, redo that. So that hard lesson learned on my part with some of that as well. That’s good. That’s good to think about, or at least, you know, if you’re going to do because those tutorials are important for things that are recent, relevant, but maybe have a different strategy to those with how you market, how you support them.
Don’t shy away from that stuff. People really want to know, but you just have to be more careful about the timeliness, right? Like, you know, it say Gutenberg is getting ready to come out. And you’ve been watching Google Trends to see, you know, the peaks and troughs of how interested people are. And right after launches, you know, that’s the time to go, Hey, here’s how you do X,Y,Z with a brand new WordPress editor. Not you know, two years down the line. Whereas, whereas if you create something on principles, it’s as relevant today as it is tomorrow as it was yesterday. So you just got to be aware of timing when it comes to that, stuff like that, you know, interface changes. Yeah, exactly.
You know, the cool thing is that there are pros to that being you have content that you can update fairly quickly, potentially. And then you have a whole new posts that you can repost, or like, in my case, I’m going to be kind of revamping a few of my courses. And now it’s almost like I have a whole new product launch again, you know, without having to recreate everything. So there are there pros to both methods for sure I think that’s interesting,Yeah.
I think you just have to choose your topical stuff. And very intentionally because it is going to be more work to maintain it. I mean, we have an archive of like 3000 posts plus a 70, plus article slash video archive of documentation for Divi. And a lot of that stuff needs updated all the time, or it’s just not working for us anymore. So it’s just, you know, it’s just something you got to be realistic of, like, what you’re going to decide to manage what you’re gonna say, to let kind of rot in the Internet Archive, and what stuff you’re going to, you know, fight for.
Yeah, yeah, that’s a good point. And another thing I wanted to hit on, too, that you mentioned, was having a post post strategy. Because I did that when I started blogging for my in transit studio site, I just threw up a couple blog posts. I was all excited. And then I published. And then I got two views on that I was expecting 20 or 30 will die didn’t let anybody know, I didn’t even email anybody that I had a blog post out. So yeah, common sense. That’s something that’s easily overlooked. But you got to have a good strategy for sure. For now, what to do with that content. Once it goes. That’s great. Absolutely.
Nathan, Nathan, this has been really good man. I think we’ve covered some solid, solid topics and practical tactical things. One last thing I wanted to ask you before we kind of wrap up here because I know you’ve got to do. How do you on a personal level? blogging can be very lonesome. Before we went live, we talked about the importance of community. Yeah, this is probably a good time to talk about the Divi community with meetups and wordcamps, and things like that. But yeah, what do you because most of the Elegant Themes guys are? Well, the the operation staff and Nick and mentioned all them. They’re all in San Francisco or California, I know that there’s a much bigger global team. But like, is that kind of difficult working with a team? Do you guys communicate through slack and stuff like that stay connected? Or what does that look like? Because that’s got to be kind of challenging.
Yeah. It’s a little challenging, but honestly, it’s I like the balance that we struck, we were on slack all day, every day. So if we need each other we, we have this rule that like if you tell us you know, because the time time zones and everything you tell us when you’re going to be online, and then it’s your job to be online and be available during that time. So like, you know, for me, it’s you know, basically nine to five, and if somebody messaged me during that time, within a reasonable amount of time, I’m going to get right back to him. And the same is true for everybody else. And then, on top of that, you know, we have Monday morning content meetings where the whole editorial staff gets together on zoom. And we, we walk through our week, everybody has to pull up the sauna and say, This is what I’m working on this week. This is what you can expect from me. And then, you know, the, the expectation is, that’s actually what’s going to happen and if it’s not gonna happen, then That’s when we’re using slack to get in touch with each other. And that’s really just as expectations.
That’s cool. So early in the week, you guys get together remotely and just talk about what’s on tap. I imagine that goes back to the best practices and systems that are in place. That way, you’re not overwhelmed with stuff. And yet everyone knows.
And we’ve designed our as is a whole nother topic. But we’ve designed a really kind of complex, but very useful editorial workflow in Asana. And so, you know, because we had to account for, you know, the experience design of like, we have staffers, we have staffers who do just content, we have staffers to do just video, we have staffers to video and written content and images, then we have community submissions, and we have freelancers, all those people need a different workflow different experience, and have collaboration with other teams. So like, we have stuff that comes out from that starts in the design team, like our freebies, and then it migrates to the content team. And we have mapped all that out in Asana with different project boards and editorial workflows.
So that at any given time, ideally, during the week, I can pop in Asana, and go Okay, this is what we talked about in our meeting. I’m looking at, you know, the stage of the product project right now. And this is where, where it’s at. It’s a problem, do I need to talk to somebody? Well, it’s typically here by now, so I’m gonna shoot them a quick message to go hey, are we on track? Or not? Or I can just go, hey, that’s great. No need to need to Badger somebody, they’re, they’re doing everything the way they’re supposed to. Everything looks good.
Gotcha. And it’s interesting. I was just thinking, you know, blogging, and web design in general can be fairly lonesome. But I imagine as a Content Manager, maybe it’s the opposite is lonesome because you’re talking with people constantly. And then you’re at the end of day, I’m sure like, All right, ready to hang out with a wife and read or do something else? Yeah, that can be a lot, but it’s definitely.
Yeah, definitely more contact. Yeah. And it’s positioned blogger. Yeah.
And I found that too. With growing my team now I feel much more engaged with people rather than when I was a solo freelancer, particularly being a Divi community. And speaking of the Divi community, you’re big on meetups, obviously, you’re you’re running you know, we have we just did a Columbus meetup. I’m looking forward to doing another one here soon. I imagine you want to really, I mean, I encourage people to get to meetups and wordcamps, for that matter to keep involved because there’s nothing like meeting somebody face to face. And I haven’t real human connection. Yeah, do ya set a quick word on Divi meetups? Like Yeah, what’s that look like for the meetups? I mean, they’re popping up all over the place now. Right?
Yeah, we’re, we’re well over 4000 people in the network. Got, I can pull it up here. We’ve got how many groups now? 46 groups. Let’s see. 46 groups, 4500 members, 15 different countries. I mean, it’s just been awesome to see, you know, the Divi, Divi community worldwide come together on a local level. I mean, I think that’s so so important. Because, again, you know, it’s one thing to, to know that folks are out there, it’s another thing to get in the same room with them. And you really can’t describe that. It’s just something you got to experience. And I’m really glad that that’s happening. For more and more people. It used to be just a handful of people who would get together. You know, at a outside of a word camp, you know, once or twice a year. Now. It’s happening every single month, all over the world. And it’s just so cool to see.
And the cool thing I found were with Divi meetups is you know, we meet people at word camps, they’re interested in WordPress and everything. But when you meet somebody who with Divi, they’re passionate like they’re even, it’s like a whole nother level of pumped up and pumped up and passionate about that very reenergizing.
Absolutely. And it’s just, well, I guess this will come out after but we’re getting ready to do one of our bigger ones, which is cool. I’m really looking forward to seeing everybody at wordcamp us where we got a big meet and greet. There should be around 60 people coming out, plus our staff, which is just really cool.
Yeah, yeah, this episode’s gonna drop just after that but yeah, anytime you can get to a bigger event in a word camp with official Divi meetup it is it’s awesome. I’m bummed we’re gonna miss this year just because my second daughter’s coming right around the corner. So no, no traveling for the third trimester wifey but
Yeah, but those are awesome, man. Well, Nathan, excuse me, thank you so much for taking a decent amount of chunk here, your time and your data to talk with us. I think this is gonna be really valuable. I love hearing your story. kind of hear where you’re coming from. Again, I just want to reiterate, I’m very glad to see after, you know, you particularly been exhausted at one point, rebounding and staying consistent and the Elegant Themes blogging and content marketing is continuing to be just a behemoth in the WordPress sphere. So that’s awesome, too. Do you have any, like a final note or anything you’d like to say to people who are either interested in blogging or want to get some from this?
Yeah, sure. Well, I had something written down that we didn’t really get to cover. But it’s a note that I feel like is really important because I, I’ve been to, there’s so many people who pull me aside. Word camps are just like, when I meet them, and they learn what I do. And they’re like, Hey, you know, I’ve been blogging for ages, and it’s just going nowhere. I don’t understand why. And I’ll be like, Oh, sure, I’ll take a look and pull up their blog. And, you know, it’s, it’s very obvious that, like, the blog post itself is just really under thought it’s really, like, it’s almost like, it was hammered out in a few minutes. Like, you know, no images, no video, very headings. And I just want to say there’s, you know, there really is no substitute for quality. And, you know, to give you an idea of what I mean, when I say quality, I’m not talking about like, a couple hours, you know, like, you know, we have just to take a look at any one of our Divi tutorials, you know, that can take two to three full work days to complete.
And then it goes to our video specialists who will spend another one one half days working on the video that will then go into that post. And then we have a style guide that we’ve continued to improve upon year over year so that every time we publish a post, it looks exactly the way it should we have consistent formatting, language style, everything, you know, that’s 36 hours plus, you know, that Craftsman style style guide that goes into it for for single posts, you know, by talented people who do this day in and day out, you know, that’s what I mean, when I’m in quality. And if you’ve been blogging for a long time, you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, you know, maybe take a real hard look at like how much you’re investing in the actual content itself, you know, because you can do all the other stuff we’ve talked about. But you know, if if people aren’t getting something really really good from your stuff, then you know, all that everything else can be moved.
It’s a great point quality over quantity, right? I think so. Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. No, absolutely. Awesome. Nathan, great stuff, man. Super excited for everything that’s going on, keep on doing your thing. I have to thank you on behalf of myself and the whole Divi community for continuing to bring us together because I don’t know if a lot of the Divi community would be as close knit as it is without you and Nick and the guys who have really made that a priority, Elegant Themes. It’s still unmatched with other theme builders and people in the Divi community. So appreciate that, man. Thanks so much for your time. And I’m sure we’ll have another conversation again soon.
All right, sounds great. I’m always inspired when I when I get to chat with you. Appreciate it.
Awesome, man. Cheers.
I met Nathan at this last WordCamp US, and he’s awesome! I can totally relate to creating boundaries around work and life so that you can avoid burnout and keep going. Great conversation and something that needs to be talked about more to reset the narrative around what it means to work hard and get things done.
Great insight, Dustin. Totally agree. Thanks for listening and for sharing your thoughts!
Hey Dustin! It was great meeting you in person. Thanks for listening and I’m looking forward to working together on growing your local Divi meetup group 🙂