When we think of the most inspiring #WomenInTech, one of the first names that comes to mind is Kelsey Jones. Sound familiar? She’s Search Engine Journal’s Executive Editor, Founder of MoxieDot, a digital marketing consultancy, and soon to be one woman you’ll want to add to your marketers to watch list (if you haven't already).
Jones shares some advice on how to pitch to SEJ, create content that breaks through the noise, be a star employee to get ahead in your career (specifically if you’re a woman) and more.
Guest Blogging and Content Development
Q: What are the most common mistakes prospective guest bloggers made when they pitch your publication and what specific resources can you recommend to help them improve?
A: We don't really take cold pitches now, so it helps to have an existing writer or someone in my network introduce them and vouch for them.
When they pitch, including links to their work, as well as a brief summary of their experience, always helps. We also like when they offer a few ideas for content that they want to write for SEJ specifically. We are very selective about who can contribute to SEJ, so good writing skills are paramount. I often recommend HemingwayApp.com and Grammarly to writers looking to improve.
Q: What strategies do you utilize to say something that has not been said before in your content and develop ideas that break through the noise?
A: Exclusive studies are huge for us. They always are good traffic drivers and provide good engagement and social shares. It's also cool to weave other types of media into your posts, like embedded social media posts or videos.
Additionally, we've found that niche articles usually go farther than guides trying to cover everything. This isn't always the case, but in some instances, speaking to just one part of a process is more helpful than being overwhelming with 5000 words on the entire thing.
Q: What three things would you recommend anyone who desires to enter the editorial side of digital marketing begin doing today in order to be successful?
A: Read and write a ton. The best editors are also writers. Additionally, it's been found that reading fiction can dramatically increase your brain function and vocabulary. You can tell when someone is well read; it's easier to have a conversation with them. I try to read one fiction and one nonfiction book at a time. The nonfiction books I read include digital marketing topics, but I also like to read self-improvement and business books because they make me a better colleague and boss.
Additionally, you should be writing for blogs in your industry. Once you get used to writing, it can only take you an hour or so to write up a 500-1000 word blog post. The benefits of guest blogging (for branding, not to slip in links to your own stuff) has been great for me. I have regularly gotten referrals and I know some of my published work is what got me my first job as a newswriter at SEJ.
Finally, going back to writing a 500-1000 word blog post in an hour – practice your typing. Being an editor means having lots of edits and feedback to give, as well as answering a lot of emails. Typing fast will dramatically reduce your time spent doing this.
Q: You started consulting long before you took on your current position at SEJ. How did freelancing prepare you for this prestigious position?
A: I like having my hand in several different cookie jars at once. It keeps me interested and engaged, because I'm always doing something different. That, combined with the freedom to make my own schedule and branch out creatively, helped me get into the mindset of consistently thinking of new ideas for content and engagement with SEJ.
One thing that has made me successful at SEJ is the ability to be proactive and share ideas with the team. The random ideas that pop into your brain are what moves the train forward.
Q: How do you balance your own agency and your duties with SEJ?
A: I have two virtual assistants with my agency, MoxieDot, who help me with implementation of many of my clients. They will schedule social media updates on Buffer, do research for projects, update outdated website pages, etc. Having a team can really help you be a better business owner. I recommend reading Chris Ducker's book Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business (Amazon) or just trying out a VA with a service like Fancy Hands.
Women in Tech
Q: Have you encountered criticism and/or support as a result of being a woman in tech? What happened?
A: Oh, all the time. I've had people ask how old I am, make comments about the way I look, ignore me when I'm in a circle at a networking mixer, or even stare when I'm at a conference that is predominately male.
It's hard because there's nothing you can do but continue to kick ass and make sure everyone knows you are a force to be reckoned with. People started taking me more seriously when SEJ started to turn around and produce amazing content.
After working on the editorial guidelines of SEJ with our team two years ago, I've had several industry people come up to me and say how impressive the change has been. It's good to be recognized for all the hard work we do, but at the same time, I feel like I have to work harder because sometimes I'm not taken seriously.
Our team at SEJ is majority female and I feel like the improvements we've made is a testament to that: not only are a team full of educated, dedicated, and brilliant women, the men who work with us respect and support our ideas. It creates a well-oiled machine that continues to come up with great stuff.
Q: What advice would you offer other women in tech who are looking to get ahead in their career and be that star employee who everyone wants to work with?
A: Read Lean In and #GIRLBOSS and always be looking for ways to go the extra mile (instead of submitting a guest post, create your own blog, or bring your boss a list of ideas to make them more money instead of just going with what you're told). Don't be afraid to stand up and say if you disagree with something or don't think it's going to work. This world is already too full of Yes People. Stand tall and tell your colleagues when something sucks. That commands respect and shows that you care about the success of the organization.
The Next Big Thing
Q: Even with how far it has come, there are still some people who are reluctant to invest in search marketing. What would you tell those people?
Q: Close your eyes for a minute. It's five years from now. How has SEJ evolved due to the goals you set for the organization?
A: Hopefully our team will continue to grow and provide the great content people have come to expect from us. We would be doing more video, more events, and more efforts to connect with our community.
We want to keep our boutique feel that makes people comfortable with emailing us, asking us questions on Twitter, or simply introducing themselves at conferences like Pubcon. We aren't that scary publishing giant that preaches to you from the pulpit. We are all marketers and writers who have built up our businesses and portfolios and genuinely want you to be as successful as possible.
As Content and Social Media Marketing Director of Fortune Web Marketing (an Internet marketing agency based out of New Jersey) Marisa Sanfilippo helps businesses large and small in a variety of industries get found and look and sound good online. When she’s not glued to her computer screen, she dabbles in photography and painting. Follow Marisa on Twitter @MarisaASan.
Tara M. Clapper is Blog Editor at SEMrush and Senior Editor at The Geek Initiative, a website celebrating women in geek culture. Tara is a prolific content creator, having written thousands of blog posts, small business websites and other inbound marketing content through the course of her career. Tara enjoys blogging about SEO copywriting, content management, corporate culture, personal branding, networking and LinkedIn. She has over a decade of experience in digital publishing. Connect with her on Twitter @TaraMClapper.