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Elena Terenteva

SEMrush Pro Talk with Shayne Tilley

Elena Terenteva
SEMrush Pro Talk with Shayne Tilley

Today we are excited to post this interview with Shayne Tilley, professional problem-solver and online marketing expert, about building a media brand and developing a passion for work.

Shayne has worked with many high profile brands including MYOB, SitePoint, AVG, ProBlogger, 99designs and Flippa. Shayne is also the author of “The Bloggers Guide To Marketing” and “Online Marketing Inside Out.”

Shayne, how did you become an authoritative author and speaker?

For a long time I was lost in the suit and tie world of corporate life.  I had my share of success, but there was something missing.

After a referral from a colleague, I was directed to a job at SitePoint, a company I had never heard of before.  They probably shouldn't have hired me and I probably shouldn't have taken the job…but five amazing years later, three new businesses (99designs, Flippa and Learnable) built, a book written, lots of great stories to tell, and having connected with and learned from some amazing people, the rest is history.

I wanted to ask you about building a media brand, specifically because of the Web Marketing Ninja pseudonym you took on at the 2011 ProBlogger. What went into that decision?

After receiving an invitation from Darren Rowse (ProBlogger), I wanted to be upfront that if I was going to write I was not going to hold anything back.  My articles are about sharing my knowledge so others can learn. To do best by the readers, I would have to share everything.  The downside was that as a person who worked for someone, this could create a gray line between what is my IP address and what is the “company’s.”  So, in order to keep everyone happy, we created the Web Marketing Ninja.

Can you name some basic steps in creating a personal media brand?

With the overarching statement of “it's easier to be yourself than someone else,” here are some principles:

  • Define your voice;
  • Talk, but don't shout;
  • Be constantly good;
  • Perform, don't conform;
  • Not everyone is going to like you; and
  • Be the better man (or woman).

Does the personal brand of a CEO help a company? Do you have any examples when it has had a bad effect?

I think the right CEO can help a company, and the wrong one can hinder it — well, maybe.  It really depends on the business and the circumstance.

You could use GoDaddy as an example. They don’t have the most inspirational founder, but it doesn't seem to hinder them much. A good personal brand of a CEO — in particular, a media-savvy one — will help with your PR efforts. Bloggers, journalists and other media professionals will prefer to talk with the CEO, so if he's approachable and delivers value, they'll keep coming back again and again.

But if you're forcing a public persona on a CEO who doesn't have the skill, or is willing to learn, it's just going to waste his time. I've worked successfully in both situations.

All that said, in terms of value to a business, a CEO that sets a firm vision and creates a great culture is much more important than any personal branding and media approachability they might have.

In interviews you use the word “passion” a lot; I love it! What is the secret to being passionate about work? Is it something you can learn or find? What is your source of passion?

I relate a lot to Simon Sinek's Golden Circle. People buy what you believe, not what you do.  I've applied that personally in my own approach, but also used it as a bit of a guide for the companies I've chosen to work with:

  • Every single day at SitePoint I was proud we were teaching millions of people how to build great websites.
  • At Learnable, I believed we could change the world with accessible, affordable education.
  • At ProBlogger, I am so inspired by those I've helped make their own dreams come true based on what I've taught them.

Understand the “why”, do a good job of the “what” and success will follow.

Thank you so much, Shayne!

Elena Terenteva, Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush.

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