Creating and Repurposing Content With Strategic Brand Messaging
July 20, 2022
How many times have you sat down to create content quickly and instead spent endless hours adjusting the style, voice, personality, and vibe until the words actually sound like you? My guess is that you’ve been there and done that and spent a long time there…too long.
Creating content or repurposing content you already have shouldn’t be that hard.
But staring at a blank page without your brand messaging nailed down means you’re starting from scratch every single time you create any type of marketing asset. And that, my friends, is a ton of wasted time.
And business owners simply don’t have time to waste time. Period.
In this episode of the Talk Copy to Me podcast, I talk with Emily Aborn, a freelance content writer and host of the She Built This podcast. We dive into the importance of a brand messaging guide, how they help writers nail their clients’ voices, and most importantly, how to create and repurpose content based on the messaging “rules” you create for your business.
If creating or repurposing content is one of your marketing goals, here’s exactly how brand messaging can help.
Why Emily and Erin both feel so passionate about content, especially repurposing content into things like social media posts, emails, blogs, and more
Emily’s reminder that everything we create is multiple pieces of content that can play a cohesive role in your content strategy
Emily would love to be connected to Jen Sincero or Farnoosh Torabi
One of Emily’s favorite things to do in her hometown (when she’s not repurposing content!) is hike local trails, especially when she’s “spotting cars” with one car at the beginning of a trail and another at a different spot on the trail.
Emily Aborn is a freelance content writer and founder of She Built This.
She gets ideas out of brains and onto the page by creating compelling content and copy that helps women entrepreneurs reach their dreams AND their dream clients.
She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, Jason, and their dog, Clyde. She’s into hiking, reading books, all the word and nerdy brain games she can get her hands on, and of course… writing.
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and went on to co-found Spry, an award-winning online literary journal.
When Erin’s not helping her clients understand their website data or improve their website copy, you can catch her hosting the Talk Copy to Me podcast and guesting on shows such as Profit is a Choice, The Driven Woman Entrepreneur, Go Pitch Yourself, and Counsel Cast.
Stay in touch with Erin Ollila, SEO website copywriter:
Learn more about Erin’s VIP intensives if you want her to help you with creating or repurposing content
Reach out her on Instagram, Facebook or on LinkedIn to talk more about how brand messaging helps with content creation or repurposing content you’ve already created.
Here’s the transcript for episode 021. You’ll learn all about how brand messaging helps with content creation or repurposing content that’s already created
NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors.
content, brand, people, emily, clients, guide, writing, ideal client, business, repurposing, personality, create, copy, messaging, pieces, client, question, love, website, person
Emily Aborn, Erin Ollila
Erin Ollila 00:04
Hey friends, welcome to the Talk Copy to Me podcast. Here we empower small business owners to step into the spotlight with their marketing and messaging. I’m your host, Erin Ollila. Let’s get started and talk copy. Hello friends today we are welcoming Emily Aborn, a freelance content writer and the owner and founder of She Built This. One thing you may not know about Emily is that she loves socks. She was born and raised in Maine. And the really exciting thing that she and I were just talking about is that she plans to go skydiving very, very soon, because she’s never been and she always wanted to. And I’m not sure if she really wanted this, but I definitely invited myself along on her skydiving trip. Oh, yeah, we’re
Emily Aborn 00:59
definitely going skydiving this year. And thank you so much for having me.
Erin Ollila 01:04
Today, we are going to be talking about brand messaging guide style guides. You know, if you just listen to the last few episodes, you’ll realize there are a lot of terms for these. But basically the messaging for your business and how that affects the marketing, whether it’s visual copy, or any way that you talk to your clients or attract new leads. So Emily herself is a content writer. And what I love about what she does is that she focuses a lot on content repurposing, which I adore. I really do. I think that in the online business world, we’re kind of taught to like create massive amounts of content. And there are very few people that really drive home that those massive amounts of content do not need to continuously go through the entire lifespan of your business, there is so much repurposing that you can do, especially if the content that you created originally is helpful. There’s no need to go and create massive amounts more. Emily, do you want to talk a little bit about like how you got into content repurposing. Before we talk about why this relates? So well, two brand messaging guides.
Emily Aborn 02:07
Sure. I think like most of us, we just kind of stumbled into what we were doing, I actually really started focusing on all things marketing, before realizing that what I really loved to doing was the content piece of the marketing. And I really don’t like posting to people social media, but I like to help them create posts for their social media and their websites and their blogs and things like that. If I had a soapbox on content in general, I think it would be to remember and realize that every single email we do every podcast, we do every blog, we do our website, everything is multiple pieces of content. It’s not just like one, you don’t need to chunk it out into thinking it’s all of these different things, it can, first of all, it’s all like plays a cohesive role in your content strategy. And second of all, it’s all many, many pieces of wonderful content, I like to think of it as like mountain rocks, pebbles.
Erin Ollila 03:02
When I used to work at my last traditionally employed job, we focus the organization on blog content, like SEO blog content for about medium sized businesses. But what I loved that we did there, which is probably where I started to feel so passionate about this, especially for the small businesses that we see online, is that we would write a blog content, very strategic to I guess what you’d now call the content pillars. So we’d start with the blogs. And then from that content, we’d create 12 social posts at the time, you know, it was so few people doing that. But then when I entered the online business world, I was amazed that people weren’t doing this. Even now in 2022, I would say there’s a good number of businesses that I think work really strategically like this. But there are still so many people, especially those starting off that I just feel are running on the hamster wheel, my heart goes out to them because I know how hard it is to create a lot of content. And when you’re trying so hard, it’s so easy to burn out. I’m really just echoing a lot of what you said. But I also love content repurposing, and I think that most business owners should look at what they create. And again, I just give the example from the blog, but it could come from email, like look at where you most enjoy creating content, and then take that and inspire other pieces. Another very quick story before we move on to the important topic that we’re going to discuss is I had a copywriter friend who told me that she hates creating blog posts like she gets the value of SEO would love to actually put some SEO juice into her website. But the idea of writing long form content just drove her crazy. So she said she loves Instagram content and what I was like been turning your Instagram post into your blog post right like, make it so like the week is going to be a theme you’re going to cover like let’s pretend you’re writing about how to peel potatoes, which is always Aaron’s general example. Make each of the five days like a point about peeling potatoes, then at the end end of the week, you have five different points. And if we’re looking at a blog post, like a high school essay, you do intro, then you do those five points as like the supporting points, and then you do a conclusion. And voila, there’s your blog post, like you just wrote it. And it is new content, even though you put it on social media, because you’re creating into a longer form piece.
Emily Aborn 05:20
You’re right, we need to think of multiple things. When you said a lot of people are doing it. I totally agree with you. I also think like a lot of us are repurposing but still missing some of the things you know, like maybe doing it in reverse where you take social media posts and turn them into longer form, or are you missing the opportunity with your podcast or a Client Testimonial, you know, things like that there’s so so much potential in repurposing, even if you’re already doing it.
Erin Ollila 05:44
And I hope that that’s something that we can cover as we start to transition from talking about like where brand messaging guides can be inspiration for the content creation. And then maybe you can share some of those tips for us on how to actually repurpose the things that may not necessarily be top of mind. So we started talking about this episode, because we talked about how, you know, writers live in the same world. And sometimes we do some of like there’s overlap between businesses. And I loved the idea that you as a writer can take a brand messaging Guide, which is not something that is necessarily the normal thing that you create every day in your business. But you might get it from another copywriter who has worked with a shared client. And then you take that as an inspiration to kind of create all of the content that you’re then going to create for the business owner. So I’d love to hear a little bit about what in a brand messaging guide is helpful for you as the content creator.
Emily Aborn 06:40
So first of all, when a client comes to me with the brand messaging guide, I love it, it’s super helpful. It both saves time in our initial call together. But it also gives me a little bit more direction in like asking deeper questions, because they’ve already done some of the work, I like to think of content as the bridge, right? It’s the bridge between our goals, what we want, who we are to our clients, and what they need and what they want from us. So when you get a brand messaging guide, it’s kind of like the bridge has been built for you. And now all you have to do is just walk across it, you know, because you already know how to make that connection. So the things I love to see are things that I’m going to find out and ask about them anyway. But seeing them with clarity and written out and already having put thought into it is super helpful. And if I don’t have a conversation with them, I can just write off of that. So those are things like the voice of the brand, I would consider like voice and personality to be like very similar, you know, so is the voice like, inspiring, motivational chipper? Or is it more like somber and serious? Even little things? Like, Are there words you really do not want me to use? Like, if I’m talking about an assisted living facility? Do they not want me to say elder care? You know, like, are those different? Or do they refer to them as residents or clients like things like that are really important when you’re doing someone’s copy, because otherwise, when you send it to them, and they reply every single place where you’ve used resident, and you should have said client and it’s incorrect, it saves a lot of time in the content process. And then even things like emojis. Like my favorite emoji, is the dancing lady emoji and I use it quite often it is very much what people associate with my brand. And so that would be something I would include in my brand messaging guide.
Erin Ollila 08:29
When we’re thinking about brand style guides, and I’m trying to be inclusive to both the DIY errs and the ones who want it done for them, we really want to make those strategic decisions, and it seems like a silly thing to consider. I think that’s what makes a really good style guide. I love that you brought up the example of the assisted living facility because that’s exactly the case like you know, in my business I don’t tend to use words like girl boss or anything like that. And there’s nothing wrong with people who do it’s just doesn’t fit me and my brands or my value until I start seeing male entrepreneurs start calling themselves bad bosses. That’s just not a term that works for me so that would go in my brand guide. But as we know from online businesses, that term does work for many females and if that’s what works for you, great put it in there. So it’s not that brand guys need to be so specific about every possible thing you could think of but it is like if something you know you’re scrolling and something stands out to you something feels good. Doesn’t feel good. Make a note of that because it’s going to make it so much easier for you to repurpose later. Or for someone like Emily who gets your style guide or even copywriters because you know while I do create brand messaging guides there are many website copywriters that don’t that will receive a style guide from a branding specialist. So this isn’t just to say like someone creating content needs them. Someone creating copy could use them just as much. It makes our job easier, and it makes it easier because like Emily said, we get that like, Introduction to you. And we can build upon that introduction, because I’m sure and correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m sure you also have to ask questions of your client. You can’t just take a brand messaging guide and like, run with it. Like, you’re gonna want to know more yourself. Oh, yeah,
Emily Aborn 10:21
definitely. I like to know if your brand was the kind of shoe what kind of shoe would it be, you know, if it was going shopping in the mall? Which store? Does it walk into that kind of thing? Because all of that just helps to build that image of what they want their brand to feel like,
Erin Ollila 10:33
I love that. No, that’s so helpful. Okay, you get a brand messaging guide, Emily, you see it, you start to review it. What do you look for? Like? Are there gaps that you’re specifically looking for? I know that you just said those questions. And those are probably some of the things that you’re thinking, right? But are there gaps that you’re looking for? Are there things that you’re like, Oh, I’m so glad this is here, when you’re looking through one.
Emily Aborn 10:53
Okay, a gap I can think of in the ones I see is that there are a lot of questions, we get asked of our clients over and over and over and over again. And I’m sure you do this to where you’re constantly sending them the same bit of information to answer a certain question. And so those kinds of questions being included in a brand style guide. These are frequently asked questions of my clients, or people that would be thinking about being my clients, I think would be really helpful. Now, I’m a kind of person that’s going to do that research on my own and come to them with those questions, I have yet to see a brand guide that includes them. But I think that is a place I see where there could be a little expansion, but for the most part, you know, they’re going to help you really to identify a lot of the ones I see help to identify your values and your vision like that is a really important piece to building that bridge. What is the vision, what is the end goal and the driving force behind this business, this brand, this individual. And then like some other examples would be some of them include like an ideal client, and what that person might look like that is super helpful. And just helps me to develop those FAQs even more and come to them with some questions I might have if I was that ideal client. And then I’ve even seen some include services and get really in depth about that. And then some have content pillars, and potential collaborators or competitive whitespace. Those are both really, really helpful pieces of information too. I think competitive whitespace is actually something we can all do for our businesses is take some time, and pick out five people that you look at and you’re like, Okay, I’m competing directly with this person. And I actually do respect and value the message that they’re putting out. So that’s super helpful. And I see that a lot in brand guides. I asked that question as well, if it’s not in a brand guide, or if I don’t receive a brand guide. I hope I answered your question.
Erin Ollila 12:49
No, you answered it perfectly, right? Because I think that there’s different things that people viewing a brand guide needs, right, so the consumer who is purchasing the brand guide, or creating it for themselves, they want to see their brand reflected to them. And in some ways, they just want to look on the page and see the reflection of their brand. And that’s what a brand guide means to them. As a copywriter, specifically, like a website copywriter. A brand guide is helpful for me for a few of the things that you said mostly client and competitor research. Because I have never been one to say like we need to do what our competitors doing or we need to do something opposite. But I think competitors are just such a valuable research pot to learn from like, it can be as simple as like if you’re the business owner reviewing your competitor like what is it that they’re doing that doesn’t sit right with you, doesn’t mean you don’t like them. Like you said I like to look at people who I think are in the same level of business than I am. Most of them are doing the same things. Let’s say they could be website copywriters, but I will even allow a competitor to be someone who is same stage of business similar offerings, but maybe completely different, like a lunch copywriter. As an example, we don’t have the same offerings. But maybe I just love the way that they show up personally in their brand. Maybe I love the way that they really incorporate their values in their social media. So I want to emulate that. Let’s pretend right. And I think that’s really helpful for the copywriter that is about to sit down and write a website like, oh, they love the way that this competitor shows up. But what you see as the copywriter is it’s not the words the competitor is using. It’s the like push up personality. Like as an example. I love talking about personality and copy. But it’s generally I feel like there’s a lot of like generic advice because introverts also have a lot of great personality. But like when we assume personality, we think loud and boisterous. And you know, you wouldn’t necessarily think of an introvert as a loud and boisterous person. So I like to just remind people, personality is true to exactly what it means. Your personality comes out in the copy, not bold. then, you know, like wild and crazy. That’s not personality. Personality is the things that make you who you are and how you’d like to show up in your business.
Emily Aborn 15:08
I totally agree. Every great writer says that writers read writers read, they read to learn what they like and what they don’t like and what their style is, like, I read just as much to learn about my style as I do to enjoy somebody’s book. So a really great activity I just discovered in a book called Five author freak outs by Julie Eason for helping you figure out your personality is making a list of 60. And you have to get to 60. But you can go beyond 60 adjectives that describe you at your best. And it’s a very good activity, it’s great for an a person that might be slightly more introverted or slightly more on the ambivert scale than extroverted because you really get to see like some of those deeper things that make your personality. And it’s really you, it’s actually like, your description of yourself and who you are at your core. So I thought it was really helpful. And I use that list whenever I’m feeling like, I can’t do something. I’m like, No, this person can do that. No, that’s
Erin Ollila 16:09
huge. I mean, like, I love where you just took that, right? Because, you know, again, we talk about personality in regard to voice and tone. But I think exercises like that are so valuable as just business running exercises, you know, like I always tell people like, and I know this is common elsewhere, but like to keep a sunshine file. So testimonials are not just the only place that you should look to hear positive things about yourself. Like, my sunshine file might be a friend whose text messaged me and said, you know, hey, thanks for the pick me up yesterday, I didn’t realize I was feeling as crappy as I was. And you always know when I need a little extra support. So things like that. It doesn’t have to be specific to a testimonial or to a business goal. But like having a list of adjectives you can look at as a wonderful thing that can help you in your copy in your like boosting up a mood in things like social, which I know is I should really say is copy is related. But like, that could be a jumping off place, like a content pool place to be able to say like, let’s talk about what made me be the person who’s tenacious or whatever, right. So yeah, no, I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that with us.
Yeah, just popped in?
Erin Ollila 17:16
No, that’s great. I always tell especially my clients, I’ll be like, if you have a thought that just pops in your brain, like, I feel like those were the most valuable ones, right? It’s like your subconscious being like, insert this here, insert this here. So again, from a copy and a content perspective, I also think that like the clients make a big difference to one thing, I actually have a great question for you. I don’t know if it’s a great question. I’m hoping to hear a great response from this because I’m curious. One thing I always tell my clients is I like to create more than one ideal client avatar. And I always bring it back to this that like if you go shopping at an auto dealership, they are not simply trying to sell just vans, because they have niched down to their ideal clients being like soccer moms with lots of kids, right? I don’t know, I’ve never seen an auto dealership who did anything like this, our businesses should be running the same way. It’s not that we need to talk to a very like separate audience. But it’s nice to know a group of the people who would be like living in your larger ideal audience. Do you see that a lot and brand messaging guides? And regardless of whether you do do you think that’s helpful for you, as someone who’s like learning about the business to see multiple types of clients?
Emily Aborn 18:26
That is a great question. And I just had this conversation in one of my she built this peer groups about ideal client avatars, and how you should and can or not should, I shouldn’t say should because people can have as many as they want. But you can have many client avatars. I love to think about like the people, you know, if you’re still struggling to like, figure out who that ideal client is. And you’re like, I don’t want to niche I want to speak to so many people, I would say, go through your past clients, and those experiences and pick your top five favorite and use those as your client avatars. I love to see a client avatar because as a content writer, I can come up with like 10 ideas for each client avatar, I could do an entire content bank, let’s say just speaking to one client avatar, so I think the more the merrier personally, but the way you’re going to use the words and the pain points in the language it might be different for everybody but that’s the difference between saying something where people are like you were just reading my mind with that post and saying something that’s just kind of like that was for everyone, you know? Yeah, the biggest compliment you can get I think on your content is with someone is like are you in my head right now? Because it’s like yes, I am. Because I know who my client avatar. Yeah,
Erin Ollila 19:50
you know, goes back to what you just said like good writers are good readers. And in some ways, like we’ll put some air quotes around readers right there because I think good writers are good list. nerves as well, which is really kind of the same thing, right? The key is to be a good writer, and to get like, have your clients say, oh my gosh, you’re in my head or your end reader, whether it be a lead or actual client, the way to do that is to absorb, like what you’re learning about, it’s to learn about that particular client. You know, I’ve worked with many coaches in the past, and they’ve all said, like, Oh, you’ve already worked with this person that I really admire, I love that website. And I want a website like theirs, but I don’t want to copy them. And I’m like, You will never copy them. Because like, we all have things that we bring into our business and our lives that make us drastically different than someone else. You know, when I was in my MFA program, one of my mentors was just so lovely. And I was worried about that a lot. It was my first semester. And I was like, well, so many people have written about this topic. And he’s like, and what’s your take, nobody’s lived your actual life. And to be specific, it was a nonfiction program that I was in. So he’s very right, no one has lived my actual life. But when we take that into the copy, or the business world, you know, I might have worked with 10 executive coaches, and they have different types of clienteles. They have different ways they coach and they have different types of, I guess, I’ll use the word niches here, you know, they might work with executives who just lost the spark in their business, but they want to stay in their current job, they’re excited. Another one might work with an executive who wants to learn how to like, you know, pass down the baton and begin to transition in retirement. So that’s the client approach on, you know, separating yourself as a business owner. But then the business approach is really like, I’m a fun, like, super bold purse coach, right? I am going to speak to those executives and bring a ton of personality. Another one could be like, I actually have a, like a prior history as a therapist, and I’ve transitioned into coaching, because I want to to, like work alongside professionals versus like, mental health, right? So there’s, like, that’s all different ways to like, be able to differentiate yourself, you’re not copying your competitors, we all have valuable things that make us who we are. And I think kind of having this in the messaging Guide is a place to just, you know, package it up. It’s like a little Rubbermaid tote, right, like, put everything about your business and yourself in there. And it allows your writers or your graphic designers, or your website developers to say, Oh, this is the full package on this person, I’m gonna run with it. Now.
Emily Aborn 22:35
One more perk of having this is that you’re able to advocate for your brand. So when something is not right, like I had, this actually happened earlier today, where somebody wanted to donate a raffle item to an event I have coming up. It wasn’t a great fit. It’s a great item. But it’s not what I’m looking for. Like I’m not looking for services, I’m looking for tangible products people can walk away with. And I was able to stand up for my brand and say like, I don’t think this is the right audience for that. I don’t think this was the right event for that. And it felt really good. So having those, it just gives you guardrails, to know why you’re making decisions and be able to stand behind those decisions.
Erin Ollila 23:16
Yeah, thank you. That is such a valuable point. One thing you said a minute ago, and I’m hoping you can kind of expand upon a little for us, because when we talked about the beginning of this episode was that we were going to talk about the style guides and how that they influence creating content down the road. But I love that you are a content repurposing. So when I mentioned the ideal client avatars, and you said, Oh my gosh, I could create like content banks around each and every one. Maybe here’s a great point where we can transition the conversation a little bit to talk about content repurposing. So do you think that there’s anything specifically that business owners if they’re DIY and can think about when they’re creating content banks for, like, ideal clients, or if you’re a business owner who wants to hire someone, either for the brand messaging guide, or to use a brand messaging guide to kind of roll with it and create copy down the road? Like, where’s the good, like inspiration or starting point to talk to those people or to start creating that content bank?
Emily Aborn 24:13
Okay, so I think a good spot to start would be like, let’s just use the vision section of your style guide, you can take that vision section, and you could, of course, just copy and paste it and make that into a social media post, although I wouldn’t recommend that because most people don’t want to read your vision statement. as lovely as it is. But you take that vision statement and you talk about why that is your vision statement or how that vision statement helps you in your work with your clients. You take each one of your values in my business, one of my values is creativity. So making a post about creativity and how that is going to help my clients is a great example of kind of like repurposing some of the pieces of our style guide
Erin Ollila 25:00
So I actually loved everything that you said, because I would echo that 100%. You know, like, I mean, the simplest answer is look at every single section and think to yourself, like, what could I say about this, you know, you see a value statement actually loved. That’s one of the first places that you went. Because that I think, is one of the things that people don’t even think about when it comes to repurposing, they might look at, you know, some brand messaging guides might have like a social section. So it’ll say like, oh, based on everything you read, here’s maybe some of the like, content topics you should talk about on social and you know, here are a couple of bullet points to get you started. And then you can kind of roll with it and add more bullet points to use section. That’s great. But not every brand messaging guide comes with that, right. So I think that’s where people’s mind immediately goes, is like, Are there instructions in my brand messaging guide to start this content bank, but I would like to go on the ledge here with you and say, even if there’s instructions are not start on page one, what does page one say that can be reused? You know, a lot of times it’ll be like an introduction to the business. You know, maybe a quick like who you are and who you want to be kind of a statement, right? There’s a social post, there’s probably three social posts right there. Hi, I’m Erin, I started my business because there’s one social post, like it has changed in this way. There’s another social post, you know, in the future, I hope to there is another social post. Do you know like, and I don’t want to sound like I’m oversimplifying this, but I think it is that simple. I wouldn’t say easy, because, you know, I think because we work in the content world, we can automatically see these stories throughout that we can create. But I think if someone’s approaching this on their own, if they don’t have an Emily to work with, who can like help them figure this out? It’s really as simple as just trying to say like, is there a story here? You know, would anyone be interested in learning this? Like, if I’m the consumer? And I’m learning about this business? Like, would I be like motivated when I saw this to purchase? Like, would it build a connection with my readers? So I think that’s really the key. I think that I mean, yes, we can go section by section, but I think the answer is just go page by page and where you can pull up the stories,
Emily Aborn 27:09
I would say, also, don’t discount anything like I think even that competitive whitespace is repurposed, double. Now, here’s what I would not do, I would not take a competitor’s website, copy and paste a quote and be like, I don’t agree with this. But I might say, here’s a myth about my industry. And here’s how I do it differently. Or here’s how I’m different. You know, like, it’s just good information for you to set yourself apart to what other people are doing. I’ve heard a lot, and I’m sure you have to you hear things in the business that we do where you’re like, that’s not true. That’s not accurate. And you don’t have to call anyone specific, but you might know who those specific people are. But you can say, and this is why, and this is how I’m going to help make it easier for you
Erin Ollila 27:52
actually want to stay here for a second because I think if anything, this is one of the most important questions, I asked my clients about website copy. And I always try to remind them that we don’t have to respond in a way that is showing any negativity, if anything, looking for a negative answer can automatically flip it to a positive one. So I’ll generally say like, what is one of my pet peeves about either my industry or about people like who do the same job as I have? And that I’ll be honest, I usually get like paragraphs worth of information, because even as a copywriter, there are things that annoy me, right? So then the information you get, you can either do what you just said, like a myth. I see. That’s not true. I once had a coaching client tell me like she was very frustrated because she had multiple coaching certifications. And in her corporate profession, she had been like, trained for like 10 years on like the true, like team and like individual employee coaching. So when she entered the online business world, she just was like, holy macaroni, like, why are there millions of coaches, and like, none of them are certified. So the certification was very important to her as like that, like pet peeve. So instead of saying that in her copy, like, I’m so annoyed by this, what she said was like, here’s what sets me apart, I am so proud of the work I’m done, right like that doesn’t say anything about her negative about her competitors. And she’s not the type of person who would have truly knowing her any negativity, like she’s just not a negative person. So taking what was frustrating to her, and then using that as something that was like very important to her and her brand, like proudness, the hard work that she’s done, how she brings those facets of her into every interaction with our clients was, you know, a selling point for her in her business. So I think that it’s super valuable point right there.
Emily Aborn 29:41
Yeah, I wanted to give something like a little bit tangible when you’re kind of going through this, that you could really like say you have your brand guide to the left and your notebook to the right or if you’re left handed vice versa. Something really tangible that you can do if your brain works like this, is just go through section by section And, and make a list make a list of three to four bullet points for each section. This is often what I do when I’m starting a content bank, I will go through our conversation, you know, I’ve taken notes. So I go through our conversation, and I just start writing bullet points. And ultimately, that ends me with 50 to 60 bullet points. I mean, I write content banks sometimes with like, hundreds of posts in them at one time. So I needed to come up with a lot of ideas. So I’m just brainstorming, like, all of these bullet points from that style guide, from our conversations from their website, from their blogs, and going through all of these things that they could potentially talk about. And that’s where I start, and when you’re sitting down, and you’re going to work on one, and it doesn’t feel right, you just scrap it, you know, like if you’re like, Okay, I actually don’t have anything to say about that. And I thought I did. Like maybe I don’t really have anything to say about nouns. So just crossed that off. But that is all kind of like the building blocks, I would use, like, if you’re trying to think of like, okay, how can I take this and work on it for a little bit, and then set it aside, like, I don’t want to be looking at my brand guide every single day to generate content ideas, you know, that’s how I approach it. And I also encourage people to remember that, when it comes to sharing content you don’t want to get stuck into and I see this a lot, business owners getting stuck into sharing just one kind of content. So it’s all promotional information. It’s all tips. It’s all like selfies. So I use a garden analogy, because I think it’s really easy to help break it up into buckets. So I talked about the soil. And that’s like the big pieces of who you are like the foundation like your why your values, your vision, what makes you you, you know, what makes you different, who you like to work with what to actually provide for services. So those are like the big chunks of content, the big foundational pieces, and then the water, which is like the educational stuff, tips, tricks, things you’ve learned along the way useful things for your audience to consume. And then the sunshine, which is those personality pieces that we were talking about at the beginning, the list of 60 personality items you came up, you know, the ways that you sprinkle a little bit of sunshine and inspiration and how you like to show up when you’re feeling your best. And then the wind. And this is the promotional part, this is where you’re like guiding people, to your products and services and to working with you. And I think if you keep that balance, so you kind of got you got your list of bullet points, you have your list of balance areas, and you can sort of start to fit them in to those boxes, and say, like, wow, I have a lot of content, you know, I have a lot of ways to promote myself, but I need to inject some more of my personality. I have a lot of my foundational stuff, but I need to guide people a little bit more educational pieces. That’s how my brain works. But I think it’s just a good way to kind of like strategically move through this document, which might otherwise feel like really overwhelming.
Erin Ollila 33:02
I loved everything you said about that. I love the instructions. And I love the analogy. I think this is like such a meaty part of our discussion. And if there’s anything I love about these podcast episodes is I try very hard to have the key takeaways for people. You know, like, I know you love podcasts, and I am a binge. podcaster, which is a weird thing to say, as a podcast host. I love podcasts what I love as the listener and this could be literally just from me having ADD and like struggling to focus for a long period of time is I love when they’re I’m forced to listen, because the conversation moves strategically. And there are things that I’m like, I kind of write this down. So like if anything, I think what you just said was like a huge, I have to write this down moment. If anyone wants to pause and go back by like two minutes, we’ll just wait here for you. And then we’ll meet you back when you’re done. What I also love is I just recently started adding a question to my connection questions at the end. And I think you answered it. So I mean, feel free to say something different if you want, but I’ll ask you now, the question is, what homework would you give to our listeners? And I’m guessing is the homework would be maybe like bullet pointing your brand messaging guide? Is there anything else you’d have to say?
Emily Aborn 34:14
Oh, man, that is such a great question. Okay, I guess my other piece of homework is to look at what those rocks of content are in your business. Because chances are, it’s not just your brand messaging guide. It’s the blog, you already have started and maybe you haven’t done a blog in years, it doesn’t matter. It’s still a big chunk of content sitting out there waiting for you the email you sent that you’ve got tons of replies to the article that you have not yet published or sent in to anybody you know. So taking a look at just some of those other areas where the content needs to be dusted off a little bit spruced up and brought back to life. But it’s sitting there waiting for you to repurpose it and I have what I call like my writing folder, and it’s just a dump. I don’t know what is in there, but when I I’m up a creek and don’t have any ideas, I go into that writing folder and I pull something out. And I’m like, Oh, this is what that story was meant for, or this is what you know. And I just turned it into something. So maybe you don’t have a writing folder because you’re not a weirdo like me, but, but you do have things sitting there waiting for you to kind of like, bring them back.
Erin Ollila 35:18
So I have a question and a statement, I’ll start with a statement when it comes to a writing folder if you don’t have one, and I’m not even sure this is how you approach yours. But one homework advice I would give people is, if you’re not familiar with this term, I promise to explain it. But in the writing world, we say kill your darlings. So like kill what doesn’t belong, not kill literally. But I mean, like remove what does not belong in the piece of content, you might have loved it, when you wrote it, it might have been a point that you thought was helpful. But if it’s not strategic, or if it’s not clear or aligned with the message, just remove it to make the piece stronger. For example, when I do copy coaching with clients, and they come to me with full website drafts, and they’re like I said, everything that I need to say, but it doesn’t feel like a website using that as an example, when we cut all of the content that doesn’t belong on the site. I always like make like a bank. And I’ll be like, here’s your writing, assuming that’s what your writing guide would be like, you know, it could be pieces of an email, maybe you’re writing an email, and you you’re really passionate about what you’re saying. And then you’re like, Okay, this is like four pages long. If I printed it, I can’t say all of this in one email, cut it and put it in that folder that you have. So that’s a potential homework takeaway for how you do that. But I have a very important question for you. When I think of my I call it a content pool versus a content bank. And when I think of my content pool, I also treat it like you do like just a long list of ideas. But I think the way that I approach it is having everything combined meaning like I’m thinking of how you mentioned the ideal client avatars, and maybe you come up with like 50 topics for like that one client avatar that would go in my content pool. So when you’re creating this, either for yourself or your clients, are they two distinct things like, here are your ideas that you’ll use? Like, here’s the bullet points that you created. And separately from that, here’s the writing, like the extra pieces of writing in your writing bank, are they separate? Are they combined,
Emily Aborn 37:15
I organize it like a website, when I actually send them the deliverable. It’s in a PDF document that they can like click to each section, and the sections are separated. So for example, let’s say somebody is launching a new group program, or course, but they also want some educational stuff. And they also want some personality stuff. And they also want some things that speak to certain ideal clients. So I’m gonna separate it, I wouldn’t separate it by ideal client, I’d separate each of those into a Google Doc, like, here’s the program, here’s educational, here’s promotional, here’s just personality, here’s about me, and then I link it to those things that’s in my deliverable. In my own, I’m a little more organized, I hate to say it, mine lives as a list of bullet points and ideas and a writing folder. But when I’m doing it for clients like and I would love to sit down and do that for myself, the way
Erin Ollila 38:13
I approach it, I would say is similar. I originally thought that you would tell me two different things. But I think I think it’s similar to both how you treat your clients and your own. Instead of Google, which I love. You always have Google Docs going in my business, I treat my content in project management tool. Like if you could just imagine Asana or Trello. As an example, I will have the columns be kind of how you’re treating like the sections of yours. And I might have like one column, that’s just a dump. And I’m putting it there because I don’t know what pool it goes into. But like I have a column for some of my columns. If I’m talking about website, I’ve narrowed it down to one columns, the homepage about because I have enough to say, on all of the pages just as an example, I might also then be able to take from that bank, meaning like the dumb part where I’m like, I don’t know where to put this right now. But later on, I might be able to take those little writing snippets, like the darlings that I cut, and a darling could be about not copying someone’s brand and being your own brand. And I’ll say to myself later, oh, here’s where I can use it. I can use it when I talk about this. So I asked kind of selfishly, just because I was curious how you approach it, but I think we treat it the same way where it’s more than one place. And we organize it the best that we can, but we can move things around if we need to move things around.
Emily Aborn 39:33
Yeah, you know what, I’ve tried every project management tool under the sun and I can’t do it. I think it’s just the way brains work differently. A lot of my clients take exactly what I did and cut and paste it into whatever project management tool there or they have their virtual assistant typically just put it all into their project management tool or put it right into their scheduler. So I think that’s fantastic. And I wish my brain works with a project management tool. But I haven’t gotten there.
Erin Ollila 40:01
And I think that’s a really key important point. Like I really try to drive home to my clients. There’s no one right way to approach this. In some ways, I think it’s a lot easier to be in a document. And I know that sounds silly, because I’m not doing it that way. But I do think it’s easier that you have space to just start writing. Like, if you happen to stumble upon something and you’re like, Yes, that’s what I’m talking about. You could just start typing right then and there to get your thought out, and then remove it and use it elsewhere. Later, right. So yeah, I think it’s a good reminder that there’s no rules here. Like where you’re comfortable is the best place to be. That goes into brand messaging, there’s no rules. And I think I tried really hard to drive that home, when I first talked about the different sections that could be in there, the names, whether you’re calling it messaging guide, style guide, all these things, the rule is getting out what suits your business best. And if anything, we need to look at these as foundational pieces that are going to be adjusted as our business grows, like, you know, my values have adjusted since I’ve been in business, right? Like, I think when I started business, I wasn’t even quite sure what my values were. So take it as a Living Guide. Remember, like, there’s no perfect way to do this, the only perfect way to do it is just to begin to get some words on the page, and start kind of describing who your business is, or invest in someone like Emily who can take your content and the brand messaging guides you have, or someone like me who can like sit down and write that guide with you. Because it’s not all on you. Again, I’m really trying to include people who might not hire out for this. But there’s no need to do it yourself. Like if you’re confident in handing that over and just letting someone hear you like synthesize the information you’re giving it to you and like, share back with you your brand. That’s also a great approach. Do you have anything else to say here,
Emily Aborn 41:48
I just want to build on that confidence piece of handing it off? Because I think that is a myth in our industry, like, oh, you can’t outsource connection, you know, you can’t outsource that piece. You actually can if you’re outsourcing it to the right person, like I am sure you have heard this a million times over again. And so have I when someone says that sounds exactly like me, it sounds exactly like you because we know how to make it sound exactly like you so that you can just not worry about you know, like, we are here to help you build that connection. We’re not trying to sound like ourselves. We don’t want to sound like ourselves. I never want someone to look at something I wrote and be like Emily did.
Erin Ollila 42:25
Absolutely no, I think the key is, is having it sound like you created it on your own. And the way that a good content creator can do that. I always tell my clients is knowing your business well enough, you give us all of the information we need. Like I never create anyone’s business stuff, I just take what they share with me. And I say it in the way that they’d like to, but they might not necessarily have the skill to like it doesn’t exist in my brain. It exists in their brain and exist in like who they are, who they want to be and how they want to show up. So I think if you’re at a point in your business, where you know who you are and who your business is, that’s when it’s a key that is a great time to invest in this. If you are just starting off, I would definitely say you don’t need a brand messaging guide right away. But you can get those pieces flowing, right, like open up that Google Doc and just like put a couple bullet points under what you think your mission might be what you think your vision like make it just a living document that grows with you as you start your business and you can always share that when you are ready to hire it out with someone else. Yeah, though, I do have two more connection questions for you. The first one is the one that I asked everyone who comes on the show and that is if you could be connected with anyone right now. Whether it’s a specific person, a type of person or type of business, who would it be and why? So right
Emily Aborn 43:45
now I would love to be connected to Jen Sincero Jen have heard earlier listening of course right now or or Farnoosh Torabi, but I think I already have a connection to furnish turabi, but yeah, I’d love to have Jensen Cerro on my podcast and I’m always looking for podcast guests of that caliber.
Erin Ollila 44:02
Oh, I love that. All right, and then the next question is if you can do anything touristy in your own general area like pretend you’re a tourist in your doesn’t have to be exactly hometown but let’s say like short drivable distance what would you do?
Emily Aborn 44:17
So I use the all trails app to discover like new hiking trails and things like that, but my consistently in all the hiking trails I’ve done. My favorite one is do you know what spotting cars is? Okay, so you park one car at one trailhead, and the other car at the other trailhead, and you hike, it’s six miles and it’s just like beautiful and you go over these ledges that are made of quartz and granite and it’s beautiful and it just changed. It has so many scenery changes. It’s lovely.
Erin Ollila 44:49
I love that. Okay, thank you so much, Emily for being on the show. I know we mentioned podcasting quickly, but Emily has an incredible podcast called she built this I will put the links to it. in the shownotes The other thing I think you should know about Emily before we sign off is that she is the queen of Instagram stories. I’m pretty sure I connect with her on a daily basis because I’m like, Haha, that means the bass like you wouldn’t be internet today. So I would make yourself friends with Emily. She’s a lovely person to chat with and spend time with online. But thank you so much, Emily for being here today. I really appreciate all of your time.
Emily Aborn 45:23
Thank you Erin.
Erin Ollila 45:29
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Talk Copy to Me. If you enjoyed spending your time with me today. I would be so honored if you could subscribe to the show and leave a review. Want to continue the conversation? Head on over to Instagram and follow me at @Erin Ollila. Until next time friends!
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