This week’s podcast guest is Stephanie Hayes!

You may remember her from Episode 7: Aligning Your Marketing With Your Business & Life Goals With Stephanie Hayes.

This week is a shorter episode where we talk about figuring out what works best for YOU and YOUR business instead of just blindly following what other people have said has worked for THEM. Stephanie talks about the importance of being authentically you – (psst, I’ll give you a hint! This not only helps YOU connect with your biz, but helps your AUDIENCE connect with your business, too). 

Stephanie shares with us how she goes about creating content without trying to fit into one particular framework or formula, and why getting back to your business passion is so important.

If you want to hear how to make everything flow really well in your biz, then this episode is for you!

Read the full transcript

Meg Casebolt 0:01
You’re listening to social slowdown a podcast for entrepreneurs and micro businesses looking for sustainable marketing strategies without being dependent on social media. Social media is a double edged sword. It’s a wonderful way to stay connected. But it also can feel like an addictive obligation. And it’s even more complex for businesses, your audience might be right there, but you’ve got to fight with algorithms to maybe be seen by them. So whether you want to abandon social media altogether, or you just want to take a month off, it’s possible to have a thriving business without being dependent on social media. This podcast is all about finding creative, sustainable ways to engage with your audience without needing to lip sync, send a cold DMS, run ads or be available 24/7. Let’s get started.

Hey, y’all happy summer is my favorite season of the year. And where I live in upstate New York, it lasts about five minutes. So I’ve decided to take some time off from creating content in order to really enjoy as much time away from my keyboard as humanly possible. But I didn’t want to just leave you high and dry for the next three months. So we’ve got a fun podcast plan here a little bit. First Search, we’re all about making evergreen marketing assets really work for you long term. So this summer, we are practicing what we preach. And we’re repurposing something that we created last year, releasing it out to the public for the first time. So last year, we ran an event called SEO summer camp, which focused on creating efficient content marketing systems. And as part of summer camp, I interviewed 15 of my fellow business owners all about their tips for planning strategic content and creating engaging content consistently, and utilizing that same content across multiple channels like YouTube or podcasts in order to grow their audience. So over the next nine or so weeks, you’ll hear those interviews here on the podcast. Some of them might be slightly out of date, but we still think they’re incredibly valuable resources. And we did not want to limit their reach by only having them available to the people who were involved in last year’s event. So you may notice that I start most of the interviews with something like hey, summer campers, and then I give recommendations based on what was happening in the community and the live events we are running. That’s why I wanted to give some context in this introduction. So you’re not just like, What the heck is she talking about. And because we are spending this summer in our podcast talking all about content marketing systems and creating more efficiently, I want to tell you about something that we’re going to be launching at the end of this summer, we’re going to be creating a new digital product, I am tentatively calling it the SEO content Maximizer it may change names by the time we actually release it, we will be sharing all of the Lovat first search templates and processes and systems that we use to turn every podcast and every YouTube video into its own blog and newsletter and social media content. To give some context in about six to eight hours a week, our team produces one YouTube video, a podcast, two blog posts, a newsletter and five social media posts, you obviously would not need to do that much as a small business owner, we’re you know, we’ve been doing this for a long time we’ve created these solid content marketing systems. But we’ve got this process so locked down that we want to share that with you so that it will be easier for you to make more strategic content in less time. If you’re interested in hearing about that new content Maximizer product when it’s ready, head over to love it for Sign up for the waitlist. And you’ll be the first to know when we’re ready for beta testers. And if you’re listening to this in the future, you can head to that. And we’ll redirect it to where you can find out more about that product. Alright, so there’s the context as to what you’re hearing this summer and why. Without further ado, let’s get started with the interview. Hello, campers. It’s Meg. I am here with my friend and student and client and all. Stephanie Hayes and we also always come up with business partnership ideas, so I’m sure that’s coming down the pike as well. Stephanie is the inspiration for SEO summer camp, we were chatting on a mastermind call and she said Mike, I just want to give up on social media and only do SEO forever. How do I make that happen? And I thought I can’t do that for a year or forever, but I can do it for the summer. And thus, SEO summer camp was born. So thank you, Stephanie for being my muse. And it’s

Stephanie Hayes 4:39
a brilliant it’s a wonderful thing, what you’ve done with it.

Meg Casebolt 4:43
Just kind of run with things and be inspired and chase things and that can be kind of fun. And that’s a little bit of what we’re going to be talking about today as Steph is so great at taking everyday occurrences and turning them into content that can help lead towards sales and also understand Knowing how to get people to kind of feel what it feels like to work with you before buying from you and incorporating that into the way that you talk about your experiences and your content. So I wanted to bring her in both to kind of figure out how to tie together what your offer is with how you talk about it, and also how to get people to trust you by sharing something that feels real and authentic in a way that doesn’t often show up in SEO conversations.

Stephanie Hayes 5:31
No, it doesn’t. But I love that you’re changing the face of SEO.

Meg Casebolt 5:35
I’m trying because it’s so nerdy. And I mean, we are such herds, but I know.

Stephanie Hayes 5:43
It’s delightfully nerdy, it is,

Meg Casebolt 5:44
I guess. So tell us a little bit about you and your business and how you use SEO to bring in the right clients and how you connect with people. So I’m

Stephanie Hayes 5:56
a business strategist and coach. And the reason I say that is because I don’t think you’re serving your customers unless you can transition between the two, right? So my customers come to me when they’re like, Well, I’ve kind of built this thing, and something doesn’t feel quite right, nobody’s here to make more money, everybody’s here to have a business that feels better, right. And that’s, that’s the whole gist of everything that I do is personalize these businesses and bring them back to the who the people actually are. And once you get there, then the money starts to flow, and then it becomes easier, and then it feels more it feels better. And, and your business serves you because we’re not in that phase of entrepreneurship anymore, where, you know, you’re going into entrepreneurship, so you can have that big windfall, you going into entrepreneurship, so you can save the rest of your life, right. So you can have this life that you that, like you work for yourself, and you have ownership and authority and, and you can deliver what you really want to deliver and support your family and all that sort of thing. So that’s what people are really after these days. And so my clients have built, you know, multiple, six figure businesses, and they’re kind of at the stage where they’re like, Look, I’ve I’ve hustled and I’ve done my craft, and I’ve used my skills, and I’ve kind of gotten where I’ve gotten to, but now what right and and something’s misaligned, or they have a new purpose, or they’ve learned enough about themselves that they know, they need to make a shift. So I work with them on the strategy, and then we move into the support, right? And so what does that look like? And how can I help you with your implementation in that, that sort of thing? So that’s the work that I do.

Meg Casebolt 7:31
I love what you said about like, they’ve been hustling so long, and now they’re trying to save their lives from their businesses, because I think a lot of us have been in that space of like, what is the next magic bullet? What is the framework I need to fit into? What is the, you know, the way that I’m supposed to be doing things, as opposed to who am I? What are my strengths? And how do I build a business that supports me and feels good to me, as opposed to just the one that can get me drinking a Mai Tai on the beach,

Stephanie Hayes 8:00
totally. And that is not everybody’s goal. In fact, it’s very few people’s goals. And I think that this comes back to the content and the SEO as well, I think everybody’s trying to fit everything into a framework or into a formula. And what I do is I rip away all those formulas and those frameworks. And when you get back to just who you are, whether it’s in your content, or it’s in your business model, or whatever your services that you’re providing, when you get back to just understanding who you are and what your business passion is, then all of the content flows and the business flows and, and that sort of thing. So when we’ve tried to stick into frameworks and stick to things that were that have worked for others, it never feels right. And it never feels natural. And so it’s always that’s always the problem. When I hear people moan about their marketing or about their content creation, or whatever it might be. It’s that they’re trying to do what they’re supposed to do, rather than what feels really good for them. And we’re all weird, right? We’re all these weird little snowflakes, we’re all these weird combinations of things that that means one person is going to really enjoy something and another person is going to really enjoy something else.

Meg Casebolt 9:04
So how do you know what to sell? If there is no framework?

Stephanie Hayes 9:08
How do you know what to sell? Yeah, how

Meg Casebolt 9:10
do you package your offer? How do you know what people are going to want to buy from you? If you don’t just say well, here’s the six week course or the ebook, or, you know, like, how do you know what’s going to work for your business?

Stephanie Hayes 9:22
So we’re looking for that perfect intersection of who you are and who your customers are. Right? And so we spend a lot of time understanding ourselves first. And then we spend time understanding who these customers are intimately and I don’t want to hear their their women between the ages of like 13 and 48. And, and they live somewhere in North America. Like I don’t care.

Meg Casebolt 9:45
I don’t care what their Starbucks order is. I don’t care what their Hogwarts houses No, although I do find that I attract a lot of Hufflepuffs

Stephanie Hayes 9:55
I think I’m a Hufflepuff what’s I have? Oh, I

Meg Casebolt 9:58
think you’re a Ravenclaw

Stephanie Hayes 9:59
I Hammer Ravenclaw? That’s right, yeah. My son is slicker in the pet,

Meg Casebolt 10:06
oh, your son is definitely still there.

Stephanie Hayes 10:10
But it’s not it’s not as that that’s, to me that is putting false frameworks in. We’re trying to fit people into the buckets, but without really knowing them. And when we really know them, then then we understand, you know, we tried to make this too hard, we really do. And a lot of when I finally learned to just write from my own experiences and my own stories, rather than like the the five part framework, or the five part, email sequence, or whatever it might be, I’ll tell you, the things that resonate most with people, when I write are just like these stories that they, you’re trying to make an emotional connection. And to make an emotional connection, you have to be you. You have to be you, like, right down inside, you have to be you. And tell your stories, because it that helps you connect with your business, and it helps them connect with your business. And so when you tell your stories, and weave them back into what you’re trying to teach, so yes, there are like there’s a six part, okay, so I’m gonna be a total hypocrite, right now, there’s a six framework that I teach, that is my approach to business, but it’s not. It’s like buckets, right. But if I want to bring people back to that, I’ve got to tell them why they matter. Right. And to tell them why they matter. My six buckets, I’ve got to tell stories. And I’ve got to tell stories that have happened to me that have happened to my clients. So almost everything that I write about in my content, is inspired by a conversation I’ve had with a client that is like the, sometimes I’ll have a call with a client. And I’ll have three new topics. And so I just keep a little notebook beside my, beside my bed beside my desk, on my desk beside my computer.

Unknown Speaker 12:03
They’re there, right that

Stephanie Hayes 12:04
we’re here, within reach. Where I just note, I just note these topics. And I note, I know, there’s a topic to talk about, when I watch my clients have this like recognition or this aha moment on their face. Or it’s something that I’ll say, while I’m in the middle of a conversation with them. And we’re like, Ah, that was so. So that is, to me, that’s just like evidence rather than all of this, like, let me go in and research, you know, 20 topics and force myself to write about them. So the interesting thing about bringing this back to SEO is that for me, SEO is the place to start logically. And and then work out from there, because you might as well start where people are looking. However, we need to I tried that before, I tried to just start with a bunch of good keywords that I found, and right from there, and I ended up with these weird robotic sounding articles. So what I do is I keep a bank of good search terms. And when I go to actually write, I write very conversationally, I write from my bed, literally, I sit in my bed, and I write on I started an Instagram. And even though I don’t like social media, and I don’t, it’s not that I don’t like social media, it’s just that I’m not like somebody who’s gonna go into Instagram and follow the algorithm, right? It’s to me writing an Instagram is a good place to start, because it forces me to be constrained. And for some reason, just that medium was the place that just let everything flow. So I write these, I use all my characters, I write these top 2000 some odd character posts. And that’s my starting point. So I go backwards, right? The typical framework is that you write a blog post, and then you carve away from there. I start with my social media posts, when I write something that could almost be a blog post, in fact, they have turned into those. And then that’s where I start. And then I weave in my, on a weekly basis, I’ll look, look at all of the starting points that I have the posts I’ve written. And then I’ll marry them up with my keywords. So if I’ve done keyword research, and I have, you know, a keyword term or key search term that you know, that looks good. I’m going to look at how I can bring those two together. So I’m, I’m telling my story, and I’m connecting it to my work, and I’m bringing in keywords. Yeah, so to me, that’s the flow right. That’s the flow for creating really compelling content because it started from my heart because I don’t care about SEO on my social posts. Maybe I should but I don’t and not on Instagram. Don’t worry about it. No, not on Instagram, but but I know it makes me write fast. If I have to start with a blog post. It’s gonna take me two hours three, it’s gonna be that like blinking cursor of doom. Yeah, I’m just gonna sit there going and I don’t have that time, right, my big problem is time. So that’s why we talked about SEO to begin with. So I’m going to write from the heart, I’m going to, I’m going to sit down weekly, look at that place that liquid, I’ve got to start with, marry them with some keywords, and then figure out a way that it ties back to the work that I do. So the result that I want is for someone to know me and know my work, and have a have a really good sense of how it’s going to be to work with me, because my voice, the way that I approach things, the way that my perspective is on, like, I can write a bunch of bland bullshit for my you know about business and about all of my pillars. But it doesn’t mean it doesn’t help you connect with me, right? So I start with my stories. And my stories are so personal to me that they’re going to allow me to sort of meander and figure out my hand with my hand movements, movements, or knocking my mic off my

Meg Casebolt 16:05
desk. I think one thing that I like about what you just said, too, is it starts from a conversation that you’re having with a client. So there’s something that you know, that a client is working through, yeah, it may be part of your six part framework, it may be something outside of that, that they’re confiding to you it may be part of just a larger conversation they’re having, but that client already has a Stephanie, in their back pocket that they can come to and say, Hey, I just I wrote this proposal, and the client said they were interested, but then they ghosted me, what do I do, right? And then you have that response, you write down client goes to the proposal on your sheet, and then when it comes time to start writing, you’re like, oh, client goes to the proposal. Okay, let me write about that. An experience I had writing a proposal, and then talk about how I help my client through it, and then go, oh, and let me and then and then after you have that idea of here are the conversations I’m having you go. And if somebody didn’t have the stuff to ask this question to, what would they ask Google. And then you can work it into the narrative that you’ve already started creating through the conversation. It doesn’t have to start from how to follow up after a proposal, like email scripts for following up after proposal delivery, right? Like it doesn’t have to use that exact terminology, it can still tell your story while recognizing that people can still discover it through your language around it.

Stephanie Hayes 17:32
Yeah, and I, I’m one of those people that looks for kind of weird keywords that have and not like super high traffic. But, you know, I make sure that I’ve got consistency in all my pages in terms of, you know, those those real key keywords that people are going to search for just generically, but inside of all of my content, and my articles and that sort of thing. Those Those are going to get a little weird, right. And you know, what my biggest client who’s become almost like a business partner, she found me through a Google search for I can’t remember like online, online business strategists. And that’s just the one that I’ve always just been really consistent with in but that’s not woven into my content. It’s just in my, you know, in my head or stuff, and wherever, right, my

Meg Casebolt 18:13
right, your homepage, your SEO titles.

Stephanie Hayes 18:15
Yep. So I think that that’s the, that’s the real challenge, when we’re building SEO content is to make sure that we’re also still writing in a way that’s human and in a way that connects with people. So I think if you can start with your story first, and then figure out how you’re going to weave in your keywords in your SEO, and then make it relevant for your business, then that’s the key, right? Like, that’s the, that’s where we’re trying to get to, because you can talk about all of your work all you want. But if people aren’t going to connect with it emotionally, on any stage of their buying journey, right, whether they’re in the education stage, the awareness stage, or the decision making stage, if they can’t connect with you emotionally, like, they’ll move along, right, you won’t make an impact on them.

Meg Casebolt 19:01
They can hit tap, you know, tap to like, but then they’ll just keep scrolling, if they haven’t connected with you in some sort of meaningful way. And stories, stick with people.

Stephanie Hayes 19:12
And it’s okay to say the same thing a bunch of times, and I do that, I have a few, like, I have a few things that I say all the time, and to the point where my clients and my students just repeat them now. And they, they often come back to me and they’re like, you know how this situation I thought what was Stephanie say? And they came back with these, you know, some of these key pillars that I weave into all of my content that I just know it are so me, right?

Meg Casebolt 19:39
And if people connect with people, you know, like we may want the services we may want the specific offers, but on the whole we also especially in most of the people that I work with, have some sort of forward facing either coaching or training and they want to learn from a person. It’s not just about the outcomes. It’s about the way that you’re learning and the way that you feel Well, when you’re moving through that process,

Stephanie Hayes 20:02
yeah, and, you know, most people aren’t, if people are buying based on your content and your like your shiny, sorry, not based on your content, but like how nice your website looks. And because you’ve got some fancy pictures up, they’re not going to trust you anyway, right? Like they’re there, they’re not the people who are going to really engage with you, and who are going to take your work and kind of really run with it. So the people who really connect with you like you can, you don’t have to be perfect for them. You don’t care, like you can show up, you know, with your hair up in a hoodie. And they’re just like hanging on every word that you say, because you’ve, you’ve connected with them emotionally.

Meg Casebolt 20:43
Right. And I think this happens a lot with people who are especially just getting started with creating content and saying, Well, it’s already been said so many times, and how can I possibly say the same things that everyone else has already said, I don’t have anything new to say. And it’s like covering a song, like the way that the cure saying I will always love you is very different, though, than the way that Adele sang, always, I will always love you same words, but a very different feeling based on the person who’s singing it and the choices that they’re making about it. And I think the same is true when you can bring your own stories to it your own conclusions, and you’re driving them to a specific offer that’s built for their problems, not just let me help you build a business.

Stephanie Hayes 21:24
You know, what I was thinking about too, is I I think about like, what I what do I want people to expect when they’re working with me, like, what I want them to expect that I’m not going to show up in you know, earrings and a necklace every time that that we’re going to have really like gritty conversations and that they can be themselves. So I want my content to give them that permission already before they work with me. And I want my content to give them a sense of what I expect from myself and what I expect from them, and what they can let go of right, because they all come in thinking that they’re going to be a students, but they realize that they don’t have to be, yeah, so I want my content to set that stage already. So that they feel okay coming in, and they know, they know what they’re gonna get.

Meg Casebolt 22:10
Right. And hearing, I was working with my client on this. And this is the outcome that they got, or I was working with them. And here’s the advice that they took, and just knowing that you’re helping real people. You know, using those case studies, knowing that you have kids, you have a dog, you have a couple of cats, you know, like you have a real life and, and you are still struggling with certain things yourself. And that shows up in your business, because you’re a real human that I can still trust you. Yeah, and I can

Stephanie Hayes 22:43
still help them even though you know, I have my own stuff. And I think that’s, that’s really a relief for people, right? And know that they’re going to come into a place where they’re not expected to perform all the time, or they’re not expected to, you know, I have a client who just messaged me this morning and said, I might be on the coaching call. But please don’t ask me to speak because I’ve got this stuff going on. I’m like, fine. Yeah. The fact that you felt okay to come forward and tell me that that’s, that’s the business I want to build, right? Yeah. And so whatever you that business is that you want to build, and maybe you do want to build like a bright, shiny object. And maybe you do want to build a business that’s like, you know, perfectly curated and, and like performance driven, then do that. But what you want to do is make sure you communicate that with your content, so that you’re like, honestly, your clients are not buying your six pillars, right? I have six pillars, and they kind of just trust that I know what I’m doing. Because all my content has helped them trust me, right? So I’m not selling my six pillars, I’m selling like me, selling me and I’m selling the environment. And that’s what your content needs to focus on.

Meg Casebolt 23:49
And this is one of those features versus benefits situations where it’s like, people aren’t buying your six pillars, they’re my button, buying my modules, they’re not buying any of that they’re buying the experience of being seen and being heard and being valued and being recognized. Yeah, and being held and known. Yeah, even if you’re not having that one to one conversation, or even a group conversation. It’s like, I I know what you’re going through. And I’ve helped people through that before or, you know, this is the product that you need, if you are experiencing XYZ, it really it is an emotional connection and decision.

Stephanie Hayes 24:23
Totally, it totally is. And that’s and so that would be my my advice is to find a way to to marry the connection content. And the more you know, the more emotional content with your SEO and with your data driven content. Yeah. So

Meg Casebolt 24:43
if people want to work with you, we have two ways they can do that. The first is your your freebie, which is 14 ways to keep perfectionism from running the show and then we also have an offer for your offer lab product. So tell me a little bit about that. Just who would be a good fit for that offer? If they’re thinking, oh, man, this Stephanie check. She knows what she’s talking about.

Stephanie Hayes 25:06
Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t do that, you know. So the the reason that the perfect so there’s a little story behind the perfectionism offer Yeah, the perfectionism offer was actually the result of a bunch of SEO research. And that was my first experience with trying to build content specifically for SEO, sorry about the vacuum cleaner. And what I was, that was a great example of marrying. I start I kind of pulled my audience in formally and I said, What is the number one thing that’s preventing you from moving forward in your business, and every one of them, said, perfectionism. So all my clients are perfectionist, they’re just like they are. And that’s where they all come from. And I started thinking a lot and doing a bunch of research around perfectionism, then I went and did a bunch of keyword research. And I was like, holy smokes, there’s a lot of opportunity. There’s a lot of people kind of

Meg Casebolt 26:06
struggling and not knowing what to do, looking for

Stephanie Hayes 26:09
relief from perfectionism. And so I take a little bit of a different spin around perfectionism. And it’s all fear based, right. And so I built in, I built a resource, I’m like, I’m gonna test out this SEO thing. So I created a resource created an article and put that up. And to this, I mean, that was like, a couple years ago. And to this day, I still get like, fairly consistent traffic just on those search terms. And it’s like, every day, I see a few people coming in, and it’s not a lot, but it’s been my most consistent List Builder, for everything. But it’s also really relevant to my audience, right. And then the offer lab is one module from my six pillars, my six modules in my group program, our I also have a standalone course. And the offer lab is where we start to create the alignment between who you are what your clients need, and what you’re actually how that’s manifesting itself, right. And so across the six pillars, the offer lab is the place where we, we, we look at who you are, and all the things you’ve learned about yourself. And we look at your clients and how they’re going through their own buying journey. And figuring out how you’re going to create something that represents who you are and what you want to bring to them and what they actually need. So the offer lab is just that piece of the overall program that helps you decide what it is you’re going to bring to the world.

Meg Casebolt 27:39
Yeah, and how to package it up in a way that feels good to you, and that your clients actually want to receive it in that format. And that it won’t lead to, you know, overwhelm burnout, all those things we all feel all the time.

Stephanie Hayes 27:51
No. And alignment is the number one thing that we want to try and achieve. And I think I’ve bundled in the business blueprint, too, which is module one. And, again, giving you guys a nice little deep discount on that. So you can pick that up for pretty cheap. Yeah. And get started on figuring out, it’s actually quite a content driven approach to develop designing your offer.

Meg Casebolt 28:13
And at the very least, definitely get on steps list because she tells such great stories that tie back to things and I think there’s such a powerful way of doing that in order to connect with people. So thank you so much for your time today. And I’ll box you in 20 minutes.

Stephanie Hayes 28:28
That’s right. I’ll talk to you next hour very

Meg Casebolt 28:31
shortly. And probably email you do in Slack. You all right, well, yes, camp. Yes. Yay, summer camp. Yay to somebody mentioning something on a zoom call and having it come into reality the next day.

Stephanie Hayes 28:45
There was wine involved. I believe there was absolutely why. Bye. Bye.

Meg Casebolt 28:54
Thank you so much for listening to the social slowdown podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe or come on over to social and sign up for our email list so you never miss an episode. We’d also love if you could write a review to help other small business owners find the show you can head over to social Or grab that link in our show notes for easy access. We’ll be back soon with more tips to help you market your business without being beholden to social media. Talk to you then.

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