What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done?
It’s an interesting question. One thing pops to mind but I have a little caveat with this one at the end because I’m honestly not sure if it happened to me or my brother. It’s this weird childhood memory thing where it’s blurred together. I think he thinks it happened to him but then I weirdly have the memory in my head. We went to some sort of swimming hole at some point when we were younger and there was like… iI was an elevated swimming hole. The part where you would swim, the part where the water was quite a bit off the surrounding bush land I guess. Naturally there was a little bit of a waterfall there. If you wanted to, you could swim close to that waterfall, very narrow waterfall. But us being kids, we were narrow people. I have this memory in my head of swimming too close to the waterfall and just suddenly getting that feeling where you just think, Oh my God, I don’t think I can swim back now. I’ve been taken by the current, this is it. There’s no safe pool of water down the bottom to land in. This is a death height. You know what I mean? There’s immediate spread of fear through your mind and being like, Oh my God, can I get back from this? Obviously I did. Yes, that’s just embedded in my head as this really raw childhood memory where you can’t really make out the surroundings clearly. When I go back to that in my head, I can’t really visualise the surroundings very clearly, but I can feel that feeling of terror. I’m sure if my brother were here telling the story, he’d say it happened to him and somehow I’ve absorbed it.
Heather Smith: Have you been back there as an adult?
Brad Ewin: No, I don’t even remember where it is. As far as I know, this could just be some shared false memory we’ve both made up somehow. It’s a feeling that’s in me and the feeling is real. That’s what counts I think.
I also want to let you know that I’ve created the Accounting App Content Creator Facebook group – An educational environment for inspiring and facilitating content generation around the specialist theme of Accounting Apps. Your welcome to join.
Heather Smith: Absolutely. I did have a look at your LinkedIn profile before the interview and I came to it thinking I was going to be interviewing someone based in London, who’d grown up in London. But to my shock you actually grew up, it looks like in Brisbane. You actually did a honours degree in mechanical engineering to my double shock, because that’s actually the degree and the university both my kids are going to.
Brad Ewin: Yes, it’s a shock to a lot of people that I chat to because having been in marketing now for a few years, when people ask me what I studied, they obviously expect something relating to marketing or communications or something like that. The usual response when I say that I studied mechanical engineering is, “Wow. How’d you make such a drastic change?”
Heather Smith: Yes, absolutely. It is an interesting degree. Not that I obviously know it, but I just see my children studying it. It does help you with projects and it helps you work through difficult things.
Brad Ewin: Yes. I think it gives you… It gives you a really interesting toolbox. That’s the way that I had it put to me when I was in university that engineering of any discipline gives you a really interesting, I guess toolbox of problem solving. Well I guess problem solving tools that you can apply to a lot of areas later on in life. I must admit that a lot of those fundamentals, particularly the more technical ones are long gone from my memory. But yes, I still… I’m really glad that I studied it. I definitely don’t regret studying it despite not pursuing a career in the end.
Heather Smith: That’s interesting. Well, that’s really interesting. You hear so many people actually studying humanities and then turning around and going, “Why did I study that?” You’ve actually studied mechanical engineering and gone into a very writing and marketing focused role. That’s really cool, but yes, it is tools and that’s what you… sort of the launchpad, what you do with it. Can you share with our listeners… You actually work at GoCardless. Can you share with our listeners a little bit about what GoCardless is, who they are, what they do, so they have sort of some context about where you are and what sort of work you work on?
Brad Ewin: Yes, sure. We’re a FinTech company that deals with recurring payments. We originated here in the UK, but we now operate globally and naturally we have quite an overlap with the accounting industry. We integrate with several major cloud accounting providers like Xero, Sage and QuickBooks. We also have an office in Australia that I believe opened in 2018 I want to say. We’re growing quite rapidly there as well. That’s pretty much how I could summarise GoCardless in a nutshell.
Heather Smith: Very good. Thank you for that. You currently describe yourself as a B2B content writer and strategist. Can you explain to our listeners what that is and remember that most of our listeners really come from… are strongly based in the accounting and the bookkeeping world. I come in from it as both an accountant and a writer was really intrigued by that role. If you can explain to our listeners that would be appreciated.
Can you explain what a B2B content writer and strategist is?
Brad Ewin: Yes, sure. I mean, hopefully I don’t put this in too basic of a way then but I’ll try and keep it quite fundamental. I mean, content is a word that’s thrown around a lot these days, but really what it is is just a facet of marketing. It’s just a facet of your marketing strategy wherein you produce… It’s hard to define without saying the word content again. You produce some sort of content, which is basically information which can be entertaining, educational or both that you then share with the public.
Brad Ewin: It’s typically shared for free. There’s no catch with content. It’s just put out there on the internet in the written medium. It can be video, it can be audio like this podcast itself. It’s a very broad term. It’s basically sharing information or educational entertainment for free in the hopes that you attract your target audience as a business to get their attention on you and then you can then start converting that attention into customers really.
Heather Smith: Absolutely. Thank you… Sorry. Keep going.
Brad Ewin: I was going to say, being a content writer and strategist, the reason I call myself that, and particularly with the B2B preface at the start is… B2B is just business to business. So it’s businesses that sell their goods or services to other businesses rather than consumers. Then me being a writer and strategist is just describing the two fundamental parts of my role, which is we’re working with the team at GoCardless to come up with a strategy for how our content and provide the most value to our target audience and then going ahead and actually producing that content itself.
Heather Smith: Absolutely. So one of the reasons I asked you on the show, there’s two reasons, but one of the reasons, I’m hoping this will benefit our listeners in terms of there’s many accountants and bookkeepers out there. I think it would benefit them to actually do content writing, but their content writing will typically be directed towards their clients, but it may well be about an accounting app solution such as GoCardless or Receipt Bank or Data Dear. So it may actually be a seamless vein into what your writing about, but you’re typically writing to a small business who’s going to use that solution.
Heather Smith: The accountant or bookkeeper maybe writing to a client who may be benefit from using that solution and then can further that conversation. But in addition to that, I’m sure there’s some accounting app content writers out there keen to pick up your tips and tricks.
Brad Ewin: Yes, it’s a field where it can be applied to anything. So like you say, you have a predominantly accounting based audience this podcast, but then there are other content writers in the app space as well. That’s the interesting thing about content, is that it can be used in any situation, any business out there, any listener of yours can use content. But the trick is in figuring out how to use content well for the goals you’re trying to achieve and for the audience you specifically have or want.
Heather Smith: Yes, absolutely. I think that that is really a critical thing is identifying who your audience is. Sometimes I see people in the industry talking to other people in the industry and I’m like, “Oh, what’s your return on investment of that going to be?”
If you’re creating content to attract clients, you need to be talking to your clients not necessarily to other accountants in the industry
Heather Smith: Sometimes the best content creators, other accountants won’t know because they’re directly talking to their clients. But I also wanted to add to that, sorry I’m talking too much, but I also wanted to add to that, one of the reasons I spotted you is that you started putting these fantastic content posts up on LinkedIn. I wanted to draw people’s attention to that and I recommend that they jump over and connect with you on LinkedIn and have a look at some of these posts that you’ve put up there.
Heather Smith: What you’ve been doing is uploading PDFs of your top tips, your top steps, top highlights. Can you first talk about to me about why you started doing that and how you actually go about creating those little PDFs that you put up on LinkedIn?
Can you explain your posting strategy on Linkedin?
Brad Ewin: Yes, sure. The reason why I started doing it was, I guess this is going to sound a little bit silly LinkedIn jargon and behaviour, but to boost my own personal brands. Since I’d started properly using LinkedIn, it was actually relatively recent in my career. I originally started… I created my LinkedIn probably back in university when I got my first job or something like that. It felt like something that you had to have, but I didn’t really understand it, understand why people used it, what it was for.
Brad Ewin: My first glance, I was just like, what’s going on here? What are people actually doing on this platform? How is it beneficial? I didn’t see any immediate benefits. In my mind, I just switched off from that and I thought, okay, LinkedIn can’t help me. I’m just going to boom, put that aside, don’t worry about it. I didn’t get involved with it again until probably late at my previous job or at the start of me starting with GoCardless.
Brad Ewin: I can’t remember why I started getting involved in it again. I just thought to myself I need to boost my personal brand out here. I think ultimately it was to Future proof myself in my role because my previous role, was actually my first role within marketing. For me I didn’t feel like I had a huge wealth of experience in… Even though I’d learned a lot in this period because I was working for a startup, I didn’t feel like I had a huge wealth of experience. It’s like that classic imposter syndrome.
Brad Ewin: I was like, I need to start… If I can demonstrate to others via LinkedIn that I have this experience, then that will help quell my own fears and anxieties about myself. I don’t think it was that clear in my mind at the time I started doing this. But in retrospect I think that’s probably why I started doing it. The reason why that format in particular, that PDF format is because at GoCardless, we didn’t start using that format for our own content until, I want to say around mid last year perhaps.
Brad Ewin: We had a bit of a brainstorm at one point. I was chatting to our social team and I was like, guys I’ve seen these… We sometimes call them documents because that’s what the function is called in LinkedIn. And we sometimes call them carousel. It’s like a carousel of images effects. We were like, guys these carousel things are cool and social team were like yes we’ve been keeping on them too. They are really cool. We think that’s a really interesting format that people might find really engaging.
Brad Ewin: Once they did it, our social team did it at GC and saw really great results from it, I thought that’s a cool format. I want to do that as well. That’s why I jumped into that and created that. In my own feed on LinkedIn, I wasn’t seeing a lot of individuals that I was connected with at the time using that format. I thought okay cool, I can stand out by using this format and that will enable, hopefully, a greater number of people to get their eyes on this, engage with this and then I can gauge feedback as to whether the info that I’m sharing through this content is actually valuable or not.
Brad Ewin: To my surprise, I honestly didn’t expect it to do this good. I think lifetime stats, I’ve got LinkedIn open on my computer right now, I’ve got that first one that I released 10 tips to write better content. It’s got today, 91 reactions, 39 comments and just shy of 10,000 views. Considering that I wasn’t this big LinkedIn presence or anything like that, I was honestly shocked I could get anywhere near those numbers. Once I saw that happen, I was like, whoa, okay, there’s something in this. People do find this valuable. The way I’m distilling the knowledge I’ve learned over these past few years into this format is something that people are appreciating. I continued to do that.
Heather Smith: Excellent. I love that you used that phrase, distilling the knowledge. I had LinkedIn described to me as it’s a business newspaper for people who you’re connected with in the business world. I should be… They came to me in the early days when they launched in Australia and they said, you should be able to go there and see Facebook for business there, see what your friends are doing and as you’re saying, distilling their knowledge. You’ve done a great job of it. 10,000 hits. I do understand that putting the document up there improves… You have algorithm… It works for their algorithms so it actually surfaces better in people’s newsfeed by having that PDF type of document.
Brad Ewin: Yes. I mean, LinkedIn algorithm, it’s funny that you bring that up. It’s something that has been on my mind periodically. I try not to let it get in my head too much. Anyone out there that’s trying to up their LinkedIn game off the back of this conversation, it’s something I think you can do your head in over. You’ve got to take a healthy amount of interest in it. I think a healthy amount is less than you think it is.
Heather Smith: Absolutely. I think the thing is, you look at the return on engagement. For you you had 10,000 views, but if you can put something out there and it does what you wanted it to do, which maybe that’s connecting you with the right person to take you on the next step in your journey or build that brand as you need it, then that’s great. It doesn’t necessarily have to be huge numbers and it can… I put up some interesting posts and people just email me and they just send me these really lovely emails and that can be really nice for me.
10 tips to write better content
Heather Smith: Can we touch on… You talked about the very first one. We’ll say that as the famous 10 tips to write better content. I don’t know if you have that in front of you, but I do recommend our listeners go and have a look at that. Could we have a talk about that in terms of what your tips are for people to write better content?
Brad Ewin: Yes, sure. I do have it in front of me because although I deeply believe in these tips, it’s hard to summon them all to mind at once.
Heather Smith: No, absolutely. I don’t expect you to go through all of them, but maybe you can just touch on some that you feel that would benefit people talking on so they can get a flavour of what it is.
Brad Ewin: Yes, definitely. I think I can touch on all of them really quickly because I think they’re all quite valuable. They’re all… I mean the reason why it was those 10 was because I did an internal presentation at GoCardless a little while ago. These tips… It was sort of sharing my knowledge about content writing with the rest of the marketing team and these tips surfaced there. It was after that presentation where I looked back at the material that I’ve written. I thought, Oh, there’s actually 10 really clear tips in here as to how you can produce content better. That’s how it ended up in this little document here.
Heather Smith: To that, can I just jump in and say for people who are listening in, you did a presentation, you might’ve got a SlideShare presentation out of that. You then jumped on LinkedIn and you got 10,000 views out of that and now you’re here on a podcast. I’m sure there’s going to be some other things that are going to come out of it as well. It’s perfectly okay to recycle and repurpose content as many times as you need to into different formats. Sometimes we’re saying the same thing, but just reshaping it as you did for the different mediums.
Brad Ewin: Yes, I agree with that. If we can just jump on that topic for a quick moment. I think with recycling content it’s very easy to get caught in this negative mindset of, “Oh, I’ve already released this. People don’t want to really this.” We’re saying the same things over and over. I mean honestly, you are going to see your stuff and you’re going to think about your stuff way more than anyone else ever is.
Brad Ewin: People need to see something X number of times before they actually really internalise the information. I think the rule of thumb is people need to see something seven times to before-
Heather Smith: Yes, absolutely.
Brad Ewin: I don’t know, that comes from somewhere. I think recycling content is absolutely fine. If you’ve created something that you really believe in and you think is quite valuable, don’t be afraid to reuse it. I mean don’t just spam it out there in the same meeting over and over again, but by all means transfer it across the different mediums because people learn better in different ways. They might be better to share to different segments of your audience.
Brad Ewin: Obviously, just my network on LinkedIn isn’t my only audience. I have people at GoCardless who are… I can see as my audience as well my colleagues there. I could create something that is more suited to Slack where we would communicate via Slack. Internal messaging I could call this. I could create a different piece of content to put on there to teach my colleagues in the marketing team or the wider company stuff about that. I think recycling content shouldn’t be seen as negatively as it sometimes is, but with the huge caveat that you need to make sure that what you’ve actually created is something that you think is really valuable and you really believe in and you’re not just spamming the same medium over and over again.
Heather Smith: Yes, absolutely. Did you actually start with a PowerPoint presentation or a SlideShare presentation?
Brad Ewin: Yes, it did start… Well actually no. My process I think started with probably a Google Doc where I just put in a whole bunch of bullet points just to structure the presentation and then from there turned it into a slideshow and then yes, from that I’ve taken this part of that slideshow and distilled it into this little PDF.
Heather Smith: For people listening in, one of the platforms that’s not often talked about is slideshare.net and you can actually upload presentations to that. As you’ve done, you’ve got heavily branded people actually go up and search on them. I’ve done that a few times and you get lots and lots of views. Interesting piece of trivia, the number one occupation that uploads documents to SlideShare is preachers.
Brad Ewin: really?
Heather Smith: Yes. Because their sermons. They upload their sermons to try and get them out to as many people as possible.
Brad Ewin: Wow. I never would have guessed that in a million years.
Heather Smith: I know. Everyone’s got to have a presentation. Excellent. We’ll pull back into your 10 tips for writing better.
1. Have it all in the intro
Brad Ewin: What you want to do is, the classic thing from school, the who, what, when, where, why, how, all those questions you want to have them answered really succinctly in the intro paragraph as best you can. I’ll say it right now, don’t listen to these rules black and white. They’re a rule of thumb where I try and make them apply more often than not. Of course they’re not meant to be so rigid. I mean where you can, so all that in the intro because people’s attention span is short, right? I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think it can be seen as a negative light is our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter these days.
Brad Ewin: t’s like… It is what it is. You can’t really control that. What you can control is how you engage with people. They need things to be shorter and more succinct more to the point, then you need to make things shorter, and more succinct and more to the point. You’re not really going to change humanity’s attention span, but you can work with it.
2. Write long 3. Edit short
Brad Ewin: Tip two and three sort of combined. It’s something that I like to say write long, edit short. That is, when you are writing the first draught of a piece of content, I’m just talking about written content here, don’t edit as you go. It’s really easy to self edit as you’re writing and that will just massively slow you down and fill you with a lot of doubt with what you’re writing. Instead just bash out all of the information in one go. Repeat yourself if you need to. Leave spelling mistakes, leave weird sentences in there, that’s totally fine. Get to the end of the first draught and then it’s much easier to edit a document than it is to write it. You just go back and be super ruthless and remove absolutely everything that is non essential.
4. Tell the story with headers
Brad Ewin: My next tip, tip number four is tell the story with headers. You’ve obviously, when you’ve got a written piece, you’ve got your body copy, but you also have sub-headers as you go through the break up the article into different sections. What you want to do is be really clever with those headers because I think that it’s easy to use headers in a way that is actually really vague. As you’re writing them, it may make sense to you what you mean by those headers, but to a totally new person to this piece of content, someone in your audience, those headers won’t actually be helpful at all. The header itself will help in the sense that it physically breaks up the piece of text, but the words you’ve used in the header won’t have as good of an effect as you probably think they do.
Brad Ewin: What you should do is use your header over a particular section to basically summarise the point of that section. What you want to make in the end is an article where if someone were to only skim through and read the headers of the piece, they’d still get a pretty solid idea of what the article is about. Tip five is provide key-
Heather Smith: Sorry. To that point of the headers, I think a lot of people do the headers wrong. I think that they put something in there that just doesn’t make any sense to me. It makes sense to them and they’ve used terminology that makes sense to them, but it doesn’t make any sense to me. I think that’s a really big one and it also helps your SEO. Subheaders help your SEO which is important. Sorry.
Brad Ewin: Yes, definitely. No, it’s key to get them right. I think… You make a good point there. I think it’s something that you need to… You really need to assume that your reader is not going to understand things the same way you do. Even though they very well might, it’s safer to assume they don’t and just lay things out more clearly.
Heather Smith: Or assume that it’s out of context. They’re reading it out of your own context. Sometimes people will go, “Top five features.” It’s like, that doesn’t tell me anything. Tell me what some of the features are or tell me top five features of this FinTech solution or something like that. Reading out of context, I still know what’s going on and can pull back into it.
5. Provide key takeaways
Brad Ewin: Yes, that’s a really good point. Next up tip, I think I’m up to five now. Provide key takeaways.
Heather Smith: You didn’t number them being an accountant. You just put them in there.
Brad Ewin: Tip number five, provide key takeaways. What that is is just… This is something I fall a little foul of to be honest. But what you want to do is at the end of your piece, just add a section that’s just called key takeaways or something to that effect. In just a few bullet points, ideally three, no more than five provide the very most important information from all the texts you have above. So that effectively in the same way people can scan through the headers and get a pretty strong idea of what the article is about.
Brad Ewin: They can scan through this bullet point list at the end and be like, “Oh yes cool. That was the key piece of information I needed to take away from this.” Particularly if you have a next action that someone needs to do. If you’ve written a piece of content that guide someone through a process like how to complete some process that is necessary within their job for instance. At the end there you want to, in the key takeaways, you want to give them the actions they have to actually take.
Heather Smith: Yes, absolutely.
6. Always have a CTA
Brad Ewin: That ties in quite nicely to 6 which is always have a CTA. That’s a bit of marketing jargon for call to action, which is again just a weird term for having a statement that tells people to do something, that tells you’re ready to do something. Because ideally when they get to the end of your piece, you want to guide them to something else. It’s not always going to work. Of course it’s only going to be engaged with by a small minority percentage of your readers most likely.
Brad Ewin: But you want to give them some action to do next. Whether that is sign up for your newsletter if they want to get more of your tips direct to their inbox or it can be to sign up for your product. If, for instance, they’ve read through… With GoCardless as an example, if they’ve read through one of our articles on the benefits of direct debit and they get to the end, we might put in a call to action there which is just like, “Hey, do you want to get up and running with direct debit because we do that? Click here and you can sign up today.” Is another example of a call to action.
Brad Ewin: You always want to have something like that that is relevant to the piece, relevant to the audience to sort of I guess guide them further along the journey of you really. Because I’m assuming that if you’re releasing content, you’re going to want a returning audience. You’re going to want them to come back to you because you’re obviously… You’re giving value to them with the hopes that you can get some value back from them. It’s usually to have them as a customer or something like that.
Heather Smith: Yes, absolutely.
7. Draft 15 headlines
Brad Ewin: Tip number seven, draw 15 headlines. It doesn’t need to be as explicit as 15 headlines.
Heather Smith: I think I laughed out loud when I first saw that. I struggle with headlines so much and that was like, “Oh my God, 15!!!.”
Brad Ewin: Yes. I feel exactly the same way Heather. Again, this is a tip that I fall foul of a lot. I often don’t write this many headlines, but it’s okay. Really the tip should just be draught a whole bunch of headlines. The reason I say that is because you usually fixate on this first gut feel of what you want the headline of your article to be. It’s something that it’s your baby, you’ve just created it and so you cue over it and you’re like, “Oh, this is great. This is it, this is the piece. This is the title.” And you don’t believe that it can be improved. What this exercise is meant to do is just force you to throw aside that bias and just be like, “No, let me think up any alternative way.”
Brad Ewin: A lot of them will be garbage, a lot of them will be really crap but that’s fine. All you’re trying to do is just make up alternative ways of saying the same thing until you’ve got a big list in front of you where you can get a more clear view over what you have to work with. You’ll have a list of headlines that you can now pick from rather than just that first one which feels infallible. Honestly, more often than not, when you actually do this exercise and you end up with that big list of headlines I’ve found, anecdotally I rarely go with the first one I come up with.
Heather Smith: I keep scouring the internet for artificial intelligence that will read my article and just give me my head…
Brad Ewin: I’ve looked into that before. Have you found anything?
Heather Smith: I’ve found ones that will suggest headlines that I’d have to write to, but no, I’ve found ones that will scan the article and suggest social media snippets like takeaways, but not my head lines.
Brad Ewin: Has the social media takeaways have you actually used them? Is that something you do?
Heather Smith: Yes, Meet Edgar, Edgar has artificial intelligence built into it and it scans your whole article and suggests five social media promotions. You go through and you have to read them because obviously sometimes the context isn’t exactly right, but I’ll normally accept three of them so that saves me some time.
Brad Ewin: That’s cool. I’ve never heard of that. That’s awesome.
Heather Smith: Yes, I’m all about finding a tool to do it for me if I can.
8. Create a curiosity gap
Brad Ewin: Oh yes, definitely. For sure. Cool. Let me see if I quickly wrap these up. We’ve got tip number eight, which is create a curiosity gap. The idea behind that one is it very much ties into the title thing again, where your first instinct for the title of a content piece is not usually the best. What you want to do is once you have created that headline, once you’ve settled on that headline from tip number seven, you want to make sure what the headline is doing is asking your reader a question or putting a question in their mind, but it’s not answering it.
Brad Ewin: The idea is that… It doesn’t mean that the headline needs to be a question format, but it just… The way the headline is written, it needs to put a question in your user’s mind that they want answered and then you need to answer that in the actual piece itself. Another way of looking at this is if curiosity gap were in the… on the good side of the spectrum, clickbait would be on the evil side of the spectrum. It’s basically like the right way of doing clickbait. It’s having a title that is very attention grabbing and has something where your reader needs this thing answered.
Brad Ewin: I think where it differentiates from clickbait is that clickbait is usually something low value. The follow through, the answer to that question that’s in your mind feels unsatisfying. If that makes sense. Whereas with a curiosity gap, it’s like, let’s tap into that same mechanism, but let’s make the followup satisfying. Let’s make it worth it.
Heather Smith: Fantastic. Yes, I love that.
9. Make it readable
Brad Ewin: Tip number nine, make it readable. Obviously what you want to do is just make sure at the end of the day, the piece you’ve written, you may optimise it for search engine algorithms and you may write it in the way that you really enjoy writing, but ultimately it needs to be readable by a mass of different people out there. Just go through with… Once you finish writing it, leave it for a little bit, come back to it, read through it again. Even better if you can, throw it off to someone else in your business or a friend or something like that, someone in your network and just get their opinion. Is this readable? Does everything make sense here? Did you enjoy this piece because ultimately you need to write something that appeals to a lot of people out there.
Brad Ewin: The way that you instinctively write it is often not going to be the best way for them to digest it. That’s why it’s good to… You throw it off to someone else where they can have a third party view of it or just you step away from it for a bit and then come back to it with the fresh eyes and read over it. I think the biggest tip I have in terms of actually making it readable, ties back into the whole edit short thing that I had earlier as a tip. Which is make your content just as short, as succinct, as sharp and as unambiguous as possible. Ditch lingo where you can. Ditch superfluous adjectives and stuff where you can. Just make something clear.
Brad Ewin: It might feel at first that you’re taking this all out of the writing, but it’s like, it’s not quite the same as writing literature. It’s not the same as writing fiction. It’s not the same as writing a novel. We’re talking about business content here, whether it’s for another business or for consumer. It’s business content and so ultimately it needs to be super clear and super short.
Heather Smith: Yes, absolutely.
10. Don’t be a perfectionist
Brad Ewin: Finally, tip number 10 is don’t be a perfectionist. Perfect doesn’t exist. It never has and it never will. It’s really easy, especially when you have guidance like these tips that I’m sharing, it’s really easy to feel lik… You just have to do so much work to make this thing perfect. Here’s these 10 tips you have to actually know all of them. Here’s this other list of how to create good content over here. Oh my God, I have to do these 150 things to make this really good piece of content.
Brad Ewin: Ultimately you never… No matter how much time you spend on something, it’s never going to be perfect. There will always be something wrong with it. You’ll always end up with situations where you think something’s amazing, even the people you show it to, around you and your network think it’s amazing, but then it just flops as a piece of content. Some of that stuff’s just out of your control.
Brad Ewin: Give yourself enough time to get the job done. I’m not suggesting rushing things, but at the same time give yourself enough time to get the job done and nothing more. You just need to get the job done. You don’t need to chase perfection because you’ll never end up anywhere good.
Heather Smith: Yes, absolutely.
Brad Ewin: That’s 10 tips.
Heather Smith: That’s very good. Thank you so much for sharing them with us. How do you manage to write in an office environment?
Brad Ewin: It’s a good question. The GoCardless office is relatively open plan. Thankfully the content team we’re tucked away in one of the little corners. We’re, I guess, a little slightly more isolated than other people in the office which is helpful. But what I do honestly is just, although I’m wearing AirPods right now, I actually have just a cheap pair of… You know the in ear headphones. The ones the Silicon tip that squidge right into your ear hole?
Heather Smith: Yes.
Brad Ewin: I use those at work because it’s effective passive noise cancellation. That’s what you got to do. Honestly, I throw them in and never listen to anything with lyrics in it. That’s just going to mess you up. It’s going to throw you off writing. I have been quite partial to jazz lately. I used to listen to just random instrumental stuff, very cinematic style music. But then more recently, this winter period, I don’t know. Just fell into a jazz mood. I’ll just throw in a random jazz mix that can sometimes just last for hours. It’s just that I’ll just throw in when I need to write something.
Brad Ewin: Then honestly I also… You need to break it up as well. I’m someone who very frequently gets up from the desk to get a drink of water or just go for a short walk around the office or something like that. I find that’s very helpful to writing. I can’t just sit down and just bash out an entire piece end to end in one go. I need to have those little breaks where I just get up and detach for just a short moment, move around, come back.
Brad Ewin: Then honestly as well, Heather, sometimes you just need to get away from the office environment. There are days where I’ll dash out to a cafe in the morning for instance, for maybe a couple of hours or work from home for the morning or perhaps even the whole day. It’s in those times as well… It’s a lot easier to focus, but it’s always a balance because if I were to do that all the time, I think that presents a new problem. You can’t just work in a cafe all day or work at home all day every day because then you start to lose other things.
Heather Smith: Yes. Saying that to someone who works at home all day every day.
Brad Ewin: I’m sure you make an effort to get out, right?
Heather Smith: Once in a while.
Brad Ewin: If you don’t I recommend that you do. Maybe it’s just me but I think, I’m in a variable environment.
Heather Smith: No, I completely hear what you’re saying and absolutely. When do you find that you have high writing energy? When is the best focus time for you?
Brad Ewin: I’m a morning man for sure. So straight away.
Heather Smith: Same here. I get to a certain time then I’m like, “Okay, let’s do other things now.” I realise that I’m taking up a lot of your time so you possibly need to go now. I did want to ask you… I want to highlight to people to jump over LinkedIn and have a look at lots of the other PDFs that you’ve uploaded there with lots of good advice about writing. I’d like to ask you one more question and then if you could share how people could get in contact with you. What does the future hold for Brad?
Brad Ewin: The future for Brad? Interesting question. For the foreseeable future, I’m really excited with what GoCardless is doing. I’m really excited with the team we have. Super keen to see where that goes in the coming years. I mean nothing is forever and at some point I have a feeling that I’m going to want to… I’m going to want to, I think teach my learning. I still got a lot more to learn in the realm of B2B content writing.
Brad Ewin: I mean, there’s always stuff to learn. You’ve got to have that mindset of that. There’s always stuff to learn. But at some point, X number of years from now, I think that’s probably something I’m going want to transition into. Is taking all the stuff I’ve learned and having a role that is focused more explicitly on coaching, for instance. So working with businesses to help them develop their content marketing functions and really see a nicer return from them.
Heather Smith: Absolutely. All of that would be sensational. People would be lucky to have you to coach them. Thank you so much for speaking with us and sharing your insights with our listeners today, Brad. How can people get in contact with you?
Brad Ewin: Honestly, from a business perspective, like it’s just learning about content, chatting about that sort of thing. LinkedIn. It’s honestly LinkedIn for me. Search me, Brad Ewin, B-R-A-D E-W-I-N. You’ll find me. Got a goofy grim on my face on my profile picture. It says B2B content writer and strategist is my little tagline.
Heather Smith: Thank you so much Brad.
Brad Ewin: No worries, Heather, thank you so much for having me. It was really fun.