Erin Balsa, Founder of Haus of Bold, explains how you can create thought leadership content that ranks for SEO using her Content Sweet Spot Framework.
Some people think that Thought Leadership Content and SEO Content is like oil and water—they don’t mix.
The reality is far from the truth!
Erin Balsa, founder of Haus of Bold and former marketing director at The Predictive Index, discusses why the best thought leadership content helps your content rank higher on the search results page:
People often differentiate thought leadership and SEO into two buckets. It's a myth that you can't accomplish thought leadership and SEO within one article or holistic content strategy. You can create thought leadership content that also rank for keywords on the search results page.
To help you build thought leadership content that ranks on the search results page, Erin Balsa created The Content Sweet Spot Framework.
In this Marketing Powerups episode, you’ll learn:
- What is “thought leadership”?
- Why great thought leadership content is great for SEO.
- The 4-element Content Sweet Spot Framework.
- How Erin transitioned from an in-house marketer to a business owner.
When you're in scale-up mode, and you have KPIs to hit, the pressure is on to deliver demos and signups.
And it's a lot to handle: demand gen, email sequences, revenue ops, and more! That’s where 42/Agency, founded by my friend Kamil Rextin, can help you.
They’re a strategic partner that’s helped B2B SaaS companies like ProfitWell, Teamwork, Sprout Social and Hubdoc build a predictable revenue engine.
If you’re looking for performance experts and creatives to solve your marketing problems at a fraction of the cost of in-house, look no further.
Go to https://www.42agency.com/ to talk to a strategist to learn how you can build a high-efficiency revenue engine now.
⭐️ The Content Sweet Spot Framework
People seem intent on treating these as separate things completely:
- SEO content: keyword-focused content meant to rank on the search results page.
- Thought leadership content: blog articles based on subject matter interviews or strategic narratives, which are often written without the goal of ranking for a keyword.
- Product-led content: shows people how to use your solution to solve their problems.
Erin Balsa argues that these types of content don't have to be mutually exclusive. SEO is simply a distribution channel at its core.
Don't set out to write "SEO content" or "thought leadership content." Set out to write the best content on the internet.
The best content the searcher finds should be designed to rank, yes, but primarily it should convey your unique perspective, your originality, and, at times, your product, or it'll never be memorable, engaging, or high-converting.
Erin gives these three quick notes about the content sweet spot framework:
- “Your original idea” could be proprietary data or original research. It could also be a new framework or discipline through which people can solve problems.
- “High-value keyword” won't apply 100% of the time. Not every original idea aligns with a search term. Not every buyer persona uses Google to find answers to their work problems. Not every business uses SEO as a distribution channel. But if you could, find that happy medium between extreme short-tail keywords (e.g., “yoga”) and extreme long-tail keywords (e.g., “online yoga classes for 35-year-old me”).
- “Your product” doesn't mean every content piece needs to show people how to use your product to solve their problems. Some pieces will. Others will map back to your product (e.g., you sell sensors, so you write about the future of sensors without mentioning your brand).
🏆 Free powerups cheatsheet
🎉 About Erin Balsa
Erin Balsa is the Founder of Haus of Bold, where she applies over a decade of experience in writing, editing, and content marketing. Her area of expertise lies in crafting marketing content for B2B SaaS firms and helping to build their content teams. Erin began her career in content by serving as the Assistant Editor at Providence Media. Prior to that, she had held several diverse roles. Subsequently, she worked for a content marketing agency that propelled her into the world of content marketing.
🕰️ Timestamps and transcript
- 02:20 - What is "thought leadership"?
- 10:18 - Why SEO content and thought leadership content are not mutually exclusive
- 14:03 - Why creating thought leadership content is more important than ever with the rise of AI content
- 16:32 - My number one recommended demand gen agency
- 17:45 - What is the content sweet spot framework?
- 23:59 - A real-world example of the content sweet spot framework
- 27:51 - How working in the right kind of work environment helped Erin Balsa thrived as a marketer
- 34:12 - How marketers can deal with imposter syndrome
- 36:66 - One piece of advice Erin would give her younger self
Ramli John: Some people think that thought leadership content and SEO content is like oil and water, they don't mix.
But the reality is it's far from the truth. Erin Balsa, founder of Haus of the Bold, discusses why the best thought leadership content helps your content rank higher on the search results page.
Erin Balsa: People have started to differentiate thought leadership and SEO content in two buckets because of the fact that most SEO content just sucks and it's not going to connect with the people that we need to connect with. However, it's a misnomer that you can't accomplish both within one article or webpage and/ or within one holistic content strategy. You for sure can put out great thought leadership and also get your website to rank for critical keywords.
Ramli John: To help you build thought leadership content that ranks higher on the search results page, Erin created the content sweet spot framework.
In this Marketing Powerups episode, you learn: First what the heck is thought leadership? Second, why great thought leadership content is great for SEO. Third, the four-element content sweet spot framework. And fourth, how Erin successfully transitioned from an in-house marketing director to a full-time business owner.
And before we start, I've created the free Powerups cheat sheet that you can now fill in and apply Erin's content sweet spot framework. You can go to marketingpowerups.com to get it right now or find the link in the description and show notes.
Are you ready? Let's go.
Announcer: Marketing Powerups. Ready? Go. Here's your host, Ramli John.
Ramli John: Let's talk about marketing powerups. We're gonna be talking about content sweet spot that you have that you're gonna be sharing about that really helps companies build content, rank on SEO, but build taught leadership content. Be before we do. I'm curious how you define thought leader.
You have this show. You've really doubled down on the term thought leader. You're amazing post on LinkedIn. You've been sharing a lot of content around this, but people have this misconception that it's someone who just talks about themselves all the time, and I feel like that's not necessarily the case.
I'm curious how you would define what a thought leader is.
Erin Balsa: Great question. And that's essentially why I started my podcast back in August is because. About three or four years ago, I started to slowly see this real interest building up in the marketing space, at least among the B2B SaaS companies that work with and I'm friendly with.
And the trend was, I was noticing that these companies were starting to, Rename their blog. The thought leaders sh, the Thought Leadership blog, and I was noticing that more prospects were reaching out to me, specifically asking if I could help them create thought leadership content. And I thought that was really interesting.
I started to see some freelancers, some agencies, now they're not just offering. Content writing, they're offering thought leadership, content writing. And I really wanted to understand why was this happening? At the same time, there's this huge misconception I'm seeing people talk about thought leadership and thought leadership content on LinkedIn, and they're talking about completely different things.
So for example, Some people are saying you have to be an executive to be a thought leader. Some people are talking about you have to have subject matter expertise. And some people are saying that's not true. Some people are saying you need to write a book to be a thought leader. You need to be on stage has to be a person.
It can't be a company. And there's all these different confusions and misconceptions and I really wanted to start. Take an investigative approach to get to the heart of the truth. So I started my podcast, a notorious thought leader, and I start every episode with the same question. And that is, what the fuck is thought leadership?
And I intentionally use the F word because it gets to the heart of this is, it's true, this is bullshit. Everybody wants this thing, but nobody seems to be able to agree on what this thing is, so since I've done the show, I have come to the conclusion that everybody defines thought leadership differently.
And even people who are successful marketing leaders and content leaders, they can drive success and they can help individuals in their organization or their organization be seen as a thought leader. Even if they're not traditionally doing what I personally would label thought leadership activities.
So let me share a few definitions with you. For example, I talked to Tracy Wallace, and she talks about what it is to build thought leadership for your brand is to be really customer focused and to consistently publish really u like unique educational content. So when we say unique Tracy, Using insights from your internal subject matter experts interviewing external subject matter experts, and that over time, if you do that consistently will generate thought leadership.
I will say that her company that she works for Clavio, they also do original research and they do research reports, which is more my definition of thought leadership because it's something kind of net new. And then I talked to Tara Robertson from Chili Piper, and what she is defining as thought leadership is really about sharing best practices that you have developed through actually doing the work yourself.
So they run a lot of tests at Chili Piper and they share the learnings with their audience who are also marketers. So ultimately that's peer-to-peer thought leadership, right? It's like marketing leaders learning these tests, sharing their learnings with other marketing leaders. And then there's some people who really say, that's not thought leadership.
That's just table stakes. Interesting. That's what you should be doing, right? That's just good content. So for example, Steve Watt from Seismic came on the show and he said, and I really love this definition. He said, and I'm not quoting him I can't remember anything that directly, but he essentially said that thought leadership is like map making.
It's either illuminating a new destination that people have never seen before. Or showing people a new way to reach a familiar destination. And I really love that cuz that really aligns with my own personal view of what thought leadership is, right? What I will say before I give my own definition is that at the end of the day, perception is reality.
So a lot of this depends on who your audience is. For example, if I go on LinkedIn and I start sharing educational best practices about content marketing, and I sprinkle in my own first person stories from leading content teams for eight years, there are people who have called me a thought leader, but that's not thought leadership.
That's just sharing educational best practices my opinion. Now at the same time, If your audience is CFOs and you're just sharing basic best practices about finance, the audience of C of CFOs is not gonna see you as a thought leader, right? So it really depends on perception, who your audience is, who you're trying to win over, and how they define thought leadership.
So that's like an important point to make. So back when I launched my newsletter, Which is about content marketing and thought leadership. The first issue, I challenged people to define thought leadership in 10 words or less, and I challenged myself to define thought leadership in 10 words or less, and I wrote down the definition so I can remember to tell it to you.
What I said was the practice of sharing original ideas that shape the conversation. And for me, the word original and shape the conversation are critical. So thought leadership. So for example when I worked at the Predictive index, they were trying to create a new market category. So they came up with a new discipline called talent optimization, and it was net new.
It was a new way of thinking at talent, strateg thinking about talent strategy. It was something no one else had ever said. And they didn't just say, Hey, there's this thing that's talent optimization and here's a graphic, and they put it out on LinkedIn and it just died a slow death. This was the ultimate strategy, right?
So they renamed their platform, the talent optimization platform. We had market maps about talent optimization companies. We had maturity models, we had courses and certifications. We went like all. On talent optimization, which was ultimately showing people what's broken in the human capital management space and how you can apply talent optimization principles to solve for those problems.
So that for me, Teaching people how to do this new discipline is like a perfect example of what thought leadership really is.
Ramli John: It must be an art also to come up with a new name, like talent optimization makes so much sense because we're trying to optimize marketing. We're trying to optimize things, processes.
We should also optimize talent. And talent. Sounds like a positive five through it as. Yeah, so there's definitely an art to naming things. Is is, would you agree to that?
Erin Balsa: Yeah. I remember when we were going through the naming process and it was this long period, it was like a lot of thought and debate went into that for sure.
Ramli John: Another misconception I hear often around how taught leadership and s e is mutually exclusive, where you have your SEO thing here, you have your thought leader thing here, and maybe. Connect at some point, but I'm curious what your thoughts are on how Todd leaders and seo ranking on search engines connect with each
Erin Balsa: Of course I have thoughts on this. Seo I know you know this. I'm preaching to the choir. Probably most marketers know this. I'm not gonna take too long to sit here, but SEO from 2010. It doesn't work today, and it's not that you know the market, the Internet's more saturated with content.
It is. It's not just that. It's that at least in the B2B SaaS space, people's appetite has changed. What was acceptable to do 10, 12 years ago is no longer acceptable, especially when you're trying to sell and. Knowledge workers, especially if those knowledge workers are senior leaders. They're just not googling search terms about how to do their job better and they're just not going to be finding their way to your blog to read these educational blogs.
So that's one thing. Appetite has changed. And then people just got sick of these really shitty SEO blogs and the way I say SEO blog, what I mean by that is, I'm gonna hire some agency and these are entry level writers who have never worked a day at a SaaS company. And I'm gonna say, Hey, go write this article about top marketing metrics or business metrics.
And they're gonna say, cool. And they're gonna Google and they're gonna rephrase what they're seeing in the top two or three search results. We all know that happens. It happened all the time for a long time. Still happens today, but people are sick of it. So people are trying to create the kind of content that they themselves would want to read.
And what that is the more unique thoughts. Of course. It's just good solid educational content that is supported by first person experience, internal, external subject matter. That's always going to do well because we know that it's actually informed by people who have the experience and who have walked the walk.
So it's much more trustworthy. It's much more able to build authority for your business. But above and beyond that, if you're trying to reach an executive audience, again, a lot of them don't need to be educated in how to do their job. They've risen to the top of their organization because they're very good at doing their job, but they still have unique challenges that they need to.
And that's really where the thought leadership can come in really handy. So people have started to differentiate thought leadership and SEO content in two buckets because of the fact that most SEO content just sucks and it's not gonna connect with the people that we need to connect with.
However, it's a misnomer that you can't accomplish. Within one article or webpage and or within one holistic content strategy, you for sure can put out great thought leadership and also get your website to rank for critical keywords.
Ramli John: And in some sense with Google and that even being now is in the conversation with their ai having that trustworthiness is becoming of much, a much bigger factor with.
AI can probably spit out SEO content versus tall leadership comes from a person who has an opinion, who you know, has an experience that might not be something that a robot can get together itself. Yeah. So it's, it is that, I'm curious what your take is on that. How. Might be more important in the future, especially with with AI coming even more
Erin Balsa: Yeah, it's so much more believable. So I can give you another example. When I was at pi, so here's I worked with this company for three and a half years and started before we launched this category, so really got to see the full picture. It was really great. So our president and c e o, they had gone to Harvard Business School and they were venture capitalists and they used to buy used companies with other people's money and try to get them to perform at a higher level.
So the thing that they realized once they started buying these companies and coming in on day one and being like, Hey everyone, we own the company now. Here's our plan. They realized that Harvard had equipped them very. With business skills and financial skills and a good network, but they had not equipped them with people skills.
And that was really how this whole journey started for them with buying the predictive index, which was an existing company and completely rehabbing it. And coming up with this whole discipline of talent optimization really stemmed from their own personal experience as business leaders and knowing how hard it.
To fix your people problems and that kind of content it's really authentic when speaking on stage, but it's also really authentic when different employees from the company are helping to evangelize this message. And that might just be through blog posts. That might be through webinars. But it also might be when employees say me, I used to talk about talent optimization on LinkedIn, but I wasn't talking about it the same way my c e O would talk about it cuz I wasn't a c e o.
It didn't make sense for me to talk about it that way cuz it wasn't authentic. So what I would do is I would apply talent optimization principles to leading the content team, which is what I did as my role as a marketing director. And I would talk about, this is how I use talent optimization to hire people who are a good behavioral fit and a good cognitive fit.
This is how I use talent optimization principles to A, B, C, D, and that was really authentic and that was really a way to help evangelize and spread talent optimization. Among a different kind of subset of people who are leading teams and who might someday move up to be in an executive role. So it is important to really have boots in the ground evangelizing your message in ways that feel authentic.
Ramli John: Before we continue, I wanna thank those who made this video possible 42 Agency. Now, when you are on scale up mode and you have KPIs to hit, the pressure is on to deliver demos and signups, and it's allowed to handle the man gen. Email sequences, rev ops, and even more. That's where a 42 agency founded by my good friend, Camille Rexton can help.
They're a strategic partner that's helped B2B size. Companies like ProfitWell, Teamworks, pro Social and Hubdoc build a predictable revenue engine if you're looking for performance experts and creatives to solve your marketing problems at a fraction of the cost of in-house. Look no further. Go to 42 agency.com to talk to a strategist to learn how you can build a high efficiency revenue engine.
Now you can find that link and the description below. Let's jump back in. I feel like this is leading to the Conta sweet spot, how this is like a perfect example of the four elements that come together in your Conta sweet spot. Framework that you shared on LinkedIn. Also, on your new newsletter, which I'm gonna LinkedIn, the, in the description I'm a subscriber, big fan.
So can you talk a little bit about what is this content sweet spot framework and how did it come about with for you?
Erin Balsa: How does everything come about? Everything comes about from being in the weeds, doing the. Doing things a certain way because that's how you were trained to do them or that's how all the common blog articles tell you to do them.
And then realizing over time, what the hell am I doing? This isn't the right way. There's a better way. And that only can come through experience. I definitely would not have been able to come up with this four years ago. So that's just how it came up. It came up through me actually doing the work 40, 50 hours a week for years.
And just realizing that there was a better. That said, I never really finish learning or growing, so I'm sure in a year or two years from now, I might have iterated my content sweet spot and maybe we'll be back here talking about it then. But essentially, think of it like a Venn diagram, but with four circles.
So there's piece 1, 2, 3, and four, and the intersection in the middle is the sweet. So this can be applied to one webpage, and it can also be applied to an entire content strategy. So the first component that you need to have, and not in every article necessarily, but it could be applied to an article, is your product.
So what do I mean by this? Every piece of content that you. Should be should map to your product. It doesn't mean it needs to talk about your product directly. It doesn't mean that it's gonna necessarily show people, here's how you accomplish X goal with X product. It just means that if it doesn't have anything to do with what you sell, even like tangentially related, you probably shouldn't be working on this piece of content.
But what I really love to do is cope with a content strategy that maps to the product. In different degrees sometimes it really is about showing people, it might be like a video series that is like the science of X product and you're actually walking people through as much as you can disclose without giving away too much proprietary information.
The science of the platform, like what is the science that powers this platform? And this is really for. Sales enablement. It is something that if you have a YouTube channel, you could send that over to someone that is already in the sales cycle in conversations. You could also make it available so people that are doing self-discovery can find it themselves.
You can embed these in blogs that tell show people how to use the problem to use a platform to solve a specific problem. So it's all different ways that you can talk about the product, and sometimes it might be as simple. Say you have an employee engagement software. You're just writing a blog about employee engagement, like tips, so it's not always like it has to be the product. It has to be related to the product, right? Is what I really mean. Circle two is your strategic narrative, and this is ultimately you're, could be just a one slide, some people have a one slide narrative, some people have a 50 slide narrative, whatever it is.
That's defines why you exist as a company and how you're uniquely positioned in the market. And it's usually if you've done a good job with it, a compelling story, and it's something that should be woven somehow into most of your content, even if it's just a little sentence or a little phrase, it underpins the why you are educating the market and why you have this product.
So when I'm talking about an article, it might be just a, like a simple phrase. If I'm talking about a content strategy, I might be thinking, how can we get maybe some data points or maybe some subject matter expert quotes about the topics that we talk about in our strategic narrative so that we can make the story more robust, so that we can sprinkle these quotes and these data points throughout our.
And then the third circle is your original idea. This is again, the thought leadership piece. This might be, I, we ran a report, we surveyed 500 leaders in the space, and here's what we found. It's a lot of data storytelling. It could just be something like we came up with this discipline of talent optimization.
It could even be something as simple as this content and sweet spot, right? So this is something that I put together. It's not revolutionary. It's not talent optimization, but it's something that might be interesting cause it's a different way to look at content strategy building. And then the fourth is the high value keyword.
So does every single article or webpage need to be optimized for search? No. Some companies might not even have seo. Like a major channel that they're using and that's fine. Like it's not necessarily a must for every single business. It really depends on who's your audience, who's your economic buyer?
Are they Googling things, are they not? There's just so many things to consider before you decide whether or not to invest in seo. That said, a lot of companies do want to have some sort of search presence. And so it's a matter of finding the right keywords and working that into your strategy. And it doesn't mean that every single webpage or blog post needs to be optimized.
Ramli John: totally think I love how it all ties to different pieces together. I feel like the, there's probably a lot of like product marketing, like work strategic narrative tied into it that really helps build trust, right? And makes sure con makes the content even stand up because. Once again, an opinion or there's an original idea like you mentioned to, to the piece.
It's itself. You already brought up the example with predictive index, with talent optimization. Can you is there any case study, other case study that you can share of this concept applied? It can also even be the one I predictive index and. This all four, this four circles, tiny neatly.
Back to the word talent
Erin Balsa: optimization. Yeah, so I'm working with one of my favorite long-term clients, which is Intel, and they're an EdTech platform. Super awesome. So they ultimately what they do, let me just give you like a super short context so you can use this. Platform for educating your employees, your customers, or your partners.
And ultimately it's digital learning, right? So it could be anything from live instructor-led training within the platform to self-serve courses, et cetera. Why are they different than the competitors, like an old-fashioned l m s? Because they see LMSs as old-fashioned, static boring, et cetera, that's all feeding into the strategic narrative.
So that's gonna be some messaging that we're beating the drum in different content pieces across time, right? And then the original idea would be a research report. So last year we worked on a report with their learning science team about organizational education. And that is a term that we coined, right?
So nobody else is talking about that. They're talking about customer education or employee education. But that doesn't make sense for, and tell 'em to talk about that because they're doing all of that, which means they're doing organizational education. So the report was titled transforming Organizational Education Initiatives from Cost Center to Profit Center.
And that was really timely with everything that's been going on with the economic downturn and layoffs and tight budgets and et cetera. The whole gist was essentially, As an education initiative leader, your initiatives have to drive roi. You have to have like measurable outcomes, like reduce customer churn or improve partner success.
And of course if you can improve revenue at the end of the day, that's like the ultimate metric. So we're teaching people in a sense that's important, but then we're also serving all these education. Trying to uncover what are the specific best practices that are driving success, and we're sharing those.
And at the end of the day, a lot of those map back to our platform capabilities. So for example, leaders that are building a formalized curriculum based education initiative are more likely to. Outcome A, B, and C. Guess what? We can follow that up with sales enablement content because our platform actually enables you to build a curriculum-based and formalized learning initiative.
So that's tying in the product piece. And then the s e o piece would just be optimizing some content to get found for uh, specific search terms.
Ramli John: I love that example. Particularly it is relevant to me. I create courses for app uses and previously created three courses at product led.
But this really a strong, yeah, I've taken it opinion around how education is, could be a profit center for a lot of companies and that really original idea really makes it stand out there. So thank you for sharing.
Erin Balsa: Yeah, and I've taken your course so I know all about your courses.
Ramli John: Plug to West Bush.
I don't work for him anymore, but I still a big fan of wood. He does a product. Thank you so much for that. I wanna shift, Kirsten, talk about career powerups now. You've been in marketing and journalism and hiring writers and working with writers and writing for over a decade. And this wealth of experience now that you are this consultant that's helping many businesses out with this Tall leadership and creating content.
I'm curious, what's a PowerUp or several powerups or tips or advice that's helped you particularly accelerate your career to, to go to the next stage and level up essentially in in your journey career journey?
Erin Balsa: Gosh, I've been thinking about this lately, so it's great that you asked us.
And before I give my like, answer, answer, I just wanna preface it. The fact that I didn't get into this career until I was 30. I spent about 10 years working in education and social services, and I'm talking about, I had a job one time where I had a cubicle, and in my cubicle was literally nothing because we didn't use computers.
We used paper and a three ring binder. I've also worked at multiple jobs. We had to use a fax machine to send information to different stakeholders. We called on the phone and said, I'm gonna send you a fax. And that's literally like what my life was like. Now I'm like a natural, wired to be a high performer.
I like to do my best job. I like to please people, my coworkers, my managers. That's just how I am by nature. And it was always really frustrating for me because A, I was making like shit, money B. I was making the exact same money as all of my coworkers who were in the same role. There was no differentiation for performance.
Remember one year I've told this story to so many people, but I must tell it again. One year all of us got a raise of a penny an hour. So talk about a smack in the face. Here I am, like doing this amazing job, and for the most part, my bosses would make comments like, wow, like you've made so much impact.
You've made so many improvements. Because I'd come in and be like, this is ridiculous. Like, why is this run this way here? This is a better way. Or, here I updated this form, or whatever it was. And the thing was I'd get so bored so fast and I'd always be watching the clock and I always felt like I was in the wrong place and I didn't really know what to do about it cause I had a teaching degree, so I never really found myself in my twenties. And then finally I found myself when I hit 30, I started a blog just for fun. At the end of my day job, I'd write on a blog and then one day I was at the hair salon reading my like favorite local city magazine that told you like the cool places to eat and drink and shop.
And I noticed that they were hiring an assistant editor. So I applied by just sending a link to my blog and I got hired and that's how I got my foot in the door. And ever since I got into this world where I'm actually working my passion, like something I'm just naturally good at, and I'm able to grow and develop.
There's so many opportunities for career growth within the different companies that I have found. It's been like life-changing. So aside from what I'm gonna say for like my career power up, I think it's important to find the right environment cuz some environments are set up to of hold you back and prevent you from being your best self.
And some environments are going to be like the soil that waters you and you're just gonna grow as a person. And. I found that and I was very lucky, and that really is something that I hope everybody finds at some point in their career. So in terms of like my actual power up, I think the biggest thing that it's like a through line for me is doing things that scare, scare you or I've done things that have scared the shit outta me and it's been career changing to start starting a blog.
Like I, I don't know why I felt compelled to do. But I was writing about personal things. I was writing about dating and different personal feelings that were in my head and that takes vulnerability to put yourself out there like that. And it was scary, but it felt great. And it ended up landing me my first job and changing the trajectory of my life.
At the predictive index I had this manager, Thad, who's still a good friend of mine. He's wonderful. And he pushed me to speak publicly. I was petrified. I hated it. And he is I be pushed gently. And he'd be like I really think you should host this webinar or you should blahdi blah.
And one day I finally said okay, I will. And I went on a podcast and as that was like the first of. But I get over my shyness and one of the things that he pushed me to do was we had a big learning center at the office and at the time had about 200 employees or so, and I held a monthly writing workshop open to the whole company.
I ordered pizza, I did a lunch and learn, and I had people from all over the company in different departments that wanted to improve as a writer. And that was so good for me. I was up in front of this room with a microphone, month after months, building my comfort comfortability with just. Stumbling over my words or whatever it was that I was afraid of.
And that really helped me become much more visible within the company. And that is one of the things that helped me get promoted from head of content to marketing director because I got much more visible. People really, truly knew me. Another piece of that is tooting my own horn, getting on Slack, talking about my accomplishments, going to an all company meeting, volunteering to speak and talk about what my team is working on in our accomplishments and.
That's really critical. If you just sit there and put your head down and do good work, that's good. You'll keep your job. You might get more than the annual increase for your raise, but you're probably not gonna be seen as a leader, and it'll be harder to get a promotion and a significant salary increase.
So I would say put yourself out there. Do things that make you uncomfortable and see what
Ramli John: happens. Totally love that. In terms of doing things that scare you, I tweeted once, or I shared Arlington, that imposter, feeling like an imposter is actually a good thing because that means that you're growing.
Yeah. Which I guess is my follow up question to this around how did you deal, especially when you're putting out yourself out there and doing something. That that imposter version of you is oh, you're not this person. You're not good enough. How do you deal with that voice to that is making it feel like you're not, you're an imposter
Erin Balsa: essentially.
So one thing that I've done, this is like a tactical thing that I would advise anybody to do. Start a Google Doc or a desktop folder on your computer. And every time someone says anything nice about you, or you're at work, or you are, whatever it is, take a screenshot and put it in there. Because sometimes when you're having a down day or you're just feeling like you're an imposter, don't let yourself stay in that negativity.
Go to your happy file. I called mine my praise file. And I look at it and I remember no, I do have this. I do know what I'm doing. And I think that's a really easy way that people can like tangibly get themselves out of that head space cuz it's very unproductive. B like in terms of social media, it can be a lot because even sometimes I try to be myself as much as possible, but there's always an element of performing, always being on like, I'm not always on in real life.
If you come to my house, like if you come past 7:00 PM I'm gonna be like a zombie with a blanket up to my chin, like laying on the couch watching tv like safe. I'm not always like my best self. So it's exhausting sometimes. And I would say if you're starting to have imposter syndrome there I don't know what to talk about, or my posts aren't that good, take a break.
There's no reason you can't take a week or two off to just reset your mental. And then come back with new energy and kind of fresh eyes. I
Ramli John: totally, I totally love the happy file. That's such a good deal. I've heard the tank Bank where you tank your tank, all the tanks that you are getting, but another benefit to that for people.
I, I have one myself, but Oh, nice. It helps you prove when you're trying to get a race or grant a promotion or going to a new job that you're trying to get at it, it's great proof point to your manager. That you deserve that race that you deserve. Yeah. You've been contributing in all this places.
Cause it's easy to forget maybe just me, I forget like what I did last week Totally. Or what I even ate yesterday. So I think that's really another good benefit of that is around so true career advancement. Totally makes sense. One final question around an advice. What will, if you can travel back in time, Send a message through time to a younger version of Aaron.
What advice would you give your younger version of you?
Erin Balsa: It depends if we're talking just general career advice or marketing advice. It
Ramli John: could be both. It could be around career or marketing, but it would be just a message that you would like to give to that person, that younger version of
Erin Balsa: you.
Career advice is, don't give up. I remember being 27, 28, I still hadn't found my thing. I still never felt like I knew what I wanted to do when I grow up. I was just like working in these jobs and I was good at it. It was fine. But I started to think I don't know, maybe I'll never find my thing.
And maybe, I don't know, I just didn't know what my thing was gonna be, and I'm so glad that I kept an open mind and was open to trying something new, even though I was 30. It's never too late to try something new. It's never too late to reinvent yourself. So I think that is a really important lesson.
And then in terms of marketing, like younger me thought I had all these amazing ideas, but I didn't know what I didn't know. And like a concrete example of that, when I got hired to be a magazine editor there was two of us, it was executive editor in May, and we put out four monthly print magazines.
So it was definitely a pretty fast. And yeah, I remember pitching a story that I thought was this really great story and she was like, yeah, that's a good story, but we're a local magazine and that's not like a local story. And I was like, oh yeah, I gotta think about my audience. And it's something that's really interesting as someone who receives pitches for 10 years.
At the magazine we wrote about shopping and dining and local stuff. I remember getting a pitch from someone who wanted to write about horses, just like randomly, like the history of horses. I'm like, I'm not gonna publish that in like my lifestyle magazine. So as it applies to marketing, like with everything you do, it's great to have bold ideas and it's great to think outside the box and it's great to mix formats.
Do things that are gonna surprise people. Like one time we had an event and it was a virtual event and we hired this really cool DJ to play hip hop in between speakers. Like it's cool to do things that are fun and unexpected, but at the same time, at the end of the day, if you're not thinking about your target audience, like what the hell are you
Ramli John: doing?
There's this conversation I had with a previous guest, Adrian Barnes. Sh she's just hit 40 this year. It's oh, I'm doing this new thing. It's like she sees it as a new chapter in the book of her life. And I feel like that's a good thing that I've been thinking a lot about as I almost am about to hit 40 in a few years as well.
So I think that's good. Don't give up. There's new chapters in your life. There's more to come and it's better.
Erin Balsa: And the thing is once you're hitting 40 on the other side of 40, you realize, Oh, I'm really only like halfway through my life. Like it's true. I might be working another 25, 30 years. So you still have so much time.
True, to accomplish what you wanna accomplish, you don't have to say, oh man, I gotta write my book. I haven't written my book yet. Dude, you have 25 more years to write your book. Calm down. Like people think, especially, I don't know, I'm on the other side of 40, so I've had time to process all of that.
I've been through my midlife crisis and I have a different perspective now. There's still plenty of time.
Ramli John: I love this conversation with Aaron. I learned a ton about Paul leadership and seo. I hope you learn as much as I did from Erin. You can find out more about Erin's work by Visiting House of Bold and by subscriber.
We can to her newsletter, out house of bold.com and following her on LinkedIn where she shares her best content. There. You can find those links in the show notes and description. Thank you to Erin for being on the show. If you enjoy this episode, you'd love the Marketing Pops newsletter. Share the actionable takeaways and break down the frameworks of.
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✨ Useful links
- 👨🏽💻 Haus of Bold website
- 🎙 The Notorious Thought Leader Podcast️
- 🔗 Erin Balsa on LinkedIn
- 🧠 The content sweet spot [LinkedIn Post]