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Aaron Orendorff (@iconicontent) is a well known content marketer who has been published on the likes of Mashable, LifeHacker, FastCompany, and many more. He’s also gotten email responses from his outreach to incredible people like Lewis Howes and was able to get a guest post on Mashable even though they don’t do guest posts.
I learned so much from Aaron in this chat, and I am sure it will blow your mind as well.
John: All right. Welcome everyone. Today, I have with me Aaron Orendorff who is the founder of IconiContent located in the tiny town of Klamath Falls, Oregon. You can see the Oregon heart right there. So Klamath Falls is right across the border from California into the great beautiful state of Oregon. And so Aaron is one of the best outreach and content people that I know. This is actually our first time ever being on video together. We haven’t met in person before. But we’ve been connected for a while now through a group that Sujan Patel put together that I’m sure many of you watching this know. And I’m constantly impressed by not only where he’s writing but what he’s writing. And how he really takes content and makes it alive and makes it pop. So I’m super happy to have you on here today, Aaron. Thank you for taking the time. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, about your business and what you do.
Aaron: You said a lot. That’s excellent. I’m super pumped to be here. I just fortuitously wore my Oregon hat. So this is great. I love that.
Aaron: So I do two things right now. Number one, I’m a content marketer for Shopify Plus. So that’s the enterprise arm of Shopify. Meaning we work with the clients like Redbull and the Budweisers, the GEs, those sorts of things. And then, I also do a little bit on the side with IconiContent. That’s the site I run. That’s how I got my start, doing freelance work. And mostly what I do there is I just feed my passions and write all over the interwebs just the stuff I’m really loving these days. So those are the two parts of my world.
John: So I actually didn’t know until just now that you’re full time employed by Shopify Plus.
Aaron: Well, I’m a consultant because they’re a Canadian company. And I’m, yeah. So no. Basically, that’s my main gig, is that at Shopify Plus. Yeah.
John: Cool. Cool. Okay. My wife works for a company that they’re a distributed tech company and they have Canadian employees so it works very similarly. So I understand that. Cool. So tell me…So as we were talking about before we started recording, one of the things I’m constantly impressed with by you is all the places that you’re publishing and the kind of stuff that you’re putting out, you’re one of the most prolific people that I know. And so I’m curious for you, like, when you’re going…either you’re working for Shopify Plus or you have other clients or you’re doing stuff. Where do you start? Because that’s where you’re saying there’s content, there’s outreach, but both of those work together for you. So walk me through your process of like why you do what you do and how you do it.
Aaron: Well, then it comes to prolificness, and that is actually, that’s a question I would get a lot on Twitter, because I am. I am up all over the place. And some of that is just a matter of people just don’t notice me and I’ve written a lot for a lot of different places. So it’s kind of that compounded interest thing that comes together. But really, the prolificness, the productivity, the efficiency comes from, I have a very strong commitment to two principles when I’m creating content. The first is to never treat a piece of content like it’s one and done. So when I’m working on a piece, like, for instance, with Shopify, right? I get this glorious assignment to write about B2B ecommerce. Which is, of course, like the sexiest topic ever.
John: Yeah. Totally.
Aaron: Like you know, this is great. But what I wanna do with something like that is, for a client, whether I’m freelancing or with them being a consultant is try to get the most bang, the most runway I can out of any topic that I try to tackle. So in this sense, the whole, like, “Not one and done.” And then the second principle being, “Content is not a single player sport.” So I bring those two together. So what it looks like in practice is I’ll write something sort of on my own-ish to kick things off, like, sort of the cornerstone piece that’s really targeting something like B2B ecommerce as a keyword. And we need to talk about some other ones but this is just a good live…
John: No. It’s a good one. Yeah.
Aaron: I write that as like the cornerstone piece of content. So I’m looking to write something that’s 25 to 3,000 words, like, fairly large.
John: Yeah. Extensive.
Aaron: I really dig into the research. And as I’m digging into the research, I’m going through my own mentor roller decks, my Slack groups, my Twitter, my email, who are people I’ve work with in the past that could add wisdom to this initial piece of cornerstone content. So for that first one, what ended up happening was Neil Patel contributed to it. Alexis, Machaela Alexis, who is a fantastic LinkedIn influencer, she gave her two cents to it. And I ended up getting a few other people along the way too including some fantastic contributions from CEB which is now Gardener. They wrote a book called “The Challenger Customer” which is like the most mind-blowing book I’ve read on content in the last couple of years.
Aaron: I’m creating this original cornerstone piece of content. I’m pulling in folks along the way to big that up and then I’m finding what is like the sticking point inside of this piece?
Aaron: What’s the pain point? And when it came to that one, and this is actually a really good go-to for most people, what are the myths of B2B and especially the overlap between B2B and B2C. And then what’s like the one must. Once you’ve dispelled the myth, what’s the must? So as I’m creating this one cornerstone piece of content, and I’ve got on the backend, I wanna do like a giant roundup type post.
And so the whole way through the research, I’m asking people for original contributions to this, I built a really simple Google form with the, you know, “Give me all the information,” plus just two questions. “What’s the myth? What’s the must?” And then I’m building on the backend, this, what’s gonna turn into like 60 person contributed. This one, like, I’m just about to launch on Friday, over 6,000 words.
Aaron: Phenomenal who’s who.
Aaron: But all of this is taking place over about a period of three to four weeks. And in between those two, I also realized when I’m doing all these research, I’m collecting a whole bunch of data. And data is really tough to communicate in word. So in between those two, I build an infographic with another 1,000 word piece to sort of bridge the two.
Aaron: So I’m doing one project but that’s turning into like over 10,000 words, 6,000 of which I’m not writing, I’m just editing, 1,000 of which is visually represented. And I’m getting help from people to actually build the infographic, not inside Shopify either. That was another like, contributor kind of thing where I pardon with the people of Venngage to get them to do a lot of the heavy lifting on that. So those are those two principles.
John: So you’re taking, so for that infographic, what data are you taking and putting in there?
Aaron: So I’ve got like these nine trends in the first one.
Aaron: And then the second one is like SEO focused on B2B advantages. And so that’s all data driven. What’s the market size of B2B? Let’s visually represent that. Let’s contrast that visually to B2C. What are the overlaps of doing B2B and B2C? That’s one point with visuals, and another point would be… Right. And we’re trying to quantify everything. How do people like to communicate? Sixty-percent on Twitter, 80% on email. All these numbers that I’m collecting in the first one and sort of present…
John: So this is the data that you’re getting from all over the internet that adds value to this first cornerstone piece that you’ve done and then taking that, obviously, citing your sources but putting it in a new way, wrapping it up. And then they’re obviously gonna share it. It dovetails with the first piece that you did and then it goes into the big roundup post that you’re doing.
Aaron: And then here’s the really crazy wonderful part.
John: Beautiful. Yeah.
Aaron: That’s three pieces so far. And then I also add an extra optional question in the Google form of like any great examples of B2B ecommerce or wholesaler commerce I should check out.
Aaron: That is gonna turn into an examples of article that I author but I’m getting input from, you know, the 60 people and maybe like 1 out of every 3 or 5 gives me an example.
Aaron: So it’s all about economy of effort and that whole not a single player sport, so that when each one of these pieces launch, right? I’ve got this like sort irony of contributors and promoters that are willing to do it for me. And like the really wonderful thing was, so like that first one goes up, I’ve got Neil Patel in it. neilpatel.com does an article. He features me in it with a backlink to that first piece, pauses in the next feed. So we’re building like SEO value. That’s why those two principles are so important, not one and done and not a single player sport.
John: Not one and done, not a single player sport. That absolutely, absolutely makes sense. How did you come up with those two?
Aaron: I learned. You know Andy Crestodina.
John: Yeah. I love Andy. So smart.
Aaron: Like ridiculous, really. Like, I’m almost sure I have stolen almost every smart thing I know from Andy. I’m like almost dead serious. You know, because he’s just, man, I connected what I did about two years ago through Slack. He’s the most giving, generous guy. And so he would ask for contributions. I would see what he was doing. He does original data through surveys and things like that that are just like SEO.
John: I just got one today.
Aaron: All Gold. Gold. And I saw him doing that all throughout. Like, he would never write a piece himself and he would never write a piece and then just like set it aside. And I saw him doing that and I saw other people that I’ve pick up kinda tips along the way. Plus I’m just like, I’m ridiculously enthusiastic. I like people, especially online. And so hopefully that’s a little bit a contagiousness and that ramps off. And so people, yeah, I get them pumped up because I’m pumped up about it.
John: Totally. Totally. No, that’s awesome. It’s funny now that you say it because I definitely, now that you’re telling me those two tricks, I’m like, “Yeah, that’s exactly like what you do and a bunch of other people that I know and do.” You’re the one that I…You guys are the ones I see like everywhere, absolutely, absolutely everywhere. So let’s take a step back because, you know, you’re talking about like you got assigned this piece on like B2B SEO, or B2B content, right? And so now, you’ve taken the huge pieces about B2B content as you were talking about, like, the content side, the SEO side, all these different things. And then you take it and create a bunch of pieces about it which is really smart. And you can kind of find that in any topic.
But what bigger strategy is that playing into, right? Because like, I could go and do something like that, do a bunch of pieces around outreach for example, right? But like what’s the bigger, like, the bigger goal of doing that and how did you kind of put together this sort of tragedy, this kind of like micro-tragedy you’re talking about here within the big…Like, what’s the bigger strategy there that you’re working towards? Because this is all has to map back to the business goals.
Aaron: Yeah. And so with something like Shopify Plus, like, all of these grows out of the fact that they’ve launched a wholesale channel. So they’ve really got on their backend a phenomenal multichannel system to list products on things like Facebook natively. They’ve got a Buzzfeed integration. They’ve got on Pinterest. They’re coming out with Instagram. So it’s like there’s this ecommerce multichannel, and then one of those channels is wholesale and you’ve got to talk about B2B if you’re gonna talk about wholesale. So all of this is to then, you know, it goes down and then back up. And so what I’m trying to do with every piece of content is, well, is number dominate SEO so that I can be like…my goal with all of these is when someone enters B2B ecommerce, I want within a month and a half or so to be like, “Bam, like, maybe multiple pieces on the first page.”
John: Sure. Sure. Shopify.com and guest post and all this stuff.
Aaron: Yeah. I wanna dominate those search results. And then inside each one of those pieces, there’s this really natural connection point to say if you’re wondering about how to do multichannel, if you’re curious, wholesale doesn’t have to be hard, those kind of things, and just create these little call out boxes throughout that are almost like upgrades but more intentional contact sales kind of stuff. So if it does…
John: Sure. A little bit of harder of a sale.
John: As opposed to like amateur email, I know, we put you into a drip and then eventually do the harder sell.
Aaron: Yeah. And this one is far more because it’s playing at that enterprise level, just going right after, if we can get them into the funnel, then that’s where the personal touch takes over.
Aaron: But it starts with that whole, I mean, the cornerstone of content marketing being I add value first. I make them go, “Huh, I didn’t realize I was doing that wrong.” Or, “Oh, my gosh, that is a really good…it can be that simple? That’s how…” And I add value first and then they come on in.
Aaron: So that’s the go back up the channel.
John: Totally. Totally. And so when you talk about dominating that space, I mean, you’re basically talking about traditional SEO keyword research there, right?
John: Where you’re like, these are the terms that we need to target by search volumes and cost per click so you know how valuable they potentially are and then you don’t wanna go you’re content marketer. You show a paid activation specialist. So you’re like, “How can I write like the best piece of content on this topic and then use basically the people,” as you said, with, you know, Patel, example, using the people that contributed to it. They’re happy to link to it. They’re happy to push it for you as well. And so you just very quickly.
Aaron: Yeah. It’s that whole, interrelated, interlocking. Yeah, don’t make it harder on yourself than it needs to be both in creation as well as in promotion and SEO because those can all come together if you build it throughout the process.
John: Right. Oh. You’re right. Absolutely. Absolutely. That makes a ton of sense. So where did you start with content? I mean, you said you got your like, a kind of content that was kind of your star at getting going. Give me some of the hard learned lessons along the way. Like, it seems like you have it pretty dialed in, now, obviously, there’s always stuff that’s broken and it’s very, like, it’s very easy to look at someone like yourself that you’re everywhere. People look at me, like, for SEO and they’re like, “Oh. Everything speeded up.” And I’m like, “Man. But you’re so under the hood.” Like, everything goes like it’s broken all the time. But like what are some of the lessons that you’ve learned along the way, like hard hard fought? Like, where are the scars?
Aaron: So I mean, when I started, this was about three and a half, four years ago.
John: Is that it?
Aaron: I mean, yeah. Zero. Like, I mean, launch in a week site, which was the first, like…Yeah, that was the first scar.
John: I love it.
Aaron: I literally like throwing together these pages to try to make it look like a blog and then finally left works behind me. Maybe they’re better now. I’m not trying to throw shade on them. Okay. I was from there, I used SquareSpace to finally launch a WordPress site or that kind of thing.
Aaron: So the real big, like, breakthrough for me came in the guest posting realm because I had that logo envy, because I was a nobody. I didn’t have any clients kind of thing. And I’d go to other people’s sites and I’d see those beautiful logos of like, “Oh, they wrote for Forbes and entrepreneurs, “Business Insider”, and these kind of…So about a year into it, I just started going after those. And for me, that was the real breakthrough because I realized, like, “I can write a tailored piece of content for those big names site without a name myself. And if it’s tailored for them meaning, like, I got the right word count, I know how they do images, I know how they do links, I’ve shown love to the topics that are really popular on their site and I’m not pitching the editors, I’m just saying, “Here’s a completed piece that’s just for you.” And I always do that through cold email and I had a ton of success when I let that speak for me rather than trying to say, like, “I’ve written for these people. I’ve worked with these people. Here are some ideas. Here are some headlines.” Nah, just like super short, hand it over.
John: Yeah. Yeah. Did you do detective?
Aaron: Oh. Have we talked about this?
John: No. We have not talked about this.
Aaron: Oh. My gosh.
John: No. No. No. But here you go. Cue it up.
Aaron: My motto, what I love hashtagging is, “Let’s get rejected.” That’s my jam. No. Early on…
John: Okay. So if I search that on Twitter, it’s like all you and people like sharing their worse stories with you?
Aaron: Yes. Oh. Absolutely.
John: I love it.
Aaron: “Let’s get rejected.”
John: Oh. Man. I’ll look it up right now.
Aaron: Because that’s what I armed myself with when I was trying to get a name and I didn’t have a name and nobody knew who I was. Every time I would click Send, I would up my rates, I would pitch a client, like, whatever it was, that’s what I would tell myself and turn it, “Let’s get rejected.” because I wanted to be the kind of person that did stuff. That went out there, that didn’t let the fear hold me back. So I made that the goal and I just made it like, I’m aware of those scars. You know, and it still happens. I mean, it still happens at time.
Like I’ve got this beautiful piece that I’m like, so what I write about now, authored like Shopify and like just onesy choosy clients here and there but most off of Shopify is what am I passionate about? And so I love writing about counterintuitive things. So I’ve got this baby of a post that I just have been like growing for the last, like, six months. And dude, I’ve got Mark Cuban original content in there. Billboard prize winner gave it to me. Brian Holiday contributed to it. Louis Howes is in there. At least, like, all these people and everybody has rejected it so far. Dude, I’ve got no response…
John: No way.
Aaron: I’ve got no response from Harvard Business Review. The “New York Times” took a look at it and they’re like, No, we don’t think so. But I know it’s something. Forbes has turned it down.
John: Wow. Forbes has turn it down, wow.
Aaron: It’s been brutal, but I love it. It’s a good article. So when I get one of these pieces where I just know it’s something and so I’m gonna hold on to it and it’s gonna find a home, but it’s a lot pitching along the way.
John: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So what do you…? I mean, do you put together a list and say like, “This is what I’ve written about, this is who I think it’s like going to be best for.” And basically, you, like, obviously you write it with like one person in mind and one publication in mind but like, you know, “New York Times” reject you, all right, Forbes. Like, how do you think about that?
Aaron: Yeah. I think about it like, because today I have the flexibility to write about what I’m passionate about on my own time. Before, it was just like Grind. Like, I will cater to you. And if you’re starting out like just, if you’re trying to get like, on the places or backlinks, that kind of thing, cater. Like, don’t sell out, but get pretty close. Get pretty close.
John: Yeah. Yeah.
Aaron: So now what I do, I basically got a list of like, “Okay. I really wanna get on the Harvard Business Review. I really wanna get on “New York Times”. I really wanna get on Forbes.” So I know those are the three that I go through when I’ve got something special and I’m just getting rejected, rejected, rejected. Okay, I’m probably gonna take it over to fast company because they’re really tough. I’m probably gonna take it to “Business Insider” because they’re really tough. And then I’ve got some other ones that I know I can, like, fall back to that I’ve got really good editorial relationships at that let me get away with murder when it comes to word count, like Mashable. Those people are amazing. They let me post like 2,000, 1,500 word articles there. And they end up doing really well. And so that’s sort of why they give me that leeway. But I’m almost like running through this list of like really, really hard, and then I know I’ve got these ones I can go back to and it’ll still do well on.
John: Do you ever ask the…I mean, so you said you got rejected by the New York Times, was that a hard rejection or was that like they never got back to you?
Aaron: That was an actual, I had a friend who knew someone there. They connected me. They looked at it. And it’s just, you know, their editorial stand, like, it is what it is.
John: Totally. Totally.
Aaron: Like it is no joke. And it’s probably gonna take some time.
John: Yeah. Yeah. But did you ask him like, “Okay, you know what, what can I do in the future to, like, you know have at it better?” Do you do that or no?
Aaron: I don’t. And I may, if I’m pitching somebody a second or a third time and they’re responsive, but I don’t, I never want to give an editor a bad taste in their mouth about me.
John: Totally. Totally.
Aaron: Or even like passive aggressive guilt.
John: Yeah. No. That’s not good.
Aaron: That kind of thing. Yeah. It’s like, they’re gonna tell me if it’s good or it’s not, and what I’ve learned is that a lot of times it just, “It’s about is it the right fit and is it the right time?” And that’s what really all it comes down to. And did they wake up on the right side of bed. Like, there’s all these things I can’t control.
John: Yeah. Got you. “Have they had coffee today?” You know? “Did their dog poop in the house?” Like, yeah. Totally.
Aaron: It’s so that case. Yeah.
Aaron: Yeah. Hilarious. That’s funny. But that’s also really smart. I mean, I like the approach that you’re taking to content because it’s not about like…Like, you come out of it from the content side, from the relationship side, from the, you know, that sort of thing and you’re very, you know, a friendly guy, you know, and you’re just like kind of…you have a contagious energy to you. I come from the SEO side, right? Where it’s all about like how do you gain the search engine so that you can do something and then like, oh, that, like, little hack stopped working and so now you have to like try this other thing, right? Like, that’s what the SEO world has been for a long time. And I think it’s really changed in the last three to four years. But you take a very different approach to it where you’re coming at it from like, so people, SEO is saying about, “Oh, like, I wanna a backlink,” which, I hate the word. “I wanna link from newyorktimes.com, right?” The only people that used to term “backlink” are people like spamming you for, like, quote and quote, “SEO services that don’t work” in my opinion.
Aaron: I hear you.
John: But like, SEOs will be like, “Oh. Man, you know, my competitor has a link from the ‘New York Times’ so, like, I wanna link from the “New York Times”. And then, you know, and then they approach it completely wrong. Versus you’re going at it from the like, you’re not even…I mean, obviously, you brought up SEO. I didn’t even bring up SEO, right? Like, you brought it up and you obviously care about that but, like, if you got a piece on the “New York Times” and they didn’t like link to you or something like that, you would still promote the hell out of it.
Aaron: Oh. Yeah.
John: And you wouldn’t go back and be like, “Hey, can you give me credit for that? Like, you know, I just need a link credit to my, you know, to my site at iconicontent.com or, you know, shopify.com/plus,” or whatever the URL is. Instead, you’re like, “Man, like, this is freaking awesome. Thank you so much for the opportunity here. Like, you know, this thing is gonna blow up.” So then, like, in the future, then you’re being…you know, eventually, you build that relationship more and more and they’re like, “Oh, yeah, I’m writing a piece,” or, like, “This company can see this huge content marketing thing, who right now, they just can’t…I need to talk to Aaron, right?” And then is spitballs. So it’s all about that relationship.
Aaron: It really is.
John: Teams for outreach, all that. It’s all about the relationship.
Aaron: Because you can’t overstate that. I mean, now, listen, I am not above low hanging fruit. If someone mentions me and it’s the right place, I will…No. I will make it as easy as I possibly can on them. So I’ll take a screenshot of where it is, I’m like, “Hey, you actually mentioned the article. It’d be fantastic if you could…” And sometimes I’ll even go so far as to, like, I suck at HTML so I use HTML-cleaner all the time and I answer my stuff in there and I highlight in there at the link.
John: But you’ll send them the code.
Aaron: And just like, “It’d be like if you could do this.” Like, you know, that sort of thing. I’m not above that, but I’m not gonna go there first.
John: Right. Right. Well, and you also do it for the right people. Like, you’re not gonna do it to, I don’t know, someone at the “New York Times”, even if you’ve known them for a while, you’re not doing that. Like, you’re just…It’s a no, no. But if it’s like, HubSpot or something like that and you’ve known the person for a long time and, like, they get it and they wanna give credit anyways, then they’re like, they’re gonna be supercool about it, you know.
Aaron: Yep. I literally just did it today. I had this great infographic go up on Mashable about a week and a half ago on influencer marketing. And I wrote the article. I helped the people who made the infographic put it together. And it’s freaking beautiful. It’s this guy Brian Wallace who runs now sourcing. And he’s a legit infographic artist. So it was one of those opportunities. He came to me. We’ve known each other through Facebook and some groups. Build this, and it’s above and beyond the regular infographic stuff, like, real artistry. And so now, that thing is getting picked up left and right. And one of the places it got picked up was Inc. And all I did was when I saw it go up on Inc., I said a big, “thank you,” to the guy that did it. I sent him an email and was like, you know, “Thanks. If it’s not too much trouble, at the very end, if you could just add, you know, the Mashable link, my editor would be really happy.” And he gets back, was like, “Yeah. That’s cool.” But that’s the thing, right? I’m not asking for like a mashable link and, oh, also link to Aaron Orendorff site. It’s like, “Credit where credit is due.” No nastiness, just a nice simple ask with a screenshot.
John: Well, and I like how you phrase that too, right? Because you’re like, “My editor would be really happy,” right? It’s not like you trying to get in. It’s like you’re kind of passing the blame there, right?
John: You know.
John: My PR consultant would love it, right?
Aaron: Yeah. My editor is super happy.
John: I didn’t wanna do it but like, yeah, totally.
Aaron: Yeah. But he would love it if, yeah.
John: Right. Exactly. Right. And they’re like, “Can’t really blame the guy, so sure.”
Aaron: Yeah. Exactly.
John: Interesting. But did you have… So you didn’t…In that case, and Inc. is tough to get on, can be tough to get on. You didn’t have a relationship with that person for, that post, the infographic.
Aaron: I didn’t. But the nice thing was it all came through social. And so I’ve got a friend who was tweeting back and forth with this guy and he actually tagged me in one of the tweets. And so it was the supernatural like…
John: Yeah. I love that. That’s how it should be.
John: That’s how I’ve gotten some of my better, some of my better things. It’s like I see friends, you know, like, one of my good friends in New York is friends with Sean Blenda who’s the editor in chief of GrowthLab owned by IWT. So I got a post on there because, you know, Sean’s just a great dude and he’s good friends with one of my best friends in the world, Tom Critchlow, who hired me at Distilled in 2011. You know, he lives in Brooklyn. They play ball together and they’re both in the content world, like, the publishing world. Like, that’s how it works best. It’s like, once again, going back to relationship, it’s, like, you surround yourself with good people and those good people surround themselves with good people and then you just meet, like, more good people. It’s basically the way it is.
Aaron: And it’s that strategy of…So on the tactical side, the biggest thing I would pass on to people is one ask per communication. So when I emailed that guy from Inc., that’s it. I’m not pitching him anything else. I’m not asking for anything else. That’s one ask per communication. And that’s the tactical thing where people get out in front of themselves and that’s why the whole thing of like when I send an article to an editor, that’s it. “I wrote this piece for you, what do you think?” One ask. Not a multiple choice, “Here’s a bunch of things I put together and like a bunch of headlines.” No. on the strategy side, it’s so much about give, give, give, give, give. Then something would naturally comes up. Like, I was sucking up to this “New York Times” editor. I will tell you. A friend of mine was like, “Here’s the guy. This is the guy I’m gonna introduce you to.” And like, two weeks before I got that introduction, I was tweeting his stuff. I was hitting up friends on Facebook, messenger, like, “Dude, I’m trying to suck up to this guy. [cross talk].” Exactly. I’m just going nuts.
John: I love it.
Aaron: And never is it like at so and so, “Hey, I pitched you something” It’s just much love as I can throw at them. And I’m gonna keep doing it.
John: Totally. Totally. Yeah. Yeah. Because you’re not just doing it to get published. You’re doing it because they’re writing good stuff legitimately and you wanna be their friend.
Aaron: As good as good.
John: Yeah. Exactly. Nice. Nice. I love it. So one more tactical thing, or maybe it’s strategic. I don’t really know. So you write a piece of Entrepreneur, right? Which I think you can just publish there, but like, I’m meeting my first piece there pretty soon. I’m super jazzed about it. But, like, say you write a piece and I wrote it just for Entrepreneur and then we pitched it, you know, to them. And so that’s how, you know, getting up there. So I followed your advice without knowing even your advice. But like say you write it, you write a piece for a fast company, right? And they come back and they’re like, “Not quite right, you know, not quite what we’re looking for right now.” Or like, “Oh, we were talking about this three months ago and it’s not really going to, like, catch fire now.” What do you do with that piece? You don’t just let it just sit there.
Aaron: So. No. So this is a good example of my very first piece that I’ve ever went up on Mashable was on this app that Dan Ariely. I believe it’s how you say it. He and I worked on together and we had an infographic built for it on these behavioral economics influenced, you know, psychology influenced app and to help people save money. And so that was one where I was like, “Oh, my gosh, Dan Ariely, he is a legit academic. He’s got some best sellers.” Like, “Okay. I’m gonna take this over to Wired. No, it’s too long. I’m gonna take it over to Harvard Business Review. Oh my gosh it’s so close but we don’t really write about apps.” All right. I take it over to “Business Insider”, it’s too long. I take it at Fast Company, it’s too long. And it finally goes over to Mashable. That ends up being my first piece and like, the next week, the editor Mashable emails me with a screenshot and we’re like,…
John: Which is crazy because normally they write super short stuff. So the fact that they never rejected you for being too long is interesting but it was the right topic.
Aaron: It was. Yeah. It was that, it was that humanity…
John: Because they write about apps and all that.
Aaron: Yeah. Meets apps and it kinda came together. And it just so happened that the next week he emails me and he is like, “Dude, I’ve never seen like an eleven and a half minute read time on an article.” Like I just, I never… And so that was like that door is open now. Mean that’s why they let me get away with writing long content. But,…
John: Because you have to deliver every single time.
Aaron: Every time I would send off that article, the main thing I would do is I would go through it and when I first sent it to “Wired,” I found articles that “Wired” had written on behavioral economics and apps on change and I used those sometimes it’s just a link, a cross link, or it’s a quote to the other thing. And then when they say no, I do the same thing in “Business Insider.” I write articles on there. And so all I am really doing each time is swapping out the links and a few of the citations.
Aaron: That’s. That’s how you show love so that it’s for them.
John: Right. Right. Interesting. Interesting. No. That really makes sense because it’s not like… I mean, once again, going back to the, “Nothing is one and done.” Even like, first draft, first publication, they you know, rejected. It’s not done, right? Like, you’re moving on, you’re moving on to next one and still tailoring it to them.
Aaron: And it gets another piece of shine because I just can’t help myself. Like, someone says no and it comes back to me. Or like even someone’s like, “We’ll publish that in two weeks,” I just can’t help myself. I’ll still mess with it and make it a little bit better. So it’s time it gets a little bit polishy and really with that polish, it’s about less. It’s not about adding more. It’s about taking out.
John: You’re refining your ideas, you’re getting down to that core idea. So my start is at 3,000 word piece but by the end of the day, it’s down to 1800 words and that sucker is just so tight that like, people are gonna be like oh my god this is guy done like, “Oh, my God, is this guy done like talking yet.” You know they’re actually like, “Whoa, like sucks and done it.”
Aaron: Exactly. So it’s getting a little bit better and I’m just changing out the citations and links.
John: Yeah, yeah. That’s absolutely brilliant. I actually, I hadn’t, that idea hadn’t crossed my mind before. So that is, that is really, really smart. So, so, one thing that I come across a lot in my work with, you know, with Credo, is that, I get a lot of like, marketing managers that, you know, they’re like, I’ve worked for this whole like, you know, B to B company and it’s owned by this like, dude, who’s 60 years old. And doesn’t understand like, you know, the internet at all. And I’m really trying to get like, the basis here is like, they’re bought into content and like they believe that the content can really like move in for the business. Thinking long term but they’re really struggling to get that, like going internally because of, you know, basing on what the boss like, the owner is saying. Like, why would we, you know, why would we spend $2000 in my book content if we’re not going to see anything for six months? What do you, what would be your advice to them?
Aaron: To someone working like internally and that sort of setting?
John: Yeah. Working internally in that sort of setting.
Aaron: I, the endorphins of traffic and shares are so seductive and you can use that to your advantage. So that even if it’s just a simple thing of like making sure and this is silly what I have to say but you do have to say it, making sure Google analytics is set up correctly that you can do content drilldowns to separate something like a blog from the main content, from the adwords that they might be running anyway. So as long, make sure that’s setup correctly and then even using something like a BuzzSumo to track social shares or even the, you know, sum all to track on page. What I’ve seen happen is, you don’t actually have to connect it to the bottom line immediately. You just gotta give them a taste of those endorphins. Or to, to give them something where they can see. There is this spike in traffic, there’s this spike in shares. Even if, now that’s vanity. That wont sustain you over the long term but if you’re looking to get buy-in. That’s where specially doing something like, bringing together this, you know, experts on a topic. Getting them to share it and then optimizing it for SCO so that they blink to it and you get that initial boost. It’s very addictive and you can use that like manipulatively to give them that taste, that initial win that maybe you have to go out and look them to do yourself, then you gotta invest it in after hours, that kind of thing. But once people get that taste, then you can string them along until the bottomline stuff kicks in and it better. It better kick in or else it will, it will peter out. So like, I’ll give you this, this for example, property management software. I had a client that…
Aaron: Oh that’s even, even better looking than B2B, right?
John: Yeah. Right.
Aaron: Property management software.
John: I used to work in rentals and man, good times.
Aaron: I used the exact same principles that I use for social media tools, that I use for B2B ecommerce, that I use for anything, that eventually ends up blinking or doing well on social with property management software. I put together my, I come in cold with this client, put together my dream list with them of who are the big movers and shakers in property, in real estate in investing online. Let’s do a giant like 30-50 person email outreach. I used Mailshake, Busuj Vitals app. Use Mailshake, do a little bit of tracking people down on social, on LinkedIn, try to get their email addresses. There’s is great tools you can use to…
John: And to the IOS fantastic one. Yap.
Aaron: Yep. And send out 30-50 of these emails end up like 25, 20 people writing back…
Aaron: Put together basically around that post of what’s the number one red flag you should look for in this industry and what’s the number one must. No product recommendations. They’re, they sell the product, no product recommendations, it’s just content. And we get all these people in it, we put their faces in it, we make them look pretty, we keep it, you know, supplier agnostic, solution agnostic they all end up sharing it and then that’s how it catches fire for them and they’re like, then their boss is freaking into it.
John: Interesting. Okay, okay. So then, so after you publish that piece of content you go out and reach them again, right? And basically say okay, you know, this piece went live with lot of, with we’d love of share if you have a newsletter you lot of it share like, what are your, no?…
John: What do you do?
Aaron: Okay. There’s something. No. if someone’s actually contributed or be a little more like blame out it and be like hey just went live, here’s a click to tweet link, so I make it easy for em, right? Put them in it so it’s tailored to them. If I include somebody and I’m strategically including them like a quote and, but I want them to share it, I learnt this from John Bart who also has a podcast. The guy, this is the best thing ever. I email them or I could hit them up on social and I say hey, I just featured you in Blink. Is that the right link? So they go to it and they check it. Or I’ll say something like…
John: So you’re like linking to their site or whatever?
Aaron: Yeah. If I’m like to their site, or I’ll be like, I included a quote from your book in, you know, my later Shopify post. I link to Amazon but is there a better link I should include?
John: Oh,wow. So smart. So smart.
Aaron: It’s like, it’s so, that they it’s like they are bought in, you’re not like telling them basically hey, “I used you, would you please share it?”
John: Right. Right. It’s not transactional.
Aaron: It’s not transactional. It’s a question that they actually, it’s like an open loop in their mind that they wanna, okay,..
John: So smart.
Aaron: Did I include the right link at the piece? We’ll actually go and then they’re gone there and if they do want different link I can actually change it. If not, I had such good response from that. They’re like starting relationships because it opens with hey, did I include that right link in that article? It’s crazy.
John: No. That’s brilliant. And that’s the sort of thing that even like someone that’s supper had to get it, to get a hold of, they’re gonna be like, I mean, they wanna get it right too, right? They hard to get a hold of for a reason cause they like focus on the quality and then they’re, and then you’re kind of like in their minds, you know, in the future.
Aaron: It is, it’s…
John: It’s not that doorway for a relationship.
Aaron: It’s, it’s such this sneaky like I’m gonna crawl inside your head because I ask you this question, you’re wondering if it’s right your name s out there somewhere in the world, I gotta go. Look that was amazing, I love it.
John: Right. Yeah. Yeah. That’s insanely smart. I am 100% gonna steal it from you.
Aaron: Dude. I actually learned it from him.
John: Nice. Nice. Yeah. I love it. Everything goes back to Andy. That’s that’s great.
Aaron: Although this was John Bart…
John: Oh. John Bart. Sorry. Sorry. Yeah. John Bart. Okay. Cool. Cool. So smart. So I wanna be respectful of your time. Thank you for sharing. I mean, this knowledge has been absolutely incredible. I’ve learnt a ton. I’ve taken a bunch of notes on it. So where could people find you online and, you know, what should people contact you about?
Aaron: You can find me if you Google Oren, O-R-E-N. I’m pretty sure I autocomplete at the end…
John: I’m checking right now.
Aaron: So Oren, check it right now. See if it autocompletes to the end to Orendorff. It kinda of a hard name to spell but, A-A-R-O-N O-R-E-N and then, yeah. Aaronorendorff.com.
John: I like it. Aaron Orendorff.
Aaron: It’s kind of a smooth. Yeah. So if you go to aaronorendorff.com, if you Google Aaron Orendorff, that’ll send you to iconicontent.com. You can find me IconiContent on the Twitters. On Aaron Orendorff on Facebook, there’s now too many of us out there. I’m pretty easy to track down thanks to my lineage.
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