Struggle with SEO? Wondering where to start when it comes to getting found on Google? This week I’m sharing a conversation I had with Meg Casebolt of Megabolt Digital on my Empower Your Marketing podcast. She’s my go-to SEO strategist and Google gal, making the process of getting found online a whole lot easier.

SEO With Meg Casebolt

Stephanie Jiroch: Hey everyone, welcome back to Empower Your Marketing, this is Stephanie Jiroch and episode 14. I am so excited for today’s episode because I get to interview my favorite SEO strategist. Meg Casebolt is an SEO specialist, a digital strategist and founder of Megabolt Digital. She helps women ­owned businesses show up in search results, get more leads, and sell more products with intentional strategic content. If you’re struggling with SEO organic search strategies, she’s your go­to gal for all things search related. Not only that but she’s also a whiz at paid traffic strategies. So without further ado let’s jump into the interview.

Alright, Meg, I’m so excited to have you on the podcast today. I think everyone’s gonna love you.

Meg Casebolt: I think so too.

SJ: I love you so that’s all that matters. Before we begin, I have to admit I’m one of those lurkers. I follow people for a really long time in the shadows and I just watch what people are doing, and I get a lot of valuable information, and that’s how I am with you. I follow you, I think you’re great, I get your newsletter and yeah, I just think what you’re about to share with the women who are listening is just gonna be phenomenal, so thank you for coming on today.

MC: I’m so glad to hear you say that because I think so often those of us especially who do some email marketing, it’s like we have so many lurkers on our list, and we don’t necessarily know what value we’re providing, we just have to keep showing up, and showing up, and showing up, and showing up and eventually it turns into conversations like this, but you can’t reach everyone all the time unless you just keep showing up and giving, and giving, and giving, and giving.

SJ: Oh, that’s… Yep and that’s probably the whole point of this conversation, right?

MC: Alright, we’re done, that’s it.

SJ: No doubt, that’s like, you just honed right into it. So, before we jump into the good stuff, tell me where are you in the world, because I always think it’s so interesting to know where people are.

MC: I live in Rochester, New York. It’s about an hour and a half from Niagara Falls, so when I say I live in New York, or even upstate New York, people think like, “Oh, just outside New York City?” “No, I’m like closer to Toronto.”

SJ: That’s amazing, that’s probably very beautiful. I’ve never been there so I’m gonna have to make it out there, but I’ve heard it’s gorgeous and very green I think, and also very cold in the winter, if I’m not wrong.

MC: Very green. I would say come between May and October because it’s amazing that time of year, and then it’s just a frozen wasteland the rest of the year.

SJ: Okay.

MC: I grew up here, my family’s here, I have two young kids and all of my high school friends have kids the same age. I got together for dinner with friends from high school last night, we’ve been friends for 20 years. I would not live here if I did not have the support system.

SJ: Oh, I love that. You know what, that’s so key as a mom. We can jump in to ‘mompreneur’ stuff too, ’cause oh my goodness there’s so much. I have two young kids we could probably dish on that for quite sometime. Okay, well, so I love the work you do, I love that you are out to really help female businesses… Well, any business, but female-­owned businesses to stand out, get seen. We do similar work, we speak a similar language, which I love, it’s just that we do it in very… We help women in very different ways. So I just wanna hear from you, let’s start out with your origin story. How did you get into this work? What brought you here? And I guess, just the overall.

MC: Sure, so I started my business five years ago, oh gosh. I was working full time at an architecture firm as their marketing director, and then I got pregnant and took a look at my salary, and took a look at the cost of child care and went, “Hmm, that might not be the best decision.” And so, I had enough design experience that I started a small design firm, so I was doing print work and then I moved into web design, because I had some experience with that through corporate connections through previous jobs. I understood WordPress, I knew how to make that work, and so I started building out websites and working primarily with women entrepreneurs, with people who were in a similar boat to me of being moms and being home with their kids but also wanting to have some income, some conversations with other adults and so…

SJ: And feel like an adult for a minute in a day.

MC: Exactly, exactly. Have something to look forward to, besides bath time because I was in that boat for a bit.

SJ: Bath time, yeah.

MC: And I came up with these women, we were all supporting each other, we were all helping each other, and we all grew our businesses to the point that it made sense to send our kids to daycare and be home. And so seeing the ways that their marketing plans and their websites helped them grow, it gave me a sense of purpose beyond just, “Let me make you something pretty.” And I saw really how the more that we could get their story out on their website, it wasn’t just, “Well, get your brand photos and get a logo in place.” But more like, “Who are you really helping and how are you serving them?” And then it turned from web design into more marketing strategy because you really do need a strategy when you’re designing a website that says, “Well, who are you trying to reach here? What are the things that those people are looking for, and what are the things that appeal to those people?” And it’s more than just design, it’s a mix of copy-writing and knowing market research and there’s so much that goes into web design.

MC: And so that was about two years ago I’d gotten to that point where I was helping with the strategy behind the websites, and then I started launching websites for other clients and we launched these gorgeous websites that the clients were in love with, and then they said, “But why isn’t anyone finding it?”

SJ: Uh-­huh. Yeah.

MC: And I said, “Well, that wasn’t part of our goal. That wasn’t the discussion.” Our discussion was get the website out into the world, not get the traffic to the website.

SJ: Right, right.

MC: And that was when I said…

SJ: We forget those things by the way, a lot of people forget those things. They expect it, there’s an assumption but then they don’t actually bring that up, right? And so they think they get the website and then they think, “Well, where is everybody?” Like, “I thought everybody was just gonna find me.”

MC: Right, it’s very much like, there’s this feeling of, if you build it they will come in that Field of Dreams way. And we’ve been told if you have a beautiful website that’s enough. I think that would have worked even 10 years ago. To have a beautiful website, the internet was less noisy, less crowded, there were fewer people doing the things that we are doing. And now it’s a very…Depending on your industry of course, it’s a very saturated market and so trying to be not just to have yourself out there but to be seen for what you’re doing, to be found by the right people is an entirely different skill set than even just pushing yourself out on social and getting into people’s feeds is a different skill set than being found when people are searching for you. And so, that’s the direction that I started to go in my business is helping people show up in search results.

SJ: Which is brilliant because today’s world… And we probably could just… We could talk about this forever but the “look at me marketing” I call it, right? Like, look at me, look at me and it’s a lot of pushing out lots of content but it’s fluff content. It’s pretty pictures or fluffy captions or really being in your feeds consistently. You’re not actually taking a break, you’re constantly posting or you’re trying to outdo somebody maybe “competition”. I say quote/unquote because I don’t really know if there’s competition, I just think that we have over-saturated markets now, right?

MC: Mm­hmm.

SJ: But it’s like somebody else in your industry is doing something so you try to outdo them or you try to get more attention or… It’s all very flashy based and what we forget is, yes social media is fantastic for bringing awareness to your brand or bringing people in to better understand your aesthetics or brand theme but you still need to show up, you still need to be delivering content, you still need to be giving something, and the best way to show up is in search. And I’m speaking specifically about web searches because I don’t go to Instagram to search yet, I still use Google. And if you’re not utilizing either great content or sharing good stuff or actually using SEO, we’ll go straight to the SEO word because I know a lot of people are afraid of “SEO”, they don’t know what that is. If you’re not using that, then you’re not showing up, you’re not standing out, you’re not getting seen, you’re not probably making any money.

MC: I don’t think that’s necessarily true, I think that there is… You know, there’s a way to leverage social to turn into sales and there’s a way to talk to your audience and develop a relationship with them that social is so incredible at. Social is really a place for conversations and it can be a place for discovery but the goal of social is not discovery, the goal of social is relationships. When we think about Instagram, you and I actually connected on Instagram, you reached out to me there so that’s where I’m going to. It’s like when we think about Instagram, yes we can tag other people and then follow those people and then comment on their posts and then watch their stories and then DM them and we can develop that relationship over time, but it takes a long time and it takes consistent effort in those places on a daily or weekly basis that you can’t really step away from.

SJ: Yeah, that’s true.

MC: And that was one of the things that stressed me out about when I was doing more social strategy with my clients. It’s like it was never ending and, you know…

SJ: And that can so overwhelming for both you and the client.

MC: Exactly, and it’s like sometimes you just wanna take a damn vacation. I don’t know if I’m allowed to swear on this podcast…

SJ: You can. Go for it.

MC: But sometimes you just wanna take a vacation. You wanna step away from your computer. You want to be able to do something that isn’t attached to your phone and still be getting those leads coming in. You’re still getting people to find you even when you’re not actively creating more and more and more content, and that was the appeal to me of search is when you’re on Google, when you’re ranking in Google people are finding you no matter what. I have a client who… She’s an Instagram specialist and she gets 90% of her traffic from search and she took six months off for her maternity leave and she was still getting leads into her website because she had created so much valuable content for her audience that people were still signing up for her email list. They were still contacting her for consults. It didn’t slow down just because she did, and that’s something that’s so appealing about SEO.

SJ: Oh, and especially… And so I can only… I mean, there’s many avenues to this but I think the one that really pops out to me first is, I’m thinking of a lot of those clients that I work with that are rather new to business. Let’s say it’s their first year or two and they’re still juggling either the 9:00 to 5:00 and the side gig and maybe wanting the side gig to be more prominent or they’ve gone full in but they have limited funds. So, they can’t spend a ton on let’s say facebook ads or even Google ads yet, and a ton meaning even maybe just a little. Maybe they just don’t have an ad spend yet and they’re totally bootstrapping it. Talk to me a little bit about how organic search and good content plays a role in building your business those first few years. I’d love to hear more about this.

MC: Absolutely. The way that I think of this is that you can either spend time on your business or you can spend money on your business and there’s a point where you can do both. But you have that balance all the time. And if you have the time to write really great content but you don’t have the budget for an ad spend, then SEO I think is the best use of your time. Because what you’re doing is you are being really strategic about the blog posts that you’re putting on your website or even when we talk about SEO, we can talk about YouTube videos, we can talk about podcast. When I say SEO, I don’t just mean written blog posts, I mean YouTube is a search engine.

SJ: Interesting.

MC: Pinterest is a search engine, iTunes is a search engine and there are different ways that you can optimize what you’re creating for each of those platforms. Google is not the only place that SEO benefits you but we can talk about that in a second. I wanna go back to creating content. But if you can be really, really, especially when you’re starting out; really, really hyper specific about what it is that you provide, who you serve and if you’re a local business, where you provide that service, then you can show up in search… Within a couple of months of getting started, you can be showing up in search results, it just depends on how specific you are. You know, Steph, if you wanted to show up for marketing coach, it’s gonna take a lot of time to get you there.

SJ: Right, right.

MC: But if you’re specifically saying, “I’m a marketing coach for female businesses who are ex­pats,” and they’re working in these separate cultures, and they’re trying to figure out their way of, what are the best softwares when you don’t have great internet service, but you still wanna have a podcast? If you wanna have that conversation on your website, you’re gonna find other ex­pats who are like, “How was this even possible?” Any way that you want to be specific, the more specific you can get in the content that you create, two things will happen: One, you will climb the ranks of Google faster because the more specific you get, the less competitive those search terms tend to be; and two, people when they land on your website if they’re searching for what you’re writing about, they’re gonna be like, “Oh my God, she gets me, she understands what I’m going through. I need to get more from her.”

SJ: Ah, yep. Which is the bread and butter in my business, I think in everybody’s but I always try to hone this in. It really is key when you’re in their shoes speaking as them, right?

MC: Yes.

SJ: You understand them, you get them, and they come and they say, “Oh my gosh finally, I’m seen, I’m heard, I’m understood.” And you’re building the rapport, you’re building the trust. Yeah, there’s so much good stuff and I have so many different questions but I’m trying to figure out which one to ask next, because I think there’s so much that we could go into. So, if you’re starting out in this direction, two things, one is, and these are loaded so I’m sure you could go off on both of these, one is, where do you even begin if you’re starting out? How do you know what keywords to use? And then what if you’re using words in your business that no one is searching? For example, like brand story telling. Let’s just use my business for example. That’s not something somebody’s like, “You know what, today I’m gonna search brand story telling.” You know what I mean? Unless maybe that phrase comes into their world view. They might look up marketing advice for women or there might be a different search way, so where does someone start to figure out how to build that SEO ranking, those words?

MC: Oh, yeah. Well, so I think part of it is… We’ll answer this in two ways. The first is knowing your audience, and the second is going for the data. And people get really concerned when I say, “Go find the data,” so I will talk you through a little bit of that and give you some free tools that you can use to… And it’s hard ’cause we’re on a podcast and it’s hard to give you free tools. I have a bunch of free trainings, I have a lot on my website, if anyone’s interested in getting the video tutorials that go along with these. But first of all, the most important thing is knowing who you’re talking to.

SJ: Yeah.

MC: If you’re a life coach and you say, “Well, I can help everyone with every problem that has ever happened in their entire lives,” then nobody is going to find you. But if you say, “I’m a life coach for divorced women who are trying to get back into the dating game,” and they have teenage kids and so they have to navigate that relationship of their new partners and their teen. You know like…

SJ: Yep. Hyper-specific.

MC: If you can be so specific about…

SJ: Yep.

MC: Hyper, hyper-specific and then you start to think like, “Well, what are those women searching for?” “How to introduce my boyfriend to my son?” They’re searching for that.

SJ: Right, right, right. You have to, again, getting in their shoes. Oh, yeah.

MC: Exactly, so you have to start to think about what are the things that you are going through, what are the things that your ideal client is going through. And then, you can go and start doing what’s called keyword research, and keyword research is when you can use a tool that will tell you, “Here are how many people are searching for this search term. Here are how many people have already written about this search term.” My favorite free search tool is called Ubersuggest, and basically Google gives away the information about how many people are searching for things because people are paying for AdWords. And so because you can get that information when you’re running Google Ads, Google gives it away for free and other companies can come in and scrape that information out of Google and provide it publicly.

MC: And so the search volume is the first metric that you wanna look at, which is how many people are actually searching for this phrase, what are the phrases that are related to that that people are searching for, how specific can I get and still have people searching for a topic? Because sure, there’s gonna be 100,000 searches for life coach but you don’t know if those people are trying to become a life coach, if they’re looking for a life coach, if they’re curious about Tony Robbins’ new documentary on Netflix, you don’t know what the intent is based on that. Whereas, if you have something like, “How do I introduce my boyfriend to my 15­ year ­old son?” You know exactly what  that person is looking for.

SJ: Yeah, you know what they need.

MC: Exactly.

SJ: You know exactly what they need. Ahh, okay.

MC: And you can answer their question based on exactly what the search term is, and if you know that 50 people a month are searching for that, yes, it’s only 50 people a month, but those 50 people are gonna find you and fall in love with you.

SJ: Right, which is something I always advocate too, which is it’s quality not quantity. So you can have a small list but if it’s an engaged list, I’m just using a list as an example, but if it’s like an engaged list if your open rate is 30%, 40%, 50% by all means go for it, you know what I mean? They will say, “Well, I want a list of 20,000 people,” and it’s like but if you have a list of 1000 people and they love you versus 20,000 only, 1% love you, I think we’re talking about different things here. And so quality over quantity is so, so important. So it’s best in being really search specific is important.

MC: Yeah. And I think that same thing is so true in search too, because we’re saying if we have 50 people who come to your site and you’re so clear about what it is that you do, and they all wanna hire you and you get a 50%, that’s unheard of, let’s say 30% of those people join your list then we’ve got 15, 16 new people on your list. If you get a 1000 new people to your site and you only have a 1% conversion and they aren’t as engaged with you, and they aren’t that interested in what you’re talking about then who cares?

MC: If they’re just coming and clogging up your website and they’re not engaging with you then it’s just vanity metrics, it’s just, you can say that, “Yes, I got 1000 new people to my website,” but if nobody is buying from you then it’s not really gonna impact your bottom line.

SJ: Yup. And you’re gonna be in the same place that you were in the beginning. The numbers make you feel good but they don’t drive the business in that way, so really…

MC: Yeah, and I think you’re totally right that email list get a lot of vanity metrics, which is like, “I have 20 million people on my email list but nobody opens my email,” or nobody buys from those emails. And Instagram, you can have a million followers and you can get all the likes in the world but that doesn’t mean you’re gonna make money on it. And that we are running businesses, like, we are not doing these for fun.

SJ: Totally, 100%. I’ve had clients come to me with huge followings on social media and they can’t figure out how to monetize their business. And it really boiled down to, they were trying to please everyone. They were trying to be like a something to someone, and then something to someone else, and they were trying to be just everything. And what we had to figure out was how to actually niche down, find the value, and then get into the shoes of who they actually wanna work with. So it’s like who do you actually wanna work with, who’s out there that you wanna serve. Again, you brought up that example, and I think it’s so great to talk about that in that we really need to understand who we actually want to serve versus who we think we should serve, which is usually everybody, “Oh, I can help all female entrepreneurs.” Usually not, and you’re doing a disservice to yourself and to others if you try to be everything to everyone, I think.

SJ: So, I think those are such interesting points. So then you advocate this organic search, this way of really bringing yourself to the table with good content, with showing up consistently, and then what? Do you just keep that up? Does somebody just keep writing really good content and then it’s good? What’s the next step? I have no idea. I don’t know.

MC: So there’s a lot of different ways you can do it. I like to think of SEO as having three, or maybe four, different pillars that you build upon. The maybe is local search, so if you have a local business, if you are a hairdresser in Topeka, Kansas then there’s a limited amount of geography that you can serve. You can’t just fly to Oregon to do someone’s highlights, right?

SJ: True. True.

MC: So, you are limited but the limitation of your geographic range can be an asset, too, because people are only looking for you in Topeka, right? And you can just say, “This is where I am, this is what I do, this is who I serve.” And the competition is much smaller for those local audiences, and the search behavior is different for people locally because it’s like, “I want Italian food, where’s the best Italian food near me? Let me ask Alexa.” Oh, I shouldn’t have said her name because now people are listening on Alexa, and she’s gonna be like, “Hi, can I help you? I didn’t understand that.”

MC: But we have that search behavior pretty well down as a culture, to know that there’s something we’re looking for locally and we can go to Google, we can go to Yelp, we can go to NextDoor, we can go to HomeAdvisor, we can go to any of those kinds of local search platforms and get the information that we need. So that’s kind of a maybe pillar. If you’re running a local business then local SEO is super, super important to being found. If you’re running an online business and you can serve people anywhere in the world, then these other three things are more important to you but they are still important to local businesses to an extent. And those are your content, the links coming into your website, your inbound links, and your technical website performance.

SJ: What’s an inbound link? I don’t know what that is.

MC: So that’s somebody sending a link to your website, somebody giving your website an endorsement that you know what you’re talking about. When you put together the show notes for this podcast, you’ll probably link to my website. That is an inbound link to my website, it’s called a back link also. People call it a lot of different things, but basically, when you put the show notes together, you put a link to my website in your show notes then that’s your way of saying, “Yes, I talked to Meg. She’s great, she knows what she’s talking about. I want you to… ” It’s an endorsement.

SJ: Got it.

MC: The more inbound links we get to our site, the more people who are talking about us, and sharing our stuff, and sharing it from one website to another, those are incredibly valuable in search engine optimization. And, if you’re looking to do what’s called a back link strategy or trying to get more of these links in, you wanna get links within your industry count more than links that are kind of just random and links that have more back links into them mean more. So, while I’m thrilled…

SJ: Wow. Interesting. It’s like social clout or something. It’s like digital clout.

MC: Yes, totally. And so, while I will be thrilled to get a link from your website to mine in the show notes, if I could also get a link from Entrepreneur or Forbes or New York Times that would raise my value in Google’s eyes a little bit more because they have so much of that clout, of that authority, of that credibility.

SJ: Oh, that’s so interesting. I had no idea.

MC: Yeah. So your content, making sure that you are writing the things that people are looking for. You wanna get endorsements to your site in the form of back links, and then you also need to make sure that your site is enjoyable to be on. So, a couple of years ago Google switched over to indexing mobile websites first, so if your website doesn’t look good on a phone or a tablet, you were penalized. Like it does not like that anymore so you need to make sure that your site’s mobile friendly, you need to make sure that it loads pretty quickly ideally in less than three seconds, you need to make sure that there are no broken links on your website that are either within your website if you move a page around and then you get a 404 error, or even going out to other people’s websites, if they move a page around you might not know it and Google doesn’t like broken links. And so, just some of these technical things that you can do, and then there’s things that you can do to make your blog posts easier for Google’s robots to read, too. And so that falls within both what you’re writing and how your website loads. So, it’s interesting.

SJ: Wow!

MC: Yeah, it’s an interesting bit.

SJ: Wow! So you really could just pick an angle and go for it. You know what I mean? There’s different angles you could even play with of, like, or you just hit them all, and you do the best you can.

MC: Yeah, I like to think that SEO is like a copywriter and a designer and a developer and a PR person have a baby together.

SJ: It’s just like your total in­-house agency, you got a little bit of everything all in one.

MC: Exactly, and there’s no rules about which ranks more than anything else. It’s all kind of a… I wouldn’t even say free-­for­-all, it’s a little bit the Wild West because Google never says, “Well, your content counts for 20% and your technical count… ” Like, they don’t have those hard and fast rules about, “Well, if you get 1000 back links then you’ll be number one because it’s all dependent on what other people in your industry are doing.”

SJ: Wow. Wow! So fascinating. And I don’t…

MC: It’s so stressful for people who are new to this and I just wanna also like…

SJ: Right. It can be, right?

MC: Yeah.

SJ: And then you end up probably like, you get overwhelmed and you just say, “Ugh, I don’t even wanna think about it but I don’t… ” It’s probably something that I’ve learned over the years growing my own business is that in the beginning I didn’t pay attention to organic search and growth. I was horrible at it, I didn’t even do SEO, I didn’t understand it, I was using Squarespace at the time which didn’t have specific SEO places like in WordPress.

MC: Oh, it’s better now.

SJ: Is it better now? Okay, great because I went over to WordPress so I mean I don’t know, I think they’re both great but it was just something that I just had no idea what to do. So, I think it’s super important knowing when you start out just to start somewhere, I always think that that’s an important place. So even just having this information of knowing that there’s strategies to partake in, knowing that there’s areas that they can optimize when they’re getting started is super important. So do you think when you’re getting started, do you think it’s more important to focus on keywords in the blog post themselves? Or do you think it’s more important to have that optimized mobile site with making sure you have some sort of maybe plugin to check back links? Where is the best place to start down the road?

MC: Oh, I don’t know if there’s really a best place because nobody… Even if your site’s technically perfect, nobody is gonna wanna come there if you don’t have something they wanna read.

SJ: Sure.

MC: And if you have the best content in the world but your site crashes whenever it loads then Google is not gonna send you traffic either way, so it really has to be a situation where you’re thinking about… I don’t wanna say like you’re thinking about all of it but there has to be a balance. You know?

SJ: Sure.

MC: And there has to be a certain level of promoting yourself that goes into it also and trying to get some other people to talk about what you’re writing, which is the forgotten piece of SEO that is honestly very stressful for most people.

SJ: Right. Sharing your work. I deal a lot with clients who are afraid to share their story, it’s coaxing that story out of them, it’s getting it out into the world, building the confidence and so then there’s a whole other side of that of actually then sharing your work whether that’s…

MC: Yeah.

SJ: I’m assuming on a Facebook page or Twitter or just anywhere, just actually sharing the work and probably even pressing publish on a lot of those blog posts or articles because some people can feel like, “Okay, well, nobody will wanna read it anyways, they’ll talk themselves out of it last minute,” is how I’ve seen a lot of clients, they’ll kind of pull back last minute so any strategies for just like putting yourself out there.

MC: Yeah, no, I think that you are totally nailing it and I’ve seen that too which is people saying, “Well, I don’t feel like I have anything new to bring to the table,” or “Nobody wants to hear my story,” or “Can’t I just do my work without needing to talk about me?” And yeah, you can, you can still do your work without needing to be the face of your brand, but you do need to talk about what it is that you do. You do need to tell people… You need to brag a little bit and I think that our cultures especially the patriarchy for lack of… It’s like…

SJ: Let’s just call it out. Let’s just go for it.

MC: We as women have been raised to believe that we cannot toot our own horns and we have to be humble and we have to put everyone else first, and there’s this mindset shift that happens in entrepreneurship where you have to be able to say, “No, I’m really good at this and you should hire me, and that doesn’t mean that other people are bad or wrong. But I’m really, really good at this, I am an expert, I am an authority, I know what I’m talking about and if you hire me you will not be disappointed with me.” And we have to both believe it and say it.

SJ: Yeah.

MC: Which is a scary thing to do.

SJ: Which is a scary thing to do. It’s so scary. Sometimes it’s like even just doing it for yourself in the mirror can be daunting let alone on a client call. I have a lot of wonderful amazing clients who do great work and who can’t make any money and I’m like, “Right, but you have to actually sell yourself a little bit. You have to go out there and you have to own your worth in the world. You have a passion and a drive. Now go out and share that and in the face of that they crumble in fear of sounding like you said a little like they’re bragging or full of themselves or I get a lot of  “Well, there’s so many other people who’ve already done it and who are doing way better than me already, I’m late to the game or why would anyone even care I know it, it’s no big deal after all. I’m not really that into it and then they start stop, start stop, start stop, their business over years because they really do have a passion but it’s learning how to have that confidence to really own their value and really own that story.

MC: Totally and I think for the recommendation that I would give to people in that boat of feeling like, “Oh, but everything’s already been said and I don’t have anything new to say,” I think that’s where being really selective about who you serve or how you serve them can set you apart and give you confidence where you say I’ve had clients going through this before I have customers who have been there by being hyper specific about what it is that you provide and how you serve people, you can gain some confidence in that particular group, in that particular service that you’re providing. Maybe you don’t wanna do web design for everyone and their mother but if you say I’m gonna do web design for jewelry makers. Now, I’m gonna get really good at telling their story and showing their products and I’m gonna make sure that… And if that’s all you do then they’ll start to talk to each other and they’ll send you referrals and you can get booked out.

MC: Just based on being really really like this is all that I do is jewelry makers and I think that there’s something really inherently valuable in being the go-to person. As my friend Jacqueline would say she’s a go-to gal. It’s like being the go-­to gal in your space and being known for something and that will help both your business growth and your search reputation.

SJ: I agree 100%. We were talking a little bit before we jumped on the call about that of really owning that space and coming from a referral space versus other ways in which you can bring in business, right?

MC: Yeah.

SJ: People always wanna know, especially people who are listening in, they’re building their business, they’re maybe scaling their business, how do you like to market your business? Because this is something that always is interesting for people who are marketing their own business they wanna know how other successful women bring in clients into their business. So do you wanna share that with us?

MC: Sure. Like I said, I’ve been in business for five years and I think I got my first client from search about three months ago.

SJ: Nice.

MC: And actually I’m pretty proud of this because I asked her… I have a thing on my website that’s like reach out, contact me, what do you wanna work on? What’s your budget? It says, where did you find out about me and for the most part it’s the name of another client that shows up there or I followed you on Instagram or something like that, but this particular client said, “I found you on Google, I searched for feminist SEO.” And I was like, “Oh!”

SJ: Brilliant, that’s brilliant.

MC: But that’s how specific we have to be. But like I said it’s been five years of word of mouth, of conversations, of getting on phone calls with people that I don’t know what they’ll lead to, of podcast interviews, of putting myself out there in a way that can be really scary. You know? And…

SJ: Right, and then also owning who you wanna work with like owning that customer-centric stance of like, “This is who I’m working with.” You’re not trying to work with everyone and then you have all these referrals that are coming in from people like the most random places. You probably are working with one specific person. You put a stake in the ground, you own that place and niche, right?

MC: Yup.

SJ: And then in that space you do quality amazing work. And of course, you’re probably building out your website. I love your website, by the way.

MC: Thank you.

SJ: It’s so much fun. I’m obviously gonna put this in the show notes but everyone has to go to the website ’cause it’s so much fun.

MC: Well, I just wanna also say really quickly, I was talking about I do websites for jewelry makers or I’m a life coach for this type of person. And I think sometimes when we talk about who we serve, we can also get stuck in that, I only work with lawyers or I only work with this type of person. And that’s something that I’ve been struggling with over the past six months or so. And so I was having a Voxer conversation with one of my perfect clients, who I want to clone and I said, “Listen, would you consider yourself this? Would you consider yourself this? What would you call yourself if you were searching for me what would you say?” And I would say about 70% of my business is service based businesses and about 30% is product based businesses, e-commerce shops. And so, this particular person I was talking to was e-commerce but I was like I don’t know if I wanna go just into e-commerce ’cause I really like the service people too. And she’s like, “You know, for me when I worked with you it wasn’t about getting somebody who understands Shopify, it was about somebody who understands intentional content and creating a strategy that works and who gets to know my business and my brand.”

MC: And so for me it was about the way that I work with people is the reason that I get the referrals, and the way that I connect with people is different than the way that other people connect, even in my same industry and I think that that’s true of anything that we’re talking about, the way that you connect with your clients is different than another marketing person or business coach. We can give ourselves these names for what we do but the great thing especially I think you and I both work with a lot of personal brands is like we are real people and you still… People are buying from real people. And that is at the end of the day we have to put ourselves out there a little bit at least as real people and not corporations, if that is the way that we are selling and connecting.

SJ: Oh, that’s so, so important and I hope everyone can take a little bit of knowledge and just wisdom from that in their own space of how they show up for their clients, and how they start to show up, and their presence, their online presence, their business presence, it all weaves together.

MC: It does and we are so lucky that we get to be real people. I had somebody who I named… We named both of our dogs after characters on the West Wing and when somebody is out there on my about page she was like, “Well, I have to hire this person now.” It wasn’t… Yes, she needed the services I was providing but she knew that my dog was named after Toby Ziegler and she was like, “Yep, that was the decision.”

SJ: Yeah, and that alignment is so key ’cause again you’re working with your ideal clients by putting yourself out there by just sharing. So you’re like, “Yep, I’m aligning with those people.” You’re not trying to be anybody that you’re not and you’re not trying to attract a clientele just to get a certain amount of money or a certain type of clout. You’re really actually like, “No, I wanna serve these people and I wanna put myself out there.” And then you work with these amazing clients in the meantime, which is like dream business right there. That’s how everybody wants to work.

MC: I think you said something really clearly and I wanna turn it on its head also, which is that we are saying that these people are our ideal clients and saying these are the people that I want to work with but also we get to choose who we work with. We get to make that decision it’s not just, “Well, I’ve gotta work with doctors ’cause they have money…

SJ: Right, right. Right.

MC: But you know, it’s not the people that we should be working with, it’s the people that we want to work with. And in the same way that people are coming to us and want to hire us we get to choose if they get to hire us if we want them to be our clients. And it has to be a good fit for you both ways, it has to be a two party decision to come to an agreement to work together.

SJ: Yeah, and I think that if we’re gonna go real deep, I mean that’s a real freedom. To me, the women’s movement that’s like when we start talking feminism we start talking about equality. We start talking about women really owning their space and making the money and the meaning that they really wanna make and deserve and all that stuff. The freedom to choose who we want to work with is one of the greatest freedoms by being a business owner, in my personal opinion because I think a lot of us…

MC: Yes. And who we don’t want to work with.

SJ: And who we don’t wanna work with, we actually get a say in that, and that is amazing! So it’s like, I see people kind of hedge around that or kind of be scared to work with a particular niche, maybe they’re worried they’re gonna exclude others, or they’re maybe, “It’s too small of a niche or market. And I always say, “Well, gosh, but if it’s gonna bring you joy and you get a choice in that, I say run with it.” And again, trial and error. There’s a lot of figuring it out along the way too and if it doesn’t work you pivot. The world’s not gonna end but I think that there’s incredible freedom inside that and I love that you brought that up because we get to choose.

MC: Yeah, and we also, we can put our stick in the ground and say, “I work with X,” but that doesn’t mean those are the only people we can work with, you know what I mean?

SJ: Right.

MC: I work with male clients even though I say on my website I work with women ­owned businesses. It has other women­ owned businesses are saying to the male clients, “You need to work with Meg,” and they come in through the referral and they don’t mind that my website says that because they got the referral, they trust me already. And so I think that we need to stop thinking that by niching down we are closing off a market, we are instead think of it as I am calling my people to me.

SJ: Yeah, you’re really pulling them in. I like that. It’s like that pulling of just gravitational pull. It’s like they can’t help but just be drawn to the magnetism just because of what you’re already putting out there and the presence, your presence, the way you’re showing up. Oh, it’s so profound, it’s so great. And I could talk about this forever but in the meantime unfortunately, we have to end it out. But I wanna know how can people reach you? How can they follow you, love you, consume everything that you create? What’s the best way for them to get a hold of you?

MC: Sure. So pop over to my website and you can go to megaboltdigital.com, it’ll be in the show notes, you already said that. I have a starter kit that you can download there for your SEO, it’s 14 pages which makes it seem long but also like I tried to put in mad libs for how to write headlines and…

SJ: Yeah, it’s super fun.

MC: Flow charts with pictures from the office to help you figure out if you’re on the right path. And so I tried to make it as accessible as possible. Also pop over to Instagram and follow me there; again, it’s Megabolt Digital. Those are the two places where I hang out the most so come connect with me there and we’ll go from there.

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