Welcome dear friends!
I know, it’s been a while, but don’t fear ‘cuz I’m in great company for this post. Not only is he the best looking man in the world (according to Google), he’s also a published author, a connoisseur of excellent head gear and now a freelance copywriter.
Not necessarily in that order.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, today I’m joined by the one and only Joel Klettke. If you’ve been following this blog at all over the last 12 months you will know Joel has graced it with his fabulous writing more than once (you can read more of him here and here). I’m delighted that he agreed to answer a few questions on what looks to be an exciting future he has ahead.
First of all congratulations on announcing that you’ll be going freelance with your writing in the next few weeks. I’m interested to know what prompted the move?
“Passion trumps everything.
Writing was my safe haven and my trophy case as a kid. I strongly debated taking communications courses in University. I thought about maybe doing a journalism degree but ultimately chose against it – it didn’t really compute that there were jobs in the field outside of “best selling fiction author” or “starving journalist”.
For 4 years, I invested my time into learning SEO and excelling at it. I had a great job. I loved the people I worked with. I enjoyed as much autonomy as you can have while working for someone else. Because so few of us in Alberta can really do this stuff, demand (and pay) is pretty healthy.
But I’ve also always had an entrepreneurial itch.
Through my online marketing job I got my first few copywriting gigs; I started picking up writing work on the side. “Beer money”, except the money was actually really good. I’ve wanted to be able to say that I didn’t always play it safe in life. I also wanted to be able to say that I took a chance and did what I loved.
So, writing. I saw an impossibly perfect series of events align themselves for me and decided it was time to make the move.”
A few of your most recent posts on your blog have been much more personal and heartfelt than I have ever noticed before. Is this something which you’ve noticed in yourself?
“It’s just been that time of life, I guess. When my Opa passed away, it threw me into a bit of a reflective period. Age old story, right? But it’s a relevant one nonetheless. I always used to shirk away from writing anything personal in a public forum that wasn’t funny because doing so seemed narcissistic. Who wants to read about my petty revelations?
Turns out, people do. So I decided to take just a bit of what I normally reserve for private journals and share it.”
You’ve used your writing in the past to be quite critical of the SEO industry on more than one occasion. What are your thoughts of the state of SEO in 2013?
“The SEO industry is severely confused. We’ve mistakenly been trying to group every single marketing function under one giant “SEO” umbrella and make them all one person’s job. Sometimes we call them an “inbound marketer”.
But most firms are woefully equipped to try and be “marketers” – only made worse by all the blind parroting of ideas. This coming from someone who fought for change within his own organization: it’s seriously tough to adapt and switch gears if you think your new primary offering is going to be “content”.
Everyone LOVES to talk content marketing and suddenly, post-penguin, every single SEO firm offers it. But did those firms change their processes? Did they change or amplify their internal teams or pricing structure? More often than not, no.
The industry is full of companies with gorgeous façades who blabber like they know what they’re talking about but can’t actually execute in the privacy of their offices. It’s like the man who brags about how well endowed he is and then can’t get it up.When they have to, they outsource “guest posts” posted to garbage blogs so inefficiently that they might as well be flushing client money down a giant toilet.
That’s “content marketing” for most firms. The nuances of branding, communication, target markets, messaging… these aren’t things you learn by adding a new header to the “Services” page on your website.
I think that if Google ever gets it right, the truth will become readily apparent and a lot of shops will close up their doors. Of course, the SERPs can still be gamed easily enough to lie about how you’re getting results, so we’re a long way off from that.”
Joel smoozes industry big guns via Max Impact
Almost every piece I’ve ever read from you has more and a sprinkle of humour, how important is it for you to make people laugh through the written word?
“How appropriate that this question comes after my cynical tirade!
I learned real early in life that humour is a skeleton key. Humour is a powerful tool when it comes to meeting new people, getting dates, closing deals, building rapport … everyone appreciates humour. When I started out in the industry, I saw this hierarchy where whoever could write the most comprehensive, useful piece would become a “thought leader” and the opportunities and recognition would pour in. I thought that was the way to get ahead, so I tried so hard to be “useful”. Instead, I was boring.
So I said “screw it” and threw what I knew: humour. And it worked. I’ve gotten to know some of the industry’s most prominent folks just because I made them laugh.Once they were laughing (my “in”), I could prove that I actually knew what I was talking about.”
I’m just about through your book “Hawk Attack” (You lucky people can get the book for free over on Joel’s site), I have like 20 pages left at this point and it’s a hilarious read. I must admit it’s actually the first book I’ve read (almost) in completion for at least 5 years, I’ve become a lazy reader used to 5 minute blog posts and articles. It sounds like you were almost bullied into compiling it, are you glad you did?
I wasn’t so much bullied as I was encouraged. I wrote those stories and notes to entertain my friends but never had a grandiose vision of it being a book. I needed other people to help me discover that it was.
That book is not only a source of pride, but it’s gotten me writing jobs before. But I don’t care so much about that – I just hope it makes people laugh. It sounds cheesy, but that’s the real reward.”
It seems like this is the beginning of the next chapter for Joel Klettke, what are your goals which would mark it as a successful one?
“When I look to the future, there’s a few things I’d love to see:
1. I’ve set a goal to try and make as much as I did doing SEO within my first year of writing. That’s going to mean a hell of a lot of keystrokes, but from a financial standpoint I’d be content to just not take steps backwards.
Next year is another story, though.
2. I want to become known as the go-to guy for awesome content within SEO circles. I’ve built a great network in this industry and these are exactly the people I want to work with.
3. Down the road, I’d like to expand Business Casual into a collective that can offer complete marketing solutions: branding, strategy, production and placement of content. But that’s a ways out. For now, I just want to work with as many people as possible and hone my writing skills.
4. I want to fall asleep every night feeling a sense of progress and control – that I’m building something awesome and doing something worthwhile. If I stop feeling that way, I’ll know it’s time for something new.”