My guest today is Maggie Patterson, who has 15 years’ experience working in the trenches of companies of all sizes. She focuses on content and communication strategies with proven success for her clients. Maggie works with entrepreneurs to use marketing, storytelling, content strategy, copy that converts, and promotional strategies to get business results. A native Canadian, she now makes her home near Ottawa.
Join us for discussion about the following:
- Have you always been an extrovert?
I’m actually an introvert by nature, but I love to speak my mind. I find that I need time and space to recharge and be alone with my thoughts.
- Being both an introvert and an extrovert in work—does that conflict on social media?
I don’t think it’s a conflict at all. I know I have to take that step away, so it helps me filter my thoughts. I need to be calm and collected so my mouth doesn’t get me in trouble.
- Has it ever happened before?
My mouth getting me in trouble? Of course! I’m reminded that I’m human and sometimes I’m going to lose it. I’ve learned that I should not make decisions in the heat of the moment.
- What did you study in school?
I was always the kid who was writing, writing, and writing. I would always say that I wanted to be a writer, and if that didn’t work, then a psychiatrist. I went on to study politics so I could be a journalist, but then found that to be a terrible idea. I ended up in a writing-related career with communications and public relations. It is the perfect fit for my skill set and what I love to do.
- Do you have tips, experiences, or guidance to people who are still trying to find their true, authentic selves?
We tend to be extreme as entrepreneurs. We do things wholeheartedly and with gusto, and we put extra pressure on “the thing” we think we will do forever. We don’t leave room for it to evolve. In a traditional career, you would take on different roles with different companies, and I think we have to treat the entrepreneurial journey the same way. Personal development is a constant evolution, and we’re never going to have it all figured out. I have learned to leave room for new opportunities.
- How can someone figure out what they should try?
It comes down to the “sweet spot”—that beautiful place where that thing you want to do and the needs of your audience intersect. You have to figure out what you are good at, what you have mastered, and what people need/want. You have to “do the work” before you try to sell it to others.
- How have you evolved in these 10 years? What are your biggest lessons?
When I started on my own, all I wanted to do was to make $4000/month. My husband and I came up with a business plan and knew what we needed in order for this to work. You have to be prepared to sometimes do things that aren’t glamorous. Sometimes you just have to do the work and then you can be picky about clients later on. Eventually, you can narrow down to do EXACTLY what you want to do. Overnight success stories are damaging to all of us who do this the right way.
- So, you started as a copywriter?
I started as many things! I started out as an event-planner, which was a terrible fit. Later I went into communications writing.
- Tell us how people can figure out their message to make sure it provides value to their audience.
When creating an email, blog post, or a podcast, start with the end in mind and be clear about your goal. You can step back and reverse engineer your content. Figure out what the audience needs to do and then create something useful. I like to say that your content should Educate, Entice, and Entertain.
- What about when your goal feels “sales-y”?
YOU are more concerned about being “sales-y” than others. You are offering a solution to a problem. Ask, “How can I serve my audience? How can I solve a specific problem?” You don’t have to be aggressive and pushy. Be soulful, thoughtful, kind, and practical. Have a good mix of free value and added content before you sell something. Show up and make a human connection.
- Can you tell us about tools or books people can use to hone their craft in writing content?
My favorite book is Everybody Writes, by Ann Handley. I also like Influence, by Robert Cialdini.
- Why should the “About” page NOT be about me?
We need to rename the About page and make it about your audience. People want to know what’s in it for them. You need to hook readers. What do clients need to know so they can trust you and want to do business with you? Putting your whole life story there isn’t serving anyone well.
- Wouldn’t people need to know about you and your values in order to make that human connection?
That’s a good question. Think of the About page like the first date. What do they need to know to continue on? The first interaction doesn’t need to tell epic long-lost stories. Sharing littler stories more often will keep people more engaged. Take advantage of little opportunities to make a connection instead of all at once. The About page is the most visited place on your site, so don’t botch that opportunity.
- Your success factor? “I show up and do the work and deliver value. I create a longer term vision for the future.”
- The trophy you want on your mantel? “Maggie was an awesome person. I just don’t want to be a crappy person.”
- Your guilty pleasure? Lifetime TV movies
- Do you procrastinate, and how do you stop? “Yes, I look myself in the mirror.”
- What are you currently reading? Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
- What is your favorite productivity hack? “Scheduling buffer time keeps me more productive.”
- Your personal motto? “Get it done!”
- What would you do differently if you did it all again? “I would switch out of the freelancer mentality to CEO mentality much sooner on my journey.”