Since the initiation of SEO, people have talked endlessly about the importance of content in it. I'm an avid reader and whatever useful articles I come across while doing research on SEO, they all say that, if you want to be Google's favorite, you better have great content. But I wonder, what's more important, writing content that is interesting or SEO copywriting. As for me, I'm still juggling with it. But, I recently came across someone who is not only good at writing an SEO copy but makes it extremely enjoyable for his readers which in turn creates great content.
I was curious to know more about him and his work in SEO copywriting. So, I asked him to share some insights about his life and I figured he's just like you and me; a normal man but what differentiates him is his extraordinary zeal to get things done.
Know more about this SEO copywriting expert Glenn Murray in this one on one.
1. I went through your personal blog, and I found it very interesting, especially the line, “I’ll rant, I’ll swear and I’ll swoon. But more often than not, I suspect I’ll simply bore you”. I found you modest, straightforward and to the point. What do you think of yourself? What qualities do you love and hate about yourself?
Firstly, thank you. For saying, I’m modest. I’m not so sure about that, though. I’m more than happy to take credit where credit is due, but I do think I have a fairly accurate opinion of my strengths, weaknesses and importance. Straight-forward and to the point? Yep, usually. Those are two qualities I’d say I love about myself. Also my commitment to action. When I think something needs to be done, I’m obsessive about getting it done. That applies to client work, but also to my business (after this, I’ll be working on my new business system, and it’s 8 pm), and my personal life - I stand up for what I believe in (Glenn Murray).
What do I hate about myself? Hmmm. I don’t think there’s anything I hate, exactly. There are things I’d like to improve, though. Particularly in my parenting. I feel I’m too often impatient and intolerant with my kids, and too quick to get grumpy.
Interestingly, there’s one thing that I both like and dislike, and it relates to both of the above. I’m obsessive about stuff. I talked about how that leads me to commit to action. I tend to be a hard worker because I love achieving and excelling. And I lurrrrrrrrrrrrve technology, to the point that I stay up into the wee hours researching, way too often. But it also leads to my grumpiness. I’m often tired, and I’m often preoccupied with really complex things, even during family time. And when I’m interrupted, I get grumpy, even when I know I shouldn’t.
2. You have worked as a technical writer for almost nine years, ever gave a thought to creative writing?
I like Glenn Murray. And yeah, I’d love to write a book. It’d be an amazing honour to have people read my writing because of my thoughts and my style, not because they’re looking to buy or learn something. But I don’t think I have anything particularly valuable to say. And if I did have something to say, it’d most likely revolve around my real life and my past experiences. Which would lead to revealing too much about people who don’t want it.
3. You have worked with many companies from varied fields, and you've an enviable experience in writing for different products and services. Which one is your personal favourite?
My favourite company ever was Ci Technologies. My third employer when I was a salaried technical writer. They were a small company with a family feel and a culture of making a difference. We hear about companies like that still, Atlassian, for instance, has a really good reputation. I don’t know what they’re like, but Ci Technologies was the real deal. I still work with some amazing companies, but I’m afraid I’m not willing to disclose them… in case someone tries to poach them!!!
4. Tell us more about your ventures PropertyBlurbs.com & CarBlurbs.com?
My very first client was a local real estate agent. I wrote dozens of property descriptions for them, in my first year of business. It was mind-numbing. I’ve written a lot since, for other agents, too. Then a few years later, I wrote the web copy for all of Toyota’s new vehicles. The entire range. Mind numbing. And not long after that, I wrote the web copy for nearly 50 car dealerships, all in one hit. Mind numbing. After all of this, I had a good ranking for search queries relating to property copywriting, so I started playing around with the idea of starting a 24-hour turnaround property copy service. Agents would pay up-front, and I’d outsource the writing. I pitched it to my designer (who was already basically my business partner), and then happened to speak about it to the client I did all the car dealership copy for. He said we should do it for car dealers. They need heaps of sales copy; they hate writing it, and they’re not very good at it. But he said we should automate it. And that REALLY got me thinking. By the end of the day (OBSESSIVE!!!), I’d figured out exactly how it could be done, and then it was just a question of finding a developer capable of doing it. Fortunately, I’d worked with plenty, when I was a technical writer, and one, in particular, was perfectly suited. He wanted in, and we got to it. We did CarBlurbs first, and then we started talking about doing it for the property. I was convinced it was too hard, which was like a red flag to a bull, and I just had to see if I could do it. And what ya know? I could. Here’s what I sent to my business partners at 3:36 am on the
Saturday morning (OBSESSIVE!!!) when I figured it out:
“We've cracked it, boys! Assuming you can code the variables I've conceived, Nandor, this is a f***ing WINNER! I'm soooooooo pumped! The ability to produce three unique blurbs for three very different properties, and have them all sound natural and well written? That's awesome!!!”
I put thousands of hours into the ‘blurbs’ products. And I’m very proud of them.
5. You've published three books to date, and I must admit it has been difficult for me to decide which one I like the best. Was this something you always wanted to do? How does it feel to be an author of 3 best sellers?
Ha! You’re very kind. I don’t know about best-sellers, but they’ve certainly earned me a bit of money, and I’ve had some very kind comments about them. How does it feel? Great! I’m very chuffed with them. I honestly believe they’re top notch books, with a lot of really good information in them. I’m proud that I was able to put in the hard yards to create them (and it was VERY hard - a lot of late nights).
It wasn’t something I always wanted to do, though. It’s just what I always do. When I’m trying to get my head around something, I write it down. I try to explain it to myself. That clearly reveals what I know and also the knowledge gaps. I learn a lot by writing. I did that so much with SEO that after a few months I realised I had something that other people could benefit from. So I started selling it. The SEO copywriting book was a different story. I made a calculated decision to try to leverage my reputation and search ranking to sell a book. And the Problogger ebook was different again. Darren Rowse had been asking me to partner with him on something, and I eventually decided it was a good idea.
6. Is there someone you consider as your role model?
Noam Chomsky, my wife and my father-in-law. Noam for his political/social insight. My wife for her inner beauty, strength, parenting skills and overflowing love. My father-in-law for his business acumen and the fact that he and my mother-in-law are still as much in love as ever, after more than 40 years of marriage.
7. You had worked with companies for a long time before you went ahead and started your company. Was there some inspiration that drove you to form CarBlurbs?
I wish I could call it inspiration. I was made redundant, and couldn’t get another job. My redundancy payout ran out, and I had to do something. So I started cold-calling companies asking if they needed copywriting. A lot did… 🙂
8. What is your idea of the word 'accomplishment'? How do you perceive it?
I resent the contemporary understanding of the word “success”. And I think “accomplishment” is very closely related. Everyone equates success with money, and I think that’s so, so wrong. I think my wife and I are successful, and we’re not rich. There are many more important things in life that I feel we should all strive for and measure ourselves against.
Of course, “accomplishment” also means something you’ve achieved, and I’m a big fan of that, as outlined above.
9. As a copywriter what do you think is more important, writing copy that sells or writing copy that interests the readers?
Writing interesting copy. People won’t read something uninteresting. And if they don’t read it, you’re not selling.
10. According to you, how important is the habit of reading for writers?
I don’t know. I’m sure it’s critical at some point and for at least a while. But I’ve never actually stopped doing it, so I can’t say from personal experience how that would impact my writing. I’d also say that it would be almost impossible to stop reading. As a writer, I’m always reading, even when I’m not technically reading. When I’m listening to the radio, listening to a song, listening to people talk on a reality TV show, watching a movie. I’m always ‘reading’ the writing, not just hearing the message.
11. Lastly, please share a few tips with our fellow copywriters and bloggers?
My biggest tips are:
- Be yourself. Only you write like you.
- Be bold. Take chances. Break rules. Have confidence in yourself. Know you can do it. People don’t want to read luke-warm writing.
- Don’t expect to write anything splendid quickly. Sometimes it happens, but usually it’s gruelling.