Something that many business owners struggle with is saying NO to work.  We all need to pay the bills right?

In this week’s guest post, our CMA Member Karen Reyburn shares her own story.   One in which she’s carved out a niche in a very competitive market and refuses to work with those who aren’t in that niche.  You may think it’s risky but well, I’ll leave Karen to persuade you that it’s not the case (and I agree with her!).

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Be Less Boring

Many of our Content Marketing Academy community members were inspired by our 2016 conference.  One of the top takeaways from Ann Handley‘s keynote was that we needed to be “Bigger, Bolder, Braver”.

In this week’s guest post, our CMA Member John Espirian, makes a case for not hitting publish on ‘boring’ content!

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(Read the whole ‘Becoming a Connector’ series)

At CMA, everyone is here for good solid reasons; community, learning, self development, friendships, beers…that kind of thing. But there’s one thing in particular that I’d like to explore in this short story and it’s the art of ‘connection revenue generation‘. I started learning about this technique whilst studying Derek Coburn.

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Over the past 18 months my business has changed a lot. Now that the CMA is not a traditional client services business, I have been able to completely change the way that I work.

I now find myself fully embracing the fact that I can now run my business from all over the world.

These are the main business activities that I need to be able to do:

  • Membership management
  • Speaking & facilitating
  • Coaching
  • Consulting
  • Podcasting
  • Video publishing
  • Vlogging/Mobile video
  • Interviews
  • Webinars
  • Networking
  • Social media and live video
  • Email & Skype/Zoom

In this article I’ll share with you exactly what I use to run my business from anywhere in the world – from my kitchen at home, to the top of a mountain in Austria.

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Wondering why I’ve started a guest blog? Why now?

Well, over the years, I’ve taken part in a number of guest slots including podcasts and blogs.  While I’m a firm believer in the well-rehearsed benefits of guest blogging, they also ended up being great fun and a chance to add some variety to my own content.  

It’s with that in mind, that next week, I’m launching our very own Content Marketing Academy (CMA) Guest Blog, featuring our very own CMA Members.  

But before we get started with their great content, I thought I should take a minute to explain why.

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We’ve been using ConvertKit since October 2015. I moved from Mailchimp, which we had used for 4-5 years.  So why, after all that time invested in one platform, did we move from Mailchimp to ConvertKit?

It’s a good question, and if you’re anything like me you’re probably trying to make sure it’s worth all the effort to make the move.

I want you to know that I HATE moving to new applications. It’s the very last thing I will do. It’s more painful than moving home.

So, it has to be the right thing to do. I have to know that by putting in the time, attention and effort to move from Mailchimp to ConvertKit that it’s going to be worth it for the business going forward.

Why did we move? Here are all the reasons, and hopefully some of this will inspire you and give you the motivation to make the move from Mailchimp to ConvertKit too.

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(Read the whole ‘Becoming a Connector’ series)

Allan and I were having dinner last night, you know Allan right? He is this phenomenal Architect from Scotland who is absolutely crushing it in business right now.

Allan is an amazing friend of mine and we’re currently doing the the “first-time Dad thing” together. He was my one of my first proper friends in business and I truly value his guidance.

After the usual “I love you man” banter, we quickly get to talking about business. I’m asking Allan about networking, a perfect topic of conversation for me because well…I’m writing a book on the topic, and it’s exactly where Allan and I met.

Chris Marr and Allan Corfield

Chris and Allan – Friends

Business networking is what got Allan’s business off the ground in the first few years, and he quit around the same I did.

Half way through our dinner Allan said “I’ll probably never go back to networking full time, Chris, but I’ll go to the visiting days, and substitute for people and stuff like that. I’ve been invited to a new chapter of BNI a few times, and I’ll probably go to that

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(Read the whole ‘Becoming a Connector’ series)

I used to say yes to every business networking meeting. I’d feel bad if I didn’t go and there were times when I cancelled or turned up late.

It wasn’t until I was sitting in my car to drive to the event that I’d regret my decision to attend.

I’d go anyway and there wouldn’t be a long term change in behaviour.

As a result I often spread myself too thin, I was mostly tired and stressed, and I felt angry at myself – mainly because I hate being late and I was frustrated because I knew something wasn’t working.

The most annoying thing about all of this is that I used to believe I was doing the right thing. I guess you only know what you know, and that’s why continuous learning and improvement is important. You get better at stuff over time.

Anyway, something needed to change. I needed to change.

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(Read the whole ‘Becoming a Connector’ series)

The reason I stopped attending business networking events wasn’t the standing up and talking to people, or meeting strangers. That’s something I love doing, and an important set of communication skills for a ‘Connector’.

There are a number of reasons why I stopped, which I’ll go into detail later in this article, but here’s the main one; It was the energy I was investing in it.

  • Driving is mostly frustrating and stressful
  • The early mornings exhaust me 
  • I was investing my time in preparing for each event
  • I was wasting my mental energy

I used to put myself through a lot of shit multiple times every week, for years, which I’ll go into more detail throughout this article.

Let’s start with this typical scenario…

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I don’t think I need to tell you that content is king. Content marketing positions you as an authority in your particular niche, building trust and developing long-lasting relationships with your readers.

However, there is another benefit of content marketing: SEO or Search Engine Optimisation.

In a nutshell, SEO is the process of moving a website higher up the organic listings on the search engine results page. Generally speaking, websites that appear higher up get most of the referral traffic from search engines.

In this post, I’m going to share with you the 7 ways content marketing will help you improve your SEO efforts and get more traffic to your website.

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If you are reading this you are either already in business for yourself, or you are thinking about it.

My first message is that running your own business is awesome, especially when you get into your flow and things are going well. It’s not for everyone, and regardless of what you decide to do for work, first of all, make sure you are doing what makes you happy.

However, running your own business doesn’t mean that everything will be rosy. There will be tough times, and you will have to do things you don’t like that much. If you have a clear understanding of why you are doing what you are doing, and you have a real drive and passion for it, then you will get past the hard times. In the process you will learn a shit-ton about yourself, what you enjoy, what you don’t enjoy, and what motivates you.

Let’s imagine you are just starting a service-based freelance business. Here are a few examples:

  • Copywriter
  • Consultant
  • Graphic designer
  • Videographer
  • Photographer
  • Web designer

Any type of business where you trade the skills, knowledge and expertise that you have and sell this to people who either can’t do, won’t do, or don’t want to do what you can do.

Based on how painful it is for people to do this themselves, will first of all determine how much of a need there is for what you’re offering.

In most cases, especially the examples above, there are already successful businesses doing what you do. So there is validation in the market place that you can go out there and sell your services.

However, there’s a really good chance that you can fuck it all up.

You will probably do one or all of the following things, which will potentially stop you from enjoying your business and being happy:

  1. Underselling your services
  2. Taking on too many clients
  3. Taking on the wrong clients

Let’s dig in.

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Dear reader…

Over the past year we have grown a community of 100 members. You know it as the Content Marketing Academy, or the CMA for short.

As you can imagine, an idea grows and changes over the course of a year, and what the CMA was a year ago is very different from what it is now.

That’s why I’m writing this essay, and that’s why I’ve been reading, researching and thinking about the future of the CMA over the past few monthaces

I’ve been having lots of interesting conversations with CMA members, and some of the smartest people I know, about:

  • Leadership
  • How people learn
  • Learning organisations
  • Self-belief and confidence
  • Communication
  • Culture

…and many other aspects of how groups of people come together and learn.

Right now I have a strong and deep feeling that what is happening with the CMA is huge. I want to get these feelings and ideas into black and white.

I need to figure out what we’ve built so I can understand it better. Through this better understanding I can articulate it more clearly, which will help us to have a conversation about it.

What I know right now is that this community is about much more than just ‘content marketing’. It’s not a ‘middle-of-the-road’ membership community; there’s something else at play.

  • What is it that we’re really building here?
  • What does the future look like for the CMA?
  • What’s your role as a member?
  • What’s my role as a facilitator and curator?
  • What’s possible for all of us?

My hope is that this essay opens up an interesting conversation and, as a result, we all lean into it and build the future of the CMA.

This is something I feel I want to do, and I have to do. It’s something that massively interests me, and I care passionately about it.

This isn’t a simple collection of thoughts. I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time debating, arguing, discussing, writing and figuring out what is really happening at the core of the CMA, and why it matters for both you and me, and our future together.

My hope is that you will take the time to read this, think about what I’ve written and let me know how you feel about it.

Thanks for taking the time, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.



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