Last year I interviewed some of my colleagues about online marketing so I could glean some of their tips and insights on what's required to have a successful business with an online component. In this interview, I talk with Marnie Pehrson, founder of IdeaMarketers.com, the oldest article marketing site on the Web. You may also know Marnie Pehrson as the author and publisher of the brand new bestseller, Trust Your Heart: Transform Your Ideas Into Income (I'll be doing another intervview with Marnie about how she created massive visibility and a bestseller using social marketing tactics.)
Listen to the audio interview or read on…
Interivew with Marnie Pehrson, Founder of IdeaMarketers.com
Denise: Today I'm pleased to have the opportunity to speak with my colleague and joint venture partner, Marnie Pehrson. I've been following Marnie's business IdeaMarketers, for a very long time. A couple of years ago we landed in a Master Mind group together and most recently we co-hosted the Radiant Success Event: a live, 3 day event in Raleigh, North Carolina with 3 other colleagues.
Marnie Pehrson is a wonder woman. I am constantly amazed by this woman. She's a mother of 6, author of numerous books, founder of the oldest article directory on the web, and creator of more projects and businesses than I have time to cover.
Marnie also recently launched a new online magazine called "Ideas to Income" and we'll learn a little bit more about that in a minute.
The purpose of today's conversation is to learn Marnie's perspective on creating visibility with content and why that is so important. Welcome Marnie.
Marnie: Thank you Denise. It's great to be here.
Denise: I've been wanting to have a chat with you for some time now. Especially after seeing your presentation at the Radiant Success Event because it all clicked.
First, could you give us the nutshell version of your background just to set the stage.
Marnie: Nutshell version of my background. How far do you want me to go back?
Denise: Just the big points.
Marnie: Well, I started out as a computer trainer and got into the web back in 1995. In 1994 I actually started uploading things to AOL and Compuserve and selling things that way-putting up content that far back. Through that I ended up meeting a lady named Elena Webb who said, "Hey, why don't we create websites?" I thought it was something she made up. Anyway, she started creating them and I was marketing them. We marketed our client sites and stuff.
One of the main ways that we would do that is with article marketing. We would take articles, write about our clients and then submit them to other people's ezines and things. People started sending us articles for our ezines and IdeaMarketers basically grew out of a way to keep up with all that, a way to match people up who have content with those who need it. We started that back in December of 1998. It's just evolved and so we do online publicity for people by promoting their content. That's it in a nutshell.
Denise: Okay. As I said, the reason I wanted to talk with you, have a conversation with you, is because you're a pioneer in content marketing. You just mentioned you started IdeaMarketers in 1998 and that's pretty early for the whole content marketing idea. It wasn't even called that then. We both know that it's a great way to build visibility on the web. You're so passionate about idea marketing, so I want us to explore that a little bit today.
Could you tell us a little bit more about IdeaMarketers? You've let us know that you started it in 1998, but can you talk a little bit more about why you created that site and how it's evolved, maybe how many visitors, that kind of thing, that you get?
Marnie: Yeah. It just started out as a database for articles where people could come in and put their articles in. They still can, it doesn't cost anything to put articles on there. In time, we created a newsletter content builder where people could choose the content from our site and create newsletters out of it and eventually that evolved into now-you can actually select categories of articles or specific articles and stream them onto your website. It's a nice way to beef up your website and build content and search engine visibility, things like that.
Then probably about 5 years ago we developed a bidding system on IdeaMarketers because our home page was so popular. We get about 4 million page views a month. The home page is a great deal of that. We decided instead of using that real estate just to talk about ourselves, we would spotlight other people and let them benefit from being on our home page so we created a "set your own pricing" model where people could say, "I'm willing to pay $30 a week to be on this home page," or $20, $10, or even $1 or whatever. Based on how much they pay, that's where they come up on the page. They're sorted from highest to lowest. We added that feature.
Then, about 3-4 years ago we started a system for promoting experts. With our experts they get so much visibility on our home page every month and we promote their books, their ebooks, and their audios and videos. We integrate their audios and videos into content. You're a blogging expert so if you were a blogging expert on IdeaMarketers, all the articles about blogging, you would appear as an official expert on that. Then, we do a lot of publicity of your press releases and different things like that.
We have something basically for everybody who wants to use content. They can just come in a put their articles or their books or ebooks in for free. Or, they can pay to have more prominent promotion on the home page. They can let us do a lot of their marketing and delegate it off and we use our automated tools and everything to get you out through social media and through our site.
Denise: How many page views did you say that you have a month?
Marnie: Between 4 and 5 million page views.
Denise: And, how many visitors does that translate into?
Marnie: The last I looked, I believe it was around 600,000-700,000 in unique-
Denise: 600,000 to 700,000 unique visitors per month.
Denise: That's huge. Everybody should be using your site. Especially since there are free options. That's what I think a lot of sites-they become successful they move to a paid only option and then that cuts out all the people starting out. It's nice that you have various levels that people can interact with.
How does creating content and posting it on the web-what's your view on how that creates visibility for a professional?
Marnie: It's huge. It's like thinking of every piece of content you have out there whether it's on a blog or an article directory or on Facebook, Twitter or whatever, is creating a doorway back in to your website. As far as search engines and things are concerned, they look at how many times your site is referenced in content that relates to your site. If you've written an article about your subject of expertise and you put it out there as a guest blogger somewhere or as an article then you're creating this doorway back to your site that matches up with the subject of your site. So the search engines really see this as a valuable thing.
Not only that but it also builds your credibility, it builds trust. It makes people perceive you as an expert if you've crafted a good article. It's almost like a staple, I believe, of Internet marketing.
Denise: A lot of people are concerned about this idea of duplicate content and so when somebody posts an article on your site www.ideamarketers.com, should they not be posting it on their own blog or website or on other sites? Because there are lots of other article marketing sites too. Should they focus only on one? Is there a penalty?
Marnie: There's no penalty to you as the creator of the content. It's kind of an overkill and waste of time for you to put the identical article on a bunch of other websites. That's because as far as a search engine is concerned, they look at, is this site, this piece of content on an authority site? Has it been around a long time? Is it well established? Has it got good links and things on it? Then, that site, that version of your article will appear more toward the top. If it appears on a little known site, something like 10 or 20 or 100 other sites that are not as popular possibly, those will go into what Google calls a supplemental index. That is, they just won't show in the results. It's because they don't want to bring up hundreds of copies of the same article when you put in a keyword phrase. They want to give people something to look at.
As far as you're concerned, it's overkill for you to blast the identical article all over. What you should do is vary the title and your summary and perhaps a little bit of the article and optimize it for different keyword phrases that you want to come up for. You could take the same article and just tweak it a little and put it on different sites. It would be more beneficial to you than blasting the same article everywhere.
As far as people stumbling upon your article as they visit other sites, just natural organic sort of wandering sites and finding you you're still benefiting from those doorways in.
Denise: From a search engine perspective, blasting it out it doesn't do you any good. From random, organic, people finding you, it could be helpful to have your content on even the little sites.
Denise: Now, in my world view, articles and blogging, they're pretty much a good fit. There's synergy there. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that. Do you agree, disagree? How do you see blogging fitting in to the whole content marketing business?
Marnie: Definitely. I take blogs that I post and then later on I'll tweak them and I'll put them in as articles or vice versa. A lot of times my blogging is a little bit more personal from the perspective of, "I think this. This is my opinion on this." It's written that way. An article I'll take myself out of it and make it more of a professional third person sort of post. Something like you might read in a magazine or something. The same content can be used and while you're creating your blog content, think of every blog as a potential article.
Denise: Wow. Okay, that leads me to my next question. It's obvious where the benefits are having your content all over the web. I mean, you need to be a content machine in order for people to find you organically, for the search engines to find you. Yet, I think a lot of people don't do this. So, what is it that you think is stopping people from creating content that helps them be found?
Marnie: I think they're scared of writing. A lot of people don't feel like they're writers and they don't know how to craft an article or something like that. That's probably the biggest thing. Or, their natural mode of communication when they have a new idea is not to sit down and write it down. They may be somebody who'd rather say it or create a video or do something totally different.
Denise: Now, on IdeaMarketers, can people post videos?
Marnie: They can. You can even post them inside the article. Let's say that you've created a video on blogging and you want to post that on there. Then you can give it a little bit of an introduction at the top of the article and then you can include your YouTube video code in there and then let them watch it straight off the page from right there.
Denise: Very cool. Like you say, I think a lot of people don't feel comfortable writing but it might be easier for them to just turn on their webcam and give their content, say their tip, whatever.
Marnie: I'd recommend take a little-maybe even just transcribe a little bit of your video, the lead in. Enough to give them a little something at the top because the search engines are going to see the words. You want to have a little bit of the wording there and introduce them and compel them to want to watch the video.
Denise: Speaking of video, what kind of trends are you seeing with content marketing? Is video becoming more critical to include in your content marketing plan?
Marnie: Yeah. I think video is real important. I mean like for me I'd rather watch a video than read an article any day.
Denise: And that coming from a prolific writer.
Marnie: I know, I know. But, as far as the way I like to consume it, I'd rather watch a video. I don't like to watch really long videos. I think it's good that YouTube keeps you 10 minutes [Ed. Note: YouTube recently increased the time limit to 15 minutes]. Because, you go to some sites and they're going to show you a 60 minute video-I'm a mom with 6 kids. I don't have time to sit down and watch a 60 minute video.
I did hear a good tip from a colleague of mine today. She was saying she takes her videos and then she strips the audio from them and offers that as an alternative so that somebody can just download the mp3 if they want to put it on their iPod or something. That's easy to do. There's free software out there. You can put in "free mp3 from video" on Google and you can find software.
Denise: That's a great tip. I'm seeing trends of people adding audio versions of their blog posts. That is an extra step that you have to go through to record it. If it's a typical blog post, let's say 500 words, maybe a 3 minute audio. It doesn't really take that much longer to do it. Adding even more versions, the audio, the video, the text, you're going to hit everybody.
Marnie: I really like to see people do that with their articles. If you have an Audio Acrobat or byoaudio account or whatever, you can put the little play button for that with the article too.
Denise: Okay, and you can do that within the IdeaMarketers site when people submit.
Marnie: Right. Not a problem. I don't know how many article sites let you do that but we're okay with that.
Denise: Your big competition- which will remain nameless in this interview-no video, no audio, no images. Do you allow images?
Marnie: We do. You could put a url for the picture you want to include. Or, you could-if you know how to put image tags in, you're welcome to put it in. As long as people follow our terms and conditions and don't post anything that's not G rated we're totally fine with it.
Denise: Okay, so it's a really comprehensive site for allowing people to get their content out there. I want to quickly talk about your new magazine, your online magazine "Ideas to Income." What inspired you to start an online magazine?
Marnie: I saw somebody that had used it as a way to create a following. They were explaining it-what's the guy's name, Armand Moran?
Denise: Armand Moran. Yeah, I think that's who it was.
Marnie: We posted it on our Master Mind or our Radiant Success event on the list. So I was watching his thing about it and I just realized I have all these experts on all of these different subjects and it would be a great way to help them get their message out and help people get some really high quality content. Really, some specific how-to information, how to take your ideas into income and deliver it in a couple formats and a pdf format that's easy to read, easy on the screen to read. Then, also an exclusive interview with these experts and really pick their brains on what they know and create a list where people know that they're going to get ongoing emails instead of-a lot of times people sign up for a freebie and then they don't want you to email them anymore.
Marnie: With this they're expecting, "I want this magazine and I want this audio every month." They're going to-they're probably going to be upset if they don't get it. That's what they do want. We're going to try it and it seems to be working really well. People are giving me lots of good feedback on it.
Denise: Are you-is this a free magazine, right? Are you going to monetize it in any way?
Marnie: I'm using affiliate links from our experts inside the magazine. Also on the audio page where the person listens to the interview, it will have links to your information and I'll use my affiliate links on that end.
Denise: So, twice a month they get content. They get an interview once a month and they get the magazine once a month?
Marnie: Right. It's the first week of the month they get the pdf magazine, the third week they get the audio. That way I'm not overwhelming them with too much content.
Denise: Excellent, and where can people go to sign up for that magazine?
Marnie: It's www.theideamag.com.
Denise: Okay, perfect. I'll make sure that's linked when the interview is posted. What's your #1 piece of advice or your favorite tip for marketing a business with content?
Marnie: The more the better. We have some people who sign up as experts and I'll say, "Do you have plenty of content?" They'll say, "Oh yeah. I've got plenty of content." Then they don't really give it to us. Or, they don't-they may give us a block of it in the beginning. In order for us to consistently promote them ongoing, we need content. The more you give us the more we can promote you. The more, the better and higher quality. In this industry, people have learned that content is valuable and then they create more but it's crap. Excuse my French. That does you no good. You do want to create quality content that people want to read. Think about the human first and the search engine second.
Denise: That's really good advice. Human first, search engine second. So what's next for you Marnie? Any exciting projects that you're working on that you can share with us?
Marnie: I'm thinking of making another one of these magazines more toward the self help angle. I have a lot of self help experts on prosperity, relationships, things like that. So I'm thinking of creating another niche to address that group.
Denise: Excellent. Well, we'll watch for that. You are one of the most prolific people I've ever met. Now, this is the most important question, where can people find you online and connect with you if they would like to get with you personally?
Marnie: Oh, okay. If you go to www.pwgroup.com, that has all of my sites and projects and some videos and some free downloads of one of my ebooks, things like that.
Denise: Great. Are you on Twitter and Facebook?
Denise: Okay, perfect. Marnie, I want to thank you. I really appreciate your time and sharing your expertise about article and content marketing. I'm just in awe of what you create on a consistent basis. I look forward to following you around some more. One of these days I'm going to get all my content on www.ideamarketers.com. It's been on this to do list that's been following me around every day: get your stuff over to Marnie.
Again, I really appreciate you spending a few minutes with me today.
Marnie: All right, thank you.
You Are Invited! Join me on June 7 when I interview Marnie Pehrson about how she drove her self-published book, Trust Your Heart: Transform Your Ideas Into Income, to bestseller status in less than 24 hours by harnessing the power of social media. It's free to attend and if you cannot be at the live event, I'll send you the audio reply – you must register to get the dial in info and replay!