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Strategies for Developing Content at Scale

An Interview with Laura Coronado

This episode of ECoffee with Experts features  Laura Coronado,  Marketing Strategist at WebDevStudios, a WordPress web design, and development agency headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During her conversation with Matt Fraser, Laura lets us in to some of her strategies for developing cutting edge content that never fails to deliver. Watch now!

Working in marketing you’re always trying to create positive brand messaging, having to work on your internal optimist, that’s where reading books always helps.

Laura Coronado
Marketing Strategist at WebDevStudios
Hello everyone. Welcome to the E-Coffee with experts episode today. My name is Matt Fraser, the host of E coffee experts, and today on the show, I'd like to introduce you to today's special guests Laura Coronado. I hope I said that right, Laura? Correct me if I didn't. Laura is the marketing strategist at WebDevStudios, a WordPress web design, and development agency headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with team members across the globe. With over 20 years of experience in marketing and communications including time spent working in healthcare, entertainment, eCommerce, and public affairs. Laura is always writing. She runs her own women's lifestyle blog at Lollieshopping.com, has a podcast about dating, and sometimes freelances as a travel writer covering the fabulous city of Las Vegas, Nevada. She's a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not working, blogging, podcasting, or shopping, Laura can be found out and about enjoying openings, tastings, and social events in Vegas or visiting family in Texas. So Laura, thanks so much for joining us on the show today. It's great to have you.

Thank you so much for having me.

Did I say your last name right. I apologize if I didn't.

It’s Coronado with an O sound at the end. It’s okay.

My apologies. So, thanks for coming on. And I know you live in Vegas. How long have you lived in Vegas?

For almost 21 years? It will be 21 years this year.

Oh, wow. You must have seen some major changes happening.

Yeah. It’s always changing. I mean, you can go away for two years and come back and it’s a completely new Vegas. So yeah, I’ve seen lots of changes.

Yeah. So you have lived here for 21 years. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Texas in Austin. So I grew up in Austin and I went to high school in a border town. So South Texas I consider Austin and South Texas, both my homes. And then I graduated from college and Austin as well.

Okay. What brought you to Vegas? What made you move to Vegas and decide to live in Vegas?

Well, in my 20s, I just wanted to get out of Texas. So you lived somewhere for so long and you’ve grown oftentimes you just want to go away. So I moved from Austin to Los Angeles and then from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. I wasn’t sure that I was making Las Vegas my permanent home. But here I am 21 years later so it’s my permanent home.

All right on. And so you got to Vegas and how long ago did you start Lollieshopping.com?

 Well I started Lollie shopping in 2008. I was already working in marketing when I first moved here to Vegas, but I started Lolly shopping in 2008 just to keep up with the times. 

Okay, I was going to ask you what made you start it.

 I just wanted to keep up my marketing skills. And that was at a time when content and content production and content management was starting to become a thing. And I knew that if I wanted to be marketable as a marketer, as an employee, I needed to learn more about content creation and content management and blogging and the different content management systems out there. So that’s really why I started Lollieshopping.com. Yes, it’s a women’s lifestyle blog now but it started as a fashion blog. I started it just so I could keep up my marketing skills and it has helped to transition my position today as a content manager and a content producer.

Oh, that's fantastic. So before Lollieshopping.com, were you doing content marketing for other companies and other businesses?

My marketing history goes back to the days when people didn’t have websites. Yeah, that’s how far back I go to the mid-90s. I was working in healthcare when my marketing director came up to me and said, “We’re going to get this thing called a website. And you’re going to help me write the copy and the text that’s going to go on the website. And then we’re going to send it to the webmaster who’s going to build the website”.  That’s how far back I go. And just so I could keep up with website technology I needed to understand creating content and content management. So that’s why I started the blog, but before that, I was doing all other types of marketing. I was doing media relations, I was doing event coordination, writing, and creating content, but for paper when these letters are mailed to people.

Where was your first job then, doing this?

So my first job was in Austin, Texas. It’s called Austin Regional Clinic. That was my health care position and my first marketing job.

Oh, wow. Right on. I noticed from your LinkedIn profile, that you worked for Zappos.

 I did. That was my eCommerce experience. And that’s really when I started to transition into copywriting specifically. So I was writing copy for handbags and that was fun because I was getting to deal with just it. And I love handbags, I was like, this is perfect. So I was writing copy for handbags. And I was working closely with the production team to get to the content and the products live on the website. So that was great exposure to eCommerce for me.

Oh, fantastic. So your main function there was to write product descriptions for all of the handbags?

I was writing product descriptions for handbags. And then they decided there’s this thing called blogging, and we need to start doing it. And we want you to join the team as a blogger. I’m telling you my marketing history goes way back. So we actually at Zappos, and I hope I could say this now, we started our blog on MySpace. So Zappos had a MySpace space, our own branded space. And that’s where we started blogging. And then somebody else came along and said there’s this thing called SEO. And apparently, our blogging on MySpace is not a good idea for it. So they moved to blog over to the web to the Zappos platform. And this is around the time when I  decided  I needed to learn more about content management systems, I needed to know about SEO, I needed to know about blogging and where to do it, and how to do it internally. And that’s when I started to kick off Lollieshopping and started to understand content management.

All right on. At Zappos did they have a blog on WordPress, or what technology were they using?

 They were using their system. We had a private system that we were using for creating the website and that’s where we ended up building the blog. I wasn’t exposed to WordPress until about two or three years later. When I started my blog, Lollieshopping, it was not on WordPress, it was on Google’s Blogger platform and then on Pop Sugar. And there was a whole sugar media company. And all of us who were into fashion blogging were paying attention to what sugar media was doing. And then they started their platform on sugar. And it was a blogger platform for fashion bloggers. I moved my blog from Google to there. And then our local WordPress expert in Las Vegas, his name is John Hopkins. He said; “You know, you got to be on WordPress”. And then I transitioned over to WordPress,

What's your favorite thing about WordPress?

Well, I think first and foremost it is the community. When you get involved with WordPress, whether you’re a business owner, and you move your website over to WordPress, or you’re like me, and you’ve got this blog, it just comes with a community built-in. So it comes with all these great things out of the box, like SEO. But what no one ever talks about is that it also comes with the community right out of the box and there are all these people, you can talk to the get help. So for me, first and foremost is the community, it is very welcoming. Technology is very intimidating and it’s just nice to have a community of friendly people who are there to support you and help you through it.

Isn’t it amazing how big the community is? You could find a WordPress meetup group in any major city in the world.

Even in small cities and I’ve researched that. And so when I travel around and if I’m in a small city, I’m like, I wonder if they have a local WordPress meetup group? And sure enough, they do. Even in the smaller towns across America, they have WordPress meetup groups.

Yeah, that's awesome. What would you say is your least favorite thing about WordPress?

Well, I guess right now, it’s growing so much that it is becoming so technical, even though they recently brought in front site editing, managing a WordPress website, and I do manage our website at WebDevStudios isn’t so intimidating. But I know I definitely can’t just up and build a WordPress website myself. I mean, we’re at the point now, where you do want to partner up with somebody who’s a technology expert, a WordPress expert who can build it for you.

Yeah, would you agree with this? I don't think people realize how difficult it is to build a website, period until they try to do it?

Exactly. It’s not until you’re immersed in it, that you realize how difficult it is.

Yeah. Because in my experience, it may take a visitor less than 30 seconds to scroll the entire page, but it took you 40 hours plus to build it, if not more. I build websites and we're talking about WordPress, I spent over 40 hours in one section because it was so detailed and content was there and it just needed that kind of attention. So, you mentioned that you work for WebDevStudios, how did you come to be working for that company?

Well, my friend John Hopkins, whom I mentioned earlier, is the one who got me into WordPress. He was working at WebDevStudios and they opened up this position, at the time he was a communication specialist because it was specified to the blog and social media. And he came up to me and said, hey, you’ve got to apply for this job. This is right up your alley.  It’s a WordPress agency and you love to write, you love social media.  And so he talked me up to our chief executives, and I interviewed and landed the position and have been with him for five years now.

All right, awesome. So your main focus there or your tasks and the things you're responsible for is planning the content for the blog and social media channels and things like that?

Originally, it was specified like that. Now I’m a marketing strategist and I’m now covering all things marketing. So content marketing is a big part of my job. I’m helping to coordinate collaborations, and webinars, and meet your relations again. So it has morphed into his bigger marketing position.

Oh, fantastic. When it comes to content, though, how do you plan the content for WebDevStudios? Is there a certain process? Does it start with keyword research? How would you go about it?

There is a process. So first and foremost we have two segments to our audience, and one is the developers. We have a lot of developers who come to our blog to get some quick tips and guidance, tutorials, and information. And our engineers love to blog. So they have all those great knowledge information that they share. And that’s awesome. The other side is that we, of course, have clients. And of course, we want to attract clients to our website so that they convert, and hire us, so we try to create content for both of those segments. I think the first thing for us is that we’re always trying to be on top of trends, right? So right now, everyone’s talking about decoupled websites. Headless WordPress is a big thing. So when we know that something is a hot trend, we want to jump on that we want to make sure that we have content that fulfills that. So trends sort of dictate the keywords. And then we just turn to the people that we know who are particularly interested in or have experience with that specific topic and talk to them about creating content based on that trend.

How do you define the success of content marketing in the business? In regards to tying marketing activities to ROI, for instance, and it's helping the business grow or not, is there a way that you've developed to do that?

I’m big on that, to me, there has to be some kind of return on it. And I think I sort of differ from the typical marketer, which is to look at data and numbers. For me, it’s about acquisition; Did we acquire a new employee or a talent? You need to join our team as a result of this content. Did we acquire a client because that’s important to me? So acquisition, for me is the big thing. We’re talking to a client right now who is interested in headless WordPress, and he came to us because they found the headless WordPress content that we created. So once I know that’s working, that is the top tier level of my standard for success. Below that, if you think about it, I start looking at data. We do look at traffic, we do look at numbers, and we look at analytics. And lately, we’ve been looking at conversion. We’re using a tool called parsley that I recommend, and parsley will show you, okay, this person came to this page, and then they filled out this contact form. So that’s important to me. So they’re coming to our website and they’re looking, but how many of them are filling out the form to contact us to talk about a project?

Yeah, that's awesome. So you mentioned you developed two different types of content, content for developers and I assume your developers are writing the content to attract clients. Do you use the content for developers to attract staff?

It helps and it can also attract clients because we’re talking about a topic like again, let’s say headless WordPress, and so clients and everyone’s buzzing in the marketing world about decoupled websites. It is not the right technology for everyone, by the way. Yeah, so that content can help inform and educate potential clients as well. But yeah, we do get developers because, of course, we have a lot of people who would join our company. After all, they wanted to work with certain senior engineers, and lead engineers, they want to be mentored by these people. So it does help to acquire new talent for our team.

Oh, fantastic. So it establishes you as an authority in the space, and then attracts people to you. That's awesome. How do you stay on top of changes in the content marketing industry?

Oh, that’s a tough one. Here’s why it’s tough for me, I can get so mired in my position, and what I’m doing. So you just get what is it when you get lost, you don’t see the trees for the forest, or maybe it’s the other way around. But sometimes I can miss certain things. So one thing I tried to do is I am signed up for everyone’s marketing email newsletter. And so I can see when there’s a new webinar coming up, I can see when someone is trying to tout a new trend. And if it’s something I haven’t heard of, or that I feel like I’m not familiar with, boom, I’m on that webinar just so I can try and keep up. But I really can’t get mired that I do often worry. It’s like one of my insecurities is that I’m going to miss out on something new that we need to be implementing, all because I’m just so mired in my daily duties.

You mentioned that one tool parsley? Are there other tools that you would recommend for content marketers and content marketing managers?

 Yeah, well, it’s for SEO specifically and of course, Google Analytics. We are all using Google Analytics. Parsley is something new for us that we’ve just started to integrate and we’re enjoying it because like I said, I can track actual conversions. And then MOZ pro, we’ve been using them for keywords, and they’re really helpful because they can help you find the sort of keyword gaps. So like, maybe I’m using the term headless WordPress, for our SEO and keywords, and our content, but then they might say, hey, you’ve missed all these other keywords that are also similar to headless WordPress, you might want to start focusing on these as well.

Okay, can you walk me through the process of how you create a blog post?

It can vary. My favorite process to use is when I get to create the outline for the person who’s writing for us. So again, we have the trend designated identified, and then from there, I can get the keyword. And then what I’ll do is just write out a nice little outline, very simple, here’s your intro. And then I might say, you might want to mention this, that or the other, then I go into the body, and just bullet point out the points that I’d like for them to make and then just ask them to close it. And it might have a call to action. Like, if you’re looking for someone to build you this type of solution we just talked about, be sure to contact us. So I like to do it that way. I always know because I’m working with my engineers who, of course, are working on client projects, they’ve already got those deadlines. And client work always comes first. I’ll work with the project manager to see when they’ve got some maybe some downtime or some loose time or if we can schedule time for them to blog. I give them a deadline. I check in with them to make sure that they can make this deadline it’s two weeks coming in, are you sure you’re going to make this deadline? And we just sort of work together that way and what’s great for me is because we work remotely this sort of gives me that one on one time to work with a variety of different co-workers. And then once we get it in, I prefer when they write in WordPress. Sometimes they’ll work on a Google Doc, especially if they want it peer-reviewed? Which makes sense to me. I understand that. I don’t know if people know this, but when you copy and paste from a Google doc into WordPress, there are all kinds of style errors.

So just copy it from a Google doc to plain text.

Yes exactly. If the writer added headers into that Google Doc, well, now I’ve lost it, because I’ve done into the tags.  So there’s some work there, I don’t mind, I’ll do it. I don’t mind adding images myself, I always let my writers know,  don’t worry about it,  I’ll take care of the images. I’ll take care of the alt tags for the images. And I take care of SEO for them as well. I do use Yoast. And it’s another tool that I highly recommend. And we use the pro version. And so I make sure it’s readable. I make sure it’s optimized. I do like to aim for the green lights. And everyone will tell you don’t worry about the lights. If you get to two orange lights, you’re doing pretty good. And I understand that advice. But I’m a perfectionist. So I aim for the two green lights. And then I get it scheduled to go out.

All right on. So how often would you recommend a business published content?

It depends on the business and how much they want to grow and how much they can handle and on their own specific sales strategy. Now, at WebDevStudio, we are a medium-sized agency and we do like to publish content twice a week. That’s kind of a lot though. I don’t know that necessarily a small business needs to do that. I think if you’re a small business you can publish content about once a month. And that will be pretty good, as long as you’re staying active, like, say, in social media, or maybe you have an ongoing email newsletter, where you’re continuing communications that way as well. A couple of times a month is good. Once a week is good. It’s really hard to tell unless I know specifically what that business is and what its business goals are.

Okay, that's a fair answer. What do you use for keeping track of all the content? For instance, you have to plan the content, then what do you use for keeping track of it, and when to publish it? What stage it's at, and so on?

So I just use a good old-fashioned Google Spreadsheet. My content calendar is I am using a spreadsheet, there are content calendar apps and software and tools that you actually can use the different plugins, but I have just been working off of a spreadsheet, that’s just the system that’s working for me.

Yeah. So did it take much time to develop that spreadsheet and create the headers and the different processes that are involved in it?

It takes some time and you want to put some thought into it and what is it that you are tracking in terms of the specifics of all your content. So you want to put some thought into it, you want to take some time, but once you get it set up, then it’s just really pretty easy after that. I like keeping it as a spreadsheet because then everyone and I always say this and I know people shouldn’t say this, but if I ever get hit by a bus, and then I’m just out of here, my bosses have access to that right away. Super easy. Anyone within our organization can access that spreadsheet.

Yeah, it's interesting, I think in the same way as well, people find it morbid, but I'm always thinking in terms of what if something happened to me? God forbid, something happens, but how do I create a process so that someone else can access it with a team? It's quite smart. And so do you from the spreadsheet, do you also have content like Google Calendar, where you publish the content when it's going to go out?

 I just keep up with the published dates on there. So I keep up with the deadline on there, where it’s at in terms of, is it a draft? Or are we still in the talking stages about it? And who was assigned to it? I just keep all of that information in the spreadsheet. And then I just use WordPress scheduler to have it scheduled and schedule out?

How far ahead do you plan content?

I like to plan as far ahead as I possibly can. I say that, however, I do believe in some sort of flexibility, because again, there are trends, right?  So let’s say Facebook closes shop tomorrow.  I couldn’t predict that. But now  I’m going to want to create content all around that,  isn’t it great that you had your website and you weren’t relying on a Facebook page as your website because they’re gone now?  So just talking about that sort of thing,  whenever Facebook does go down, I right away make sure to make some content about why you need to be dependent on your website and not on a Facebook page, or social media to carry the weight of your brand messaging. You always want your website. So I like to plan content out. However, I also like to leave a lot of room for flexibility, because whatever the next hot topic or hot trend is, I want to make sure that we’ve got content going for it.

Well, fantastic. What has been your greatest success as a content marketing person?

Wow, that’s a big question. And content marketing, my great success. I don’t have to have one. It’s not like I won some big award or anything like that. But personally, my blog; it has led to an improvement in my career. My career has been able to transition into content management. And then two, I’ve gotten to do freelance writing. The reason I’ve been able to freelance and write about Las Vegas for various publications, including LA Times, is because of my blog. So getting noticed and getting recognition, and then it leading to opportunities, I think, is my greatest success. And then I continue to extend that same type of energy to WebDevStudios. So again, when we publish content, and we acquire either talent or clients as a result of it, or when we get media attention as a result, to me that is a great success, content results, and other activity and opportunities.

So you're saying starting Lollieshopping.com opened up a whole bunch of avenues for you?

It was an exercise in my marketing skills, and just something for me to do so that I could just sort of stay on to stay on top of it. And then for it to be a fashion blog, which kind of sounds silly, it’s just a little fashion blog. But to have it morphed into what it ended up morphing into just was unexpected for me.

All right. Well, congratulations on that. What would you say to someone who wanted to get started in content marketing?

I am you know, it’s funny that you say that, because I just had someone reach out to me on LinkedIn asking me for advice. One is to find your opportunity and go for it. And I think you do have to think small, especially if you don’t already come from this kind of background. So you might want to volunteer for a local nonprofit, taking care of their social media, or writing blog posts for them. You want to just start building some sort of portfolio of experience. I think it helps to have your website, to build your brand. Start your brand, so that you can then if you’re wanting to freelance you can acquire clients or if you’re wanting to get into the job market, you can get an employer just based on sending them to your website. It is great to have a LinkedIn. It is great to have a Facebook page. But it’s even better when you have a website to send people to.

That's awesome. So basically, get yourself out there, make a website and start publishing content. Yeah, write your content and make something happen.

Exactly. Just do it for yourself.

The different types of content that you produce, we're talking about content in the sense of text content, but are there other types of content that you would recommend that either WebDevStudios produces or that you recommend producing? For instance, I'm thinking of video content, and social media content, and what are the other kinds of content that could be created?

Yeah, you hit the nail on the head there. So video, definitely. Webinars have already been a thing, but with the pandemic and with people staying home more often because there aren’t a whole lot of in-person conferences nowadays. I feel like webinars have even gained momentum. So we’re really big on webinars and using that as a marketing tool at WebDevStudios, I recommend other people do the same. So if video production is something you’re interested in, you may want to start thinking about doing webinars, doing YouTube tutorials. And also LinkedIn is now getting into video. And that’s something we’re looking into also for ourselves is creating videos on LinkedIn. So those are some things to look at. Audio is also picking up. I’m sure lots of people are familiar with clubhouse and that picked up a lot of momentum last year. So having like a clubhouse room, because basically what you want to do is to share your knowledge and your expertise and the information that you have with others. You want to be a thought leader, right so clubhouse is a great way to do it. We were looking at the clubhouse and we decided to go with Twitter spaces. And Twitter spaces are also like an audio platform where you can host conversations. You can pick a topic and host a conversation. We are hosting Twitter spaces every Friday. We call them WordPress Friday. And our CEO is the lead on that. You can get better, you want to talk to the CEO of WebDevStudios, that’s your chance to do it. On Fridays, he is there and he’s talking about WordPress, with other WordPress users and developers, and designers. So I highly recommend audio as well.

Where can people find out about that WordPress space/Twitter space you just mentioned? Some of our listeners might.

If you are on Twitter please follow WebDevStudios@webdevstudios and  I am always promoting that Twitter spaces event. It is today Friday at 2 pm eastern. Because I am on the West Coast I am always trying to calculate the East coast times. So 2 pm Eastern every Friday is when we have it. And we talk about WordPress. I recommend joining via mobile, whenever you join someone’s Twitter space. Twitter limits its desktop capabilities and so you can’t access the mike to ask questions. So you want to join mobile to access the mike to join the conversation and to ask questions.

Fantastic. I am just going to ask you some rapid-fire questions. If I could. What is your favorite place to shop?

Oh, good one. A city or a specific place?

What is your favorite place to shop in Los Vegas?

In downtown Las Vegas we have a little area called the Arts District. Downtown Las Vegas, South Main Street. It has some great locally owned boutiques. I love shopping in our locally owned stores in Las Vegas.

Fantastic. What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is Mexican because I am Mexican-American. My mother lives in Las Vegas and she makes the best Mexican food so she is my favorite place to eat Mexican food. My second favorite is Pizza and I love GoodPie on South Main Street again.

Fantastic. I went to a Mexican Restaurant in Vegas. I can’t remember the name, Nacho something?

Nacho Daddy. That has a Zappos tie-in by the way. The Founders was Tony Shay from Zappos. Yeah. Nacho Daddy.

Oh Wow. Nacho Daddy. My wife and I enjoyed it there.

Everyone loves Nacho Daddy.

What is your favorite color.

My favorite color is coral. Most people would say blue or green, something basic. But mine is coral because I love the orange and pink combination.

Yeah. That is Fantastic. What is your favorite Animal?

My favorite animal is the Red Panda.

I know I alluded to this earlier, do you have a favorite restaurant in Vegas? Besides your mom’s kitchen and dining room table?.

it depends on what I want to eat. So for Pizza, it is GoodPie. Gianna’s because of the chef there and then Bovats at MGM is my favorite steak house.

Right on. I love steak. I am from Alberta which is a similar environment as Texas. Describe your style in one word.

Right now I am working from home so I try to be nice and conservative but I tend to be very trendy. I always want to wear whatever is trending, so I would go with Trendy.

Besides creating content you like to consume content, so you like to read?

I like to read old books and I love going to bookstores. As far as digital content goes there is a website called Refinery 29. They have a lot of content that appeals to me from fashion to shopping to skincare to horoscopes. I get a lot of my information there.

Fantastic . Do you have a favorite book?

I would say Stephen King’s On Writing. It is not a horror and it is my Bible. It is my go-to, to improve my writing. He talks about creative writing but it applies to all writing and messaging. I mainly work on brand messaging and his book helps me out a lot.

Fantastic. I wasn't aware he had written a book in that subject area.

Yes. It’s like taking a Master’s Course on Writing with Stephen King.

Fantastic. So are there any other books you would recommend to content writers? And Content Marketers?

A dictionary and a Thesaurus should always be on hand. AP stylebook is always helpful. There are so many books, I just want to go through my small library. Tribe of Mentors by By Timothy Veras have a lot of good advice and when you are working in Marketing you are trying to create positive brand messaging so you are always working on your internal optimist and your motivation and dedication and discipline. So I recommend reading anything that helps with boosting your confidence, working with and without others, they always help with creating and producing content.

Fantastic. Thank you Laura for being on the show how do people get in touch with you?

You can follow me on Twitter @lollieshopping.  Also, webdevstudio on Twitter and email me at laura@webdevstudio.com.

Those are the different ways to get in touch with Laura. Thank you very much. I enjoyed having you on the show. It's been a pleasure. Thanks very much.

Thank you so much.

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