033: Women and Imposter Syndrome with Rosalyn Page

In episode 33 of Women in WP, we talk to Rosalyn Page about content writing authentic content, blogging, creating the work you want to do, and imposter syndrome that women are struggling with and how to get past it.


About Rosalyn Page:

Rosalyn Page is an award-winning journalist/editor specialising in digital lifestyle, consumer tech and marketing and media. Her arts and culture blog, Some Notes From A Broad, is a guide to books, TV, film, podcasts with monthly round-ups, reviews, views and more.

Find Rosalyn Page: Freelance writer/editor + arts & culture blogger | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn


Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
033: Women and Imposter Syndrome with Rosalyn Page
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Show Notes

This episode is sponsored by Malcare. Get a discount on an annual plan by going to malcare.com/womeninwp.

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Transcript

Speaker 1:
Welcome to Women in WP, a bimonthly podcast about women who blog, design, develop, and more in the WordPress community.
Amy:
Welcome to the show! I’m Amy Masson.
Angela:
I’m Angela Bowman.
Tracy:
And I’m Tracy Apps.
Amy:
And our guest today is Rosalyn Page, an award-winning journalist, content writer, and editor with a niche in digital lifestyle, consumer tech marketing, and travel who’s worked in the media for nearly 20 years in both London and Sydney. Welcome, Rosalyn.
Rosalyn:
Hi everyone. Great to be with you.
Amy:
And we like to start off each episode by asking our guest how they got into WordPress.
Rosalyn:
Okay. I was probably like a lot of people that dabbled in WordPress and dabbled in blogging when it was first big. Blogging’s always big, but it was the first time it was big. So I had three different blogs depending on what interest I had at the time, so I had a cycling blog called Spokes in the City, and then I had another one which was media related, then I had another one which was the usual blog expression of daily living. And none of them really… I must admit they didn’t really take hold with me. They’re probably like those millions of blogs that languish after your first few posts. Anyway, a couple of years ago I had left a permanent job and I was freelancing. My family had advice that I needed to get my personal website out of the late ’90s. And so, because I was freelancing, I didn’t have a huge amount of money to pay a designer, and I didn’t have a huge amount of work because I was just starting off with the freelance. So I thought, “Okay, I have to do this myself.”
And I spent about 10 years writing about consumer technology so I was fairly okay with… I had written stories, how-to’s, on how to create a blog and so I thought I must be able to do this. Surely I can do this. And I did have my own domain, so I had all of those things set up. Anyway, so I spent a week and decided to redesign the website. There was some moments of crying, I have to admit. There was a lot of moments of swearing and banging the table, but I did get there in the end and it was mostly what I wanted. I bought myself a template and I understood the basics, although things had changed a bit in terms of block editors and so on that I had to get my head around, and then, I think it was also a lot of just searching online with YouTube tutorials and things, because there’s one little piece of information here, and there’ll be a little piece there, and a little how to there, and sometimes you’ve got to join the dots.
And I think because my background was consumer tech and I had done a lot of writing and tutorials and things, and thinking about not assuming knowledge and not assuming that someone enters at the same place you do with how-tos, that I could see the gaps and I realized that I was going to have to try to join those things up. When someone says, “Oh, to link up your Google analytics,” or something like that, for example, “Just go [inaudible 00:03:34],” and you’re like, “Yeah, but hang on. That’s actually three steps down the track that assumes that I already know that.” So then I’m like, “Okay, next tutorial is for that step. Next tutorial is for that.” And once I embraced that I stopped crying so much and went, “All right, just see this as gaining useful skills. If I’ve become a full time freelancer who knows if I can start a side gig of WordPress assistance. I know there’s lots of people who do that.” And so it was more of a big learning curve project, I guess getting those, upscaling yourself.
Amy:
So you built your website to promote your freelance writing career, and you built it all on your own with just Googling and looking in forums, and that kind of stuff, tutorials?
Rosalyn:
Yeah, mostly.
Amy:
Have you built any websites for anybody else or is it just for your own freelance writing?
Rosalyn:
Well, I built another one last year. So we moved back to Australia and I took a job writing about marketing and video, which is great, but I also really have a passion for arts and culture. And so my job was part-time and I thought, “Well, now’s the perfect time to create a whole new site for myself,” because honestly, with the freelancing, sometimes it’s a bit disempowering because you are always at the whim of editors and things, so I thought I’m just going to give myself the job I really want and I’m just going to be a complete hog and be the editor and be able to do everything and say everything and make every choice that I want, and also own something from start to finish. So, yeah. I created a arts and culture blog with a bit of a feminist take, as well, because that’s another… I wouldn’t call it a passion interest, but I guess it’s an important project and I wanted to be able to promote women’s writing and just TV that focuses on women, fairly mainstream. Anyway, so I came up with-
Amy:
And is that the Notes From A Broad website?
Rosalyn:
Yeah. So I came up with Some Notes From A Broad after messaging all my friends going, “Oh my God, what do you think?” Registered the domain, and then it from there and set the whole thing up.
Tracy:
It’s such a great name of the site too.
Amy:
Yeah. Somenotesfromabroad.com, just for anybody listening that wants to go check it out.
Tracy:
Yeah. I just got it. Yeah.
Angela:
[inaudible 00:06:02] for websites. That’s great.
Rosalyn:
Yeah. I think blogs, they have to have a personality and a point of view. And so, I wanted something that would indicate that from the get go, as well, and that we had a bit of a play on words as well. And the broad becomes that person that you can talk about in the third person, as I think you can with a blog, because it is something quite different, in terms of different to my normal journalism writing.
Angela:
I really like this latest film and TV post, In Praise of Slacker Chicks on Screen. Where do you get your ideas? Do you spend a lot of time reading on the internet? Do you just Google things? Where do you come up with this content?
Rosalyn:
Well, in terms of organizing it, I have a Trello board. So I love Trello, and my last job we used that to some of our big projects, so one of the first things I did was make a Trello board. And anything that I’ve interested in, freelance, whatever it is, I just create a board, and so it’s a bit of a brain dump so it doesn’t have to sit in that bit of the brain that needs to do other things. So, I think it’s a combination of things. I think it’s just reading, watching TV, listening to podcasts. I think it’s percolating ideas. I think it’s also just the personal side of things, which is why the blog’s so nice, is that you see that and you’re like, “Oh yeah, slacker chicks. We need to talk about slacker chicks.” In fact, we need to give them a high five. There needs to be more of that depiction of the variety of femaleness, and that’s that feminist side.
I studied communications at university, so it was all about deconstructing and analyzing points of view and representation and so on. And so, in some respects, this is a bit of a constellation of a lot of those things. So, yeah, I think that’s the job of an editor, I think, isn’t it? Where you’ve got to just read and watch and have a point of view and have something to say and something to put forward. But just whenever I’m out and about, if I see something I’ll just save it into the Trello app, or if I can’t do that I’ll just email it to myself and so then I’ll just have topics, like slacker chicks was one that I just had going for a while and I thought, “Right, what am I going to write about? Yep. It’s time to do this.” Women’s writing rooms, getting women in the room, writing about stories was another big one. So I might see something and I’m like, “Oh yeah, okay. That’s going to be a post down the track.”
And so I’m always trying to gather things, because anyone who’s done a blog, or any type of thing, you just don’t want to be having no ideas and no content. So I’m always got ideas percolating in the background, and so I’ll just clip things and save things.
Tracy:
That’s really great. I had a blog and then I ran out of ideas, or that kind of thing. So, you do technical stuff, and then you do arts and such. What percentage do you do of each, or how does that break down in your writing?
Rosalyn:
I think in the writing, at the moment I’m probably doing more media and marketing writing, and less consumer tech and tutorials, because I’ve moved out of that. I do a little bit freelance, but it’s more just the marketing and media side of things that I cover in terms of writing. I think in terms of the blog, as anyone who set anything up knows that you’ve got to climb that hill of just joining the dots and it’s just painful. And I also know that you could just basically devote your whole life. You could just fall into the black hole of consuming everything. I was obsessed with SEO for a while as well, and then I just decided to just let that go because it just doesn’t suit what I do. So, I’ve got an understanding of it, but I can’t obsess about it because I’ll just go crazy.
And in terms of the actual technical side of things, I think for the blog it was 95% to begin with, and now it just hums along pretty well, and all the updates and things that so easy to take care of themselves, and it’s been made so much easier for people to create this presence for themselves on the net. Linking MailChimp, linking Facebook, setting up a Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram. I mean, it’s amazing that you can project yourself, or project a site, out into the world with not a lot of money and not a huge amount of time and not a massive amount of deep technical knowledge. I have a little bit of HTML, but not a huge amount. But I have the belief that this all works, so I know I can sort of generally figure out the steps to make it work.
Tracy:
I like what you said about the SEO, because really, if you have content that people want to read, the SEO just follows. So, that makes perfect sense. So you’ve been doing this for quite a while, have you worked with other systems and especially even WordPress itself, from when I first started and it is a completely different beast it is now, what kind of things that you found that were really helpful? Or things that, I mean, even though I know this is a WordPress blog, but even if it’s something else, like there’s another service out there that has some cool things. So what kind of things have you seen that have helped you with your work?
Rosalyn:
Look, I have to say just before I get to that, I’m not a massive fan of blocks, the blocks editor. I must say, I just find it just forces a structure that I don’t always want. And that’s just me, I’m not a if this, then that. I prefer to just be able to do everything myself. Actually, I know that probably makes it easier for some people, but to me it’s just an enforced layout and an enforced way of formatting and editing that annoys me a little bit, because it’s forcing certain things that I don’t really like. So-
Angela:
It’s really okay here. This is a safe space.
Tracy:
This is, yes.
Angela:
You don’t have to like the Gutenberg editor.
Amy:
We’re not all Gutenberg fans.
Tracy:
I’ve been being dragged kicking and screaming, because I’m a designer. I feel like that people who are writing shouldn’t have to do that. That’s the design stuff, those are extra steps, but I also see like you’re saying. Yeah, some people that’s helpful for, but not everywhere.
Angela:
Do you have the classic editor plugin installed so you can stay in the classic editor, or do you find you’re using the classic editor block to put your content in? Or how are you working around that issue?
Rosalyn:
Look, I pretty much just persevere with the blocks, even though I don’t love it. At the moment, I’m just focusing on getting the content in and not doing too much of the behind the scenes technical, because I know I’ll just fall into a black hole and there’ll be hours that have gone by and I’ve got to plug in or something else. And so I’m having to be really strict with myself because I’ve got a permanent part-time job and I’ve got to limit this, or else, yeah, I just look up and it’s dark and I’m like, “Oh my God, I don’t know.” So I’m just persevering with what I’ve got, and just try to tell myself that it’s just a different way that it looks but you’re basically getting the same result, and just trying to accept the shortcuts that it makes available to you, even though it feels like it’s channeling me into something that don’t always like. But, yeah, I mean, in a previous job, we used Sitecore, which is a fairly full on CMS. It was a bit like a consumer reports, where I worked, it’s called Choice, so they do a lot of product testing and things. So thankfully, I didn’t do the product testing so I didn’t have to get around the really deep technical understanding of loading in spreadsheets with all sort of product information and so on. I did most of the text based editing. But it was okay, I quite liked it. The place I’m at now has their own system and it’s so basic. It’s like, “Where is it all? It’s too simple.” When I mentioned Sitecore, they all just went, “Oh my God. No, we don’t have that.” So, yeah I think-
Amy:
I love that you-
Rosalyn:
I think just accept that.
Amy:
I love where you said that you just gave yourself the job that you wanted. And so my questions are, I have a couple of them, does that job give you any money or is it purely for joy?
Rosalyn:
Yeah, look. It’s a love job at the moment, and I do have a Ko-fi sponsor page. That was a second step that I just set up recently, that buy a creative coffee thing. And so far, no one’s buying me a coffee, so well bum them, but I accepted that and that’s why I do limit the time to some extent. And it’s why I also just didn’t worry about the SEO and trying to build in ads, because I realized that, sorry, I’d be a bit of a slave to Google. I did deep dive a bit into the whole travel blogging and I could just see that on the one hand it looks great, but on the other hand, you’re just at the mercy of algorithm changes and coding links with Amazon, and that’s just another master that you’ve got to attend to. So I thought I just don’t owe anybody anything for this. And it’s a little of a proof of concept, in a way, of like, “Can I do this? Can I make it happen? Can see where it goes?”
And it just might be the love project and that’s okay. It’s nice to liberate it from having to make money.
Amy:
And do you have any other contributors, or are you the only one writing?
Rosalyn:
I’ve got a ghost writer, which is my husband. He’s written a couple of things. He hasn’t had time, because he’s a teacher. He had a bit of a lighter job last year, and so he covered a couple of exhibitions, and a couple of films and things. And I offered him a byline and he refused. But otherwise, it’s pretty much me writing everything. I guess the only thing is I do some Q and A’s with the Creative Women at Work series, but obviously, it’s my byline but they usually write it up. So, yeah. I’m not being very sharing with it all. I’m just owning it all.
Angela:
I really love it. I find it super inspiring, and I’ve always wanted to do that myself as to just create the job you want, do it, own it. Have something that you own and you’re not building for clients and be your own client. And what would I do if I were just to do anything? You’ve been very dedicated to it and you’ve kept it going and you have recent articles. It’s not like Tracy was saying, you create a blog, like I did maybe six or seven years ago and maybe that was the last time I wrote on it.
Amy:
I had a few of those.
Angela:
Yeah. How do you stay motivated-
Tracy:
I have a lot of those.
Angela:
What keeps you engaged? What do you find really is in you that makes you want to keep it up?
Rosalyn:
I think it’s a range of things. If it’s just that those ones in the past where you start and you let them languish, and you’re like, “Oh, okay, well that didn’t go very far.” I think I see it a bit like my normal job, so that’s why I’ve got the Trello board. This is pending, this is published, this is scheduled. So it feels like a job, so I’m responsible to it. I just really love it too because I just love feminist arts and culture, and being able to do and say what I want. But sure, the voices start up on a Monday going, “Oh, another post write,” But I do try and snuff those voices out and see it as an opportunity, not a chore. But I did take a break over summer. I just put it on hold for a couple of weeks because we just moved back to a house. I’ve got two children. And I thought, “This is okay, to just hibernate it for a couple of weeks. Just send out a note, and I’ll be back in four weeks,” so it’s not some master that I’m going to resent.
But I think the key is that Trello board and just feeling like I’m always coming up with ideas so I don’t feel like I’m scrambling. So I do a monthly roundup of TV, books and things so I know that’s a given each month, and so I’m always slotting stuff away. If I see something, if I watch something on Netflix or whatever it might be. So, once I’ve got lots of things to choose from it takes away that anxiety about having content. I think I’m just really invested in it because it’s all mine, and it’s just strangely liberating because I know I don’t have to answer to anyone for it, because I answered to editors for a really long time. And that’s good, and you need people to feedback on your work as well, but it’s not something-
Angela:
How often do you update it, are you publishing?
Rosalyn:
Once a week.
Angela:
Okay.
Rosalyn:
It’s manageable for me with my schedule, because I generally work three days a week. At the moment, I’m working four so then I can start chipping away at the post and then get it all finalized by the end of the week and published. And it’s feels like it’s still current, but it’s not so much that I’m just stressed out because I’ve set myself a target too high and it’s just not feasible. And just one other thing I would say, yeah, there’s a lot of things about people writing for nothing, like freelance writers don’t get paid very much and especially creative writing. And so now, I feel I can say to people, “Just do it yourself.” I’m in a women’s creative writing group and someone was complaining that, and rightly so, they’re invited to contribute to a website and some of their creative writing work, which they wouldn’t be paid for, but then they had to take out an ad in order to qualify. And so they had to pay several hundred dollars for the ad. And so this woman was saying, “What do you think?” And people were like, “That stinks.”
And so I was able to say, “Honestly, if you just get a low level domain and the hosting and a bunch of other things for a quarter of that, you could set it up. And if you’re going to write for free, why not just write for yourself for free, and promote it and own it and have something that’s all yours?” And I think, maybe it’s that female thing, as well, as not thinking that you have to have permission from someone else or that there’s some gatekeeper. It’s flipping that a bit and actually having the ownership yourself of things that I think, yeah, it’s important. And that’s really good, and there needs to just be a variety of women’s voices in all domains, and so I think these platforms just really allow that.
Angela:
Yeah, you’re speaking like a true writer. That you are a writer and this is your platform. And so you’ve chosen a topic, and topics, that interest you so you want to write about them, and that it’s just the active writing itself and putting it out there that has its own fulfillment for you. And I like that you’re giving yourself assignments every week so that you do have focus and it doesn’t just get away from you, and every writer will say that. You need to commit to a certain amount of time or… It helps in a way that it’s a passion project and you’re creating a room of your own there.
Rosalyn:
Yeah. I also realized, to me, doing a personal blog, it just wasn’t something I could do. And I think it’s good that people do, but the little imposter voice in my head just is not going to allow that. I just can’t put that stuff out there, so I think this was bad enough. I had to put the imposter in the box and tape it up. But I didn’t want it to be too personalized. I wanted it to take the journalism side of things that I have, and so to make it… And I think that’s blog 2.0 a bit? Which is actually about you, the reader. I’m providing something for you, as supposed to I’m just telling you how I feel and what I think. And look, I think that’s good. It’s not the thing that I could do, because I just can’t reveal all that stuff onto the web. But yeah, I wanted it to very much be about maybe what would look like an editorial type of platform, it has a point of view, though.
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Tracy:
So, I love, because we all talk about the imposter syndrome, and so… Well, and it’s interesting. It says you’re an award winning journalist, so it’s funny because people are like, “Oh, well. I’m just self-taught,” or, “I don’t have anything to my name,” or whatever. But I like the fact putting your imposter syndrome in a box and taking it out. So, I mean, because that’s been a recurring theme with all of us, what are some of your tips to help others to do the same?
Rosalyn:
Yeah. I think it’s really important, especially for women, to know that that exists, and that sometimes you think it’s just the self doubt and a little bit of concern, and actually the imposter syndrome or the imposter takes many different forms, and I think once you start to realize that it can be a bit disconcerting because you realize those things can hold you back and you’re like, “God, if I’d seen the imposter 20 years ago, maybe I could have…” Like, “Oh, okay.” Just don’t go there. It’s better to see it now. And there is that conversation. People can put it out there into the world, that you see people who look really accomplished and you’re like, “What? You’ve got an imposter too?” And realize that everyone, generally speaking, is fighting that imposter voice, and I think you’ve got to recognize it, and unfortunately, I think you’ve got to recognize that it comes in many different guises. And it’s always good to question yourself and it’s good to reflect on yourself, and no one wants to become a [inaudible 00:27:52] and then there’s imposter.
So I think it’s talking about it openly that it’s a thing, and I think that’s really useful for other people to share it and go, “Oh my God, everyone’s actually dealing with that all the time.” And that LinkedIn image that you can project is just the polished version, and in light it’s the questioning unsure person that’s struggling with whatever manifestation that imposter takes, whether it’s the parent who criticized you, or just the kids who made fun of you, or just your own stuff that you’ve invented about, “I’m not good enough. Why would people want to hear from me?” And so, I think it’s also useful to create an alternative narrative. So when it comes up and says, “Well, why would anyone hear from you?” It’s like, “Well, maybe they will. If they don’t, they don’t need to. But there’ll be those people out there who will resonate with.” And so you spend some time having those feelings, and then other times I think it’s just saying, “I’m going ahead anyway, imposter, and you’re going to just have to deal with it.” And sometimes, it is quite hard.
You do have to really override that imposter voice that wants to come along and tell you’re not good enough, or tell you this isn’t worthy, or it’s hopeless, or it’s all the negatives. Yeah.
Amy:
Do you think that women struggle with imposter syndrome more than men?
Rosalyn:
Yeah, I do. Pretty much. I mean, I know some men do more than others and they don’t talk about it.
Amy:
I agree. I think they do too, and I just wonder why that is. Why is it that we are so much more prone to discount our skills and not believe our worth than men?
Rosalyn:
I just really want to say that patriarchy and those kind of systems, that they’re not always obvious. It’s like, “Oh, I went to a good school and my parents are happy to do things.” That’s all fine, but I think patriarchy still exists in that sense of having to fight against that voice. And you have to work that bit harder, or you have to overcome more negative voices to find a space. And I think you only have to look around at some women who do have a big presence and just see the amount of crap that can be thrown at them to recognize that some of that stuff, those fears, are quite real, because it can be brutal for women to fully put themselves forward in those public domains. So I think it’s systemic, and I think a lot of women just internalize those messages that you get from when you’re quite young, and I think it’s trying to understand that to the best of your ability without being in therapy all day, and trying to counter of some of that.
And I just work against it, and being role models and just being kind and generous to other women so they don’t think, “Oh, she’s got it all together, hasn’t she?” A friend of mine asked me to do a post on the blog on imposter syndrome a few months ago, the last time we could go out, because we were talking about this and, “Oh, you do this and you do that.” And I’m like, yeah, but I forced myself to do it. So I force myself to get over those negative voices that would stop you. It’s a Trello card, imposter syndrome. Have to figure out what to do about it. I looked it up and I couldn’t find any movies or books fit the realm, but it’s sitting there in the research section of the Trello board.
Tracy:
I love it.
Amy:
Well, it helps. I remember an episode of Growing Pains back from the ’80s where Carol Seaver had imposter syndrome, so you could use that in your post and I could probably even find you a YouTube clip.
Rosalyn:
Okay. I’m going to look up Growing Pains and I’ll take the link and stick it on the card. And it’s now on. It’s started.
Tracy:
You bring up the patriarchy and that kind of thing, and my thing that I’ve noticed is when things are assumed as the norm and then you’re fighting against that, when, like you’re saying, you’re internalizing it, I do user experience and all of the time, so we all talk about the user, and so the conversations I’ve had with people and they talk about, “Oh, well. This is,” they’re literally like, “Oh, and then he is going to do this and then he’ll do this,” and whatever, and all of the personas that are usually defaulted to are John, Matt, all men. I mean, especially when we talk about in the technical world.
So I always enjoy fighting against that, but I’ve always loved fighting against that kind of stuff. But in the calls with these developers and people that very much are talking about like, “Oh, the user is he and his and everything.” And I’m like, “Okay and then what if she just saw this and then this?” And then it’s funny, because I’ve been watching that, I mean, granted these are all just conference calls, and I can hear them now starting to adjust their language around it because I keep pushing at it.
Rosalyn:
Mm. Yeah. They’re little micro revolts aren’t they? Or little micro awarenesses. And I think that’s really important just to-
Tracy:
I like that. That should be my band name.
Rosalyn:
That’s right. I’m reading that, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, it’s called Invisible Women. It’s about the data bias. I did a blog weeks ago. It’s by an English woman who has done this wonderful book all about the data that’s missing on women, and it’s that thing, assuming that the male is the default without even actually noting it. It begins and goes from there, and so, some of it’s just amusing, and some of it’s actually life threatening because they do research based on, say, male bodies and how they respond to heart attacks, women’s respond differently. Crash test dummies were made in the form of males. They weren’t made in the form of women, so seat belts may not have been as safe for women as for men. It’s just I’m obsessed with it and I’m just telling everyone about it because it gives the data to that notion of the male point of view is the dominant one, but it’s the original one and that women either don’t exist or they’re the second.
It’s the original feminist argument about women being secondary or other, and it’s that thing about, and I know that we are actually moving on from the binary as well, but I think we just have to put that aside as well for now. To say we also need to just deal with this as well, and then we’ll get further down the non-binary, and I think that’s also important as well. But I think we have to establish the binary bias that exists. And it’s that stuff. It’s that thing of well, if it’s all men in the room, they just say he and they just assume that it’s a male, and there’s all these decisions that are made that don’t necessarily suit the woman’s point of view or the woman’s experience or whatever it might be.
Angela:
I think Caroline Perez, who wrote Invisible Women, I think she was just on the 99% Invisible podcast recently. Are you familiar with that podcast?
Rosalyn:
I am not, but I am going to have to find out about it. That is going on the blog. I love her.
Angela:
And I think Tracy would love it too. So, 99% Invisible is about the invisible things in our built world, primarily, but it also could be in the natural world, that affect us. And so they did a whole episode on design and just what you and Tracy were saying about women just being considered maybe smaller men or something in all the medical studies, and how even with public transportation being designed around men. So I think you’ll appreciate that episode a lot. It’s amazing because this has been your passion, this whole blog and all of these topics that we’ve spent most of our time talking about it because it’s so interesting. I’m curious about your business work when you do work for clients. Are you primarily doing marketing, writing, or other kinds of content writing, and is that within a WordPress area or is it for other collateral material? And, I guess, what would be my question around that is do you have any words of wisdom from that standpoint for people who are needing to, let’s say, write copy for their websites?
It’s hard, and Amy knows it’s hard, and it’s like pulling teeth. And if you could speak to that would be great.
Rosalyn:
Mm. Yeah. I think most of the freelance that I do, it tends to be freelance content marketing writing. So those thought leadership pieces, blogs, articles in my previous job, we did writing for the web and I did writing for UX so I was very much about thinking differently about writing website copy. I think it’s changed bit. There was that belief that everything had to be short, and it had to have dot points, and you couldn’t write anything very useful below the fold, and people wanted to get on and get off. And I see that’s changed now that the rules have relaxed a bit, and there is this sense that actually the rules still needs to have a certain structure. It still needs to have subheads that are fairly explanatory, not the ones that you tend to see in, say, magazines that would have all those puns and things. I worked as a subeditor in a food and travel magazine, and everyone just spent their day coming with puns.
That doesn’t really work, so it’s good that some of that’s been relaxed because for a while, all I did was just try to put paragraphs into dot points, and it’s annoying and you just lose the niceness of writing. And I think that’s where if you are using Yoast or something like that, I think you’ve got to ignore some of those red traffic lights that tell you everything that’s wrong with your content. Some of it’s useful, like being aware of the passive voice, but just overly obsessing about my sentences are more than 20 words, and they’re more complex, and they [inaudible 00:39:55] these things should be. Thankfully, we moved away from writing for bots trolling our pages and we are writing more for people, who there is a pleasure in a longer sentence, there is a pleasure in having commas and having sub phrases and getting to the point in the second part of the sentence, and not everything has to just be linked, and I don’t have to have the keyword 57 times.
But I suppose it’s horses for courses a little bit if you want that site that’s going to send the right signals to the Google gods, then I guess you’ve got to follow those. But on the other hand, the Google gods keep tinkering with things, so what are you going to do? You’re going to run back and start at position zero and tweak everything?
Amy:
Well, they do tinker with things but the one thing that remains solid, always, is great content. And-
Rosalyn:
Well, they’ve lead that, too, because they’re saying, “We actually have to have content that…” They’ve realized that those strict rules, people could then play the system by keyword jamming, and all the filling of links and things. And so they have realized that it actually hurts their business because people just get onto something and realize it’s just horrible keyword clickbaity stuff and jump right off it. So, that’s right, they have signal that they’ve got their parameters that they want people to write content that’s useful, that answers questions, that’s helpful to people, and actually written for human beings. And so, that’s good.
Tracy:
Yeah. I feel like I’m noticing that trend too, and I hope that continues, especially being in user experience, because we relate to stories. And so, stories may not be Google juice rich, but, well, who knows? With all of the machine learning and AI technology, how much more will that be helpful or whatever? But if you’re doing something for marketing, you want to actually have human clients and customers, then writing for humans, I feel like so many websites that’ll be like, “Lawn care. Did you need to get your grass cut in Brown Deer, Wisconsin? Or your trees trimmed in Brown Deer, Wisconsin?” I just click no, forget it. I know what you’re doing. And people are getting wise to that.
Rosalyn:
Mm. Yeah, that’s right.
Angela:
You’re a true writer, and we could write a blog post called, Rescuing Your Content From the Bots.
Rosalyn:
Yeah, that’s right. Now that I’m writing from within marketing I see that, I think, a lot of those brands do seem to realize that they do actually have to connect with people. And I think everyone went mad. I think brands and marketers went mad. I think editorial did too because I was there as well. It was all just about traffic, traffic, traffic from Google. And then they realized that unless you’re running those hideous ads where you get half a cent when you get traffic, it doesn’t actually help your business because you actually need the people coming to your site who have some interest or need, not just traffic on mass. And so, I think that has helped to dial down some of that spammy stuff from the marketing side, and I see it in editorial as well. It’s dialed down that over SEO obsessing about things and just writing a story on this and that just to pull the traffic in. It’s actually-
Amy:
Well, I tell people that all the time. When it’s talking about SEO is it’s not about more traffic, it’s about the right traffic.
Rosalyn:
Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. The message seems to get out there.
Amy:
I think we’re seeing that more. I think more people are writing good content versus keyword content. And you can do both, and I also do plenty of posts where I’m trying to do both, but I can’t make every blog post that I write about a keyword, and I don’t want to do that.
Rosalyn:
Yeah, exactly. I tried that just to see what it would be like and to see if it would gain traction, but I think it requires a whole site rather than just doing it on individual things. But it’s just a lot of people just ran to that, and so it became a lot harder to grab the keywords. And so people then looked for keywords that weren’t always related because they had lower competition. And yeah, it’s another black hole that you can fall into too far. But having said that, it’s obviously really important to understand those SEO principles and to know how to use them and to know how to try to write something for a human being, and then to do a keyword layer edit that does a sensitive, or a soft edit with that.
Angela:
Yeah. You are my hero on so many levels. You are following your passion, you’re writing authentic content, you’re just speaking the truth of authenticity on so many levels. And it’s just been such a pleasure to talk to you.
Rosalyn:
Thanks.
Amy:
Yeah. Thank you so much for being with us today. Before we go, can you tell our listeners where they can find you online?
Rosalyn:
Okay. Right. My website, just for me personally, is rosalynpage.com. Come to the blog, somenotesfromabroad.com, and then from there, you can find the social links. There’s Instagram, and Twitter, and a Facebook page.
Amy:
Awesome. Well, thanks for joining us today.
Speaker 1:
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