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Interview With Lisa Barone from Outspoken Media

lisa-baroneOur guest today is someone who has been very successful in the social media and SEO space, Lisa Barone. Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media with Rhea Drysdale and Rae Hoffman and the company has been able to gain a lot of attention and recognition from the media and other sources.

In this interview Lisa will be sharing some great strategies to help you improve your business as an entrepreneur.

1. Hi Lisa, I so much love your work and it’s really a pleasure having you as our guest on WritersinCharge, can you please tell us about yourself and your business?

Sure. I’m Chief Branding Officer and one of the co-founders of Outspoken Media. We’re an Internet marketing company founded by three strong women in the heart of the recession. We offer a mix of Internet marketing solutions to clients, including SEO consulting, online reputation management, social media marketing, brand management, content writing and basically everything you need to market your business online.

2. I’m sure you were not born as an entrepreneur, what made you make that decision to be an entrepreneur? How has the journey been so far?

I definitely was not born into this life and it’s been a very interesting ride getting here. I started in SEO five years ago working as a technical writer for Bruce Clay, Inc., a very prominent SEO company in Simi Valley, California. A little over two years ago I accepted a position as Head Writer at an Internet marketing company based in Troy, NY. I’m originally from the East Coast so moving back here was something I had always wanted to do. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that being there didn’t fit. I wanted to have more control over how we were servicing clients and the things that we were able to offer them. While I was there, I began working with a very skilled SEO named Rhea Drysdale. Rhea and I discovered that we wanted much of the same things, both for ourselves and for clients. So together we both resigned and partnered up with Rae Hoffman to form Outspoken Media, Inc. In January we’ll celebrate our two year anniversary together and it’s been a great experience. I’ve really been humbled by the amount of success and support Outspoken has received right out of the gate. It’s been an incredible ride.

3. I read most of your blogs and I see you’re always writing quality content, how are you able to achieve this? What’s the motivation behind your content?
Well, thank you. The motivation behind the content is that we want to help business owners learn how to better market their sites on the Web. A lot of the writing I do for Outspoken Media and other sites (like SmallBizTrends, for example) is geared toward small business owners and those who may not have the budgets to necessarily hire Outspoken Media, but who could still benefit from the advice. We want to be able to give readers a place to go for trusted information. We also use the blog to start conversations within the industry and highlight the issues that we feel are important. Recently, we asked if SEOs should focus on rankings or conversions and saw a great reaction from the community.
As for the how – well, that’s a daily battle. I try to stay on top of what the industry is talking about, as well as share tips whenever I can. Often if we see many of our clients facing a particular issue, we’ll write a post on it. The thinking being that if so many of our clients are having a problem with something, others probably are, as well.

4. As an entrepreneur there are a lot of distractions, much more than can make you get off-track, how are you able to overcome distractions? How are you able to effectively manage your time?

I get asked this question a lot! So much so that I wrote a post about how I increased my work productivity this past summer. You’ll find some good tips in there. What’s really worked for me, though, is respecting my time enough to make myself and others accountable for it. That means closing down distraction sites (bye, bye Twitter) when it’s time to get some serious writing done, but it also means not letting other people play with my day, either. For example, if we have a meeting at 9am, I expect you to show up at 9am. If you’re not there, I’m not waiting around for you. It used to be I’d waste a lot of my day waiting for other people to show up or make good on promises that they’d get something in at a certain time. I don’t wait around for people anymore. By respecting my own time, it forces other people to respect it, as well. I think I just got a whole lot meaner about things. 😉

5. You’re the chief branding officer of Outspoken Media, why do you think having a great brand is important for a business? Can you give us a little insights into the advantages of having a great brand and the dangers of not?

Your brand is important because it’s your point of difference and your voice in the market. Your brand is often the reason that a customer will choose you over someone else. As a small business owner, doing everything you can to build your presence in your space is so vital. It gives your business a credibility you can build without it. The best advantage of having a great brand is that it lowers the barrier for conversion with consumers because they’re already familiar with you. They know your name, your voice, and they’re inclined to trust your product. It’s easier to get someone to convert when you’re not coming to them as a stranger.

6. You also talk a lot about SEO, many people neglect SEO and see it as an unimportant aspect of their business. How do you think SEO can help a business?

By focusing on search engine optimization, you focus on building a great Web site. Sites that are well SEO’d today have good architecture, they’re laid out well for conversions, they’re targeting the right keywords, and they’re more usable. It’s not that SEO itself does that by itself, but it lays the groundwork for a successful Web site and forces business owners to get into good habits. When you make a site more relevant in the eyes of the search engine, you make it more relevant for users, as well. And vice versa.
What’s really troublesome to me is that I see a lot of SMBs are looking at social networks like Twitter and Facebook and wondering if they even need a Web site anymore. You absolutely do! For one, who knows where Twitter and Facebook will be tomorrow or what they’ll be. You want to set up a presence on a site that you can control. Creating a Web site allows you to influence the keywords and phrases that you show up for. It allows you to give customers one central location to find you. It allows you to build your community on your own land so that you can leverage it in the future. It’s so important that SMB owners still build their own sites, even in the ages of social networks.

7. You know and write a lot about social media and one common thing I see you write strongly about (which I also agree with) is that a lot in social media is no longer social, and the negative effects of automation on social media. What do you think is happening to social media? How do you think social media can be improved? Why do you so much disagree with automation in social media?

I think many marketers are looking at social media the wrong way. We’re looking at it in terms of campaigns, instead of the relationships that we’re building. And I know it sounds hokey, but I honestly believe companies see the biggest value from social media when they let themselves forget about ROI for a second and instead focus on creating relationships and becoming part of the conversation there. Because people don’t really care about your social media campaign or your latest YouTube video. They care about people and feeling part of the brands they love. I think we should be using social media to emphasize these social relationships and to use the crowdsourcing we get from sites like Twitter to improve not only our businesses, but our corner of the Web, as well. I think that’s how we improve social media.
I’m not a huge fan of automating social media just because I don’t think you can automate a relationship with someone. To build a relationship, you have to be present. And that means being mindfully present, not just scheduling tweets or status updates to propagate at certain times. Automation isn’t social.

8. One thing I started to discover recently is that having publicity has a lot of advantages and disadvantages and as a 16-year-old entrepreneur who hasn’t achieved an inch of what you had I have had to deal with my own share of criticism, how do you feel when you’re being criticized? How do you react to criticisms?

I used to be far more effected by criticism than I am today (thankfully). I think you have to realize that there’s a good and bad to everything. As marketers we want to create products/services/whatever that people respond to and that they’re passionate about. And in order to have people who LOVE what you’re doing, you need to have people who really don’t. I’d encourage people to look for the grain of truth that most critiques are based on and let the rest of it go. If you focus too much on the bad (or good) things people say about you, it becomes a distraction from what you should really be doing. People are going to talk – let them. You have stuff to do.

9. From what I’ve seen, Outspoken Media has gained a lot of media attention, what do you think is the positive effect of this? Do you think it has any negative effect? If so, how do you handle it?

We’ve been really lucky to earn some mainstream media attention from places like CNN, Business Week, Fox News, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, etc, and it’s definitely had a positive effect on us. As I mentioned, the more you build your brand, the lower the barrier for conversions when it comes to customers. I think it’s helped us to achieve awareness and credibility as a young company and to show off a bit of our personality and what we believe in for people interested in working with us. It’s also made us thought leaders in our space.
In terms of negative aspects, I really haven’t seen many. Perhaps it makes us a bigger target for criticism but, like I said, you can’t ingest that stuff. You just have to focus on what you do and building it.

10. What is your best content/blog promotion strategy?

I think the best content promotion strategy is to have good content. 😉 The more confident you are about the quality of your material, the more comfortable you’ll be with promoting it, and the more people that will see it. A lot of people say that if you write something that deserves attention, you won’t have to promote it because people will find it. And that’s true – once you have a big network already established. When you don’t and when you’re young, you have to strongly self-promote your own content. And that means creating content that you’re proud to show off from the start AND doing the work to form that all-important network.

11. As a new entrepreneur starting with no connection and nothing whatsoever (mailing list, subscribers, name etc.), what’s your advice? What should a new unknown entrepreneur focus on?

Building relationships with people. Use Twitter, LinkedIn and the other social networks to find people to connect with in your industry. That means following the A-listers, but it also means creating relationships with other people who do what you do and potential customers. Just get out in social media and BE SOCIAL. Don’t promote your business or tell everyone about your new blog post. Be around to help them. Use services like WeFollow or Listorious to find relevant people to follow and become part of their network. The best thing you can do is create relationships today that you’ll benefit from tomorrow.

12. If you’re asked to part with everything you have as an entrepreneur aside one, what will you not part with? I mean, what is your single most important asset as an entrepreneur?

For me, it’s my voice. As you mentioned, I write a lot of content. So the best part of being an entrepreneur and owning my company is that I can write about the things that I feel are important and that I feel strongly about. I think if I had a boss trying to dictate what I said or limiting my ability to write about things the way I see fit, that would really hinder my ability to connect with people. I think my voice is my biggest asset in the market.

13. How are you able to manage your Internet life with your social life? (I doubt if I have one 😉 – poor me ).

Heh. I think it again goes back to respecting your own time. Know what you have to get done, schedule your day to allow for everything to get done and if you’re NOT working, get off the computer. A lot of entrepreneurs convince themselves that they have to work 14 hour work days because THAT’S what makes you successful. But it’s not effective if you’re only putting in 7 hours of work into that time frame. Learn the difference between “working” and “sitting at a computer”.

14. If you’re to give one single advice to every entrepreneur/bloggers in general, what will it be?

Know your point of difference. Whether you’re starting a business, a new blog, whatever, you need to understand your place in the market and what you want to do. For Outspoken Media, we’re an Internet marketing company that does things a little bit difference because we don’t hide in political correctness. We get clients results without the fluff. That works for us and it helps us stand out. You need to identify what’s going to make YOU stand out. Who are you and who do you want to be? What is your industry missing? What can you bring?

15. You’ve learned a lot from your years of successful entrepreneurship, what question(s) do you think I am supposed to ask you that I didn’t? What is the answer to it?

If you didn’t ask, it means your readers probably won’t be that interested in the answer. 😉

16. I and my readers will like to learn more from you, can you please tell us about your websites, products and services?
The best way to stay in touch with me or learn about what I do/care about is to read the Outspoken Media blog or to follow me on Twitter. My Twitter account pretty much lays it all out on the line. 🙂

Onibalusi Here: Really great and insightful answers Lisa, thanks so much for taking the time to be my guest on WritersinCharge, I really appreciate it.

You can learn more from Lisa by visiting the Outspoken Media Blog and by following her on twitter

21 Comments on "Interview With Lisa Barone from Outspoken Media"

  1. Patricia says:

    Hi Oni

    Have to heand it to you. Some quality interviews going on here. I don’t know Lisa so will go check out her blog. Liked what she shared. So much in this interview I’m sure it will help many of us newbies to focus and utilise our times to be more productive! thanks Oni. You have really delivered again.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • Onibalusi says:

      Hi Patricia,

      I’m glad you loved the interview.

      This is probably the best interview I have done on YoungPrePro and the answers are really detailed and highly informative.

  2. David Shaw says:

    Very interesting interview Oni..

    Some nice insights to take from this post

    • Onibalusi says:

      Cool David,

      I’m glad you loved the interview.

  3. yet another interesting interview

  4. Gloson says:

    Wowowowow!

    Awesome interview, Onibalusi! Lisa sure has a lot of great answers! I’ve heard of her before, but now, I’ve subscribed to her blog as well 🙂

    Cheers!
    Gloson

    • Onibalusi says:

      Definitely Gloson,

      The Outspoken Media Blog is worth your subscription as Lisa really writes great posts on them.

      Thanks so much for the awesome comment!

  5. Lisa Barone says:

    Thanks again for such awesome questions and giving me the opportunity to connect with your readers. Hopefully they found at some of my rambling useful. 🙂

    • Onibalusi says:

      Definitely Lisa,

      You gave great answers and I love your point on being more productive and getting more from social media.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions,
      -Onibalusi

  6. John says:

    Good interview. Some good insights here.

  7. Rahul @ MazaKaro says:

    Very good ways to be successful , loved the answer ! thank you for sharing this i like reading about real experiences 🙂

    • Onibalusi says:

      Cool Rahul,

      I also loved her answers – they’re really professional and detailed.

      Thanks so much for the awesome comment!

  8. Hi Oni –

    Great interview with Lisa. Personally, I had never heard of outspoken media. I looked at their blog after reading your interview and I can say that I will definitely be adding her blog to my RSS feed.

    Lisa mentioned something that I had never really thought about prior to reading this article.

    It’s true that as entrepreneurs we look for ways to automate as much of our businesses as possible so that we can leverage our time and concentrate all of our efforts in income producing activities. While I definitely agree and understand that we are in a relationship business, automating certain aspects of our social media campaigns is something that many internet marketers take part in (I am including myself in this) and I had never really thought about the negative effects that automating social media, the very platform designed to build relationships, can have on my business.

    I think that social media can be so distracting at times, that people like myself who are conscious of how we spend every minute of time turn to automation in an effort to maximize our efforts, neglecting the real use of this powerful medium.

    Moving forward, I will definitely keep this in mind and use social media to build stronger relationships with those in my circle

    Thanks for sharing this great interview

    • Onibalusi says:

      Very Cool Hector,

      I’m glad you got her point.

      Social media should be used to build stronger relationships because it is only when this is done that true success will come, people do otherwise and it is having a negative impact on many businesses.

      Thanks so much for the awesome comment,
      -Onibalusi

  9. ipod touch 3rd generation says:

    good interview, one more blog to subscribe heh

  10. Daisy @ Tinnitus Treatment says:

    Ya its really important to do SEO for any business because people are shifting online very rapidly. Anyways it was quite a Good interview Oni, I enjoyed reading it.

  11. Wow, great Interview.

  12. Britt says:

    Thanks for the in-depth interview. I agree with your guest Lisa, that you can’t automate social media. Posting great content and seeking out real interactions is the only way to build relationships and generate leads online. Businesses continually creating rich content around an SEO strategy are the ones who come out ahead.

    Britt
    Britt Brouse
    SmartBug Media
    A content marketing agency
    http://www.smartbugmedia.com

  13. Cherokee Scrubs says:

    Wow! You’re so lucky you get the chance to interview her. I super love Lisa. Good job!

  14. ryan says:

    gotta love the idea of outspoken media getting media attention.

  15. Auto Insurance Discounts says:

    great interview, thanks for sharing

Onibalusi

Welcome! I'm Bamidele Onibalusi, a young writer and blogger. I believe writers are unique and highly talented individuals that should be given the respect they deserve. This blog offers practical advice to help you become truly in charge of your writing career.

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