Welcome to the “Beagles, Cats & Netflix Blogbook”!
Written from a content marketer’s perspective, the “Beagles, Cats & Netflix Blogbook is a personal collection of stories designed over the course of 35 months. I started the series from a dying wish to share what happens behind closed doors at Beaglecat and what it feels like to work in a non-traditional digital marketing agency. Please don’t expect to read a 20-page long case study on how Beaglecat landed a marketing deal with Netflix.
The One About Me
Part I of this blogbook is more like a journal detailing the love-hate relationship of a human with copywriting. But let’s start from the beginning. I sucked at writing summaries and essays in high-school because I could never wrap my head around the whole English grammar, syntax, structure thing. I had my papers torn apart; dismembered, anatomized.
Somehow, the fact that I was so terrible at writing motivated me to write. Thank you, Prof. Mihaela Killer-escu for all those beautiful nightmares! Proficiency in English aside, unless you plan to become an English teacher, I wouldn’t advise you to obsess over grammar. Pay closer attention to the use of proper wording, instead. Befriend Grammarly instead (if only I had that in high-school), watch movies with English subtitles, and of course, read books in English. I started copywriting in the winter of 2010. Long story short, seven years of freelance writing followed. The day I met the beaglecats changed the next three years of my life. I never imagined plain copywriting would turn into purposeful content marketing.
The One About Content Marketing
I copy-pasted that question in Google and here’s what I got: there are “7 serious skills you need to conquer” to become a content marketer and “7 ways” to get started, according to the Digital Marketing Institute. Also, Neil Patel argues that having these “8 qualities will make the best content marketer”.
Let’s get one thing straight: unless you apply for a position as “Senior Digital Marketing Magician, Sensei & Demi-God” at some global digital marketing agency, nobody expects you to serve the moon on a silver platter.
Did I have “7 serious skills” and “8 qualities” when I joined Beaglecat? Hell, no. I had some soft skills and some qualities mostly linked to my passion for copywriting. And that was enough!
The One About Netflix
2017 was the year of “I really need to change my life, but I’m too scared to do it”. I stopped working from home and rented a desk in a coworking space. I was out of my comfort zone and into the real world; out of my pajamas and into street clothes; out of the house and into an environment where people were staring. Did I adapt? No. But at least I was trying to do so.
In the spring of the same year, I met Georgiana and Sabina – the beaglecats. Both of them looked beyond my lack of digital marketing skills and hired me because I was an Aquarius and my astrological number was 6 (insider joke, don’t bother to figure it out). Following a friendly interview, I was put to a 4-month test. Nothing too stressful or too complicated – all I had to do was write and I was fine with that.
I didn’t get a job. I got an opportunity to prove that there was more to a stubborn Aquarius than met the eye. Armed with zero knowledge on buyer personas, competitor analyses, or social media marketing, I spent a couple of months doing the only thing I knew how to do – random writing. I wrote a couple of articles (heavily edited by Sabina) and a couple of ebooks (heavily edited by Sabina). Little by little, I started to adapt – for real, this time.
- I quit Windows and switched to iOS. Terrifying at first, but worth the struggle!
- I quit writing in Word and switched to Google Docs. Even more terrifying as I couldn’t stand the live tracking and the monitoring of every piece of crap I wrote.
- I ditched the fancy words and switched to writing in plain English. Now I know nobody cares about “plethora” and “comprehend”.
- I quit believing that my memory was in excellent condition and switched to taking notes.
- I stopped believing my writing was bad and started accepting constructive feedback
You see, adaptability is key when you don’t know what you want to do in life, at work, or in any other social circumstance. You adapt to try new things and with hard work and perseverance, you might discover that you’re good at something you never anticipated. I was becoming Netflix. I was no longer renting DVDs (random writing). I was streaming (writing for an audience).
The One With The Buyer Personas
I still go with the flow, but with buyer persona in mind!
Following a period of constructive feedback and intense learning, Sabina took me under her wing to teach me more about writing for an audience. She taught me that there’s nothing wrong with going with the flow, as long as you do it with buyer persona in mind.
Together, we analyzed a lot of personas – software developer, CEO, CTO, CIO, HR manager, project manager, entrepreneur – in total, about 20 personas in the tech industry and beyond. The same thing happened with competitor analyses. I did a lot of those, too. For every new client that Beaglecat got, I had to do a detailed analysis of the competition to see what the team was up against before settling on a marketing strategy.
Armed with some knowledge of buyer personas and writing for an audience, I started developing an interest in social media ads. Watching Sabina sit at her desk for 5 hours without moving a muscle was … puzzling, to say the least. Imagine my surprise when I found out that she was not writing a novel. She was doing Facebook ads.
The transition from writing just articles and ebooks to writing and managing social media ad campaigns was incredibly smooth. It almost felt that somebody tricked me into doing it without me realizing it. I started with small, catchy copies, and then things escalated to “schedule some posts, upload some images”. All of a sudden, I was doing ads from scratch.
The thing I love most about social media marketing is the challenge of fitting the right pieces together to build something clickable.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for creating the perfect ad. Every ad is different. I learned to embrace trial and error even though it made me feel uncomfortable. Social media marketing is about adaptability, too. Things change all the time and some changes will scare you. Like when Facebook banned all ads related to blockchain and cryptocurrency; or when Business Manager got a facelift; or when the maximum height for videos and photos on Facebook’s media News feeds shortened to a 4:5 ratio, and you could only display three lines of text rather than seven before being prompted to “see more..”.
The One About The Call
S.O.S – Ioana, we have a call!
Buyer personas and competitor analyses aside, there was one thing I learned the hard way at Beaglecat – jumping in a call with a client aka “the thing I hate most about marketing”. Some people can write, speak beautiful English and debate over the most interesting stuff. Me? I can write in beautiful English and debate over the most interesting stuff in writing without having to speak with anyone about anything.
But when your boss says “Ioana, join me in the call with X client” you can’t say “No. But thanks”. You can, however, roll your eyes (without her seeing you), curse (inside your head), and wish you were never born. For me, it was that bad.
Adapting to uncomfortable circumstances takes time, patience, and a whole lot of “I hate my life but I will do this because I’m actually pretty amazing and everyone likes me”. Simply put, I got used to it and so can you. One day I went to meet a client alone. We were supposed to discuss the marketing strategy for his upcoming tech meet-up. I was in physical pain that day. No, I mean that. I had otitis and could barely open my mouth as my jaw was blocked from the swelling. Oh, I was also on painkillers and antibiotics, and couldn’t hear (at all) with one ear. But it went great, and if that’s not adaptability, I don’t know what is.
You don’t adapt by saying “No”. That’s not how things work in the digital marketing realm. To expand your knowledge and improve, you have to do things that terrify you. I’m not terrified of jumping in a call anymore because I acknowledge its importance. And if you want to get things done the right way, you have to speak and ask questions to be able to do them.
Sure, my spoken English is not that great and I may have really lame diction, but who cares about that? Focus on your core strengths. Have the call, ask the questions, take notes – use all that information to develop a killer strategy. It took me some time to figure out that clients care about their business. All they want is to get a return on their investment. That’s it.
The One About The eBook
It took me some time to wrap my head around the whole digital marketing notion. Adaptability made it all happen. I didn’t have to be the most intelligent to thrive. I had to be the most adaptable to change. Writing an ebook on social media marketing strategy in my first year at Beaglecat was not easy. Did I say “No, I won’t do it because I can barely understand buyer personas”? Of course not. I was given an opportunity and I had to make the most of it. What do you do when you lack hands-on experience on a matter? You work with what you have. I had the following:
- Summarizing abilities – forced on to me in high school but really useful now (I used to hate doing summaries for books)
- Rephrasing/rewriting abilities – forced on to me in high school but really useful now
- Research abilities – accumulated in college and actually enjoyed it
- Some creativity – can you write down a 300-word paragraph about anything from the top of your head? If yes, then you’re good to go.
Armed with the above-mentioned abilities, I went straight to the writing part. Here’s the naked truth about how we write ebooks at Beaglecat:
- Ebook plan (the skeleton) – introduction (some text – you’ll probably delete it by the time you complete the ebook and write a totally different introduction), headlines ( + some text for main Hs with bullet points on ideas you want to include), conclusion (leave blank as you can’t summarize something you haven’t written yet).
- Feedback on the plan – this is the part your plan gets torn apart by your experienced colleague with hands-on experience and client.
- Ebook plan draft 2 – you rework the plan by implementing the feedback you got from your colleague and client
- Alleluia … it’s time to write – you start working on TUFD (the ugly first draft). You don’t share it with anyone
- TUFD improvements – now that you’re somewhat comfortable with your 1st draft, upload it in Google Docs for your colleagues to check it
- Smart, experienced colleague checks 1st draft – don’t take it personally, it’s gonna be bloody!
- 2nd draft based on feedback from smart, experienced colleague – implement feedback!
- 3rd draft – send to client and wait for another round of feedback. Things could get bloody again!
- Client feedback implementation – It’s ok to not like it. You’re not writing your memoirs.
- Final tweaks – conclusion, CTAs, graphic design, and proofreading (many many many x a million times)
I would frame the takeaway for the “Beagles, Cats & Netflix Blogbook” (Part I) like this: if you like to write, you need a writing path. You can become a novelist, book editor, screenwriter, speechwriter, etc. I chose the content marketing path. Does that sound like something you’d want to try out? Drop us a line.
Teaser: Stay tuned! “The Beagles, Cats & Netflix Blogbook ” (Part II) will be all about 2019 in review at Beaglecat.