Blake Emal, Chief Marketing Officer at Copy.ai, explains how AI can help small content teams, how to get great at Twitter marketing, and why Copy.ai encourages its team to embrace side projects.
- Blake Emal is the Chief Marketing Officer at Copy.ai, and the founder of Float, an online course creator for Notion.
- Ryan Law is the Director of Marketing for Animalz, an agency that delivers high-quality content marketing to enterprise companies, startups, and VC firms.
Mentioned in the Episode
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4:56 - How to use Copy.ai in content marketing
"It's definitely not a replacement tool like I mentioned. The thought that we usually have with AI the reticence is, "Okay, AI is going to take my job, it's going to come from my family and kidnap them, and it's going to saw down my door and take everything I like," That's not the narrative that we believe in whatsoever.
"It's more that you're already creative and we're going to unleash more of that. And if you don't feel very creative or you feel blocked, we'll give you a starting point and then we'll build on top of that.
"There's still needs to be creative people and originality out there. It's up to you, the quality of your inputs are what determine the quality of the outputs. And that's true without GPT-3, and that's true within it. If you are better at clarifying your ideas and your inputs into Copy.ai, you will get better results out of Copy.ai, and you'll have an advantage."
17:50 - The near-future of generative AI
"It's a generative AI tool, which means it's generating content from something that didn't exist before, right? So there's nothing there, then you click a button, and there's something there.
"Not for very much longer are we going to be without image generation for example. And we're getting really close to this where you can describe and I actually have image generated art on my computer, tons of it. We've been playing around with hundreds of these different things and you can just write in. Here's the kind of art that I want. I want the Grand Canyon with a blue sunset in the style of Van Gogh, and it will create that art for you. In three minutes it'll create the full piece of art.
"Generative AI is super powerful and it's going to help unlock creativity with people that maybe don't feel so creative. I think we all really are creative and we don't give ourselves enough credit, but for people that feel like, yeah, I don't really have that many good ideas. Now, whatever you think can become a real thing that you can look at."
30:18 - How to use Twitter for marketing
"The biggest thing that I see is just that pushing link syndrome, where people think, "Oh, I created this great piece of content, I'm going to push the link." And that's not a good post. That's a terrible post. You should never ever push a link. And if you're going to, you have to do it very tactfully.
"You take the concepts from that actual blog, and just flat out teach the whole thing in a Twitter thread. And if people want to read the blog, you can link it in the last tweet, if not, they've just read it all the same. Who cares if they go to your website? I know that we want to own that traffic and we want to get people to the website, but attention is the name of the game.
"If you want to succeed on Twitter and build up that engine where it actually can flow people back to your website over time, well, the better funnel is, okay, just have the link to your blog in your profile bio and don't promote it. Just have it there, get top of funnel people to your profile as much as you can through really good content. And usually, that just means giving stuff away for free and trying to be interesting while you're doing it, that's basically the formula."
35:01 - Why side hustles are positive sum
"Specifically within Copy.ai, the more things that we're creating outside the more that the employees ourselves are going to need to use Copy.ai tools. So we're dogfooding the product or the company while we're building other things.
"I believe that when you're unlocking people's creativity, you're going to get more out of them. They'll be happier, they'll feel more fulfilled. And I just don't want to be the type of person that says, 'No, you just got to do this work and you can't do other things that you care about,' We all have many, many things that we care about."
So, at the risk of asking you something that you've had to answer 1000 times before, for people that don't know, what is Copy.ai? What is the elevator pitch for it?
Blake Emal: (01:00)
So, the easy way to describe it is, it's a tool that helps you make more of what you're already making. The longer way to say that is, it's generative AI technology, which means that it's using information that's already existed on the internet from content that billions of people have created before, and using predictive models to transform that into copy for yourself. So, if I needed to write a new landing page headline, because I was creating this new product and I needed to write a landing page headline, but maybe I wasn't a super strong writer, I could actually use Copy.ai to generate hundreds of ideas for that instantly, just with a simple input.
Blake Emal: (01:38)
So if I were creating a landing page around a product that was like, a cat litter box, and that was what I was trying to promote, I would just put in a little description of the product and say, it's a smart cat litter box that scoops itself, and then Copy.ai will actually come up with a great headline that's engaging and gets people to read the next sentence in the landing page. And that's just one use case for it. We have over 70 different tools for different use cases for email subject lines, and creating full blogs and creating outlines and all kinds of stuff. So, really, whatever kind of content you're trying to create, Copy.a just helps you make more of it so that you can brainstorm instantly and actually select bits and pieces that you like right there instead of having to do all that manual work yourself.
And that 70 tools aspect, I think that's the thing that's really struck me as being so useful about Copy.ai. I'm already thinking it's GPT-3 on the backend primarily, is that right?
Blake Emal: (02:31)
That's correct, yep.
So we've had our own very amateur forays into using that just directly with the API. And it was just like a fire hydrant. You put anything in and with no constraints to help you work out the best way to use it, obviously, you can get anything out of it. When it's read in millions billions of pages of content, it's very hard to know how to apply it in a fruitful way. And from my own, playing around with Copy.ai, that's what you've done so, so beautifully. You got almost like individual use cases, some guide rails for the queries that people can put in, and it makes it so much easier to get useful stuff out of it.
Blake Emal: (03:11)
Yeah, 100%. In creativity, in general, constraint is actually the most important thing for being creative. And Copy.ai puts constraint on specific purposes that you need to create for, and adds basically levers on top of that. So you can think of GPT-3 as the backend, the engine, the thing that makes it go, but if you, like you mentioned, if you just go into GPT-3 through open AI and start playing with it, it will just go off on these random tangents. And it'll make sense but it won't be useful to you, because it's really just predicting word, after word, after word until you tell it to stop, and if not, it just won't stop.
Blake Emal: (03:51)
With Copy.ai, we're adding in all these levers that say, no, go here, focus here, focus on this keyword, structure it like this, use this type of tone. And so, it can put it all together in a way that can actually sound like your own writing, which you have the ability to choose a tone that fits your voice most fully. It lets you structure it within the amount of content you need, the type of content you need, the cadence, the structure, format, whatever. And so it's all about adding those levers and those little nuts and bolts in play so that it structures it to what you actually need. Because if you just use GPT-3 on its own, like you said, it's like a fire hydrant it's just... you can put an idea, it'll start writing about it, and then 30 seconds later, you go from talking about cat litter boxes to giraffes. It can easily skip over some stuff so you do need constraint in your creativity and that's really what Copy.ai is all about.
I had great fun with actually trying to feed it parts of the novel I was writing at the time, and it came up with some wild plot twists. So for creative writing, that absolute wildness was probably a bit of an asset, I think.
Blake Emal: (04:55)
Yeah, that's awesome.
So, I've been actually playing with it a bit today, totally unrelated to talking here today. We're launching a content marketing service and I needed a bit of help with value propositions, that kind of thing where it's a sentence or two really pithy, it's so useful for that. I find if I try and list out 20 value propositions or 20 blog post titles, you always fall back on the same handful of formats like types that you know work well. And this is great for just cleansing the palate a little bit and introducing a brand new formulations, new ideas for it. I'd be curious to know, somebody in my position and a lot of the people listening are basically content marketing teams of one, they've got so many things they can be doing with their time, with the written word, how have you seen people using Copy.ai in the most fruitful way in that situation?
Blake Emal: (05:47)
It's a good question. Because when you get into the tool, there are 70 different things that you can do with it right now. So it's like, "Oh, where do I start," We're trying to make it a little bit more templed in and fit into your workflow a little bit more, but the more that you use it, the more you start understanding that the tools feed into each other. So, if you have a normal process for writing, whatever you do is, let's say Ryan you're creating a blog post and that's what you're starting out with. That's the content you need for this week so let's use Copy.ai to do it. Well, the way that I would approach it is, all right, well, how does any article start out, I need to have an idea. So I'm going to use Copy.ai to start generating some ideas, maybe I already have a seed idea, so I know I want to write a blog about SEO and how not to use keywords in blogs. How not to be spammy in a blog by spamming with keywords and maybe that's the topic that I want to use. And that's just to seed the idea.
Blake Emal: (06:36)
If I put that into Copy.ai, I can actually use the blog ideas tool to generate a list of things that will be very, very similar to that but maybe take it in different directions. And that might actually give me some ideas for, okay, well, maybe that's in its own section or something else they need to add on to it. And from there, you take the idea, and you start... for me, at least my process would be go from idea to outline. I don't really want to start just writing an intro or writing anything until I have a clear idea of where this is going to be headed. Then I'd use the blog outline tool for example. And I would feed some of the results that I got from the blog ideas tool into the blog outline. And it would take that one idea and break it up into five or six different bullet points that need to be covered to make that article really good. Every single result that it populates is going to have its own bullet point list.
Blake Emal: (07:25)
And so you can pick and choose from there, which ones you think fit and are actually helpful. Not every single one is going to be helpful. Not every result is great. They're well written, they make sense. But not every result is going to be for you, it might not match your voice, it might not match exactly what you need for that article. That's simply just not there. And that's actually a good thing. Because it keeps you in control of what you actually want to do. This is really just a supplementary tool, not a replacement tool. We never want this to be thought of as AI is going to replace writers or anything like that. It just helps you do more of what you're already doing.
Blake Emal: (07:58)
So, in this example, for the outline I would get a bunch of bullet points and figure out, "Okay, this is what I want my outline to be," Then I can take each of those different outlines. And maybe I take a step back and say, "All right, now I know my main points, I'm going to write an intro." So I'll go to the blog intro tool and generate an intro. Then I've got my intro, my main bullet points, and the topic, I could generate the title for the blog right there using the headline tool. I could also take each of those outline points and put it into the bullet point to paragraph tool and start generating full paragraphs from that. And you can see how it starts building on top of each other.
Blake Emal: (08:32)
So, you start with an idea where nothing's actually written down, it's just coming up with the structure that you want, then you start getting the core bullet points, then you actually start writing an intro, then you write the bullet points into full paragraphs, and then you edit it, make it sound like your voice, you can use the change tone tool to change how things sound and make it sound either more professional or more bold or more luxurious or more witty, and you can change that directly.
Blake Emal: (08:56)
So, whatever your article's going to sound like you can actually do that after the fact and just rush the whole thing through and maybe get a different way of saying things and that can help out as well. By the end of it, if you do this process, you got a full blog post that took you maybe 10% of the amount of time because you generated so many ideas upfront, created a structure so quickly, and then you just add stuff in and figured out how to write it from there. Even if you didn't use the bullet point to paragraph tool to generate the actual copy, it would still be significantly faster to create that article because you would have the ideas outline, intro, everything set up, and you would just flow from there and have a clear idea of where you're going with it. So that's one example of how you could use that, there are a billion different ways that you could use this in marketing or writing or whatever.
I would love to dig into that because obviously we are a content marketing agency. So, we think a lot about writing good articles. And obviously there's this whole suite of AI augmented tools that are coming around. And obviously my first thought as a writer was exactly as you say, a little bit wary of it, how does this fit into the process? One of the things we've written a lot about is this idea of copycat content which I think if you use some of these AI tools without the human component, without any human intuition to work out whether something is good or not, you can create something that is a kind of simulacrum of good content. It reads well, it's coherent but maybe it doesn't add anything new to the discourse or it's not as original as it could be. That's the key point you made there, I think. Something like Copy.ai the output doesn't have to be perfect because that's not the point of it.
So, the very first thing we did with GPT-3 was we tried to bootstrap an entire article from a couple of input prompts. So we put that in, took out the best output that came from it and we fed that back in and to end up with a whole blog post. Tried to basically write a blog post in five minutes kind of thing. And it kind of ticked lots of superficial boxes, it was, it read well, it was legible and that kind of thing. But as a reader, there was no narrative thread to it, it didn't pull anything original to it. That is, obviously, I think what you're saying, that's not the point of these tools. You're basically, you're putting in prompts from it and you're choosing what you like out of it, you're using it as a sparring partner, you're using it to expedite these little almost like modules of the blogging process to broaden your horizons. Maybe I hadn't thought about including this topic, maybe that's an avenue to explore or I hadn't phrased it this way I can pull that into it.
Blake Emal: (11:29)
Yeah, definitely. It's definitely not a replacement tool like I mentioned. The thought that we usually have with AI the reticence is, "Okay, AI is going to take my job, it's going to come from my family and kidnap them, and it's going to saw down my door and take everything I like," That's not the narrative that we believe in whatsoever. It's more that you're already creative and we're going to unleash more of that. And if you don't feel very creative or you feel blocked, we'll give you a starting point and then we'll build on top of that. So, that's really the goal. It's not to write full articles for you and make it... We don't want it to just be like, everybody can write everything they want all the time and then all content becomes useless, because it doesn't take anything... There's still needs to be creative people and originality out there. It's up to you, the quality of your inputs are what determine the quality of the outputs. And that's true without GPT-3, and that's true within it. If you are better at clarifying your ideas and your inputs into Copy.ai, you will get better results out of Copy.ai, and you'll have an advantage.
Blake Emal: (12:34)
So we have professional copywriters that use the tool, not because Copy.ai is better than a professional copywriter, but because they can put quality inputs in and they know that they can just do more of what they're already doing with the tool. So people like Jacob McMillan who actually ranks number one for the keyword copywriter, which is a pretty insane keyword to rank for, he uses us and endorses us. And all the time he uses this tool to generate ideas and to write things, not because he needs it to create the content but because he can just do more and go further with it. So, that's the true use case, unlocking that creativity, that next level, because time is a factor. I don't know how many articles you can write in a day, but it's pretty limited. If you get one article done a day, that'd be pretty incredible. But, with this maybe you can start getting closer to that and just become more prolific.
I love that. And big shout out to Jacob as well. I was actually talking to him on Monday exactly about this as well. I've been thinking a lot about this, I think you talked about the democratization of creativity in some sense. We just published an article, which is basically exploring the idea that being a marketer is about more than just being a writer. A lot of us come into it because we're good writers and it's a natural segue but, if anything, great marketing is and should be accessible to everyone whether or not they can write well. I think this is something that Copy.ai is fantastic at doing as well. It gets everyone up to this great functional standard. It takes away some of the limitations that are normally imposed on you if that's not your background. And I mean, someone like me, I have a bit more free time to explore other avenues or stress a little bit less about trying to get all these product descriptions or value props done beautiful for that regard as well.
Blake Emal: (14:24)
You think about, take an example of an E-commerce store owner, we'll call her Julie. And Julie is just not a marketer whatsoever. In fact, she creates knit sweaters and she wants to sell them on Shopify, right? So that's her thing, she's really great at that, she's just figuring out Shopify bare minimum to get this stuff up. But then there's all this stuff when you're creating a business like that where you have to write product descriptions, you have to come up with names for the products, you have to write copy for the actual products and the features and what it's made of, you have to write content, E-commerce is huge on having to create blog content, and that's really competitive advantage. And not to mention all the ads that you want to run and Instagram captions and everything so that you can see how much the content adds up that we don't think about. When I just say I'm creating an E-commerce store, your mind doesn't directly go to all the content that you're going to have to write. But it's there, and you will fail if you don't write it.
Blake Emal: (15:21)
So what about the people like Julie that are really good at knitting but not great at writing, or they're fine at writing but they don't have a clue how to set up a website or do this kind of stuff, it's like, well, they probably need to have something that takes them from zero to one as opposed to one to 100. And thankfully, Copy.ai can just basically take that writer's block or the unknown of what you're supposed to write or how it's supposed to look and make it really easy for you. So just describe in Copy.ai, what on earth is this product and you could say, "This is a blue knit sweater that has a pattern of a dinosaur on the front." And that's what the product is. Then Copy.ai can write the whole description for you. So that you... Because you're still figuring out Shopify, you can't figure out how to write this, you've got too much stuff going on if you're Julie.
Blake Emal: (16:09)
So that's the true benefit of it, is that it takes things off your plate that really creep up on you and become so, so important that maybe you didn't take into consideration upfront, but it can help you just totally go from zero to one and then from one to two, two to three, as you get better and better at it. And actually help you learn to be a better writer too, because you'll start noticing how it writes in the formats and the way it speaks and places words and things like that. You can start really learning from it as well.
Especially, I love how there are some common copywriting formats already set up within there. So, just by using that tool you're already absorbing those structures, those proven frameworks, and it's wonderful. I've been using it for a very similar use case this week where what sounds like a simple objective of launching a new product. The amount of copy, the amount of different variations of that copy that come out of it, just staggering. So, I've been able to just take a couple of value propositions that we put into Copy.ai, and get ideas for subject lines, for landing page copy, for headers and social proof. Even if I don't use all the sentences verbatim, there are often little phrases or different ways of approaching it which are totally novel, I wouldn't have come up with on my own, I don't think.
Blake Emal: (17:24)
The cool thing about this is I don't want this podcast to just be about how awesome Copy.ai is because it is awesome, but there's so much more to come, we're always working on improving results, training models to be even better at recognizing your own voice. Really, we want to get better to capsulating individual people's voices so that the writing does sound more and more like them, the more that they use the tool. And that can help you, again, not have to edit as much, which again reduces the time that you have to spend writing.
The cool thing is though, I mentioned at the beginning that it's a generative AI tool, which means it's generating content from something that didn't exist before, right? So there's nothing there, then you click a button, and there's something there. So you're generating this with AI. Not for very much longer are we going to be without image generation for example. And we're getting really close to this where you can describe and I actually have image generated art on my computer, tons of it. We've been playing around with hundreds of these different things and you can just write in. Here's the kind of art that I want. I want the Grand Canyon with a blue sunset in the style of Van Gogh, and it will create that art for you. In three minutes it'll create the full piece of art. And it's like that's happening, not just art but really, you can describe anything and it'll make it an image, even make it look real life. That's coming.
Blake Emal: (18:47)
So generative AI is super powerful and it's going to help unlock creativity with people that maybe don't feel so creative. I think we all really are creative and we don't give ourselves enough credit, but for people that feel like, yeah, I don't really have that many good ideas. Now, whatever you think can become a real thing that you can look at.
Actually that generative aspect of it was the thing that really helped it click for me is not being a threat and not being a perpetuator of copycat content. Because, even that you see all these phrases that come back and you think, where does that come from, is pulled from somewhere. But my understanding of how it actually works is that, based on the canon of literature of writing, it's absorbed. It is then making a prediction based on, you've said this word what is likely to come next.
Blake Emal: (19:30)
So it is actually, it is creating, it's not pulling from anywhere, it's using the rules of writing as it understands it, to make suggestions for what you could use next, what might fit here.
Blake Emal: (19:40)
Yeah, and that's where the levers come in. The tone that you select will basically make it more or less likely that the next word is more crazy or more serious or more whatever, more professional, and there are infinite possibilities because every single word is just a token. And then, the next token builds off of that first token but if we did an exercise right now, Ryan, I was just like, All right, I'm going to say one word, and then you say the next word that comes into your mind. And I'll just say the word, if. What would you say?
Blake Emal: (20:12)
Okay. So, what is the likelihood that you would have said melons there after the word if? I don't know, a billion to one maybe. But it happened. And so you can see, you could have said anything there. And that's the same way that AI works. So, with Copy.ai, it tries to make it much more specific and fit it into a framework so that it doesn't just spit out melons when you're trying to write a landing page headline about a cat litter box. And that's where the value comes in here, but we're going to be able to do that for not just copy but images and who knows, like old videos down the line. I don't know what's possible there quite yet but it's not inconceivable to think that whatever you can think of can become a real thing that you could share online.
By way of a nice segue anecdote into the next topic. One of the most fun things we did with GPT-3 when we were playing with it, we actually put in a bunch of branded tweets from Slack, and going to spit out basic variations like social copy inspired by that. And it was stunning how good and conceivable and on brand it actually was. I say this because I spent way too much time on Twitter, and I've been following you for a few weeks now, and you spent even more time on Twitter than I do.
Blake Emal: (21:28)
I do, yeah.
You are obviously putting a lot of effort into it. First thing, do you use Copy.ai to help you with your tweets?
Blake Emal: (21:35)
Almost never for tweets but always for everything else. I write a lot of memos at Copy.ai as CMO. And so I use the tool a lot for my own writing, we use notion and our notions just filled with stuff that I've written with the GPT-3. So, that's more of a use case for that. For Twitter, everything that I write is very short anyway, and I'm very spontaneous. So, even when I schedule things out, I really don't schedule things out for more than a day in advance. So I'm not a very planned person in that sense. So it doesn't really make a ton of sense for me to brain dump a bunch of different tweets on a Monday and then schedule them out for the whole week, which is, I think, the most effective way that you could use Copy.ai for that. So for me, it's whatever comes to my mind, I'm going to figure out the best way to rephrase that, maybe expand on it, sometimes the thought's there, but it's not all the way there. And so I mull it over for a day or two, but it's much more spontaneous on Twitter. Everywhere else I do use the tool though.
Blake Emal: (22:36)
Sometimes when I'm writing threads, I can use it for maybe an intro or I'll use it for changing tone if I want to make sure that a tweet comes across as more sarcastic or whatever, I might switch the lever to be witty. If I want it to be serious and I want to make sure it comes across that way, I can use the change tone to put the hook in the first tweet in there. And other than that, sometimes I use it to come up with different hooks for the first line in a tweet but it's pretty rare that that content usually ends up in my content on Twitter. But if you saw my notion, everything else is very heavily influenced.
I'd love to know, it basically strikes me that you probably put as much effort into your Twitter as some companies do into their content marketing strategy. What's the impetus behind that? Is it purely a personal branding thing or is it driving business of Copy.ai? How do you think about that?
Blake Emal: (23:31)
Yeah, it's everything. I think that personal branding is the only way to have a good company brand nowadays or at least the only way to start one. So, for me, I've been creating content online for seven years now. And for six years of that it's been pretty bad. Now I'm just figuring out how to make it seem like I'm okay at writing this stuff and make it seem like I'm smart. So I've gotten to that point now, but I started out on LinkedIn, actually, just writing a bunch of content, longer form posts on LinkedIn for years. And I liked it because the organic reach was really good. I was on that bandwagon before everybody was creating content on LinkedIn. And so I had a real advantage there, and I was getting good traction there. So, I got up to about 20,000 followers on LinkedIn, and that was really helpful when I was doing a lot of my consulting because I could really translate that into free information, make people understand that I know what I'm talking about, then I can book people on LinkedIn in the DMs for consulting gigs, and so I did that for a while. Since I've moved away from that, and also since LinkedIn became a terrible platform to post content on, I really switched over to Twitter. But that's maybe a different discussion that I'm happy to go into.
So with LinkedIn, what do you think makes it terrible these days? Obviously, you'd using it before the horrendous broetry phase as well and...
Blake Emal: (24:49)
I was part of that too. I used some of that formatting. What I can't stand is the follow train stuff. So you'll see people out there that are just like, "Like this tweet and follow everybody that likes this tweet." And it's selfish, because it's just for the engagement. But it's also like, "Okay, cool. If I follow all these people, almost none of them follow me back. And the ones that do don't actually care about me." So, that stuff's really annoying and that's really prevalent on LinkedIn.
Blake Emal: (25:17)
I also feel like maybe one in every 1000 posts actually has something interesting that I've never seen before or that's at least an interesting take that I think about. Other than that, I just look through and I'm like, "Wow, this is garbage, garbage, garbage, garbage." Whereas with Twitter you still get garbage but maybe it's like one every 100 or one every 50 posts where you're like, "Oh, that's pretty cool, actually." And it's a lot easier to see that because the text is shorter. So the idea really stands out to you. But LinkedIn just over time I became aware that the content was not what I wanted to do, and I was starting to sound too stuffy, and I wanted to be myself a lot more. And you can do that on LinkedIn but eventually you'll get banned if you do that on LinkedIn. So all the people that I follow that did do that, have been banned. And a lot of them have their reaches totally died and my reach was dying there and I was like, "I don't really feel incentivized to keep doing this."
Blake Emal: (26:10)
So in August of last year, I just decided, "All right, well, I'm going to hedge my bets and go 50-50 LinkedIn, Twitter. I tried Twitter a bunch before and totally flopped. To be honest, I thought that Twitter was the hardest platform in the world to get traction on because I thought I was posting good stuff because what I was doing on LinkedIn was really working and I could get hundreds of comments on LinkedIn. And then I do something similar on Twitter and it flopped. It was just not good. I would never even get a like. So I thought getting a like on Twitter was the hardest thing in the world. And I still think it's harder than people think it is. But I just decided to go for it, try it again, and after a month, I was doing okay but I almost gave up, again, because it just wasn't doing a ton.
Blake Emal: (26:56)
And, thankfully, I stuck with it and I've just been doubling down more and more and more and gotten more into from consulting to actually creating digital products and selling things on Twitter and giving away free information. That's been really rewarding and super fun. So being a part of more of the creator economy side of things, which Twitter really is a great host for that community, is way more fun for me than just being on LinkedIn and seeing people tell stories that have nothing to do with anything.
As a younger marketer, I made the mistake of, I'd write something and then I would try and put it everywhere on the internet. And it would never work. It was never quite the right tone for that audience because I didn't understand it. And I increasingly realized you have to be a sincere user of whatever platform you want to distribute through, you have to actually understand the idiosyncrasies of it, you have to enjoy the process more than anything. And that's the main reason I use Twitter as well. Especially as you're saying with all this creative economy stuff, some of the product announcements they've announced recently are so exciting. After 12 years of stagnating product development to have all these wonderful tools for enabling anyone to actually start putting content out there and start getting rewarded for it as well. It's a great platform for a lot of people to start exploring if they've not already started using it.
Blake Emal: (28:14)
No, I agree. Like I've said this often, Twitter 10 years ago, was not a good platform, even two years ago wasn't that good. It really has changed significantly in the past couple of years. Once COVID hit, something just clicked and it started becoming much more about people talking about the stuff they were creating, which is so much more interesting than just platitudes and random facts and things that don't matter at all-
Pictures of the car you just bought and that kind of thing.
Blake Emal: (28:43)
Yeah. The whole Tai Lopez stuff, Tai if you're listening, I'm sorry. But with Twitter it was bad. When I look back at when I first started on Twitter and totally failed at it, I understand why. Because my way of talking and my way of creating content is just like, "Give stuff away for free. If something comes back to me, that's cool. If not, that's cool, no expectations." But back then it was like, Twitter was really big in the SEO community. And if you look at a lot of big SEO people, they have lots of followers. They're also following like 100,000 people, and they've built their audiences on follow for follow basically, and they have no engagement. And you can look at a lot of the accounts that were created in 2010, 2011, 2013, and they have zero engagement whatsoever, because they were never built on actual content that was actually helpful. But that shifted.
I was very guilty of that as well. I was part of that. There's a tool called ManageFlitter and it basically looks like a backend for Twitter. And I would systematically follow people, wait a period of time then unfollow if they didn't follow back. I would schedule every tweet, and it would just be links to my content. And Surprise, surprise, it sucked to use, nobody cared about anything. Got a bunch of followers that resulted in literally no visits, no engagement, nothing. So I had a bit of a clean slate moment two or three years ago and thought, "I'm actually going to use this as a human being now," And worlds of difference. People actually care and enjoy stuff now.
Blake Emal: (30:18)
Yeah. The biggest thing that I see is just that pushing link syndrome, where people think, "Oh, I created this great piece of content, I'm going to push the link." And that's not a good post. That's a terrible post. You should never ever push a link. And if you're going to, you have to do it very tactfully. But the best way to do it is, if you are a blog writer, and Twitter is your second blog, it's not a way to promote your first blog. So you take the concepts from that actual blog, and just flat out teach the whole thing in a Twitter thread. And if people want to read the blog, you can link it in the last week, if not, they've just read it all the same. Who cares if they go to your website? I know that we want to own that traffic and we want to get people to the website, but attention is the name of the game.
Blake Emal: (31:04)
And if you want to succeed on Twitter and build up that engine where it actually can flow people back to your website over time, well, the better funnel is, okay, just have the link to your blog in your profile bio and don't promote it. Just have it there, get top of funnel people to your profile as much as you can through really good content. And usually, that just means giving stuff away for free and trying to be interesting while you're doing it, that's basically the formula. And then they'll flow through your bio, more people will see it, which means more people will click on your URL, and more people will go to your blog. That's the best way to get people to your blog if that's what you're trying to do. It's not promoting it on Twitter directly through a link.
I think one of the mindsets, which is thankfully, heading out the window a little bit, is this idea that you use social or any type of content promotion to tease the value of a blog post. Where you hint at it and you say, "Oh yeah, come and look at the blog to check this out." You're certainly right, that doesn't work anymore. There are so many people out there willing to share so much good advice and value directly in the platform, in that tweet storm, you can't compete with that if you're going to tease and hint to stuff. There's a concept that we use throughout Animalz called bluff which is bottom line up front. Whenever you're sharing anything, always open with the key point you're trying to make. Don't be scared of giving that away. Don't think that people are going to stop caring. Just deliver as much value as you can as quickly as possible. And yeah, we found the same, people they'll come and find you, they'll subscribe, they'll engage because they know you offer valuable stuff.
Blake Emal: (32:35)
Yeah. And if people are wondering how does that actually work? If you're sitting here wondering, and it's a totally valid question, if you're wondering, "Wait, how am I just getting away all the stuff that I know for free if I'm trying to be a consultant for that? How is that actually going to help me get business?" And it's a pretty easy answer actually. If you see somebody that's posting crazy valuable content, very tactical stuff, here's how to 10X your email list, steps one through 17, here's everything that I know that I've tried, here's screenshots of what I've done. It doesn't even have to be crazy. Even if you've only grown it from one to 1000, there are a million people out there that want to know how to do that, right?
Blake Emal: (33:10)
So first off, any base level knowledge that you have, share it. But just share everything you know, because what's going to happen is, if Ryan is looking for somebody to help build his email list, he's starting from zero, never done this before. And he sees that I put out a tweet going from zero to 1000 in three weeks or in three months or three years even, whatever, if he sees that I've actually done this, and I've given him all the information that he needs to do it himself, he's still probably going to reach out and be like, "Hey, so how much would it cost to work with you and get your consulting on this maybe to speed up the process. If it took you three weeks, maybe I could do it in one with your help, based on the things that you learn that didn't work."
Blake Emal: (33:51)
Also, people are going to have this moment where they say, "Wow, if this is the free stuff that they're giving away, I can't imagine what the paid consulting must look like, it must be crazy valuable." So you do create intrigue, even when you're just giving everything away, people still think that there's probably more to it. And in all honesty there is because even if you give all the tactical points away of how to accomplish a certain task, there's still little nuances that are left out of that, that you could talk through and specific advice for that particular person that you could give in consulting. So, it's not a lie, there is still more that you can give. But people will just see that and say there must be so much more to this than even these simple steps that he's laid out. It's a highly valuable tactic that you really can't go wrong if you just talk about every single thing that you learn all the time. People will reach out to you and they'll want to pay you.
I love that, I really do. Most of the time the constraint that people have, as you say, is time, anyway, you can give them the end-to-end process and they don't have the time to do it, they still need help. Or the hard part is applying that process to their business, the unique situation they find themselves in. Dear, big fan, give away everything, everything you possibly can.
Blake Emal: (35:00)
Cool. So, one last thing I want to ask about, something that I have, through this exact mechanism, I have learned about through Twitter are your side projects. Now, it seems like virtually half the Copy.ai team that I follow has some kind of wonderful side project, seems to be like an entire community of creators that are also building Copy.ai. I guess I'd love to know, how does that interaction work between Copy.ai the team and the side projects, how do you think about those in conjunction?
Blake Emal: (35:32)
Yeah, it's almost an unofficial requirement that you have a side hustle. It's not written down anywhere but everybody is so supportive. And for float, I came to Chris and Paul, and I was just like, "Hey, I've got this idea that could potentially be its own company. And I want to stay here and I'm not going to leave, but this thing could be also big." And they're like, "Yeah, go for it." That's just the mentality of the team is, go for it, let's create stuff. Because if you think about the true benefit of it, how does it hurt when we're having creative people creating more stuff within the company, it only makes us better.
Blake Emal: (36:07)
Also, you have to think, specifically within Copy.ai, the more things that we're creating outside the more that the employees ourselves are going to need to use Copy.ai tools. So we're dogfooding the product or the company while we're building other things. There are so many different benefits, and that's a specific one to us that may not apply to every single company out there and might to some, but really, I believe that when you're unlocking people's creativity, you're going to get more out of them. They'll be happier, they'll feel more fulfilled. And I just don't want to be the type of person that says, "No, you just got to do this work and you can't do other things that you care about," We all have many, many things that we care about. Ryan cares about a lot more than working at Animalz, a lot more. There's a lot more to you than that. Whether it's, I don't know if you really like curry or you like basketball or like whatever.
I do really like curry. And I actually spend 30 minutes every morning writing fiction as well because, as you say, it's a different part of your life, it's a different avenue you want to explore. And actually there are a second older benefits that work both ways. It doesn't need to be a zero sum game, like me enjoying writing fiction is a benefit to my work at Animalz and vice versa. I love any company that embraces that ethos and encourages people to do that.
Blake Emal: (37:23)
Yeah, 100%. There's really no downside, sure, there may be a little bit of time where you're working on something that you could have been working on your main hustle but overtime the compound interest on that is just, the upside's crazy on that compounding interest, and you should be encouraging people to invest in themselves. So, Richard Branson, I think he has a famous quote that's something like, you want to train people to be the best at what they do, so that they could leave the company at any point, but you want to treat them so well that they never want to. And one way that you do that, well, you can help expedite both of those things, you can help train people by encouraging them to keep doing stuff outside of work that improves on that skill or some other skill and makes them happier.
Blake Emal: (38:08)
But then also, there is that, it's going to make them happier and make them feel a certain more positive way about you as a manager, because they feel like you have their back. And so, when the time comes that they might have other offers, they may get an offer that's too good to refuse and they leave, and you can just say, "Well, that's awesome. Congrats," And you've succeeded as a manager, you've gotten them to a new step in their career, and that's awesome. Or they may decide, "I love it here. Why would I want to leave just for a slightly better opportunity," maybe in jobs or whatever. So, there are different ways that I can go but I just think that team morale, team skill set building, all that stuff is so heavily improved when you're able to encourage people to work on things that they care about. Because you can't expect your company to be the core and only passion in other people's lives. Even the founders of Copy.ai, Copy.ai is not the only thing about those people.
Blake Emal: (39:00)
So, you can't expect other people to just worship the company, you have to try to build that trust, try to build that goodwill, and just encourage people to do what they care about because then they'll bring that joy back into their work.
I will say, I made a fantastic chicken and pineapple curry the other day. So, hit me up on Twitter if anyone wants the recipe for that, it was absolutely choice.
Blake Emal: (39:24)
Sounds awesome. That sounds awesome.
Really quickly, one of these projects I'd love to know a bit about because I live in notion as well, what is float if people are interested?
Blake Emal: (39:35)
So, a few months ago, I was creating a course called build a high performance landing page. And I did all my notes in notion because that's where I live, that's where all my notes and tasks and everything are. And I built it all out, and then I was looking for a course platform to put this out. But I wanted to do it for free, so I wasn't going to charge for it. And all of the course platforms I was seeing were really complex, high barrier of entry in terms of education and how to use the tool. But also I would have to take all the notes I'd already made, import them all over and reformat them, and it's going to cost like $80 a month to host a free course.
Blake Emal: (40:11)
So I'm like, "Well, I don't know if I really can just buy that. That's not great economics." So I started thinking a little bit about this concept of what if I could just automatically translate a notion page into a course, which we see this with companies like Super and Potion will take a notion page and translate it into a website. The problem with that though, is I tried that too, but there's no paywall, there's no way of marking progress for the course or gathering feedback or just making it look like a course period. And so, I was like, "All right, I want to build this thing." And then, naturally, the idea died for two months because I can't build it because I'm not a developer.
Blake Emal: (40:49)
So, then I got with Copy.ai, found my co founder who also works at Copy.ai, Zack, and he had built Potion, which was this website builder from notion pages. So I'm like, "Hey, dude, let's build this thing out." And he was like, "Super on board." So we started building it out pretty quickly. And it's going to be launching, probably within the next three weeks or so to everybody, but some demos coming up. And we've got some exciting partnerships that basically, high level view, if you use notion and you want to create an online course for $10 a month, you can use float to basically give us the link to the notion page where the course is supposed to be hosted, where you already taken all your notes, and we'll just automatically make it a course for you, and format it and set it up and let you get paid for it and give you a landing page where people can sign up and pay for it. And then, you can edit it in real time.
Blake Emal: (41:45)
So, it's really easy to use, it's super simple, it's way more affordable. So if you want to do a free course, now you're only on the hook for $10 a month instead of 80, and we're willing to work with people in other countries where it may be tougher to afford that even we can work with you on that. So, we just want everybody to be able to create stuff. The mission is very aligned with Copy.ai as well.
Feel like notion is almost like the operating system for the creator economy in some regard. That's where I've been writing my books. I've got a little wiki built that with a click of a switch you can publish that to the web. I have my own personal website hosted there using some similar services like Cloudflare jiggery pokery, change the URL and stuff, making a course and it seems like a totally logical next step, that's pretty cool.
Awesome. Well, Blake, we've exhausted the three main areas of conversation I wanted to talk to you. Put you on the spot slightly, any parting words you'd like to share to an audience of content marketers? Anything you feel like we've not covered? Any words of inspiration?
Blake Emal: (43:11)
I would just say, be endlessly curious. Gather your ideas, with a pen and paper is best. So whenever you have an idea, write stuff down, that's going to help you remember way more and... yeah, there you go, right there. If pen to paper works better than anything else, even notion, that's the best way to do it. And I would say, just one more tip for your content, really focus on trying to stand out a little bit. Make it interesting and exciting because there are a lot of people creating content out there. And if it's just the same serious tone as everybody in the same format, in the same places, it's really hard to stand out.
Blake Emal: (43:47)
So, try to inject your personality in places, do weird things. My whole Twitter is based on just trying weird stuff out and hoping that it sticks and most of it doesn't, but some of it actually does. Don't be afraid to experiment because when you're just starting creating content, nobody's paying attention to you anyway, so nobody's going to see if you screw up. Down the road you start figuring things out and things start working for you, then you can reassess. But I'd still say, just keep screwing up when you have a big audience too because you can't really go wrong.
I'm not going to have to choose between do weird things or keep screwing up as the episode title for this podcast episode. Very fantastic choices. Thank you so much, Blake, a big fan of Copy.ai, I'm going to continue following you on Twitter as well.
Blake Emal: (44:33)
Appreciate Ryan. This was fun.