For more than 10 years, Content Maven Meryl K. Evans has created a variety of content to help clients achieve results with their content marketing goals. She’s the founder, CEO, CFO, CIO and owner of meryl.net, and has authored, co-authored and contributed to books covering tech and business. Several websites and companies have recognized her as a top content marketer and business woman to follow on Twitter.
A native Texan, Meryl lives a heartbeat north of Dallas in Plano, Texas with her husband, three kiddos and a dog name Melody River in honor of “Doctor Who.” Y’all can visit her online home at www.meryl.net.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and talent, and what services you offer?
It all started with my being born and bred in Fort Worth, Texas. Too far back, right? Writing always played a part for my entire career, despite not always being in a writing role. In my first job out of college, I managed employee training programs. The organization had a publication to which I contributed often.
After kid No. 2 of 3 arrived, I started New York University’s online program in Internet Technology with the thought that I wanted to pursue web design. After a few projects, I discovered working as a web designer was more frustrating than enjoyable.
Around this time, an email newsletter for web designers had a contest where readers could submit an article related to web design. The winners received software like Photoshop, so I gave it a shot. Readers loved the article, so I wrote a few more in the series for the newsletter.
The series started my writing portfolio and helped me land my first paid professional writing gig with a web design magazine. Slowly, I picked up more paid writing assignments, as I discovered I loved working as a writer.
Throughout the years, the role grew beyond writing articles for online and offline publications. Today, I help clients connect with their target audience through writing and content marketing services. It includes managing and supporting marketing programs using a mix of social media, websites, blogs, email marketing, articles and more.
Describe content marketing in your own words?
Thanks to Hank Stroll (RIP) of InternetVIZ, I learned about content marketing back in 2002 — before it had a fancy name and a bandwagon. In describing the kind of content his company created and distributed, he said, “Good content touches the hearts and minds of B2B executives and professionals, providing them with information they can use in their everyday professional lives.”
In short, content marketing is creating and sharing valuable content that’s relevant to the target audience. Key words being value and relevance. Any content that talks about the company is an advertisement or advertorial, not content marketing.
Strategy matters too, but done is better than perfect. You don’t want to put off developing content until your company gets around to creating a strategy and gains approval.
You have clients across many industries and countries? Which has been the most fun for you and why?
Whew. That’s like asking me to pick out my favorite child. I’ve been lucky to have worked with intelligent and friendly people. For me, the joy comes in contributing to my clients’ successes. And many of them have become friends, especially Hank who flew to Texas from Minnesota to join my family for a special event.
Tell us a little bit about the books you authored and co-authored?
I’ve helped authors as a technical editor, researcher, reviewer and contributor for books covering business, technology and web design. In doing these jobs, I connected with my agent. In 2007, he contacted me about doing a book on Outlook 2007. The catch? I had three weeks to write it.
One or two weeks into writing the book, my dad had a stroke in April. In spite of a few one-hour trips from Plano to Fort Worth, somehow I finished “Brilliant Outlook Pocketbook.” My dad held a copy before he died in December. This wasn’t a big or fancy book, but it had my name on it.
I’m listed as a co-author of “Adapting to Web Standards” and published a story about my dad in “Stories of Strength” where other contributors include Orson Scott Card and Wil Wheaton.
What do clients ask you the most?
See the answer to the next question. And you’ll understand why I don’t get asked the same thing.
What motivates you each day?
Experts all say to pick a niche. I did the opposite. Variety energizes me. Because of this, my routine varies every day with one goal in mind: Provide support to clients so they sell more software, get more signups and accomplish their goals.
I often work with marketing managers of B2B companies, but I also do B2C content. Billiards and automotive, anyone?
How do you measure your efforts for your clients?
Y’all will think this is yet another cop-out. There’s no single answer because client goals and projects vary. The fact that 99 percent of my clients continue using my services — one just came back after a two-year hiatus — says they’re getting the results they want.
You love reading. What are you reading now and who is your favorite author?
“You Before Me” by Jojo Moyes. If you’re like me in not being a fan of the Harlequin type novel, don’t be put off by the comments referring to it as a romance book. I’m also reading “El Deafo” by Cece Bell, a book for youngsters. This one takes me back to my childhood as I can relate to many of the situations. (Unlike the character who became deaf from spinal meningitis, I was born profoundly deaf.)
As for favorite author … cop-out No. 4. No one right now especially since I rarely read an author more than once, unless part of a series. Confession: I had a John Grisham kick last summer when I caught up on some I had missed. As a kid, my favorite author was Judy Blume. Obvious answer, right?
What software or services can you not live without?
Email. I have a bad habit of checking email too often during the workday. Before I traded a BlackBerry for another phone, I constantly checked it all day, evenings and weekends. At least, I cut down checking it evenings and on weekends.
As one always working with content, Microsoft Word is tops. It has powerful features you can’t get with the cloud-based apps including Microsoft’s own.
Being hearing free, text messaging is a lifesaver. It gives people a way to reach me no matter where I am. Before that, I relied on pagers.
What is next for you in 2015?
Stay calm and carry on so I can prepare for and enjoy two major life events in 2016. Keep working to get the best results for my clients, volunteering in the community and taking care of my health so I can achieve all this while maintaining balance and sanity. When you make sleep, exercise and relishing life outside of work part of a routine, you do your job better.