How To Become an Authoritative Writer in Your Niche With Shane Barker

Digital media expert Shane Barker shares his story of becoming a writer, creating his first writing job, and becoming an authoritative source in digital marketing.

Shane Barker is the owner of shanebarker.com, the leading digital media consultant specializing in influencer marketing, content marketing, and SEO.

Shane Barker owns multiple websites and has taught a course at UCLA on personal branding and becoming an influencer. He has consulted with thousands of companies, influencers, and A-list celebrities.

He's currently working on starting up a company called Selletek. It's an Amazon account consultant helping sellers activate blocked product listings and boost sales.

How Did You Become a Writer?

I started writing when I created shanebarker.com about nine years ago. The goal was to do what I love most, helping other people learn about business and marketing. 

The goal is to offer free education for people interested in starting up businesses or who want to know how to create a better online presence for their brand.

Starting, I didn't have a goal with shanebarker.com and was writing articles as I saw fit. There was no intent or goals behind it, just an idea and me writing. It was slow, time-consuming, and content was not coming out fast enough. 

I quickly learned that I would have to start writing with clear goals and needed help to keep the content coming out more regularly. The content my team and I create now is SEO optimized, written with intent, and focused.

How Did You Get Your First Writing Job?

My first writing "job" was shanebarker.com.

I had never written much before that but felt that I wanted to share and educate those who needed help with business consulting and marketing online.

If I had a chance to go back to the start, I would find a mentor who had experience in writing online.

I made many mistakes in the beginning, and having a mentor to guide me might have alleviated some of those growing pains. Even though it was hard, I don't regret it at all.

I love reading and listening to audiobooks on Audible, so it was an opportunity for me to take my knowledge and put it to good use by sharing it.

As the website grew, I started writing posts for The Huffington Post, now known as HuffPost, and many other websites.

These guest posts helped shanebarker.com become a trusted source of information about digital marketing, which in turn helped the website grow.

After nine years, I no longer have to look for writing jobs. The writing jobs come to me.

It's only possible because of the reputation shanebarker.com has gained in the digital marketing space.

What Skills Do You Need to Be a Good Writer?

It's a very different ball game writing content now than it was 20 years ago.

Writing for newspapers was all about catchy headlines and easy reading. Nowadays, to be a good writer, you need to have a firm grasp of SEO and how to write optimized content.

You must also use excellent writing and SEO software like Grammarly, SurferSEO, and Semrush. It's important for writers today to be able to write content that can rank high on search engines and drive traffic down a funnel.

Many people don't understand about writing today that when you write an article, you must write with intent.

You can't just sit down and write an article, post it, and expect it to do well.

You need to ask yourself what the purpose of your article is, find keywords, write an engaging title, and then write the content with intent.

What Influences Your Writing the Most?

My biggest inspiration is education.

I want to show people that education can be low-cost or free, like YouTube video lessons and Khan Academy, and it can be beneficial to anyone and everyone.

That's why I've created a free Semrush course on writing content that is SEO optimized and how you can use Semrush to help you achieve it.

One of my favorite movies is Good Will Hunting, and my favorite author is Brené Brown.

Good Will Hunting doesn't have much influence over the work I do, but Brené Brown's work on leadership has guided me a lot throughout the nine years working on shanebarker.com.

What Tools and Software Do You Use for Work?

Working with a large remote team can be difficult at times, but there is plenty of software we use to make things easier.

For project management, we use ClickUp. It's a great tool to keep all our projects in one place and communicate how far each project is.

It also easily integrates with our primary communication tool, Slack.

Writing is done and edited through Google Drive

If there's any other information that needs to be distributed, like videos, we use Loom.

Lastly, meetings are all done through Zoom.

What Are Your Writing Habits?

Usually, I'd write if I'm traveling about things that caught my attention.

I believe in taking a walk every morning, for about two hours. It's a great way to start the day, and I can even do my two other favorite things while walking, listening to music, podcasts, and Audible.

I love listening to reggae and jazz music while working. It's either that or I'm listening to an audiobook on Audible.

I often feel most inspired to write after my morning walks. I write better earlier in the day and often schedule my meetings for later in the morning and the afternoons.

Staying productive isn't an issue for me.

I'm always busy doing something or having a meeting with new clients or my team. I'm running three companies, so I'm never short of work. 

If I ever get burned out, I try to step back from whatever I'm doing. I might go for a walk or listen to an audiobook.

After an hour or two, looking at the issue or project again will generally help me see another angle or new perspective that will help me get motivated again.

What's the Best Investment You Made in Your Career?

Shanebarker.com is the best investment I've made in my career. I've invested countless hours and over a million dollars into it.

Shane Barker hosts the Marketing Growth Podcast. Photo supplied by the writer..

With all that hard work and investment, I've built it from the ground up to where it is today, a well-monetized website with plenty of excellent affiliates and partnerships.

I've also built an extensive client base for whom we write and consult with.

It was only able to work because I quickly learned that to be successful, I needed to be more focused.

A business will only succeed if you have firm, achievable goals. If you keep working towards those goals, slowly getting closer every day, you will be successful.

The reason why it did take a while to take action was because I was working alone.

I didn't have a mentor or team behind me, and I learned that having a team behind you with people who are professionals in their fields is better than trying to manage and run everything yourself.

What Are the Most Influential Books in Your Life?

Some of the most influential books in my life are The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene and Building a StoryBrand by Donal Miller.

If I had to give a book as a gift to someone, I'd choose The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene.

Although if I had to choose a book, I'd read over and over again, Building a StoryBrand would be my pick.

What Are Your Favorite Writing Quotes?

“Do not be afraid to exaggerate the role of willpower. It is an exaggeration with a purpose. It leads to a positive self-fulfilling dynamic, and that is all you care about. See this shaping of your attitude as your most important creation in life, and never leave it to chance.” – Robert Greene, The Laws of Human Nature

The will to do something is an important part of human psychology.

We should see it as a superpower. It's what drives us to do whatever it is we are doing.

Having full control over your will means that you can do anything you set your mind to.

If Someone Wants to Be Where You Are Now, How Can They Get There?

Firstly, don't think you'll get there on your own. It is a tough road. Having a small team you can trust is better than going solo.

When I started, I was alone and had no real goals set. You should ask yourself where you want to be in the next five years.

Set goals for the first, third, and fifth year and constantly check whether you are working towards those goals and the progress you've made to achieve them.

Another excellent thing to get you started is to do everything with intent. Set the end goal and reverse engineer your way back towards the start. This way, you can see exactly what needs to be done to get where you want to be.

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