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Julia McCoy on Writing, Persistence & Building a Million-Dollar Company [PODCAST]

Learn how Julia McCoy escaped a religious cult and built a successful content writing agency in this edition of the Search Engine Journal Show.

SEJShow Featured Image Episode 159

“You really don’t need a huge team to run a highly profitable business. One of the errors I made early on is trying to staff too many people… A small, but effective leadership team, I would say is one of the biggest lessons I’ve had. If I were to start over, I would look for my one or two people to start that team with us.”

Julia McCoy is a prolific content marketer, hard-working agency owner, and an amazing person you should get to know better.

At 19, she founded her content agency Express Writers. Over the last eight years, she’s built her company to over $4.5 million in gross revenue solely through SEO-focused inbound content marketing and grown her remote team to more than 90 members.

In today’s edition of the Search Engine Journal Show: Better Know a Marketing Pro, Julia shares her thoughts on writing, persistence and building a million-dollar company.

About Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy founded her agency in 2011 and turned it into a million-dollar company within a span of eight years.

Today, Julia is the CEO of Express Writers, and manages HR and marketing. She has served more than 5,000 clients, from Johnson & Johnson and Nordstrom to small B2Bs.

She’s just launched a second brand called Content Hacker as a “house” for her best industry work, including two courses, paid workshops and agency training, 1:1 content strategy and consulting offerings, books, and blogs.

You can find her contributing articles on Search Engine Journal as well as Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs, and Thrive Global.

She’s also the author of two books, So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing, which was published in 2016, and Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, published in 2017.

Primarily a writer, Julia just started taking on speaking engagements this year. She is slated to speak at this year’s Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio.

With her achievements, you can say that Julia is one accomplished millennial. She’s actually all that – and more.

Not many know that Julia grew up in a religious cult in Pennsylvania and endured abuse for 21 years before finally fleeing in 2012. Right now, she’s chronicling her journey to healing in her third book that’s currently in the works.

Listen to this episode as Julia McCoy shares her inspiring story – proving that anything is possible in this life, no matter what you have to deal with.

Show Notes

  • Julia blended her love for writing and knowledge in making money online to start Express Writers in 2011. [2:45]
  • Halfway through college, Julia realized nursing wasn’t her passion. She dropped out of nursing school at 19 to pursue freelance writing – something she thought she’d actually enjoy doing the rest of her life.  [4:49]
  • Express Writers was just a five-minute business name idea. [6:48]
  • Julia’s first clients were from freelance platforms Elance and oDesk – which have since merged and rebranded to Upwork. Her high-quality work brought her lots of referral clients. [7:57]
  • How she learned SEO and started applying it to the content she was writing. [10:03]
  • Julia’s goal to find writers as good as her helped propel the company forward. [11:37]
  • On building her virtual team. Express Writers has a qualification and testing process in place but that doesn’t entirely weed out flakers. [13:19]
  • Hiring people online adds another level of complexity. [14:59]
  • When times are trying, Julia lets herself go through whatever she needs to go through and then, get up the next day and try to start fresh. [15:30]
  • On staying productive and avoiding distractions. [17:45]
  • Things Julia is thankful for: being able to work with a lot of talented writers and overcoming obstacles she didn’t think she’d get through. [19:14]
  • In 2016, two managers she trusted ended up embezzling from the company and stealing client accounts. Through that experience, Julia learned the leadership skills needed to run the company to the level it’s at. [20:38]
  • What is Julia’s definition of success for the company and for herself? [23:52]
  • Julia’s business tips? Don’t try to staff too many people early on. You don’t need a huge team to run a highly profitable business. Build a small, but effective leadership team. [24:59]
  • What exactly is Content Hacker? [26:03]
  • Books were Julia’s earliest foray into writing. She shares the biggest adjustment from writing online content to writing books. [27:28]
  • The amount of evergreen prospects that can come from writing and publishing a book is pretty powerful. [29:54]
  • On writing her third book – a narrative nonfiction that tells the story of her life. [31:02]
  • Julia shares her experience growing up in a cult completely cut off from everyone else and how she managed to find an avenue to explore a whole different side of life. [32:44]
  • Her journey to acknowledging her past and healing from it. [36:23]
  • Her business actually started while she was still in the cult. Julia was forced to hire family members in the early stages. [37:52]
  • Julia’s fourth speaking engagement will be at Content Marketing World this year. Learn the reason why she didn’t go out and speak sooner. [39:00]
  • How does she keep current on all the changes in SEO and marketing? [42:06]
  • Setting up a content creation process in place helped Julia avoid getting burnt out from writing. [43:38]
  • Julia’s content marketing tips for local brick-and-mortar businesses. [46:22]
  • Her thoughts on putting together content hubs. [48:28]
  • What’s the highlight moment that stands out from Julia’s career?  [51:06]
  • On being a wife and mother and maintaining a good work-life balance. [52:16]
  • If she wasn’t in marketing, Julia would probably be writing fiction in the apocalyptic style. [54:36]
  • Josh, her husband, is Julia’s biggest advisor – having been there since the beginning of the business. [55:33]
  • The worst piece of advice she’s ever heard? Hide her business dilemma (firing the two managers who stole from the company) from the public view as it might turn people off. Instead of following that advice, Julia decided to be transparent with her clients. [57:47]
  • If Julia could go back in time and give her younger self some advice, what would it be? [1:00:09]
  • Julia’s advice for newcomers in the industry who want to become successful: “Whatever you do, make it super high-quality, be the best at what you do and then, tie that to an industry or a niche.” [1:00:40]
  • Right now, she’s most excited about seeing the shifts specifically in sales – how prospects come in and convert. [1:01:29]
  • What’s next for Julia McCoy? [1:02:56]

Links from the Episode

How to connect with Julia McCoy:

Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Express Writers | Content Hacker

People Mentioned

To listen to this Search Engine Show: Better Know a Marketing Pro Podcast with Julia McCoy:

Visit our SEJ’s podcast archive to listen to other Search Engine Journal Show podcasts!

Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita

Category Careers SEJ Show
Danny Goodwin Former Executive Editor at Search Engine Journal

Danny Goodwin is the former Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal. He formerly was managing editor of Momentology and editor ...

Julia McCoy on Writing, Persistence & Building a Million-Dollar Company [PODCAST]

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