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Kelsey Jones on Creativity, Living on Hope & Hustle, and Launching a Successful Business [PODCAST]

Kelsey Jones talks about her 12-year journey as an SEO pro, the good times and the bad, and what she’s learned along the way.

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“If there’s anything you want to learn about, but don’t really have the excuse to, you should turn it into a writing assignment.”

Kelsey Jones likes to ask a lot of questions. And that’s a good thing. It’s the sign of an intellectually curious and creative mind.

Asking questions – plus lots of creativity and experimentation – has helped propel this entrepreneur’s career forward.

In this episode of Search Engine Nerds, I’m kicking off a new series of interviews with industry experts and authorities I’m calling Better Know an SEO Pro.

Rather than focusing on tactics and strategies – which Brent Csutoras is already doing brilliantly for Search Engine Nerds – my “Better Know” series will focus on the real-life stories of how prominent figures in our industry got started and have managed to build successful careers.

Hint: it wasn’t by accident. There’s a lot of hard work and challenges along the way.

About Kelsey Jones

Kelsey Jones is definitely one SEO professional you need to know.

Today, Jones’ main focus is on her own company, Six Stories, which she founded in 2008. Six Stories focuses on content strategy and development, SEO audits, and social media marketing.

She also is the founder of StoryShout, a company that provides unique news articles targeted to the client’s target audience.

You can also check out Kelsey’s live streaming course,

Jones also speaks regularly at SEO and digital marketing conferences. Some of those events include as Pubcon, State of Search, SEJ Summit, and Digital Olympus.

In addition, as a subject matter expert, Jones has helped create courses on SEO content and website optimization for Digital Marketing Institute, and wrote and revised digital marketing course materials for Grand Canyon University.

She is also the former Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal. She started at SEJ in 2013 as a news writer, and eventually worked her way up to the top role here.

SEJ didn’t have a podcast until she helped develop it some 150 episodes ago. She also raised the bar in a big way on content quality, helped launch SEJ’s webinars, and was a big part of the SEJ Summit events.

During our interview, I took her back over her 12 years in the industry – and even earlier – to revisit her journey, the good times and the bad, and what she’s learned along the way.

You definitely must hear her story about how she played blackjack to survive after she got laid off from a job in 2009. Seriously must hear stuff!

She also talks about breaking a guitar on stage with Rainn Wilson, reveals why she left Search Engine Journal, and offers plenty of tips for aspiring writers, content creators, digital marketers, and conference speakers.

Show Notes

  • Kelsey discusses her huge imagination, early signs of leadership, writing, and asking questions as a child. [03:41]
  • What did Kelsey want to do when she grew up? [05:21]
  • How Kelsey has been turning cool ideas into reality since childhood. [06:07]
  • aberpunkbabe04’s early tech obsession: AOL Instant Messenger. [08:04]
  • How doing some “out of the box” things in college helped Kelsey realize people enjoyed seeing her creativity and that some of her “crazy ideas” worked. [13:08]
  • Kelsey reveals her jobs before she got into SEO and digital marketing – and also her worst job and the harassment she experienced. Make sure to hear Kelsey’s powerful message to women about the importance of speaking up. [14:45]
  • When and how Kelsey first started learning about SEO. [19:40]
  • We learn about how Kelsey’s interest in SEO actually began in 7th grade, when she taught herself HTML and made fan sites for NSYNC and Seth Green. [20:43]
  • Kelsey talks about her first “real” job in SEO – learning to deal with clients, do competitive research, not being taken seriously, and one of her greatest achievements. [22:16]
  • How Kelsey figured out her management style and struggled with imposter syndrome. [26:15]
  • Kelsey on going full-time on her own – on the day after she closed on her house. And why she had to change her original business name. [29:09]
  • How Kelsey got started at SEJ, working her way up to Executive Editor, becoming a “bull in the China shop”, her proudest moment, and some jaw-dropping things contributors tried to get away with. [33:10]
  • So why did Kelsey decide to leave SEJ? [43:30]
  • How does one become a subject matter expert? Kelsey branches out into teaching and instructing. [45:52]
  • The value of niche news for companies. [48:08]
  • Kelsey reveals one point in her career when she was truly struggling – and how she overcame it. [51:33]
  • On public speaking – how nervous she was the first time and how she’s improved over the years. [58:51]
  • The importance of creating a writing portfolio and how it can help you when applying for jobs or getting client leads. [1:01:35]
  • Where does Kelsey find writing inspiration? [1:03:45]
  • Kelsey’s recommendations for how you can stay current and productive in SEO, digital marketing, and business. [1:06:24]
  • If Kelsey couldn’t be a marketer, what would she do to make a living? [1:09:07]
  • That time Kelsey smashed a guitar onstage at SXSW with Rainn Wilson. [1:10:02]
  • Why work-life balance is a myth and the huge value of flexibility. [1:13:04]
  • How does Kelsey quiet the monkey mind and manage stress? [1:17:41]
  • What’s the worst and best advice she’s ever been given? [1:19:33]
  • What are the keys to being successful in this industry? Kelsey says share ideas and market yourself. [1:22:51]
  • What is Kelsey excited about in SEO right now? [1:25:47]
  • What Kelsey loves most about the industry: it’s a community of learners and curious people, and everyone is supportive. [1:28:09]
  • What Kelsey wants to see change: more female speakers at conferences. [1:29:24]
  • Kelsey answers listener questions, including her top three content marketing tips! [1:30:23]
  • How you connect with Kelsey and check out her live streaming course (link below). [1:38:47]
  • What’s next for Kelsey Jones? [1:41:37]

Links from the Episode

How to connect with Kelsey Jones:

Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram | Six Stories

People Mentioned

To listen to this Search Engine Nerds: Better Know an SEO Pro Podcast with Kelsey Jones:

Visit our Search Engine Nerds archive to listen to other Search Engine Nerds 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 ...

Kelsey Jones on Creativity, Living on Hope & Hustle, and Launching a Successful Business [PODCAST]

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