Emily Amos on the secrets behind my success.
Emily Amos is founder and CEO of Uplift Content. In this feature interview, Emily shares the secrets behind her success to date and tells The Industry Leaders how she's continuing to grow and improve as a business leader.
For those who don't know about you and your work, can you tell us who you are, and where your business is based?
We’re a content marketing agency that writes case studies, ebooks, white papers and blog posts for high-growth B2B SaaS (business-to-business software-as-a-service) companies like ClickUp, Calendly and WalkMe. We're based in Nova Scotia, Canada, but we're 100% remote and serve customers all over the world.
What was the main inspiration behind starting your business?
Before I started Uplift Content, I was a freelance web writer in a small city on the east coast of Canada and all of my clients were local. I wanted to expand into bigger bigger markets in the United States but didn’t know how I would do it. And then a gift landed in my inbox. A previous mentor of mine referred me to a big SaaS company in San Fransisco that needed help with case studies. They ended up hiring us, and this kick-started the birth of Uplift Content. We now have customers across the US and Europe. When my customers were all local, going for coffee to network was a big thing. Now, I rely on LinkedIn and industry Slack groups to network. I also try to get to industry conferences once or twice a year.
Who does your business help?
Our customers are content marketers and customer marketers at B2B SaaS companies. They are under constant pressure to produce copious amounts of high-quality content, but they have a hundred other competing priorities and not enough people power or writing skills. We are a flexible and agile resource that partners with marketers at tech companies to create a consistent flow of valuable content that moves their target audience through the buyer’s journey. By outsourcing content creation to us, marketers are freed up to work on other strategic initiatives that drive value for their companies.
Can you share with us a time when you failed, and what you learned from that experience to make yourself a better entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to feel like you’re being pulled in 10 different directions with 100 competing priorities. As humans, I think we're wired to put off the hard tasks and work on the easy stuff—and this is definitely the case for me. I find it very easy to procrastinate on big-picture thinking, annual and quarterly strategic planning and reaching out to potential customers and partners to set up a discovery call. For me, these tasks require a lot of brain work and are intimidating. So it's easy for me to procrastinate on them, which leads to missed opportunities and stagnant growth of my business. Many years ago, a business coach of mine said to me, “What’s the best use of your time to drive your business forward?” This question really stuck with me over the years and when I'm in a rut and feeling overwhelmed, I try to slow down and really think about the answer to that question. All too often, it’s easy to procrastinate by doing the easy, low-value work. But instead, we need to prioritize the tasks that drive growth for our company. Often, these require real brainpower. They’re sometimes a bit daunting because we may not have done this particular task before. Or we know we need to push ourselves to do the task even better than we did it before. It’s easy to put off because it’s hard. When there’s a task on my to-do list that I know will make a difference to the growth of my business, I try to schedule it as my first task of the day. Not only will I get it done, but I'll also enjoy a huge sense of relief at having finally finished it. All the other stuff can wait.
How do you define success, and how do you measure it in your business?
Success for Uplift Content means a few different things. Firstly, it means that me and my team of 15 freelance writers and editors are able to enjoy the work/life balance we crave by earning a fair wage for the work we do. Secondly, it means that our customers are able to claw back some time in their day by outsourcing content to us, while also having peace of mind that we're going to do an excellent job for them and that the content is going to achieve the goals that they set out for it. These two things are tricky to measure holistically, so we do also track some of the more obvious metrics, like number of customers on our roster at any given time, net revenue, profitability on individual projects, and time worked versus time off.
How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals, especially during the tough times?
The biggest challenge we’ve faced recently is the economic woes that the tech industry has been facing for the past 12 months. Layoffs and budget cuts have been really challenging for those who work in tech companies—and those who work with tech companies. We’ve seen a 30% slowdown in the last year, which means many of my writers and editors aren’t getting as much work as they’d like. It also means that our customers are struggling because they have to do more with less—fewer team members and less budget. I've been self employed for 17 years so I've been through many peaks and valleys during that time. Some of the peaks and valleys are as a direct result of my actions (or inactions) and, other times, it is due to things beyond my control, like economic slowdowns. Either way, I stay motivated to continue to market my company and develop relationships because I know that with patience, perseverance and hard work, we will eventually move the business to a place of success and health. Right now, for example, we are continuing to reach out and engage with our customers, people in our network and prospects, but we do so with more empathy, compassion and understanding. We continue to strive to be helpful and provide valuable resources to our community. We know that when the economy turns around, we’ll be well-positioned to pick back up where we left off.
What do you think are the key qualities that every successful entrepreneur should possess?
I think persistence is one of the key qualities that every successful entrepreneur should possess. It's what helped me get my freelance business off the ground. I spent months going through the Yellow Pages (this was 2007 and that big yellow book still existed!) and cold emailing different business verticals. For example, one day, I’d tackle all the event planners in my city. The next day, I’d tackle all the furnace repair companies. It was a slog, but my persistence paid off and, eventually, I had a great roster of customers.
I also relied heavily on persistence when starting Uplift Content. It was a lot harder than I thought to network with big tech companies in San Francisco when I lived 6,000 kilometres away in a small city in Canada. Through sheer willpower and never giving up, I kept at it and eventually made some great connections with my target audience and have developed many great relationships over time.
The other key quality that entrepreneurs need is the confidence to put yourself out there. I’m a bit of an introvert so I struggle with this but what I’ve found over the years is that many of us are nervous when meeting new people and networking situations in general. In my experience, people are often thrilled when I gather up my courage and introduce myself because then they don’t have to. And amazing conversations often ensue.
Having the confidence to put yourself out there also flows into your sales skills. I’ve taken a number of different sales courses over the years, but I’ve found that they just aren’t me. They often feel smarmy or shady to me. I’d much rather have a conversation with someone. I love to ask people questions. I love to find out what makes them tick and what keeps them up at night.
I find that if I can have a conversation with people, they tend to like what we have to offer because they can see that I’m honest and want to help them to the best of my abilities. And because I’ve asked questions and really listened to their answers, I’m able to explain our solutions in ways that really resonates with them.
What role do you think technology and digital innovation play in the success of businesses in your industry, and how do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends?
Technology and digital innovation are important for the success of content marketing agencies because, without it, we'd be left behind. The industry is constantly changing and it's imperative to keep up, and, ideally, push ahead to be competitive.
Technology and digital innovation help ensure we are as efficient as possible, which means we can keep our pricing reasonable, while at the same time ensure the profitability and health of our business. It also allows us to do a better job reaching our target audiences in our own marketing efforts, as well as helping our customers do the same.
To stay up to date with the latest trends, we actively engage with our community on LinkedIn, attend relevant webinars and conferences, and subscribe to relevant newsletters.
Do you use any particular software or tech tools to make your life easier at work?
We use Google Docs for all of the content we create so that our team and our customers' teams can collaborate on the content in real time. We use Teamwork for our project management tool to keep track of tasks and deadlines, and Calendly for easy meeting bookings. And, finally, we use SEMRush Google Analytics for our SEO efforts.
What do you think sets your company apart from others in your industry, and how do you plan to continue to differentiate yourself in the future?
What sets us apart from others in the industry is that we take the time to really understand our customers—their companies, software and target audiences.
B2B SaaS companies like to work with us because we’re NOT a full-service marketing agency that does a bit of everything. They like that we have a singular focus on creating hard-working, high-performing content for B2B SaaS companies like theirs.
Our customers have a good experience because we’re there for them every step of the way. We check in. We respond to emails. We answer phone calls. We care. We make sure things are flowing and moving along smoothly.
For us, it’s important that we create content that meets our customers’ business objectives, but it’s equally important that we’re able to support the marketer as an individual to make a greater impact at work—and be recognized for it.
At Uplift Content, we thrive in long-term relationships with our customers. Our very first customer was with us for six years, and I think this really speaks to the relationship we developed and the value we were able to add to their team.
Are you working on any specific products, deals or promotions that people should know about?
At Uplift Content, we write case studies, ebooks, white papers and blog posts for B2B SaaS companies like Calendly, ClickUp and WalkMe. If you're looking for a strategic partner to help with content creation, get in touch.
What does the next 12 months have in store for you and your business?
In the next 12 months, we're excited to launch our 3rd annual SaaS Case Study Trends and Insights report based on our own original research with over 100 SaaS marketers. Customer marketers and customer advocacy professionals find these insights and trends very valuable as they plan their own case study efforts for the year. It's also nice to know what peers are up to as we often work in silos. And we're planning to launch our inaugural SaaS Lead Magnet Trends and Insights reports based on original research with over 100 SaaS content marketers. This should provide helpful metrics and trends on how marketers are using lead magnets like ebooks, white papers and guides.