1724 – The Stripped Down Guide to Content Marketing Success with John Egan

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks to  Content Creator & Marketing Strategist, John Egan.

Egan wide

John's journey began with freelancing for a credit card company in Austin, and his expertise has grown exponentially since then. This blog post aims to share the insights and lessons from our enlightening conversation.

One of the hot topics we delved into was the role of AI in content marketing. While AI is making waves in the industry, John believes that relying solely on AI-generated content can lead to generic output, similar to what everyone else is producing. He also highlighted that AI-generated content is not immune to errors, much like human-written content.

John emphasized the importance of having a unique brand voice and producing content that resonates with the target audience. This, he believes, is the key to successful content marketing.

When asked about recent trends in SEO and Google, John highlighted the importance of scannable content. He explained that readers are more likely to engage with content that is broken up into headlines, subheads, and bullet points. This allows them to quickly scan the content and find what they seek.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • John Egan's work and impact in the world of content marketing
  • John's expertise in working with personal finance brands
  • The current trend of using AI in content marketing
  • John's cautionary advice on relying solely on AI-generated content
  • John's expertise in writing co nsumer-focused content in the personal finance space
  • The importance of having a unique brand voice and resonating with the target audience
  • Observations and recommendations for content marketers
  • The importance of scannable content and capturing the reader's attention
  • The short attention span of internet users and the need to provide sought-after information
  • Closing remarks, including the mention of John's book and website, and encouraging listener engagement

About John Egan:

John Egan, a distinguished content creator and marketing strategist, boasts a rich background in journalism and content marketing. He embarked on his writing journey in newspaper journalism and climbed the editorial ranks before transitioning to content marketing in 2010.

His expertise led him to pivotal roles as editor-in-chief at Bankrate Insurance, SpareFoot, and LawnStarter. In 2017, he founded Jayhawk Media, becoming a prominent content marketing entrepreneur.

John has collaborated with renowned clients like Forbes Advisor, Experian, Bankrate, and The Balance, advising on content marketing strategies and contributing to the launch of personal finance websites.

His insights have earned him recognition from esteemed publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. John's exceptional writing skills have garnered awards from organizations like the Texas Press Association and the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing.

With a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a master's degree in communication from Southern New Hampshire University, Egan is not only an accomplished professional but also a world traveler holding dual citizenship in the United States and Ireland.

Tweetable Moments:

14:02 – “It’s so easy to hop from one thing to another and go down a rabbit hole online that if you're not giving people what they're looking for, they're just going to move on.”

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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach, or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now it is content marketing writer and strategist John Egan. John, your website is John Egan dot net that's edgy and net. John, thank you so much for joining us.

John (00:01:13) - Well, thank you for having me.

Josh (00:01:15) - Let you maybe kind of give us an overview of your impact in the world, who you work with and what you do today.

John (00:01:21) - So I work with a lot of personal finance brands doing content about credit cards, debt, loans, mortgages, anything to do with you and how you spend your money. So some of my clients are Forbes, USA today, the US News and World Report, Capital One, Experian. Those are some pretty big brands in the personal finance space.

Josh (00:01:43) - Yeah. How would you get started there?

John (00:01:46) - I kind of fell into it. I started freelancing for, which is based here in Austin, where I live, and it just kind of snowballed from there, because once you start getting domain expertise, then people are like, oh, you know what you're doing when you're writing about fill in the blank topic. And so it just went from there.

Josh (00:02:09) - Yeah, obviously you're producing a lot of content. Are you pretty much just producing content for those fintech brands, or are you also advising and consulting?

John (00:02:18) - I have done some advising and consulting, but not for those brands. So I'm producing primarily articles slash blog posts for those brands.

Josh (00:02:28) - In your world, what are maybe. Obviously I think AI is is a huge trend. Right. So you know, if we're talking about, you know, someone that might consult or, you know, use your services and they might be saying, well, why do I hire John? Why don't we just get ChatGPT to write up all of our articles, talk about that dynamic right now?

John (00:02:53) - Oh, it's a subject that's running rampant in content marketing circles. My theory is that if you rely on ChatGPT, it's going to sound too much like what everybody else is putting out. I showed a friend of mine a few days ago what ChatGPT is capable of doing, and it just blew his mind. But they let you kind of repeat to try a different version of it, but it all started sounding the same. And another thing we're realizing with AI is that it does put out content that has errors, and humans do that too, but there's just a few little mousetraps that you need to be aware of with AI generated content.

Josh (00:03:39) - So in terms of the content that you write about, are they normally more consumer side or tell me more about kind of your expertise in writing?

John (00:03:50) - Mostly consumer. It's usually about taking out a mortgage, getting the best interest rate and terms for a personal loan, things like that that help you and me and other consumers out there.

Josh (00:04:04) - Yeah. All right. Well, John, I guess for our listening audience, you know, if you're thinking about who they are, not necessarily they may be fintech brands that that might be tuning in. But what advice, given your expertise and your work, would you say, you know, here's what I do every day, and I want to share with you maybe a couple of things, some observations that I've been having and some recommendations and and feel free to give us your mini Ted talk on that.

John (00:04:33) - Sure. So you know, obviously with I think it's extra important now to have a voice in what you produce, whether it's a podcast, a video, a blog post, an e-book, something like that, where it doesn't sound generic, that it sounds like your brand and that your brand has a voice and your brand could be you, or your brand can be your company or your organization.

John (00:04:59) - Another thing I would discuss is making sure that you know who your audience is, that you're producing content that they actually want to consume, and that you know where they consume that content. So you don't want to put content on TikTok. If you've got a B2B brand that is going to have people who are elsewhere on social media or elsewhere online, rather than on TikTok.

Josh (00:05:27) - Yeah, absolutely. John, your book, The Stripped Down Guide to Content Marketing. Tell me a bit more about that.

John (00:05:35) - So it's a book that is meant for people who either don't know much about content marketing, or maybe you want to refresh themselves on it, or just have a nice overview of content marketing in terms of search engine optimization and your brand voice and how to promote your content and how content marketing got started to begin with. So it's kind of an A to Z sort of look at content marketing, and it's a short read. You don't have to spend hours and hours and hours and hours and hours reading it. So it's a handy guide that people can use if they're questioning something about content marketing and don't know what direction to go in, or they're just getting started in content marketing.

Josh (00:06:17) - Yeah. So when we talk about content marketing, are you referring to just blog content?

John (00:06:22) - No. Mean. You're doing content marketing with your podcast. So true. You know, I don't even.

Josh (00:06:27) - Think about it.

John (00:06:28) - YouTube videos, ebooks, whitepapers, blog posts, social media posts there's quite a few ways that you can go at content marketing. And again, it really needs to fit with your audience. Who are you trying to reach and where do they live online? Yeah.

Josh (00:06:50) - You've got the Kindle, you've got audiobook version of it, and of course hardcover. Like if you were to look into your crystal ball, where do you see the kind of the future of content marketing? Or if you were to give strategic advice to, say, someone that has been producing a lot of content, what might you tell them to pay attention to?

John (00:07:11) - Well, AI is hard to escape. I mean, you know, that's infiltrating content marketing and you really need to keep your eye on what's happening with it.

John (00:07:19) - And I think it can be a useful tool to do an outline, for instance, or generate ideas or help with research, but not just spit out content and then putting it out there with your name on it and passing it off as something that you really didn't create. You gave a prompt to software to come up with something, and you're not doing very much heavy lifting. So, you know, I think it's going to become more and more evident that I can be a tool. And eventually, somewhere down the road, I think it'll be a better tool for the actual writing. But for now, just tread cautiously is what I would recommend.

Josh (00:08:06) - Yeah. What does that mean? Tread cautiously. Like, okay, you got my attention. Tell me more.

John (00:08:11) - Well, don't go all in on. I don't think that that's the answer to your content marketing needs. It's not a magic bullet. It's still in the formative phase where early in what I can do in content marketing and play around with it, test it, experiment with it, but don't go all in on this is my strategy.

John (00:08:35) - We're just going to crank out a bunch of AI generated content. Yeah. And rely on that. At this point, I think that is foolish.

Josh (00:08:46) - Yeah, I think we've all by now red examples. Okay. This was clearly just spit out by a robot. It has no spark to it. It's sure it's kind of factually there, but it's humanness like our stories and, you know, kind of human to human connection between a writer and the reader. Can you talk maybe a little bit more about that concept, like when you're writing, like, what is your philosophy with how you want to connect with your reader?

John (00:09:18) - Well, it can't be tough sometimes, because a lot of the content I write is very. Here's how you can get a loan. Here's the, you know, here the interest rates you should look for how to find a bank or credit union to get a loan from. So I can't necessarily inject myself into everything. However, I do think maybe come up with a creative way of saying something or injecting a little personality into it because my name's on it, but it's not my brand that I'm writing for.

John (00:09:49) - So you have to conform to what the brand wants, and sometimes they're fine with a little bit more flavor, so to speak. And other times they want the nuts and bolts, because at the end of the day, people aren't going to sit down and read an entire article about how to get a personal loan. They're going to cherry pick what they want out of that piece of content, whether it's a video or a blog post or what have you. And they're going to scan and especially that's true with blog posts. They're going to zip through it, and they're going to latch on to the things that they're interested in, and they're going to move on.

Josh (00:10:27) - Yeah. So your website is John Egan dot net. Who should be connecting with you?

John (00:10:34) - I think anybody who wants to learn more about content marketing and that especially is small and mid-sized businesses, which is kind of what I aimed my book at because the big brands have teams that do this or they outsource it to agencies. Small and mid-sized businesses don't have the same resources that big brands do, but it's still important that they do content marketing and, you know, elevate their brand somehow with their content and not drag down their brand.

Josh (00:11:06) - Yeah. So what does your engagement with them look like? With? Yeah, with someone that wants to reach out. And how do you actually work with them? Do you just grab a call with them and then teach them stuff? Or where do you go from it.

John (00:11:19) - Starts with they'll either reach out to me on LinkedIn or send me an email, and then we'll, you know, I'll try to ask them, like, what are you trying to achieve, what are your needs? And then go from there.

Josh (00:11:31) - And so I'm just trying to understand your offer.

John (00:11:35) - So I do consulting and that would involve, let's say a three month engagement and kind of really drilling down on your content marketing and coming up with recommendations on improvements. Or maybe you're just starting from scratch. I've consulted with some websites in the personal finance space, and coming up with developing content and what kind of content we should be focusing on. Yeah, that sort of thing.

Josh (00:12:05) - Have you noticed any trends specifically from an SEO and Google perspective over the past six months? Or, you know, do you have feelers on the ground that you kind of know what might be more valuable in terms of content strategy as it appeals to Google?

John (00:12:24) - Yes.

John (00:12:24) - So I noticed this from the directions I get from my clients in terms of how they want me to write things, and everything is very headline Subheads bullet points. The importance of scannable content right now is huge. You know, I'm a reader too. I will, I consume content, and oftentimes I'll see this gigantic blob of text in a blog post and I'm like, uh, no, too long. Didn't read it or yeah, too hard to navigate, didn't read it. So you really need to think about peppering your content with. Appropriate amounts of bullet points, subheads and those sorts of things so that people can scan and they won't just click on it and go, there's, you know, they get overwhelmed and then they move on. You know, something happened to a celebrity and there's an article on TMZ. So they go over to that, or maybe they they want to watch a cat video. You know, there's just so much out there that can distract people that, you know, you want to hang on to them for as long as you can, and you need to give them what they're looking for.

Josh (00:13:41) - Mm. Yeah. I remember even talking about 8 to 10 years ago about, you know, the attention span of your typical reader or internet user, you know, and we used to joke about, you know, the attention span being that of a goldfish. And I'd say that that would be generous today.

John (00:14:02) - Yeah. Mean don't know what's less than a goldfish. But, you know, I often look at it as, you know, little kids can often have very short attention spans. Yeah. And, you know, it's so easy to hop from one thing to another and go down a rabbit hole on online that if you're not giving people what they're looking for, they're just going to move on. They're going to either find that somewhere else or they're going to decide, oh, I can do that later. I need to find a recipe for dinner tonight.

Josh (00:14:34) - Awesome. All right, John Egan, I've downloaded your book already. The stripped down guide to Content marketing Success Secrets for beginners. And also your website is John Egan Dot net John, it's been great having you.

Josh (00:14:50) - Thank you so much for joining us.

John (00:14:51) - Thank you.

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