First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Erik Deckers: We’re all doing well. We live in Orlando, and we tend to stay at home a lot anyway, so we’ve been able to quarantine with ease. And since my work is all virtual, I can do it from anywhere. I’m currently sitting in a nearly-empty coworking space in one of the shopping malls, so I’m able to stay socially distanced.
My oldest daughter had COVID, but thankfully it was a very minor case, and she was only sick for a day or two. The rest of us have avoided it altogether.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Pro Blog Service.
Erik Deckers: I’ve been in sales and marketing for 27 years and have owned Pro Blog Service for nearly 12 years. I actually joined the company as an employee, and three months later, I became one of the owners. Six years ago, I bought out my partner, and now I own it myself.
I’m also a newspaper humor columnist, a radio theatre writer, and am currently working on a new sitcom with my wife.
How does Pro Blog Service innovate?
Erik Deckers: To be honest, we don’t. Our focus is strictly on writing and figuring out how to improve to become the best writers we can be. Everything we do is about writing, storytelling, and wordsmithing. That art form will never change.
Oh, sure, the methods will change. Humankind has evolved from oral storytelling to books to radio to TV to the Internet and blogs, and every other format you can think of. We’re always able to adjust to new channels, but even if a new method of reaching readers appears, the need for good writing will not change.
So we don’t innovate. We improve. And we’ve used this time to really focus on getting better at our craft so we can help our customers continue to function.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Erik Deckers: We’ve been very fortunate that it has not changed our business. Our primary focus is in the B2B world, primarily in industry and technology, and they’re all still functioning. They’re fighting to stay open, and so we’re helping them do that.
And with a background in marketing, I’ve been able to suggest to some clients how to take advantage of their competitors’ downtime and expand their market share.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Erik Deckers: Not really. Since we work on a retainer basis, and our clients are in the B2B realm, we’ve avoided many of the heartaches that other companies are experiencing.
But we have been through plenty of hard times before, and the most important lessons we learned then is to choose clients carefully and to work on a retainer basis instead of chasing one-off projects.
And never — NEVER — cut your prices. Stick with the prices you’ve set because there are people who recognize quality and skill. The companies who want a lower price “just the one time” will expect it from then on, and they’ll get upset if you ever try to return to your normal level.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Pro Blog Service in the future?
Erik Deckers: I take days off. There are days I just don’t work, especially because I work on the weekends and at night. If I spend my personal time working, then I figure my business can repay the favor.
I also make sure to keep my sense of humor. I read humor, watch funny videos, and write humor. If I can smile and laugh throughout the day, I’m able to finish the day without a sense of dread and anxiety.
And I read a lot. This is one of the ways I can improve the quality of my work anyway — it’s how writers practice — and still relax while I’m doing it.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Erik Deckers: Technically, my competitors are other content marketers. But there are 30 million businesses in the United States and 1.2 million in Canada, so there are plenty of opportunities for all of us.
We’ll stay in the game by focusing on being the best writers we can be and producing quality content. We can also do it by working only with B2B companies, which tend to be more solid and reliable.
Your final thoughts?
Erik Deckers: Many marketers focus solely on their analytics that they fail to put much effort into their work quality. Nearly 80% of all written content is average-to-terrible because marketers are worried about “how many” without considering “how good.”
You could make your marketing content stand out if you’d just try. And then that would really give you something to measure.