S3E8: Rand Fishkin, Whiteboard Friday Creator (#37)

Storytelling with Founder, Author, SEO Whiz, Video Creator Rand Fishkin

My guest in this episode, Rand Fishkin, is the founder of SparkToro and was previously cofounder of Moz and Inbound.org. He’s dedicated his professional life to helping people do better marketing through the Whiteboard Friday video series (which is why I asked Rand to join us), his blog, and his book, Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World. When Rand’s not working, he’s most likely to be in the company of his partner in marriage and (mostly petty) crime, author Geraldine DeRuiter. If you feed him great pasta or great whisky, he’ll give you the cheat code to rank #1 on Google.

Rand is full of insights for storytellers and start-up founders. One great tip: Be purposeful where you put your story.

"We always strove to put the content first on our own website where we could own and control the user experience. then we would stagger the distribution to social media. Own your home. Don't build your house on rented land, which is really what you're doing on YouTube or Facebook." - Rand Fishkin on content placement

When to take money and how to decide who gives it to you

Money changes everything. Rand has been through it, working with investors and considering whether to sell his company Moz. It can be exhilarating and depressing, depending on the outcome. Sometimes investors share your mission and it's great. Other times, not so much. Maybe you decide to "sell" and it's perfect timing and all involved are happy. Or maybe you decide not to sell in hopes of a better deal, only to find out later that was the pinnacle.

Whether you're a founder looking for investors, a podcaster looking for advertisers or a writer considering a book deal, money changes everything. Rand's advice: Be thoughtful in your approach and with whom you work.

"Talk to some of the people who have pitched them and were turned down. Very often there's a difference in how people are treated by those folks when their projects have been successful and funded by them, versus those folks who have said no... You can get a lot of information that way." - Rand Fishkin on working with financial backers

Serve the reader

Be the best storyteller by serving your audience. Great storytellers figure out what makes us uncomfortable and tackle them in a new way. Sometimes serving the reader means editing your story. When it gets personal, you may feel like it all matters. However, if it doesn't move the story forward for your audience, it becomes selfish.

Other times serving your audience means getting vulnerable. In Lost and Founder, Rand opens up about his failures, depression and feelings in general. That's where the magic happens.

"I think there's no better way to create resonance and to share a story than identifying the things that make you uncomfortable, and that make others uncomfortable, and then being willing to tackle them." - Rand Fishkin on vulnerability

Connect with Rand:

Remember to leave your rating and review if you enjoyed the show, and share this podcast with your friends, family and network. The Storytellers Network with Dan Moyle airs every Monday at 7 AM EST.

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Photo credit: Rand Fishkin Twitter