Content Marketing & SEO Expert Bill Widmer: `Investing in Yourself and Your Own Knowledge Is the Biggest Investment You Can Ever Make`
Bill Widmer is an entrepreneur and expert in content marketing and SEO. When he was in his early 20s, he quit his last "normal" job at Starbucks and opened his first business: selling promotional products. Since then he started half a dozen businesses with Kayla, his life partner. The most successful are their freelance writing and SEO services and their travel site, The Wandering RV. Right out of college, they sold everything and lived in an RV, and that`s when they started The Wandering RV to document their travels - that project became their SEO testing ground. Bill also hosts a podcast started in January 2019, Better Life, Better Business, where he interviews a wide range of people, from entrepreneurs and authors to actors. Bill believes in lifelong learning, he reads and journals every single day, and has spent over $40,000 in online courses (he considers they have brought him a better ROI than his B.A. in Marketing). He also released a free book for content marketers, called The Building Blocks of Content Marketing (if you don`t know what content marketing is, start here). From our interview with Bill you`ll find out what skills he believes are elementary for our era of insecure jobs market, why your intuition is better than a thousand books and you shouldn`t be afraid to ignore the flood of information, and much more.
What books had the biggest impact on you? Perhaps changed the way you see things or dramatically changed your career path.I`d say one of the highest-impact books of my life so far has been How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I`ve literally read that entire book cover-to-cover at least six times, including taking notes and marking pages! It helped me to understand what people really want and give it to them, which has "won" me countless business relationships and friendships. There are hundreds of other books that have impacted me as well, but two other life-changing ones have been The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and Willpower Doesn`t Work by Benjamin Hardy. Habits are essential to creating a life you love, and you can`t change them through willpower alone; these two books go hand-in-hand.
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell us about it?Yes! Many, actually, but I recently read a book called How Life Works by Andrew Matthews and remember having multiple revelations. In the book, he basically explains what Napoleon Hill says in Think and Grow Rich, but in a way that even a child can understand. Basically, I learned something I already knew deep down - that life gives you what you believe you can get. So I started meditating on that idea every single day; started being more kind in the way I talked to myself, both in my head and out loud; started believing I`m deserving of riches and happiness and started thinking in terms of abundance rather than scarcity. That switch changed my life, both in terms of the number in my bank account and the happiness, joy, and love in my life.
We`re curious to find out more about your reading habits. How do you make time for reading? What format do you prefer? How do you choose what books to read next?It`s changed a lot over the years. I`m a very slow reader, so books have always been a challenge. At the same time, I LOVE reading. I always have since I was a kid. It started with fantasy novels and transferred to business and spiritual books. Anyway, making time for reading is pretty easy for me as long as I`m interested in what I`m reading. If I find it boring or irrelevant to my life, I won`t make time for it. The key is finding things that relate to your life in some way and that interest you; making time for those books is easy. I also love audiobooks and podcasts. I listen to them in the car during long drives, at the gym, while I go for walks, while I`m cleaning... you get the idea.
Do you take notes or have any other technique to make sure you retain the torrent of information you read in books? And if yes: do you ever revisit those notes?Yes and no. I underline a lot while reading books and I sometimes take small notes either in the back of the book, in a notepad, or on my phone. I go back ever so often to revisit these books and I only read the highlighted bits to make re-reading faster. As for the notes, they`re more so to help solidify an idea in my mind or use the idea to relate to other ideas. I don`t often revisit them as once I`ve written it down, I tend to remember it better.
With the jobs market more and more unstable and insecure, lifelong education is key. At the same time, learning resources are becoming increasingly commoditized and know-how also becomes obsolete faster. What fundamental skills, those that will always matter, do you believe should be learned in schools?Above all, you need to learn finances. Learn to speak the language of money. What I mean by that is this: Understand what makes money (i.e. an "asset") and what costs you money (i.e. a "liability"). Do everything in your power to learn how to create more assets (such as real estate, websites, investments, etc.) and remove all liabilities (house, car, debts of any kind). And remember: You are your biggest asset. Investing in yourself and your own knowledge is the biggest ROI investment you can ever make. And those investments compound over time; the more you invest in yourself (through online courses, books, podcasts, jobs you take to learn, etc.), the more you`ll make in the long-run. One last point - life isn`t just about money. Remember to invest in your relationships, your health, and anything else you love, too!
Are there any books that you`d recommend to someone who`s interested in a similar unique career path as yours?In general, I recommend Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki to learn more about assets and liability and how to view money. I also recommend Profit First by Mike Michalowicz to learn how to put profit first in your business. As for my specific career path, I think podcasts like Authority Hackers and online courses like SEO That Works by Brian Dean are better-suited to learn SEO and online marketing than books.
There`s such an abundance of information and sources available at our fingertips, that we risk becoming "digitally obese", and even be paralyzed by the extra information. Is there any way that you try to handle information overwhelm or manage social media?I don`t really use social media for anything other than communicating with friends and family. I don`t have any social media on my phone and I rarely go on it on my laptop. So my first piece of advice is to spend less time with social media. As for not getting paralyzed with all the information; pick one or two subjects you might be interested in learning about, look for the absolute smartest person on that subject, and just follow them and only them for a while. See if you like the subject. If you do, you can branch out once you`ve learned from the best. If not, try the same idea with something else. I always look to learn from the best and ignore the rest. Also: Believe in yourself and trust your instinct. This is a lesson I learned the hard way. For many years I looked for answers out in the world, from books and the internet. I followed everyone I could find who seemed like an "expert". But I realized that many "experts" are not who you think they are, and often your own intuition is better than a thousand books. So yes, read a lot. But make your own conclusions and decisions as well. Don`t be afraid to ignore the flood of information (most of it is garbage anyway).
Last question: any tips for first-time entrepreneurs on how to beat the need to control everything?Hah! Yes; If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Remember that your business can and will be better with a team of people who are smarter than you are. Don`t be afraid to let your team run the show; yes, they may make mistakes. But nothing that can`t be fixed. Don`t let fear drive you. Fear is what kept me from letting my partner help with decisions and kept me from growing the business with freelancers. As soon as I let go of that fear and lived in trust and love, everything in my life improved (including my wallet). It`s scary, but faith in yourself and your team is crucial to succeeding. Links where you can follow Bill Widmer or find out more about his projects:
- The Wandering RV
- Better Life, Better Business
- The Building Blocks of Content Marketing ebook
- Connect with Bill on: Twitter | Linkedin
- How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg
- Willpower Doesn`t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success, by Benjamin Hardy
- How Life Works: Why Happy People are More Successful. How You Can Be Like Them! by Andrew Matthews
- Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
- Rich Dad Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki
- Profit First, by Mike Michalowicz