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Your Blog Needs a Life & a Purpose

Blogs and the Honeycomb Model Everyone tells you that you need a blog. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. That depends on how it will help you grow your business.

Blogs can have many focuses and they can enhance the user experience when they visit your website. You can use them to share product updates, tips and tricks, news, thought leadership articles, your take on what’s happening in the industry, recipes or photos.

Whatever focus you take, the purpose is the key. The purpose of your blog is to build trust, loyalty and to provide useful information for your audience. And it helps people who don’t know you find you through the search engines.

If you’re thinking about starting a blog or want to enliven an existing blog, it’s important to understand the commitment:

  • Your readers will want to hear from you at least once a week.
  • Your blog should not be sales-driven. It should be educational.
  • Your blog needs calls to action that ask the reader to take the next step. You don’t want to push them away.

If you’re interested in discussing the life you want to create for your blog, let’s chat. Contact me for a free consultation today.

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How to Pump a Little Health Into Your Content Marketing

pump a little health into your content marketing

Have you noticed how many people have been hitting the gym and making an attempt to delete the junk from their diets the past couple of weeks? It’s definitely a resolution revolution these first few weeks of January, which means it’s the perfect time to set some goals for pumping a little health into your content. Here are five ideas for how to do just that:

Put your content on a diet.

Someone sent me a list of the 25 most common typos and copy mistakes last week. One of those tips stuck out – look out for redundancies such as centered around. If you read that correctly, you’re saying the same thing twice. It’s actually centered on. But this is a great point. We need to trim the redundancies out of our copy. So, I challenge you to see how much you can trim your content.

As Peter Shankman said last week in his recap of his year to 10 percent, we should focus on eating meat and vegetables and leave out the carbs. Redundant words and overused jargon are just like the carbs; they may up the word count, but they do nothing for the health of your content. Simple sentence structure with simple words hits much harder.

Introduce quality supplements.

Content marketing is based on building an audience from people searching for solutions via the search engines. As you know, there’s also been a focus on quality with search algorithm changes and smarter content consumers.

It’s getting more crowded out there in the online marketing space (kind of like the gyms this time of year), so it’s important that we introduce some quality supplements to our every day link bait articles and blog posts.

Your audience is searching for you. Give them video. Give them a simple slideshow or infographic. Anything that tells the story in a new way and shakes things up. Supplements are meant to enhance what you are already doing. Make this the year that you introduce that e-book series or start that podcast.

Stop doing the same old routine.

I’ve heard this from numerous fitness trainers – getting on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes at a pace where you can read a book doesn’t do much for your long-term fitness. Sure, you’ll burn some calories, but your body adapts. It gets used to the exercise and you hit a plateau.

That’s why you have to change the intensity, track your heart rate and introduce new exercises all the time for real fitness. Same thing with your content. Doing the same thing over and over may get you some results for a while, but unless you get out of your comfort zone, your leads and traffic may get stagnant.

Add more daily movement.

A study released in the summer of 2011 showed that people who had more “incidental activity” in their lives had better fitness levels. The same goes for your content marketing. You’ll do better peppering a little content marketing activity each day.

Scheduling in some social media and blog brainstorming blocks can really help you improve on these daily habits. Similar to the rotation of how we clean our homes (laundry day, bathroom day, deep cleaning day, etc.), we can establish content marketing habits.Try focusing on one vehicle during each “incident.”

Finished with a project? Jump into a conversation on Twitter for 10 minutes? Ask a question on Facebook. Share that news item with some takeaways in a quick blog post. Content marketing doesn’t have to be a long, arduous workout. The mini sessions really do add up, especially if you fit them in every day.

Get a professional opinion.

Want to know the number one reason workout plans and diets fail? The goals are too broad. Most exercisers start out with a goal of losing 10 pounds or more. Most dieters drastically change their habits. This much change too soon can work well for a while, but every time you slip, it’s harder to get back with the program. If the program is complicated, it’s even more difficult to get back into it.

I’m not saying that you need to outsource your content marketing or dieting for the rest of your life. However, professionals are there to help you define your goals, create plans you can stick with and give you accountability. A professional opinion can be the difference in getting results and giving up.

I personally had to enlist the help of a professional for my fitness. I tried giving this mentor up last year in January because I could do it myself. Know what happened? I barely exercised between February and November of last year. I lost all the muscle my trainer helped me develop. I lost sight of my goals for excellence. I signed back up in November and have been with the program 90 percent of the time.

In my next post, I’ll outline what you need to look for in a content marketing professional. This person can help you pump a little health into your content marketing.

If you’d like a no-obligation consultation on your content marketing strategy and goals, please contact me and I’ll put you on my calendar.

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Is Your Content Content?

content?I love homonyms. At first glance, the title of this post looks like I made a mistake, but I didn’t. The post is all about getting content with our content.

When you become content (i.e. happy, laid back) with your content (info up for discussion/sharing with your audience), you’re walking on thin ice. Sure, formulaic blogging is a great starting point, but we really need to make sure content is fresh, fierce and fetching.

Content contentment can take away from that fresh, fierce and fetching approach to producing content. So, how do you know when you’re becoming a little too content with your content? Here are a few indicators:

Too much focus on the search words

Yes, content marketers are looking to gain search engine traffic, but your content has a higher purpose – to be engaging and educational. And it’s purpose is to etch credibility and trust into your audience’s minds. When your content becomes resourceful, they come back. And that’s the secret to content marketing.

Too narrow a focus or too much repetition

Some blogs are geared toward providing tips and tricks on how to use a product. That’s all great, but it’s important to pepper in some benefits to all the features. It’s important to make connections to what’s happening in the industry or your space. Look at your category list for a little inspiration. If there’s a content gap in a category or two, and the blog is getting traffic to those categories…maybe it’s time to beef them up a bit. Adding some customer case studies or a tie-in to something cool in the news is a great way to harness attention from both your audience and the search bots.

Too much focus on product info

I make my living writing for a number of blogs and companies who know the value of content strategy. However, sometimes a theme is weak or the topic is just losing its luster. When you reach this hurdle, looking at the search terms, what the competition is doing and outside your industry spark fresh, fierce and fetching ideas.

Too little focus on your audiences’ needs

The reason someone found your content in the first place is because they have a need – a need to solve a problem, a need to learn how to do something or a need to be entertained. They searched or heard about you from someone else and need you to help them. If your content is content with only addressing audience needs once in a while, you’re missing the point of content creation and missing out on opportunities to help people. That’s why we should be in business – to help others and get paid for doing a good job. Does your content do that?

Spreading your content in too many directions

Content marketing is as much about the medium as it is about the words you use. However, I learned something from a great former boss – sometimes the medium is the problem. Let me give you a couple of real-world examples.

Email bombardment

I’m on quite a few email lists because I need to know what’s going on in the industries I write about. However, this past week I’ve been bombarded with emails for whitepapers, industry reports and other promos I don’t care to read. So, I unsubscribed from the email list of a publication I respect. But the unsubscribe didn’t work (big no-no). I’m still getting emails with content I could care less about. I’ve filed a complaint with the director of online marketing. Hopefully, this will be fixed soon.

Spinning your wheels in the wrong space

Some mediums are filled with people just like you looking for an audience. Twitter is a great example. In some cases, Twitter is a great place to converse and spread the word. But for some companies, it’s not the right place to be spending your time. I’ve witnessed recently that a client has gotten response from Twitter, but the response has not been from the right people. If the audience isn’t right, why spin your wheels?

Is your content suffering from contentment? Contact me to help you develop a strategy for getting it out of its comfort zone.

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The Invasion of the Ampersand & Other Naughty Punctuation

Ampersand-handwriting-1
Image via Wikipedia

Everyone who knows me knows I have quite a few pet peeves, but two writing related peeves really stand out – the overuse of ampersands & quotation marks for no reason.

The problem is that there is a huge invasion of text message/Twitter speak in everyday communication, and it drives me batty. And for some reason companies think they have to throw up a couple of quotation marks to distinguish their tagline.

Know what this says to me as a consumer? You’re not the real deal. That may seem a bit harsh, but I value a company that thinks about the details. Like the appropriate use of quotation marks. The purpose of these attention-grabbing symbols is to distinguish conversation in prose, quote someone or to call attention to a term that may be unfamiliar. It’s not to distinguish what your company is known for.

Moving on to the real renegade, I believe that the overuse of ampersands shows how busy we all think we are. I recently did a test to see the difference in the time it took to type this curvy, serial symbol. It takes no longer to tap a-n-d on your keyboard. So, why are we so hooked on making it part of our professional communications?

It’s the text message and Twitter in us. We have to be so pithy in our 140 or 160 characters, that this space-saver has crept into other forms of communication. But just like we had to learn to adapt our messages to Twitter and text style, we need to communicate within the style guides of our chosen medium.

Just sayin’.

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