writing productivity

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Writing Productivity with Pamela Rosen & Forrest Bryant of Evernote

Let’s face it… Writing is no easy task. From brainstorming ideas, to actually getting them out on paper (or on your computer screen), and then editing everything, it can sometimes be a stressful process that takes a while to complete. Fortunately, in this week’s chat, we shared some amazing tips for writing productivity that will help you tackle your writing tasks with ease.

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Writing Productivity with Pamela Rosen & Forrest Bryant of Evernote

Our guest hosts this week were Pamela Rosen and Forrest Bryant, who are both part of the amazing Evernote team. Pamela is a Senior Copywriter for Evernote and Forrest is their Director of Content. Since they’re both experienced writers and content creators, they were the perfect fit to share some writing productivity tips with everyone in the chat.

Q1: What does writing productivity look like to you?

To kick off the chat, we asked everyone to share what writing productivity looks like to them. Check out their responses and see if any of these resonate with you:

For Forrest, writing productivity is a state of flow. He said it requires clarity, purpose, and direction. And of course, it’s not all about how much content you’re able to create. It’s more important to focus on the quality and the value of the content you’re writing.

Pamela said writing productivity is being able to get into the zone. When you get to that state where the words are flowing freely and you don’t have any distractions, it’s always a great place.

Jeff is absolutely right that it isn’t about how much you get done, but how well you do it. You have to come up with a schedule and processes that work for YOU, not anyone else.

Tara, our Content Development Specialist, writes in productive phases. These phases include researching, drafting content, editing, and then publishing.

Tony feels productivity is about getting his writing assignments done at a good time. This means there’s no time to procrastinate!

Jeremy knows it’s helpful to block out distractions when you have writing to be done. If you just focus on your writing, as opposed to multitasking, you’ll be much more productive.

Sorry to say it, but writing productivity also means ditching Netflix for a while as you get work done.

Olivia knows that passion, focus, and efficiency are three very important factors of the writing process. And she’s right that a little excitement about the task at hand helps too!

Q2: Which strategies do you implement when writing content for your brand?

When it comes time to write content, which strategies do you rely on to get things done and do them well? Check out what some of our chat participants do when writing:

Pam shared a great reminder that everyone should keep in mind when writing content. You always need to be human and real because you are speaking to actual people. Another human being is going to be reading your content and you want to create something that resonates with them. To do that, focus on engaging your audience and adding value.

It’s helpful to ask yourself if you would want to read the content you’ve created. If not, you should start over. While everything you write needs to appeal to your audience, it also needs to appeal to you as well.

Forrest said you need to make sure every piece of content delivers value to your reader and/or generates excitement. Before you hit publish, ask yourself if it’s serving your audience in some way. If not, you probably need to revisit what you’ve written.

Gabriela’s writing process looks something like this: getting inspiration, researching the topic and audience, outlining the content, scribbling down her thoughts, writing, and then editing.

Great questions to ask before making a blog post live: Does this benefit my readers? Does it fit with our goals? Is it easy to read/visually appealing? Everything you publish should benefit your reader in some way, but should also help your brand reach an end goal. You also want to make sure the content itself is easy to read and visually appealing, otherwise people just won’t bother.

Be authentic, transparent, and engaging!

Shawn relies on Evernote to help him through the writing process. He creates folders for every project that he’s working on. These folders house notes, research, and ideas. It’s perfect for staying organized!

Q3: How do you brainstorm content ideas and store them to review later?

Content creation all starts with the same step: brainstorming ideas. In Tuesday’s chat, we asked everyone to share their brainstorming tips and how they store ideas to come back to at a later time. After all, we can’t risk forgetting those genius ideas that come out of nowhere!

Forrest said he brainstorms throughout the day. Whenever an idea pops up, he puts it right into Evernote so he knows where to find it later. Eventually, those ideas he saved gets fleshed out into a full piece of content. He begins adding links when needed to support information and turns it into a rough outline.

Pamela knows the value of a team that collaborates, as that’s what they do at Evernote. They share and evaluate ideas together, which is a great way to brainstorm.

And as Pamela said, not all ideas are good. Sometimes you’ll find that something doesn’t fit your brand or audience or maybe it needs to come to life in a different format than you were anticipating. You have to take the time to separate the good ideas from the bad ones. Having a team by your side is a huge help for this!

Just like Forrest, I also rely on Evernote to store ideas. Whenever an idea for a blog post comes up, I save it in an Evernote notebook dedicated to any ideas that come up. I have a specific note that’s solely for blog posts and it’s organized by topic. This ensures I always know where to go to find that idea I had come up with.

For Elizabeth, brainstorming happens as she’s just going about her daily life. She knows that inspiration can strike at any time, so you just have to be open to letting those ideas flow.

Since you never know when inspiration could strike, it always helps to have a notebook and pen on hand. (Or your phone!) Maggie likes to keep a Moleskine notebook in her handbag and jots down any ideas that come up.

You just might want to keep a notebook beside your bed in case inspiration strikes in the middle of the night!

For Lexie, she relies on sticky notes and Trello to brainstorm and store ideas.

At ThinkSEM, the team has brainstorming chats. They then put al of their ideas into a Google doc. Once they’ve planned out the timing for their content, it goes into the final editorial calendar.

Shannon also brainstorms and prioritizes ideas as a team. They then work on the best ideas and shelve others for later, while ditching the ones that just won’t work.

Q4: What does your writing process look like? Any secrets you can share?

Have you ever wanted to get an inside look into the writing process of other content creators? Here’s your chance! This is what some of our chat participants do to create amazing content:

Pamela chooses not to outline her content first. This is the perfect example of why it’s important to do what works best for you. If you need to outline your content, go for it! Otherwise, you can skip this step if you find that it doesn’t help your overall process.

On the other hand, Forrest does take the time to outline his content, but he keeps those outlines rough. He feels it gives him direction, but also the freedom to let everything develop as he writes.

For Jeff, he relies on having a set schedule to get his writing done. He creates a schedule of due dates in Asana and then works in phases to complete tasks. This is one great strategy to encourage writing productivity.

Mallorie said a quiet space is a necessity for her. This helps to eliminate distractions that could direct her attention away from writing. She also likes to have a warm cup of tea on hand as well.

Lolitta likes to have a collection of inspiring writing to refer to when needed. It’s a great way to get yourself in that writing mindset and to get you motivated.

When Olivia is passionate about a topic, she likes to dive right in. Sometimes it’s great to start writing something when that idea is still fresh and you’re still excited about it.

Krissy starts by writing out the main points she wants to get across in her content. She brings up a great point that you shouldn’t expect the first draft to be perfect. Instead, focus on getting your ideas out and then edit later.

Q5: How can you best collaborate with a team when it comes to writing?

If you’re working with a team, you know there are advantages and disadvantages to having teammates writing alongside you. Here are some tips to help ensure the collaboration process goes smoothly:

At Evernote, they have a twice-weekly meeting for all writers across the teams. This is a great way to ensure your team stays in touch and is able to easily communicate with one another.

As Pamela said, you should be able to count on one another to make content better. Don’t let any kind of constructive criticism get you down. You want to be open to what others have to say so you can implement their advice and improve your skills.

Lexie agrees about being open to other ideas. You should be willing to take advice that others give you.

Schedule times for brainstorm meetings with your team. Make sure you also give everyone space to speak up and share their thoughts and ideas. Everyone needs to feel safe and willing to speak their mind when the time comes.

Tara relies on a few tools to help her out, including: Trello, Evernote, CoSchedule, and Zoho.

You can brainstorm ideas in real life or via online chats if you’re a remote team. At ThinkSEM, they rely on Google Docs to proof and edit content and they’re sure to stay open to what others have to share.

This is great advice from Jeff. Remember that you’re a team and everyone has their own unique strengths. Don’t be afraid to speak out and share ideas even if they go against what everyone else is saying.

You can form ideas separately, but be sure to come together to discuss what you’ve come up with. You can pitch ideas, discuss, and collaborate with one another for everything to come together.

You also have to be willing to separate the good and bad ideas so you know what’s truly right for you to pursue.

Q6: When are you most productive at writing? What time of day do you write? Where do you like to write?

There are all kinds of factors that influence our writing productivity, including when and where we write. It’s helpful to consider what time of day you’re most productive for more involved tasks like writing and also the environment around you. Here’s what works for some of the participants in this week’s chat:

Forrest likes to be alone and away from his desk when it’s time to write. He also likes to have some jazz music playing in the background. Coffitivity is also great for giving you those cafe vibes from the comfort of your own home.

Pamela said she’s definitely a night owl. She uses the morning for coming up with ideas, but is most productive at nighttime.

It seems the pressure of an impending deadline is what gets Maggie writing. She often finds herself writing late at night before her work needs to be done.

An evening with the lights dimmed and good music sure sounds like a picturesque writing scene, doesn’t it?

Tony said he’s most productive during the middle of the day, but he finds his best ideas pop up when he’s about to go to sleep. All the more reason to keep a notebook and pen by your bed!

Olivia is most productive in the morning when her coffee is still giving her a much needed energy boost.

For Jeremy, running is what gives him some of his best ideas. If you’ve hit a road block, get outside for a walk or run and see if it helps get those creative juices flowing.

Jeff takes every opportunity he gets to write. He writes on his train commute, at work, at home, on the couch, in bed, and anywhere he can. It’s all about seizing the opportunity when inspiration strikes.

Gabriela is the same way. She writes whenever inspiration strikes!

Q7: Which tools do you rely on to stay on track with your writing tasks? How can Evernote help you?

There are plenty of tools available today that can help with writing productivity. Evernote is just one of those handy tools! Here are a few other suggestions and tips on how Evernote can help you out:

Forrest keeps it simple when it comes to writing tools. He uses Evernote to outline content, create to-do lists, store research, and write drafts. Even when he receives Word documents, PDFs, and Google Doc links, he adds those to Evernote.

Pamela loves using cloud-based tools so she can work from anywhere. Evernote and Google Docs allow you to do this with ease.

For me, I like to write blog post drafts in Evernote. WordPress has crashed in the past, causing me to lost an entire post, so I never write there.

Julia uses Zoho and Google Docs for collaborative writing, Google Calendar for reminders, and Evernote for note taking.

Lolitta relies on both Google Docs and Evernote for blog and social media writing.

Mallie is a big fan of the Pomodoro technique and relies on a timer to keep her focused and on task.

Shannon relies on Google Calendar to keep her on track with tasks that need to be completed.

Gabriela turns to social media to get feedback from her audience.

Zala uses Evernote to store ideas and for writing.

A helpful reminder: know what’s best for YOU. The tool that works for someone else might not be the ideal one for your needs. It’s okay to test out a few to see what works best.

Q8: What final tip can you offer to help others step up their productivity when it comes to writing?

Last call for final tips! Before we ended the chat, we gave everyone the chance to share their top tip for others to walk away with. Here’s what some of them had to say:

Block off time in your calendar for writing so you know you have ample time to get it done.

As Forrest said, the first draft is always crap. You can’t expect the first draft of a blog post to be perfect. That’s what the editing phase is for. Instead, you should focus on getting the content out and editing once you’ve completed your writing.

He also suggests taking time for self-care with breaks, walks, meditation, and plenty of laughter.

Shannon agrees with Forrest and encourages you to not obsess over perfection. You can fix up your content in the editing process or have an editor handle it for you.

Another reminder to quit seeking perfection. Jeremy said you need to focus on expressing yourself.

Be passionate about the topics you’re writing about because it shows through in the final result.

Find the strategies and tools that work best for YOU. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find what clicks.

Whether it’s Gary Vaynerchuck or someone else that gets you fired up, a dose of motivation is sure to help you start creating.

Join us live for our #ContentWritingChats! Follow @ExpWriters and join us Tuesdays at 10!



#ContentWritingChat Recap: Instagram Stories for Business with Sue B. Zimmerman

Are you using Instagram Stories for your brand? If not, you should be! And if you’re wondering how to get started, our latest #ContentWritingChat is perfect for you. If you missed out, dive into the recap below, which is filled with awesome tips brands can use to impress on Instagram Stories.

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Instagram Stories for Business with Sue B. Zimmerman

Our guest host this week was the Instagram Expert herself, Sue B. Zimmerman. Sue is no stranger to posting content on Instagram Stories, so she shared her tips on how we can all be using it to connect with our audience and grow our online presence.

Q1: Is it important for a brand to be present on Instagram Stories? How can it help your brand?

Is it really necessary for a brand to be using Instagram Stories? And how exactly can this Instagram feature help a brand’s online presence? Find out what our chat participants think about it below:

Sue feels Instagram Stories can be great for brands if they have a strategy their audience would be interested in watching. After all, it comes down to having interesting content that your target audience would want to tune into.

Varun knows that millennials and many others connect with real, human stories. Instagram Stories provides a great way for you to share that with your audience.

It’s a great way to personalize your brand and allow your followers to get to know you. When they get to see who you are and what you’re all about, they’ll form a stronger connection with your brand.

You can easily bring your audience up close and personal with your brand through your Stories content.

Q2: How do you know if Instagram Stories is right for your audience? Should you also be using Snapchat or stick to just one?

Before you begin using Instagram Stories, it’s important that you consider if it’s right for your brand and your audience. While it may work for someone else, it might not be the ideal move for you, so you have to think about it first. Check out this advice on how to know if it’s right for you and if you should also use Snapchat:

Sue said Instagram Stories can work for any business, as long as it aligns with your core business values.

When choosing between Instagram Stories and Snapchat, you want to consider where your audience is. Use the platform that they’re actively using so you stand a better chance at getting seen.

Take the time to do your research before investing the effort into another platform. Ask yourself if your customers are spending time on Instagram Stories. Are your competitors doing well there? These are important things to consider before diving in.

If your audience likes your content on Instagram Stories, Snapchat may work for you as well. If you want to find out, the best way is to just give it a go and see what happens.

Lucy also recommends testing to see which platform is ideal for your brand and audience. Try sharing content to each and see which one gets the most engagement.

As Mallie said, it’s important that you don’t share the same content on both channels. If you have people following you on Instagram Stories and Snapchat, it’ll be repetitive. Find ways to change it up so that it stays fresh and interesting.

Q3: What kind of content should you create and post to your Instagram Stories?

Once you’ve made the decision to commit to Instagram Stories, you need to decide what you’ll post there. After all, you can’t just post any old thing. It has to be relevant and appealing to your audience. Here’s some helpful advice so you can create amazing content for Stories:

Sue recommends sharing exclusive content to your Stories. This gives people a reason to come back and watch more every time they see you have new content. She said to share a glimpse into your business, which is an amazing way to give a behind-the-scenes look.

Remember that when creating content for any social media platform, it all goes back to your audience. You should find a way to serve them and deliver the content they need.

Julia’s advice is to get creative with the content you share on your Instagram Stories. It’s the best way to captivate and engage your audience, so make sure it’s original and interesting.

Keep it engaging and entertaining! Ask yourself what you would want to see and what your audience would really be interested in.

You can easily give people an inside look into what your business does. Your audience will love the behind-the-scenes look into what you do and it’ll help form an even stronger connection with them.

Sara suggests showing people what a day in your life is like. This gives you an opportunity to share the content you wouldn’t post anywhere else.

No matter what, make it personal and valuable for those who will be watching it. You want to make sure you’re giving them something they’d be interested in watching.

Q4: What makes an incredible, captivating Instagram story that your audience will love?

What’s the secret to creating amazing Instagram Stories content? Check out these tips:

Sue’s advice is to create content that entertains, educates, inspires, or makes someone laugh.

Personality is key when sharing to something like Instagram Stories. People want to see you’re human and get to know you.

Content that is relevant, captivating, timely, and appeals to their emotions is the winning formula.

Make your audience feel like you’re speaking directly to them by delivering what they want.

Have a purpose to everything you share and provide value to your audience. Encourage them to interact with you.

Julia mentioned that she loves the “truth bombs” and inspirational rants that Gary Vaynerchuk shares on Instagram Stories. He knows this is the type of content that will resonate with his audience, so he makes sure to share it often.

Q5: For those who are camera shy, discuss ways to help get more comfortable being on screen.

Many of us feel a little nervous appearing in front of the camera. It can be intimidating and we often worry about what others will think or say. To help you get over being camera shy, keep this advice in mind:

Sue’s advice is to speak to the camera as if you were talking to one person.

The best way to become comfortable in front of the camera is to be in front of the camera. The more you practice, the better you will be at it.

Jot down a few talking points before you go live to help you stay on track. Be confident in yourself and know that you’re doing great.

When you speak the camera as if you were talking to a friend, it’s so much easier to be on camera.

People who are tuning into your Stories aren’t looking for perfection, so don’t obsess over making things perfect. Be authentic and people will resonate with that.

Julia agrees that authenticity is more important than perfection.

The best thing you can do? Just do it!

Q6: In what ways can you increase ROI by using Instagram Stories? How can you get a viewer to take the next step with your brand?

Because you want to make sure your viewers take action after viewing your Instagram Stories, you need to know how to actually make it happen. These tips will help you increase your ROI:

Sue knows including a call to action is essential to getting people to take that next step. She also said to provide clear, concise information so people will want to take action.

It really is as simple as including a call to action within your story. Tell people what they should do next.

Mallie said to make sure the steps are clear and provide people with a call to action on what to do next.

Jeremy also knows how important a call to action is, but he also said to to engage in conversations. It’s so important to begin making connections with your audience.

Tell people to click the link in your bio, give them sneak peeks on your blog posts so they’ll want to read it when it’s live, and tag people in your posts. If you have the ability to use the “Swipe Up” feature, then use it!

If you’re working on a new product, Emily suggests telling people when it’ll be available. You can also share sneak peeks to build hype.

Q7: How can you know if your Instagram Stories are a success? Are there key metrics to track?

Once you’re posting on Instagram Stories, it’s important to see if your content is actually a success. If it is, you know you’re on the right track. If not, you have to figure out where you can make changes. Take a look at the following advice so you can know if your stories are a hit and which metrics you should track:

Sue said to see who is viewing your stories and watching until the end. It gives you a good idea of how interested people are in your content.

Are people watching your Stories and actually watching them all the way through? Or are you seeing drop-offs in view count? You want to see that people are staying tuned in.

Julia takes it a step further and reaches out to viewers of her story. It’s a great way to make a connection with your audience.

Jeff also agrees in tracking how long people are tuning in. It shows you who your top advocates are and which stories are the most engaging.

Engagement is a great one to track because you want to see that your content is resonating with people.

In the end, the success of your Stories goes back to your specific goals. Know what you’re trying to achieve with your posts and measure results accordingly.

Q8: Which brands are killing it at Instagram Stories these days? Tag them!

Which brands do an amazing job at their Stories content? Check out these awesome people and get some inspiration from them:

Sue loves watching posts from Drybar, Benefit, Lilly Pulitzer, and Chase Jarvis.

Sarah thinks Barbox is doing a great job with their Stories.

Julia is a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk and our guest host, Sue B. Zimmerman.

Buffer’s Brian Peters does a fantastic job at sharing valuable content.

Join our Twitter chat every Tuesday! Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on the conversation.


internal communications

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Internal Communications Tactics for World-Class Content Marketing with Pam Didner

Did you catch the latest #ContentWritingChat? We had a great discussion all about internal communications tactics. This is one chat you’ll definitely want to check out if you manage or are part of a team so you all can work together effectively. Keep reading for the recap!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Internal Communications Tactics for World-Class Content Marketing with Pam Didner

Our guest host for this chat was Pam Didner. Pam is a marketing strategist, speaker, and author. The topic of internal communications tactics was inspired by her book, Global Content Marketing.

Q1: Why is internal communication so important for successful content marketing?

To kick off the chat, we asked everyone to share why they felt internal communications was important when it comes to content marketing. We received some great responses and here’s what some of the chat participants had to say:

Pam knows that internal communication can help keep everyone on the team aligned. When everyone is on the same page and they’re all working together, amazing things can happen.

As Julia said, great internal communication is so important when it comes to content marketing planning and executing. It’s crucial for all of us here at Express Writers, especially as a remote team.

Varun said communication is key for clear and effective messaging, which is a must for content marketing.

Mallie knows it’s important to keep your content strategy cohesive, which is why it’s essential that you and your team communicate regularly.

As Iva said, if you aren’t able to communicate well with your own team, how can you effectively communicate with your clients and your audience?

Q2: How would you define internal communication(s) in content marketing?

We know why internal communications plays such an important role within content marketing, but what does it all actually mean? Take a look at these responses from Tuesday’s chat:

Pam’s definition of internal communications in content marketing is: coming together through strategy and working together via processes and tools. She also states that it’s about following the workflows you have in place.

Maureen said it’s the art of communicating ideas, value, and relevancy of content to those across the organization.

When it comes to the Express Writers team, Julia loves to have frequent meetings to brain dump ideas and curate ideas as a team. It allows everyone to co-create.

For Elizabeth, it’s all about having a system that allows every team member to be aligned and on the same page. After all, it’s so important that everyone on a team is on the right track.

Providing clear direction to your team and stepping back to allow them to shine is all part of internal communications for Cheval. It’s great to collaborate as a team, but you also want to give everyone room to do what they do best.

Q3: What are some key steps in creating internal communication tactics?

To create internal communication tactics for your team, you’ll want to read through this helpful advice from the chat:

Pam’s key steps include: align on the objective, agree on a strategy and tactics, execute tactics, and host regular meetings to follow-up.

Elizabeth’s advice is to find the right tools for your team to use. What works for one team might not be ideal for yours, so choose the tools that are going to be the most useful to the work you do. Then, take the time to train your team on how to use it so everyone can get the most from the tool.

Jason suggests having a method of communication that everyone on the team can use. You want to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Make sure you’re approachable with all members of the team. Create an environment where they feel comfortable opening up with questions and problems they might have by encouraging them to share.

Don’t forget to bring every team member on for meetings because you never know who could have the next big idea.

Jeremy suggests setting expectations for meetings when it comes to their frequency, how long they’ll list, and creative flexibility.

Q4: How can different businesses apply those general steps to their specific content marketing needs?

These steps can be applied to a variety of businesses. You just need to know how to make it all work for your unique team. Here’s some advice:

Pam’s advice is to apply those steps by knowing your business objectives, your products, and your team’s communication challenges. You can work together to create a process that’s ideal for your team.

Know your goals and what you and your team need to achieve. Encourage them all to get involved and share thoughts, ideas, and opinions. You want your team to feel comfortable engaging with you.

Julia suggests asking everyone on your team to contribute content ideas. Everyone has different ideas that are worth being shared.

As Jeremy said, you want to build excitement around your brand and your team can help you do that when you co-create on content.

Maureen’s advice is to set up a communication schedule. You can answer questions and provide your team with actionable steps for them to take next.

Set goals, define content need, divide the work, and discuss any problems that have come up.

And remember, the fundamentals of communication can be applied regardless of business type. Stay in touch with your team and allow everyone the opportunity to let their voice be heard.

Q5: In your experience, what are some of the most efficient tactics?

What are some of the most efficient tactics for internal communications? Check out these responses from the chat:

Pam encourages face-to-face conversation. She feels this makes it easier to communicate with other members on your team. If you’re a remote team, you can always try video chatting to make it feel more like you’re with the other people.

Here at Express Writers, we rely on shared Google spreadsheets for topic ideas and Google Docs for co-creating.

Mallie suggests planning regular updates to check in with your team. You can see where everyone is at with their work, answer questions, etc.

Elizabeth agrees that having scheduled check-ins is the way to go. Set a date and time frame for your meetings and check up on your team.

Great advice from Jim! Encourage open communication from the start if you want to see the best results within your team.

Q6: What are some of the most useful tools/procedures to use for internal content marketing communication?

Which tools are procedures do our chat participants rely on for internal communication? Here’s what they had to say:

Pam’s advice is to select content creation and management tools to aid communications. You then want to create a workflow and define the roles and responsibilities of your team members.

Sarah’s tool suggestions include: a messaging platform, email, team meetings, and a content calendar. She also recommends being honest, open, and accessible.

For Maureen and her teammates, they’ve relied on face-to-face communication. Since they do often work from home, she said they’re going to start using Slack to stay in touch outside of the office.

The team at HeyOrca! relies on Slack, Trello, Canva, Grammarly, and Google Docs.

Elizabeth recommends Slack, Google Suite, Asana, and CoSchedule.

Iva recommends using the cloud, chat softwares, and a unified file system. She also encourages people to avoid email overload. After all, no one likes an out of control inbox.

Zachary loves using Google Drive for collaborating.

Varun said the tools you use should depend on the size of your team and the complexity of communication, which is great advice. What works for one team might not work out so well for yours. He does, however, suggest checking out Slack, Trello, WhatsApp, and even Facebook for Business.

Here at Express Writers, we recently invested in Zoho for our email, which has been proving to work out well for us.

Q7: How can you connect tactics with content marketing goals?

To connect your internal communication tactics with your content marketing goals, follow these tips:

This is helpful advice from Pam and something everyone should keep in mind!

Be sure to start by setting your goals, then work backwards from there to figure out how you’re going to achieve them. This will help you get where you want to be.

Maureen suggests making a flexible plan that aligns to your objectives.

Julia said to set realistic deadlines for your team and make sure everyone is aware of those deadlines and prepared to meet them.

Q8: What are some important metrics that will help us optimize and track our success?

Which metrics should you keep an eye on? This is what you’ll want to watch:

As Pam said, the metrics you track the closest will depend on your marketing goals and objectives. Your might track shares, impressions, discount offers, and many others.

Maureen and her teammates track placements, traffic, conversions, and closed deals.

Jeremy likes to track engagement and also what led to people taking the next step with your brand.

Remember that there’s no catch-all success metric, as Mallie said. You have to figure out what’s most important to your unique goals.


customer-centric email content

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Create Customer-Centric Email Content with Kristen Dunleavy

Could your email marketing use a major boost? If so, you’re in luck! This week’s #ContentWritingChat was all about how to create customer-centric email content. Keep reading for the recap and be sure to apply these tips to your next email newsletter!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Create Customer-Centric Email Content with Kristen Dunleavy

Our guest host this week was Kristen Dunleavy. Kristen frequently joins #ContentWritingChat as a participant, so we were excited to have her step in and guest host. As the Content Marketing Manager for Movable Ink, she had tons of great tips to share on email content.

Q1: How do you define customer-centric email content?

So, what exactly does customer-centric email content mean? To kick off this week’s chat, we asked our participants to share their definitions of it. Here’s what they had to say:

Kristen said that customer-centric email content spotlights your customer and their interactions with your brand. While this may seem simple, it’s a great way to show your customers that you appreciate them. They’ll love it!

To do this, focus on your customers by using testimonials, personalized content, and addressing their needs.

Julia’s advice is to make your email content all about your customers. Don’t try to sell to them until you’ve built a relationship with them. After all, you need to build a level of trust first before they ever take that next step.

Maureen said this kind of email content provides value and speaks in a tone that your customers understands. This is key to remember not just for creating email content, but also blog posts, social media posts, and much more.

As Elizabeth said, it’s important to create email content that’s useful for your customers, but it should also help you reach your end goals. Know what you hope to achieve with each email you send and create the content that will help you get there.

Give, give, give! One thing to remember when creating email content is that you should give to your audience more than you ask of them. As Bill said, you can do this by addressing the key pain points your audience is facing.

Q2: What are the benefits of creating customer-centric email content?

Now that you know what customer-centric email content it is, you need to know the benefits it can provide to you. Here’s what some of the chat participants had to say:

Kristen knows that spotlighting your customers is a great way to build trust with your audience. Having a certain level of trust is key if you ever want to convert those subscribers into customers and this is a great way to go about it.

Bill agrees that it’s a great way to build trust with your audience. By adding value and having an audience that trusts you, you’ll see higher open rates and click-through rates.

Maureen said its benefits include: trust, self-selection, tribe integration, and the satisfaction of a job well done.

Cheval said it’s a great way to create a community around your business. It’s also essential to help you build a relationship with your subscribers.

Customer-centric email content is one way to make your audience feel special. When they feel special, they’ll appreciate your brand even more.

Email is such a personal form of communication, so use that to your advantage. It’s an amazing way to connect with your audience.

Q3: How is featuring your customers in your emails different from other mediums?

Emails are just one place you can feature your customers. You can also do so on social media and your blog. But how is it different when it’s done through email? Check out these answers from the chat:

As Kristen said, email is very personal so you should make your content feel that way as well. If people chose to let you into their inbox, you need to deliver content that speaks to them.

Sarah said email feels more like a one-on-one interaction. lt’s much more personal than social media or advertisements.

JMatt agrees that email feels more personal than other platforms. Plus, he likes that they’re no character limit to restrict you when you’re sending to someone’s inbox.

Elizabeth said it can make people feel as though they’re part of a group. Because we all love to be included, it’s a great way to establish a sense of community.

Jason suggests adding user-generated content (UGC) into your emails to show that you care about what your customers say. It also lets them know that you’re paying attention and listening to them.

Q4: What are some ideas for spotlighting your customers in your emails?

Now that you know the benefits customer-centric email content can provide your brand, it’s time to come up with some ideas for your next email. Here are a few ways you can spotlight your customers in your newsletters:

Kristen recommends sharing testimonials from happy customers as well as user-generated content. It’s a great way to tell your story through the eyes of your customers.

Jeff said to share some success stories in your emails. He suggests sharing what your customers are doing and how you empowered them to make it happen. Other people will see the value you provide to your customers and they’ll want to know more.

This is a great response from Bill. He said to avoid focusing on what your business has done for a customer. Instead, focus on what your work has allowed that customer to do. That will speak to the rest of your audience and won’t come off as overly salesy.

Jacob’s advice is to use customer-centric email content to tell the story of your customers. Share how they succeeded with the solution you provide and offer tips on how others can replicate this.

Try sharing customer accomplishments, testimonials, and other customer stories that are helpful to the rest of your audience.

Jeremy knows that transformation stories are pretty powerful. He suggests telling an inspiring story about how someone overcame adversity.

Jason’s advice is to ask questions in order to get feedback from your audience. You can then share the results with the rest of your audience. As he said, people love to share their opinion and it helps them feel valued.

Q5: What are the biggest challenges when it comes to featuring your customers?

Creating customer-centric email content isn’t without its challenges. Here’s where you could hit road blocks so you know what to avoid:

As Kristen said, getting permission to share testimonials and stories from your audience can be tricky. Not everyone is willing to contribute or give permission for public sharing. Always ask your audience first and let them know the value it would provide to others by sharing their story with them.

She also suggests setting a goal first. Know what you want to convey to the rest of your audience by showcasing a particular customer.

Important questions to ask: Can you mention this customer? Are there restrictions? Is there any sensitive information? Does the customer want to be featured?

Julia knows getting data can definitely be a challenge. She suggests offering free content or coupons as an incentive to get people to contribute.

As Jeremy said, many people struggle with fear or shyness when it comes to sharing their story. This can hold customers back from being open with you.

Q6: What are some best practices for featuring your customers in emails?

To make sure you’e featuring your customers and doing it in the best way possible, keep this advice in mind:

Kristen reminded us that we need to receive permission from customers before sharing their stories. It’s also important to make sure you don’t release any sensitive information when sharing.

She also suggests letting customers know where testimonials and user-generated content will be used so they know in advance.

Always ask first! Don’t assume your customer wants to be featured.

Choose your email content wisely. Patrice said the content you include needs to appeal to your audience and be relevant.

Sarah also agrees that it needs to be relevant to everyone on your email list.

This one should be obvious, but unfortunately it’s something that people are guilty of doing. Don’t make up customer reviews or testimonials. It’s misleading to your audience. So, if you don’t have any reviews to share, ask previous customers for them.

Q7: What are some tips for getting to know your audience better?

In order to create customer-centric email content that resonates with your audience, you need to get to know them and understand them. Here’s how you can do that to create your best content possible:

The best way to get to know your audience is to just ask! Kristen recommends creating a survey and sending it to your email list. Ask key questions to understand who your audience is and what they need from you.

Make sure you take the time to actually talk to your audience and listen to what they have to say. It shows that you care and gets you all the information you need to know about them.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get the conversation going. Sarah suggests finding out where your audience hangs out online and being present there.

Once you find your audience online, make sure you’er also listening to what they have to say and reading the content they share. It’s a great way to get insight into their needs.

Communication is key! Talk to your audience and focus on building a relationship with them if you want to get to know them better.

Zala is absolutely right about that! Getting to know your audience is a never-ending task and there’s always something new to learn. This is why you need to be proactive about it.

Julia suggests creating a customer persona so you know exactly who you’re trying to reach with your content. From there, spend time getting to know them in a non-stalkerish kind of way.

Q8: What are some great examples of customer-centric email content?

To learn more about creating customer-centric email content, we asked our chat participants to share some great examples with us. Check out these suggestions:

Kristen loves Spotify’s Tracked campaign. She said it’s a great use of data to tell a personalized story.

Another example Kristen is a fan of is Glossier. Showcasing people using their products is a great way to spark interest and encourage purchases.

For Julia, she’s a big fan of Panera’s emails. They’re relevant to the purchases she makes and to her unique preferences.

Curated said Time Out London does a great job at tailoring their email content for customers.

Emily suggests sharing birthday promotions, individualized product recommendations based on previous orders, and customizing your marketing to the customer.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

personal branding

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Using Storytelling & Other Tactics for Successful Personal Branding in Content Marketing with Tara Clapper

In our latest #ContentWritingChat, we talked all about storytelling and personal branding. If you’re ready to take your personal brand to the next level, this is the chat for you. Keep reading for the recap!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Using Storytelling & Other Tactics for Successful Personal Branding in Content Marketing

Our guest host this week was one of our own team members, Tara Clapper. Tara is our talented Content Development Specialist. In this chat, she shared some helpful tips on personal branding that you’ll want to put to use for your own brand.

Q1: What is personal branding and who needs to develop their own personal brand?

To kick off the chat, we wanted to hear how our chat participants defined personal branding. We also wanted to know who they felt needs a personal brand. To find out what some of them said, check out these responses:

Tara said your personal brand is an expression of who you are, both online and off. It should also be genuine. There’s no need to be fake, so keep it real and true to yourself. And as she said, everyone needs one!

Great answer from Julia! She said if you’re in marketing or running a business, you have a brand. You need to develop that brand in order to stand out online.

Kristen agrees that everyone has a personal brand and that it’s all about reflecting that brand to the outside world.

Cristy brought up a great point for those who work as part of another company. If you have a public role within that company, you have to be careful about the image you put forth, as it reflects on the company as a whole.

Chris feels anyone who is serious about career development, digital marketing, or who wants an online presence should be focused on personal branding.

Q2: What are the key steps someone should take when developing their personal brand?

Now that you know why personal branding is so important, you need to know what steps to take in order to develop a brand of your very own. Here’s some advice straight from Tuesday’s chat:

Great response from Tara! When developing your personal branding, you need to define your brand, have clear messaging on social media, consistency within your branding, and you should also make it multi-faceted.

Gabriela shared some helpful steps to ensure you effective craft your own personal branding. She recommends the following: define your purpose, discover the value you can provide, develop your voice, and deliver your message consistently.

Julia’s advice is to start by defining what you want to stand for. You should create a mission statement for your brand so you and your audience know exactly what you represent. You can then develop that into slogans and share it on social media. Don’t forget to have a nice logo and color palette to create a great brand image as well.

Kristen knows you can learn a lot from other brands that are already established. Make a list of the brands you look up to and ask yourself why you love them so much. While you don’t want to copy them exactly, you can implement what you love about those brands into the creation of your own.

This tweet is a very important reminder from Cathy. As she said, you need to be authentic in everything you do. Being fake will hurt your brand because people will see right through you.

Q3: What is storytelling and how can brands use it to their advantage?

You’ve likely heard all about storytelling by now, but what exactly is it? And how can brands use storytelling to their advantage? Check out these great tips from the chat:

Tara feels storytelling is the truth and the why behind your brand.

Gabriela said storytelling is using a narrative to give context to your message. She followed that up by saying storytelling can help make your content memorable and relatable while also helping you build trust with your audience. It’s always a great way to communication your brand’s personalty with others.

Storytelling allows you to connect with your audience and take them on a journey with you.

You can tell an effective story through a variety of ways. Tony suggests using video, photos, and written content to take your audience through your story.

As Breonna said, brands can use storytelling as a way to humanize the brand overall and give emotional context to their content. It’s a powerful way to make a connection with your audience.

Mallie knows that people respond to stories, which is why it’s so important to share your story with your audience.

Keira said storytelling puts your product into context for customers. It’s a great way to encourage your customers to be part of your journey and the story you’re telling.

In a time where people are all about automating everything, storytelling helps to show your brand is human.

Q4: How do personal branding and storytelling work hand-in-hand?

Check out these tips from Tuesday’s chat all about making your personal branding and storytelling efforts work together:

Personal branding and storytelling equal innovation in Tara’s book. She feels your natural story will progress like a good character would throughout a book.

Julia knows you can weave your story into every element of your personal branding. Use it in your slogan, your about page, and more.

You can allow your audience to grow alongside your brand as it develops. The story you tell will take them on that journey and make them become loyal fans.

Michelle said your personal brand shows authenticity while storytelling provides a narrative for your product. Together, they’re powerful for growing your brand and building a fanbase.

Storytelling encourages your audience to engage and connect with your brand.

Q5: How can you improve your personal brand using social media?

Social media is just one way you can improve your personal brand and connect with your audience. But how do you do it? We asked this question during Tuesday’s chat and got some great advice in response. Check it out:

Have conversations with others, start conversations yourself, and find your tribe. Make sure you’re engaging with others so you can grow and develop your brand.

Gabriela’s advice is to focus on building your tribe, sharing and consuming great content, showing thought leadership, sharing your USP, and building trust. Make sure you’re also being consistent!

Mallie’s advice is to keep your voice consistent on all platforms. This is essential when working on your personal brand. Don’t be afraid to make tweaks along the way when you’re still in the early phases.

Jeremy said to be yourself on social media. If you aren’t true to who you are, your audience will see right through you. You should also take the time to listen to others and help them in any way you can.

Julia said to make sure you’re engaging with your followers on social media. Use it as a platform to start real conversations and make connections with others. This is key when it comes to personal branding.

Michelle recommends participating in Twitter chats. She knows it’s a great way to connect with others, but can also provide an opportunity to share your expertise. Make sure you’re listening to what others have to say and help them with the issues they’re facing.

Cathy also agrees that participating in Twitter chats is a good idea for your brand.

Q6: How can you craft a personal brand story that builds trust with your audience?

We all know that building trust with your audience is essential. Having a level of trust is key to ultimately making sales and landing clients for those who are running a business. To build trust, here’s what you need to do:

Tara says to credit when necessary, be personal, apologize when you mess up, and be transparent with growth.

Jeremy knows that people need to get to know you and start liking you before they can build trust. You can encourage trust by chatting with your audience and actually listening to what they have to say.

Be a source of information and engage with your audience.

Be yourself! You shouldn’t try to be something you’re not because it’ll only turn off your audience.

Cathy encourages you to be vulnerable and share the real stories even if they aren’t all that pretty. Those are the stories that people can connect with.

Sarah agrees with taking that open and honest approach. She recommends sharing when things go wrong. It’s relatable because we all make mistakes and your audience will appreciate that you’re sharing things like that with them.

Varun’s advice is to be approachable. When people feel like they can reach out to you, it helps to establish trust within your personal branding.

Engage with your audience! Ask questions, answer the questions they have, and don’t be afraid to have a sense of humor when talking to them. It shows you’re real.

Q7: Which content formats are key for best telling your brand story?

There are all kinds of content formats available to us: blog posts, videos, podcasts, and more. Which one is the best way to go? Here are some responses from the chat:

Tara’s advice is to consider how you best express yourself. For her, that includes blogging, podcasting, webinars, and live events.

Sherri agrees that you have to consider what works best for you. Determine your strengths and embrace that.

Pamela loves Snapchat and Instagram Stories as a way to share behind-the-scenes content.

There’s no denying that video is a great way to go! It gives your audience the opportunity to see you and hear your voice.

For Javier, it’s all about that long-form content. We’re big fans of valuable, longer blog posts here at Express Writers as well.

Whatever format you use, you need to bring your audience along on your journey.

Q8: Which personal brands do an amazing job at storytelling?

Who does an amazing job with their personal branding? You’ll want to check these people out:

Tara is a fan of our own CEO, Julia, as well as the actors behind the Marvel characters.

It’s no secret that Gary Vaynerchuk is pretty impressive! Both Julia and Zachary are fans of his.

Sherri thinks Gala Darling does a great job at sharing and connecting with her audience.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

project management

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Project Management & Content Marketing with Brittany Berger

In the latest #ContentWritingChat, we talked all about project management and content marketing. If you want to learn some tips that will take your project management workflow to the next level, this chat is sure to help you out. Keep reading for the recap!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Project Management & Content Marketing: How to Have a Fluid Content Project Management Workflow with Brittany Berger

Our guest host this week was Brittany Berger. Brittany is a PR and Content Marketing Manager for Mention. She shared a ton of great advice with us, so be prepared to take some notes!

Q1: Why is project management important for content marketing?

To kick off the chat, we asked everyone to share their thoughts on why they though project management played an important role in content marketing. Here are some of the answers we received during the chat:

Brittany acknowledges there are many different moving parts when it comes to content marketing. For this reason, there’s always the possibility something could fall through the cracks or your content could become misaligned with the goal. With a project management strategy in place, you can keep everything working as it should be.

As Sarah said, project management helps to keep everyone aligned when it comes to timing. You want to ensure everything gets done on time and that people are meeting deadlines. Having a strategy in place will help you make that happen!

Mallorie agrees that it’s essential for consistently meeting deadlines. It gives you the opportunity to set goals and create plans to help you achieve what needs to be done.

Benefits of project management: it keeps your content aligned, keeps you on or under budget, and keeps overwhelm at bay.

As if you needed more reason to create a strong content project management workflow for your brand… Julia mentioned it’s key to success.

Without project management, Cassandra said content marketing becomes chaos. And you don’t want that, do you?

Q2: What does content project management entail?

Now that you know what project management is important to your content marketing, what exactly does it entail? Check out these responses from the chat:

Brittany said content project management entails planning, organizing, and executing.

Structuring calendars, setting quantity, and deadline structure all are important aspects of project management. Julia also said you need to stay on top of the creation process and everyone involved.

Sarah said you need to have a goal, figure out your timeline, schedule and plan with your calendar, execute, and make sure you keep all team members on track.

You need to organized the who, what, and when of each of the content pieces you create.

Varun said you need to create your content calendar, know who will be contributing, important dates and events, deadlines you need to meet, as well as targeting and monitoring.

Know your budget, plan out your campaign, delegate tasks based on the strengths of your team members, and get started! Great advice!

Brittany brought up a solid point for those of who are working solo. Just because you don’t have a team behind you, it doesn’t mean you can take advantage of project management. You should still have a great editorial calendar and assign deadlines to hold yourself accountable.

Q3: What tools are the best for content teams to stay organized?

The great news is, there are a ton of tools out there that can make project management a lot easier. We received some great suggestions in response to this question, so be sure to check these out if you haven’t already!

Brittany recommends using tools that will help you communicate, store assets, and organize processes. There are many tools you can choose from to make each of these tasks easier!

She also shared that the team at Mention loves using CoSchedule, which is an amazing tool for planning out your content.

Evernote and Asana are two go-to tools for me. I use Evernote to store ideas and draft content, plus Asana keeps me organized when outlining larger projects and editorial calendars.

Bill is also a fan of Evernote and he flies on Google Docs and Sheets to stay organized when it comes to project management.

The HeyOrca! team loves using Trello, which is a handy app for planning projects and creating to-do lists. They also rely on Slack to communicate with one another.

The Digital Natives team recommends Google Drive, Slack, Glip, and Group Me.

The team at Netvantage relies on Google Drive and Basecamp to get things done.

For Shereese, she switches tools based on the work she’s doing. When handling client projects, she uses Wrike. However, Evernote is a go-to for her personal work.

Q4: How can content writers help prevent overwhelm when working on several projects at once?

The reality is, we often find ourselves juggling multiple projects at the same time. It can be a lot to manage, often resulting in feelings of overwhelm. To prevent that from happening, check out this advice:

Brittany’s advice is to look at each step in the process as its own thing. You want to break larger tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks. Not only is this less overwhelming, but it makes it easier for you to tackle the things on your to-do list.

Prioritize each of your projects and list them in order of importance. Start with what needs to be tackled first and focus on getting it done before moving onto the next.

Beki suggests dividing your time into manageable chunks for different projects. You can use a timer to keep you on track.

Breonna also agrees with blocking out time on your calendar. This ensures you dedicate ample time to each task so you can stay on track and make progress. She also recommends focusing on just one project at a time.

When you’re blocking out time for your work tasks, Bill said to make sure you block off some time for yourself as well.

Chris suggests setting realistic targets and goals, defined steps, and micro-achievements.

Sarah said to be up front when it comes to your schedule and let your boss or team know if you get behind on tasks that need to be completed.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Tony also suggests using plenty of Post-It notes!

Don’t take on more than you can handle. If you stretch yourself too thin, you become overwhelmed and the quality of your work will suffer.

Q5: How can teams maximize the amount of content they’re creating without burning out?

We all want to avoid burning out, especially when it come to content creation. So, how can we create plenty of content without crashing and burning? These tips will help you out:

Brittany shared some great advice with us. She said she separates the creative versus logistical parts of content creation. Collecting links, conducting research, getting screenshots and other similar tasks are separate from writing time.

Julia knows it helps to have a supportive team by your side, as well as a strong project management workflow.

Plan out your content in advance and then batch write blog posts, newsletters, etc. Once you get into that writing groove from writing one post, it’s much easier to keep going and write another. It’s a lot more productive to write three posts back to back then it is to write a blog post, complete another task, and then go back to writing blog posts.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the content you’ve already created. Michelle said you can repurpose and scale your current content, which will help you get more eyes on the stuff you’ve published in the past.

Kristen agrees that repurposing is essential. She said to take top-performing content and recycle it for multiple channels.

Cheval recommends writing in a notebook every day to prevent writer’s block. This is a great way to strengthen your writing skills as well.

Never stop creating! Zala said you should always collect ideas and brainstorm. She also knows it helps to create content in advance and repurpose what you already have.

While some audiences love long-form content, others don’t resonate with it as much. If that applies to your audience, you can break up longer content pieces into multiples to create a series. It’s also a great way to keep your audience coming back to your website.

Varun knows collaboration is one key to success when it comes to content creation. He also recommends setting priorities and being open to discussions with your team.

Jeremy’s advice is that you shouldn’t promise more than you can actually deliver. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver on the content you create.

Q6: What’s the biggest mistake a content team can make when juggling multiple channels and formats?

There are a lot of mistakes a content team can make and we asked people in this week’s chat to share which ones they thought were the worst. Keep these in mind so you can avoid them!

Brittany said it’s a mistake to think of each thing as a separate project. She suggests looking at how everything works and interacts with each other.

If you aren’t communicating with your team, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You need to be open to working together and sharing ideas.

If you don’t stay in contact with your team, it can be chaos.

As Jason said, you shouldn’t assume someone has a task covered. This is where open communication comes into place. Keep in touch with your team to make sure everyone is on track.

Kim said it would be a mistake to not plan or have a strategy in place.

Not communicating with your team, failing to proofread, and not thinking through your content are all big mistakes in Sara’s book.

Jim suggests designating tasks to the specialists and letting them do their thing.

Don’t sign up for a platform and then fail to commit to it. If you join a platform, you need to post consistently and be present.

Don’t underestimate the size of your workload.

Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged because you can’t do it all.

Quit pushing quantity over quality. Quality is always more important in the end.

Q7: As a content writer, how can you keep ideas straight when working on multiple, but similar, projects?

It can be tough to keep ideas straight when you’re working on multiple projects. Here’s some advice to help you out:

Brittany likes to get her ideas out on paper as soon as possible. This is great for ensuring you don’t forget anything and allows you to map everything out later. She also recommends not switching back and forth between projects too much. Chunk your schedule to work on similar tasks back to back.

Jason also agrees that chunking your schedule is helpful. He suggests scheduling blocks when you work on just one project, instead of jumping between different things.

Mallie is a fan of blocking off time on your schedule as well. She even thinks it’s a good idea to give each project its own folder to keep things separate.

Julia relies on multiple to-do lists, content calendars, and Google Sheets to keep things organized. And you can’t forget a cup of coffee (or two)!

Kristen makes a new to-do list every day as well. She also uses project management tools like Trello to help.

Jeremy likes to outline and save drafts in his blog and in Evernote. This makes it easy for him to work on content whenever he wants.

Q8: What other content marketers are great at project management?

Who else is amazing at project management? You can get some inspiration from these content marketers:

Brittany has learned a lot from Nathan Ellering, Benjamin Brandall, and Jess Ostroff.

Julia is impressed with how Content Marketing Institute manages their workflow and editorial structure.

Cheval was too kind and including Julia and I in his list, along with Ann Handley.

Jeremy shared a bunch of great people with us. You’ll want to check them out if you aren’t already!

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

#ContentWritingChat, content marketing strategy

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Creating a Content Marketing Strategy 101 with Doug Kessler

It’s no secret that every brand needs to have an effective content marketing strategy if they want to see results within their business. However, many brands feel unsure of how to get started when creating a strategy of their own. This week’s #ContentWritingChat was all about the basics of creating a content marketing strategy, so there’s no more excuses. You can get started on yours today!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Creating a Content Marketing Strategy 101 with Doug Kessler

For this Tuesday’s #ContentWritingChat, our guest host was Doug Kessler. Doug is the is Co-Founder and Creative Director of Velocity. He shared some great insights with our audience about content marketing, so you’ll want to read through these tips and start implementing them.

Q1: Discuss the importance of content marketing for brands in 2017.

So, how important is it for a brand to develop their own content marketing strategy? And what kind of results will it provide once they have? Check out these tips from Tuesday’s chat:

Doug said that content marketing has turned into a mainstream strategy.

Julia knows just how important your content marketing strategy is when it comes to marketing. The stats she shared are pretty impressive!

As Annaliese said, content marketing has become expected of brands. She feels it helps you to build an interested audience and can establish you as a thought leader in your industry.

Content marketing can help you build relationships with your customers, which can ultimately lead to more brand loyalty. You’ll see these kinds of results when you do your content marketing strategy the right way.

The Digital Natives team said it’s key for establishing trust and adding value for your clients.

Q2: What’s the first major step(s) of a solid content marketing strategy for any business/industry?

When creating a content marketing strategy for your brand, there are a few steps you’ll have to take in the early phases. Here’s what you need to know in order to get started:

Doug said that the first step to creating a content marketing strategy is getting to know your audience. If you don’t know who your audience is, you can’t create the right kind of content to attract them.

To get to know your audience, you’ll need to do some research. It may be time-consuming, but it’s a must before you can get started with anything.

Know your goals and who your audience is. Once you’ve figured out those two things, you can start planning how you’ll connect with them and what kind of content you’ll create.

Annaliese agrees that it’s important to set goals before you begin creating your strategy.

Take the time to map out the journey you expect a customer to take. This is very beneficial to your success!

Bill’s advice is to list out your business objectives and the needs of your audience. This will help you start planning.

Tony recommends finding ways your audience likes to read and access content. Once you’ve figured that out, you can create exactly the type of content they’re looking for.

Q3: Content marketing vs. traditional marketing (i.e., TV spot): Your thoughts? Is one higher ROI?

Today’s brands still invest in traditional marketing as part of their content marketing strategy. There’s no shortage of ads on television. But is it really the most effective tactic or is content marketing the way to go? Here’s what our chat participants had to say:

Julia shared a link to her post that showed just how effective content marketing can be when compared to a Super Bowl ad.

Kevin’s advice is to figure out who your audience is and where they’re spending their time. Once you know that, you’ll be able to create content and put it directly in front of them on the platforms they’re using.

Keira brought up a great point about how consumers now crave relationships with brands. Those relationships are what help to build trust, which ultimately turns a follower into a customer. Conversations are key to building relationships with your target audience.

As Roslyn said, it’s also easier to track the success of content marketing than traditional marketing. This will help you to really see the results you’re getting from your investment.

Q4: Discuss a few favorite channels/content types that work for you (live streaming, guest blogging, etc.).

The channels and content types that work best for one brand won’t necessarily be what works best for another. It’s important to experiment so you can see what works for you, then make it part of your content marketing strategy. Here’s what seems to be working well for our chat participants:

Doug is a big fan of SlideShade, which we’ve also used here at Express Writers. If you haven’t tried it for yourself, give it a shot and see how your audience responds.

He also mentioned video, which is still very powerful today. Whether you’re uploading videos to YouTube or doing live videos on a platform like Facebook Live, it’s great for your brand.

As Julia said, she sees results from writing guest blogs for other sites and here on Express Writers. This Twitter chat and her book have also worked out well.

When blogging on your own site, make sure you do so consistently if you want to see results.

Annaliese has seen great results with guest blogging. It’s a fantastic way to increase your exposure since you’re able to get in front of a whole new audience. Social media engagement is also great!

For Sarah and the ThinkSEM team, they get the best results from blogging and sharing on Twitter.

Andrea is also a fan of Twitter, as are we here at Express Writers. Infographics are a great one as well!

If your audience is on Pinterest, it’s worthwhile to pin your content there to increase traffic back to your website.

Michelle loves joining Twitter chats. They’re actually a great way to connect with new people and to share your expertise. She also enjoys using the story features on both Instagram and Snapchat.

Meg mentioned email has been very effective for the team at Brandfolder.

Cheval knows that podcasting is great for building his authority within his industry. Even if you don’t see a return on your investment right away, it can happen over time.

Another point for podcasting!

This is great advice from Bill!

Q5: Share some ways to stand out in a sea of content. How do you find and showcase your brand voice?

With so much noise online these days, it can be hard to stand out. How do you do it? Check out these tips:

Infuse everything you create with your brand’s voice. Doug said Slack and MailChimp do a great job with this. Honesty is also important!

Great answer from Michelle, especially her point about authenticity and transparency.

Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. If something doesn’t work out for you, don’t get discouraged. Learn from it and move on.

Jeremy said it’s important to test the content you create. This allows you to see what’s working and what’s not. Make sure you’re also being helpful and serving others.

Make sure you’re also expanding your reach by utilizing SEO.

Don’t forget to engage with your audience regularly. It shows them that you’re human and helps to build a connection.

Q6: How can you identify if your content marketing strategy is actually working and generating results?

Once you’ve developed and implemented your content marketing strategy, how do you know if it’s working for you? These tips will show you what you need to track:

Doug’s advice is to measure everything. You can learn a lot by seeing the areas in which you’re growing.

As Kristi said, this is where your goals come in. You need to set goals for the content you create so you can see if it was actually effective. If it is, great! If not, you need to make some changes.

Make success specific and measurable from the get-go. This is great advice from Mallie!

Jacob is spot on with his answer. You don’t want to get lost in a sea of data, so know what you want to measure first.

Be sure to give yourself ample time to reach your goals. Don’t expect results overnight.

Julia knows it’s important to track leads. Your content brings in leads, which ultimately leads to more clients and revenue for your business.

As Sabjan said, it’s all about those conversions.

If people are engaging with your content, sharing it, and eventually becoming customers… You’re doing something right.

Q7: Share some favorite tools you rely on consistently for your content marketing.

If you’re looking for new tools to help with your content marketing, you’ll want to check out this list.

Doug loves using SlideShare and Evernote.

Like Annaliese, we also rely on Yoast here at Express Writers. It’s great for SEO and readability.

Evernote is great for storing ideas and writing drafts. Asana is awesome for project management. And we can’t forget about Yoast and Buffer!

These tools are all worth checking out!

Cheval relies on Post Planner and Buffer on daily basis to put content out for his audience.

Buffer, Trello, and Google Docs are key for Amanda when it comes to her content marketing strategy.

CoSchedule is great for planning out your content!

Q8: Share some predictions or observations on the state of content marketing for 2017 and beyond.

What do you think is in store for content marketing in the future? Check out these predictions:

Those who commit to content marketing will win, while those who dabble won’t.

Julia is predicting new platforms, tools, and smarter systems.

Sarah thinks it’ll become more important to hone in on your audience’s desires, as well as timing and placement of your content.

Now is the time to start committing to video content, as its popularity will only continue to grow.

Tony also agrees that video content is important.

Great visuals for your content will always be important!

Javier predicts that augmented reality will become a lot more common.

Work smarter, not harder with strategic content.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

#ContentWritingChat, Twitter strategies

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Twitter Strategies for a Great Brand Presence with Becky Shindell

You might think Twitter is a dying platform, but we’re about to prove you wrong with our latest #ContentWritingChat. This week, we covered all the best strategies to help you grow your audience and establish a great brand presence on Twitter. If you’re ready to step up your game on Twitter, dive into this recap!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Twitter Strategies for a Great Brand Presence with Becky Shindell

Our guest host this week was Becky Shindell. She’s a Social Media Manager for one of our favorite tools, SEMrush. Plus, she works behind the scenes on their Twitter chat, #semrushchat. So, it’s no surprise that Becky is pretty knowledgeable on Twitter and we were excited to have her join us and share some of her best advice.

Q1: How can a brand determine if Twitter is a worthwhile platform to be on?

With all the social media platforms available today, it can be hard to decide which ones are worth your time. If you’re wondering if Twitter is really the right place for your brand to be, we have some advice that will make the decision a little easier.

Becky recommends considering the goals you have for your brand. She knows that Twitter is a powerful platform for customer service. That could be a key way that you use it to serve your customers.

Julia knows it’s important to be where your audience is. Find out if they’re spending their time on Twitter and if they are… You need to be there too!

As Annaliese said, make sure your target audience is actually active on the platform. If they’re signed up, but not using it, then it won’t do you any good. You want to make sure your audience is there and already engaged.

Research, research, research! You’re going to have to do a little digging to find out where your audience is most active online, but it’ll pay off in the end.

Is your community on Twitter? Is there already a conversation around your niche happening there? If so, Kristen says Twitter is worth your time.

If you aren’t sure if your audience is on Twitter, don’t be afraid to ask them. You can create a survey and ask for responses to find out which platforms they’re most active on. As Lexie said, your social media strategy is all about being where your audience is.

Another thing to take into consideration is how Twitter actually works. As Cristy said, it’s not a pay-to-play platform like Facebook as become. Twitter is appealing to so many brands for that reason because they don’t worry about a large portion of their followers never seeing their posts.

Q2: What types of content perform well on Twitter, thus encouraging clicks and shares?

Once you’ve decided to invest your time into using Twitter, you want to make sure you’re posting great content. And we all want clicks and shares, right? These tips will help you create irresistible content your audience will enjoy.

As Becky said, great visuals are key to getting your content noticed on Twitter. An eye-catching image will get people to stop as they’re scrolling through their feeds. Create something that’s going to grab their attention and appeal to them if you want to earn those clicks and shares.

Vishal knows that pairing captivating visuals with amazing copy is the formula for a perfect tweet.

Jessy said it best when she mentioned a great visual can help you break through the clutter. Social media feeds are busy these days and you need a way to stand out. Photos, GIFs, and videos can help you do that.

It’s also important to consider what resonates with your audience. What works for one brand might not work for you and vice versa. Don’t be afraid to test ideas to see what your audience responds well to and what they aren’t digging. Sarah said to make sure everything is helpful, relevant, timely, pretty, and beneficial.

Cassandra agrees that, in the end, it all goes back to what your audience enjoys.

Q3: How do you measure the success of your content? Which metrics are most important to track?

So, you’ve posted all of this content to Twitter… How on earth do you find out if it’s performing well? Which metrics should you be paying the most attention to? There’s no need to let your analytics stress you out! We have some suggestions on what you should be tracking.

Becky said she likes to use Sprout Social to see how her audience is responding to content. She tracks engagement, retweets, and favorites. She also takes a look at their demographics to get a better understanding of who the audience is. Then, that information can be used to create more of the content that works and less of what doesn’t.

Engagement, clicks, traffic, and real ROI. That’s what we’re all about here at Express Writers. And as Julia mentioned, one of our clients signed on with us after discovering our Twitter profile and scrolling through our tweets.

Annaliese offered some great advice that will help you get the most out of your Twitter presence and your analytics. She suggests using Google Analytics and setting it up to track how visitors from Twitter behave once they get to your website.

Conversions, conversions, conversions. The ultimate test of whether or not your Twitter presence is working for you is whether or not those followers are converting. You want to see that they’re not only coming to your website, but converting in some way. That could be becoming an email subscriber, a paying customer, etc. If those conversions are happening, you’re on the right track.

For Tony, it’s all about engagement rate, clicks, and impressions. Engagement is a great thing to track because it’s nice to see that your audience is responding in some way, like leaving a comment. It’s simple, but it helps to build a relationship with them.

Jeff knows just how powerful conversations are between you and your audience. It’s a key step to building trust with them and you need to create content that gets them talking. Make sure you reply to them when they leave their response too!

Like Jeff, Keira also wants to see conversations happening around the content she shares. But as she pointed out, it all depends on the goals you’ve set for your content and that will differ based on the particular post.

Q4: What can you do to get your brand noticed on Twitter?

If you decide to invest your time and effort into a social media platform, you don’t want to go unnoticed. You want people to see your posts and engage with them. You want to attract followers and convert them into customers. So, how do you actually get noticed so you can see major results for your brand? Start implementing these tips:

Becky’s advice is to use relevant hashtags, original images and copy, and great GIFs. She also said to tweet frequently to stay in the feeds of your audience.

If you want your brand to be noticed, you need to be present. Don’t slack off on posting and expect to see growth. Don’t get lazy with engaging and expect to build relationships. You need to be proactive about engaging with your audience.

Be a thought leader in your industry and people will want to follow along. It’s also important that you stay on top of the latest trends so you can provide the best content for your audience.

Engage, entertain, listen, and respond. It’s simple, but effective advice that Lauren knows will get you results.

Engagement is always essential and Antonio agrees. He stressed just how important it is to listen to what your audience is saying and to respond to them. He also mentioned that you can pay for traffic, but that doesn’t compare with growing your audience by building relationships.

Hashtags are a key way to get your content noticed. They help you reach a wider audience with each post. You just need to make sure you’re using ones that are relevant and popular enough that people will discover it.

And of course, Twitter chats are one great way to get noticed. They’re perfect for making new connections and sharing your expertise with a new group.

Mallie is also a fan of using Twitter chats to make connections. Start reaching out to people in a way that feels genuine and people will respond well.

Q5: How can you capture leads on Twitter in order to turn followers into customers and raving fans of your brand?

We couldn’t have a chat on Twitter strategies without discussing how to use the platform to capture leads, could we? We asked our chat participants to share their advice for taking people from followers and turning them into customers and huge fans. Here are their tips:

Becky suggests sharing content that educates and entertains your audience. And don’t forget to add a CTA!

Mallie also agrees that a call to action is essential. People won’t always know what the next step is, so you have to tell them.

Lexie said to be helpful. If you see people asking questions that you can answer, chime in and help them out. They’ll appreciate it and they just might check out your site and possibly become a customer at some point.

Vishal’s advice is great to keep in mind. Don’t be pushy, creepy, or desperate. You need to be yourself, otherwise people will see right through you.

Be authentic and treat your followers right. It’ll work out in your favor.

Q6: What are the best strategies for increasing engagement on Twitter?

If you’re feeling like the engagement levels are low on your Twitter account, it’s time to step it up! Luckily, we’ve compiled some great tips from Tuesday’s chat that will help you out. Read through these and implement them if you want a major increase in engagement.

Becky knows how important it is to engage with your audience. At SEMrush, they like to thank people for sharing their content, which is an easy way to open the lines of communication. You could even take it a step further to ask what someone liked about the article they shared.

Julia knows it’s important to be active. If you aren’t, why would anyone both engaging with you? They wouldn’t expect to receive a response. Be present on Twitter. And be sure to try out a few Twitter chats here and there!

Don’t sit around and wait for engagements to happen. As Jessy said, you need to encourage conversations yourself. Ask questions and respond to replies you get in order to get the discussion going.

As you ask questions, choose ones that are open-ended. Skip the ones where someone could provide a yes/no answer because that doesn’t leave much room for follow-up.

Jason’s advice is to be consistent with your posting and to share relatable tweets. It all goes back to giving your audience what they want. And when you receive replies, take the time to write back.

The reality is, there are many brands out there that don’t bother to respond to people. Don’t be like that! Take the time to respond because that’s what builds relationships.

It’s also smart to take posting times into consideration. Test to find out which times work best for your audience and make sure you’re sharing content then. You need to be able to reach them at the right times. Watching your competitors helps a lot, too!

Q7: Do you rely on any tools for scheduling content and tracking the success of your tweets? If so, which ones do you love?

If we want to succeed, we need an easy way to help us implement all of these Twitter strategies, don’t we? Fortunately, there are a ton of great tools out there to help us schedule posts and track how well things are performing. If you’re looking for a new tool to try out, check out the ones in this list:

The SEMrush team loves using Sprout Social!

We’re all about that Buffer love and using Canva to create social media graphics.

Just like Annaliese, we’re big fans of Buffer here at Express Writers.

Even Lex is making her way over to our favorite, Buffer!

Kristi relies on Hootsuite and Twitter’s own analytics to manage her account.

TweetDeck is another great tool and especially comes in handy during Twitter chats.

Q8: Which brands do an amazing job with their Twitter content? Tag them and let them know!

There are tons of brands who are rocking it online and implementing these very Twitter strategies every day. There’s so much to learn from them, so check out these brands and see what they’re doing well:

Applebee’s continues to impress people with their Twitter presence. One of the great thing about them is that they’re always quick to respond to replies they receive.

Julia’s favorites are definitely worth checking out!

For Lex, she loves to see what Wendy’s and Taco Bell are posting.

Another Wendy’s fan!

Are you following any of Kristin’s favorites?

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

#ContentWritingChat, editorial calendar

#ContentWritingChat Recap: The Benefits of an Editorial Calendar for Your Content & How to Create One with Nathan Ellering

Editorial calendars are an essential part of any content creator’s life. They keep you organized and allow you to strategically plan your content (whether that’s blog posts, videos, social media content, etc.) for maximum results.

In this week’s #ContentWritingChat, we talked all about the benefits of having an editorial calendar, plus a few tips on how to create one of your own. If you missed the chat, there’s no need to worry because we have a recap that’s filled with amazing tips. Let’s dive in!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: The Benefits of an Editorial Calendar for Your Content & How to Create One with Nathan Ellering

Our guest host this week was Nathan Ellering. Nathan is a strategist, a content marketer, and a blogger. He’s also part of the CoSchedule team, making him a great fit for this week’s chat on editorial calendars. CoSchedule is a go-to app for planning your marketing, blog, and social media content, so we were thrilled to have Nathan with us to share his best tips!

Q1: What is an editorial calendar and why are they beneficial for content creators?

To kick things off, we asked our audience to describe what an editorial calendar is. We also wanted to hear why they felt having an editorial calendar was beneficial to their content creation. Here’s what some of the participants in Tuesday’s chat had to say:

As Nathan said, having an editorial calendar allows you to see all of your planned content in one place. It can help save you time and reduce stress when everything is planned out and displayed in a neat way.

An editorial calendar allows you to plan out your content marketing strategies. You can organize any written content, promotional material that’s going out, etc.

Cristy knows it’s important to create content that helps you reach your overall goals. Having an editorial calendar is very helpful for this because you can take the time to be strategic about the content you’re creating.

You should also use your editorial calendar to map out the campaigns you’re running, as well as any other content you’re creating. As Michelle said, it needs to be accessible by everyone. If you have others on your team who are involved in content, they need access to your calendar.

And when you’ve planned in advance, it eliminates that stress of having to come up with ideas at the last-minute.

Q2: What kinds of content should someone plan using an editorial calendar?

So, now that you know what an editorial calendar is and how it can benefit you, what should you plan? Check out this advice from the chat:

Nathan’s advice is to plan all of your marketing projects with your editorial calendar. He recommends planning out your social media content, blog posts, email newsletters, and more. There’s no reason not to plan all the content you’re creating in order to stay organized.

Savannah encourages you to plan everything with your editorial calendar! We happen to agree with her. It’s the best way to stay on track with all of your content creation.

Mallie knows that it’s essential to use your editorial calendar as an opportunity to create content around events and holidays. These are key times for content creation and you’ll need to plan in advance if you want to share something great.

As Lex mentioned, don’t forget to be flexible when planning. If something comes up at the last minute and you want to create a piece of content around it, that’s fine. Be willing to adapt when it comes to the latest news, feedback from your audience, etc.

Q3: How far in advance would you recommend someone plan their content with an editorial calendar?

Is it possible to plan content too far in advance? Is there a sweet spot for planning? Based on the answers we received, it seems like everyone has their own preference! Check out these responses:

Nathan has a very effective plan in place for his editorial calendar. He recommends planning high-level stuff six months out, plotting ideas three months out, and then aiming to have all of your content completed for one month out. It may sound like a lot, but it’s a great way to organize your entire content creation process.

Sarah from ThinkSEM recommends considering your unique business goals. She also doesn’t advise planning more than six months out and also being flexible for things that come up over time.

Lexie from Netvantage Marketing agrees that having wiggle room is key!

For Kristi, she suggests planning your content quarterly. Another great tip she offered was to review and see what’s working every time you plan. You can make adjustments accordingly so you know what to create more of and what to create less of.

Like Michelle said, some content can actually be planned further out. Things like yearly conferences and content around holidays can be planned much earlier, while you may feel more comfortable planning blog posts closer to their actual publication date.

Cristy suggests considering the type of content you’re creating. When you think about the fact that long-form content and videos may require more planning and creation time, you need to give yourself ample time to bring them to life.

Q4: How is your editorial calendar organized? Tell us your secrets!

We asked our chat participants to spill all their secrets behind their own editorial calendars. Here’s what they had to say:

Nathan said the team’s content is fully completed at a minimum of two weeks out, which is very helpful. (There’s no need to stress about getting things done at the last minute!) Ideas are planned a minimum of three months out while strategy is planned about 12 months out.

They also like to color code everything, which makes it clear what everything is and keeps the calendar organized. Social media posts, blog posts, videos, podcasts, and more all are planned on the editorial calendar.

Cristy relies on Google Sheets to keep her content planning organized. She includes the category, the assigned writer, a deadline, and a publish date. She even has a separate document for storing ideas, which is great for keeping everything all in one place.

For Tony, it’s all about a combination of Trello and Google Drive to keep everything in order. He includes copy, images, and links and has content organized by dates.

Q5: What’s your advice for filling an editorial calendar with amazing content your audience will love?

When creating your editorial calendar, it’s important that you fill it with content ideas your audience is going to enjoy consuming. How do you figure out what they want? These tips are guaranteed to help you out:

Nathan recommends having a brainstorming session. Try his strategy for coming up with amazing ideas the next time you’re struggling.

If you really aren’t sure what your audience wants to see, don’t be afraid to ask them. Ask what they’re struggling with and figure out how to create content that solves those problems. They’ll love you for it.

Check your analytics! See what performed well in the past and consider creating more of the same kind of content since you know it has already worked for you.

You can also use the data in your analytics to take that content that has already performed well and repurpose it. Michelle said to repost or update the content you already have. It’s a great way to get new eyes on your content.

It’s important to know and understand what your audience wants. Deliver content that is educational, informative, inspirational, or entertaining.

No matter what, you need to keep this advice from Bill in mind. Don’t just try to fill your editorial calendar with content for the sake of publishing. Everything you create should serve a purpose by providing value to your audience and helping you achieve your end goals.

Q6: In what ways can an editorial calendar help you improve your content marketing strategy?

How exactly can an editorial calendar help you create a winning content marketing strategy? Here are some answers from Tuesday’s chat:

Nathan said editorial calendars force you to publish. Set a deadline for yourself and stick with it because it’s the best way to ensure you’re consistent with your content. Don’t stress about making things perfect. Create your content and unleash it on the world.

Mack said an editorial calendar helps you to make sure the content you create is aligned with your overall content strategy. Ask yourself if you’re hitting your goals. If not, it’s time to make a change.

An editorial calendar helps you focus on your strategies and goals so you can achieve major things with the content you create.

When using an editorial calendar for your blog, it ensures your website is staying updated with new content. (That is, if you’re actually sticking to those self-imposed deadlines!) This is key to staying in front of your customers.

Cristy knows that planning provides much better results than just winging it.

In the end, having an editorial calendar is a great way to hold yourself accountable.

Q7: Do you use any tools to create your editorial calendar? If so, which ones are your favorite?

Whether you’re a fan of pen and paper or a dedicated app, there are plenty of options for creating an effective editorial calendar. Check out what some of our chat participants rely on:

Being part of the CoSchedule team, it’s no surprise Nathan raved about it. It’s a great tool to keep you organized, whether you’re planning blog posts, marketing, or social media.

The Netvantage Marketing team keeps it simple with Google Drive. They’ve also used Basecamp when working with clients and like Sprout Social for social media scheduling.

Trello is a go-to for both Lex and Jessy.

Jeremy relies on a combination of a variety of tools to stay organized. He uses Google Docs, Evernote, and iCal.

Color coding in Google Calendar is a must!

Q8: What are your best strategies for using and maintaining an editorial calendar?

Before you rush off to create your first editorial calendar or to touch up your own, read these final tips from this week’s chat. They’re sure to help you create a calendar that’s effective and helps you to stay organized.

Nathan’s advice is to communicate as a team. If you have multiple people involved in content creation, keep them in the loop and discuss ideas together.

Cristy also knows it’s important to bring the team together. Have a weekly meeting to brainstorm and discuss ideas. Allow everyone on the team to have a voice.

When it comes to creating content, strive to be consistent. Not only does it help keep you on track, but your audience will appreciate it as well.

Cheval agrees that consistency is key!

Sara’s tip to batch your evergreen content is sure to increase your productivity when it comes to the creation process.

Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the time you have. Don’t spread yourself too thin or take on more than you can handle at one time.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!


#ContentWritingChat Recap: Blogging for ROI in 2017: Where to Blog, SEO, and Writing Strategies with Julia McCoy

Are you curious about blogging for ROI in 2017? That’s what we covered in our latest round of #ContentWritingChat! And if you missed out, you’re in luck because we’ve created a recap for you and it’s filled with awesome tips. Keep reading to check it out!

Blogging for ROI in 2017: Where to Blog, SEO, and Writing Strategies with Julia McCoy

For this week’s chat, our very own CEO stepped in to guest host. Julia McCoy shared her expertise on blogging for ROI in 2017 and offered some amazing tips for writing, SEO, and where you should be blogging this year. We covered some of the key topics to help you succeed as a blogger this year, so make sure you read through them and start implementing this advice for yourself!

Q1: For those that aren’t convinced, why is blogging still so important for brands?

The reality is, many brands still aren’t convinced that blogging is worth their time. They don’t realize the value that it can provide to their audience and their brand overall. So, let’s convince them why they should be blogging! Here are just some reasons blogging is important for brands:

Julia knows that blogging is a must for brands! She even shared some pretty impressive data that backs it up. The graph above shows Express Writers outranking major competitors solely from blogging. She also shared some stats that are sure to convince you of the importance of starting your own blog this year.

As Annaliese said, blogging is a lead generation opportunity. So many people will stumble upon your blog and want to do business with you because of the content you share. She also said blogging helps you build influence, which is key to drawing in your audience.

Jason knows that blogging is a powerful way to establish an authentic, authoritative voice. Your blog is your place to share your thoughts with your audience.

Blogging is an opportunity to show off your expertise to your industry, but also to your audience. It’s a great way to connect with your audience and to start building a relationship with them.

To put it simply, blogging is an opportunity to expand your audience, share quality information with readers, and can help you establish your voice as a brand.

Cheval’s advice is important to keep in mind. Social media is like rented property when you think about it. You don’t own the platform, nor can you count on it to always be around. If a social media platform shuts down, you’re going to lose your followers and everything you’ve worked so hard to build (unless you’ve successfully converted them to readers, subscribers, and customers). Your blog, however, is one place that you truly own and are in control of.

Q2: Where should you blog this year besides your own website? Discuss how to find the right platforms.

While blogging on your own website is great, blogging on other sites can provide major results. There are a lot of benefits to guest blogging, but it’s all about choosing the right places to post if you want to make it work for your brand. Keep these tips in mind:

Julia recommends creating a target persona for your audience so you know what they’re like. You can figure out their demographics and also what sites they’re reading on the web. That’s where you should be sharing your content! Check out the blog post she linked for more information on creating your own target persona.

The key to choosing the sites to guest blog on is figuring out where your audience spends their time online. You want to post on the sites that your target audiences reads so they’ll discover you and head over to your website.

Jason also knows the importance of finding the popular blogs in your wheelhouse and guest posting there. It’s the best way for you to reach your target audience and hopefully make them a fan of your brand.

Varun recommends posting on forums that are specific to your industry, guest blogging on authority websites, and also using platforms like Quora, Reddit, and LinkedIn.

Another great option is to create content for Medium. Trying posting there a few times and see if you notice any results. Blogging for ROI is going to take some trial and error and you have to figure out what works for your brand.

Q3: What are a few SEO strategies all bloggers need to know if they want to get their content noticed?

It’s no secret that if you want to get your content noticed, SEO is very important. And we can’t talk blogging for ROI without mentioning some SEO tactics, can we? Of course not! So, in order to make sure your content gets noticed and attracts viewers, these are the optimization basics you need to know:

Julia knows how important it is to be able to conduct keyword research. She also said you need to know how to use H2s, H3s, alt tags, and how to write a meta description. It may sound overwhelming for beginners, but it’s all easy to figure out.

Sarah from ThinkSEM said you need to know your audience and what is going to resonate with them. Before you start thinking about SEO tactics, this is the first thing you need to consider.

As Sara said, it’s important to have a keyword tool handy so you can research which focus keyword is ideal for your content.

Once you have the right keyword, you can plug that into your content. You’ll want to use your keyword in the title of your blog post, the URL, the meta description, and throughout the post itself. As Mallie said though, it’s important that you don’t go overboard. Keyword stuffing is a huge turn-off for your readers and Google doesn’t like it either. They should be incorporated in a way that feels natural.

Yoast is a great SEO plugin to use if your site is running on WordPress. It’s very simple to use and it makes optimization easy for beginners and those who are more experienced. We use it here at Express Writers and highly recommend it!

Jeff knows that Google Analytics is another great tool to use as part of your keyword strategy in order to optimize your content.

Q4: How can you figure out what content your audience most wants to see on your blog?

In order to attract people to your blog in the first place, you need to create the content they want to see. Once they know you’re a source of great information, they’re going to keep coming back for more. But how do you figure out what kind of content you need to create for your audience? Check out these tips:

Julia recommends figuring out what your audience’s biggest questions are and answering them. You can use tools like Answer the Public and others to figure out what they need help with.

Not sure what your audience wants? Ask them! It really is that simple. You can create a survey and share it for readers to leave their feedback and you’ll easily see what they’re interested in. You can also post on social media to get suggestions.

Jeff also agrees that asking your audience what they want is a pretty powerful strategy. Not only does it provide you with great feedback, but it gives your audience the chance to have their voice heard. They’ll appreciate that.

Besides flat out asking them, you can also conduct a little research of your own. Figure out what they’re talking about, what they’re liking and sharing. Listening is key to understand your audience. Check out their conversations on social media and pay attention to the comments they leave and the emails they send.

It’s also worthwhile to see what your competitors are doing. Check out businesses that are similar to yours and find out what’s been working for them and what’s not. You obviously don’t want to copy their strategy, but it can give you plenty of ideas for what you can create.

Sending out a yearly survey is a great way to question your audience about their interests. Getting into the habit of doing it every year ensures you’re always updated on what your audience is looking for. It’s also wise to check your analytics to see which posts are more popular since it gives you an idea of what to create more of.

Kristen also knows your analytics can be helpful when it comes to content creation. See which posts get the most traffic and which posts your readers spend the most time on to see what works best.

And as James said, it all goes back to understanding your audience.

Q5: How important is it to include a call to action in your blog posts? Describe an effective CTA.

A call to action essentially tells your reader what the next step is. What do you want them to do after reading your blog post? Do you want them to leave your site without engaging with you, possibly to never return again? Definitely not! That’s where a call to action comes in. Check out these tips for crafting an effective CTA:

Forgetting a CTA could cause you to lose out on leads. Not good! Check out our post on crafting a CTA for more in-depth tips.

Check out a few of our CTAs above!

If you’re blogging for ROI, then it’s essential that you prompt your readers to take action. A clear CTA will tell them exactly what to do and will encourage them to follow through.

As Jeff pointed out, you also can’t assume your readers are just going to take the action you want them to take. You need to make it clear and empower them to follow through.

Zala said you shouldn’t make your readers guest what they need to do next. Make it clear what you want them to do with a CTA.

Your content should serve a purpose and it’s important to let your audience know what’s next. Sarah recommends that all CTAs should be visible, understandable, and well-placed and in order to be effective.

Without a CTA, there isn’t much of a purpose to your post, is there? Make sure it’s well-written, compelling, and concise in order to inspire action.

Q6: What are the secrets to making blog customers convert into real customers and clients?

Once you have people visiting your blog, you want them to take that next step with your brand. You want them to ultimately become customers and clients. How do you make that happen? We’ve got some great advice for you:

Julia’s advice is to choose targeted reader topics and provide thorough answers. Don’t forget to also optimize your content and to add a CTA.

Annaliese said you need to create high-quality, targeted content that leads readers through your funnel. This is key to seeing them finally convert.

Value and CTAs are two keys to success when it comes to blogging for ROI.

Focus on solving the common problems your audience is facing. They’ll appreciate you for it and you’ll be able to establish yourself as an authority in the process.

Don’t forget to engage with your audience as well. This helps to build a trusting relationship with them, which is key to ultimately making a sale.

Great advice from Michael: helping sells. Commit to helping your audience and you’ll start seeing results.

Q7: Do you rely on any tools to create amazing content for your blog? Share your favorites!

With so many tools available to us today, there are plenty to choose from that can help in content creation. Here are some suggestions to check out:

Be sure to check out Julia’s three favorite tools!

Mallie is all about her editorial calendar and so are we. No matter how you create your calendar, what’s important is that you actually use it.

WordPress, Google Analytics, Twitter, and Yoast are all great tools to use! Don’t forget how important that creative brain of yours is and time.

Quora, Reddit, Canva, and Bitly are all helpful tools.

Hemingway and Moz are two popular tools for content creators. Do you use them?

Maria is a fan of Trello for keeping things organized.

These are great suggestions from Sabjan!

Taking pen to paper is always so satisfying! Sometimes it’s just a lot nicer to do things the old school way as opposed to typing or punching out laters on our phone’s keyboard.

Q8: Which blogs do you read on a consistent basis? Tag them and let them know!

To wrap up our chat on blogging for ROI, we wanted to know which blogs our audience loves to read. Here’s what some of them had to say:

Julia likes to read content from Content Marketing Institute, Steve Rayson’s BuzzSumo posts, and Neil Patel’s blog.

Much like Zachary, we’re big fans of Gary Vaynerchuk here at Express Writers.

Annaliese enjoys reading Hootsuite’s blog.

These are all great suggestions from Rebecca!

You’ll want to add these sites to your reading list!

Don’t get so caught up in consuming content that you forget to embrace the world around you. As Shannon said, you need to pay attention and you’ll surely find some ideas for your content.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!