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influential content

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Create Influential Content & Become a Strong Editor with Stephanie Stahl

Want to learn how you can create influential online content?

Wondering how you can strengthen your editing skills and polish everything you write before hitting publish?

Well, you’re in the right place! In this month’s #ContentWritingChat, we talked all about becoming a better writer and editor. Let’s dive into the recap!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Create Influential Content & Become a Strong Editor with Stephanie Stahl

Our guest host for this chat was Stephanie Stahl. She’s the General Manager for our friends over at Content Marketing Institute. And we were so thrilled to have her joining us to share some of her top content creation and editing tips with us!

Q1: What qualities make a piece of content influential?

We all want to create influential content that resonates with our target audience, right? But you might be wondering what exactly makes a piece of content influential and which qualities you should embody. Here’s what you need to know:

Stephanie feels influential content contains three key qualities: credibility, creativity, and emotion. Does your content have these things?

For Gaby, it’s all about having a solid understanding of who your audience is. You simply cannot create the content they’re searching for if you don’t take the time to get to know them!

Jason feels influential content should trigger an emotional response in your reader. This is a huge part of establishing a connection with your audience.

According to Gene, influential content should be well-written, well-researched, and show deep insight.

Authority is a must for influential content! Kristen feels you can show your authority through your own experiences, but also through research and opinions.

Rebecca also feels that influential content should have an authoritative voice.

Lexie said that content is influential when it makes you think and act. Is your content inspiring your readers to take action?

Alexa’s advice is to make sure your content is engaging. She also said you should provide something useful to your audience, not something redundant.

Q2: How can you be sure you’re creating content that resonates with your target audience?

It’s important that our content is written with our target audience in mind, but is there a way to make sure it’ll resonate before hitting publish? Check out this advice:

As Stephanie said, you need to treat your audience like your best friend. Get to know what they like and what they don’t so you can create the content that’s most appealing.

Kylee knows that you can’t start writing unless you’ve done your research about who your target audience is.

Lexie agrees that it’s all about getting to know your audience first. Talk to them and build a relationship first so you can understand their needs.

Active listening is where it’s at! Gaby knows this is a great way to discover what your audience is interested in and what they need help with.

One thing you can pay close attention to is whether or not your audience is converting on your content. As Sarah said, you want your audience to take some type of action after reading your post. If not, it’s time to make some changes.

Like Michelle said, sometimes it just requires a little trial and error to figure out what works best for you and your audience when striving to create influential content.

You’ll want to pay close attention to your metrics if you want to figure out what’s truly performing the best. Caitlin suggests looking at the common qualities that your most popular pieces of content share. You can even ask for feedback from readers.

While you’re doing some trial and error, your analytics will become your best friend. As Alexa pointed out, the data you find here will help you create content that resonates.

Q3: What are the essential elements that every great piece of online content should have?

So, you want to make sure your content stands out! Well, there are a few things that great content always has. Here they are:

For Stephanie, great content has credible research, compelling interviews, an empathetic voice, and a little bit of drama. She also said it’s important to help your reader understand any facts and figures you quote so they’ll see why it matters.

Gene knows that a winning headline is key to a great piece of content! If your headline isn’t grabbing attention, people won’t bother to click. Just avoid clickbait titles!

Sarah said content should speak directly to your audience, include a CTA, have credibility, and be easy to read. She also suggests having a good visual layout and overall experience for website visitors.

Headers, images, and links! All three of these elements are essential according to Rebecca. Use headers to split your blog post into sections and break up text. Images help provide captivating visuals. And links give readers more content to consume on the topic.

Lauren agrees that visual elements are a must for influential content. Plus, they’re great for sharing on social media.

Claire’s advice is to make sure your copy is friendly and relatable. This will draw your audience in, not repel them. Plus, she mentioned the importance of cutting down on jargon, particularly if it’s something your audience won’t understand. Write in a way that’s easy for them to get what you’re talking about.

Q4: Are there any key things editors should keep an eye on during the editing process? Tips to make it easier?

Editing your content doesn’t have to be stressful! If you can outsource it, that’s great. But if not, this important tasks falls on your shoulders. These tips will help you polish your content so it shines:

This is great advice from Stephanie!

Lexie suggests reading through a piece of content in its entirety before making any edits. This way, you can see if it paints the full picture you envisioned. If not, you’ll have some changes to make.

Gene loves to use the Hemingway app to make sure his writing is clear and easy to read. The app helps him keep sentences short and understandable. And since he keeps paragraphs short, it makes his content more readable.

Reading your content aloud can make a huge difference! This helps Lauren spot any mistakes she might have missed.

One piece of advice that Gaby shared was to use a style guide. You can create one for your own content or refer to one if you’re working with a client. This way, you can be more consistent in the voice you write with and the overall appearance of the content.

Think about the education level of your readers before you begin writing and while editing. As Caitlin said, sometimes the writer can be more advanced in an area than the reader. This can lead to the usage of jargon or complex ideas that your audience might not understand.

Q5: What are the top mistakes writers make when editing their content and how can editors help them?

When it comes to editing, we sometimes make mistakes! To avoid them, check out these mistakes shared during the chat so you can be on the lookout:

Being too wordy is definitely a no-no! Stephanie knows a great editor can help cut out any unnecessary words while still keeping the main points in tact.

Not editing your work is definitely a mistake! While it may be tedious at time, it’s worth it to review your content before hitting publish.

Since Sarah edits her own content, she knows how challenging it can be sometimes. Her advice is to step away for a bit and come back to it with fresh eyes. This way, you’ll be more likely to catch mistakes and spot places for improvement.

Michelle’s advice is to read your work aloud, take some time away and then return to it, use a tool and/or a human editor to catch mistakes, and change the font to better spot errors.

Lauren says you shouldn’t rely on the same old words and phrases all the time. Don’t be afraid to switch things up a bit!

When it comes to editing, you also have to recognize when enough is enough.

Q6: When editing a blog post, how can we determine its readability and whether or not it will captivate our readers?

Readability is very important when it comes to your blog posts. But what exactly makes a post readable? These tips will help!

If an editor stumbles over details, gets confused by the point, or gets bored… That’s a sign something needs to change. If your editor feels like that, there’s a good chance your reader will too.

Lexie suggests reading through your content from start to finish without making edits. Were you able to get through it or did you get bored? Boring content needs some work!

Jennifer suggests using the readability analysis in WordPress if that’s where your site is hosted. It can provide some helpful insights into where you can make improvements.

Kylee knows that big chunks of text are definitely a NO! She also said to make sure your content flows from one paragraph to the next.

Having big chunks of text makes your posts harder to read. Break things up into smaller paragraphs, utilize headings, bulleted lists, and images to enhance readability.

Q7: Are there any tools you rely on to be both a better writer and editor?

There are plenty of tools out there that can improve our writing and editing skills. Which ones are worth trying out though? Here are a few suggestions:

Stephanie knows there are plenty of great tools out there, but sometimes it just doesn’t compare to a red pen!

Julia suggests taking in reader feedback, get critiques from a pro, and to read and write often.

Lexie knows that it’s all about practice. To be a better writer, you have to consistently practice writing.

Gaby is definitely a fan of Grammarly!

Lauren relies on Google Docs because it’s easy to use when editing content. It allows you to leave notes and see where changes have been made.

Danielle’s go-to tools include CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer and the Hemingway app.

Mara is also a Grammarly fan, but she also knows that her co-workers make all the difference when it comes to editing.

Never stop reading! You can get so much inspiration from reading what others have written. But as Lauren suggested, just try putting your own spin on things.

Q8: If we want to strengthen our content creation skills, are there any resources we should check out?

While you’re checking out all of those suggested tools, here are some additional resources to use:

Gaby suggests taking online classes, reading case studies, collaborating with others, and more. All are great options for strengthening your skills.

Danielle loves to listen to the interviews on the Longform podcast.

Influential content just isn’t the same without great graphics! Our favorite is Canva, but Michelle also loves Pablo by Buffer.

Ready to join #ContentWritingChat for yourself? We chat on the first Tuesday of every month at 10 AM Central! Just follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat for all the latest.

content creator

How the Right Content Creator Can Completely Redefine Your Brand

Thinking about hiring a content creator for your business?

Just do it.

You’ve probably heard that line a few thousand times before.

The magic of Nike’s signature call-to-action wasn’t built by accident.

The content creators, writers and marketers behind the campaign crafted a line that would make the brand feel more inclusive.

It speaks to everyone, not just athletes, by urging them to follow their aspirations.

Plus, it’s catchy as heck.

Would you want the same thing for your brand?

A lot of your success and reach online comes down to finding the right content creator.

This is a necessary step when it comes to building your brand.

91% of B2B marketers agree.

B2B Using CM

Adding an expert content creator and writer to your creative team will save you time, money and shape your brand’s identity.

So what are you waiting for?

Just do it.

Let’s talk more about the role of a content creator in business, why a content creator benefits you, and a brief history behind today’s modern content creator.content creator blog

What is a Content Creator?

You may already be familiar of the job of content writing and content creation without ever having come across the terms.

Unlike some of it’s comrades that disguise themselves in tricky acronyms – LBO, BT, BI, SQL, GN – content writing and creation is exactly what it sounds like. (By the way, at least one of those acronyms doesn’t exist, see if you can find it!)

Content writers create content to garner interest in your brand. Blogs, web pages, ad copy, social media posts, ebooks, how-to guides, videos, this very paragraph you’re reading – it’s all the work of highly skilled content creators.

The main difference between anyone simply making a WordPress site, creating a post and jotting down their feelings and a content writer is the hidden technicality of this type of writing.

As you read this blog you’re coming across keywords, links and other techniques that content writers weave in to the content to optimize it for the web.

Can you tell?

I hope not. Content creators are ninjas of the written word. They adhere to the rules of SEO by sneaking them in without interrupting the natural flow of the content.

No matter what, the ever-changing algorithms of optimizing online content will always fall behind the number one rule. The one rule to rule them all: creating high-quality content.

Why You Need a Content Creator

Unless you plan on heading up your company by day and transforming into a content writing ninja by night, the best solution is to hire an expert content writer.

Fulfilling a detailed content strategy shouldn’t be another box to check on your daily to-do list.

Gaining the full benefits of content writing requires 100% attention. You want someone passionate about growing your brand who can bring fresh eyes and follow through on your content strategy.

Not convinced? Let us show you why you need to hire a content creator:

1. It’s Cost Effective

How often do you come across ways to both grow your business and save money?

Outsourcing content creation to a freelance writer or agency will save you the time and cost of training them. In fact, the highest percentage of outsourced content marketing is content creation.

Content creators charge a multitude of prices, so the best strategy before hiring is to know what you want and how much you’re willing to pay. Remember that quality is key to successful online content.

You may be able to get a cheap deal on Fiverr, but quality content isn’t something you bargain for.

We break down our pricing into three quality levels to cover a range of content needs.

2. It Will Save You Time

Content writing is more complex than churning out a few blogs when you feel like it. It takes time to produce high quality content because it’s more than just writing.

This type of content creation is a mix of research, editing, proofreading and formatting to craft high-ranking and high-traffic content relevant to your brand.

It’s okay that you don’t have time to memorize the latest SEO trends for 2018. This responsibility will be taken on by your content writer.

3. Fresh Content Will Keep Your Brand Relevant

Bringing in a content writer to be the voice of your brand will give your audience a whole new perspective.

Content creators are like students taking a course on what your company is. They will learn the ins and outs of your brand identity and turn it into a conversational piece to relay to your clientele.

Consistent content will also keep your online presence up to date. Posting fresh content across all platforms will help you rank higher in search engines.

Are you convinced yet?

Before you hire a content creator it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you want. Set your goals so that you can communicate them:

  • How do you want to sell your brand?
  • What type of content do you need?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you want someone in-house or outsourced?

Answering these questions will point you in the right direction.

How Did We Get Here? The History of Content Creators

Content writing wasn’t born out of thin air.

It comes from a long ancestry of using messages to communicate.

Finding a connection between a blog centered on Apple’s new iPhone robot and Egyptian hieroglyphics may seem like a stretch, but just hear me out.

From the prehistoric era to today, writing has been one of the top modes of disseminating information.

Perhaps we’ve traded out wooden tablets for Android tablets since then, but at its core, the goals of writing have always remained.

Where Today’s Content Writing Originated: Going Back to Mesopotamian Cuneiform in 8,000 B.C.

The essence of all writing is described as a “system of graphic marks representing the units of a specific language.”

The first recorded writing system was the Mesopotamian cuneiform, which evolved into four phases from 8000 to 1500 BC:

  • Clay tokens: stood for symbols of a code to categorize and track the amount of items you had. Clay was formed into geometric shapes to mirror the goods they were representing.
  • Pictographs: signs and impressions that represented numbers and specific items. These symbols replaced physical tokens.
  • Logographs: or symbols that represented phonetic sounds. For the first time, writing was no longer tied to counting or tracking objects. People wrote names and titles.
  • The Alphabet: signs that stood for one particular sound that the voice made. This made room for combining multiple signs to represent a whole new word. From the first alphabet came many more renditions, each originating from a particular region.

With each new written form of communication, came the intrigue in spreading that information to a wider audience.

By the time 1450 rolled around, Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press brought forth a revolution. There was an enormous demand for sharing and preserving ideas in print.

In the 1970s, the first renditions of the internet were introduced and the written word was launched into cyberspace.

We’ve been disseminating information from pixels on a screen ever since.

Today: The Shift for Content Creators and Businesses

The power of words is undeniable.

From Shakespeare to hashtags, it’s all about condensing down your identity into a series of signs and symbols.

You can persuade, influence, communicate and create an impact without ever making a sound.

Imagine the impact you can make writing to the four billion people using the internet worldwide?

Well, that made your ears perk up.

The demand for creative content has always been a major part of business strategy. Whether it’s print ads, press releases or commercials, companies have found ways to speak directly to their audience.

Then came Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

With over 3 billion active users, social media has become the language of the people. It didn’t take long for companies to realize that they needed to jump on board to become a part of the conversation.

But it’s more than just showing up.

Having a Facebook account or generic landing page is not enough to sell your brand. The audience on the web today researches services and products they want to support. They buy from brands they want to be associated with.

Customers are looking for a full fledged relationship with your brand, not a one night stand.

To build that relationship, you need to speak to their needs. The best way to do that is through carefully crafted content.

Content writers can turn generic blogs into love letters.

It’s not a skill to be overlooked. Content writing was named one of the top freelancing skills for 2018, with the median salary of over $40,000 a year.

Creating Great Content: It’s More than a Blog

Even if you spend only a few minutes scrolling through articles, chances are that you soak in some of the information.

With the unique ability to speak directly to their targeted audience, content writers are able to recognize what is important to the reader.

The impact of their words reaches far beyond the time you spend actually reading or viewing their content, even if you don’t recognize it.

Remember, we’re ninjas.

The best content creators find what’s at the core of the product they are selling, and emphasize that. Dos Equis was never associated with the most interesting anything until their manly mascot came around.

Putting creativity at the forefront of your content strategy is a way to reach consumers without overselling your brand.

One content creator, Nanette Burstein, and her team turned the negative connotation of “like a girl” on it’s head in the Always marketing campaign. The #LikeAGirl movement urged girls and women of all ages to aspire to reach bigger goals and celebrated their accomplishments. The content Nanette created associated Always with female empowerment while also selling more feminine products.

Metro Trains had a very simple message for passengers: don’t mess around on trains. Instead of posting signage and warnings, their creative team designed a video depicting “Dumb Ways to Die” with a catchy jingle and cute characters to match. The result? Over 165 million views on YouTube and counting.

I think they got their message across.

Content creation does not have to be directly associated with the products you’re selling. It’s about creating content that’s appealing to your target audience while also sharing your message.

Creating valuable content transcends your products. At the end of the day, you’re building a relationship between your audience and your brand.

Content Creators that Care: Building My Team to Support a Growing Industry

Though my brand, Express Writers, absolutely does offer high-quality content services, I also grow it as a means of supporting a community interested in online content.

Have you read our ultimate guide on What is a Content Strategist, yet?  Check it out here! You can read it online or download and save for later.

Beyond the products we sell, we offer resources to businesses, freelancers and anyone wanting to learn about content marketing.

I started the Write Blog, Write Podcast and #ContentWritingChat as a way to continue the conversation about what’s important in the writing world to everyone, not just our customers.

I’ve even built an online content marketing and strategy course to help everyone learn the skills to be successful in the content realm.

You, too, can become a member of the content creator ninja society.

There’s no need to keep these skills secret. Content creation is not about competition. The purpose of writing has and always will be to share and preserve valuable content.

Maybe your creative content team will come up with the next gem worthy to have a seat next to Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke,” or Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?”

The possibilities are endless when it comes to building content around your brand.

So don’t take Volkswagen’s “Think Small” advice, no matter how well it worked for them.

It’s your content.

Think big.

content creation tactics

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Content Creation Tactics & Methods for 2018

Could you use some help with your content creation?

Well, you’re in the right place!

During this week’s #ContentWritingChat, we talked all about content creation tactics to help you create better content and to do it more efficiently.

Let’s dive into the recap for all the tips!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Content Creation Tactics & Methods for 2018

This was our monthly community chat, where we put our participants in the spotlight! The topic of Content Creation Tactics was the runner-up in a recent poll we conducted to see what you wanted to chat about.

Q1: What characteristics make a high-quality, valuable piece of content?

To kick off the chat, we asked everyone to share the characteristics of a high-quality, valuable piece of content. After all, you have to know what makes a great piece of content if you want to ensure your work fits the bill! Here’s what a few people had to say:

You want your content to be consumer-centric. Write blog posts that address their paint points, answer questions, and pique their interests. That’s going to help you create content they love and appreciate.

Keep in mind that it all depends on the goal of your content. As Maria pointed out, you’ll want to create content that solves a problem, answers a question, or chimes in on a hot topic that’s relevant to your audience.

Make sure your content is relevant to your target audience. If it’s not, they won’t find it important and they won’t bother reading it! Sarah also mentioned that timing, emotion, and creating a need to act are also important factors.

Sabina said that high-quality, valuable content is always research-driven.

Your content should be informative and engaging. You want your readers to feel they’re gaining something from the content they read.

Warwick feels great content should be actionable. Give your readers something to do next by including an effective call to action.

Your content should be readable, relatable, and relevant to your audience.

Julia feels great content should be comprehensive, well-researched, well-written, and it should contain original thoughts. She also knows visuals can play a big role in the success of a blog post.

Gordon likes content to be emotionally engaging and well-composed.

As Lexie said, you want your content to stick with your audience long after they’ve finished reading it. That’s a sign of a great piece!

Q2: How often should we be publishing new content on our blogs?

Is there a magic number of times we should publish new content? It’s an age old question that many bloggers are faced with. And here’s what you need to know:

Lexie’s advice is to consider what your audience wants. How much are they willing to read each week?

Julia feels content frequency depends on consistency and your level of comfort. As she pointed out, you should publish something that was rushed.

Uploading poor content just so you don’t miss a publishing day is not a smart move.

Create content consistently, but don’t waste the time of your readers. Lori’s advice is to create something that unique and relevant.

This is interesting research via Forbes! Keep this in mind when creating your content calendar.

How often is your audience engaging with your content? It’s going to be different for every brand, so you need to find your sweet spot.

Know your audience, know your capabilities, and know your content goals. This will guide your posting frequency.

Q3: What are your best tactics for choosing topics to write about on your blog?

Deciding what to write about isn’t always an easy task. Fortunately, we have some great advice that will help you out! Read what these chat participants had to say:

You always need to know your audience and what they’re interested in. Start developing a relationship with them to get to know them better.

Surveying your audience or spending time on platforms like Answer the Public can be great content creation tactics.

Jenn suggests doing surveys, polls, or turning to other groups to come up with content ideas.

Social listening is always a great tactic!

Maria pays attention to trending topics and what the people in her niche are interested in.

Scott knows Twitter chats can tell you a lot about your audience and which topics are worth covering on your blog.

Gordon suggests checking out your analytics. You can learn a lot by looking are things like search terms.

Sabina’s advice is to dive into your analytics to see what your readers have loved in the past. She also said to determine what they searched for to find you, where they left your site, and more. These are all great ideas.

Annaliese said to research your competitors. Find out what’s working for them and determine how you can put your own spin on it. You can also use topic generators for ideas.

Q4: Share your tips for creating your editorial calendar. How far in advance do you plan? How do you choose what to write about?

Creating your editorial calendar is certainly time-consuming, but it’s the best way to ensure you stay on track with your content. If you’ve been struggling to create a calendar and stick with it, check out these tips:

Sarah’s advice is to be strategic with your content, but to also be flexible. If something comes up, don’t be afraid to make shifts in your schedule.

Cass tries to plan content a month in advance, which is great!

Creating a theme around your content each month is a great way to ensure you’re working towards your goals. It’s also going to be helpful in deciding which ideas make it into the editorial calendar.

Kristen and the team she works with focus on quarterly and monthly themes for their content.

Make sure you’re always relevant with the content you’re publishing. No one wants old news!

Just remember to do what works best for you. What works for one brand might not be the best option for your team.

Q5: Describe your writing process! Which steps are essential for you?

When it comes to content creation tactics, we all have different steps we follow. It’s all about doing what’s right for you, after all! However, that doesn’t mean we can’t draw inspiration from others. Check out the essential writing steps some of these chat participants take:

Is your content relevant for the time you’ll be publishing it? No one wants a stale piece of content, so make sure you’re timely. Also, ask yourself if you see this particular idea being successful.

Creating content all starts with research!

The Launch Marketing team also relies on research before diving into the writing process.

Julia relies on scheduled quiet time in her office to get writing done.

Kristopher also needs quiet time to get writing done, but he likes having soft music playing in the background. From tehre, he plans and outlines his work before moving onto writing.

Choose your topics based on your goals, analytics data, and research. Then, begin writing. Afterwards, you should take a break before coming back to do your editing. This allows you to review your work with fresh eyes.

Sabina likes to edit as she goes along.

And remember, do what works for you! If your writing process is stressful or frustrating, figure out why and make a change.

Q6: What are your favorite resources for learning how to strengthen your writing skills?

Luckily, there are plenty of resources out there that can help us become better writers. Which ones are worth checking out? Here’s a great round-up of suggestions from the chat:

Julia knows reading other material is one great way to strengthen your writing skills.

Sarah also loves to read, whether it’s books, content from influencers in her industry, or reading work her writer friends have created.

Annaliese turns to resources like Copyblogger and the Express Writers blog for tips. We couldn’t be more appreciative of this!

Carla knows her Kindle is a must! It’s a great way to get instant access to a plethora of books.

Grammarly is Gordon’s favorite tool to use, but he also attends meet-ups and trainings to learn more.

Ashok likes to read content from Neil Patel, Search Engine Journal, and others.

Lexie knows that you have to put those skills to use because practice makes perfect when it comes to writing.

Remember you can always improve your writing skills if you just dedicate the time and effort to the practice.

Q7: Are there any tools that will help you polish your writing before hitting publish?

Need help polishing your writing before hitting publish on that important blog post? These tools will lend you a helping hand:

Lexie relies on Grammarly, but she also likes to have someone else look over content before publishing it.

Jade uses Grammarly, then has his wife look over his work.

A second or third set of eyes never hurts!

The Hemingway App and Grammarly are two great tools to use.

Annaliese relies on the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer, Grammarly, and the Hemingway App.

Danielle’s go-to tools include Moz, Hemingway, and CoSchedule.

Read your content out loud or even backwards to see if you spot any mistakes.

Q8: How do you measure the success of your content?

Once your content has been published, the next step is to track its success. How do you measure its performance? These are the metrics to watch:

It all goes back to the goals of your content. That determines which metrics you track.

Your goals could be engagement, time spent on page, comments, and more.

Varun suggested tracking goals like brand awareness, engagement, lead generation, or sales conversions. All of them are great metrics to track.

We can’t forget about conversions! Sarah also mentioned how the post is helping with SEO, if it’s acquiring links, and if it’s brining in traffic.

If you’re all about engagement, you’ll want to see those comments and conversations happening on your blog.

Join us for the next #ContentWritingChat! We’re chatting every Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time on Twitter. Just follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat for all the latest!

cta content strategy and marketing course

content creation

#ContentWritingChat Recap: 2017 Content Creation Tips and Tricks

This week on #ContentWritingChat, we decided to switch things up a bit! As you may know by now, we typically have a guest host join us every week. Well, this Tuesday we decided to have a community chat and just let our participants be the main focus. After all, we do love each and every person who joins us for an hour of fun every Tuesday!

This community chat went so well that we’re actually going to incorporate them into our #ContentWritingChat schedule every month. We’re even going to give you you the opportunity to give input on upcoming chat topics, so stay tuned!

But for now, let’s dive into the recap of this week’s chat where we talked all about content creation tips and trick for 2017!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: 2017 Content Creation Tips and Tricks

In Tuesday’s chat, we invited everyone to join us and talk content creation. Being that so many members of our #ContentWritingChat community are writers, it’s no surprise that they all had some great advice to share. Let’s get to it!

Q1: When it comes to content, what’s the first step you should always take before you begin creating?

Before you dive head first into writing content, there are a few things you should do beforehand! What might those things be? Here’s what a few of our participants believe are the essential first steps:

Sarah is spot-on with her answer! She knows that you have to determine what your audience needs to see before you can start with content creation. After all, if you aren’t sure what your audience needs, how can you create content that will resonate?

As you spend time getting to know your audience, you also want to determine how they like to receive content. Do they prefer a specific content format or a certain platform? These are all important things to consider before you create.

We like the way Brittany put it! Date your audience to get to know them before taking them along on your content journey.

Having a message behind your content is important as well. You want your audience to read your content and be able to walk away with something of value. Make sure your content always serves a purpose.

Zala also agrees that your content needs to serve a purpose. Everything you publish online should add value to your audience in some way.

As Megan mentioned, research is a very important step to content creation. Before you can begin writing, you may need to conduct research to learn more yourself or so that you have sources to back up your ideas.

Julia’s advice is to begin by discovering trends and topics and perform the best on the platform you’re writing for. You can then analyze the audience and SEO.

You can’t forget to set goals either! When you have clear goals in mind, you’re able to create the content that will help you achieve what you want.

Q2: What types of content do you create to build and maintain an authoritative, ROI online presence?

There are all kinds of content types out there in the online world! For that reason, it can be difficult to choose what’s right for you. Here’s some advice for you if you want to create authoritative content that helps you get results:

Les knows that it’s important to consider the content types your audience prefers. If your audience loves to read, they’ll probably enjoy your long-form blog posts. If they’re more visual, they’ll be happy to watch your YouTube videos and live broadcasts. Always keep their preferences in mind!

Elizabeth recommends trying multiple mediums for your content. This is a great opportunity to see what performs best for you and what your audience likes the most. Whichever content type you choose, it’s crucial that you share a relevant, helpful message.

Julia urges you not to overlook your core content types. Make sure you aren’t neglecting your blog and the various landing pages you have on your site.

Infographics and blog posts are two ways you can certainly shine online!

Q3: What platforms do you publish on? (Your own site, guest platforms, etc.)

It’s important to consider where you’re publishing your online content if you want to effectively reach your audience. We asked our chat participants to share where they dedicate most of their time and here’s what they had to say:

Julia knows it’s important to focus on your own website, as that’s online real estate you actually own. You don’t have to worry about a site or a social media platform shutting down. Secondly, she encourages guest blogging. You can use platforms like LinkedIn Pulse and Medium for this.

Her other piece of advice is not to be everywhere online. She says it’ll dilute your focus and you’ll also wind up spreading yourself too thin. Focus on the core platforms that you enjoy and that work for you.

Gaby publishes content on her personal website, other industry sites, and on social media. In the past, she’s even contributed to academic sites. It’s all about finding what works for you and just going for it!

Brittany has been mostly focused on her own website, but she’s planning to branch out into guest blogging. It’s a great way to get your content in front of a wider, relevant audience.

Cheval mostly publishes on his own site as well, but he does like to repurpose articles on LinkedIn. If your audience is there, this could be a worthwhile strategy for you as well.

Sarah said the ThinkSEM team is focused on publishing content on their blog, in their email newsletters, and then spreading the word via Twitter.

Jeff enjoys finding valuable content via Medium. With a variety of articles and writers, you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy.

Q4: How do you get inspired to create content ideas for your blog and social media?

It’s not always easy to find inspiration for new content ideas, which can often leave us frustrated! If you’re looking for ways to get your creative juices flowing again, check out these tips:

Make sure you’re actually listening to your audience. Sometimes, they’ll you exactly what they want to see from you! Watch for the comments and questions they leave on your blog posts, in response to email newsletters, and also on social media.

You can also draw inspiration from your competitors. Check out what they’re doing and what they’re missing out on. You may have the opportunity to do something better than they did or fill a need they’ve forgotten about.

It also helps to look at support tickets, if this is a part of your business. If your audience is often asking the same questions, you can write content that answers them.


Javier suggests thinking about the challenges your clients are facing or may face in the future. You can create content that provides them with potential solutions to what they’re dealing with.

Anna checks Quora to find out what people are frequently asking there. She also turns to books and articles to gain inspiration.

Beth finds that she’s often inspired by other blogs. Whenever an idea strikes, she records it in a document where she’ll easily find it later.

Allow Google to be your best friend! Lex recommends doing a little keyword and user intent research to figure out what your audience is searching for. Once you know, you’re able to create exactly the content they want.

On the flip side, sometimes it helps to just get away from the computer for a bit. Get outside and go for a walk. Danielle said the fresh air can do wonders for your imagination.

Q5: What does your process for content creation look like? Any tips you can share?

We all have a different process when it comes to content creation! Here’s how some of our chat participants get started with creating:

Brittany’s process will have you on the fast-track to content success! Research, strategize, write, edit, publish, promote, repurpose, and then start all over again.

Once you have an idea, a great way to get started is with an outline and conducting research. These are essential steps that can help make the writing process much easier.

After she’s gotten an idea, Elizabeth begins outlining her content by jotting down the main points and ideas she wants to cover. This will help her be much more organized when it comes time to write.

For the Netvantage team, they start with keyword research.

Andrew relies on Post-it Notes to help him with the content creation process. He also recommends stepping away from your content for a bit and then revisiting it. This is a great way to make any final edits. He also said it’s helpful to ask for feedback from others.

Mallorie says you shouldn’t be afraid to just write. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part, so the best thing you can do is just start writing and let the words flow. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mess because you can always edit it later.

Q6: How do you ensure the content you create will help you achieve the goals you set for your brand?

If the content you write isn’t helping you achieve your end goal, what’s the point? Here’s how you can ensure everything you publish is having an impact:

Julia said you need to set and know your goal goals before you start creating. This will help direct you in the right path so you can actually see the results you were hoping for.

Not only that, but you should also know how those goals fit into your overall brand strategy.

After your content is published, you need to track your results to see how you’re doing. For Lalaina, she typically tracks blog views and clicks on her call to action.

As Gaby mentioned, it’s important to periodically reflect on your goals and the results you’re getting. If you need to, don’t be afraid to realign. It’s necessary if things aren’t going your way!

Zala agrees! You need to test, measure, track, and change accordingly. If you aren’t seeing results, make tweaks and test again to see how things change.

Remember: everything you publish should track back to your larger goals. You need to publish content that serves a purpose and is working hard for you.

Q7: What do you predict for the future of content in 2017 and beyond?

The world of online content is always changing, so it’s important that we look to the future for what’s right around the corner. Here are some predictions our chat participants have made about what’s to come:

Cheval thinks a majority of online content will be created in video format. It’s one content type that has been on the rise in recent years and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Julia also sees that video is on the rise, but she’s also predicting there will be even more tools for creating content. She said people will have to be both creative and consistent if they want to stand out in this busy online world.

Shorter videos and user-generated content are definitely performing well, especially on social media.

Kavita also sees live video growing, with more brands starting to invest in this format.

And we can’t forget about augmented reality!

Compelling storytelling and visuals are always a winning combination!

We can expect an increase in visual content, podcasts, and automation tools.

Jasmine thinks brands will be using new ways to encourage reader engagement. After all, it’s so important that we stay in touch with our audience and build relationships with them.

Lex is hoping for a greater integration of SEO, as well as better use of metrics and analytics.

Q8: Which tools do you rely on to create amazing online content for your brand?

Fortunately, content creation is made much easier with all the powerful tools we have at our disposal. If you’re looking for some new ones to try out, take a look at these suggestions:

Sarah’s go-to tools include: WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin, Twitter, Medium, other blogs, newsletters, and even life events.

BuzzSumo, Keyword Tool, and SEMrush are all great options for conducting keyword research. For editing, Grammarly is a popular option. And for anyone who wants an easy way to create graphics, Canva is awesome.

Gaby is a big fan of Grammarly as well!

Julia relies on a variety of tools including: WordPress, Google Docs, Airtable, Yoast, Mangools, SEMrush, and BuzzSumo.

Beth loves to use the Hemingway app, which is another popular tool for content creation.

Want to join in on the Twitter chat fun? Our chat takes place every Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time! Be sure to follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat for all the latest!
#Contentwritingchat

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Long-Form Content: Distribution & Promotion Tactics, & Best Examples with Lisa Dougherty

There’s no denying that long-form content is where it’s at when it comes to the world of online content. That’s why we had to host a #ContentWritingChat all about this topic that’s so crucial for content creators. If you’re ready to learn more about the benefits of long-form content, how to create it, and how to promote it, you’re in the right place! Now, let’s dive into the recap!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Long-Form Content: Distribution & Promotion Tactics, & Best Examples with Lisa Dougherty

Our guest host this week was Lisa Dougherty. Lisa is an entrepreneur and she’s also the Blog & Community Director over at Content Marketing Institute. CMI is one of our favorite resources and we were thrilled to have Lisa join the chat and share her expertise on long-form content.

Q1: Why should you consider long-form content in this age where so many talk about short-form content?

You’ve likely heard that we as human beings tend to have short attention spans. So, if this is true, then why are people pushing brands to create long-form content online? Here’s how longer, valuable content can actually benefit your brand:

Lisa said long-form content typically performs better on social media, plus it also increases website authority and earns you links.

More rankings, more shares, and more reads! Need we say more about why long-form content ROCKS?

Sarah feels long-form content allows you to go deep with your customers and strengthen your relationship with them. After all, when they fall in love with the valuable content you create, they’ll truly appreciate your work and become big fans of your brand.

Darcy knows longer content can provide readers with tremendous value, which they’re sure to love you for. Make sure that you keep your content concise and actionable to ensure they’re engaged.

As Jim mentioned, you’ll have to work in order to keep the attention of your audience when creating longer content. You don’t want them to tune out before finishing your post.

Q2: How do you ensure longer blog posts are captivating and hold attention all the way through?

With longer content, you’re going to have to hook your reader in the very beginning and then hold their attention to get them to read through your entire post. What’s the secret to making that happen? Check out this advice from Tuesday’s chat:

Lisa encourages you to tell your story and infuse it with emotion. Share your personal experiences. It’s this kind of content that will leave people wanting to read more. She also said to write for your reader, not the search engines. While it’s fine to optimize your content for search engines, you need to create with your reader in mind. It’ll help you develop a stronger connection with them and they’ll continue to come back and read more.

Lisa also shared some great advice when it comes to writing your long-form content. As she mentioned, headlines will attract attention. They are what will get people to your content in the first place. What will get them to read is your introduction and the content that follows. Make sure you keep it interesting and drawn them in.

When it comes to editing, Jim suggests letting your drafts sit for a day or two. Then, once you’ve had some time apart, you can come back and edit with fresh eyes. As he said, if your long-form content bores you, you have problems. You need to find a way to change it up before you hit publish.

Elizabeth knows longer blog posts will require strategic formatting in order to keep your reader interested and to lead them through the post. It’s also important to showcase your brand’s captivating voice.

How you structure your blog posts also plays a major role in keeping people hooked on your long-form content. You’ll want to use headings and make sure everything flows. Headings are great for separating individual ideas and it helps to break up big blocks of text. And making sure everything flows is important because you want to have high quality writing on your blog.

Pictures are another great way to break up text and they can also grab attention and keep people interested. You’ll want to add at least one eye-catching visual to each of your blog posts.

Other options to spice up your content include: adding infographics, video and podcast versions of your written content, and great pictures.

Erika knows subheadings and visuals are great, but she also suggested using bulleted lists. Bulleted and numbered lists are an easy way to make text scannable for your reader, which they’ll surely appreciate. And as she said, don’t write just to make your posts long. Only write as much as you feel is necessary to get your point across.

Q3: Once you’ve created an amazing piece of long-form content, how do you promote it to maximize your readership?

Once you have an amazing piece of content published on your website, you can’t just let it sit there to gather virtual dust. Instead, you have to be proactive about promoting the content you’ve written. Here’s how you can promote a piece of content and attract plenty of new readers:

Lisa knows just how beneficial a “popular posts” widget on your website can be. If there are any posts you’d like to showcase, they can be featured in your popular posts section, which is great for keeping people on your site and reading more.

This advice is simple: share it! If you have something new that you’ve created and you’d like to send some more traffic to it, you can absolutely do that. It all starts with knowing who your audience is (and where you’re from) and also knowing what they want.

Julia said you can share a great post by pinning it to your social media pages, repurpose it for social media posts, SlideShare presentations, videos, and more.

Know who your audience is and post the right content to them on the right channels (the ones they’re actively using).

Elizabeth recommends sharing content through social media and your email list. Make sure you’re repurposing content for the platform it’s been shared to so you know it’ll perform its best.

Teasing your content before it goes live is a great way to share a sneak peek and leave people wanting more. They’re sure to be excited about what you have coming up when they find out.

Promote your content on social media or to your email list. Ask influencers to help you spread the word or team up for media partnerships. And finally, organic traffic will do you wonders if you’ve optimized correctly.

Sara encourages you to find a way to repurpose your content. You can do so in a visual way, which means you could create a live video, an infographic, a series of graphics, or something else. It’s all about finding what works best for your brand and your audience.

Q4: What are other creative ways to promote long-form content for maximum mileage?

If you really want to increase the readership on a particular piece of long-form content, you’ll want to get creative with how you spread the word. Here are a few great ideas you can try out:

Lisa likes the ideas of sending email previews to those who contributed to a post or those who are mentioned in a post. You can send them the publish date, the URL, and any pre-written tweets to make it easy for them to share. When you take out the hard work for them, they’ll be more likely to spread the word!

Lisa also mentioned using the Click to Tweet feature to create ready-to-share posts for social media. This makes it easy for readers to spread the word about the content you’ve created. You also want to link to older, relevant content to keep people on your site.

With the popularity of live video, Leah is spot on with her suggestion of turning a longer blog post into a Facebook Live. You can also use Instagram Live or Periscope.

Elizabeth is repurposing her content into videos, SlideShares, and podcast episodes. This will really help her reach a wider audience.

Martin suggests breaking up longer content pieces into smaller ones to get the most out of what you’ve created.

Longer blog posts can even be repurposed as PDFs and delivered as a freebie for your audience. You can also use it to create informative SlideShares.

Varun suggests creating memes, filming short-form videos, asking thought-provoking questions, and inviting your audience to share their opinions.

You can even share it in relevant social media groups, on Reddit, various dedicated forums and discussion platforms, create infographics, and promote it via Quora.

Q5: Should you syndicate a great piece of long-form content on another site? If so, where is a great place to start?

To maximize readership, many turn to syndication as a way to repurpose content they’ve created. Is this really worthwhile though? And if so, how do you go about syndicating content the right way? Read these tips:

As Lisa mentioned, Google may not be a fan of content syndication. You’ll want to do some research before trying this out for yourself. To help, she shared a post from Content Marketing Institute so you can learn more about syndication.

If you decide to move forward with syndication, keep Jim’s advice in mind. He suggests building a trusting relationship with the site first. You also want to make sure you’re aware of their syndication terms before getting started.

You’ll also want to make sure the site you syndicate with has a reputation for publishing high-quality content.

Also, make sure your target audience is reading this site so you can actually reach the right people.

On the plus side, syndication is a great way to get your content seen by a wider audience.

Because Google could see it as duplicate content, you may want to consider repurposing the piece instead. Find a way to make it fresh and difference so it isn’t repetitive.

One final piece of advice to remember: don’t overdo it. This can cheapen your content, so do all syndication with care.

Hank agrees that you shouldn’t go overboard when syndicating. Choose wisely which platforms you want to post your content on.

Q6: What are ways you can repurpose written long-form content? At what point in the process should you start planning for repurposing opportunities?

To truly make the most of your content, you’ll want to repurpose it. This will help you breathe new life into older content and you’ll be able to reach a wider audience. So, how can you get started with this strategy? Check it out:

Lisa suggests repurposing your content in the following ways: YouTube videos, SlideShare, infographics, and quote images. All of these ideas are great and are sure to help you get more mileage out of your content.

She also suggests getting started right away when it comes to planning how you’ll repurpose a piece of content. You can do this by finding your evergreen content and determining the best way to repurpose it based on your brand and your audience. Think about what they’d most like to see! It’s also wise to repurpose the posts that are performing the best.

Podcast episodes are another great idea!

You can even compile multiple blog posts on one topic into a single eBook.

Create social media posts, memes, quotes, infographics, and even more blog content.

Erica suggests considering what will work best for the other platforms you want to share your content on. You might choose to create infographics, timelines, videos, pictures, or Moments.

Jim likes to write content with repurposing in mind. This surely helps him to make the most of his content.

Elizabeth begins thinking about repurposing once she has created the original piece.

This is great advice from Martin. Don’t let your long-form content get stale. You can make updates months or a year later to keep the content fresh and accurate.

Q7: What’s an example of long-form content you loved recently? Share the link!

To help you get some inspiration from amazing long-form content, we asked our chat participants to share a link to a post they loved recently. Here’s what they shared with us:

All of these blog posts are worth taking a look at!

Q8: Who does an amazing job at creating long-form content? Tag them!

So, who shines at long-form content? Check out this awesome list:

Lisa is a fan of Buffer’s blog and the content they share. (We are too!) She also enjoys reading iconiContent.

There’s no denying that Neil Patel is a long-form content king!

Neil Patel, Buffer, and Hubspot are all great!

CoSchedule is another amazing place to read content.

The Jeff Bullas blog is also a favorite!

And our own guest host, Lisa, does a pretty fantastic job herself!

Join us every Tuesday at 10 AM CST for #ContentWritingChat! Follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat to stay updated on topics and guests.

#Contentwritingchat

visuals in your content

10 Ways to Boost Your Copy With Engaging Visuals in Your Content

Quick: what’s black and white and sad all over?

Online copy with no visuals!

Today, great visuals are everything to engaging, readable online copy.

In addition to making your material more exciting, they also help pull readers through your text, making it easier for them to engage with and connect to it.

Without visuals, content is just a sad shell of text, and won’t make it far.

Here’s everything you need to know about why visuals matter and how to use them in your online content.

visuals

What the Numbers Say About Visuals in Your Content

When you were a kid, you loved books with pictures, right?

The illustrations just added something to the text, and you enjoyed learning about new worlds and people through colorful images.

Today, it’s no different.

While it might be true that we’re older and that the visuals in question now aren’t so much illustrations as they are graphics, screenshots, and infographics, visuals are just as important as they’ve always been, and adding them into your marketing copy can take it from “blah” to memorable.

The reason is simple: visuals tell a story, and that story helps enhance your online content. Without visuals, the words must stand on their own, which makes your material less compelling and exciting for readers.

Here are some visual marketing statistics on the power of visuals in your content:

visual content stats infographic

  • 37% of marketers report that visuals are their most valuable marketing asset, second only to their blogs
  • 74% of social media marketers add visuals to their social updates
  • While people only remember 10% of the information they hear, they remember an average of 65% of what they see, making visual information the way to go for companies that want to encourage brand recall.
  • In 2016, 51% of B2B marketers were prioritizing the creation of visual assets.
  • By the end of this year, experts are predicting that 74% of all web traffic will be dedicated to video content.
  • Infographics earn 3x as many likes and shares on social media as any other type of content.
  • Tweets that have images in them receive 150% more retweets than text-only updates.
  • Facebook posts with images earn 2.3x the engagement of text-only posts.

With these numbers in mind, it’s clear that visual marketing is here to stay, and that engaging in it can be the most productive thing you do this year.

10 Ways to Use Visuals in Your Online Copy

New to the world of visual marketing? Don’t fear. Start by using these top ten visual tricks:

1. Add Images To Every 200-300 Words in Your Blogs & Create Social Shareworthy Inset Images

This is one of the easiest and most straightforward ways to incorporate images into every blog you publish.

But don’t just “add images.” Here are some rules of thumb:

  • Add a screenshot per every 200-300 words. By nature, the brain responds more to visual stimulation than text, so you’ll want to break up your content with a lot of visuals. Screenshots work well to illustrate points.
  • Design (or have designed) a beautiful blog topic image, sized for optimal social sharing. Things to consider: theme it to the color code of your logo, have a custom artist design it.

Here’s an example of a couple creative blog headers our designer has put together that gained a good deal of traction on social media:

love is in the air

header blog

Need custom image creations? We can help!

2. Create A Custom Infographic

Check out this crazy stat about infographics:

infographics-liked-and-shared-more

Source: MassPlanner

One of the most valuable things you can do for your marketing is to create a custom infographic. It’s seriously worth the investment. We create one every quarter (sometimes more): and to date, this content type has been our most-shared.

Why Blog 2017 Content Marketing Resolutions header cut

The header of one of our many infographics, 10 Blogging Resolutions.

Unique because it’s designed specifically for your company and helpful because it addresses the concerns and interests of your target audience, this form of visual content will help to differentiate your brand online and help you stand out from the crowd.

Infographics perform better on social media than other types of content, so you’ll earn a solid ROI from your infographic.

If you’re looking for a team to create infographics for you, look no further than our creative infographic services!

3. Create Custom Blog Headers that are Themed In Your Colors

Custom blog headers can give your content a unique look and help your blog feel more cohesive. This is the “featured image” section of your blog.

Ideal for brands of all shapes and sizes, custom blog headers are some of the most useful things you can create for your brand.

For best results, create headers that use your company’s colors, utilize your logo, and incorporate a streamlined and cohesive design. Check out how we do this for our content on The Write Blog. The end “blog roll” look is visually engaging:

blog roll

We’ve been experimenting with drawing “visual story steps,” too.

As of late 2016, we added unique, storytelling imagery to our content shop, which is a new variation in our visual products. Here are a few examples from our Process Page, to give you an idea of what these look like.

process

4. Screenshot Everything that Has a Visual Explanation

If you’re writing a tutorial, how-to, or instructive post, you need to be including screenshots. Visually explain what you’re talking about.

Screenshots help your readers understand what you’re saying and synthesize your post accordingly. This, in turn, makes it easier for them to connect with your content and absorb the meaning of your posts.

It also helps your content be more useful to your readers. Be sure that if you’re going to include a screenshot, to add one that’s in-depth and detailed, not a broad overview that won’t help your readers or that they could just as easily find on their own.

One tool I love is the Full Page Screen Capture, in the Chrome app store (free). I use Chrome daily, and to get a full-length screenshot without zooming and messing up the focus, the Full Page Screen Capture is my hidden weapon.

screen capture app

5. Add or Create A Meme

Memes are a great way to add some comic relief to your posts. Break up a long, detailed section with a meme or add it to offset a funny point you’re making.

meme

There are dozens of free online meme generators to choose from, so you can always make your own. Just be sure that your memes, like all your other visual assets, are relevant, high-quality, and targeted to your audience. Otherwise, they won’t perform as well as you’d like them to.

6. Include Process Photos

If you’re in an industry where you’re showcasing tutorials or telling your customers how you make something, include process photos to help them go one step deeper.

Designed to allow your readers to connect more firmly to your material, these images are ideal for articles that tell people how to do things like how to change a bike chain or add oil to their car. The more images, the better for these posts.

Here’s a WikiHow article that does a nice job of this:

Wikihow Article

7. Show What Not to Do

While you can tell your readers all day long what they shouldn’t be doing, an image can be the best way to show them. Ideal for any topic that’s in-depth or complex, a “what not to do” photo can drive the point home more efficiently than a simple explanation.

8. Create Custom Videos

Videos are some of the highest-converting types of visual content out there.

While they’ll work in virtually any environment, from social media to your home page, they can revolutionize your email marketing and landing pages.

For best results, hire a company to create a custom video for you, since doing it yourself involves a somewhat steep learning curve. Once you’ve got a video you’re proud of, add it to your landing page, or email campaign. Of course, you can also share videos across social media and on your blog.

The meditation app Headspace does a great job of including relevant, high-quality videos all across its website and social media profiles. Here’s an example of one that’s gotten more than 700,000 views:

9. Try A Live Stream

Feeling adventurous with video? Try a live stream. Ideal for anyone who wants to tap into the rapidly growing trend of on-the-go video, live stream videos are the perfect way to make your online content more exciting and personalized for your readers.

You can live stream with Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, and Periscope, to name a few channels.

10. Create Galleries

Galleries are a unique way to use visuals and can be a smart way to showcase your work or introduce your employees on your website. For best results, ensure each image you include in your gallery is high-quality, relevant, and demonstrative of the gallery subset you’re displaying.

The Case for Compelling Images

If you’re looking for a smart way to go deeper with your images this year, these ten options are fantastic places to start.

Perfect for brands in all industries and specialties, carefully-selected visual content has the potential to boost readership, make content more impactful, and promote brand recall – all of which are excellent things for you.

What’s more, creating and compiling high-quality visual content has never been easier than it is right now, so there’s no reason to wait!

Need help creating professional visual assets you’ll be proud of? Check out our custom image services today!

#ContentWritingChat, content creation, content marketing

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Successful Content Creation and Marketing in 2017 with Don Purdum

Did you catch our latest #ContentWritingChat over on Twitter? If not, you missed one informative chat! We talked all about successful content creation to help you prepare for the year ahead. If you missed out or you need a refresher on all those amazing tips, this recap is for you!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Successful Content Creation and Marketing in 2017 with Don Purdum


For this week’s chat, our guest host was Don Purdum. Don is an award-winning blogger and a marketing consultant. He joined us to share his top content creation and marketing tips so you can put them to use for your brand this year.

Q1: Why is it vital to have a relevant message for your audience, especially in 2017?

It’s so important, now more than ever, to make sure you’re sharing a message that’s relevant to your audience. But do you know why? We’ve got the answer, courtesy of our chat participants!

Don said that relevance determines how your audience experiences you based on their problems, needs, wants, or desires. He also brought up a great point that your content shouldn’t be all about you. It needs to provide some sort of incentive to your audience to get them read, comment, share, and link to you.

As Jason said, without a relevant message, your audience won’t resonate with you. You have to develop a connection with them and understand their needs.

Jason pointed out that talking to everyone is essentially talking to no one. You aren’t going to attract your ideal audience if you aren’t directly speaking to them and addressing their needs.

A relevant message is going to help you stand out in an otherwise crowded online space. Jacob said you need to produce a relevant message if you want your content to be read.

As Savannah said, there’s a lot of noise online today. We have to be wise about what we choose to consume. When you provide a clear message to your audience, it will help them easily decide if your content is right for them and worth their time.

Our CEO, Julia, is spot on with her answer. Relevant content = winning content! You want to create the content your audience will love.

Q2: Define giving value in content marketing. How do I know if my audience receives it?

We know it’s important to give our audience tremendous value in the content we create, but what does that actually mean? And how can you tell if your audience has received value? Here’s what you need to know:

For Don, he feels that providing value is when you can solve a problem your audience is facing or meeting one of their needs. He also said that you can tell your audience has received value when you notice things like social media shares, links to your content, and comments.

Christoph said that you provide value to your audience when you give them content that is useful in some way.

Julia knows that when you research, write, and create the best answer to your audience’s questions, you provide tremendous value.

Sarah from ThinkSEM said you can provide value to your audience by knowing what they need and want and delivering on it. When you see them taking action, that’s when you know they’ve received the value you aimed to provide.

Zala brought up some great questions you can ask yourself to determine if you’re providing value. Are you speaking to the needs of your audience? Are they giving you their attention? Are they actually reading your content, leaving comments, buying what you’re offering, or coming back for more?

Engagement and conversions are two ways you can tell if your audience is receiving the value you provide.

Q3: In order to increase conversion rates, what should be a content creation focus for 2017?

Whether you’re trying to get someone to buy a product, sign-up for your email list, or something else, those conversions are very important. So, how do you increase your conversion rates to get major results online? Check out these tips:

Don recommends following Google’s EAT principle. E = Expertise, A = Authority, T = Trustworthiness.

You should have a purpose to every piece of content you create. You need to have a goal that you’re working toward so you can measure the results you receive. It’ll let you know if your content is working or not.

Great advice from Bill! He said to focus on content that fills a need for your audience and provide clear calls to action throughout the customer funnel.

Once you know what you want to achieve with the content you create, you need to tell people want to do next. Don’t just hope they’ll figure it out on their own. Provide a call to action so they know what the next step is with you.

Jason also knows the importance of a call to action, but he also said you need to connect with your audience. If you lack that connection, they aren’t likely to take the next step.

Julia said you should spend time researching hot topics that your audience would be interested in. She loves tools like Answer the Public and BuzzSumo for this.

Caleb brings up a great point about knowing how your audience likes to receive content. Do they prefer audio, video, or written blog posts? Figure out what they want and create it because you’ll be more likely to see conversions taking place with the right content.

Q4: What are steps you can take to ensure a lower bounce rate on your website?

If you want to lower your bounce rate and get people staying on your website for a long time, here’s what you need to know:

When you actually deliver on the value you promised to people, they’ll want to stay on your site to read more and more. One great way to get visitors to check out more content on your website is to interlink relevant blog posts.

You also want to make sure you’re creating content that is targeting your ideal audience. If you aren’t, you’re going to wind up attracting all the wrong people and they aren’t going to stick around.

Brandie’s advice is to write content you’re passionate about, but also content that your audience wants to read.

It’s also a great idea that you don’t mislead people with a clickbait headline. They won’t be inclined to stick around if you do. Then, provide readers with quality writing and real value.

Good content will attract the right people to your site, but it’s ultimately great content that will keep them hanging around.

Q5: Describe the connection between a message, content, and SEO.

What is the connection between a message, content, and SEO? How do they work together? Let’s find out:

Don said you need to keep your content within your area of expertise, as opposed to straying from your core message. This helps to create relevance. You can also use your content as a way to position yourself as an authority.

Great answer from Caleb! Your message is what you want to say, your content is how you say it, and SEO is how it gets found organically.

As Julia said, your message comes first. Quality and high standards of the copy you create come second, then it wraps up with SEO.

SEO gets readers to your site, which is where you share content that delivers the message your audience needs to hear.

In the end, what matters is that all of these three things are stronger when you use them together.

Q6: How do you bring your message to the forefront of your target audience and make them aware of it?

Once you’ve created an amazing piece of content, you need to make your audience aware of it. Here’s how:

Don recommends building relationships with relevant influencers. You can comment on their blogs and share their content on social media as a way to get them to take notice. When an influencer shares your content, it’s a great way to make new people aware of your work.

Jacob said to figure out where your audience is already spending time online. Go there and start engaging with them. It’s a great way to build a relationship with them.

As Debi said, you need to start by optimizing your content. This ensures people are going to find it organically. Then, spread the word yourself by sharing content on al relevant online channels that your audience is using.

Jess is all about the target social campaigns. This is a great way to reach those who already read your site, plus many of other new people.

Shanelle offered a piece of helpful advice as she reminds us to be persistent. You can’t expect to receive results overnight, so keep trying to get your content out there.

Q7: What kinds of content work best to earn links and shares for your brand?

What kinds of content are going to get you the most links and shares? Check out what our chat participants had to say about this one:

For Don’ts brand, long-form content reigns supreme. His audience loves the 6,000+ word content they create, as well as infographics and resource guides.

It looks like we have another fan of infographics! Here at Express Writers, we also love them.

For Savannah, it’s all about educational, out-of-the-box posts. She also knows that great graphics and collaborations are powerful as well.

Readers love a good list post!

A picture is worth a thousand words, which is why images, videos, and GIFs are so powerful when it comes to gaining more links and shares.

You can’t go wrong with amazing, evergreen content!

Lex knows that long-form content that provides value is key to getting that SEO juice.

Q8: Share a few tools you use to create compelling content and relevant messaging.

The good news is, there are always tools to help you create amazing content for your brand. Check out some of these tool suggestions and try using them for yourself:

SEMrush is one powerful tool to have in your arsenal.

These are definitely some favorite tools for the Express Writers team!

Hashtagify, Feedly, and HubSpot are all must-haves for Ellie.

Tony is a fan of Canva for creating graphics. The best part is that you don’t need to be a design expert to create something that looks nice.

These tools that Cassandra suggested are all great. Have you tried them?

Smart answer from Michelle! She knows the importance of social listening, as it’s a great way to figure out what your audience wants and needs.

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!

best of 2016 #contentwritingchat

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Best of 2016 Content with Express Writers, AWeber, and Buffer

Did you join us for this week’s #ContentWritingChat? Whether you missed all the fun or you’re in need of a refresher, we have an amazing recap to dive into! It was a pretty big chat this week as we took a look back at content from 2016, so grab a snack and check out this recap:

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Best of 2016 Content


Since this was our big year-end chat, we knew we had to go out with a bang! We decided to reflect on the amazing content that was produced over the past year and invited three different guests to join us.

Brian Peters handles social media and marketing over at Buffer. If you frequently read their blog, you’ve probably seen some posts by him or noticed him on their Instagram Stories. Olivia Dello Buono has joined our chat as a guest host in the past, so it was great to have her back. She handles social media and community over at AWeber. And finally, our very own Content Development Specialist, Tara Clapper, joined us as well. With copywriting, social media, and email marketing covered with our guest hosts, you know it was a great chat!

Q1: Favorite publication(s) to read and learn from in 2016?

First up, we asked our chat participants to share their favorite publications to read over the past year. What sites did they love? Were there any brands whose content they always looked forward to reading? (Besides us at Express Writers, of course!) Here’s what they had to say:

Brian’s top four include First Round, The Next Web, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Help Scout. If you haven’t checked out some of these, definitely add them to your reading list!

Olivia enjoys reading content from Kissmetrics and Movable Ink. She’s also a fan of her AWeber’s blog, which is awesome to see her supporting the team she works with.

Some of Tara’s go-to websites include Search Engine Journal and Mashable.

Our CEO, Julia, as a big fan of the sites she shared. You just might find a post of her own on some of them from time to time, so keep your eyes peeled!

One of Kristen’s favorites includes the CoSchedule blog, which we are also fans of here at Express Writers!

Tony shared an amazing list of sites that are worth checking out if you haven’t already!

Buffer, NewsCred, Sujan Patel, Convince, and Entrepreneur all share some amazing content. These were great recommendations from Varun!

Q2: Share something you published in 2016 that was your best work.

Next, we asked everyone in the chat to share a link to something they published in the past year that they were proud of. We received a bunch of great responses to this question, so start bookmarking these blog posts:

Olivia worked hard to put together a post that’s filled with list-building tactics that experts shared with AWeber. It’s definitely a great read if you want to learn how to grow your email list in the New Year.

Brian published a piece on Buffer’s blog that featured some tips to help you enhance your social media presence. This is a must-read if you want to make a splash on social media.

Tara loved putting together this post for our friends at SEMrush, where she talking about merging her Twitter accounts.

Tara also created some amazing content for our blog, including this piece on how to create cornerstone content. Be sure to check this one out!

As for me, I published this piece on Snapchat earlier in the year. It’s a must-read for anyone wondering how to use the platform effectively for their business.

Julia said her best piece was a case study on the rankings and content here at Express Writers. In this post, you’ll find out exactly how we outrank our competitors.

Do you want to learn how to create an effective call to action? Check out this post that Kristen shared!

The team over at Web Themes Plus received great feedback on their post about conducting a website audit. Now is the perfect time to give this one a read!

Although she didn’t write it herself, Becky did assist our own Tara on this awesome post. It’s all about how to communicate on social media when a tragedy has occurred. This is one every social media user should read.

Q3: What were some trends you noticed with content this year?

Just like with fashion, there are trends that come along with content creation as well. Check out the trends that reigned supreme this year and be sure to incorporate them into your strategy for next year:

Olivia said people are getting tired of the clickbait headlines. People are craving authenticity and they don’t want to be misled. So, take this advice: ditch the clickbait in your online content.

Funny, but true! Many brands stuck to producing long-form content, which works for many audiences. However, you’re sure to find someone else writing about how people have shorter attention spans.

Brian said Medium has grown a lot in 2016, which encouraged more people to create value-packed short-form content. He also pointed out the rise of audio content this year, with more and more podcasts being launched, including one from Buffer!

Lexie from Netvantage Marketing feels there’s been too much quantity and not enough quality when it comes to content from certain websites. The reality is, quality beats quantity every single time. Don’t post for the sake of posting. Make sure everything you publish is high-quality, provides value, and is relevant to your audience.

It sounds like Jeremy agreed with Lexie. Quality over quantity every single time, friends!

Monica noticed that many more content creators were taking the time to repurpose old content. After all, you don’t want those blog archives to go to waste, do you? You can breathe new life into older content by repurposing what you have already created.

Sabjan predicts the popularity of Snapchat and Periscope will only continue to grow over the next year.

Shannon has seen an increased focus on community, customers, and audience. She also pointed out that there’s been more of a use of images, video, and live streaming in the online presence of many brands.

Lauren said content in all forms exploded over the past year. There have been even more people starting blogs, launching YouTube channels and using social video, and creating podcasts. There are so many mediums for content creation and many brands are branching out to explore new things.

Q4: Which brands have consistently done a fantastic job with their content this year?

There are a ton of brands that have been doing a great job with content creation during 2016, but which ones top the lists of our chat participants? Take a look at these brands for some amazing inspiration:

Brian said First Round was one of his favorite brands to read content from this past year. He felt they produced unique, valuable content that was always fun to read.

Olivia is spreading the love to our friends at Buffer by raving about their content. As she said, they always share great tips for social media marketers, whether it’s on their blog or their podcast.

Just like Debi, we are also big fans of Content Marketing Institute and Joe Pulizzi!

Jeremy mentioned a few brands that are great at creating content including Buffer, Hootsuite, and PostPlanner.

Here at Express Writers, we’re also big fans of Social Media Examiner!

Q5: Which newsletters did you look forward to seeing in your inbox?

So, which newsletters were top-notch in 2016? Check out these suggestions straight from Tuesday’s chat and start subscribing!

Olivia has three go-to newsletters that she always enjoys seeing in her inbox. Are you subscribed to any of these? If not, you’ll want to check them out!

Brian looked forward to seeing newsletters from Product Hunt and Soul Cycle. For marketing, he likes inbound.org and their newsletters.

Julia appreciates a good weekly round-up, like the one Search Engine Journal sends out weekly.

The team at Netvantage Marketing likes to subscribe to the newsletters their clients produce. It’s a great way to stay updated with what they’re sharing and get to know them better.

As for Mike, he enjoys emails that aren’t constant sales pitches. This is a good reminder of why you should always provide value with the emails you send to subscribers.

Q6: What was your biggest struggle when it came to content this past year?

Content creation isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it can be stressful and frustrating! We all struggle with content every now and then, but here are some of the main struggles our chat participants faced:

Brian’s struggle is one that we can all relate to. It can be hard to find time to write consistently and do it well. That’s a great thing to work on in 2017!

Olivia said one of the biggest struggles has been getting people to read new content. Sometimes you have to come up with new and creative ways to drive traffic back to your website.

Even though video continues to be hot, it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. As Tara reminds us, some people don’t shine at video. If that’s you, don’t feel bad! You can keep practicing until you get more comfortable in front of the camera or stick to what you know best. There’s no shame in that.

Staying organized can definitely be a challenge when it comes to content creation, especially if you’re creating for multiple mediums. There are blog posts to write, videos to film, podcasts to record, emails to write, and social media posts to share. It’s a lot! To make things easier, having an editorial calendar helps and so does batch writing.

There’s always room for improvement! Make some changes to streamline your internal process to make the content creation process much smoother.

Originality sure is a tricky one when you consider just how much content is on the internet today. Putting your own spin on things can be a struggle, but it’s a must if you want to stand out.

With new channels launching, it can be tricky to learn how to create content for them at first. However, as the D2 Media Solutions team pointed out, it’s a fun challenge to take on.

Trying to stick to a consistent schedule isn’t always easy. One thing to keep in mind is to do what works best for you. If you can’t commit to five quality posts per week, then don’t do it. Consider what you can manage and aim for that.

Q7: What was the number one thing you learned about content in 2016?

So, what’s the top thing you learned regarding content this year? Here are some of the responses from the chat:

Great point from Olivia! It doesn’t matter how great your content is if nobody sees it. Make sure your content is shareable and that you’re getting it out there for the world to see.

Brian said organic reach on social media is going down, so he encourages people to focus even more on SEO and paid social media.

As Tara said, you can’t give one size fits all advice. You need to make your content personal.

Julia’s advice is to do some great promotion for the content you publish. It’s the best way to get major results online.

Quality over quantity! Make sure everything you publish has value.

Getting the right content in front of the right people is essential to success!

Write for your audience first and Google second.

Make your content shareable and you’re sure to gain traction on social media and get more traffic to your site.

For Georgina, she learned that it’s best outsource content creation. After all, that’s why companies like Express Writers exist!

Timeless advice we should all remember: be yourself.

Q8: What advice do you have for content creators going into 2017?

One final piece of advice? Check out these tweets:

Be consistent with your content. Brian also suggests building quality backlinks.

Quality and consistency are two keys to success when it comes to content.

Don’t be afraid to take risks. Olivia said great content always has a unique point of view.

Julia said to be opinionated and back it up with strong research. You should always be yourself and don’t be afraid to take risks.

Not sure what your audience wants or needs? You don’t have to guess. All you have to do is ask them.

Quality over quantity. Add purposeful visuals to your content. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new content types to see what works best for you and your audience.

Know what your limits are. If something is beyond your capabilities, resources, or bandwidth, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Don’t publish for the sake of publishing. Your content should be strategic and should serve a purpose.

Plan your content in advance and just start writing! Even getting a rough draft out is a great place to start.

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, create great online content

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Decide What to Write About & Create Great Content Online with Carrie Morgan

Did you miss #ContentWritingChat this week? There’s no need to worry, friends! We have you covered with a recap of this Tuesday’s chat. If you want to learn how to create great content online, just keep reading!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Decide What to Write About & Create Great Content Online with Carrie Morgan


Our guest host this week was Carrie Morgan. Carrie is an author and an expert when it comes to public relations, content marketing, SEO, and social media.

It’s her second time joining us as a guest host (her first #ContentWritingChat hosting session with us was back in February about rising above the noise), and we were thrilled to have her back sharing her expertise!

Q1: Share a few qualities that make up outstanding online content.

What makes a piece of online content amazing? There are a few specific qualities it needs to have! Check out some of these answers from Tuesday’s chat:

As Carrie said, great content doesn’t just echo what everyone else is saying. You need to dive deeper and think harder with the content you’re creating. It needs to be unique in order to stand out from the crowd.

She also said it reflects a strong understanding of its customer and audience. The content you create is about them, not you!

When creating content, it needs to be high quality and valuable for your audience. Top-notch content that solves a problem your audience is facing will always yield results.

Lexie from Netvantage Marketing knows readability is essential when it comes to creating great content online. To make your content readable to visitors of your website, use headlines and format text into lists when appropriate. It makes your content easy to scan. Pictures are great, too!

You should always cater to your audience when writing content. You want to be trustworthy, accurate, entertaining, intriguing, and informative depending on what you’re writing.

As Bill said, the best online content makes use of visual and emotional storytelling. It’s the best way to hook your audience and establish a connection with them.

What’s one thing you should never forget when creating content? Proofreading! Make sure you proofread everything before you hit publish. Alternatively, Tara suggests hiring a skilled editor to do the job for you.

As Julia said, you should never put out content that isn’t your best. Your audience deserves better than that and you want to make sure you’re proud of the work you’re publishing. When striving to create great online content, you want to be useful and focused on your audience.

Q2: How do you figure out what topics to write about online?

Considering there are so many things you can write about, it can be hard to choose which topics are right for you. Here are a few tips from the chat:

Carrie feels you shouldn’t rely too heavily on online tools. Instead, the best way to figure out what you should write about is to ask your audience. Ask your current and prospective customers what they’d like to see. You can address their biggest concerns with your content.

She also suggests keeping a specific file that holds all of your topic ideas. This makes it easy to refer to when you’re searching for ideas.

Tara knows that online tools can still be handy when it comes to choosing topics to write about. She likes to use Answer the Public and SEMrush to find questions from her audience. She also searches categories and competition and evaluates keywords.

It’s a good idea to keep track of what your audience is responding to. Which of your blog posts have been the most popular so far? That’s good indication of what your audience is interested in.

Jacob’s advice is to learn what your customers and buyers are reading. What problems are they dealing with? This can help you come up with great content topics.

There are three main questions Jeff asks when deciding what to write about. What are my consumers engaging with? What’s relevant in the news? Where’s a gap in coverage? Try asking these questions the next time you’re stuck for ideas.

Q3: How can you learn more about your audience and what they want you to share with them?

If it wasn’t already obvious, it’s important to know and understand your audience if you want to create great online content. However, you may be asking how you can possibly learn this information about them. If you’re not sure how to find out what they want, keep these tips in mind:

Listen, listen, listen! You need to pay attention to your audience and truly listen to what they have to say. If you do, you’ll come up with plenty of great ideas.

Carrie also suggests turning to your customer service or sales teams. Find out what customers are asking so you can address those issues with your content.

Tara suggests keeping tabs on hot topics your audience is discussing online. You can find this through social media, online forums, and even Facebook groups. All you have to do is ask people what they want to see and create content accordingly.

Lexie agrees that all you have to do is ask. People will tell you what you want if you just ask and listen to what they have to say. She also said you can learn a lot from product reviews, so keep an eye on those if you receive them.

Take advantage of online forums and Twitter polls as ways to ask your audience what they want to see. You should also keep an eye on your site analytics, plus engagement you receive from your audience.

Debi said you should become your target audience. When you understand them, you’ll know what you should write about. Aim to address their pain points and provide a solution for them.

Zachary said you should make a genuine connection with your audience. Get to know who your readers are so you can write the content they’re looking for.

As Zlatka said, there are a variety of ways you can reach out to your audience. You can create surveys, ask them face-to-face, reach out to sales or customer service, engage at trade shows, and more.

In case we haven’t said it enough, the key here is to ask your audience what they want. They’ll tell you. Promise!

Q4: What are some DO’s for writing great, shareworthy blog posts?

If you want to create great content online, you need to keep these do’s in mind!

Carrie knows that quality is most important. Keep that in mind every single time you create.

Julia’s advice is write a killer intro for your blog posts. It’s the best way to hook your reader early on and keep them reading your entire article.

Don’t forget an effective headline! If you want to get people clicking over to your website, you have to grab them with an enticing, but accurate, headline. No clickbait.

As Brittany said, it needs to be readable. You should write your content in a way that your audience can relate to. Use headings and bullet points to make your posts skimmable.

Leah is also a fan of headings. They help break up your content and make it easier for your audience to read. It’s great for SEO, too!

Cristy said to write quality, well-researched content. That’s the best way to create amazing written pieces.

Make sure your content is engaging. Video is another great addition to your written content because it can help attract more readers.

If you want people to share your content, you need to make sure it’s shareable. Lex and the Digital Natives Cast team suggest making sharing options available so it’s easy for your readers to use.

Don’t be afraid to ask for the share, too. Provide your audience with a call to action, requesting they share your content. Tell them what you want them to do and you’re more likely to see results.

Q5: Discuss how to create visuals to help boost the success of your written content.

It’s no secret that visuals are essential to pair with your online content. To help you make complementary visuals that grab the attention of your audience, check out these tips:

Carrie is a fan of tools like Canva for creating branded quote images to promote content. We love Canva, too!

Stephanie is also a fan of Canva!

Make sure that you don’t add visuals for the sake of having visuals. They need to be complementary to your written content.

Tracy recommends creating visuals that are on-brand and visually appealing. If you add text to your visuals, it must be easy to read.

Leah turns to stock photo services and PicMonkey to create amazing visuals for her content.

As Varun said, you need to make sure the visuals you create are relevant to your content. That’s the most important thing!

Q6: What are the DON’Ts of online content (what makes content go bland)?

Just like there are some big content creation DO’s, there are also a few DON’Ts you should avoid. Here are a few:

Carrie feels content reflects the writer’s level of experience. If you aren’t looking to write your own content, hire someone who is experienced to do the job.

Julia said you should never underestimate the intelligence of your audience. Make sure you’re taking time to create quality content instead of putting out something that’s mediocre.

Tara knows keyword stuffing just isn’t cool. Make sure you aren’t guilty of doing this with your content. She also said you should aim to provide new insights or information for your audience.

Lex said you shouldn’t write for search engines. Instead, write for your audience and then optimize your content. Don’t forget to proofread, too!

Unoriginal content is a big no-no! Make sure you’re providng your readers with something valuable.

Zala’s advice is to avoid regurgitating content and topics. Don’t write about the same old stuff. Provide value.

Meg said to ditch the fluff posts. You need to include actionable information your audience can learn from.

Don’t use clickbait titles for your articles. Your audience doesn’t like to be misled.

Grammatical errors aren’t cool, friends.

Don’t share content just for the sake of sharing. It should serve a purpose.

Great advice from Shannon: be passion and have fun with the content you create. It really shows through in your writing and your audience will resonate with that.

Q7: What are tools you love that assist you in writing great online content?

There are a ton of great tools available to use that help us create great online content. Here are some suggestions on tools you should try out:

Some of the tools Carrie uses on a daily basis include WordPress, Canva, Google, Word, Later, and Photoshop. However, she knows that practice and passion are more important than any tools you may use.

Julia provided a great list of tools including SEMrush, Buzzsumo, and CoSchedule.

The tools Lexie suggested are definitely worth checking out! She likes Answer the Public and Google Analytics among others.

BuzzSumo, SEMrush, and Sprout Social are all great tools!

A thesaurus is simple, but effective! Shannon knows just how useful it can be when it’s time to create content.

Don’t forget a little music! Spotify is a great tool to help you get into that writing groove.

Q8: Which brands do an amazing job with their online content?

There are plenty of brands that create fantastic content online, but these are just a few you need to check out:

These brands Carrie suggested are definitely worth checking out.

All of these brands Julia mentioned are great content creators.

The writers at BuzzFeed definitely do a fantastic job!

Brittany is a big fan of Travel Alberta and their user-generated content.

HubSpot, Buffer, Huffington Post, and more! These are some of our favorite content creators, too.

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

content automation

How to Balance Automation with Creation The Right Way In Your Social Media

Today, one of the greatest challenges facing the content marketer is the balance between automation and creation.

With all of the fantastic automated platforms available for use today, it can be tough to determine where, exactly, the line needs to be drawn.

Too much automation kills conversation.

But too little automation means a lot of monkey work, lost time and excess stress for the busy marketer.

So, where’s the happy medium?

automation with creation

Your Guide to Effectively Balancing Automation With Creation In A Social Media Strategy

Let’s delve in.

Why a Mix of Creation with Automation?

Create: While automation may make life easier, creation makes life much more fun.

Creating content for your social media platforms is a deeply creative, interactive experience; it’s here that brands and individuals alike get to exercise their voices and styles. It’s also here that relationships are built and authority is made.

People who take an active role in the creation of their social media content often enjoy closer relationships with followers and fans as well as a more intimate grasp about the state of their social media presence overall.

Unfortunately, full creation zaps your time and creates distractions. Push notifications, pings, comments, messages, and re-tweets all demand our attention… if we’re not careful, it’s easy to get pulled away from the important tasks at hand to go engage on Facebook or Twitter. While this may help strengthen relationships in the long run, it’s not ultimately awesome for productivity. 

Automate: There are dozens of great reasons to automate your social media posting, like this Buffer resource.

In addition to increased traffic and more consistent interaction, automating social media can also help you get more done with less stress. Because social media requires a large time and energy commitment, automating things like posts and promotions can give you a break from the Internet and free up some space for you to worry about other things, which is a huge draw for busy people that need social media-free space to focus.

Additionally, automation is often a more efficient way to interact with social media. While it’s possible to lose some of the “human factor” behind social media when you begin to automate, it also makes all of your social media interactions much more deliberate and saves you from getting tied up with trolls or comment chains, which is yet another way to save your precious time.

Striking a Balance: 5 Tips for Using Creation and Automation Together

As is true with most things, the sweet spot between creation and automation is somewhere in the middle. To lean too much to either side is to sacrifice the benefits of one or both things, so it’s important to walk that middle line. Here are some tips to help you do that:

1. Keep a human eye involved

Some marketers would love to turn all of their social media dealings over to automated platforms and never look at them again. Unfortunately, this will only spell trouble for your brand eventually. The reason for this is that, while a large portion of your social media interaction can be automated, it’s pivotal to keep the human touch intact. This keeps social media personal and helps you avoid automated disasters like the one the New England Patriots endured when their automated platform retweeted a racial slur. The takeaway? Feel free to automate, but keep the human oversight intact.

2. If you’re going to reach out, do it personally

Some brands do things like send auto-generated messages to people who follow them. While this may seem like an efficient and personalized way to reach out to fans, it’s not. More often than not, this comes off as vacuous and more than a bit creepy, and it may actually turn fans off more than it helps to engage them. Instead of sending out auto-messages for the purpose of building relationships, dedicate some time each week to batch-checking and responding to social media messages. This can help keep your social relationships intact without derailing you on a daily basis.

3. Use automation to distribute content evenly

If you don’t use an automation service, you’re limited to posting content only when you’re awake, working, and free. This often leads to “blasts” that overwhelm your followers’ feeds and lead to much of your content being skipped over. Avoid this by using automation to distribute your hard-won content evenly throughout the day and night. In addition to avoiding content traffic jams, this also increases the likelihood that your readers will fully engage with your content and keeps you from becoming a spammy social media presence.

4. Keep an eye on current events

Social media moves quickly, and is one of the main news sources for people around the world. In light of this, I can promise you that you’re going to do your brand some serious damage if your automation platform is buzzing away while a national or global disaster unfolds. While it can be tough to stay on top of daily news and disasters all of the time, the best practice here is to cut off automation when there’s a known disaster at work. The exception is if you can use your automation to dispense content that is sensitive and directly related to the disaster in an intelligent and sophisticated way.

5. Keep testing your automation

Automation is the way of the future, but you need to be sure it’s working well in order to keep using it. Test your automation times, days, headlines, and activity levels often in order to ensure that you’re still in that sweet spot between automation and creation. Adjust anything that’s not working and move forward.

Conclusion

Automation and creation.

They’re like two peas in a pod when they’re used correctly: essential to each other, but not as effective or even as good-looking without each other.

These five tips can help you ensure that your social media displays the best of both worlds, and that you’re using automation and creation to the full extent and advantage of each, without sacrificing quality or personality in the process.

Struggling with managing your social media accounts? Let our non-robotic, human social media managers create – and schedule out (automate)! Check out our Social Media Services today.

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