How Do I Promote My Blog? The Essential Guide to Content Promotion

How Do I Promote My Blog? The Essential Guide to Content Promotion

Recently, I shared one of my latest blog posts on LinkedIn and received this comment:

“Love this article and longer, high quality content is definitely the way to go. I’d love to see a side bar or other complementary content about the best strategies for promoting content once it’s written.”

This is a great topic suggestion — and one I definitely need to address.
Why?
Because the reality is writing great content alone won’t get you far.
Composing a high-quality piece and hitting “publish” just isn’t enough.
You have to help it along on its internet journey.
Hold its hand for a little bit. You have to guide it into the limelight, or, in some cases, shove it out there.
It’s the only way to ensure success – as opposed to publishing it on your site, crossing your fingers, and hoping against hope somebody will stumble across it and read it.
With solid promotion, you can help your blog reach great heights.
The only question left, of course, is this: “How do I promote my blog?”
Well, friends, I’m here with tons of actionable tips to help you do just that.
Settle in with your cozy beverage of choice.
Ready? Let’s get knee-deep in great content promotion tactics.
promote my blog strategies

“How Do I Promote My Blog the Smart Way?” 15 Tactics, Tips, Tricks, and Strategies to Try

There are tons of ways to promote your content.
Not kidding. Tons.
Because the amount of information is so broad, we’re going to break this down further into categories.
Based on your resources, choose your weapon(s) wisely.

The Lowdown: How to Create Great Email Marketing for Better Content Promotion

You know the power of email marketing — or you should.
It has a mind-exploding ROI of $44 for every $1 spent.
Naturally, it can also do great things for promoting your content. Here are top tactics to try.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Need some ideas for promoting your next blog post? @ExpWriters has some great tactics to try!” quote=”Need some ideas for promoting your next blog post? @ExpWriters has some great tactics to try!”]

1. Build Up Your Email List

The number one thing you can do for content promotion is build up your email list. Once you have a direct line to a loyal, built-in audience, it becomes a platform for anything you publish.
Your email list will not only click-through to read your blogs. They’ll also share them with their social networks, which dramatically increases your exposure. In fact, your list is 3.9x more likely to share your content than people who visit from other places (like search results).
Email is widely used across demographics. According to Pew Research, 92% of adults online use it, and an average of at least 61% use it daily.
The reach potential of email is really, really big. So, how do you grow your list so you can tap into that?
We address this topic thoroughly in a previous post – it’s definitely recommended reading. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Use compelling CTAs in your content that urge readers to subscribe.
  • Create and offer free lead magnets (original guides, how-tos, videos, white papers, case studies, etc.). Collect visitor emails in exchange for your freebies.
  • Create evergreen content that continues to provide useful information long past its publication date. Include powerful CTAs in each one that ask for subscriptions, or point visitors to your email-gathering lead magnet.

There are also plenty of tools out there that can help you grow your list. Jeff Bullas and Kissmetrics offer great suggestions for tools to use, including both free and paid options.

2. Send Content to Your Email List at the Right Time

After you’ve built an email list, you can send them an update about when you publish a new blog post.
Jon Morrow of Smartblogger calls this combination of blogging + email “the ultimate publishing platform.” He also uses some other choice words:

He’s totally right, of course.
Here’s an example of an email I sent out to my list notifying them about a fresh blog:

However, this strategy gets better if you send the email at the right time.
There has been a standard stat floating around for a while about optimal send times – send in the morning, and send on Tuesday or Thursday.
Those times were the right times up until recently. Now, the advent of mobile is shaking things up. More and more people are checking their phones for email versus sitting down at their computers.
Vertical Response analyzed recent data and found that the ability to check email anytime, anywhere, has changed what your optimal email send time should be. Now, the ideal sweet spot is either morning or late evening on a weekday.
Here’s an infographic that shows the send-time as compared to the transaction rate (email opens and clicks). In particular, late-night email readers show a lot of potential for engagement.

Sending a short, sweet email to your list when you publish an awesome new blog = key. That goes double for sending that email at the right time.
For you, that ideal time might look a little different from the average. Play around with when you send your blog update emails, and track what works. These two powerhouses combined could make all the difference.

3. Segment Your Email List

There’s another way to truly super-power your content promotion with email: Send out blog updates to the exact people who’ll love reading about whatever topic you’ve covered.
This means you need to segment your email list, according to a HubSpot infographic. Divide it up into categories based on information like your audience’s interests, where they opted-in for email in the first place, their purchase record, and more.

These people may show more enthusiasm for certain posts than other list subscribers. Send targeted post updates and you’ll start encouraging loyal followers who are more likely to share your content.

4. Promote Your Blog in Your Email Newsletter

CoSchedule has a great tip to boost your blog visibility via email. Use your email newsletter to highlight your weekly posts along with curated, relevant content from around the web.
For instance, at the end of the week, round up all your blog posts from the past seven days into your email newsletter. Include other great content that got published the same week. This provides high value to your readers, and it reminds them to check out what you’ve published recently. Win-win.

The Lowdown for On-Page Blog Promotion and Content Strategies

This next tip is pretty simple: Use your blog to promote your blog.
It sounds strange, but it works. Here’s how:

5. Invest in High-Quality Content (Content That Promotes Itself!)

After email promotion, the next best way to promote your content is to let it promote itself.
That means keep it high-quality all day, every day.
Here at Express Writers, just by increasing our content quality (more time spent on research and creation) we have significantly boosted shares, traffic, and comments.
Why is this so?
Because quality content can speak for itself. Here are some other reasons why it’s a self-promoter, via an infographic we did:

Mediocre content will need much more promotion to get people interested. Quality content, meanwhile, is inherently interesting. It stands on its own two feet, which means promotion is WAY easier.
Be the best answer to the question your user is searching for, and flesh it out with good writing, research, and attention to detail. Your efforts to get it noticed will take half the work.

6. Link to Internal Content

If you can keep your visitor on your site longer, you have a better chance of shepherding them into the fold. Loyal followers, in turn, are more likely to share your content than non-followers.
The result is a cycle of engagement, conversion, content sharing, and boosted visibility.
How should you link to your own content on your blog?

  • First, always do it in a useful way. Only link to your other content when it’s relevant to the piece you’re writing.
  • Next, avoid spammy links. Don’t link to the same article three times in one sentence. Don’t pepper every other word in a paragraph with internal links that aren’t relevant to your topic.

For a great example of internal linking done right, look to Content Marketing Institute. In this article by Joe Pulizzi exploring 2018 content marketing trends, related links are included in context with terms that help demonstrate that they’re not random picks:

These links are “handpicked.” That tells you they have been personally selected to go with the article you’re reading. It’s helpful and valuable for information gathering, but it also keeps you on their site longer. That’s just smart.

7. Use Creative CTAs

Using creative calls-to-action at the end of each blog you publish can help promote your brand and your other content. Really good CTAs drive traffic to areas you pinpoint, which can lead to higher visibility and conversions.
At Express Writers, we use creative CTAs that promote our course (education) and our services (done-for-you). For example, the end of this post encourages readers to check out other content pages on our site that explain our services:

CTAs are well-known conversion and click-through-rate (CTR) boosters. Don’t neglect them when it’s time to promote your blog content throughout your site.

8. Update Consistently, and Optimize Your Blog for Search

Don’t forget to optimize your blog for search engines! The organic traffic you can get from Google is invaluable.
Here at EW, this has been HUGE for us. We currently have over 4,000 keyword rankings in Google because we’ve optimized our blogs (over 700 of them) and zeroed-in on keyword opportunities.
The more you blog, the more pages you have on your site for Google to index. The more content you have that’s Google-indexed, the more your chances improve for higher traffic and leads. Just look at this HubSpot graph from a study that shows the correlation:

That’s the one-two punch you need: a consistent publication schedule with only high-quality content, and posts that target search with great keywords.
To hone in on the keywords to focus on in your blogs, you need to do keyword research. This is a big topic in and of itself, but there are lots of guides out there to help you.
If you’re a beginner, this HubSpot blog is a good starting point. Don’t forget to check out our own deep dives into this topic here at EW. Check out our articles and videos on how to handle closely related keyword terms, why keyword search volume doesn’t matter, and how to use long tail keywords naturally in your content.

The Lowdown on Social Media & More (Promote Your Blog Off-Site)

Use the resources at your disposal across the world wide web to give your blog the extra traction it needs. Social media is a no-brainer, but there are a few other tricks to flesh out your power to reach more people.
First, let’s start with the obvious:

9. Share on Social Media

The most basic way to promote your posts on social media is to share them. Whenever you publish a new post, share it on all your accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. You’ll get hundreds, or even thousands, of extra eyes on it (depending on who follows you and who shares the post).

10. Widen Your Social Following

If your follower count is a bit low at the moment, increase your commitment to engage with people on a human level. Your goal isn’t to rake in followers, but to make genuine connections with other people that are mutually beneficial.
How to do it?
Reach out. Visit somebody’s profile in your “friend-of-a-friend” network and like some of their posts or leave a genuine comment. Participate in Facebook group discussions and Twitter chats.
Put yourself out there and mean it. The rewards will be ten-fold.

11. Create Unique Social Posts for Each Platform

When you’re sharing your blog posts on social media, don’t forget to compose unique posts for each platform.
That means you should write different posts for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. All of them will share the same link to your fresh blog, but they’ll be targeted for each unique audience.
To write the best posts possible, ones that will get noticed, compose each according to best practices. Don’t forget to post at optimal times for the best engagement.
For instance, for Facebook, posting the link to your new blog at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., or 3 p.m. gives it a better chance for engagement. This is according to CoSchedule’s analysis of 20 different studies.

For more on posting best-practices for each social network, our Handy Dandy Guide on How to Write Social Media Posts provides guidance, if you need it. (Plus, there’s a cheat sheet you can grab that makes it even easier!)

12. Use Hashtags to Reach Non-Followers

This tip is simple. According to best practices for posting to each network, include popular industry hashtags with your blog link to help a wider audience discover your post.

13. Repost Your Post!

Don’t just share your new blog posts on social media networks once. Set up a posting schedule where you share out your link multiple times during the day right after it goes live. Then, for the following week, share the link once a day.
This is a tip Neil Patel recommends:

14. Engage in Guest Blogging

Guest blogging can be a great way to promote your own blog. If you do it right, you’ll be publishing on a popular platform and getting your content in front of a wider audience.
However, there are a few keys to guest blogging strategically:

  • Choose blogs that topically make sense for your guest posting opportunities. The audience of that blog should be in line with your own target audience. It should speak to the same interests and pain points.
  • Choose top blogs with authority. These blogs will get lots of engagement, so you can benefit by association.
  • Make sure you’re allowed to reference your own content wherever you guest blog. Linking to your own content naturally and in a way that adds value for the reader is a great way to get clicks and grow your own audience.

For a great example of the power of guest blogging, look at these statistics from Bamidele Onibalusi. After guest blogging on JeffBullas.com, he netted almost 800 visitors and 300 new email subscribers in two weeks:

15. Try Cost-Effective Ad Promotion

Of course, we have to mention ads once in this guide. You won’t be shelling out thousands of dollars, though. Instead, all you need is some pocket change.
An easy way to promote your blog on Facebook for very little money is through their ad tool. Just head to the Ads Manager to get started creating a campaign.
In particular, to promote your blog, your best move is to retarget your existing traffic. These people are already fans/followers, but they may have missed your post due to the quick-moving flow of their feeds.
Making sure these people see that you’ve got another great post ready is a simple way to boost traffic and engagement.
The best part? You could spend as little as $25 to get it done. Here’s how:
1. Choose a great, recent post that could use a boost. It needs to be REALLY good (but you’re already on top of those quality standards, right? Right).
2. Choose your ad objective. For this scenario, you’ll probably want to choose the “Traffic” option for your ad objective. Facebook says this will “send more people to a destination on or off Facebook, such as a website, app or Messenger conversation.”

3. Create a custom audience to target. Buffer has a thorough guide to creating ads and getting it done. Here’s a screenshot that shows you all the essential pieces of audience targeting:

After you narrow down your target audience, you get to choose your ad placement, budget, and schedule.
Then you’ll choose your ad format (single image works well, here), enter the link to the blog you want to promote, and create your ad text.
You may think you’re ready to confirm your ad at this point, but hold on a second. There’s one more step…
Set Up a Facebook Pixel to Track Ad Performance
Facebook Pixel is a little tool you can install on your website to help you track ad performance. If you don’t yet have it set up, you can find it under “Advanced Options” on the final ad creation page:

All it requires is adding a snippet of code to your site’s header.
Don’t know how to do that? The help guide shows you your options based on how you manage your website:

Once Pixel is set up for your site, you’ll need to create an event that tracks when people click your ad on Facebook. You’ll get an additional snippet of code to add to the existing Pixel code:
This is a low-cost way to quickly promote your blog and get noticed. By retargeting your existing audience, you’re grabbing that low-hanging fruit off the tree instead of leaving it to wither.

Go the Extra Mile: Promote Your Blog to Promote Your Reach

The high-quality content you’re putting out now should perform ludicrously better than your old, cheap efforts. (If you haven’t invested in quality yet, stop. Go back. Do not pass “Go.” Do not collect $200.)
But… (And this is a big “but”)…
…If you want to give your high-quality stuff that little extra push it needs, you need to promote your blog.
After all, you can’t reach super-star status without some good ol’ P.R.
In fact, think of yourself as your blog’s public relations manager. You want it to get noticed in all the right ways so people start associating your name/business with authority, value, and expertise.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they did get it done. Your efforts should be no different.
So, the only thing left to do is get out there and give your content every last opportunity to shine.
You can do this.
If you’re still struggling with the “content” part of that equation, there’s an easier way. Let us help. Book a call with one of our specialists today.
engagement cta

Three Foolproof Strategies to Creating Engaging Content

Three Foolproof Strategies to Creating Engaging Content

Let’s talk about creating engaging content.
Have you ever torn a page out of a book in sheer, desperate anger?
I definitely haven’t. I don’t think I know anyone who has.
As a writer, if I saw someone tear a page out of a book I published, it would feel like they were tearing a page out of my soul.
What a silver lining it’d be to know my writing could compel someone to interact with my book by ripping apart the page and sharing their anger.
My writing mattered to them. My content was enough for them to act on it.
That, despite the undesirable reaction, would make all the difference.
Having words powerful enough to engage the reader is a goal every content writer works toward.
how to create engaging content

Crossroads of Memory Lane and Opportunity Drive

Back in the day, before dial-up and “You’ve Got Mail!”, a world existed without the Internet.
Farther beyond, a realm without television or movies existed for the majority of recorded human history.
Books were very valuable. Compiling information onto paper for leisure, education, and communication was the cornerstone for sharing our thoughts across the distant lands we couldn’t travel to ourselves.
Now, we live in a world where people can search galactic amounts of information, share their opinions with millions of people, and express their disapproval at the click of a button.
More importantly, we live in a world where more content is created than is consumed.
This pivotal moment in history is crucial. It’s the fundamental underpinning all strategic content writing. With more and more people creating content, the industry is becoming overstuffed and armies of content writers are springing up everyday. Grabbing a large slice of your own readership may appear to be a fool’s paradise.
Or is it?
When my closet is overstuffed, it’s an opportunity to throw out what I don’t need. It’s an intriguing moment, because it forces me to sit down and actually think about what I want to see in my closet every time I open it. I have to be aware of my daily priorities.
And that’s what counts, isn’t it? We live in a world with billions of readers, but it’s what matters most that we’ll want in our lives everyday.

Sorry, Not Sorry: It’s Not About You Anymore

I was never impressed with TIME magazine’s May 2013 cover. The “ME ME ME Generation” concept is a theory that could be applied to every generation at some point.
Still, there is a level of entitlement to young adults today. We are keenly aware of the options offered to us. We get to choose our celebrities and news sources, a freedom not readily available to those born before the ’80s. We don’t have to settle for a handful of cable networks and newspapers to spoon feed us the information we seek.

Industry Standards Are Steadily Rising Everywhere

Having so many options available, consumers are much more selective. Standards are being raised across all industries, and the dependence on monopolized profits is a tune business owners don’t get to sing very often.
A higher standard doesn’t necessarily mean working harder; being smart about your approach and listening to other experts in the field is a tried and true way of propelling your own career.
In fact, listening to anyone other than yourself is a fantastic idea if you want to improve.
Playful sarcasm aside, this shift in the business world has been a positive one, and what’s becoming more important is our responsibility to quality. It’s our duty to improve our skills every day and learn from others; there are no shortcuts in the world of content.

The Ethos of the Internet Community

This shift is apparent in the world of marketing. No one gets to walk in, dressed as Don Draper, and tell you an advertisement is going to work because they say so. Today, internet marketers are expected to use statistics and structured plans of action to sell you on an idea.
A prevalent theme across successful social media marketers is the rule that you should interact with your followers ten times for every post you make. People want to be acknowledged, and everyone values this connection with other people. These interactions are reciprocal in nature. Engaging with your follower is often met with an engagement in return.
It’s cringeworthy to some, sure, but people often place depthless value in the number of likes a post receives or the number of followers who read their tweets. And aren’t most of us guilty of feeling the same? When you speak out, isn’t it great to be heard?
This isn’t specific to the millennial generation, but it’s particular to the new world of social media networking. Now, more than ever, understanding one another is increasingly advantageous.

Everyone Online is a Content Creator

People may not view themselves as writers or content creators, but they love to write Facebook posts. In 2012 alone, Facebook users were publishing over 293,000 status updates every 60 seconds. That’s a lot of writing.
Human beings love to share. They’ll share what’s important to them. If it makes them laugh, they may share it with you. If it solves a problem they’re researching, they may share that as well. And if it means a lot to them, they’ll definitely share it with the world.
Sharing is caring, so what do people care about most? That lies at the heart of the single, most effective strategy for creating highly engaging content.

Repeat After Me: Create Content That Matters

I’m not asking to abandon what matters to you. I personally have a blog with content that is of the utmost importance to me, but I’ll be the first to tell you it has less traffic than a back road in the rural parts of North Dakota.
However, when you want to build a loyal readership and maximize your traffic, knowing what matters to your demographic should be at the core of your content strategy.
And some of you may ask, “how do I find out?” There’s an easy solution.
If you read ten times as much as you write, I’m positive you’ll start to understand what’s important to your readers.

Find Your Keys to Engaging Content

The door to success has more than one key. Creating engaging content is an art. Many seasoned content curators are always designing new techniques to raise the bar and perfect their strategy.
Unlocking the true potential to creating engaging content requires using your own brand of ingenuity. Writers are creatures of creativity; it’s not a stretch to apply that creativity to the way we think about our writing, too.
Being a content specialist, I’ll never get tired of the exhilarating rush I feel when one of my strategies results in lucrative success. I’d love for every content writer to feel the same. One ingredient that will always be found in a winning strategy is relevance, so knowing what matters to your readers should always come first.
Allow me to share some of my own unique practices for understanding your audience and boosting the relevance of your content.

Five Things That Make You Smile

Before I share my nuggets of content wisdom, I’d like you to take part in an exercise with me.
Find a scrap piece of paper or open up a blank document and create a list of five things that make you smile. Once you’re done, read them over carefully and continue with the article.
Here is my list.

  • kittens
  • compliments
  • a slice of cheesecake
  • someone else’s smile
  • witnessing a random act of kindness

Perfect! You’ve successfully completed the exercise. Let’s find out why you participated.

Strategy #1 A Positive Mindset Leads to Positive Engagements

Be positive!
happy friends
I can’t stress it enough. Having passion won’t always win people over; combining passion with positivity is an incredible way to engage your readers.
Dr. Bill Conklin at Psychology Today discusses the impact positive actions can have on shaping our brains, such as physical exercise or mindfulness meditation. Instilling a healthy attitude and avoiding unhealthy thought patterns strengthens the part of your brain that activates when you’re happy. Conversely, these activities weaken the part of your brain that is usually more active when you’re sad.
I can attest to this philosophy. It’s been over a year since I read “Buddha’s Brain” by Rick Hanson, and I’ve practiced many of the exercises I found inside. Today, I feel happy by default, as opposed to an attitude I had to work hard to maintain. This lesson in self-improvement has consistently helped me to connect with readers on higher level.
Write a mental list of things that make you happy before you start writing content. It’s an easy way to get yourself in a positive mindset before writing. Imagine each one and embrace the warmth as you prime yourself to serve your readers the same experience.
It’s also a healthy way to evaluate your form; if you’re having trouble feeling happy, it’s probably not the time to be writing meaningful content. Instead, it may be an opportunity to talk to a friend and resolve whatever dilemma is bogging you down.

Strategy #2 Walking 10,000 Steps in Someone’s Shoes

The average American only walks 5,900 steps a day, significantly short of the 10,000 steps recommended by most health communities.
American Writer Nelle Harper Lee, commonly known as the author of the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”, once wrote a line based on one of her favorite Cherokee proverbs, helping to launch its popularity and facilitate widespread usage:
harper lee quote

Most people have seen a variation of the phrase, “before you criticize a person, walk a mile in their shoes.” The idea behind the message is rooted in empathy, a skill best described in this context as the ability to understand a person’s emotions and problems without experiencing them firsthand.
Developing empathy requires a higher level of emotional intelligence. It’s a type of intelligence that is less dependent on how well someone can study feelings and more dependent on the ability to experience them. Interestingly, the ability to understand one’s own feelings is often demonstrative of the ability to understand the feelings of others.
Empathy is a key component of writing engaging content. If empathy doesn’t come easy to you, it may feel difficult accomplish this goal. That’s exactly why you can’t give up—some of your readers feel that same frustration!
When you work hard to understand the problems your demographic faces, you’ll be able to serve them with insightful and helpful content. This level of thoughtfulness will be met with multiple, positive engagements from the people who read it. In return, you’ll feel exponentially more fulfilled for receiving the well deserved feedback on your hard work.
Empathy is a skill you can hone for the rest of your life. There’s no need to try mastering it overnight. Lots of people who walk 10,000 steps a day have seen improvements in their own health, which has led to a higher quality of life. It’s up to you to improve your own emotional intelligence and mentally walk 10,000 steps in someone else’s shoes, every day.

Strategy #3 Learn to Drive More Traffic With Poetic License

Let’s be clear: I don’t suggest deviating from the facts. Rather, it’s essential to start straying away from the conventions of writing and individualize your voice.
I grew up being taught that paragraphs had 3-5 sentences, a sentence never ended in a preposition, and five-paragraph essays were the best way to share a subject with three discussion points.
Can you imagine if a normal conversation followed that format? The thought sends shivers down my spine.
Online writing is a relatively new landscape and content writers are the leading architects. In similar fashion to the pilgrims who voyaged to America hundreds of years ago, we are allowed to build communities in our own style as we carve reputations across the blogosphere.
Many successful content writers can agree on the foundations of quality writing, but no one will give you a step-by-step guide that doesn’t require a little innovation on your end. Write with words you’ve never used, styles you’ve never adopted, and suggestions you’ve never taken. Experimenting as a writer will lead to personal growth, a positive affirmation that nurtures our creativity and fosters the willingness to share our human experiences.

Your Most Loyal Reader is You

I’m willing to bet no one has read your writing as much as you have. You know your strengths and weaknesses best, so it’s your job to seek out ways to improve your writing.
Every writer is effectively an entrepreneur. As such, we’re responsible for the satisfaction of our service to our customers. We are in the business of influence, and always challenging our writing skills to reach new heights will ensure the growth of our readership. If you learn from your failures and capitalize on your successes, you’ll find it becomes increasingly easier to speak from experience.
Writing about having a problem and finding a solution will feel much more natural when you’ve become familiar with its process (as opposed to leaning on empathy to imagine how it feels). I recommend frequently looking at ways you can innovate your writing and always being eager to read about other people’s experiences. Taking these steps will mold your current perspective and give you constant opportunities to reinvent your content.
No single approach to creating successful and engaging content will ever encompass the complex, individual needs of different industries, but one universal rule rings true. If you want to write engaging content for humans, you need to be an engaging person.
Never stop growing.
Interested in learning more about how to create a content strategy for YOUR brand that engages your readers? Download our free ABC Content Strategy checklist.

9 Content Strategies to Get Unstuck from a Content Rut

9 Content Strategies to Get Unstuck from a Content Rut

Are you a new business, a mid-size to large business, or any other size business with a stagnant online marketing campaign? Do you feel your online presence is not really going places yet? Let’s talk about how to get you on the road to success!

Here are a few ways to stop stagnating and come up with new, fresh material that will make readers love you:

1. Don’t Stop Your Yapping

We’ve all heard someone, somewhere say “stop your yapping” but when it comes to content marketing strategies, if you aren’t yapping you’ll start drowning. Talk about your content with other marketers within your company and start sharing ideas. Someone will have at least one idea, but are too scared to share. Opening up a sharing ground will be a great way to begin getting out of the stagnant content marshland and beginning to create new content strategies that will be the bee’s-knees, the cat’s pajamas, and the best darn content out on the Internet.

2. Spot Those Problem Areas

Get your magnifying glass out and get ready to find those problem areas in your content. We know you really love what you have published and you just cannot understand why no one is reacting to your wonderfully crafted content. While it may be amazing and well written, if it is not bringing people in, there is a problem and you have to find it to move on.
When you begin to correct the problem area and find a new, impactful way to create content, Moz suggests that you create a small list of goals you would like to accomplish. They urge writers and marketers not to spread themselves too thin when creating these goals. If you are trying to juggle twenty semi-important goals instead of, say, five important ones, you will find yourself burning out quickly and the content will continue to be stagnant and not have any sort of impact whatsoever. Once you have found the problem, it is time to make a strategy.

3. Ender Didn’t Beat the Buggers With Luck

He beat them with strategy. If you do not know the story of Ender Wiggin, check out Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. In this story, Ender is chosen to be the leader of humanity in a war against an alien race referred to as “buggers.” Ender had to do a lot of strategizing and learning from his mistakes before he finally beat them at their game.
This goes for your content. You can’t just whip something up and expect it to go viral in an instant. If you constantly just write or create stuff and throw it out there without a strategy, you will see your content marketing campaign going stagnant and you will watch as your viewers back away with looks of consternation. Do not let that happen! Start working on that strategy and learn from your mistakes. Your mistakes are your best teaching tool. You will learn what needs to change if you are willing to open up your mind to take those mistakes as learning aids and not failures.

4. Everyone’s a Critic

The Internet is a lovely place of opportunity, but can turn into a stinking quagmire of criticism quickly. Many people say, “Avoid the comments!” because this is where most of the horrible criticism is but you should not let that bring you down and stop you from producing great content. Just because someone says it is awful does not mean it really is. Take a lesson from some famous, classic authors. One critic of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn said the book was, “No better in tone than the dime novels which flood the Blood-and-Thunder reading population.” Did that stop him from continuing to write his amazing novels? No! So, do not let those comments stop you from promoting your company and producing your content.
However, by avoiding the comments section your content will become stale. Within those horrible comments are some real gems of information. You will be able to learn what people like or dislike and can implement that into your new content strategy. Many authors have used negative reviews as a way to grow their writing, hence becoming national bestsellers.

5. You Do Not Have a T.A.R.D.I.S.

So stop acting as if you do. If you spend all day in meetings, chat with coworkers over lunch, and work through your mountain of emails every day, you will find your content is beginning to stink like a disgusting swampy pond. Swat those mosquitoes away and start managing your time. No time machine will be here to take you back and, according to the Doctor, you can’t cross your time stream anyway. Business2Community points out that humans tend to be more alert in the morning. Sure, we all may be groggy without our morning cup of coffee but we also do not have a whole days’ worth of worries and to-dos floating around in our brains. We can think much clearer in the morning and, in fact, many people come up with some of their best ideas in the morning. The first thing to do when you get to work is to carve out about 30 to 45 minutes to sit and think. Start brainstorming and you will see that you come up with some pretty epic ideas!

6. Become a Lurker

Lurking is creepy when done in real life but it can be very beneficial on the Internet. We aren’t talking about Facebook stalking, rather going to the different social media sites and looking at what is trending or what articles Buzzfeed and Upworthy are currently posting. Apart from Buzzfeed and Upworthy, HubSpot also suggests listening to new TED talks. TED talks are really interesting and provide amazing inspiration on a variety of topics. Gaining web inspiration is an excellent way to learn new information and to begin to spruce up your content marketing. While you’re at it, how about looking for inspiration from your competitors? We know you wonder why they are doing so well and now is the time to become Sherlock Holmes and find what they are doing. This will help you discover neat tricks for talking to clients within your niche market and you can also see what mistakes your competitors are making. This will show that they are human and give you a heads up about things that will not work, before you ever make that mistake. Pretty nifty, huh?

7. Try On a New Format

Sometimes, new clothes help make people feel amazing and buying new clothes gets them out of whatever rut they find themselves in. The same goes for a new format for your content. While text content is great, it is becoming boring for many readers. Try out a few new formats and see how readers react.
Social Media Today suggests a few formats that you can try to change up your content:

  • Videos and Photographs. Changing your content into a video or photo format, will standout to your readers. It is not something they’re used to so their attention will be grabbed and they will be more willing to stick with you.
  • Infographics. Infographics are at the height of fashion and you would be silly not to use this to your advantage. Create some content and implement it into an infographic. This format is easy to share and the more people that share it, the more readers you will acquire.
  • Question and Answer Sessions. People really like question and answer sessions. Let readers and clients submit questions to you and do a live webcast or do a video recording of you and your company answering the questions. This will help your clients feel like you are actually listening to them and this is a great way to encourage them to share more information about your company. Of course, always read the questions before doing anything live, some people really like submitting strange or inappropriate questions to sidetrack speakers.
  • Micro-Content. All that long content you have been working on might be your problem. Sure, lengthy blogs are great for in-depth discussions, but most readers want to make choices. Do they want to read something long today or do they just want a tiny bit of information? Utilize things like Twitter where you are limited to 140 characters and start putting out micro-content. You can share links, photographs, or tips/facts of the day. This will help engage your readers and keep them interested enough to read your lengthy content when you publish it.

8. Shift Your Focus

We see you over there with your nose glued to your computer screen. That’s cool. We understand that you are crafting content and are dedicated to making it the best content ever, but you are focusing on the wrong area. Yes, writing and creating content is important, but one of the most important things is building a relationship with customers. You may have started out with quality, compelling content and you now have a great client base due to this.
However, the reason you are “stagnating” and losing customers might not be just about the quality of your current content but how well you are relating to your clientele. Start focusing on your existing clients and make them feel involved. You are reading this because you feel stuck in a rut, so how about when you are finished reading you go and ask your customers what they would like to see. You will gain so much inspiration simply by asking people what their interests are and you will watch your clients feel appreciated to the point that they start saying, “You’ve got to give this company a shot, they are incredible!”  Once you’ve shifted your focus, you will begin seeing just how much inspiration you are gathering and you will get out of the rut. Do not fear your customers – learn from them.

9. Reading Creates Creative Content

People do not want to see bland content when they go to a website; they want to see something that is creative and fun. If you are trying to be creative and are stuck, how about reading some new-to-you books that are full of imagination? Books are great at promoting creativity and many writers find that if they have not read in a while, their writing reflects it. They also realize that their ability to come up with new topics suffers. Even if they are writing on how to install a kitchen sink or about some other construction project, they find that books are huge sources of inspiration. Try branching out of your comfort zone when it comes to reading, as this can give you new ideas or help you look at things in a new way.
“What if I’m not a reader?” you ask. Never fear, movies, television, music, and video games are other awesome ways to gain inspiration. Don’t listen to the naysayers who say all of those things dumb people down, because they really don’t. In fact, many newer video games have some absolutely amazing in-depth stories. Try playing a game like Mass Effect or Dragon Age where your choices affect the outcome of the game. This keeps you on your toes and stimulates your brain similarly to the way reading a book does.

Let’s Not Forget

We all get into content ruts, so do not feel discouraged that it is happening to you. Google will show just how many artists out there feel creatively stuck and you will notice that many copywriters are the same way. One last tip before we go is that while your company might be your passion, writing may not. Find people within your company who have a passion for writing or hire copywriters to help you. You’ll see your content improve significantly and watch it blossom into something beautiful. Getting a professional writer will turn that stinky, stagnate pond into a flourishing pond that is teeming with life.

How to Improve Your Content Strategy by Learning from Your Competitors

How to Improve Your Content Strategy by Learning from Your Competitors

Let’s say you are a small business on the road to formulating a great content strategy. There are numerous ways you can come up with great foundational points for a content strategy. Check out our video on content strategies and our blog on how to create a content strategy.

But today, we’re here to talk about a niche topic – getting inspiration from your competitors. That’s right – the guys you might evil-eye the rest of the week as you pass their super-successful, vibrant and busy offices. This time, it’s time to put your feelings aside and see just what you can learn from others who are successful in your industry.

3 Ways to Determine Who Your Competitors Are

How do you find your competitors? This is a very simple question, but an excellent starting point.
1. Internet Searches. Searching the Internet is a very good way to find out who your competitors are. It seems overly simple, but by using the keywords you would use for your own business, you will be able to find businesses that do similar things or sell similar products. This will be helpful as you create your 2014 content plan. By doing this search, you can see new ways your competitors are trying to sell a product or service. This can give you ideas on how to implement a similar strategy. Notice, we say similar, not exact! Do not steal their ideas out from under them. That is highly unprofessional and will give your company a rather negative reputation. Instead, brainstorm with your team members and decide new and unique ways to implement the ideas you found interesting in your own content strategy.

  • Use What the Internet Gave You. Finding tools to help you keep up with your competitors will be useful as trends change rapidly. According to INC.com, GoogleAlerts is a great way to be notified about new updates on products or services relating to your company and can be used when tracking what your competitors are up to. INC.com also suggests GoogleTrends, which maps the current trends within your area all the way to incorporating trends worldwide.

2. Social Media is More Useful than You Realize. Social media is not only important when attempting to engage with clients or to reach out in order to bring in new clients; it can also be used to spy on your competitors. We all know how to do it. In fact, we have all done this in some fashion with different friends and relatives. Why not implement this when researching your competitors? You can keep track of what your competitors are up to by following their Twitter, Facebook, and various other social media sites. Seeing how they interact on a social media site can give your company ideas on how to interact with clients. Many businesses have yet to become socially savvy online, so do not follow blindly exactly what your competitor does on social media. The Internet is a whole different game from face-to-face interaction. If your competitor happens to have a successful social media presence, then start gleaning from the field of social media information they have provided when developing your content strategy.
3. We the People. Info Entrepreneurs states that distributing questionnaires and talking to customers will help you learn more about your competitors and will help you understand how they are able to keep customers or even how they chase customers away. When you learn of any negative transactions with customers, do your best to stay away from repeating the same action. A typical example of a negative transaction with customers would be customer service. Many places have customer service policies that they are meant to follow, but not all companies follow the policies. You know that customers are what keep your business going and growing, so by listening to their wants and needs you can build a successful 2014 content strategy that beats your competitors.

5 Ways to Learn Content Strategy Tips from Your Competitors

Competitors can offer sage advice on how to formulate a 2014 content strategy. While they may not realize that they are helping you improve your company, they are, in fact, doing just that!
Following a few of these tips can help you as you seek ways to learn from your competitors and implement your new ideas.
1. Their SEO Strategy. What keywords are they ranking for? We are not talking about copying and pasting their list of keywords (which they likely won’t take kindly to) – but what can you learn from their keywords and implement into your own? For example, do they use location keywords? If you are location specific, consider using your location in your website page meta tags and keywords. According to CopyPress, MOZ is a leading website that helps companies such as yours learn about your keywords and pulls in information that will help you create a better SEO strategy for your company. Using this tool for your company will end up being very beneficial and help you as you fight the good fight with your competitors.
2. Their Blogging and Content Strategy. Blogging is a major aspect of the Internet. Everyone loves to read updates on their friends, family members, and what their favorite business are doing. Blogs offer a great form of interaction with customers and potential clients, keeping them “in-the-know” and feeling included. When it comes to your competitors, look at their blog presence and see how they work with it. You will be able to learn and implement many helpful tips just by reading their blog!

  • How do they blog? Look at the content they use in publications and see if there is anything you can gain from it. You never know, but by simply reading your competitors blog you may learn something new to you and be able to implement it in your 2014 content strategy. Do not be afraid to learn from your competitors. It helps your business grow, and they may even be learning something from you! Pay attention to how they format their blogs and if customers accept that format. You can easily tell if customers like or hate the format by simply reading comments on any of the posts. People are not shy when they are on the Internet, and they will say, “I hate this format! Why do you use it?” or “Wow this is great!” If customers hate the format, do not replicate it! If they love it, create a similar, but different, format. Do not copy their webpage exactly, your competition will not appreciate it, and the Internet will talk about it constantly.
  • When Do They Blog? The “when” of blogging is very important. Let’s say that again. The “when” of blogging is very important. You need to know when to blog and how often to blog while participating in the Internet world. Companies that blog often tend to have more readers, whereas companies who hardly blog will eventually lose readers. When it comes to blogging often, you need to find a good balance between “often” and “far too often” because blogging too much will also lose you readers and followers. People do not like spam in can form or on the Internet. Watch your competitors to see how regularly they blog and how their customers and the community take to it. If customers find a blog too tedious, find ways to implement those comments into creating a blog they will like and if a customer comments in approval of a certain post, find a way to implement that, as well. (Using originality, that is! Just say no to plagiarism; OK?)
  • What Received the Most Comments? Often one of the best gauges of successful online blog and article content is which topics and postings received the most comments. An abundance of comments means success in Internet-land. How can you replicate that topic and create your own original content from it? You might want to shy away from imitating the topic, but it is possible to duplicate an idea without plagiarizing it when writing new content. If you come up with a new perspective on the subject, it will be refreshing and help you standout from your competitors.

3. Check Out the Website. Your competitor’s website is the key to finding out what they are doing and if it is successful or not. Scour every inch to see what they post about. Do they post tips and tricks on how to use their product in everyday life? Tips and tricks are great things to have on a website because people love learning new things, especially when in list form! Next, look at how they have incorporated website design changes and possibly how often they go about changing their look. You can learn many things from how they use their web content. Do they interact more with customers and do customers appreciate it? Is their web content positive and bright? Informative? Take these things and discover how you can use them for your company. Also, see how your competitors offer information on their products or services, and learn how you can apply their ideas into new and unique ideas for your company. Once you have checked out their website, why not sign up for their newsletters and updates?
4. You’ve Got Mail! According to an YP article on how a small business can check out the competition, signing up for your competitors newsletters will help you properly gauge what they are up to and teach you new ideas to implement in your own company and newsletters. You will be able to see what new programs your competition is planning, gaining new insights into how to run your own company. It is also a great way to see how they go about sending newsletters out. Do they have more than one? Do they send them all at the same time or different days throughout the week? They may be overwhelming their customers’ inboxes, making for some pretty upset customers. Gaining information on sending out newsletters and what to incorporate in them is priceless when it comes to keeping your customers.
5. Once Again, Social Media. Social media is tops when it comes to creating a competent content strategy for 2014. Statistic Brain states that as of January 2014, 1.4 billion people use Facebook worldwide. Statistic Brain also states that 650 million people use Twitter. That is a lot of people online! Meaning, a lot of people your company can reach. As you can see, creating content for social media is imperative in 2014. It provides the chance to spy on your competitors to see how they run social media. We already discussed part of this in point 2 of learning about your competitors. You already know you can use social media as a way to keep up with what they are doing and how they interact with customers. Pay attention to how often they update or tweet, as well as paying attention to how their customers and followers react to their social media presence. If there are negative reactions to the social media presence, be sure to implement ways that are not negative for YOUR customers. Customers who are disappointed in the service provided online will be looking for new companies who have good social media etiquette.

Final Thoughts

Your competitors are some of your best teachers when it comes to a new 2014 content strategy, just as you are one of the best teachers for them as they go about creating a new content strategy for themselves.
We are all here to help each other develop in our fields, and while we want to be the best in our fields it is great to know that we can also help others grow. This blog has provided you with a few tips on how to go about learning from your competitors’ mistakes and their successes. As you begin planning your content strategy for 2014, try to implement some of these new tactics and see how easy your planning meetings become!

6 Online Content Marketing Predictions for 2014

6 Online Content Marketing Predictions for 2014

2014 is here! We’ve all ushered in the New Year, some at small, intimate gatherings and others at large, happening parties. Now that the celebration is over and the hangovers are subsiding, it’s time to dig back into the hardy topics at hand. Content marketing predictions are one of the meatier online conversation topics. Social Media Today hit this topic square on the head by presenting a beautiful infographic depicting the digital marketing trends of the New Year. They boldly stated that 2014 will again transform the digital marketing landscape in the form of: content marketing, advertising, big data and mobile marketing.”

The Rise of a New Kind of Content Marketing

In truth, during the last two quarters of 2013, we saw an unprecedented transformation in the what, where, why, who and how of content marketing. To a large degree, the very definition of “content” underwent transformation from a keyword caterpillar to a content-rich butterfly. Reputable online sources have published hundreds of articles with 5, 10, 15, even upwards to 50 online content marketing predictions for 2014. While most of these prediction hold a certain amount of merit, which ones should you zero in on as we plunge into an exciting year of content-focused marketing? That’s what we’re here to discuss:

Prediction #1: Content Will Be Its Own Full Fledged Department

According to a Mashable post on content marketing in 2014, CMOs and agency heads are already “looking to hire new roles with content in the title.” In the past, we’ve seen journalists enlisted to run editorials, but in 2014, we can expect to see Content Marketing Managers, Directors of Content, and Chief Content Officers. Their talents will be in high demand as content becomes its own significant department.
The Moz Blog, a strong source of dependable predictions, says, “Resumes listing ‘content marketing’ will grow faster than either SEO or ‘social media marketing’ [resumes].” This is because the new motto of 2014 will be “less isn’t more.” Content in 2014 is the killer strategy for rankings, engagement, credibility, and authority.
Here at Express Writers, we predicted in December that 2014 would be “the year of the Informer.” In essence, if your content isn’t informing, you won’t be ranking. Content needs to be your new priority, and here’s how you accomplish this:

  • Plan content ahead of time. Don’t fall prey to the pitfall of “winging content.” Instead, take time to plan. Brainstorm topics and research their appeal to your target audience. Review the analytics of your website and see which pages are getting the most visits. Use the content of these pages to stimulate further content ideas. With a little planning, you can even repurpose old material—such as presentations and speeches—for articles, blog posts, press releases and social media. If you find your creative well running dry, join communities and subscribe to feeds in your niche to generate new ideas. Try to plan a daily—or at least weekly—release of new, engaging content.
  • Keep content interesting. The average person spends about one minute on any given webpage. Your goal should be to make content impressionable and easily digestible in this timeframe. Keep paragraphs short and insert attention catching subheadings and lists. Include client reviews and success stories. Stay hip by referencing pop culture or current events; this can keep your content fresh and timely.
  • Keep content relevant and fresh. You’ll miss the point of quality content completely if you don’t keep copy relevant and fresh. Relevant copy informs the reader how your product or service relates to their immediate needs and why they should choose you over the competition. If your content lacks relevancy, don’t expect potential customers to spend more than a minute skimming your page. They will quickly move on, giving their business to the competitor who provides relevant copy. Likewise, fresh copy is all about keeping the material fresh. You can do this by referencing current trends, new information or approaching the topic from a unique or new perspective. The last thing a potential customer wants is to read stale content.
  • Search engine optimization still matters. Although we are trending away from keyword stuffing, optimizing your content by including keywords and keyword phrases is still important. Therefore, properly done keyword research should still be a priority for the content department.
  • Create backlinks. Your content should be created with backlink opportunities in mind. Season the content with links back to your website, social media profiles, blog, or previous posts. This practice will help boost your search engine ranking. You can even comment on blogs, articles, and forums around the web with links back to a relevant post on your website. But, be sure your comment adds value; otherwise, you will risk being branded a spammer. Remember: linking is about adding value. Do not randomly link to credible sources just for the sake of linking, as this will detract from ranking. Links should add value by furthering the discussion.
  • Use social channels. In 2014, social channels are going to work hand-in-hand with content. Your content department should be nurturing this relationship. Use social platforms to promote blogs, articles, videos, podcasts, press releases, whitepages, and any other content you release. You can even submit this type of promotion to discussion pages, groups, and communities that encourage it.

Content marketing is going to tie in with every other avenue of online (and even offline) marketing in 2014. The Content Marketing Institute is an unrivaled source of content marketing predictions. In fact, they’ve been around longer than any other content marketing predictor on the planet, and they make it very clear in their “50 Predictions for 2014” that quality content is at the heart and soul of success in 2014. It will affect everything, from Google SERPs to sales conversions. If your content is weak, your entire marketing plan will likewise be weak. Moving forward, hiring a content professional or content agency will be in your best interests—even if they are only on-staff for consulting purposes.

Prediction #2: Mobile Marketing Is Exploding, Catch the Wave

Our obsession with mobile devices is no secret. We like convenience. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love having the Internet at my fingertips. I can be anywhere in the world and have the ability to look up whatever I need whenever I need it, instantly. I love it, you love it, and customers love it.
In 2014, mobile phone traffic is expected to exceed that of traditional desktops. Over 50 percent of mobile users depend on local searches, and this percentage will only increase. As a result, mobile marketing is imperative to success in 2014. Websites need mobile optimization in order to display properly across the variety of devices currently used by potential customers. By catering to local and mobile searches, you can be sure of increasing your Internet traffic, which leads to higher sales conversion.
Mobile marketing strategies will need to be built into your content. Daily blogging, press releases, and articles can hit your audience instantly via their mobile devices if you plan it well and tap into social media channels as a distribution source. A lot of people feed RSS and subscriber feeds into their mobile devices. It will be important to ensure your content is visually appealing and easy to digest as readers view it on the go.

Prediction #3: Location-Based Marketing Will Matter

Google search engine result pages are not static, which is one reason why keyword stuffing isn’t going to do you any good in 2014. And as we said, mobile searches are skyrocketing. Google is catering to the individual searching from their cellular device, likely endeavoring to find a local establishment that meets their query. As a result, marketing strategies need to include local search parameters.
In many ways, location-based marketing is great news. It’s handing you the opportunity to increase sales in your own local community. Embrace this change by getting more involved with the audience right there, in your local community. People want to connect to local establishments, and will likely stream to your social media channels if they know you exist.
National and even international search parameters will also be important, as these will be separated from local searches. Location-based marketing will be a heavy focus for advertisers and businesses. Expect a need to incorporate location-based keywords and keyword phrases into your content.

Prediction #4: Everything Will Start and End with Your Customer

An article published by Business2Community had this to say about content and your customer: “You know what you’re selling. But just as important is figuring out who you are selling it to.” Everything from your content creation to content marketing must start and end with your customer in mind. In the competitive, mobile world of information, people won’t spend time reading or listening to content that doesn’t:

  • Affect them emotionally
  • Apply directly to them
  • Address an issue they face
  • Effectively solve a problem or issue

It’s imperative to feed the greatest need in marketing today: people want to be educated. They want to make informed decisions. They don’t just want a service or a product from a reputable company. They want to buy from a company that has a story.

Prediction #5: Stories Will Sell

Since the dawn of literature, great storytelling has been at its heart. We’re all attracted to a good story, the kind that reaches into our soul and provokes thought. Content marketing is starting to incorporate this staple of literature into copy.
Why does your audience love social media? It’s because it gives them the opportunity to cultivate a one-on-one relationship with individuals, organizations, and companies. People want to be a part of something, not a sales number that hits your quarterly report. They want to matter, and they want to know why you matter. Therefore, it’s important for them to see beyond your company logo. They need to see the people behind the brand, the inspiration, and passion that lead your business to the place it inhabits today. They want to see the struggles you’ve overcome and be there for the next hurtles you’ll face. They want to see you in the community and contribute to your own internal community. In 2014, stories will make a huge impact on content marketing. We just might see copy that includes stories like:

  • How the business got started
  • Who started it and what makes it unique
  • Why your niche is whatever it is
  • What prompted your business to reach out to the community or adopt certain values
  • How customers have been affected by your business
  • Why customers keep coming back

Content isn’t just about presenting statistics, specs and facts. It’s about connecting with the audience and making them feel a connection to you. This type of association builds trust and loyalty between customers and businesses.

Prediction #6: Content Translation Will Increase

The Content Marketing Institution made the interesting prediction that as the need for quality, relevant content increases in 2014, “the need for translated content will increase, perhaps exponentially.” As your business reach expands from the local to national and eventually international level, you will find that an English-only strategy is limiting (even if you only conduct business within a single country). It will be time to step into the world of translating copy into multiple languages to reach a diverse audience of potential customers.

2014 Is All About One Killer Strategy: Quality Content

As you can see, 2014 is most definitely “The Year of The Informer.” Informative, engaging content should be at the center of everything your business endeavors to achieve. Content doesn’t have to be a headache to create. Today you have numerous avenues to create and display engaging, relevant content through:

  • Daily blogging
  • Informative, technical or educational articles
  • Press releases
  • Whitepapers
  • Infographics
  • E-books
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • PowerPoint Presentations
  • And More

The styles and avenues you can choose to present your content to the world are practically limitless. One common denominate is the 2014 essential: creating killer content. It’s the best content marketing strategy for achieving rankings, audience engagement, established credibility and more.