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captivating headlines

7 of the Hottest Headlines & How to Create Your Own

Bombarded with tons of low-quality, unremarkable stories that are constantly flooding the Internet, readers have become quite selective to their time and energy when it comes to reading blogs or content online.

Whether you’re ready for it or not, they use your own headline as their first selection criterion.

Just like a book is still being judged by its cover, each content piece that you produce gets evaluated by your readers in a few seconds based on its headline.

7 Headline Formulas That Will Convince Your Readers to Take Action

Simply because their originality and unique, totally recognizable style should be their most valuable trademarks, writers can seldom afford the luxury of relying on existing patterns to make their content piece seem more interesting in the eyes of their readers. However, when your goal is to create magnetic headlines, you can always turn to a few foolproof formulas showing you the direction that you should follow to make more people take a glance at your article. Here are the 7 golden headline formulas that you should have in mind as soon as you decide to put pen to paper.

  1. “The Secret” to [Something]. You simply cannot go wrong with a magic keyword followed by a promise. People can’t always keep a secret, but they would definitely like to hear one every half an hour. Secrets give them the power to stand out from the crowd and prove their superiority in their circle based on a very simple principle: “knowledge is power.” When that secret actually supports one of their most ambitious goals, things get even better. Let’s consider this example: “The Secret to Losing 10 Pounds in 2 Weeks the Healthy Way.” How could you ignore this headline, when all you want to do is stop eating donuts and achieve a gorgeous beach body without getting on the treadmill?
  2. “X Ways” to [Achieve Something]. The “X ways to do something” proves once again that readers love specialists and their expert insight. They want to take the easy way out and avoid unnecessary stress or expenses by following the advice of someone who has already dealt with this challenge and knows what he’s talking about. This is why a title such as “5 Ways to Revamp Your Career Rapidly and Stress-Free” will always deliver excellent results.
  3. “Little Known” Strategies/Ideas/Methods That Will [Support a Goal]. For the same reason why we love secrets, we are also very interested in “little-known” things. Yes, we want to get the latest scoop before anyone else. We also appreciate informative content pieces allowing us to show off our knowledge in front of our friends, from time to time. “I bet you didn’t know that male ostriches roar just like lions!” Following this simple idea, it becomes obvious why headlines such as “Little-known methods to develop a profitable home-based business” can guarantee your success as a writer.
  4. Here’s the Simplest/Most Rapid/Cheapest Way to [Solve Your Problem]. It’s no secret that most of the individuals who are surfing the Internet to find the best solutions to their daily problems and challenges are looking to save time and money. These two values always end up influencing their decisions. In this context, a concise title reading “Here’s the Easiest Method to Get Hired after Your First Interview” will most convince job seekers to read the entire body copy with greater attention; after all, it holds the key to getting a nice job rapidly and hassle-free. What more could you ask for?
  5. Grow/Build/Succeed in/Have Something Desirable. Sometimes, we need an extra push to get things done. Headlines such as “Build Your Own Website and Start Selling like a Pro” or “Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden in 5 Easy Steps” act like a powerful stimulus, reminding people of their ambitions; plus they also put the reward right under their nose. In other words, it’s like telling your readers that if they want to strike gold, they’d better start digging.
  6. “X Mistakes” That Could Bury/Destroy/Compromise [Something That Means a Lot to You]. When something means the world to you, you focus your entire attention on the good and the bad that your object of desire is exposed to. This is precisely why you would also read an article highlighting risk factors, such as your own actions, which could threaten your career, relationship, health and every other aspect that you care about. Let’s face it: a title reading “10 mistakes that could instantly terminate your relationship” is automatically associated with an article that you may want to read entirely, whether you’re single and still looking for your soulmate or happily married for more than a decade.
  7. A Reinterpretation of the Classic “How to” Headline. Truth be told, “how to” headlines can be quite boring. The good news is that you can amplify their power of seduction by introducing the reward, as explained above, or through associations with individuals or groups of people who have already reached a certain target. For example, headlines like “How to Take Care of Your Skin like a Dermatologist” or “How to train like a Navy SEAL” may stimulate the curiosity of your segment of public and get them to spend some (quality) time on your page.

How to Create the Ideal Headline in 5 Easy Steps

When it comes to writing killer headlines, putting theory into practice doesn’t have to be a challenge. Here are the 5 key steps that you should take to come up with the perfect title for your next content piece.

  1. Identify the Needs, Demands, Problems, and Expectations of Your Audience. Get to know your audience before anything else. In this phase, proper keyword research, a good social media strategy and tools designed to help you come up with interesting blog topics, such as Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator, can simplify your mission.
  2. Brainstorm with Your Team. Your coworkers may just have what it takes to inspire your next masterpiece. By putting themselves in your readers’ shoes and relying on their empathy, they could offer you valuable suggestions allowing you to come up with an attention-grabbing, compelling title.
  3. Put Pen to Paper. As you may already know, the biggest risk is not taking any risk. What does the perfect headline actually look/sound like? You can get the most accurate answer to this question only by examining different available options, so put your mind at work, play with various keywords, create associations based on high-impact verbs, adjectives and nouns that could reflect the core of your story and see where they take you.
  4. Incorporate Powerful Adjectives, Numbers and Buzzwords with a Proven Effectiveness. When it comes to using emotion-rich words that could convey the entire message that you’re trying to send through your headline, don’t overdo it. Stick to one or two categories of words added to reflect just how unique, special, relevant or attention-worthy your story actually is. Here are some extra guidelines that you may appreciate along the way.
  • The right adjective can take your headline to a whole new level by changing your readers’ reaction from “Ain’t nobody got time for that,” “Wait a second, I actually want to read the whole piece, it sounds promising.” Attributes like “effective”, “proven”, “remarkable” and “little-known” will always sound like music to your readers’ ears.
  • Numbers let your readers know that you’re organized. They also deliver the promise that you will stay on point in the body copy and avoid divagations that can dilute the substance of your content piece.
  • Nouns that are proven buzzwords can actually help you maximize the appeal of an ordinary list post and raise the curiosity of your public. As Goinswriter.com indicates, words like “reasons”, “lessons”, “secrets”, “tips”, “facts” and “tricks” are particularly effective because they highlight your mission (after all, you do want to educate, entertain and inform your readers) and anticipate the desires and demands of your audience (yes, your readers are still waiting for you to tell them why they need to buy your new product, and they would also appreciate a few easy tips on how to conduct a successful DIY home improvement project on their own).
  1. Use Online Tools to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Headline. Worried that you may promote a certain title and fail miserably along the way? If you don’t trust your instincts and would much rather rely on an authorized second opinion before selecting a headline for your new content piece, don’t hesitate to utilize one of the many online tools designed to help you make better decisions and maximize your odds of success. Trust us when we say that aids like the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer offered by Advanced Marketing Institute can make your job a whole lot easier.

Solving the Equation of Perfect Headlines

The perfect headline is a complicated equation comprising multiple elements of equal importance, including research, an wide knowledge database, creative thinking, brainstorming sessions, a deeper understanding of the targeted audience, an ample testing phase and proper optimization. Once you put all these pieces together, you manage to solve the puzzle and come up with the string of words with a magical resonance that will feed the curiosity of your readers and make them click on your links and land on your page time after time.

Photo credit: Zastavkin / iStock

engaging content

How 3 Mega-Successful Companies Use Engaging Content to Make Billions

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past decade, chances are you’re familiar with Silicon Valley’s wildly successful, technology-based startup businesses Uber, Buffer, and Airbnb.

And if you have been living under a rock, welcome to a world where engaging content means billions of dollars in annual revenue for marketing savvy businesses—businesses that were a mere twinkle in their founder’s eyes just months before hitting the ever-elusive yet highly coveted billion dollar revenue mark. Yes, these three commercial venture high rollers—Uber, Buffer, and Airbnb—have a lot in common when it comes to content marketing.

So what exactly do these companies have in common when it comes to content marketing? The answer to that question is quite simple—engaging content. These three multi-billion dollar businesses offer undeniable proof that engaging copy is more than just trendy buzzwords spewed forth during techy sales meetings with newbie CEOs who are barely out of diapers. Engaging content is a genuine, bonafide way for a company to gain exposure, build loyalty, and generate interest from millions of potential customers.

Successful companies like Uber, Buffer, and Airbnb realize the power of engaging copywriting, and if you own or manage a business, it’s time you realized its power as well.

Engaging Content: It’s More Than Just Words on a Webpage

By now you’re probably thinking, “Ok, engaging content is a big deal. But what exactly is engaging content?” (Either that or you could be thinking about… “A cinnamon raisin bagel and a vanilla latte would be totally awesome right now.”)

How 3 Companies Are Using Content To Kill It In Revenue

But assuming you’re thinking the former, let’s take a moment to clarify the difference between content and engaging content. In other words, let’s take a moment to clarify the difference between run-of-the mill, off-target content and stellar content that engages a company’s target audience and facilitates exponential company growth. Immensely profitable companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Buffer only use content that is very engaging in their marketing campaigns, and the results are nothing short of awe-inspiring.

  1. Uber: Engaging Content Means Videos. The peer-to-peer driving company Uber uses videos as a primary source of content marketing. But we’re not talking about mundane videos of cars cruising around a city block picking up a guy in a suit who happens to need a ride to the airport. No, Uber is much too in-the-know when it comes to engaging video content to churn out something so dry and uninteresting. Instead, Uber focuses its video content on the unique and diversified people who drive for their company or who use their services as a way to get where they need to be. In one of Uber’s blogs titled, “Your Drivers. Our Partners. Their Stories.” you can watch a video that details the lives and experiences of some of Uber’s drivers. Upon watching the video, you immediately feel a sense of relatability and you gain a better understanding of how the company operates. And even though each driver mentions several times throughout the video that working for Uber is the best job they’ve ever had, it doesn’t come across as contrived or preachy. Instead, it’s done in a way that helps establish company trust and helps portray Uber as a company that listens to and cares about its employees.But the best and perhaps most engaging feature in Uber’s video is the people; the everyday citizens just like you, just like me, and just like the people who are most likely to use Uber’s services. Using real drivers instead of actors in their video helps Uber connect with their customers on a more personal level while still demonstrating the value of the service they have to offer. You get to see faces and names of real people associated with the company, and then you realize that it’s these same people who may be giving you and your toy poodle Mr. Bojangles your next ride to the dog park. You feel a sense of neighborliness, a sense of connection, and perhaps most importantly, a sense of being totally comfortable with using Uber’s service. The video’s sincere, relatable realism speaks to Uber customers, potential customers, and potential drivers alike, which is a huge factor in why the company is now worth an estimated $40 billion.
  1. Airbnb: Surprise! Print Media Isn’t Dead! And For Airbnb, It’s Actually Quite Engaging! Yes, you read that correctly. When it comes to engaging content, print media can be just as useful, worthwhile, and successful as a webpage or video. Who knew, right? Actually, Airbnb knew. The hospitality website, which connects travelers with home owners willing to rent a room in their house, recently launched their print media venture Pineapple, a magazine that caters to both Airbnb hosts and travelers. Airbnb chose the name “Pineapple” for their magazine because the fruit was a symbol of hospitality in colonial New England, and hospitality is what Airbnb is all about.But what’s so compelling about Airbnb’s first magazine addition is that it came with a simple yet poignant mission statement that tells the reader the main purpose and focus of the magazine: “to explore our fundamental values: sharing, community and belonging,” and to “inspire and motivate exploration, not just within the cities featured, but within any space a reader finds themselves.”Why is this message so important, and why does it fall under the category of engaging content? Because the primary purpose of Airbnb is to connect people who have a need for something with people who have something to offer. In other words, Airbnb’s basis for operations is human connection and bringing people closer together in the name of travel, adventure, and exploration. People who are most likely to use Airbnb’s services are those who value the importance of everything in Pineapple magazine’s mission statement—exploration, sharing, and a sense of community and belonging.You can follow Pineapple’s engaging mission statement throughout its glossy, picture-loaded pages (again, kudos to Airbnb for its use of engaging visual content) as you read articles like the interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, the curator of the Serpentine Gallery in London, where he discusses “architecture’s role in bringing us closer together.”There they are again; those magic words that are so near and dear to Airbnb users’ heart—”us”, “closer”, “together.” Without people wanting to connect with one another, or be close with one another, or share experiences and learn from one another, Airbnb as we know it would cease to exist. The fundamental human desire for connectedness and a sense of belonging is the driving force behind Airbnb’s success and subsequent multi-billion dollar profit. And don’t think for one second that Airbnb’s content management team doesn’t realize this.In fact, just last year Airbnb launched a new brand awareness campaign in which a symbol called a “Bélo” was unveiled as the company’s new logo. According to Airbnb’s company content masterminds, “the bélo is a universal symbol of belonging.” On the company’s blog site, they describe why they chose to create a new symbol to represent their company by saying, “So to represent that feeling [of belonging], we’ve created a symbol for us as a community. It’s an iconic mark for our windows, our doors, and our shared values. It’s a symbol that, like us, can belong wherever it happens to be.” If a statement like that can’t secure brand loyalty from millions of community-minded, travel conscious users, than I don’t know what can.
  1. Buffer: Engaging Content: OMG! Social Media is Buffer’s #BFF :). All chat jargon, hashtags, and emoticons aside, every good content marketer knows just how crucial social media is for business exposure and success. And with that said, it’s no surprise that Buffer uses social media as a primary part of its engaging content strategy. After all, social media is the reason Buffer was created in the first place. Buffer helps businesses manage their social media accounts so they can reap the ultimate benefits of strong social media presence and exposure.So let’s think about this for a minute. If the service you provide helps businesses manage their social media accounts, it’s nothing short of a given that your own social media accounts will be brimming with engaging content, relevant posts, and perfectly timed updates, correct? Not surprisingly, this is the case with Buffer. However, Buffer still deserves a lot of credit for realizing something very important; something which is the exact reason why the company exists in the first place—engaging content on social media is a really big deal.

Be Engaging With Your Content, And The Sky Is The Limit

So we now know that using engaging content in your company’s marketing strategy borders on sheer genius. No, I take that back. Engaging copy doesn’t just border on sheer genius; it blasts through the border like an armor-plated combat tank and takes sheer genius as its unsuspecting prisoner.

But the truly great thing about engaging content is that it’s totally accessible to everyone. With compelling content, there’s no reason why your company can’t see the same magnitude of success as Uber, Buffer, or Airbnb. Pick a medium in which to show off your engaging copy—be it videos or podcasts, print media, or social media platforms—and do what the great successors before you have done. Know your company’s mission, know your target audience, and know how to produce amazing content that engages your audience and compels them to explore your company further.

Yes, engaging content truly is the bread-winner in most successful businesses. And yes, your business can use engaging content to reach more customers, build brand loyalty, and maybe, just maybe, hit that ever-elusive yet highly coveted billion dollar revenue mark. Dream big, engaging content users. Dream big.

Photo credit: onwardstate.com

famous authors JK Rowling

How 9 Great Authors Almost Failed & Why You Shouldn’t Throw In The Towel Just Yet

There are times where no matter what we do, it just seems like things aren’t working. You can implement everything you’ve learned from marketing and SEO, yet you don’t seem to get anywhere. This is a frustrating reality. However, here’s the good news—you, my friend, are not alone!

Did you know there are several incredibly famous authors and creators that were in the same boat as you at some point in their career? These great authors and creators, at one point or another, were considered “failures” by themselves and others.

Once you get through failure, and don’t allow it to drown you but rather make you stronger, you will achieve greater success than you’ve dreamed of!

How 9 Incredible Creators & Authors Got Discouraged & Kept Going

I am going to take a look at a few incredible authors and creators that we all love today, and look at just how they failed before they succeeded. Let their failures and inevitable success we see now be an awesome inspiration to you, today.

  1. Walt Disney Was Told He Lacked Imagination. The man who created many stories, an epic empire, and worldwide theme parks was once considered to not have much imagination. That’s right; the creator of Mickey Mouse was believed, and told, he lacked imagination. Can you conceive of where we all would be if he listened to that and didn’t create the empire we all know and love today? He also had multiple other failures including best friends leaving Walt Disney Studios for competitors and competitors even stealing his original work, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. It was after Oswald was stolen that he created Mickey Mouse, who is definitely the most popular mouse in the entire world.
  1. Albert Einstein and the Problem of Traditional Learning. While Einstein is not a fiction writer, his works have brought about an amazing advancement to the field of science. We have many of our theories and even proof of various scientific aspects because of him. However, Einstein was terrible with traditional learning and many thought he wouldn’t go very far. This speaks loudly to those who might have a hard time with traditional marketing, understanding how to make their business a success, and even young children who are having a hard time learning in school. If he had let his problems get in the way, we wouldn’t have much of the scientific advancements we have today, nor any of his incredible academic work.
  1. J.K. Rowling Wrote Harry Potter Without Much of a Plan for Success. When J.K. Rowling first wrote Harry Potter, she was living as a single mother on welfare. It was a difficult life for her, but she decided to start writing. She created the Wizarding world, but, according to her, she was rejected “loads” of times by different publishers. She kept going, however, even though she didn’t necessarily have the finances she needed to send off so many manuscripts. I am especially glad she kept going because we might have never met the Boy Who Lived, experiencing an incredible fantasy world just a few miles away from normal life. In addition to rejections for Harry Potter, Rowling also faced several rejections as Robert Galbraith, her pen name for The Cuckoo’s Calling. What a great example of “keep on trying.” Now Harry Potter is a goliath in the marketing world, offering writers and businesses alike incredible marketing inspiration.
  1. Charles Darwin Was Considered Average at Best. Evolution has had a long, contentious past with many people arguing over its reputability. What many people don’t realize is that the father of evolution, Charles Darwin, was considered an average student at best and dropped out of a degree and career in medicine to become a parson. However, he found a significant interest in nature and began traveling the world to understand it better. As he did so, he came up with his theory and published the now popular and infamous Origin of the Species. Regardless of one’s stance on evolution, it is hard to deny that this “average” student made a huge impact on the world of science and helped bring about a different view of nature.
  1. Dr. Seuss Had His First Book Rejected 27 Times. We all love Dr. Seuss, don’t we? We all have that one book that helped us get through difficult times or at least one that was our childhood favorite, but did you know Dr. Seuss’s very first book was rejected 27 times? That’s right. And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was rejected 27 times by different publishers. It took a while for this book to become published, but eventually it was and Dr. Seuss became a tremendous part of the literary world. He even has an entire literary day (his birthday) dedicated to him and his amazing work.
  1. Stephen King Threw Away Early Drafts of Carrie and it was Rejected 30 Times. Have you read Carrie? If you’re a horror and novella fan, then chances are you already have. It is a great, scary story that is definitely a classic in the horror world. Before it became the success it is today, Stephen King got very frustrated with it and threw away early drafts of the novella. In addition, when he finally finished it, it was rejected 30 different times. It is unlikely we would have the an epic horror empire King created if it weren’t for his wife. She made sure to help get Carrie published, and we can all thank her for the wonder, and horror of a Stephen King universe.
  1. Margaret Atwood Failed Writing a Novel On Holiday. Margaret Atwood is a definite goddess amongst fantasy and science fiction writers, and we might never have received the wonder of The Handmaid’s Tale if she hadn’t failed writing another book. She went on a bird watching, book writing holiday and only one aspect of that holiday was successful – watching birds. She struggled to write her novel and eventually stopped. It was soon after stopping that novel that she began the terrifying dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale that is still creeping audiences out today.
  1. Mary Shelley’s The Last Man Was Panned by Reviewers. We all know Mary Shelley’s impressive work, Frankenstein, which was, and still is, an amazing part of early science fiction literature. However, one of her books that doesn’t get the acclaim it deserves, The Last Man was often panned by reviewers, yet has proven to be just as powerful as Frankenstein. The book even disappeared from shelves after the 1833 American edition but was eventually printed again in 1965.
  1. Publishers Were Unwilling to Publish J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. When it came down to publishing J. R. R. Tolkien’s massive, classic work The Lord of the Rings, publishers were unsure if it would actually work. In fact, The Lord of the Rings was originally one huge book. The publishers eventually broke the book up into the now infamous trilogy, which was not Tolkien’s favorite idea. His publishers were worried they’d lose thousands of pounds trying to sell this work, as well. After all the fear, The Fellowship of the Ring ran a printing of 3,500 and sold out in the first 6 weeks, which was a milestone in publishing then. Aren’t you glad the publishers, and Tolkien, stuck with the books? We not only have an epic book series, but some great films for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to help inspire our copywriting!

What Can You Learn from These Authors?

Now that you’ve seen a few things that have happened to some of the world’s favorite authors and creators throughout their careers, you might be wondering just what you can learn from them. There are many different things you can learn, but a few things that stand out to me are:

  • Just Because You Didn’t Achieve Something Doesn’t Mean You Never Will. To many of these authors, it just didn’t seem like much was going to happen to them or with their stories. Can you imagine what would’ve happened if J. K. Rowling had never pushed for Harry Potter or what the world would look like without Dr. Seuss? Use their passion and dedication to help you achieve the marketing goals you have, and benefit your company.
  • If You Give Up Now, Just What are You Losing Out On Later? Giving up can be easy in many situations, especially after multiple failures. However, giving up could mean losing out on something amazing in the future. Don’t let your failures stop you.
  • Keep Working and Learn from Specific Failures. The above point talks about not giving up, but what should you do with specific failures? You should take the chance to learn something from them. Each failure is a lesson and it can help you learn exactly what you need to do to push your business and marketing to be the best.

Don’t Let Failure Keep You From Your Business Goals

Use these authors as a great example to help you continue striving for your business goals, no matter what. Keep writing your content and pushing through, and you’ll start to see some pretty awesome results. If you need help to create incredible, successful content, then Express Writers is here for you. Our team is dedicated to making all of our clients have successful businesses and amazing web content that your customers are sure to love. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information on how we can help!

Photo Credit: harrypotter.wikia.com

trivial content

5 Ways to Avoid Becoming Boring & Trivial With Your Content

How often do you stumble across low-quality written material with no real message or meaning while surfing the net? How long does it take you to dive in the pool of diverse web content to bring the most original and inspiring ideas back to the surface?

The truth is that the Internet is flooded with the worst kind of writing: uninspired, thrown-together, no-originality content. We’re talking about the really boring, trivial content that could only stimulate you to shut your computer and take a nap.

 

boring

Boring, Trivial Content Is Your Brand’s Worst Enemy

Low-value content will never support your marketing goals for a number of reasons. First of all, today’s prospects are savvier than ever and know how to differentiate thought leaders from players who share the herd mentality and have nothing new of exciting to say about their company or their products. Secondly, they have a short attention span and a zero tolerance for writing that fails to answer and address their needs, questions and demands and only makes them waste time in front of their computer screen.

How do businesses entirely avoid this pitfall? How do they get creative with new stuff?

5 Ways to Kick Trivial and Boring Content Ideas to the Curb

If you’re striving to find the simplest answers to the questions I just asked, keep reading. I’m listing the 5 easiest ways to replace unremarkable concepts with written gems that will boost your readers’ interest and loyalty.

  1. Write with Your Audience in Mind. The truth is that you don’t have to waste all your time trying to craft content pieces that are loaded with bells and whistles. Sometimes, the more you try to adorn your writing, the more you lose your focus and get farther away from the real substance of the message that you’re trying to convey. Therefore, as Hubspot points out, even when you’re working on educational content, you can upgrade your copy by making it respond to the questions and concerns of your audience. For instance, let’s assume that your services have been contracted by a company selling automotive supplies. By answering a very mundane question related to a popular topic, such as vehicle maintenance for example, you would actually be creating high-value content that would be assimilated with great interest by your targeted audience.
  2. Let Social Networking Websites Be Your Guide. When it comes to crafting interesting content, social media platforms are your number one ally and one of the most amazing sources of inspiration that you could ever ask for. Just think about it: social networking websites represent the natural habitat of thought leaders and influencers who are constantly recruiting faithful virtual ambassadors. This is the place where companies go from small and obscure to big and successful in record time. Need another reason to poke around Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn? In this case, think about the fact that these websites are the major platforms where quality, relevant and original content can instantly become a viral sensation. Some of the freshest stories shared through these channels can inspire your writing and help you stay far away from boring, trivial content.
  3. Use the Best Tools to Get Inspired. Sometimes, the most trivial concepts are born out of excessive boredom, apathy and a dangerous lack of inspiration and motivation. What can you do when you’ve struggling to overcome a case of writer’s block? Should you still be praying for inspiration after your fifth cup of coffee? Here’s a simpler alternative that can help you put pen to paper and let those clever words flow smoothly: use a wide range of free and almost free online tools designed to inspire your new content pieces. Content Marketing Institute has recently published a long list of such aids that can take your writing to a whole new level. Options such as Ahrefs Content Explorer tool, Topsy, Hubspot Blog Topic Generator or Ubersuggest are the best choices that you should explore to come up with exciting topics for your blog and avoid uninspiring ideas that could only make your readers yawn or raise an eyebrow while bouncing off your page.
  4. Plan Ahead. Last minute decisions and successful content creation shouldn’t be a part of the same sentence for a very simple and logical reason: as a goal-oriented small business owner, you should know how, when and how often you should satisfy your readers’ cravings for premium content. In other words, proper planning and a smart, well-balanced editorial calendar are everyday essentials that can tighten the bond with your audience, while also optimizing your content flow. These two key elements will also help you avoid the tension, confusion and sense of powerlessness that could make you resort to cheap, yawn-inspiring content, which you may be tempted to use as time-fillers to give your audience something to chew on while you’re working on a new recipe for content success. There are several prominent content strategy tools, such as keyword research for example, that could offer you the expert insight you may require to start and follow a detailed editorial calendar that would ultimately enable you to achieve a rich online presence and a deeper connection with your content-hungry audience. Don’t forget that brainstorming with new staff members could offer you the finest food for thought that you could ever dream about adding to your content menu. Ask your client manager to attend these sessions to find out what kind of topics they would like to add to your editorial calendar. After dealing with clients all day, client managers are the team members who usually come up with the most spectacular content ideas that have what it takes to please and stimulate writers, readers and clients at the same time. At the end of the day, it becomes obvious that good old teamwork will never go out of fashion, especially when it comes to organizing brainstorming sessions revolving around creative concepts that can be rewritten and reinterpreted in countless ways.
  5. Employ Expert Writers. At some point, you may realize that your limited amounts of time and energy represent real obstacles standing in the way of your content creation efforts. In this case, what’s the simplest way to avoid generic, overdone, extremely boring or trivial concepts that will never do your company any favors? If your goal is to get rid of most of the burden of coming up with unique, awesome content, consider hiring a team of expert writers.

Trivial Content Is Perfectly Preventable

Whether you choose to use the finest online tools to boost your creativity, conduct brainstorming sessions or create and follow a strict editorial calendar, you should know that all these strategies can help you avoid damages associated with poorly materialized, dull or trivial ideas. If you’re already at the bottom of the sea of trivial content and don’t know how to swim, do keep in mind that professional content creators can put the wow factor into your marketing messages while crafting a unique story around your brand and feeding your readers’ ever-growing appetite for captivating writing that actually serves both aesthetic and practical purposes.

Photo credit: g-stockstudio / iStock

outdated content

Outdated Content: How To Consistently Evaluate The Quality Of Your Copy

The number one money sinkhole for many website owners comes from outdated content. Outdated content is any content that you have that is no longer relevant, or doesn’t help the website either financially or content-wise.

The problem with outdated copy is that it can be so easy to become inundated by it. The quality of your content is directly related to the quality of your site as a whole. This means that the more outdated content that you have clogging up your website is the less efficiently it performs.

[Tweet “Monitoring the #quality of your #content is an ongoing job, one that doesn’t have a clear end point.”]

 

What Qualifies as Outdated Content?

Depending on what sort of site it is that you run, outdated content can vary. Websites that hold searchable listings might have a database that is flooded with dead links or links to old contact sites for certain clients. In the case of a retailer or wholesaler, it could come down to stating that a product is stocked when in reality it isn’t. Professional company websites can also suffer from this malady by having members of staff up on their company listing who no longer work with them. The impact of this content varies from site to site as well. In the case of the professional company website, it simply makes them look inept at maintaining their website. In the case of the retail store or the search database it can lead to loss of income.

5 Ways Outdated Content Makes You Look Bad

You might think that just because a piece of content isn’t current, it doesn’t generate a whole lot of traffic. This is a huge misconception. Many times, it’s the existing content that causes the majority of your incoming traffic. Lots of people use search engines that direct them to pages that have been existing for a long time and have slowly climbed up the rankings for a particular keyword. When that “old” page gives the user misleading or outdated information the user is left to assume the worst.

In fact, outdated content almost always leads to the reader jumping to one or more of these conclusions:

  1. That your website is going out of business
  2. That your customer service must be terrible
  3. That your company is lackadaisical and just aren’t “with it”
  4. That your website managers are technologically incompetent
  5. They’re not good enough for my money

All of these things work towards causing you to lose revenue through lost conversions. This is definitely not where you want your site to be going. There are ways to get around outdated copy and to revamp content and keep it fresh to avoid these generalizations being applied to your website. The most effective method of dealing with outdated content is auditing.

What is Content Auditing?

Before you can properly fix your outdated content, you are going to need to figure out where that content is and how badly it affects your current website. In order to do this, you can utilize a methodology called “content auditing”. In a nutshell, content auditing is a means by which the pages of your website are examined for things like broken links and outdated information. After the offending pages are identified, we can move on to making those content pages more viable by updating the information, removing dead links and generally cleaning up the copy.

The end result is a website that looks professional and features well on search rankings. Keeping your content current is as important as having a page that exists for a long time. The longer your page in in existence, the more trustworthy Google tends to find it. By refreshing the content on the page you make it a little bit more popular in the search rankings, which can translate into increased traffic and possible increased income through conversions and advertising.

How Can Content Auditing Help You? 5 Ways

Content auditing can help any website to become better and more efficient. When you content audit, you remove spurious information and revamp the copy in pages that need it. You check your current information and edit pages where the information needs to be updated. All of these can lead to a lot of different positive benefits for the entire site, including:

  1. Avoiding Panda penalties: Google’s Panda algorithm is very picky when it comes to certain things such as outdated content. An audit helps you to keep your information up to date to get away from this pitfall
  2. Fix Pages for Copywriting: Some of your pages may be in dire need of an overhaul. An audit helps you to pinpoint these and allow you to fix individual pages without having to rewrite entire swathes of your site
  3. Consolidation: Some pages would be better if they were combined into one page. Information that is very closely linked can be placed on the same page, eliminating the need for a redundant page and making your site architecture more pleasing.
  4. Determine Keyword Specifics: Each page has a set of keywords that they are ranking for. By doing an audit you can figure out what those keywords are and if they suit you. You might be surprised at what keywords your site ranks for!
  5. Remove Bad Pages: Some pages just cannot be salvaged and your best option would be to remove them completely instead of getting visitors that end up with a bad impression of your site. Content auditing makes this easy by giving you an overview of which pages tend to shunt users off-page and which ones send users to other pages within your site.

Outdated Content is Slowly Killing your Site

Just like a bad investment, outdated content takes away a little more of your possible income every month. It’s like an invisible lurker that steals away your customers and leaves them hating your site. You can fight back against it by doing regular content audits. These ensure that you are always at the top of your game regarding your content needs and that no outdated information exists on your site. Auditing can be a time consuming process, so you might be best served by finding a copywriting company to aid you in salvaging your site. The sooner you get down to it, the better it’ll be for both you and your website.

Photo credit: InnerVisionPRO / iStock

 

organize your content

15 Ways to Keep Your Content Flow Organized

Do you have some awesome topic ideas and great content marketing planned out, but you accidentally forgot to write it down? Or, you might have hundreds of sticky notes around your office?

15 Tips for Staying Organized with Your Content

Organization is key to having successful content because you are going to have a hard time remembering everything if it isn’t organized well. Just how do you get organized with your content ideas and flow? Let’s look at a few tips that will help.

  1. Use Programs Such as DropBox. If you are looking for a great way to keep things organized but want to be able to access it whether you are on your own computer or not, programs like DropBox are perfect. You can easily put your content folders into this cloud-based system, and be able to do your marketing from anywhere in the world. This is also great because, we all know computers like to be finicky, and might just crash one day. If that happens, all of your ideas are not only saved on your computer and an external hard drive, but also on DropBox.
  1. Utilizing List Apps and Programs. One of the best ways to stay organized, whether it is for personal life things or marketing, is to keep a list of everything you need. A big mistake many people make with lists, however, is having a master list for every single thing both business and personal, and all the little things in-between. By using list programs such as the Reminders app on iPhone and iMac, or Remember the Milk, can help you create multiple lists for multiple things. I love lists, because they help me get through my busy content days and helps me remember what I need from the store or other non-work life related things. Try some lists out today and watch that organization and flow improve!
  1. Planning Out Your Schedule for the Next Week or Two. Another thing that helps me immensely with getting organized is not just having a plan for the upcoming month (which I will talk about later) but is also scheduling out my week and two weeks. This helps because you don’t just have content marketing going on, you have other things pertaining to your business, and, again, personal life. When you sit down and plan everything out, you will be able to delegate time to different tasks and know when you should start and finish something. While this might not always go to plan, you will find that you will be more productive and get things finished on time. You will also notice things aren’t quite as stressful if you already have a plan in place!
  1. Using an Editorial Calendar to Keep Your Topics Organized for Months. When it comes to content, you need to make sure that you are not only prepared for the current month, but also for the next few months. A great way to do this is to sit down with your topics and campaign ideas and implement them into an editorial calendar. This will help keep your thoughts and topics organized, and you will be relatively stress-free for the next few months. Many places suggest having an editorial calendar set up for about six months or having one in place for the entire content year. Are you not sure how to create an editorial calendar? Don’t worry! Hubspot offers a great, free calendar! 
  1. Create a Content Inventory. A content inventory helps you keep track of the content you’ve done, as well as what areas you haven’t covered. It can even show you areas you have covered some, but not enough. A content inventory is also a great way to keep track of every web page you have from your about section to a contact page or anything else you have or need. What you can do is open an excel sheet or a Google Doc and catalog each page you have by name, link, and a small sentence about why you need it. This can help you figure out new pages you need and how you can also organize your web page. It can also help you see if you might have a landing page or two that you don’t really need. However, it will take quite a bit of time to create a content inventory, so be sure you have enough time set aside to do this.
  1. Don’t Hesitate to Use Good Old Fashioned Paper and Pencil. Technology is great and can really help you get organized, but you shouldn’t ignore good, old-fashioned practices of staying organized. Consider getting a planner and writing down your content schedule or what you need to do in the future. Keep notes of your different topics or simply use pencil and paper to brainstorm. Many times, this can help people stay more organized than a calendar on a computer because writing it by hand can commit it to memory easier. I know that writing down things on paper is quite a big help for me and I find that I get a lot more done that way. 
  1. Use a Sitemap to Keep Your Flow Organized. Sitemaps can be incredibly helpful when you are trying to stay organized. This can show you which pages are the most important and that you want more clicks to, but it can also show you which pages you need to change and improve to make them more impactful. It can be a simple thing to make either on your own or with a program. You will find that, when you have this written out in a diagram format, it will be easier to see what you need to do and make necessary changes. A sitemap will also show the relationships between pages. However, this can be difficult to decipher, which can make a sitemap a little harder. You should still give it a try and see how it benefits you!
  1. Use a Post Tracker to Help Stay Organized. A post tracker does exactly what it sounds like it does – it tracks your posts. This is great because you are able to look at your previous blog posts and access them easily. It can also help you see which posts are more popular, and help you tweak your blogging strategy to follow the most successful posts. However, a post tracker doesn’t just focus on past content but can help you plan out future posts by coming up with topics and planning out a blogging schedule to get the most out of your content. Consider using the post tracker shared in the link above to get started and see just how much easier it is to organize your posts, write great, relevant content, and come up with newer topics! 
  1. Have a Specific Place for Brainstorming Ideas. This particular point refers to two different things – have a digital place where you write your brainstorming ideas, such as Evernote, and consider having a physical place you go to write like outside at a park or in a coffee shop. We all have areas that help us brainstorm better, and if we go to those locations, we can come up with some great topics! In addition, we need to have a central, digital location to keep those ideas because, if you write them on scraps of paper or napkins, it is likely you’ll quickly lose your ideas and have to start all over again. I enjoy Evernote because it provides you with cloud technology and can help you craft and organize some awesome ideas. 
  1. Use Programs to Track Buyer Personas. You can utilize a variety of programs to create and monitor buyer personas to help you organize your content and get the most out of it. There are programs like Trello that allow you do to this in a form of Pinterest model by letting you create a board for each persona and tracking or making any changes you need for it. A buyer persona is vital to help you get the best results from your content and bring in revenue. In fact, this is one of the best ways to research your audience outside of actually asking your audience questions. Building buyer personas will help your content tremendously so create some and use something like Trello to track and improve personas as time goes on.
  1. Have a Time Each Month to Look at Your Content. You need to make sure you are looking at your content consistently and making any tweaks and changes you need to improve it. While you can’t sit down and look at it every day or week, you should set aside time once a month to look it over. This will help you see if you are meeting your intended content goals. If you aren’t, you need to research and see what changes you need to do. Look at which blogs were the most popular in the month and which weren’t to see what changes you should make. If you are constantly getting in a rut, you will be able to notice this quickly and seek the help you need to improve your content and make it powerful.
  1. Use Excel to Track Keywords that Work and that Don’t. Excel is a great program that often comes with any Microsoft Office package, which means you most likely have it. If not, you can always use the spreadsheets available over at Google Docs. According to Buzzsumo.com, Spreadsheets are a great way to track keywords that you are using, and keeping a tally of how successful they are. It can show you if you are paying money for a keyword that is actually ranking well organically. Write down the keywords you intend to use and constantly follow Google Analytics to research those keywords and see how effective they are. Write it down in the excel sheet, and look at it when you look at your content each month. This way, you can quickly make the necessary changes to help improve the impact of your content.
  1. Set Up a Pinterest Board for Ideas. Just like with Trello and buyer personas, Pinterest is a great place to track ideas. You can use it to track your content ideas and save or bookmark things that you think will be helpful for your content and business. Pinterest isn’t just for moms and DIY enthusiasts, it is a great place to gather up ideas and learn something new to improve your content flow!
  1. Schedule Out Social Media and Blog Posts. This is a great way to stay organized and to not forget to post to social media or your blog. Each week, you should take the opportunity to schedule out your social media posts to make sure that you don’t get too busy to remember. In fact, if you are able to, you can also schedule it out for a whole month, especially if you’ve created an editorial calendar and know what you are expecting for your content. The same goes with blog posts; try writing and scheduling them out to save time and get more organized.
  1. Delegate Tasks to Trusted People in Your Company. Sometimes we can get so overwhelmed with everything we need to do that it can be difficult to maintain everything. The busier we get, the less organized we become and the less likely we are to produce quality content. Because of this, a great way to get organized is to ask trusted individuals within your company to help with content creation. This can be in various ways whether brainstorming ideas, creating an editorial calendar or writing the posts up. You can even hire a copywriting agency if you are a very small business and don’t have enough people available to help.

Ready, Get Set, Let’s Get Organized!

These tips will help you get organized quickly and before you know it, you will have things in specific places and your stress levels will significantly decrease. I know that when I have everything organized and planned out, that I am able to accomplish more than when I am scrambling for ideas.

Take a few of these tips and start using them today. Which of these do you think you will try first? Will any be more of a challenge for you? Let me know in the comments!

Photo credit: stokkete / iStock

 

content inspiration

Taking Content Ideas from an Award-Winning Movie, The King’s Speech

Image credit: Trinitynews.ie

If you love award-winning historical movies that motivate you to pursue your most ambitious dreams, chances are that you have enjoyed (or will enjoy) The King’s Speech. This 2010 masterpiece directed by Tom Hooper won 4 Oscars in 2011 for Best Writing, Best Direction, Best Actor and Best Picture, outshining all its counterparts. Most people who watch this movie are inevitably moved by King George VI’s efforts to cope with his frustrating stammering.

This speech disorder stands in the way of his success and forces him to get expert help to be able to make his first radio broadcast in 1939. Naturally, skilled content creators will read through the lines and realize that The King’s Speech is not all about the new King’s attempts to control his stuttering, eliminate his fear of public speaking and find his own voice. This heartwarming story also encompasses a plentitude of useful copywriting lessons that can help marketers and content creators improve their tactics and obtain better end results in the long run. Here’s what I’ve learned from the King’s Speech.

1) Originality Is Not a Capital Sin. To overcome his stuttering condition that is putting his position at great risk, George VI decides to see a specialist. This is how he meets Lionel Logue, a respectable and highly controversial Australian speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush. The problem is that Lionel Logue is far from being the submissive servant that a member of a royal family would normally expect to rely on.

His methods are often unorthodox and innovative and he doesn’t seem willing to make any kind of compromises because he is fully aware of the fact that he provides top-notch, extremely effective services. Originality is not a crime; on the contrary, original content allows you to make a name for yourself, become a valuable source of inspiration for other players in your niche and stimulate the curiosity of your readers. You don’t have to adjust your methods or dilute the original quality of your content just to please the masses. If you do compromise, this will only make you lose repeat customers and put your reputation on the line. Once you’ve finally managed to come up with a good content strategy, personalize it according to your own needs, goals and expectations and stick to it.

2) Let Them Leave, But Keep the Door Open. We all know how frustrating it really is to invest time, money and energy in a successful content marketing campaign without actually managing to please your clients or collaborators. Some clients and prospects just don’t get your modus operandi. Some of them just need a little bit more time to get familiar with your unique approach, your marketing strategies or your writing style. This is perfectly understandable. This doesn’t mean that you have to cling to their feet and stop them from leaving.

  • Keep Up the Good Work. If you’re good at what you do, keep your head high and your standards higher. They will eventually come back. The King’s Speech supports this idea. Shocked and intimidated by his therapist’s radical approach to addressing stammering, Bertie, the new king, decides to find another specialist who could stimulate his progress. After a short period of time, he realizes that the tough love method set in place by Logue was the only one that could actually favor noticeable improvements. Therefore, Bertie goes back to Logue’s office and continues his therapy sessions.
  • Implement Your Own Selection Criteria When It Comes to Choosing Your Audience. In his instructional guide for business owners, entitled “Book Yourself Solid”, Michael Port talks about the so-called “red velvet rope policy,” and its impact on (content) creators. In short, the key to success is to filter your clientele and your business partners and eliminate nutcases who could make you feel insecure without a reason. To perform optimally, content creators and marketers should be surrounded by people who energize them, share their methods and creative vision and actually inspire them to come up with meaningful content pieces and distribution tactics that exceed every expectation.
  • Developing a Negative Feedback Obsession Isn’t Healthy. According to Copyblogger, “dangerous” feedback from your readers can make you steer in the wrong direction. If you focus solely on complaints and any other kind of negative feedback provided by your crankiest readers, chances are that you’ll lose your voice and drown in a sea of uncertainties. You don’t have to divide your visitors into two categories: Brand Evangelists and the Devil. The main idea is that you should deliver great value to the targeted audience that represents a good fit for you and worry less about minorities. You can’t please everybody.

3) It Is Highly Recommended to Get Up Close and Personal with Your Clients. In orderto stimulate Bertie’s self-corrective abilities, Logue creates a powerful connection with his client. In a nurturing environment that supports the king’s progress, Logue tries to identify the factors that triggered his patient’s speech disorder in the first place. He makes Bertie relive the past and digs deep to tackle the real root of the problem. By understanding the unique impediments that stop Bertie from preparing and delivering a flawless speech, Logue manages to come up with the right solution to George VI’s pressing issue.

The Definitive Guide to Copywriting by Neal Patel and Joseph Putnam reveals that the web content that you write shouldn’t be about yourself, your brand or your personal ambitions and business goals. It should be about your readers. This is precisely why great copy involves a deeper understanding of your audience. Just like the great David Ogilvy once said, “advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.” Therefore, you should realize who you’re writing for, how your readers think and what exactly they want from you.

All in all, The King’s Speech provides a few useful valuable lessons enabling copywriters to enhance the quality of their work and build solider bridges between themselves and their clients and prospects.

 

 

content demands

6 Ideas For Keeping Up With Content Demands

Today, one of the biggest investments for your online marketing is content. Just how big? Check out this interesting formula on how to calculate how many “questions” you could possibly “answer” with content for your niche audience.

Take the example of a typical business content marketing flow and need. Let’s say you sell dog food. Some possible content marketing for that simple, down-to-earth industry would include newsletters, blogs, print brochures for your local clientele, and possibly an infographic or two if you want to be trendy with your content.

Now let’s take a look at the content need for just one of those avenues. Since blogging is one of the best ways to rank with Google (confirmed by SocialMediaExaminer experts) and long and frequent blogs are better, you’ll need at least 3 topic ideas per week. Getting those topics can be easy, if you know from which bucket to pull ideas. For example, what do your clients often ask you when they call in? If it focuses on grooming, come up with countless topics based on toenail grooming instructions, hair grooming, and then God only knows how many breeds you can come up with for different grooming instructions, from Pomeranians to Labradors.

How to Keep Up With Your Content Demands

Your content demands are going to be simple, but they sure can overwhelm you quickly. We are going to take some time to go through various ideas to keep up with the demands.

1. Make Your Content Available Everywhere. There is no greater letdown then trying to access the company’s website on your smartphone and realize it is only available in desktop mode. Another letdown is that a website may have a mobile platform but when you load it on your tablet, it is terrible. A great example of this is Instagram. You can only view the app on your tablet in mobile mode, but it is the size of a phone screen. If you resize it, everything is blurry and ugly looking. It makes using Instagram on a tablet difficult.

It might be silly, but that frustration is real and it can make someone ignore your site. Make sure your site content is available in different formats from desktop mode to mobile to tablet. By doing this, you will limit the amount of complaints you get each month, lessening the overwhelming feeling that your content strategy is way too big to manage.

2. Have A Focused Campaign. If your campaign is all over the map, you will definitely feel overwhelmed with your content, B2BMarketingInsider.com writes. You’ll feel like it is impossible to keep up with and this can cause you to burn out and not reach a wide audience. Keeping with the dog food motif, make one campaign solely based on keeping your pet healthy with natural foods, run some blogs during that campaign that deal with why it is important to feed certain foods to certain dogs. You can even break it down into breed or age specificity. For the next campaign, talk about how food can help a dog’s coat and write a blog with various grooming tips. This helps you stay focused and sends a clear message to your customers.

3. Utilize Different Formats and Repurpose. You don’t have to keep using one format. More formats equal more viewers and will help generate more buzz for your product. We listed some of these great formats above such as blogging, infographics, newsletters, and brochures. We think you should give them a shot! Now, you are probably wondering if you need to craft all sorts of new content for these different formats, the good news is you don’t. You can repurpose the content you’ve already written and use it in multiple formats. Quicksprout offers a really handy guide to do just that and this will definitely ease your content demand woes.

4. Make Accessible Goals For Your Content. A major reason your content demands are becoming overwhelming is because you have set some unattainable goals. Sure, your goals might be what you want in the future but right now, you’re going to have to give yourself time. Start by making smaller, more accessible content goals and grow your goals along with your company and how much content your clients are expecting. The demands won’t be as overwhelming for you by starting out small and slowly growing.

5. Work With Everyone, No Matter His or Her Language. Are you getting comments in French, Spanish, or Russian? Well, those comments probably aren’t spam like many people think and thankfully most browsers (i.e. Google Chrome) offer the ability to translate on the spot. Utilize those available translations and see what people are writing. This could be a very good indication that your product is starting to go global. Now, don’t let this overwhelm you! There are many tools out there that can help and you can start working on a strategy for global content writing.

First off, start by using a translating tool to respond. Always make sure the person knows you don’t know their language when using a translation program. This will help you engage with your customers, no matter what. Secondly, if you are getting more comments and views from overseas, start considering the steps to write for a global market.

6. Dedicate A Staff Member For Content Purposes. If content planning and strategy are becoming way too overwhelming for you to maintain, consider hiring someone solely for content. This can be either someone who is an outside source or someone who works within your company. You will still have a say in the matter, but let them do the ultimate crafting to keep the pressure off of you. This will be a great way to ensure you have quality content all the time.

Stick To These and Everything Will Be Fine

By following these 6 tips, you will find that you aren’t as overwhelmed with your content demand as when you started. These tips will help relieve a lot of unnecessary stress and will help keep your content top notch. Take a deep breath, implement these into your next content strategy and feel the unwanted stress of meeting demands disappear! This is perfect for crafting that awesome content you’ve always dreamed of.

 

 

content inspired by TV

Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey: 4 Ways TV and Movies Can Inspire Content

Image credit: screendwellers.com

Are you stuck in a content rut and just can’t get out? Do you like TV and movies? TV and films can be incredible for content inspiration and you may just find yourself able to come up with some great ideas by spending some quality time binge watching your favorite show or having a movie night. So get settled in with a bowl of popcorn and get ready to learn some neat tricks!

Exterminate the Content Myths!

First off, let’s discuss the myths of how detrimental Netflix can be to writers. You have no doubt seen articles that bash streaming services or movies as time wasters and that in order to be productive you have to avoid them at all costs. The reality is, a television show or a movie might just get you out of a content rut or may even give you a T.A.R.D.I.S full of ideas. Writer’s block happens to the best of us and we all need something that will break the horrible wall in our brains.

Here are a few ways TV and film inspire and help your content:

1. Bow Ties and Fezzes … Are Cool. In the age of viral media, you want to be relevant and cool. Watching new television series or films will help keep you up-to-date with what is popular and trending. However, don’t limit yourself to what you think is popular because you may find that there are many older shows or films that are still quite trendy or are rising in popularity again. Take A Clockwork Orange for example – a lot of people in the 70s watched this Kubrick classic, but it became the film of the counterculture. Because of this, it eventually lost mainstream popularity, until now. Now Alex’s signature style and Nadast language is everywhere. People are constantly doing A Clockwork Orange mashups. It is trendy again, and this time it is not just for a small counterculture (though many still argue it is more of a counterculture film and book). The best way to know about classics becoming popular again is to watch Twitter and Facebook to keep up with all the current trends. You’ll be surprised just what all is popular.

2. What Would River Song Do? Do you remember those times in English class where you had to write character comparisons? Wasn’t that fun? When it comes time to write your content you should do just that, compare and contrast things in a way your favorite character would or write it from their point of view. It will provide some unique insight into your product and promote more involvement for yourself and your readers. You’ll find that you have a blast writing content in a different character’s voice; try it the next time you hit a rut.

3. Daleks Are Not Cool (To the Doctor, That Is). If you’re always rolling around with an egg beater for a gun and screaming “Exterminate” readers will leave you faster than the Doctor (9) running away from family dinners. TV and films show that being negative is a sure fire way to lose readers and customers. Sure, you may post a few “do this, not that” posts but try to keep them at least somewhat nice. We write some heavy hitting pieces, but we make sure to put humor throughout to lessen the blow and help make it memorable instead of making readers furious. Also, another uncool move is spoiling things for readers, whether it is your own content or the show you are using as inspiration. Spoilers are a big deal on the Internet right now, and while many have valid arguments on both sides, you don’t want to be responsible for saying who died on that really popular show.

4. Don’t Pull a Moffat. You want to pull on heartstrings occasionally, but it isn’t the best method to make every single piece of content something that will make your readers violent. Stephen Moffat is a prime example of this with both the Doctor Who series and Sherlock. The fandoms are ready to riot after any episode he films, which are usually season finales or other major episodes (Christmas specials and the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary). Readers will not appreciate it if you continually try to manipulate emotions via headlines or other content. In fact, people are slowly pulling away from Upworthy titles because they really don’t like feeling manipulated. Keep the emotional posts for occasional use only and you’ll find you have a perfect piece of content  – just like Vincent and the Doctor (not directed by Moffat, but a great example of expertly using emotion).

Inspiration Can Be Found Anywhere

“But I am not much of a TV person. How else can I get inspired?” Well, you don’t need just to watch TV or films; you can gain inspiration through video games, reading, magazines, museums, and so many other things, Copyblogger writes. Use history as a framework for your next content piece or do a whole month based on dinosaurs. Anything can be used for inspiration; so don’t let the Daleks get you down.

In The End, The Doctor Likes To Read and Learn

The Doctor has had several adventures that have been pretty fun. Some of these adventures center around authors and, as we find out, the Doctor knows a lot about them. He has read and met Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, and Agatha Christie. Sometimes, he just sits around the T.A.R.D.I.S reading about quantum mechanics. This Time Lord loves to learn and his adventures are made so much more interesting because of it.

Take inspiration from the Doctor and read or listen to a wide selection of different authors and on several different subjects. The more you read, the more you learn. Always being willing to learn will help you as you try to write new and exciting content. Learn about science, the English language, history, geography and the world will open up to you. So take some time and sit on your couch to tune into documentaries or the latest trendy show or head on over to your local used bookshop and pick up a few paperbacks on subjects you know nothing about and watch your content soar!

 

 

Old Newspaper Background

17 Ways to Get Creative and Not Spin Out Old Content

“I’m sick and tired of people saying that we put out 11 albums that sound exactly the same. In fact, we’ve put out 12 albums that sound exactly the same.” – Angus Young, AC/DC

No one wants to listen to the same songs on repeat for years. Television shows that go into syndication eventually stop being shown entirely. Repeating content can be dangerous business. Some people make a career out of it but most of the time it simply doesn’t work out. And, really, if you’re churning out the same content day in and day out, you’ll get incredibly bored. It’s like repeating a word over and over again. Eventually it just becomes meaningless.

And think of your audience. If you’re in the business of making guitars and you put some content on your website about how to play popular songs and every week you put up some variation of “Smoke on the Water” then your audience will quickly go somewhere else.

The question becomes clear: how do you avoid putting out the same content? Funny you should ask. Actually, it’s not really that funny; it’s probably what you came here for.

17 – The Educational Series

According to Copyblogger.com, the educational series is commonly thought of as how-to guides but it can be any number of things that teach the reader or viewer about an aspect of your company that they otherwise may not have known about. If you’re a clothing company then you might talk about the material that your clothes are made out of or how your company was founded.

One of the best ways to get ideas for topics is to allow your customers to come up with them for you. Good creative ideas include Q&A videos that will allow you to have new content that actually addresses real questions and concerns your customers may have.

After all, PlayStation did it and is your company bigger than PlayStation?

16 – Conversation

There is no reason that you can’t have a down to earth conversation with your customers. The most common way that companies do this is by getting on social media and really getting an interaction going with their followers.

Notice the words “conversation” and “interaction.” You don’t want to treat your social media presence as this huge, untouchable, unknowable thing. You’re not the monolith at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Your company has a persona and a way that it interacts with the world, even before you get it on social media. After that, you should accentuate that personality. Make your company human by talking directly with customers via Twitter conversations or even Reddit AMAs. It will give you an idea of your market and give them an idea of who you are as a company and what you stand for.

15 – Relevance

Look in the news. Take inspiration from current events. Every so often there is an outbreak of some kind of disease on certain types of foods. Salmonella is usually the disease in those cases. Regardless, if your company grows tomatoes and this is the year for a salmonella outbreak on batches of tomatoes then you can quickly talk about how to prevent the spread of disease on your food as well as the requisite “our product doesn’t have salmonella” post. Frankly, if that happened and a company didn’t have that post up then they would look mighty suspicious.

14 – Podcasts

FDR began a weekly tradition during his presidency of addressing America every week on the radio. Your podcast can be kind of like that (if you want to think about it that way). Creating content through podcasting gives your company a sense of humanity that it may not otherwise have.

As far as creating original content, having a few people banter about issues related to your product or industry may allow new topics to naturally come up that wouldn’t have been brought up otherwise. Quite a few podcasts and radio shows rely on just those types of organic topics (while obviously having an outline of other points if necessary).

13 – Old Content, New Sides

Just because this article is about bringing out new content for your readers doesn’t mean that you can’t deliver old content with a new twist. Entertainment journalists do this all the time when they look back at past media with a new perspective or if they get new information on an old piece of work. There are endless stories about products and services if you look at it from the point of view of everyone involved.

12 – Before and Afters

Before and afters aren’t just for weight loss products anymore. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling or doing, you can create content using before and after photos, videos, or stories. There are the obvious transformation stories: home damage repair, the aforementioned weight loss products, or exfoliating creams.

But that’s just scratching the surface of documenting a transformation. It doesn’t just have to be your customers in the transformation. You can show your product in phases or even the company itself at pivotal points of its life cycle. Car and Driver has done product retrospectives for several different car manufacturers over the years. Why? Because their readers are fascinated by the inner-workings of vehicles and the way that they are improved upon over time.

11 – Presentations

Surely someone at your company is a great writer and great presenter with amazing ideas that can be shared with the world. Maybe they’ve shared some of them with the company through a PowerPoint presentation. You might even be able to put that kind of presentation on video and broadcast it to your readers.

Moz does this type of thing a lot with Whiteboard Fridays. We can’t definitively say that it stems from a presentation that someone gave to their peers, but it has that presentation feeling to it because of how it’s structured.

10 – Contests

Providing content doesn’t necessarily mean providing pure information. People love stuff, too. Contests are great ways to spread exciting content (read: “free stuff”) to your customers. Another thing about contests is that sometimes people enter contests just to enter contests. They specifically search out contests, meaning that they’ll find your company because they’re looking for free stuff. Maybe they’ll even become a paying customer.

9 – Industry Relevant Information

Give your customers an inside look at the industry that you’re in. Many sports do this, especially leading into a big event or even in the off season (think the NFL draft). You will also see this in music when people ask a musician or band about a writing or recording process.

And it doesn’t have to be a main person talking about the industry as a whole. It could be something tangentially related to the industry you’re in. Talking to a stockbroker about how a certain activity within your industry will affect prices works just as well. It can bring in a group of economy buffs that may not have even heard of your company until then.

8 – Problem Solving

Your customers have problems. As much as you don’t want to admit it, even customers that buy your products have problems. Sometimes those problems are with your product or with something relating to your product. Don’t leave them out to dry. Take those concerns and problems on. Own up to them and recognize them.

Shun makes kitchen knives. If you’ve ever used a kitchen knife (and we’re going to go out on a limb here and say you have) then you know that sometimes they can become dull. Sometimes you don’t know what to use those myriad knives for. Navigating kitchen tools can be confusing for a casual home cook. They know that their customers may have some general problems so they made a series of problem solving, instructional videos.

7 – Targeted Marketing

If you know about point of sale systems then chances are that you’ve heard about targeted marketing. It sounds exactly like what it is: marketing aimed specifically at a group of people. It’s an acceptance of the idea that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. It’s fine that you can’t please everyone with everything that you do, but you can please them all at separate times, can’t you?

Korg realizes that they can’t always please everyone, so they get endorsements from many different artists in many different fields. They get that not everyone will know or care who many of the artists on the list are, but they know that there will be one or two that turn your head. This isn’t really a case of targeted marketing as it’s not directed at anyone, it has the same principles at heart: offer something to everyone, but don’t offer everyone the same thing.

6 – Infographics

Infographics seem to be all the rage now. In fact, here’s an infographic about infographics. They engage your customer in ways that text or video simply might not be able to and, because of how the images are structured, may give your readers a bit of a mnemonic device to recall the information later.

5 – The Why

Your loyal customers probably know what you do and maybe even who you are. But do they know why you exist? What are the goals of your company? Why did it start? Why do you love what you do?

If you want to get a taste of the “why” of any company, go to their mission page. For many people, if the mission of the company aligns with the values of the person they may be more likely to deal closely with them. If you went to an auto shop whose mission statement was “We’d like to outlaw chocolates, make babies cry, and burn all of the books” you’d probably take your business elsewhere.

4 – Ask Your Staff

If you’re a business owner you may not like to hear this but, in some cases, your staff may know more than you. If you have a retail store then you may want to ask your cashiers what customers are asking about and what their opinions are. After all, they interact with them day in and day out.

You don’t just have to ask your staff about what customers are wondering either. It’s just as good to ask your staff about their questions and opinions. This can serve many purposes. It can give you ideas for marketing content but it can also facilitate a sense of trust between you and your staff. It also may let you in on who is actually interested in moving up and where they want to go.

3 – Other Industries

You may have exhausted every who, what, when, where, why, and how that you can think of regarding your company. But have you considered how your product is used in other industries? It’s likely that your customers are from other industries and use your product every day.

If you’re a fishmonger, collaborate with the chefs that come in to buy your products every day. These people are just as valuable as your customers because they are your customers and they have stories about how your product has enhanced their life and their business.

2 – Get Out of the Office and Keep a Notebook With You

Salvador Dali was frequently inspired by dreams and his wife. Andy Warhol was inspired by popular culture. Jackson Pollock was inspired by the act of painting itself. What do all of these people have in common? They weren’t inspired by white walls, a cubicle, and humming halogen light bulbs. Most of the time, you won’t be either.

Get out of the office and take a notebook with you. Write content that fascinates you. We don’t know where the Sony Bravia ad came from, but we’re sure it didn’t come from staying inside and having a boring day.

Go out. Do stuff. Bring a notebook.

1 – Customers Create Content

Crayola has held a few contests to allow people to name crayon colors for them. People of all ages have submitted and named their products. Unlike an average contest, this isn’t just giving someone stuff (which they also did). Crayola was allowing customers to actually create a part of their company, giving them a sense of ownership and others a sense of investment in the company.

If that contest had gone on today then you’d better believe that Crayola would be tweeting and posting about it quite often and discussing the contest from different angles, announcing the winners with profiles on their blogs, and discussing the color names as well as those who almost made the cut.