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Tuesday, 16 August 2016 16:18

How to Not Fail at Blogging

So, you’re about to start the best blog ever, but have just discovered that you actually have no idea what you’re doing. Luckily, you are not the first to attempt this bold adventure.

Published in Blogging

Creating interesting and unique content for your blog can become tedious and challenging, especially if you think your industry or business is particularly “boring.” It’s common to feel  like there just isn’t enough to write about to sustain a consistent blog as part of your marketing automation strategy. However, according to Hubspot, “to grow a blog, you need to consistently publish content that your readers enjoy reading.” In a study conducted last year, they determined their best results were achieved by writing four posts a day with varied quality and comprehensiveness.We’re not saying you have to write that many posts to be successful; we’re saying that not every post has to be a college dissertation.

Here is a list of post types and ways to find new topics.

  1. Search Twitter for keywords related to your business and look for questions people are asking. Answer those questions in your blog posts.
  2. Look at what you share socially. Expand those short posts into longer blog posts or write about the articles you share. You can add context, opinion, analysis or insight to any industry or general news article.
  3. Look at your competition. What are they writing about or tweeting about?
  4. Write about challenges your business faced and the resulting solutions.
  5. Write about a customer success story, even if the customer isn’t named.
  6. Think about the questions your customers and prospects ask. Answer those questions on your blog.
  7. What are the biggest myths about  your industry? Create a post to dispel a myth.
  8. Look at how your product fits within other aspects of your buyer’s life. Write about those related products or services. For example, if you sell computer monitors, write about pros and cons of “standing desks.”
  9. Look at your data. Write about trends you see based on your own sales and customer information.
  10. Write a how-to post. Look at what you explain to customers and to others and write a short tutorial. Or try a how-to video! Different types of content resonate more with different people.
  11. Look at the performance of your blog posts. Expand on those that are most popular. Cover the same topic from a different angle.
  12. Take a look at Google Trends. Find what people are searching for and write a piece of content related to what people are currently interested in.
  13. Tell a story. Write about your business and what you have learned or what has changed.
  14. Conduct an interview with  your employees or customers. The challenge with this idea, however, is coming up with fantastically interesting questions.
  15. Create a list. Look at the top 10 questions customers ask, top five trends in your industry, or 15 business lessons you learned from your dog. List posts grab attention and  are easy to read and digest. Here’s a list post about why list posts work: “7 Reasons Why List Posts Will Always Work.” (Very meta, we know.)
  16. Make a comparison. Choose two topics, services or products and write a side-by-side comparison.
  17. Write a review of a book related to your product or industry. Or, review a product your business uses.
  18. Look at industry news. Search for news about your industry and write a post about a current issue or topic.. Or do weekly “roundups” of what is happening as it pertains to your industry, audience or community.
  19. Look at Reddit AMAs (Ask Me Anything). There are interviews of industry experts that can give you a lot of ideas based on the questions people ask.
  20. Look at the Twitter Chat Schedule and find chats related to your industry or business. Use the Twitter hashtag of the chat to find related tweets. Look at the questions, answers and opinions to create topic ideas.
  21. Use Quora. Quora is a Q&A site with a variety of questions and answers. Type in your keyword and Quora will list common topics. Search one to find open questions and use those as blog post topics.
  22. Use BuzzSumo to find the most shared content relevant to a keyword related to your business or industry. Select a post and write a reply post offering your opinion on the subject or expand on the information in the original post.
  23. Write about your opinion or thoughts on recent industry research.
  24. Repurpose content. Create a post from something you already developed such as a  recent presentation or case study or from an email you received.
  25. When all else fails, try the content generator or other topic idea generator. When we put the subject “blogging” in, it recommended we write about “Why blogging sucks more than the new Star Wars.”

The easiest thing to do is be helpful. Whenever you feel stuck for a topic or idea, find a way to answer questions either from your customers and prospects, or from people on the internet. Be patient and be persistent. Read a lot — not just blogs related to your business but everything. You never know what might spark an idea. And whenever you have ideas, write them down. You might not be ready to explore them deeper now but at least you’ll have an idea to work from when you sit down to write.

Additional Info

  • Page Heading What should I blog about? 25 posts types and ways to find new topics
Published in Marketing Automation

Content marketing, along with inbound marketing and marketing automation, is growing exponentially in importance. Gone are the days of brochure websites that occupy a dusty corner of the world wide web. Today, websites need to be dynamic and provide content relevant or useful to online searchers. Content is more than just blog posts. It can take the form of a meme or cartoon or product video; it can be a whitepaper, a top-ten list, or a song parody.

The truth is, content can really be anything. In an article from May of 2014, PR Daily listed 101 different types of content to help drive people to your website. But here’s the rub: The content must be strategically connected to your brand, provide value to visitors, and be appropriate to the buyer’s journey in order to attract, engage and convert users. This is what empowers marketers to nurture leads and better support sales efforts.

Additional Info

  • Page Heading Developing content - what kind and how to approach it
Published in Marketing Automation
Monday, 17 January 2011 13:17

Samardo Samuels, me and marketing

Admission: even I get nervous about writing a blog and I’ve been writing professionally since I was 16.

The first time I got paid for my writing, I was a junior in high school and some publishing house found me and wanted to use a story I wrote for the high school paper in a journalism textbook called "Reading the Newspaper." That’s right : a TEXTbook; like to teach other people how to write. And I was only 16!

Since then, I have written extensively for The Boston Globe, Business NH Magazine and The Hippo. On top of that, I write on behalf of my clients almost every day. I write Web copy, bylined articles, marketing materials, presentations, brochures. You name it. I write it.

And yet the thought of writing a blog stops me in my tracks.

What will people think? Am I qualified enough to offer my opinion? Aren’t there other people out there doing it bigger, better and faster than I am? Aren’t other people thinking more profound thoughts than I am? These are the thoughts that have prevented me from starting this blog for the couple of years I’ve been thinking about it.

No more!

A couple things crossed my mind recently that I found to be salient to this effort.

First, I am currently in the midst of a course on selling marketing services. It is a partnership between Hubspot, the inbound marketing experts, and Kurlan & Associates, a sales development organization in Massachusetts. The first step in this course was an extensive assessment of my skills as a sales person. I won’t bore you with the details, but the important finding in this context was that one of my weaknesses is “need for approval.”

What that means is that I want you to like me and I’m going to tip toe and tap dance so that I don’t say anything that would make you not like me. Now, if we were dating, that might come in handy (at least for the first few months), but we’re not dating and I realize that my need for your approval (whoever the hell you are) has been holding me back.

Secondly, I participated in a webinar given by Michael Katz last week. Michael is the Chief Penguin at Blue Penguin Development and the guy who writes newsletters about newsletters. He’s smart and funny and I’m a huge fan. Last week’s webinar was, appropriately, “How to be a Leading Expert,” and it talked about how to position yourself as an expert in your industry. He used a mind-bending analogy that I want to share here.

Samardo Samuels is an NBA basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He may be among the worst players in the league with an average of less than 15 minutes of playing time per game and fewer than 5 points per game.

Do you think Samardo Samuels is qualified to teach you basketball? Is he qualified to write about basketball? Is he qualified to talk about basketball?

Did you know that, in 2008, there were a grand total of 432 players in the NBA? And, according to the US Census, in 2009, there were 42,670,000 men in the US between the ages of 20 and 39, which I’m going to call 'professional basketball-playing age.'

That means that Samardo Samuels is in the top .00001 percent of potential basketball players in the country. Higher than the top hundred-thousandth of the top 1 percent!

Now do you think Samardo Samuels is qualified to teach, talk or write about basketball? I would say he is.

One of the reasons I lose my confidence is because I think of the stars of my industry, like Seth Godin or Guy Kawasaki. I could probably come up with 25 more names right off the top of my head and without looking at my bookshelf. No doubt they belong at the top of the league. They have earned their positions.

However, when I apply the Samardo Samuels paradigm to myself in the marketing universe that I work in, I do believe that I have a place at the table.

As you well know, marketing isn’t quite as exclusive as the NBA. Almost anyone can call themselves a marketing expert, and many people do.

But think about this, according to that same US Census, in 2009 there were roughly 184,015,000 people in the United States between the ages of 20 and 64. I’m going to call that ‘business age.’ What if I just want to be among the top ten-thousandth of a percent? Then the question for me is, do I think that I belong among the top 18,401 marketing thinkers in the country? Even if we assumed that these people were distributed evenly among the 50 states, do I think I belong among the top 368 marketers just here in New Hampshire? Yeah. You’d better believe I do!

So, am I qualified to talk and write about marketing, even teach a course on social media? Ab-so-get-down-lutely. And that’s just what I’m going to do. I hope you'll join me in that conversation.

Best,
Steph.

Additional Info

  • Page Heading Samardo Samuels, me and marketing
Published in Steph Speak

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