content creation

Hustle, Hustle, Hustle

using original content to build a communityI need to work harder. I have 11+ communities that I need to build around 11+ different topics. I don't have much idea how to do that, let alone doing it quickly, but that is what I need to do at work right now. The only idea I really have is to write. Write blog posts, write newsletters, write tweets, write Facebook status updates, you name it. Writing is what I do best and content marketing is what I know. I don't have any other solid ideas, and at least great content and content marketing has already been proven to work to build a community. It's just not something that gets done quickly. However, if you start and do it well, then it will work wonders in terms of building (and keeping) an active community.

I've Blogged About Recruiting and Have Never Worked in HR

I spent about nearly two years writing blog posts for the RPOA, a recruitment association that was a client of one my previous clients, Webbright Services. I never worked a day in the recruiting industry when I wrote my first blog post for them, and if I remember correctly, I seriously said that the fact my mother has over 10 years experience in human resources as part of my credentials. However, when you write weekly blog posts for a recruiting association that are based off of hours of webinars for recruiting professionals, you can learn quite a bit about recruiting in a short amount of time. It's not the only example from my career, but it's a gig that I enjoyed.

Perhaps that's just what I should do: watch a ton of videos and webinars about the topics I need to focus on and write blog posts based off of what I've watched and learned. I should do this every day and see how far I can go. I wish there were 11 days in a week, then it could be one topic for each day of the week. Alas, that is not  the case, so I'm probably going to have to shoot for writing multiple times per day to make magic happen.

Excellent, Original Content is a Rallying Cry

Sure, there are tons of people doing original content and who have something to say. Not all of it is great and not all of it eventually congregates people into a community around it. But, if you're one of the few who can write well and who has important, interesting things to say, then that's a competitive advantage that's for competitors to replicate. By the time the effort put original content yields results that turns heads, competitors are playing catch-up. The idea and hustle of original content is part of that "golden moment' I previously mentioned. If this is truly the moment I've been training for, then I need to work harder and better utilize the training that I have. That training is in content marketing, writing original content and in being a chameleon who can write well on nearly everything.

Original content and content marketing is also a golden opportunity because so few folks in my space are doing this well. They fill their blogs with a company announcement featuring the product's newest features and latest updates.


Nobody cares. Nobody wants to read about what's new in version 4.1. How is that valuable to anyone except the company? Current customers don't care because what's new may not be anything they want or is relevant to them. After all, they were perfectly happy on the previous version and probably had no idea about an upcoming version or what was going to be in it. Too many folks have the misconception that the company blog (one of the best places for original content) is for current customers or should be about the company, when the company blog should be about potential customers and what they want to read about. The company blog is a fantastic way to pull people in, pull folks in who don't yet know about you.

Enough About Me and Enough about Writing Here

It's time to start writing elsewhere. My personal blog isn't the platform to be building those other communities that I need to build, although it makes great practice.

Content and SEO are the Same Thing!

Get That Into Your Head Already!

content and SEO

An interesting problem that we run into regularly is that a client hires us to do business communications, such as press releases, blog posts, web content etc. That's great, but what the client also does is hire an SEO firm to do whatever it is they need to do. It's a problem because there are now two competing entities to do the same thing. Search engine optimization and content creation are the same thing! You only need one to accomplish both!

Without Content, What Will People Find on the Search Engines?

Perhaps there are technical aspects that the SEO firm emphasizes, like server capability, load times, and 301 redirects. Google's latest algorithm change, Google Hummingbird, emphasizes mobile search and the use of voice to conduct searches. Although we can provide the content, we wouldn't have anything to do with creating the mobile site and making sure that site works correctly. In those cases, an SEO firm might be best.

However, as we found with our problem, the SEO firm hired is tasked to do original content as well. Even though more quality, original content is better than less, there's no good reason to have both if all you want is original content. After all, if you don't spend time creating content, then what's going to come up under the keywords for which you want to rank? Yes, factors like domain name, meta description, backlinks, and social media matter, but even optimizing those aspects won't help with your search engine rankings if your content is thin, irrelevant, or just horrible. Businesses engaging in content marketing and business blogging need to understand that getting found online is only half of the story. You also need to think about what people will find when they do find you online, and that's when you need to think about the content.

It's the latter half of getting found online that's so difficult to get into the heads of small business owners and marketers who want to rank high on the search engines. Part of the importance in understanding this is that content marketing will get you there if you do it right. Search engine optimization isn't about gaming the search engines, and focusing on SEO without thinking about the content can get you into trouble. There are many SEO practices that may have been good at one point, but will now get you into trouble. These include keyword stuffing, overloaded keyword density, and cloaked pages. One of the newest "black hat techniques" is to add fake positive reviews on sites like Google+ and Yelp. Reviews on both sites show up on search engine rankings, so there's an incentive to do what it takes to get the positive ones. However, paying someone to write reviews or to add positive reviews of your own does violate the ethics guidelines of both sites.

The Two Aren't Competing. They Work Together.

Because they work together, hiring both a content marketing company (or writers, bloggers, content creators) and an SEO firm/consultant is redundant and a waste of money. Although it's obvious we're going to say that the money should be put on the content creators, the decision is ultimately up to you. The main point is that they work together, and that content is SEO because it's content that's showing up in the search engine rankings and it's content that people will find when they type in search terms. It's possible to create content that's search-engine friendly but also engaging and entertaining, so figure out how to do that and everything will fall into place.

Blogging and Business: Using a Blog to Build a Business

Ramon Ray smallbiztechnology resized 600Technology evangelist Ramon Ray is the editor of, a media company dedicated to creating helpful content about technology for small businesses. What started as a humble website in April 1999 has grown into an influential resource that publishes books, hosts events, speaks at events, creates content for the websites. Although Ray would never call a blog, we sat down with him to discuss how others can use content creation as a business model and to build a business. "It takes persistence. You go on," Ray said. "Focus on one thing and don't do anything else. I don't do home audio equipment. I don't do cabinets. I don't do event planning. I focus on technology for small businesses."

Ray started the site when he still had is own technology consulting firm, and simply wanted to write and to share his thoughts, which were an outgrowth of what he was already sharing with clients. He never intended to turn it into a business, but says it became a business when he started to get paid to write. One of the first gigs that came from the site, which happened about 10 years ago, was to write an article for Inc. Magazine.

How to Use a Blog to Build a Business

Even though Ray started well before social media, and well before many others were doing what he is doing, he still says that it's easier now than ever to use a blog to build a business.

"Anybody can create a site and there's always room for someone to be in a niche," he said. "It comes down to producing a volume of good content, having great headlines, knowing your audience, and make sure your audience knows about you."

Ray emphasized knowing the audience for two reasons. First, by focusing on one thing, you provide security for your audience and make it easier to grow that audience and to keep that growth. Second, it makes it easier to get advertisers, who care about who's in the audience as much as its size.

Of course, an audience doesn't exist without content and a regular stream of it. When Ray started back in 1999, he published about one or two articles per day. Today, it's between three and five articles per day, although he now enlists a team of 10 writers to help him. However, getting to that point was a "hard work game" and included several milestones that showed that "was more than just a guy typing."

The Technology Evangelist Mindset

"I never ever said I was a blogger. To me a blogger is someone who sits in their pajamas and writes about their cat," Ray said. "To do this, you need to understand and focus on what your goals are."

As offensive that may seem to those who proudly call themselves bloggers, Ray's point is that content creation isn't necessarily armchair journalism, that turning a website or a blog into a business doesn't strictly take place at home behind the computer. Blogging, in and of itself, is not a business. It's really about being an editor, producer, journalist, publisher, tech evangelist etc. and having that mindset.

"Are you serious and not doing this on the side? Are you willing to not have enough sleep? he said, "The more you write, the more it becomes an echo chamber. As you work harder and do more, it only goes up and up and up,"

What's Next for

As for what's in store for in the coming months, Ray doesn't really know. He suggested the possibility of an online video show or publishing a book on personal brand marketing, but other that he doesn't have a clue.

"I'm just going to keep doing what I"m doing," he said. "I love writing and I think humans have a natural desire to share."

Related Links:

Content Creation: How to Turn One Idea into 20 Pieces of Content

Homonyms and Frequently Misunderstood Words for Content Creators

5 Business Blogging Best Practices