creating content

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.

How to Ensure Originality in Your Content Marketing

originality in content marketingEvery Thursday, I will republish my best articles from Since Technorati redesigned its website and is under new managements, tens of thousands of articles that were previously published on the site are no longer available. I have been given explicit permission to republish my work on my own website. If your biggest content marketing challenge is creating original content, then you're not alone. Almost 70% of B2B marketers said this was their biggest challenge, according to a B2B marketing trends survey from content curation platform Curata. The next two biggest challenges for B2B marketers were having the time to do it (65%) and finding high quality content (43%) to drive a content curation strategy.

As the use and importance of content marketing continues to rise, there's added pressure on content creators to come up with new and original content regularly. Duplicate content isn't cool, but creating original content can be a challenge when you are covering some of the same topics over and over again. So, just how do you ensure originality in your content marketing without resorting to copying or running out of ideas? Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Involve More People in Your Content Marketing Process - If you have only one person writing for your blog, then creating original content is going to be a huge challenge. One person can only do so much. When it comes to your business blog, allow employees from sales and customer service to contribute as well. These folks have insight into customer questions and pain point, and can offer something incredibly valuable to the blog, something that your original blogger could have missed. For other forms of content marketing, involve a team or maybe outsource a project or two to a content marketing firm. A fresh perspective could be all it takes to get the original content you've been craving.
  2. Don't Rely So Much on Copyscape - Too many people think Copyscape is the magic wand to finding original content and to banishing those plagiarists. However, Copyscape is not a silver bullet. First of all, simply rewriting something into your own words doesn't absolve the crime of plagiarism. Think of this as putting someone's book or academic report into your own words, and then putting your name on it without giving credit to the original author. The ideas aren't your own, and without proper citation, even the rewrite is still plagiarism despite passing Copyscape. Second, there are things that ought to be cited and be verbatim in content, such as a quote, a definition, a set of statistics, a phone number, and a book title. This is where human judgement comes in, as rewriting these things may make your content less powerful, not more. Third, Google hates duplicate content, but an entire article that's copied and pasted is very different from including a quote or an excerpt of someone's book or blog post. Original content is much more than having unique text. It's about having unique ideas while being able to give credit where credit is due.
  3. Conduct Your Own Research - A great way to be original is to conduct your own research with a survey or analysis of data, and then to report the findings. This method may take a while, but the goal is to find something new and to have a lot to write about, more than just a single blog post or white paper.
  4. Update/Repackage Current Content - No one says that once you publish something, that's it. Get more mileage from your content by updating the information, or repackaging the content. For example, if you've written 20 blog posts about anti-virus software, then take those 20 posts and turn it into a guide or an eBook about anti-virus software. You can make this original by adding an author page and an introduction in the beginning, a description of your company at the end, and updating any statistics you used in the posts. Okay, you've technically copied yourself, but you own that content. No one's going to ding you for that.

Social Marketing Tactics Balance Customer Attraction, Retention

social media marketingEvery Thursday, I will republish my best articles from Since Technorati redesigned its website and is under new managements, tens of thousands of articles that were previously published on the site are no longer available. I have been given explicit permission to republish my work on my own website. Websites, blogs, and social media marketing strike the best balance between customer attraction and retention, according to an October 2012 survey from Constant Contact. In its survey of over 1,000 small businesses, the small business marketing firm also found that the tactics least effective at striking the balance were daily deals and online ads. This balance is critical as small businesses need to use their marketing dollars wisely, and if certain tactics can do both, then that's better for the business.

So, just how can small businesses better use websites, blogs, and social media better? What can be done so that customer attraction and retention rates improve by using these tactics, and using them more effectively? Here's how to master these tactics to do just that:

Blog and Post Regularly

Obviously, if you're only blogging and tweeting once a month, you can't expect these tactics to attract and retain customers. You're not doing it enough for anyone to notice. With social media, you should be posting/tweeting/updating at least once a day. With blogging, you should be publishing at least one post per week. With your website, you should work on adding more pages to it at least once a month. When you are employing your tactics often enough (but not so often that you overwhelm people or that your quality suffers), people will take notice of what you are doing and what you have to say. Only then, will you be able to attract and to retain customers.

Create Content with Your Customers in Mind

If all you're talking about is your company's products/services, this award you won, this event you attended, and how great your company is, then these tactics won't retain and attract as many customers as you want. The reason is that your customers don't care about any of those things. They really don't. They care about whatever problem they have and how to solve it. They care about working with a brand that knows what it's doing. They care about spending their money on a solution that will work. Since that's what they care about, that's what you need to talk about in your website, blog, or social media update. Talk about their problems and pain points, and how to solve them. Talk about your industry, where its going, and offer best practices for doing X and Y in your industry. Talk about solutions that work, and what customers ought to spend on such solutions (Yes, be the brand that reveals the number). These people will thank you for it by becoming a customer and encouraging others to become customers.

Connect the Three

Do not operate your website, blog, and social media in three separate silos! Connect the three of them with links as well as a comprehensive strategy. For example, your blog should be easily accessibly through your website, preferably through its own link in the header navigation bar. This is a mistake many small businesses make, as they either aren't connected at all or the only link is in the footer navigation bar. An extra step you can take is to include your blog feed right on the home page, so visitors can also peruse specific articles. Social media should be as accessible from your website, and your blog should include social sharing buttons with each post. On the flip side, use social media to promote your blog posts and your webpages.

As for a comprehensive strategy, think about the strengths of each tactic individually and consider how to use them in a marketing campaign, for example. If you have a new fill-in-the-blank that you want to generate buzz about, use all three to their strengths to generate that buzz. With your blog, do a post that reveals just a piece of the fill-in-the-blank, including a call to action to download, or to register, or to buy, or whatever the proper action is. Your website should have a new page dedicated to the fill-in-the-blank, which can easily be shared on social media or promoted on the home page. Your blog post should also include a link to this page. Social media should be used to drive traffic to both pages, with an even smaller piece revealed to entice clicks.

Keep in mind that, "we have a new fill-in-the-blank! Click here to check it out," is neither enticing, nor revealing. It doesn't give any reason to check it out. This is an example of the talking about yourself problem that we discussed. It emphasizes you and the new thing too much without showcasing what's in it for the visitor or customers.

Seriously, Yo. Creative Work is Hard Work

I'm a writer, not a graphic designer, but I empathize with this graphic designer's attitude. I've come across my fair share of job posts wanting blog posts and articles for free, offering experience, exposure, or (the worst), a piece of the pie when the money starts rolling in and the online publication turns into the next Huffington Post (or something equally lofty). Of course, no one wants amateurs, even though the "payment" offered for these services are exactly what amateurs are looking for. Why this hasn't gone viral yet, I have no idea. With a tumblr like Clients from Hell, this attitude is a common experience among creative professionals. looking for free labor

I've also come across my fair share of clients who don't think this work takes any effort at all, who think that us writers and content creators are able to write 20 articles per day. Because they think we can write 20 articles per day, they also think that $5 or $3 an article is a fair price. Or, the worst, when clients only want to pay upon acceptance, or use those crowd sourcing strategies to give their own customers choices in content. These tactics often shaft writers because if our pieces aren't accepted, we're stuck with hard work that didn't get paid for (and that we might not have another use for) and, oftentimes, we are stuck without feedback to understand what it would take to get accepted the next time around.

What most people don't realize with this line of work is that you get what you pay for. If you're only offering $5 an article, then someone who typically charges $25 or $50 an article isn't going to be interested in doing work for you. The money isn't there for their time (and their skill and expertise). By offering $5 an article, you're only going to get those who are interested in working at $5 an article, which means you get those who blast through content to make a quota so the work is worth while, or you get someone who isn't all that good and needs whatever work they can get to earn a few dollars.

wedding photographer meme

Creative Work is Hard Work

It differs from other services because it's very subjective, and it's not just a matter of picking and choosing a pre-manufactured product.  If that were the case with blog posts and logos and such, then there would be a lot more copyright infringement and plagiarism than there is now because it would mean that you are purchasing something that someone else is already using and claiming as their own. This work isn't as simple or as easy at seems because you've watched someone use Photoshop or you write a blog yourself, or you think you could do it yourself if you have another 30 minutes in your day. If this were the case, then you wouldn't be needing PROFESSIONAL HELP to get this done. This is why us writers and graphic designers TAKE TIME to create something new from scratch and something that is customized to your brand and your needs. WE CHARGE FOR OUR TIME because we don't just sit and whip something together. We think about what we need to accomplish. We do drafts before we hand something over, and most of the time, we are willing to do more drafts. Believe it or not, we don't want to put the 'starving' in "starving artist."

Creative work isn't free, and shouldn't be free, because it's a process. You can't pick up web designs and white papers at a garage sale or at the nearest Target. If you're not willing to pay for the process, then you should expect a horrible process. Much like in any other process or business: if you aren't willing to pay, then we aren't willing to deliver.

My New Plan Towards Saving the World (and Reaching Oprah Status)

saving the worldMay has so far been a stressful, spring-cleaning, rethinking, must-build-identity-capital, sort of month. This month has been all about making the key decisions that will define, oh I don't know, the rest of my life or something like that. My business is just about broke, which isn't fun, and this is the primary reason that I've been stressed, and thinking, and building identity capital. I've lost some major revenue sources, on top of the fact that my latest big project ended up costing me money than making me money. It just seems like I make the money, but the costs keep increasing and have finally increased more than what I've been making. I need to do something quickly. I'm thinking that since I've come to terms with the idea of my business failing and having nothing but a website, and a domain name, and inbound marketing skills, that I should try something new with all that. Do some sort of 180, perhaps almost ditching all that I've done before.

I'm Actually Thinking YouTube

So, my magnificent plan B here is to go for it with YouTube; just start making videos and posting them, figuring out how to make great videos and to create that identity capital that turns me into a YouTube star. From what I've read, YouTube is the untapped gold mine, where there's not only a lot of traffic but there's also tons of opportunity to create great content and for YouTube and advertisers to help you create that content and to help you make money from that content. YouTube is competing with Hulu and Netflix, and they want to compete with television when all is said and done, so I think there's a huge opportunity there to create great videos, to create content that's of value to people and entertaining at the same time.

I don't have much idea of the kind of content I'd like to produce. I could fit the gamer girl niche. I could also produce a talk show or news show, interviewing awesome people doing awesome things. I could just make some sort of YouTube reality show, of me doing things in life and commenting on them. I could film my journey as a Half the Sky Ambassador, spreading the word about those issues and spreading the word about what others are doing. I do, however, have a fake fireplace in my office. I totally intend to use that, make that all camera worthy. My home office, it turns out, was totally made for YouTube videos.

What Is Oprah Status?

Oprah status is my phrase for being so awesome that you can just start your own television network, you know, because you're Oprah and you have that kind of clout. Then, you're so awesome that when your network isn't doing too well, the way to save it is to go back to hosting your own television show, on your own television network, and that does the trick. That's essentially how it went down at OWN, and I know this because I wrote a 700-word article for a client on the future of OWN. Oprah's back doing what she does best, so I'm not worried.

Did I mention Oprah also has her own magazine and website and book club and what not? The woman is fantastic. I mean, she said something about not liking beef, and then the beef industry got angry and sued her because she was Oprah, and the beef industry knew she had the power to turn everyone against beef. That's the kind of influence she has, and that's the kind of influence I want to have. I will use that influence to save the world, you know, end women's oppression and end poverty and good stuff like that. It's going to be fantastic.