A Step-By-Step on Creating Mindblowing Original Content for Your Blog

Original Blog Content

If you haven’t blogged before, you’re probably wondering how to create awesome, original content.

When I first started my internship with Shari’s Ink, I was intimidated by the idea of creating original blog content because it was something I had never done before. However, after learning the basics, it’s a breeze. Below are my three tips for creating original blog content that’ll get your audience’s toes tapping.

See What’s Trending

Use an RSS feed and manage your Twitter lists to follow trending topics in your industry. What topics make frequent appearances? If you’re seeing a consistent topic in article after article, it’s worth a blog post.

Brainstorm Original Topics

Based on what you see trending in your lists, you can begin brainstorming topics you’d like to feature on your blog. Although your ideas can echo trending topics, always consider different angles. For example, you might notice that lists of social media tips are constantly appearing in your feed. From there, you could come up with ideas for your own social media tips such as, “Our Top 5 Social Tips to Increase Engagement” or “3 Tips for Your Best Social Marketing Plan.” Once you’ve generated enough topics, populate your editorial calendar to manage them.

Use Your Expertise

To create original content that’ll make people want to read YOU, use your own knowledge and experience. Personal expertise is what makes your content uniquely yours. Take inspiration from trending topics, but don’t just copy what everyone else is saying. Choose your own angle and use your own knowledge.

Sometimes, you won’t have the expertise it takes to write a blog post. If this happens, turn to your contacts for their professional insight. As an intern for Shari’s Ink, I don’t know everything there is to know about content marketing. When I’m writing a blog post that calls for information I don’t have, I interview Shari to get it.

If you need help managing or writing for a blog, see our post on blogging for business or feel free to contact Shari’s Ink.

Our 4 Best SEO Tips

SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is really important for driving traffic to your website. But you probably knew that already.

What you may not know is HOW to increase your website’s SEO. To help, we’re revealing our four top tips to build a crazy awesome SEO strategy. Good luck!

1. Use the Keyword Planner

You can use the Google Keyword Planner to find keywords in your industry that are most searched. Target areas of opportunity by choosing three to five phrases or keywords to focus on and create content around that relates to your business.  Just be sure not to get too repetitive with your keywords.  If you need more information on the Keyword Planner, feel free to contact Shari’s Ink.

2. Strategically Place Keywords in Your Website

Placing keywords in headlines or headers/subheads will rank higher than body text. Use keywords in your headlines in as many creative ways as possible. Be sure to change it up to avoid constantly repeating yourself. Also, use your targeted keywords in your meta tags and properly tag your blog posts.

3. Link Building

You can improve your SEO by simply linking within your own website! Link back to your services page or your blog posts when mentioning them (like we’re doing here).  Your rankings can also be boosted when other websites link back to you. The more traffic those websites get, the better. This gives you credibility in the eyes of Google; it says the information you offer is relevant. Social media shares are starting to contribute to SEO as well, so be sure to share content that will engage your followers and encourage others to share your stuff.

4. Google+

Using Google+ can increase your website’s SEO since it’s Google’s own social platform. Google counts every Google+ page as another website linking back to yours, rather than just a social media page. Stay active on all of your Google+ pages, personal and professional, to increase your chances of being found in a Google search.

How to Use Email Marketing to Reach Your Audience

Email

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your intended audience.

A case study done by Reach Mail discovered that 90 percent of your audience sees your emails, as opposed to the 2 percent that see your Facebook posts. If you aren’t already, you should be integrating email marketing into your overall content marketing plan.

Successfully Integrating Emails into Content Marketing

The best way to integrate your emails with the rest of your content marketing is through e-newsletters. Use your blog posts in your newsletters, but don’t simply cut and paste.  Use a headline, a teaser sentence or question and a link to read more. This tactic should increase traffic to your website.

Using the Right Content

The kind of content and topics you include in your emails depend on two things:

  1. What you do. To draw potential customers, your e-newsletter should relate to your business, product, service, or code of values. If you’re a public relations firm and your emails are about cats, the reader probably won’t pay much attention to your services.
  2. Your audience. Chances are, you generally know who you’re writing for. Who is receiving your emails? Address them and why you’re writing to them. Emails to prospects are going to be different than emails to clients.

Getting People to Subscribe

Here are a few effective ideas to build your email list:

  • When you speak or present at a conference, hold a raffle. Have the members of the audience drop business cards in a bucket for a chance to win. In those business cards, you now have a collection of prospects.
  • Offer something of value in exchange for email addresses. For example, you could create a whitepaper that fulfills a need among your prospective clients.
  • Encourage your followers to subscribe on all of your channels. Your website, blog and social media (Facebook makes it especially easy with the “call to action” menu item) are all good places to ask people to subscribe.

With these tips, email marketing can extend the reach of your content beyond social media and blogging.

How to Budget for Your Content Marketing Plan

Budget

When budgeting for your content marketing plan, it’s important to consider all of your resources.

A content marketing plan requires a time commitment.  If you don’t have that time, think about how much money you’re willing to spend for someone else’s time.

How Much Time?

How much time should you invest into your content marketing plan?  Here’s our breakdown:

  • Social media: 5 hours a week
  • Blog: 2 hours per post
  • Total content marketing: 7-10 hours a week

Use this estimate to figure what you’re able to manage on your own.  The more time you have, the less money you’ll have to spend on hiring someone.

How Much Money?

If you decide there’s not enough time for something, you should consider hiring someone to do it for you.  Just keep in mind, the more experience someone has, the more money you’re going to pay for his or her services.

The following are examples of what you may pay, depending on experience and even location:

  • Independent contractor: $50-100 an hour
  • Agency: $120-150 an hour
  • Salaried social media manager (manages all content marketing): $55,000-70,000 a year

What Does It All Mean?

Let’s pretend you need help managing some aspects of your content marketing plan. You decide to hire an independent contractor to manage your social media, which could cost you up to $500 a week.  If that’s not doable, you have two options:

  1. You could hire someone with less experience.
  2. You could reconsider what you might be able to manage on your own.

If you go with option two, you might decide that you can, in fact, manage your own social media. Then, you may decide to delegate one blog post a week to your independent contractor, which could cost up to $200 a week.

If something isn’t within your monetary budget, always reconsider what you might be able to manage on your own time.

Content Marketing: The New Way to Advertise

Your new way to advertise

Content marketing is becoming an integral part of the modern business’s marketing strategy.

If the term is new to you, content marketing consists of the content you create and share—typically a blog, social media and e-newsletters.  It is different than traditional marketing strategies, like print and broadcast ads, because it is self-created and free to publish.

In this post, we’re going to address some questions you may have about implementing a content marketing plan.

Can content marketing replace traditional marketing practices?

No! A content marketing plan should never replace traditional marketing strategies.  Instead, the two should be integrated.

Content marketing is a good place to start if you don’t have a large marketing budget.  Once you have a bigger budget, you should continue to use your content to strengthen your overall marketing strategy.

What if I have a brick and mortar business and am not interested in selling online?

Content marketing, though online, isn’t just for online businesses. Your content marketing strategy should be used to build relationships.  A good way to do this?  Be consistent, responsive and stay in touch.

You will gain loyalty by intertwining separate strategies.  Engage with your followers on social media and invite clients to join an email list.

What’s the most important thing when it comes to content marketing?

PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.  If you don’t, your content marketing plan will quickly become overwhelming.

Create, edit and utilize an editorial calendar to help stay organized.

Plan everything in advance.  Write your blog and social media posts a week in advance and schedule them a few days in advance.

You’ll soon develop a rhythm that will help you manage your time wisely.

Is it a mistake not to have a content marketing plan?

We wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a mistake, but we would highly caution against brushing it aside.  Content marketing is very important for building relationships and you could miss out if you’re not online.

Chances are, your audience is online.  We live in an online world where we’re all connected most of the time.  You need to show up on Google when someone searches for you.  A content marketing plan will help to make this happen.

Have any more questions about implementing a content marketing plan?  Contact Shari’s Ink for a free quote today!

Telling the Story of Your Business

Storytelling

Your story is the essence of your business and it’s important that you tell it.

Stories make your business stand out; they define you and they connect you with individuals.  They explain why you do what you do.

What Should Every Story Have?

Because stories define your business, you want to craft them as best you can.  Every story you tell should do the following:

  1. Be timely. A story that has a current idea will resonate more than one that doesn’t.
  2. Consider the local impact, or the impact on your audience. Your reader won’t care if it doesn’t affect them.
  3. Share something unusual or unique that will pique interest.
  4. Include a cause and effect element that will clearly show what makes your story important.
  5. Evoke emotion. It’s easy for your audience to connect to something that makes them feel emotion.
  6. Feature an individual such as an employee, client, animal, etc. and allow your audience to connect with your business on a personal level.

How to Share Your Story

Since stories are the great connectors of people, you should share them as often as possible and wherever possible.

You should always share your business’s story on your blog or website.  We also highly recommend sharing stories on social media.  Social media loves stories, especially individual ones.  Individual stories add value to your business.  You could include stories from your employees or clients that will demonstrate what your business is all about.  Just remember to get permission before doing this.

You could also share stories in your e-newsletter, if it’s formatted for such things.  If you have a section that features employee highlights or anything similar, this would be the perfect opportunity to share your employees’ stories, for example.  If this isn’t the typical format of your newsletter, though, don’t throw them in there.

TELL US YOUR STORY!

Share your story in the comments below and don’t forget to share it on your website and social media!

Blogging: The Center of Your Content Marketing Universe

Business blogging

Are you wondering if blogging is the right move for your business?  No matter who you are or what your business, if you’re considering the question, the answer is yes!

Here at Shari’s Ink, we believe it’s important to have a blog … period.  A blog builds your search engine optimization (SEO) and online presence, driving traffic to your website.  It should be the cornerstone of your content marketing plan.

If you’re just beginning a business, the idea of starting a blog may seem daunting with everything you’re trying to manage.  If this is the case, wait until you have a steady income and a firm grasp on your schedule before taking on a blog.

How to Manage a Blog

A blog is no different than any other aspect of business.  You need to plan to write and manage it.  Planning will keep you and your blog organized.

  • Post to the blog one to three times per week.
  • Create your editorial calendar with blog topics one month in advance.
  • Write your posts a week in advance.
  • Schedule your posts a couple of days in advance.

Only take on what you are able to manage.  If you don’t have the time to run a blog, seriously consider hiring somebody to do it for you.  Don’t have the funds?  Then consider taking on an intern.  An intern would be more than happy to help if you’re providing a valuable learning experience.

How to Grow Your Following

If you want people to read your blog, you have to grow your following.  When no one knows you, no one knows you have content out there.  You need two very important things to grow your blog following:

  1. Good, quality content. Your content needs to be well-written and consistent. Consistency is key when it comes to how often you post and the material you share. This is what will keep people coming back and sharing your content.
  2. Strategy. This includes creating an email list and sharing your posts on social media. You should share on social media as often as you post to the blog.

Always consider your resources, because everything depends on it.  If you don’t have the proper resources, such as time or help, your content and strategy will suffer.

How do YOU make the most of your resources?