How to Write Blog Articles, And other Web Content, Fast

I'm always recommending creating good quality web content to business people I meet. When they ask me how, I mention blogging and podcasting. And that's usually when I get met with that now-familiar I-hated-English-class stare.

But fear not. You can create good, quality content fast so you can move on to the other projects you face each day. It just takes a system.

First, keep a notebook with you to jot down ideas for articles. What things does your target audience want to learn about? What information do they need?

One of the best things you can do with this notebook is to list helpful tips and actionable ideas that the people you want to reach can put into practice and see quality results.

Second, read. Again focus your reading on the information you want to learn. As a blogger or content creator, your job in essence is to read for other people and share the best of that information with them in digest form.

Third, armed with your notebook of ideas and/of a few nuggets of information you've come across worthy of sharing, sit down at your computer.

Write a question. Write another question, and another until your mind grows blank. Then look at these questions to decide which one to launch off of.

Write an answer or response to that question. When you have answered it, start on another question. At this point you can either choose from your list of questions you have down, or (more likely) what you just wrote will give rise to a new question in your mind.

Write that question down and then answer it.

Questions force the mind to come up with an answer.

True story: Several years ago, I went through a long catastrophic illness which caused me to spend a lot of time sleeping on the coach. My young children could play around me and not faze me in the slightest. But sometimes one of them would ask me a question and I would immediately wake up, answer the question and go back to sleep.

There questions would trigger my mind to come up with an answer, regardless of how deep my sleep was.

So use questions to trigger your writing. Ask and answer questions until you have dealt with the topic. After words, you may leave the questions in place or remove them like scaffolding beside a building.

Some of your answers will come from your mind and other parts will require that you look at your research information.

Do this for either your blog articles or as a way to script a podcast. Either way, it will help you create a lot of content quickly and easily.

Regardless of your horrifying experiences in English class.

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The Common "Personal Branding" Denominator

Note: This is a Google Sidewiki comment I just added to an article on Personal Branding. The link to the article is below.

These are all great examples of personal branding. What is a common thread here is that each person is either a blogger, author or has a show.

In other words, they are creating content that others regard as interesting and valuable.

Personal branding is not a game of hype. A brand rides on the back of quality content. The greater one's body of work, the better the brand.

in reference to: 7 Examples Of Kick-Ass Personal Branding | SocialMouths (view on Google Sidewiki)

Think "Fanbase" vs "Database"

Note: This is a Google Sidewiki entry I posted. I saw this short post by @BlogCoach and felt it said so much about why social media marketing is different from traditional forms. Thanks for the great idea.

This is an excellent point by @BlogCoach. Social media gives businesses the ability to connect, engage and converse with fans and friends.

Don't treat these people as a "target market" treat them like friends and you will see much greater results. As a resource, see my article on the "1000 True Fans" concept:

in reference to:

"In Social Media (and elsewhere!) - Think Fanbase not Database! 20 engaged followers is better than 5000 passers by."
- (360) Twitter / Home (view on Google Sidewiki)

What is Personal Branding? And Why Do You Need It?

If you have a career (as opposed to just a job) or a business, or ever hope to have one in the future, you need to know about personal branding.

The term "personal branding," as best I can determine, originated in 1997 when Tom Peters wrote an article called, "A Brand Called You." This legendary article (which pre-dated such internet tools as blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube) forecast how individuals could take control of their own destinies by building brands for themselves.

The problem is that we all have a choice: We can either establish a strong reputation for ourselves, or we will become (or remain) commodities. Think about how potential employers or potential clients view us. There is always a tendency to put us in a nice neat box and slap a familiar (if not always accurate) label on us. The reason for this is that the human mind tends to categorize new information by associating it with information already known.

As a new potential employee or business person, we start off as a new bit of information.

The danger of being a commodity is that tangible factors like the price of our offerings or the perceived quality of the schools we attended become the tiebreakers for our prospects or potential employers.
Personal branding is a matter of inserting new and more powerful tiebreakers into the equation.

But here's the secret: Despite their tendency to categorize you, the people who want to do business with someone like you, want a tiebreaker.

Imagine the human resource person sorting through a stack of resumes looking for the "best" candidate. Or picture a potential client doing a Google search (or worse yet, looking through the Yellow Pages) for the "best" lawyer, doctor, plumber, print shop, veterinarian, etc. Or the executive looking for the "best" person to promote within the company. These people are desperate for a significant tiebreaker to help them make this important decision.

It is only when they fail to find a real reason to break the tie that they resort to superfluous factors like whether you graduate from Yale or Kansas State, or whether you charge 15% more than a competitor. In other words, only when factors like value and return on investment are absent, will factors like a name brand school or a marginally higher cost default to becoming the key tiebreakers.

Much has changed since Tom Peters wrote his article in 1997. Now everyone can set up a blog or post a video to YouTube. Social media has made personal branding a reality for anyone who wants to create tiebreakers.

So what is a tiebreaker?

For most professions, and professionals, content is king. If you can create good content that solves problems for your target employers or clients, you can build a personal brand online.

In fact, often the sheer number of search results on Google when someone does a search for a person or a business, can be a significant tiebreaker. If a job candidate has a blog with numerous articles coming up on Google, or if a business has published numerous instructional videos on YouTube, that raw number will, in and of itself, often become a powerful tiebreaker.

This last point shatters the most common misconception of personal branding: That it is just hype and popularity. Personal branding (at least for professionals who market themselves based on their expertise) relies on creating a "paper trail" of sorts online, not just empty claims.

To quote Tom Peters' article:
Almost every professional services firm works with the same business model. They have almost no hard assets [but] They have lots of soft assets -- more conventionally known as people, preferably smart, motivated, talented people. And they have huge revenues -- and astounding profits.

If your company "ME, Inc." has no hard assets to speak of, how can you build your own soft assets? By demonstrating what you can do for a potential client / employer. And nothing can demonstrate better than a thoughtful blog or a series of problem-solving information pieces in the form of articles, videos, or any other content you can create.

Do a Google search on yourself. Do you find anything at all? And if you are listed, do you find content that you, yourself put on the internet or are you finding content creating about others about you?

Let's look at it this way: a news piece about you is great, but it is hard to control news content when you are just the subject of the piece.

Your public relations efforts may pay off now and then, but it is far better create your own content (which is, by the way, a good way to get the attention of someone in the news business, and which may lead to you becoming the subject of many news pieces).

Get started today. If you don't already have a blog devoted to your field, start one. Everyone needs their own piece of online real estate they can control and on which they can showcase their own original content.

Now that you have a blog, what articles, videos or podcasts should you put on it?
  • Think about what information your target market (either potential clients or employers or higher executives within your present organization) wants to learn.
  • What problems do they need to solve and what information will help them?
  • What questions do your clients ask most often? Or, what questions should they be asking, but lack the background to know to ask?
  • What information would make them better consumers of your services? In other words, what would help them make the best decision between Brand X vs Brand Y?
  • What problems could be sneaking up on someone that they are not fully aware of? (Think of all the articles you've seen about medical issues that most of us were not previously aware of)?
  • What kinds of problems do they need to solve BEFORE they have a need for what you sell? Can you build trust and relationships before your target audience needs to buy from you?
  • If you charge more for what you sell than your competitors, what information would justify that higher price? What benefits do they get from you that they cannot get elsewhere?

Once you have a game plan for creating content, put it on as many sites and in as many forms as you can on the internet.

Create articles, ebooks, and whitepapers. Then take much the same information and produce audio content in the form of podcasts. Create PowerPoint presentations and post them as slideshows. Create videos and post them on YouTube.

Build trails of breadcrumbs on your subject matter so that everywhere your target clients or employers search for information on that topic, all trails lead back to you.

What do you think? What kinds of content ideas can you share that will help to build a better personal brand?

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10 Easy Ways to Market Your Business With a Flip Camcorder

If you don't already own one, and you want an easy way to market your business, go buy a Flip UltraHD Camcorder.


Why? Well for one thing, the Flip is dirt cheap. The model you see in the picture above costs only $149, gives you 120 minutes of recording time, fits neatly in your pocket and delivers excellent sound and picture quality.

And it will put some serious money in your pocket if you use the following tips to market your business:
  1. Record video testimonials of your clients or people who attend your events.
  2. Create short videos (2 to 3 minutes seem to be the optimal length) that answer your customers' most frequently asked questions. Also include those questions that you are NOT asked, but you feel customers should be asking. One short video per question.
  3. Demonstrate your processes. If you make a product and can demonstrate "how the sausage is made" this will create a compelling piece that your potential customers will want to watch.
  4. Convey information in a format that is easier for your customers to understand than if you put it in written form. Or use videos to supplement your written material. Some people understand text while others find videos easier to comprehend. Don't assume all people grasp information in the same format.
  5. Demonstrate how your product is used. Show it in action.
  6. Upload your videos to YouTube and other video sharing sites. Be sure to "tag" your videos with your best keywords and put your URL in the description section YouTube provides. This will create a link from YouTube to your site making it easier for people to find online.
  7. Also post your videos to your own website. Studies have proven that websites with videos convert at least 50% more visitors into buyers.
  8. Use videos to share helpful tips and solutions to your customers. Including several "how to" videos on your site will make not only help you bond with your visitors, it will also convince them that you know what you are doing.
  9. Use videos to upsell to higher value products. Show side by side comparisons of Product A with Product B. If Product B costs more than A, show them why. Use your video to demonstrate value and benefits.
  10. Create valuable content with videos. The more informative your site, the more it solves your target customers' problems, the more it helps them reach decisions or achieve the goals they want to achieve, the more traffic your site will get.

The fact is, you can use pretty much any camcorder to do the above things, but because the Flip is so easy and portable, you will find yourself using it more often than a bigger, clunkier model.

Check out the reviews and customer feedback on Amazon here.

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