Content Marketers Turn to a Series Approach to Blogging

Posted July 23rd @ 6:41 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Find out why over 2,100 content marketers have Tweeted my article, How to Turn 1 Idea into 2 Months (and More) of Content Marketing.

The article appeared Monday morning on the Content Marketing Institute Blog.

By 11:00 AM, EST, the number of Tweets exceeded 700. As the illustration shows–the number continues to grow.

Help me sustain the momentum!

Why serial content matters

I wrote the article to share the importance of replacing the current content marketing emphasis on “topics” with a serial blog post approach.

Instead of trying to cover a complete topic in a single blog post, serial content allows you to address important topics over a series of related blog posts. As I describe in the original post, the benefits of  serial content include:

  • Greater detail. You can go deeper into important topics when you share the information over 2, or more, blog posts.
  • Synergy. Each blog post not only attracts it’s own readers, but it also directs the reader’s attention to previous blog posts in the series.
  • Anticipation. In addition, each blog posts builds reader anticipation for the next blog post in the series.

The above are just a few of the advantages that serial content content marketers sharing helpful, relevant content in their blog posts.

Blogging a book

Serial content also forms the foundation of blogging a book, i.e., writing the first draft of your book a little at a time, as blog posts which will appear as chapters, or sections of chapters, within your completed book.

Serial content also encourages productivity by breaking a complex project with distant a deadline, i.e., “finish my book by Dec. 15th” with a series of simpler tasks and and weekly deadlines.

Learn more by reading the full article. It also contains examples of series content created using Mindjet’s MindManager mind mapping software. (See the first installment of my 7 Keys to Thought Leadership Success on LinkedIn.)

If you like what you find, please help maintain the momentum of the blog post by sharing the Content Marketing Institute blog post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. Or, leave a comment or question below, or ask me a question.

Lessons from Last Week’s Popular Content Marketing Blog Post

Posted July 13th @ 6:50 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

What lessons can we learn from the success of my second most popular Content Marketing Institute blog post….one that was Tweeted, Retweeted, and Favorited over 1,000 times?

Granted, the environment where it appeared played a major role in its popularity.

My  Latest Must-Reads: Summertime Books for Content Marketers on the Go (or on Vacation) post appeared in one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs.

It also benefited from superb editing and an excellent cover graphic by the Content Marketing Institute’s Joseph Kalinowski.

But, my previous post on the same blog, Worksheet: Turn Your Pivot Points into Stories for Better Content Marketing, enjoyed less than half as much social media response, i.e., 432 Tweets.

So, why the difference in reader engagement?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot during the past week. Here,  are my initial impressions:

  1. Title transparency and language. Compared to the the title in my previous blog post, last week’s title may have been more positive and easier to understand. Perhaps the “work” implied by “worksheet” introducing the previous title projected a negative connotation. Perhaps the connection to leveraging lessons from Todd Wheatland’s excellent The PIVOT: Marketing Backstories podcast interview series may not have been as immediately apparent to others as it was to me. In addition, the recent title also contains more action-oriented words like “latest” and “must reads,” plus a timely reference to positive terms like “vacation” and “on the go” (a deliberate double entendre).
  2. Aspirational topic. Like my previous post, the recent post made an obvious appeal to self-improvement oriented content marketers. Both articles help readers learn from the experiences of others. But books have always had their own special magic; they are at the top of the “expert qualifiers” triangle. “Books” implies both a source of pleasures and a source of learning to people who deal with words and language all day.
  3. Differentiation/positioning. One of the ways that I endeavored to broaden the appeal of my mid-summer and Holiday gift buying guides is to offer a fresh approach to selecting books. From the start, I’ve broadened my definition of “relevant books for content marketers” to include books written outside the content marketing field. I’ve tried to identify not only successful books from first-time authors, like Anne Janser,but also introduce relevant books from adjacent fields like advertising, career-management, creativity, focus, psychology, and time management.
  4. Familiarity. Consistency remains one of the most powerful, but often overlooked, keys to content marketing success. As I continue to roll-out my twice-a-year updates of helpful, relevant books for content marketers, as well as the other productivity topics I address, the social media track numbers continue to increase.  I’d like to think it’s because of my attempts to continually improve my writing, but familiarity may be playing an even larger role.

How do you explain the popularity of last week’s post?

If you read last week’s post, “How do you explain its popularity?” Are there other factors at work that might explain its relative popularity? This is especially true if you take the time to reread my previous post. I would really like to know your reactions. Please share your ideas below, as comments.

Need Help Choosing a Niche?

Posted July 12th @ 2:36 pm by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Elise Benun's Pick a Niche Kit helps creatives like graphic designers, web designers, and writers, choose their niche, or area of specializationIf the question, “What’s your niche?,” makes you uncomfortable, Ilise Benun’s new Pick a Niche Kit is for you. It offers a proven process for niche marketing success.

Ilise Benun’s new Pick a Niche Kit is intended to  help creatives–firms and individuals, like graphic designers, web designers, and writers– identify their ideal clients and create an efficient, focused marketing plan that targets their interests and needs.

Generalists need not apply

Many creatives are proud to be generalists–and rightly so. It appeals to the “Renaissance Man” or “Renaissance Woman” in all of us.

However, a generalist approach to marketing can torpedo your success!

A generalist approach in an age of search engines and unprecedented competition for client dollars, increases the likelihood that your message won’t attract the attention of your ideal clients–the clients with the budgets and the courage to pay for your advice.

Instead of helping you stand out as the “must have” expert to the type of clients you’re best suited to help, you spend your time trying to sell prospects who are not an ideal fit for your experience or skills.

What makes Ilise Benun’s Pick a Niche Kit different?

Ilise Benun’s Pick a Niche Kit enters a crowded field.

And, at first glance, it appears a bit more expensive than competing books.

However, if you look beyond price, (and the current $20 introductory discount), you’ll find that the Ilise’s Pick a Niche Kit offers several significant advantages:

  1. Process-driven approach. One of the Pick a Niche Kit’s strengths is that it describes a process–a journey–rather than an event, like flipping a switch. Ilise acknowledges the insecurity that many creatives feel around the topic of “overnight” niche marketing. Creatives are often afraid to make a mistake.  Ilise overcomes this natural hesitation by describing a painless, non-threatening, approach that involves taking steps in the right direction over time, while carefully monitoring the results. The Pick a Niche Kit process process involves four steps:
    • Step 1: Finding Your Process
    • Step 2: Choosing Potential Target Markets
    • Step 3: Determining the Viability of Your Chosen Markets
    • Step 4: Moving Toward Your Focus
  2. Multiple options. I especially like the way that Ilise begins with a list of Ten Ways to Approach Focus. I don’t remember ever seeing a similar list.  The text is concise, but a lot of the story is told through visuals and links to websites that illustrate each option. The illustrations are accompanied by text describing “background” home page message, positioning message, and highlights to review as you visit the online example.
  3. Engagement through storytelling.  Much of the Pick a Niche Kit story is told in the words of her clients and associates who have have gone through the often-painful process of choosing a niche themselves. There’s an immediacy to the transcripts of their stories and an engagement factor missing in most other niche choosing writing. Ilise asks the right questions and prompts details when appropriate. Most important, the transcripts have been concisely edited, so there’s no unnecessary conversation or wasted “filler” text.
  4. Actionable. Ilise has included numerous resources, like worksheets and online resources, to help you bridge the gap between the information she provides and your implementation of her ideas. As you can see from the worksheet example. above, the worksheets are actually usable, thanks to generous line spacing. Ilise has also provided prompts and questions to help you fill out the worksheets.
  5. Design and Style. Ilise Benun writes with clarity and conciseness. Like her previous resources, and also demonstrated during our recent interview, Ilise never uses two words when one will do. In addition, in an age of smartphone and tablet reading, the design of her pages enhances readability on desktop, laptop, and portable devices. As a result, the 157 pages of advice, resources, and transcripts are easy to read and put into action.

What’s your niche?

Do you consider yourself a generalist or a specialist? Are you able to quickly describe your specialty to potential clients? Are you focusing your marketing on your ideal clients? Share your experiences with niche marketing, as comments, below–especially if you’ve already read Ilise Benun’s Pick a Niche Kit.

11 New Books for Content Marketers

Posted July 9th @ 6:52 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Looking for helpful, informative content marketing books and ideas?

Check out my Latest Must-Reads: Summertime Books for Content Marketers on the Go (or on Vacation).

This is my 3rd annual Content Marketing Institute summer roundup of new books of interest content marketers, entrepreneurs, and authors looking for ways to promote their books, their businesses, and their personal brands.

Insights from beyond the content marketing world

My midsummer 2015 book roundup several new titles from both established content marketing and newly-minted content marketing authors.

To broaden my perspective, I’ve also included provocative and relevant books by experts from beyond the content marketing world. Examples include:

Check my list before you pack your back and head to the airport or campground. One of the books in my list may contain the breakthrough idea you need to take your business to the next level upon your return. And, if you find the list useful, please extend a Tweet: this afternoon, I was less than 50 Tweets away from the 1,000 mark! Thank you!

Creating Templates for Social Media Graphics

Posted June 29th @ 6:41 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Creating your own social media graphic templates can boost your productivity, increase readership and shares, while reinforcing your brand.

I’d like to share some examples, ideas, tips, and resources to help you explore creating your own social media graphic templates.

Graphics are no longer a luxury.

Graphics are a necessity if you want to add attraction and engagement to your blog posts and social media.

You need graphics not only not only standing elements, like your profile pages, but also for individual blog posts.

Old versus new approach

Until recently, I would create each social media graphics on an as-needed basis.

This, however, was an extremely inefficient process. It forced me to reinvent the wheel each time I created a new article or blog post.

Worse, without templates, I’d have to research the ideal size for graphics before I could begin to create the graphics–a horrible waste of time.

Now, I use template to save time by providing me with a framework  I can immediately put to work on my projects.

There’s more to social media graphics, however, than I thought.  However, the resources I uncovered and the lessons I learned from my initial efforts, can save you a lot of time and effort.

Requirements for social media graphic templates

There’s more to creating social media graphics than simply locating atmospheric stock art and scaling it to the appropriate size. To me, there are four primary requirements:

  1. Social media graphics must tell a story. Social media graphics should do more than simply attract attention or set a mood. They should tell a story, visually communicating the key ideas of the article or blog post that follows. As you can see from the examples above, each graphic is a visual table of contents that previews the contents and benefits that follow.
  2. They must contribute to a consistent brand image. The graphics should share a consistent look, in terms of colors, borders, margins, typefaces, and style. The plethora of typefaces and stock art, however, can easily undermine the need for consistency.
  3. They must boost your productivity. Custom, or personalized, social media graphics should save time by reducing the number of decisions needed at the time of production. There should be a multiplier effect; the  time you spend creating graphic templates should be paid back over and over again.
  4. Graphics should contribute to better, faster writing. Although graphics are often created at the last minute, I’ve found that beginning a project by creating the graphic saves a considerable amount of writing time. The graphic helps me identify the key ideas I want to share and encourages me to write better headlines.

Those are just a few of the possible goals for social media graphics; you may have other goals (which you’re invited to share in the comments, below).

Elements of social media graphic templates

Above is an example of a simple social media graphic I  created for use when publishing blog posts on LinkedIn Pulse’s platform. You can click the image above to download a larger PDF image of the key elements of a social media graphic template.

You may have noticed that the image differs from the graphic as it appears in my LinkedIn post or the middle example at the top of this post; it doesn’t contain the arrows connecting the book covers. I added later using TechSmith’s Snagit screen capture tool.

The building blocks of a social media graphic templates include:

  • Size. As you may have already discovered, there is little standardization of the sizes needed for the various social media platforms where you are active. There are also size differences between the graphics for different purposes within the various social media platforms. You profile shot will likely be a different size and shape than your header graphic, for example. The resources I share below will help you keep track of the various social media graphic sizes for various purposes.
  • Borders. One of the easiest ways to brand your social media graphics is to be consistent in the border treatments you use. You can choose different border thicknesses and colors to help set your graphics apart from other screen elements.
  • Guides. Notice the light green horizontal and vertical guide shown and identified in the above example. The center guides help you horizontally and vertically balance the text and graphics, and assure consistent placement of the headlines. They also help you consistently text elements, like the captions in the above example.
  • Margins. The guides are essential to creating consistent margins, or spacing, between borders and adjacent text, illustrations, or photographs. Margins are especially important in places when text or graphic elements may overlap your social media graphic. In the above example above, note the generous bottom margin. This is necessary because LinkedIn inserts a thumbnail (or small image) of your profile photograph which overlaps the bottom of the graphic at the top of your blog posts.
  • Text formatting. Pay particular attention to the typography, or formatting options, you choose for your social media graphic templates. Text formatting options include font (or typeface design), type size, type style, color, and line spacing.  Your graphic templates should include type specifications for the major categories of text included in your social media graphics, including headline (or title), subhead, bullet lists, and captions (see More Deadlines, Less Stress!).

As the examples show, as you become more involved in adding graphics to your social media graphics, you may end up creating multiple templates for different purposes.

Locating social media graphic templates

Creating social media graphics is one thing; you also have to be able to immediately locate them when needed. You shouldn’t have to search for them.

I suggest you create a Social Media Resources folder inside your Writing folder on your hard drive. Then, create separate folders for Facebook Templates, LinkedIn Templates, Pinterest Templates, and Twitter Templates,  etc.

Getting in the habit of saving your social media template files in a logical location, as shown in the above Mindjet MindManager graphic, can deliver productivity savings in the future. It can also make it easier to back-up your valuable template files.

Resources for keeping track of social media graphic sizes

Here are some of the blog posts that I discovered that can help you keep track of the size requirements for social media graphics. As mentioned above, there are not only a lot of different social media size requirements, and there are different specifications for different pages.

  • Sprout Social’s Always Up-to-Date Guide to Social Media Image Sizes. This is one of the first resources I visited–a possible tribute to the power of the “Always Up-to-Date” promise in the title. Note the easy navigation to the specific social media you’re interested in, and the clear, stylized drawings showing how the images are used for different applications.  You can choose to be automatically notified of updates, and there’s a list of handy list of 36 free image manipulation tools.
  • Hubspot takes a different approach in their A Detailed Guide to Photo & Image Sizes on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube & More [Infographic]. Scrolling through the infographic, by itself, provides a visual introduction to the range of options available. There are also links for downloading free pre-sized cover photo templates for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more.
  • Constant Contact’s [Infographic] 2015 Social Media Image Size Cheat Sheet and Image Tricks offers a more concise approach plus a valuable bonus. Instead of simply listing sizes for different applications, it includes 7 time-saving tips, including suggested template proportions which you can easily resize for multiple purposes. different social media.
  • Buffer’s The Ultimate Guide to Ideal Image Sizes for Social Media Posts offers the most advanced look at creating social media graphics that can be easily resized for different applications.  Kevan Lee’s examples are fascinating because he shows how various “core” image proportions may be automatically cropped differently when placed in different applications. There’s also more emphasis on vertical versus horizontal
  • Jeff Bullas’s Content Marketing Tips: Image Rules For The Top 7 Social Networks offers an infographic that emphasizes the importance of adding visuals and stresses optimum image sizes and pro tips for the top 7 social networks.

How are you creating graphics for social media marketing?

Are you currently using templates to save time and create a consistent image in your social media graphics? What software are you using to create your graphics? Are you currently using PowerPoint or Mindjet’s MindManager for creating social media graphics?  Share your concerns, questions, and suggestions as comments, below.

Content Marketing Self-Publishing Success Story

Posted June 14th @ 3:01 pm by Roger C. ParkerPrint

Listen as content marketer Anne Janzer shares her self-publishing success story in a recorded interview with Roger C ParkerJust click the image to hear content marketer Anne Janzer share her Subscription Marketing self-publishing story in our recent recorded interview.

If you’re a self-employed professional or content marketer looking for ways to build your business and establish yourself as an authority in your field, you’ll enjoy my recent interview with Anne Janzer.

Anne held nothing back during this recorded interview. She candidly describes:

  • Why she wrote Subscription Marketing.
  • How she wrote the first draft and what she did next.
  • The reasons she decided to self-publish her book.
  • Her strategy for obtaining pre-publication quotes.
  • What she budgeted for the project, and her final budget.
  • How long it took before the book began to contribute to her business.
  • and more.

You can learn more about the important lessons from Anne Janzer’s book teaches at her Subscription Marketing Book site and in my two recent posts:

Free resources for writing and self-publishing

Here are some suggested ways you can learn more about content marketing, writing, and self-publishing:

What’s next for you?

What are you going to be doing this summer to improve your content marketing, drive new business, and enhance your image as a published author and thought leader? Anne Janzer’s Subscription Marketing experience is not unique. (And, she is not, and was not, a client–I discovered her through her book).

Download my free writing workbook, 99 Questions to Ask Before You Write and Self-Publish a Brand-Building BookA good starting point for taking action on your dream to become a published writer, is to download my free workbook, 99 Questions to Ask Before You Write and Self-Publish a Brand-building Book.

It’s helped thousands of new writers ask the right questions and create a book proposal and sustainable book marketing plan.