18 no-cost ways writers can effectively promote their content

We can all agree that promoting content is essential for ensuring that it effectively reaches the right audiences.

But in many cases, there are very limited financial and human resources available to support content promotion, whether you work for an organization or independently. Read more

Six tips to conquer writer’s block

Ah, writers block. Many writers out there will attest to the perils of this dreaded state of affairs. Writer’s block ramps up anxiety and stress, especially when working in a professional environment with tight deadlines. It can also dampen creativity, making writer’s resort to plagiarism and other shenanigans.

Writing for the Content Marketing Institute blog, Alex Jasin offers six quick tips to beat writer’s block:

1. Look for inspiration in keywords

Use keyword research tools like Google Trends and Google AdWords to discover the most popular keywords in your niche market. But don’t overdo it, as this can easily distract you from your core task at hand  writing.

2. Tap into the power of headline generators

Get out of your head and look for suggested headlines via headline generators like Tweak Your Biz Title Generator and Portent.

3. Research what your audience is talking about

As Jasin notes: “If you know your audience well, then you know where they like to hang out online. You know their influencers, the communities they visit, and the forums they frequent.” These platform can be great sources of inspiration for articles and blog posts. Sift through or participate in discussions to find out what your target audiences are talking about. A platform like Quora is great for this.

4. Talk to your audience

If you really want to know what’s on your audience’s mind, it doesn’t hurt to just ask them directly. Post questions to them on your website, newsletter or social media channels, or send out a survey. Analyze the responses and incorporate them into your content strategy and editorial calendar. Jasin adds: “By talking to your audience, you not only get topics to talk about but also improve your relationship with them, boost your credibility, and ultimately, build a loyal customer base.”

5. Repackage content

Repackage your content so that it fits into another format and is adapted for different channels. For example, you can turn a piece of long-form content into a video, expand on a short piece, transform a podcast or video into a blog post, and extract content from your white papers, case studies and annual reports. However, before going this route, ensure that any repacking exercise makes sense in the grander scheme of things i.e. it aligns with your content strategy.

6. Consume great content

“You can’t expect to create ideas and write great content if you don’t read great content,” notes Jasin. Find inspiration and keep up with trends and emerging themes in your industry by reading books and blogs, listening to podcasts, following relevant organizations on social media and subscribing to newsletters. Consuming great and relevant content will enhance your creativity and help you provide real value to your audience.

Featured photo: Nate, Flickr Creative Commons

Effective writing: getting the right feedback

Writing – both professional and creative – can be tough, even frustrating at times, especially when faced with writer’s block and endless revisions. However, learning how to share your writing early for feedback can save you time and energy. Writing for Inc.com, Tanya Hall provides some useful tips on the feedback process:

  • Share your writing for feedback early in the process, in order to address significant issues early on.
  • Beware of the temptation to listen to everyone’s feedback equally. “Recognize that feedback can come in many forms, and if you take all suggestions to heart, your own voice and message may get lost,” says Hall.
  • At the beginning of a writing project, develop a list of people whose opinions you trust and who know your content well. This can include colleagues, peers, mentors and experienced editors. This should save you time and effort during the revision process.
  • Sharing your feedback with your biggest supporters (e.g. your family members) may not be the most effective way to receive objective, critical feedback. However, it can give you the encouragement you need to push past writer’s block or fear.
  • Be grateful for productive feedback and take the time to listen to it, no matter where it comes from, as this type of feedback shows engagement with your work. That said, mentally classify the feedback you receive, to help avoid spending too much time on unnecessary overthinking and self-criticism.
  • Work through any feedback that challenged you. Try to schedule time with the people that provided this feedback, to best analyze if and how their comments can be incorporated into your work.
  • Feedback is an ongoing, natural part of being a creator. Even after you’ve published your work, you may continue to receive it.

Featured photo credit: Eelke, Flickr Creative Commons

Content strategy: planning your content

Photo credit: Dafne Cholet

A previous post explored the importance of content strategy, a blueprint that lays out exactly how an organization’s content will be used to accomplish organizational goals.

When it comes to the systematic, day-to-day implementation of this strategy, utilizing specific planning tools will go a long way in ensuring that your strategy is effective. One such tool is an editorial calendar.

The editorial calendar is commonly regarded as one of the most steadfast and reliable content planning tools. Your calendar should cover all of your content needs, incorporating content on paid, earned, shared and owned channels.

Why is an editorial calendar important?

  • It’s strategic: As a planning tool for your content strategy, your editorial calendar ensures that your content work is intentional, aligned with organizational goals and can have the maximum impact on your audiences.
  • It makes achieving content goals easier and more efficient: Writing for the CoSchedule blog, Garrett Moon explains: “If you are focusing on building traffic and/or blog growth, then making a concerted effort to plan your content will only make reaching your goals easier. Website visits will increase when you make consistency and quality your top priority.”
  • It encourages consistency: Moon writes: “The editorial calendar will give our team the accountability it needs for building the discipline of creating content day after day.”
  • Your audiences will appreciate it: Without a doubt, providing content that is focused on your audience’s needs in a consistent way is a no-brainer.
  • It can boost teamwork: As Moon explains, a good editorial calendar will bring a team to a single place to visualize and execute their shared goals.
  • It can take search engine optimization (SEO) to the next level: Moon explains: “Search engines like Google and Bing are heavily favoring unique high quality content over the typical SEO tricks. A focus on content marketing is more important now than ever. Read more about why content strategy is the new SEO 

Look out for my next post on tips and tools for an effective editorial calendar.